Title: "Default"
Author: monimala
Fandom: "General Hospital"
Rating/Classification: SAC for language, Skye/Coleman, Skye/Ned-ish, angst.
Disclaimer: Nope. I don't own them.
Summary: Okay, writing this made me cry...and I blame the date... but, basically, sometimes, when you need comfort...there really is none.

She used to default to the bar whenever she was upset. A bad day. A broken nail. Reminders of her past. Now, she usually goes to Kristina's nursery, sits with her, and plays with her toes.

But every so often... the bar still beckons.

Because she's not really having a bad day...it's more like a bad life.

One where she can look back and wish she hadn't drank so much... wish she hadn't messed it up with Jeremy all those years ago because he might... he might have been the one. Of course, she thought that about Will, too. And Max. And Jax. And Tom. God, she thought she and Tom were going to be together forever...and look at her...so many years and relationships later. She doesn't have that delusion about Ned, thankfully. And she never had it about Coleman.

Sometimes, she thinks she's still being punished. For all her sins. For setting fire to Cindy's house because she was a stupid bigoted kid. For trying to hold onto to men with duplicity and schemes. For being dumb enough to marry someone like Jonathan.

Most of the time, she knows it's just her life. Her curse.

Her burden.

Something that no one else can carry.

Something *she* can't carry.

She doesn't relish her daughter growing up and asking about her past. Because it's worse than checkered. It's an awful plaid of blackmail and arson and bed-hopping.

She wants to wash it all away in a tide of Stoli.

Instead, she finds herself on the hospital roof.

Emily is going to live...but that doesn't make the visits any easier. She still feels like an outsider...poking her head in the door and waving, knowing the girl who isn't really her sister can probably see right through her. *Yes, I'm just being nice to you because I want a baby.*

Well, that's not entirely true. She does care for Em. She *does*. She's not heartless. But she'd still rather be up on the roof than in the rooms below...

To be accurate, she'd rather be at the bar. In *his* bar.

But, instead, he comes to her.

"You doing okay, Skye?"

She laughs, softly, as the warm breeze whips her hair back from her face. She steps to the edge of the wall, looks over. "I didn't think you'd actually come."

He swears, low and fluid, and she catches words like 'fucking' and 'stupid' and 'bitch'... the last of which she can't even protest. He's right. She is a bitch. "You *called* me," he says, emphatically, moving across the roof.

The sun has set...and in the dark, she can't see all the harsh lines that etch his face. In the dark, he's almost as smooth and perfect as Jax...except that his insides match hers. Scarred and bloody.

No, she doesn't default to the bar when she's upset...

She defaults to Coleman.

"I called you," she agrees...and he catches her before she crumbles ...pulling her back against his chest. "I called you." His arm is solid, strong, around her waist and no one... no one else she has ever known kisses her neck the way he does... like it's just as precious as her lips.

"Shhh...Baby....Baby, it's okay," he murmurs, his mustache tickling her skin, the roughness of his stubble oddly soothing against her jaw. "I am always...always gonna be here if you need me."

Her voice is wet and her chuckle drowns. "Wh-why?" she wonders. The entire city of Port Charles is spread out beneath them. A thousand twinkling lights. People coming home to their families after a long day, restaurants opening up for the night. "I...I'm awful to you, Coleman. I ignore you. I pretend you mean nothing to me. So... so why would you do this for me? Drop everything just because I dial your number for the first time in months?"

"What did you think I was gonna do? Leave you hanging?" he demands, breath warm against her ear. At her answering silence, he growls, "You really *are* stupid, Wildcat." The nickname makes her wince, remember how he stretched her, filled her, and crushed felt left scratches on her back for days. "Don't you know that I expect to hear your voice every time my goddamned phone rings? Every damned time. The hours don't matter...neither do the weeks, the months. I always expect it to be you."

She shivers as his fingers skate down from her throat and catch at the collar of her blouse. "E-even though I treat you like dirt?"

"You treat a lot of people like dirt," he points out, rough and amused. "The difference is, Baby, I know you're lying."

"I am?" She's dry again. Her dry, self-possessed self.

For just a few seconds.

"You need me. You've always needed me," he says, as he gently turns her around in his arms. "Before you ever met me, you needed *me*. God forbid, you might even love me," he adds, barely audible, before he kisses her mouth.

She can't picture him in her life before. Growing up, dragged from pillar to post by Althea... looking up and seeing him behind a hotel bar or in class at one of the plethora of private schools she was shuffled in and out of. Or serving at the Valley Inn. What if he had cut her off way back then? What if she had met him at Rodi's one night in Llanview? Would she have ever come here?

He's her *now*. He belongs in her present. This minute. This moment. On the roof.

And that, she thinks, is why he's right.

She's always needed him...and now he's here.

God forbid...she might even love him.

But every so often... the bar still beckons.

"What's got you so wound up, Skye?" he asks, much later, when they're slumped against the access door and he's idly playing with the undone zipper on her skirt. "Tell me...tell me and I'll make it go away..."

"I...I..." She draws a deep, shuddering, breath and it's not...not enough air...and her arms linked around his neck don't feel like enough to anchor her to him. "I don't think you can..." And this time, when she cries, it comes from some place deep and dark and bleeding. "I don't think...I don't think you'll *have* to..."

Because she's not really having a bad day...it's more like a bad life.

"Skye...?"

She nods, just barely.

He looks down, haunted, at where her fingers are splayed across her belly...cradling... cradling that tiny spark of life as if she can keep it there with the sheer force of her will.

Of course, she can't.

Her daughter will never grow up and ask about her mommy's plaid past.

His hands are on her hips, clinging close. "D-does Ned know?"

"Only Dr. Meadows...and...and you," she stammers. Ned. Telling Ned... she can't. No. The irony is overwhelming. She came to him wanting his child... "I...I had to call you..."

He kisses her cheek, her chin, her pulse, swears again. "God" and "fucking" and "sorry."

"The doctor...she said I should...terminate." Oh, how she hates that word. It's for employees, not children. "Once... once I'm past the first trimester, carrying her could be fatal ...and I'll lose her anyway by the sixth month. Because that's what I do. I lose."

"'Her'?" he echoes.

"It's a girl," she assures, with a slight nod, closing her eyes. A girl who all ready has Ned's dimples and wisps of red hair. She knows it. She feels it. "Coleman..." His name is a low moan and she stares up into his eyes, seeing flames in them. A family home burning to the ground.

He kisses her forehead, rocking her against him. "Shhh...yeah...?"

"Would you...? W-would you stay with me?" she pleads.

"Yeah. You know I will."

He slides his hand into hers, clasps it tight.

But Fate...Fate still beckons.

--end--

September 12, 2003.



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