Fandom: "General Hospital"
Rating/Classification: SAC, angst, mild language, Coleman/Skye-ish.
Disclaimer: Nope, not my character, but I offer sincere thanks to the GH writers and Blake Gibbons for bringing him to life.
Summary: Layers of garbage aren't always what they seem to be. You never know what's really hidden beneath.
Crumpled newspaper skittering in the wind, mixed with leaves, landing in the gutter. A broken toy truck from the dollar store. A kid squeezed from the belly of a fifteen-year-old whore. Or as so many people simply put it..."trash."
That's what he is.
His first real memory...the one he can hold and taste and feel the weight of...is of his daddy yelling and stomping around...the bright clink-crash of glass.. somebody crying. He still doesn't know if that somebody was his mother.
"She's dead...goddamn slut..." was the answer he received when he was old enough to ask. And whiskey-riddled eyes looked down at him, sneered, "You're just like her, Cole. Useless. Trash."
That's what he's always been.
His daddy's main source of cash came from disability and a small military pension from 'Nam. When that was pissed away, he tended bar, off and on, at a roadside dive and pimped five dollar whores in the next town over.
So, Coleman grew up doing pretty much the same thing. Learning how to pour shots of Beam and being told that women were nothin'...just like him.
But even then, he knew he was meant for bigger and better things. That he couldn't spend his entire life in a trailer in southwestern Ohio, serving up booze to factory workers and farmers on the weekends. He got A's in math and social studies all through high school...and the first time he smiled at an uppity cheerleader, she shoved him into the janitor's closet and took off her top for him.
Bigger and better things.
That's what he's always wanted.
That's what he's going to make sure he gets.
He's heard the term "milk white" before, but he never knew what it looked like until he saw Skye Quartermaine standing in the lamplight, her mascara running across her pale face like ink. She looked so scared, so pure, that it was like dirt had never touched her. Like she'd never done a day's work in her life.
He hasn't known many women like that.
He likes to think his mother was like that. *Before*.
Of course, Skye isn't pure at all. She's caked with filth on the inside. Being unwanted and hated floats in her eyeballs along with the vodka and when he winds his hands in her hair, the red fire of it burns his skin like a heap of rubber tires in a junkyard.
She comes from money...he comes from dirt. But they're exactly the same inside. Hollow. Empty.
But when he's with her...when he's with her...she fills him up. Together, they're almost whole.
Some day soon, he'll make her see that.
He has to.
He hopped a freight train three weeks after he graduated high school. Got off in Allentown and worked in a steel mill long enough to realize that it wasn't his gig, to remember that he wasn't going to end up like the factory workers he'd grown up sliding drafts to. So he kept moving. East. And found himself in the city of dreams, the city of nightmares. Port Charles, New York.
Not that Sonny Corinthos remembers, but his first real job in town was tending bar two nights a week at the Paradise Lounge. He could pour a steady shot, didn't bat an eye at a half-naked woman, and knew how to make change. That was all that mattered. It wasn't a dream job. It wasn't a dream at all.
All it was...was a way in. A way out.
He ate Spaghetti-Os and fifty-cent pot pies every night for almost four years, going from the Paradise to other dives all around Courtland Street and the "bad side of town" until he found a steady gig managing a place that had once been a classy restaurant called Delafield's and was now just a joint like any other. He ducked Frank Smith's boys as much as possible, paid protection when he had money left over from rent, and thanked God every morning that he was out of Preble County, Ohio, and away from Luther Kincade.
After the Paradise Lounge closed, there was a gaping hole in Port Charles's quality adult entertainment line-up. He got approval from the five families, from Sonny's people, to start up his own joint in the territory. As long as, of course, he paid up and kept things clean. No drugs. No tricking.
He still doesn't know how the Hell he found the money and start-up capital. All he knows is that he needed an Oasis. And he got one.
Booze and desperate women. What he knew best. What he's always known best.
It is no coincidence that he's fallen in with Skye.
A beautiful alcoholic with tits to die for and his heart trapped in the bottom of her little silver flask.
Of course, he's never going to tell her that.
He can't afford to.
He never forced a girl to work for him. Manipulated, yeah. But forced? Never. Not until Courtney Matthews. And as much as he played up the smarmy asshole and blackmailed her into getting up on that stage, he never watched her take her clothes off.
He always found something to do...tally up the previous night's take...check the liquor stock in the back room...count the feather boas in the dressing room. Anything but watching fresh-as-a-Daisy, all blond and virginal, degrade herself just to keep her loser husband out of jail.
He may be low class slime...but he's not completely reprehensible. He has potential. He has depth. He has feelings. He has goals.
That's what he tells himself when his hands close around Skye's shoulders and he leans down and kisses her neck, tasting the sharp tang of her expensive perfume and the underlying flavor of Absolut
He didn't grow up with nothing, being told he was nothing, only to live it and believe it.
He survived. He fought.
And he'll fight for this. For managing a legitimate bar. For the crisp feel of a brand new, hideously-patterned, silk shirt against his skin. For the woman in his arms that was probably never fifteen. And never a whore.
Just lost. Lost and found. Like him.
"I..." he hears himself stammer. "Skye...I..."
"What...?" she murmurs, distracted as she works at his jeans with her blood red, manicured, nails. "You what...?"
*I'm just like my momma.* *I'm trash.* *I think I might love you*. "Nothing," he breathes, pushing her backwards.
They land in the gutter together, hard, and he forgets what he was going to tell her. He forgets that...but finds himself remembering, against the smooth, silken, hollow at the base of her spine, that one person's trash...one person's trash is inevitably somebody else's treasure.
February 23, 2003.