Maybe there’s a God above
All I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
– Hallelujah, Rufus Wainwright
Friday, September 6, 2002
Pier 52: Warehouse
Jason parked the SUV and looked at the man in the passenger seat. Johnny O’Brien, their warehouse manager and Sonny’s top enforcer at the moment, was checking the clip in his handgun.
“Is Richie in place?” Jason asked, squinting. “Did he say?”
“Yeah, he got there about ten minutes ago. Scoped out the place and found a spot to cover both exits. He’s ready.” Johnny hesitated. “Are we sure this is the way we want to handle it? Maybe it would be better if we just didn’t show up.”
Jason shook his head. “No. If someone is watching Carly, they know she came to me today. They know I want to know where she’s been. I’ve run around town for the last two weeks proving that I jump when she calls. If I don’t show up, they’ll be on to her.”
“So?” Johnny muttered. “You slap a guard on her idiot ass and move on—” When Jason scowled, Johnny shrugged. “Hey, it’s not like I wish her ill, Jase, but she put everyone in danger last year when she turned on Sonny. And no one’s really ever liked that much to begin with.”
“They want me out of the loop, Johnny. I need to know what we’re up against—”
“Yeah, yeah. I get it. I’ll follow orders.” He shoved open the door. “I’ll take the back exit, you take the front.”
They split up. Jason tugged his gun from behind his back and held it low in front of him as he crept towards the entrance of the abandoned warehouse where Carly had been told to send him.
Why this place? Did they think he would go anywhere Carly asked? Jason shared Johnny’s doubts, and Benny had been skeptical that this would be worth the effort. But if they could just get their hands on one of the guys sent by Roscoe—maybe they could get somewhere.
This life was always risky, but Jason preferred it when the risk was legal, not mortal. Most of the time, the danger was getting arrested, or being on the wrong end of a police raid. Territory squabbles were minimal, particularly this far from New York City.
There was always someone lower in the ranks who wanted to make their bones by taking out someone closer to the top, but Sonny usually ran an effective organization—those kinds of men were weeded out before any real damage was done.
Every once in a while, though there was a Moreno or a Sorel who wanted their own piece and didn’t want to share. And Jason was tired of taking bullets for assholes who wanted power they couldn’t handle.
The door to the warehouse was hanging off its hinges, the larger garage door to the truck entrance was dilapidated and looked as if it hadn’t been opened for business in years.
Jason hesitated before opening the door. Even if Carly hadn’t told him it was a trap, his instincts would have been screaming it by now. Had they expected Carly to come clean?
But he pushed open the door, the hinges creaking in the cavernous open space. There were stacks of packing crates, cardboard boxes with papers spilling out of the sagging sides. The odor of mildew and mold seeped into his nostrils.
He made it no more than ten feet into the room before he saw a black boot sticking out from behind a pile of packing crates. The hair on the back of his neck stood up as he moved closer. He kicked the boot and raised his gun—
It was Richie, their best sniper. He was lying on his back, his arms and legs spread eagle across the cement floor. His eyes were wide open, staring at the ceiling. A small round bullet hole in his forehead. No blood on the floor around him, which meant he’d been placed here.
Damn it. Jason spun around at Johnny’s shout. At the sound of gunfire—
And then he felt the first bullet slam into his upper chest, the hot metal digging through muscles and tendons. Another in his shoulder. He grunted and fell back, getting off his own shot in the process. Another bullet in his leg.
And then he was on the cement ground, choking. A man walked towards him. Jason’s vision was beginning to blur—the first bullet must have sliced an artery because he couldn’t catch his breath.
He could see the dim outline of a gun as it pointed straight at his head. Jason closed his eyes. Elizabeth’s smile, her eyes flashed in front of his face.
Another shot echoed in the room, and Jason choked, struggling—a man’s weight slumped over him. “Jesus fucking Christ, Morgan—” Johnny’s voice faded as Jason couldn’t manage to stay awake.
The world dimmed and he closed his eyes.
Saturday, September 7, 2002
Kelly’s: Dining Room
Every hour that passed added another layer of uncertainty and terror. The clock struck six. Seven. Eight. Nine.
Courtney’s shift finished at ten, and AJ came to pick her up, but Courtney refused to leave. She was too worried about Elizabeth. So AJ called the babysitter with Michael and sat down to wait with them.
Because Jason hadn’t called. And neither he nor Sonny were picking up their phones.
By eleven and closing, Gia had joined them and the four of them sat around a table in the back, Courtney having put together a pot of coffee and served it.
Elizabeth’s mug was ice cold and untouched by midnight.
She called Alexis, finally, but Jason and Sonny’s lawyer hadn’t heard from them either. Jason had called her to cancel the meeting, but she knew nothing beyond that. Nothing she could share. Gia, who had started an internship in Alexis’s office the week before, could offer nothing else.
Jason and Sonny had not answered any phone calls in eight hours.
Elizabeth still refused to go to the warehouse or get her phone from Jake’s. She couldn’t. If she took any action that suggested something was wrong…then something was wrong.
And she knew that in Jason’s life, when something went wrong, and he was out of touch, it was never good. And for Sonny to be gone as well—
Around twelve-thirty, AJ shifted and sighed. He drew Courtney out of her seat and pulled her towards the entrance. “I’m going to go home and relieve the babysitter,” he murmured to Courtney. “Call me when you know something.”
“I can go…” But Courtney’s voice faded, and she looked at Elizabeth. “But I want to be here.” She looked at AJ. “You must be scared, too. I should stay with you—”
“I am,” AJ admitted. “But not as scared as she is. I can least admit that something is wrong. She’s not there yet.” He kissed her cheek. “She needs you more than I do right now.”
“What if something happened?” Courtney asked, her voice trembling. “What if he’s hurt? God, AJ. Gia and I pushed her towards him.”
“Hey.” He shook his head. “Let’s not think that way. Odds are that he got hurt, and Sonny’s being a dick and keeping it from everyone. He’ll get in touch when he can. Jason’s too stubborn for anything else—”
“He’s not Superman,” Courtney muttered, but she watched AJ leave and turned back to the table where Gia and Elizabeth still sat. Gia was attempting to study, to turn this into anything other than what Courtney knew this was.
Waiting for someone to deliver devastation.
Safe House: Living Room
Sonny rocked back on his heels as he waited for the doctor to emerge from the back room. At a table, Benny was restless, going through the same paperwork he’d been looking at for the last four hours. Sonny didn’t think he was even reading the words at this point.
Johnny was grimacing at the sling hanging over his left shoulder and attempting to drink a beer with his right, less dominant hand.
Jason had required surgery to repair a partially severed artery in his chest, and only Johnny’s quick first aid had kept Sonny’s partner from bleeding out as they transported him to the only safe house with a sterilized surgery in one of the bedrooms.
And still, it was touch and go.
Johnny had suggested maybe calling Elizabeth—Jason had asked for her in the car, his words slurring, but the request had been repeated several times.
Sonny knew that Elizabeth was waiting for Jason, that he was supposed to pick her up from Kelly’s. He had picked up his phone to call her more than once. Not to tell her Jason was hurt, but just that he couldn’t be in touch.
But something held him back. By now, Elizabeth must be worried. It was after midnight—the diner closed at eleven. Hell, she must be terrified. She’d called Sonny’s phone three times, twice in the last hour alone.
Sonny hadn’t answered any of those calls. He didn’t know if Jason would survive the bullet wound, and God, he did not want to be the one to tell her. She would be able to hear it in his voice. And she was probably with Gia or his sister. Maybe even Bobbie.
No one could know that Jason had been shot. They had gotten one of the shooters, but he’d died before Johnny could ask him any questions, and the gunfire had been called into the PCPD. They had barely been able to remove Richie and the other body from the warehouse before the cops had showed up.
And…this was how it was supposed to work. There were things Elizabeth couldn’t know. She’d only known the last time Jason had been shot because she found him. If Carly hadn’t been there—if Sonny hadn’t betrayed him—Jason would have recuperated in a safe house and Elizabeth would never have been brought into it.
Jason always told Elizabeth more than Sonny wanted her to know. No one had been supposed to know Jason was in town the year before—but Jason had gone straight to her, like a goddamn moth to the flame. Had put her in danger. Again.
No, it was better this way. Better to wait until he had something to tell her.
And Jason needed to be out of commission. If no word was had from him, if no one knew where he was—whoever had gone after Jason might step it up. Make more mistakes. Sonny had to know who was coming after him.
The doctor finally emerged, his eyes lined with exhaustion, a blood stained towel in his hand. “I’ve stabilized him for now.”
Sonny exhaled slowly as Johnny and Benny got to their feet. “For now?” he echoed.
“He lost of a lot of blood,” the doctor said with a mutter. “He should be in the hospital. I’ve sedated him, and I’ll leave the necessary medication—I’ll have to get a few things, but he’s going to be weak. Woozy for a while. If I can get my hands on blood for a transfusion—”
“But he’ll make it—”
“Barring infection, as long he doesn’t move around—” The doctor shrugged. “Sure. Lucky son of a bitch.”
“I’ll call Elizabeth,” Johnny interrupted, reaching for his phone. “She must be out of her mind—”
“No, no.” Sonny held out his hand. “Not yet.”
“Sonny—the warehouse shooting was called into the police. If the PCPD haven’t harassed her yet, they will—”
The doctor, seeing that he was no longer needed, returned to his patient as Johnny gave Sonny a questioning look. “Jason’s going to ask for her the minute he wakes up—”
“We’ll put him off. He’ll understand once he’s alert.” Sonny shook his head. “They wanted to eliminate him tonight, Johnny. We gotta do what we can to make sure Jason stays out of commission—”
“Boss, I agree, but I don’t see what that has to do with Elizabeth. We can make arrangements to bring her here in secrecy—” Benny began.
“What does Roscoe know right now?” Sonny demanded. “He knows that Richie is dead—” and he took a moment for that, because Richie had been working with them for years and had always been reliable. “Maybe he knows Jason was shot. He knows that the cops were called, but none of our guys were left on the scene.”
“Which means they think Jason’s alive, which the opposite of what they were trying to do,” Johnny argued. “So this is just bullshit—”
“But if Jason doesn’t turn up, if Elizabeth doesn’t disappear—” Benny sighed. “Roscoe knows how we operate. It’s how everyone operates. Jason’s injured enough to go MIA, he’s out of the way. I don’t like it, but I think we gotta hold off making any moves for at least twenty four hours.”
Sonny nodded. “Elizabeth knows how this works. She’ll be worried, but it’ll be temporary and Jason will be too out of to know any better. It’s just for a little while, okay?”
“You’ll be the one explaining it to Jason,” Johnny muttered. “But fine.”
Jake’s: Van Ess Street
Around one in the morning, Elizabeth gave up.
Jason was two hours late picking her up. Phone calls to Sonny and Jason were still not being returned, and Elizabeth was ready to give in.
Something had happened. Something bad.
They dropped Courtney off at her house first—Courtney was reluctant to leave, but Elizabeth told her that AJ needed her, too. He was at home with Michael, and they’d keep her in the loop.
Gia drove her to Jake’s first to get her phone—but there were police cars out front, and the bar was clearly closed for the night.
“Do you want me to go ask questions?” Gia asked as their car sat idling a few spaces back from the bar as the red and blue lights flashed, illuminating the stark white pallor of Elizabeth’s face. “Maybe it was just another bar fight.”
“No.” Elizabeth cleared her throat. She nodded at the men walking out. “That’s a crime scene unit—you see their jackets? They’re looking for something. And Jason is Jake’s only tenant right now.” She swallowed. “Go to the warehouse.”
Gia muttered something under her breath but pulled the car back out onto the street and drove the mile that separated the bar from the docks.
More police cars surrounded the piers, and the entrance to the Elm Street Pier was closed off entirely. There was another set of crime scene tech guys milling about in the parking lot, as if waiting for clearance. Here, Elizabeth saw more than that. She recognized the curly hair of the police commissioner, and the long dark hair of Detective Andy Capelli.
Her heart was pounding. Her mouth was dry. “They’re at the warehouse. They’re at Jake’s.”
“I’ll call my brother,” Gia said, offering for what must have been the tenth time that night. But this time, Elizabeth closed her eyes and nodded.
She waited long enough, and if anyone wanted to take her to task, she’d tell them to go to hell. She had a right to know what the hell was going on, and if no one wanted to tell her—
She’d find out for herself.
“Marcus, I’m with Elizabeth. We’re at the warehouse—” Gia scowled. “No, we’re in the car. Look—stop talking for five seconds and I’ll tell you why I’m calling—Okay. Okay.” She hung up, took a deep breath, and put her phone back in her bag.
“Marcus wants us to go back to our place and wait for him. He has questions for you.”
“Did—” Elizabeth licked her lips. Forced the words out. “Did he say where Jason was?”
“He refused. This doesn’t mean anything, Liz. You know that. My brother, the PCPD—they’re assholes in general. They could have Jason in a holding cell—”
“Without telling Alexis?”
“Maybe,” Gia said with some hesitation. “You know they can get desperate—”
“Gia, let’s just go home and wait for your brother.” Elizabeth closed her eyes and tried to breathe. In and out. In and out.
She could do this. She was strong. She had survived the worst life could throw at her. This was nothing. Piece of cake.
Palm Beach, Florida
Ruiz Compound: Hector Ruiz’s Study
Zander grimaced as he was shown into the inner sanctum of the Ruiz family’s seat of power. It was a hot, muggy night, and even the open terraced villa that Hector had constructed looking over the ocean didn’t provide any relief from the miserable, heavy humidity.
It was after one in the morning, and he’d been pulled from a comfortable bed with a sexy woman in order to answer the summons of Hector Ruiz.
Inside the study, Hector sat behind his desk, a man leaning toward his late sixties with olive skin, salt and pepper hair slicked back, and mean dark eyes.
He sat across from Luis Alcazar, each with a tumbler of liquor and a cigar in hand as if it wasn’t one-thirty in the fucking morning.
“Smith. You made good time.” Ruiz gestured at him with his cigar. “Luis has some news for us.”
“News, and some questions.” Neither men rose nor indicated that Zander would be taking a seat or offered his own drink or cigar. This was obviously not a social call.
“There was a shooting tonight on Pier 52,” Luis said.
Zander hesitated. “Your ambush happened?”
“That’s what I want to know,” Luis murmured. He shifted to face Zander more directly. “You heard that Carly Corinthos’ death had been exaggerated slightly?”
“She was your plan?” Zander asked with raised brows. “You used her to lure Jason into an ambush?”
“I had hoped to turn her more forcefully,” Luis admitted. “I had…hopes she could be twisted entirely. She’s known for her rash decisions. Her anger—” He sighed. “But I have reasons to believe it did not go as I had intended.”
“Well, what did happen?” And why the fuck had he been dragged from his bed for this?
“Gunfire was reported. Blood was found,” Luis continued. “One of Roscoe’s men was shot, the other escaped. He seemed convinced that Jason had been mortally injured—he saw a shot to the chest. But no one has been admitted to the hospital. Does Corinthos have off site medical assistance for a serious injury like this?”
“Probably,” Zander admitted. “He might also be licking his wounds with a shot to the arm.”
“If he’s not dead, we gotta go again,” Ruiz began, but Zander shook his head. “Why not? You said Jason had to be eliminated—”
“If he took a shot to the chest, he’s going to go under. The last thing Sonny needs is an actual injury on his hands. The cops will crawl all over Jason. Blood being found doesn’t mean much. It could be from anything. No telling they can even prove who it belongs to.” Zander shrugged. “You wait a few days, Jason doesn’t surface, then he’s badly injured—”
“But he’s not eliminated—”
“You want to take out Sonny Corinthos, don’t you?” Zander demanded. “Here’s your chance. Jason’s out of commission. You get Nico or Roscoe to take the hit, Sonny will go after them. Your hands will be clean. You don’t want the territory, so what do you care if Nico and Roscoe take the fall. Nico doesn’t even know your name, and Roscoe will be probably be eliminated before he has a chance to say your name. He’ll go out in a blaze of glory before they take him alive.”
“I like this kid,” Hector said with a grin. “He thinks through all the angles. Why the hell did Corinthos let him go?”
“Because I think for myself, and I put myself first.” Zander shrugged. “Corinthos still thinks he’s Vito Corleone.”
Luis tipped his head. “What makes you think I don’t want the territory?” he asked coolly.
“Because by now you know that Nico and Roscoe are morons which is why they’ve never been able to step up when someone else was available. There’s a reason they stayed beneath Moreno and Sorel. Why they’re basically third string.”
“If you wanted the territory, you wouldn’t be a silent partner. You wouldn’t let Roscoe and Nico take the lead. You wouldn’t have sent me away to keep me under the radar. You wouldn’t have faked Sonny Corinthos’s ex-wife’s death. You don’t want the territory. You want to destroy the man.”
“He’s got you there, my old friend.” Hector raised bushy brows at Luis. “I’ve never liked Corinthos, but what do you have against him?”
“That is my concern. After he is gone, you can do what you like with Morgan.” Luis blew out a stream of thin smoke out from his lips. “Because you’re right. I want to eliminate the man. Nothing else matters.”
Elizabeth & Gia’s Apartment: Living Room
It was nearly two in the morning by the time Gia let her exhausted brother through the front door of their apartment.
Elizabeth was curled on the sofa, staring at their land line. Begging silently for it to ring. For someone to make this nightmare go away.
Taggert looked at the two of them, at Elizabeth sitting, at Gia standing in front of him, and his shoulders slumped. “Hell, you don’t know anything more than me, do you?”
“Do you know why the police were at Jake’s and the warehouse?” Elizabeth asked listlessly. “Because that’s more than I know.”
Taggert sighed. “We got reports of gunfire at an old warehouse near Pier 52. It’s one of Anthony Moreno’s old holding companies. It’s been wasting away for three years and it looks like a pile of crap. When we got there, we found blood on the ground, some places where someone had clearly been laying—and spent casings from bullets that match the type of gun Jason Morgan has registered in his name.”
“But no one was there,” Gia said slowly.
“No.” Taggert hesitated. “But we also can’t find Morgan. We’re trying to get his phone records. We’re executing search warrants. Sonny Corinthos is MIA. Elizabeth, listen—”
“How much blood?” she asked softly. “Because you know, it’s a warehouse. People get hurt.”
“We found some blood upstairs—a lot.” He paused. “And some…brain matter. We’re having it tested, but the preliminary blood type did not come back to Morgan.”
She closed her eyes, exhaled slowly. “Okay.”
“You haven’t heard from him?”
“The last time I saw Jason was when he dropped me off for work around eleven. I was working from twelve until closing.” Elizabeth rubbed her eyes, trying to get her brain to think. To focus. “He was supposed to do some paperwork at the warehouse, and then meet with AJ and some lawyers about Carly and Michael.”
“He was supposed to have that meeting at six, but AJ said it got canceled about five—at least that’s when his lawyer called AJ,” Gia volunteered. “And that’s the last anyone has heard from him.”
“My phone is at Jake’s,” Elizabeth said. “So if he called me, I wouldn’t know. He—” She swallowed hard. “He doesn’t call the land line at Kelly’s. Or at least he didn’t today.”
“Okay.” Taggert nodded. “Okay.” He waited a moment. “If you hear from him, would you tell me?” His tone was gentle. Compassionate. So at odds with the way he usually spoke—God, if he thought Jason was dead…
“I don’t know,” she said honestly. “If I can…I will.”
“I appreciate that.” He touched her shoulder gently. “Okay.”
Gia showed him out and closed the door behind him. “You were pretty cooperative,” she murmured.
“Two hours—” She looked at the clock on the wall. “Three hours since Jason was supposed to pick me up. Jason wouldn’t let me worry like this. Maybe once he would have left town and not told me. It was different before. We’re different now.”
She thought they were different.
“And what I told Taggert? It’s nothing that AJ and Courtney probably wouldn’t tell him. No state secrets.” Her lips twisted. “And if Sonny didn’t want me to talk to the cops, then maybe he should have called me.”
“You don’t think something happened to Sonny?” Gia asked with raised eyebrows.
“That’s not how this works. Jason went somewhere tonight. Something went wrong. And Sonny is mopping it up. He’s keeping me out of the loop.”
Her roommate exhaled slowly. “That’s cold—”
“That’s Sonny.” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “If he doesn’t come to see me tomorrow…then I’ll start to worry. For now…I just have to keep my cool. This is the life. I love Jason. I’m in this. I just…” She let her legs fall to the ground. “I thought he might be coming to notify me that they had Jason’s body.”
“But they don’t have any bodies.”
“Which means the warehouse was cleaned up. There was time for that. So until someone tells me differently, Jason is somewhere where he can’t contact me, and Sonny isn’t getting in touch.”
Elizabeth rose to her feet. “I’m going to try to get some sleep.”
Safe House: Bedroom
Between Benny, the doctor, and Sonny, they managed to transfer Jason to a bedroom with an IV. Jason was pale, sweating, like a furnace to the touch—an infection was already setting in.
“Elizabeth,” Jason murmured, stirring slightly. His eyes were slits, just a mixture of blue and red underneath the pale lids. “Did you…”
“Hey, she’s fine. I’ve got it handled,” Sonny murmured, eyeing Johnny with a warning glance. “You better not make her cry for you, man.”
“Tell her…” Jason exhaled slowly, his head lolling to one side, his voice fading in and out. “No soup.”
“No soup?” Johnny repeated, but Sonny shook his head.
“Got it. I’ll let her know.” He nodded to the doctor, and then exited the room with Benny and Johnny. “What’s going on back home?” he asked once they returned to the living room.
“Cops are all over the warehouse,” Benny said. “And they’ve closed Jake’s as a crime scene, so they suspect Jason is involved. Our guy at the Brownstone says Taggert went inside briefly, then left. No guarantee he talked to Miss Webber, but—”
“Odds are,” Sonny murmured. “We go talk to her now, the cops will know. Taggert is too close to Elizabeth. He knows her movements. We bring her here and it’s nothing but problems—”
“That doesn’t mean we don’t tell her,” Johnny hissed.
“We need to let things cool down,” Sonny said with a shake of his head. “She can’t be involved. Jason wouldn’t want her in the middle with the cops. Hey, Elizabeth knows how this works.”
“This is bullshit,” Johnny muttered. But he had his orders, so he swallowed and looked away.
Sonny dismissed them both as he returned to Jason’s room. “Hey, I’m going back to Port Charles,” he murmured, perching on the edge of the double bed. “The doc and Johnny are going to hang out here. Take care of you.”
“Elizabeth,” Jason managed. “Bringing her?”
“Yeah, I’m gonna bring her when I come back. She’ll be glad to see you.” Sonny rose and met the doctor at the door. He hesitated, waiting for Jason to slip back into unconscious. “You’ll do what I told you?”
“Keep him sedated on pain meds for a few days?” the doctor replied in a low voice. “He hates them—”
“He’s too delirious to know better. I’ll be in touch.”
Sonny intended to keep his promise — he would try to stay away until it was time for Elizabeth to be told. He would bring her here just as soon as it was safe. He knew Jason wanted her to know he was okay, but Elizabeth was stronger than Jason gave her credit for.
As soon as Roscoe made his move, as soon as Sonny knew who the hell was coming for him—well then, this would all be over.