The Path to Power
Chapter Sixty Eight
Nikolas is up with the birds. If he could have heard them in the Penthouse suite of the Port Charles Hotel. While he has a familiar companion it is an unfamiliar bed. He would have to verify that the pier was clear before taking Penny back to the island. He reviews the night before and canít help but wonder if perhaps Penny would have been better off seeing the body. She didnít appear too afraid of death only violent, unnatural death.
He knows there is one person who will be up, well two. "Hello, Mrs. Lansbury. Could you put me thru to my uncle?"
"Of course, Master Nikolas."
Within seconds Stefan is on the phone. "Nikolas."
"It is Alcazarís man and he was stabbed. I suspect even Mr. Marcusí good graces will not keep the Cassadine out of this mess."
"That ankle monitor of Tashaís is sure coming in handy for alibis."
"Yes. After you called last night I contacted the University and have commissioned a study of the prevailing wind and current patterns to insure there is no way Scott Baldwin can even raise the foul implication that Javier might have been killed here and drifted across the river."
"Right. If it would have been on our side of the water he would have gone down stream rather than across the river."
"Any child with a... rubber duck would know that to be true. Why do I suspect that DA Baldwin will try to prove otherwise?"
Nikolas sighs and rubs his eyes. "How is Tasha?"
"She saw the lights. Taggart did call her to reassure her that Helena had nothing to do with this."
"Do we know that?" Nik counters sharply. "He was stabbed. That is one of Grandmotherís many Modus Operandi. Her manservant three back. Ari."
"If asked I will have no problem offering that as a viable option. Faith Ashton believes Helena will no longer be using the Dower Jewels to finance her movements. Without having the jewels to trace, it would be convenient if Helena were suspect in a murder, a current murder."
"She is already." Nik shakes his head. Trying to keep up with his Grandmotherís carnage is tougher than both he and Stefan can keep up with. "Maybe not the lab down in Pennsylvania that Luke found but surely the murder of her latest manservant at the Summer house?"
"You may want to make an appointment with Dara while you are on that side of the river." Stefan counsels. "I would prefer the reminder of Helenaís proclivities come from an... unbiased source. Give Penny my best and we will see you for the noon meal?"
"They should be done by then." Nikolas agrees. "Be safe, Uncle." Nik hangs up.
"Everything okay on the island?" Penny belts the spa style robe provided by the hotel and comes over to Nikolas.
"Yes. Taggart called Tasha and reassured her. This really could be my Grandmother, Penny."
"Why?" Penny shrugs. "I get it. Your grandmother is psycho but she has her own logic. She gets rid of people when they are no longer of any use to her. But when was this Javier guy of use to her? Have Helena and Alcazar hooked up? Because if they have then Tasha would already be dead. He wouldnít have just been pushing her on the swing."
"Still. It would be best if Grandmother is at least a suspect in this. Having her wanted by local, state and federal police can only work in our favor." Nik turns around and leans a hip against the desk. He pulls Penny in closer so that she is standing in her bare feet between his legs. She wraps her arms around his neck. "So we have more time on this side of the river. We are not expected back to the island until noon. Any errands you need to run?"
Penny shrugs. "Mail is already being delivered to the island so I donít need to pick that up. Want to go over to the Outback and see Lucky and Elizabeth?"
Nikolas looks at the clock. "They wonít be up for hours yet."
"Bummer." Penny grins and then leaning in presses a kiss to Nikolasí parted lips. "What will we do to kill the time?"
Nik grins and then gives her a half step head start racing back to the bedroom.
Kyle looks at the list of things that his Uncle had found for him to do at Jakes. This is more than the parking lot and the bathrooms. Itís more than filters over the grill that had to go thru the dishwasher half a dozen times to get the grease out of them. Scrubbing down the walls of the bar to get all the nicotine off of them. Itís a bar. Itís Jakes. No matter how evolved the state legislature had tried to be about smoking in public places there is a coating of yellow/brown crap from the cigarette smoke mixed with a heaping helping of grease that bound together the loops of the bar towel. Scrubbing it down isnít that bad really. Itís the crap they use to cut the build up. It really couldnít be good for his hands. The towel practically disintegrated after just one wall. Needless to say he had no desire to ever smoke a cigarette. People put this stuff in their lungs? "Alright. I get it. Youíre still pissed at me."
"Why would I be pissed at you?" Cole doesnít look up from the Sports page. Not just looking at the pictures from Kyleís game but also the box scores so that he can be current for whatever fanatic happened to stroll in his doors and wanted to discuss baseball over a beer.
"I shouldnít have taken Maxie over to the house."
"Oh I understand. Really I do. Youíre a teenage boy and your dick gets hard if the wind is blowing in the wrong direction. You think that the Police Commissioner doesnít know the same thing? Maybe some day youíll grow out of it. Some guys never get over chasing tail. Made a lot of money off them down at the strip club. Some bored chick with double d's shakes her ass in their face and theyíd be signing over their paycheck."
"Maxie isnít like that." Kyle counters.
"Right. And I can tell that by the way you treat her. Right?"
Now Kyle is ticked. "Look Iíve done what Iím supposed to do. Dr. Quartermaine gave me the lecture back when he gave me my soccer physical. Maxie and I have talked about all of it. I know about her heart surgery, all the medication she has to take for that, and the plastic surgery she had to minimize the scar. Thatís the only thing that could have put her at risk of getting HIV and she had tests all along because of what happened with her older sister, Robin."
"You mean other than you."
Kyle swears under his breath. "Iím clean. You know that. And Maxie is it. No other girls."
"Well thatís good to know." The Police Commissioner says from the doorway.
"Commissioner." Cole pours the not unexpected visitor a cup of coffee and puts away the sports section of the paper. "You hear enough?"
"Heard enough to know Iím not going to kill your nephew today."
"Thank you. I have grown fond of him." Cole nods.
Mac pins Kyle with a laser glare that heíd developed too late. He should have had it perfected before Robin started dating. Maybe things would have been different if he had. "I donít have a problem with you being around if Maxie has to close at Kellyís. I donít even mind you helping her close. Bobbie says you did a great job by the way. I donít mind if you are around Maxie when there is adult supervision, or on publicly sanctioned events like the park opening, the summer carnival, or the fourth of July picnic in the park. I am not going to talk to you about having sex with my girl because even thinking in that direction makes me want to lock her up until sheís forty and castrate you. So lets just keep this really simple. You hurt my girl or do anything that will potentially hurt her and Iím going to hurt you. Comprende?"
"Yes, sir." Kyle says quickly.
"Good now that is out of the way tell me where you were from 5pm until 8pm yesterday."
Cole answers. "I was here waiting for my relief to show up. Kyle was at the soccer field getting ready for his game and then playing. We were both at the soccer field; weíre both covered."
"Covered for what?" Kyle looks from his uncle to the Commissioner. "Why do I need an alibi?"
Again Cole is the one that answers. "The guy that was stalking Skye and slashed her tire ended up in the Charles River with a knife in his back."
"And how do you know that?" Mac asks.
"Skye decided it wasnít worth holding the presses but it did make the Herald Online this morning. Name omitted of course until next of kin can be notified."
Mac nods. "And Faith Ashton?"
Coleman shakes his head. He is not going to be drawn into this one. "Youíre going to have to ask her. She wasnít at the soccer game."
Down at the PCPD detectives bull pen, Taggart checks the ankle monitor for Tasha. He didnít think that the little girl would stab anyone but if Alexis came back out well then her history would put her to the top of the list for doing Javier. He sighs easy when he sees that Tashaís monitor reads her as being on the island the whole entire time. No blips, no technical difficultyĖ itís clear and so is Tasha.
"Well?" Scott Baldwin asks from behind Taggart. "Did the faker get away with another one?"
"The ankle monitor indicates 100% compliance." Taggartís voice is calm and low. It wouldnít do to pinch the DAís head off in front of the entire PCPD.
"Proof right there that sheís into this up to her cute little pig tails. You think if she could get all you yahoos to buy this fake job that she couldnít beat a little ankle monitor. Sheís a Cassadine!" Scott proclaims. And the thing is, if Alexis was faking heíd have a point.
"I seem to remember another case of a Cassadine stabbing when I was working at the DAís office." Dara interjects from over by the sergeants desk. Sheíd hoped that Nikolas would be wrong with the early morning phone call but nobody could discern a motive quicker than Stefan Cassadine and move to counter or even preempt it. "Unsolved. Young man employed by Helena Cassadine. Stabbed in the back and found floating in the Charles down river from her yacht. You remember that one, Marcus?"
"Andropolis, Ari." Marcus nods. "Damn." He goes over to the computer and starts calling the case up. Maybe itís linked and maybe itís not. "And Helena was at the Cassadines Summer house until about three- four weeks ago. Another manservant. That one shot in the head."
"Javier was working for Alcazar right?" Dara asks.
"Could have been wrong place; wrong time. She would have done anyone that was on the pier if it messed with her getting over to Spoon Island." Taggart picks up his phone and calls Spoon Island. "Mrs. Lansbury, itís Taggart. Stefan around? Thanks." Taggart sorts thru the information and prints out a copy just to have it for reference. It would be interesting if the Coroner came up with a similar angle of attack. "Stefan? Yeah, itís Taggart. You already upped security?" Taggart nods at the answer. He looks over at Baldwin who is still standing around like a vulture. "Weíre going to have a tech come out to the island to do some maintenance on Tashaís anklet. Make sure itís working properly. Now is not the time for it to go on the fritz. Iíll fax over a picture before I send the guy." After he hangs up he looks at Baldwin. "Well you might be half right. It might be Cassadine but itís not Tasha."
Scotty would love to protest but any Cassadine would be worth headlines. "Get me the proof. Iíll make the case."
"Yes, sir." Taggart throws off a mocking salute but somehow he doesnít think it translates as Baldwin just nods as if itís his due and moves on to make someone elseís life hell. Taggart looks at Dara and just shakes his head. "So how much of that crap you were spewing do you actually believe and how much was put on for Baldwin?"
"But not too likely." Taggart retorts. "Within hours of me telling Alcazar, and I know Javier was listening, about the two million reward for Mrs. Corinthos safe recovery and Javier is feeding the fish."
"So this is the kidnapping, not someone coming after Tasha? Not Helena?" Dara asks with a lifted brow. She tucks the lock of hair that always seems to get on her nerves behind her ear.
"Like you said, the Cassadine theory is plausible. It canít be eliminated yet."
Kyle canít believe he is standing here. Heíd finished up with the list that his Uncle had come up with and it had given him plenty of time to think. Think about everything that Skye had said last night, his Motherís letter, the fact that his Uncle didnít have anything official. This could be the absolute wrong thing to do but it was something.
"Can I help you?"
"Yeah, I want to talk to this lady." Kyle hands over the business card that the CPS worker had given him back when sheíd been investigating the beating heíd taken after the Maximum Maxie fiasco. "She said if I ever needed help I should talk to her. Sheís keeping a file on me."
"Iíll see if she can see you straight away or if youíll need an appointment."
"Tell her Iíll wait if I have to." Kyle takes a seat.
Maybe it was the offering to wait but Kyle soon hears the buzzing of the reception area door unlocking at the CPS worker opens the door and looks straight at him. "Mr. Radcliffe. Come on back."
"Thanks." Kyle follows the woman back to her cubby hole of an office. Because of the confidential nature of everything that happens with the kids at least itís a real office rather than a cubicle. The walls go all the way to the ceiling and there is a door that shuts. Kyle waits until heís told to have a seat and looks around at the office that is stacked with files and has a computer that should have been junked about ten years ago.
"What can I do for you, Mr. Radcliffe?" The CPS worker pulls out her thin file on the young man and opens it ready to make notes.
"Can we just talk for a minute? Iíd just as soon this doesnít go on the record until I hear what you think."
The woman makes a production of closing the file and recapping her pen. "Whatís bothering you, Kyle?"
"Things have been going pretty good since that time in school." Kyle starts. "Iíve got the grades. No trouble with the cops. Nothing with drugs, not even pot. Iím playing soccer, working some for my Uncle. Same girlfriend. Everything is great, okay?"
"If it were you wouldnít be here. And I know you havenít had any police contact. I promised you I would check and I have. Whatís going on, Kyle?"
"Uncle Cole told you he was just looking out for me while my Mom was having some tests done. It was only supposed to be a couple of days." Kyle takes a deep breathe cause this is where he could be screwing himself big time. "The tests were because she ODíd on some pain killers on top of a bottle of booze. It was an accident, okay? She wasnít trying to kill herself or anything. She just has a problem, okay?"
"Is your Mom using again, Kyle?"
"She never came back after the evaluation. She checked out of the hospital and left a note that she had to find herself."
"That was months ago!" The CPS worker flips the file back open and uncaps her pen.
"See and I really donít want you to do that okay?! Just listen and if you want to make notes later I wonít be able to stop you but just listen okay?" The worker slowly closes the file and nods giving the floor back to Kyle. "Thatís why I told you how everything is going okay. Iím staying with my Uncle still. Him and his girlfriend Skye Quartermaine."
"So what has changed?"
"I went by my house last night to pick up some more clothes, the mail, you know... stuff. The place had been emptied out and there was a note from my Mother." Kyle hands the note over to the worker.
"This is addressed to your uncle."
"I know. Heís already read it."
The worker reads the letter and knows she is going to be making a copy of it to go in the childís file. "Does he know youíre here?"
"No. I probably should have gone to a lawyer first but you promised to help if there was a problem. And I donít have a problem. Iím doing fine but I think my Mom might still have one. Skye and I were talking about it last night and she figures that if my Mother isnít being a total and complete bitch then sheís probably still drinking and drugging. If sheís using then whatever sheís going to sell our furniture for isnít going to last long. And then sheíll be coming after me if only to get the child support. I donít want to go into foster care or some group home or any of that other crap you might be thinking right now. I want to stay with my Uncle. What do I need to do to make that happen? I figure I have until my Mother runs out of money to get things lined up my way."
The CPS workers voice is stern. "Youíre asking me for legal advice and I canít give it." She stands up and goes over to the top of her filing cabinet and pulls a thick book out from under her dying Fichus. Itís the collection of applicable family law statues. She opens up a page grabs a highlighter pen and turns it around for Kyle to read after sheís doctored it.
In general, it is considered abandonment of the child when the parentís identity or whereabouts are unknown, the child has been left by the parent in circumstances where the child suffers serious harm, or the parent has failed to maintain contact with the child or to provide reasonable support for a specified period of time.
"How long is long?"
"A year is pretty much the standard for termination of Parental rights. But your mother left you with your uncle. You are doing fine. Just like you said. She didnít leave you alone in the house to eat cat food or kick you out on the street. Sheís kept the door open. And because you have waited until now to report her." The CPS worker shakes her head.
"She can do anything she wants?!"
"I need to file a report, Kyle. Or yes, she can. We need to get the ball rolling now and document everything back to her not coming back after leaving treatment."
"This canít be happening." Kyle protests burying his hands in his hair. "What am I supposed to do?"
"Notify your uncle and his girlfriend that Iíll be doing an emergency home study within 24 hours."
"Hello handsome." Faith stands in the doorway with her hand on her hip. It throws open her jacket and exposes a large amount of cleavage to view.
The man in the white coat leans back in his chair. "I was wondering if I was going to see you. Knife wounds arenít your style, Faith."
"You know I appreciate good work. No matter what the ... tool."
The Coroner grins. Whenever someone died violently in Port Charles he had a chance to see the buxom blonde with the legs that went all the way up. He looks her over from her platinum blond hair to the skimpy black dress that shows off a lot of thigh all the way down to the black pumps that made a man just want to kiss the arch of her feet. "You throwing this oneís funeral, Faith?"
"Nope, rumor has it that heís one of Alcazarís. But I might send some flowers." She crosses over to the desk and slides up on it crossing her legs so that her skirt rides up even higher. The Coroner is a leg man. "Winona been treating you right?" She reaches over and starts fondling the manís tie.
"You going to let me see poor Javier?"
"Faith. You know I really shouldnít." The Coroner groans as Faith reels him in by his tie so that his eyes are right at bust level. Faith swings her legs around so that her legs are on either side of the man in the chair. He canít resist running his hand up her calf. Damn she had the best legs. Better than Winonaís. Although heíd never tell Winona that.
"I just wanna a little look see. You know all about look sees, right Handsome?"
"You canít tell anybody. I could lose my job over this, Faith."
"It would be our little secret, Handsome." Faith smoothes his tie and hops down from the desk. "Which drawer is he in?" The Coroner groans and going over to the wall of refrigerators pulls out Javier. The Coroner is on one side of the drawer and Faith on the other. The Hispanic man is on his back, face up with a sheet over him. Faith pulls the sheet down. "He wasnít in the water long. No bloat."
"There are some animal bites: fish, turtle I think. But no, he was found relatively quickly."
"Show me the wound."
The Coroner rolls the body toward him and he isnít surprised when Faith gets close to the body examining the killerís handwork. If Faith wasnít a killer herself she would probably have made an excellent forensic examiner. "Didnít have to look for the weapon. It was still lodged."
"Could be smart. Could be stupid." Faith mutters as she takes a step back. "Smart since the killer didnít get any blood on himself. Stupid if the knife was distinctive."
"From the positioning of the woundĖ Iíd go with smart." The Coroner sets Javier back down.
"I saw that. Excellent placement of the wound. Would have sliced him like butter and the guy wouldnít have said a word. And the knife?"
"Manufactured in Great Britain but available in the states. One piece forged carbon steel. Perfect weight and design but not the most expensive knife out there."
"Someone with an eye for substance over style." Faith mutters. "Guess that rules out the old hag."
The Coroner raises a brow at that.
"You know this is the guy who probably killed Capelli. You might have a real dead cop killer on your slab." Faith studies Javierís dead face wondering what secrets had died with him. "Capelli bought it on the phone. Any sign of this guyís phone? It would be interesting to see who his last phone call was to."
"I can tell you about his last meal. Last phone call..." The Coroner shrugs. He closes the drawer.
"Thanks Handsome. Iíll tell Winona how sweet youíve been to me. Youíve... scratched my back and now sheíll scratch yours." Faith leans in real close. "Real hard. I promise."
After Faith leaves, Taggart comes out of the room where heíd set up surveillance on the morgue. "She do that often?"
"Only on interesting cases." The Coroner admits reluctantly. Taggart had him by the interesting bits thanks to an informant in the Medical Examiners office. "Sheís got a brilliant mind."
"Yeah, I saw you looking at her mind. Shame she couldnít use it for good rather than evil. Write up an incident report on this. And if you take her up on doing the hooker in exchange for this little tete a tete Iím going to have you fired and brought up on charges."
Skye is in the midst of attempting to write an editorial but it is like pulling teeth. Luckily there are opinion writers who can fill in the blanks and even the big boys from off the AP. Still something had to be local and not about the damn stadium. She looks up from her computer with some relief at the knock on the door. "Kyle. Come in. I am so glad you are here I need a break from this thing. I really donít want to get a reputation for throwing computers out the window." Skye takes a good look at Colemanís nephew. "Okay. What happened and why am I going to hate it?"
Kyle winces. That about summed it up in two questions.
"Did you and Cole have a fight at Jakeís this morning? He didnít get... creative did he?"
"Scrubbing the walls creative yes, but it isnít about Uncle Cole."
"He had you scrubbing the walls?" Skye pauses to shudder. "I do not want to know what came off of them."
"You really donít." Kyle agrees with a sigh. He takes a seat. "After the School website was hacked I had a meeting with the High School VP, a worker from CPS and Uncle Cole. The worker from CPS was kinda kewl or at least it seemed like it back then. So when all this went down with Mom, and the letter and allĖ I figured Iíd talk to an expert."
"Oh my gawd you went to Child Protectiveís Services." Skye pales.
"Kyle, you have always been incredibly brave about doing the right thing in the most..."
"Stupid?" Kyle offers helpfully.
"That wasnít what I was going to say." Skye rebukes the teenager. Mostly because it was what she was thinking but she never would have said it. Because Kyle has already put it out there she goes on with her thought. "It is the right thing to do. Itís definitely the right thing to do. What is going to happen now?!"
"She says my mom is in the clear because she left me with Uncle Cole and itís not like Iím living on the streets or anything."
"Really?!" Skyeís brows go up on that and she puts a little note on a pad of paper. Maybe CPS needed a little looking into because that is just a crock. "What else did she say?"
"That Mom has to be out of contact or not paying child support for a year before they even think about terminating her rights. Hell Iíll be 18 by then!" Kyle adds. "She isnít allowed to give legal advice so sheíd just be real quiet and highlight passages in a rule book she had and let me read them. Sheís going to file a report. There is going to an emergency home study within 24 hours. Sheís probably already calling Uncle Cole and chewing him out because he should have requested it within 24 hours of my Mom ditching treatment."
"You still had bruises within 24 hours of your mom ditching treatment."
"She knows about the bruises." Whatever color had been coming back to Skyeís face fades at the new information. Kyle is quick to keep talking. "It was cleared back then. Back when it happened. Maxieís dad totally covered. But this home study thing, Skye. I am so sorry."
"I am just without words." Skye leans back in her chair. "What the hell is a home study and what do they want from us? Theyíll probably think weíre horrible because we get take out from Eliís too often. Oh Gawd. The lake isnít fenced off."
"Iím 17Ė not seven."
"Right. Right." Skye is already reaching for her purse. She grabs her keys and offers them to Kyle. "Get some of your soccer guys together. Go over to your house and clean out your room. Furniture everything. Get it all moved into the lake house."
"What are you going to do?" Kyle takes the keys to Skyeís SUV.
"Iím going to call the only experts I know on this home study thing. My brother AJ and his wife. They just had to go through one before Michael could come home from the hospital."
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