Robert hopped out of the car, collected his things, and thanked the driver. He watched as the car drove away—typical agent behavior. Never turn your back on a stranger. Once the car was out of sight, he headed toward the house. He had no idea why Anna had summoned him, but he'd detected a hint of desperation in her voice, so he'd made the travel arrangements as quickly as he could.
He rang the doorbell and waited patiently, his trusty duffle bag thrown over his shoulder. A moment later the door opened, and Anna stood before him.
"Your knight in shining armor has arrived," he said, his arms open wide. He expected a quick retort but got quite the opposite.
The moment Anna caught sight of his familiar smile, her lip began to quiver. She launched herself into him, knocking the duffle bag off his shoulder and throwing him slightly off balance.
"Whoa! Easy, Love!" he said. He let his bag drop to the ground and wrapped his arms around her until she'd managed to regain her usual composure.
"Sorry," she said with a forced smile. She bent to pick up his bag for him. "Please, come in."
He followed her into the parlor and took a seat on the sofa.
She perched nervously on the edge of the cushion next to him.
They started with the usual small talk, but after covering how his trip was and what was happening with Robin and the grandkids there was a lull in the conversation. With nothing else to say, Anna motioned toward the tray in front of them. "Tea?"
"Why do I have a feeling I'm gonna need something a little stronger?"
"Did you want something stronger? I can get you a—"
"Later." He placed a gentle hand on her knee and gave it a squeeze. "Why don't you tell me why I'm here first?"
This time it was Anna who made the move for something stronger. She took the crystal decanter and two glasses from the bar and returned to Robert.
He took the decanter from her and poured. "Talk to me," he said as he handed her a glass.
She took several swallows before attempting to speak. When she did, she kept her eyes trained on her glass. "It isn't easy for me to say this."
"Hey, it's me you're talking to," he said.
She made eye contact with him then. "That's exactly why it's so difficult."
"Come on. You know you can tell me anything."
She nodded, but still looked skeptical. "I need your help."
"Anything. Just name it."
She took another drink and swallowed hard. "I need you to help me find my baby."
"I… I had a baby. A child I never told you about. I never told anyone. But there's a chance she may have a hereditary condition and she needs to know. So, I need to find her."
"Okay," Robert said. The shock was evident in his expression, but he kept his cool. "This hereditary condition, do you have it?"
"No. Her father did. Huntington's Disease."
Robert tipped his head to one side. "Good. I mean… not good for him, but… you know."
"Can I ah… can I ask who the father is?" Robert said. He almost wished he hadn't asked, considering the tears that immediately began spilling over her lashes.
When she tried to speak the name was almost inaudible and he had to ask her to repeat it. She cleared her throat and said it again, cringing as the words crossed her lips. "It's… was… Faison."
Robert's brow furrowed. He wanted to ask her if she was joking, but he knew better than to think she would joke about something like that. He felt suddenly sick to his stomach.
Anna stared at him. He looked like someone had kicked the air out of him. She searched frantically for words to explain herself, but she knew none of the possible explanations would soften the blow. Not with him. He was the one person who hated Faison almost as much as she. Instead, she waited.
After a moment, Robert exhaled. "When?" he asked, his mind racing with through history, analyzing timelines from their first encounter to her disappearance in '92.
"When?" he said again.
"It was stupid."
"Damn right, it was! When?"
"I was young. I thought that—"
"When, Anna? Did you go to him after I left you? Is that why you couldn't raise Robin? Because you were off with him?"
"No. Stop! It wasn't like that. It was before."
"Before us! Before you."
Anna had expected him to be agitated or impatient, but he suddenly seemed more confused than anything. She forced herself to keep talking, if for no other reason than to get it over with. "I thought that if I could turn over his secrets to the WSB I could—"
"How?" Robert interrupted again.
"Would you just… just let me finish before you say anything else."
He nodded. "Go on."
"We were in Brussels. I disguised myself as a… as a streetwalker. I followed him to a bar. I got him drunk—drunker than he already was—and I seduced him. While I had him under my spell, I coaxed information out of him. Information that I gave to the WSB the next day."
"Why wear a disguise?"
"I didn't want him to have the satisfaction of knowing it was really me. But I knew he used to pay women to dress up like me to feed his obsession. I used that to my own advantage."
"And I suppose you thought your virtue was a small price to pay for career advancement?"
"Something like that," she said. "But I paid a bigger price in the end, didn't I? Because I ended up pregnant."
"And you had the baby?"
She pressed her lips together and nodded. "I found a midwife who promised to find a home for it. I never held it. I heard it cry. But I never held it. Her. I didn't even know if it was a boy or girl until…"
"Until Valentine told me."
"Bloody hell! Valentine? Cassadine? This is your reliable source?"
"Robert, he knew. He knew everything. He knew about the house I delivered in. About the creaky stairs. He talked to the midwife. She told him it was little girl."
"And he never told anyone? All the years he spent hating you, and yet he kept your life-altering secret?"
"There's a fine line between love and hate," she said. "Look, Robert, I know it's a lot to take in. A lot to ask, but I need you to help me find her."
"Please, Robert. I have no idea where she is. No name. Nothing. I don't know who else to turn to."
"I'm sorry, Anna, but I don't think I'm gonna be able to help you find this child."
"Robert, please," she begged.
"Sweetheart, you don't understand. I can't help you find her, because she doesn't exist."
"She does, Robert. If I could go back and change it I would, but I can't. I can't change the past, no matter how much I want to."
"That's true. You can't change the past. Which is why you can't change our past."
"Anna, you're forgetting… that night in Paris."
"What about it?"
"The first time we made love… was the first time you made love."
"I wish it were. In a way it was. The first time I really made love, I mean. But—"
He laughed out loud then. "Come on, Anna. There are certain things even a skilled agent like you can't fake, love."
"Robert, I know you think you know a lot about women, but—"
"Not just women, Anna. One woman. You."
"Just listen, will you?" He took a moment to gather himself. "Yes, I've been with a few women. And yes, I think most men can tell. There are certain…" he waved his hand around searching for the right words. "…Certain physical elements that make it obvious. Things that wouldn't have… couldn't have occurred if you had given birth prior to that night. But it's not just that. If someone else had tried to tell me the same story, I might not have questioned it. But the truth is, you… you had an effect on me that… no other woman had had. Not up until that moment. Not ever. And even after all of these years, I remember that night like it was yesterday. Over the years, I'll admit, I've thought about the events of that night—the intimate moments we shared. I've replayed the details them in my head hundreds of times."
"Hundreds?" she smiled weakly.
"Maybe thousands," he laughed.
"Careful, Scorpio," she teased. "You're about to show your hand."
He took her hands in his. "My point is, I remember what you looked like, what you felt like, the smell of you perfume mixed with your natural chemistry. I remember the way you reacted to my touch, the look of surprise and apprehension in your eyes when I first…" he stopped when he noticed her eyes growing wider. "Never mind. The thing is, everything about the way you behaved told me I was the first. And that's not just my ego talking, all right? As an agent on a job, I suppose knowing I was stealing your virtue should have stopped me. But I wasn't just an agent that night. Neither were you. We were also two people… falling in love."
Anna was visibly moved by the memories. "Robert, I love that you want to be my white knight, riding in to fix the problem. And I wish… I wish it were true. I do. But…"
"Anna, I don't wish it. I know it. There is no way you were not a virgin when I met you. And after everything we've been through, I don't believe for a second that you would ever, under any circumstances, willingly sleep with Faison, much less give birth to his child and keep it from me through two marriages and decades of friendship. No question. End of story."
He made it sound so simple. She could hardly argue with him. She trusted him more than anyone else in the world. To think she'd kept something this huge from him was almost impossible to believe. "Then how do you explain the memories in my head?" she asked, almost praying he had a more plausible explanation.
"It's gotta be another one of his cruel tricks?"
"Why not? His or someone else's."
"Faison never knew about the baby. I made sure of that. And Valentine never told him."
"Look, first, I don't think we can count Valentine Cassadine as a reliable source here, Anna. Second, we both know firsthand the kinds of cruel mind games that man is capable of."
"I don't know, Robert." She shook her head, still wiping tears of shame away with her sleeve, barely able to look at him.
He cupped her face in his hands and forced her to look into his eyes. "Anna, do you trust me?"
Her face crinkled and she cast her eyes down again.
"Look at me," he insisted. "Do you trust me?"
"You know I do," she choked out the words.
"This isn't real. All right? Now, I don't know where this information came from, but—"
"I remember it, Robert!" she exclaimed, her voice filled with tortured desperation.
"I know you do. But it has to be a mistake. Did you remember it when you first introduced me to Robin? Or when we were dealing with Faison and the cartel?"
Anna considered his question. She thought about the dread and uncertainty she'd been dealing with these past weeks. She couldn't remember ever feeling that way before. When she thought about Robert meeting Robin she remembered feeling nervous, but proud. She'd found Faison repulsive when her returned to Port Charles. She'd wanted desperately to nail him and the other members of the cartel. But she couldn't remember a lost child ever clouding her thoughts. She looked at Robert and shook her head. "No."
"When was the first time the child crossed your mind?"
Anna took a few breaths. "A few weeks ago. When Liesl Obrecht told me about Nathan. As soon as she said Faison had another son—Heinrik. It just hit me, you know? At first, I thought this Heinrik must be my child. But then Valentin said it was a girl."
She stood then and began to pace about the room. Robert knew her wheels were turning. "What are you thinking?" he asked.
"Alex," she said. "She turned out to have DVX connections. Valentine even said that he thought it might have been her. She'd fooled him once before." She paused. "But how could I remember something that happened to Alex unless…" She turned to face Robert again.
"Memory Matching," they said in unison.
"Exactly," Anna said. "Alex is a talented doctor. If she worked with Andre—"
"I don't know. But he turned over his notes to Faison. If she had access to them… And she held me captive for weeks while she dealt with Valentine. It would have given her plenty of opportunity."
"What about motive?"
Anna shook her head. "I don't know. I hate the idea that Alex would do something like that, but…"
"Is that reality better or worse than thinking you bore his child?"
"Better," she admitted. "If you're right."
"I know I am," he said. When he saw the waterworks beginning to start up again he crossed the room and took her into his arms. "We just have to prove it," he whispered as he held her. "We'll find the truth, love. You'll see."
"Thank you," she said when he'd finally let go. She wiped the last tear from her cheek. "For coming. For…"
"Talking some sense into you?"
"That too," she laughed.
"Any time." He kissed her softly on the forehead. "Now, I don't know about you, but I could eat a horse. What's say we head over to the Floating Rib and talk my brother out of rack of ribs and a few libations, hmm?"
Anna took a cleansing breath. "Sounds good!" she said. She reached for Robert's outstretched hand. Once again, she felt grateful for his presence in her life and comforted by his unwavering strength and love. "What would I ever do without you, Robert Scorpio?" she said to herself. Then she caught herself wondering if he'd really thought about making love to her a thousand times and she couldn't help but giggle.
"What?" he asked, his face bright with his usual charming smile.
"Nothing," she said, unwilling to reveal that she'd thought about that night a few thousand times herself.