The Path to Power

Chapter Thirty Four




Lion's Den



"I'm not doing it and you can't make me." Kyle protests. "Hell I shouldn't even be here. It's a bar. That CPS lady would throw a fit if I called her."

"Family business and we're not open yet." Cole counters. It was a disgusting task that he had set for the kid but disgusting tasks had a habit of sticking in your mind long after it was over and motivating a body to never be in the position of having to do them ever again. "Your ass is mine, kid, until you're back in school. So here you go." Coleman hands him a bucket of cleaning supplies. "And do it right the first time or you'll be doing it until you get it right." Cole gives him a shove in the direction of the men's restroom of Jakes. "Men's room, women's and then I'll show you how to clean the grease filters back in the kitchen."

"When were these bathrooms last cleaned?" Kyle asks suspiciously.

Coleman shrugs and lies thru his teeth, not that anyone outside the business could tell. "I think Jake had them cleaned right before she sold me the place." Kyle groans and opens the door to the bathroom. Then he starts gagging. Taking off his shirt he ties it around his face in dramatic fashion. Coleman interjects cheerfully. "Drunks are notorious for their lousy aim. You might want to open a window and wear the rubber gloves-- maybe two pairs. I'll be doing inventory when you're ready for inspection."
Cole doesn't wait for an answer but instead goes back out to the main bar. The guy that works nights had already given them a head start as far as clean up by putting all the chairs up on the tables. They had until 11am to get the place ship shape and ready to go. Course it would open at 11 ready or not. Which is why sometimes things carried over from one day to the next.
Coleman goes behind the bar and sets up his cleaning supplies, nothing fancy just a bucket of blistering hot water and enough bleach to worry about putting holes in the bar towels. He'd been doing this since he was Kyle's age and it's automatic. First set the bar rags to soak, start a pot of coffee, empty the dishwasher from the night before, then start cleaning. Since Kyle is here, Cole just cleans behind the bar and then starts restocking and making the liquor order. The kid could take care of the rest of the place sweeping and mopping. Course there was no way in way in hell that the kid was going to be anywhere behind the bar.

Cole smells a familiar perfume and just keeps on working ignoring the hand that comes over the bar and reaching into the maraschino cherries. "You called." Faith gets comfortable on the barstool after popping the cherry in her mouth stem and all.

"We're not open yet." Cole figures he can refill the garnishes while he talks with Faith and pulling out some lemons and limes slices them quickly and efficiently.

Faith puts the stem from the cherry in an ashtray. There is a knot neatly tied in the middle. "So what were you doing at the high school?"

"I'm done." Kyle says from across the room, not realizing at first that his uncle has company.

Faith spins the barstool around resting both of her arms along the bar and thrusting out her chest. "Guess that answers that question. So this is little Kyle. Not so little anymore. Why it just seems like yesterday that you were hanging out in the dressing room with Wynonna's black bra on your head pretending to be Mighty Mouse. Guess you've got a new Superhero now--- Long Dong Silver?"

Coleman winces. He'd forgotten about the time that Kyle had been dropped on him. He hadn't owned The Oasis back then but had been bouncing, his brother had dropped the kid off so they could go off to Montauk for the weekend with zero notice and no time to get anyone to cover or babysit. "Faith, give him a break."

"If he's going to be in movies he really should get used to critics." Faith protests before turning back toward Kyle. "Just a word of advice. Short... films might impress the little girls who've never seen a movie before but real women like their films long, drawn out, over the top with really explosive endings."

"Faith, just shut the hell up." Coleman demands. "Kyle, start back in the kitchen."

"Doing what?" Kyle asks but then shakes his head. "Nevermind I'll find something." Kyle leaves.

"What are you telling me to shut up for?" Faith protests. "You're not doing him any favors letting him think that Slam Bam is what women want. That's what women who get paid want-- Quick and Out the Door. Hey! That can be the name of his next movie!"

"Faith, you didn't come here to rip on Kyle. Why are you here?"

The door slams and Zander walks in alone. "One guess." Faith turns to Zander. "You have something to tell me, Sweet Meat?"

The dread is in Zander's face and voice. "Faith."

"In the flesh. So what was so important that you felt you had to tell Ned before you told me?"

"I was going to tell you."

"Yes, You are. Right now."

I can't believe I'm saying this. "I think we should take it upstairs."

Faith eyebrows go up at that and she hops from the barstool. "Now you're talking. Lead the way." Faith follows Zander up the stairs.

Kyle comes out as soon as the coast is clear. "Is she gone?"

"Not far." Coleman warns.

"I didn't really ever wear a bra on my head?" Kyle asks with some dread but now that he's thinking back the memory starts coming back too.

"There are photos." Coleman says wryly. "Wynonna thought it was cute; you were about six. That was the last time your mother dropped you on me. Always since then it's just been backup. That doesn't mean that your father doesn't probably still have it in his wallet."

"Oh man."

"Let this be a lesson to you. Cameras are never a good thing. Now lets get this place ready to open before the dayshift gal or the regulars start arriving."





Faith kicks back on Zander's bed. She glances at her watch. Mouse would be awake soon and damn if that over muscled geek was going to dictate to her about anything. "Well." She snaps her fingers. "Chop chop. Clock is ticking. You've got something for me. Give it up or I'll take it." Faith smiles.

"Do you ever get tired of being such a bitch?"

"Why would I?" Faith asks blankly.

Zander sighs and pulls the chair away from the desk and reversing it has a seat. "I overheard a conversation last night. Detective Capelli on the phone..."

Faith sits up and all pretense of sex kitten falls away-- she is all business. "Who was he talking to?"

"Whoever it was..." Zander shrugs. "Luis Alcazar was their brother."

"Oh fuck me." Faith gets up and starts pacing. "You heard wrong."

"You don't think I wish I heard wrong?! It was Capelli on the phone right downstairs by the bathrooms. I was right on the stairs. He was talking about Alexis. He was talking about Sonny. He was talking about Lansing. He was talking about Jax. He was talking about Skye Quartermaine. He was talking about you." Zander is flipping fingers up as he goes thru the list.

"Me?!" Faith squeaks. "Why was he talking about me?"

"The Sonny and Lansing thing. Lansing putting you in the middle of it to take the heat off himself."

"He's gonna come after the kid. I knew. I knew someone was pulling Capelli's strings. Damn it. Damn it. Damn it! Think." Faith's pacing increases.

"Capelli was trying to convince whoever it was that Alexis is off the map. I don't think he's coming after you but Alcazar was definitely after Sonny. He was after Sonny the night that the warehouse blew up with Kristina, Alexis' sister, in it. And I get the feeling that whoever is behind Capelli isn't going to let it go."

"Why? Why would you bring this to Ned before me? Why? You know better than that, Zander. Who else knows? Who else have you told?"

"Stefan Cassadine." Zander winces at Faith's snort at that one. "He's dealt with Alcazar before. That's what he said on the phone anyway."

"Oh big surprise there. International arms dealers and a family of international psychopaths-- of course their paths would cross. Who else?"

"Gia overheard me talking to Ned."

"You told Taggart's sister. Taggart?!"

"He's the only cop that gets onto Spoon Island. I want to keep it that way."

"I could give a rats ass who gets on Spoon Island. I don't care if that crazy bitch ever sees the light of day again." Faith snarls.

"You see, that's why I told Ned first. Because he does."

Faith picks up her purse and pauses at Zander's door just before opening it. "You know. I was in such a good mood this morning."





Nikolas is reviewing some estate paperwork while Penny shifts things around the cabin. It's amazing what Mrs. Lansbury had accomplished while they'd been down in Albany but Penny is still trying to figure out where everything is. Both of them are startled when there is a knock on the door.

"Probably not Tasha. She would have used the tunnel." Nik says wryly as he stands up. "Do you want me to get it?"

"Sure. Thanks."

Nikolas opens the door. "Uncle."

"May I come in?" Stefan inquires politely.

"Yes, of course."

Penny looks from one to the other. Something not good. "What do you need me to do? Disappear for awhile so you can talk? Go keep Tasha busy?"

"Thank you, Penny." Stefan replies. "Mrs. Lansbury is keeping an eye on Tasha, and this is actually something you need to know since you do supervise a portion of Tasha's regular lessons."

"Is it Grandmother?" Nikolas demands.

"No, although I am still looking into her whereabouts. May we sit?"

"I'm sorry." Penny ushers Stefan into the cottage and then realizes that both men are waiting for her to sit down. So she picks a spot on the couch. Nikolas sits down next to her and Stefan takes a chair. "If it's not Mrs. Cassadine what is it?"

"Luis Alcazar had a brother, Lorenzo, and a daughter, Sage. I found out last night that one of the Detectives of the PCPD is working for Lorenzo Alcazar. Detective Capelli."

"That's Lucky's training officer." Nik realizes.

"I suspect that is not an unplanned event. Do you know who Detective Capelli is, Penny?"

"Yeah. Yes." Penny nods. "He's come into Kelly's. Coffee sweet and an onion bagel to go."

"What?!" Nik asks wondering if Penny has lapsed into some kind of code.

"His usual. Capelli'd always get an order to go. A coffee with sugar and an onion bagel." Penny explains impatiently but then realizing that she is the one that brought up the tangent takes Nikolas' hand and gives it a silent squeeze of apology.

"Is Alcazar coming after Alexis?" Nikolas asks.

"I am going to have to... leave town for a few days. It's unfortunate that this business trip has come up so suddenly and when there are so many... irons in the fire." Stefan says quietly with significant pauses. "I will endeavor to make my trip brief."

"And keep in regular contact." Nikolas demands.

"Yes. Regular contact as well. Although it is important that if for any reason I miss one of these... contacts that you not follow me."

"I feel like I should be putting on a deep southern drawl. I feel a steel magnolia moment coming on." Penny quips. "So Nikolas is supposed to make sure that all the wimmenfolk are safe while you're off having business."

"Colloquially put but accurate." Stefan agrees. "Zander Smith is the one who informed me of Capelli's second income and Dara Jensen had every intention of telling Detective Taggart so that he wouldn't be... caught off guard. Taggart is also acting as the local contact for the FBI and Interpol in tracking the Cassadine Dower Jewels."

"When is your plane leaving?" Nikolas asks quietly.

"It is being fueled now. I will be in the air within an hour. Do not let Tasha fall behind on her lessons."

"I'll take care of it." Nikolas stands when Stefan does and walks with him to the door. Nikolas gives Stefan an embrace which Stefan returns. There is a desperation but stoic resolve as well in the hug.

Stefan cups Nikolas face. "You are the best of us. Remember that." Then he leaves.

Penny had been hanging back wanting to give the two of them some measure of privacy. "He doesn't think he's coming back."

"He's prepared to not come back. There is a difference."

Penny comes up behind Nikolas and rubs his back in a long stroking motion from nape of the neck to the middle of his back. "You should probably go up to the house. Tasha isn't going to understand this."

"She isn't the only one. Come with me." Nikolas invites.

"Okay." Penny takes his hand and walks with him back to the big house.





Jasper Jacks stops after unlocking and opening the door to his suite at the Port Charles Hotel. Someone is in his rooms. He tosses the paperwork from this morning's appointment on the desk and waits for the inevitable. Jax knows whom, he'd been hearing the skuttlebutt around the hotel for a few days and wondering what was taking so long. "Tracy."

Tracy swings a chair around, the slim cheroot still smoldering in the ashtray. "Darling. Miss me?"

"Surprised it took so long. The hotel has been buzzing since your arrival." Tracy preens at that and rising from the chair comes over to Jax and with a hand firm at the back of his neck pulls his head down for a kiss that is more than friendly. Jax breaks it off as soon as possible and restrains the urge to wipe his mouth. "You haven't changed. So what took so long."

"I had to see my son. You know Dillon is staying with Ned?"

Jax nods. "Ned's turned into quite the family man. Married, daughter, now brother all living together."

"I'm... concerned."

"He's not playing the Quartermaine games." Jax nods. "I see where that would be a problem."

"He can't just take the company and then act like it's one of his toys to take home because he doesn't want to play anymore. That is not the way it works, Jax." Tracy fondles the lapel of the summer weight suit Jax is wearing as she looks up thru her eye lashes in a seductive fashion.

"Yes, and that is exactly the reason why whenever I was going to take over the company the plan was to break it into little pieces and sell it off. Your family is crazy, Tracy. Kudos to Ned for finally figuring it out." Jax takes both of her wrists in his hands and sets Tracy at arms length, all the while wishing for a ten foot pole.

"He's paranoid, Jax. He thinks everyone is out to get him. And that wife of his..." Tracy shakes her head, then twists the truth a bit. "Do you know she demanded to see me? Threatened me? Called for a meeting in a shooting gallery to tell me that I couldn't even talk to my son?"

"Don't you mean sons?!" It was odd watching the way this played. And why he would feel for Ned so much. This is exactly the same thing that had happened in the Jacks family. The elder son ignored while the younger is put on a pedestal as the next great white hope.

Tracy waves a hand. "Of course. That is what I meant. Jax, that woman is..." Tracy shudders dramatically. "And the only way to save my son, sons, from her is to get ELQ away from Ned. She made a point of saying she wanted Ned exactly where he is. She has some kind of plan for Daddy's company and has to be stopped."

"Oh and I'm sure that you would take on the task. To protect Ned." Jax interjects sarcastically.

"Now you're with the program." Tracy goes to give Jax another kiss.

He tilts his head back to avoid it. "No, I've already got my plate full. Find another backer, Tracy."

"Plate full?! Please Jax! This is something that is perfect for you. What on earth would distract you from the deal of the century?" Tracy spots the paperwork on the desk. "A restraining order. Are you being stalked, Darling?" Tracy does a quick grab and has time enough to get a good peek before Jax snatches it back. "Skye? That little guttersnipe is saying YOU are stalking HER?!" Tracy throws her head back and laughs.

"Your niece." Jax grinds from between gritted teeth.

All humor leaves Tracy's face. "No, she's not. She's the cuckoo left to roost in Alan's nest. Alan might be gullible enough to believe whatever she's told him, what Gretal told him. But I need a little more proof than that. Especially since I saw Gretal banging away on some dock worker nine months before that red haired bundle of trouble made her appearance. Who do you think told Daddy?"

"You bitch."

"Excuse me? I think you mean that bitch. Gretal Rae Cummings set this one in motion when she tried to palm her brat off on my family."

"Skye doesn't know any of this."

"HA!" Tracy exclaims disbelievingly and then she shrugs. "If she doesn't it's not my problem. She can take it up with her loving, lying mother. I'm back now and I'll be damned before that imposter takes what belongs to me and my family."





Well the distraction of the fundraiser is over. Even court had been a distraction quickly over. There is only so much straightening up that can be done at the lake house. Cole is busy with Kyle. As it should be. Skye thinks guiltily at begrudging a troubled teen time with her... "What the hell is Cole anyway?" Skye decides she doesn't want to think about it. Picking up the phone, "AJ, Hi! It's Skye. I was just wondering if you had plans for dinner?-- Oh with Alan? Maybe another time then. Are you sure? I'd love to." Skye hangs up the phone. One evening taken care of. Something has got to break. Okay so it should be a relief to not be in the hot seat over at ELQ but damn it! "I'm good at what I do." And it just seemed to rub it in that AJ was doing so well with the building commission, had a dog, a new car, was dating. Hell getting his life in order while she painted her toe nails and coordinated purses and shoes. "Climb out of the pity pot, Skye." But Skye knows herself too well. The last time she'd been this... underemployed, she'd ended up married to Ben Davidson in a quickie Las Vegas wedding. Which just went to prove you didn't have to be drunk to do something stupid. "I've got to get out of here."





Kyle and Cole swing by General Hospital to pick up Margery from detox. Kyle had insisted on going home first for a shower after spending the morning cleaning the bar. The only explanation for the bathrooms had to be-- some things just look better when you're drunk, or you just didn't care.

"You got any skin left?" Cole asks wryly.

"I'm going to burn those clothes." Kyle replies. Normally his Mother is the biggest pain in the ass and drives him crazy but no way would she go for him cleaning urinals in a dive bar or sweeping up cigarette butts from the parking lot.

Cole smirks. "You're thinking that your Mother is going to let you off the hook?"

"No." Kyle looks away. He hits the elevator to the floor his mother is being released from today. "But I bet you are. Since I'm really cramping your game."

"Kyle... you are my nephew and I want to do right by you, cause I want you to do well... not grow up to be a selfish jerk."

"Like my dad."

"You said it not me." Cole quips. The elevator door opens and Coleman starts walking to the nurses station. The nurse sees him approaching and gives him a look. Cole gets a sinking feeling in his gut. "Kyle, why don't you have a seat while I take care of the paperwork."

"Right." Kyle has a sinking feeling as well having seen the eye contact between his uncle and the nurse.

Coleman waits a few seconds to give Kyle time to move away. "What?" He demands tersely.

The nurse hands him an envelope. Cole tears it open and quickly scans the letter before crumpling it in his fist. Bitch "Great thanks." He walks over to Kyle who has come back to his feet, a look of dread on his face. Cole hands him the letter. He gives Kyle a minute to flatten it back out and read it before Kyle balls it up in his hand. "Let's go."

Kyle lets the paper fall to the ground and doesn't flinch away when his Uncle's arm comes around his shoulders in silent support.

The nurse comes over and picks up the paper and can't resist taking a look.

Darling Kyle,
This isn't about you. How can I take care of you when I can't take care of myself...

"Oh gees. She Dear John'd her own kid." It wasn't the first time the nurse had seen it but it didn't get any less disgusting.

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