“I was always the one who had trouble getting out of bed when we were little.” Faith Ward glanced back over her shoulder and smiled at her younger brother Justus. She turned her attention back to the stove and expertly flipped several pancakes over. “But as I remember it,” she continued, “you were Granny Mae's perfect little angel who always went to bed ten minutes before your bedtime. You couldn't help but be wide awake the next morning.”
Justus playfully squeezed his sister until she made a small sound of protest. “Don't hate me ‘cause I was the good one,” he teased.
Faith elbowed him in the stomach and it was his turn to express pain. “You were the good one, alright. Good at not getting caught.”
“Same thing,” Justus winced. He peered over Faith's shoulder at the cookware on the stove. “Hmm…pancakes, sausage and scrambled eggs. Looks like I've hit the jackpot!”
“This is a one-time thing, so don't get used to it.” Faith nudged him out of the way with her hip. “Go. Sit.”
“Breakfast and service fit for a king. I could get used to living this way.” Justus accepted a plate laden with food from his older sister. “How long are you planning to stay, Red?”
“I don't know. Probably as long as I can tolerate the king of the castle,” Faith replied. “Or until I stage a revolution and kick him out of power.”
Justus took a moment to swallow a mouthful of scrambled eggs. “Well, can you postpone your coup until you've had a chance to cook me some of Granny Mae's red beans? And maybe some pan-fried trout?”
Faith turned off the stove's burners and sat down to eat. “I'm beginning to get the feeling that food is the only reason you want me to stay. Hey!” She reacted too slowly to prevent Justus from spearing a plump sausage from her plate and stuffing it quickly into his mouth.
“Finders, keepers,” he sang.
The two siblings burst into laughter. The scene that had just played out was vividly reminiscent of their childhood mornings together. It had been a long time since either had laughed so freely.
“I miss her, you know?”
Justus reached across the table and took Faith's hands in his. “I've missed you , Red.”
Faith winced. She felt a renewed sense of guilt that she had allowed her distrust of Edward Quartermaine to affect her relationship with her younger brother. From the moment the truth of their father's paternity was revealed, Faith had been unwilling to subject herself to the drama that surrounded members of the Quartermaine family. And so she refused all of Justus' invitations to visit him in Port Charles, even though Faith knew that Justus was not warmly welcomed back into the family fold in Philadelphia. His decision to immerse himself so completely in the murky waters of the Quartermaine lifestyle was seen as a betrayal of his other half.
“From now on,” Faith promised, “I don't intend to let enough time pass between us that you'll be able to say that anymore.”
Along the walk from the door to his destination, Tommy had already encountered two older hospital personnel who recognized him as 'Steve's grandson'. Tommy allowed the women to fuss over him. It gave his grandmother the few moments alone with Doctor Collins that Tommy knew she desired. He finally excused himself and explained that he would be late for an appointment if he did not leave.
Tommy recognized his destination by the simple plate that marked the wall. He paused momentarily to recite advice he'd been given by his previous therapist. When he felt calm and prepared, Tommy pushed open the office door, took a seat in the waiting room and looked around with interest.
The room was decorated simply, deep blue walls with an occasional vertical panel of ornate gold design. One such panel caught Tommy's eye. Unlike the others adorning the walls, it had been applied upside down. Tommy wondered just how deliberately that had occurred. It wouldn't surprise him to learn that Doctor Collins had requested it done just so, perhaps to get his patients thinking.
Most people were intimidated by the thought of seeing a psychiatrist. Tommy was just the opposite. He came from a family of medical professionals. He'd grown up around all types of doctors. When you got right down to it, psychiatrists were just people, people with flaws and weaknesses. The trick was to figure out theirs before they finished figuring out yours.
"… see you at the meeting next week." Psychiatrist Kevin Collins emerged from his office deep in conversation with Tommy's grandmother Audrey Hardy. She'd been so careful seeing him off to his first session with Doctor Collins that it was obvious she wanted nothing more than to accompany Tommy to the hospital. Tommy's soft invitation to accompany him to General Hospital had filled Audrey's age-lined face with gratitude.
"Yes," Audrey nodded. "I will see you next week at the board meeting." She made her way to where Tommy sat waiting. "Would you like me to wait for you, sweetheart? Or would you like me to give you money for a cab?"
Tommy shook his head. "I'll take a cab, Grandma. I've got some money."
"Alright." Audrey kissed her grandson on the top of the head. She took the opportunity to slip a folded twenty-dollar bill into his shirt pocket. "I will see you later at home."
"Are you ready to begin, Tommy?"Tommy turned his attention away from a departing Audrey. "Sure, Doctor Collins." The young man rose and offered his hand. "Let's get this started."
By this time on a normal day, he would already be several hours into meetings at ELQ. He would have breakfasted at the Quartermaine mansion and enjoyed the buttery, fresh baked rolls Cook prepared just for him. He would have driven to ELQ headquarters with Edward Quartermaine in the passenger seat of his BMW, complaining about Cook's lack of respect for her employer and chastising Justus for his failure to slip a roll into his pocket for Edward's ride to work.
The only reason he was even going in to the office was because Faith insisted on it. She was less than amused by Justus' revelation that their cousin Ned Ashton had begun a covert campaign to diminish Justus' position in the company. Ned was threatened by their grandfather's obvious pride in Justus and his accomplishments.
'How do you know what Ned is up to?' Faith had questioned. Justus had gone on to explain that Connie, Ned's personal secretary, casually dropped into a lunchtime conversation that Ned had recently called an unscheduled meeting of ELQ's major board members. She also left on the lunch table a packet of personal information about Justus that Ned had requested. It didn't take much deduction to see that Ned was assessing Justus' strengths and hoping to find his weaknesses.
Justus was grateful for Connie's warning. He understood that it was her way of repaying Justus for the work he'd done in clearing her stepson of the legal charges against him.
"If I tell you how pretty you look, will you stop staring in the mirror and get out of here?"
Justus started. He'd been a hundred miles away in thought. "I'm going, Red!" he laughed. "I was thinking, though. We don't have to go to Manhattan for the stuff you need for dinner. I can have it brought up from New Orleans."
"By Sonny Corinthos' people?"
"Yeah," Justus nodded. "It's not a big deal. Sonny already has a regular shipment of stuff coming this way from Miami. His guys could just throw our things on top."
Faith stopped walking. "Stuff?"
Justus quickly shook his head. "Sonny likes to cook, fresh fish and spices, that kind of 'stuff'. But," he hastened to say, "we don't have to do it that way. We can go to Manhattan like we planned."
"That works better for me," Faith replied. "The trip to Manhattan will finally give us time to talk about the ring box I found in your sofa."
“I thought we might just get acquainted today,” psychiatrist Kevin Collins suggested. He sat behind his desk and smiled at the young man opposite him. His patient, the grandson of a colleague, made a faint attempt to return Kevin's smile.
“Okay,” Tommy Hardy replied. He stared so intently that Kevin got the impression that he was the one being studied. The possibility did not faze the psychiatrist.
Kevin decided to adopt a direct opening. “Your mother and grandmother say that you have some anger issues.”
“I imagine they would say something like that.”
“You don't agree?”
Kevin's question seemed to amuse his young patient. “Do I disagree that I've got some anger? No,” Tommy smiled genially. “I just disagree with the part about my anger being the issue.”
“My Gram gave birth to the issue. My mom married him and had his kid. So, I think maybe they'd rather have anything else be the issue but him.”
Kevin was glad that he'd turned on his tape recorder as he was sitting down earlier. Young Tommy Hardy had short-circuited his intentions to keep their first session casual and informal. “Let me be clear,” Kevin probed carefully. “Who are we talking about here?”
“My father, of course.” Tommy cocked his head to one side. “No disrespect intended, Doctor Collins, but I would have thought the part about my Gram giving birth to him was a dead giveaway.”
Tommy's bemused comment made Kevin reassess his new patient. The young man possessed a disturbingly adult manner for someone his age. Tommy Hardy had seen – and possibly done – some things in his young life that definitely needed to be explored in their sessions. Kevin decided to treat Tommy a bit more maturely than he would another teenage patient. “I wanted to see,” the psychiatrist revealed, “exactly how you referred to your father.”
“Ahhh..” Tommy nodded. “Well, in the spirit of disclosure, ‘father' is nothing near what I refer to him in my head.”
“I see. What would that be?” Kevin's pen hung poised over the notebook he'd begun for Tommy.
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