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Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
11:58 pm
General Hospital/Pretender Fan ficttion Escape Artists chapter 19
Any hope Spinelli had that Leeanne would snap out of the distracted place she had gone to following what he had meant as a gest were quickly dashed. Spinelli turned to Leeanne after arming the security system. He could see tension etched in her face. On the ride back she had been very quiet, answering Sam’s questions perfunctorily but staring out the window, a far off look in her eyes. It was still there. Was what I said that far out of line? Spinelli wondered. Spinelli started to reach out for her, to try and calm or comfort. As he did so, he once more tried to apologize for what he wasn’t entirely sure.
“I never meant to cause you undo distress. Please forgive me.”
Leeanne waved off his apology even as she stepped back. Spinelli was shocked. It was unlike Leeanne to turn away from him. Leeanne saw the hurt in her lover’s eyes and it broke something inside her. He has no idea how much I need him. Leeanne thought. If only I felt like me. She couldn’t be with him, now, not as she was, But she couldn’t let Spinelli think it was his fault either.

Leeanne stood on tip-toe, grasping his wrist with one hand while she laid the other against his cheek.
“You’ve done nothing wrong Damian.” Leeanne’s voice was thin and shaky. “A couple of hours, okay. Promise, we’re ok.”
Damian would have been more comforted if he didn’t recognize the signs of a set back. The broken syntax, the look in Leeanne’s eyes, and the request to be left alone. Separately, these things were a minor issue, something to note but not to worry about. But together, they were cause for concern. Remembering Leeanne’s comment about her outfit and the looks her appearance had caused, Spinelli began to get an idea the source of Leeanne’s discomfiture. What was Carly thinking choosing that costume? Spinelli mused. He decided for the moment to grant Leeanne her request for a couple of hours of solitude. It would take at least that long to write the program they had discussed. Leeanne remained standing before him, clearly waiting for some sign of consent.
He reached out and captured a stray lock of Leeanne’s hair, sifting it through his fingers as he spoke.
“May I hazard a guess at what troubles you?” Spinelli asked gently. Leeanne nodded. “You’ve never been easy with the roll of temptress. Just because you **are** a pretender doesn’t mean you have to like or enjoy every...” Spinelli hesitated, searching for the word Leeanne used now when she spoke of her particular ability “pretend. Is that the correct term.”
Leeanne gave a quick vigorous nod of her head. Spinelli wasn’t sure if she was approving his choice of words or his theory but he sensed a slight relaxing of tension. Spinelli decided he wasn’t going to Press Leeanne any further for now, at least for a couple hours. He headed for the stairs, glancing back to see Leeanne had wondered to the piano and was listlessly plucking at the keys. It broke his heart to see her like this but he remembered Jason’s admonition before they had disappeared. “The only thing Leeanne has that’s truly her own are her thoughts. They are the only things she can control. When she shares them, she loses that. So you have to wait for her to choose to let go of them, even when you know it’s bad for her to keep them inside. It’s hard, but the best way to show her you love her is to let her have that control, even when it kills you.”
It was sure killing him now Spinelli thought, almost as badly as the relentless pounding in his head. At least a handful of aspirin would help that. A joint might do more but right now he needed to be clear headed so this was not the time for Glaucoma medicine.

Jason and Sam sat at the small table in their suite, cartons from a Chinese take out place strewn over the table top. Bottles of beer in front of them.
“Leeanne’s gift is truly remarkable.” Sam told him. “I drove the peer for a while till I was sure they had connected. I almost didn’t recognize Leeanne. It was as though she had become this whole other person that just oozed sexuality and cockiness. It was like seeing Carly 20 years ago.”

Jason smiled at that. He remembered what Carly was like back then. Sam’s next words sobered him though. “I just hope there wasn’t an emotional cost. It couldn’t have been easy for her to have strange men looking at her like that. Especially so exposed.”

“You think something’s wrong?” Jason asked.
“I don’t know.” Sam admitted. It’s just a feeling. Leeanne seemed, I don’t know, remote. She was certainly quiet.”
“She was doing something she’d never done for real. Maybe it was just nerves.” Jason suggested. He certainly hoped he was correct about that.
“You’re probably right.” Sam said getting to her feet and walking to the window.
Sam wanted to give herself time to choose her next words with care. She had not missed the fact that Leeanne had drawn herself away even from Spinelli. Sam was reasonably sure it wasn’t just the discomfort of spending too much time in high heels that was causing this change of demeanor. It brought up an old concern she had kept to herself for some time. Jason moved behind his wife, placing his hands on her shoulders and turning her to face him.
“Tell me what’s on your mind Sam.” Jason said quietly. “Is Leeanne not up to this?”
“I think she can make this pretend thing work. Like I said, she was unrecognizable on the pier, and that accent, a lot better than mine. You said Lucky told you she bewitched, bewildered and bothered 100 party guests. Besides, she’s fighting as much for Spinelli as for herself. She’ll make this work.”
“Something’s bothering you about her though.” Jason’s voice brooked no argument, and no more stalling.
Taking a deep breath Sam said, “I just wonder if we’re asking too much of Spinelli.”
“You’ve seen how far she’s come.” Jason said in confusion. “Spinelli’s actually done more for her than I ever thought possible. She had all but stopped talking after Zachara’s people got done with her. She flinched when any other man was near her, even me or her brothers, and that Thousand Yard stare, do you remember that? It was like she lost all interest in the world. Carly was right, Spinelli was the one person who could reach her.”
“I’m not disputing that Spinelli’s done a lot for her. I don’t normally like to say this, but in this instance Carly knew what she was talking about.
I don’t think she could have come this far back if Spinelli wasn’t there for her, He made her feel safe enough to trust again. To let him love her.”
“But?” Jason pressed.
Sam took a deep breath then just blurted it out. “Spinelli hasn’t been raped.”
She put up a hand to stop Jason’s protest that one didn’t have to experience a thing to understand it.
“Oh, I know Spinelli being who he is, he researched all he could on the subject and you being who you are, you offered advice. So he could say and do a lot of the right things but sometimes you need more than supportive family or friends. Sometimes the only person who gets an experience is someone who’s been through it. That’s a special kind of horror and what you go through doesn’t make sense all the time to most people.”
“You’re talking about therapy or support groups?” Jason asked. “We talked about that. That was the trade off. It’s not a safe option. Spinelli says he’s up to this and he’s proven it.”
“Spinelli’s worked a minor miracle!” Sam insisted. “but he can only do so much. And yes, I know why support groups or even a psychiatrist aren’t an option for her like they were for me. I agree with you that’s too dangerous! But like me, she needs that kind of support.”
“I can arrange for the 2 of you to meet up on the island, spend more time together.” Jason suggested.
“That’s a start.” Sam agreed. “I was thinking of something more long term.”
Jason sighed. “I can see about setting up a secure phone or email address for just the 2 of you.” Jason agreed.
“That’s another good idea.” Sam began pacing.
“There’s more?” Jason guessed.
“You’re not going to like this. But I think it may prove helpful for Leeanne. She and I get along well but I’m still her step mother. That creates a certain barrier. There’s one other person I think would be safe that she might feel more comfortable talking openly with about thing she might want to shield Spinelli from.
“Who?” Jason asked.
Here goes nothing, Sam thought. Aloud she answered. “Michael.”
Jason turned from the window to face his wife. “You’re right,” he said. “I don’t like it. We had to let Lucky in only because I didn’t consider that the PCPD would send someone to that law enforcement conference. Now he’s going to have to lie to Meghan and the rest of his family. I can’t do that to Michael.”
Sam came to Jason and laid a hand gently on his arm. “but isn’t it a good thing you did let Lucky in on this, look how helpful he’s been, managing Jerrod, Keeping Leeanne from tapping into her inner Carly., and this afternoon…”
“I know and I’m greatful.” Jason conceded. “But the more people you bring into a secret the harder it is to keep it under raps.”
“Michael can handle it.” Sam insisted. “More important, he needs this. You know he’s never totally gotten over Leeanne’s (death( Felix has done a lot to help him process and but a stop to his recklessness. But we both know he hasn’t totally reconciled himself to losing a twin he only just found. That twin thing is strong.”
“Carly said the same thing.” Jason admitted after a long silence.
“This is getting scary, I’m agreeing with Carly again.” Sam quipped.
“How do you think I feel?” Jason responded, his blue eyes twinkling. “You’re supposed to be the voice of reason.”
“If we’re both saying this maybe it’s worth considering?” Sam ventured.
“Let’s see how things go. If after this you still think there’s something to be concerned about. I’ll think about it.” Jason said. “What you picked up on could have been nerves or they could even be having a fight about something.”
“Leeanne and Spinelli don’t fight. You know this.” Sam insisted. “At least not the way most people do.” She laughed as she finished her thought.
Jason put his arms around Sam and kissed her. “Let’s just wait for now.” He suggested.
“Do you have any ideas about what to do while we wait?” Sam asked coyly, running her hand over his chest then wrapping her arms around her husband.
“I have a few.” Jason said and began kissing her. Sam laughed and the pair moved toward the bedroom.

Downstairs, in the hotel bar, Luke Spencer slid onto a stool next to Miss Parker.
“Always a pleasure seeing you again Darlin.” Luke began.
The elegantly dressed brunet turned to her companion. She smiled pleasantly.
“Your message was intriguing.” She said. A burly black bar tender approached them.
“Give my friend a refill and I’ll have a Vodka Tonic.” Luke told the man.
Once they had their drinks before them Luke began. “I’ve begun putting into motion a plan to procure what you wanted.”
“They’ve found it then?” Miss Parker asked.
“They might have had it first. But it’s changed hands.” Luke informed her. “But to get it, I’m going to have to discredit my son and burn him with some colleagues. That’s going to cost you extra.”
“How much extra?” Miss Parker inquired.
“I’d say an extra couple million would do the trick.” Luke tossed off the figure. “Also. I want all the Center’s files: including copies, on my niece’s daughter and her gentleman friend.”
“I can’t just hand over Center files.” Miss Parker argued.
“It would have been such a lucrative deal too but if you can’t meet my price, I guess I’ll just have to let Lucky turn over what they found to Homeland Security. I’m sure Interpol will know what to do with Helena.”
“Let’s not be hasty.” Miss Parker said quickly. Luke smiled to himself. The lady’s willing to deal he thought.
“The files are a deal breaker.” Luke told her.
“You don’t trust me to keep them safe?”
“Absolutely not.” Luke replied easily, tossing back his drink and calling for another.
“How do I know the government doesn’t have the technology already?” Miss Parker inquired. She took a sip of her own white wine.
“You don’t.” Luke stated. “Any more than I know you don’t have a team standing by to grab the kids and lock them underground.”
“What are you looking for Mr. Spencer.” Miss Parker said sharply.
“An act of good faith would be nice.” Luke said. “I’ll even go first just because I’m that kind of guy.”
Miss Parker gave a slight inclination of her head and Luke went on.” The authorities have some of the fragments already but my son is scheduled to deliver the remainder of them, the ones you want I suspect to a certain contact 2 days from now.”
“Who and where?” Miss Parker pressed.
“Your turn.” Luke countered.
“I need to verify your story.” Miss Parker insisted.
Luke made a great show of thinking things over then told her. “He’s meeting a man named Jimmy Franklin at the Red Barn Steak house just at the foot of Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart.”
Miss Parker smiled her approval.
“Now it’s your turn Darlin.” Luke prompted.
Miss Parker took a long time before responding, “I was the one who hid Spinelli and arranged for Jerrod to pick up Leeanne after we discovered she’d escaped the Center. I had been planning to hide her with a contact the way I did with Young Mr. Spinelli. Someone made a stupid decision and the girl reacted strongly to it.”
“So Spinelli’s granny isn’t his granny.”
“AJ Quartermaine isn’t the first person to understand a little money will inspire familial feelings in anyone. Miriam was rather challenging to persuade to take on the task, I’ll admit. Again, the proper incentive….”
“But the Center arranged Spinelli’s escape and would have done the same for Leeanne?” Luke asked. This had not been what he had bargained for.
“Not the Center, me.” Miss Parker corrected. “The center tried to terminate Damian Spinelli and would have probably done the same to Leeanne if she hadn’t run.”
“Did they not perform up to expected specifications?” Luke answered.
Miss Parker shook her head.
“Let’s just say, in spite of having a very skilled psychiatrist on staff. They were weak on neurturing and TLC and didn’t deal well with emotional upset.”
Another long silence passed and Miss Parker asked, “Now, can we come to an agreement Mr. Spencer?”
“I think we can talk turkey.” Luke agreed.

Spinelli was running hard along the beach. His heart hammering in his chest. His breathing was labored, as his lungs fought to keep up with his brutal pace. His head which had begun to feel better with the aid of the Aspirin was pounding once more. This time the ache came from pure fury with no place to go rather than a build up of fluid pressure in his eyes. It had taken him less time than he had planned to write the program that would get him past the Center’s very sophisticated fire walls and retrieve the data Jason wanted from the Center’s archives,, the ones that Spinelli now understood had tied his hands from doing what he wished to the villains who had imprisoned his daughter and stolen her childhood. Since there was still 45 minutes on the time Spinelli had promised Leeanne she could have to compose herself, Spinelli had once more gone to the case notes files, hoping they would offer some insight into why Leeanne had reacted the way she did after a pretend. Maybe it wasn’t just the costume. In reading the notes so carefully kept by the sinister Doctor Sidney, he found the results of one session that dealt with preparation for the last simulation Leeanne was suppose to do. It hadn’t gone well. After reading the notes, Spinelli now had the answer to something he and Jason had wondered since Leeanne’s kidnapping. The torture done to her was uncharacteristic for the Zachara’s. Anthony Zachara had to have known allowing that level of violence done to a child of Stone Cold’s was the equivalent of signing one’s own death warrant. Spinelli had wanted to deal with the anger by throwing or hitting something but he knew that sort of reaction would only further upset his beloved so he had taken himself to the beach and let his rage at the center monsters out with punishing physical exertion waiting till his anger and hatred was spent. He needed to be calm when he faced Leeanne, his hostile feelings would only do more damage. When he was sure he had his emotions under control, Spinelli returned to the house. Spinelli knew Leeanne was no longer at the piano when he had left. He thought he knew where she had gone. He slipped into the garden and went quickly along the path, Stopping to pluck a bloom from one of the Jasmine bushes. He hurried to where the wooden swing sat. Leeanne was curled on one corner of the swing, her legs tucked under her, her arms folded over her chest, her head in her hands.
Spinelli held out the Jasmine blossom. Leeanne lifted a hand quickly to her hair then let it fall, indicating he should place the flower in her hair. This Spinelli did.
“May I join you?” Spinelli asked.
Leeanne shook her head no but held out her hands to Spinelli. He was concerned, Leeanne seemed to have stopped talking all together once more. This was the worst time for this to happen. He would have to find a way to pull her back.
Leeanne couldn’t read Spinelli’s expression well in the deepening twilight, but she thought she saw pain, she just wasn’t sure if it was physical or emotional. She knew he wanted her to speak. She tried to find her voice but her thoughts were still confused.
Spinelli noticed Leeanne was still in the pretend outfit. He was slightly surprised. It also told him contemplation wasn’t the entire reason for Leeanne’s need for solitude. There was a pleading look in those vivid green eyes that tore at Spinelli’s core. He wondered briefly, what he’d do if he could no longer read Leeanne’s eyes. Spinelli pushed the thought aside and turned to the situation before him.
“Come back with me.” Spinelli began, extending a hand to his beloved. “We’ll find you something more comfortable to wear, enjoy a repast that has more substance than energy bars.”
Leeanne gave Spinelli a small smile as she reached for his hand. He helped her to her feet. Spinelli slipped her arm through his and led her back to the house. In Their bedroom, Leeanne sat on the edge of the bed. With shaking hands, she tried to work at attacking the hated clothing but the task felt impossible. Spinelli stood by the window, his back to Leeanne to afford her some privacy. Leeanne guessed he had been using the mirror on the door to watch her because he turned just as her hands fell to her side and slowly approached.
“Stress is a trigger for your difficult periods.” Spinelli stated matter of factly.
It’s so like Damian to offer me an easy way out, Leeanne thought. But she didn’t feel it was right to take it. Yet she couldn’t do this alone.
“Tell me what you require, Leeanne.” Spinelli pleaded.
He was close enough, Leeanne could take his hands in hers, bringing them to the Halter top which was partly askew from her effort. Confusion covered Spinelli’s face at first, then comprehension. Carefully and ever so gently, Spinelli removed the costume, tossing the garments to the far side of the bedroom, out of Leeanne’s line of sight, making a mental note to see these items found there way into the incineration bin before Leeanne awakened the next morning. Spinelli winced as he removed the sandals and saw the ugly blisters that had formed on the bottom of Leeanne’s feet. Why would anyone where those implements of torture. Spinelli wondered. Leeanne quickly wrapped her arms around herself, as though she could shield her body from view. Remembering his promise to find Leeanne something that would make her feel less like what she had been pretending to be, Spinelli cast a glance around the room. He was about to invade the dresser when he caught sight of the Black Rocky Horror t-shirt he had cast aside when preparing for the infiltration of the Cassidine party. He had thought it would be perfect for the roll he was suppose to be assuming until Leeanne had reminded him they would have to discard what the party attendees saw them wearing. Instinctively, Spinelli reached for the garment and held it out to Leeanne. He was rewarded with a quick smile. Leeanne gestured for him to assist her and he slipped the t-shirt over Leeanne’s head. Only then did she uncross her arms, sliding them into the sleeves, this was followed by another smile as she stretched out on the bed.
“I understand, walking is not desirable at this time.” Spinelli said simply. Leeanne nodded and closed her eyes. She listened to Spinelli’s footfalls as he left the room. Leeanne burrowed down into the t-shirt that was much too big for her. Her heart had wanted to respond to Spinelli as he had removed her clothing. The feel of his hands on her body, the feather light kisses that punctuated softly whispered assurances that all would be okay had been a balm to her fractured nerves. Suddenly, Leeanne was too tired, mentally and physically for anything, even though she desperately needed to feel close to Spinelli. His solution, cloaking her in something that had so recently touched his skin, was further calming. Some minutes later, Leeanne heard Spinelli return. She opened her eyes and turned toward the door at the sound of his footsteps. As promised, Spinelli was carrying one of the wooden TV trays she had purchased. On it were tall glasses of lemon aide, a platter of sandwiches, and a plate of chocolate brownies. Leeanne pulled herself into a sitting position, arranging the pillows to make herself more comfortable as Spinelli set the tray on the bedside table and stretched out beside her. Leeanne started to reach across Spinelli, intent on the brownies, knowing the chocolate would make her feel better. Spinelli shook his head no as he pushed her hand away with one hand and with the other, placed a sandwich in it.

“Nutrition first.” Spinelli said firmly. “If any of tonight gets back to your estemed parents, I will not be accused of compounding your condition by allowing you to ignore your need for substantive food.”
Leeanne gave Spinelli a mutinous look but she bit into the tuna and egg salad sandwich. As she began to eat, she realized how hungry she actually was. Spinelli was right, the energy bars they had eaten while hiding on the edge of the Cassidine property had not been enough to satisfy her. That was when she saw Spinelli reaching for the brownies himself. He hadn’t touched a sandwich. In a single, quick movement, Leeanne reached out, grasped Spinelli’s hand and directed it to the sandwiches, even as she shook her head in vehement disapproval.
Spinelli had no intention of any of tonight getting back to Jason, He had denied the chocolate to her, then deliberately let her see him doing the opposite in an effort to provoke Leeanne to verbalize. He needed to bring this emotional skid to a halt. Everything Spinelli knew suggested assertive tough love tactics were required to break an emotional crisis but this was as far as Spinelli was willing to go in that direction. He would not hurt his beautiful dreamer any more than he had to. He just didn’t see the point to harshness. Spinelli sifted through his recall of all he had read about rape and Post Traumatic stress, looking for another approach. The answer, when it came to him was so obvious, he was annoyed with himself for not trying it at once.
He picked up a ham and pastrami sandwich and took a few thoughtful bites. Then he began.
“You were right. It took me longer to make the rendezvous. I promised you an explanation once we were safely away.” He said. He handed Leeanne a second sandwich and one of the glasses of lemonade before taking the other and drinking. Then he went on. He had her attention. She was looking right at him. “I started having headaches a few weeks ago. Really bad headaches, around the time Miss Parker approached us. I thought at first they were related to returning memory, to stress.”
Leeanne nodded comprehension. She was watching him more closely. There was something in her expression that told Spinelli his attempts to camouflage his physical anguish had largely failed. “You remember when I explained about the Marijuana and why I take it.”
Another affirmative nod from Leeanne told Spinelli she was following him. Now for the risky part. Revealing this was either going to bring her back or cause greater upset.
“I was late to our meeting because this afternoon the headache was accompanied by a temporary loss of sight while I was behind the wheel of the car I was driving away from the party.”
Leeanne’s eyes widened in shock and Spinelli hastened to assure her, “The loss was brief. And that was the only time it was that severe. But it is something that hasn’t happened since I’ve been taking this treatment. It might mean an adjustment in medication, or it could be a harbinger of more serious, and permanent sight loss.”
Leeanne had placed food and drink to one side on the other night table. She Caught Spinelli in a fierce hug. “Damian!” Leeanne’s voice was soft, breathless, but music to Spinelli’s ears. She continued speaking, her voice becoming steadier. “Are you scared?”
“A little.” Spinelli admitted. “I know there are all kinds of advances that make a productive life without sight possible. But it’s still an unknown. That’s always going to cause some trepidation. I’m more saddened by the prospect.”
Leeanne raised an eyebrow andstated, “It won’t change how I see you. It won’t make me love you or need you any less if you go blind.”
“That’s not what disheartens me about blindness.” Spinelli admitted. “Though it means a great deal to hear you say that. There are some beautiful things I would greatly miss seeing.”
“Old movies and video games?” Leeanne ventured. Spinelli had to laugh.
“I would regret not being able to appreciate those things.” Spinelli admitted. “But I was thinking more of things like the way candle light turns your hair to gold, the riot of colors in the sunset, clear nights with the sky crowded with stars in all their cconstellations, or waves coming into the shore, starting out large and awesome with so much power then gradually shrinking to a manageable size and dissolving to nothing.”
Leeanne framed Spinelli’s face in her hands looking deep in his eyes. “It’s sweet of you to put something about me at the top of that list, especially after I shut you out. That wasn’t fair. I wasn’t expecting…”
“Do you want to talk about it now?” Spinelli asked. Leeanne shrugged.
“You were right, I did find a way to overcome my fear of the dark.” Leeanne told him. “I had to, after I was given the facts of life and then told I was to use such knowledge in a simulation, that I was to think of it as just another tool.”
“You couldn’t do what they asked?” Spinelli supplied when she fell silent. He lightly stroked her arm and waited for her to go on. She only nodded, tears shimmering in her eyes. Carefully, Spinelli brushed them away. “We need never speak of it again.” He offered. “I only want you to know and be aware, like the kidnapping, it changes nothing. We are who we are and will always be the same to each other.”
There was another long silence. Leeanne smiled then and said. “You amaze me when you say things like that. But I need to explain.” Leeanne took Spinelli’s hand, holding on for strength. “I chose that pretend deliberately because they would never expect me to do something like that based on my reaction during that last briefing. Even though I’m not twelve any more, they will not be thinking it was us. If they did, they will never trace the torch singer with a garden variety slut because I won’t use sexuality. It’s against my moral code.”
“A sensible strategy.” Spinelli agreed.
“It would have been.” Leeanne confessed, “If I hadn’t forgotten how difficult it is to break. Out of a pretend emotionally afterward or gotten tangled in a mental loop between hating that strangers were seeing me like that, believing I was that, having to act that way, and make them think I was enjoying the attention. That that was what I was about, getting drunk and falling into bed with whoever was paying for my drinks.”
“Then I made a comment in poor taste under the circumstance.” Spinelli added.
Leeanne put a finger to his lips.
“You were trying to fit into the pretend I had constructed and following the scenario. What you said was in perfect keeping with that. I would have gone into myself even if you said I love you. I just would have felt worse about it. Because you were saying what I needed in here to hear and I couldn’t express that.” As Leeanne spoke, she gestured to her heart.
“Maybe you should hear what I was thinking while I was trying to act like a player in the league of Patrick Drake.” Spinelli suggested. Leeanne nodded for him to continue. “I was thinking that none of those men saw beyond the surface image. None of them. Only I knew, the brilliant, talented and complex woman inside. Only I knew her heart and her mind. I alone had the … Right to know her intimately. Didn’t all that make me the luckiest man there, to be chosen above people who by most standards were better catches, by such a special girl.” Spinelli kissed Leeanne softly on the cheek.
“Why didn’t you just tell me that in the first place?” Leeanne asked laughing. Turning more serious she added “It actually helps a lot knowing that. I think I needed reminding of the way you see me almost as much as I needed to be home.” Laughing again she said “And as much as I need chocolate.”

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Thursday, July 25th, 2013
7:30 pm
General Hospital/Pretender/Midnight Caller Fan fiction Escape Artists chapter 18
The lyrircs quoted in this chapter are from Deborah Harry's Weird Nightmare and the Dooors Ships's with Sails. Their use is in no way intended as a claim of ownership.
The afternoon was pleasant for an early October day in Florida. The thunderstorms of the previous night had cleared out a good deal of the humidity. The sky was a deep shade of blue with the single white ball of the sun standing out in sharp relief. Expensive cars pulled up to the sweeping driveway of the elegant, Coral Gables mansion. Efficient security guards examined each engraved invitation before passing the cars through the gates to the property where smartly liveried valets relieved the car owners of keys before directing them on to the lawns where the party was in full swing. Limousine’s disgorged their passengers before departing. The well-healed, elegantly dressed party guests failed to notice the couple, half hidden in the shelter of 2 Palmetto trees; they stood close, arms around each other. Anyone who happened to look their way would assume they had merely sought privacy. Though they might have commented on their appearance. The young woman clearly belonged. Her auburn hair was tied in a braid and swept up in an elegant top knot. She wore a black, backless cocktail dress with a sweetheart neckline the dress hit mid calf. 2 inch red high heels further helped accentuate shapely legs. Her companion, however, was another matter. He had sun-bleached blonde, hair that hung shaggily almost to his shoulders. He was dressed in a t-shirt with a picture of a surfer cresting a perfect wave and the words “Catch a wave” emblazoned on the front and a pair of baggy, tan cargo pants. His feet were incased in flip-flops. He wore a single gold earring.
“Are you ready?” The young man asked. The woman nodded.
“I know what to do. What about you?” She asked. He shrugged.
“As ready as I’m going to be.” He replied. After a minute, he asked. “Are you sure you can walk in those?” He indicated her footwear
She laughed. “If I stumble I’ll attribute my lack of grace to the primo pot my boyfriend and I smoked before the gig so I could unwind.”
He kissed her then, softly, pulling her close as he did. “Be very careful, we both need to walk out of here.” She rested a hand against his cheek.
“We’ll be raiths, no one will know we’ve been and gone.”
A red 1968 Thunderbird stopped at the end of the drive. The guard examined the invitation and waved the vehicle through. It stopped just at the head of the driveway and a tall, rangy young man stepped out. He wore designer jeans, An Eddie Bauer western shirt and matching cowboy boots. He casually handed the keys to the valet attendant.
“That’s our cue.” Leeanne Destri stated. “Time for the Jackal and The Beautiful dreamer to begin their masquerade.” She quickly brushed a kiss against his cheek. Spinelli reluctantly let her go.
“Break a leg.” He said, trying to sound confident. She smiled encouragingly and made a quick thumbs up gesture as she turned and began walking toward an Elegant, effeminate looking man who seemed to be in charge of the event. Spinelli noticed Lucky walking toward a couple. The pair seemed to know the young detective, shaking hands and greeting him warmly. These must be Lucky’s contacts Spinelli reasoned. He stepped back and collected his backpack which contained the supplies he would need for his part in this exercise, then eased out of the shadows and began to make his way purposefully toward the rear entrance, the one used by underlings. Based on his path, if anyone saw him, they would likely dismiss him as some part of the help and pay him scant attention.
Lucky nodded in casual acknowledgement of the attractive red head that crossed his path. He scanned the crowd involuntarily, looking for some sign Leeanne and Spinelli had made it onto the property. They had discussed using Jerrod’s old method for training Leeanne and procuring fake identification to slip them in among the staff. But as Leeanne had pointed out, only she knew how to pretend. It would be hard to camouflage Spinelli so it was best not to even try. They were going to find their own way in. He spotted Jack Killian and his boss Nikki Molloy right away. Nickki, a tall, slim brunet could be considered severe even cold on first meeting. But Lucky had encountered her enough he understood that was a facade designed to disabuse anyone of the notion they could get the better of her as a woman. There was nothing weak about her appearance now. She wore a navy blue dress that looked like it was probably the product of some high dollar designer.
“Lucky! It’s good to see you again!” Nikki greeted him warmly; he lightly clasped her hand in a firm shake. Then exchanged greetings with Jack.
“This isn’t right.” Jack complained. “”Here I am in this monkey suit and you mosey in looking like you just got back from the rodeo. How does that work.”
“I’m the son of a Texas oil family. It’s expected for me to dress this way. Isn’t that right Miss Nikki.”
“You could park your horse in my stable any time Mr. Spencer.” Nikki drawled, giving him a wicked smile.
“Remember Boss, he’s married.” Jack teased.
“I’m just saying, if she ever gets tired of him Foster’s always telling me I should be open to breaking in new talent. Nikki responded in kind.
“I’ll keep that in mind” Lucky told them. “I mean that is a tempting offer. A beautiful woman, a radio show with a built in audience since I guess she’d be replacing you. What more could I ask fore.” Lucky grinned at his friend. Turning serious Lucky asked “Is Foster here?”
“A party being put on by a wealthy woman of mystery. You think the Castle brother’s would allow their interest’s not to be represented. Foster just went in search of beers. When I told him someone from his home county would be attending as a special guest of KJCM he wanted to make sure you were right at home.”
“What did I tell you kids?” A booming male voice cut into the conversation “You just got to know how to ask for things.” A rugged looking man in attire similar to Lucky’s appeared in their midst, clutching 2 long necked bottles of beer. Nikki made introductions.
“Jefferson Wilder I’d like you to meet Foster Castle, president and CEO of Castle communications. Foster, this is Jefferson Wilder. The young man I was telling you about.”
Lucky was impressed at how smoothly Nikki switched over to using his cover name and the legend he and Jack had created. “Jefferson is just back from a civilian consulting project. I’m hoping to induce him to appear on Jack’s show to talk about the border kidnappings.”
Lucky took the offered beer and shook Foster’s hand. The Texan had a bone crushing grip. Jack didn’t lie about that. Lucky thought. The man could break fingers without breaking a sweat.
Just then, a man stepped on the small stage and raised a hand for quiet.
“Ladies and gentleman, your hostess for the day, Helena Cassidine.” He announced, in a cultured, English accent. There was a polite smattering of applause.
An elderly woman with a regal baring stepped onto the stage.
“Welcome friends!” she said, her voice deceptively warm and charming. “I invite you all to enjoy my hospitality. This is the dawn of a new error of prosperity and glory for the Cassidine family. I am honored you have chosen to share it with me.”
The applause was louder this time. Lucky watched her in a full length evening gown, still in mourning black for the sons and husband she lost. Of course no one knows her mourning is an act. Lucky thought. He took a long pull on his beer. Any time now, Leeanne should be engaging her diversion. He hoped Spinelli was able to carry out his assignment. He wondered again about Spinelli not being a pretender. He was certainly well hidden. Lucky had been constantly scanning the crowd and had seen no one resembling the computer genius.
“And now ladies and gentleman, I will stop boring you with an old woman’s prattling. I have arranged some special musical entertainment. Please enjoy!” Once more the applause. Helena dismounted the stage and the auburn haired beauty Lucky had seen at first, ascended the stage. Her arms raised slightly too either side. She smiled prettily at the crowd and stepped to the microphone.
“If she sings as fine as she looks, the grand lady has definitely outdone herself.” Foster observed. The young woman hit the crowd with what was calculated to be a sultry stair. Her eyes were a vivid violet blue.
“She raised one well manicured hand to display fingers painted the same bright red as her shoes, then smiled coyly. She gestured to a piano player and he struck a single note. She began to sing.

Weird Nightmare: you haunt my every dream
Weird Nightmare: Tell me, what’s your scheme.
Can it be that you’re a Part.?
Of a Lonely Broken Heart.
Weird Nightmare: Why Must you Torment me.Weird Nightmare, pain and misery.

Leeanne’s really good at this. Lucky thought as he listened. I had no idea. He took a surreptitious look around and deciding Most of his companions were as sufficiently enthralled with Leeanne’s smoldering performance. He nodded to Jack and one at a time, they made their excuses, going in different directions but both intending to meet inside the house.

Spinelli tapped on the door of the security monitoring room. A gruff voice told him to enter. Spinelli took a deep breath and pushed the pounding ache in his head to the side. He didn’t have time for this now. It wasn’t his first headache. He guessed it was the stress of recent revelations. He stepped inside. A burly man was at the controls. He turned to glare suspiciously at Spinelli.
“What do you want?” the man barked.
“I’m with Smart Solutions, the dude at the gate told me to come right up. The old lady was insistent the glitch in your system get fixed right now. Lots of Vis in for some bash…” Spinelli talked fast, inching further into the room. He had to get to that computer quickly.
“No one told me about any glitch or anyone coming to fix anything.” The guard insisted.
“Man! I don’t believe it. The dude on the gate already put me through the third degree!? Don’t you guys talk to each other? I don’t have all the time in the world you know.”
“Mrs. Cassidine is very particular about security; I can’t let just anyone touch the system. Spinelli reached into his cargo pants and produced one of the fake ids he had kept in reserve when he and Leeanne had first disappeared. He handed it to the guard along with a business card he had printed up last night. The guard gave both a careful scrutiny. As he did. Spinelli kept talking.
“Some dude named Spiro something or other called in the report. He said the system was cutting in and out. It sounded like a virus. One of those devils gets in and they can totally fry your system.” He cut a glance at the monitor. Leeanne was just taking the stage. “Man they said this would be a quick in and out, I run the clean up program then I could be back at the beach. I’m missing some narly waves Dude! I never should have…”the guard raised a hand.
“Quit yammering and I’ll call the gate!” he said starting to turn away.
He calls the gate, I’m cooked, Spinelli thought. He decided to use Leeanne’s diversion to his own advantage.
“Wow! Check it out, is she the entertainment?” he asked, assuming a confidential, man to man tone. As he hoped, the other man followed his gaze to the monitor.
“I wouldn’t…” he didn’t get to finish his thought as Spinelli had moved in behind him and putting all his weight behind the swing, struck the man across the base of the skull. The guard slumped over unconscious, and Spinelli went quickly to work. He shoved the man unceremoniously aside just a little more roughly than was probably necessary. then he pulled a thumb drive from his pants pocket and inserted it in a usb port. He scrolled to the program he had written and launched it. He then pulled a pair of flexi cuffs Lucky had lent him from the backpack and bound the man’s hands. He also took out some duct tape and applied it to his prisoner’s mouth for good measure. Spinelli cast another glance at the screen, Leeanne was in her element. She had the crowd fully in the palm of her hand. He turned the speaker dial up and was touched to hear her singing the song that had claimed him forever.

Can’t sleep at night.
Twist, turn in fright.
With the Fear that I’ll live it all again in my Dreams.
You’re there to haunt me when he says he doesn’t want me.

Spinelli shook himself mentally. There was no time to fall under nostalgia’s spell. He clicked the mouse and saw that all the other cameras had shut down, that His secondary file had been activated. The guards would think a diagnostic program was in progress as this monitor was still in operation. He hoped Lucky and Jack would have enough time. The phone begain ringing. Spinelli answered.
“George, is everything ok up there? We’re getting some kind of system glitch.”
“pitching his voice lower and using what he considered a fair approximation of the guard’s Greek accent Spinelli answered, “It’s just some routine system clean up program the geeks from the computer place called and told me they’d be running. Not to worry about it. The main monitor is still working.”
Before the other could say more, Spinelli hung up. He took the guard’s key card and locked him in the control room.

Spinelli found the pool house exactly where the arcutects plans said it would be. He was right; some of the guests had availed themselves of the pool and ended up leaving articles of clothing unattended. It didn’t take Spinelli long to find a shirt and pants that fit reasonably well. Then he removed the blond wig he’d been wearing and put it and the surfer geek get up in the pack. He left the pool house. He temporarily hid the pack in a corner of the hedges that bordered the property then casually wandered back toward the center of the party. Leeanne didn’t usually care for the kind of soft cocktail music this event required but she was carrying it off very convincingly, adding an element of sensuality that was calculated to command attention away from the house.

Leeanne was nearing the end of her 30 minute set and glad of it. If she had to sing one more moon in June and how I long to spoon type song she was truly going to scream. It had been a small act of rebellion she had insisted Weird Nightmare be a part of the repertoire that she got away with only because it had the same feel as the rest of the music. Performing a song that took her back to a very special night had eased the butterflies in her stomach. Seeing Spinelli move to the edge of the crowd eased her mind even more.

Leeanne finished performing that old Black magic and thanked the audience for their attentiveness; she saw Lucky head toward Spinelli. It was almost time. At that moment she heard the silver Stretch limo squealing up the driveway. She saw an older man in white Tie and tales, carrying a silver tipped, old fashioned walking stick. He was hollering belligerently at the guards, his speech slurred by drink. It was time to implement their exit strategy. ***

Lucky glided up to Spinelli, raising his right hand in greeting.
“I thought that was you, man!” he said, grinning broadly. “Glad you made it.”Spinelli sighed inwardly with relief if the mission had failed, Lucky would have raised his left hand.
As the 2 men shook, a thumb drive was passed from Lucky’s hands to Spinelli’s.
“Jack’s got the other items.” Lucky said quietly.
“I don’t know how long it will take for them to miss George or look into the system issues.” Spinelli admitted.
“That was when they heard the slurred voice of a loud drunk.

“”You’re related to that yellow bellied cheat Zach Castle!” the voice bellowed. “Did you know your Daddy stole a fortune in oil right out from under me on a legal technicality? But what can you expect from a man who comes from a family where their so called honorable relative who served with the confederacy turned tail and ran right in the middle of the fighting at Vicksburg! Heard your great grand daddy Hid behind women’s skirts in the local cat house!”
“Wait just a minute.” Came Foster Castle’s reply.
“Foster, he’s drunk, ignore him.” Nikki kept her voice low.
The man took a pull from a hip flask then cussed at guards who tried to move in.
“Yep, nothing but a puffed up wuss.”Luke Spencer said smugly.
Foster Castle responded exactly as Lucky had predicted he would, letting fly with a wicked left hook.
“Time for me to go save my father from himself like a dutiful son.” Lucky said, giving Spinelli a wink. The younger man nodded, praying as he turned and headed for where he had hidden the backpack. It was undisturbed where he placed it. He slung it over his shoulders and moved, unnoticed to where the cars were parked, easily finding Lucky’s sports car. This was the hard part. He had to trust Leeanne to affect her own escape. It had been decided it would be safest if they all left separately so none of them would be tied together. Though Spinelli was beginning to understand Leeanne was very capable of handling herself, this was the most dangerous situation she had been in since her kidnapping. It took Spinelli 5 minutes to hotwire the car and slowly drive away. No one was yet taking notice of who left. Spinelli was on the main thoroughfare when it happened. The pain this time was impossible to ignore. It felt like a vice had slammed down on his skull. At the same time, lights began to flash across his field of vision and everything got hazy. He couldn’t tell what was in front of him. Spinelli swerved wildly a couple of times, unable to order his thoughts and certain he was about to hit someone or something. He finally pulled the car to the side of the road and stomped on the breaks. He just sat for what seemed an eternity, waiting for the pain to let him go. He listened for anyone to come to investigate. No one did and as fast as the episode hit it was over. The pain lessoned, at least it dulled down to something manageable. His vision cleared and Spinelli realized what had saved him was The Season not being in full swing yet. The near by mansions weren’t yet opened up. Only the Cassidine place and an estate further down the road were occupied. It was never like that before. Spinelli thought. Spinelli wanted to ditch the car right then. To get out and walk the rest of the way. But he knew it was important it not be found. Not for a long time and that meant it needed to be left someplace less conspicuous as planned. Adding a request for clear vision to the prayer he was already offering that Leeanne had also safely slipped away, he turned on the engine once more, and very carefully, inched his way down the street to keep his meeting.

Leeanne slipped unnoticed, to the dock once the punches started getting thrown. Uncle Luke’s crude but effective diversion is a perfect cover, Leeanne thought. Everyone’s attention had focused on the brawl on the front lawn. No one had noticed her walking toward the back of the property. As soon as she gained the cover of a building. Leeanne stopped briefly to slip her aching feet from the torturous shoes. Carrying them in one hand, Leeanne found the dock. Besides the yawt, Leeanne found the smaller boat, mostly used by the help. She untied the boat lines and climbed over the side, quickly starting the motor. The key for it had been in a front pocket of the black dive bag that was waiting for her on the seat. She wouldn’t think about how Luke had managed that. . All the while she prayed Spinelli had been able to slip out to Lucky’s car under the cover of chaos and that he was as good at hotwiring as he had led her to believe, even in this modern age when cars were controlled by computer chips. Come on, Leeanne told herself, if it involves computer’s it’s child’s play for the Jackal.
Leeanne turned off the motor when she thought she was far enough out. She then quickly slipped out of the dress, stuffing it and the sex kitten shoes into the bag. Then taking out the violet lenses. These went into the pocket the key had come from. Under her dress, Leeanne wore a blue and green bikini now she was just another pretty Florida beach bunny worshipping the sun. Sliding the strap of the dive bag over her shoulder Leeanne then stood up in the small craft, raising her eyes to the horizon. Measuring the distance to the public peer and the edge of the beach. After a few minutes, she turned off the boat engine, replaced the key in the bag, and then crept onto the side of the boat. Leeanne counted to 5, took the biggest breath she could, and slipped into the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean. She dove deep, and started to swim in her chosen direction, letting the boat drift out to sea on the current. If she was lucky, the Gulf Stream would soon catch the craft and carry it far out of reach. As Leeanne swam, she cast about for a thought to keep the last remnants of ghost memory from debilitating her. Leeanne’s mind went to the other time she had jumped from a boat. That time she had been more frightened. Of course then she had been wrapped tight in the arms of her beloved.

It was the night they left Port Charles. All the good-byes had been said, though only the 2 of them knew they were doing it. Hugs good wishes, and promises she would not be alone had been made by Leeanne’s parents and step-Mother. They had indulged in one last dinner at Kelly’s. Now Leeanne stood at the rail of a rented sailboat, staring at the dark, rippling water of Port Charles Harbor as the boat moved around the edge of Spoon Island, and heading toward where there was a cliff overlook. Leeanne held on to the rail with one hand and her support cane with the other. She sensed movement behind her then heard Spinelli’s voice.

“It’s time.” He told her. Leeanne nodded her head once affirmatively. Spinelli reached out and gently took the cane from her hand, letting it drop to the deck. Leeanne swayed slightly but Spinelli held on to her arm and moved once more behind her, talking to her all the while.

“I’m going to support you.” Spinelli told her. He gently wrapped his arms around Leeanne. She leaned back, feeling his solid strength, steady and secure. She looked again at the water; it was black as ink and probably freezing if the brisk April air was any indication. Leeanne shivered involuntarily. She felt Spinelli’s arms tighten just slightly.
“Do you remember how we talked about protecting each other for a wile?” Spinelli inquired. Leeanne again nodded, then realizing her back was to Spinelli, she turned and repeated the gesture. Leeanne knew he wanted her to speak. But fear locked her voice deep in the back of her throat. There were many things she wanted to ask. Things she wanted to tell Spinelli but her words remained locked inside. Just as they had been the majority of the time since Spinelli had taken her from her kidnappers.

“I’m going to count to 5.” Spinelli said, glancing at his watch. “On 5 I’m going to lift you. I want you to take a deep breath, close your eyes and hold on to me as tightly as you can. Do not be alarmed by anything. Trust that we can keep each other safe and I’ll get you to the next place we need to be. Can you do that?”

Again, Leeanne moved her head up and down once. Spinelli glanced again at his watch. Then he began to count softly.
“One.” Spinelli adjusted the position of his arms for an easier lift.
“2.” Leeanne felt him shift his lower body now, bracing himself for the next move.
“3.” As he spoke, Leeanne rose up on tip-toes.
“4” Leeanne mentally gathered her courage and laid her hands on Spinelli’s shoulders, fitting her small body more comfortably against him, She was reassured by his warmth and calm.
“5.” In a single fluid motion, Leeanne’s feet left the ground, Spinelli hurled himself up and over the low rail. A second later a terrific boom shattered the quiet spring evening followed by a brilliant flash of light. Even with her eyes closed, Leeanne was a ware of it. The water was even colder than Leeanne had imagined. It would have stolen her breath had her fear of drowning not been worse. The water convulsed with terrible waves, set off by the force of the explosion. Spinelli curled himself around Leeanne, attempting to be as sensitive as he could to her assault and fears of close contact, while still protecting both of them from the worst affects of the explosive wake. Instinctively, Leeanne wrapped her legs around Spinelli’s waist, thinking she could shield her boyfriend as he was doing for her. After a while, she felt him relax and Leeann allowed her body to do the same. Still, she fought a fear that she’d lose the control on the air in her lungs she was tightly rationing. She was trembling with fear. What if they couldn’t get where they were going? What if the Center sent someone else or if her father missed someone during his administration of justice. Leeanne wondered. Leeanne buried her face against Spinelli’s chest trying to focus entirely on his presence, the feel of his arms securely locked around her. Her lungs seemed about to burst. The light was further and further away, then almost gone. The waters were calmer. Then they were breaking the surface. They only stayed above water for a few seconds but this time they weren’t underneath as long. Leeanne felt that she might make it out of this if she just held on. After the third time, when they broke the surface, Leeanne felt herself being lifted. Someone was reaching for her. Leeanne dug her fingers into Spinelli’s shoulders not wanting to be separated. Leeanne had an uncontrollable fear that kept her eyes shut and made her unwilling to leave the sanctuary of Spinelli’s arms.
“We’re with your Uncle Luke.” Spinelli explained. “Let him help you, I’ll be right behind you.”
Leeanne relaxed her grip and she felt herself being lifted from Spinelli.
“I’ve got you Darlin.” The lazy cadence of Luke Spencer’s voice came from close by. She felt the boat rock slightly as Luke laid her on the deck. She started to attempt to sit up. Her body was stiff, sore and she couldn’t stop shaking. Luke pushed her back down.
“The Haunted Star crossed your path closer than we planned. I think someone on there called the Coast guard. That’s what took me so long. You’ll both need to stay out of sight till I clear the Harbor. I’ll feel better if we’re in international waters before either of you show your faces topside. Leeanne felt the boat weight shift again and a form stretched out beside her.
“You can do this Leeanne.” Spinelli’s voice was soft in her ear. Leeanne nodded her head in agreement. She was still unable to speak. She felt a weight being laid over her legs Leeanne was about to cry out in fear but Luke spoke.
“You need to be quiet Goldy Locks, sound carries over water.” Leeanne bit her tongue. She became aware of Spinelli putting an arm around her, folding her other hand into his.
“Let Luke do what he has to.” Spinelli advised. “I’ll be with you the whole time.”

This assurance subsided her fears. Leeanne felt the weight being unfolded to cover both of them. Leeanne realized it was only a tarpaulin. It would have been casually thrown to appear to cover random equipment. Leeanne Heard Luke’s muffled footfall retreat and a moment later, she heard a motor engage and felt the motion of the boat change under them. Leeanne shook violently with cold and fear. Seeming to sense her emotions, Spinelli pulled Leeanne closer, circling both his arms around her in order to give her what warmth he could. He began to lightly stroke her hair. The rhythmic feel of the boat under her and the motion of his hands against her hair and his voice, speaking soothing words, lulled Leeanne into a sleep she didn’t realize she craved. When Leeanne awoke, a scratchy blanket had been laid over her, and her head was resting against Spinelli’s chest. Only then did Leeanne risk opening her eyes. The sky was just starting to be touched by the faintest shades of grey. Luke was standing over her He pressed a hot thermos into her hands.
“That’s Ruby’s Chicken soup. Guaranteed to ward off any kind of chill. Refuse it and she’ll haunt you forever.”
“I don’t think threats will be helpful.” Spinelli argued.
“We really did it?” Leeanne asked, in a tiny voice. “Everyone thinks we’re dead?”
“As doornails.” Luke told them. “They’ve dragged the harbor all night. They are well aware they are looking for the 2 of you. There was a nice trail of paper work and Lucky’s heading the investigation. Of course none of them knows the truth. A Spencer in love has more lives than the average cat. And if the object of that love is along for the ride, well, behold the results.” He made an expansive gesture taking in the 2 of them and the boat.

Leeanne focused on that thought now as she surfaced for the final time and dragged her exhausted body to the sure. She was a Spencer in love. All was possible.

Leeanne went to the public rest rooms now carrying the dive bag more like something she had just found, a burden to be tossed in the junk rather than an important possession. She entered the rest room and checked herself in the mirror. Most of the die had washed out of her hair while she was under the water. She put the dive bag into a locker then hopped quickly into the shower and allowed herself a quick 2 minute rinse. Anything left could be explained away as highlights. Leeanne Grimaced as she saw the outfit required for this last pretend. Why did I agree to this one Leeanne asked herself then remembered this was how it was decided she could best blend in? Leeanne put on the skin tight blue jeans and hot pink spandex top that pushed out her small breast, making them look rounder, and exposing a lot more of them than Leeanne thought the world should see. The top also left her midriff bare. The outfit was completed with a pair of gold high heel sandals with small pink stones in flower patterns. “Another pair of torture implements, these have to be Carly’s idea, Leeann thought. Sam would have more sense.
Leeanne tied her hair into a jaunty ponytail. She let a few strands of hair fall tantalizingly loose, Smiling as she thought about how Spinelli could never seem to resist reaching for those fly away locks. As she o secured her hair with a clip in the same pink as her top, Leeanne forced herself to shut down tender thoughts of the man who was her world. There was no room in this pretend for feelings of love and sentiment. Think of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Leeanne instructed herself. The last thing Leeanne did was to dispose of the dive bag in the trash. She then sashayed out of the rest rooms and sauntered down the peer to the café where she and Spinelli were suppose to meet. Now she was just one of the many sun kissed beach bunnies trying to land a man with a fat wallet. Going into keeping, as they said hundreds of years ago. Leeanne concentrated on moving like Maxie Jones or Marylyn Munroe, women who clearly new all about making all men want them and enjoying the attention. Judging by the whistles and occasional lude comments, Leeanne decided she was carrying it off. None of them knew how dirty their attentions made her feel. You have no right Leeanne thought as she walked to one of the outdoor tables and slid into a seat. Only Damian should be seeing me dressed this way. I should only be like this for him. She ordered a berry wine cooler in keeping with her roll and sipped without tasting it when it arrived. Leeanne still felt unwanted eyes on her; she met any stares that happened to lock with hers with cool disdain. Where is Damian? Leeanne wondered. She felt a free son of fear creep down her back. What if he hadn’t gotten away? What if he was in trouble? What if one of those headaches he thought she wasn’t aware of had hit him again? He had trouble concentrating then and needed to stop what he was doing. Leeanne didn’t allow herself to go further with her thoughts. She couldn’t. Then she saw him. Spinelli stepped onto the patio area and scanned the tables with feigned casualness. Leeanne smiled at him invitingly. Leeanne could see he wanted to run to her. Remembering the script they had discussed. He crossed the patio leisurely but with confidence. There was no evidence of insecurity. When he reached Leeanne, Spinelli put a hand casually on her arm.
“Well you ask how much I love you. Why do ships with Sails love the wind. Spinelli said, giving Leeanne an easy smile.
That was the code to indicate he had not been followed to the meeting.
“And will I be thinking of you. Will I ever pass this way again?” Leeanne responded, letting him know the same. Spinelli sat down on the banquette next to Leeanne, continuing to play the roll of pursuer. He ran a hand up and down Leeanne’s arm.”Are you sure everything went ok?” Leeanne asked, “It seemed longer than I thought it would be.”
Spinelli hesitated. Leeanne saw the tired, tormented look that told her he was having more of the headaches he seemed to have begun having since his childhood memories returned. Then again, this really wasn’t the time and place she decided.
“I’d rather discuss it in more private surroundings.” Spinelli said to Leeanne’s surprise. He was, Leeanne thought, trying to trust in her wellness.
“I’d love to get out of here.” Leeanne admitted. “I can’t believe women voluntarily dress like this, I feel like I can’t breathe. Is the point to be in need of mouth to Mouth recessitation? I keep being afraid I’ll get arrested or hauled off to church.”
Spinelli laughed, welcoming the familiar sense of being disarmed and confronted with one of those complicated conversations to sweep over him for just a few minutes, easing some of the afternoon’s stress.
“Shall we depart these premises then? Our means of egress should be arriving shortly. Spinelli suggested. Leeanne smiled.
Spinelli extracted a wallet, laid several bills on the table then assisted Leeanne to her feet. She winced in pain. Her feet were at the end of their tolerance.
“I wish you’d been here long enough for it to be plausible for you to have slipped me a Micky. The idea of walking is like Hell on earth. I am going to have a word with someone.”
“It’s a good thing you never could hold your liquor very well.” Spinelli suggested, tucking her arm through his. “Gives you the perfect reason to lean on your escort and give him reason to think you’ll let him take advantage of you.”

Spinelli’s tone was light, teasing. Yet he saw the odd look that flitted across Leeanne’s face. He couldn’t read her expression but realized his remark hadn’t been taken as intended.
“I apologize.” Spinelli started. Leeanne shook her head and Spinelli remembered they weren’t safe yet. They went through the café and when they came out onto the sidewalk along the thoroughfare, a truck horn greeted them.
“Little brother you are not ducking out of revival meeting to make time with some gold digger are you?” a woman called from the driver’s seat in a truly horrible cracker accent. She wore a floppy felt hat that had once been orange and was festooned with flowers, and a print dress. Leeanne thought she looked straight out of The Grapes of Wrath or something. Spinelli was on the verge of dissolving into laughter until Leeanne gave him a quick warning look. This one he understood completely.
“Your brother just invited me to the revival.” Leeanne said, in a completely proper local accent. “He says your preacher is most inspiring.”
“Yall get in then. If we hurry we can beet Granny to the meeting house.”

They walked to the truck. Spinelli opened the door to the cab and assisted Leeanne in. She was definitely losing her grace of movement. But Spinelli felt a tension in her muscles. Leeanne let their fingers touch briefly but then she seemed to close in on herself. Sam put her foot to the gas, turning back only long enough to instruct Spinelli “Call Jason.” Spinelli fished out his iPhone to complete this last task.

Jason Morgan wondered for the tenth time how he had drawn the task of staying at the hotel to keep an eye on Diane and Carly. Then he remembered, that had been Sam’s idea.
“Do you really think Carly is going to be managed by anyone besides you?” Sam had said. “You’re the only one who can keep her from going off half cocked.”
Just because Sam was right didn’t mean Jason liked it though. Both women had drunk way too much coffee the last 2 hours. Diane was on her laptop looking for word of catastrophe, while Carly paced like a restless tiger. Every so often one or the other asked why it was taking so long. By now the tension was getting to Jason as well. He never should have agreed with this. Lucky and Luke did not need Spinelli and Leeanne in this part of the action. It was an unnecessary risk. He had to get out in the field and see for himself what happened. Just then his cell phone chirped. Carly froze by the door to the kitchenette where she was no doubt on her way to fetch more coffee she shouldn’t be drinking. Diane brought her own 3rd cup clattering back to the saucer abruptly.
“Is that them?” Carly demanded?”
“Which one is it?” Diane asked.
“It’s Spinelli.” Jason said, glancing at the number and thinking it had better be Spinelli, Leeanne is not suppose to be taking chances talking to anyone.
“Yah,” Jason barked as he answered. He listened a minute. Then he asked “You’re both fine? You’re with Sam?” There was another long silence, then Jason said. “Ok, good work. You know the next step.”

Jason hung up the phone and turned to the expectant faces turned eagerly in his direction.
“They all got out safe. Lucky and Jack got what they need. Sam’s driving Leeanne and Spinelli back to the beach house so Spinelli can set up the next part of the plan and they can both get some rest. They’re both fine.”

Diane Miller, the tough as nails lady lawyer who criminals loved and prosecutors and judges feared, wept unashamedly, Carly sagged against the wall in relief. Only Jason Morgan acted logically. He rose from his seat, walked to the bar and began pouring drinks of the more alcoholic variety. They all needed them. But for the first time since Leeanne brought home the broken piece of a Mad Cassidine science project and the Center had reared its duplicitous head, Jason dared to believe his daughter’s plan just might bring about a much safer outcome. He wasn’t crazy about her or his best friend Spinelli being front and center, but he was beginning to see now how they functioned as a complimentary team, not that different from he and Sam. Hadn’t they come through perils every bit as twisted as Cassidines and the Center?

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Saturday, June 29th, 2013
3:26 am
GeneralHospital/Pretender/Midnight Caller fan Fiction Escape Artists chapter 17
Leeanne did her best to cover her surprise at seeing her mother being escorted onto the veranda by Spinelli. Leeanne closed the notebook in which she had been writing everything she could remember from her time being held captive by the Center. Carly would absolutely lose it if she read Leeanne’s memories of being tortured and tormented.
“Hi Carly,” Leeanne said brightly. Carly is manageable as long as she thinks the situation is in hand. Leeanne reminded herself.
“You have quite a view here,” Carly observed, walking to the veranda rail and surveying the garden.
“I’m glad you approve.” Leeanne replied, joining her mother. Carly was trying to appear casual in both manner and dress, Leeanne noticed. She was wearing a light blue dress with a bamboo print pattern, no jewelry and little make up. Her own blonde hair was styled with a sassy little flip. Leeanne remembered her mother had grown up in Florida. Seeing her now, she could imagine it.
“I’ll give you ladies some privacy.” Spinelli said, turning to once more enter the house. Leeanne made a quick, sudden gesture to the notebook on the table. Spinelli nodded, picking it up on his way inside.
Thanks Damian! Leeanne thought to herself, you know darn well Carly’s visit isn’t any more social than Jason and Sam’s but you’re going to leave me alone with her. deep down, Leeanne knew Spinelli’s thinking was correct and had as much to do with Leeanne’s need to face opposition that was non threatening before they stepped out to play for keeps, as it was with his own personal comfort reguarding Carly’s temper. Still, she reflected a little back up would be nice.
“Coward!” Carly said once Spinelli closed the veranda door behind him.
“Damian Spinelli is the bravest man I’ve ever known!” Leeanne said sharply, turning to face her mother, green eyes blazing.
“Of course he is,” Carly said, holding up her hands in an effort to stop the explosion that she had accidentally set off. A pointless argument over a poor choice of words wasn’t going to help anything. Count to ten then speak like Jason said, Carly reminded herself. Aloud she said, in a more placating tone. “Of course, Spinelli’s brave, He’d have to be, in order to stand up to his best friend and your father. Most people wouldn’t even consider standing up to Jason or Sonny like that.”
At Leeanne’s look of surprise Carly added, “Yes, Jason told me about your first encounter with him when you barged in to that meeting.” There was a long silence, “Then why did you call Damian a coward?” Leeanne wanted to know. Joslin doesn’t ask this many questions, Carly reflected. Then she remembered that for all Leeanne’s appearance of being a grown woman, bad people, people who were devoid of morals had got their hands on her daughter, tortured and isolated her and as a result, she asked the kind of questions that most people had answers to years earlier. Jason was much better at these conversations than she was. For that matter so was Spinelli. Just answer her. Carly scolded herself. She took a deep breath and prayed her response would end this line of conversation.
“Spinelli is a man!” Carly explained,
“I know he is,” Leeanne said in the tone a teacher might use on an exceptionally slow student. “We’re romantically involved.”
So much for easily resolving this, Carly thought. To her daughter she said, in a tone that was probably sharper than she had intended, “If you let me finish. What I was saying is that Spinelli is a man and like most men, he, will look down the barrel of a mob kingpin’s gun, he will risk life and limb, hell, he’ll deck a cop just because he thinks the guy is being too familiar with his woman, remember, I was at Jakes when you and Lulu broke that fight up. However, when it comes to his girl and her mother having a conversation that might be contentious, where he might have to take sides, or where objects could fly, he does what men have been doing since the dawn of time, he runs for it. Your father has done it more times than I can count when Alexis and Sam are having a disagreement and Sonny, I’ve never seen the man vamoose faster than when any of the women in his life are about to get into it. He’d rather face down the attorney General and the entire PCPD than be anywhere near that.”

In spite of herself, Leeanne had to smile at the thought of either her father, a stone cold hit man or his Godfather employer being afraid of anything, especially a discordant conversation.
“Anyway, that’s not why I’m here,” Carly said, walking to the table and sitting down. Leeanne remained on her feet, standing by the veranda rail.
“I can’t imagine Dad invited you along.” Leeanne commented.
“Well, it was kind of last minute.” Carly admitted.
“In other words, you bullied him into it.”
“Bullied is a strong word.” Carly said, “But considering the madness you’re contemplating, I’m glad I (insisted) on coming along. Someone needs to talk sense to you!”
Damn! Leeanne thought. She had dared to hope that her father was the only parent she had to contend with. Jason was easier to talk to, partly because even when she had a disagreement with him, either Sam or Spinelli helped her to understand his thinking. Right now she had both of them. But when it came to Carly, no matter what guidance her father, step-mother or even Spinelli tried to give her about dealing with the woman, Leeanne always ended up at loggerheads with her mother.
“You have a great place here.” Carly began, on her hand, she ticked off points. “You have an adorable house in a quiet place, You have this beautiful garden and the ocean right outside your door, you have a skill you’re good at and that you seem to like by the number of homemade Christmas gifts, you have a man who is absolutely devoted to you, so dedicated he chucked his life and his friends because it wouldn’t be worth a damn without you. Why do you want to jeopardize that by confronting these scum that kidnapped you? I thought you had come to terms with what happened.”
Leeanne’s first impulse was to tell Carly that you never get over being violated. She was an idiot. She was on the verge of saying exactly that when Leeanne remembered one bit of insight Spinelli had offered on her mother. Something he had heard Jason tell Carly, think, and count to ten first. Leeanne took a deep breath, only then did she speak.
“You’re right, I had all those things,” she began.
“Had?” Carly echoed, it”Seems like they’re all still here.”

Sorry Dad, but you brought this on yourself, Leeanne thought.
“I guess Dad didn’t tell you he ordered me to shut down Creations from the Deep?” The shocked look that played over Carly’s face told Leeanne what she needed to know. “One of The Center operatives approached us and… well… that’s not important.”
“The Hell it isn’t!” Carly raged, “Why are you not on the island?”
Quickly, Leeanne explained the encounter, Jason’s reaction and the steps Spinelli took. This meant she had to inform her mother about the tracking program Spinelli found and disabled.
“So all they knew was your alias and the name of your company?” Carly said, “Spinelli got the spy program, so they still can’t touch you, right?”
“Yes, we were lucky! Because I happened to be having bad days and wasn’t working and because they got cocky, Damian was able to stop them?” Leeanne told her mother.
“So you guys figure some other trade for you, make up a new legend. Spinelli can do that.” Carly insisted. “There’s no reason to put your life on the line.”
“This time Leeanne forgot completely about counting. Because maybe I don’t want to see what they’ll take away next!” Leeanne shot back.
“Okay,” Carly relented, “I get that, but why not let Jason handle this. It’s what he does! If you don’t think Spinelli is able to keep…”
Carly stopped herself but not fast enough. Leeanne had been pacing. Now she stopped inches from her mother and in a cold hiss she said, “Damian is **not** weak! ** he has walked through Hell for me and I’ll thank you **never** to insult him that way again!”
Pure rage was etched into Leeanne’s face. But Carly was upset now too. This was not going at all right.
Carly got to her feet; she started to move toward Leeanne who stepped back. Her eyes were still flashing.
“I’m sorry but as your mother, I have a real problem with you throwing yourself in the path of people who think nothing of snatching kids from their parents or killing those parents when they start making noise. While you and Spinelli were talking Jason into going along with this insanity, Diane and I had a little chat! These people play for keeps!”
“We know that!” Leeanne told her mother.
“Then why try to do it yourselves? Why not let Jason fix it!” Carly demanded.
“Isn’t it enough they stole our childhood? Isn’t it enough that we’ve lived most of our lives as broken people? We want it over!” Leeanne’s voice had been rising steadily as she spoke. It was only when she finished speaking that she became aware her heart was pounding so hard it felt as though it might break out of her chest.
“I’m sorry! You’re too valuable to me to lose!”
Carly regretted the temper in her voice but she was frustrated. She didn’t know how to reach this lost child of hers. A new look came over Leeanne in that instant. Carly couldn’t quite place the emotion. Hoping it might invite consolation, Carly started to once more move toward Leeanne but she stepped back. Leeanne shook her head, like one awakening from a dream.
“Excuse me Carly.” Leeanne’s voice was quiet and she moved quickly to the door to return inside.
“Wait!” Carly said, turning to follow, “We’re not done here.”

“How long are you going to give them?” Diane asked her son. It was only because Jason Morgan had asked she brought Carly over with her. She suspected this conversation would go no better than the one she had heard all the way down the hall of the hotel, when Jason had brought Carly up to speed on his visit with the young couple. Even now, she thought she detected shrill tones coming from the veranda that suggested the discussion was anything but pleasant.
“Not much longer.” Spinelli admitted, “I had hoped it would take more than ten minutes before the situation deteriorated. I suppose it was too much to ask that whatever peace they reached after the Zacchara abduction would continue through this crisis.”
“I find myself in the unique position of agreeing with Carly on this one.” Diane said, taking a sip of coffee. She offered a firm prayer her next words wouldn’t destroy the fragile connection she sensed she was building with Spinelli now that he seemed to be adjusting to the idea of her as his mother. “It’s hard enough when a child is taken from you it’s like a piece of your heart has been cut out without anesthetic. You’d really rather die than live with it. If you’re blessed enough to get that child back, all you really want is to see them safe and happy. The idea of you going off and placing yourselves in harms way. It’s very upsetting. It’s a lot to expect a parent, especially a mother to blithely accept and encourage.”
Spinelli shifted uncomfortably. He was still trying to accustom himself to The Brusque lady of Justice as mother, more correctly, his mother. He submitted to these visits because some part of him **wanted** connection. Yet he still felt hurt by her failure to reveal herself before now. It was as though he were trying to learn the words to one of Leeanne’s old songs for their game and couldn’t quite get the lines in the right order. He remembered what Leeanne had said the previous evening about wanting being half the battle. He supposed he did want a relationship with his mother once more. But this kind of heavy conversation. He just wasn’t ready.
“I don’t mean to upset you.” Diane said into the awkward silence.
“We’re not trying to scare anyone, we just want to close that chapter and have an ordinary life.”
Diane let out one of her full throated laughs.
“Spinelli, nothing about either of you is, or ever will be ordinary.” She seemed about to say more when both of their attention was drawn to movement coming from the veranda. Two sets of foot falls were approaching then coming down the stairs into the living room. One was a light, rapid tread Spinelli knew very well as it belonged to Leeanne. The other was the clatter of high heels that could only be the Valcary. Spinelli was on his feet instantly and walking toward the stairs. Leeanne had been running. When she saw him, she increased her pace, taking the stairs 2 at a time. She started talking, the sentences tumbling out in confusion.
“It’s Miss Parker!” she cried, “She’s the other voice, that’s what I started to know at the carnival. She was the one I couldn’t identify!”

Leeanne was nearly breathless, her eyes were too bright. Spinelli was at the foot of the stairs just as Leeanne reached it. He placed his hands firmly on her shoulders, stopping her forward momentum.
“Breathe!” Spinelli instructed Leeanne she was showing signs of one of her milder anxiety attacks. While Leeanne attempted to collect herself, Spinelli cut a glance at Carly, who was several steps behind Leeanne, arms folded across her chest. Diane must have been mirroring his expression because Carly immediately went on the defensive.
“I didn’t do anything!” she said.
Spinelli looked back at Leeanne, seeking further explanation.
“I heard Miss Parker when I heard her words.” Leeanne said by way of answer, “She said the same thing about being valuable.”

Leeanne let her eyes lock with Spinelli’s, pleading for his comprehension. She wasn’t prepared for what she saw there, Leeanne knew her lover well enough to know when something had set his own wheels turning.
Something was buzzing at the edge of Spinelli’s mind as Leeanne talked about Miss Parker and being valuable. He couldn’t quite grasp the memory. He wanted to talk to Leeanne but not in front of people, certainly not in front of Diane. He read in Leeanne’s eyes, that she too didn’t want an audience. He glanced around, trying to find a viable way to clear the room. To Spinelli’s surprise, it was Diane who came to his assistance.
“Carly, I don’t think either of us has had the chance to enjoy this lovely garden up close.” Diane began.
“I want to know what is upsetting Leeanne,” Carly argued, coming alongside her daughter and reaching out to pat her arm. “One minute we were having a conversation and the next you just walked away with hardly a word, what did I…”
“Carly, our presence isn’t welcome here. I suggest we step outside until it is.”
Carly seemed about to argue than shrugged.
“You’re ok Leeanne? You don’t need anything?” Carly sounded sincerely concerned. Leeanne saw the worry and uncertainty in her mother’s eyes. She nodded her head affirmatively and offered a small smile. Carly allowed the lady lawyer to lead the way out to the side hall. Spinelli led Leeanne to the couch where they sat side by side. He took both her hands in his.
“Start at the beginning,” Spinelli told Leeanne, there was a quiet urgency in his voice. “Go slowly; I think Diane will see that we have plenty of time for this.”
Leeanne took a deep breath before beginning. “Carly and I were arguing.” “she started trying to explain her objections. She said I was valuable to her or something like that. That’s when I remembered Hearing Miss Parker in the nightmare, she was telling reins and Sidney I was valuable. I think she was laying them out in lavender for the discipline.”

“She told Granny the same thing when she expressed concern about mental stimulation for me she said I was too valuable and needed to be kept out of sight. I remember it now. I’m not entirely sure why. Something to do with puzzles.”
“You said she liked puzzles!” Leeanne recalled excitedly. “Or it was something like that!”

“I don’t understand, one minute we were talking the next she’s running from me like I’m Typhoid Mary or something.” Carly said as she stood by the orchid bushes, appreciating their soft fragrance and beautiful blooms
“I’m not going to pretend I understand what’s going on with either of them.” Diane stated. “Certainly Spinelli isn’t inclined to confide in me. He still acts like I’m a science specimen to be examined.”
“You stand a better chance than me.” Carly said, shrugging in frustration.
“You’ve come a long way since when Leeanne first came to Port Charles.” Diane assured.
“But Jason’s Dad and I’m still Carly.” Carly confessed.
“Does that matter?” The lady lawyer inquired.
“Does it matter that Spinelli sees you as, how did you put it, a science experiment?” Carly Countered.
The women walked in silence for several more minutes before Carly spoke.
“What are we going to do to stop them from getting themselves killed?” She asked.
“We are going to defy every fiber of instinct and do nothing.” Diane responded coolly.
“How can you say that?” Carly demanded. “Aren’t you afraid of losing your son again?”
“I’m terrified.” Diane admitted.
“Look, I know you’re out of practice with this parent thing, but when our kids are heading for trouble we have to step in for their own good”
“You mean like when you and Sonny decided the best way to handle Michael killing Claudia in self defense was to cover it up. Or maybe when you bought off that Bimbo Morgan was seeing. That all worked out great didn’t it.” Diane said.
“Eventually.” Carly was not going to give ground on this madness.
“I don’t like this scheme they’ve crafted any more than you do.” Diane began. They had been walking. Now Diane stopped, folding her arms across her chest. “I hate it actually, but the truth is, these people did something to them. Something I don’t think we’ll ever be able to fully understand.”
Carly let out an exasperated breath. “So you’re just going to endorse this thing?
“Oh, I’ve made my disapproval known. But they are both legal adults, even if they may not always display the maturity of their years. They’ve done without us for a long time.”
“I tried to persuade Leeanne to leave this with Jason; he’s good at this kind of thing. I’m surprised he didn’t take care of this after the Zachara’s grabbed her if they were being paid by the Center. He certainly handled them.”
Diane was surprised Jason had admitted that much to Carly. Then decided she was probably just guessing. At any rate, this was a conversation that went into dangerous territory.
“I think the best thing we can do now they’ve made up their minds is support them.” Diane said at last. “We don’t have to like what they’re doing to be there for them.”
“Jason said the same thing.” Carly admitted. “I just thought maybe this once; Leeanne might let me look out for her. It seems like of all my kids, she’s the one I have the hardest time reaching. I can never seem to say or do the right thing.”
“It’s hardest to look at yourself in the mirror.” Diane said. Carly gave her an odd look and Diane went on. “I’ve never seen 2 women more alike even as they are different.”
“Yah, right!” Carly barked, unable to suppress a laugh.
“It’s been long enough.” Diane said, “Whatever was meant for Spinelli’s ears only has been said and dissected I’m sure.”Carly nodded and both women turned for the house. They met Spinelli and Leeanne at the mid point of the garden. They were walking, arm in arm, both visibly calmer than when their mothers had left the house. They stopped. Seemingly bracing for a storm. Carly and Diane exchanged a look and Taking a deep breath Carly said, “I won’t lie, I don’t like what you’re doing, but if you both promise to be careful, I’ll be here for you.” There was silence, and then Carly added, “I’m sorry if I said or did something to trigger an unpleasant memory.”
Leeanne surprised her mother by smiling warmly. “Actually, this time you were helpful.” Leeanne told her. Spinelli gave her a look and lightly squeezed her arm then she went on, “Thank you.”
“Neither of us wants to die.” Spinelli told them.
“Then you’ll have my support as well.” Diane said, through the lump that threatened at the back of her throat. Time to Practice what you preach Diane, she told herself firmly. Spinelli released Leeanne’s arm and walked to his mother, giving her a brief hug. And speaking quietly.
“Thank you. For everything.” He told her before returning to Leeanne and leading the way back to the house.

That one Moment, Diane decided, was worth the emotional risk of giving her blessing.

Jason glanced at his watch and turned to his companion. “He’s late!” he said tersely.

“Only by ten minutes.” Lucky responded, reminding himself that he was really no better than Jason at waiting.
“You say this guy can be trusted?” Jason continued.
“I’ve known Jack for years. He’s occasionally gotten me information in return for coming on his radio show as an expert consultant.” Lucky explained.
Just then Lucky spotted his friend walking into the bar, his grey eyes scanning the place, carefully assessing the scene, looking for any sign of someone who didn’t belong. Once a cop, always a cop, Lucky thought to himself. Satisfied, Jack stopped at the bar, and beer in hand, joined the other 2 men at their corner table.
“Sorry I was late; my boss called and wouldn’t let me off the line till she extracted a commitment for me to attend some charity cocktail thing. I had to waste time putting up token resistance.” Jack said. “3 hours in a monkey suit, not my thing.”
“Did you find anything about Jerrod?” Jason asked.
Jack cut a quick glance at Jason, taking him in. Lucky made introductions.
“Jason, this is Jack Killian, a former cop with SFPD. He’s a DJ now on KJCM. Jack, this is my cousin’s father Jason Morgan.”
The two men shook hands, regarding each other warily.
“I take it you were the reason Lucky wanted to know more about this character?” Jack began.
“Lucky told me he asked you to find out about this guy, that he might not be what he seemed. He told me he already put you on it.” Jason explained.
“A few things about Jerrod just don’t seem to be adding up.” Lucky said. “Not the least of which is no one really knows anything about him.”
“That would probably be because until about 13 years ago, Jerrod Pearson didn’t exist anywhere.” Jack told them. “And my contact at Homeland Security had to move some rather large rocks to find that much.” It sounds like someone’s covering his tracks.” Jason observed.
“The guy’s got some friends in high places.” Jack agreed. He took a long sip of his beer. “The thing is, he doesn’t seem to be tied to any of the alphabet soup agencies out there. Usually a phantom like that, you think CI”A.”
“Could he be Witsic?” Lucky suggested. Jack shook his head to indicate that wasn’t the case.
“My friend’s best guess is that he’s receiving private backing. There have been a few events, separate incidents in different parts of the country that have involved supposedly different men who all bare a basic resemblance to this guy.”
Jack handed Lucky a thick file which he began to rifle through, his brow furrowing in consternation as he read.
“The guy has a real knack
For being in the right place at the right time.” Lucky observed. Jack shrugged. Jason started to reach for the file but Jack shook his head.
“Lucky’s a cop, that’s one thing.” Jack said. “If a “Coffee Importer” is going to look at Homeland security files, I’d rather be able to deny knowledge of it.”
Jason raised an eye-brow but otherwise gave no hint of expression.
“How do you know my occupation?” Jason asked in a guarded tone.
“Just because I wasn’t a New York Cop doesn’t mean I don’t keep up on major **personalities**.” Jack explained.
“Jack, we’re going to need that other favor I think.” Lucky told him.
“Then it’s a lucky thing Nikki called before I met with you.” Jack said. “I’ve already laid the groundwork. But this is going to cost you more than play off tickets.”
“I just worked on breaking up a major internet Gambling case.” Lucky said quickly.
“I can work with that.” Jack agreed. I know Nikki would be willing to do a little horse trading with a prospective guest. Especially one who pulls ratings points.”
Lucky smirked at his friend. Jack rose to leave, shaking hands with both men.
“Nice to meet you Jason.” Jack said. “I can see how you got your reputation. I wouldn’t trust this Pearson guy as far as I could throw him. Whatever he is, I doubt seriously he’s any real kind of hero.”
When Jack left, Jason turned to Lucky and regarded him coolly, once more reaching for the folder. This time Lucky passed it over.
“What was all that about a favor?” Jason asked.
“Helena got the samples that salvage crew brought in.” Lucky explained. “There’s reason to believe that she’s going to auction this thing off if she can put it together.”
Jason Nodded understanding and Lucky went on. “Leeanne and Spinelli are looking for a bargaining chip. It would help if they had something more tangible than throwing open their files on the Pretender program. Luke has an idea he came to me with and it could work nicely with what they want to do. It would give Leeanne and Spinelli some back up if we do it the way he wants.”
“Wait a minute.” Jason broke in. “How did Luke know what Leeanne and Spinelli want to do?”
Lucky told Jason about his own conversation with Luke. When he was finished, Jason remained thoughtful for a long time.

“I agree.” He said at last. “It’s almost as crazy as their idea but maybe putting both plans together with some modifications, it might work.”
The 2 men sat drinking their beers for several minutes. Neither speaking.
“Look, let’s forget I’m a cop for a few minutes and just be 2 relatives having an honest conversation, ok.” Lucky began at last.
“Ok.” Jason agreed. “There’s obviously something you want to know.” Lucky took one more long pull on his beer then taking a breath, he plunged in. “After Leeanne told us enough of what happened when they grabbed her, nearly all of the major players in the Zacchara organization had unfortunate accidents. About the only ones you left breathing were Johnny and his Wack job father.”
“You think I went on a rampage and killed a bunch of Anthony Zacchara’s people?” Jason demanded.
“We’re having an honest conversation remember?” Lucky said. “No accusations. Just a couple guys talking about protecting our family.”
There was a long silence. Jason finally spoke. “I may have expressed my unhappiness with the Zacchara’s with some street justice.”
“I remember what Leeanne Looked like when I found Spinelli’s car stalled after he got her out of there.” Lucky said. “I also remember very clearly, her cowering on the bed, clinging to Spinelli while I took her statement. I’m not going to shed any tears for the men who hurt her or their colleagues. If I had been there, I might have even sent 1 or 2 of them to the next life myself. But I also would have found out why Anthony would have risked the truce. We both knew that wasn’t a typical snatch and grab. And even Anthony knew grabbing your kid was suicide.”
“Jerrod.” Jason said flatly.
“What about him?” Lucky wanted to know.
“Like you said, this wasn’t a typical grab for Anthony. His people don’t do torture. Not on that grand a scale. They aren’t that smart. I found out someone paid Anthony to put together a crew to pull this. I was ready to get it out of the old man but Jerrod told me not to bother. He told me about this Center. He told me they held Leeanne as a child. He got a little evasive on how he knew so much about these people. But he told me they were suppose to let her alone but they’d gone back on their word.” Jason explained.
“So you knew about this Pretender thing of hers?” Jason nodded. “At that time only I was told about it. Leeanne wanted to tell Spinelli. I thought it was essential. But Jerrod convinced us both it would be safer if he had no knowledge of that. No, Jerrod didn’t mention that Spinelli had been a **guest** of the center.”
It was Lucky’s turn to nod in understanding.
“What I don’t understand... Lucky said at last. “Considering how you exacted your revenge on Zacchara’s people, why is the Center still standing, it’s more dangerous operatives still breathing?”

Jason waited a long time before answering. Not even his wife, the person he trusted more than anyone in the world knew about the leverage Jerrod wielded over him. He had promised Lucky honesty. So Jason took a breath and explained his reasons for not delivering the justice the Center so richly deserved.
“”of course.” Lucky said when Jason had finished. “I should have guessed. Now I see the reason you came down here to talk them down personally.”
“Not that it did any good.” Jason said.
“You realize they are probably going to run across this info while they are looking for leverage of their own.” Lucky stated. Jason shrugged. An idea began to form in Lucky’s mind. “Maybe it’s not a bad thing for them to know.” Lucky began. “I know that creep Conner made sure Leeanne knew exactly how you earned your living and of course Spinelli is well aware of what’s what. So you won’t be shocking anyone here.”
“You have something in mind.” Jason observed. Lucky hesitated only an instant then nodded yes. “Ok, let’s hear it.” Jason said.

When Lucky explained his thinking and the modifications he had for the fused plans of both Luke and Spinelli and his daughter, Jason for the first time saw a real possibility of success. It was still very risky.
“You don’t think there’s any better way to do this that won’t put them at risk?” Jason asked. Lucky shrugged.
“The only sure way to keep them safe has a pretty good chance of losing Leeanne all the ground she’s gained in the last 2 and a half years. Is that something you really want to chance?”

Jason scowled as he searched his mind for another solution. One that would be fool proof. The one thing Lucky had suggested was no kind of life and would as Lucky said, risk a serious mental regression for his daughter. One he suspected not Even the love and devotion of Spinelli would be able to bring her back from. Knowing what he did now about the younger man, Jason couldn’t be sure putting them in a remote, well guarded locale completely cut off would do him any good either. That wasn’t even taking in to account the Hell he’d catch from both Carly and Diane. Carly might understand, but Diane, No, the only thing they could do was follow the plan Spinelli and Leeanne wanted. They could do it the Spencer way, with a couple further tweaks. But the only way out for all of them was to make a deal with the devil.

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Thursday, April 25th, 2013
6:42 pm
General Hospital/Pretender fan fiction Escape Artists chapter 16
The sun was beginning it’s descent for the day, trailing a rainbow of pink, red, and orange across a once more cloudless blue sky. Leeanne’s blood was still singing from her time waiting out the storm with Spinelli. They had eventually drifted into a light dose for an hour, hands linked, at peace just being together. She could tell Spinelli also continued to feel the buzz from their quiet time as they sat together under one of the tall lemon trees at a small table. While Spinelli arranged the tools they would need to begin their work, their hands touched, and when he opened the notebook and began drawing the chart, he offered no objection when she leaned in closer to read over his shoulder, letting her hair brush his arm.
“Tell me again why we’re working with old fashion pen and paper when you know you can set up a chart easier on the computer?” Leeanne asked. “Besides, isn’t pen and paper more of a security risk?”
Spinelli looked up at her, still trying to wrap his head around this focused, composed side of his beloved. He was seeing once more the wild, brilliant, and creative thinking woman he had closed down Jakes and the Haunted Star with. He turned his attention to her question.
“MR. Brootz is an accomplished computer expert in his own right, and he’s under the influence of people with no moral compass and bottomless pockets.” Spinelli explained. As good as I am and as impregnable as the security system is that I installed on the computers, they came uncomfortably close to getting in before. It was sheer luck that circumstances caused me to look at your laptop. I can’t let that happen again, especially not considering what we are about to attempt. Arcane recording is safer.”

Leeanne couldn’t fault Spinelli’s logic. He was absolutely right about the center’s vast financial resources. If she hadn’t had a period of painful days, she might well have gone into creations from the deep and downloaded the program that was hidden, compromising them both. She peered at the page before Spinelli. He had drawn 4 columns in black. Written between 2 of the columns in green where the initials LD between the other 2 in blue was written DS. On top of each column in corresponding colors was written, background pre-Center, and Center time.

“Shouldn’t there be a post center column too that covers the time from when we got out to when we met in Port Charles?” Leeanne suggested. Spinelli quickly made the adjustment.
“I’m not sure how much would go on my side of that equation” Spinelli mused. “I was just using the computer for games, and things like hacking systems just to see if I could get in when I lived at Granny’s. I certainly wasn’t being instructed the way you were with Jerrod on your road trip.” Spinelli regretted his last words as he saw the dark look that crossed Leeanne’s face. But it was no more than a shadow and passed quickly as he reached over and traced a finger along her wrist.
Leeanne was rocked by the anger at Jerrod’s manipulations that Spinelli’s words called forth. With each day, as her memories became clearer and she better understood what Jerrod had been doing, how he’d lied to her, Leeanne’s anger had grown exponentially. Leeanne knew she was going to have to confront those feelings of rage and betrayal. Leeanne also knew she couldn’t allow them to cloud her thinking. “They’ll be time to deep Fry Jerrod’s lying ass and use his balls for gator bait.” Leeanne didn’t realize she was giving voice to her thoughts, until she saw the look of mingled shock and consternation that crossed her lover’s face. His dark eyes widened and his eyebrows shot up.
“You’re as angry with Jerrod as with those who kept you confined.” Spinelli observed.
Leeanne considered downplaying her outburst, then decided the person who most needed to hear how deep her anger ran, was Spinelli. He would be most affected by it.
“I was thinking how nice it will be to force Jerrod to feast on a little humble pie.” Leeanne told him, allowing the southern to wind through her voice. “I want to see The Center fall and fall hard. Especially Jerrod, That son of a bitch lied about being my friend, about making things safe for me. Just because he didn’t have me running sims in a cage doesn’t mean he wasn’t exploiting me every bit as much as Sidney, Reins and the rest. He just found a more pleasant way to run the tests they wanted!”
Spinelli took her hand in his, seeking to calm her. He might have guessed Leeanne’s rage toward Jerrod would be especially strong.
“You have that in common with your sire,” Spinelli observed. Leeanne looked at him curiously. “Jason will forgive pretty much any error in judgment, mistake, or bad choice. I should know. I made a lot, especially at first. But the one thing he will never get past is lying. There’s no coming back from a lie, the more serious the falsehood, the more people it affects, the worse it is for the liar.”
“He’ll be more likely to eliminate a liar? Leeanne asked.
Spinelli fidgeted uncomfortably. He didn’t really want to talk about Stone Cold’s professional habits with the man’s daughter. Knowing what he did and wanting details were too **very** different things. Though a part of him wondered if this might not be an easier, safer way to handle the need they both had to strike back. All it would take is a quiet word to Stone Cold that the Beautiful Dreamer’s mind would be set at ease if Jerrod were to cease to be among the living, Spinelli thought. But he knew that wouldn’t really bring about the closure they were both looking for. This needed to be settled and they were the only ones who could win this battle. To let someone else handle it for them would just keep them victims.
“You look like Jason did the first time we had lunch together and I asked him about how he courted Carly.” Leeanne observed. Spinelli burst out laughing. He remembered the aftermath of that conversation, Jason sitting him down to ask his intentions and warn him to take care with pursuing a physical relationship with Leeanne. Though the moment ranked as one of the more embarrassing ones in his life, the memory of a flustered Stone Cold was one Spinelli wouldn’t soon forget.
“I’m sorry,” Leeanne said, “I didn’t mean to lose it just now. I’m distracting you from our work.”
“It’s ok; it’s something that you needed to express.” Spinelli told her, squeezing her hand. Leeanne ran a hand distractedly through her hair. Spinelli returned to the note book. At the top of each column he wrote
Entered Center, age 6
Under his own initials he wrote,
Mother deceived into relinquishing custody.
At the top of the column with her initials he penned
Adoptive parents murdered, child abducted.

Leeanne noted his careful script, The letters neat and precise. Under the Center column he copied the names of all the tests he had seen in the files and their scores. Leeann noted that though all their results were high scores, their particular strengths seemed to be opposite.
“They saw us as a matched set.” Leeanne observed. “We were to compliment each other.”
“I see that,” Spinelli replied as he finished filling in that section. “There are a couple of areas where we overlap. We both have idetic memory and our Minnesota Multi-fasic tests place both of us as type I personalities, tending to creative unstructured thinking. But while my best scores are in computing, science, logic and math, your highest results are in communication, history, and languages. You’re also stronger in the area of coordination, agility and athletics.”
Spinelli picked up a purple pen and began drawing lines between scores that were a match or close to it for both of them.
“How do you think they first became aware of us?” Leeanne asked. “They obviously couldn’t know what our brains would be like the minute we popped out of the womb.”
“Some pre-schools do testing before they take a child to figure out what they might already know before assigning them to a class.” Spinelli suggested. “Diane mentioned she sent me to a private pre-school that worked with gifted children when she went to work for the Center.” Leeanne’s eyes widened and Spinelli realized he hadn’t told Leeanne this part of the story.
“One day The Sassy solicitor brought me to work with her. I had been asking to see where she sorted out other peoples problems. So she took me in with her and showed me around, introduced me to people. Then DR Sidney asked me if I’d help him out and do some tests. That if they went well I could get to go to a special school for really smart kids. That was the last I saw of my mother until she came to Port Charles. They told her to forget about me, to keep her eyes on her future.”

Spinelli felt his eyes burn, at the memory and impatiently rubbed them with his fist. Leeanne leaned in and brushed a kiss against his cheek as she laid a hand on his shoulder and gently squeezed.
“I’ve seen the way she is with you now; regret over that choice will be her constant companion.” Leeanne told him.
“Part of me believes that.” Spinelli admitted, “At least I want to.”
“Wanting is half the battle.” Leeanne stated. They sat in silence for a few minutes, each gathering their thoughts before continuing with the work.
“It couldn’t have been through pre-school,” Leeanne told Spinelli at last. “I was never registered. Torri and Rafe were free spirits. They didn’t want me on what they called the establishment treadmill any sooner than necessary. They believed the world should be my classroom.Made it easier to keep their drug use a secret as well.” Leeanne was surprised to hear herself talk about that part of her time with the Destris. Though they had loved her, they had both also been emotionally flawed human beings with a dependence for certain chemicals to get them through the day.
Spinelli’s brow furrowed in concentration as he put his big brain to work looking for other intersection points. Just then, Spinelli’s IPhone sounded.
“I forwarded the security alarms to come through here when we came outdoors.” Spinelli said as he drew the device off the waste band of his jeans and touched the screen.
“It’s a rental car, not familiar,” He said, getting slowly to his feet. Leeanne moved to follow him. Spinelli automatically started to motion her to stay back but this time she was having none of it. She shook her head firmly no and one look into her eyes told Spinelli he wouldn’t win the argument. He shrugged in defeat.
“Stay behind me.” He instructed, keeping his tone equally intransigent.
“Always.” Leeanne agreed. “We face what ever approaches together, that’s all I ask.”

Jason noted the stillness around the house as he pulled up. There were no signs of life coming from the front of the house. That didn’t mean anything. Spinelli’s car would be inside the garage. He got out of the car and heard his wife exit the vehicle a second later. It had taken time, effort, and a major assist from Sam, but Carly had been persuaded to remain at the hotel until he and Sam ascertained what was **actually** going on and how serious the crisis was. “
Call me the minute you know she’s okay!” Carly had insisted, “The minute! You have to promise.”
“I promise.” Jason agreed. He had been willing to say anything to get Carly to stay in her suite.
No one answered Jason’s insistent knock. “Why aren’t they responding?” Jason said, frustrated and becoming concerned.
“It doesn’t have to be a bad thing they aren’t coming to the door.” Sam said, placing a reassuring hand on his arm. “Maybe Spinelli’s doing better now and Diane was unaware. Leeanne could have persuaded him to come outside to try and lift his mood.”
“I hope your right Sam.” Jason said.
“Let’s look around.” Sam suggested. They stepped down from the front porch and walked toward the side of the house. Spinelli stepped into view. He had been moving along the row of red mangrove that served as a fire break. Jason nodded in appreciation. Whatever his emotional state, Spinelli was still very mindful of security.
“Gracious greetings.” Spinelli’s voice showed none of the surprise or nervousness Jason would have expected from his young protege at his unexpected visit.
“Where’s Leeanne?” Jason began briskly. Spinelli made a small come ahead gesture with his hand and Leeanne stepped from behind the Mangrove. Jason realized by the angle of her movement, Spinelli had been further blocking her from view with his own body. Max or Milo couldn’t have done better, Jason thought. However, he was concerned by the look of defiance and temper that flashed in her vibrant green eyes before Spinelli placed a calming hand on her arm, like a trainer gentling a high-spirited thorough bread before she could break and run. He leaned down and said something to her in a quiet voice. Though Jason couldn’t make out the words, he grasped at once their intent as Leeanne visibly relaxed and came forward. She gave her father a quick but fierce hug.
“It is good to see you. Whatever the reason.” She held out her hand to Sam who clasped it warmly. “Are you ok?” Jason asked Spinelli as he too came forward to greet his old friend with a more restrained, manly hug.
“I’m fine,” Spinelli said, realizing his voice was shakier than he would have liked. Jason was regarding him shrewdly.
“Let’s cut through the bullshit,” Leeanne told her father, speaking in a tone that reminded him far too much of her mother and with an unfamiliar southern drawl. “I know you and Sam didn’t come down here for a family reunion or to work on your tans. You think Damian cracked up and I’m going off half cocked!”
“Am I right?” Jason asked. Leeanne’s eyes flashed once more. She placed her hands on her hips, tilting her head slightly to one side. She looked in that moment, exactly like a green-eyed version of Carly. “We know what we’re doing,” Leeanne insisted, “Damian and I value what we are to each other and what it would mean to you and Carly and…” Leeanne stopped herself suddenly. Jason was pretty sure she had been about to say Diane but wasn’t sure how much he knew about that. She went on, “We know what it would do to the ones who know the truth. We’re not going to do anything that would cause more pain.”
"Spinelli?” Jason asked. The younger man only nodded slowly but firmly in agreement. He made himself meet his friend’s eyes.
“I’d never break the promise I made to you and Carly or the one I made to Leeanne.”
“That’s not really an answer.” Jason observed. Leeanne seemed on the verge of further argument but Sam decided at that moment to intervene.
“Spinelli, I’m sure you and Jason want to go up to your office and go over the security issues.”
“I am not some helpless…” Leeanne began. Sam cut her off.
“No one’s saying you’re helpless. There are some things your father can only be satisfied about with a conversation with Spinelli. It’s one of those protective father things it’s easier to roll with.”
“Divide and conquer isn’t fair.” Leeanne objected.
“No one’s dividing anyone.” Jason said.
“You know Stone Cold always speaks truth.” Spinelli’s voice was steady and carried certainty that subsided Leeanne’s emotional turmoil. She nodded once and motioned Sam to follow her as she headed back toward the garden. Spinelli led the way inside the house, deactivating then re-arming security as he went. Jason was reassured by his friend’s attention to detail.
“Lucky promised he’d give me time to talk to Damian,” Leeanne complained. “That he’d be okay if he wanted to do it to. He wasn’t going to call Dad until there was a reason.”
“Lucky didn’t call Jason,” Sam explained patiently. But Lucky is going to get reamed out on this anyway. Sam thought. Aloud she said, “Jason got a call from Diane.
“I should have known Lucky left himself some wiggle room.” Leeanne sighed. “He wouldn’t call Jason but he would get someone else to drop the dime.”
“”Leeanne, you broke protocol and called Jason yourself. Then when Diane decided she needed to come clean with Jason about a few things, how did you think Jason would react.”
Leeanne thought for a minute, her eyes half closing. “Like a cornered cotton mouth.” Leeanne admitted. They had reached the table in the garden where Leeanne and Spinelli had been working. Leeanne noticed that Spinelli had taken the notebook with him, though he left behind the pens. Sam slid into one of the chairs. Leeanne hesitated then took the other. Sam eyed the pens.
“What were you and Spinelli working on?” Leeanne’s step-mother inquired. Leeanne was reluctant to answer. Sam gave her a nudge. “Help me to understand what you have in mind so I can make Jason see how you’ll do it.”
“You’re not going to ask me why?” Leeanne challenged, picking up one of the colored pens and beginning to turn it between her fingers.
Sam studied the younger woman. She had gone native, her skin tanned, and freckles had appeared since she had last seen her. Leeanne was wearing open toed red sandals and a pink sun dress patterned with red hibiscus flowers, very feminine and a lot more grown up than the clothing she had tended toward after her abduction.
“I know why.” Sam said matter of factly. “There comes a point when you need to prove to yourself you’re not a victim. Maybe Spinelli needs to do that too because he saw what they did to you at that house.”
Leeanne shook her head.

“No! That’s not it!” She said, tapping the table with her pen. “I mean yes, I don’t want to be a victim. But it’s bigger. Sam, what they did to both of us was horrible! They tried to de-humanize us! They treated us little better than tools! They treated Damian like a defective floppy drive or something and just tossed him aside; let him know he was worthless! Someone’s got to answer for that kind of pain!” Leeanne was breathing hard and she had begun to toss the pen from hand to hand. Leeanne feared she had said too much. She hadn’t meant to reveal Spinelli’s torment. That was his tale to tell. Sam reached across and patted her shoulder.
“You love him very much.” Sam stated.
“Truly, madly, deeply.” Leeanne replied. “I’d do anything in the world to spare him a minute’s pain but I can’t. All I can do is make it easier. Like Damian’s done for me. If that means going up against the Center so he won’t hear those voices in his head telling him he’s so worthless he’s not even worth killing, in order to give Damian peace of mind, I’ll happily do it.”
“And the fact you’re getting even for them disrupting your childhood has nothing to do with it?” Sam asked.
“I see why you’ve been such a good investigator.” Leeanne stalled. Seeing the look of determination on Sam’s face, Leeanne sighed. “I wouldn’t shed any tears at the loss of an institution like the Center. There are people there I especially want to see locked in a jail sell or worse. But mostly I want the voices to stop. For both of us. They’ve haunted us and hurt us too long.”

“Fair enough.” Sam agreed. “Now explain it to me so I can tell you how much push back you’re likely to get from your father.”
“You’re not going to fight me on this?” Leeanne asked cautiously.
“Let’s say I’m keeping an open mind.” Sam admitted. “I respect why you want to do this but if it’s a crappy plan. I’m going to tell you.”

Leeanne shrugged, accepting this was the best she was going to do.

Rather than go to the office, Spinelli and Jason had sat down in the living room. Spinelli was in the recliner while Jason sat on the couch, his legs kicked out, stretching out after the long plane ride followed by all the driving.
“How are you, really?” Jason asked the younger man.
Spinelli started to say he was fine. Then he remembered who he was talking to. Spinelli also recalled what he had just told the Beautiful Dreamer about how Stone cold felt about deception.
“Certain memories have come back to me about my childhood.” Spinelli began. “They came at me ugly side first.”

Jason nodded slowly in understanding encouraging him to continue.
“I didn’t react well to them.” Spinelli thought about stopping there, but under Jason’s relentless stare, he took a breath and went on. “I’m still trying to come to terms with it. With how I was seen. With the fact that everything I ever thought I knew about my life was an elaborate sham! People who have been in my life weren’t who I thought they were, all because of my mind!”

“That’s a lot to take in.” Jason agreed.
“About the only part that’s easy to get my head around is the knowledge that Leeanne and I really did have this history. I mean the first time we met, there was something familiar. It was like we had known each other before even though that was impossible. She had been kept in isolation somewhere near NV and I had grown up in TN. Now we discover that I was with her in isolation. I think I was helping her try to run away. I looked out for her then. I tried to protect her.”
“That’s why it was so easy for you to volunteer to walk away from your life in Port Charles.” Jason stated. “You really weren’t just acting out of love. You were doing something that came natural to you already. Maybe that was even why you were the only man she would let within ten feet of her that first week. Elizabeth said it was because you had been the one to get to her, but maybe it was also because she already knew she could feel safe with you in a way she couldn’t with her father or even her brothers.”

Spinelli wasn’t sure what to say so he said nothing. He only inclined his head in acknowledgement of the possibility.
“You know what Leeanne wants to do.” It was more statement than question and Spinelli again nodded affirmatively in reply.
“I know what Leeanne proposes is risky in the extreme.” Spinelli told Jason. “I know you would rather I dissuaded your daughter from this ambition. But I can’t do that. I’m sorry.”
“Why not?” Jason wanted to know. He tried to keep sharpness from his voice. Spinelli was being forthright even though he was clearly more strung out than he wanted Jason to know.
Spinelli considered. He knew he was going to have to verbalize their reasons for taking this path. He just thought he would have more time before he had to find the right words.
“”They thought I was less than nothing.” Spinelli began at last. “They locked me underground and made me run computations, risk assessments, hacking programs. And when I refused. They injected me with enough drugs to incapacitate me then tossed me in the middle of a desert as Coyote bait! I was nothing! Certainly not a person!”
Spinelli paused, trying to slow the pounding of his heart. He was breathing fast as the movie he thought he’d shut down in his head replayed. “I have no idea who the woman was that raised me or how I came to be placed with her. What I know is that someone saw fit to give me another chance to live a life that meant something.”
“You’re doing that.” Jason avowed. “I get to breathe easier because I know Leeanne is being looked after by someone I can count on to put her first.”
“But she needs more than that!” Spinelli interrupted, “We both do!”
Spinelli realized as he saw concern cross Jason’s face that he was losing control of the situation. He took deep calming breaths trying to compose his thoughts as he did so. When he spoke again, his voice was steady once more.
“They kept us, tried to dehumanize us. They left me for dead but then they let Leeanne escape. She thought she was being protected by Jerrod but he was working with them the whole time. I somehow wound up with a stranger. Then years later, all of a sudden Jerrod tells Leeanne she can go and pursue her life. He just lets it slip that Port Charles, where I happen to be is where she should start looking. And of all the private investigators in Port Charles, she finds Jackal McCall.”
“You said she came to you because of the book.” Jason reminded Spinelli.
“Leeanne told me once the book was a gift from someone important to her. You remember what she was like when she first arrived in Port Charles, Jason. How so many of her conversations and ideas were based out of books and movies!” Spinelli felt more certain of what Leeanne had suggested with each word. He took a breath and went on. “Leeanne didn’t have any idea how to hire a private investigator. A true life coach would have given her the rudiments of how to find a reliable professional for anything. He certainly wouldn’t have advised hiring a private investigator based on a work of fiction. But she wasn’t supposed to find just any investigator. She was supposed to find me in particular. During our first conversation she never once asked about Samantha, she never asked anything about prior successes, rates and what was covered or anything one would expect. She just played a scene.”
Jason did remember what Leeanne was like when she first came to port Charles. When he first discovered she was his daughter. His mind jumped involuntarily to their first lunch at The Metro Court.


Jason fidgeted in his seat. He’d have preferred to have this lunch at Kelly’s. But Carly had insisted, if this was their child they should make a big deal of their first “Family meal” and they could best do that in someplace a little more fancy like the Metro court Restaurant. Of Course then she had texted Jason to say she would be late. There was a crisis with one of the labor unions or something and she needed to take care of it. To start without her. Jason saw Leeanne enter. She was wearing a Champaign colored dress with lace trim that looked as though it might once have been a wedding dress. Around her neck, she wore a red scarf with gold patterns. And roped sandals. Jason stood and greeted his daughter. He pulled out her chair for her and they both sat in silence for several minutes.
“I’m not sure what to call you,” she began,””I mean I want to call you Dad like I did when I talked to you in my head. I don’t know. You don’t look like what I thought a Dad would look like. And it feels like there has to be more than biology to use a title like that. But if you’re my father I’m suppose to want that.”
Leeanne made a quick gesture of helpless confusion. However, Jason was surprised at how easily his daughter had spoken feelings he clearly remembered having after the accident that changed his life. He remembered Spinelli’s warning that Leeanne’s take on the world was “unique”
“You can call me Jason,” he told her. She didn’t seem totally convinced.
“You won’t be offended?” Leeanne asked, leaning forward and studying him earnestly. “It’s not forever. Just for now.”
“Its fine,” Jason assured her, “What you call someone has little to do with who they are or what they mean to you.”
Leeanne relaxed and gave him a bright smile. A waiter approached and took their orders. Leeanne tugged nervously at her long braid after the waiter left them clearly trying to work her way up to something.
“Carly is coming?” Leeanne asked at last.
“Yes, she was delayed.” Jason replied.
“I can’t believe she’s my mother. I can’t believe she is anyone’s mother.” Leeanne told him. Jason couldn’t quite suppress a smile at that. He thought he understood her meaning then she went on, “She seems Like Miss Kitty or Bell Watly. Not like someone who bakes cookies and goes to PTA meetings.”
"Who are they? Are they on the PTA?” Jason asked.
Leeanne’s laughter was musical. “Miss Kitty, from Gun smoke, Matt Dillon’s girlfriend, the Saloon proprietress. And Bell Watly was the madam at the hoar house Rhett Butler visited in Gone with the Wind.”
“Right,” Jason commented, realizing his daughter was speaking of works of fiction. He wasn’t sure what Gun smoke was but Sam had acquainted him with Gone with the Wind. The waiter arrived with their drinks. When he left, Jason picked up the thread of the conversation.
“You really don’t want Carly to cook anything.” Jason warned. “When she wants your sister and brothers to have cookies she gets them from the bakery.”
“How did you and Carly fall in love?” Leeanne asked after a few minutes. Jason almost choked on his beer. He had expected to hear a question about how he and Carly met. But he had hoped to steer the conversation off that path as fast as possible.
“You did love Mom. I know she had an affair with Uncle AJ and that’s why he sent me away. But you wouldn’t have made a baby unless you were married or in love and thinking about it.”

Jason began to fidget uncomfortably.
“Carly and I had an unconventional relationship.” Jason began.
“You mean you lived together?” Leeanne asked.
Jason glanced frantically around, offering a fervent prayer that Carly would hurry up and get here.
“This is probably a conversation you should have with your mother.” Jason tried. A strange look crossed Leeanne’s face.
“You did love her?” Leeanne persisted, “You **had** to to make love.”
Just how do you tell your daughter she’s the product of a hook up? Jason asked himself.
“Carly was very special to me.” Jason explained patiently.
“Special the way Damian is to me?” Leeanne pressed.
“Just how special is Spinelli to you?” Jason asked. He wasn’t certain he really wanted to hear the answer to this question but it had to be easier than explaining the brief but torrid affair he had had with Carly.
“Damian is amazing!” Leeanne told him. “Everything is much more alive and intense when I’m with him. He makes me feel sparkly! Is that how it was with you and Carly? All shooting stars and fireworks and feeling like you’re the only 2 people on the planet?”
So much for changing the subject Jason thought. As Carly arrived in a flurry of motion and words: Ordering the staff, apologizing for her delay, and greeting them both.
“So what did I miss?” Carly inquired, once she was seated, a glass of wine in hand.
“Jason was just telling me how the two of you fell in love and how he courted you.” Leeanne said, beaming with happiness.
Carly gave Jason a look of mild terror. The color went out of her face and she gulped half her glass of wine at once before leaning toward Jason.
“What did you tell her?” Carly hissed.
“Nothing,” Jason replied, “I was waiting for you.”
“What was I suppose to do?” Carly was barely able to control her voice.

“I don’t know” Jason responded, you’re better at explaining than I am!”
“Weren’t you like Damian and me?” Leeanne asked again, “you loved each other once, even if you don’t now.”


“Even after what they did to her, she could still believe in love, and and family.” Jason agreed “It’s a miracle she came out with her soul in tact. That you both did.”
“During all that time Jerrod was suppose to be her life coach, he never taught Leeanne anything about life. He left her a child, ever in need of someone stronger to look out for her. They made me worthless and her helpless. They planned to use us some day. Maybe they still do, unless we take back our own lives and refuse to be what they made us.
There was a long silence. The only sound was the distant call of the birds outside.
“Can you handle a direct confrontation without a repeat of what just happened when you started remembering?”
“You mean can I protect Leeanne?” Spinelli asked.
“That’s right.” Jason said. “Can you assure me that if the risk becomes too great, you’ll pull her back and make it end?”
“I’d sooner die myself than let anything happen to Leeanne.” Spinelli told Jason, meeting his gaze without hesitation.
Taking a deep breath and remembering something his own mother said about the greatest challenge in being a parent, knowing when to step back and trust your child, Jason said, “Tell me what the two of you are planning.”
“First, we’re reconstructing our memories.” Spinelli explained.
“Why?” Jason asked.
“If we’re going to take the Center down, we need 2 things. To know what they intended of us, And to have something to bargain with.”
“That doesn’t tell me much.” Jason pointed out.
Spinelli shrugged. “Leeanne is the architect of this plan. It would be best to let her explain it.”
As if on queue, the two women entered the house.
Sam sat down beside her husband and said simply. “You should listen to her Jason.”

Leeanne perched on the arm of the recliner, one of her hands instinctively seeking and finding Spinelli’s.

“You have a plan you want to tell me about.” Jason stated.

Leeanne looked between the two men. Spinelli squeezed her hand in encouragement. Leeanne took a deep breath and returned to her feet. She began once more to explain her plan to her most critical audience of all.
Jason asked only one question at the end, “Are you sure this is the only way you can close this chapter of your lives?” Jason’s piercing blue eyes took in both his daughter and his friend as he spoke.

The younger couple exchanged a look.

“It’s what we need to do Dad.” Leeanne said softly, all trace of defiance gone. She had returned to Spinelli’s side, he took her hand once more into both of his.

“It would be easier to leave this to you and others.” Spinelli began.” But how can I be the man you count on, that Leeanne counts on, if I can’t take charge of my own life and face my own daemons, and if they happen to be Leeanne’s monsters, aid her in vanquishing them.”

Now it was Jason’s turn to look to his own helpmate for guidance. She gave a slight nod of her head.
“You won’t do this entirely alone.” Jason said at last. Leeanne seemed on the point of arguing but Jason cut her off. “I understand why you want to do this yourselves, but you’ll have a better chance of success if you have help. Spinelli, you know that.”

There was a long silence. Spinelli and Leeanne exchanged another look. Leeanne seemed once more ready to argue but Spinelli leaned toward her and said something their company couldn’t catch. A quiet but intense exchange ensued for several minutes. At last, Leeanne turned once more to face her father, a look of resignation on her face.

No words were needed. Leeanne made a small gesture and Spinelli spoke.
“We accept your help.” He said. They were all ready then to move forward.
The only thing now is telling Carly, Jason thought. He immediately decided he wouldn’t think about that for a while yet.

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Thursday, February 28th, 2013
5:45 pm
General Hospital/Pretender fan fiction Escape Artist chapter 15
Jason Morgan hurriedly through things into a suitcase. He had become anxious when Spinelli told him about the Parker woman. That concern had shifted to alarm when Leeanne broke the rules and contacted him to request Diane Miller’s presence. Jason had been puzzled what would be an emergency requiring the services of a lawyer. But after the call he received an hour ago from Diane, Jason decided the situation was critical and required his hands on attention. What had Diane been thinking, concealing her relationship to Spinelli, especially when Jason made the decision to have Spinelli take Leeanne underground. He had a right to know. What troubled Jason especially was Diane’s description of Spinelli’s mental collapse. He had promised to be Leeanne’s protector. He couldn’t fall apart. Jason would spend some time with Sam and the twins and then head to the airport where Sonny’s plane was on stand by to fly him to Palm Beach. There was a light tap on the bedroom door. And Jason looked up to see his wife, Samantha. She was in a black sweater and jeans her hands on her hips. Jason knew at once, he wasn’t going to get away with a hasty explanation and a quick kiss good –bye then again, nothing they did was quick.
“You weren’t planning to leave without back up.” Sam said coolly.
Jason sighed, “There isn’t time to make arrangements for Danny and Emily.” Jason tried. Sam shook her head, letting Jason know even more strongly than her words, that wasn’t going to work.
“Krissie’s on her way over. Mom says as long as she’s between cases, she’d love to have the twins and spoil them for a few weeks.”

Sam marched to the closet and pulled down a suitcase.
“I don’t know what exactly we’re walking into.” Jason began again.
“Which is why you need someone at your back.” Sam reminded him. “If Spinelli has fallen apart as much as you thought, Leeanne’s probably going to need to talk to an impartial person. That would be me.”

Jason considered further protest. Then decided against it. He held in his memory, a far too vivid picture of his daughter after her ordeal, when Jason had rushed into the pink room after tearing home. Spinelli had been straightening up after pulling one of Sam's night shirts over Leeanne. He hadn’t been fast enough to prevent Jason from catching a glimpse of the bruises that marched across her torso. He would never forget the shattered look on his child’s face, her glassy stare, and the soul ripping scream she let out when she became aware of his presence. He knew Sam and Carly as much as Spinelli had settled Leeanne and helped her to remember that not every man on the planet was dangerous. Leeanne trusted Sam so she might listen to her.

“Leeanne opened up to you more easily than she did to Carly.” Jason acknowledged, as he strode to the closet and went into a safe.” especially after Zachara’s people grabbed her.”
“To be fair, Carly hasn’t been raped,” Sam reminded her husband as she folded several pairs of jeans and tossed them into the suitcase, “I was able to reach her on a level Carly couldn’t. By the way, you’d probably better see if Michael or Sonny can keep Carly distracted. If she learns you’re going to see them and not on the island you know how she’ll react.”
Just one more reason I married the right woman, Jason thought as he re-emerged from the closet.
“Sonny promised me he’d take care of Carly.” Jason said. After a long minute he sighed and moved to place his hands on Sam’s shoulders, leaning down to press a kiss to her lips. “Thank you,” he said, his stunning blue eyes conveying the emotion his voice couldn’t.
“Leeanne is as important to you as your other children.” Sam said, reaching up to caress her husband’s face. “That’s the kind of father you are. If your child’s happiness may be in jeopardy, you’re going to fix it. So you’ll kick Spinelli back into the game and I’ll help Leeanne to see that there are other ways to support her man than taking crazy risks. And afterward, maybe we can spend some time on the beaches on the keys.”
At this last idea, Sam sent Jason a wicked smile that suggested all kinds of possibilities.

At that moment, Jason’s cell phone rang. He took it from his pocket.
“What!” he said briskly. Sam moved off to finish packing as she heard Jason say.
“Carly… no… There’s nothing for you to worry about! No you’re not coming!”
“So much for Sonny keeping Carly under control Sam thought as she heard Jason say” Fine! Be at the air strip in an hour!”
The phone was closed with a resounding click and Jason began pacing.
“”Let me guess, Carly somehow figured out just enough to know you were going to see Leeanne and Spinelli and invited herself along.” Jason nodded.
“She overheard Sonny giving the pilot instructions. She knows we don’t have business interests in Florida so she jumped to the right conclusions and she’s not taking no for an answer.”
Sam Shrugged. “Now you definitely need me.”

Not that there was any question of you staying behind, Jason said to himself.
Aloud he said, “How much time do we have before Kristina gets here?” As he spoke, he drew Sam into an embrace. She returned the gesture and rose on tiptoe.
“We’ve got some time.” She laughed. . “And there’s time to play with Danny and Emily and read to them too.”

The air was thick with humidity; it clung to the body like a damp blanket. This was typical for Mid September in Florida. Glancing up to the veranda, Leeanne read the temperature on the thermometer as 92 degrees, again, normal for the time of year.

Leeanne knelt on the ground, her hands smoothing the soil where she had just trimmed some weeds from a bed of lavender and Rosemary plants. The dirt was soft from the rain showers of earlier in the morning and the low hanging clouds threatened more to come. She was wearing cut off jeans and a light blue sleeveless top. Her hair was tied in a single braid that hung down her back, strands of hair already coming loose and falling into her eyes. Leeanne brushed them back impatiently. She glanced again toward the swing, where Spinelli sat reading something with Star Wars in the title. He had been uncharacteristically quiet the last few weeks. Leeanne let him be, understanding the cause and recognizing that he needed time to come to terms with the memories of his youth and the revelation that Diane was his mother. The lady lawyer had been to visit nearly every day. She would sit with Spinelli for an hour or two. He never explained to Leeanne what went on during those visits, yet he didn’t ask that they stop. Leeanne sensed Spinelli was working through a lot. She knew he would tell all but Leeanne also understood he required space. In the mean time, Leeanne stayed close, anticipating Spinelli’s needs and bringing him what he wanted, pulling him back from nightmares, and listening when he did choose to talk. Some inner instinct told Leeanne it was time to let Spinelli in on the chaos running through her mind as well. She had been working through her own newer memories. She sensed, however, that she needed to hear his recollections, to see what wasn’t in the file to completely understand everything. Then she had to know what Spinelli wanted to happen next. In Light of Lucky’s visit, it was now time to begin to move forward.

Leeanne gave the earth around the last plant one final pat then rose to her feet and walked toward the swing, trying to organize her thoughts.

Spinelli had only been pretending to read. He couldn’t keep his mind on the doings of the Galactic Empire when his real life was in chaos . Granny, the woman who had cared for him since as far back as he had remembered, until a few weeks ago anyway, was not his grandmother. Then who was she? Why had she spun such a tale? Why hadn’t the fearless Diane Miller, the brusque Lady of Justice, bravely come forth and declared herself his parent? Was she really afraid of the Center’s reach? Maybe the truth was that they had taken something from him, that the drugs he had been given that last day damaged him as badly as the Zachara men’s creative shock therapy had harmed Leeanne, Was he as altered in some way as she had been? Did his mother perhaps, consider him damaged or defective? ?

He would occasionally glance over to where Leeanne worked in her herb garden. Spinelli envied Leeanne the calm her small gardening tasks seemed to bestow on her. He was aware, however, that something was troubling her. He had caught the tension in her voice and in her eyes when she thought he was distracted. Spinelli was fairly certain he was the reason for some of that distress. Spinelli just wasn’t sure how he could go through hearing it out loud. Diane had said during one of her visits that he would have to let the memories out if he was going to get past them. So intent was Spinelli on his musings, he hadn’t realized Leeanne had set aside her gardening and come to him until she decisively, removed the book from his hands, placing it nearby on the swing. She then eased onto his lap and wrapped her arms around him. Spinelli understood what this meant. Leeanne didn’t usually come to him in this way, clingy and wordlessly seeking closeness unless she was overwhelmed. She had taken to this particular tactic since shortly after they had shifted to a romantic association.
Spinelli put an arm around her waist, steadying her. He reached up to brush the wild strands of hair from her face, tucking them behind her ear, then he tilted her chin so he could look into her eyes. He saw anxiety and a strain he should have paid more attention to. He had been derelict in both his responsibility as her guardian and as her lover. This ends now, Spinelli resolved.

“I’m sorry Leeanne,” he said quietly, leaning in and kissing her softly on the lips. He took a deep breath and continued, “You’ve been extraordinarily patient with me. Probably more than I deserve.”
“You’ve just had a couple life altering shocks, Damian,” Leeanne said, trying to keep her tone light.
“That’s no excuse for shutting you out,” Spinelli insisted, “Especially since you’re the one person who is capable of understanding and not thinking I belong in a padded cell.”
“I’m here now,” Leeanne’s voice was soft but steady. Spinelli absently set the swing in motion. He remembered another time they were like this, Leeanne on his lap, held close against him while they rocked back and forth. The night Leeanne had heard too much of the wrong part of the shouting match that had led to final decisions about her future. Once Stone Cold had finally relented, Spinelli had gone up to explain it to Leeanne. She had of course, heard only enough to know she was being sent away. Spinelli had found her crying. He carried her to the rocker in the regrettably pink room where she was staying. Sitting there together, he had carefully explained the plan, promising her:
“Trust me, trust our love, and you’ll never be alone again.”
Leeanne had placed her faith in him, and what they shared.
Now it was Spinelli’s turn to trust in her, and their bond. he realized. He slowly began to tell a tale that made Leeanne’s blood run cold. It was ten times worse hearing it from Spinelli than reading what was in the file.

“Refusing to cooperate was the last straw,” Spinelli told her, “I had already started asking questions about my father after I stumbled on to news media reports of his death. I’m not even sure how I knew he was my father. He wasn’t a presence in my life. Not a regular one. That I can remember. But I did. Then I began to understand that the so called tests they were running on me were actual simulations and that they were probably not being done for the betterment of mankind.”
Leeanne nodded, encouraging him to go on.

“When I finally couldn’t take the pressure, I was drugged and restrained. Doctor Sidney, the one who sounded all professorial said it was to help me calm down. But then I heard Reins tell another man to dump me in the desert and let the elements and the coyote’s take care of me. Not to even bother with a bullet! They talked about it so casual, like they were talking about a car repair or taking out the garbage!” Spinelli’s voice rose in greater distress as he recounted the events. Leeanne gently stroked his hair, trying to sooth away the deep rooted fear that still walked with her lover. She snuggled closer, offering him the only kind of support she knew how to give, her own presence.

“I must have been out there forever.” Spinelli said at last. “It felt like forever. I was left untied then as they had given me stronger drugs. I couldn’t move. I really thought I was dying! Then I was at Granny’s, at least she said she was my grandmother. But from what I’ve gathered from Dia, I mean my mother, not even that’s right! Unless whoever brought me there found a relative she didn’t know about.”

Leeanne saw the anxiety etched in Spinelli’s face as again he seemed on the verge of losing control. She raised her face to his and silenced him with a kiss, letting her lips linger a long time while she gently caressed the back of his neck, letting her hands move down his back, tracing slow circles. Spinelli felt himself begin to relax a little. Leeanne’s mind was racing as a few more of the puzzle pieces slid into place. Her heart went out to Spinelli. I’m not sure which of us they messed up worse, Leeanne thought, At least they let me know I had real parents that lived and breathed. Then Leeanne decided that wasn’t really important. What mattered was the result. It was now time for her to share her own discoveries and see if Spinelli saw the same connections.
“Damian, I think Jerrod hasn’t been entirely truthful about a few things,” Leeanne began.
“You think?” Spinelli couldn’t help himself; the words were out of his mouth before he could stop them. Leeanne nodded affirmatively, still stunningly calm.
Leeanne chewed on her lower lip and shifted uncomfortably against him.
“I kind of did something after you came back from the beach,” Leeanne began carefully, “It was kind of out of bounds but I was only scared about what had happened and I didn’t know how to help you. You were so upset.”
“You called Jason from my phone,” Spinelli said, matter of factly, “I’ve known that since Diane showed up the next morning. She wasn’t just in the neighborhood.”
“I did a little more than borrow your phone,” Leeanne explained, “I kind of broke your security and went into your computer to see what you had been looking at.”
Spinelli raised an eyebrow at this, His eyes widening. Leeanne’s computer and mathematic skills had vanished courtesy of the Zacarras. Spinelli had never given Leeanne the pass code to his office. He hadn’t wanted to cause unnecessary anxiety. As it came to him what files he had open, Spinelli felt his own anxiety spike, he had not had a chance to view Leeanne’s file and prepare her properly before allowing her access.

After I read your file I read mine and I got the idea that maybe Jerrod ** was** a minder. Maybe my being allowed to get away and eventually being pointed toward Port Charles was deliberate.”
“They wanted you to find your family?” Spinelli asked. “They’d have to know that Jason wouldn’t let them within ten feet of you.”
“They wanted me to find you.” Leeanne explained patiently, “And not because Jerrod suddenly got a case of the cupids. You said yourself there was something familiar about Miss Parker right? And I now remember being sure I saw them together on at least 2 occasions when Jerrod was mentoring me. Miss parker was disguised but not so much that I didn’t wonder. I just let Jerrod talk me into believing I was imagining things. Since that was what I wanted it was easy.”
“The time you were trying to exit the Center by bashing your head in, the Good DR. Sidney showed up remarkably fast. Usually they ignored me when I called out. And there was no punishment. Although I never thought I was to know about other children.” Spinelli spoke slowly as he let his mind drift back. The door to your room was unlocked, but only that time.” Leeanne nodded in understanding.

Leeanne Ran her fingers slowly through Spinelli’s hair, then traced over his cheek, along the curve of his lips then down his jaw, slowly, lovingly as she spoke. Her voice steadier than Spinelli would have expected.
“We have two choices Damian,” she began, “We can turn this whole craziness with the carbolic snow technology thing over to Lucky. Let him and probably Luke and Jason deal with it. We can Run away to Sonny’s island for a while. I can be anywhere as long as we’re together. We can forget any of this ever happened and build our own isolation like we’ve been doing. It can be here or wherever Jason wants us. Or if you like, we can pay the Center back for every lonely tear we’ve cried since they came into our lives, for every second of punishment and confinement, and for every second we were kept from our families. That will be harder and we’ll need some outside support. But they should see what they created by preparing us to work together. I think we could teach them one Hell of a lesson. Maybe even bring them down. And I don’t know about you, but I really want to make them pay!”
Their eyes met. Spinelli saw a strength and fire in Leeanne’s expression he hadn’t seen since the one fight Leeanne had had with the Valcary upon first learning her mother’s identity. His beautiful dreamer had finally awakened from her trance.

Leeanne saw the fear and hesitation that played across Spinelli’s face. She knew she was asking a lot. But now more than ever, Leeanne had a great need to fight back, for what had been done to both of them. Then Leeanne saw her lover’s face take on a look of resolution. When he spoke his voice was hushed but firm.

“Let’s bury them.” He said. The smile that broke across Leeanne’s face was dazzling. They remained on the swing a long time while Leeanne laid out her plan. It was bold, audacious, and extremely dangerous. But they both agreed, if it worked, the pay off would be more than satisfactory.
So intent had they been on their conversation, both Leeanne and Spinelli were caught unaware when the cloudburst broke over the garden.

“Do you want to go inside?” Spinelli asked. Leeanne laughed in response and laid her head on Spinelli’s shoulder.
“In a little while,” her voice came soft as a summer breeze, close to his ear. Leeanne laid a hand over Spinelli’s chest, where she could feel his heart beating. She focused on the strong, steady rhythm of his heartbeat and the counter point of the rain as it poured down, striking the trees around them.

“I spent so much time running from the rain,” Leeanne explained, “Wanting to make sure I was close enough to instantly get inside if thunder started. I keep forgetting to appreciate the wonderful beauty of it. Did I tell you it was pouring the day I escaped the Center?”

“No,” Spinelli answered. “That’s the one story you haven’t told, about that day.”

“I hadn’t seen the rain in so long.” Leeanne said her voice dropping once more into the cadences of the Deep South. “It was coming down just like this, so loud, so intense. But there was softness to it too. Like magic. Everything was blurred and indistinct to the eye. It should have been terrifying, but instead it was like stepping through the looking glass. And that made me think of Torri. I remember fighting to stay calm, to walk straight and proper, like I knew exactly where I was and had walked that road a million times maybe going to meet a parent or something. All I wanted to do was run and dance, and open my mouth to taste the raindrops. I promised myself some day I would.”

Spinelli smiled, picturing Leeanne in that rain storm, fighting to contain her enthusiasm at being back in the world. Imagining in her dazzling green eyes, the banked light of wonderment. He was surprised she would pick this moment to speak of that day.
“Even after all that, you believed in magic.” Spinelli asked, though he wasn’t entirely surprised. He was beginning to understand his beloved had depths of strength and complexity he was only just beginning to see.

“Not really,” she murmured relaxing against Spinelli,”especially not after I met you. It was impossible not to believe in magic in the company of the Jackal.” She kissed the side of his neck lightly, setting a wave of warmth coursing through him to counteract the chill from the rain which was soaking through their clothes and showing no signs of stopping. A clap of thunder broke their quiet revery. They quickly got to their feet and raced for the house, holding hands like children. They were drenched when they got inside. They were both laughing as the door closed behind them. Leeanne was surprised to discover that though she was mildly jittery, the panic that usually plagued her with the arrival of a thunderstorm, was taking the day off. As they climbed the stairs, in search of dry clothing, Leeanne saw Spinelli was favoring his injured leg. She questioned him about it once they reached the bedroom. Spinelli started to reply out of habit that he was perfectly fine. Then thought better of it. If their plans were to work, neither could shield the other. They both needed to be on the same page about everything, including potential weaknesses. His shoulders slumped as he admitted.
“I’m not yet ready to enter any marathons.”
Leeanne regarded him steadily then nodded. She began pulling off her rain drenched clothes as she asked, “Do you want something for the pain?”

Spinelli opened his mouth to answer as he worked at his own clothes. A shift in position that sent pain lancing through his ankle spoke for him. He did need something, though he didn’t want anything medicinal. He sank down onto the edge of the bed.
“I think I just need to rest.” Spinelli told her. “Tired mind, tired body. A lot of limits pushed.” Leeanne nodded. She stepped out of her jeans and walked over to the bed. Placing her hands on his shoulders, Leeanne eased Spinelli onto his back. Then she climbed onto the bed, stretching out wordlessly beside him. It was only then, once they were in their private space, that Spinelli felt Leeanne begin to tremble. He could still sense her new strength and resolve. The world, Spinelli was sure, would only see that, but with Spinelli, she still needed to be able to let down her guard. She would always need her safe place and that would always be him.
Spinelli reached out and pulled Leeanne’s half naked body close to him. He unfascened her hair, Smoothing it out gently, enjoying the feel of the softness beneath his fingertips. He breathed in the mixture of rain and the lavender and orchid perfume she favored. All the while, looking into those lovely green eyes that had captivated him since their first meeting.
“It’s ok your scared.” He told her, “Considering what we’re about to do a little fear is probably healthy for both of us. Besides, I’ve gotten use to being your touch stone
“That’s good,” Leeanne told him, “So long as you let me be yours. I don’t think anyone else needs to know this plan scares me as much as anyone.”
Their eyes met and Spinelli spoke softly, his lips against her ear, his breath warm against her skin. “It will be our little secret that we’re both scared to death.”
Leeanne was aware of the cacophony of the rain outside the windows they had left slightly open and the veil of grey mist cast on the glass. Yet she was at peace. Her hand found Spinelli’s and she turned into him. Raising her face to his, lips parted in invitation.
“Are we taking a break from the battle?” Spinelli asked.
“We’re replenishing our strength before beginning the task of gathering reinforcements.” Leeanne explained, running a hand along Spinelli’s side. “As well as Figuring out just what we have to work with. It’s important to gather strength before such an undertaking don’t you think?”
“And?” Spinelli teased. Leeanne gave him a mischievous smile.
“and what? Leeanne rssponded feigning indignation. Then she relented in a quieter but serious tone, added, “and I want to watch the rain with you, if that’s okay.”

Now Spinelli leaned in and kissed her slowly on the lips, losing himself in sensation as. the well being, strength, and belief in himself were right here before him. All wrapped up in this angelic dreamer who believed in him. But in that moment, he recognized, Leeanne too was seeking his belief in her.
“I would appreciate some company.” He told her. Then he added. “My first memory after that night,is waking up in a house, in a bed, in a room where I could see rain coming down outside. “ He shuddered as he remembered, picturing the scene. “I remember feeling like I woke up from a deep sleep. I was really sluggish. Like I was getting over a bug or something. That was the first time I heard, God; I don’t even know what to call her. She’s probably not my grandmother.”

“Stay with Granny if that makes you feel comfortable.” Leeanne suggested. “Dad told me names aren’t important, it’s what a person is in here.” She placed a finger against his chest. “Not what’s on some piece of paper or a product of biology?”

“I think I’ll do that.” Spinelli decided. Another long moment passed in silence.
“Thank you for telling me about that,” Leeanne said. “It’s kind of nice knowing our first taste of freedom had something in common.”

“Thank you for helping me to remember it.” Spinelli replied. He lifted back her hair and nuzzled the side of her neck. “I’ve been so turned around, I forgot all about what came next.”
Silence settled on the room but for the rain pelting the house. Leeanne knew it was coming in the window yet she wasn’t inclined to do anything about it as she turned into Spinelli and they embraced once more enjoying each other as much as they reveled in the music of the storm that raged outside.

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
7:29 pm
General Hospital/Pretender fan fiction Escape Artists chapter 14
Lucky pushed the steak fries around on his plate as he scanned the room for his lunch date. He had been surprised to learn Diane Miller was still in Florida, she had been eager to return to Port Charles and her celebrity column. Yet, she had called the detective and requested a meeting. She had not shown her usual bravado. And that alone was concerning. Lucky took a long pull on the beer he had ordered with his meal then put it aside. He had to keep a clear mind. Lucky was sure there was a new wrinkle in this situation. He wished he would hear soon from Jack and his contacts about Jerrod’s background. Perhaps he should have told him also about the Center.

Lucky was surprised to see Jerrod enter the restaurant and take a seat at a table across the room. What the Hell was he doing here? Lucky wondered as he watched the man signal the waitress. Lucky was fairly sure Jerrod hadn’t’ noticed him yet. Lucky started to reach for the newspaper to cover his face and keep it that way should he glance over, when he noticed the stir in the room. Lucky tracked the gaze of Jerrod and every other man in the restaurant it seemed, as a stunning brunette in a rust colored Virsacci skirt suit and a pair of expensive, high heels strutted into the restaurant, making a be line for Jerrod.
What’s a classy woman like that doing with some shadow man like Jerrod? Lucky asked himself as he went back to attempting to eat. Diane bustled in a minute later. The lady lawyer looked like hell. Her make up didn’t entirely hide the dark rings under her eyes. Her hair, which was usually precisely styled, had a tozzled look, as though she had done nothing but run a comb very briefly through it. She was in a designer power suit as usual but again, it seemed to Lucky as though she had just thrown herself together. Yes, something was wrong, Lucky decided Diane Miller just doesn’t lose her cool and let the world see it.
“What’s’ going on?” Lucky asked, deciding to get straight to the point.
“First, vodka,” Diane’s voice suggested arguing would get Lucky exactly nowhere so he signaled the waitress and Dian gave her drink order.

Once fortified with alcohol, Diane seemed to regain some of her composure.
“The situation has gotten more complicated,” Diane told him.

“Jason knows it’s going to take some time to line things up. Now that he wants Jerrod left out of the loop, it makes things even harder.” Lucky told her.
“Jason has good reasons for cutting Jerrod out,” Diane said sharply.
He’d have even more if you told him everything, Diane scolded herself. She couldn’t yet explain why she had withheld from Jason, the fact that Spinelli was her son, as well as that she had become Sonny’s attorney for reasons that had nothing to do with her belief in Sonny or any of his personnel’s right to fair legal representation. It wasn’t that Jason wouldn’t trust her any less, if anything, she had stronger motivation to keep the pair safe and well hidden. But Jason could be unpredictable when it came to his children’s safety and well being, and Leeanne was an unusual case. Leeanne not only had never been protected by her parents, but she had undergone a harrowing childhood. Diane knew both Jason and Carly still blamed themselves for not knowing of her existence and keeping her safe. Still, Diane needed to talk to someone. Especially as she needed Lucky’s help to determine how viable this plan was, ant to use his influence on his cousin if it really was as crazy and unworkable as it sounded.
“Spinelli came in to some information he wasn’t prepared for,” Diane began. “He became overwhelmed.”
Lucky’s brow furrowed in concern. This was not good at all. The key to this whole plan working was Spinelli’s emotional strength and stability which would balance Leeanne’s emotional fragility and fearfulness. He could not fall apart.
“How bad did this affect him?” Lucky wanted to know. “For that matter, what did he find out exactly?”
Diane took a large drink of her Vodka before speaking, drawing strength from the feel of the burn coursing through her.
“Spinelli and Leeanne, have a lot more in common than a love of old movies and an appreciation of beautiful things.” Diane began, At Lucky’s look of puzzlement she added, “They’ve both been guests of the Center and victims of its special brand of child care.
There was a clattering of silver where as lucky let the fork he had been lifting to his mouth fall on to the plate, the coconut shrimp still speared on its tongs. His blue eyes flew open wide.
“Maybe you’d better start at the beginning.’ Lucky suggested.

“Are you sure we should be seen in public together?” Jerrod asked Miss Parker, once they had their drinks and a plate of appetizers before them. He reached over and plucked a buffalo wing from the platter, dipping it into the sauce as he continued speaking, “I told you, I don’t have anything new to report.”

“They’ve shut you out,” It was a statement more than a question. Jerrod could see by the expression on Miss Parker’s face, she wasn’t happy about this.

“Revealing the Center’s interest in carbolic snow technology in front of Spencer did more damage than I thought.” Jerrod admitted. “And before you say I told you so, we needed to let Damian in on knowledge of the technology if we wanted to have them collaborate. It was unfortunate that Leeanne’s cop cousin happened to be there.”
“You couldn’t have found some reason to get a pedestrian cop out of the way for a few minutes?” Miss parker demanded. She picked up her glass of Shardane and sipped slowly.
“Lucky Spencer is anything but pedestrian,” Jerrod reminded his companion, “he is a decorated officer instrumental in a number of major take downs. And it was probably good he was there, considering how Leeanne reacted to the mere mention of the center. Reins did an excellent job of wrecking the girl’s psyche.”

Miss Parker kept her expression carefully neutral but inwardly, she winced. I tried to stop it the best I could, Miss Parker reminded herself, at least I kept them alive. That had taken considerable skill and finesse. If it hadn’t been for the guilt and misgiving Sidney and Brootz had been living with, Miss Parker was sure she might not have managed it. Arranging both extractions had involved considerable risk. If it ever became known at the time, she wasn’t sure even her father could have protected her or the others.
“As long as just detective Spencer is the only one who has a problem with the concept of the Center.” Miss Parker stated.

“Damian’s only focus was Leeanne.” Jerrod assured her “He was angrier with me for causing her emotional upset than he was that the intelligence was kept from him. Once I got him access to Sidney’s files…”
“You did what!” Miss Parker hissed.
“Don’t worry Parker; I guided him to what he needed. I let him see just enough to see the Center as the big bad wolf, that we’ve al got to keep fragile little Leeanne safe from and how I’ve beaten them. I’m the expert with all the knowledge and insight.”
“Yet you’re being shut down,” Miss Parker reminded him.
“It would have worked perfectly but Spencer was the wild card.” Jerrod explained, “Morgan brought him in at the last minute and the point was non-negotiable. I’ll have to earn his trust and in the meantime, try to work around him.”

All Lucky could do, when Diane finished explaining things was to sit there, slack jawed. At least now the lady lawyer’s involvement in this latest ckaper Jason had orchestrated made a lot more sense. Her plea for his assistance in keeping Leeanne and Spinelli safe also seemed clearer.
“”Let me get this straight?” Lucky said at last, “You went to work for Sonny for years to keep an eye on a son you were suppose to believe was dead? That son, Spinelli, just now found out you are his mother, after he also just got reminded that he was abandon by said mother, then left for dead by these Center creeps after they decided they were done with him. And the only other person in the world that knows about this outside the center is Leeanne, the one Spinelli is suppose to be protecting, but he’s had a mini breakdown. So now she’s taking care of him and plotting vengeance against the people that tried to kill him. And you’ve told Jason none of this. Does that about sum it up? ”

“Mostly,” Diane admitted, “I did tell Jason that Spinelli had had a bit of a shock. But I didn’t want to raise an alarm unnecessarily. I had hoped that Spinelli would snap out of this Millais and that Leeanne would not feel so inclined to fight when that happened.”
“That’s not happening?” Lucky guessed. Diane shrugged.
“He’s hurt and angry with me, and It occurs to me he’s confused too, when I thought about it, I should have had more questions sooner. The first time I heard Spinelli mention a grandmother, I should have asked questions. I tried to ask him now but he just shuts down. He doesn’t want to deal with it.”
“I don’t blame him,” Lucky admitted, “All his emotions actually sound about normal if ill timed. What concerns me is Leeanne’s reaction. I mean I know she’s Carly’s daughter so her response is normal. But she’s not even close to prepared to go up against these people.”
“You haven’t even heard what she wants to do.” Once she told him, Lucky shook his head in disbelief.
“I don’t think even Carly would have come up with something that ambitious.” Lucky said, “It will fail of course.”
“You see Lucky, why you have to speak to your cousin.” Diane said. She drank the rest of her vodka, “I know she wants to protect Spinelli but as his mother, I can’t afford to take the risk with such a plan.”
“I see, but you’ll have to talk to Jason and tell him everything.” Diane opened her mouth to argue, but Lucky over rode her. “I’ll talk to Leeanne but we both know I’m going to be banging my head against a brick wall. If she thinks she is defending Spinelli, avenging wrongs against him or whatever she’s going to be unreachable. Jason needs to know where things are. He’s going to end up finding out anyway, one way or another.”
Diane Shrugged resigned to the statement. “I’ll call him but you **need** to speak to Leeanne as soon as possible.”

“I’ll drive out there today,” Lucky agreed.
Diane turned, prepared to leave, now that she had what she wanted. It was then that she spotted Jerrod and his lunch companion. Her first impulse was to pick up a glass of vodka from the bar, March over and throw it in Jerrod’s face, since he was the only representation of her son’s tormentor present. Then she decided that would be a waste of fine liquor. Besides, it was probably best to play it cool for the moment. She wondered who the fashion plate was he was dining with. Diane made her good-bye and left the table.

“We are up against a time crunch Jerrod,” Miss Parker said urgently, “You need to be back on the inside as quickly as possible.”
“I’m aware of that,” Jerrod assured her.” Lucky is probably checking my background more deeply. He’s got friends in Homeland Security.”
“We have contacts there; I should be able to see that your cover holds.” Miss Parker said matter of factly. ”Did Spencer give you any time table for when you’d know about the fragments and if they were from the carbolic snow device?”
“His friend Killian was vaig.” Jerrod admitted. Seeing Miss Parker scowl he added, “Parker, we can’t rush this. We **are** the outsiders here.”

The woman sighed heavily, conceding the point.

“Hey, Cowboy,” Luke Spencer greeted his son, easing into the chair vacated by Diane.
“What are you doing here Dad?” Lucky asked, unable to conceal his surprise or his relief.

“A beautiful lady made contact with me regarding something she shouldn’t have been aware of.” Luke replied. He flagged down a waitress and ordered a sparkling soda.
“I’m a little busy right now, I can’t help you with whatever con you’re running Dad,” Lucky told his father.
“Oh, but you and I are going to have to work together on this one,” Luke explained. “Since it involves something very near and dear to a good friend of ours.”

”Leeanne and Spinelli?” Lucky asked, not at all surprised when his father nodded in the affirmative. Jason knew Luke was a pro at disappearing people. Of course he would have enlisted him when the plan to disappear his daughter and her boyfriend was decided upon. It was telling that Jason had trusted the man who killed his own son over a supposed government operative. Even then, Jason didn’t fully trust the man Lucky reasoned, picking up his beer and sipping thoughtfully.
“I’m sorry you had to go through the pain of losing her. I know you two were tight.”

“Diane gave me the song and dance about how everyone’s reactions needed to be genuine. Maxie had to nearly end up in Shady Brook. Michael had to go a little crazy losing his twin, bla, bla, bla.”

“I’m sorry Son,” Luke said again. “Right now we need to put that aside. Someone from the center seems to have located them; at least she knows they’re alive. She’s willing to make a trade.”
“Didn’t you always tell me paying a blackmailer is a losing proposition?”
“You were paying attention, good.” Luke said, grinning broadly. “We definitely don’t want to confirm anything or to get into a situation where she can hold their safety over anyone’s head. But she is right about what she is after; in the wrong hands it can do far too much damage.”
“Carbolic Snow technology?” Lucky guessed, “She thinks you’d love to get it for her so you can stick it to the Cassidines?”

“You get the gold star.” Luke responded. He took a drink of his sparkling soda, and eyed Lucky’s beer longingly.
“Lucky pretended not to notice the direction of his father’s gaze. His drinking problem was still something they didn’t discuss. Lucky knew his father preferred to fight this war in private.
“Here’s what I’m thinking Cowboy,” Luke said. He outlined his plan for double crossing Miss Parker. This makes Leeanne’s plans seem logical Lucky decided. He kept that thought to himself.

“Let me think about it,” Lucky said at last.
“So you can run it by your new friends in Homeland Security?” Luke asked.
“So I can study the plan for flaws so we all get to go home in one piece,” Lucky replied, “I’m not going to be the one explaining to Tracy how you got yourself killed. I want no part of that wrath.”
“You think I want to face Meghan’s Irish temper if I have to report your demise,” Luke laughed, “Besides, I need you to keep me on the straight and narrow.”

“Like anyone’s ever done that,” Lucky cracked as he rose from the table.

“Where are you going?” Luke asked.
“I’m on my way to an exercise in futility. Wish me luck.”

Lucky sent up a quick prayer of thanks. Even with his crazy plan, Luke was going to be an asset if Leeanne proved as obstinate as Lucky suspected she would be.

Diane Miller stepped out of the stall in the rest room. She had followed Jerrod’s lunch companion in to the facility rather than heading back to her sweet, deciding the more useful information she could give Jason, the easier it would be to defuse the explosion that was coming her way. Miss parker led the way out to the parking lot. Diane hung back a few paces, pretending to rummage through her purse and slowing near a bronze Mercedes as though it were her very own car.

Diane watched as the strange woman approached a car 3 spots down. Carefully, Diane drew out her cell phone, holding it up as if to check her texts, all the while keeping an eye on her prey as she slithered into the black Lexis and pulled away. Diane tapped an icon and began clicking away, getting plenty of shots of the car and the license plate. It was just too bad the windows were tinted or she might have captured the face of the driver.

Not a lady friend, Diane mused as she saw Jerrod exit the hotel heading for the beach, wearing sunglasses and a loud print shirt, carrying a beach tote.

Jerrod started to turn and Diane got busy actually dialing her phone. It was time to talk to an acquaintance at the Florida buro of tourism.

Leeanne wasn’t entirely surprised to find Lucky on her doorstep. She had been expecting this for days. Leeanne knew Diane considered Leeanne an amateur when it came to dealing with dangerous characters. In fact, Leeanne knew Diane still saw her as breakable, not capable of orchestrating a major plan of attack. Maybe she’s right, at least a little, a voice at the back of Leeanne’s mind cautioned, This is Damian’s well being you’re talking about, so make sure you really have thought of everything, and maybe a little back up won’t hurt.
The cousins now sat on the veranda at the rattan table, partially shielded from the worst of the oppressive heat of mid day Florida. They had tall glasses of lemon Aide in their hands. On a plate was heaped Watermelon and pine apple slices. They talked casually for a little while of inconsequential things, the weather, The Yankees verses the Red Socks, and the most recent exploits of Lucky’s children and Leeanne’s siblings. Lucky looked out across the property, he saw Spinelli, wandering in the garden. He seemed listless, without focus. He had come to the door with Leeanne upon Lucky’s arrival, but quickly retreated to his own private concerns. That worried Lucky. It wasn’t like Spinelli to fade into the background where Leeanne was concerned unless she specifically asked for it. There was a long silence during which Lucky took a deep breath, deciding it was at last time to plunge into the reason for his visit. He had hoped that Diane might have exaggerated the situation or that Spinelli would have joined them, at least, to make a token effort at siding with him that what Leeanne was proposing was insane. Glancing once more to the garden and seeing Spinelli absently pick a gardenia from its branch and begin to pluck at the pedals; he realized that wasn’t going to happen. The only good thing Lucky could say about the change in circumstance was that a strange calm seemed to come over Leeanne. Both Diane and Luke had tried to prepare him for this but neither had quite described it right. Lucky was reminded of his late friend, Emily Quartermaine as he looked across at her.

“What did Diane tell you?” Leeanne asked. Her voice surprisingly steady and removed of all the merriment of earlier.

“She’s worried about both of you,” Lucky admitted.

“In other words, she spilled everything,” Leeanne stated. There was no trace of temper, only a quiet resignation.

Lucky shrugged and sipped at his drink. “He’ll come to terms with it.” Lucky told her, “Just the way you’ve made your peace with what the Center and the Zaccharas did to you. He needs your support and presence. Not for you to create some wild eyed scheme of revenge that could cause him to lose you.”

“Damian has my love, support, and anything else he wants. He knows that.” Leeanne explained.
“Then why go after the Center?” Lucky pushed.
“How can you ask that, given the history of our family?” Leeanne replied”
“You’re going to call this a Spencer family tradition?” Lucky asked. Leeann gave an affirmative nod.
“Will that make you okay with it?” Leeanne wanted to know. Lucky shook his head vigorously.
“As I understand this, you want to go head to head with people who have the power to cover up murder, intimidate people into compliance and operate completely outside the law. You expect to dictate terms to them! Call me crazy but that sounds like a suicide mission.” Lucky said. “Oh, and you expect to do it on your own.”
“”Considering my lineage, I should be able to carry it off.” Leeanne quipped, “Granted, Jason never took me to the firing range for a little father daughter bonding time. He never drilled me in how to take someone out, but since pretending is in some ways just another kind of con, and I’m really good at that. I don’t see why this won’t work!”
“And what if it doesn’t? Lucky demanded, “Do you **really** think Spinelli can take losing you? Do you want to put the few of us that know you’re alive and can take comfort in knowing that, through losing you for real?”

Leeanne leaned forward and took her cousin’s hand, “I don’t want to die!” she insisted to him, “But those bastards stole both our innocents. They deprived us of a childhood! They locked us underground. They told me horrible things about my adoptive and biological parents. I can only imagine they did the same to Damian! Don’t you think they ought to pay for that?”
“Is this about justice for Spinelli or for yourself?” Lucky asked, mentally bracing for a verbal tirade.

Leeanne ran her fingers distractedly through her hair, considering, “Maybe it’s for both of us.” Leeanne said slowly, “”Lucky, you have no idea what hell we had made of our lives on a daily basis. Our souls were broken. I would have killed myself if it weren’t for him and I have no idea what they did to him or how he finally got away to his Granny. But it seems wrong for them to just get away with it.”

“If I can tie them to dealings with Helena Cassidine, we should be able to make them back away.” Lucky began. Leeanne cut him off with a bitter laugh and a dismissive gesture, far too much like her mother.

“Lucky, come on, the center has a fleet of lawyers who are more lethal than the ones Sonny Corinthos keeps on retainer. Hell, they will no sooner have their mug shots taken than they’ll be walking out of the jailhouse.”
“I have friends at homeland security, they take these things seriously.” Lucky tried again. Leeanne shook her head defiantly.
“It doesn’t matter!” Leeanne insisted, “They have molls in law enforcement agencies how do you think Jerrod showed up at my kidnapping at the exact right time. You don’t think Jason was the only reason there was little evidence of who approached the Zaccharas to grab me. Jerrod’s a pretender. Techs or even cops will just hand him evidence and it will vanish! The justice system you serve can’t hold these monsters!” Leeanne’s voice shook with vehemence. Her green eyes blazed with a frenzied light.
Lucky was troubled. Leeanne hadn’t just been raving a few weeks ago when she accused Jerrod of being a center minder. Leeanne looked suddenly distressed.

Leeanne bit her lip, emotion had gotten the better of her and she had revealed more than she meant to. She certainly hadn’t intended to tell her cousin that she no longer trusted Jerrod. It was too late now she told herself. She needed to win Lucky’s support.

“I’d like to do this with Damian backing me,” Leeanne admitted.”I just don‘t know if he can handle it.”

“That’s the only way I’m going to support this cous, is if Spinelli and I both have your back. That point is non negotiable. Oh, and Luke comes in on this too. He’s already setting something up that could actually give your plan a chance in hell of working.” Lucky’s voice brooked no argument.
“Why don’t we just phone up Dad and see if he can come down and join the party,” Leeanne said tartly. Lucky wasn’t backing down.
“You don’t want me to call Jason before you agree to my terms,” Lucky advised.
“You said you thought Damian and I belonged together,” Leanne said, suddenly panicked. Had she gone too far?

“I stand by that,” Lucky told her. “But right now, I’m thinking you both really need a few months in seclusion on Sonny’s Island. I’m thinking Jason might want to send Max and Milo out to escort you personally.”
“Spinelli isn’t ready for this!” Leeanne told Lucky. “It’s my turn to take care of him!”
“Are you sure about that?” Lucky asked patiently.
Leeanne nodded vigorously. “He won’t say it, but his heart is breaking inside. He’s having nightmares as bad as mine and he’s so lost.”

Leeanne thought about telling her cousin what was in the file. She could trust Lucky to be discrete. Somehow, it seemed to private a thing to explain to anyone. Lucky was speaking again.
“Have you asked Spinelli what he wants?” Lucky was saying.
“Umm… well…Just.” Leeanne stammered, wishing she were as fluid in these situations as Carly.
“You haven’t, have you?” Lucky guessed.

Leeanne shrugged. “I don’t want to push him. He’s in so much pain.” Leeanne admitted. With her cousin, the truth was always safer.
Lucky got up and paced the veranda. He looked down at the garden. Spinelli had taken a seat in the swing. He noted the well trod path between the swing and the Gardenias and orchids. Much pacing had been going on.

“I wish I could argue with what you say about the Center.” Lucky admitted at last. “But from what my contacts tell me, there’s a chance you’re right. I’m still waiting for a few more pieces of information but based on how long it’s taking, it’s a good bet they’ve got friends.”

“So you won’t stand in my way?” Leeanne asked.

“I already said I’d help, but like I said, on my terms.” Lucky turned back to face her. “Spinelli deserves to decide if he wants you fighting his battles for him or not. Don’t you think?”

Several long moments passed in silence. Leeanne wanted to believe Lucky was being unfair. The problem was that he wasn’t. Her plan had a greater chance of succeeding if Spinelli was at her side. The Center had prepared them for collaboration and the best way to destroy them was to use that against them. Still, Spinelli was remaining silent about what he had seen and remembered. He was showing no signs of wanting to face it. Leeanne couldn’t say she blamed him.
Spinelli had always waited for her to be ready to trust him with her dark places. How could Leeanne do any less for him? It just wasn’t right.

“Give me a couple days to think and to see if Damian wants to talk to me on his own.” Leeanne agreed, “If he wants to discuss it, I’ll abide by whatever he wants.”

Fair enough,” Lucky agreed, returning to the table to seal the agreement with a handshake. He considered just walking away. He had what he wanted almost in hand. Then he chose instead to impart one more word of guidance.
“Spinelli volunteered to look after you because you asked for him to take care of you.” Lucky began, “That’s why Carly backed him up with Jason. Spinelli listened to your wants. It would have broken his heart, but if you wanted different, he’d have gone along with Jason’s original suggestions. You owe the man the same courtesy don’t you think.” Lucky turned then and walked to the veranda steps. It was time to go.

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Sunday, February 10th, 2013
7:28 pm
General Hospital/Pretender fan fiction Escape Artists chapter 11
There was no evidence of the storms that had torn through South Florida the night before. The sky was a deep shade of indigo blue, almost turning in to purple. Wispy cotton candy clouds skittered by while the sun hung down, a flat, white, disc of heat. By mid day this crisp but comfortable environment would be a sauna, waves of humidity enveloping everything and the sky covered with hazy, threatening clouds. It was all deceptively calm, a pattern that could lull a body in to dangerous lethargy. These were Lucky Spencer’s thoughts as he stood on the balcony of the Palm Harbor hotel, looking down on the constant stream of traffic passing. Lucky wondered where anyone got the notion that Florida was a ghost town in the summer months. The stream of mini- vans, and SUVs loaded down with beach and deep sea fishing gear as well as sports cars zipping along to Disney, told a different story. Lucky decided when this was all over; he would bring Meghan and the kids here. Of course they would not make the drive with him to the little house on the private road. But Cam and Aden would have a ball meeting Mickey, Minnie and the rest. Meghan would enjoy Bush Gardens. Even little Laurna would be enchanted by seeing the dolphin show at sea World. In the midst of all that, he could find some excuse to slip away. He was still trying to get his head around the fact that Leeanne and Spinelli had not perished in that fiery boat explosion. Though he was determined to help Jason keep them safe and make sure that Leeanne could remain in her sanctuary, he was supremely pissed off with Jason for keeping the secret. Jason didn’t like people managing his life or deciding what he could handle and when. Yet look at all the pain he had caused others, by doing the exact same thing. Oh, yes, they would talk about this and he would also have a little chat with his cousin Carly as well. For now, there was work to be done. Lucky turned back to his breakfast companion and rejoined her at the table. This was someone else who had some explaining to do.

Diane Miller, however, looked like a woman without a care in the world. She was wearing what for her, passed as casual attire. A Kelly green skirt and light pink blouse patterned with small, green and darker pink flowers. A pair of diamond earrings was her only jewelry.

“How did you get mixed up in this cover up? Mac is your friend. You had to have known after the disaster with Connor, Spinelli’s death would not exactly do Maxie any good.”
“It’s a good thing your brother was there for Maxie,” Diane agreed, “And this is not latent guilt over a former girlfriend having a breakdown that you felt was unnecessary.”
Lucky sighed. He poured himself a mug of coffee from the pot sitting on the breakfast tray, “Still, isn’t that why you left the law, because it was too sordid and full of lies and agendas? Yet here you are knee deep in falsifying deaths, fraud, and about a dozen other charges I’m sure I could look up.”

Diane heaved a sigh of frustration. She should have known better than to believe that the tenacious, young detective was going to be satisfied with merely knowing that his emotionally fragile cousin was alive and well and living in romantic isolation with a man who absolutely adored her and would lay down his life for her.

“Jason didn’t have a lot of options.” Diane said after a while, “Spinelli’s plan seemed like the choice that would allow Leeanne the best chance to find her way back. You saw what she was like after the Zacharas men got done with her. She was nearly catatonic. It was either have her institutionalized or make her disappear and send someone to watch over her.”

“And that someone **had** to be Spinelli?” Lucky asked.

“Can you see Milo or Max being any good with her emotional distress?”

Lucky nodded in understanding, “I see your point.” He agreed, “And I doubt it took much persuasion to get Spinelli to agree to do it.”

“As I said, it was the kid’s idea,” Diane explained, “Though Jerrod sure seemed extremely hot for the plan when it was proposed. He was the one who I think convinced Jason it was his best option. It didn’t hurt that Carly was pushing for it as well.”

Lucky was intrigued by this revelation, a disclosure Diane clearly hadn’t meant to make as she immediately busied herself with a grape fruit from the basket on the tray. Lucky considered the new information as he began to eat his eggs and bacon. It wasn’t like Carly to go against Jason on anything. He wondered if Jerrod exerted any influence over her. But there was one thing more he needed to know from Diane.

“What do you know about this Jerrod anyway? Come to think of it, I don’t think I even caught a last name, who does that and isn’t a rock star or something?”

“It’s Pierceson,” Diane said, obviously thinking Lucky had dropped the topic of the elusion of his cousin’s death. “Don’t even bother trying to dig up any background on him, I tried when he first showed up after Leeanne’s kidnapping. It seemed kind of strange, him just happening to show up in the right place at the right time to provide cover for Spinelli to get Leeanne out of there. Hard to find a record of so much as a library card for him.”

“Pretty interested for someone who was no longer Jason’s lawyer,” Lucky observed. Diane only shrugged in response.

“One last thing,” Lucky said, “Was Jerrod involved with Carly?”

Dianne laughed lustily, “Lucky, you are far too cynical! No, Carly supported Spinelli’s plan because she thought Leeanne’s chances for recovery would be significantly better if there was at least one person with her that she loved. That was the argument Jason couldn’t get around.”

Lucky considered Diane’s words. He found it hard to believe Carly would do anything so selfless, but when it came to her kids, his cousin’s ability to act to make their lives as perfect as possible knew no bounds. If Spinelli hadn’t suggested the plan, Lucky had no doubt Carly would have offered him large sums of money to take Leeanne away. Dianne rose and started toward the door to the hotel room, she stopped and turned back.

“You asked how come I got involved in all this,” she said, “Let’s just say I wanted to end my legal career on a high note, to just once, do something honorable. Keeping a girl who’d known too much tragedy and a boy too sensitive for the racket he was in safe from mobsters seems like a pretty good way to settle up.”

“Yah, I guess it does,” Lucky agreed. He poured a second cup of coffee and watched the lady lawyer continue to retreat. At the door she turned back once more.

“Take care of them Lucky, Make sure the Cassidines or any other monsters don’t bring them any more harm.” She said.

“You don’t trust Jerrod,” Lucky observed.

“I don’t trust anyone who barely blips on the radar and lies more smoothly than a Spencer, no offence.”

“None taken,” Lucky allowed a grin to play at his lips.

“For what it’s worth, I’m not sure how much Jason trusts him either. I think that may be why he told me to tell you all. That and that no one knows Cassidines like a Spencer.”

With that, Diane Miller left the balcony area. Leaving Lucky to ponder what he had learned. He found himself strangely enough, wishing for his father or his brother’s presence. He decided he’d much rather have Ethan or Luke covering his back than the enigmatic Jerrod Pierson. Lucky finished his breakfast then returned inside his room, he set the room service tray outside the door. Then he got out his laptop. Diane had said she couldn’t find anything on Jerrod but clever as she was, the lady lawyer didn’t have access to all the same search networks as a police detective. She also didn’t have a friend like Jack Killian to call upon.

Diane was surprised to see Jerrod, leaning casually against one of the stone statues outside the hotel, this one, fittingly enough, was a Manatee. He was affecting a casual demeanor, in black jeans, a red golf shirt, and a Yankees cap turned backward. When he saw Diane, he pealed himself off the statue and stepped forward.

“Another breakfast meeting with Lucky?” Jerrod inquired, trying out a friendly smile.

“Just saying good-bye to a friend,” Diane replied blandly.

“You didn’t give him any extra instructions?” Jerrod wanted to know.

Diane was startled by the question.

“You didn’t tell him the **real** reason you are so devoted to young Mr. Spinelli and his lady love.”

Diane felt her blood run cold at his words. No one, not even her perish priest, if she had a perish priest, knew her true motives for assisting Jason in making Leeanne and Spinelli disappear. Yet somehow, this was it Spinelli called him, Stranger, implied he was aware of her motives.

“My reasons are obvious, I was at one time legal counsel for Leean’s parents and I’ve done them a little favor.” Diane said in her best, no nonsense voice, “Now, I have a flight to catch, if you don’t mind.”

Diane turned to head for the airport shuttle. Her bags ought to be a bored by now. Jerrod moved to block her path.

“I’m surprised you would be so eager to run back to your society column before you knew for certain your son and his companion were safe.” Jerrod said smoothly.

Years of courtroom training were called upon in order for Diane to keep her jaw from dropping to the pavement. Not even Sonny Corinthos, a man who prided himself on always holding leverage, had unearthed Diane’s secret.

“don’t worry Counselor,” Jerrod was continuing, “I’m not judging you for concealing your identity from Damian, Given what happened, it’s probably for the best he believe whatever myth his so called grandmother spun regarding his parents absence in his life.”

“Just what is it you **think** you know Mister?” Diane demanded in a tone that made the polar ice caps seem tropical.
Jerrod didn’t answer her question; instead, he took a step toward her. Diane’s fingers strayed to her purse where she kept a can of Mace on one of the pouches. Jerrod went on. “It would be wise for you to remain here.” Jerrod said, “Damian may need you.”
He handed Diane a document. There was an official seal on the top of it, she knew even as she unfolded it what it was. In that moment, the brash barrister knew she could not bluff her way out of this situation.

“Why are you doing this?” Diane demanded her voice shaking with anger.
“I’m just making sure you have the chance to be there if your son needs you,” Jerrod explained. “I’ll tell the shuttle staff…”

“You’ll get out of my sight if you know what’s good for you.” Dianne Hissed, “And if any harm comes to those young people that you could have prevented, I will make it my personal mission to bury you!”

Diane turned on her heel and marched to the shuttle, barking instructions to the driver to return her bags to the hotel and returning to the front desk to see if she could get back her suite.

Waves broke around Leeanne as she and Spinelli walked deeper in to the ocean, finally stopping at a point where the water came just above Leeanne’s midsection when the water was calm. Waves could still strike her shoulders, spraying her face.

Leeanne held on to Spinelli’s hand for balance. If she were honest with herself, she was also holding on to her lover so that she could avoid thinking about her pounding heart and the butterflies performing summersaults in her stomach. This was your idea, Leeanne reminded herself firmly. She turned then to look up at Spinelli.

“Are you sure you want to try this?” Spinelli asked, “It isn’t necessary.”

“It’s necessary to me,” Leeanne explained, “If I’m ever going to come to terms with my past, with just who Leeanne Victoria Destri really is; I need to face my monsters,”

“There must be easier ways than this for you to acknowledge your past.” Spinelli persisted.

“Name one,” Leeanne challenged. More gently she added, “I know you’re use to shielding me from all things dark and dangerous and we both know why. But I’m stronger now, you know this, I think even my father knows it when he isn’t in Neanderthal mode. At least that’s what Carly says. So I think Jason would be okay with my trying this, so long as you’re supervising.”

Leeanne offered Spinelli a gentle smile. She closely watched his face as he considered. At last, he shrugged in acquiescence. Leeanne stepped closer to Spinelli watching him as he braced himself. She let go of his hand then turned slightly as he extended an arm even as he slid his other arm around her waist. Leeanne took a deep breath, and then let herself fall forward. She felt Spinelli catch her, once assured of the safety of his supporting arms, Leeanne put her head under the water.

Instantly, the world changed. Everything was deluded into a weird green light, made blurry by the swirl of the sand. The silence was unsettling; the roar of the ocean was a far off muted sound. She could no longer hear the gulls calling above. Her mind wanted to panic, as nightmare memories of that confounded dive pool tried to crowd in to her brain. Focus! She ordered herself, what **are** you aware of around you?

The first and most obvious thing Leeanne was aware of was Spinelli. Seeing to sense her momentary panic, he had drawn her closer to him; one of her arms brushed his torso. She could reach out and touch him if she wanted, that was no doubt his intent. Leeanne let her mind move from sense of touch to the sights around her. Sunlight was filtered but it was still there, creating crazy patterns in the sand. Shells peaked up, half buried, pink, white, and tan treasures. Leeanne’s eye was drawn suddenly to a piece of green bottle glass. It would make a lovely window piece in the middle of the coral castle she was constructing as a Christmas gift for her little sister. Carefully, she extended her arm. She knew it was getting close to the end of the agreed upon allotment of time for the first attempt. But this wouldn’t take too long, Leeanne reasoned. However, the object of Leeanne’s pursuit was just beyond her reach.

Spinelli didn’t like this plan, even if he did understand Leeanne’s motivation. He couldn’t believe between the two of them, they hadn’t come up with something less likely to cause an emotional setback. He felt Leeanne tense almost at once and for a half a second, he considered calling a halt to the exercise. But he also knew she was right, he had to stop trying so hard to shield her. She was ready to meet her past head on and as both her lover and her protector, he needed to respect that. So instead of raising her from the water, he shifted his arms, drawing her closer to him. As he hoped, she relaxed. He felt the brush of her arm against his bare skin. Then he watched in surprise, as she extended her arm down and toward the right, she seemed to be trying to reach for something. It was just out of her grasp but Leeanne seemed determined to get to it. Spinelli started to relax his arms, preparing to either allow Leeanne a wider range of motion, or to release her to make a free dive if she really wanted that.

At once, Spinelli felt a pull on his legs as sand rushed at an alarming rate, away from his feet. Reflexively, he tightened his hold on Leeanne just as a gigantic wave yanked his legs from under him. Spinelli realized quickly they had been caught in a rip current. Just as quickly as the wave had pulled them under, they surfaced. Both coughing and gasping for air. Then another wave pulled them under again. They were both completely disoriented. Spinelli was sure he lost the beach line. He was also certain if they didn’t act fast they would find the watery death many already believed they had suffered. Something he read when researching the environs they were to call home floated in to his consciousness. Don’t fight a rip current that was what he had heard, move with it and across. Leeanne had wound her arms tightly around his neck. But Spinelli saw that she was still mentally present. So when he made a few practice kicks, and got himself moving in a direction that seemed to offer less friction, Leeanne seemed to understand his intent and she too began kicking. Their combined efforts eventually created results as the water became gradually shallow and they were finally, unceremoniously dumped on to a sand bar. Not fully trusting in their safety, Spinelli only allowed them to remain there long enough to cough out the rest of the water from their lungs as their effort to escape had not been without going under more waves. He then helped Leeanne to her feet. Arms around each other for support, they staggered back to the beach. When they reached their spot in the dunes, Leeanne fell limply on to the blanket. Spinelli dropped beside her. They were breathless, exhausted, and shaking as the enormity of what had almost happened struck them. Leeanne raised one trembling hand and gestured at their cooler. Slowly, Spinelli’s brain rolled back in to practical mode. He sat up and opened the chest. Reaching inside he pulled out one of Leeanne’s bottles of root Beer. Carbonated beverages were probably not the best idea for post near drowning but it was what they had. He took the lid off and folded Leeanne’s fingers around the container. Her face was flushed and her silence was concerning. Spinelli prayed it was just from lack of breath and not the result of regression. Once he saw she was drinking, he returned to the cooler and got an orange soda for himself. When he turned back, Spinelli noticed she had drank very little but was holding the cold bottle against her cheek. Her color seemed to be returning to something like normal. He finally risked a look into her eyes, there was no sign of the glazed look of shock he had seen when he took her from the house of horrors, nor was there any indication of haunted terror that went with her nightmares, though he suspected he would have marks on the back of his neck as deep and indelible as the ones Leeanne left on his wrist following her drowning nightmares judging by the light sting he felt where she had grabbed on to him when they had been fighting the sea.

“I’m okay,” Leeanne said, her voice barely a whisper, “we’re ok.”

Spinelli said nothing. He was still trying to catch his breath. He took a long drink of his soda then put it aside and reached out for Leeanne’s hand, grasping it gently.

Leeanne was watching him, he was shaken, and she could see that. He moved closer and put an arm around her. Leeanne smiled softly at him. She felt content, now she could for once do something for him.

I never want to come that close to losing you again,” Spinelli spoke quietly. Leeanne heard the fear that ran through it.

“I knew we’d be fine,” Leeanne told him, her voice barely above a whisper but full of euphoria. Spinelli regarded her curiously.

Perhaps the beautiful dreamer was suffering some degree of shock and it was masked by this emotion out of context.

“You weren’t afraid?” Spinelli asked, “I would think it would cause a reminder of your recurring nightmare.”

“It did at first,” Leeanne told him simply. She reached out and ran her hand along his chest as she spoke, “When you lost your footing and I felt the current change, I thought… I felt… I didn’t want to die.”

Leeanne’s voice shook with emotion as she remembered the way the current has suddenly reached out and tried to pull them in to a watery grave. “Then we came to the surface and I looked in to your eyes. That’s when I knew it was going to be okay. That’s when I remembered the first time I saw your face.”

“Near drowning made you think of your visit to Jackal Mccall?” Spinelli asked, confused.

Leeanne laughed, moving her hand back to his shoulder and gently stroking, “at the center. I only saw your face that once, but I kept the face of Angel somewhere in my memory. It came back in that instant. You **are** Angel.”
With those simple words, a memory clicked in to place for Spinelli.

He saw himself, an eight year old boy, standing by an air vent. He was holding something up to the vent. No, it wasn’t something; it was someone, a small girl of five or six. She was feather light in his arms with long golden hair tied in to a neat ponytail.

She placed her tiny hands on the rim of the open exhalation duct and experimentally hoisted herself sticking her head in the vent. She pulled her whole body inside then turned to look down at him. It was the first time Spinelli had ever seen the face of his pretty fellow prisoner while she was conscious and calm. Her eyes were a brilliant Emerald green; she was missing one of her front baby teeth. Her features were doll like and very expressive.

“You’re coming with me Angel?” It was part question, part declaration.
“Spinelli thought about following her. He could take her to his mother. She’d know how to help her. His mother was brilliant and always knew what to do. He could be asleep in his own bed. In his room with the posters of super heroes on the wall and his yellow Labrador, Pirate sleeping at his feet. He could surprise his mother at her desk.

But what if she was angry with him for being disobedient. What if she made him come back and they punished him. No, he’d better not.

“My mother’s coming to get me,” he said at last. “She’s going to take me home after all the tests.”

“I wish my Mommy were taking me home.” She had said sadly. She held out her arms and leaned toward Spinelli.

“Don’t you want to try?” He had asked but she shook her head.

“I’m afraid of the dark, I don’t know if I can do it, not alone. Her voice shook. He gently lifted her down and set her on the ground.

“I believe you will some day.” He said.

“Damian?” Leeanne’s voice was full of concern as she gently touched his cheek.

“I remember,” he said quietly. “I should have gone with you. I knew in my heart my mother wasn’t coming for me by then. I just didn’t want to admit it. It was over two years. But I still believed I had to wait. That there really was just one more test. Why didn’t I trust my instinct?”

“We were just kids,” Leeanne reminded him. “We both got away eventually, we even both found our families.”

Spinelli drew Leeanne in to an embrace, needing to have her close to him in that moment.

“We even found each other,” he added.

Leeanne allowed herself to be drawn in to Spinelli’s arms. She also needed the solidity of his physical presence to reaffirm that they had made it. She sensed he needed reassurance. They lay staring up at the vast blue sky with its cotton tail clouds, reveling in being together and being alive.

After a long while Leeanne spoke, “I just wish I’d been able to pick up that sea glass. It would have been perfect for Joslin’s Christmas gift.”

“That’s what you were reaching for?” Spinelli asked, “A piece of sea glass?”

“Yes, at the time it seemed so important. I was going to show it to you when I came up. You were going to be impressed I’d gotten it for myself and I was going to imagine Rafe and Torri up on their angel clouds, giving high fives because I’d finally mastered being under water and could go deep sea diving some day.” As Leeanne spoke, her eyes shown with happiness. “I just wish my gift wasn’t your heart ache.”

“It isn’t an entirely bad memory,” Spinelli reminded her, ruffling his fingers through her hair, “I always felt we’d known each other somewhere, in another time and place, when you first came to Port Charles. Now I know I was correct.”

A long silence passed between them. Finally Leeanne said, “I found something more valuable than a piece for a sculpture. But can you find something twice.”

“I don’t think normal rules apply here,” Spinelli told her, “We’d do well to remember that in future dealings related to the Center.”

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Monday, February 4th, 2013
12:27 am
General Hospital/ Pretender fanfiction Escape Artists chapter 9
The first threads of vivid, red, daylight streamed through the window of Spinelli’s office. . Spinelli was sitting in his computer chair, Leeanne paced restlessly about the room, occasionally pausing to light for a few minutes on the arm of his chair or on the corner of the desk. They had been up the better part of the night. Leeanne had listened intently to his plan, making small but insightful suggestions for refinement. They had finally staggered to bed some time near 3 in the morning yet neither had been able to sleep well. However, While Spinelli found himself highly focused but needing to remain still to concentrate; Leeanne was keyed up, radiating nervous energy.

They had decided to move now to put the plan into action. Now Leeanne stopped her perpetual motion, leaning over his shoulder to peer at the screen.

“It looks almost like the real page,” Leeanne admitted, “It’s just stripped down but the average browser wouldn’t pick up on the change. They’d think I was just playing with graphics and layout and stuff.”

“That’s exactly what we want them to think,” Spinelli explained. “They will believe April has gone for a more streamlined look to her website they will also believe that Florida is a place visited, not a residence. If they try to trace you through the server, it will lead them eventually to a blind server in Japan.”

“Impressive,” Leeanne agreed, “But how can you make that happen again? I still don’t quite understand. Wouldn’t the ip address have to lead to this computer, like a phone line?”

Spinelli considered carefully before answering.
He found it easy to forget in moments like this, that Leeanne still had only a beginner’s grasp of the internet and all things computer oriented.

“Do you remember when you used mirrors during your midway performance at the General Hospital AIDS benefit?” Spinelli asked carefully. Leeanne nodded slowly as she remembered her entrance number of You Can Follow Me. “You wanted to create an other- worldly appearance where there was you but there were others that looked like you but were blurred or distorted. We’re doing the same thing with any signals sent to Creations from the Deep. The image before their eyes appears to be the true site but instead of traveling on a straight line to where we are, the signal will re-direct and travel in several directions like reflections off a mirror until it seems to be coming from much further away.”

Spinelli turned to look in to her eyes and see if she understood. Her gaze had taken on a glazed look, yet she nodded. He wondered how much of her reaction had to do with fatigue. He tapped a few keys, scrolling to a link that said campaign and clicked on it.

“We’ll use this to send our message,” he told Leeanne.

“What should it say?” Leeanne asked. As Leeanne spoke, she leaned in closer, staring at the edit field for the new campaign announcement, a strand of hair that had escaped from her hastily tied ponytail brushed Spinelli’s neck.
“In keeping with my promise to The Beautiful Dreamer’s esteemed Sire, the Jackal will input the message but the words must belong to you in order to sound convincing. Remember, they must believe we suspect nothing.”

Leeanne drew back then returned to her perch on the edge of the desk. She chewed on her lower lip while she ran a hand distractedly through her hair, creating further disarray in her appearance. Spinelli suspected her hyper kinetic energy was at last winding down.

“What should we call the campaign?” Spinelli asked at last, trying to help her along. She thought for another few minutes then answered.

“That’s obvious; we should call it the Katrina campaign. It’s the right time of year, it’s almost the anniversary, and Katrina is a derivative of Katherine. The name she gave us.” Leeanne began pacing once more, an incongruous sight, nearly dwarfed in one of Spinelli’s X-men t-shirts and a pair of light blue sweatpants with rainbow designs along the cuffs. Her ponytail was partly undone, held in place precariously by a medium blue hair scrunchy.

“No, this is better, the families of Katrina campaign,” she began. She made another circuit of the room then began making expansive hand gestures as she spoke, trying to form her idea.

“We want to know what they know,” she began. At an affirmative nod from Spinelli she continued, “We want to know what they want from us. We want to know if they are acting alone?”

She asked the last question in a tentative manner.

“We should try to get as much information as we can,” Spinelli agreed.

“Okay,” Leeanne said. Then she gave him a message that was simplicity itself. It was code as they had discussed but the code was such that only the person they were targeting would recognize it. Spinelli typed in the last few letters then motioned for Leeanne to join him. She sat on the arm of his chair and studied the message then looked quizzically at him.

“You could ask your own question here?” she told him. Spinelli shook his head no.

“I don’t know yet what the questions are.” Spinelli reminded her, “For that, we’ll need to take a different journey. Though after that, it is the Jackal’s hope that the questions will become clear.” Leeanne nodded for him to proceed and he logged off of the fake creations from the Deep site and moved the cursor to a directory of encrypted files. Leeanne studied the stream of numbers and letters before them but they made no sense to her.

“Does Jerrod know you did more than just read files under his watchful eye?” Leeanne asked. Spinelli grinned mischievously.

“The Stranger instructed me to download Dr. Sidney’s Clinical notes from your file during the time MR. Broots arranged a convenient system glitch,” Spinelli said. “However, He didn’t realize The Jackal had run another special program enabling him to procure a great deal of other information from the Good Doctor’s file. The Stranger was sufficiently concerned with making amends that he trusted me when I gave him an exaggerated estimate of how long it would take for the Jackal to procure the necessary files.

Leeanne’s musical laughter filled the room. Spinelli joined her in that merriment, reaching out resting a hand lightly on her leg. Leeanne let her hand rest on his shoulder and ran her fingers gently along to the back of his neck.

“Are you scared too?” Leeanne asked softly.

“Does it show?” Spinelli asked, breaking their gaze in sudden discomfort. Leeanne leaned closer, brushing her lips against his cheek.

“Not that much,” Leeanne smiled. “I’d be more concerned if you weren’t scared. After all, you’ve seen my nightmares.”

Series of melodious bells, playing battle hymn of the republic sounded, indicating that someone had breached the security of the property. Spinelli’s fingers moved over the keyboard and Leeanne felt a quickening of her pulse. She moved to her feet awaiting Spinelli’s direction.

“You’re Uncle is paying us a call.” Spinelli said getting to his feet. “A most unusual hour for him.”

“Leeanne raced wordlessly out of the room like a shot. Spinelli heard her taking the stairs two at a time. He started to follow her. He was fairly sure Luke’s appearance was no more a friendly spontaneous visit than Lucky’s had been. He should be on hand. For whatever bombshell the master con man was bringing. Then he caught a look at himself in a hall mirror, still in black pajamas with red dragons. That would not due. If he had learned one thing during his interlude with Maxinista, it was that. Come to think of it, Leeanne’s appearance was sure to cause comment, but by the light tread of her footfalls, already on the ground floor and halfway across the living room, she had not considered this.
This was going to be interesting Spinelli thought as he detoured to the bedroom.

Leeanne was at the door when her uncle rang the bell. She flung the door wide. Luke Spencer was the picture of casual cool, Leeanne thought, in jeans, a tan, golf shirt and cowboy boots. He cocked an eyebrow as he took in the young woman’s appearance.

“I hope I’m not interrupting something,” he said with an unrepentant chuckle that indicated he believed he had done just that. Leeanne stepped back from the door.

“Not at all,” Leeann said breezily. Luke followed her inside and closed the door behind him while Leeanne continued speaking, turning back to face him, “Damian was just helping me redesign my website.”

“Is that what they’re calling it these days?” The older man gave Leeanne a wolfish grin.

Leeanne was confused. She was certain Luke was implying something but not entirely sure what.

“What else would it be called,” Leeanne asked.
Now it was Luke’s turn to shake his head.
The man who never failed to have a wise crack for every occasion was rendered speechless. He opened and closed his mouth several times, trying to form a response. Finally, Leeanne offered to make coffee.

“That would be great,” Luke said at last, easing himself in to the chocolate brown leather recliner in the corner, raising the footrest and relaxing like a sleek, well fed tom cat, enjoying the morning sun. Leeanne disappeared in to the kitchen.
Luke Spencer looked around the little house with appraising blue eyes. Leeanne didn’t share her mother’s taste for the stylish and expensive. The room he was in was a cheery Hodge podge of furniture reflective of no particular style. There was the well worn chair on which he was parked, set in the corner next to a table, piled with an assortment of detective and science fiction novels. Then there was the couch over near the window but set catty corner. It was sea foam green with plump comfortable cushions, across the back was draped a peach fleece blanket bordered with lavender. No doubt perfect for wrapping around themselves on quiet, romantic evenings, Luke Thought to himself. At either end of the couch were throw cushions. Wasn’t that what Laura had called them Luke recalled. But even these tended to the outrageous. One was magenta with light pink flowers knitted in to the pattern and the other was the loudest shade of purple Luke had ever seen in his life.

Scattered about the room were a collection of figurines, music boxes, and other clutter. Luke wondered if his niece had ever visited her daughter’s new home. He grinned at the thought of Chic, image conscious Caroline getting a look at this color clashing, and style defying. Room. He heard footfalls on the stairs and turned to see Spinelli coming down. He was barefoot, wearing jeans that had clearly seen better days, and a black Rocky Horror t-shirt.

“Gracious greetings,” Spinelli offered coming in to the room.

He was flushed and a little breathless. Luke was almost certain he had interrupted something and that it had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with web design.

“Spinelli, I trust you knew it was Leeanne’s favorite great Uncle that was at the door when she came down here alone.”

“Leeanne never goes near doors or windows when visitors approach until it is determined safe.” Spinelli was more defensive than he meant to be.

“Don’t get uptight, Caroline says you’ve created a safe place for her and Jason is well pleased. Who am I to argue with success? She certainly seems to have improved since the night I fished you kids out of the Harbor and got you out of the country.”

“Leeanne has been able to make strides toward placing certain events in their proper context.” Spinelli admitted, “I’d like to think the Jackal had something to do with that.”

“Caroline seems to think you have.” Luke agreed. He was about to say more. But then Leeanne entered the room. She handed Luke a steaming mug of black coffee. Then she handed Spinelli a glass of orange juice.

Luke was in the act of taking a sip of what he quickly discovered to be the worst coffee he had ever tasted when he heard Leeanne say to Spinelli by way of an apology.

“You probably don’t **really** need caffeine any more than I do even if we didn’t get any sleep to speak of. I know I don’t.”

Luke nearly choked on his coffee and Spinelli turned red to the routes of his hair, though Leeanne, having turned her back, missed the impact of her words. She returned to the kitchen for something.

Spinelli made a mental note to explain to Leeanne the concept of the double en tondre.

Luke considered needling the boy wonder about his late night activities. But decided. If he was even half aware of the threat from Miss Parker, and whoever she was double crossing, he probably had enough on his mind . Leeanne returned to the room carrying a glass of pink liquid, possibly lemonade. She sat on the couch beside Spinelli.

“Stone Cold said nothing about a visit from you,” Spinelli said at last.

“Jason told me to come ahead and not to waste time.” Luke explained, discretely setting down the coffee mug. “He believed that someone even thinking that you weren’t Adams floating in the cosmos was something that should be addressed as soon as possible.”

“Did Lucky talk to you? I thought he was told everything.” Leeanne said. There was a note of tension in her voice.

Luke blinked, forgetting for a minute Jason’s telling him how his son had made them during a meet at a forensics conference.

“This has nothing to do with Lucky; this particular person is a dam sight prettier to look at.” Luke told them. Trying to defuse any excess anxiety. Leeanne was still a fragile creature, with an over active imagination. Jason had warned him to be careful. Luke watched as the pair exchanged a look. Leeanne leaned briefly closer and Spinelli said something inaudible to her. She nodded.

“By that you mean she was a tall, well dressed, brunet with a sultry voice?” Spinelli asked.
“So you’ve met the lady?” Luke Countered. To himself he added “no wonder the woman sounded so cocky.” He picked up the coffee mug and took another careful sip for form’s sake. Then decided politeness be damned, this was hideous, a crime against the coffee bean and returned the cup to the table

“She approached us at a carnival,” Leeanne explained, “She addressed me by the alias I use for my business but I had the idea she was trying to find out more about me. It’s the only thing that makes sense.”

Luke looked at Spinelli. The younger man shrugged. Saying by his gesture, that he had as little idea of the reason for the approach.

“She was trying to poke holes in your cover.” Luke Surmised. “How did you handle it?”

“I did what any Spencer worth their salt would do,” Leeanne told him smirking in a way that reminded Luke all too much of her mother. “I embellished the alias adding a personality and history. I gave some plausible but vague details about myself. Nothing they can check very easily.”
“Good move,” Luke said thoughtfully, “It explained why the woman tried to work me. If she was right, she could put some emotional blackmail pressure on me; if she was wrong she was motivating me with greed and my own personal hatred of the dragon lady.”

“The Dark Beauty tried to entice you in to doing her bidding?” Spinelli inquired, even as a dozen thoughts passed through his mind. Beside him, he felt Leeanne tense, though she appeared placid and trusting.

“She pretty much said she knew you were alive and if I wanted you to be safe I’d get her a little piece of technology she doesn’t want anyone else to have and in return, she’d make sure no one knew where you kids were.

“Since you’re apprizing us of this offer, you did not agree to the Dark Beauty’s terms.”

“She seems to think you two lovebirds might know more than you realize you do. Or maybe she’s just hoping you’ll lead me to where you found those fragments Jason told me about so I can bring them to her.”

“Why are you telling us this Uncle Luke?” Leeanne spoke clearly and in carefully measured tones, looking her uncle straight in the eye.

“Spinelli’s right, she has made big improvements.” Luke thought “Jason’s not going to be able to call her fragile much longer.

“I know Lucky and that Jerrod guy from I can’t remember what black opps agency he said again, have been trying to identify some fragments you found on the beach. Okay, I don’t want to complicate things if my son is trying to run some kind of collaborative investigation with homeland security But I just want to know if you get close to getting this thing put together. If this is The Cassidines mad science experiment, I want to make sure this thing and the blueprints to make it become as microscopic as your corpses were supposed to be.”

Leeanne and Spinelli both nodded. They hadn’t really talked about it but in the back of both their minds, they knew that the best thing for all would be if this invention and all connected with it were destroyed. Whether that destruction was carried out by the United States government or Luke Spencer was immaterial.

Luke left 20 minutes later, after several suggestions for additional security measures were made in light of Miss Parker’s appearance. Leeanne thought about telling Luke what they suspected about Miss Parker but held back. She still didn’t understand why she didn’t feel more threatened by Miss Parker or another odd feeling she was beginning to have about Jerrod. They showed Luke out and watched him drive off.

“We should get back to those files,” Leeanne said.

That same manic energy seemed once more to descend on Leeanne no doubt helped but the excessive amount of sugar she put in the lemonade Spinelli guessed. She was ahead of him as they crossed the living room to return to his office when Leeanne’s legs gave way and she swayed. Spinelli moved quickly to catch Leeanne before she fell, turning her to face him. Her eyes were glazed with fatigue. The false sugar rush combined with adrenalin was finally depleted. She leaned against him for support.

“You, are going to do nothing but sleep!” Spinelli said emphatically.

“I’m fine, just a little tired but I **want to help you,” Leeanne insisted.

“You’re dead on your feet and you’re going to lie down if I have to carry you to bed.” Spinelli’s tone was quite firm and he hoped it would quell any further argument. It didn’t. Leeanne looked up at him, challenge in her bright green eyes mixed with exhaustion.

“You’re in no better shape than I am Damian Spinelli, if you try to carry me you won’t even make it half way and you’ll collapse!” Leeanne’s voice was equally resolute. Even more maddening, Spinelli realized, she was right.

He very much wanted to access those liberated files and try to pry loose his own memories. But he was aware of the need for sleep stealing over him, very much against his will. Still, maybe he could fight it.

“I bet Dian Told Lucky you began taking care of me the night we supposedly were killed in a boating accident,” Leeanne said, locking her gaze with Spinelli’s. .” There was a new expression on her face, a fierce intensity, “I’m sure Jason and Carly and the others think of it that way. But they’re wrong.”

Leeanne reached up, placing her hands on Spinelli’s shoulders even as she tried to rise on tiptoe, as if by brining her face closer to his she could better convey her feelings. Understanding her action, Spinelli lowered his head so their faces were inches apart.

“From the minute you found me in that madhouse, you have been taking care of me.” Leeanne’s voice was very soft, “Jason may have arranged Elizabeth to come and patch up my injuries, Carly may have ordered pretty clothes and treats from the metro Court so I’d feel more comfortable. Sam may have shared her own experiences, but you were really the one who looked after me. You were there to hold me after every nightmare, you were always talking to me so I wouldn’t have to be alone with my imagination. Telling me I was beautiful and special. Reading me those old trashy romances I **know** you hate. That was even more important to me than the extra guards Jason put around the penthouse, or the gourmet pastries Carly had delivered. I just want to be there to lead you through whatever memories are trying to break free the way you’ve been for me. Isn’t that what a relationship is about?”

Her gaze was still steady as she finished. Spinelli didn’t miss the implacable determination in her tone. He realized in that moment, she was absolutely correct. The Valkarie had told him this day would come he remembered.

“She’s a Spencer, she’ll fight back from this.” Leeanne’s mother had told him the day they were to vanish, “It will change you’re relationship, maybe it will never be what it was before. That difference will make it stronger. be ready for it.”

Now, apparently, that day was here and Spinelli found he was caught off balance and wasn’t at all ready for it. It was going to take some getting use to and probably require thinking in a different way.

“Then may the Jackal suggest a compromise plan, he asked quietly, even as he slid his hand to the hair scrunchy that was nearly free, and finished the job of loosing that cascade of golden silk.

“I’m listening,” She laughed.

“We will both rest and return to the task of grasping the strands of my memories after that.

Leeanne nodded and allowed herself to be led up stairs.
They collapsed, exhausted on to the bed. Leeanne curling in to Spinelli, laying her head on his shoulder. Spinelli slid an arm around her waste threading his fingers through her hair. Within seconds, both slipped in to the oblivion of sleep.

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Friday, February 1st, 2013
1:50 am
General Hospital/Pretender Fan fiction Escape Artists, chapter 4
Leeanne drew back involuntarily as Lucky and Jerrod stepped from the kitchen in to the narrow hallway. Both men stopped and Jerrod seemed about to say something but Spinelli held up a hand, “I will answer your queries, I will do it alone and I will expect Reciprocation.” Spinelli stated with quiet authority. Jerrod took in Leeanne’s appearance, her hair was loose and she was still clearly agitated, remaining close to Spinelli and holding tight to his hand. Both their clothes were coated with a light dusting of sand. He decided it was not the time to say what he was thinking, and nodded to Spinelli who gave Leeanne’s hand a gentle squeeze as he bent to brush his lips against her cheek. Spinelli turned to lead the way up the stairs to his office, Jerrod following. Leeanne stepped in to the living room, motioning for Lucky to follow her. He walked to one of the floor length windows and pushed back the sheer draperies, to get a better view of the garden outside.

“Can I get you anything, a soda, lemonade? I’ve even learned to fix it using Aunt Ruby’s recipe. Leeanne asked.

Lucky turned back from the window and crossed to the couch. He sat down, kicking out his legs. Leeanne noted, he looked more himself, in jeans, a butternut polo shirt and cowboy boots.

“Are you sure that was such a good idea,” He asked, pointing to the stairs. Leeanne nodded, “Damian says they need to have a conversation,” Leeanne explained, “You don’t need to play cop.”

Lucky laughed, “”Then I’d love some of Aunt Ruby’s lemon aid if you have really mastered it. Though many have tried to copy her formulas, few have gotten it right.”

“Prepare to be dazzled,” Leeanne laughed. She went in to the small but cozy kitchen and poured two glasses of lemonade, then placed some chocolate chip cookies on a large plate decorated with alligators, pelicans, and pineapples that she had picked up at a garage sale. She returned to the living room and placed the plate in the middle of the coffee table then returned for the drinks.
“You can tell Cam and Aden what they missed out on.” Leeanne laughed.

Lucky took one of the cookies and took a bite, “not bad, but I find it hard to believe you actually baked these. I seem to remember something about setting off smoke detectors at Kelly’s. Leeanne grimaced at the memory of her attempt to make a cake for her baby sister’s fourth birthday.

Lucky took a sip of his Lemonade, “I’m impressed,” He pronounced, “This is almost as good as Ruby’s.”

“”Are you okay?” Lucky asked after a few minutes of silence while they both enjoyed their refreshment.

“I’m better,” Leeanne admitted, remembering Lucky’s unerring instinct for unearthing lies.

“You scared me earlier, I haven’t seen you like that since…” Lucky trailed off, not wanting to bring up unpleasant memories. They both knew what he was referring to. When Spinelli’s car had stalled during their flight back to the penthouse, it had been Lucky who had pulled over to assist them. He had wanted to call an ambulance, when he first saw Leeanne, wrapped in a blanket, several angry bruises on her face, and an unfocused, glassy look in her usually expressive green eyes. Leeanne didn’t know if it was Spinelli’s earnest plea for Lucky to be a cousin instead of a cop, or the fact Leeanne had flinched when Lucky leaned in to the car toward her, but he helped Spinelli get the car going, then provided a police escort back to her father’s penthouse to prevent Spinelli from having to deal with any police who might be less understanding or take too much notice of any speeding violations he made along the way.
“I just don’t like to be grabbed, and I don’t like people moving fast.” Leeanne explained.

“I know,” Lucky said, “I think Jerrod does too.” He took a thoughtful sip of the lemonade “He’s not use to dealing with Spencer volatility.”

The cousins sat silently for a while longer again and finally Lucky said, “Jerrod told me in more detail about this pretender thing, and about the center, what they did to you. He even told me about how you thought I had the gift too.

“Something I overheard when you were talking to Ethan, once I had spent enough time with you and met Uncle Luke, I realized I was mistaken, you were just a chip off the old block.”

“It’s a good thing Spinelli found out we were related,” Lucky observed.

“It certainly made it easier for me to put off a conversation I should have had with him, whether Jerrod liked it or not,” Leeanne admitted, absently running her fingers through her hair.

“Is that why you really went off on Jerrod like that, because he told you not to tell Spinelli that he was guarding you against more than the Zacaras and other enemies of your father, or because he was doing something you felt was your duty?”

Leeanne looked at her cousin sharply. He’s right, Leeanne realized. She could have tried to tell Damian in spite of Jerrod’s warnings, she could have at least told him about being abducted without necessarily mentioning the center by name.

“I suppose that’s a lot of it,” Leeanne admitted, “I seem to be so much my mother’s daughter, lacking the courage to handle my own issues, relying on stronger people to act on my behalf, Damian, my parents, Jerrod, even you to a certain extent.”
“You are very different from Carly,” Lucky assured his cousin, “You never demand anything, and what you take, you accept with such obvious gratitude. Trust me, there is no one I can think of that would say that about your mother.”

“Damian says I’ve given him a lot,” Leeanne told Lucky, “It seems I’ve given him a lot of trouble, for what? Because he loves me?”

“That’s exactly why,” Lucky said. He got up and wandered back toward the window, “Trust me on this Cuz, Needing Spinelli to be your hero and protector, no matter what enemy he’s shielding you from, was the greatest gift you could have ever given him. He’s been searching for this for a very long time.”

Leeanne joined him at the window, “You’re sure?” she asked. "Mostly I know that but sometimes I get scared.”

“I’m probably the last person who should be giving anyone relationship advice,” Lucky said smiling, “But you and Spinelli are a no brainer. Anyone who’s been around the two of you for more than five minutes can see you are about as real as it gets.” Leeanne smiled, reassured.

The cousins were in the middle of the visit Leeanne had craved when Jerrod and Spinelli returned downstairs an hour later. Leeanne browsing happily through pictures of Lucky’s two older boys and new baby daughter on his iPhone. The two cousins laughing over her younger brother Morgan’s latest romantic misadventure.

“He’s never going to take after Sonny in that department.” Leeanne was saying, laughter lacing her voice.

Leeanne looked quickly between the two men as they came down the stairs. While Spinelli and Jerrod hardly seemed to have become bosom buddies, Leeanne thought she had detected a grudging respect, or at least some kind of accord between the two. At the sound of squealing tires kicking up gravel Jerrod spoke. “Lucky and I will need to gain access to the lab where the fragments found by the salvage company are being analyzed and make a comparison. Spinelli, if you examine the information we discussed, I think you can make an assessment of your security here. We’ll be in touch once we have made a comparison and come up with a plan for handling this.

“Very Well,” Spinelli agreed, turning toward the door. Leeanne went with him to see their guests off.

“It’s good to see you’re happy and alive,” Lucky told Leeanne as the cousins hugged goodbye. We’ll get your life back to what it has been as soon as we can.”

Leeanne smiled, not sure exactly what to say.

When Dianne had driven their guests away, Leeanne and Spinelli once more climbed the Veranda steps. Leeanne sat down at the rattan table, picking up the papers Spinelli had printed for her.

“Were all your questions answered?” Leeanne asked.

Spinelli shrugged. “I’m not entirely certain at this time,” Spinelli replied. Leeanne nodded.

Spinelli came to Leeanne’s side and lightly, ran his fingers through her hair. “It was good to hear you laughing earlier.”

“Thank you for making that happen Damian,” Leeanne told him, resting her hand over his. At his quizzical look Leeanne went on, “Lucky suggested two possible reasons he got let in to the charmed circle, and the likelihood that he could have cowed Diane Miller in to submission is nearly nil, that leaves only the Jackal’s most eloquent powers of persuasion.”
“Well,” Spinelli stammered blushing furiously, “The Jackal did argue The Beautiful Dreamer’s case. But it’s doubtful he was a deciding factor.”
Leeanne let a slow smile play at the corners of her Lips. She stood up and gave him a quick hug, “You really need to learn to take compliments gracefully,” She laughed, “You are gifted with a strong command of words and I choose to believe your oratory skills convinced Jason to take a chance and I’m not changing my mind.”

“Who am I to question such strong conviction,” Spinelli said, returning her hug. Before returning inside, no doubt to review whatever Jerrod had asked him to.

The stillness in the house made Leeanne uneasy. Being alone with her thoughts was not a place she cared to be. However, right now, there was not a lot she could do. Spinelli had the files Jerrod wished him to read and Lucky and Jerrod had to seek out Lucky's contacts in order to confirm the fragments were indeed
From the Cassidine weather machine and come up with a plan for how to deal with it. There was really no way for her to help.
(I really am my mother's daughter) Leeanne thought (doing nothing gives me the Heebie geebies)

She sat down at the piano. Without thinking, she began to pluck out the first cords of the Culture club ballad, Victims. The song' suited her especially
In view of her conversation with Spinelli. She felt she had been about as clear as mud. Just what had Jerrod told Spinelli when they had adjourned to his office alone? As her hands shifted for the third chord in the melody, her fingers shifted position and a very discordant note sounded. Taking a deep breath, Leeanne tried again, and then a third time, each time, her hands rejected the commands of her brain. After the third try Leeanne cried out in frustration, shaking her head from side to side. Once more, she raised her hands over the piano keys, tensing in concentration. Leeanne was so focused,
She didn't notice Spinelli coming up behind her until he gently but firmly, took her hands in his.
"I can not allow you to continue engaging in destructive and defeatist behavior." His tone of voice was uncharacteristically decisive.

Leeanne turned around and gave him a half smile.

"I thought that music would help me relax and quiet my mind."

"Perhaps listening rather than performing will prove more helpful." Spinelli suggested.

Leeanne smiled and nodded, moving over on the bench. Spinelli sat down beside her.

"I was trying to play Victims," she told him. But Spinelli shook his head.

"I think I can do better than that." Spinelli thought a moment, hands poised over the keys, then he began to play the old country ballad, Beautiful Dreamer. Leeanne let her memory drift back in time, remembering the first time he sang that song to her, the first time he tagged her with that nickname, the first time they had made love.

They had been on the private island, owned by her father's employer, Sonny Corinthos. Jason sent them their immediately following the boat explosion
That was supposed to have taken their lives, while the house in Delray Beach was made secure. Sonny's island was also thought to be a good place for Leeanne to get the medical care she required without inconvenient questions. They had been there for 3 weeks and Leeanne was beginning to relax and to become a little more communicative. Spinelli was the perfect traveling companion, making her laugh, helping her with the physical therapy exercises, listening to her when she needed to talk, and offering support and comfort when her fears got the better of her. That night, Leeanne stood in front of her dresser in a light pink cotton nightgown with a pattern of purple and blue flowers. She just removed the bangle bracelets and silver and turquoise necklace she wore and had only now to let down her hair. She could have left the braids in; in fact, the young woman in the resort salon had encouraged her to do just that. But Leeanne was discovering it was easier to fall asleep if she felt completely unrestrained. Not that sleep was that restful. She was still frequently plagued by nightmares. Still, sleep was sleep and Spinelli would worry if she didn't get any. She reached up and began to try and work the tightly secured beads that kept each braid in place. She had barely been successful with the clasp of her necklace, now her hands began to rebel at the fine motor work they were being asked to perform. She bit her lip in frustration. This use to be something she could do without thinking about it. Though she had been told that in time she would regain motor control and short term memory for the most part, patience wasn't one of her virtues. She fought to keep from crying in frustration, but it was a losing battle. In the reflection of the mirror, she saw Spinelli in the open doorway; she nodded for him to come in, not trusting her voice. Spinelli would help her; all she had to do was ask. But she was determined not to appear completely helpless. As she continued attempting to gain command over her traitorous hands, she watched Spinelli quietly check the windows, making sure that they were secured, seeing that she had remembered to extinguish the lavender incense sticks that she had been burning, making sure all threat of danger was eliminated in the hope that this knowledge might drive back the nightmares. She was aware, that just as she could see him in the mirror, he was watching her. He continued quietly with his work.
Leeanne appreciated his restraint. She knew his impulse was to come to her aid. That restraint had limits though, and as Leeanne reached the height of frustration, when she just wanted to rest her arms on the bureau top and lay her head on them for a good cry, Spinelli moved behind her. He stilled her hands with his own and removed them from the tangle she was in the process of making. Leeanne allowed her hands to fall to her side. Spinelli placed his hands on her shoulders and began massaging knots she hadn't been aware were there. Leeanne relaxed under his touch, as she always had. She felt him lift the braid she had been trying to work on.

"Allow me," It was half statement, half request.

"Okay," her voice sounded small to her but at least she wasn't crying any more.

Leeanne remained still as Spinelli took his time untying each of the braids, smoothing out her hair. When her hair was freed, once more, Spinelli let his hands fall to Leeanne's shoulders, turning her to face him. The look Leeanne saw on his face surprised her; it was an expression of wonder.

"You are so beautiful," he breathed.

"Yah right," she laughed, still keeping her eyes on his. Her face was still drawn and pail, filled with the strain of her frustration. Yet,
The look in his eyes, told Leeanne that he saw none of this, or if he did, he didn't care.

Gently, he reached out to stroke her cheek, smoothing the tension from her facial muscles with his fingertips. His touch was feather light, and brought a slow smile to Leeanne's lips. He seemed to be weighing something in his mind. Then he lowered his head, and pressed his lips to hers in a soft, gentle kiss.

Leeanne felt her heart beat quicken in a way it hadn't since before the abduction. She leaned against Spinelli, giving herself over to a sense of warmth
And well-being she had not dared to hope could still be there, in spite of Spinelli's promise.

Spinelli slid one hand to the back of her neck, tangling his fingers once more in her hair along the way. He wrapped his other arm around her waist as he deepened the kiss. Leeanne felt her breath catch. She felt a kind of dizziness that was not at all unpleasant. Her own arms wound around Spinelli's neck as she was consumed with a desire to get closer to him. She snuggled against him. She began kissing him back. Spinelli moved his hands over her, caressing her neck, back, and shoulders . Leanne’s hands weren't idle either as she slowly brushed back his bangs from his eyes, then let her fingertips trace his face and along the line of his jaw.
Leeanne was surprised when Spinelli broke the kiss. Gently, he released her.

"What did I do wrong?" Leeanne asked.

"You did everything exactly right, it was I who was in error," Spinelli said.

"I don't understand," Leeanne insisted, "You said you loved me before we left Port Charles, that that hasn't changed."

"It hasn't," Spinelli agreed, "I am absolutely, completely in love with you. Because I love you, I don't want to hurt you by rushing you in to something you aren't ready for."

Leeanne took a step toward him and laid a hand on his arm. "I trust you Damian," her voice was barely above a whisper, "I know you won't hurt me. I need to know I'm still the same person I was before they hurt me."
Spinelli looked deep in to Leeanne's eyes, wanting to believe her words, but making sure she **really** understood what she was saying and meant it. Leeanne tried to convey her absolute trust in Spinelli and her deepest desire to be closer to him, the way they had been moving toward before the abduction. She saw the play of emotions that crossed his face, love, longing and desire, warred with concern and just a hint of fear. He considered. Finally, he smiled at her, apparently, having seen what he needed to. He reached for her then, drawing her close to him and kissing her very slowly. Just as slowly, he began caressing her once more. A sigh of contentment slipped from her lips.
Spinelli gently removed Leeanne's nightgown, resting his hands on her slim shoulders, holding her at arm’s length while he let his eyes take her in,
Pale and fragile in the moonlight, a tragic angel fallen in to his care, a vision from his deepest dreams. As he drew her close, she reached out, needing
Very much to touch his skin as he was doing to her now and forgetting for the moment, that if her hands couldn't manage hair beads, they would certainly find
The buttons of the black dress shirt he wore a problem. Spinelli guessed her intent, and gently removed her hands from the troublesome buttons, then undid them himself. Remaining still as she slid the garment from him, letting it fall to the floor, she followed it with the t-shirt he had underneath. They came together then in a tender embrace. Leeanne felt as though she were falling in to a white hot fire that heated, but never burned as Spinelli kissed her
More passionately than he had allowed himself in a long time. Leeanne gave herself over completely to sensation in that moment, not really remembering when or
How the remaining clothes came off, just that they did. Spinelli lifted her then, carrying her to the bed where he laid her down gently. Hesitating, he let his gaze move over her, still a little amazed by the situation before lying down beside her and gathering her close. She realized she was shaking, though she couldn't exactly explain why. Timidly, Leeanne reached out her own hands, realizing she was out of her element. Leeanne tried to think of words to explain her uncertainty. But Spinelli had seemed to have read her mind. , taking her hands in his; he laid them where she could understand the affect she had on him. He spoke quietly, murmuring words of endearment and love. Letting her know she was safe with him.

“There’s all the time in the world for us,” he told her.
. The time Spinelli offered Leeanne to adjust to this new level of intimacy eased all lingering uncertainties. He guided her until an instinct in Leeanne took over. Together, they discovered how to touch one another. Leeanne's sense of wonderment at each new discovery of pleasure fired Spinelli's passion, encouraging him to search out the things that made her come alive. All the while, he kept a tight control on himself. Leeanne could see it in his eyes. Their gazes remained locked, each looking for a Signe of what the other wanted. It was only when Spinelli saw the look in Leeanne's eyes shift from the soft glow of amazement to a bright fire that matched the one inside him
That he let go of the control he had so carefully maintained, taking Leeanne over the edge with him into ecstasy she never imagined existed before.

"I've dreamed of this a hundred times, since the moment I fell in love with you," Leeanne told Spinelli sometime later, as they lay snuggled together,
Lost in their own private world. Moonlight streamed through the windows, the fragrance of lavender still hung in the air adding to the peaceful feelings
Leeanne was experiencing. “I never expected reality to outshine the dream.”

“You are my Beautiful dreamer," he whispered, "That's who you are, my beautiful dreamer. The one who’s traveled the world and lives many lives if only in her mind.”

"Like that song that was on the jukebox at Jake's the first time we danced together?" Leeanne wanted to know.

Spinelli smiled and kissed the side of her neck. She laughed and curled close beside him, taking his hand in hers.

"Sing to me?" Leeanne asked, "Let me have one more beautiful thing to dream of.”
And Leeanne fell asleep to Spinelli softly singing what she came to know as her song. It became the first of their rituals.

"Gone are the cares of life's busy grind. Beautiful Dreamer, Awaken to me. Beautiful Dreamer, Waken to me.

As Spinelli let the last chords die away, the pair looked in to each other's eyes, and Leeanne smiled her understanding. They had both been remembering the same night.

"No Damian, Leeanne told Spinelli as she reached out to run her fingers through his hair, "walking away hasn’t been an option for me either, since almost the first time I met you."

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Sunday, December 16th, 2012
2:40 am
General Hospital/Pretender Escape Artist chapter 13 fan fiction
Diane Miller, Attorney at law, a woman who professed herself not to be fully human or capable of coherent thought before her first cup of coffee, came instantly awake when she answered her cell phone. The words she heard had her dressing in record time and breaking all speed limits driving to the isolated cottage.

Jason Morgan’s tone of voice left no room for discussion.

“Leeanne says Spinelli needs you!” he said.
“Leeanne?” Diane had repeated, feeling a knot gathering in her stomach. Leeanne wasn’t supposed to initiate contact. All communication was supposed to come from Spinelli.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Jason admitted, “She said Spinelli was in trouble and she needed you. She was calling from his emergency phone.”

Diane felt the knot tighten in her gut. Spinelli wouldn’t give up that phone or deviate from the plan unless something was very wrong. She picked up on the underlying concern that tinged Jason’s voice. Underneath that cold, clipped exterior, Leeanne’s father was worried as well.

Diane turned in to the gravel drive, tires squealing. Before jumping out of the car, she reached into the glove compartment, withdrawing her small caliber pistol, sliding the shiny black piece of metal, in to her purse. Just in case the trouble is armed, Diane told herself.

She had barely raised her hand to knock when Leeanne opened the door to the lady barrister.

“Thank you for coming so quickly,” Leeanne said, standing aside to let the older woman pass. Diane took in the girl’s appearance. She looked like hell, Diane Decided, dark circles ringed her eyes. Her face was pale and drawn. She was dressed as though she had pulled clothing out haphazardly from the closet. Wearing, a light purple short sleeved silk blouse buttoned crooked, and a wrap around, red floral print skirt. Jason and Carly’s daughter had never been a fashion devotee, but this level of fashion disaster was more typical of her paramour.

“Perhaps you should tell me why I’m here,” Diane began, “Where is Spinelli?”

For answer, Leeanne pointed up the stairs. Then she motioned Diane to the sofa. Diane sat down. Leeanne crossed the room and seated herself on the piano bench, facing her visitor. Leeanne’s eyes were bright with an intensity Diane had never seen before as she began.

“You’re going to tell me all about the talks that Jerrod had with my parents when they were considering the merits of Damian’s plan.”

“Those conversations were confidential,” Diane began.

“The relationship of Why?” Diane was cut off abruptly by the younger woman.
“What’s confidential about a group of parents discussing their children’s safety with a well, what did Jerrod pass himself off as to all of you anyway. I don’t think anyone ever explained that to me.”

“He said he had been your life coach,” Diane admitted, she was concerned, Spinelli hadn’t made an appearance. Leeanne was acting very different, not at the entire fragile flower she had been these last two years, in need of Spinelli’s tending. She was acting like, well, like her mother.

“Perhaps we should wait for Spinelli to join us,” Diane began again. Leeanne shook her head.

“You should tell me about those conversations now Diane,” she began, “Then you need to go and talk to Damian. I think maybe a few words from his mother may help him find his emotional equilibrium.”

Diane put a hand to her head, feeling a throbbing at her temple. There was only one way Leeanne could know what Diane was to her boyfriend. The question was why had Jerrod not bothered to warn her he was telling the girl. More important, what happened to Spinelli.

“Before we talk about the past, I need to know just what the hell happened here. The last time I looked, Spinelli’s emotional equilibrium was about as normal as it ever is for him, and you were suppose to be keeping clear of outside communications.”

Leanne considered for some time. She hadn’t expected Diane to turn this in to a negotiation. She hadn’t really known what to expect. She certainly hadn’t anticipated Diane becoming emotional. After all, she had kept her distance for years, not finding Spinelli until he was an adult. Even then, casting herself in the roll of friend, co-author, and attorney. She had given no indication of being the man’s mother, even knowing how important finding his parents and making a connection was to him.

“Damian doesn’t know who you are I don’t think. I’m not sure even I could have pulled him a little way back if he found out about your betrayal **that** **way**!”

Diane looked momentarily as though someone had slapped her in the face, hard. Then her grey eyes blazed with indignation.

“Just what did Jerrod tell you?” She demanded in a low tone of tightly controlled fury.
Now it was Leeanne who looked baffled. Then she shrugged and sighed in resignation.

“Damian was right to not trust the yellow-bellied snake,” Leeanne said, “It seems Jerrod acquired a taste for secrets while he was in the center. Not to mention playing with the lives of others.”

There was a long silence. Diane took a deep breath.

“I kept silent because to explain would have been asking my son to believe something that I could barely get my head around. How could I expect him to accept it? I already lost his father over it. I didn’t want to lose him again.”

There was sadness in the older woman’s face that Leeanne sensed was sincere.
“Jerrod didn’t tell me anything,” Leeanne said at last, “let’s just say I ran across the information.”

Diane decided she didn’t **really** want to know how Leeanne had accomplished that. The younger woman was clearly concerned about her companion. That was most important here.

“Very well,” Diane began, taking a breath, “You wanted to know about Jerrod’s conversations with Jason and Carly. I’ll tell you about that. But you’re going to tell me what happened to Spinelli, and why he is obviously, **not** involved in this conversation.” Leeanne nodded in agreement.

***Spinelli stared absently out the window at the low hanging clouds. More rain was heading in their direction. He could find out for sure if he tapped a few keys on his laptop. But the young man, who had once found his greatest sense of accomplishment in the computer world, had no desire to reach out to cyberspace.

Leeanne had quietly brought him his laptop, encouraging him to continue to rest his injured leg. She had gone to another part of the house. She said she had some research to attend to. Spinelli was greatful for their long developed silent language. Leeanne continued to respect his desire not to speak of the previous evening’s events, and what he remembered. He couldn’t begin to guess how she had acquired the knowledge. Nor could he understand how it seemed to bring about a change in her.

There was a knock on the bedroom door. Without waiting for an answer, Diane Miller strode in. Spinelli blinked in surprise.

“I had no idea you were in the neighborhood.” Spinelli began.

Then Spinelli saw the look on Diane’s face. His appearance must have shocked her. he reasoned. So why were there tears at the corners of her eyes? He wondered.

Quickly, the lady lawyer blinked them back.

“I never should have left you with them for even one minute.” Diane blurted, unable to stop herself. She took in her son’s care-worn, and emotionally shattered expression. Leeanne’s description of Spinelli’s condition didn’t even begin to cover it, Diane thought.

Spinelli looked confused by her words. Diane considered just leaving it there. Moving on to the motivating. Then she reconsidered, remembering what the enigmatic Jerrod had told her about having a chance to be there for her son.

Oh Come on Diane, there’s never going to be a “right time” to have this conversation. Just spit it out, she ordered herself.

“Your father had a bad feeling about them, and their interest in you. But they had taken an interest in my career as well. I was moving up fast in their legal department. My own employers wouldn’t actually harm my son. They certainly wouldn’t make him disappear.”

As Diane spoke, Spinelli saw more unwelcome images in his head. He saw himself as a young child, being handed over to the kindly DR. Sidney, with the funny accent. He recalled his mother telling him to be a good boy, and do what he was told. He remembered looking up in to that kind and earnest face, so full of pride and confidence in him. As he stared at the woman who had been his friend and advisor, he now realized she was something else all together.

“Why?” Spinelli’s voice was quiet but full of hurt that changed to anger as his voice rose, “Why did you leave me with those monsters! You were supposed to protect me! Why didn’t you protect me! Why didn’t you come for me?”

Now Diane remembered the other reason she had chosen to hold her tongue after finding her child. She had known Spinelli would not take this well and she couldn’t really say she blamed him.

“I was lied to,” she began, “Your father saw the lie.”

“You’re a lawyer!” He shot back, “You can spot a lie a mile away.”

“I screwed up, fine.” Diane said, deciding it was time to move on.
“You never protected me, and you never claimed me,” the fire had gone out of Spinelli’s voice. Now he was broken and defeated. Diane moved to the bedside. She bent down to awkwardly hug him. Spinelli flinched, drawing away. Diane suppressed her feeling of pain at his rejection. She supposed she deserved it.

“After your father died, it was strongly suggested that I would be better off if I forgot I had a husband or a son. I was advised it would be better for my health and the well being of others I cared about if I just moved on. I was offered a position with an influential law firm far away. I had a father who was sickly, and a sister who was pregnant and newly married. I was young and scared.”

“But you did find me,” Spinelli said after a long while. Diane paced the room, trying to find the right words. Then she decided there was no good way to say it.

“I found you by accident,” she began, “I had been reading the transcripts for the trial of Lorenzo Elkazar’s murderer when your name came up. Once I knew where you were, I began maneuvering to place myself as Sonny’s lawyer so I could get to know you, and keep an eye on you.”

Diane lowered herself on to the old fashion chest and studied his reaction. He still had that wounded look on his face.

“I still feared what the Center might do if they discovered I had made contact with you. I still heard whispers of their existence. I didn’t know if you were still in their grip somehow and by the time I was sure you weren’t, well, would you have believed me if I told you any of this before Leeanne?”

Spinelli considered. Diane had always been honest with him before and he remembered his mother stressing the importance of integrity, and looking after those you cared for. Yes. His mother would have kept her own counsel if it was for his good. He remembered once more that last day. Hadn’t they told him the same thing after he saw the article about his father falling off a train platform on to the third rail? They had told him it was best to forget he had ever had parents.

“I need you to leave,” Spinelli’s voice was breaking, as though he was holding back tears.

“I’m sorry Son,” Diane said, gentling her voice.

“Don’t, please don’t!” Spinelli said, more sharply than he had intended. In a calmer tone he added, “I need time to live with this.”

“I understand,” Diane said, rising to leave, “But you need to find a way to deal with this. Just remember, you have help to do that.”

“Does she…” Spinelli began, then let the words trail off. Somehow, Spinelli was sure Leeanne had learne his mother’s identity as well. He began to wonder if she had something to do with the Sassy solicitor’s presence here. just as she had uncovered the nightmare of that last day. Diane’s nod confirmed his suspicion.

“Don’t shut her out, Spinelli. I can accept you don’t want to take any assistance from me. But you should let Leeanne be there for you.”

Spinelli didn’t respond. Diane started to leave the room, convinced she had lost her son completely.

“You weren’t trying to protect my grandmother?” Spinelli asked, “When you were doing all that forgetting to save your family.”

“My mother died my second year of college,” Diane said, surprised by the question. “Your father and I talked a lot about the pain of losing our mothers.”

Spinelli caught his breath as his world shifted once more. He buried his head in his hands, as though he could block out this new reality... He felt as though his brain was on overload. The one thing he was sure about was he didn’t want to talk anymore. He didn’t want to think either.

“Please go now,” he said, trying to keep the tremor out of his voice, “Tell Leeanne to let me be alone for a while.”

“I’ll come back when you’re better,” Diane promised. There was no response. On the other hand, he wasn’t raging at her to never return. Diane reasoned it had gone as well as it could. Diane came downstairs where she found Leeanne waiting, a steaming mug of coffee in hand which she wordlessly gave to the older woman before returning to her seat on the piano bench. Diane re-entered the living room and sat in the recliner this time.

“Before you have what I know will be an uncomfortable conversation with my father,” Leeanne began, “I think we need to talk about the ground work for what happens next.”

Yes indeed, Diane Miller thought to herself, Leeanne Destri was definitely turning in to her mother’s daughter. She found, she was glad of this, because until her son was willing to accept her help, he was going to need a woman with the cunning and strength to be his own personal warrior. Though Strong as she had become, Diane decided, Young Miss Destri was going to require some instruction in how to swim with sharks. During her time both at the Center and as mouth piece for the Korinthos organization, Diane Miller had become expert at that.

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

2:21 am
General Hospital/Pretender Escape artist chapter 12 fan fiction
Spinelli sat at the computer, hands poised over the keys, the directory of Encrypted files before him. Leeanne should be with him for this; it was her ride through Hell too. She had asked him not to shield her and he wasn’t. He would let her see everything after he had examined the files first and figured out the best way to cushion the blow. First, he was going to answer some questions of his own. His memories didn’t make sense, why was his history with the villains at the Center so different from hers. He had been allowed to go home while her parents were summarily executed.

He clicked on the file labeled clinical and was presented with a list of other files, each identified with a person’s name and the words, case notes. One of the names on the list was Leeanne’s. He’d look at that later. With heart pounding, Spinelli clicked on the link for his own file.

This put him in another list of folders. Medical records, mental health evaluation, intelligence test scores. At the bottom of the list was a file marked termination. That sounds like an end game, Spinelli reasoned lining up the cursor. He took a deep breath and clicked the mouse.

Spinelli began reading the file. As he did so, a cold chill swept over him and he began to shake violently as he was engulfed by memory. A terrific sound surrounded him. Images spun like a movie reel playing out on the screen of his mind. Spinelli was totally unaware the sound he was hearing was screaming or that the scream was his.
A light sheen of sweat covered Leeanne’s body as she slid across the floor. She arched her back; her arms raised high over her head. Slowly she brought them down, allowing her lip to curl in to a snarl and she purred the line.

“Looking for a good time.”
Leeanne took a few more quick steps, and shook her head, letting her hair fly before she sang the last lines of the song.

“I’m gonna do a favor and let you go. But don’t you let me catch you round here no more. If you’re lookin for a good time, lookin for a good time, lookin for a good time.” At the repeat of the refrain, Leeanne bent back slightly, swung her arms to either side and crossed one leg around the other in three perfect spins. Then brought herself to a complete stop as the music came to an abrupt end. One leg raised slightly off the ground, the bulk of her weight placed on her back leg.

Not bad, Leeanne decided. If there was ever a day she could take the stage again, she was as ready as she would ever be. Her coordination was reasonably under control. Something was wrong, she realized. Leeanne heard a noise that didn’t belong. Over her own rapid breathing and pounding heart, she could hear something, coming from upstairs, from the direction of Spinelli’s office.

Leeanne forgot all about her own exhaustion and turned to take the stairs two at a time. When she reached Spinelli’s office he was racing from the room: wild eyed and paler than was normal. His face was contorted in an emotion Leeanne didn’t recognize.

“Damian, what’s wrong?” Leeanne demanded, a thrill of fear running down her back. Spinelli barely seemed aware of her presence. “Spinelli!” Leeanne repeated. Even her reversion to a form of address from his old life failed to reach him.

“I need to be alone,” Spinelli gasped, looking at her imploringly, “I just need to get out of here and be.”

He didn’t finish the sentence. Spinelli took the stairs at a speed Leeanne hadn’t been aware he possessed. She tried to catch up but the combination of exhaustion from her rehearsal exertions, and being shorter, prevented her from overtaking him.

“Damian tell me what’s going on!” Leeanne persisted, “Has the center found…”

“Let me be alone!” Spinelli shouted an unfamiliar note of complete panic in his voice.
Leeanne stepped back, hurt, confused and afraid. She had never seen Spinelli like this.

He turned down the small hall and left the house by the side door. Leeanne noticed he hadn’t even touched the security panel. Clearly, her lover was upset. She needed to know what was going on. Something had shattered his usually calm state of mind.

Leeanne started to go after him, and then stopped, remembering something Carly had said about men sometimes needing to crawl in to a cave when they were feeling vulnerable. Maybe this was one of those times. Maybe all Damian wanted was a little alone time and he’d come back in a few hours and explain everything.
Leeanne tried to distract herself, she attempted to read Rhett Butler’s People, then she tried to watch the video of Star Trek 4, she even tried playing the piano. Nothing could hold her attention as she saw again and again, that wild expression on her lover’s face, and heard the despair in his voice. He was acting as though the hounds of Hell were after him, Leeanne thought.
As the afternoon wore on, Monsoon rains moved in. Leeanne began prowling through the house. She turned on the stereo, switching on the speakers in all rooms and playing the music loud, trying not to think. The sky had grown dark with more than just storm clouds, Leeanne realized. She decided she had given Spinelli quite enough alone time. Maybe he was hurt, maybe he’d had some kind of flashback from that trauma he had told her about and had lost his memory again.
The rains were continuing to fall but the thunder and lightning seemed to have moved off. Leeanne slipped out the door and began to search. Spinelli wasn’t inside the garden. Leeanne moved to the gate that led to the beach. She hesitated when she reached it, remembering Jason’s explicit instructions for her not to leave the boundaries of their property without Spinelli. Well, he wasn’t here and he could be in trouble, Leeanne told herself. She knew she probably should call Lucky, her Uncle Luke, or even Jerrod. This last, she vetoed at once. If Damian was that upset Jerrod was the last person on earth he’d want to see him that way. No, Jason would just have to understand, Leeanne decided as she slipped the latch heading on to the beach. Offering up a prayer she would find Spinelli safe, unharmed, and scolding her for her reckless actions. Leeanne headed for the Dunes, if he was here, she knew, with absolute certainty, this would be where he would go.

Spinelli was curled in a tight ball, only barely aware of the rain pelting him. It had soaked through his jeans and t-shirt. He didn’t care. He also had little regard for the gash on his leg where he had tripped and fallen on a broken beer bottle near the stairs that lead from the road on to the beach, or the throbbing in his ankle where he had twisted it in said fall. He was held captive by the images in his memory and the horrible sense of worthlessness as he heard the terrible voices with their brutal words. He had been use to people dismissing him as flaky, obnoxious, or a little weird. But no one had ever said the things those terrible people had. No one had done what they had to him. In his mind, Spinelli knew he should go back. But he was restrained by the nightmare, by the bone- deep cold and violent shaking that kept him in their grip.
Spinelli felt something brush against his skin. He turned slowly. He saw Leeanne. She was lightly stroking his arm with the tips of her fingers.

“You’ve been alone long enough Damian,” her voice was soft but filled with a quiet certainty. “You’ll catch your death staying out here. You’re hurt. Let me take care of you for a change.”

“I can’t talk,” Spinelli began, afraid of her million questions and hoping to forestall them.

“Then don’t,” Leeanne replied, “Just come back with me.”

Spinelli hadn’t the strength to argue or to fight. He allowed himself to be helped to his feet. His right leg screamed with terrific pain. Leeanne slipped an arm around his waste and guided him back. Spinelli winced when he saw the flight of stairs, he was aware enough to know the climb wasn’t going to be pleasant. Still, it was a different sensation from the nightmare chill that wouldn’t let him go.

In their room, Leeanne set to work stripping off his clothing and helping him onto the bed. As she worked, she ran her hands over his chest and shoulders, and down his arms, he was so cold to the touch, Leeanne wanted to try and help him get warm as well as to reassure him he was safe and being cared for. Once he was lying down, she draped a comforter over him.

“I’m just getting the first aide kit,” Leeanne said. She left the room quickly.

Spinelli tried to focus on his external environment. To pull away from the avalanche of memory, the sound of someone telling someone else just how insignificant he was, the chill of a desert wind. Stop it! A voice inside screamed. He noted the music; Bruce Springsteen singing something about a down bound train, the song only crystallized his feelings. Spinelli caught the smell of lavender and Jasmine in the air from the incense Leeanne had been burning. Somewhere on the edge of his mind, Spinelli knew he had frightened her badly, to have the music this loud and the incense burning. She couldn’t know, he was trapped in a dark place in his mind. He was so cold. Even in the house and under a comforter as he was.

Leeanne returned and drew down the quilt. Spinelli had curled once more in to a ball and he shook, obviously still frightened. Nothing ever scares Damian, not this much, Leeanne thought.

“”I’m going to fix up that cut before it gets infected,” Leeanne told Spinelli as she gently straightened his leg. He offered no resistance. Leeanne noticed, he never took his eyes from her, though they held the expression of one shell shocked. She wished she knew what was in his head. But Leeanne honored Spinelli’s wish not to discuss it. She set about cleaning the blood from the cut and cursed, that gash was deep, no wonder he had been in so much pain walking back, leaning so heavily on her. It wasn’t huge but still, she couldn’t just slap a bandage on it and expect it to be okay. They weren’t on Sonny’s Island where secrecy was a matter of course, so calling a doctor was out of the question. Leeanne took a deep breath and began talking.

“Damian, I need you to hear me here,” She began, “You asked me to explain pretending, how I did what I did, how I knew how to do things. Well, you’re about to get a first hand demonstration. You need stitches. I don’t know what in Hell you did to yourself but your knee is cut pretty good and I need to close the wound before I can bandage it. Are you following?”

Spinelli nodded affirmatively.

“I should tell you I haven’t done this since I was in New Orleans during Katrina. I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I won’t inspire confidence. I guess I just need you to know I’m scared.”
Leeanne was babbling, Spinelli understood that on the same outer perimeter of memory where he had registered the emotional distress he had caused.

“It’s okay you’re scared,” Spinelli’s voice was soft; he spoke his words carefully, as though each one was an effort. While not a ringing endorsement, Spinelli’s words encouraged Leeanne to her task. She left the bedside and opened her old fashion sea chest where she kept her performing costumes and some necessary tools of the trade. Rummaging around, she found a sewing kit that she kept for wardrobe alterations as well as certain other emergencies then returned to the bedside where she first cleaned the needle with a liberal dose of alcohol then threaded it. Leeanne reached back in her memory to the primitive conditions in that emergency room, with power flickering and a storm of monumental proportions raging outside. Before Jerrod had sent her to the roof to help evacuate the infants, Leeanne had been a part of the organized chaos. She saw the scene in her mind clearly and offering a prayer she wouldn’t cause greater harm, Leeanne set to work tying the improvised sutures.

Spinelli saw the look of absolute terror in Leeanne’s eyes before she set to work. He knew he hadn’t been very much help. He should have said more. It just seemed so difficult to form other thoughts while the nightmare of that last day at the center, and those terrifying hours in the desert held sway in the forefront of his mind. The sharp stinging pain of Leeanne jabbing something in to his flesh nearly pushed his private nightmare aside. It gave him the chance to watch Leeanne, her hair fell over her face, and stray raindrops still fell from her golden locks. She had been outside again since their return, Spinelli decided. His suspicion was confirmed when a few minutes later the sharp jabbing thing was replaced by the feel of something smooth and slick against his skin. Spinelli smelled the vaguely sweet aroma of aloe at the same time as he felt the cool liquid squeezed on to the cut. The burning pain began subsiding almost at once as Leeanne’s fingers gently worked the substance into the area around the wound.

Leeanne sat back on her heels to admire her handiwork. She was surprised to see that the stitches appeared to be tied neatly. So, not all of her specialized skills were lost during the Zacara’s torture as Jerrod’s tests had first indicated, Leeanne thought. That brought up an interesting point. Just why had Jerrod been so interested in those skills? But Leeanne didn’t have time for that thought.

She finished tending Spinelli’s wounds, bandaging the cut then wrapping his ankle in an ace bandage. She was still worried about her lover. He occasionally murmured about being cold and wrapped his arms around himself. Leeanne suspected the rain soaking him to the bone was only part of what he was reacting to. Leeanne stood and considered her next move. He was still watching her. His eyes pleaded for her not to go. Leeanne thought she knew what he wanted. She also knew that it was important there be no barriers between them. She slowly removed her own damp clothes, locking her gaze with his. Standing before him, giving him the chance to reject or accept her offer.

Spinelli understood the invitation he saw in her eyes. With infinite care, he extended a shaking hand, encouraging her to come to him. Leeanne crawled under the comforter and snuggled against him. Drawn by the warmth her body offered, Spinelli turned to face her, capturing her in a fierce embrace. Leeanne settled herself against him, giving him the heat he seemed to crave, raising her lips to his in a kiss that was sweet, tender and born of deepest affection. The music switched from Springsteen’s down bound Train to Chris Isaac’s Funeral in the rain. Leeanne’s delicate hands caressed Spinelli’s back, tracing small circles that eventually stilled his trembling. The warmth of her body drove the chill from him.

“I love you Damian,” Leeanne said, her voice barely above a whisper, “Whatever you want, I’ll find some way to make it yours.”

“What if I don’t know what I want?” Spinelli asked, finding now that he was physically calmer; he could begin to regain some control.

“Then we’ll just be,” Leeanne told him, “Isn’t that what you called it, when we just lie quiet and let the world happen?”

“Yes,” Spinelli agreed, “But I don’t want to be alone with my thoughts. I know that much.”

“What can I do?” Leeanne asked. She reached up to touch his cheek gently, “Jerrod never taught me how to take care of people.”
“”Everything you’re doing has been just fine,” Spinelli said, tangling his fingers in her lovely hair, laying his palm against the point between her shoulder blades. “You came after me, you tended my wounds, and you’re here.”

“I remembered that much from when you brought me back to the Penthouse.” Leeanne explained, “What can I do to help you not think about whatever drove you out of here. You’re the one who has a thousand stories for diverting.”

Spinelli considered a long time before making his request. Looking in to Leeanne’s eyes, he suddenly knew exactly what he wanted from her. He also suspected what he was going to ask would be hard for her. “Tell me about when you left the Center,” he said, his words coming out in a rush, “Tell me the full stories, not just the little parts you eluded to when your guard was down.”

“I’m not sure how much I remember since when I was kidnapped,” Leeanne admitted, “But I’ll try to tell you everything.”

Seeing the look that came over Spinelli’s face, Leeanne once more reached back to the past and began talking. Surprised by how much came to the forefront of her memory once she began.

Spinelli buried his face in Leeanne’s hair, breathing in the mingled scents of rain water and sea spray, gliding his hand down her back, aware of the satin of her skin. He allowed himself to become hypnotized by her lazy southern drawl as Leeanne spun tales for him of Memphis, where she learned the blues was at the heart of all truly passionate music, New Orleans: where she lived in a house on stilts with a couple, the wife stayed home with their infant daughter and the husband was an intern at Charity hospital who moonlighted as a carnie. They taught her how to make Jambalaya, and how to repair a Farris Wheel. She also spoke of Napa where she met a girl named Annabel who taught her calligraphy and introduced her to jelly beans.

Spinelli felt his eyelids grow heavy. He fought the urge to sleep at first.

“Rest Damian,” Leeanne soothed, seeming to read his mind, “You taught me what to do with bad dreams if they find you.”

She began softly singing along with the current music. The selection that had come up seeming oddly appropriate for the moment.

“Time to close your eyes. And fly away.
No one can take your world away.
And leave you, with a brand new stairway.
“You’re alright; you got time up your sleeve.”

Leeanne felt Spinelli’s body at last relax as he drifted in to an exhausted sleep.

Leeanne had only a moment’s qualm about what she was about to do. She knew Jason would have said it was wrong to violate Spinelli’s space and go through his things. She should trust he would talk to her when he was ready. But she also remembered Carly’s explanation for her own actions when certain people had made it their business to acquaint her with some of her mother’s more outrageous escapades. She had told Leeanne that when you loved someone, there were no limits to what you would do for them. . That love was the ultimate rule. Assuring herself Spinelli was asleep; she carefully disengaged herself from his arms and climbed out of bed. Groping in the dark for the nearest available articles of clothing, she dressed, then she activated the baby monitor Spinelli thought she didn’t know about that was hidden behind a stereo speaker and slipped from the room.
The only reason the security system was active on Spinelli’s office was because he had programmed it to automatically engage when the door closed. For the same reason Spinelli wasn’t suppose to know where she kept the key to her studio, Leeanne actually didn’t know the access code to get in to Spinelli’s office. Leeanne wondered if her medical knowledge was the only Pretender memory that had stayed with her. She reached again in to the depths of long forgotten adventures and simulations, but couldn’t bring anything to bear from that quarter. She tried instead to focus on every conversation she and Spinelli had had during their time in Port Charles, when she was first learning about what he did. He was eager to explain some of his methodology to her, all be it in the vaguest terms. He had told her how most codes were easy to access because people chose things like their birthday or the name of their first dog or something. So the code here wouldn’t be something a person could get easily from a Google search or a conversation. The house code was a series of numbers, she knew that. It was the serial number of the Star Ship enterprise, something they would both know but that wouldn’t be immediately connected to either of them. So he’d pick something even more obscure for this. But it would be something Leeanne could figure out, in the event of an emergency that incapacitated him. She stood before the angry red light, chewing her lower lip thoughtfully. Might he pick the date of his non-marriage to Maxie? It wasn’t tied to **their relationship. She tried it but the light remained red.
Leeanne considered, pacing while she thought. Damian’s attempt to marry Maxie was obviously wrong, Leeanne surmised, it could be looked up easily on the internet.
Leeanne tried the date of their arrival in Florida; only those who knew what they had done would know that. The light remained, stubbornly Red. Thinking about it more, Leeanne decided that fact too could have been researched. It has to be a number that would only have meaning to the two of us, Leeanne reasoned. Leeanne had forgotten she still had the stereo on. Neal Young’s Sugar Mountain, which she had found after their ill fated trip to the carnival, started playing. Leeanne smiled, remembering the Farris Wheel ride. Then it came to her, what would only be known to the two of them. Quickly, Leeanne typed in 050612, the date of the General Hospital Aids benefit, when they had kissed for the first time, on the Farris Wheel. The light on the display flicked and went green. There was a click as the lock disengaged.

Leeanne stepped inside. The top of Spinelli’s desk had been swept clear of the clutter that usually adorned it. The Avengers candy container, the pen holder, the desk set, and several photographs, lay on the floor near by. The screen saver was in place. Leeanne marched to Spinelli’s desk and tapped the space bar, finding keyboard commands easier than the mouse. The Star Chart screensaver was replaced by the file Spinelli had not remembered to close. Leeanne read it through. As she learned of Spinelli’s last day at the Center, white hot rage gathered inside of her. She had known Reins was a monster, but this was beyond belief. She couldn’t believe Sidney would have played a part in this. But if drugs were used, he **had** to know. Leeanne clicked out of the file and went back to the main directory. She found her own name and a corresponding file. As she read, pieces began to tumble in to place; images from her time with Jerrod after she got away that didn’t make sense. Now, things became clearer. As the memories slid in to place and a picture formed, Leeanne’s rage built to a fever pitch. She got up and straightened Spinelli’s work space. Then she went back to his file and read the termination file again as well as the medical and mental health file and the one marked family history. She blinked several times, not quite believing what she read. She wondered idly if Jason was aware. No matter if he was or not. There was only one thing to be done. Leeanne left Spinelli’s work space and returned to the bedroom. Groping in the dark, she found Spinelli’s jeans where she had tossed them and quietly drew out the secure cell phone Luke had somehow procured for them at her father’s request. The one Spinelli kept with him at all times. Leeanne crept downstairs and brought up the contact list. Yes, the number was there. Leeanne made the selection, then sat on the couch while the phone rang. It went to voicemail. Leeanne left a concise message. Then she returned to the bedroom and climbed back in to bed, just as Spinelli began to wake trembling from a nightmare.

Spinelli hadn’t wanted to return to the dark place, he had hoped he was free of it but somehow, his subconscious planted him back in that Hell, with the hideous Mr. Reins telling a cold -eyed younger man not to bother with bullets or stabbing, the elements would do the job and the coyotes would ensure he never got found. Then actually being there, unable to move, his limbs feeling oversized and clumsy from the drugs. He didn’t want to be there!

Then he wasn’t. Spinelli came to in Leeanne’s arms, in their bed. She was smoothing his hair back from his face, keeping him close as she spoke his name over and over. He wasn’t cold and dying, he was warm, and loved. Spinelli looked into Leeanne’s eyes, half wishing he could tell her everything and half wishing he never had to speak of it. Amnesia about this would be most welcome. But when his gaze met hers, Spinelli saw an expression that stunned him. Leeanne’s green eyes held in them softness, compassion, and complete understanding. Spinelli relaxed as he realized what that look meant.

“You don’t have to tell me anything,” Leeanne told him in a voice that held a strength Spinelli had not seen since her ordeal. “Just rest for now, get your Barings, and let me help you find some peace. When you’re stronger, we can talk about options.”
Spinelli closed his eyes once more. He was only too willing to comply with Leeanne’s suggestion. He didn’t know if he would ever be able to think about “options” but now he could rest without thought of explanation, or just how his beloved had come to know how worthless he was thought to be.

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

Friday, December 14th, 2012
3:55 am
General Hospital/Pretender fan fiction Escape Artists chapter 10
The First thing Spinelli was aware of was how cold the room was, both in appearance, and in temperature. The doors were gunmetal grey while the walls were an antiseptic white. In the dream, Spinelli was very young, maybe six or seven. He was sitting at a desk with a computer in front of him. He was being given a series of equations or puzzles, it wasn’t very clear and ordered to solve them by a man with a raspy voice with a face that was hideous to look upon.

“Not fast enough!” The man exhorted. “You’re being intentionally obstinate!”

“I’m working as fast as I can!” He argued. “I don’t know what the numbers are supposed to mean. I want to go home!

It wasn’t the first time he had stated the desire to leave but there was always just one more test.

The dream changed scenes; he saw a small figure, a flash of gold with a patch of red. He heard a word, spoken in a soft voice,”angel!” It was spoken like a prayer. In the next scene he was standing by what looked like a venhelation duct holding something, in these last couple scenes he was older, maybe eight or nine. He saw that flash of gold and realized it was another child. He heard his own voice calling for help. “She needs help!” His thin, childish voice shouted, unheard in the cavernous building that never saw the light of sun.
Spinelli came out of the dream shaking and in a cold sweat. His eyes flew open and relief flooded over him as he glimpsed the afternoon sun streaming through the windows, its glare only muted by the layer of humidity that was gathering, bringing with it, the promise of afternoon thunder storms. Leeanne lay quiet beside him. Her eyes were closed, her breathing was shallow. From previous experience, Spinelli knew that wouldn’t last long once the storm began. Yet he was reluctant to move. He couldn’t shake off the dream. It couldn’t mean what he thought. But if it did, well, he wasn’t sure he was ready for the ramifications of that. He felt movement beside him.

“Damian,” Leeanne’s voice was heavy with sleep. She reached a hand out and lightly ran her fingers over his face, slowly opening her eyes.

“Nightmare?” Leeanne asked gently. Looking in to his beloved’s eyes, Spinelli was sure that on some level she already knew. She had sensed it the instant she first came to consciousness, or maybe just at the moment that she touched him.

“I think I’ve been in the Center,” Spinelli said without preamble. “Does Doctor Sidney have the face of a troll and speak as though he has difficulty breathing,”

“That would be Mr. Reins actually,” Leeanne told him. She kept her voice level even as her eyes went momentarily wide. She understood the significance of what he was saying. She leaned in then and kissed him softly

“Now we know for sure.” Her voice was stunningly calm and had the affect of steadying Spinelli’s nerves.

Leeanne saw Spinelli drawing black out curtains an hour later when she entered his office. He was still tense but was trying to steady himself with routine.

“Since we’ll be looking at extremely sensitive files, we need to shield ourselves from the outside.” Spinelli explained, taking the mug of herbal tea from Leeanne.

Leeanne nodded, though she knew the reason for the screening of the windows had nothing to do with security. She had heard the distant rumble of thunder as she had returned upstairs with the tea. Spinelli moved to the computer and sat down. Leeanne watched as he drained half the mug of tea before beginning to wake up the computer. Leeanne decided she couldn’t blame him being a little edgy. Though neither had given voice to the thought until now, they had both been wondering, since the moment they had encountered Miss Parker, if The Center had taken an interest in Spinelli. If he could describe Mr. Reins so vividly, they clearly had. But

“Why would the center be interested in Damian?” Leeanne wondered,
Leeanne came around and took the chair next to Spinelli. The directory of encrypted files was displayed before them. The numbers and letters marching across the screen like an army of alien invaders, all capable of shattering their tranquility. Suddenly, Leeanne felt an overwhelming desire to shield Spinelli from the secrets of those files, none of which could be anything good. Such a gentle man shouldn’t have to confront such hideous evil as the Center represented.

“You can’t shield him from his past any more than he can spare you the nightmares of the house of horrors.” Leeanne reminded herself. “Now as your mother would say, woman up and do what you promised Damian you’d do earlier.”

“Any thoughts on where to begin?” Spinelli asked, breaking in to Leeanne’s inner turmoil.

“I don’t remember anything about their encryption codes,” Leeanne admitted. Spinelli acknowledged her comment with a slight inclination of his head. Leeanne looked in to his eyes. The man was at a loss for how to proceed, she realized. That and he was trying hard to mask his own trepidation about what he might find. Leeanne took a deep breath and leaned in to study the codes, looking for some kind of order and seeing none.

“Why don’t we just start at the beginning?” Leeanne asked simply.

“And that would be exactly where?” There was an uncharacteristic sharpness in his tone that startled Leeanne. Spinelli had never displayed anger or impatience with her before. Though certainly he had had moments of frustration. He had nearly always been gentle and careful with her. Going for long walks when she had pushed him to the limits of frustration with her questions or some aspect of her therapy, or when his anger with the daemons he knew she struggled with threatened to overtake him.

“My apologies,” Spinelli said quietly after a long moment, “My anxiety seems to be translating in unintended ways. It was not meant for you.”

Leeanne reached out, placing one of her hands over his, linking their fingers together in a show of understanding.

“Did Jerrod tell you about the time I put my fist through a window in Memphis?” Leeanne asked, “And you must remember what happened to your candy jar when I felt threatened by his revelations. You’re just as entitled to strong reactions I think.”

Spinelli smiled gratefully at her and squeezed her hand, comforted by the contact.

Leeanne leaned forward once more, studying the list of files. She extended her hand, running a finger along each row, and then down the columns, trying to train her focus and makes sense of the jumble. But the patterns refused to give up their secrets. Spinelli took her hand and drew it back.

“This is The Jackal’s area of expertise.” He said, not unkindly. Leeanne opened her mouth to protest but he cut her off.

“The Beautiful Dreamer’s strengths will come into play once we open the first file.”

“That’s it!” Leeanne cried in delight, throwing up her hands then leaning across to give Spinelli a quick hug. Spinelli regarded her questioningly. “I was right about starting at the beginning! What I should have said was with the earliest file! That would be the beginning?

Spinelli grabbed the mouse and shot the cursor to a file dated from 30 years ago and clicked. Displayed on the screen was a list of names and birthdates starting from as far back as 30 years and moving to twenty-two years ago. The name entered at that time, she saw was Leeanne Victoria Destri. Beside her name was listed her date of birth. Also listed among the names was Damian Spinelli. Her lover's date of birth was also shown. Surrounding their names were some 20 odd others.

“It does exist!” Leeanne breathed without thinking.

“What exists?” Spinelli wanted to know.

Leeanne hadn’t realized she had spoken the words aloud. She considered carefully before explaining.

“Jerrod never believed the Center stopped their program with child geniuses after he affected his own escape. That belief, for him, seemed confirmed when he found me after I finally escaped.” Leeann began. “While he was helping me understand what I could do and trying to work out a way I could live safe on the outside, he was also trying to get his hands on a certain watch list he had been led to believe the Center kept on potential pretenders and others with extraordinary abilities that might serve their purposes. He hoped once he found it, to warn those on it and their families so that they could protect themselves.”

“Jerrod never found the list?” Spinelli said. His eyes were glued to the names and dates displayed before them.

“No,” Leeanne said, “I never **really** believed it existed. I Tried to tell myself it was just another of Jerrod’s crusades. Maybe it was another way of not thinking about just how monstrous they were. I was trying to block away my memories from the minute I got out of there.”

“Now we know for sure.” Spinelli repeated her words of earlier. And now we know Jerrod told the truth about one thing. The question is, what do we do with this intelligence?”

Already Spinelli raised his hands ready for a new task.

“I trust you desire Jerrod to receive this information.”
Leeanne started to automatically say yes, they should send it to Jerrod at once. Then she stopped herself, suddenly gripped by a feeling she couldn’t give voice to.

“Not just yet,” Leeanne said. Spinelli looked at her in puzzlement.

“I am no fan of Jerrod, but I trust you when you say he is our ally.”

“It’s not entirely my decision anymore,” Leeanne told him. “Your name’s on that list too. That gives you a vote in how we proceed. You aren’t just looking out for me.”

“Shall we view another file from further in the timeline?” Spinelli suggested. Leeanne heard the guarded tone in his voice. He didn’t want to look at any more of these, but he had questions. Leeanne realized at least a part of her reluctance to reach out to Jerrod was connected with a desire to protect her lover. But protect him from what? Jerrod is on our side, isn’t he?” Leeanne wondered

“If that’s what you want,” Leeanne agreed, giving him the option of putting it aside for a while.

“I definitely don’t **want** to. But I know of no other way to make sense of these random memories.” Spinelli took up the tea mug and drank several quick gulps. Leeanne saw the look of distaste come over his face.

I’ll remind him of that the next time he demands that I drink one of those concoctions,” Leeanne thought to herself and smiled, quickly before Spinelli could catch her and demand an explanation.

Spinelli moved the cursor slowly through the directory, examining dates and time stamps.

“How did you come to select me to assist you in your quest for your birth parents?” Spinelli asked after several long, silent minutes.

“I told you, I had read the book you and Diane wrote and thought as a fellow orphan on a similar quest, you’d understand how important it was to me to find them,” Leeanne reminded him.

“You had no idea we might have a shared ability?” Spinelli asked.

“So,” Leeanne thought, “Damian’s thoughts went to the same place mine did.”

“You are not a pretender!” Leeanne said firmly, “I’d stake my life on that. I thought Lucky might have been, but never you. You were brilliant, I saw that right away. But genius alone doesn’t make a pretender and I don’t believe all geniuses are pretenders.”

“That explains a lot,” Spinelli commented. He looked again at the column of files then pointed, “Clinic.doc, I wonder if that’s some sort of detailed file of exactly what the evil doers wanted of us?”

Leeanne shrugged, “One way to find out.”

Spinelli was about to click on the file when a Star Trek Red Alert alarm went off.

“I programmed an alert indicator to let us know if anyone accessed the FoK campaign,” Spinelli explained moving the mouse to return to the redesigned Creations from the Deep site.

“FoK, Families of Katrina, right?” Leeanne asked. Spinelli nodded to indicate in agreement but already he was mentally moving ahead Leeanne could see.

He went to the campaigns link and clicked on that page. Leeanne’s advertisement that wasn’t really an add was displayed. It read “Share your memories. This collection honors Family caught in the Center of the storm. Tell how you found home, Share the stories of the children you lost, and are looking for.” The words families, caught the Center, home, and children were highlighted. Only someone who knew who they were would know what the highlights meant.

Below the campaign in the order comments field was a message that read “I seek a treasure beyond all measureable cost, made from metals buried in the see. Two angels keep watch over it, unaware of dark clouds gathering.


“She does not attempt to disguise her query,” Spinelli observed. “Does that mean that we were wrong about Miss Parker’s allegiance, or does she just not care if she gets caught?”

Leeanne saw the fear Spinelli was trying to keep from her. She was not use to being the one with the answers.

“I’m not sure,” Leeanne said at last. “In some ways my memory is almost as shaky as yours. But it feels to me like Miss Parker had the run of the place.”

Spinelli walked away from the computer and slowly paced around the room. Leeanne watched him as he stopped at the window and lifted the black out curtain, to contemplate the storm outside. Taking her courage in both hands, Leeanne followed him to the window, coming up behind Spinelli and wrapping her arms around him. Raising herself on tiptoe she kissed the back of his neck. Then she spoke softly “Why don’t you come tell me about the dream.” Spinelli turned and tucked a strand of her hair behind an ear, tracing his fingertips along her neck.

“Who is Angel?” Spinelli asked her. He watched her expression as her brow furrowed in concentration and her eyes took on a far away look.
“Angel?” Leeanne repeated.

“Yes, I heard the name spoken by another child; at least I think it was a child. They were in a lot of pain.”

“Angel, Leeanne said slowly, “Angel was someone who saved my life. Of course they told me he didn’t exist except in my head. They told me to forget. But I never believed them and I never forgot. Angel was a real boy; I just never saw his face accept for once.”

Spinelli again saw the dream, a flash of gold streaked with red. No, not streaked, matted. The red had a liquid quality. The gold was soft, and fine. “That couldn’t be right, could it?” He thought to himself. He moved over to the sofa and sat down. He was beginning to feel wobbly and overwhelmed.

“Could you have been angel?” Leeanne asked.

“I don’t know, Spinelli admitted. “I know I was there for some time. They kept telling me there was one more test and I would be able to go home. I don’t think I was supposed to know about any other children.”

Leeanne walked slowly to the sofa and sat close beside her lover. She reached out, her hands framing his face, her green eyes gazing deep in to his brown ones. Spinelli only wished he could give her the answer she was searching for. He wondered which would be better, if he were her angel, the one who had been her first hero, or if their first meeting had truly been the one he remembered clearly. He let his mind go back to the day that changed his life.

He had been at his desk at the office of Jackal McCall private investigations, the Detective agency he ran with Samantha McCall Morgan, wife of his closest friend and mentor. However, this particular afternoon it wasn’t Fair Samantha in the office with him, but one of Stone Cold’s closest and oldest friends, The Valkary, Carly Jax, or was it Corinthos again. It was so hard to keep track.

“I just need you to keep Sam occupied for a couple hours! Tell her you have a line on a new client or something.” Carly was saying as she paced the office.

“She’ll never believe that!” Spinelli had argued, “Client development is not my area of expertise.”

“Then make something up!” The Valkary suggested, her blue eyes snapping with temper, “You wrote that book, you should be able to come up with some kind of fiction.”

Spinelli was about to argue that there was a world of difference between creating a work of fiction and the whoppers that tripped off her tongue like a brook cascading over a bed of stones, when there was a quick tap at the door. Spinelli called for the person to enter, hoping it was someone looking for Carly to apprise her of a major crisis at the Metro Court that required her immediate attention so that he wouldn’t be forced to continue this discussion.

The door opened and a petite young woman entered. Though in fact, she looked more like a girl of fourteen or fifteen. He placed her at maybe five feet, probably an inch or two less, rail thin so that she had a waiflike appearance. She was wearing a chocolate- brown, calf-length, leather jacket, adorned with what looked like rhinestones. A lavender dress peaked out from just underneath the jacket. Her long, golden hair fell loose about her, adding to her delicate beauty. On either side she wore clips in the shape of butterflies with darker purple ribbons trailing from them. What captivated Spinelli most were her green eyes, framed by thick lashes, they moved around the room missing nothing.

“I’m looking for Damian Spinelli,” her voice was soft, a little breathless. Her cheeks were flushed, as though she had been running before she reached the detective agency.

“You have found him,” he said, thinking even as he spoke, how lame that sounded.

“I didn’t mean to interrupt,” she began, then looking at The Valkary she said, “Your secretary wasn’t out front.”

Spinelli couldn’t help nearly laughing out loud. Carly had been called any number of things, most of them unflattering, but she had never, as far as Spinelli knew, been mistaken for a lowly front desk secretary. From the look on the older woman’s face, she wasn’t taking it well at all.

“I will see what I can do about keeping Samantha away from Kelly’s during the allotted time,” Spinelli told Carly, rising quickly from behind his desk to escort the Valkary to the elevator, hoping to avoid the commencement of hostilities he sensed was eminent between these two. Carly looked between Spinelli and the new arrival, and then regarded the girl shrewdly.

“Who did you say you were again?” She asked.

The younger woman tossed back her long hair carelessly and reached to slowly begin unfastening the four, brass clips on her jacket. Her movements were slow but precise, and mildly provocative. Spinelli mentally advanced her age a couple of years. . She was keeping those expressive eyes on him even as she addressed Carly.

“I am someone who requires the Jackal’s services,” she began, “In a professional capacity, you understand.”

“I see,” Carly had said in a tone as cool as a winter breeze. She turned to Spinelli, “I’ll let you know when the Baby shower’s going to be and how long I need Sam out of the way.”

Picking up the mink jacket she had been wearing and draping it over her arm, Carly left the office, closing the door most of the way. Only because Spinelli knew Carly’s history, He walked to the door and pulled, sure enough, it had been left ever so slightly ajar. He closed it the rest of the way. Then turned to his prospective client. She slowly removed her jacket and carefully placed it over the back of the chair.

Her dress was indeed lavender, shot through with small pink beads; a spray of lace adorned a neckline cut just low enough to inspire the imagination. Secured to the front of her dress was a roach clip festooned with several brightly colored bird feathers. Around her neck, hung a string of multi-colored beads.
On one slim wrist was a bracelet made entirely of sea shells. His non bride would have called her a fashion nightmare. Yet Spinelli found her non conventional ensemble compelling.

She eased herself in to the visitor’s chair, crossing her ankles. She was wearing silver ballet slippers. There was something familiar about his visitor. Not Familiar in that he knew her. Spinelli was certain he’d have remembered being introduced to such an exotic creature. But something about her movements.

“I apologize again for interrupting,” She paused and added, “Whatever it was I walked in on.”

She smiled prettily and once more fixed him with that look, as though she were staring right in to his soul. Spinelli felt his throat go dry.

“My name is Leeanne Destri,” she continued in that same soft, whispery voice, slowly running her fingers through her hair and re-crossing her ankles, “you have quite a reputation, Damian, if even half of what was in your book was true. You seem to be a jack of all trades.”

Yes, Spinelli decided, there was something he should recognize about this young woman. It was more than just her movements; it was her entire manner of speaking and her demeanor. He just needed time to place it.

“I’ll come right to the point,” she said, “I need someone to help me find my parents.” She paused for a long moment, twisting the bracelet she wore. Her hands were small and frail; her nails were painted with a vivid pink polish, again shot through with glitter. “My birth parents.”

“There are a variety of on line groups that specialize in reuniting adoptees with their birth families,” Spinelli began, “Not that we at Jackal McCall would turn away business. But they might be better equipped to help you as that is their specialty.”

“I’m sure you’re up to the challenge,” Leeanne said slowly, again tossing back her golden hair, and leaning intently forward, resting her chin in her hands. Her actions a curious mix of blatant sexuality, and little girl imploring.

Then Spinelli had it, the feeling of recognition he got from watching her. The theatric attire, the careful way she had of moving and speaking.

“”What do you really want?” Spinelli asked. If this was some prank Maxinista had cooked up to get his attention because there was some crisis in her life or because she didn’t feel he was being enough of a friend, they were going to have to have a talk, again.

“I know, I don’t look like a person of much importance,” she said, “And in truth, I have very limited means. But as someone who knows the loneliness of seeing everyone around you with family, of always searching for that missing connection, I trust you’ll understand.” Leeanne said earnestly, her eyes imploring him to acquiesce to her plea. "Perhaps we can work something out that will be mutually beneficial. I do have many talents.”

“Perhaps,” Spinelli began carefully. He was intrigued by her and there was something sincere in her words themselves. It was the presentation that made him continue to regard her as someone to be approached with care.

She rose from the chair and glided to the desk, pulling herself up on the edge and again, leaning forward letting her hair fall across her face while she peered intently at him, holding out her hand for him to take.
He said at last, “I would be more than willing to consider your case. I just don’t understand your need to reenact a scene. That is what you’re doing right? Appealing to the Jackal’s ego by trying to create a scenario like one from my work of fiction.”

Leeanne’s response was swift and surprising. She sprang to her feet, her eyes blazing with fury, her cheeks flushed.

“You think I’m acting!” She demanded her voice now sharp with brittle anger and taking on the laconic accents of somewhere south of the Mason Dickson Line. She began to pace the room.

Spinelli stammered, “I meant no disrespect, but it was kind of, um, obvious, you were trying for some kind of cross between Jeanne Hagan, Joan Blondell and maybe a little Marilyn Monroe.”

Leeanne stopped dead in her tracks, turning to face Spinelli, as he rose and came around his desk toward her. Leeanne’s expression was one of confusion as she once more fixed him with that penetrating stare.

“Wait, I’m not sure, am I supposed to cry or offer myself to you?” Leeanne asked, bright anger giving way to uncertainty. Her question was sincere. Spinelli could see it in her face. She actually expected some kind of prompting from him.

“That is how it’s done, according to my research. You appeal to the investigator’s honor and sense of fairness. You offer yourself, or beg if he is still reluctant to take your case. I’m not really sure in which order. The source material is inconsistent.”

Spinelli was floored as he registered the naked honesty in Leeanne’s voice. She really **meant ** what she was saying. He wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry at her complete innocence. What he did know was that it was probably a good thing she landed at his door, whatever had led her here.

He crossed to her and once more briefly clasped her hand.

“Let’s begin again” Spinelli suggested. “There are no different rules for engaging the services of a private investigator than there are for employing any other professional.”

“What are the rules for engaging a professional?” Leeanne asked shyly, “I was kind of isolated after my adoptive parents died.”

Kind of, Spinelli thought incredulously, it was clear, Leeanne Destri was like a clawless kitten turned loose in the jungles of Africa. He decided he had to help her or he would never be able to live with himself. If someone didn’t take her in hand, that enchanting innocence was going to be smashed to smithereens. He knew of several other investigators who would have completely taken advantage of Leeanne if given the chance. Besides, she was right, he understood completely, the need, deep inside one’s heart of hearts, to know to whom they belong.

“Sit down,” Spinelli said at last,” Tell me all you know about your parents, both sets, and we can get started.”

"I hope you’re Angel,” Leeanne broke in to his thoughts, “I’d like to think the reason I felt so instantly drawn to you the first time we met was because even when I was a little girl, you were looking out for me in my darkest hours. But even if you aren’t, you’re still the man who made all my dreams come true.”

They sat quietly for a long time. Outside the storm raged, yet each was lost in their own thoughts.

“One part of me feels I have to remember, that it’s important if I’m to help you be safe. But part of me… I just….I don’t know…” Spinelli floundered for the words he wanted. Leeanne placed her fingers over his lips in a silencing gesture.

“You don’t need to get all the answers at once,” Leeanne said as she leaned close, her voice barely above a whisper, her breath feathering against his cheek.
“It’s been a while since we had a movie fest, maybe it would help both of us to turn our minds to something that has absolutely nothing to do with the Center or Cassidines, or lost memories,” Leeanne offered. Spinelli couldn’t fault her logic.

“Do you have anything specific in mind for viewing?” Spinelli asked.

“Surprise me!” Leeanne laughed, her eyes sparkling at the prospect of movies and popcorn.

The fragrance of freshly popping corn mixed with far more salt and butter than any doctor would consider healthy wafted through the house as Spinelli stood in front of the cabinet of DVDs they had acquired, from his own personal collection, Spinelli pulled out Some like it Hot, The Marilyn Monroe Classic, he knew was one of Leeanne’s very favorite movies. He also decided on his personal favorite, Maltese Falcon. But He wanted one thing more. Spinelli’s gaze drifted to the top shelf where the special movies were. Leeanne’s younger siblings and cousins had decided that the best way to welcome her to the family was to throw her the ultimate make up birthday party. Leeanne had absolutely **loved it. The event included gifts that made up for the nineteen years they had missed. Somehow, Carly had made sure all those presents had made the trip to Florida. Now many of those gifts were displayed throughout the house. The Carousel music box on the bedside table that played You’ll Never walk Alone, the plush stuffed cat that sat by her work table in her studio, and the movies, most of which, Spinelli suspected were chosen by her cousin Molly that sat on the top shelf for special occasions. These were some of the many tokens of a past that Spinelli knew meant a great deal to Leeanne. Leaving the family she’d embraced had been hard for her but her talismans, as she called them, made it easier. He considered the shelf of birthday movies, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, ET, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the Wizard of Oz . Finally, he found what he wanted for a first movie and took it from the shelf.

Spinelli turned to see Leeanne entering the room and placing a large red bowl overflowing with popcorn on the center of the table. She was wearing a cornflower blue short-set patterned with purple flowers, her hair was mostly in a ponytail but as usual, it was beginning to come loose, strands of hair fell across her face. Spinelli loaded the first movie and came over to sit beside Leeanne on the couch.
“I think I went a little overboard on the salt,” Leeanne warned, taking a handful of the popcorn as she sat beside him and popped it in her mouth.

“What else is new,” Spinelli quipped as he touched a button on the remote control to skip the advertisements, then laid the device down, Helping himself to the popcorn which had indeed been covered in copious amounts of salt as well as a generous dosing of butter, as the credits for To Kill a mockingbird began to roll across the large screen TV. Spinelli draped an arm around Leeanne. She rested her head on his shoulder and together, they traveled back to 1930s Alabama and a year when a young Brother and sister, and their friend learned the world wasn’t as gentle as they thought, guided in their education by wise, kind, and honorable Atticus Finch.

Current Mood: relaxed
Friday, December 7th, 2012
9:44 pm
Sunday, November 18th, 2012
3:22 am
General Hospital/Pretender/Midnight Caller fan fiction Escape Artists chapter 8
Jerrod Scanned the interior of the sports bar, looking for a trap. Though he trusted his contact for the most part, he knew that in the end, the only side Miss Parker was truly on was her own. If she thought it would benefit her, she wouldn’t be above a double cross. But all seemed in order. Jerrod strolled in to the bar and took a seat in the back where he could watch the door. He waved off the moderately over weight, bored, bleach blonde waitress and kept his eyes on the entrance. He didn’t have long to wait for Miss Parker.
She entered the bar, every man in the room turned to track her movement as she glided up to the bar. She was wearing a black, silk, cocktail dress that was cut low in back and revealed a generous display of cleavage in front. Well turned ankles where highlighted by matching black, 3 inch heels. A strand of pink pearls hung around her neck. She also wore a matching pair of earrings. As she ordered from the bar, one man started to ease toward her. She sent him a look so glacial he dropped in to his seat once more, like a balloon that had just been punctured turning a deep red. Other men, who had been regarding his move with interest, perhaps calculating their own chances of either cutting in or making a try should she send him packing, took a sudden interest in the bottom of their liquor glasses. The bartender handed Miss Parker a drink giving her a smile that Jerrod was fairly sure was meant to convey interest of his own. He’d missed the floor show. Jerrod didn’t catch what she told the barman as someone punched in a key command on the jukebox and the sound of steel guitar filled the room. But he noticed the bar tender moving away hurriedly to the other end of the bar.

“Winning friends with your usual charm and warmth,” Jerrod quipped when the woman was seated across from him.

“”it’s best to head off trouble before it starts,” Miss Parker replied coolly.

Jerrod nodded. The waitress reappeared and now Jerrod orded an ice tea. The waitress raised an eyebrow but at a look from Miss Parker, she hurried away.

“They do compliment each other,” Miss Parker said once the waitress left.

“You’re supposed to keep your distance,” Jerrod said sharply, leaning forward.

“They had no idea who I was,” she told him, “As far as they knew, I was just a fan of April Cane’s craft work. Neither of them thought Center.”

“Don’t be so sure of that,” Jerrod told her, “they both may well have come to that conclusion.”

“Why did you “let” Damian find out about the Center? And in front of another family member who was in law enforcement?”

“Lucky’s presence wasn’t planned for. If we are to make full use of both of their abilities; it will be a lot easier if Damian Spinelli is working with us to the best of his abilities. Of course your appearance may cost us that.”

“I’m certain, he recalls even less than she does, other wise he’d have taken more care with his own identity.” Miss Parker said briskly. The waitress arrived with Jerrod’s drink.

Miss Parker raised her glass in a toast, “To success,” she said.”

“That depends on what you mean by success,” Jerrod said, returning her cool attitude.

Miss parker shrugged, “I don’t want a crazy like Reins too get his hands on the apparatus for Carbolic Snow any more than you do. I’m not even sure I want my father to have control of it.”

“And Leeanne and Damian?” Jerrod asked.

“What about them?” Miss Parker asked all innocent. Jerrod didn’t respond and at last Miss Parker sighed and said, “I’m not going to break our agreement. But if you’re going to change the rules, you need to keep me informed.”

Jerrod nodded. He spotted Lucky Spencer entering the bar just then with a tall, fit looking man with light brown hair that had a sprinkling of grey through it and the unmistakable attitude of a cop. Both men were dressed casual in jeans, polo shirts; the older man’s black and Lucky’s light blue. Lucky was also sporting cowboy boots. Both men looked perfectly at home, stopping to chat with the bartender. But must be Lucky’s contact.

“I hate to cut this little visit short,” Jerrod began indicating the men who were heading to the table.

“I need to go anyway, I have an engagement,” Miss Parker said getting smoothly to her feet.

“Who’s the lucky guy?” He asked.

“You work your side of the street Jerrod, I’ll work mine,” Miss Parker answered breezily.

“Just stay on your side of the street, no more clandestine approaches.”

Miss Parker shrugged starting to turn away, then as an after thought she turned back and said, “You should ask Leeanne if she’s expecting to hear from any new clients soon.” With that, Miss Parker tuned on her heel and strode from the bar, every eye in the place following her as she sashayed out the door.

Outside, a sleek, silver, Mazarati waited, motor purring. An older man of about 60 with almost white, spiky hair and shrewd blue eyes opened the door for her. He had a patchy though not exactly scruffy beard. He was dressed in expensive jeans and Tony Lama boots that had been well cared for in spite of their age.

“Glad you could make it Darlin,” Luke Spencer told the woman as she slid in to the car beside him.

“You didn’t think I’d stand you up Luke,” Miss Parker said slyly.

“No,” Luke admitted, “I didn’t think you were stupid.”

Luke Spencer put the car in gear and drove out of the parking lot.
“Now,” he began, “What do you **think** you know about my niece’s daughter and her boy wonder? More important, how does sharing my knowledge benefit both of us?”

“I’m not some $100 a night prostitute.” Miss Parker answered coolly.

“Oh, no, I’m sure you’re a $10000.00 a night plus dinner kind of girl.” Luke replied.

Miss Parker raised her hand, forgetting who was driving, or that they were in the middle of homicidal Florida traffic.

His face needed slapping; she decided, Just who did this two bit gigolo think he was.”

Luke stayed her hand with a lightning quick move the woman never saw coming.

“Temper, temper,” Luke advised. “Remember, we both have something the other wants. You don’t want to cut off your source.”

“This meeting was to be over dinner at a **very** expensive restaurant, I’m sure you’ve pilfered a sufficient amount from your wife’s bank account to afford the Breakers.”

“Darlin, if you want my help, you’d better start being a lot nicer.”***

Lucky brought his companion to the table. Once the three men had their drinks, Lucky introduced the stranger.

“This is Jack Killian,” Lucky said, “He use to be with the SFPD.”

“Nice to meet you,” Jack said holding out his hand to Jerrod, “Lucky tells me you’re interested in finding out about some super classified relics the FBI might be interested in. What he didn’t say was why or just why I should trust you.”

Jerrod regarded the new comer warily “Why should I trust you?” He countered, “How did you say you met Lucky again?”

“Who is this Clown Spencer? I know for sure he isn’t a cop.”

“Hey, chill out both of you,” Lucky interjected, and then turning to Jerrod he said, “I told you Jack use to be a cop. He still has contacts.”

Then Turning to Jack Lucky explained, “Jerrod is working with me as an independent consultant, this isn’t PCPD business. It’s more like the work you do for SFPD some times.”

Jack and Jerrod both regarded each other carefully for a few minutes, and then Jack shrugged.

“You trust him, that’s good enough for me.” Jack said. Jerrod nodded in agreement.

“My cousin trusts him and so does her father,” Lucky told Jack who nodded in understanding.

So, Jerrod thought everyone’s not sure about me yet. That will make things more challenging. And what angle is Parker working? Who is her date?
“I’ll make some calls; I have a friend in homeland security. I’ll see what he knows. If this is as dangerous as Lucky says, they’d be the ones taking control of any tests.”

“Thanks man,” Lucky said. Jack got up and excused himself, heading toward the bar, for a better view of the Mets Marlins game on the big screen TV.”

“I thought we were on the same page?” Jerrod asked.

“We are,” Lucky replied coolly, “Until you prove me wrong.”

“Meaning,” Jerrod prompted.

“Meaning I’m inclined to give you some latitude because of how you helped Leeanne get away from those Center bastards and cultivate enough skills to make her way to Port Charles. But I don’t take anything on blind faith.”

“And,” Jerrod pushed. Lucky was the wild card. He needed to catch up and know exactly what he was dealing with. Lucky’s blue eyes took on a calculating look, he was sizing Jerrod up.

At last Lucky Shrugged, “Spinelli may be a little odd, but he’s got good instincts about people. They make their mistake underestimating him because of the way he comes across. He can gage people pretty accurately, and he doesn’t like or trust you. Even after your little heart to heart.”

“I suppose you’re right about the last part,” Jerrod admitted, “He’s definitely protective of Leeanne though. The kid’s devoted to her.”

“On that point, we’re in agreement,” Lucky said, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to call my wife and see how my family is.”

Lucky made his way over toward the bar, making a show of taking out his cell phone. He started punching in numbers then held the phone to his ear until he saw Jerrod exit the bar. He nodded to Jack to join him.

“so what **is** his story,” Jack asked.” I know for sure his interest has nothing to do with law enforcement.”

“Getting jaded since your station’s owners started getting KJCM away from its left wing free thinking programs.” Lucky admonished.
“I got jaded long before the Castle brother’s started taking a more active interest in the way the radio station was being run,” Jack told his friend.” I’ll talk to Karl and see what he knows about this. I’ll tell him I’m doing a show on governmental efforts to combat broad reaching terror attacks or something. I can probably get Billy to dummy up an outline of what we have in mind if he pushes.”

“And the other thing?” Lucky probed.

“When you ask for sizable favors you aren’t kidding.” Jack Chuckled.

“My cousin’s well being is important to me,” Lucky explained.

“If we have to go that route, I’ll see what I can do about getting you in. But remember, I’m only a shock kjock. I don’t have as much influence as you might think.”

“Fine, for now,” Lucky said. “Let me know when you’re in NYC, I think I can set you up with some good seats at Yankee Stadium.”

“Don’t insult me Spencer!” Jack said grinning. “If you’re going to offer a bribe, make it a good one. Mets, Giants, and it will be close to play off time.”

“Done,” Lucky agreed, making a note to himself to find out from his brother in law, which of the vast Falconary clan might have season’s tickets to the other New York Team he could lay his hands on.

“Give my best to your Wild Irish Rose,” Jack said, concluding the conversation. Lucky nodded in affirmative. Jack gave him a hardy slap on the back before returning to a table to watch the baseball game.

Luke took an appreciative bite of his New York Sirloin tip steak. The Breakers knew how to prepare a fine meal, and their surf and turf was among the best. Luke decided. He had been enjoying the steak and lobster. He was sure if Spanky Found him out, he could pass it off as an investment expense, especially if it resulted in the payday he was thinking it would.

“You tell quite a tale,” Luke said at last. “Frail little Leeanne and her geek boyfriend faking their deaths and living under the radar. Wow! Sounds like something out of an old nineteen sixties TV show. Of Course Spinelli is a bit retro…”

“It’s not a story, though the kids are good, especially your niece’s Daughter. If one didn’t know better they’d think she was some neo-Southern belle pursuing art nominally while she is kept by a brilliant young academician.”

“Caroline’s Daughter had just gone through a harrowing ordeal being kidnapped and assaulted by her father’s enemies.” Luke said, putting down his fork. “I saw the fall out from that. Her father was so angry, he was too busy taking out every member of the Zachara organization he could get his hands on as viciously as possible. He didn’t see the kid was on the edge. No way that girl could create some new identity let alone do what it would take to fake a boating accident.”

“Both the girl’s parents have the means to take care of the details of a disappearance, and her gentleman friend is a known hacker of extraordinary ability, I’m sure he rendered whatever assistance was required to facilitate a convincing disappearance.”

“Okay,” Luke agreed after a long moment, “Let’s say you’re right. Let’s say Spinelli took Leeanne out on that sailboat. That they jumped off the boat right before it blew and stayed underwater till **someone** rescued them, and spirited them to parts unknown where they took up new lives. What’s it to you and how does it help me Neutralize Helena Cassidine and make what you called a tidy profit?”

“The Cassidine woman has something that if in the wrong hands, could create big problems for a lot of people,” Miss Parker said carefully, “Very big, very costly problems that could upset a lot of fortunes, including those of your wife’s family. I want to see that that doesn’t happen. I would be willing to reward handsomely if that item found its’ way in to **my** possession before Madam Cassidine places it on the open market.”

“And you, of course, have absolutely pure motives for wanting to get hold of this **item**?” Luke asked.

Miss Parker inclined her head affirmatively.

“Helena Cassidine is on what you could call a watch list, as is another business Rival of Jason Morgan, a gentleman named Anthony Zachara. A charming old coot who fashions himself an old world Don.” Miss Parker explained.

“Anthony Zachara is a sick, lying, bastard who uses people like play things, especially women who are stupid enough to fall for his act!” Luke said sharply.

“Careful Luke, you wouldn’t want it to get back to Tracy you referred to her as stupid in public, and to another woman no less.” Miss Parker purred tossing her head and setting her earrings dangling.

“Okay, you’ve got my attention, what exactly do you want from me?” Luke asked, leveling his gaze.

“I told you what I want and what I’m willing to do,” Miss Parker replied sweetly.

“What you haven’t told me is how Leeanne and Spinelli are involved and what you’ll do to see that the world continues to believe they are dead, and that will be part of my price. If they are still out there, their secret stays secret.”

“Lets’ not start out playing games Luke. They **are** alive and close by I suspect. I believe they also may be closer than they should be to what I require. But once that item comes in to my possession, I will see to it personally, no one is aware of just who they are.”

“You’ll be keeping that secret no matter what, Darlin, ´Luke resolved to himself. He raised his glass of champagne in toast to her, “To a lucrative partnership
Where everyone goes home happy.”

“To everyone going home happier and richer,” Miss Parker agreed as they clinked glasses.

Current Mood: energetic
Thursday, November 8th, 2012
1:27 am
Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
12:20 am
General Hospital /Pretender fan fiction Escape Artists chapter 6
Spinelli’s battered, nondescript Ford Echo pulled up to the small shopping center in Delray Beach. It wasn’t one of the main strip malls full of big box stores and chain restaurants that catered to the year- round residents. This was one of the tourist areas that featured high- end home décor, souvenir stores and cute cafes with outdoor seating. Leeanne liked to look in the store windows, to see what other artists were creating, so she could try and keep one step ahead. Spinelli also favored this part of town since it was frequented by tourists; they weren’t likely to be remembered. It had been nearly a week since the discovery of the strange artifacts. There had been no word from Jerrod and Lucky. Though neither of them was ready to totally drop their defenses, Spinelli had deemed it safe enough for a short trip away from home.

Spinelli helped Leeanne carry her packages into a MailboxETC, set up for the convenience of the tourist who didn’t want to pay for an extra carryon while heading home. He stood close to Leeanne, a hand resting possessively on her shoulder. To any observer they were a couple in love, perhaps honeymooners who couldn’t quite keep their hands off each other. Leeanne was wearing a burgundy sundress and a pair of roped sandals. She had her hair in a partial ponytail that still left most of it free flowing... Spinelli was in jeans, a vintage Bruce Springsteen Tunnel of Love t-shirt and a Yankees cap. I’ll have to have a word with him about that. Leeanne thought. There’s blending and there’s going over the top.
In spite of their carefully contrived illusion, Leeanne was aware of the reality. Spinelli was watching the few patrons, as well as the staff, putting the skills of his other life to work. Leeanne was certain that the moment he saw something he didn’t like, Spinelli’s hand would move to grasp her arm and either hustle her out of the building or push her out of harm’s way.

“Will that be all Miss?” The friendly older clerk behind the counter asked. Leeanne nodded and smiled, glancing at the man’s name tag.

“Thank you very much, Phil,” she said breezily. Then turning to Spinelli she said, “Is there anything you’d like to do?”

Spinelli said nothing with words, but his smile told Leeanne he had something in mind. Vaguely, she wondered what it might be! They returned to the street holding hands and walking slowly. Again, Leeanne was certain Spinelli was observing everything around them. So she gave herself permission to enjoy the atmosphere, she looked in the shop windows at t-shirts, lamps made of bronze, sculpted into seahorses or palm trees, wood carved lighthouses and sailboats, and other assorted creations on display.

“Your work is far superior to any of this,” Spinelli stated, gesturing to include several stores around them.

“Yeah Right,” Leeanne laughed. Coming to a stop in front of one store, the name Maggie’s Magic Treasure Chest stenciled in gold on the door.

“Look at that,” Leeanne said, pointing to a sculpture whose base was made of blue coral, topped with crushed white shell fragments to create waves. On top of that, grey stone- carved dolphins cavorted about. “I’d love to be able to do detailed work like that!”

Spinelli was about to avow that of course she could accomplish that same high quality of definition. He caught himself in time.

“While your designs don’t feature the same level of fine detail, they have a certain dramatic whimsy that makes them unique.” Spinelli stated.
Leeanne considered his words as she studied his face, trying to decide if he was paying her a compliment or trying to distract her from what he called defeatist thinking. Deciding it was a compliment, she gave his hand a gentle squeeze.
That was the first time Leeanne saw the woman. She was tall, with a slim build that made Leeanne first think of a dancer. She exuded confidence and self- possession. She was wearing a midnight blue Halstin dress that showcased a model’s figure. Her dark hair was swept off her face in a neat clip and she was wearing a pair of black, three- inch heels. Leeanne felt an odd twinge as she saw her, but she couldn’t say why!

“Are you okay?” Spinelli, ever attuned to her moods asked.

“Yeah, I just thought I felt someone walking across my grave.”

Spinelli raised his eyebrows. Leeanne laughed, realizing what she had said, “I guess I’m starting to do what you suggested; being my true self.” Then she added, “Now, where are we going?”

“Come along then and you’ll see.” Spinelli replied in a way that told Leeanne he had planned some kind of surprise... she knew with the right persuasion, she could get him to tell her right now, but decided she would let him have his moment.

Spinelli led Leeanne down two blocks until they were almost to the waterfront. There, a small carnival had been set up. A sign in bright red letters, at the entrance, proclaimed that this was a fundraiser to support St. Ann’s Children’s Hospital. Leeanne smiled as her mind drifted back to another carnival three years earlier.

She had been standing just inside the entrance to the park, Where General Hospital was putting on a carnival to support AIDS research. Leeanne had been in Port Charles just over a month. She scanned the happy smiling faces of parents that might be the right age to be her own, some of them with little ones, obviously grandchildren who clutched brightly colored balloons on strings or small stuffed animals. Do they ever think of me? Do they ever regret giving me up? Or do they think themselves better off without me, she wondered. She watched the younger families with children that were obviously their own, helping them on to the rides, trying to quiet their squeals of excitement. Impatiently she rubbed her fist against her eyes. You’re too old to cry over Mommy and Daddy until you know if there’s something to cry over.

She saw Spinelli standing by the midway. He was talking to a petite blonde; she was holding the hand of a young child in a pretty yellow sundress. As the woman turned, Leeanne saw it was Maxi Jones, Spinelli’s former girlfriend. She was wearing a pair of black silk lounging pants and a short sleeve red sweater that had a neckline that revealed a good deal of cleavage. Leeanne felt highly irritated by the other woman’s presence. We’ll just see what we can do about this, Leeanne decided, strolling resolutely over to where they were standing. Leeanne didn’t understand her feelings. She had spent a few evenings talking to the young, eccentric private investigator she had hired to find her parents. They had struck up a friendship, but Leeanne felt that this was a different kind of friendship; she was completely at ease with this man. Spinelli treated her as though she hadn’t been kept isolated from the world and denied a childhood. But she didn’t have an exclusive claim on him did she?

“Hi,” she said, stepping to Spinelli’s side and holding out her hand. Spinelli took it and Leeanne felt a quickening of her pulse as he held on a few more beats than was necessary.

“Leeanne,” Spinelli smiled as he spoke her name. Leeanne told herself not to read anything in to it.

“Robin told me she and Patrick talked you into performing on the midway,” Maxi chirped. “Anyway, this is great, it’s so much more fun to show off a ring like this with a bigger audience.”

At that, Maxi held out her left hand, which was sporting a large diamond that winked on her third finger in the afternoon sunlight. The ring seemed gaudy and ostentatious to Leeanne. She saw the look of surprise on Spinelli’s face.

“Connor took me to Cancun on his family’s private plane. The food was wonderful, the wine was robust. We got caught in the romance and decided to just go ahead and get married right then and there!” Maxi babbled, heedless of the effect of her words, “So congratulate me!”

Maxi looked at both of them expectantly. Leeanne couldn’t believe the other woman’s thoughtlessness. Impulsively, Leeanne’s hand sought and found Spinelli’s once more, giving it a sympathetic squeeze. At that moment, a tall, handsome Latino man with just a trace of silver grey in his midnight dark hair came over and caught Maxi around the waist, kissing her passionately on the lips. She squealed in protest, even as she briefly released the hand of the young child in her charge, to return his embrace. The youngster rolled her eyes as if to say “oh please!”

I agree completely kid, Leeanne thought.

The couple broke their kiss and Maxi took the little girl’s hand once more.

“Spinelli and um, I’m sorry is it Leah, were going to congratulate me on landing such a handsome and exciting husband. Now they can congratulate both of us.” Maxi enthused.

“I wish you both every happiness,” Spinelli said. Leeanne could hear the pain behind his formal words.

“Hopefully, your impulsive wedding won’t end in a Mexican divorce!” Leeanne quipped, “and it’s Leeanne. I guess the peroxide must have destroyed a few synapses or you’d have remembered that.”

Spinelli turned his head, but not before Leeanne saw the ghost of a smile playing at his lips.

Maxi glared daggers at Leeanne. She seemed about to say something, but her new groom smoothly interrupted, “Let me show you and Emma how to do a carnival right. Give Robin and Patrick one less thing to worry about while they run this event.” He nuzzled Maxi’s neck, causing her to blush, but she finally agreed and the three hurried away, Young Emma between the two adults.

“You realize of course, that was not the appropriate response to a wedding announcement. Even if the marriage may be ill advised.” Spinelli stated.

“I didn’t like how close she was standing to you, or how low cut her sweater was,” Leeanne began. Surprising herself with her own candor. “And I especially didn’t care for the way she ran roughshod over your heart.”

Spinelli studied her a long time. She felt his dark eyes looking right through her.

“I understand,” he said at last. After another long moment he asked, “Before you delivered a verbal slap in the face to Maxie, you were standing alone, you looked sad, why was that?”

Leeanne looked into his eyes, and saw a gentleness and sincerity she wasn’t accustomed to. She realized then that he really did want to know the answer to his question
He wasn’t just being kind.

“I was watching all the families. Mothers scared and clinging to their partners, once they put their kids on the rides. Hugging them like they’d been away on a Three- day trip when they got off. Father’s putting their little girls on the carousel, kissing them on the cheek and making them feel like little princesses. People come to carnivals with families, or with people they love and they smile so brightly. I guess I was just wishing…” Leeanne’s voice trailed off.

Spinelli put an arm around her waist as he spoke, “Be with me.” His voice was soft, yet full of hope.

“I’d like that,” Leeanne agreed.

They walked into the midway area, Spinelli held her hand. Leeanne could hear the calliope music as they walked past the merrry-go-round. Leeanne saw the tramp, Maxi, and her new husband assisting little Emma onto a white pony. Spinelli led Leeanne toward a large, wheel- shaped structure with cars hooked to it.

“Is that a Ferris Wheel?” Leeanne asked. Spinelli nodded and Leeanne continued speaking , , “I’ve read about those. The first one was designed for the Chicago World’s Fair. They wanted something more spectacular than the Eiffel Tower.”

“But you’ve never ridden one?” Spinelli asked. Leeanne shook her head, blushing. This seemed to be something everyone did.

“Does it go fast?” Leeanne wanted to know. Spinelli shook his head no.

He pointed to another ride, this one a set of tracks with lots of sharp turns and corkscrews. A sign proclaimed it a roller coaster.

“If you want something fast, you would want to try that,” Spinelli explained. “Roller Coasters are known for their speed, their turns and drops.”

Leeanne saw a look of apprehension cross his face, as he contemplated that she might choose that ride.

“I want to ride the Ferris wheel,” she decided. “ I bet you can see everything from the top.” Leeanne saw the relief come over him, as he led her toward the ride.

The cars were small, Leeanne noticed as they settled themselves. The ride operator slammed down the safety bar. Spinelli was closer to her than any person had ever been. The nearness, combined with the rush that came from their gradual climb, created a breathless excitement. She felt Spinelli once more take her hand. She smiled happily at him, in delight as she watched the figures and structures receding from view. She turned back to him.

“I see the attraction of this ride, what could be more romantic than being taken into the clouds?” she breathed.

For answer, Spinelli released Leeanne’s hand. But just as she was going to chide herself for making a dumb statement, Leeanne felt Spinelli’s arm wrap around her shoulders, as he leaned in to lightly brush his lips against hers. Leeanne felt her breath catch; she closed her eyes and reached a hand out to rest on his shoulder. The kiss ended all too quickly. Leeanne opened her eyes, only vaguely aware they had reached the highest point. But at that moment, she didn’t care about the world below.

“That was magical,” Leeanne said in surprise. Spinelli regarded her carefully.

“You’ve really never done that before,” he said in wonder.

“I’ve never been kissed on a Ferris wheel, Or anywhere else for that matter.” she informed him.

She waited to see if he would pull away, realizing just how inexperienced she was, especially in comparison to that fashion plate.

“I have never been anyone’s first anything,” he admitted, “That’s magical.” He smiled at her then.

Leeanne returned his smile, giddily happy!

Now Leeanne turned to Spinelli, filled with the same childlike delight that had overtaken her the first time they entered a carnival together. “Can we ride the Ferris Wheel?” She asked.

“That seems a good place to start.” Spinelli said, paying the entrance fee. As they walked on to the midway, Leeanne caught a smell that she hadn’t remembered from the last carnival she had attended. It held a peculiar sweetness. She tried to place it, then said, “It’s tangled in my head, but I remember something about a sweet sugar treat when I was little. It was white and made me think of clouds in summer.”

“Cotton candy?” Spinelli suggested.

“It could be, it smells like burning sugar. ”Leeanne Responded.

Spinelli changed directions and they approached a small group of vending stands. Leeanne could make out the more familiar smells; hotdogs, french-fries and cheeseburgers. He went toward the end where a pudgy teenager, with spiky red hair was working a strange machine that was spinning fine clouds of sugar on to pink and blue paper funnels. Spinelli purchased two of the creations and handed one to Leeanne. They walked off and found a bench to sit on. Leeanne regarded the treat, then looked questioningly at Spinelli.
“You’ve never had cotton candy?” Spinelli asked. Leeanne shook her head slowly.

“I’m not sure. I don’t really think I was ever at a carnival before I came to Port Charles, and yet, there is something familiar, like a song you hear from a distance, so you can’t quite place it.”.

“Perhaps the taste will bring the memory into focus.” Spinelli suggested helpfully

“Of course,” Leeanne replied.

Leeanne remained still, unsure how to proceed. She saw Spinelli take a small bite of the confection and copied his action.

Spinelli saw the expression of surprise that broke over Leeanne’s delicate features. Her eyes lit up with pure delight that overtook her when she made some discovery of a new pleasure. He felt the familiar sense of joy that came from being the one to acquaint her with such wonders.

“It tastes like eating clouds,” she laughed. A faraway look came into Leeanne’s eyes and she sang softly, “Oh to live on Sugar Mountain, with the barkers and the colored balloons. You can’t be 20…” She let the song die away.

“Are we playing the lyric game?” Spinelli asked, “If so, is it not unfair to introduce a new lyric without warning?”

“It’s part of the memory. I heard it while I was….” Once more Leeanne’s voice trailed off as she again saw the woman.

Spinelli followed her gaze. He noted the woman was approaching them very briskly. She wasn’t familiar and there was no time to get away. She had clearly spotted them. He felt Leeanne’s fingers close on his arm.

“I saw her earlier by Maggie’s,” Leeanne told him.

“The one who walked across your grave,” Spinelli asked. Leeanne nodded in the affirmative.

All right then, Spinelli thought. Nothing to do but brazen it out. The pair exchanged a look, each having come to the same conclusion.

Good afternoon,” the strange woman began. “I’m sorry to disturb your private time, but I don’t believe in wasting opportunity when it is placed before you.”

At the sound of the woman’s low melodious voice, it was Spinelli’s turn to feel an odd chill creep down the back of his neck. Something like a distant memory tried to come forth. The pair exchanged another look; neither believed there was anything coincidental about this meeting.

“I don’t believe either of us have made your acquaintance,” Spinelli said keeping his voice even and calm.

“Forgive me,” she said holding out a hand in greeting, “I’m Catherine.”

“I’m Damian and this is…” Spinelli began indicating Leeanne, but the woman cut him off.

“April Cane,” she said, “you were pointed out to me when I was in The Pirate’s Cove earlier.”

Spinelli made a mental note to pass that tidbit on to Stone Cold. Leeanne conducted almost all her business behind the anonymous screen of the internet to avoid precisely this situation. The one exception was the Pirate’s Cove, a shop run by relations of the man that married Stone Cold and Fair Samantha. Leeanne actually brought merchandise to that shop to be sold. If their security was breached from that quarter, Leeanne’s Sire would need to know. All this raced through Spinelli’s mind in seconds, as he tried to decide how best to proceed. Then suddenly Leeanne was speaking.

It’s a pleasure to meet you, Catherine,” Leeanne said, catching Spinelli off guard. She spoke with a natural southern drawl. He had noticed the accent was slipping into her speech more and more often in short bursts. But this was absolutely effortless!

“Lilli hadn’t said that you were a native,” the woman said pleasantly. Taking her hand, she examined the bracelet Leeanne was wearing.

“Is this one of your creations?” She asked indicating the piece of jewelry.

“No,” Leeanne replied lightly, “this was a gift from my mother for my sweet sixteen birthday.”

A rather strange choice!! wouldn’t most parents choose diamonds or at least emeralds rather than jade?”

“My mother was a great believer in symbolism,” Leeanne continued, “There had recently been a rather unfortunate incident with a cheerleader. Momma wanted to remind me of the dangers of jealousy and how much it can cost you.” Spinelli wondered how much of Leeanne’s fluid lying was the result of Spencer genetics, particularly her mothers and how much of this was what she called pretending. Then he decided it didn’t matter. She had already garnered one piece of important information, the name of the security breach.

“I take it you learned the lesson?” Katherine was saying. Leeanne nodded.

“Yes, I surely did.” Leeanne said. She reached up and slowly ran her fingers through Spinelli’s hair,
“I accepted a promise ring one month later.” Her voice softened and Leeanne gave Spinelli a look that he couldn’t possibly misinterpret. He didn’t disappoint, wrapping an arm around her and starting to lean in as though to kiss her. The woman cleared her throat.

“I’ll make this brief,” she said, “I wanted to let you know my father was very impressed with the tie clip I ordered from you last spring for his birthday. He loved the detail you put into the manatee. He has a lady friend, a woman of very refined taste. He may be contacting you to commission something special for him to present her.”

“I’d be delighted to make something, for an already satisfied customer,” Leeanne said, giving Katherine an ingratiating smile. “Tell me his name so I can flag it for prompt attention.”

“Parker,” Katherine replied. Then catching herself, “Mr. Parker. Thank you for your time; I must go,”

She turned and moved quickly away from them. Leeanne turned back to Spinelli, “I know her,”

She breathed, and then added, “She wanted something.”

“We must remain calm,” Spinelli said, half to himself as he got to his feet. Leeanne moved to follow, though she could feel herself shaking, “Where is the Dark beauty going?”

Seeming to wander aimlessly, they moved along the midway. Trying to appear as if they were making up their mind what to do next. Finally they once more headed toward the Ferris wheel, threading their way through a crowd that was growing. As they walked, they had kept their conversation to mindless small talk. It was only when seated in the car of the amusement ride, and beginning to lift toward the sky, that Leeanne risked her questions.

“We aren’t taking this ride to take a romantic trip down memory lane, are we?” She asked. Spinelli shook his head. He was surprised by Leeanne’s calm demeanor. She didn’t normally respond well to crisis situations... Given the strange feeling he had about the woman himself, this was probably a good

“It’s troubling she has discovered your identity. We may have to shut down Creations from the Deep,” Spinelli said. Taking Leeanne’s hand as the car rose into the air, youngsters in the car ahead of them squealing happily.

Leeanne nodded mutely, not daring to ask the question that formed in her mind. Will Jason make me leave you behind too? He drew back just as they reached the highest point. He saw the look of total resolution that came over Leeanne, as she turned to look back over the midway. He scanned the carnival from the other direction, not a trace of the Dark Beauty. He continued to search his memory. Where had he heard that voice before? Was it in Tennessee, at his beloved granny’s? But like Leeanne’s memories of cotton candy, it was a memory just out of reach.

“I think she’s gone,” Leeanne told him. “I wonder what she was trying to find out?”

“You think this was a fact-finding approach?” Spinelli asked. He had begun to come to the same conclusion, but he was unaccustomed to Leeanne being that aware. She nodded in agreement , as she rested her hand on his shoulder.

“She’s not as good as she thinks she is at this. She overplayed her hand sooner than she realized.” Leeanne went on. Her voice shook slightly as she recalled the encounter.

“The Manatee?” Spinelli asked? “I recall your one attempt to recreate that creature.
And the unsatisfactory results.”

Leeanne actually laughed. They were making a second trip up; they could take one more look around. But this was supposed to be a romantic surprise, something to bring back happy thoughts. Spinelli put an arm around Leeanne’s shoulder and very slowly, pressed his lips to hers, allowing them both the briefest moment of nostalgia.

“Next time we’ll do this right,” he promised.

Leeanne let go of that unspeakable fear of losing her beloved. He said there would be a next time and a promise from the Jackal was like money in the bank. No matter what Jason decrees, Damian won’t leave me, Leeanne told herself.

Leeanne turned to once again scan the crowd. All was clear; there was no sign of the Parker woman anywhere. Or any sweepers or other Center personnel. As she started to turn back to Spinelli, another flash of memory came to her. Leeanne wasn’t sure if it was the way the sun reflected off the shiny brass ring on the carousel across the way, or the sound of someone’s portable radio playing something folksy and acoustic. But once more she felt herself a little girl, and she remembered the strange song, it came back to her more clearly. She closed her eyes for just a moment, and listened in her mind to Raiford Destri, singing in a low Southern drawl, a very old song about barkers, balloons, and a place where you never grew older than 20. Her hand slipped automatically into Spinelli’s, while she heard the old song, and remembered tasting cotton candy for the very first time.

“He would have liked anyone who loved carnivals as much as he did,” she said at last in a dreamy voice. Just before their car stopped, she re-entered the tense situation into which they had landed. They walked out of the carnival area, giving the appearance of being casual, even though both were extremely tense. When they reached the Ford, Spinelli put a finger to his lips, as he opened the trunk which he had unlocked with the remote. Leeanne sagged against the car, using it for support. Clenching her fists, so Spinelli wouldn’t see she was still shaking. He began rummaging in a toolbox Leeanne hadn’t realized he kept. Leeanne was about to say she was sure the car was fine, when she noticed what he withdrew from the box didn’t look like any kind of wrench or car repair tool she had ever seen. It was black and slim, and looked more like a TV remote than anything else. He touched a button and began running it over the car. Leeanne nodded in understanding. Once he had checked both the inside and outside of the car with this, and one other device, he nodded and opened the passenger door for her.

Leeanne collapsed in her seat. Spinelli got in, and as he pulled on to the roadway, he turned on the radio. They were greeted by the surreal lyrics of the Moody Blues singing Legend of a Mind. Spinelli started to reach for the radio controls, but Leeanne shook her head.

“Psychedelia seems appropriate for this day,” she said.

Spinelli kept to the back roads and drove just over the speed limit.

“Are you okay?” Leeanne asked. Still unable to totally forget the look she had seen, for the briefest of moments, when Miss Parker had left them.
“There is nothing wrong, I am perfectly fine,” Spinelli began. Then admitted, “”Katherine is a woman of terrifying presence.”

“I thought that too, when I first heard her voice,” Leeanne was speaking slowly, trying to grasp the memory. “Terrifying and familiar I think, but like a lot of my past, it’s not quite clear, shut in that- locked up place that I went to when I was at the center. I remember Miss Parker, always Miss Parker, never a Christian name. No one had a Christian name, except Dr. Sidney. Yet they used my given name. So impersonal, so many walls.”

“She gave you her first name,” Spinelli prompted.

“She gave us ** a** name, but it doesn’t feel right,” Leeanne said. “I can’t explain it, or why I’m not totally frightened of her. Maybe I’m in shock!”

That, Spinelli reasoned, was a distinct possibility and all the more reason to reach their sanctuary. There, he could effectively divert her attention, before dealing with several unpleasant tasks that would require handling. . Maybe in doing them, he would figure out why this Dark Beauty, Miss Parker, whoever she was, gave him the creeps. Spinelli felt sure it wasn’t just the threat she represented to Leeanne that gave him a degree of anxiety.
When they reached their beachfront home, one of the afternoon showers Florida was famous for had blown up and rain was falling in a steady downpour. Spinelli drove the Ford into the carport that had been added, so Leeanne could take over the garage for her work. This was the kind of rain Leeanne loved. If they hadn’t both been preoccupied, they would have been laughing as they ran through the rain. They may have even sat out on the veranda to watch for rainbows when it ended. Instead they moved quickly to the house and went inside. As Spinelli armed the security system Leeanne said, “I don’t think Lilly intended to cause trouble. Her English isn’t the best and Miss Parker is almost as good at eliciting information as I was. Can you make sure Jason understands that and doesn’t deal too harshly with her?”

Spinelli turned, regarding her sharply. That was the first time Leeanne had ever come close to speaking of how her sire made his living. He knew, of course, that Stone Cold had been entirely forthcoming when she asked him about it after certain meddlesome individuals decided to make her aware of his trade, but Leeanne had never before spoken of it to him. Not even after her ordeal, when he half expected her to.

“Stone Cold is an honorable and just man,” Spinelli began, “He will never deal more severely with a person than their transgression merits. And he will never knowingly cause pain.”

Spinelli took a breath, he had considered neglecting to mention to Leeanne what he had to do, no matter what Stone Cold said about the future of her craft business. Leeanne had been violated enough in a dozen different ways in her short life. He was not going to join those ranks willingly.

“Um, I require your laptop and external drive.” He couldn’t meet her eyes as he spoke.
“Of course,” Leeanne agreed, coming to his side and lightly brushing her finger tips down his arm.

“I’m sorry; especially now that I understand what a precious commodity privacy is to you.”
She kept her hand on his arm as she spoke, “You’re nothing like them, Damian. You’ve never crossed a boundary, or taken anything without my consent.” Spinelli ruffled her hair, offering her a small smile. Just as Spinelli started to turn, Leeanne suddenly remembered the Ferris wheel ride, and that sweet strange song. Leeanne threw her arms around Spinelli’s waist, and held him very tightly. She rose up on tiptoes and kissed him gently on the lips.

“Thank you,” she breathed as she drew back.

“For what,” Spinelli asked, “This day hardly turned out to be memorable in a positive way.”

“There were parts of it I would love to forget,” Leeanne admitted, “But there were others… Especially the memory of Dad, I mean Rafe, cotton candy and a sad but sweet song.”

“Is that who you were thinking of, when you spoke of someone else who liked carnivals?”

“Yeah,” Leeanne’s voice had that faraway quality, and the southern accents were returning, “Rafe and you would have gotten along like a house afire. You’re both dreamers.”

The smile Spinelli gave Leeanne as he took her in his arms, was complete, going all the way to his eyes. They shared a long, lingering kiss , stepping back from the craziness. Leeanne stroked his cheek, wanting the moment not to end, even as she knew it had to. He had work to do. But maybe… just because she had lost her own abilities with computers didn’t mean she couldn’t be some help.

At last they drew apart. Spinelli started up the stairs, then turned, his eyes reflecting something Leeanne hadn’t expected to see. Respect, almost worship, but not of an amorous nature; this was something else!

“You handled yourself most impressively, both in your dealings with Miss Parker and afterward. I’ll convey that to your sire as well.”

With that, Leeanne watched him mount the stairs for a conversation she suspected was not going to be fun. She turned to head for her work space. She would make the rest of his tasks easier for starters, by bringing Spinelli what he asked for.

Current Mood: mellow
Friday, September 21st, 2012
2:05 am
Escape Artists General Hospital/pretender fan fiction chapter 5
The nightmare began the same as it always did, Leeanne as a child in the sterol confines of the center. She was in a sparsely furnished room performing some task, an ugly looking device was on her left hand, and it sent pain shooting through her hand every time she tried to use it. She was begging to be allowed to go home. A cultured European voice spoke telling her this was her home now, this was where she belonged. Still, she called for her mother. A raspy voice told her that her mother never wanted her and other words she couldn’t or didn’t want to hear.

Then the scene shifted, she was in the abandon house on the outskirts of Port Charles where the Zicarra underlings had taken her. She was being ordered to take off her clothes, a gun pointing at her. She tearfully complied, certain she was about to have stolen something she wanted to give only to one man. The scene changed and she found herself once more in the lightning cage, she was aching in ways she had never imagined and felt battered and broken. She was crying and afraid that she would never again be cherished or be with the people she loved. The jolt of electricity that shot through her caused her body to jerk spasmodically as pain ripped through her. Though she didn’t want to die, she prayed for release. The searing pain in her muscles changed and she found her lungs constricting, she was trying to hold her breath, it seemed very important. And now she was so very cold. The heat from jolts of electrical current replaced now by the chill of ice cold water. Her left hand was once more covered with the strange bracelet which still sent pain through her when she tried to use that hand. Yet she continued clawing for the surface of what she recognized as a dive pool.

“You know how to prevent the pain, the same cultured voice reminded her, trying to sound fatherly. She wanted to scream, her lungs were burning and she knew she would have to breathe. But if she breathed she would die. The dream shifted back to the house and she heard another, harsher voice saying the same words “You know how to make it stop.” Then adding, “Tell us what we want to know.” The voices blurred, the scene moved back to the pool. She thought she could make out another angry voice cutting in, it was different and somehow Leeanne sensed the anger wasn’t aimed at her. But it was unclear. She just wanted the struggle to stop. Leeanne knew she could no longer hold her breath, she couldn’t stop the dream, and she was going to die.
A new voice cut across the terror, this one familiar, reassuring and kind.
The voice called her name, even as she felt herself being reached for by strong gentle hands. With an effort, Leeanne pushed herself out of the dark vision, raising her hands toward the sound of the voice and dragging herself back to consciousness.
Her eyes flew open but she was disoriented at first. Slowly she became aware of the scent of flowers from the garden, the sounds of the night birds, and the soft glow of moonlight. She was home, in her own bed. Spinelli had brought her back, as he had many times before, He had a hand on her shoulder, and he had been shaking her in an effort to bring her back to wakefulness. Leeanne registered the concern in Spinelli’s eyes as well as the love and caring. She fought to control her breathing so she could speak and assure her lover that she was fine. Yet she was still gasping as though denied air.

“It’s alright,” Spinelli murmured soothingly, “I won’t let anyone hurt you. You’re safe.”
“I’m so cold,” Leeanne gasped, aware that in spite of it being a warm summer evening in August, she felt as though it were deepest winter. A bone deep chill had her trembling still.

“This I can fix,” Spinelli said quietly, drawing the blankets up to just under her chin then gathering her close to him. Like a moth to a flame, Leeanne moved in to his embrace, eagerly seeking the heat his body offered. She pressed close, almost desperate to get warm.

Spinelli was careful not to hold her too tight, knowing that while the vestiges of the nightmare clung to her, anything that felt too much like restraint could cause Leeanne deeper distress. She needed to **know** that she was free to back away at any time.

In the past, When Leeanne came out of these dark visions, Spinelli sought to guide her away from the emotional pain and trauma as he was fairly certain Stone Cold had wanted him to do. He would distract his beautiful dreamer by singing to her, reciting Shakespeare, or telling her slightly edited and highly embellished stories about her parents and their assorted relatives. Other times he employed diversions of a more romantic nature. Instinct told the computer genius that perhaps it was time to help Fair Leeanne stand and face her daemons head on. His intuition was confirmed when Leeanne lifted her head from his shoulder where she had rested it when he drew her in. There was a look of fierce determination in her eyes, darkening the shade of green they were naturally and causing flecks of Amber to appear. Her face was set in concentration as she searched for a way to begin.

Leeanne’s first thought as she began to feel safe, to relax in to Spinelli’s warmth, had been to allow herself to be distracted as she always had, to try and forget. But she had never been successful at completely pushing the dark memories away. Leeanne knew that now. Further more, there was really no need for it. Damian doesn’t need protection. Leeanne thought, in truth, she’d never been able to keep her private Hell from him. She knew it would be so much easier to allow him to be her hero and let him help her fight the dreams fully armed.

“It was all mixed up,” Leeanne began, “It’s hard to know exactly where to begin. Some of it is still confusing.”

“Tell me what you can,” Spinelli’s calm, even tone of voice helped Leeanne to center her thoughts. She kept her eyes locked with his.

“Parts of it were at the center, I was very little.” Leeanne said. Yet she couldn’t quite force the words that would describe exactly what happened to her in that room or the underwater episode, they seemed indistinct shadows in her mind. The whole dreams still defied description

“You were six when you believed yourself orphaned.” Spinelli said carefully.
Leeanne nodded. “I remember begging to go home, I felt very lost. Like something was taken away I couldn’t get back.”
Spinelli remained quiet, seeming to sense there was more to come. Leeanne tried once again to focus her thoughts, this man wants to **help** me! To make it better. I have to meet him half way, Leeanne told herself.

“Was it just the Center?” Spinelli prompted at last. Leeanne reluctantly shook her head.

“Parts of it involved the Port Charles kidnap,” Leeanne admitted, choosing her words carefully, they were going to steal something from me. I only wanted you to have it and they were going to…” Leeanne’s voice faltered as she spoke. Tears glistened in the corners of her eyes, “You can’t want to hear this.” Leeanne’s voice still shook but she had to say the words as she saw the look of profound pain that flashed across Spinelli’s face.
Now it was Spinelli’s turn to choose his words with care. He shifted moving his hands to frame her face. “This isn’t pleasant for me to hear, but it is 100 times harder for you to live with the memory.”
Leeann was touched by Spinelli’s honesty and perception. It made her want to find the words that would allow this sweet, gentle spirit to push away the clouds of dark torment that insisted on returning to her. It also made her want still more, to protect him from the brutality of what she did recall.
“There is an old proverb that says that a deamond loses its power when it is named. Nightmares are deamonds of the mind.”
Leeanne considered his words. She studied his face; my silence torments him as much as it does me. Leeanne realized.
“I tried so hard to block that night, like I did most of my time at the Center,” Leeanne admitted, “I will tell you what I can, though it’s not much more than what I told Jason and Lucky afterward.”

Spinelli nodded in understanding. Leeanne gathered her mental courage, and taking a breath she began.

“They told me to take off my clothes; I was so scared. But there was that gun, I heard it click and I knew they meant it, they really **would** hurt me worse with that if I didn’t do as I was told. I kept telling them I didn’t want to do it. but the more I cried the more they laughed at me.” Leeanne’s voice quavered but she kept her gaze focused on Spinelli’s face. She felt his arms once more gently encircle her and drawing courage from the gesture, she continued, Surprising herself as more than the dream began to crystallize in her mind’s eye. “I don’t know why they did it, they didn’t seem pleased, Their voices were mean, they laughed but it wasn’t kindly laughter like Jason or Lucky’s or warm and magical like yours. It was ugly. When they touched me it hurt. Why did it hurt? It made me feel small and like I was nothing, so why did it cause me pain?” Leeanne felt tears clogging her throat. She ducked her head, burning inside with shame.

“What was left of your innocence was ripped away from you. All things torn away cause pain.” Spinelli’s voice shook.
“I can’t, Damian, I can’t look at it anymore,” Leeanne said, still fighting tears, as she once more sought to look in to his face for comfort and reassurance.

Spinelli quickly bent his head to whisper softly in her ear, “It’s alright, you don’t have to say anything more.”

He buried his face against her neck, kissing her hair softly. But he hadn’t moved fast enough for Leeanne to miss the tears in his eyes. Leeanne felt her heart break knowing she had caused this pain with her words. She reached to comfort him, wrapping her arms around his neck holding on tight as he was doing to her. Each taking their comfort from the other.

Spinelli lay awake some time later listening to the rhythms of Leeanne’s steady, shallow breathing. He hoped his re-telling of the wedding of her Sire and Fair Samantha in the garden outside a Chinese restaurant had turned Leeanne’s memory from the frightening ordeal she had described. He was glad all Leeanne had seen was his tears. He had felt a flash of white hot rage when Leeanne had first described the humiliation The Demented one’s goons had heaped upon her while they had her in their clutches.

He thought he understood what was expected of him when Stone Cold had explained that he, Damian Spinelli must be everything to Leeanne, that he could not **just** be a devoted paramour. He hadn’t seen that there was a difference; if you loved someone didn’t that automatically make you the center of each other’s world?

Spinelli thought himself prepared, he had learned what he could via the internet about alternative therapies that a layperson could over see for both physical and emotional suffering; he had read everything he could find about post traumatic Stress Disorder as it related to rape victims. Yet now as he held the sleeping Leeanne in his arms, her body relaxed in slumber, her silken hair falling against his chest, he understood just how unprepared he was.

Thanks to the Stranger’s insistence on him reading files he convinced a certain Mr. Broots to allow him to “hack” in to for a short time, he knew Leeanne’s violation had been much worse than he and Leeanne’s parents had feared. The Sadistic Doctor Sidney had meticulously documented their rape of Leeanne’s mind. The thugs who had taken Leeanne, had to do very little to nearly destroy her. He could have cheerfully vanquished them himself, if Stone Cold hadn’t wrought vengeance sure and swift on the Zacara organization. Spinelli only wondered why Stone Cold didn’t destroy the Center staff as well, starting with DR. Sidney. If he ever crossed paths with this monster…

Now, he decided, he must turn his attention to how to help Leeanne understand what had happened in that house of horrors. Once he had assured himself that she was deep in the embrace of Morpheus, he slipped from their bed. Spinelli headed to his office where he booted up his computer. He had a most important assignment to complete for his beloved’s peace of mind.
Leeanne wasn’t surprised the next morning when she woke, to find Spinelli gone from their bed. One of the first things they had discovered they had in common was a need for surprisingly little sleep. Though they each dealt with it differently. Leeanne realized that while she didn’t feel totally rested, she’d slept better than she had on most nights when the nightmares had overtaken her, and last nights mix of old and new bad dreams had been especially rough. Maybe Damian’s right about nightmares losing their power when they are spoken of? Leeanne thought, slowly sitting up and testing her reflexes with light stretching exercises. Still a bit shaky she thought and decided she would see if she could coax Spinelli away from his web consulting work and let him come with her for a swim, in the hope that the gloriously warm tropical waters would ease her discomfort.

Leeanne showered and threw on a sky blue two piece swimsuit with streaks of silver shot through the fabric and over it she put a strapless light blue beach dress. She slipped her feet in to a matching pair of sandals and packed a beach bag, and then Leeanne headed for Spinelli’s office. The door was partly open; a sign to Leeanne that Spinelli hadn’t yet opened his online consulting doors.
Leeanne stepped inside and smiled as she saw Spinelli clad in a pair of faded blue jeans she clearly remembered suggesting he ought to consign to the scrap heap several months ago and a rather loud Hawaiian shirt. Fashion had never been one of Spinelli’s strengths. Leeanne had found his lack of concern with trends endearing, it put her at ease in a way she couldn’t really explain.

Leeanne could see the assassin of the internet had decided to relax with a little computer generated murder and mayhem. The game he was playing seemed to involve jungles and scary looking gargoyle type creatures. She smiled as she came along side him. It was time for a different kind of game, Leeanne decided

“How much do you love me,” she asked in a soft, breathless voice, placing a small hand on his shoulder. Spinelli turned, startled then smiled up at Leeanne, eyes shining with triumph as he replied, “More than ships with sails love the wind . And Will I be thinking of you?” He stopped and Leeanne saw his eyes half close in concentration, “Give me a minute,” He said, determined but finally he shook his head.

“It’s another question, but I must admit defeat.”

“”It’s Will I ever pass this way again. But the first word in the second line is why, not more, so you lost the point right from the start, but you’re getting better.”

“This game is rather unfair as you choose songs that are most obscure however romantic.”

As he spoke the last words, Spinelli reached up, intending to capture a lock of Leeanne’s hair which she had allowed to fall loose. Leeanne stopped him as something caught her eye, several angry looking marks had formed on Spinelli’s arm, just below his wrist, and the discolorations were particularly vivid against his very pale skin.

“What happened?” Taking his hand in hers, pointing at the marks, Leeanne asked, “How did you get those?”
The color drained at once from Spinelli’s face and he tried to pull his hand away stammering, “it’s nothing.”

“Spinelli,” Leeanne’s tone was insistent and she held on more tightly.

Spinelli took a steadying breath, “I’m afraid those marks were your doing.” Spinelli spoke each word reluctantly, almost apologetically.
“I did, how, why would I hurt you? It was an accident, right?” Leeanne asked, confused. Spinelli looked away, clearly uncomfortable, then seeming to gather himself. He let his gaze meet hers

” When you are trapped in some nightmares, you require a touchstone to anchor yourself in this world.” At Spinelli’s explanation, Leeanne felt memory slam in to her like a typhoon hitting a coastal resort.
. Again, she felt water closing over her and a chill stealing through her. She swayed slightly.

Spinelli got quickly to his feet as he saw Leeanne’s eyes go wide with fear. He slipped an arm around her waste, steadying her. Leeanne leaned heavily against him, trying to find her voice.

Leeanne was shaking like a leaf. Gently, Spinelli guided Leeanne to the couch where she often sat with one of his books or her father’s travel book as she waited for him to complete his work. That was when he noticed how she was dressed. His carelessness had distracted Leeanne from her purpose. He sat next to her, his arm draped across her thin shoulders and waited for the shaking to subside enough for her to tell him about what the center had done to her.

“I never told them I couldn’t swim under water.” Leeanne spoke hesitantly at first, then her words tumbled out in a rush, as though by getting it out all at once maybe it wouldn’t hurt as much, “There were so many things I wasn’t suppose to do, I was always doing things wrong, and always getting disciplined. If they knew Daddy couldn’t get me to be underwater, that he listened to Mommy when she said there was time, I might get punished. , So I just said I didn’t like the water. I didn’t know they would use the water as discipline when I tried to run away. Or that they would make me go back when they realized I had used my left hand, I wasn’t suppose to use my left hand, don’t sing, don’t talk with the accent, don’t talk like Mommy and Daddy, don’t use the left hand! Even if your lungs are on fire even if you’re going to die! But I was eight and didn’t want to die!”
Leeanne’s breathing had quickened as she told the story, as though she were still in that dive pool struggling for the surface. Spinelli patted her back comfortingly.

“It’s okay, take slow breaths. It’s okay,” he urged. He waited until she was somewhat calmer before continuing, “What they did to you was barbaric. No matter how Doctor Sidney dressed it up, it was cruel, abusive and wrong!”

Leeanne looked at Spinelli in surprise, “How would you know what DR. Sidney called it?” Leeanne asked.

Spinelli hadn’t intended to divulge his little cyber trip in to DR. Sidney’s most private files but perhaps, knowing that she couldn’t shock him, would allow Leeanne to let him help her. The cat was out of the bag anyway, “Jerrod believed it necessary for me to know the full extent of the horror that was the center and the depths of their evil doing with reference to you.” Spinelli explained.

He saw the look of terrible fury that flashed in his angelic lover’s vivid green eyes. Though Leeanne was normally the most placid and calm person he knew, Spinelli was fairly sure she could have committed most violent acts if the object of her rage was in reach.

“That two faced lying snakes!” Leeanne spat, “Sidney said the center was protecting me from a world that would regard me as little more than a freak and he treats me like I’m some damn lab rat. Not just documenting the sims, okay, those **were** experiments but documenting my so called therapeutic re conditioning treatments. What did he think he was, Dr. Frankenstein?”

Leeanne rose on shaky legs and began pacing the room. Spinelli glanced around trying to remember if there were any more breakables in the vicinity. As fast as the anger had come over Leeanne, it dissipated and she returned to the couch collapsing next to Spinelli, taking his hand and looking at the bruises carefully. Sadness replaced anger in her eyes. She bent her head and kissed the bruised marks, ever so softly.

“I’ve been careless with you Damian, forgive me.” Leeanne spoke with quiet intensity.

“There is nothing to forgive,” Spinelli answered, “It was I who was careless. You were never supposed to know of this.” He indicated the marks.

“How could I have not been careless, disregarding your well being?” Leeanne asked in bewilderment. There were times when the rules of love were still a little confusing, “You aren’t suppose to hurt people you love or cause them harm?”

Leeanne saw a strange look come over Spinelli, somewhere between sadness and sheer terror. He took a long time before answering.

“Do you remember the Yees’ gift to your sire and his bride on the birth of the twins?”

“The Lilies and the terrarium with all those wonderful herbs,” Leeanne smiled at the memory, “of course it almost died thanks to Jason and Sam’s black thumbs.”

“I could watch for hours while you brought order to that chaos. Your hands moving with such elegant grace whether it was untangling weeds or when you sat at the piano picking out melodies with unerring confidence.” Spinelli’s voice had sadness to it, Leeanne looked at him in confusion, not understanding the relevance, “I watch you on your difficult days, when that grace is impaired by misfiring synapses and I’m helpless to do anything to affect it.” Spinelli glanced at their joined hands and continued, “There is some physical discomfort for me when the nightmares of drowning come to you, but at least, this is something I **can** do to change the impact of what these creatures have done to you.”

“It’s not real pain,” Spinelli explained, “If it can help you to escape the dark place, you should hold on to me as tightly as is required to find your way back.”
“I’m still sorry I hurt you. I didn’t make marks like that on dad, I mean Rafe when he was teaching me to swim. It was still careless.” Leeanne said.
“Since you were concerned once you were aware of the effects of the nightmares on me causing harm that hardly makes you careless. Perhaps it’s time you stopped fighting what is natural to you.”

Spinelli watched Leeanne’s expression as she processed his words and fervently prayed his answers were satisfactory. There were times when her extreme innocence was charming and a little intoxicating such as their first kiss, the time he had introduced her to hot popcorn with tons of butter and salt, or the time he had assisted her and Wee Joslin in launching a spectacular snowball barrage against an unsuspecting Stone Cold, Samantha and the Valkary. But then there were times such as this when she asked simplistic questions that if she were still six, he could take the coward’s way out and tell her she would understand such complications when she got older. However, since she was over 20, all be it not much older and because she was the woman he loved, Spinelli found himself struggling to explain a world that at times made little sense to him. She seemed satisfied with this answer and Spinelli decided before she could think of any new questions he would move to safer ground. Again, he saw that she was dressed for the beach.

“You did not come seeking the Jackal to revisit last night’s dark dreams,” He stated. Leeanne shook her head and blushed slightly.

“You caught me,” she laughed, “I was hoping I could catch you before you started on work. I wanted your company on the beach.”
“You have always desired solitude when day breaks,” Spinelli commented.
”Does that mean you need to start work?” Leeanne asked. For answer, Spinelli got up and crossed to his desk. He sat down and started hitting keys. Leeanne watched as the monitor went black.

“I formally declare this day a day to celebrate the light!” he said with great solemnity. He held out his hand and Leeanne came eagerly to his side, laughing and smiling brightly.

The sun beat down on the private beach 3 hours later. Leeanne and Spinelli were sprawled on a red and blue beach blanket, cold drinks in hand, watching the waves as they roared in from the deepest parts of the Atlantic Ocean. Drops of water still glistened on their skin as they had only just returned to the shore after an invigorating swim. Leeanne felt more relaxed and as though she might be able to work at least for a little while later. But for now, she was content to be here in the moment; beside the man she loved, enjoying the awesomeness of the sea as the waves crept closer. Because the beach was private and it was August in Florida, they pretty much had the area to themselves. There were a few houses near by but they were closed this time of year. Leeanne took a sip of her root beer and turned to Spinelli. Now that she was relaxed, Leeanne’s thoughts were more ordered. There were things she wanted to say and questions she wanted to ask.
“I’m sorry if Jerrod pushed you to look at those files against your will.” Leeanne said at last.

“There was no force involved,” Spinelli assured her, “Jerrod believed that The Good doctor’s scrupulous attention to detail would answer my questions more effectively than anything he could tell me.”

“I’m so angry that he could violate me that way, making a study of things that couldn’t have any value to anyone. I wonder if I ever had any privacy...” Leeanne began, “its bad enough they tried to turn me in to some drone, and they wanted to strip away everything that was me. I heard that was why they wanted children, because they could be more easily molded. You’d have thought they’d have learned after Jerrod.”

“They weren’t successful,” Spinelli observed.

“How can you say that?” Leeanne demanded, “I had to block my memories, to make myself go somewhere else in order to comply. No one can tell where I’m from by my speech.”

“You are still an incomparable singer,” Spinelli stated emphatically, reaching out to rest a hand on her shoulder, “You make songs come alive, you give them depth, even the simple adolescent music of the 1970s you make in to something brilliant! And your identity isn’t gone, it’s just buried.”
“You are extremely prejudiced about my talent.” Leeanne laughed, then added timidly, “Do you really think my past is just buried? That maybe I can get it back?”

“When your defenses are completely down, the identity the Center goons tried to erase returns to the surface,” Spinelli observed.

“You mean like when I’m throwing a full blown tantrum?” Leeanne asked ruefully.
“Any strong emotion seems to cause a drop in your guard, be it fury, passion, or extreme fear.” Spinelli explained, “At those times you speak with a very clear southern accent and have a tendency toward southern idioms, and of course there are the nightmares….” The memories are still there, good and bad.”

Leeanne nodded. “So I have to risk remembering the awful parts in order to remember if there were ever happy times in my childhood.”

“The mind is a strange thing, it’s not like a computer where you can specifically call up only certain files and that is all that you will get.” Spinelli said. Leeanne smiled at his comparison of the brain to something he was more at ease with.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Leeanne laughed.

There was a long silence, broken only by the calling of the seagulls flying overhead and the pounding sea. Then Spinelli asked, “Do you wish to remember your lost childhood?” Leeanne saw fear lurking just below the surface of Spinelli’s gaze but at the same time, she sensed by his voice, that he would take this journey with her if she wished.
She remembered his candor when she had asked him if he was really okay hearing about her nightmare and decided she owed him the same courtesy.

“I wish you had said your research had indicated there was some special technique to pick and choose which memories you unburied,” she began,
“But yes, I do want to find that child again, I’m disturbed that in all these years, the only memory I’ve been able to conjure of the man and woman who raised me is of a time when I was frightened. There must have been some good memories that I was wanted and loved.”

Spinelli started to speak but Leeanne raised a hand to hold him off and continued, “I know, my Dear Uncle A.J. made sure Carly and Jason never knew of my existence, otherwise they would have loved and cared for me. Maybe they would have even gotten together…but they didn’t know and….” Leeanne stopped, once more hearing that raspy voice in her head, “your mother didn’t want you, you were handed off for a sack of money. No one will miss you no one will care.”

Spinelli reached out and lightly stroked Leeanne’s cheek. “Go on,” he encouraged.

Leeanne took a breath, “I won’t stop hearing it in my head, that I wasn’t wanted, was *never* wanted just paid for if I can’t find something to contradict that.” She said at last, “I need to risk the monsters in order to make the voice stop visiting me and make that part of the nightmares stop.”

Spinelli nodded in understanding. Another long silence ensued. Leeanne watched Spinelli as he seemed to be turning something over in his mind. He took a long pull on his own orange soda before putting down the bottle and beginning to speak, taking her hand as he talked, “There was a time, before your arrival in Port Charles, when I suffered a psychological break that caused random memory loss,” he began, “For months, I even believed I was a fictional character of my own creation and even after that, for some time my cyber skills were non-existent.”

“Obviously, you recovered your memory,” Leeanne said, taking a small sip of her root beer, “since you have created this life and our identities.”

Spinelli Nodded and before Leeanne could ask he added, “I was able to recover my identity with the aide of friends but the rest was more difficult.”

“But you did get it back, how?” Leeanne asked.

There was another long silence and Spinelli spoke slowly, “I embarked on a journey of self discovery, not focusing on recovering my skills at all and instead concentrating on other pursuits.”

“What kind of pursuits?” Leeanne asked.

So much for avoiding difficult questions Spinelli thought. Leeanne was looking at him with such complete trust, the way she had when he had lifted her out of that torture device, and then later, when Lucky had stopped them and when her cousin and her father, for different reasons, needed her to tell them what happened. Just as then, Spinelli knew, he could refuse his beautiful dreamer nothing, even if it meant dealing with memories he would rather keep tightly locked away.

“Was Maxie involved?” Leeanne’s question surprised Spinelli. His former non-bride was an issue they both stayed clear of generally. Spinelli nodded.

“Maxie was one of my less successful distractions from the pursuit of memory recall.”

Leeanne put down her own bottle of soda and moved closer to Spinelli, reaching out to lightly run her fingers down his arm as she spoke,” So romance is an aide to memory recovery?” She asked, leaning toward him so that her hair brushed his bare chest.

Spinelli considered using Leeanne’s romantic invitation to avoid the question. Remembering her conviction when Leeanne spoke of needing to block the negative messages, he decided that wasn’t fair to her. Hadn’t he spent the previous night after she had drifted away working toward a safe way for her to reclaim memory? It just might be better to start with this and then confront Leeanne’s more recent trip to Hell, Spinelli decided.

“I believe there is a better way to reach your inner child, one that might allow you some degree of control.”

Leeanne nodded for him to go on.

“You once said that music is but a story, that the singer takes on the roll of a character in the song, becoming that person and embracing their emotions.”

Leeanne remembered exactly when she told Spinelli that, the night that a meddlesome Maxie had sent him to her (artist’s garret) at Jake’s. She also remembered how she had dealt with the nosey little tart both on and off the stage afterward. Think nice things, she’s family now Leeanne reminded herself. Spinelli saw her smile and returned it, remembering himself, Leeanne’s powerful and catty performance of a song about a fashion crazed drama queen and the fight that had ensued afterward when Maxie correctly interpreted the message.

“Maybe as someone else, you can more freely explore your past? I haven’t worked out all the details but this would seem a place to start.”

“I think I’d like to start there, as long as you’re there with me.” Leeanne said slowly.

“As you wish.” Only then did he release her hand, wrapping an arm around her as he leaned in to kiss her softly. In that moment, Leeanne was sure that they would find a way to reclaim her past.
1:57 am
Escape Artist General Hospital/ Pretender fan Fiction
Leeanne drew back involuntarily as Lucky and Jerrod stepped from the kitchen in to the narrow hallway. Both men stopped and Jerrod seemed about to say something but Spinelli held up a hand, “I will answer your queries, I will do it alone and I will expect Reciprocation.” Spinelli stated with quiet authority. Jerrod took in Leeanne’s appearance, her hair was loose and she was still clearly agitated, remaining close to Spinelli and holding tight to his hand. Both their clothes were coated with a light dusting of sand. He decided it was not the time to say what he was thinking, and nodded to Spinelli who gave Leeanne’s hand a gentle squeeze as he bent to brush his lips against her cheek. Spinelli turned to lead the way up the stairs to his office, Jerrod following. Leeanne stepped in to the living room, motioning for Lucky to follow her. He walked to one of the floor length windows and pushed back the sheer draperies, to get a better view of the garden outside.

“Can I get you anything, a soda, lemonade? I’ve even learned to fix it using Aunt Ruby’s recipe. Leeanne asked.

Lucky turned back from the window and crossed to the couch. He sat down, kicking out his legs. Leeanne noted, he looked more himself, in jeans, a butternut polo shirt and cowboy boots.

“Are you sure that was such a good idea,” He asked, pointing to the stairs. Leeanne nodded, “Damian says they need to have a conversation,” Leeanne explained, “You don’t need to play cop.”

Lucky laughed, “”Then I’d love some of Aunt Ruby’s lemon aid if you have really mastered it. Though many have tried to copy her formulas, few have gotten it right.”

“Prepare to be dazzled,” Leeanne laughed. She went in to the small but cozy kitchen and poured two glasses of lemonade, then placed some chocolate chip cookies on a large plate decorated with alligators, pelicans, and pineapples that she had picked up at a garage sale. She returned to the living room and placed the plate in the middle of the coffee table then returned for the drinks.
“You can tell Cam and Aden what they missed out on.” Leeanne laughed.

Lucky took one of the cookies and took a bite, “not bad, but I find it hard to believe you actually baked these. I seem to remember something about setting off smoke detectors at Kelly’s. Leeanne grimaced at the memory of her attempt to make a cake for her baby sister’s fourth birthday.

Lucky took a sip of his Lemonade, “I’m impressed,” He pronounced, “This is almost as good as Ruby’s.”

“”Are you okay?” Lucky asked after a few minutes of silence while they both enjoyed their refreshment.

“I’m better,” Leeanne admitted, remembering Lucky’s unerring instinct for unearthing lies.

“You scared me earlier, I haven’t seen you like that since…” Lucky trailed off, not wanting to bring up unpleasant memories. They both knew what he was referring to. When Spinelli’s car had stalled during their flight back to the penthouse, it had been Lucky who had pulled over to assist them. He had wanted to call an ambulance, when he first saw Leeanne, wrapped in a blanket, several angry bruises on her face, and an unfocused, glassy look in her usually expressive green eyes. Leeanne didn’t know if it was Spinelli’s earnest plea for Lucky to be a cousin instead of a cop, or the fact Leeanne had flinched when Lucky leaned in to the car toward her, but he helped Spinelli get the car going, then provided a police escort back to her father’s penthouse to prevent Spinelli from having to deal with any police who might be less understanding or take too much notice of any speeding violations he made along the way.
“I just don’t like to be grabbed, and I don’t like people moving fast.” Leeanne explained.

“I know,” Lucky said, “I think Jerrod does too.” He took a thoughtful sip of the lemonade “He’s not use to dealing with Spencer volatility.”

The cousins sat silently for a while longer again and finally Lucky said, “Jerrod told me in more detail about this pretender thing, and about the center, what they did to you. He even told me about how you thought I had the gift too.

“Something I overheard when you were talking to Ethan, once I had spent enough time with you and met Uncle Luke, I realized I was mistaken, you were just a chip off the old block.”

“It’s a good thing Spinelli found out we were related,” Lucky observed.

“It certainly made it easier for me to put off a conversation I should have had with him, whether Jerrod liked it or not,” Leeanne admitted, absently running her fingers through her hair.

“Is that why you really went off on Jerrod like that, because he told you not to tell Spinelli that he was guarding you against more than the Zacaras and other enemies of your father, or because he was doing something you felt was your duty?”

Leeanne looked at her cousin sharply. He’s right, Leeanne realized. She could have tried to tell Damian in spite of Jerrod’s warnings, she could have at least told him about being abducted without necessarily mentioning the center by name.

“I suppose that’s a lot of it,” Leeanne admitted, “I seem to be so much my mother’s daughter, lacking the courage to handle my own issues, relying on stronger people to act on my behalf, Damian, my parents, Jerrod, even you to a certain extent.”
“You are very different from Carly,” Lucky assured his cousin, “You never demand anything, and what you take, you accept with such obvious gratitude. Trust me, there is no one I can think of that would say that about your mother.”

“Damian says I’ve given him a lot,” Leeanne told Lucky, “It seems I’ve given him a lot of trouble, for what? Because he loves me?”

“That’s exactly why,” Lucky said. He got up and wandered back toward the window, “Trust me on this Cuz, Needing Spinelli to be your hero and protector, no matter what enemy he’s shielding you from, was the greatest gift you could have ever given him. He’s been searching for this for a very long time.”

Leeanne joined him at the window, “You’re sure?” she asked. "Mostly I know that but sometimes I get scared.”

“I’m probably the last person who should be giving anyone relationship advice,” Lucky said smiling, “But you and Spinelli are a no brainer. Anyone who’s been around the two of you for more than five minutes can see you are about as real as it gets.” Leeanne smiled, reassured.

The cousins were in the middle of the visit Leeanne had craved when Jerrod and Spinelli returned downstairs an hour later. Leeanne browsing happily through pictures of Lucky’s two older boys and new baby daughter on his iPhone. The two cousins laughing over her younger brother Morgan’s latest romantic misadventure.

“He’s never going to take after Sonny in that department.” Leeanne was saying, laughter lacing her voice.

Leeanne looked quickly between the two men as they came down the stairs. While Spinelli and Jerrod hardly seemed to have become bosom buddies, Leeanne thought she had detected a grudging respect, or at least some kind of accord between the two. At the sound of squealing tires kicking up gravel Jerrod spoke. “Lucky and I will need to gain access to the lab where the fragments found by the salvage company are being analyzed and make a comparison. Spinelli, if you examine the information we discussed, I think you can make an assessment of your security here. We’ll be in touch once we have made a comparison and come up with a plan for handling this.

“Very Well,” Spinelli agreed, turning toward the door. Leeanne went with him to see their guests off.

“It’s good to see you’re happy and alive,” Lucky told Leeanne as the cousins hugged goodbye. We’ll get your life back to what it has been as soon as we can.”

Leeanne smiled, not sure exactly what to say.

When Dianne had driven their guests away, Leeanne and Spinelli once more climbed the Veranda steps. Leeanne sat down at the rattan table, picking up the papers Spinelli had printed for her.

“Were all your questions answered?” Leeanne asked.

Spinelli shrugged. “I’m not entirely certain at this time,” Spinelli replied. Leeanne nodded.

Spinelli came to Leeanne’s side and lightly, ran his fingers through her hair. “It was good to hear you laughing earlier.”

“Thank you for making that happen Damian,” Leeanne told him, resting her hand over his. At his quizzical look Leeanne went on, “Lucky suggested two possible reasons he got let in to the charmed circle, and the likelihood that he could have cowed Diane Miller in to submission is nearly nil, that leaves only the Jackal’s most eloquent powers of persuasion.”
“Well,” Spinelli stammered blushing furiously, “The Jackal did argue The Beautiful Dreamer’s case. But it’s doubtful he was a deciding factor.”
Leeanne let a slow smile play at the corners of her Lips. She stood up and gave him a quick hug, “You really need to learn to take compliments gracefully,” She laughed, “You are gifted with a strong command of words and I choose to believe your oratory skills convinced Jason to take a chance and I’m not changing my mind.”

“Who am I to question such strong conviction,” Spinelli said, returning her hug. Before returning inside, no doubt to review whatever Jerrod had asked him to.

The stillness in the house made Leeanne uneasy. Being alone with her thoughts was not a place she cared to be. However, right now, there was not a lot she could do. Spinelli had the files Jerrod wished him to read and Lucky and Jerrod had to seek out Lucky's contacts in order to confirm the fragments were indeed
From the Cassidine weather machine and come up with a plan for how to deal with it. There was really no way for her to help.
(I really am my mother's daughter) Leeanne thought (doing nothing gives me the Heebie geebies)

She sat down at the piano. Without thinking, she began to pluck out the first cords of the Culture club ballad, Victims. The song' suited her especially
In view of her conversation with Spinelli. She felt she had been about as clear as mud. Just what had Jerrod told Spinelli when they had adjourned to his office alone? As her hands shifted for the third chord in the melody, her fingers shifted position and a very discordant note sounded. Taking a deep breath, Leeanne tried again, and then a third time, each time, her hands rejected the commands of her brain. After the third try Leeanne cried out in frustration, shaking her head from side to side. Once more, she raised her hands over the piano keys, tensing in concentration. Leeanne was so focused,
She didn't notice Spinelli coming up behind her until he gently but firmly, took her hands in his.
"I can not allow you to continue engaging in destructive and defeatist behavior." His tone of voice was uncharacteristically decisive.

Leeanne turned around and gave him a half smile.

"I thought that music would help me relax and quiet my mind."

"Perhaps listening rather than performing will prove more helpful." Spinelli suggested.

Leeanne smiled and nodded, moving over on the bench. Spinelli sat down beside her.

"I was trying to play Victims," she told him. But Spinelli shook his head.

"I think I can do better than that." Spinelli thought a moment, hands poised over the keys, then he began to play the old country ballad, Beautiful Dreamer. Leeanne let her memory drift back in time, remembering the first time he sang that song to her, the first time he tagged her with that nickname, the first time they had made love.

They had been on the private island, owned by her father's employer, Sonny Corinthos. Jason sent them their immediately following the boat explosion
That was supposed to have taken their lives, while the house in Delray Beach was made secure. Sonny's island was also thought to be a good place for Leeanne to get the medical care she required without inconvenient questions. They had been there for 3 weeks and Leeanne was beginning to relax and to become a little more communicative. Spinelli was the perfect traveling companion, making her laugh, helping her with the physical therapy exercises, listening to her when she needed to talk, and offering support and comfort when her fears got the better of her. That night, Leeanne stood in front of her dresser in a light pink cotton nightgown with a pattern of purple and blue flowers. She just removed the bangle bracelets and silver and turquoise necklace she wore and had only now to let down her hair. She could have left the braids in; in fact, the young woman in the resort salon had encouraged her to do just that. But Leeanne was discovering it was easier to fall asleep if she felt completely unrestrained. Not that sleep was that restful. She was still frequently plagued by nightmares. Still, sleep was sleep and Spinelli would worry if she didn't get any. She reached up and began to try and work the tightly secured beads that kept each braid in place. She had barely been successful with the clasp of her necklace, now her hands began to rebel at the fine motor work they were being asked to perform. She bit her lip in frustration. This use to be something she could do without thinking about it. Though she had been told that in time she would regain motor control and short term memory for the most part, patience wasn't one of her virtues. She fought to keep from crying in frustration, but it was a losing battle. In the reflection of the mirror, she saw Spinelli in the open doorway; she nodded for him to come in, not trusting her voice. Spinelli would help her; all she had to do was ask. But she was determined not to appear completely helpless. As she continued attempting to gain command over her traitorous hands, she watched Spinelli quietly check the windows, making sure that they were secured, seeing that she had remembered to extinguish the lavender incense sticks that she had been burning, making sure all threat of danger was eliminated in the hope that this knowledge might drive back the nightmares. She was aware, that just as she could see him in the mirror, he was watching her. He continued quietly with his work.
Leeanne appreciated his restraint. She knew his impulse was to come to her aid. That restraint had limits though, and as Leeanne reached the height of frustration, when she just wanted to rest her arms on the bureau top and lay her head on them for a good cry, Spinelli moved behind her. He stilled her hands with his own and removed them from the tangle she was in the process of making. Leeanne allowed her hands to fall to her side. Spinelli placed his hands on her shoulders and began massaging knots she hadn't been aware were there. Leeanne relaxed under his touch, as she always had. She felt him lift the braid she had been trying to work on.

"Allow me," It was half statement, half request.

"Okay," her voice sounded small to her but at least she wasn't crying any more.

Leeanne remained still as Spinelli took his time untying each of the braids, smoothing out her hair. When her hair was freed, once more, Spinelli let his hands fall to Leeanne's shoulders, turning her to face him. The look Leeanne saw on his face surprised her; it was an expression of wonder.

"You are so beautiful," he breathed.

"Yah right," she laughed, still keeping her eyes on his. Her face was still drawn and pail, filled with the strain of her frustration. Yet,
The look in his eyes, told Leeanne that he saw none of this, or if he did, he didn't care.

Gently, he reached out to stroke her cheek, smoothing the tension from her facial muscles with his fingertips. His touch was feather light, and brought a slow smile to Leeanne's lips. He seemed to be weighing something in his mind. Then he lowered his head, and pressed his lips to hers in a soft, gentle kiss.

Leeanne felt her heart beat quicken in a way it hadn't since before the abduction. She leaned against Spinelli, giving herself over to a sense of warmth
And well-being she had not dared to hope could still be there, in spite of Spinelli's promise.

Spinelli slid one hand to the back of her neck, tangling his fingers once more in her hair along the way. He wrapped his other arm around her waist as he deepened the kiss. Leeanne felt her breath catch. She felt a kind of dizziness that was not at all unpleasant. Her own arms wound around Spinelli's neck as she was consumed with a desire to get closer to him. She snuggled against him. She began kissing him back. Spinelli moved his hands over her, caressing her neck, back, and shoulders . Leanne’s hands weren't idle either as she slowly brushed back his bangs from his eyes, then let her fingertips trace his face and along the line of his jaw.
Leeanne was surprised when Spinelli broke the kiss. Gently, he released her.

"What did I do wrong?" Leeanne asked.

"You did everything exactly right, it was I who was in error," Spinelli said.

"I don't understand," Leeanne insisted, "You said you loved me before we left Port Charles, that that hasn't changed."

"It hasn't," Spinelli agreed, "I am absolutely, completely in love with you. Because I love you, I don't want to hurt you by rushing you in to something you aren't ready for."

Leeanne took a step toward him and laid a hand on his arm. "I trust you Damian," her voice was barely above a whisper, "I know you won't hurt me. I need to know I'm still the same person I was before they hurt me."
Spinelli looked deep in to Leeanne's eyes, wanting to believe her words, but making sure she **really** understood what she was saying and meant it. Leeanne tried to convey her absolute trust in Spinelli and her deepest desire to be closer to him, the way they had been moving toward before the abduction. She saw the play of emotions that crossed his face, love, longing and desire, warred with concern and just a hint of fear. He considered. Finally, he smiled at her, apparently, having seen what he needed to. He reached for her then, drawing her close to him and kissing her very slowly. Just as slowly, he began caressing her once more. A sigh of contentment slipped from her lips.
Spinelli gently removed Leeanne's nightgown, resting his hands on her slim shoulders, holding her at arm’s length while he let his eyes take her in,
Pale and fragile in the moonlight, a tragic angel fallen in to his care, a vision from his deepest dreams. As he drew her close, she reached out, needing
Very much to touch his skin as he was doing to her now and forgetting for the moment, that if her hands couldn't manage hair beads, they would certainly find
The buttons of the black dress shirt he wore a problem. Spinelli guessed her intent, and gently removed her hands from the troublesome buttons, then undid them himself. Remaining still as she slid the garment from him, letting it fall to the floor, she followed it with the t-shirt he had underneath. They came together then in a tender embrace. Leeanne felt as though she were falling in to a white hot fire that heated, but never burned as Spinelli kissed her
More passionately than he had allowed himself in a long time. Leeanne gave herself over completely to sensation in that moment, not really remembering when or
How the remaining clothes came off, just that they did. Spinelli lifted her then, carrying her to the bed where he laid her down gently. Hesitating, he let his gaze move over her, still a little amazed by the situation before lying down beside her and gathering her close. She realized she was shaking, though she couldn't exactly explain why. Timidly, Leeanne reached out her own hands, realizing she was out of her element. Leeanne tried to think of words to explain her uncertainty. But Spinelli had seemed to have read her mind. , taking her hands in his; he laid them where she could understand the affect she had on him. He spoke quietly, murmuring words of endearment and love. Letting her know she was safe with him.

“There’s all the time in the world for us,” he told her.
. The time Spinelli offered Leeanne to adjust to this new level of intimacy eased all lingering uncertainties. He guided her until an instinct in Leeanne took over. Together, they discovered how to touch one another. Leeanne's sense of wonderment at each new discovery of pleasure fired Spinelli's passion, encouraging him to search out the things that made her come alive. All the while, he kept a tight control on himself. Leeanne could see it in his eyes. Their gazes remained locked, each looking for a Signe of what the other wanted. It was only when Spinelli saw the look in Leeanne's eyes shift from the soft glow of amazement to a bright fire that matched the one inside him
That he let go of the control he had so carefully maintained, taking Leeanne over the edge with him into ecstasy she never imagined existed before.

"I've dreamed of this a hundred times, since the moment I fell in love with you," Leeanne told Spinelli sometime later, as they lay snuggled together,
Lost in their own private world. Moonlight streamed through the windows, the fragrance of lavender still hung in the air adding to the peaceful feelings
Leeanne was experiencing. “I never expected reality to outshine the dream.”

“You are my Beautiful dreamer," he whispered, "That's who you are, my beautiful dreamer. The one who’s traveled the world and lives many lives if only in her mind.”

"Like that song that was on the jukebox at Jake's the first time we danced together?" Leeanne wanted to know.

Spinelli smiled and kissed the side of her neck. She laughed and curled close beside him, taking his hand in hers.

"Sing to me?" Leeanne asked, "Let me have one more beautiful thing to dream of.”
And Leeanne fell asleep to Spinelli softly singing what she came to know as her song. It became the first of their rituals.

"Gone are the cares of life's busy grind. Beautiful Dreamer, Awaken to me. Beautiful Dreamer, Waken to me.

As Spinelli let the last chords die away, the pair looked in to each other's eyes, and Leeanne smiled her understanding. They had both been remembering the same night.

"No Damian, Leeanne told Spinelli as she reached out to run her fingers through his hair, "walking away hasn’t been an option for me either, since almost the first time I met you."
Saturday, September 15th, 2012
2:48 am
Escape Artists General Hospital/Pretender fan fiction chapter 3
chapter 3

The sun burned through an early morning ocean fog and now, beat down on Leanne Relentlessly as she tended the small herb garden she kept close to the

She should have felt rested. Last night's quick walk to search for treasure had turned in to a long romantic stroll. Upon their return, sensing the re-emergence of old Anxieties, Spinelli insisted she take one of her herbal sleep remedies. She put up only token argument and drifted off secure once more
in who she was and where she was. And yet, disturbing dreams still plagued her. She awakened to find some of the old physical pain had decided to pay her a call as well. She tried to work in her studio but there seemed to be disconnects between her brain and her hands. She felt some of the same thing happening now in the garden. But something about being on her knees, in the dirt so close to growing things, inhaling the many pungent fragrances of Lavender, Jasmine, Mint, and other herbs was soothing. A sharp pain through her left wrist followed by twitching caused her to drop the clippers she was using to dead head for the tenth time.

"Damn it!" Leanne exclaimed in disgust, "I'm not going to be able to do anything!" She stood up and collected the gardening tools to return them to
the shed, then went inside to fix one of the herbal teas that were her primary treatment for the pain. She would have liked to light one of the Lavender
or Jasmine candles that often calmed her but she didn't trust herself with matches or lighters right now. She took the tea on to the Veranda, to a small rattan table covered by a multicolored umbrella and sat, sipping the horrid tasting brew and looking over the garden and beyond to the vastness of the ocean with its white capped waves slamming in to the shore. She wanted to go out there and swim off her nervous energy. However, she still felt uneasy about moving beyond the garden gate alone. (I will probably remain an irrational wreck until someone tells us this is a whole lot of nothing or removes the threat) She thought to herself. Leanne was angry with herself for being so fearful. (You're the daughter of a hit man and a master schemer and successful business woman; you ought to be less of a wimp!) She scolded herself.

She looked back to the house at the sound of a closing door. Spinelli came on to the veranda from his office. He was wearing a pair of fire engine red cargo pants and a black t-shirt with Resistance is not Futile in bold silver letters and a picture of an ugly, kick ass looking ship on it. He wore a pair of black lace up sneakers patterned with monsters of some kind. He was carrying a sheaf of papers under one arm. He looked at her questioningly. " Leeanne, I thought you were working in yourstudio?" he ventured. Seeing the cup of tea before her, he moved quickly to her side and placed the papers on the table, thenrested his hands on her shoulders, "are you alright?" he asked in concern.

She looked up and gave him a bright smile. "I'm just having a difficult day," she laughed, "My brain and my hands aren't quite having a meeting of wills.” Leanne Saw sadness quickly flash in her lover's eyes Leanne took another sip of the tea and then she spoke, "I'm going to be okay, if you can stand me
Staying close to the house while we wait for our mysterious visitors."

"I have no problem with you being in close proximity." Spinelli said, smiling down at her, "And perhaps this gift will help provide some distraction from your discomfort." He said gesturing to the papers.

"What is it? Leanne asked.

Spinelli came around and sat in the chair next to hers obviously pleased with himself. He picked up the papers and shuffled through them, drawing out the one he wanted. A picture of a coral structure, set against a spectacular blue sky, the ocean in the background. It was a majestic and yet delicate structure. Leanne let out a squeal of delight.

"The Coral Castle!" she cried, "The one in St. Augustine!"

"You spoke of wanting to create it in miniature if you had the precise details.

Leanne laughed. She told Spinelli about the Coral castle once during the early days of their relationship, in her apartment above Kelly's Diner as

they danced to an Old Billy Idle song that told the story of the castle. Her suggestion about making a smaller replica had been off-hand, a kind of wispy romantic notion among the more vivid sparkly ones brought on by the feel of Spinelli's arms around her and the way they moved together, with that bright
sounding guitar matched with the dark love story all around them.

However, Leanne understood what Spinelli was doing and the reasons why.

"I can't believe you remembered," She said softly, reaching out and taking his hand, "It means a lot that you did."

"The Jackal wished only to make his Beautiful dreamer sparkle once more," Spinelli said. Leanne thought Spinelli was about to kiss her but the mood between them was broken by the squeal of tires coming up the road

Spinelli pulled his hand free and got quickly to his feet. Leanne moved to follow him but he shook his head and gestured for her to wait.

"Do you remember the code?" he asked. Leanne nodded. Spinelli moved toward the house, and began working his way to the top of the Veranda steps, using the building as cover. Leanne took one final sip of the hideous tea, to steady her nerves then stood poised, her gaze focused on Spinelli. She waited to see if he would gesture her to his side to accompany him to the bottom of the stairs and welcome their visitors, or if he would signal her to slip back in to the house via his office, and make her way to the panic room at the back of the house where she would activate a code to get inside, presumably, Spinelli would be right behind her and they could wait out the danger. Leanne didn't care to think of the other possibility.

After what seemed an eternity but was probably less than a moment, Spinelli gave a slight nod and held out his hand. Leanne quickly moved to his side, slipping her arm through his and allowing him to lead her down the Veranda steps.

The car that arrived was a rental, a cute little sports car. Diane Miller got out of the driver's side, that wasn't a surprise to Leanne, Diane was one of the small group that actually**knew**where she and Spinelli resided. She handled all legal details of their covert existence. The passenger door opened and a tall, lanky blond man with pale blue eyes, which missed nothing as he scanned the area, unfolded himself from the vehicle.(of course, Jerrod was their contact) Leanne reasoned, (this complex cloak and dagger had his name written all over it)

It was the third figure, now climbing out of the back seat that caused Leanne the most surprise. Her heart jumped in to her throat, (last night this was taboo, so why is Lucky here?) Leanne wondered, "And how am I suppose to handle this?)

Leanne looked, as she had learned always to do in the last 2 and a half years, to Spinelli for guidance. He looked quickly to Diane who nodded, then Spinelli gave her a big smile. Lucky placed a beat up leather laptop case on the ground.

"It's okay Cuz," Lucky Spencer said, grinning and holding out his arms. Leanne stood, stunned for a moment longer, unable to quite believe this was real. She felt a light brushing of finger tips on her arm and turned to Spinelli who seemed bemused by her reaction to the situation.

"Go on," he said, "Is it not what you wished for?"

Spinelli's quiet encouragement and gentle touch, released Leanne from the grip of her paralysis and giving a squeal of complete joy, Leanne ran to her cousin who caught her in a bone crushing hug. Laughing and crying. The others moved discreetly toward the side entrance, allowing the cousins some privacy. "How is this possible?" Leanne asked.

"Have you forgotten so soon how persistent we Spencer’s are when we get an idea in our head?" Lucky cracked, releasing her and stepping back to brush tears
from his eyes.

"I'm half Spencer and I still understand my father is an immovable force." Leanne said.

"Well, to be honest, I'm not sure if it was my Barging in on Diane and pointing out the very good case I could have for arresting her for withholding information about the supposed deaths of you and Spinelli that got her to talk, or if Spinelli prevailed on Jason to back down since I'd already made both of you, but the next thing I knew I was being invited to breakfast with Diane and Jerrod and they laid it out. It turned out They needed me more than they thought so I got invited out here. There are things we need to talk about." Lucky glanced toward the house. Leanne felt a small pang of sadness. She wanted to stay in this moment of joy and reunion. Yet she understood both from the look of apology in Lucky's eyes and in the tense way Jerrod began pacing,

that Lucky's being brought on this visit wasn't just for a family reunion. (Lucky's threat of arresting Diane probably wasn't what had the tough as nails lady barrister summoning him, they wanted his badge and the authority that Detective's shield carried with it for some reason) she decided.

Diane walked toward them at that moment stopping only long enough to Smile indulgently at Leanne before saying, "You two better cut this tender moment short before Spinelli and Jerrod kill each other." Turning to Lucky she added, "I'll be back for you gentlemen in a few hours,"

"You know you're welcome Diane." Leanne began but the lady lawyer held up her hand to stop her words.

"As I told Spinelli, the two most important words in a lawyer's vocabulary are plausible Deniability. Diane said flatly.

"It can't be that bad if you've brought Lucky in on it." Leanne commented.

"I remember all too well what happened the last time Jerrod was in the neighborhood," Diane reminded her, "And this time the Cassidine name has come up, no, I think there are shops in this quaint little town that are calling my name thank you very much." With that, Diane strode purposefully to her rental and got in.

Glancing toward the house Lucky suggested, "I think she's right, I get the feeling that Spinelli doesn't hold this Jerrod in the same awed reverence he does Jason."

"That, Lucky Spencer, is the understatement of the century." Leanne laughed as she turned to lead the way toward the house where Spinelli and Jerrod waited in tense silence.

The group assembled in Spinelli's office a short time later. Spinelli brought out the strange object Leanne found on her walk. He also added 2 other slightly smaller fragments Leanne hadn't seen before.

Quickly and concisely Spinelli took them through his discovery of the article, his interception of Leanne and the discovery that she had picked up a fragment that looked similar to the picture he had seen, and his conversation with Jason. Jerrod looked at the smaller pieces.

"Where did those come from?" He wanted to know.

"I accompanied Leeanne on her last treasure gathering," Spinelli explained, "I believe, these were reasonably close to where she found her fragment."

Leanne now remembered Spinelli's careful questions about her prior walk, (he must have been good when he was a private I.) Leanne thought. She hadn't even realized Spinelli was after more than a romantic interlude. She also remembered vaguely, seeing him surreptitiously palming something. But when she asked to see it, he told her it wasn't the right time, then directed her attention to a nearby cluster of sea glass shards and offered to help her gather them.

"Only a possible location," Jerrod pressed. Though he had been offered a chair, Jerrod leaned against the wall to the left of the door. He was regarding Spinelli coolly. Spinelli shifted in his computer chair, organizing his thoughts.

"Leanne’s memories of finding the device were somewhat unclear," Spinelli explained, "She hadn't realized she even picked up the object." Leanne added, "I'm safe here right. I'm not suppose to have to look over my shoulder."

Jerrod shrugged and looked at Lucky, "Detective, why don't you tell our young friends what they have stumbled in to."

Lucky was lounging in the visitor's chair. But now he stood and walked to the desk where Spinelli placed the fragments. He leaned across and picked up each one in turn, turning it over and examining it carefully, then turned to face the room at large.

"About 28 years ago a megalomaniac named Mecose Cassidine developed a machine capable of causing catastrophic climate changes. No one is exactly sure what his aim was but it probably was some form of terrorism." Lucky began, "My father was mixed up in its destruction and pretty much the downfall of the Cassidine clan for some time. It was thought the machine was totally destroyed."

"Spinelli told me that this machine was used a lot more recently." Leanne said, confused.

"It was believed to have been used then," Spinelli corrected.

Lucky strode across the room as he spoke, "the original device was destroyed, but what was never found was the blue prints for the machine's design, and
in spite of a lot of the family being arrested after Mecos was overpowered, the Cassidines still maintained their wealth. And Mecos's wife Helena never quite gave up on her husband's dream. Since my conversation with Jerrod, I put out some feelers. It's possible Helena has decided to try finishing what her husband started. Trying this out on an unsuspecting public would be her style."

Leanne thought again of New Orleans, of standing on the roof of Charity hospital, taking babies from the arms of frightened parents and handing them up to the personnel in the medivac planes. She felt nothing but hatred for a woman who could cause such needless suffering.

"Would the Cassidine Grand Dam, have enough resources to embark on such an undertaking?" Spinelli wanted to know.

"That brings up another point," Lucky said, sitting down once more, "I know for a fact, Helena has been cut off from the family funds. She's supposed
To be living on a stipend. But Helena has been persuasive in the past at getting people, especially men, to do her bidding."

"There are certainly people at the center who can be quite charming when they put their minds to it, in order to obtain this kind of technology."

Leanne didn't hear the rest of what Jerrod said. She stopped listening when she heard two words, Did he just mention the Center Leanne asked herself,

that couldn't be right. Spinelli and Lucky, both strangers to him, were here, and yet, that was just what he had done Leanne rose from the couch where she had been seated and began pacing, clinching and unclenching her hands, a look of confusion and hurt coming over her face.

"Begging your pardon Jerrod," Spinelli began, "But what is the Center? And why does your mention of it cause Leeanne distress."

"The Center is an entity who's interest is in only one thing, themselves and the power they can wield. If they wouldn't think twice about snatching Leanne or myself from our parents, just because they identified us as pretenders. I don't think they would have a problem doing business with an amoral viper like this Cassidine woman."

Leanne’s Emerald eyes flashed with a sudden fury, as White hot rage shot through her. she took in the look of horror on Spinelli's face.

"You low down, lying sack of shit!" The southern accent that had been sublimated by both the Center's training and her frequent moves, and only displayed itself when Leanne was in a highly emotional state, now was in full evidence, as well as a command of southern idioms she hadn't heard in some time,

"Leanne," Jerrod began but Leanne overrode him.

"Shut the hell up you arrogant son of a bitch!" Leanne continued, "First you insist to Jason and to me Damian can't be told about the Center. It's for his own good. He'd never believe it just because Jason needed a little more convincing. Then you tell us that sad little story about Miss Parker's carpenter who met a fiery end like my parents, just because he was going to Wisk her away from the center. I bet that was bullshit! Or maybe what! You decided that if you couldn't be happy no one else could, and Damian was expendable! Never mind what I need! Maybe you are just some kind of center minder, maybe.” Leanne was breathing hard, consumed by her fury. She didn't realize that she had Spinelli's glass candy jar, the one with the pink flamingos painted on it in her hand until she sent it sailing on a direct line with Jerrod's head as she crossed the room. The 3 men were dumbstruck at Leanne’s sudden outburst. Jerrod recovered first as he caught sight of the missile coming toward him and at the last second, he stepped neatly to the side. The candy jar hit the wall with a satisfying crash, glass, and assorted hard candy clattering to the floor, yet Leanne still felt a need to lash out. She reached to
The book shelf and drew down one of Spinelli's hard cover books, a complete collection of Shakespeare.

"Leanne," Spinelli, tried to draw Leanne’s attention. But momentum had control and Leanne was raising the book to hurl it at Jerrod. Jerrod however, was at her side in two strides, reaching out to grab her by the shoulders. Leanne screamed, as a vivid flash of her captors grabbing her as she cut through the park flashed before her mixed with another image of an attempt to escape. As his hand touched her shoulder, Spinelli was across the room, shoving Jerrod back hard, causing him to momentarily lose his balance.

Jerrod looked at the expression of abject terror and the far away look in Leanne’s eyes and became suddenly concerned.

"I'm sorry," he said quietly, "I wasn't thinking."

"Obviously," Spinelli's voice was soft but held a note of quiet fury. The look he gave Jerrod caused the older man to take a step back.

"She was hysterical, I only meant."

"Whatever you meant," Spinelli said coldly, "You caused harm." Lucky came to Leanne and took the book from her hands, returning it to the shelf. "Spinelli, I think you and Leanne could use a breath of fresh air. Jerrod and I can look at these fragments downstairs. I can hook up my laptop and we can begin to make the inquiries we need to ."

"There are still." Jerrod began but Lucky interrupted him.

"I'm doing you a favor man!" Lucky began, "Unless you enjoy dodging projectiles. Spinelli's right, you didn't handle this well."

Jerrod nodded slowly. Spinelli moved to Leanne’s side, he was now rubbing her arms, talking softly to her, bringing her gently back from the emotional edge while Lucky gathered the fragments of the strange Cassidine invention. The group left the office. Jerrod and Lucky settled at the kitchen table while
Spinelli and Leanne left the house

by the side entrance, Leanne’s arm tucked in his. Spinelli led her away from the house, at the center of the garden, where the path forked, Spinelli stopped.

"Which way?" Leanne asked.

"You may choose." Spinelli said quietly.

She smiled weakly, then raised her hand and pointed left, indicating the path that would take them to the gate leading to the beach. Spinelli
led her down that path, out of the gate and along the beach. They both walked fast, each consumed by their own thoughts.

Eventually, they arrived at a group of sand dunes on the far end of the beach where they often sat to watch sunsets, and seated themselves in the soft

white sand. It was still cool from the recent high tide.

Leanne laid her head on Spinelli's chest, finally feeling the tension inside her let go. Spinelli wrapped his arms around her. His hands found the

butterfly hair clip that held her braid in place and unfastened it, handing it to her to pocket.

"Are you angry with me for not telling you about the Center?" Leanne asked, her green eyes locked on his, ever watchful for the pain she might be causing


"I was already aware of your childhood abduction before Jerrod’s disclosure, I just didn't know the identity of those responsible ,"

Spinelli told her. Leanne’s eyes widened.


"As part of my search for your parents , It was necessary to learn all pertinent facts regarding Torri and Raifford Destri.

When I read of the curious circumstances of their death, what I didn't see, was the awarding of custody of a minor child. When I put that together

with your left handed nightmares, the obvious conclusion was that something untoward happened to you as a very young child."

Leanne reached out and laid her palm against Spinelli's cheek, stunned by this revelation.

"You never let on, you never asked. You never told me you were aware I had nightmares." Her amazement at his silence was evident in her voice, "That couldn't

have been easy, especially after what happened in Port Charles."

"I didn't feel it was appropriate to pry. I didn't know you that well and as I became better acquainted with you, I

became aware trust didn't come easy to You . I knew you would tell me what you wanted, when you were ready, if you wanted."

"I wanted to tell you a thousand times, even before Jerrod had that little conversation with us when he told Jason about the center, and this I guess you'd

call it an ability, I had. But I kept hearing Sidney, the psychiatrist who mostly worked with me explaining how the center was protecting me, that if other's

knew what I could do they would either exploit me or fear me. Never mind they were the biggest exploiters."

"Surely you didn't think I would exploit you?" Spinelli asked. He had been stroking her hair but he stilled his hands and searched her face for


"No never Damian, I think I knew almost at once that I was safe with you and would always be. But I couldn't bear to see you fear me, or to have you

decide I was too strange and walk away. I fell in love with you so fast." Spinelli kissed her temple, then her cheek, drawing her closer. He

whispered softly, "walking away hasn't been an option for quite some time. I thought you knew that."

They sat together for a long time, listening to the waves and the seagulls flying in the distance and diving for their late morning snacks.

"You asked if I was angry, yes, I am," he said at last, "But not with you. Events from that time have been beyond your control

for quite some time. However, Jerrod is another matter."

"And Jason? I haven't broken your friendship with him?"

Spinelli laughed and gently squeezed her shoulder, "The only thing you broke was a glass candy jar."

After a long silence, Spinelli asked tentatively, "Just what **is** a pretender?"

There it was, the question Leanne knew needed answering, but where to begin.

"The short version is, I can walk in to any situation and blend, I just know what to do, how to function. Jerrod tried to give me the more complex explanation

and of course, that Dr. Sidney gave me some even more complicated explanation but that's what it boils down to."

She watched Spinelli's expression carefully, looking for signs of rejection or revulsion. They weren't there.

"With such an ability, I am forced to wonder why you were thought to need protection at all. ? With such a skill."

"I could take on any profession, but that didn't mean people couldn't come after me, Jason's enemies, or the Center could still hurt me. Jerrod negotiated an agreement that was supposed to have cut me loose from the Center. But they've violated it, at least once."

Spinelli considered for a while, "Then what you said about Jerrod being an operative of the Center.?"

Was me having a conniption Leanne laughed, reaching up to rest a hand on his shoulder.

"Jerrod has questions for me, and now I have a few for him," Spinelli said, glancing back the way they had come.

"Do we have to go back just yet?" Leanne asked, "I'm not ready to deal with Jerrod, I can't promise not to be my mother's daughter again."

"No one will ever doubt that the Beautiful Dreamer is the daughter of the Valkary," Spinelli laughed, sifting Leanne’s long hair through his fingers, "We can remain here a little longer, Then Jerrod and I will have a conversation and you will have the visit with your kinsman you desire. Is that an acceptable plan?"

"That is a most acceptable plan." Leanne told him, smiling up at him, her eyes now bright with happiness.

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

2:44 am
Escape Artists: General Hospital/Pretender fan fiction chapter 2
Damian Spinelli and Leeanne Destri weren’t that different from any of the other guests at the cocktail reception that next evening, other than that Leeanne was younger than most of the other female attendees. But because she was on the arm of one of the presenters, a man who, according to his credentials, was a doctoral candidate at Berkley University who had co-authored several papers, no one paid it much mind. She wasn’t the first liberal arts undergrad to attach herself to a rising star. They looked the perfect part, Spinelli in a tweed jacket with swade patches and a multicolored tie, his wild hair secured in a ponytail, an academic with a touch of the bohemian, Leeanne in a mint green off the shoulder cocktail dress, her hair done in French braids. A pair of diamond earrings that her mother had given her as a gift and a gold bangle bracelet with pink flowers were her only adornments.
(Damian must have made quite an impression.) Leeanne decided as people approached to speak to him. She had not been permitted to be a part of the discussions as she was not a convention participant. They had discussed the idea of him presenting her as a research assistant. But Leeanne had argued that it would be strange for a student, someone who was secondary on a paper himself, to have an assistant when a student writer would have been the one to do the grunt work.
So while he had been arguing ethics, she had fallen in with two women, obviously trophy wives, and browsed the shops in the arcade area of the hotel, had her nails painted and her hair done, and placed all charges on the credit card of the man she was with, just like the other women. Even as Leeanne played out the pretend, she kept alert for signs of anyone from the Center. This convention was the kind of event they might have someone attend.

Now, as Spinelli accepted compliments and discussed the finer points of his presentation, Leeanne kept her expression, somewhere between awestruck and mildly bemused, offering bland smiles and a certain degree of deference to those around her.

“I’m just a liberal arts student,” she would say, smiling apologetically if anyone asked for her opinion. If they were persistent, she would give Spinelli a helpless look and he would make their excuses and move on. All the while, the pair remained alert for their contact.

“Did Jason give you any idea who we would be meeting?” Leeanne asked taking a glass of champaigne from a waiter. Spinelli shook his head taking his own drink.

When the man departed he added, “I was only told that we were to come here, my expertise would be our reason and we were to attend this event.”
Leeanne noticed Spinelli’s thoughtful expression; she knew what was on his mind. She only wished she knew how to explain to him, this may not entirely be a plan of her father’s making. Answering that question would be complicated. Once more, her eyes swept the crowd of lawyers, police officers, private investigators, and crime scene technologists and their guests mingling with professors, consultants, and other types of experts, searching for someone who might be looking for them and hoping the ordeal would be over soon. She felt Spinelli rest a hand on her shoulder and squeeze lightly, “This is difficult, I know, when this is over, we can return to our sanctuary if you like,” he said quietly. Leeanne smiled in appreciation at the suggestion. She was about to point out the impracticality of such a long drive this late and suggest she wouldn’t mind a romantic night in an expensive hotel when she saw a look of concern come over Spinelli’s face. She followed the direction of his gaze and a mixture of joyful recognition tinged with concern filled her as she recognized the man of about medium height with longish light brown hair and clear blue eyes, walking in their direction. She turned quickly to Spinelli.

“Lucky was never…” she asked. Spinelli was already shaking his head vigorously.

“Diane Miller, the Stranger and Luke Spencer were the only people outside of your parents and my esteemed former partner who knew the truth regarding our demise.” There was a note of apology in his voice, and then his tone became firmer, “Follow my lead.”

Then the man was before them. He wore navy blue dress slacks, a butter nut colored shirt, topped with a jacket and tie of a lighter blue. He looked distinctly uncomfortable in this attire. Leeanne knew he would be much more at ease in jeans and without the neckwear. , his hair was light brown straight about shoulder length , tied back in to a ponytail. His blue eyes had the look of someone who had seen a ghost.

“I always wondered,” He began in a shaky voice, tears glistening at the corners of his eyes, “Jason calling off the dragging of the harbor so soon, and Carly going along with it, it didn’t add. After how hard Jake’s death hit him and Carly, she wouldn’t give up on one of her children so easily. I always wondered if Jason hadn’t devised his own witness protection program.” Leeanne wanted to reach out, to step forward and throw her arms around the cousin she had formed a close friendship with, but Spinelli had sensed her move and taken her hand in his, squeezing it firmly.

“I’m sorry, you have my companion confused with someone else,” Spinelli said firmly.

“Spinelli, this is me, Lucky, Jason might not have told me but he wouldn’t object…” he began.

“My name is Damian Springer,” Spinelli said using the alias he had created for their occasional ventures in to public life, “You are confused.”

“Okay, I get it,” Lucky said, turning to depart. But not before Leeanne saw the look of hurt in his eyes. She felt a kind of emptiness inside as she watched Lucky walk away. She’d have given much to slip out of this pretend, to be sitting somewhere eating burgers or jamming with Lucky, him playing guitar and all of them taking turns taking the lead on favorite songs. Spinelli had a firm grip on her arm however and was guiding her across the room toward the doors to the patio, as if they were going out for a breath of fresh air or something more elicit. His message was clear. They stopped and he looked at her, sympathy in his eyes, “I apologize for inflicting pain on you in addition to the discomfort of this event. However, Stone Cold was very explicit about contact with individuals from our past.”

“I know,” Leeanne agreed, “But knowing it and liking it isn’t the same thing.” He didn’t respond and Leeanne felt bad, this wasn’t his fault, he was only following instructions, but he had still denied her, it was the first time he’d ever done that and she didn’t know how to react. More than that, she realized suddenly that she was homesick.
“It is possible that our contact became concerned when Lucky approached us,” Spinelli suggested when after several minutes, they still saw no sign of the person that was to meet them.

“Is it possible Lucky was supposed to have been our contact?” Leeanne asked. Spinelli shook his head.
“Lucky was surprised we were among the living, that would not have been the case had Stone Cold made him a party to our new lives.” Spinelli reminded her. To his credit, he didn’t mention that she should have figured that out for herself.

(Stop behaving like a child,) she told herself, (Damian is only trying to keep you safe the best way he knows how.)

As she glanced around the room once more, looking for their contact, Leeanne saw what she had been hoping to avoid, a non descript man with light brown hair that seemed to be receding. His clothes were rumpled and he wore horn-rimmed glasses. (That has to be the man Jerrod called Broots.) Leeanne thought. He cast a quick look their way and Leeanne turned her face quickly away from the crowd, hoping he hadn’t noticed her. Spinelli caught her shift in demeanor and started to turn but Leeanne shook her head.

“I’m sorry,” she said, I saw someone that startled me that’s all.”

Before Spinelli could ask for further explanation, a woman in her middle 40swearing a neatly tailored, dove grey, Liz Clayborn skirt set accented with a rose pink shell came striding toward them in a pair of stylish grey high heels. She had short cropped reddish-brown hair and shrewd grey eyes. She wore a pearl necklace and matching earrings and just a hint of lipstick. She was every inch the successful looking career woman and she was making a bee line for them.

“This will soon be over,” Spinelli said quietly touching her arm.

“Mr. Springer, Diane Miller, I’m a defense lawyer in Port Charles New York. your arguments against the use of online footprints were most impressive. I’m sure they will be useful in a case I’m working on.” She said loudly enough for anyone near by to hear, then lowering her voice quietly enough for only the young couple to hear she said, “Spinelli, you need to get Leeanne out of here **now**!”

“I was taken by surprise by Lucky Spencer’s appearance.

“You dealt with that, absolutely correctly. She said, Lucky will be handled. Your priority is our mutual friend’s daughter and her safety.”
Diane’s tone didn’t invite discussion but Leeanne couldn’t help herself.

“Is Lucky in danger? He didn’t mean any harm.” She began in a tremulous voice.

“Lucky’s safety is not your primary concern, Spinelli, Now! You’ll be receiving visitors tomorrow.” The steely tone in Diane’s voice should have spurred them both in to action but Leeanne was shaking with fear and a sudden anger, Spinelli must have seen it in her eyes because he gave the lady lawyer a sharp look that had Diane Miller, a lawyer who could make police officers squirm and give prosecutors and even judges, Ulcers, softening her voice as she addressed the younger woman, “Lucky’s approach complicates things just a bit. It should have been anticipated. For now, you need to keep trusting Spinelli and let him look after you. Lucky will be fine.”

Diane looked at Spinelli who nodded and the two shook hands and exchanged formal greetings, again, loudly enough for everyone around them to see this as nothing but a scholarly polite exchange. Then Spinelli took Leeanne’s arm and lead her quickly from the room.
Spinelli turned the car radio to the 70s station he Knew Leeanne enjoyed and the two remained silent, each trapped in their own emotional turmoil. The silence was strange to Leeanne, when they had ventured out usually, on the way back they would both be keyed up and a little silly, they would travel back roads. . Spinelli would teach her car games or they’d pull over at funky looking diners, or obscure monuments which Spinelli seemed to know the entire history of and would share with her. But this night he stayed on the highway and drove on the high end of the speed limit, not at all allaying Leeanne’s fears. (Why had Diane wanted them out of there so quickly?) She wondered, (was it just because of Lucky, and what was so wrong with just one conversation anyway! Or was there greater danger related to her discovering some fragments of some weird secret invention? Had the center violated the agreement Jerrod had worked out, again?) She couldn’t handle another run in with them. She had barely gotten out with her life and only recovered some part of her mental stability with Spinelli’s careful and gentle attentions and his skill at creating a world of relative tranquility.

They slowed as Spinelli steered his Ford Echo toward the exit ramp and he briefly took his hand from the wheel and brushed his fingertips against her wrist. He was seeking reassurance of his own. She moved closer and spoke softly, “What’s in my head has nothing to do with you Damian.”

“Can you enlighten me how to alleviate her suffering?”

“Alleviate, not cure?” Leeanne ventured tentatively.

“I am awareI has limits. He replied turning on to the marina road that led to the final private road where their home was, “You were asked to abandon a dream come true. I can’t possibly begin to make up for a whole family.”

Leeanne rested her head on Spinelli’s shoulder and quietly told him, “Just give me some time alone.”

When they arrived at the house, Spinelli honored her request, not questioning her when She told him she wanted to go to the beach for a few minutes to see what the tides had left for her. “I won’t go far and I’ll be back in a half hour,” she promised, knowing it would probably take at least that long for him to deal with her father and ascertain exactly what they were to expect from their visitor tomorrow. She Changed to a pair of lavender jogging shorts and a pink Boston Red Sox t-shirt, went to her studio and procured her tote bag and headed for the garden gate. A stiff ocean breeze had kicked up, though the sky was clear and cloudless. It made the leaves in the trees rustle strangely and cast eerie shadows. The effect jangled Leeanne’s nerves still further. She finally, reached the gate but felt an overwhelming apprehension about lifting the latch and venturing outside the reach of the sophisticated security system artfully concealed on the grounds. Leeanne knew without question she was safe that one wrong move would set off an alarm and have Spinelli coming for her on the run, but beyond that gate, she was alone. Memories once more pushed forward, She abandon the idea of a walk on the beach and turned instead down a path that lead to a wooden swing that sat near several orchid bushes on one side ant a night blooming Jasmine on the other. Leeanne sat down weakly She felt the tears begin to flow freely as she remembered the pained look in Lucky’s eyes when Spinelli had been so cool to him and she hadn’t said a word. (It had to be this way) she reminded herself. The nightmare of her abduction and the torture that had ended with her being placed naked in a modified lightning cage, electrodes taped to parts of her body where she would feel the worst pain was still vivid even after over two years of herbal remedies, aroma therapy, meditative walking, and a great deal of love, patience, and attentiveness, from Spinelli, she still couldn’t entirely verbalize the events of that night. There were even times when she still felt physical pain from the jots of electric shock that had been sent through her. She was sure she would have died if Spinelli hadn’t cut the power causing enough of a diversion to allow him to find and free her then carry her out, just as the rapid clatter of gunfire erupted from the back of the house. She almost jumped as she became aware of a presence beside her on the swing. Spinelli was wrapping his arms around her and drawing her on to his lap.

“Leeanne,” his voice was almost a whisper as he stroked her hair, and set the swing in to a gentle motion, reminding her of another night. A night when he had made a promise to her if she would only trust him. She threw her arms around his neck, borrowing against him, a lost, broken hearted child seeking comfort from big scary feelings she still had trouble entirely defining. They remained like that, still, holding on to each other , each seeking comfort, and a reaffirmation of the bond that had sprung up between them slowly and gently at first and then more intensely since their isolation.

“What is this?” He asked, when she looked up at last, “Where did you go?”

“Places I shouldn’t,” Leeanne admitted.

“This isn’t about Lucky?” Spinelli Ventured. Leeanne shook her head.

“Not entirely, I mean yes, I know this is more than I could ever dream of. What you said earlier about finding my family being a dream come true, that was dead on.” Leeanne said, lifting a hand and gesturing around her at the house and garden, “but meeting you, falling in love and you’re being in love with me. Even after what those monsters…”

“Don’t!” Spinelli’s voice was firm, as he shifted position and placed his fingers against her lips for silence, “Nothing that happened in that house changes my love for you.” Leeanne saw his struggle to keep the anger he felt over what Leeanne was fairly sure he had seen them do to her as well as what both he and Jason suspected happened, in check. Leeanne knew both men never meant for her to see their rage. (probably under Carly’s) specific instructions.” Leeanne thought riley. She gently massaged the back of Spinelli’s neck, in an effort to ease his tension.

“The way Diane spoke of danger, I guess it got under my skin more than I thought. Then I suddenly didn’t feel safe outside these walls.” Again, she gestured around the garden.

“yet instead of seeking solace from me , you’re trembling, in tears, alone in the dark, are you angry?”

“Yes,” Leeanne admitted, “But not with you, just with the situation. Have you ever heard the expression you can’t miss what you don’t have?” Spinelli nodded.

“It took all my powers of discipline not to invent some plausible reason to invite Lucky to our room or to just step back while he showed you pictures of his offspring and gave you some of the Spencer news that the Valkary might have neglected to communicate to you during the last visit. I know aside from your parents and siblings, you had an especially strong connection with Lucky. If he hadn’t been your cousin, I might have perhaps experienced a twinge of jealousy.”

Leeanne laughed at that and ruffled Spinelli’s hair which she had discovered had been returned to its unruly state and kissed his cheek.
“Lucky Spencer could never hold a candle to the Jackal, “ her voice was light but then she looked n to his eyes and said more seriously, “I know why you did what you did, and it was exactly what Jason would have wanted you to do. And I know if it weren’t for that, you’d have found a way to give me that time. You always have found a way to give me what I want and need. I can do this because I have you with me to love and be loved by. Finding my family was a dream, but finding you was like winning the bonus jackpot.”

Looking in to her lover’s eyes, Leeanne knew she had said the right thing. Spinelli smiled at her in that way he had that left her a little breathless.

“If the Beautiful Dreamer still wishes to walk by the ocean, I would be pleased to accompany her.

“I’d love to go walking with you Damian Spinelli,” she said giving him her brightest smile as she slipped from his arms and found her toatbag.

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