Title: "The Crooked Thing"
Author: monimala
Fandom: "General Hospital"
Rating/Classification: SAC, Skye/Coleman, vague Skye/Ned, ficlet.
Disclaimer: Nope. Not mine.
Summary: Skye Chandler thinks she has everything she wants... until somebody reminds her what she's been missing.

"O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it."
--"Brown Penny", William Butler Yeats.

Bad pennies just have a way of turning up.

It's a phrase she's borrowed from Max. One of the few reminders of that destructive down-home cowboy charm that she's bothered to keep. Because, in this instance, it fits.

A faded, coppery, coin with green edges falls right into her path. Begging to be picked up. And she clenches her fingers around the handles of Kristina's pram to keep from answering its call. It's heads-up. Which means it would be good luck...if she dared.

And she doesn't. She won't touch it.

She won't touch him. She can't.

"Hello, Coleman," she says, instead, softly.

"Well, hell, if it ain't Miz Skye Quartermaine." He crosses his arms over his chest, a lewd grin creeping across his face...and he doesn't even have the decency to have changed at all. Still that same wild hair and mustache and that brown leather jacket that looks like it's been run through the wringer. Still those eyes that can see right through her.

Part of her wants to correct him...tell him that she's no longer a Quartermaine... but since it is actually a part of her long term plans to become one again, she doesn't make the effort "Have you been out of town?" she asks, instead, politely, as Kristina fusses and coos... apparently completely untrained on how to spot an unsuitable man and start wailing so he runs the other way.

"Been in and out, yeah. You know how it is...meeting with liquor suppliers," he murmurs, glancing down, finally, at her little companion. And he pauses. "Except...you've been sober, haven't you?" His jaw tightens and she can't tell if he's upset or proud. "This little peach yours?" he wonders.

And before she can answer in the aching affirmative...yes...yes! Princess Brat is hers...

"*Ours*?" he adds, softly.

Bad penny, bad penny, bad penny. Her stomach lurches and she shudders. His hands on her body...lips on her throat...the tickle of his mustache against her jaw as he..."No! No, Kristina isn't ours! She's Ned's." And she knows her laugh is completely artificial. "Coleman... have you *never* been around babies? She's too old to be a product of our unfortunate time together."

And even if that wasn't the case...there is no way Coleman could've given her a child.

Not one that would survive.

"I...I wouldn't say that our time was 'unfortunate'," he drawls, stepping up to the edge of the pram and leaning in for a better look. "Well...ain't you a beauty?" he asks, rhetorically.

Her Princess Brat is a traitor. One who giggles and waves her fists as Coleman reaches in to stroke her soft cheek. He looks dumbstruck, absolutely dazzled, when she grabs one of his fingers in her fist and squeezes. "Oh...oh, look at that. You're a strong little girl, ain't you? Beautiful and strong..."

Skye knows exactly how he feels. But that doesn't make this moment of bonding any better.

She delicately clears her throat. And when that doesn't stop him from murmuring unintelligible baby things--and, really, she should get it on tape because that's some prime ammunition against the Lord of Blackmail himself--she resorts to a more firm and obvious, "Ahem!"

"Yeah?" Those eyes. So dark and so completely unlike Ned's. "I'm trying to have a conversation here," he says, huskily, "with a Quartermaine woman who'll give me the time of day."

"It's three o'clock," she says, irritably, "There. That's the time. And it means I need to get Kristina back to the mansion."

He steps back, waving two fingers at the baby and mouthing "Bye, sweetheart," before cocking his head and grinning at her in the most maddeningly appealing way. "And what do you need to do after that? Huh? Got any plans?"

Bad penny.

Bad, *bad*, penny.

But she picks it up anyway.

***

He moves her hair aside with one hand so he can kiss her neck...and she arches back against him, pretending he's not whispering, "Missed you, Baby" against her skin...pretending she's not thinking exactly the same thing.

The felt is scratchy and rough against her palms...as scratchy and rough as he is... but she can't seem to care. Not when his body is hard and warm and he slides inside her like he's never been elsewhere. Not when it feels like they've been in the cool darkness of Jake's for eternity ...when in reality it's only been minutes...precious minutes of getting rid of that horrible jacket and ripping at his hideous striped shirt. Of letting him tear off her blouse, send the buttons flying, in his haste to get her naked beneath him.

"Skye...Skye...Skye..." he chants, hotly, into her ear.

She turns and presses her tongue to his jaw...and he tastes like copper.

She had it all wrong. Borrowed the words from the wrong person.

He's a penny for her thoughts.

The ones she can't even admit to having.

--end--

July 18, 2003.



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