A Visit From an Angel II

Victor hung up on his PI, angry at the developments in Italy. *Why is it,* he wondered, *that people didn't understand the difference between diverting someone's attention and attempted murder anymore?*

Shaking his head, he rose and moved to the wet bar to pour himself a drink. As he did, he caught sight of the photo album on the table in front of the couch. "What is that doing out?" he asked on a sigh as he put down his drink. "HENDERSON!" he bellowed as he moved towards the table.

Within seconds, the man entered the room, a harried "Yes, Mr. Kiriakis?" passing his lips nervously. After his last few run ins he with Ms. and Mr. Roberts, he couldn't help but worry that he might be looking at being fired. . .

"What is that doing out?" Victor asked indicating the photo album.

"Sir?" Henderson asked a bit confused.

"You know full well that that particular album isn't to be put out!"

"Sir, I was only following your standing orders," Henderson quickly responded, unsure of what could've set his boss off.

"My standing orders?" Victor asked a bit bemused as he turned and moved towards his desk, carelessly thumbing through his calendar.

"Yes, sit, that it be left out on Miss Isabella's birthday and. . ."

"I know the order, Henderson!" Victor said, a touch of anger in his voice before it softened slightly. "I just didn't realize. . ." Victor sighed as he put the calendar down again. How could you forget today was her birthday?a voice in his head mocked him.

"Of course, Sir," Henderson replied, a bit sympathetically. "Will there be anything else?"

"Just close the door and make sure I'm not disturbed," Victor ordered as he moved to the couch and picked up the album.

Moving slowly out of the room, Henderson looked back at his boss as the man sank to the couch before he turned to close the door. As always he was surprised at how broken the man looked when he allowed himself to remember. "Keep an eye on him," he whispered as he closed the door and left his boss alone with his memories of the daughter he had lost. . .

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How one life could be captured in one photo album, Victor could never comprehend. But somehow that was what was left of his daughter life. . .Pictures of her with John. . .With Bo. . .With himself. . .With Brady. . .With the children she had thought of as her own. . .

The thought struck him to the core as he stared at a picture of Isabella, John, Eric, and Sami all in the uniform of the local little league team and laughing at the camera.

Fingering the picture slightly, Victor let himself remember that time in their lives. Of the family that she had almost had. . . "You certainly wouldn't be happy with me right now," he mused as he felt a soft breeze brush past him.

"You're right. I'm not," a voice said simply as he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder.

Surprised, Victor looked towards it, a look of shock crossing his features in recognition. "Isabella?" he breathed as he put his hand over hers.

"Yes, father," she said on a slight smile.

"How?"

"Don't you remember? I told you I'd always be near," she replied as she pulled her hand from under his and rounded the couch.

"I thought that that had only been a dream," Victor mused as he watched her.

"There's truth in all our dreams," Isabella said as she sat down nest to him and looked over at the book in his hands. "I've always loved that picture. I supposed it's because it captured their innocence so well."

"It's hard to see her as an innocent now," Victor sighed as he closed the book and put it aside.

Isabella laughed slightly at his actions. "You can't turn your feelings off that easily. Or hide from the past."

"I'm not. . ." Victor started to protest.

"You are," Isabella challenged. "You always do. You hold it all inside. Pull away from those you care about."

"I haven't. . ."

"Really? How are Justin, Adrienne, and their boys? Bo and Hope? Their new baby?" she asked.

"Bo and I have never been close. We tried for you, but. . .Well, we all know what Hope's opinion of me is. . ." he shrugged as he stood. "And Justin and Adrienne lead busy lives. So do their boys."

Isabella smiled slightly at that. "Fine, evade the issue. But what about your other grandsons? Or even Billie?"

"John has never exactly approved of my being a part of Brady's life, and Marleana. . . .well, let's just say she hasn't helped matters any. I suppose my having a relationship with him would ruin her portrayal of the perfect family. . . As for Shawn, he's never thought me as. . . as anything. Sean and Doug are his grandfathers; not me. And Billie? Well, she doesn't even talk to her own mother. . ."

"Would you?" Isabella couldn't help but ask a surprised Victor. "OK, so I think you were better matched with Vivian, and you know how high my opinion of her was."

Victor shook his head, "I don't understand. . ."

"No, you never did," Isabella sighed as she stood. "Father, you've been given so many chances over the years, and just when it looks like you've finally learned you fall into the same traps."

"Meaning?"

"Do you remember the promise you made for me when Brady was born? The promise that you'd change for the better?" she asked, noting his nod before continuing. "You haven't kept it. If anything you've become colder. Harder."

"I haven't. I'm the same as I was when. . ."

"Are you?" Isabella interrupted. "Because the man I remember would have done anything for his family. Busy lives. . .a daughter-in-law's disapproval. . .a new woman in the life of a former son-in-law, who incidentally didn't exactly hold you in that high of regard. . .but then again, if I recall correctly the feeling was mutual at times. . .Oh, and let's not forget the disillusioned step-daughter and distant grandsons. . .well, they wouldn't have stopped that man. He would've kept pushing, and at times idid/i, to be in their lives. And if that doesn't mean anything to you, well you should take a long hard look at your relationship with Phillip!"

"There's nothing wrong with my relationship with your brother!"

"Really?" Isabella asked. "How close are you? As close as you were to Justin when he was Phillip's age?" Isabella paused, watching as the only answer she received was Victor looking away from her as the shame of the truth she spoke so easily over took him. "That's what I thought. He fears you, you know."

"The boy needs discipline. Kate gave him free rein when I was sick and. . ." Victor protested as he turned his gaze back to her.

"And he also needs his father's love and approval," Isabella interrupted. "Father, you have so much to give, but you're afraid to. If you continue to keep it all bottled inside, trying to avoid the pain of another lose, you'll only end up hurting more."

"Sometimes I wonder if it can."

Isabella smiled slightly at him, glad he had let a piece of his hurt shine through. "If you keep going down the road you're traveling down, you'll find out just how much it can. You have to let go of the past and embrace today."

"I don't know how to let go. Especially of you," Victor admitted as he touched her cheek, tears glistening in his eyes.

Isabella gave him a bittersweet smile at that as she hugged him. "You don't have to. I'm always near. You just have to start to reach out and hold onto them now," she whispered into his ear.

"I'll try," Victor sighed as he pulled back slightly to look into her face.

"That's all I've ever asked of you. That and to do things that will make me proud."

"About that. . ."

"Yeah," Isabella laughed slightly at his sheepish expression. "Just. . . if you're questioning what you're doing. . .Doubting how it would make me or them react. . .It's the wrong thing to do. You should know that by now."

Victor couldn't help but laugh slightly at that, "I'll take that under advisement."

"You do that," Isabella responded as she walked back to the couch and looked at the closed album lying there.

"Just one thing, how do I change?" Victor asked, watching as she turned with a smile playing across her lips and his private phone started to ring. He speared the phone a look before turning to look back at her only to find her gone. "Isabella?"

"There. You start there," her voice answered.

Perplexed, Victor crossed the room and picked up the phone. "Hello?" he inguired as he sat down behind his desk, a smile crossing his lips at recognition of the voice on the other end: "Justin, I was just thinking about you. . ."

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15 minutes later

Phillip walked into the house, frowning slightly at the closed doors of the main room. Curious, he walked to them and opened them slightly before entering, his surprise and curiosity growing at the sight of his father talking animatedly on the phone.

Softly closing the door behind him he walked further into the room, shivering slightly as he felt a breeze past him. Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he looked down at the floor, catching sight of something on the floor. He slowly bent and picked it up, surprised that it was a picture of his father, Bo, and two people he couldn't identify. Curious, he turned it over to see "First Kiriakis family portrait" written in a feminine scrowl on the back. "What the. . ." he muttered as he heard a soft laugh behind him followed by a simple: "Just ask."

At that moment, Victor hung up the phone and looked over, slightly surprised to see his youngest child standing there. "Phillip, how long have you been standing there?"

Phillip shifted uncomfortably under his father's glance. "Not long."

"Oh," Victor answered as he rounded his desk, unsure of what to say. Then he noticed his son holding something. "What's that?"

Phillip shrugged, "Some picture I found on the floor," he answered as he walked over to his father and handed it to him, surprised at the bittersweet expression that crossed his father's face.

Victor turned to Phillip, searching his face as he felt a slight loosening on his heart and realized that he now had a way to start to talk to his son. "Do you recognize the people in it?"

"Just you and Bo," Phillip shrugged as he put his hands back in his pockets.

"That's what I was afraid of," Victor sighed. "Come and sit with me and I'll give you a crash course in your family history. That is, if you have the time."

"I think I can find it," Phillip said a bit surprised, earning a nod from his father as they moved to the couch and a gentle breeze slip past them and out of the house.