Anna and Robin sat side by side on the small sofa in the waiting area at General Hospital. Robin rubbed gentle circles on her mother's back.
"How are you holding up?" Robin asked.
Anna gave a sniffle and forced a tiny smile for her daughter, then looked down and rubbed her hands over her thighs. Her shoulders tensed as she caught the sight of the smear of dried blood against her white gown peeking through her spread fingers.
"Mom?" Robin said.
Anna looked at her and nodded, still trying to smile. "I'm fine."
Robin wasn't fooled. "It's okay that you're not," Robin said. She handed Anna a tissue which Anna immediately used to dab her eyes.
"Really, Robin, I'm fine," Anna repeated. "You shouldn't have to worry about me. Just worry about your dad."
"I worry about both of you, Mom."
"You don't need to."
"But I do. Just like you worry about me. We love each other. Worrying is part of the package."
Anna gave a small laugh then. She put an arm around Robin and when Robin leaned into her, she kissed the top of her head. "I love you too," she said. She was still in awe of the mature, confident, brilliant woman her daughter had become. "And you know, you were really… awesome back there. At the church. You and Patrick. And Finn. You might have saved your father's life. Again," she added, remembering the care Robin and Patrick had given Robert during his bout with cancer. "You're such an amazing woman."
"I learned from the best," Robin said.
"Oh, Robin, I could never do anything like that," Anna said.
"Mom, you save lives all the time. We just do it in different ways."
Anna sighed. "I just wish there were something I could do now, you know?"
Robin could tell from the way Anna's chest shook she was doing everything in her power to keep from breaking down.
"I can't even explain it, Robin. He drives me crazy. You know he does, but…"
"But you love him anyway," Robin finished her statement. "You always have. And you know he feels the same way, even if you're not together anymore. The two of you have always been there for each other and you can't imagine—"
"Stop," Anna said, wiping her eyes.
"It's gonna be okay, Mom," Robin said. "Patrick scrubbed in. He and the rest of the team are going to do everything they can to help him. And what you can do…is help the PCPD find the bastard who did this to him."
Robin's statement wasn't a tearful one. It was just a matter-of-fact kind of statement from a daughter who had all the faith in the world that her mother was still a real bad ass.
Anna had already told Jordan as much before she left the church. Robert Scorpio was a former director of the WSB, a former government agent, and the acting District Attorney. This was not just a local matter. It was a matter of national security as far as she was concerned. She had had every intention of making it her business. Still, she found a renewed strength in Robin's belief. She sat up and turned to face her. She took Robin's face in her hands and looked into her eyes. She gave her a nod, her lips pressed together, then said, "You can bet that I will do everything in my power to see that whoever did this is brought to justice."
A moment later, Mac came bursting into the waiting area and rushed toward the two women.
"Uncle Mac!" Robin called when she spotted him. She and Anna both stood and hugged him.
"How is he? How's Robbie?" Mac asked. His words came in quick desperation.
"Well, he survived the ambulance ride. He's in surgery now, so all we can do is wait," Robin said.
"That's it?" Mac said.
Anna placed a tender hand on his arm and gave his bicep a squeeze. "Patrick is in the OR with him. And Bobbie Spencer. And the rest of the team… They're going to take good care of him. Where's Felicia?"
Mac flopped down on the sofa and ran his hands through his wavy gray locks. "She took Emma and Noah back to our place."
"Robin! Anna!" Maxie's voice rang out.
"How's Robert? Is there anything we can do?" Peter said when he and Maxie reached them.
"No word yet," Anna said.
Mac leapt back to his feet. "You've got a lot of nerve showing up here!" he said grumbled in Peter's face. "What the hell were you thinking?" He grabbed Peter's lapels.
"Mac!" Maxie cried.
"Stay out of this, Maxie!" He gave Peter a shove. "My brother is fighting for his life in there and you—"
"Mac!" Anna said, stepping between the two men. "What are you talking about? What happened to Robert is not Peter's fault."
"Maybe he didn't shoot him, but he sure as hell didn't do anything to help him!"
Mac lunged toward Peter again.
"Mac!" Anna put an arm out to stop him. She couldn't overpower him, but she knew he would stop voluntarily before he exerted any force on her.
As Anna suspected, Mac took a step back and turned to walk away, rotating his neck and shoulders to shake off his frustration. Anna followed him.
"Mac, I get that your frustrated and scared. I am too. But what the hell was that about?"
"Anna, if I might…" Peter said, approaching.
"Could you give us a minute, please?" Anna shot Peter a look.
"I think I can explain," Peter said.
"You don't owe us any explanation, Peter," Anna sighed.
"Oh, no. By all means. Please," Mac said, looking around Anna to Peter.
Anna sighed and gave a wave of her hand in silent resignation.
"Anna, I think Mac is frustrated because he saw my actions as a lack of respect for the gravity of the situation, but I can assure you that is not the case."
"What actions?" Anna asked.
Mac jumped in. "I ran out of the sanctuary to find him and the first aid kit earlier and found him—"
Peter cut him off. "He found me checking my cell phone."
"What?" Anna said.
"He was hiding in a corner checking his messages," Mac said.
"Are you sure, Mac?"
"I know what I saw, Anna. He looked up at me like the cat that ate the canary and then slipped the phone back in his pocket and tried to play it off like no big deal."
Peter rebutted. "I was startled when you found me, Mac. But it wasn't what it looked like. I was on my way back with the supplies when my phone rang. I stopped to see who it was. I shouldn't have stopped, I suppose, but—"
"But seeing as how you weren't in any hurry to get back…" Mac barked, his hands on his hips.
Peter went on. "I knew it had taken me a while to find everything. I thought the call might have been from one of you or from Maxie. I only stopped for a moment, but that's when Mac came running toward me. It must have looked like I was unconcerned. But I promise, I was only making sure it wasn't a call with an update or about something else you needed me to find."
He took a step toward Mac and gave him his most sincere smile. "Mac, I'm truly sorry about what happened to your brother. And Anna, I can't even imagine how you must feel. This was supposed to be your wedding day. I know Robert and I haven't always been the best of friends—"
"That's an understatement," Mac said.
Peter smirked at that, then gathered his composure again. "My point is, no matter what has happened between Robert and me, he's important to you. You all have been nothing but supportive of me and of Maxie. Because of that, I would never want anything like this to happen to him or to any of you. You must believe that." He looked to Anna then.
Anna stared into Peter's eyes for a moment. When she'd found what she was looking for, she nodded and tossed the ball into her former brother in law's court. "Mac?" she said.
Mac hesitated, then shook his head and shrugged. "I guess so," Mac said. And with that, he excused himself and walked away just as his phone began to ring.
"All of our emotions are running high right now," Anna said by way of explaining Mac's behavior, and she returned to the group, pulling Peter along with her with a hand on his back.
Mac finished his phone call and announced that he would have to leave.
"Is everything okay?" Peter perked up.
"Just standard police business," Mac said. "I'm headed back to the scene." Mac hugged Anna, Robin, and Maxie and apologized for leaving. "You'll keep me posted?" he said to Anna.
"Yes. Of course. As soon as we know something," Anna said. "You do the same."
"You got it, Agent Devane," Mac said with a reassuring nod and a sad smile.
Maybe we should go, too," Peter said to Maxie as he watched Mac step into the elevator.
"No. I don't want to go. Not yet. I want to be sure Robert is going to be okay."
Peter nodded. "I just thought maybe they'd like some time as a family," he said, motioning to the others.
"They are my family," Maxie said.
"Of course," Peter said. "Maybe I should go? I could get out of everybody's way and check in with the paper."
"Lulu told you had the story covered. Just stay with me. Please?"
Peter agreed and took a seat next to Maxie, but he seemed to be searching for a way to make himself useful. He threw a question out every few minutes. Did anyone want any coffee? Could he get anyone something to eat? Did Anna want him to collect her things from the church? Did she need a change of clothes? Did she want to go for a walk? Should he go home to check on James? Should he see how Emma and Noah were doing with Felicia? The list went on.
Anna alternated between sitting and pacing with her arms wrapped around herself as she and the other women deflected each of Peter's questions. But after about twenty questions, she ran out of patience. She stopped in front of Peter and looked down at him as she spoke.
"Peter, I appreciate that you're here, okay? I do. We all do. And I love that you want to do something to help. But Finn and Felicia and Mac, they have everything under control out there. As for the rest," she added, her voice rising, "I don't want coffee, I don't want tea. I'm not going to eat or sleep or step foot out of this waiting room until I know for a fact that Robert is safely through surgery and on his way to recovery. All right, so just…" She stopped then, as the lump of emotion in her throat threatened to choke her.
Robin stood then to envelope her mother in an embrace.
"I'm sorry," Anna said over her daughter's shoulder.
"It's okay, Mom," Robin whispered.
Once Anna had regained her composure, Robin went to see if there was any update.
Maxie convinced Anna to sit again. She put an arm around her godmother and felt her shiver. "Oh my gosh, Anna! You're freezing."
"I'm fine," Anna said.
"You are not. Peter, give her your jacket." Maxie waved him over.
"Yes. She's freezing."
"Oh. I could ask for a blanket."
"Or you could just take your jacket off."
Peter hesitated, then slowly removed the coat, and moved toward Anna and wrapped it around her shoulders.
"Thank you," Anna said. Then she realized the jacket felt heavier on one side. She reached into the breast pocket and pulled out the phone. "You probably want this," she said.
"Oh, Peter said innocently. He held out his hand. "Yes, Actually…"
Before he could finish his statement, the phone buzzed with a text notification. Anna couldn't read the text notification very well without her glasses, but she could see that the photo that popped up on the lock screen looked like one of her and Robin. An old picture, probably from the early nighties. She was surprised that Peter would have that picture at all, much less use it as his lock screen. "Where in the world did you get that picture," she asked, but as she said it she held the phone farther away, she was able to make out the name in bold print on the text. Frisco Jones.
Maxie saw that too. "Frisco?" she said.
"This is Robert's phone," Anna said, her brow creasing. "Where did you get it?"
"Yes. Actually… that's what I was about to tell you. It was lying on the floor after they wheeled Robert out. I picked it up. I was going to give it to you, but you left with him in the ambulance, so I just put it in my pocket and by the time we got here… Well, there was so much going on. I'm sorry I didn't think about it sooner."
Anna shook her head. "Oh, no. That's okay. I'll see that he gets it once he's up and around again," she said, fighting the "if" in her head.
"Mom!" Robin was speed walking across the waiting area with Patrick in tow.
"Patrick?" Anna said excitedly.
Patrick sighed as he peeled off his surgical cap. He looked tired.
"Is he all right? Is he gonna be all right?"
"It was pretty touch and go, but he came through. They're taking him to recovery now. The next 24 hours will tell us a lot."
Anna threw her arms around Patrick. "Thank you!" she cried in relief.
Later, after Anna had sent all the young people back to their respective beds for the night, she took the bag of items Finn had brought her into the small bathroom in Robert's room. She changed her clothes, unpinned and brushed out her hair, and tucked her Sig 228 into the waistband of her dark jeans so that her thin, pale pink sweater fell over the top, concealing it from anyone who wasn't looking too hard. She felt mildly guilty for having asked Finn to retrieve it for her. He had to have broken a few state laws to do so. But she needed it, and there was no way she was leaving Robert to get it herself.
She dropped her bag in the chair in the corner of the room and laid Peter's tuxedo jacket over the back of the chair. Maxie had insisted she hold on to it when they left because Finn had not yet arrived with her things. Finally, feeling more like herself than she had in several hours, she settled herself on the edge of Robert's bed and took his hand.
"Here we are again," she said with laugh that was somehow both sad and wistful.
She studied Robert's face, still hoping to see some sort of reaction, though she knew it wasn't reasonable to expect it. No matter how many times she'd sat at his bedside, it never got easier to deal with. Seeing him lying there—the white knight who'd ridden to her rescue so many times—so still, so quiet. It was always unnerving. She squeezed his left hand with her right while she wiped her tears with the other. After a sniff and a swallow, she spoke again.
"You hang in there, Robert, okay? You made it to the hospital and through the surgery, and that was tough. But you've got work to do. Healing. And I expect you to do that. We're counting on that stubborn streak of yours to pull you through. We need you. Robin and Patrick and the kids. And me. I might not admit it once you wake up, but I've got a secret, you know. Do you want to know my secret? Hmm? Do you? Well, the truth is, no matter what's gone on between us, I don't want to live in a world without you. I don't know how to do that. Okay? So, you just… you just hang in there. All right? You do everything you can to get better. And in the meantime, I'm gonna do everything I can to find the person who did this to you. I'm not gonna let 'em get away with this."
She lifted his hand to her lips and as she placed a kiss on his knuckle, she felt something brush her shoulder. In an instant, she was on her feet, turned to face the action, gun in hand.
"Don't shoot!" he said.
"Oh, God," Anna said, lowering her weapon.
"Most people just call me Finn. But then I guess they say some doctors have a God complex. Can you put that thing away?" he said with a flick of his index finger.
Anna exhaled. "I'm sorry." She tucked the gun back in her waistband and moved to hug him.
Finn wrapped his arms around her, and she settled into him, allowing his presence to calm the adrenaline rush.
"It's okay," he said. "I know it's been a rough day."
"You could say that. Did you check in with the patients you wanted to see?"
She smiled up at him and he leaned in for a kiss.
"Mmm. That's nice," she said. "I'm really sorry about today."
"Not your fault."
"I know. Still, if things had gone as planned, we'd be married and heading off on our honeymoon."
"Yeah. Well, I… I been thinkin' about that. Maybe it wasn't meant to be. You know… maybe we were trying too hard."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, we can still get married. But the big wedding, all the fuss, maybe that's not really us. You know. Maybe we're more of a stop at city hall and a weekend in Monaco kind of couple."
"Yeah. Or wherever you drag me off to on the spur of the moment."
Anna gave a genuine laugh then. "Maybe you're right." She kissed him again.
"Yeah, so we'll figure it out."
"We will," she agreed.
"Now, what do you say? Are you ready to head home?"
"Oh," Anna said. Her face was once again serious.
"I'm afraid I can't go home. Not tonight, anyway."
"Well… because I can't. Not until I know that Robert is out of the woods."
Finn fiddled with the back of his hair and he gave her one of his irritated nods. "You do know that he's your ex-husband, right? I mean, you can hardly stand the guy half the time."
"I know. I know it seems that way. And I know he's in good hands here. But…"
"I know it might not make sense, but I just can't leave him. Not tonight. I promised Robin that if she and Patrick went home to rest and be with the kids that I would stay."
Finn nodded again. "Yeah, well, sure. Then you have to stay."
"And it'll be good for him to have protection."
"You know Jordan could send a guard or a team of guards… probably."
"But this way she doesn't need to. Besides, we don't really know who the enemy is right now. And I would just feel safer…"
She stopped talking. The look on his face made it clear that there was nothing more to be gained by digging in any deeper.
"So, what? Should we get you a cot or something?"
Anna shook her head. "Thank you. But I'll be fine."
Finn nodded. "Then I guess I see you tomorrow. Sometime."
"I hope so," Anna said, giving him another smile.
He forced one in return, then said goodnight and turned for the door.
She reached out and grabbed his arm. "Finn, you do understand, don't you?"
"Sure. Yeah. I understand. Goodnight," he said again.
Her last "I'm sorry!" was still hanging in the air when the door shut behind him. She blew out a big breath. Finn may have had a right to be upset, but she would have to deal with that later. Right now, she had a job to do.
She pulled her phone out of her pocket. There were no new messages. Then she remembered Robert's phone. She dug it out of her bag along with her glasses. When she pressed the button, the picture of her and Robin popped up again, but of course, her fingerprint did not open it.
She climbed on the bed next to Robert with the phone in her hand. "You don't mind, do you?" she asked. She took Robert's right hand and used his thumbprint to unlock the phone. She scrolled through his texts. The last one from Frisco read, "Where are you? Did you get the files I sent?"
"What files?" she whispered to herself.
She moved on to email. She searched the current mailbox for Frisco Jones. Not only were there no new messages from Frisco, there were no messages from Frisco withing the last several months. She found that odd. True, Robert was not officially on the payroll anymore, but she knew he still had connections and had been working with the bureau to tie up loose ends on several cases.
Something told her to click on the trash folder. When she did, the little wheel began to turn in search of recently deleted items. Sure enough, one by one, several messages from Frisco appeared.
Jackpot, Anna thought. But before she could get a handle on what the messages were about, the phone went dead. Damn! She found her charger and plugged it in. While she waited for it to charge enough to turn back on, she sent a text to Frisco asking him to call her and another to Mac asking if they had found the weapon yet.
Her phone rang a moment later.
"Stable. I'm here with him now. But all we can do is wait and give him time to heal. Have you got anything new?"
"Not much. Jordan got called away. Some issue with a former contact at the DEA."
"Have you've taken over?"
"For the time being. Look, the only gun we found outside was Robert's. It was under his car. Most likely kicked under there. But still fully loaded. We did a thorough search of the perimeter."
"What about inside?"
"Nothing on the initial sweep. Whoever this is, they didn't dispose of the weapon where we could easily find it, or they took it with them. We've talked to most of the guests. Nobody recalls seeing anything or anyone out of place. Can you think of anything that was out of the ordinary?"
"I was in the dressing room most of the time. But the only people in there were members of the wedding party. So, no. Nothing unexpected. It could be someone tied to a case Robert had worked on. I may have a lead on some information from Frisco, but I'll have to get back to you on that. Oh, hang on. I've got another call."
She held the phone away from her ear to read the number of the incoming call.
"Mac, I'll have to let you go. This one's from the bureau."
"Sure. Talk to you soon."
"Thanks, Mac. Bye." She clicked end and accept and before she'd even had a chance to greet the next caller, he spoke.
"Devane, it's Robinson. We have a problem."
"What is it?"
"Director Jones has gone missing."