The Path to Power

Chapter Eight




"Is there any particular reason why you sent the baby away?" Stefan asks in his most reasonable voice. A voice that anyone that knew him would have their hackles rising along with their suspicions.

"Other than I don't know you from Adam?" Faith shrugs.

"Mr. Smith informed you that I am Alexis' brother."

"I saw that nut job in the hospital, claiming a relationship to her is no recommendation." Faith has a rare moment of motor mouth and immediately regrets it. There had been a chill in the air but it is now positively icy. "Look. So you're Alexis Davis brother. I believe that." She nods her head. "But I don't know you. You want to see your sister's kid... then talk to the kid's daddy... Ned."

Stefan blocks Faith from following the others to the limo. "You do realize don't you that this is far from over." His voice is low and confident.

Faith's eyes narrow. "Now you know that sounded like a threat but I'm thinking that it probably wasn't because like I said-- all you have to do is get the all clear from Ned. And just a word to the wise, since we don't know each other...." Faith leans in. "I don't respond well to threats, Mr. Cassadine." Faith takes a step back and then goes around Stefan to the waiting limo. Zander holds the door for her and then shuts it tapping on the roof to send it on it's way.

Stefan spies Zander standing there waiting and cocks his head to one side. Zander had proved a worthwhile pawn thus far- exposing the latest Mrs. Ashton's security perimeter. Maybe once again the impulsive Mr. Smith would be useful. Patience pays off and Zander comes over to Stefan.

"I want to see Alexis." Zander demands.

"My sister is very... fragile right now and is not up to... visitors."

"Look. I'll play by the rules alright?! I won't talk about anything that might upset her. I'll clear everything thru you. Alexis knows me. I can reach her. I know I can." whatever you sonofabitch, if you won't let me see Alexis then I'll just figure out a way to see her on my own. "Whatever, man." Zander shrugs his shoulders. "I have to go to work." He starts stalking off.

"You know that woman."

Stefan's statement stops Zander in his tracks. "Who? You mean Faith? Yeah. I guess. I'm more acquainted with her late husband, Roscoe." Zander admits turning around to face Stefan.

"I... observed you with her." Stefan's voice is questioning, probing.

Zander stiffens. This is beginning to feel a lot like the interrogation room back at the PCPD. No pounding of tables or threats of Singsing but he could tell that Cassadine wants something. "Yeah, so?"

"I have to wonder in all this..." Stefan makes a gesture with one hand. "Where do you stand?" The question is rhetorical but Zander answers it anyway.

"With Alexis. Not with you, not with Faith and not with Ned. I'm going to do what's best for Alexis; what she'd want me to do. And if you don't like it... well screw you." Zander stalks off.

Stefan pulls out his cell phone and hits a preset number. "Where are you?"





After finishing up with the referral from Alexis office, Dara figures it's about time for a late lunch. She swings by Alexis' old place and with the new client's release to pick up the background for the contract and have a little chat with Taggart's little sister if she was there. Dara knocks on the door. "Knock, knock."

"The office is closed." Gia calls out without looking up. "Everyone was notified by mail."

"Except me. Which would have been nice if you were planning on sending all the business my way." Dara interjects wryly.

Gia's head comes up. "Dara!" Gia comes to her feet. Then she winces. "Sorry. Things have been so crazy. I know I should have let you know. I've just been barely keeping my head above water here... dealing with my classes, Scott Baldwin... and then all of Alexis' clients."

"This whole break down..."

"Oh it's been going on long before that." Gia shakes her head. "Ever since Alexis went into premature labor. I guess about the only time she left baby Kristina in the hospital was to go murder Alcazar and then to defend anyone accused of murdering him."

Dara winces and holds up a hand. "More information than I really need actually. I just stopped by with this." Dara hands over a release from the client.

Gia looks it over. "I'll copy the file and send it over to you. Since I sent out that letter to all of Alexis' clients you should be hearing from them or I should be hearing from their chosen representatives." She looks behind her at the bank of locked file cabinets. "And then I guess I'll finish closing up the office." Gia sighs, shaking her head. "It was great while it lasted... I guess. Give me more time to concentrate on my studies I guess. It's not like Alexis was in the office often. She liked to work out of her apartment. This was mostly just storage and research library anyway."

"What are you going to do with all of this?" Dara indicates the offices.

"I have no idea. Everything should probably go in storage somewhere, I guess. Until Alexis can tell someone what she wants to do. Actually you handled all that stuff for Alexis... so that she could go over to Spoon Island. Who is calling the shots?"

Dara sighs heavily. "You want me to be the one to call."

Gia nods. "Oh yeah. I'm out of the Cassadines. Not that I ever really was in. But no Nikolas, definitely no Stefan and now... no Alexis either. And I'm sure that Marcus couldn't be happier."





"Lt. Taggart?" Mrs. Lansbury is not really surprised to see the police detective since the launch pilot had called ahead. Taggart had caught the pilot before he could move the boat to the Spoon Island side of the harbor.

"Wanted to stop by and see how... Natasha is settling in."


"Is there a reason why I can't see Natasha?" Marcus says softly. He was buying this whole DID thing but that didn't mean that he wasn't going to be checking up just to make sure they weren't playing the PCPD for suckers... again. "Before I got off work I checked her monitor and it appears that she is here. She is here isn't she, Mrs. Lansbury?"

"Well of course she is. I just thought..."

"I've already spent time with Tasha without any... problems. You wouldn't be creating any now would you, Mrs. Lansbury?"

"Of Course not."

Marcus smiles at the older woman.

Mrs. Lansbury sighs and steps back from the door. "Please wait in the front room. I'll get Miss Natasha for you." And I'll call Master Stefan to let him know you are here

"Give Stefan my best." Marcus reads the woman's intent in her eyes.

"Marcus!" Tasha runs down the stairs. "Did you come to see me?"

"I did. Wanted to see how you were settling in. Everyone treating you decent?"

Tasha looks at Mrs. Lansbury out of the corner of her eye. "Sure. I guess. Come see the stables." Tasha grabs hold of Marcus' hand and starts tugging him toward the french doors that lead out the back to the stables. "Nikolas, that's my nephew..." Natasha wrinkles her nose at that in disbelief. "... he only has a few horses here, but Sheba is really nice and lets me feed him carrots. And Stefan... he said he'd find me a pony here cause my pony is at Mama's house. Do you like horses?"

"Can't say as I've spent much time around them." Marcus allows himself to be lead down the garden path to the stables.





Stefan waits at the bar of the Port Charles Grille until Nikolas has concluded his business meeting. Returning to Port Charles wasn't about taking back up the reins of the Cassadine Estate. That he was happy to leave in Nikolas' hands but instead out of concern for Alexis and the baby. As soon as Nikolas rises at the end of the meeting, Stefan does the same. He waits for the representatives for the European holdings to leave before he moves over to the table.

"Do not think I did not notice you lingering over by the bar rather than coming over to the table, Uncle." Nikolas says wryly.

Stefan indicates with a nod. "The Estate is no longer my concern."

"You mean the tedium of these meetings." Nikolas rubs his eyes tiredly. No wonder both Alexis and Stefan had resorted to reading glasses. His were feeling the strain already.

"Exactly." Stefan takes a seat across from Nikolas. "I appreciate you conducting the family business here in town rather than on the island."

"Too many of our agents know Alexis." Nik agrees quietly. "If one of them said the wrong thing, it would lead to confusion."

"It also gives us the opportunity to speak privately." Stefan waits until after his drink is delivered by the staff before continuing. "I observed Faith Ashton with the baby in the park today. Zander Smith was there. You have a long standing association with Smith."

Nikolas winces. "I wouldn't exactly call it that. I have a long standing association with Emily Quartermaine. Smith was just... there. And after Emily left town... Smith has been nothing but more trouble if that is possible. Working with various crime organizations, being arrested. He inserted himself first between Lucky and Elizabeth Webber and then between me and Gia."

"I know you have ended your engagement."

"Due in no small part to Zander."

"Yet your aunt was... fond of the boy."

"Heaven knows why." Nikolas blurts out but then in the interest of honesty continues. "It was mutual. I don't like Zander Smith. I never have, never will. But he would do anything for Alexis. If only Alexis had asked him to rid the world of Alcazar. He probably would have done it." Nik shakes his head regretfully then changes the subject. "I ran into Zander at the bookstore. He's researching Alexis' illness."

"It is not his business." Stefan protests.

"I took him to see Luke." Nik forges on ignoring his uncle's grimace. "Helena did this to Alexis. I thought it... unlikely that you'd be forthcoming with any information."

"And you believed that Luke would be?! And that his information would be factual? Rather than his normal exaggerated ranting?" Stefan lifts a single brow. Perhaps it is a good thing that he has returned to Port Charles. And as unfortunate as Alexis' illness is, perhaps it would serve the greater purpose of bringing Nikolas back to the fold-- a path back that Laura's most recent illness had begun.





The dark glasses just aren't getting it done. The black coffee wasn't getting it done either. Coleman takes another sip of the coffee and then tilts his head back and closes his eyes behind the dark glasses. Whether it was working at the club or working at Jakes, early mornings were not his friend. A whiff of perfume gets his attention and he groans. He grabs the cup of coffee from beside him and takes another drink before practically putting his head between his knees, resting his elbows on his knees. Finally he shoves his sunglasses up and winces, his eyes narrowing. "What was so fucking important that we had to meet in person rather than just talking on the phone?" Coleman growls.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk. Rough night?" Faith says cheerfully. She hadn't planned on seeing Coleman this morning but sending the baby home made it just as easy to see him in person as making the call.

"You know how rough." Coleman says wryly taking another sip of the coffee. He watches as Faith stiffens and slowly grins. "You hate when I remind you of the good old days."

"It was a long time ago."

"I've got a long memory, baby."

"Yeah, and if your memory is so good, Cole, why didn't you follow the plan for Daisy Mae?"

"Little late to be crying over that spilled milk, Faith." Coleman says wryly. "And don't even start in with me about Fowler and the Corinthos broad. I had the night off. I wasn't there. Now if I had a little bit of warning...."

Faith shrugs and leans up against the park bench back facing the opposite direction of Coleman. "It was a target of opportunity. How was I supposed to know she'd ditch her own opening night at the Club?"

"What am I doing here, Faith?" Coleman grows impatient and gets to the point.

"We need to have a little chat about Skye Quartermaine."





Stefan meets the launch as it is bringing Marcus Taggart back to the mainland. He furiously paces the docks until the launch is secured and Taggart is walking toward him. He'd been delayed in getting Mrs. Lansbury's page since he'd turned his phone off while he was talking to Nikolas. "How dare you!"

"Excuse me?"

"Dropping by unannounced! Forcing your way into our home!" Stefan's fury is split equally between Taggart and himself. He should have been there. This should never have been permitted to happen. Natasha should never have been left without family there in her current condition.

"Take it down a notch, Cassadine." Taggart shakes his head. He's got sympathy for the guy. Nobody likes being over a barrel. "I'm doing you a favor."

Both of Stefan's brows go up at that one and his color starts changing as he grows more flushed... it took a lot for Stefan to lose his cool but this was really the last straw. The sound that emits from him can only be called a growl.

"Look. It's a condition of Tasha's release, of the house arrest. Cops can stop by. I just figured it would be easier on her if someone she was already familiar with made the visit rather than a couple of uniforms." Taggart shrugs. "No skin off my nose. If you'd rather have street cops or maybe Baldwin stopping by whenever he feels like it..."

"I would prefer to not have anyone dropping by whenever they felt like it!"

"I get that." Taggart says wryly. "Talk to your attorney, Cassadine. I'll be back. When I feel like it. I'd love to tell you screw yourself and just let you take your chances with Baldwin... but I'm not going to do that to Tasha-- she's a sweet kid. I'm not going to make her suffer because her brother is an ass." Marcus walks away.

Stefan reaches for his phone and punches in a number from memory. "Dara Jensen?"


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