Anna closes the door gingerly, then straightens. It's done. When the door is opened and the bomb explodes, Faison will never know what hit him. She takes a deep breath. She is ready to do this, she tells herself. She must do it. For Robin and for Robert. The thought of missing the rest of their lives, all that they will do and be, is killing her inside, but she knows this is the only way. The only way to keep them safe forever. She wishes with her whole heart that she could see them one last time – but it's impossible. Her memories will have to be enough.
She closes her eyes in remembrance, and regret, then opens then again as she becomes aware of a muffled sound from the passageway. Soft footsteps, coming nearer. She hasn't heard the speedboat carrying Faison and his lieutenants return to the yacht, although they're due back any time now. She moves toward the outer stateroom door, her head cocked, listening intently. "Cesar?"
A figure appears in the entryway, his face in shadow with the setting sun behind him. She is overwhelmed by a sudden feeling of familiarity, and instantly she knows. It can't be, but it is. The blood drains from her face in shock. "Robert," she whispers.
He steps forward into the room and she can see him properly. His face is lined, worn, his eyes bleak and a little wild. Unshaven and unkept, he looks like he hasn't slept in weeks.
He stops in surprise when he sees her but quickly recovers. "Yeah, it's me, not your lover," he spits harshly. "Sorry to disappoint you."
Anna is stunned. "What are you doing here?" is all she can think to say.
"I just thought I'd come check up on my favorite wife – whom I thought had been kid-napped, by the way," he says with a heavy dose of irony. "Imagine my surprise at finding her shacked up on a yacht with my worst enemy."
Anna presses her lips together, trying to hide the deep hurt in her eyes.
"Where the hell is he?" Robert demands, his eyes fiery. He strides purposefully toward the inner stateroom but Anna intercepts him.
"He's not here," she says, physically blocking his passage.
"Well I'll just find that out for myself," he says, starting to push past her.
"No!" Anna grabs his arm before he can touch the door handle.
Robert jerks away like he's been scalded. "Don't touch me!" he hisses, backing away from her.
They stand a moment in silence, the atmosphere crackling with tension.
His eyes meet hers, flicker away then back again. The loss and emptiness she sees there devastates her, and she struggles to harden her heart against it.
"Why did you do it?" he asks finally, half-turning.
Anna doesn't pretend not to know what he means. Why did she stay with Faison voluntarily rather than try to escape and return to Port Charles. She can't tell him the truth, that she's been waiting for the one perfect opportunity to trade her life for his and their daughter's. Robert would never stand for that.
She quickly searches her mind for a convincing explanation. She has to get him out of here, before Faison comes back. "After our honeymoon, he started sending me flowers. Orchids. Red ones. They were – are – a symbol of his undying love. And I finally realized, it's been him all along. Faison and I…we're just so alike. We're two sides of the same coin. I'm sorry Robert, but that's simply the way it is."
Robert's jaw is clenched and he can't hold her gaze. "Do you love him?" he demands, his voice hoarse and close to breaking.
Anna flinches. Then, hardening her tone and adopting her most arrogant, defiant pose, she replies firmly, "Yes."
The look on his face smashes her heart into a million pieces. It's the same look he wore those many years ago when he first found out she was a double agent. The one that says she has betrayed him, and the bond between them has been shattered. It's agonizing to know that from now on he'll think of her only with pain and hatred. But she'll willingly endure that agony, a thousand times over, if it means saving his life.
She watches helplessly as Robert stands motionless, the despair in his eyes giving way to loathing, then to anger, and rage. He must go now, she thinks, panic beginning to build. Is that the sound of an engine she hears in the distance?
His hands are balled into fists. Then suddenly they open and he lunges for the stateroom door.
"No!" Anna yells. Desperate, she pulls a gun from her purse and points it at his heart. "Stop right there, Robert," she orders. "Get away from the door." She's trembling with tension and fear that Faison will come back aboard before he is gone, but her hand is as steady as a rock.
Robert reluctantly complies, dropping his hands to his sides and moving to the center of the room. He stares at her intently, the expression in his eyes unreadable. "He isn't here, is he?" A beat passes. "Tell me again that you love him."
Anna swallows, summoning every ounce of willpower she possesses. "I do," she swears.
"Tell me that you love Faison!" he demands savagely.
"I do love Faison!" she shouts, frantic now. Please, god, anything to make him go.
He takes a small step towards her. She moves back, keeping just out of arm's reach. She knows all his tricks, and stays firmly on her guard.
His eyes change then, and he tilts his head in that curiously shy way she loves so much. He studies her for a long moment. "I don't think you do," he whispers finally. "I think you're just saying that to get me away from here. I think you've got something cooked up behind that door – a booby trap of some sort, set up for Faison. And you don't want me to me to trip it. So desperately," he leans forward and peers into her eyes, "that you'll say anything to get me off this boat."
Anna shakes her head. "You're wrong," she says roughly, her thumb poised to cock the weapon. She can hardly bear to look at him - this is so terribly hard. "It's Faison I love, not you. You've been jilted, Robert, get it through your thick skull."
It's Robert's turn to shake his head. "I don't think so," he repeats. "You see, once upon a time you promised me that it was me you loved, not him. You remember? You told me that I should trust you, that you never loved Faison and never would." His voice drops as he takes a slow step towards her. "And you see, I believed you. I trusted you. And I still trust you. Even when you're pointing a loaded gun at me."
He takes another step forward, the barrel of the gun sinking into the material of his shirt where it sits over his heart.
"Tell me I'm wrong, Anna," he whispers, his voice thick and ragged. "Tell me I'm wrong and then pull the trigger, because I trust you and I trust our love, and if that's gone - then…I'd rather be dead."
Tears stream silently down Anna's cheeks as she stares into his eyes. Sees the love there, the fiery passion, the infinite trust. Everything she ever hoped or dreamed. She never imagined he would have such faith in her, and in them. Her hand holding the gun trembles violently, and without breaking eye contact Robert carefully reaches up and slips it from her unresisting fingers.
Anna covers her face with her hands, overcome with emotion. Robert folds her into his arms and cradles her, resting his chin on the top of her head. He smoothes her hair with one hand, gently soothing her as she weeps uncontrollably. After a moment her hands slide around his waist and she embraces him fiercely, holding onto him like a lifeline.
For an eternity they stand locked together, knowing only that beyond all hope they have found each other again. Anna's joy is like a physical pain in her chest. Right this instant she is as happy as she has ever been in her life. But she knows the moment can't last.
"Robert, you must go, please," she begs once she's regained control of her voice. She leans back to look him in the face. Her own face is pale and tear-streaked. "He'll be back any minute. I have to do this, for you, for Robin. He's tried to destroy you because of me, I have to…"
"No!" Robert explodes, gripping her arms. "I won't have any sacrifices! What's it going to be? A detonator under the bed? In the TV remote? The lamp? Whatever it is, Faison will set it off himself! You're coming with me, we're getting out of here together."
He tries to lead her back in the direction of the deck but Anna fights him. "No, Robert, I have to stay here. Please - it's the only way to make certain he's really here when the bomb goes off. There are guards around, and a maid – "
Robert interrupts. "That's a chance we'll just have to take." He brushes her lips quickly, tasting the salty tears. "I love you, Anna. I'm not losing you again."
Anna reaches up and brings his head down again to hers. The kiss is bittersweet, full of yearning and grief. "I love you, Robert. I'm sorry – I have to stay. If Faison survives he'll never give us a moment's peace."
She pulls away from her love to stand resolutely in front of the stateroom door, hugging herself tightly. She takes a shaky breath, scrubs the tears from her face as best she can. She wants so desperately to go with him.
Robert drops his hands to his sides and stares at her with a frown, silently willing her to change her mind. She doesn't move. He rakes a hand through his hair in frustration. "Alright. Then I'm staying, too. We'll have it out –"
There is a shout from the port side of the yacht, and the sounds of a speedboat engine loud in the gathering twilight. Galvanized into action, Robert grabs Anna by the wrist and races out into the passageway. Realizing the game is up she runs with him readily as they pelt along the deck, making for the aft section of the enormous sailboat. The sun has set, giving them some cover as the light fades around them.
Suddenly heavy footsteps sound, moving swiftly towards them. Robert quickly swings Anna up into a nearby lifeboat and slithers in after her, ducking down under a covering tarp as two guards pass them with automatic weapons slung over their shoulders. They remain motionless until the footsteps fade, then carefully raise their heads.
"Robert!" Anna whispers, holding up an underwater mask. There's a wetsuit under her foot and she's kneeling on an oxygen tank. "Is this how you got out here?"
Robert nods without looking at her, his eyes straining to penetrate the gloom. "Yeah, but no time for that now. Looks like the coast is clear – let's go."
They hop down noiselessly and race to the back of the yacht, as far as they can get from Faison and his men. Robert grabs a rope and ties one end to the railing, then drops the other end silently into the water below.
"They'll see this –" Anna objects.
Robert overrides her. "We'll have to risk it. Get going."
Anna throws a leg over the railing and grips the rope. She stops for the briefest moment, wanting to brand his face into her memory one last time. "I love you," she breathes, then drops over the railing.
An alarm goes up from the bridge and a gun cracks. Bullets whine past, thumping into the wooden deck at Robert's feet. He scrambles over the railing and dives in, hitting the water with a sharp report. Searchlights ignite and begin to play over the area. Automatic weapons fire randomly strikes the waves as the guards try for a lucky hit.
Suddenly the boat explodes, the sound deafening. Flaming debris rains in all directions.
Buffeted by the shock wave Anna strokes towards the distant shore, swimming strongly. Despite the hail of bullets she can feel Robert near her, like a strong pulse in her heart. They will survive this, she knows now with utter certainty. They will wash ashore just as they did in Italy so many years ago, and find each other's arms. This time, she will never let go.