The Path to Power
Chapter Sixty Five
Two weeks later
Bobbie watches the television with increasing horror. Sonny is on the News. Drunk with a new blonde hanging over his shoulder and declaring her daughter dead. DEAD. The FBI is saying there are no new leads. That there hadnít been any demands. While they donít go as far as to say that Carly is dead there is a suspicion that sheíd left of her own volition. Where the fuck were these idiots when Michael was slipping into a catatonic shock with a chloroformed rag left in the church? Bobbie picks up the phone and hits a number that sheís been calling a lot lately. "Jason, what is going on? How could he do that? How could he say she is dead?"
"I tried to tell him, Bobbie." Jasonís frustration comes through. "Michael saw Ric take Carly. He saw her. And Sonny denies it. Iíve searched Lansingís house. I canít find anything. I know heís got her. I know it."
"Well I donít care what you do to that SOB, Jason. I want my daughter back. My GAWD this was suppose to be her perfect pregnancy. No bleeding to death like with Michael no falling down the stairs. And then Sonnyís long lost brother kidnaps Carly and Sonny decides NOW is good time to lose his freaking mind?! What about my girl? What about Carly?!"
"Iím going to keep looking. Iím not going to stop, Bobbie."
"Thank God for you, Jason. Youíre the only one I can count on. The only one who believes Carly didnít do anything to deserve this. Bring her home, Jase."
"Iíll do my best." Jason hangs up the phone.
Bobbie watches the news repeat. Itís the top story and has been for the last two weeks. Sheíd never thought sheíd be grateful for AJ for anything. But AJ had filed an injunction the Monday after the kidnapping to make sure that Sonny didnít take Michael out of the hospital. The last thing that she wants is her poor grandson being exposed to that. The motions had started flying after that. Reinstating AJís rights as biological parent since heís termination had been coerced. Sonny still had some rights as Carlyís husband but he seems to be kissing them away. Bobbie turns off the television and looks at the mirror. She brushes her hair back. One of those motions is going to be filed today.
Across the street and down a few houses. AJ is fussing with his tie. Lydia finally brushes his hands out of the way and grabs him by the tie to hold him still. "Youíve done everything you can do. We have the additional security. Those government people..."
"CPS-- child protective services."
"Yes, them. They have done an inspection of our house to make sure that Michael will have suitable lodging and that you have a plan in place that has nothing but his best welfare in mind. Michaelís stepfather was kind enough to lose his entire mind on the morning news for anyone to see."
"Youíre making the same mistake I did, Lydia. Expecting criminals to play by the same rules as the rest of us do."
"Oh please, AJ, we are scarcely the rest of us. Yes, we will play by the rules but weíll also make sure that the rules are enforced in our favor. Whatís the use of having money if you canít make your family safe?!"
AJ sighs and nods. "Thanks, Lydia. I needed to hear that."
"I just canít believe how awful that man was. I know Carly is... well I know what your mother thinks of her and that is enough said but itís only been a couple of weeks and heís declaring her dead? The courts at least wait seven years!"
"It could be some scheme that heís worked out with the FBI." AJ offers. He hates Sonnyís guts but he canít believe that Sonny would write Carly off that quickly.
"Just need to stick to the plan. Let Dara do all the talking in the courthouse and then when the press start pressing...."
"Let them know we have every confidence Carly is alive and will come back for Michael and her family. But we donít have confidence Sonnyís house is the best place for Michael while he is recovering."
"Only try to not use his name, in court yes but, not to the press. Say my son or my son with Carly instead. The tabloids will know his name but keeping his name out of the sound bites will be better for Michael."
"Right." AJ nods. He exhales. "I think weíre ready as weíre ever going to be."
"Youíre going to win, Darling. And then the tough part will begin. Undoing all the damage Carly and her lot have done to him."
Stefan has actually been up since five but with company had stayed in bed. Now he watches Dara get ready in her court clothes. Persuasion is not a skill honed by the Cassadine. They were more into either passive/aggressive tactic or sledgehammer style force. Seduction maybe. Persuasion not at all.
Even Alexis when she had practiced law didnít persuade juries or judges. She would browbeat them with precedent and fact. It is... entertaining to watch Dara prepare for court. Every move is practiced. Her argument is smooth, unhurried, compelling. "Who is Mr. Corinthos getting to represent him in this matter?"
"Ric Lansing if you can believe that."
"They are brothers. I suppose not a real surprise."
"Considering the scuttlebutt is Ric kidnapped Carly and is holding her somewhere? Yeah, it is a surprise."
"Who would believe this?"
"Iím surprised you havenít heard about it already. I guess you havenít been talking enough to Nikolas. Lucky, Faith, Skye, Jason, Mac, Taggart. Itís pretty much a consensus. But there is no proof. Mac and Taggart canít get into Ricís house. Iíve heard rumors Jason looked around a couple of different times but nothing."
"Burglary? Mr. Morgan? Say it isnít so." Stefanís sarcasm is dry to the point of arid.
"If they have to search all the property that is owned by the Lansings it could take years. AJ didnít want Michael in Sonnyís house when Carly was there. He sure as hell doesnít want him there now."
"Especially after this. I taped it for you." Stefan says rather proud of himself. Heís technology savvy but there arenít many televisions out on Spoon Island. Heíd just been killing time after TaiChi and while waiting for Dara to wake. He pushes play. Since he rewound it exactly to the right spot, the first thing Dara sees is Sonny spouting off like an idiot.
"Oh my gawd heís drunk." Dara mutters. "When was this taped?"
"Last night I believe but it must have been late as it was on the morning news."
"I need that. Ric is probably going to say AJ is a drunk as a reason why Michael canít live with them. I need that tape. Itís awful of me to hope, for Carly to be just fine maybe at spa somewhere getting a pedicure, that she stays away until after court."
"If Caroline were able, Dara, she would have been back in time for the joint custody hearing that youíve already won." Stefanís voice is grim. "I have been observing Caroline and her family for many years. I have little doubt that she will turn up again but it will be worse for wear. She might have Bobbieís eyes but her nature is closer to her uncle."
"Bobbie is the wild card in all this. If she had filed a petition it might actually have been a fight. Especially with that tape. Right now Bobbie is Michaelís only constant."
In the bathroom of the courthouse, Lydia comes out of a stall after losing the contents of her stomach. She goes over to the sink and rinses out her mouth and then washes her hands. She takes one of the rough paper towels and folding it puts it on the back of her neck.
"Are you okay?" Bobbie asks curiously taking in everything about the young woman.
"Yes, Iím fine." Lydia opens her eyes and looks at the other person in the bathroom. "Youíre Barbara Jean Spencer."
"And youíre Lydia Quartermaine." Bobbie says consideringly.
"Scarcely the way I wanted us to meet." Lydia shakes her head. "Not at the hospital, the courts, like this. I knew when I married AJ that we would know each other."
"He picked his house very carefully." Bobbie tests.
"Yes. We did." Lydia nods. "AJís house is near everything that is important to Michael: his school, his motherís house, your house. There was a room set aside for Michael from the very first day even if it was never furnished. This is Michaelís room; AJ would tell me. That worries me now. The room overlooks the backyard with a view to Queen of Angels."
Bobbie doesnít try to hide her wince.
"Is that the grandmother wincing or the registered nurse?" Lydia asks wryly.
"Both. I would like Michael to come home from the hospital with me. Or Stay with Courtney and Jason. He knows us. He doesnít know you or AJ."
"That isnít AJís fault." Lydia says softly. "And it wonít get easier by being put off. You are welcome in our home at any time, Ms. Spencer. That open door policy has never applied to my husband in the past."
Bobbie looks away knowing it is true. "Courtney and Jason..."
"AJ has told me that Jason will not rest until he finds Carly. And Courtney is Sonnyís sister, and my husbandís ex wife. I donít think so." Lydia throws away the paper towel then turns toward Bobbie. "Iíve made sure this judge isnít bought, or Iím sure youíll think not bought by Sonny Corinthos. Dara is the best attorney in town now. AJ is going to prevail on this petition as he should, as he should have all along."
"You havenít been around AJ when heís drinking." Bobbie warns.
"No, but I have seen your daughterís husband drunk on the news this morning so lets not go there." Lydia counters. "And my husband isnít declaring your daughter dead so that he can move in some... tart."
"Youíre starting your own family. It would be better if Michael came to stay with me. Open door policy. Absolutely."
"Michael is part of my husbandís family. I hope that youíll come over to the house after the hearing to help me get his room ready. I havenít painted the nursery or even put together anything. That room looks toward your house. If you think it a better idea, Michael can have that room when he comes home from the hospital."
After the hearing AJ stands on the foot of the courthouse steps. Lydia is by his side. Bobbie and Monica stand on the step above him so they are looking over his shoulder while Dara speaks to the press about the results.
One of the members of the gutter press shouts out. "Hey AJ! Isnít this climbing over you dead ex wife?!
There are put on gasps of horror at the question but everyone looks to AJ to answer the question. Dara starts to interject but is stopped by Lydiaís hand on her arm.
AJ says loud enough to be heard. "Carly isnít dead. Saying that she is, is premature and cruel to her familyĖ including my son. Iím sure my brother is already looking for the person who has Carly, frankly there isnít a rock small enough for them to crawl under." AJ looks straight at Ric Lansing when he says that. "Until Carly gets back, our son will be staying with me." AJ starts down the steps with Lydia by his side a protective arm around her waist. Dara stays in front of Lydia if the pregnant woman slips on the hard limestone steps she isnít going to fall.
Lydia looks over her shoulder to Monica and Bobbie. "Iíll need both of you at the house if you donít have to be back to the hospital."
Bobbie after the conversation in the bathroom knows what it is about. Monica nods in agreement. Monica looks at Bobbie. "Weíll be there."
As Dara, AJ and his wife make their way thru the crowd the press actually swarms around the newlyweds leaving Bobbie and Monica standing on the steps watching the crush. "Lydia is very... supportive of AJ." Bobbie doesnít look away from watching.
"He was making changes before." Monica says defensively.
Ric comes up to Bobbie and Monica. "Iím very disappointed, Bobbie, that you didnít support Sonny more in this."
Bobbie looks at Ric like he is a fly crawling around on a pile of canine excrement. "Unless you are telling me that my daughter has been found safe and sound, get the fuck out of my face. You and your faithless brother!"
Monica sees Sonny and Courtney heading in their direction and after decades of experience with the Quartermaineís knows this is going to bring the press right down on top of them again suggests quickly to Bobbie. "Weíve other places to be."
"Right." Bobbie agrees. "We should have car pooled. Iíll meet you over there. You may want to park behind my place. I donít think youíll be able to get close."
"Right good plan." Monica and Bobbie leave before Sonny and Courtney arrive to talk to Ric.
Courtney knows of Jasonís suspicions about Ric and they arenít a stretch for her considering the guy had kidnapped her and dropped her down a mine shaft to try to get Sonnyís attention. But she believes this is her chance to help Jason and Sonny by staying rather than showing her revulsion. Maybe heíd slip and give a clue.
Inside the hummer, Lydia is already on the phone to the security detail at the hospital to let them know that custody had changed and that Michael isnít to leave the hospital with anyone but AJ. Dara is on the phone to Mary at the office dictating a statement that would be released to the press. Lydia shuts the phone. "I was surprised that Skye and your father werenít there."
"I asked them to stay by the hospital today." AJ replies. "If there were going to be any problems I wanted somebody there that has our backs."
"This is my stop." Dara hangs up the phone and points to the corner that is close to her office. "Do you want me at the hospital too?"
"No, weíve got a copy of the paperwork. And there wonít be a press presence when we take Michael out of the hospital." AJ pulls over smoothly and climbing out of the hummer gives Dara a hand down. Women in tight skirts and heels didnít have an easy time getting in and out of the big vehicle. "Thanks for all your help today, Dara."
"Itís what you pay me for. Course it would be nice to work on some of my other clients for awhile so feel free to take a break from the legal wrangling." Dara suggests wryly. "Talk to you later." She strides off to the corner deli to pick up lunch for the office before heading back. Kicking Ric Lansingís ass in court is the perfect way to work up an appetite.
"Do you know why Lydia wants to see us?" Monica doesnít bother with the hello when she arrives at the kitchen door to Bobbieís brownstone. Itís the most convenient door to the parking by the garage. Itís been awhile since she and Bobbie had really been tight. Lots of water under that bridge but as long as Bobbie stayed away from Alan maybe bygones could be bygones.
"I ran into her before court in the bathroom. I think sheís pregnant."
Monica isnít particularly surprised. "The few times Iíve talked to her... I canít say Iím surprised; she is needy for family ties. Her Grandfather was her last relative. Helena Cassadine was coming after her for her money, wanting her to marry Nikolas."
"Nikolas is like this..." Bobbie holds two fingers together. "...with Penny Cuivre, my waitress who won the lottery? Nik has been taking care of her ever since. And Penny has an endorsement in that she is someone who Helena didnít pick."
"If Lydia is pregnant, then it was very planned, Bobbie." Monica muses. "I know itís my fault I overcompensated for the way I felt about Jason when he was born by being a better mother to Jason than I was to my own son. AJ was just as needy for family ties, unconditional supportive family ties."
"And heís got that in spades with Lydia." Bobbie shakes her head. "Evidently from the day that AJ bought that house he has had a room picked out for Michael."
"That whole house was picked out with Michael in mind. Close to you, close to the school. I would have tried to fight it the first time he showed it to me empty and ready to be furnished. You know I would have preferred for him to stay out at the mansion. But then he was pointing out Michaelís school and his room. I knew I didnít have a snowballís chance in hell."
"Thatís the problem right there. The room they picked out for Michaelís looks out over Queen of Angels. I think Lydia is calling us over to help her get Michaelís room situated away from the back yard. Where are you going?!"
"I have a change of clothes in the trunk of the car." Monica informs Bobbie. "Iíll be right back."
They arenít actually grubbies but they are clothes designed to get something other than a court date out of the way. Bobbie and Monica go around the block to the back alley between AJís property and Queen of Angels. There is an intercom on the wrought iron fence that encloses the property now. Sally answers the inquiry quickly and Bobbie hears the click of the door to the garage. She opens the door and is met by a well built older man with even older eyes. "Ms. Spencer, Dr. Quartermaine. Youíre expected. Keep an eye on that Wilson character. I know Ms. Lydia seems to like him but..."
Monica grins at the security agent. "And if you ever see him on the street, I wouldnít trust him but heís here as a spy for my mother in law. He wonít do anything to harm the family."
The Guard releases the lock to the other door that goes into the back yard. Monica and Bobbie walk up to the house. "I guess that isnít any weirder than the gatehouse youíve got at your place."
"Not really." Monica agrees. She doesnít have to knock on the door and the door is open. Rather than her black and white maidís uniform, Sally is wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
"Good Afternoon, Dr. Quartermaine. I didnít realize until the last minute... I wasnít told..." She tugs at her t-shirt.
Bobbie takes pity on the young girl. "I do appreciate the way AJ and Lydia are trying to blend with the neighborhood. No gun turrets, no Lurch running around. Welcome to the neighborhood. Weíre much more casual here."
"Yes, Maíam." Sally replies. "Everyone is up on the second floor taking in the layout. Mr. AJ says heís not going to move things more than once."
"Famous last words." Bobbie grins.
Dara had sent Mary home at six. Gia had stayed until eight. Poor Gia is on her summer break but there is no break here at the law office. Since she isnít a lawyer anything she writes has to be reviewed but she has taken the lead on the Stadium project as well as dealing with anything that has to do with the Stallions. It actually involved a lot of time out of the office, speaking at various organizations. Sheís become the spokes model for the Stallions. Taggart probably was wondering which was better, Gia hanging with Zander or Gia escorting the Stallion Rook to some event. Considering the bad rep some pro athletes had given the rest... Zander must be looking better.
"Itís almost ten oíclock, counselor." Stefan says from the doorway.
Dara starts and presses a hand to her chest. Sheíd never given Stefan a key to her office but he always managed to get in without drawing her attention. "Thanks for the update." Her voice is wry. She reaches over and grabs a remote to the TV that is tucked up and away in the corner and hits on for the evening news. "I didnít get to hear how Ric spun losing this one. Sonny made this one easy before he showed up hung over on the Judgeís morning news. I didnít even have to enter the tape. Just offer to enter it. You could see the Judge salivating. Heíd already seen the news. And then AJ and Lydia had totally opened their home to CPS. Sonny wouldnít let the worker in the building let alone the penthouse."
"Caroline is going to be furious when she gets back."
"Not my problem." Dara retorts kicking back in the chair. "Carly sure knows how to pick them."
Stefan comes around to the chair and offering her a hand assists her from the chair. Knowing his best chance other than throwing her over his shoulder is to wait until after the news story is passed, he takes the chair behind the desk and pulls her back down into his lap. "Iíve given more consideration to what you said earlier about Caroline and Ric Lansing."
"Alcazar. In addition to his... visit with my sister on Spoon Island, has also been keeping surveillance on anyone that had dealings with Luis. Including Ric Lansing, who had crossed his brother. Faith Ashton was relieved that there were no pictures of Kristina but there were pictures of Ric, Sonny, Jax, Skye."
"How the hell did Skye cross Luis?"
"She did not-- to my knowledge." Stefan shrugs. "I will mention it to Taggart the next time he is over to visit Natasha. Alcazar took over the lease on Lansingís condo. So there is a connection there."
"Youíre keeping an eye on Alcazar."
"Oh yes. And Alcazar has been keeping an eye on Lansing."
Dara gets the shivers at that and welcomes Stefan hugging her closer. There is no talking as they watch the news waiting for the top local story. Kidnapping, child custody, gangsters, more money than Midas. Itís the top local story.
"Is he asleep?" AJ whispers from outside the door to Michaelís new room.
"Yes, finally." Bobbie answers in a whisper. "I should stay tonight at least, AJ."
"Lydia thought you might think so. There is a room set up right down the hallway. She suggested these too." AJ holds up the baby monitor. Lydia and Sally had been doing their nursery shopping online. Everything is still in boxes luckily. It made it easier to shift the nursery furniture to the other bedroom. "Our room connects to this room but this way you could hear if he wakes too."
"You think of everything." Bobbieís voice is more than a little bitter. "Right down to putting Rosieís bed in his room."
AJ shakes his head. "No, I never dreamed this would happen, Bobbie. Or at least not this way. Yes, I was getting everything together to get a say in Michaelís life. Carly didnít know until after the fact how Sonny got my signature on those termination papers. She might have not looked to hard but she didnít know, Bobbie. I am more than willing to put this all on Sonny. Are you?"
Bobbie starts to say something and then thinks better of it. "For now."
AJ walks Bobbie to the nearby guest room and then goes back to the master suite. He takes off his robe and crawls in to bed next to Lydia.
"Is she going to help us?" Lydia asks in hushed tones.
"Until either I muck it up or Carly is found." AJ doesnít have any illusions. "Weíre going to be the center of things again for a few daysĖ press wise."
"Just for a few days, then it will be back to the couple that are always there. Even now itís more about Sonny and Carly."
"Iím going to stay home tomorrow, maybe the next day. I donít know. Try to build a routine or something. Get to know my son." AJ knows he doesnít know what the hell he is saying or how he is going to make it happen. There has been too much water under the bridge for this to be easy. Heíd wished for this since before his son was born and now itís finally happened 6 years later.
"Maybe a half day." Lydia suggests. "Or maybe you go to work in the morning and get everything you need done there and bring home anything that can be done here. That way Bobbie and I can feel things out a bit. Weíll save taking Rosie to the dog park for you."
"Are you sure?" AJ hesitates.
"Be back by lunch." Lydia gives AJ a kiss and slides her hands down his frame. "So that is what you are going to do for me tomorrow. What are you going to do for me tonight?"
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