The Path to Power

Chapter Eighty





The trip back to the cottage is silent. Dillon for once not driving but instead sitting in the back seat of the Lincoln. There is no conversation between Faith and Ned at all. But the vibe coming off them isnít sad or worried. Itís angry. Itís like the fury had been building since the hospital. Itís the reason why he had ridden with them rather than driving back with Bruno. He climbs out of the back and opens the door for Faith. He gives her a hand out. "Are you going to be okay?"

"Fine." Faith reassures with a calm smile. "Iíll see you in the morning. Weíre going to be on damage control." She gives him a hug. Faith goes into the house.


Ned holds up a hand to stop Dillon from saying anything more. "Tomorrow, Dillon. Tomorrow is soon enough." He follows Faith into the house. She is already at the bar pouring herself a drink and one for him too. She hands him the drink. He takes a sip and then drawing back throws the glass at Faithís head-- barely missing. The ricochet of the shattered glass doesnít miss but Ned doesnít see his wifeís flinch in the low light. "You selfish, conniving bitch! You think youíre going to use this to get the Quartermaine money, you can think again!"

Faith blots at the cut on her face with one of the cocktail napkins. "Iím not getting a dime. Lila told me that the same day as she told me she has cancer."

"Months! Youíve known for months and never told. I have lost months with my grandmother because of you!"

"Lost?! What the fuck did you lose?!" Faith demands. Sheíd known this was coming but really he was pressing on her last nerve. "She was here the whole time. If you wanted to spend time with her you could have! Where the hell were you? Where were you when I was having a ramp put on the back of the house? When I started going to the GARDEN CLUB? When I was driving around that old fat meddling gasbag who burnt down your HOUSE?! Where the fuck were YOU? Do you think I signed on for any of this?"

"Why Faith? Why you? Why did she tell you?"

"Lila wonít be in any pain, Ned." Faithís voice is almost disconnected itís so soft and remote.

"No, of course not." Ned replies automatically.

"No, Listen to me, Lover. Lila will not be in any pain. Itís not a hope or a wish; itís a promise. Itís the reason why she came to me. Itís the reason why Iím not in the will. Well that and the million bucks I got from the Old Man." Faith smirks a little at the memory of that but then gets serious again.

"You canít do that." Ned denies realizing what Faith means. But he knows that Faith not only could she would.

"Thatís up to you. You better make sure she has the best pain killers on the market. This is all about taking care of her. If you donít take care of your grandmother... then I will. Thatís the promise Lila wanted from meĖ and I always keep my promises. Well that and making sure that Edward doesnít hook up with anyone younger than their daughter once Lilaís gone."

Ned laughs around a sob. "She knows the Old Man too well." Ned goes over to the couch and collapses down onto the middle cushion. Resting his elbows on his knees he buries his face in his hands and then runs his fingers through his hair.

"Nobody more." Faith agrees knowing that the worst is over. At least for now, Ned is getting with the program. She goes around the couch and kneels on the floor between Nedís legs. She runs her hands along his thighs.

"Iím sorry, Faith. Iím so sorry." Ned hugs her close and presses a kiss to her cheek where sheíd been cut. "Iím sorry; I just canít lose her. Sheís always been my rock. Sheís always...."

"Shhh." Faith presses kisses to Nedís face and dries the tears that had fallen unnoticed. "I know. I know."

Upstairs Alice takes her finger off the phone. The 9 and the 1 already dialed and just waiting for the last number. Itís a miracle Mrs. A hadnít killed him. Maybe tomorrow Mr. A would realize that. Course the real miracle is that Lil Miss had slept thru the whole thing.





Sally meets AJ and Lydia at the front door of the brownstone. "Is it true? Michael said Mrs. Q is dying?" Her answer is in their faces.

AJ nods. "Weíre all still processing, Sally. Grandmother and Faith have a head start on all of us. Theyíve been keeping it secret since the beginning of summer."

"Is Michael asleep?"

Sally nods. "He was reading a little bit but he was asleep when I went in about an hour ago and turned out his light."

"Your day off starts now." AJ informs Sally. "Thanks for being so flexible in covering for Lydiaís trip. But donít worry about breakfast tomorrowĖ hell take Monday too."

"Okay." Never one to argue with a day off, Sally gets ready to go to her apartment at the back of the property.


"Yes, Lydia?"

"Lila probably wouldnít mind if you told your father about this, but she purposely didnít tell anyone about her illness because she doesnít want anyone to know. As far as everyone is concerned she just had a bad night and going to the hospital was a precaution due to her age. The doctors checked her out and she went home."

"Thatís exactly what it looked like on the news when she rolled out of the hospital and you guys put her in the Lincoln rather than an ambulance." Sally nods her agreement. "Made the whole news break thing earlier sound alarmist. They were giving her obit and just leaving off the date."

"Goodnight, Sally." AJ says firmly.

"Goodnight, Lydia, AJ." Sally leaves switching off lights to the back of the house as she does.

AJ puts an arm around Lydia. "Are you okay?" They start walking up the stairs together both keeping a hand on the banisters even thought their footing is sure.

"Just tired. And I should be asking you that."

"It hasnít sunk in yet. And being the ones to deal with my mother..." AJ just shakes his head.

"Better your mother than Nedís." Lydia reminds. "I thought Faithís man, Bruno, was going to have to sit on Tracy to keep her out of your grandmotherís room while Edward was in there."

"I shouldnít feel sorry for Aunt Tracy but I do. Dad has Mom. Ned and Dillon have each other. Tracy has nobody and nobody to blame but herself. Thank God for you."

"Thank you, but I have no idea what youíre talking about."

"If it werenít for you..." He rubs a hand over her stomach. "... and you. I would be in the same boat. We got through tonight. Who knows what will happen tomorrow."

"We didnít plan it on the plane, you know. If just seemed to work out." Lydia flips on the lights in their bedroom.

"What?" AJ stands behind Lydia and scooping her hair to one side, unzips her dress for her.

Lydia goes into the combination master bath and dressing room. She leaves the door ajar so that she can keep talking to AJ. "Skye told Kyle down in The City when we first found out-- that he would have to help her with Alan. That was the only thing she said and yet it all just sort of fell into place, didnít it? You and I keeping your mother focused. Cole, Skye and Kyle holding Alan up. And then Ned, Dillon and Faith with Tracy... as much as Tracy would let them."

"I still didnít know if it was going to work until Grandfather came out and just laid down the law about Grandmother staying there at home." AJ strips out of his clothes and climbs into bed. He turns down Lydiaís side for her.

"Itís going to be impossible to contain this, AJ." Lydia comes out of the dressing room in a sheer white cotton nightgown. She doesnít need anything heavier for bed because AJ is a furnace. "Tomorrow itís going to start all over again. Only this time it is going to be Carly and Jason, your sister out in California." She climbs into bed and pulls the covers up. She reaches over and turns off the bedside lamp.

AJ winces. "Iíll call Jason tomorrow. Let him know before he shows up at the back fence to take Michael to church. He can tell Carly. Em... Em really should be told in person. She shouldnít hear this one alone so far away."

"Iíll call your mother early tomorrow. Let her know our plane is at her disposal."

"Tomorrow is going to be too late." AJ reaches over and grabs the phone. He calls over to the mansion. "Reg, is my mother still awake?" He waits for Reginald to place the call. "Mom, Lydia and I were talking. I should have thought of it sooner. Do you want Lydia to have the plane ready for you to fly out tomorrow to tell Em?" AJ nods at Lydia. "Okay weíll call you in the morning when weíre on our way to pick you up." That call over he calls the hanger and lets the maintenance crew know there will be a flight the next day. Hanging up the phone, he turns off the light on his side and cuddles his wife close.





"Thanks for tonight, Kyle. You really stepped up." Skye tells the young man as he heads off to his bedroom.

"I like Dr. Alan." Kyle shrugs. "Iím wiped. Between the party last night and now this. I think Iím just going to sleep until I have to meet Mom." Itís said as a statement but he is looking at his Uncle. Normally heíd be doing clean up at Jakes before the bar opened.

Cole nods. "Weíre all sleeping in, Kid." He keeps a hand on Skyeís lower back and ushers her back to their bedroom.

Skye turns around as soon as the door closes and buries her face in his chest.

"Ah Babe. I hoped youíd cried yourself out already." Cole rubs her back. "Youíre going to make yourself sick."

"I couldnít cry around Alan. He was so close to losing it." Skye sobs. "I donít know what Iím going to do. Sure, youíre the one who told me that I should get the Herald but Lila is the one who arranged it. When Tracy was trying to blackmail me... I wouldnít be a Quartermaine without Lilaís support. I canít do this. I canít."

Cole shakes her roughly to get her attention and his tone is mean even though itís breaking his heart. "Knock it off Skye. This isnít about you. Itís about what the Old Lady wants. The fact she didnít tell anyone pretty well tells you how she wants this one played. You hear me?! You can turn on all the waterworks you like here. You will do this because that is what your grandmother wants."

Skye crosses her arms in front of her. "She wants me to hold the Quartermaine fourth of July picnic out here." Even with the swollen eyes and the tears Skyeís whole posture screamsĖ so there.

Cole winces and holds up one finger for emphasis. "I have at least three months to talk her out of that one. And I didnít tell you to get the Herald. You came up with that one all on your own. Cole steps forward and gathers Skye close again. "You arenít doing this alone, Babe. Iím right here. Use me as you will: waterworks proof shoulder, scrub your back, kick ass. Whatever you need."

"You. I need you. And donít call me Babe."





The next morning, as excuses go itís a pretty lame one, but it would do. A lot of the bags from the plane hadnít been sorted in their hurry to get to the hospital. It is the custom of the Quartermaine airplane crew, everything left on the plane is brought to the mansion the next day. A couple of calls later and Skye, Faith and Lydia are all at the mansion. Lydia is the one who had made the calls. Sheíd stayed behind while AJ drove Monica to the airport.

Lila stays in bed even though her hair and face are perfect and she is a housecoat away from a trip downstairs in her chair. Soon her bed is covered in the booty from the shopping trip. She coos over the little baby things Lydia bought, and admires the fall wardrobe Faith had picked up for Kristina and nods appreciatively at the menís wardrobe Skye picked up.

"Iím going to have to hide some of it over here." Skye admits. "If I bring all this home, Cole will go into shock and then go on a shopping spree of his own."

Faith smirks at that and shrugs. "A girl never can have too much lingerie."

"I know but winter is coming and itís going to be getting..."

"Nippy?" Faith suggests helpfully with a smirk.

"In Coleís case, Darling, donít worry if heís buying you lingerie. Be concerned if he stops." Lila offers knowingly. "Quartermaine men, on the other hand, are always lax in the lingerie buying department. Theyíd rather order up something sparkly from the jeweler."

"Doesnít bother me a bit." Faith interjects. "Of course the last time Ned was feeling guilty he had the Porsche sent over." She touches the small cut high on her cheek. There had better be something nice waiting for her when she got home. "The car is definitely overkill; Iím more into crystal as a guilt gift. What about you, Lydia? What does Junior get the girl who has everything?"

"Wedding ring, baby and foot rubs." Lydia offers her left hand, pats her protruding stomach and then makes a little mini production of showing off her brand new shoes. "And considering my shoe addiction that foot rub option is..." She starts to practically purr. "... wonderful." She doesnít mention having it written into her prenup although losing foot rubs would have been a deal breaker. "I am convinced AJ gave neither Carly nor Courtney a foot rub. If he had he wouldnít have been an eligible bachelor when I met him." Lydia thinks about it for a second. "You know I think it could also be that he gets me whatever I want."

"See and Ned never gives me anything that I want." Faith grouses. "He is always spoiling my fun."

"Thank you, God, for that." Skye grins at Faith.

Lila suspects the conversation is going to deteriorate from there and changes the subject. "And the benefit? Reggie told me he was going to collect the clippings. He said there had even been a picture of all of you on one of the entertainment channels. But yesterday was quite... disrupted."

"There will be good coverage." Skye nods. She takes a seat at Lilaís breakfast table. Faith takes a seat on the foot of Lilaís bed and Lydia takes a seat across from Skye. "Itís an excellent cause of course."

"Of Course. I knew that was the only way I could get the three of you to go." Lila nods sagely.

"I think Kyle was enjoying living the trust fund baby lifestyle. I donít know if Cole will be a fan of that though."

"He and Dillon will be the ones getting the press." Lydia agrees. "They were both perfect gentlemen; it wouldnít surprise me if they started getting invitations of their own from hostesses who want to even up their numbers. They are both so young, handsome and single. Skye would have been the focus too but she was soooo serious. I donít think you got out on the dance floor once."

"Lydia and I-- the two old married women." Faith rolls her eyes. "Other than a few gigolos they were keeping it to business. Trying to work Lydia for her stuff and me for ELQĖ as if I have anything to do with that headache."

"Iím sure that AJ and Ned will try to accompany you in the future."

Faith groans at that; talk about spoiling all their fun. "Well there goes the idea of checking out the male strippers next time. The shopping wasnít too bad but please. Canít ELQ just write them a check?"

"Unfortunate but true, the charities make more money when pretty people go to them. Puts them in the papers and brings in even more money." Skye explains.

"Itís a racket." Faith mutters.

AJ arrives back to the mansion after dropping off Monica and picking up Michael. Michael hesitates before going into his Great Grandmotherís room. "Come in, Darlings, Come in. Lydia is going to need help with all these packages." Lila waves the two of them in.

Michael gives a worried look at Faith and then back at his grandmother. "Are you okay, Grandmother?"

"Iím having a wonderful day today, Michael. Thank you for asking. While Lydia and I were waiting for your Aunts to arrive, she showed me the drawings you and AJ selected for the attic." She pats the edge of her bed. Since Faith is already sitting on the end of the bed, Michael takes a seat on the edge of the bed next to his Grandmother. "Excellent choice going with the pirate galleon. It will be quite dashing. I know I have some Errol Flynn movies around here somewhere. They may be in black and white but wonderful sword play."

"Lydia says if you want to get somewhere fast then you take a plane but if you want to get somewhere in style you take a boat." Michael repeats to Lila.

"Absolutely true, Darling." Lila nods. "Lydia couldnít know this but this will not be the first time the Quartermaine family has had dealings with pirates. There is even a story of a Quartermaine daughter running off with one back in the 1700s. But your Grandfather Edward is the one to tell that story."

Michael looks at AJ pleadingly.

"Take off." AJ gives the okay and Michael goes running. "I never heard any of those stories, Grandmother."

"Thatís because they are all a bunch of hooey, Darling. But very entertaining." The twinkle in Lilaís eyes infects the others and they all start laughing. Even Faith cracks a smile.

The nurse comes in. "Mrs. Quartermaine told me she has appointments scheduled through the rest of the day. Sheís going to have to rest now."

"Iíve had such a good time." Lila tells them but she doesnít argue with the Nurse. "I am sorry to cut it short."

Faith shrugs as she stands up. She gathers up her bags. "Weíre a phone call away. Expect that Tracy is going to show up some time today. Ned and Dillon are checking on her this morning. But sheíll be by." Faith warns.

"Thatís fine, Darling." Lila nods. "Itís better that all this happened while Tracy is in town."





"What are we doing here?" Ned looks over at his brother behind the wheel of his car. They are supposed to be on their way to the Port Charles Hotel and instead they are in front of a jewelry store.

Dillon looks at Ned. "You planning on getting Faith another Porsche?" Dillonís tone is too calm. Heíd known leaving Ned alone with Faith last night was a mistake but he never thought....

"No." Ned looks bewildered at Dillon. "Whatís going on, Dillon?"

"Faith had a cut on her face. She said a glass took a bad bounce."

Ned winces. "Thatís one way of putting it. Doghouse eh? Donít worry about it, Dillon; we cleared the air last night."

"No, you really didnít." Bruno should be having this conversation. Bruno is the one who should be telling Ned. This is his big brother. "Itís her face, Ned. Sheís going to see it every time she looks in the mirror. The fact that youíre still breathing is pretty much... probationary. She says one word to the guys... I mean they like you and everything but..."

"Dillon, what goes on between a man and his wife..."

And that is when Dillon explodes. "Oh we are so not going to go there. Lets pretend for one second that there actually is a justification, a rationalization for throwing glass in the general direction of your wife. Itís Faith, Ned. Itís a freaking miracle that you woke up this morning with all your body parts. Have you seen the knife she carries in her purse?!"





The woman sitting alone in the corner of Kellyís has a number of Sunday newspapers in front of her. Sheíd gotten them for the want ads but hadnít been able to resist the Society Page. She used to be on the society page. Her picture taken at Country Club fund raisers and fashion shows. But then everything had fallen apart. Taking her pen she draws on horns and a pitchfork on the person in one picture and then a target over the other. Skye Quartermaine and Cole Radcliffe wheeling Lila Quartermaine from General Hospital. It isnít fair. This isnít the way itís supposed to work out. Having the money cut off wasnít a surprise once she thought about it. Of course heíd cut the money off. Itís a way to lure her back to Port Charles and take the demon seed off his hands.

This is all the red haired bitchís fault. She is the reason why Cole is acting the way he is. Heíd never given a rats ass about either her or Kyle as long as they stayed out of his hair. Maybe the bastard planned this all along, putting the house in Kyleís name. Heíd given some bull story about it being Kyleís college fund. Something one of the pervs from the strip club had told him about. Right. Taking financial advice from a guy whose idea of investment is stuffing dollar bills in saline enhanced party dollís g-string?!

Coleís tastes had always run to the obvious: whores, hookers and strippers. Heís just putting on an act to impress this... faux Quartermaine. And she was the one who brought in Childrenís Services. Cole would never have involved them. Never. The first thing that Child Services would have been good for was to track down Kyleís dead beat father. Or at least tried to. Well fine. All she has to do is get Childrenís Services on her side and then that red haired bitch wouldnít have a thing to say. Kyle would be living with her and Cole would be paying the child support or she would have his brother tracked down and thrown in jail for the thousands of dollars the bastard had never paid. Cole owed her. And sheíd collect. Margery notices the waitress eyeing her and tossing the exact change for the coffee on the table, she gathers up the papers she hasnít read yet and leaves. She is going to be meeting Kyle for brunch at the Grill in about an hour.

The waitress tidies up the table putting the newspaper with the stack others had left behind and goes to ring up the coffee. Maxie comes through the door apologizing all the way. "Sorry, I was up late talking to Kyle about his trip to New York then about Mrs. Quartermaine. Anything I need to know?"

"Everyone is caught up and all the tickets paid. The breakfast special sold out." The waitress grabs the bowl of tips from under the counter and dumps it into a purple Crown Royal bag, tugging at the gold colored strings and tying them in a knot around the top. She pulls her purse up on her shoulder and holds out a hand. Maxie slaps her hand. "Tag. Youíre it."

As the other waitress is leaving, Maxie puts away her purse and jacket and does a quick survey of the tables. Sheíd actually brought a book to read because Sundays are dead. Most people headed over to the Grille for brunch after church. Spying the newspaper sitting on top of the juke box. "Iím ahead on the reading anyway." She mutters to herself and then going over to the juke box grabs the pile of newspaper, pouring herself a coke she starts reading... sports page first since there may be something in there about Kyle and if not then definitely something about her new neighborís son.





Alan answers the door to the mansion since Reginald is upstairs with Lila. "Dara, this really isnít a good time..."

"Iím not here to see your mother. Iím here to see you." Dara interrupts. "I have standing instructions from your mother. She knew what happened yesterday was going to happen... sometime. There a quiet place we could talk?"

"Of course. Come in." Alan steps back and then leads the way into Edwardís study. "Then you knew too? You and Faith? Anyone else know before Motherís family?"

"I have no idea." Dara keeps her voice low and even. "Lila came to me to get her will done. She wanted it done early and correctly so she wouldnít have to worry about it later. I think she had a check list and it wouldnít surprise me if she did her Christmas shopping too just in case she didnít feel like it later."

"Mother does that every year so she can enjoy the holidays."

"Same thing, Alan. Strangely enough this is about... enjoying the time she has left. Here."

"What is this?"

"All the medical records from the original diagnosis and the second opinion. Since youíre chief of staff at GH I suspect you already have dozens of tests running and probably a full body scan too. Your mother wanted you to have these so you arenít playing catch up."

"Ha!" Alan exclaims derisively. But he already has the packet open and is scanning through it. He would read it in detail when Dara isnít around. See if there is anything that they might have missed, anything that they didnít suggest trying.

"If nothing else they will be a good point of comparison. Youíve probably heard of the doctors but I took the extra step and had research done on them. Their resumes are included as well as any complaints or malpractice suits they might have been involved in. They look solid but doctors are your area; quacks are mine. Iím sure you want to get into these. If you have questions please give me a call. Iíll answer what I can." Dara nods in Alanís direction but then doesnít wait to be shown out. Sheíd done the easiest first. Next is a trip to see Tracy Quartermaine at the Port Charles Hotel. Oh Joy.


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