Part Nine

Lucky left the penthouse and headed for his old haunts. Now, that he was a working adult--he shook his head and chuckled at that thought--he didn't have to runaway from the stuff that teenagers usually felt a need to bolt from. He was on his own, his own man. He could do whatever and not have to answer to anyone. Damn, it felt good. But that didn't mean he didn't remember. Lucky inhaled a deep breath. He remembered everything.

The first place he checked out was the catacombs. Nothing there. No candy bar wrappers or empty Coke cans. She hadn't been there. He jumped back on his motorcycle and headed back towards town.

From Sonny and the ADA's agitated behavior Lucky guessed the kid had been on the street for awhile. He wondered about that. She was unmistakably their kid, but he'd never heard anything about Sonny getting it on with Dara Jensen. Something like that couldn't be kept under wraps. Everybody would gab about it. Who wouldn't? Something was off about their family unit. Having met their kid and noting her vulnerability, he was curious about the entire dynamic. Boy, he had a feeling things would get explosive and pretty quick. And if he knew his cousin...hot damn! The fallout could go for miles.

Lucky hadn't eaten since breakfast. His stomach rumbled to remind him. Up ahead, he saw The Recovery Room. The fragrant aroma of burgers and fries attacked him viciously. He found himself pulling into the parking lot without even thinking about it. Once he parked, he shrugged. Maybe he'd live up to his name and she would be in there chowing down.

Mike waved at Lucky as he walked into the restaurant. Lucky waved back and went to the counter. "What's up, Mike?"

"Hi, Lucky," Mike said, wiping down the counter. "I haven't seen you around in awhile."

"I've been doing a little of this and that."

Mike smiled. "So have we all. What can I get for you today?"

"Burger and fries sound pretty good," Lucky said.

"Sure thing." Mike placed the order and returned with a root beer float. Lucky smiled as he set it on the counter in front of him. Mike shrugged. "I remembered you like those. This one is on the house."

"Thanks."

Lucky took a sip. The float went down smooth and thick, just the way he liked it. He swallowed a little more and looked around the room. Not much was happening. A few medical personnel decked out in their green scrubs sat at a table across the way. They all had their noses in books. Lucky doubted if they would have noticed anyone let alone a cute kid with killer dimples. He called out to Mike. Maybe he'd know. Then, Lucky frowned. Did Mike even know he had granddaughter out there lost somewhere? Looking at the man and his easygoing smile, Lucky thought not.

"What's up? Your order is next."

"Nah, it's not that," Lucky said. "I was wondering if you've seen a girl."

Mike grinned. "I've seen lots of them. They're in and out here like you wouldn't believe. Are you looking for someone in particular?"

Lucky fought the blush creeping up his neck and focused on the task at hand. "I'm looking for a kid actually. She's about fourteen or fifteen...about this tall." He indicated the height with his hand. "Dark, wavy hair, large brown eyes and impressive dimples. Have you seen her?"

Mike frowned, thinking. "I would remember a looker like that. I can't say I have. I'll ask the cook. Maybe she came in while I was out. Why are you looking for her?"

Lucky paused. It wasn't his place to tell Mike the kid was his granddaughter, but he didn't wanna lie to him either. Family situations were always tricky. "She's a runaway. Her parents are looking for her."

"Her parents?" Mike asked. "Anybody I know?"

Damn! Lucky grimaced. "Um...it's possible. Could you ask your cook? If I could get a lead on her, that would be great."

"Sure thing."

Mike disappeared inside the kitchen and Lucky breathed a sigh of relief.

"Hey, Spencer."

Suddenly tense, Lucky looked over his shoulder. He relaxed when he recognized a guy he raced against sometimes. "Jamal. How's it going?"

Jamal shook his head. "Not too bad. Listen, I heard you asking Corbin about some girl. I saw a kid like that on my way over. I almost said something to her, but she had this air about her. So, I left her alone. You say she's a runaway?"

Lucky nodded.

"A kid like her can get into trouble out on the street like that," Jamal said, mostly to himself.

"Where did you see her?" Lucky asked. "Maybe I can catch up to her."

"It's probably better if I show you," Jamal replied. "Are you good to go now?"

"Yeah." Lucky stood. He leaned against the counter and said, "Mike! Cancel the burger and fries! I got a lead!"

# # #

Bobbie handed one mug of hot chocolate to Carly and sat across from her on the overstuffed chair. She cupped her mug in her hands and gave her daughter a hard look. "I still don't understand how running away will solve anything."

Carly's jaw clenched. She set the cup down hard onto the coffee table. "I didn't expect you to. You never do."

"You'd be surprised by how much of this I get," Bobbie said. She blew on the steaming chocolate and then took a sip. "You think that if Sonny comes after you it will prove that he loves you."

"That's not true."

"Yeah, right," Bobbie said. "You want him to choose between you and his daughter."

"No, I don't."

Bobbie released a harsh breath. "Carly, please. Give me some credit here. You test people. You're always looking for ways for people to prove how important you are to them. Listen, honey, this is one test you don't want to go through with."

"You're saying that Sonny doesn't love me," Carly said, quietly.

"No, I'm not," Bobbie replied. "What I'm saying is that Sonny loves his daughter and he's scared for her. And he's hurting because the one person who's supposed to stand by him has chosen to have a hissy fit and run away."

"That's not fair!" Carly jumped from the sofa and stalked to the fireplace. She grabbed a poker and began to dig at the burning flames. She had her back to her mother, but that didn't stop Bobbie.

"It may not seem fair, but it is." Bobbie paused and then said, "What gets me is that you don't see the parallel. It's so ironic that this should be happening. But the irony is lost because you don't get it."

"I don't get what?" Carly asked, her bottom lip sticking out.

"What you and Sonny's daughter have in common...other than Sonny, of course."

Carly stiffened. "I don't have anything in common with her!"

Bobbie released a short snort. "I'll say you do. Think back to 1996. Showing up in Port Charles, wrecking havoc in this brownstone, assuming someone else's identity. Does any of this ring a bell?"

Carly remained silent. She knew what Bobbie was getting at and she didn't like it. Being reminded of that time always pissed her off. People refused to admit she was a different person then. Her life had been hard. The only thing she knew how to do was fight back and to fight dirty.

"You know what I'm talking about," Bobbie said. "There is one difference, though. Hope didn't cloak herself, and she hasn't tried to blindside anyone. But that doesn't mean she's not as scared and hurt as you were. Think about it, Carly. Remember how it was for you and then think about the situation now. Past that invisible shield you wear, I know there beats an understanding heart."

# # #

Sonny's heart skipped a beat when a knock sounded at the front door and then it slowly opened. When Mike crossed the threshold, he could have screamed. He glanced at Dara and saw the same emotions flicker across her face. Shit! This waiting was eating them up.

"Mike. Carly told me you stopped by. I was gonna call..."

"Yeah, I know the drill. When you got around to it." Mike smiled at Lois. His smile faltered when he glanced at Dara. He gave Sonny a questioning look. "Carly said the charges against you were dropped."

"They were." Sonny sighed. He wasn't in the mood for another session of twenty questions. The previous one with Carly just about drained him.

"You don't have a right to come into a man's home and browbeat him," Mike said, talking to Dara. "Give him some peace. For Pete's sake, his wife and child live here!"

"Mike!" Sonny moved between his father and his first lover. "You don't understand."

"Maybe we should leave you alone to talk." Dara stood. She looked at Sonny and said, "Just tell him."

"We'll find something in the kitchen," Lois added, rubbing her stomach. "It's starting to rumble in there."

Lois patted Sonny's shoulder as they passed him on their way out of the room. Once the men were alone, Mike said, "What's going on around here? Why are you giving the enemy free reign of your home?"

"Dara isn't the enemy," Sonny said quietly. He pointed at a chair. "Mike, sit down. There's something I need to tell you."

Sonny told Mike everything. As he concluded, inwardly he prided himself on his ability to control his composure. He finished speaking and waited for Mike to explode with the questions that filled his eyes.

Mike's mouth opened and closed several times before he finally stammered, "I don't know what to say. I wasn't expecting that."

Sonny nodded. "I know. It's pretty unbelievable."

"A fifteen year old granddaughter..." Mike's eyes lit up and he smiled. He stood abruptly. "I wanna help. What can I do to help?"

"You don't have to do anything. We have people out looking for her. My men and even Lucky Spencer are out on the streets. Dara and I are staying here just in case she comes back to the penthouse. She was here before. I know she'll come again."

"Lucky?" Mike repeated. "He was at the Recovery Room earlier. He asked me about a girl and then gave me the strangest look. I had no idea... He said he had a lead! He took off suddenly because somebody told him something!"

Sonny's heart kicked up speed. He turned from Mike to call out, "Dara!"

"What is it?" she asked, running from the kitchen. "Is she here?"

"No," he said, smiling, "but Mike said Lucky had a lead! It won't be long now!"

# # #

Hope was tired. She was tired of running and tired of being alone. She saw a homey restaurant up ahead. The sign overhead said Kelly's. She didn't have any money so she didn't bother going in. Maybe the people inside wouldn't have a cow if she sat outside. It would only be for a minute. Until she felt ready to walk some more.

The seat was cold on her backside. There was a distinct chill in the air. December's warm spell was ending and winter was truly about to begin. Hope shivered. She couldn't live like this. Going back to Phil Ramon's place was out of the question. She escaped his groping hands just in time and she wouldn't go crying on Social Services' doorstep. They didn't give a damn anyway. They proved that by yanking her out of foster homes every time she got even a little comfortable and then sending her someplace that was worse than the one before.

She pulled her thin jacket closer around her and continued to ponder her options. Her plan to drop in on Sonny Corinthos still seemed pretty good. But what if he turned her away? Dara Jensen acted happy to see her, but maybe it was just an act. Hope read somewhere that lawyers sometimes took acting lessons so that their arguments in court would have more punch. What if Dara's tears had been fake? Hope's bottom lip trembled. Then, she really had no place to turn to.

Headlights danced across her as a car turned the block. Hope's eyes narrowed. She'd seen that car before, but she couldn't remember where. Unease swept through her. Maybe it was time to find a better place to think.

She stood and headed off down the sidewalk. The car's engine slowed. Hope glanced over her shoulder. The losers in the car were following her! Fear jumpstarted her adrenaline and she started to run.

# # #

"If she was going in this direction," Lucky said, "there's only one place she could go. Kelly's is all that's down there."

"Yeah, Kelly's and the dock," Jamal said.

"Wanna split up?" Lucky said.

"Sure." Jamal stopped suddenly and nudged Lucky's arm. "Nah, man. Look! I think I see her! Let's go!"

Lucky and Jamal ran across the street toward the girl who was running for her life.

"Hope!" Lucky called.

She stopped and then suddenly, she ran straight to him. "They're following me!"

The car came closer and Lucky's chest tightened. "Shit! Those guys work for Sorel!"

"Come on, let's get out of here!" Jamal said.

Lucky took Hope's hand and the trio took off. The car sped up after them. The chase was on the verge of getting out of hand. Lucky knew the men had artillery. Neither he nor Jamal had anything to protect themselves. The only thing they could do was outsmart the goons or surrender. Lucky shook his head at that second option. Spencers never surrendered.

He knew this part of town like the back of his hand. Once they got to Sonny's turf, they'd be safe. No matter what Sorel's men were packing in the car, they wouldn't open fire in Corinthos territory. He saw an alley that opened on the other side to the docks. Gripping Hope's hand, Lucky steered her in that direction.

"What if this dead end's, man?" Jamal asked, huffing as his footsteps pounded the ground. "They could trap us here."

"They won't. Just keep running!"

Hope hadn't said a word since joining them. She didn't have to. Lucky felt her fear as her fingers dug into his hand. Silently, he promised to get her to safety.

They reached the end of the alley with Sorel's goons fast on their tails. A car suddenly cut them off.

Lucky could have screamed. Jamal had been right!

The passenger door swung open. The driver leaned down and looked at them, "Get in!"

Jason!

Lucky sighed with relief. He shoved Hope into the car first. Then, he and Jamal climbed in. Jason's bulletproof SUV sped off, leaving Sorel's men in the dust.

# # #

Dara stood on the terrace. The chill of winter dug into her bones, but she ignored it. Something as insignificant as being cold didn't matter to her. Not when all she could think about was how thin Hope's jacket was and how her child just couldn't spend another night on the street. Somehow, someway they had to find her!

Then, it hit her. She couldn't just stand here anymore, waiting for word. She needed to do something! Dara turned abruptly and discovered Sonny blocking the entrance to the penthouse.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"I have to go," Dara said. "I can't stay here anymore. I need to be out there, looking for her!"

"Just wait," Sonny said. "She's gonna come here. I just know it."

Dara shook her head. "But Sorel's men... They could stop her before she gets here. Please, Sonny, I have to go."

He frowned. "Sonny? That's a first. You usually use that in the courtroom or in the media."

Dara averted her gaze from the peculiar expression in his dark eyes. Coming to terms with her Michael being the same man as Sonny Corinthos was still something she had problems with. Since moving to Port Charles, she just ignored the past and focused on doing her job. Well, trying to. Sometimes, it just wasn't easy.

"Dara, we should clear this up before she gets here."

She stepped back. "Clear what up? There's nothing to clear up except working out the visitation schedule."

He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "That's not what I mean and you know it. We'll make arrangements for the rest later. We should clear up the past now."

"The past was cleared up a long time ago," she said. "You chose your life path and I chose mine. Let's not dredge that up now. I'd rather focus on getting our daughter back and what we're gonna do once she is."

He shrugged in a gesture of defeat. One glance into his eyes and Dara knew the shrug was only that, a gesture. The past wasn't completely over, but it would be ignored for now.

"We'll have it your way," Sonny said. "Like I said before, I want Hope here. She's safe here."

Dara shook her head. "I know what you're saying is right," she said with tears blurring her vision, "but I can't just walk away and leave her here. I need to be with her. You have to understand that."

He nodded. "I do. I don't want to keep Hope away from you. I just... Look, until something better can be arranged, just stay here. There's plenty of room."

"Carly would have a cow and I don't feel comfortable with that."

"Carly isn't here," Sonny stated. "You'd have your own room, of course. I think it would be good for Hope if we don't force her to choose and we can show her we love her. Nothing will do that better than two of us being with her together."

His suggestion sounded right, but the repercussions could be explosive. She wanted to see if things could work with Marcus. How would he react if he knew she was staying at the penthouse with Sonny Corinthos? Okay, that was a stupid question. She knew how he'd react. He'd have a fit worse than the one before. She sighed. She didn't know what to do.

Sonny briefly squeezed her shoulder. "Just think about it."

"Oh, my God!" Lois' screamed pierced the soft quiet of the penthouse. "Dara! Sonny! Come here!"

They ran back to the living room and found the most precious vision just standing in the doorway flanked by Jason, Lucky, and Jamal.

Untold joy overcame Dara as she said, "Hope."

Dara went to her daughter and without bothering to ask for permission, wrapped her arms around her. Sonny joined them, encircling them within his arms. Tears fell down Dara's cheeks when Hope put her arms around both of them.

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