The Path to Power

Chapter Fourty




Family Time



Ned wakes before Faith and relaxes for a minute realizing he is not going into the office today. Today is going to be all about kicking around the house with his family. Course with his mother back in town, not barricading himself in the office is probably begging to have ELQ stolen out from under him-- again. But if Tracy has allies this time, they aren't the usual players. AJ is busy with his own things. Maybe Skye. Jax is always good for a conversation. He'd helped Tracy in the past. Edward had always handed Tracy the stick to stir the pot but never the keys to the castle. Locking the old man out might actually force a truly unholy alliance. Ned's eyes narrow at that thought and then starts when he feels a hand slide up his thigh to cup him. His wife is awake.

"Where are you?" Faith's sleepy voice brings him back to the here and now.

"Right here, Faith." Ned combs a hand thru his wife's platinum blonde hair and tilting her head back ravishes her mouth, not bothering to make it easy or soft. Keeping Faith breathless seems to be the best answer to a contented marriage.

"Good answer." Faith growls and the practically purrs arching her back as Ned runs the nail of his thumb up the middle of her back from base to the back of her neck. Faith playfully bites him at the edge of his jaw, careful to not break the skin. That would come later when she was too far gone to know where the hell she was and not really care. Whatever anyone says about Ned, the man has skills. He could tie her in knots ready to beg if she had the breath, if she could scream-- and then drive the point home repeatedly exactly who is the man of the house.





Down at the bunkhouse, one of the guys raps on Dillon's door and then comes in. "Phone for you. It's Bruno."

Dillon winces as he sits up and wipes the sleep from his eyes. "Yeah, been expecting this one."

"You want I should tell him we've already kicked your ass for being so freaking stupid?"

"Thanks for the offer." Dillon takes the phone and goes for the pre-emptive strike. "She didn't kill the Vice Principal."

"Yet." Bruno's gravelly voice reminds. Then he gives the kid a break. "Faith didn't tell me about it. One of the guys did when I called to check in."

Dillon gives the guy that handed him the phone a dirty look. The guy shrugs, grins and reminds Dillon. "When Faith is pissed she's pissed at everybody. You make my life miserable and I'm gonna return the favor."

"Thanks for the reminder." Dillon snaps at the guy after covering the mouthpiece on the phone.

"What did Faith say? Exactly." Bruno brings Dillon's attention back to the phone.

"Grounded from the cars. Need to get a job. If I take a penny from my Mother or Grandfather she's going to charge me rent. OH and that I didn't want to know what was going to happen if she has to come down to the school again."

"That's the truth." Bruno agrees. He doesn't tell the kid that getting a job had been part of Faith's plan all along, one that she'd already filled him in on. The only difference really is the no car thing. "You open to suggestions?"

"Oh yeah." Dillon agrees gratefully.

Bruno gives Dillon two names. The first the kid doesn't recognize. "He's the guy that runs the video operations. He's got a couple of outlets around town. There is one in the mall. He also owns the local movie theater. Tell him that Bruno sent ya and you'll do okay. It'll get your foot in the door. You might want to hold off on the theater until after school is out, if your grades drop then Faith is going to be right back in the school again."

"Something we're trying to avoid." Dillon agrees.

"You know the other guy, the guy who runs the flower shop. I know he's kinda...."

"Yeah." Dillon agrees knowing exactly what Bruno is talking about.

"Advantage there is that you'd have access to a vehicle until Faith eases up on the no car thing. And chicks really dig flowers. You could probably get all the action you can handle out on deliveries. I read that some of those ladies really know how to tip, if you know what I mean."

Knowing exactly what Bruno's preferred reading material is, Dillon just shakes his head. "You do know that you can't believe everything you read in the Letters to Penthouse right?"

"Sure." Bruno replies but he doesn't sound so sure. "Oh yeah, and when Roscoe would screw up he would bring Faith a vase. Faith seems to really like those."

"There are enough vases in the house for a twenty years!"

"Roscoe fucked up a lot." Bruno admits.





Edward has a spring in his step that hasn't been there in weeks. Nothing is going to ruin this day. Lila had relented and all is right in the house again. His suits are hanging on his side of the closet again rather than in the guest room or worse the Port Charles Hotel. "Coffee, Reginald." Edward demands of the butler as he passes him in the foyer.

"You know where the pot is." Reggie doesn't look up from the paper as he climbs the staircase passing Edward. He ignores the doorbell ringing as he goes up to check on Lila and bring her the morning paper.

Edward grumbles but tries to throw it off. Nothing is going to ruin his day. "Sally! Get the door!" When the doorbell rings again he stomps over to the front door and throws it open wide.

"What is SHE doing here?!" Monica snarls from the family room entry when she sees who is at the door.

"It's good to see you again too, Monica." Gretal Rae Cummings says with a lopsided smile from the door.

"Rae." Alan's voice is cheerful as he greets the mother of his eldest daughter. "How are you? I didn't know you were coming to town." He says just to make clear to his very jealous wife.

"Skye called me and suggested a little mother/ daughter get together."

"Skye doesn't live here. Why don't you just get together somewhere other than my doorstep?!" Monica demands.

"Monica." Alan's tone is rebuking at his wife's rudeness. "It's good to see you, Rae and I know that Skye will be glad to see you too."

The whir of Lila's wheelchair announces the matriarch's presence. "Rae, It's been too long. Skye told me that she hoped you'd come to Port Charles this weekend."

"And nobody could tell me?" Monica mutters.

"Skye has some wonderful news and I really don't want to spoil the surprise." Lila edges around the facts. Well the Herald would be good news but not the real purpose. "How are things in Llanview?"

"Great." Rae lies thru her teeth. Her life hadn't been this screwed up in decades. She'd been exposed as a fraud and was being sued by most of her former patients, the hospital and the university. She'd managed to keep her head above water by blackmailing Asa Buchanan, the richest man in Llanview, into marrying her. But in addition to being the richest man in Llanview, Asa is also the meanest snake walking on two legs and made her life a living hell. She just has to stay married until the storm dies down. It isn't for life that's for damn sure there is no such thing as until death do you part to a man that has been married ten times already. She extends her left hand to Lila and makes sure that Monica sees it as well. "I got married."

"Skye didn't say anything." Alan inquires.

"It was a very small wedding. More of a elopement really."

"How romantic." Lila compliments.

"Who is the sucker.. um groom?" Monica asks.

"Asa Buchanan." Rae offers.

Edward's ears perk up at that. "Really. Did you want a cup of coffee? I'm sure that Cook has put out some croissants. REGINALD!"





Kyle takes a deep breath and then exhales and takes another one and exhales and realizes that he is procrastinating. He either needed to do this or not. Nobody knew he was here. Well Skye had given him the okay to be off the leash this morning but that was more so that she could get some private time with Uncle Cole. Still he knows that she will cover for him if Cole should wake up before he's back.
She'd even given him a task to cover for being gone from the lakehouse. He was supposed to go over to his place and pick up some clothes, and then over to Cole's to pick up some clothes for him too and any mail that might have been building up over the last few days. It isn't going to get any easier the longer he puts this off. Fact is it's getting worse. Before he can punk out, Kyle reaches out and raps on the door marked Port Charles Commissioner of Police.

"Come." A harried voice calls from within.

Kyle takes another breath and then opens the door. "Commissioner Scorpio."

"You." Mac gets to his feet. His hands automatically go into fists. There is nothing he'd like better than to pound this little prick into pieces.

"I heard what happened to Maxie at school with Mr. Lawrence and what the kids are saying."

"Do you have a death wish? Some kind of suicidal impulse?" Mac says between gritted teeth.

"I can't take back what I did, Commissioner. I didn't think that things would turn out this way." Kyle shifts uneasily from one foot to the other. And then realizing what he is doing tries to still the nervous movement.

"You didn't think at all."

Kyle winces. It's nothing but the truth. He'd been friends with Beavis for years, he knew what a freak he could be. "No, sir. I didn't. But I think I know a way for this to be better for Maxie. Not fixed. I know I can't do that. But better."

"I'm listening."





"Stefan!" Tasha runs down the stairs when she spies her brother sitting at the dining room table. "You're back!" She gives him a big hug.

"Good morning." Stefan rises from the table and assists Tasha to her seat. "My trip didn't take as long as I thought it would." and I didn't accomplish all that I'd hoped.

"Where did you go? Did you see Daddy and Kristina? Does Mama miss me?"

"It wasn't a family trip, Tasha, but a business one." Stefan prevaricates. He was going to have to consult with Dr. Lewis and find a way of breaking the news to Tasha that there would be no visits with her parents or sister-- now or ever.

"Oh." Tasha is momentarily disappointed but then leans in to ask. "Where did you go?" She asks again.

"South America. Do you know where that is?"

"Of course! Daddy has a workshop there where he's making a machine so it will sunshine all day and only rain at night when I'm asleep. Is that where you went?"

Stefan blinks and is momentarily speechless. Natasha definitely had a different vision of their father than the bitter, absently cruel man he remembered growing up. "No, I stayed in the city so it was very quick with little time to go exploring."

"Did you bring me anything?" Tasha demands.

"Now that's not polite, missy, to be asking for things." Mrs. Lansbury corrects Tasha as she puts down the breakfast plates. "If he did, and I'm not saying that your brother did, then he'd surely wait now until tonight just to remind you to mind your manners."

"But..." Tasha is silenced with a look from the housekeeper.

Stefan sighs and shrugs his shoulders as if to say that he can't go against the housekeeper's instruction but silently breathes a sigh of relief. He has the day to come up with a present for his sister. He'd forgotten this aspect of parenting. "So what do you have planned for your day?"

"It's Saturday so no lessons." Tasha reminds her brother firmly lest he forget that like he did her present. She isn't fooled at all. "Zander is coming over to take me riding. Mister Marcus was supposed to come see me yesterday but he called and said that he had to work. There was probably a dead body this time not someone playing with matches like before."

"Nikolas told me. I'm sure Lieutenant Taggart will come over when he is able." and even sooner if I call and let him know I'm back from my trip. Stefan remembers that Taggart has been pulled from the Capelli case and realizes that it would be best for him to go into the PCPD before they had the opportunity to come out here. "I am going to have to leave the island later. As soon as Nikolas and Penny get back."

"Do you think Penny has more mail? Is that why they aren't at breakfast?"

"That is possible." Stefan agrees. "Although I was not informed of their plans."

"Mrs. Lansbury says that's rude." Tasha lectures her brother. "You're always supposed to tell someone where you're going and when you're going to be back. But I think she says that cause she's fraid the blonde lady is going to kill Nikolas and Penny and leave them laying in a puddle of blood that gurgles."

"The blonde lady would not dare touch Nikolas." Helena. Another reason to touch base with Taggart. Stefan stiffens as what his sister said sinks in. This was beyond the ghoulishness Taggart had accused her of in the past. Blood that gurgles is too accurate a description of what had happened to Kristin at Helena's hand. "But we will be on our guard nonetheless." He adds reassuringly.

"Good." Tasha agrees and reaches for her juice.





Ned is carrying the baby and a bag over his shoulder that has a blanket and anything that the baby might need. He holds out a free hand to Faith and half drags her toward the woods. They aren't going far. They're even within calling distance of the guys. One of Faith's security detail had taken Dillon on some errands. Alice has the garage door up and is using her day off to work on her project car-- a 1970 Barracuda which is more a rust bucket at this point, but it has potential. The security guys that aren't at the gate or playing cards are standing around tsking at the impossible task that Alice has set for herself all the while telling each other what they would do. Alice rolls her eyes and keeps on tearing the car apart. She's gonna take it down to the metal and build it back up from there.

"So Alice, what you figure? Nice midnight blue right?"

"Nah I figure black with metallic fleck, right Alice?"

Alice puts them out of their misery. "Candy apple red. Black leather interior. Rebuilt hemi."

"Ohhh..." The guys look at the rust bucket with new respect.

Faith watches from a distance as the guys look under the hood of the old car and shakes her head. "Men are so predictable. Alice will have them eating out of her hand in no time and probably buying her steering wheels or hubcaps or something."

Ned is kicked back on the blanket with Kristina on his chest and his head in Faith's lap. "I should be offended by that comment but I think I'm going to let it slide."

"Ha!" Faith runs her fingers thru Ned's hair giving it a little tug. "You're letting it slide because you know I'm right. You having a moment here?" Faith asks as she looks around realizing the perfection of the scene: nice sunny grassy spot, her, Ned, the kid.

"I was thinking about it." Ned admits. "It makes for a nice change. And knowing it could end at any moment with just the ring of a cell phone..."

"Shh." Faith gives him a quick kiss to shut him up and then leans back on her hands so that her face is tilted up to enjoy the morning sunshine as well. But Ned had already jinxed them. The sound of the Lincoln town car pulling in breaks the peace.

"Dillon's back."


"You two, you and Dillon, going to be okay?" Ned asks. He sits up and places Kristina on the blanket between them. "Faith, he's just a kid. They have to be able to screw up."

"And they have to know that when they do that there is going to be a consequence." Faith counters. "That's the way real life is. Edward burns down your house; you kick him out of his company. Dillon ditches school; he doesn't get a car to drive anymore. He can still ditch; he'll just have to do it on foot."

"And if he ditches again are you going to remove a foot?"

"Nah, probably just a kneecap." Faith sees the look on Ned's face. "I'm kidding." She rolls her eyes.

Dillon sees Ned and Faith sitting off back toward the woods. At first he is hesitant to go over and join them but when he realizes since Alice is working on her car that his brother probably has Kristina with him. It's safe to join them. He pulls a fancy wrapped box from the car and carefully walks over to his brother's family. He hands the box to Faith. "Here. This is for you."

"For me?" Faith checks out the box and then slowly unwraps it. "Wow."

"I know it's not crystal or anything but I am sorry, Faith."

Faith pulls out the small perfect porcelain vase that is decorated with simple floral style glazing. "It's beautiful, Dillon." Her eyes narrow. "Where did you get the money?"

"I had the money, it wasn't that much really. I just thought it was the nicest one. I got it at the curio store next to the flower shop." Dillon mentions the, more often than not, junk store next to the flower shop. "I'm going to be picking up hours at the flower shop until school lets out. Anyway-- I am sorry, Faith." Dillon gets up and starts to go back to the bunkhouse.


"Yeah?" Dillon turns around.

"We're okay." Dillon nods and then walks back to the bunkhouse. Faith looks the vase over running a finger over the impression on the bottom of the vase and whistles shaking her head. "Wow."

"It's nice." Ned agrees wishing now he'd been able to see the look on Faith's face when the Porsche had been delivered.

"If it's what I think it is. It's about 500 bucks." Faith mutters as she carefully repacks it in the box and makes sure it is out of the way of the baby.

"Excuse me?!"

"It looks like manners weren't the only thing your mother gave Dillon. I've been in that shop next to the florist. It's a dump. If Dillon found this there... he's got skills. I'm more into crystal and art glass-- but it's a vase." Faith shrugs as if that explains her knowledge. "I think it might be Roseville... they stopped making the real stuff back in the 50s."





Mac stands by the fireplace. Georgie and Maxie are sitting on the couch and Kyle has just finished explaining his plan. Georgie is already shaking her head. "No. No way in hell! It's just wrong. Daddy, you can't seriously be going along with this! It's sick! It's medieval!"

"Why?" Maxie says softly, finally asking the question that she should have been asking all along but had been blinded by social ambition. "Why are you doing this?"

"So far we've been the PCHS version of Pam and Tommy Lee." Kyle tells Maxie. "And if we keep adding to the drama then it's gonna keep being news like what happened with Mr. Lawrence on Friday. We need to be so boring they move on to someone else."

"That wasn't Maxie's fault." Georgie snarls. "It was those morons!"

"Who never would have said anything, anything about Maxie if I would have been there. And there would never have been any comments about her being... with Mr. Lawrence either. You both know how it works. There are some couples at the school you don't mention one name without the other. They're Joe and Jill Anonymous. The only time they are news is if they break up."

"Daddy! Mac?!" Georgie protests again. She knows what Kyle says is true but she doesn't trust the guy as far as she can throw him and she knows that Mac feels the same way. "It's like marrying a victim off to her rapist. It's wrong, Daddy."

"I wasn't raped." Maxie declares flatly.

"If Kyle does more than hold Maxie's hand, he knows that I'm going to throw him in a cell with whoever the perv dujour is." Mac sighs. "I don't like it, Maxie. I agree with Georgie. I definitely don't like what is going on at that school. Say the word, baby, and I can have you on the first plane to Texas."

"And then stay there." Kyle adds. "Because that will end up being part of the drama, and you'll just be postponing this. It'll be what everyone is talking about in September. Will Maximum Maxie show her face? Rather than did you hear about Kyle and Maxie breaking up over the summer? They seemed like such a perfect couple."

"HA! What a load of crappola." Georgie gets up and starts pacing behind the couch.

"He's right, Georgie." Maxie doesn't break eye contact with Kyle. "You know he's right."

"You don't need him, Maxie. You can just ignore all of it. They'll get bored and move on to something else."

"She's right, Maxie." Kyle agrees.

"I don't need you agreeing with me, suckwad!" Georgie snarls.

"They'll move on when there is something else. When the sharks have something else to chew on as Uncle Cole would say. I know you hate my guts and I don't blame you. It's just until school gets out, Maxie. And then let Georgie's plan kick in over the summer. By next year, it'll be old news."


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