The Path to Power
The trip from his place by the university to East Fremantle is a short one just across town. Because Fremantle is a port town it has the moorage to accommodate Lydia’s yacht, Good Fortune. Hell she had entire piers set aside for the Karinen fleet who use Fremantle for their shipping and Perth for their corporate base of operations in south east Asia and had since before Lydia’s grandfather died.
He’d stopped on the way to pick up groceries at the open market– still the best place for fresh fruits and veggies. Lydia and AJ would be ready for a little R&R from the kids especially Karin. His half sister is hip deep into the evil teenage years and definitely a handful. Lydia threatened on a regular basis with Swiss finishing schools but Karin has AJ wrapped around her little finger. Baby sis isn’t going anywhere.
He is more than ready for a break from his studies. It might make his medical school application all shiny but this biochemistry/public health major is going to kill him. A nice long weekend of babysitting is just what he needs to get his brain cleared of the fog and ready for the last set of finals of his undergraduate career. Then medical school here he comes. He’d stayed in Fremantle because he’d started college at 16. Lydia had declared then he’d be half way around the world over her dead body. He’d seen the point and knew better than to ask her to go back to Port Charles back then. Lydia might seem easy going but she had a clear view of how things are supposed to be. What didn’t match her vision was offensive and had to be fixed.
The Christmas Tsunami of 2004 just about drove her crazy. They’d been
there... in Sumatra just a week earlier. They’d cruised down to Perth to catch a
plane back to Port Charles for the holidays. While they were gone the Tsunami
hit. It didn’t hit like a river flooding over the bank. It was the Indian ocean
wiping people, towns, whole islands off the map. It wasn’t the first time he’d
seen Lydia go crazy. She’d gone a bit nuts after Sonny shot his mom. But this...
Dad had to sit on her to get her to not be on the very next flight out. It was
her company, her people. Their friends. They’d been cruising the islands of
Indonesia for a year before getting the okay to come home for Christmas. Buying
fish from the local fishermen. Surfing with the local kids. Lydia wasn’t the
only one to lose friends in that Tsunami.
Grandpa Alan had talked until he was blue to try to get her to see sense. The only thing it had done was delay her. Course it wasn’t time wasted. Lydia had been on the phone getting the resources of the Karinen shipping line on the job. The corporate office in Perth had been in shock. Those not home with their families had been on holiday... many of them in Indonesia. They weren’t just looking after the dead-- they were looking for their dead. The Tsunami had hit the Karinen Group the way the Twin Towers had hit New York back in 2001. Everyone knew somebody missing. Eventually Lydia had convinced Grandpa Alan instead, he needed to go. Grandpa Alan had been on the first cargo plane. They’d been on the second flying out on the very next day.
They’d picked up the Good Fortune in Fremantle. Grandpa Alan had already
consulted with a ship fitter on how to make the main salon an operating theatre.
The First Aid supplies were already being loaded. Lydia had blanched when she
saw the number of body bags Grandpa Alan ordered. Faith’s guy, Mouse had emailed
them the most recent satellite photos of the first island they were going to.
The one nobody had heard from– Nias. From the outside the Good Fortune looked
like nothing the pirates would want to take on and from the inside it looks like
a rich family’s home away from home. It had been converted from a commercial
vessel and this was quick change back to it’s working class roots.
The benefit of it being a commercial vessel it could handle helicopter taking off from the bow. The benefit of being Lydia ... her body guard is former Israeli army, He had been the one consulting with Grandpa Alan on what needed to get done. With the three of them the plan is to storm the beaches: communication, aid, shelter and a runway to get more aide in. He’d been 9 when they’d flown back. But he could see the wheels turning in Lydia’s head when she asked the pilot of the commercial version of a B-52 how long of a runway he needed. Then she’d been on the satellite pictures again looking for anything that long... runway, road, field. AJ had been at a loss until he saw the island for the first time. Then the city planner in him had grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go
“Michael! Michael!” Didn’t you hear me calling you?” A teen age girl with tawny brown hair and slim build protests.
“Evidently not.” Michael once Corinthos now Quartermaine greets his half sister with a hug swinging her around before letting her feet touch the ground. “Where are the ‘rents?”
“Planning on how they are going ditch me.”
“Well damn... it’s not as much fun if they come up with a plan before we can ditch them.” Michael teases.
“No kidding.” Karin totally agrees. “Mom says she has to see your place to make sure you’re not living like a pig and then they’re going to Perth.”
“Well then she better not look under my bed or we’ll never get rid of them.” Michael strings an arm around his sister’s neck. “Let me guess what you want to do while you’re here....hmmm... surf.”
“And go shopping. Then I’m good. Oh and I need to see my friends.”
“See friends yes. Invite friends over... yes. Have a party... NO.” Michael counters.
“You are no fun at all!”
“It’s a curse. But on the good news front– Dillon and Kristina should be
arriving for my graduation. Dillon has to go to a premiere in Tokyo then they’re
here for a week of R&R. So even if I have to put my nose back to the grindstone
you’ll still be entertained. Where is Twink?”
Karin rolls her eyes and pretends she doesn’t hear her sister running up on them. “She is so slow.”
“I am NOT. You take it back! Michael!” The ten year old girl jumps at her big brother like she hasn’t seen in him months instead of weeks.
“Hey Twink! Michael lifts his little sister in the air and makes a sound as if he is straining. “Gees maybe you’re too big to be my Twink anymore maybe I need to call you Tatiana now.”
“Mama says if I’m wearing a dress and acting like a lady I’m Tatiana. It’s a rule.”
Also know as a clue for the little girl to straighten up when she’s unruly. Which is definitely Tatiana Solange Quartermaine’s style. “Check. While you’re staying with me... no dresses and definitely no acting like a lady. How would I recognize you?”
“Darling!” Lydia comes up on what she considers her children and gives Michael kisses on both cheeks. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“I need the break. Trip to the zoo, play tourist at the prison....”
Karin groans in dismay and gives him an elbow.
“Go surfin, eat junk food at the beach.”
“That is more like it.”
“Not unless you’re throwing them. Scouts honor.”
“Michael, you were never a scout.”
He grins and winks at this step mother. “I already went shopping at the market so we should probably get back before it’s cooked in the car.”
The place basically has a captain’s walk. The second floor of the house is surrounded by a veranda that looks down over the bay. As far as Lydia’s houses are concerned it’s on the small side with just five bedrooms and 2.5 baths. She and AJ picked it out after he decided which school he was going to do pre-med. The foundation efforts are run out of Perth but this is the family’s home away from the Good Fortune. It’s built on a hill, a 100 meters in elevation, hopefully out of the reach of any future tsunami. But hey if it took the house then everyone is screwed. It’s a quick bicycle ride to the University of Notre Dame at Fremantle right down the hill. Because he had started college at sixteen at first the other rooms had been for a housekeeper and a bodyguard. Gradually the housekeeper had gone to three days a week. The bodyguards are still around, but the system itself it pretty passive going for the impression of freedom rather than armed camp.
They’d let him have his wild and crazy. Not Lydia and AJ but the housekeeper
and the bodyguard. After the adventure of attempting to puke two bottles of very
bad wine, the bodyguard had set him aside. The bodyguard had been with them ever
since Port Charles and knew all the players. He’d taken it upon himself to
remind Michael that there is a family history of substance abuse on the
Quartermaine side: his father, his grandfather. Sure, it might be environmental–
the Quartermaine side had a reputation for being pretty toxic back then... but
it also might be genetic and that had been his one freebie. The next one was
going to be handled by Lydia and AJ and would probably involve taking time off
from school to go to a program.
He hadn’t needed more than one straighten up and fly right. He still partied and socialized but he was quick to volunteer to be the designated driver. College has been great– challenging but great.
Breaks had been spent on the Good Fortune doing whatever grunt work was needed for the recovery effort whether it was giving inoculations, digging a well or a latrine, putting up a cell tower, helping the locals rebuild their houses, or even replanting trees along the reformed coastline. It hadn’t taken long for the University to get on board with what Lydia and AJ were doing and there has been a steady cycle of students and teachers coming and going from the Good Fortune and other relief ships. Actually that is backwards, he’d picked Notre Dame because of the way they’d jumped on what Lydia and AJ were doing. He’d felt comfortable with the profs straight away. Course it is all coming to an end. He’d already been accepted to medical school in Port Charles, New York. And barring any massive meltdown on his finals it is going to be out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Thanks to Federal Law, the press are barred from congregating en masse at the airports. Didn’t stop little things from leaking and there being a few earnest paparazzi willing to keep a low profile in the debarking area of the international flights were anyone clearing customs had to exit. The flashbulbs start the minute he clears the doors. After sleeping on the flight it’s harder than hell to adjust to the killer flash and all he can see are spots which is seriously pissing him off. He’s used to the Karinen style of handling public life, but so much for that. Michael Quartermaine is about ready to grab a camera and stick it up an orifice that will require surgery to remove. His bodyguard steps forward to block most of the light so he can blink and get his eyesight back.
“Mr Corinthos! Mr Corinthos! Are you back for the execution?”
“No.” Michael’s answer is terse.
“Are you going to speak on your father’s behalf?”
“Sonny Corinthos isn’t my father.” Michael keeps walking. There better be a limo waiting on the other side of those doors. There is and they already have the trunk open. Michael goes straight to the trunk of the limo and starts flipping his luggage in the back. His bodyguard keeps a close eye but both hands free and still running a blocking pattern. Any pictures of Michael Quartermaine are going to have a big old shoulder right in the middle of them. Michael slams the trunk down and nods to the driver who heads back to the wheel rather than opening the back door for him. The bodyguard catches the door and Michael slides into the back of the limo while the bodyguard takes shotgun.
“Hello, Uncle Jason. I was expecting Ned or Great Grandfather.”
“The Old Man would have been better if you got a 2am flight. He would have been wide awake then. Ned had to go out of town.”
“You could have just sent a limo.”
“Don’t worry. I won’t speak at Sonny’s hearing. I won’t do to Morgan what you did to my father. He never has to hear from me what an evil son of a bitch you call brother.”
Jason winces. He’s tried more than once over the years to get Michael to soften toward Sonny if only for Morgan’s sake. But while Michael claimed Morgan and was always happy to see and hear from his half brother if the conversation is on Sonny Corinthos too long... like 15 seconds... then he was either gone or tuned out. Sometime he thought that the only thing that Michael learned from Sonny was how to hold a grudge. “Morgan’s having a tough time. The press has been all over him and it will just get worse until...”
Even though Michael knows there isn’t a chance in hell. “Send him to Dad and Lydia. They’d love to have him, and frankly Australia could give two ****s about Michael “Sonny” Corinthos jr.” Michael suggests.
“I was hoping you’d be staying with me and Robin.”
“I’ll be crashing at the mansion, thanks. It’ll give me time to get my own place.”
“Edward has ordered the gate house remodeled.” Jason admits. “I think he’s planning on you having your own place... on the grounds.”
“He doesn’t change.” Michael grins.
The lights are all on at the mansion in preparation for the return of the prodigal great grandson. The driver pulls the limo right to the front door’s that are thrown open and everyone spills out onto the front steps. Jason tries one more time. “He wants to see you.”
“Why? To tell me he’s sorry about what he did to my mother? Which time, Uncle Jason?! You can only be forgiven if you repent and then don’t do it AGAIN.”
“Judgement is for God, Michael.”
“You’ve played judge and jury plenty of times, Uncle Jason. If you had been a friend to my mother you would have put a bullet in his head 15 years ago. My mother wouldn’t be in a mental institution and Kristina Ashton would still have a mother. So lets just leave forgiveness to God too.” Michael slides out of the limo and puts on a happy face for his relatives. Even Aunt Tracy is happy to see him. Better the wanna be doctor then someone that would actually be a threat to Ned’s position at ELQ.
“Michael!” Leticia runs down the stairs and gives him a big hug.
Michael’s smile is real. “Hey Leticia. You and Reggie still running herd on the old man?”
“Mostly me. Reg is working on another screen play for Dillon.” Leticia admits. “Dillon is going be visiting in a few weeks. He’s trying to schedule before you have to start school again. I’ve got the gate house all ready for you.”
“Thanks Leticia. You’re the best.” Michael gives her another hug.
“You must be exhausted.” Tracy interjects. She takes control of the situation. Leticia might be the one running the house but she is the Lady of the Manor. “Everyone is getting together the day after tomorrow for a welcome back party. Considering the time difference we thought a light day for tomorrow.”
“Appreciate it, Aunt Tracy.” Michael nods. His dad had warned him every time they came back to Port Charles to appreciate Tracy’s moments of reason. Cause his aunt can go from zero to bitch... well wait... actually she started at bitch.
“I still don’t understand why you’d become a doctor. Who wants to be treated by howdy doody? Is that what you’re going to have on your name tag Dr Doody”
“Sorry Aunt Tracy, I’m going to have to look that one up. Howdy Doody must have been before my time.”
Leticia swallows her laugh. “I’ll walk you down to the gate house, Michael.”
“See you in the morning, Auntie.”
The next day is one errand after another luckily many can be done by phone. He’d promised Lydia and Dad that he’d spend one semester at the mansion just to prove a) it could be done and b) so he would be grateful when he left. All of his gear is coming in today and would be delivered directly from the docks. He’d already let the staff know up at the main house. Someone would be there to let the delivery guys in but they would leave everything to him to put away. The next thing on his list is to check in with the chief of staff at General Hospital. He doubts any other medical students had to, but maybe having the Quartermaine name had something to do with him being accepted. So with perks came the price tag.
Michael raps on the door. “Dr Morgan.”
“Michael!” The petite brunette comes from around the desk. “It’s so good to see you. And it’s Aunt Robin, at least until school starts.” She gives him a big hug. “You look great. And you sound like my dad.”
“Fifteen years in Australia takes a toll.”
“You’ll lose some of it now that you’re back. You can barely tell that my Uncle Mac is Australian.” Leading Michael over to the couch running along one wall she takes a seat and pats the place next to her. “You’ve been doing amazing things already. You’re going to be such an asset to the school.”
“So it didn’t have anything to do with my last name.”
“Quartermaine? Of course it did. Saying anything else would be a lie. There are so many people here, Michael, who loved your grandparents and remember them fondly. Elizabeth Spencer went through the same thing when she joined the nursing program. Everyone knows Audrey and remembers Steve. It doesn’t mean she isn’t an asset to the program and brings a lot to the hospital. You’ve a resume which has nothing to do with the Quartermaine last name and recommendations from prominent doctors not only from Notre Dame in Fremantle but also from habitat for humanity, Northwest Medical Teams, Red Crescent, Red Cross, Medecins Sans Frontieres,... was there a volunteer organization you didn’t work with in the last decade? And just what is SAI? Their letter for you was very detailed and personal. All of them were really, not a rote recommendation in the bunch-- but the SAI had a different tone to it.”
“Surf Aid International. They’ve been sticking around Nias, that’s an island west of Sumatra, since the Tsunamis. They come to surf and stay to rebuild. Big into clean wells and inoculations.”
“Really?” Robin grins and shakes her head in disbelief.
“You haven’t seen the surf off of Nias. It makes perfect sense.”
“Prevention. I love it.” Robin nods. “So do you surf?”
“Probably not around here.” Michael says wryly.
“Michael... one of the reason why I wanted to see you... I know it may seem like a conflict but I want you to know that you’re welcome to come stay with Jason and I whenever you like. I know that things can get strained at the Quartermaine’s sometimes.... if you need a place to retreat....”
“No offense, Aunt Robin, but I think your place is just about the last place I’d go for peace and quiet. You’re about to be under siege and it won’t abate until Sonny is in the ground.”
“He was a good man once, Michael.”
“He may have done good things when it suited him but he was never a good man.”
“Carly and Faith were no innocents, Michael.”
“And the people who were? Who never got the publicity of Faith Ashton’s death
or my mother’s notoriety? Faith is dead, Robin, and my mother is insane. I think
it’s time to stop blaming them for what Sonny did to them.” With that Michael
gets up makes his way to the door. “Sonny Corinthos is probably a subject we’re
never going to agree on. Can we agree to leave it outside the hospital.”
“Of course. I’m sorry. If you ever do want to talk about him... I can be unbiased I promise. I do understand where you are coming from but I’ve had to keep the good things about Sonny alive for Morgan.”
“Uncle Jason is the only father Morgan has ever known. Pretending otherwise is why he’s so screwed up now.”
“Do I know you?” A graying blonde woman looks curiously at the young man in her room. She gets visitors now and then. Her mother. Her uncle when he is visiting his wife across the hall. Not that Laura is much of a conversationalist.
“It’s Michael, Mama.”
“My son right? My mother, Virginia... no that’s not right. Bobbie. Yes, Bobbie comes and tells me about my boys but I thought she said your name is Morgan.”
“Morgan is your younger son. I’m the oldest. I lived with my father, AJ.”
“Oh yes, that’s right. I remember now.” Carly nods. “I need a new picture.”
Michael looks at the wall where there are eight by tens of him and Morgan each of them carefully labeled with their names. “I’ll get you one. How about one from when I graduated from college?”
“I’m not old enough to have a son in college. Make it a casual picture so nobody will guess.”
“No problem. I brought pizza I hope that’s alright? You still like pepperoni.”
“I adore pepperoni.” Carly jumps out of her chair and going over to the door props a chair under it so that nobody else can get in. “If anyone comes in then we’ll have to share.”
“No way; this is just for you.” Michael opens up the pizza box.
Carly grabs a slice taking a big bite and savoring it, standing up over the box. “Oh this is so good. I miss this.”
“I’ve moved back to Port Charles; I’m going to be able to see you more often.”
“That’s wonderful.” Carly says cheerfully. “I hope you bring pizza. My son, Michael, and I used to have pizza all the time.”
“I’m Michael, Mama.”
“Well of course you are.” Carly agrees already bored with the conversation. “What else did you bring me?”
“I talked to your doctor ahead of time to make sure it was okay.” Michael brings out home decoration magazines. Just about the only thing guaranteed to not have anything about Sonny in them. “If you want next time I can bring you some swatches. You can figure out how to re do this room. What do you think?”
“It is kind of boring isn’t it?”
“I’ll write everything down so I don’t forget.”
“Just tear the pages out you like, Mama.” Michael sees Dr Winters out in the hallway. “I’ll bring more next week and how about I bring some cheese fries too?”
Carly starts turning pages in the magazine and absently reaches over for another piece of pizza. Michael shakes his head and going over to the door removes the chair.
“Hello Michael.” The trim black woman says kindly. After everything she went though with her father she understands the pain an elder’s confusion can cause.
“Hello, Dr Winters. It’s been a while.”
“That I’ve seen you in person, yes. But you’ve been very good about keeping tabs on your mother. She’s happy, Michael.”
“My mother, when she had all her brain matter, was like Upstate New York weather... wait 15 minutes and it’ll change.”
Leiney laughs. “I remember.” She gets serious. “Were you with her long enough to see the memory lapses? The pictures with the captions are in there as prompts to refresh her memory. And she mixes things up between long term and recent memory.”
Michael nods. “Does she remember Sonny?”
“Not really. He’s not a picture we have on her wall. We tried when she first moved in here but seeing him would make her agitated.”
“Oh no kidding.” Michael mutters. “Can she go out... a picnic or something like that?”
Leiney winces. “I wouldn’t recommend it, Michael. She’s too easily confused. It would be too easy for her to wander off and become lost.”
“If I could talk Uncle Cole into closing down the bar– making sure it’s all locked up and then playing a few games of pool?”
“Maybe that would work.” Leiney nods consideringly. “Let me know when you have it set up.”
“Thanks, Dr Winters.”
“Welcome home, Michael, and congratulations on getting into PCU Medical school. It’s an excellent school.”
“You wouldn’t just be saying that because you went there?”
“Well that too.” Leiney nods. “It’s been on the cutting edge of a lot of research, not just HIV and AIDS but also stem cells. So what is it going to be? Cardiac surgery like your grandmother?”
“Public health.” Michael says calmly.
Leiney blinks. That is not the answer she’d been expecting. Then taking a step back she studies Michael and everything she knows about him. “You may want to check in with Elm Street Clinic then. They do outreach.”
“Thanks. I will.”