Title: Luciano Grimaldi

Author: Sage

Work in Progress

Genre: AU

Fandom: As The World Turns

Pairing: Luke/Reid

Malta

1992

A cold wind blew along the cliffs as Damian Grimaldi stared into the turbulent water below, his jaw clenched tight as the murky water below swirled mockingly.

"Damian please…." The soft voice behind him was barely audible as the angry wind picked up neatly echoing the rise of his emotions.

"No." The words were flat and toneless, surprising even Damian in their lack of emotion.

"You can't keep him from me."

Damian turned around sharply. "I can't keep him from you? That's rich," Damian laughed harshly. "You were going to take him back to America. You were going to take my child, my son, from me."

"He's my son too."

"I know." Damian forced himself to take a deep breath. Bleak eyes connected with the woman he loved despite her betrayal. The woman he might always love he realized with a sickening feeling in his stomach. He was a Grimaldi, damn it. Grimaldi's don't do pitiful. "My offer still stands. You can stay with him, here in Malta. Not with me. I want nothing to do with you. There is a house on the estate. You can live there. You can see him as much and as often as you want. I have no desire to keep my son from his mother." He ran a hand through his hair. "I will however do everything and anything I need to do to keep his mother from her lover."

"Holden is more than my lover." Lily begged softly. "He is the man I love."

"I remember when you said those words to me." Damian scoffed. "Does Holden know that your so-called love changes with the wind?"

"That's not fair." Lily cried. "It wasn't like that."

"It was exactly like that. You promised me your love and your loyalty. Fucking Holden in my bed is somehow at odds with that promise."

The slap across his cheek echoed as Damian grabbed her hand. "Don't. Don't forget for a moment who I am. I am not some farm boy and I am not your toy. In my world a betrayal like yours could be fatal."

"You can't threaten me. My mother…."

"Can do nothing. The fact that you think Lucinda Walsh could touch the heir to the Grimaldi fortune tells me that you have learned nothing about me over the last five years. Of course I knew that when I realized that you thought I would blithely let you walk away with the most important person in the world to me."

"Damian…. Damian. Don't do this. You are not your family."

"No I am not." Damian grinned and for the first time Lily felt fear. "I was what my family made me into. Now I am what you made me into."

"You are asking me to choose between my son and the man I love."

"There is no choice. Stay here. Be with our son. Be where a mother should be."

Lily shivered at the future Damian's words presented her.

"I can't…..I can't imagine my life without Holden." Lily's voice was broken and Damian hated himself for hating how much she was hurting. He gathered his anger around him like a shield before he gave in to the need to make things better for her.

"Then the decision is made. You and your lover will leave Malta within the hour." Damian stated softly. "I will make the necessary arrangements."

"Damian wait!" Lily called after him. "Luke. You can't mean to keep him from me forever. You can't be that cruel."

"Cruel is …" He turned around and stopped. "It doesn't matter. What's done is done. You made a choice. Now you have to live with it."

"Damian….. Don't hate me. Don't let him hate me."

"Lily…. If I have my way he won't even know you exist." With those words Damian turned back down the path to his son, leaving more than one life shattered behind him.

2010 Oakdale

Dr. Reid Oliver was angry, which was not a new state for him, and confused, which definitely was. He had been in Oakdale for six months and had spent five of those six months feeling like he was trapped in some twilight zone version of Doc Hollywood. Not that he would admit to having seen that particular movie but he had vague memories of being really drunk one night at Harvard and having to sit through a Michael J. Fox festival. Or maybe it was watching three Michael J. Fox movies in a row that had caused him to get drunk. Whatever. The point was that he was trapped in Oakhell and was counting the minutes, maybe even the seconds, until his forced servitude was over.

Which was why he was staring at Dr. Bob Hughes in horror.

"You did what?"

"I told you Dr. Oliver." Bob sat back calmly. "I've contacted your hospital administrator in Dallas and asked him to extend your exchange program. He had no problem agreeing to my request. Something about time spent in a smaller, more personal hospital setting would be good to help you fine tune your people skills."

"I'm a neurosurgeon." Reid shot back. "I don't need people skills. It's not like I'm going to have a chat with a brain before I cut into it."

"And to think Dr. Simpkins thought you lacked people skills." Chris Hughes shook his head. "Can't imagine what gave him that impression?"

"Shut up Doogie." Reid growled. "This is a mistake. Dallas Memorial can't live without me. I have patients waiting for me."

"Dr. Simpkins thought they could live without you for another three months. He even offered to pay your rent and box up anything you wanted shipped."

"No. This is not happening. You can't keep me here." Reid swore softly under his breath. He knew that Simpkins was a homophobic idiot who had been gunning for him sense the first time he had public berated him for being a homophobic idiot. He could see him gleefully doing whatever he could to make his life miserable.

"Your contract with Dallas Memorial is ironclad and so is our exchange agreement. Don't worry Dr. Oliver. We'll do our best to keep you entertained."

Five hours and two surgeries later, Reid was standing at the nurses station updating some medication orders when he heard his name called.

"Dr. Oliver."

He contemplated saying nothing but then turned. What the hell? It wasn't like his day could get worse.

Or maybe it could. He stared at the young man in front of him. European clothes, a slight accent, lithe body, and a cold hard stare. The man was sex personified, even with a jagged scar across his face.

Except for the fact that he was holding the hand of a very small child and accompanied by an older, stocky man who he assumed was a bodyguard from the shoulder holster he wore.

"I am Luciano Grimaldi." The blonde's tone was neither boastful nor bragging but nonetheless commanding in its intensity. He announced who he was as if his identity should already be known. "This is Tonio." What Reid could only imagine was a rare smile flitted across the other man's voice as he looked at the small boy next to him. "He has a brain tumor. You will cure him."

The words were said in such a matter of fact manner that it took a moment for them to sink in.

"I'm sorry I don't do command performances."

He turned to leave and found himself held in a steely grip. "I apologize Dr. Oliver for my lack of manners, but I have flown here straight from Rome because I am told that you are the best."

"I am the best but I still don't jump because someone says jump Mr. Grimaldi."

"I am a wealthy man. I can make it worth your while."

"And what when I fail I wake up with a horses head in the bed next to me?"

"If that's what you are afraid of Dr. Oliver, may I suggest then that you do not fail?"

Blue eyes met brown for the briefest of seconds and Reid knew that his bad day was just about to get a lot worse.

Luc felt a shiver pass through him as he watched Tonio disappear into the MRI chamber. Although he grumbled a lot, the American doctor had at least agreed to run the tests to see for himself what Tonio's condition was. Luc forced himself to calm down as he waited outside the viewing window. He kept his mind focused on the boy and not on the growing unease he was feeling. He didn't want to be here, in this town. He glanced at the doctor as he monitored the test. The doctors in Rome had said that Oliver was the best. He hoped they were right. If anything happened to Tonio….

"I don't suppose it would do me any good to remind you that it was not your fault." The soft, slightly British voice in his ear made him turn. Thorne had been with him since he was a boy and was one of the few people he trusted without reservation. Luc shook his head.

"How is it not my fault?" He murmured making sure to keep his voice too low for the American doctor to hear. "They died because of me." He paused allowing the grief to overwhelm him for the briefest of seconds before he pushed it away.

"He did his job. Those who work for you….We would lay down our life for you. It has been that way for generations and it will be that way for generations to come."

"It is archaic."

"Yes." A pause. "But it is our way. He knew what was at stake and he made his choice. Don't belittle his sacrifice with guilt he would not want you to feel."

Luc bit his lip, feeling as if he had had this discussion a thousand times. Maybe he had. He was a Grimaldi. It was like belonging to a secret club. Money. Power. And a burden that was often crushing in its intensity. Unconsciously his fingers traced the jagged scar along his cheek. He had rebelled once and look what it had cost. He would not rebel again.

He turned back to his long term advisor. "I need to make a call to Tokyo and tell them I will not be there tomorrow for the meetings."

"They won't like it."

"They don't get a choice." He turned his direction once more to the small frame being swallowed by the steel machine. "I watched him bleed to death for me. I won't leave his son alone, not for some business deal that can wait." Unconsciously his gaze shifted to the doctor as he exited and joined them in the hallway. "What is the prognosis?"

Reid shook his head. "That I'm not a miracle worker." He watched as the nurse helped the boy off the machine and took him back to change his before turning back to the other man. "The boy is dying. The tumor is too big and its location makes it impossible to get to."

"I was told you were the best. Perhaps I was told wrong."

"I am the best and I am telling you that there is nothing I can do. Nothing."

"I don't believe that. I won't believe that. He's only six."

"Cancer doesn't give a damn how old you are Mr. Grimaldi."

"There has to be something."

"There is nothing."

The two men stared at each and Reid frowned as he watched the fire in the other man abruptly die as he seemed to age, his shoulders lowering as if the weight of the world had just been placed on him.

Abruptly, without a word, Luc turned and walked away, ignoring Reid's startled outburst.

"What the hell?" Reid turned to the older man who had stood silent. "Does your boss usually behave like a spoiled brat when he doesn't get his own way?"

Thorne looked at Reid with disdain and even Reid would admit, if he absolutely had to, that his remark was out of line.

"Mr. Grimaldi cares deeply about the boy." Thorne paused. "He and Tonio's father grew up together. He owes the family."

"Owes them how?"

Thorne frowned as he searched for the right words. "I do not know the term here in America but in Malta we call it a blood debt."

"What?"

"It is not easy being Luciano Grimaldi. There are many who would destroy the Grimaldi family because of their wealth and power. Many who would not hesitate to kill Luciano. It is something he has had to live with."

"That's crazy. That's why we have police."

"He was ten years old," Thorne continued as if he had not spoken. "There was a bomb planted in a gazebo on the estate. A place where Luciano and his tutor would sit and read together. Luciano had a puppy that he took everywhere. Luciano and his tutor were walking across the garden and the puppy ran ahead to the gazebo and…." Thorne's voice sounded old and sad. "He insisted on digging the grave himself."

Reid was appalled. "And Tonio? You said it was a blood debt."

"Tonio's father was a young man named Giancarlo. When Giancarlo's wife was pregnant he needed a job. Luciano hired him as a driver. There was an…argument between some old Maltese families. Luciano thought he could resolve it without anyone getting hurt. He had Giancarlo drive him to what he thought was a meeting, but was really an ambush. Giancarlo pushed him out of the way. He died but he made it possible for Luciano to live. When his wife learned of what happened, she went into labor. There were complications. She didn't make it."

They both watched as down the hall Tonio came out with the nurse and ran into Luc's arms.

"Like I said a blood debt."

Thorne strode away and left Reid to ponder what was said as he watched the way Mr. Grimaldi held the boy tight.

"Dammit." He swore to himself again, made a mental note to send one of the interns to Al's for a sandwich, and prepared to spend the next few hours looking at MRI results for a third, fourth, and possibly fifth time to see if he could make another miracle happen.