Path to Power
"I came as quickly as I could." Cameron hands his coat to Mrs. Lansbury. "What happened?" Cameron asks in the general direction of Stefan and Nikolas who are across the room.
"Nikolas found Natasha in possession of a tape. He confiscated it. Natasha hasn't spoken a word since last night." Stefan hands Cameron the tape. "I thought that you should be apprised of the situation and provide your opinion.
"Some form of catatonia brought on by auditory stimuli?" Cameron frowns. He'd hoped that Natasha was more stable than that. Ready to take the next step of trying to contact Alexis and hopefully plant the seed of reintegration.
Nikolas interjects at this point. "More like the silent treatment. She's pouting. Luke Spencer is using my Aunt's illness in one of his own machinations. And telling her to lie to us about it. She says the tape is a present from her mother. We all know that is impossible."
"Where is Natasha now?" Cameron looks around wondering if there was any possibility that they could be overheard.
"Reese accompanied her down to the stables. Her stubborn silence has not prevented her from attending to her riding lesson." Stefan says wryly.
"Good." Cameron turns the tape over in his hand. "So this is a tape of her mother... an opera singer correct?"
Stefan nods. "To my knowledge her recordings are very rare-- released only in Europe almost forty years ago. I believe the only person in Port Charles who has them is Luke Spencer."
"You mean he didn't give them away?" Cameron holds up a hand and shakes his head. "Never mind that wasn't relevant." Stefan looks at Nikolas for some kind of explanation of the comment.
Nik shakes his head barely as an indication that he'll tell his uncle later. "It's Luke's handwriting on the tape."
"So we know that Luke made the tape." Cameron accepts that the Cassadines would know Luke's handwriting. "How do you know that he gave it to Natasha?"
"Who else could it have been?" Nikolas dismisses any other possibilities. "Luke has an agenda, and he is familiar with the island. He could come and go as he pleased without the knowledge of the staff and has on more than one occasion."
"Right. But I'd still like to see the journal that I gave Natasha if I could." Cameron hands the tape back to Stefan.
"It's in her room. This way." Stefan leads the way.
Dara has barely had time to get the coffee made and a cup poured when there is an impatient rap on the door. She looks over at the clock. The courts weren't even open yet. This is her prep time and she doesn't schedule appointments. Appointments were for either the afternoon or if it is really pressing-- in the corridors of the courthouse before handling another matter. "Who is it?"
"I didn't order anything." Dara mutters to herself but goes over to the door and checks the corridor before opening. "I didn't order anything." She says challengingly to the man on the other side of the threshold.
"Look, Lady, I just go where they send me. And if I want to be home before nine tonight... I need to get moving." The burly man in a company shirt and heavy canvas pants hands her a clipboard.
"What is it?" Dara mutters shuffling thru the paperwork trying to find the phrase that will pop up at her.
"It's the contents of Alexis' office." Gia walks in carrying a box of plants. Looking around she sees a chair next to an end table with magazines on it and sets the plants on the table. "You must have said something to Cassadine 'cause when I came to work this morning these guys were already there packing things up."
Dara's eyes go wide in horror. "Alexis' Files?!"
Gia shakes her head and holds a hand up reassuringly. "Luckily they started on the library. I got there before they got to the files. I just locked them all and everything was transported in the file cabinets." Gia reaches into her purse and digging to the bottom comes up with a ring of keys that she hands to Dara.
"So everyone is on the same page. GREAT. Where do you want the stuff?" The mover says impatiently.
Dara rubs her forehead. So much for prep time. She was due in court. When she'd rented this space it was with big dreams. The size had been bigger than she needed figuring that she'd grow into it. And because she'd always wanted her own books. Finally Dara just shrugs. "That room over there I guess."
"Great." The mover goes over to the closed door and opens it. He looks around. "It'll fit." Then he departs.
"You've got court this morning don't you?" Gia nods knowingly in Dara's direction.
"How do you know?"
"I recognize the look."
"I really don't have time for this, this morning. I knew it was coming but I expected a little more time. I only talked to Cassadine... yesterday?" Dara says with more than a hint of exasperation in her voice at the speed and the lack of notice.
Gia takes off her coat. "I was planning on putting the morning in at Alexis' anyway. I have a test next week that I really need to prep for and it's way too noisy where I'm staying. I can keep an eye on things if you want to go do what you need to do. It didn't take them long to pack up the office. Should be long gone before I have to get to class."
"You don't mind?"
"Not as long as I can get a cup of that." Gia points to Dara's coffee.
Dara hands her the cup. "I haven't even had a sip out of it yet."
Gia laughs but takes the cup. "Go."
"Thank you." Dara says gratefully and retreats back into her office.
Gia takes a closer look at the entry area of Dara's office. It's set up like a suite complete with a reception area. But once you got a closer look you'd realize that it was a one woman show. Sure, the computer was hooked up at the receptionist's desk, the phone too. But the drawers were empty except for a little message pad and a bic. Whatever was being done in this office was done behind Dara's office door. Not here. This is just a place for the clients to sit. Gia walks over to the door that the mover had left open. This is just a blank room. There are bookcases along one wall. There are even books in each of the cases but definitely not full. The other three walls are blank. The window faces out to an alley. No view.
"You need to check things off." The mover demands from behind her as he hauls a stack of book boxes three high on a hand truck.
"Right." Gia goes back to the reception desk and grabs the clipboard. She'd checked things out as they'd left Alexis office so she knows what she is looking for. She grabs the bic from the middle drawer of the desk. "However you stack everything.... I need access to the files...every file... and access to the bookcases down this wall."
The mover looks at the room again and shrugs. "Fine. Whatever." Then he calls off three numbers. Gia marks them off her list.
It had taken some doing to get the Cassadines to finally leave so he could examine the journal in privacy. Cameron doesn't know quite what he is looking for but he knows he'll know it when he sees it. He grunts when he sees a familiar number written in the journal. Not that he had ever called Alexander on his cell phone but he did know the number. So that is how Natasha got the tape. Mystery solved. Cameron keeps looking and slowly smiles as he finds it. It's not on the front of the journal. But as if someone had flipped the journal over and started writing from the back page. Distinctively angled block writing and not the childish round cursive Natasha uses. "Hello Alexis. I've been expecting to hear from you." Cameron murmurs softly and begins to read.
"I don't think it's a good idea to leave him alone up there." Nik mutters pacing by the french doors that lead out to the courtyard and down to the stables.
"You have a reason to distrust Dr. Lewis beyond the general distrust of anyone in his profession?" Stefan says wryly pouring himself a cup of tea from the silver service.
"He was Luke's court ordered shrink after Luke tried to burn down the PCPD with himself in it. I know Alexis trusted him as much as she trusted anyone. She used him in some of her cases."
One of Stefan's brows go up at that. "Spencer? Was this also when he evidently gave away most of his possessions?"
Nik nods. "It was after mother took a turn for the worse."
"Ah." Stefan nods filing that nugget away and going on to the next thing. "Alexis using the good doctor does not imply trust but rather the knowledge of what his testimony would be."
"Natasha seems to like him but we shall be vigilant." Stefan takes a sip of the tea. Mrs. Lansbury comes in from the foyer. She waits clasping her hands together. "Yes, Mrs. Lansbury?"
"I was wondering what you wanted done with all the presents, Master Nikolas."
"The presents." Nik says blankly. It's not his birthday nor Christmas. The normally accepted times for the extended family to do their semiannual sucking up.
"Yes sir." Mrs. Lansbury goes back out to the foyer and returns with her arms loaded to the point of not being able to see over them. Her voice is muffled behind a huge arrangement of flowers. "There appears to be flowers, candy, letters, cards.. um lingerie, sir."
"What on earth?" Nikolas comes over and starts relieving Mrs. Lansbury of the packages just setting them down on the couch until he grabs one of the cards and reads it. "Do you have a copy of today's Herald, Mrs. Lansbury?"
"Yes Sir, I'll get that for you." Mrs. Lansbury goes to the kitchen. When she returns she already has the paper turned to the people section of the paper. "I think this is what you seek, sir."
Nik glances down at it and starts cursing. The nephew of a lawyer he knows there is not a damn thing he can do. The article is factual. He is single and wealthy. It wasn't exactly news. He and Gia had been broken up now for months and the coverage from that had finally died down. But the Cassadine in him comes out anyway. If he couldn't legally stop such intrusive garbage then he'd handle it another way. "Mrs. Lansbury, please contact my business manager and have him waiting..." Nik remembers that he is not doing business on the island right now because of Natasha. "...at the Port Charles Grille."
"Of course sir."
Nikolas hands the paper to Stefan. "I won't be able to do business at the Grille for long. Any facade of privacy has been shredded thanks to this."
Stefan glances at it and then hands it back to Nikolas with a shrug. "It appears the Stateside papers have finally caught up with the rags in Europe."
"Focus on your technique." Reese calls out to the rider in the ring. "Heels down, back straight but not stiff, head up. Holding the reins firmly but without pressure on your mounts mouth. Better. Twice around and then reverse, Miss."
Cameron comes over to the railing and leans up against it resting one foot on the bottom rail. "How is she doing?"
"Not as good as Miss Davis." Reese says honestly. If his employers were cooperating with this outsider then he must be expected to do the same. "It's as if there is a war going on between Miss Natasha and her body's instinct."
"Interesting." Cameron nods turning the possibility over in his head. "So a difference between what the brain, Natasha, accepts and the body remembers."
"Is that possible?" Reese asks curiously.
"I suppose that would depend on how good... how trained... Alexis was. There are some that believe the body, the muscles, have a memory. That training can be so ingrained as to be automatic. I don't think you should count on it though. As soon as Natasha starts thinking about what she's doing it won't be automatic. So sooner or later she'll hit a wall in the training. Have the Cassadines arranged for swimming lessons yet?"
"Sir?" Reese looks at Cameron blankly.
"I'll take that as a no." Cameron puts on as smile as Natasha nears. "You're looking good out there."
Natasha pats on her mounts neck. "He's a good horse. Not as good as mine but very sweet."
"I have something for you." Cameron says softly.
Natasha's eyes light up. Presents are always welcome. She dismounts with a quick hop and hanging on to the reins walks over to the fence. "For me?"
"Yes," Cameron hands the tape back to Natasha. "But you really shouldn't keep secrets from Nikolas and Stefan. They were only trying to protect you."
Natasha puts the tape in her jacket pocket and glares at Dr. Lewis. "Nikolas was mean to me! He stole my mother's music from me and wouldn't give it back. I hate him. I hate them both!"
Cameron shakes his head. "They thought the tape was coming from someone who wanted to hurt you. And was using your mother's music to do that. You and I know that isn't true." Cameron softly calls out a phone number.
"How do you know that?" Natasha steps back defensively. Her eyes narrowing suspiciously.
"Alexander... Zander... is my son."
"I'm not supposed to tell." Natasha zips her lip tight.
Cameron nods. "Yes, Zander has always been your friend. He doesn't like me, I'm sorry to say."
"You said he's your son. Why doesn't he like you? That doesn't make sense."
"It's a long complicated story and not a pretty one." Cameron waves a hand. "I believe that Alexander wouldn't do anything to hurt you. I will talk to Alexander when I return to town and inform him of the difficulties he's caused. It will soon be cleared up. There is no reason for you to not have the tape in the meantime."
"Thank you, Dr. Cam." Natasha smiles sweetly.
"Why don't you go up to the house with Dr. Cam, Miss?" Reese suggests. "I'll put Petunia here up." At Natasha's nod, Reese takes the reins. "Straight back to the house with no dillydallying or you'll be getting me in trouble with your brother." Reese warns.
Natasha slides between the rails of the ring and stands next to Cameron. She takes his hand and starts leading him back to the house. "Come on, Mrs. Lansbury will make a snack. She knows I'm mad so she made shortbread today. The kind she puts jam on. It's really good. She always makes it when I'm upset."
"How often are you upset, Tasha?" Cam questions.
"When I miss my Mama and Kristina." Natasha admits. "I still miss them... all the time but the cookies do make me feel better."
"They are that good." Cameron nods showing nonverbally that he is impressed. "Then you had better share them with me!"
"Sometimes I pretend to be upset just so she'll make some." Natasha admits slyly.
"Your secret is safe with me." Cameron winks. "All your secrets are safe with me."
Gia doesn't look up from her book as the door opens. "Ms. Jenson is in court. Did you have an appointment?"
"Ms. Jenson is done with court." Dara says cheerfully hanging up her coat on the tree in the corner. "Are they gone?"
"About an hour after you left. How was court?" Gia looks up from her textbook.
"A dismissal, two pleas, three attorney/client visits at the jail, four motions filed and..."
"Five goooolllllddddd rings?" Gia sings out with an arm in the air in her best dramatic fashion.
Dara laughs. "No, but close. One I am so gonna kick Scott Baldwin's ass all over the courtroom case."
"Ohhh I love it when that happens." Gia puts a hand out for a high five. Dara gives the outreached hand a quick slap. "But you know as soon as Scott Baldwin realizes he has a loser on his hands he'll either blame it all on Marcus or dump it off on one of the ADAs. He got enough bad press on the Alcazar fiasco."
"Tell me about it. No-- don't. I lived it." Dara picks up the book on the reception desk. "Ah this brings back memories. The reason why I got into criminal law."
Gia laughs and takes back her Torts textbook. "It's a bear. And I swear the prof at PCU thinks that he's weeding out the class the way law students at Columbia used to talk about first year Con Law. And it's all Socratic method... that hot seat stuff." Gia's voice goes gruff. "Ms. Campbell, perhaps you could tell the class who has standing in this particular case and why." Her voice goes back to it's normal tones. "I don't know which is worse. Getting it wrong or getting it right. Cause if you get it right he keeps going until you screw it up. There is no getting it right with that man."
"If you're planning on doing litigation then Socratic is the way to go. Inside a court room you are always on the hotseat." Dara says wryly. "And the minute you forget it, someone like Alexis would come along and remind you. Have you already had lunch?"
"Zander is going to meet me at the Port Charles Grille before I head over to the University. Do you want me to come over tomorrow?"
"And do what? I mean not that I mind. It's always good to see you, Gia..." Dara finally just shrugs.
"Study. Let me study. Where it's quiet. I'll even answer the phone for you in return."
"See you tomorrow then." Gia packs up her things and with a wave leaves the office. Dara heads back into hers to put the files away in her active drawer.
Stefan and Dr. Lewis make the trip from Spoon Island to the Harrison Fishing Pier in silence. Only once they are on the Port Charles side of the water and the launch pilot has left to return to the island does Stefan finally ask. "Well? You seemed to improve Natasha's disposition but have you made any progress, Dr. Lewis?"
Cameron studies him closely. "There is no magic pill, Mr. Cassadine. This is going to take time. And I am not exaggerating when I say it could take years. There will be breakthroughs of course. But it would be better to think of this as a... chronic condition that your sister has had for the last thirty years rather than an event that just happened." Enough of the stick. Time for the carrot. "There were a couple of positive things about today that I do feel comfortable in sharing with you. The tape did not come from Luke. I won't break Tasha's confidence and tell you who and how the tape was given to her. But I have suggested to her that it is safe to tell you."
"And the other?"
"Your man Reese who is supervising Tasha's riding lessons. He says that there is an element of her riding that is automatic. The implication being your sister's body may remember what her brain doesn't. This would allow Tasha to advance faster than her mental age in some skills. Like swimming." Cameron says significantly.
"You seem preoccupied with my sister's swimming skills, Doctor."
"You live on an island. I believe it to be criminally negligent to not make sure that she knows how to be around water safely." Cameron says grimly. "My recommendation at this point is for Tasha to embark on an intensive tutoring program that allows her to go as fast as she is able. As long as Tasha's last memories are back in the seventies she won't be able to leave Spoon Island without being traumatized just by the changes in the environment."
"I've already been thru this with my brother. I do understand the concept of... culture shock." Stefan says wryly. "Although I find it a misnomer-- lack of culture perhaps being more accurate."
"I'm not being overly cautious or pessimistic, Mr. Cassadine, when I say it could take years to reintegrate Alexis back into Natasha if it happens at all. The reality is that you have a child in a grownups body with all the dangers that go along with that. Tasha is a precious child, very strong willed and very intelligent. She is vulnerable and doesn't have the skills to protect herself. I can work on integration and be a sounding board for her. But you need to arrange for her to have... life skills to serve her in the meantime." Cameron can tell he's come on too strong. Stefan's face is blank, a mask. Cameron sighs. "Look, Tasha could go to the polls next election day. I'd just as soon she have a reason to vote for someone other than the nice lady out on the sidewalk promised her a shortbread cookie! Call me if Tasha needs to see me before our next appointment." Cameron leaves.
Stefan stands on the docks digesting the information that the doctor had given him. Perhaps there had been a part of him that had thought that perhaps Tasha would just... snap out of it and he'd have Alexis back. And that was foolish. He had plenty of experience with mental illness whether natural like Laura's or chemically induced like Lesley Webber's. Natasha is a blessing, so sweet and affectionate. Even her tantrums are amusing. But he could see Dr. Lewis' point. It is a blessing easily exploited. He pulls out his cell phone and hits a preset. "Mrs. Lansbury, please send to Greece for Nikolas' old school books." Stefan tells her exactly where they are stored in the library. "And break it gently to Natasha her lessons begin again tomorrow. She has been on vacation long enough." He ends the call.
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