"It was a complicated, bold, yet ultimately, unsuccessful plan, conceived and heartlessly implemented by none other than Bay City's own... Spencer Harrison," Jeanne informed her viewers.
Watching at home, Lucas breathed a sigh of relief, while, sitting next to him, Felicia inhaled sharply. Unlike Lucas, who'd restrained his myriad of feelings until he'd had time to think through the implications of Jeanne's accusation, Felicia's concerns burst forth instantly.
"Is this true?" she demanded.
"Spencer," Lucas chose his words with great care. "Was is... involved."
Felicia studied her husband for a long moment. And then, rather calmly, she asked, "Are you... involved, too, Luke?"
"Yes," he exhaled, thankful to have everything out in the open finally.
"How?" To his surprise, Felicia's question was less angry, more sympathetic.
"Lorna's accident. I thought I was afraid the compound was sending me a message. I went against their direct orders when I contacted you, revealed myself to be alive. And then, planting Donna's file on Cecile for the police to find... I exposed their existence to the world, even if it couldn't be proven. I thought Lorna's accident was my punishment. Or, at least, the start of it."
"But, it was Marley..."
Lucas nodded. "Grant could have prevented all of it, if he'd only come forward."
"But, how could Grant have known?"
"Spencer," Lucas reminded, with a gesture of his hand towards the television. "Spencer told him what we were planning to do, so that Grant could make sure to take precautions for himself, for Kirkland. Except Grant chose to protect Marley over everyone else."
"Why would Spencer expose himself like this?"
"I'm sure it wasn't his intention," Lucas observed dryly. "The plan was always to frame Donna. Kill two birds with one stone. Eliminate the threat the compound posed to us all by striking first, and make Donna finally pay for what she did to Jenna."
Felicia nodded fervently at that, even as she wondered, "How does that woman always manage to escape justice?"
"Clean, honest, living, I guess," Lucas snorted.
Felicia smirked along with him and, for a moment, despite the danger and the desperation and the uncertainty, they were finally on the same wavelength for what like the first in a very, very long while.
The moment passed much too quickly as Felicia got down to business, bracing herself. "What does this mean to Spencer? And to us?"
"Nothing to us, at the moment. As of now, there is no reason for anyone who might be gunning for Spencer to connect me with his actions."
"Gunning for him," Felicia repeated. "I take it that wasn't a colorful metaphor?"
"I don't know," Lucas admitted. "The fact is, the compound's management was a huge secret. Nobody knows exactly how many people there actually were at any given time, so nobody knows who might still be out there, having evaded arrest or suspicion, looking to get their revenge and offer an example to anyone else entertaining similar, treacherous ideas."
"So this might all still amount to nothing?" Felicia asked, clinging to hope. "If everyone was rounded up, then neither we nor Spencer have anything to worry about."
"If everyone was rounded up, there'd be no need for this concentrated campaign to pin all the blame on Spencer."
"Campaign? What campaign?"
"You said it yourself: Spencer wouldn't expose himself like this. The man is a weasel. Weasels tend to be intelligent. Or, at the very least, cautious. A man who got married less than a year ago isn't a man inclined to take risks. Someone had to have given Jeanne Ewing at least a push or two in his direction."
"Someone." Being a writer, it didn't take Felicia long to connect the dots. "Someone who stood to benefit from if not Donna, then at least Spencer taking the blame."
Lucas nodded grimly.
"Carl..." Felicia sighed.
"Carl," her husband confirmed.
"I can't believe it," Donna exclaimed. "Jeanne actually has a use, after all!"
Having just finished watching her Special Report, Matt wasn't sure exactly what to say on the subject. It thrilled him to see Donna so happy and animated, but he had to wonder what Jeanne's expose meant to him... and his family.
"She's cleared your name," he smiled wanly at Donna.
"All thanks to you!" she beamed, kissing Matt deeply, then holding him at arms' length. "I take back every awful thing I said about you secretly recording me. You've saved my life. If I didn't love you already...."
"I told you," Matt reminded absently. "That's why I did it. I told you so from the start."
Donna stroked his hair, cocking her head to one side. "What's wrong, darling?"
"It was Jeanne's idea. She... she was right."
"It may have been Jeanne's idea to spy on me, and she may have told you it was in order to protect me, but, rest assured, her own motives were purely selfish."
"But, it still worked. We you owe her."
"Hardly," Donna dismissed. "And if she believes that using me to further her own career either makes up for Ms. Ewing's earlier blackmail attempt, or is somehow deserving of my magnanimously handing you over to her like "
"An object?" Matt snapped.
"You're upset," Donna observed, a mere ten minutes or so after Matt first began showing obvious signs of it. "I don't understand. We should be thrilled. That's one proverbial monkey off our backs. Now, you and I can focus on dealing with Jeanne."
"You mean you still want to go ahead with it? You still want to destroy her? Even after she went and did all of this?"
"I keep telling you, Matthew," Donna's tone grew distinctively frostier. "She didn't do it for you or for me. She did it for herself. For her career. The same reason that she is currently dragging you into marriage. She is dragging you into marriage, isn't she?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Only that you suddenly don't appear nearly as keen to be rid of her as you'd led me to suppose earlier."
"Cut it out, Donna. Don't play this with me. No, I don't want to marry Jeanne. No, I'm not particularly thrilled with her at the moment. But, I'm sorry if you don't feel I'm adequately enthusiastic to come up with a way to stick it to a person who just saved the life of the woman I love!"
Donna melted at that. Matt hadn't precisely meant to manipulate her with his words. Though he had to admit, it was a nice bonus.
"You're right, darling. Of course, you're right. That wonderful, generous, open heart of yours is one of the main reasons I love you. I'll be better, I promise."
"Thank you," Matt sighed, taking Donna in his arms again. "I'm willing to go along with whatever you've got planned. Just don't expect me to be happy about it. Jeanne isn't all bad. She's just... focused. Damn, is she focused. It's eerie. And impressive, too."
The way he said it, almost as if he admired the woman on some level, forced Donna's head to jerk up. And for her to wonder if all this might not prove a tad more difficult then she'd initially thought..."
"Well, that's... that," Rachel said as she turned off the television, unable to stomach another talking head pontificating about Jeanne's revelation, and what that might mean for Spencer Harrison, not to mention all of Bay City.
"Yes," Carl said cautiously, deliberately keeping his tone neutral, waiting for Rachel to complete her thought before offering one of his own.
"Do you think it will be enough?"
Carl had no doubts about what she was really asking. "Ms. Ewing is, to all appearances, an impartial observer. Her research is solid "
"Her research was provided by you!"
"A fact unknown outside this room," Carl placated. "To the rest of the world, she's tracked down the party responsible for everything from attempting to asphyxiate Marley, to framing Donna, to exposing the compound to the authorities. Bravo, Ms. Ewing! I am sure there is many a journalistic award in her future. She must be ecstatic."
"Her facts are wrong."
"No!" Carl lifted a finger in warning. "Her facts are incomplete. There is a difference."
"Spencer didn't act alone. He may have forged the file, but Lucas was actually the one who staged Marley's alleged suicide attempt. And both of them did it on your orders."
"They did it at my suggestion. They both wanted to get Donna as much as I did. No one was coerced into anything. We all share the blame."
"Except Spencer will be punished alone."
"Perhaps it won't come to that," Carl sincerely believed it was a possibility a rather slim one, to be sure, but not utterly out of the question. "Perhaps the international dragnet really did succeed in apprehending everyone responsible for the compound. Perhaps there truly is no one left to seek retribution."
"That's not what you told me before."
"It pays to be cautious."
"Especially at someone else's expense."
"Enough!" Carl thundered, patience at an end. "We have been over this and over this, Rachel, and I simply will not tolerate another minute of your fruitless hand-wringing. I did what needed to be done. As always, I did what needed to be done when nobody else possessed the bollocks to make a thorny decision and see it through. I have assumed the role of villain yet again, so that others may continue living their lives with the plausible deniability of clean hands and lucent souls. Our initial plan failed, another one needed to be improvised, and thus I did so. For your sake, for Cory's, for Elizabeth's, and for my own, as well. I do not intend to make eternal apology for it. I invoked steps to minimize the damage, not just to our family, but to your son's. I protected Lucas, for Lorna and Jamie's sake. They and their children needn't live in fear any longer, either. Where is my credit for that?"
"Maybe later," Rachel said faintly. "Right now, I think it would be best if we didn't see each for a while. I'm going to my studio. I... Please don't wait up."
"I'm sorry," was all Spencer said to Alice. It was all he could think of to say. The only thing worth saying to the one person who mattered. "I'm sorry I did this to you."
"Sounds to me like you're the one who was betrayed this evening, not me."
"I promised to take care of you. I promised to look out for you."
"Unless I'm mistaken, this all happened because you tried to do precisely that."
"This all happened, because I ignored my common sense and decided to trust Carl Hutchins."
"That, too," Alice agreed.
"I was desperate," Spencer admitted.
"I know. I also know that I'm the one to blame for it."
"Never," he swore.
"Would you have been so desperate to ignore your common sense if it weren't for me?"
"If it weren't for you, I'd have had nothing worth protecting."
"Your son," she reminded gently. "Your grandson."
"My grandson, I'm sorry to say, is much safer today as a relation of Carl's than he could ever be of mine. And as for my son, he had a chance to stop me before "
"What's done is done. Recriminations are pointless. And a waste of time we could put to better use, planning our next step." Alice looked around the room. "So, what happens now? Do we flee the country? Go into hiding? Should I bother to pack, or just leave everything as is?"
He looked at her, stunned. "You would do that for me? Give up your career? Your family? Your life?"
"My life is with you till death do us part. I made it very clear during that little party we threw back in November, remember?"
"Those are just words. Everybody says them. Hardly anyone means them."
"Did you mean them?"
"With every fiber of my being."
"Then why do you presume me incapable of the same?"
"Because, unlike me, you'd actually be leaving behind people you love who love you in return. You were so looking forward to watching Jamie's daughter grow up. You said it was your last chance to be a part of a child's life from infancy."
"Devon will hardly suffer from not having me around. She has two doting parents, not to mention a pair of formidable grandmothers. Steven's granddaughter is in good hands."
"It's not her suffering that concerns me. I will not cut you off from everything that matters."
"You matter. First and foremost. You."
"I won't do it."
"Do not make me responsible for putting your life in danger," Alice warned. "I won't stand for it."
"I put my life in danger. I did it. No one else. Carl may have been the mechanism this time around, but the seeds for my downfall were planted long ago, by nothing other than my own greed, short-sightedness, and pessimistic conviction that there would never again be anything worth living for."
"I will go anywhere you deem necessary," Alice insisted. "Just say the word."
"No word to be said," he confessed. "The fact of the matter is, we're safer staying put in Bay City. Anywhere else, we'd have to start from scratch. Here, at least, I already have our security protocols in place, a team I trust more or less, a general idea of the terrain. Going on the run would only make us more vulnerable."
"Is that the truth? Or are you just try to placate me?"
"I gave up on pulling the wool over your eyes, my darling, that day at the Country Club, the minute you called me out on my first set of machinations, then kissed me for all the world to see. For a kiss like that, I had and still have no defenses. I decided then and there I might as well stay put, and enjoy the penalty for as long as I possibly can."
"Low-fat yogurt, spinach, blueberries and valerian root powder," Cass peered into the blender of Frankie's beloved Zen smoothie just before she slammed down the lid and struck the Puree button with decidedly un-Zen-like fervor. "That meeting with Fowler must have really been a doozy."
"You have your poison emphasis on actual, cell-killing poison," she indicated the highball of liquid courage in Cass' hand. "I have mine."
"What did he say?"
"Nothing," Frankie shrugged, unscrewing the top and pouring out her concoction, taking a sip and waiting for the serenity to kick in. She took another gulp. "Much."
"Any interesting new intel on Hamilton?" Cass asked, unaware that he and Frankie were mutually dancing around touchy subjects they understood they'd need to bring up eventually but both choosing to stall as long as possible for the time being.
"One thing," Frankie downed the remainder of her drink, frowning at it, unfulfilled, before carrying both her glass and the blender to the sink, turning on the tap, and filling them with water. "Fowler said that in a gay couple's or any unmarried couple's actually adoption, usually one parent legally adopts the child first, and the second one follows suit down the line."
"So?" Cass wondered.
"It made me think: What if Chase is only sticking around Doug so he won't lose custody of their little girl?"
Cass warned, "I'm going to say something politically incorrect now."
"You?" Frankie feigned surprise. "Perish the thought."
"I know here you thought I was perfect." He smiled, somewhat surprised when Frankie didn't return the gesture, but pressed on nonetheless. "If Lila is right and Hamilton isn't who he seems Seriously, there's got to be an easier way."
"If Doug is Milagros' only legal parent, Chase has no authorized standing whatsoever. If Doug decides to play dirty, Chase could very well never see her again."
"You know I love my daughter, right, Frankie?"
"Yes," she said in a small voice, newly reminded as if Frankie had ever truly forgotten what had driven her to spinach and Valerian root in the first place.
"But, I'm sorry, even I would not have sex with a man unless I wanted to, of course, that's a totally different story; Yay, marriage equality! just to keep her."
"It's a moot point, anyway," Frankie decided to get off the subject of daughters for now. "Chase and Doug have been together much longer than they've had Milagros."
"Why even bring it up then?" Cass asked, newly confused.
"I... It just struck me as so unfair. The laws don't make sense. Not for the parents, not for the kids."
"Oh," Cass said thoughtfully. "I get it now."
"What?" Frankie's head bobbed up and she nearly dropped the wet blender she was scrubbing out.
"Talking to Fowler, it reminded you of Lori Ann and Dean, and how, if he gets a mind to, he could just take off with her and we'd never see "
"No!" Frankie interrupted. "No, not at all, no. I trust Dean. And I think he trusts us, too. We're going to make this work, all of us, we're committed to it."
"Oh." Cass felt lost again. "Then what's wrong, Frankie?"
"What's wrong with you?" she flipped the question and indicated his now equally empty glass. "Why the self-medication?"
"Oh," Cass pondered the nearly melted ice-cubes. "That."
"I asked you first."
"Seriously, Winthrop? How many years of law school and that's the best you can do?"
"I'm just a humble private investigator these days. And your mood definitely bears investigating." Cass put down his tumbler and eased the dishes out of Frankie's grip she'd been holding it like a shield between them as soon as he began asking questions. He took both her hands in his. "You're scaring me, Mary Frances."
"I don't mean to, I....I just don't know how to even begin."
"At the beginning is usually a safe choice."
"At the beginning," Frankie. "Okay.... At the beginning, Jamie called and asked to see me."
"Jamie? What does he have to do with you talking to Fowler?"
"Nothing," Frankie shook her head, biting her lip before she took it a step further and bit the bullet. "But he had a lot to say about our daughter..."
"You sadistic, warped, uncoiffed coward!" Grant roared at Morgan, barreling down the hospital corridor towards him, utterly indifferent to the heads that whipped their way. "I should kill you where you stand!"
Morgan flicked Grant a dismissive look, deliberately remaining cool in order to indicate to those watching that nothing of consequence was going on and they should feel free to go on with their business. Voice low, Morgan seethed, "Leave now, or I'll call security."
"Is that how it is? You have no problem harassing a mentally ill woman and sending her into a near catatonic state, but when challenged by someone your own size "
"In your dreams." Morgan grabbed Grant by the elbow and, with one rigid tug, all but flung him into Morgan's office, closing the door behind them before unloading, "I told that crazy bitch the truth about herself. Not my problem she couldn't handle it."
"It's your problem now. I'm making it your problem."
Morgan looked him up and down. "Are we about to throw hands? Here? In the hospital?"
Grant shook his head, dumbfounded, "Throw what? What what does that even mean?"
"It's an expression. Means get into a fight. Maybe you could ask your teenage son to explain oh, wait! You traded him in for a chick who won't even put out for conjugal visits. Tough break, man."
"You dare joke about this? You're a doctor for God's sake! Where's your compassion?"
"I save my compassion for those who deserve it."
"It was an accident," Grant hissed in reflexive defense.
"Are you telling me that if it were Kirkland or hell, even Marley herself, lying in a coma for months as a result of an accident, this town wouldn't be a smoldering crater of your revenge? Look me in the eye," Morgan leaned into Grant's face. "And tell me you'd have compassion for anyone connected to hurting the few people you proclaim to love?"
"Marley doesn't deserve your abuse. It isn't your place to confront her."
"I was in that car, too, Grant. I was nearly killed, as well. I have a right to be pissed at her for what she did, and at you for covering it up."
"How would Marley or me coming forward have helped Lorna while she was fighting for her life?"
"It would have been a slightly more sincere indication of remorse than trying to flee the country. Of taking responsibility for her actions surrounded by the people she wronged, rather than the cast of Fantasy Island."
"That's exactly what she's attempting to do now."
"The only thing Marley's attempting now is getting away with attempted murder."
"Is that what you said when you came to see her? Is that what made her so upset?"
"Among other things."
"What did you tell her, Winthrop?"
"Nothing she didn't already know."
"She's shut down. The nurses tell me she's stopped speaking, she's stopped eating. She fights anyone who tries to come near her. They have to sedate Marley just to feed her intravenously."
Morgan blinked, momentarily speechless. As long as Grant had been flinging random threats, Morgan had been able to keep up his indifferent distance. But, as a doctor, he now, whether he liked it or not, understood how serious Marley condition truly was. If she was faking it, she'd definitely decided to take the act to a new level. Question was: How long did she intend to keep it up?
"You have to apologize to her," Grant insisted.
"Are you kidding me?"
"First Do No Harm. Didn't you take an oath? You harmed a sick woman. It's your responsibility to undo the damage. Or, so help me, I'll have your license for this."
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