Untapped Potential

Faith wiped her mouth and leaned back against the cool stones. She’d just gone again through the motion of retching into the porcelain bowl. She had emptied her stomach some time ago. Now, not even water came up.

That was her body's signal to pull herself together. Soon Stefan would come in search of her and he did not deserve to bear the weight of her moment of weakness. Not on top of everything else he carried. There were few people who considered the weight of his burdens on a good day. Faith was certain that there were even less people who thought about the price he paid now.

The price they both paid.

It had been a vicious cycle. When she'd first heard the news of extinction, it threatened to undo her. Her initial thoughts had only been of her loved ones and their predicted demise. Eventually, her thoughts had expanded to contemplate the loss of all mankind. It hadn't taken long, though, for the nonstop coverage of the world’s fate to numb her somewhat to the vast scope of death and destruction that was to come.

A kind of calm had taken over her. Faith realized now that it was shock, but at the time she'd been grateful for the ability to push all of her emotions aside and operate in an almost detached state of mind. She and Stefan had worked efficiently, going through lists and making the hard decisions. They'd even been able to find sleep -however restless- when they fell into bed late each night.

That respite hadn't lasted as long as she’d hoped. Little by little, the horror that awaited the world became real again. As they drew closer to the time when planning would end and no more decisions would be made, Faith felt the protective shock she'd worn like a garment begin to fade away.

What was left of Faith's protective scab was torn away hours earlier, leaving her raw and bleeding. Under the cover of early dawn, Cassadine guards had escorted Keesha to Wyndemere for a conversation with her cousin. They’d spent the first few moments talking about relatives in Philadelphia and how they were dealing with the news. Keesha did not comment on the fact that Faith hadn't been in contact with family back home. She barely managed, however, to disguise her surprise that Faith had only had the briefest of communications with the Quartermaines as well. Faith explained cryptically that she'd had her reasons.

The time had come, Faith explained, to inform Keesha of the plan to try to survive the impending disaster. Keesha sat stunned at the revelation that Stefan had put together the parts of a plan for such an attempt.

Faith was blunt about the almost non-existent odds for success. If they did (by some miracle) survive, she wanted Keesha to be a part of what would essentially be a new world. She had waited until the last minute to reveal the information to her young cousin, but there had never been any doubt that a spot would be made for Keesha. From the start, Faith had given Stefan her list of people to consider for inclusion. Keesha had been at the top of the list.

‘What about the children?’ was Keesha’s only response to all that she had just been told. She did not need to specify which children she referenced. ‘All the kids at Ward House… Are they going to get a chance to live, too?’

Faith and Stefan had privately addressed the matter of the young Ward House residents early on. They were children who had been given shelter at the home bearing the Ward family name, children who had been orphaned, or abandoned at birth because of medical issues. Most were lacking any type of family history. Given time, their family histories could be uncovered by the top notch investigators at Cassadine security. But there was no such time.

Stefan immediately moved to absolve his wife of the painful decision they both knew had to be made. Faith would not allow him to shoulder that particular burden. With a remarkably steady voice, she spoke the words that were in essence a death sentence to the children of Ward House. ‘Let's move on.’

Faith might have accepted the decision about the children, but it did not change the fact that all she could think about in the days that followed was their trusting little faces. The memory of it made her reply to her cousin harsher than she intended. ‘I am sorry to say that they have not been included.’

The bluntness of Faith’s reply made Keesha rear back as though she had been struck. When she recovered her power of speech, she began to rail at Stefan's lack of concern for anyone not bearing the Cassadine name.

Most people would have made the same assumption Keesha did. Yes, Stefan undertook preparations for the survival attempt with his immediate family in mind. His efforts weren't some magnanimous gesture, after all. The whole thing began as a way for members of the Cassadine family to somehow escape death. But once he secured a minimum of spaces for his immediate family, Stefan began to fill the remaining spots with all the intellectual and technical experts their survival effort would require.

‘Why didn't you fight for them, Faith?’

Faith didn't think that Keesha's words were intended to wound her. Not completely. She and Keesha had lost their closeness some time after Justus’ death. Subsequent conversations between them were either careful, neutral things or nuanced exchanges tinged with accusation, resentment, or sorrow. ‘Because there were hard decisions to be made.’

Keesha’s voice held no emotion as she asked for the guards to escort her back to Ward House. She thanked Faith for considering her, but declined her offer. She could not leave the children of Ward House to face the world’s fate alone. They had no one else to put them first.

Despite the strained atmosphere, Faith wrapped an unresponsive Keesha in a tight embrace. ‘There's a tiny window left, dear heart. I hope you'll chang-’

“I won't.’


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