Written in 53 minutes.
Spinelli found Jason sitting where he’d left him — in the ER waiting room, Carly sitting by his side. He looked towards the curtain, frowning when he realized Elizabeth had not yet been taken into surgery.
Jason lunged to his feet when he saw Spinelli. “What? What did you find?”
“Cameron’s phone was cloned—” When Jason frowned, Spinelli waved his hand. “Franco had a second phone that duplicated Cameron’s signal, and one of those phones at at the Lexington Street. I just got a second ping on a phone at Scott Baldwin’s house—”
“Scott?” Carly repeated, her eyes narrowing. “He wouldn’t be involved this? And when the hell did Franco have time to clone Cameron’s phone?”
“There’s a lot we don’t know about Franco,” Jason said. “Where’s Baldwin?”
“I called him—he’s been at the court house—he didn’t know about anything that’s happened today. He said he was going to call Mac Scorpio and have him go to the house with him.” Spinelli hesitated. “Unless that was a mistake—”
“Jason, I could wait here if you—” Carly began.
Jason took a deep breath. “She’s not in surgery yet. And Jake and Aiden are still at your place, aren’t they?” He looked to Carly. “I don’t want to leave until she’s in surgery—”
“I can explain things, Jase. You know she’d rather you be out there finding her baby. That’s where I’d want you.” Carly cleared her throat. “Go. Go to Baldwin’s place. Find out what he knows.”
“Has anyone called from the house?” Spinelli asked. “Do they know if there are any—” He faltered on the word bodies.
“No, but the fire probably isn’t out yet—” Jason stopped as they saw Griffin and Monica walking towards them. “Any change? Are you—”
“We’ve stabilized her,” Griffin interrupted. “But we’ve got to take her into surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain.”
“We’ve contacted Sarah Webber in California,” Monica said, then grimaced. “She isn’t going to fly out, but said she’d sign power of attorney to one of her sister’s baby daddies. Her wording not mine,” she added when Jason scowled.
“Well, good, Jason is the only one who’s alive and in the country, so—” Carly waved her hand at him. “That solves that problem.”
“Take her into surgery,” Jason said. “What are you waiting for?”
“Paperwork, but—” Griffin eyed Monica who merely raised her brows. “Monica and I have decided not to wait for the bureaucracy. The sooner I get into the OR, the better we’ll all be. You can sign the paperwork later.” He hesitated. “Just don’t sue me.”
Dante murmured something to a firefighter and then walked over to join Drew and Sam where they had take up vigil across the street. His father milled about behind them, his dark eyes trained on the house. It had taken the fire department nearly an hour to get it under control.
“They’re going to look for—” He hesitated. “Remains.”
“I don’t think Cameron was ever here,” Sam murmured. She looked at her husband. “It’s too easy. If Franco—if Franco has given up the act—if he’s stopped pretending—he wouldn’t kill himself now. Not when the game is just starting.”
“Given up the act?” Dante asked.
“What does that mean?”
“It’s been a day,” Drew said after a moment. “Elizabeth threw Franco out this morning, and at some point, she found an ornament with a flash drive tucked in. Yeah, that flash drive. Sam and I were on our way to talk to Andre when we got the call about Cam.” He flexed his hands. “The flash drive wasn’t just about me. It was a history of other patients. Me. Jake. Helena. Franco.”
“Franco?” Dante demanded. “What the hell—”
“The WSB played with his brain—” Sam pursed her lips. “Probably actually gave him the brain tumor. I wonder if that’s how they knew there were twins. If maybe Franco knew something. You were both kidnapped that same summer after they started playing with his head.”
“Wait, wait, the WSB gave him the brain tumor?” Sonny cut in. “Then—”
“Franco’s been playing all of us for years pretending to be a new man. Though the things he’d done since his surgery haven’t really been all that different.” Drew looked back at the house. “So if it’s been an act—”
“Then I doubt you’re going to find anyone in that house,” Sam said. “If Franco wants to torture Elizabeth—”
“And by extension, Jason,” Drew said reluctantly, “then the way to Elizabeth is through her kids. It always has been.”
“So we’ve still got a missing kid on our hands and Franco the serial killer.” Dante swore and reached for his police radio and radioed for backup.
Scott pulled his car to a stop outside his home and then just stared the steering wheel. Beside him, sometimes friend and former colleague, Mac Scorpio, cleared his throat. “Any time now, Scott.”
“I don’t even know what I’m doing here. That crazy tech seems to think Franco did something to Elizabeth’s kid—”
He looked at Mac. “He wouldn’t do that. He loves her. He loves those kids.”
“Does he?” Mac asked. He arched a brow. “I can’t help but notice that you started to develop a better relationship with Franco after he took up with Elizabeth Webber. She made him normal, didn’t she? Hell, people started to think maybe he really did clean up his act.”
“She was good for him. Those boys—” Scott closed his eyes. “Those boys are good boys. Franco’s my blood. If he did this thing—”
“Then we’ll deal with it, Scott. Let’s go in—”
They got out of the car just as a dark SUV drew up—Scott scowled when Spinelli got out of the passenger side, but his scowl slipped when Jason Morgan emerged.
Jason’s black t-shirt was torn at the shoulder, and there was a burn on the side of face—his hands looked chapped and red. Soot lined his face and his hair was a tangled mess. Spinelli had said Jason carried Elizabeth out of the burning home.
The home where she believed Franco had stashed her son, leaving him to die in a fiery explosion.
“Spinell, where is this phone you said is pinging at my place?” Scott demanded. Spinelli reached into his bag and drew out a small boxy object.
“This will lead us right to it. If…you’ll let us in.”
Scott looked at Mac who nodded at him. “Let’s do this.”
Mac slipped his old service revolver from a holster at his side, noting with some irony that Jason was doing the same with the gun he’d kept tucked in his back waistband.
They went in first—but the house was silent and no one leapt out at them. No teenage boy or overgrown psycho to be found.
“Spinell?” Jason said, turning back to his friend. The box began to beep, beeps that seemed even and regularly spaced at first but became louder and more rapid as Spinelli walked towards the kitchen.
On the kitchen table sat a gray backpack.
Scott knew the backpack. He’d picked Cameron up at school last fall when he’d had a field hockey practice that ran late. He’d done Elizabeth a favor, thinking these boys would be like his grandchildren one day.
“That’s—” Scott couldn’t find the words. “That’s Cameron’s.”
Jason quickly unzipped it — inside sat Cameron’s books, a notebook, and his phone. He held it in his hand for a long moment, just staring at it.
“Why—why would he leave Cameron’s things here?” Scott asked Mac. “I wasn’t here when—when he was—I thought the tumor—” He swallowed all his protestations. Set them aside. None of that mattered anymore.
All that mattered was bringing Cameron Webber home safely.
“He knew we’d find the phone eventually.” Jason flipped through the books—but they looked like standard algebra and literature textbooks. The notebook looked like a journal rather than a class notes, and he set that aside. It was none of his business. “He left it here. At your house.”
“Cameron must still be alive.” Scott grabbed Mac’s arm, looking for reassurance. “That’s what this is. It’s proof of life.”
“Unless this is the cloned phone.” Jason handed it to Spinelli. “Can you tell?”
“Not right away, but whoever bought him the phone—or knows his phone.” Spinelli examined it, flipped it over. “He left Cameron’s phone with his father. What does that mean?”
Jason’s phone rang and he dug it out of his pocket. “Yeah?”
“Jason—it’s—we’re at the house. The firefighters have gone in looking for—but there’s no sign of anything so far.” Drew sounded weary. “Listen, I think this was all a goddamn joke to him. I don’t think Cameron was ever here—”
“I know. He cloned Cam’s phone and left his backpack at Scott Baldwin’s,” Jason said with a grimace. “I don’t know where to look.”
“Neither do I. Look, Dante is calling in Jordan and the rest of the PCPD, but I think we need more help than that. The WSB screwed with his brain—I think they should tell us what the hell is going on and why Franco had that damn ornament. Sam and I are going to see Anna Devane.”
“Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Let me know what happens.” Jason closed his phone and shoved it back in his pocket. “They haven’t found any sign at the house. Dante called in the rest of the PCPD to look for Cam, and Drew and Sam are going to see Anna about the WSB.”
“WSB?” Scott demanded. “What the hell is going on? I go to work for one day and the whole damn world falls apart!”
With no other leads, Jason and Spinelli returned to the hospital while Scott and Mac went to the PCPD to see if there was any assistance they could lend there.
Monica had paperwork for Jason to sign, belatedly agreeing to the surgery—but before she let him sign it, she forced him to let her look at the burns, cuts, and bruises he’d sustained in the fire.
Jason didn’t care about any of that, but he knew it would make her feel better so he let her deal with it. When he emerged from her office, he found Joss in the waiting room with her mother—and Aiden and Jake.
“Joss—” He said with a wince as the blonde turned to look at him, her eyes red and swollen, “What are you—”
“I saw it on the news. The house. And the boys wanted—” She lifted her chin. “I’m not sorry.”
“Is my mommy going to die?” Aiden asked, his cheeks stained with tears. Carly put an arm around him. “Did my brother die?”
“Where’s Cameron?” Jake asked, those serious blue eyes trained on Jason’s. “Where’s my brother?”
“Sit down.” Jason took a seat and waited for Aiden and Jake to sit on the adjoining love seat in the waiting room. “You know that Franco signed your brother out of the school earlier today. He wasn’t supposed to do that. Your mom had broken up with this morning.”
“Good.” Aiden sniffled. “He’s stupid, and I don’t like him.”
Jake eyed his brother with irritation before turning back to Jason. “But he wouldn’t hurt Cameron. He loves us.”
“He loves you,” Aiden muttered.
“He called your mother from your old house—or at least that’s where we thought they were. We went to the house—and he called again, showing her a video of Cameron. And then the house exploded. We thought Cam was inside. So your mother ran in.”
“Not the first time she’s tried to walk through fire for you guys,” Spinelli added with a half smile. “Your mom’s tough.”
“But you got her out,” Jake said slowly. He reached for Jason’s hand, at the new bandage across his forearm. “Joss said she was okay.”
“She’s in surgery. She hit her head,” Jason told them. “We still can’t find Cameron. We think Franco was playing a trick on us.”
“What’s going to happen to us?” Aiden sniffled. He dragged his hand over his nose. “Is my mommy going to die?” he asked again.
Jason hesitated. The thought that Elizabeth might not survive her injuries wasn’t even something he was willing to entertain. Elizabeth’s power of attorney had been outdated. What about custody of Cameron and Aiden if something happened to her?
He looked to Spinelli who nodded. “I’m on it.” The computer tech disappeared down the hall.
“Right now, I don’t think anyone is going to mind if you guys are here waiting for news,” he finally said. “We should call your grandmother—”
“I already did,” Joss said. “But Laura is in England with Spencer. She’s trying to get a flight back, but it’s—I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention once she said she couldn’t come back.” Joss scowled. “No one ever seems to rush for Cameron. Where is he? What are you doing to find him?”
“The PCPD is looking for him. Spinelli is looking. We were tracking his phone, but it was a dead end. Drew went to see about getting Anna and the WSB involved.” Jason looked at Carly’s daughter, realizing that the blonde had obviously inherited her mother’s fierce loyalty. “No one is forgetting about Cameron.”
“Okay.” Joss sniffled and leaned into her mother’s embrace. “Okay. Can we call the FBI? Or the National Guard? I don’t know. There has to be something we’re not thinking about.”
“I know, baby.” Carly smoothed her hair. “Stay with the boys. I want to talk to Jason alone for a minute.” She kissed Joss’s forehead and then stood. Jason followed her to a corner of the room. “Listen. Franco’s playing games, isn’t he?”
“He left Cameron’s backpack, knowing we’d track the phone, so yeah.” Jason shook his head. “I don’t know what the hell kind of games—”
“Listen to me,” she repeated. “Not long after Franco had his surgery, when we started dating—” She grimaced. “Heather Webber kidnapped me and I nearly died at Wyndemere. Those old stupid tunnels—no, I don’t think Cameron is there because there was a collapse, but for a while there, he was obsessed with Heather Webber.”
“Why—” Jason nodded. “Right, right, I remember. She’s his biological mother. So what—”
“When he was looking to get revenge on me for sleeping with Sonny, he arranged for Heather to escape and come after me.” Carly took a deep breath. “Because Heather hates me. But my point is that Franco left Cameron’s things with Scott. His father.”
“So you think it’s pointing at Heather—”
“The last time he kidnapped Elizabeth’s child?” Carly asked with raised brows. “When he took Aiden? Where did he take him?”
“To Betsy.” Jason swore, reaching for his phone. “You don’t think he’d do that again, do you?”
“I don’t know. But Franco has a twisted obsession with parents and children, don’t you think? He went after Michael because of what I did. He kidnapped Danny because of you when he first came back to town. He’s going after Cameron because of Elizabeth. The sins of the father or the mother, in this case. All that crap about Cameron not belonging to anyone?”
Jason nodded as he dialed the phone. “Yeah. It makes sense. He took Aiden to give her to his mother. Maybe that’s what he wants to do with Cameron.” When Dante answered, Jason said, “Where is Betsy Frank right now?”