Chapter Ten

This entry is part 3 of 12 in the series The Best Thing: Redemption

I’m not the one who broke you
I’m not the one you should fear
We got to move you darlin’
I thought I lost you somewhere
But you were never really ever there at all
Here Is Gone, Goo Goo Dolls


Friday, April 29, 2005

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Carly handed Michael a napkin as he wolfed down his waffles. “Try and breathe between bites,” she instructed her eldest child before turning her attention to Morgan who had recently been upgraded to a booster seat and was spooning yogurt awkwardly into his mouth. “Try not…to wear it all this morning.”

Across the table, Sonny sat silently, sipping his coffee and reading the morning edition of the Port Charles Herald. She wished this felt as domestic as it might have looked to an outsider, but he was silent because they had argued that morning.

She wanted to try in-vitro fertilization and he had refused.

She wanted to go away for a weekend to the island or even to New York City — to leave the boys with her mother and just escape the constant pressure of being Carly Corinthos.

Of not knowing what to do next.

But he had refused.

“I gotta get to school,” Michael chirped, dropping his fork to his plate with a clatter that caused Sonny to flinch. He launched himself out of the chair, stopped for his book bag on the sofa before throwing open the door. “C’mon, Rocco! I’ll be late and today we’re getting a new guinea pig—”

His bright chatter faded as the door closed behind them. Carly turned to Sonny. “He seems to be…better,” she offered.

“Mmm,” Sonny murmured, and Carly scowled, looking back at Morgan. Even his wide yogurt-stained grin couldn’t boost her spirits. Her argument with Courtney earlier that month weighed on her shoulders.

Of course she knew that simply walking into Jason’s penthouse and trying to hint that perhaps the custody arrangement needed to be revisited would never work. Jason was committed to protecting Michael and Morgan. He would never admit the truth of Evie’s paternity if he still thought it might cost the boys their stability.

But Carly was out of options. Having their own child was not going to work. As long as Sonny felt he had abandoned his daughter, the guilt was going to eat at him and push him closer to the edge – a place that Carly had truly only seen once.

And she feared this crash may make that seem like a day at a carnival.

And the only way to eliminate that guilt would be to bring Evie into their family, but Courtney was absolutely right. To have Jason give up another child…how could she ever ask it of him?

But in the last month, she had begun to see a way out. Jason had barely survived the loss of Michael, but Carly knew it was because he’d been alone. Robin had dropped the bomb and fled to Paris, Carly had slept with Sonny, and Jason had had no one to turn to.

Except Elizabeth Webber.

She had seen the two together recently, had heard the rumors.

And Elizabeth had a son.

Maybe…just maybe…if she could be sure Jason would be okay somehow. If she could…lessen the damage, this might work.

And wouldn’t it be in Jason’s long-term best interests to protect Sonny and his peace of mind? Surely Jason was exhausted from the tight rope they had all been walking, wasn’t he?

“Sonny, I’ve been…thinking about Jason.”

Sonny lifted his head from his newspaper and peered at her. “What…about Jason?” he asked, cautiously.

“I don’t like what happened when we saw Elizabeth a few weeks ago at the doctor’s office.” Carly tapped her fingers restlessly on the table, absently pushing her glass of orange juice out of Morgan’s reaching hands. “She and I may have…had our differences, but I think…maybe she could be good for Jason.”

Sonny squinted, and she knew he was thinking her words through, considering them and looking for the catch. “How so?” he asked, finally folding the newspaper and setting it next to him.

“Well,” Carly drawled. “I know the last…God, the last year has been rough for all of us, what with…” She swallowed hard. “Sam and everything. But Elizabeth…and her son…could be just the distraction Jason needs.”

He tilted his head, still squinting. “I’m not following you.”

God. Connect the dots, you imbecile. Carly swallowed the huff of exasperation that crawled up in her throat and smiled hesitantly. “Well, things are tense between you and Jason, because you know how he hurt Courtney with Sam. And sometimes I think Evie’s…as adorable as she may be…is just a reminder of everything that went wrong in your friendship.”

The corner of his mouth twisted into a grimace and Sonny looked out the large picture window that overlooked the park. “You’re not wrong there,” he said quietly.

“But if Jason moves on with someone who isn’t… connected to you. Not your sister, not your…” She wiggled her fingers. “Whatever. Elizabeth is different. And God knows, you…used to like her. I mean, Ric not withstanding.” Her stomach pitched at the mention of the man who had pretended to be her friend only to kidnap her and hold her hostage.

She looked at Morgan, her miracle baby, and took a deep breath. Everything she did to save her marriage was for her boys in the end. Michael and Morgan deserved the best life she could give them. The power, the prestige, the wealth that came with being Sonny’s children. Everything she had never had.

“She did divorce him in the end,” Carly told him. “And from what I can see, has cut all ties with him, so maybe she’s not the moron I always thought she was.” She shrugged. “Anyway, she’s got a ready-made family for Jason. He could be happy with her. Just what you and I want for him, right?”

“Right.” Sonny cleared his throat. “Maybe…maybe Elizabeth is the answer to the problems. She…and her son.” He reached for his newspaper. “We’ll…have to see how it plays out.”

“I guess we will.” Carly sipped her juice, hoping Sonny had seen the connection she’d tried to paint.

If Jason had another child waiting for him, surely…it had to assuage some of the pain she knew he would feel when Evie came to live with them.

And Carly would honor his sacrifice by loving Evie the best she could. She would be the reason their lives got back on track, not just a reminder of that whore and Sonny’s lies.

It could still be okay. Carly just…had to have patience. They were limping along for the moment, and surely, if she held out just a little longer, continued to drop hints in Sonny’s ears about Jason securing his own future…

They could emerge from this dark period without Sonny falling off the ledge.

General Hospital: Cafeteria

Emily set her tray down across from her fiancé and smiled. “So did you confirm with the staff in Greece about our honeymoon?” she asked.

Nikolas sipped his espresso and nodded. “Yes, they’ll be expecting us for three weeks. I’m even…having some rooms redone.”

She nodded sagely. “De-Cassadined,” Emily remarked, tearing the wrapper from her sandwich. “I’ll never understand the preoccupation with dark and gloom.”

“It’s dignified,” her prince said with a straight face. Then he grinned. “Things on track with your bachelorette party?”

“Yep. Elizabeth scheduled it for the week before the wedding. She wanted it to be a surprise but since most of the guests are doctors and nurses, that was out the window.” She eyed him. “And your party?”

“Lucky wanted strippers.” Nikolas paused. “I told him it wasn’t really my scene.”

“So he’ll probably only hire one.” She shrugged. “I’ve been working on the seating chart, but I just…don’t know where to put my brother.” She huffed. “If he and Elizabeth would just…” She wiggled her fingers. “You know, get it together already, I could shove him at her table without them snarking at me—”

“You could probably just put him there anyway,” Nikolas interrupted. “It’s not like Jason wants to sit with his actual family or any of the other doctors. I don’t know why he’s even bothering to come to the reception.”

Emily blinked. “I…may have intimated that you had many single friends coming from around the world. Dark, mysterious men with accents. I suggested introducing Elizabeth to one of them if Jason was sure he wasn’t interested.”

“How is that not meddling?” Nikolas asked, exasperated. “Emily, you promised you weren’t going to nag either of them. Elizabeth all but took my head off last week when I saw her. She seems to think we’re in league together.”

“We are, but mostly because I gave you no choice.” Emily rolled her eyes. “I would not have to…step up my participation if they would just stop dancing around and just admit what the rest of the damn world saw weeks ago—”

“Emily.” Nikolas’s calm voice broke into her rant and she glared at him. “Do you want them to start dating because they were once interested in one another? The way you came home and threw yourself into a relationship with Zander? The way Elizabeth tried so hard with Lucky when he came home?”

She scowled. “No. No, but they’re clearly in love—”

“I don’t know about that,” Nikolas said, slowly, “but maybe they’re creating something new. What they had before? It was there, but it clearly wasn’t strong enough to survive what life threw at them.”

Emily pursed your lips. “So what you’re saying is that if they acted on their attraction now, it might just fizzle like it did before.”

“Or maybe it would work, but Em, you have to trust them to know what’s right—”

“I…” Emily leaned back. “Look, I know you’re right. I just…I get frustrated. I want them to be happy now. Not in five years. If I have to wait that long to be Elizabeth’s maid of honor, I’ll…just wither away—”

Nikolas held up a hand. “First, I get your frustration. But we’re not inside their heads. What the rest of the world sees? It’s just superficial. It’s attraction. I see they enjoy each other’s company. That they have a good friendship, but we don’t know what holds them back. It may be something insurmountable at the moment. Emily, you complained that Carly pushed him at Courtney—”

“Oh, fine. I’ll butt out for a while.” She pointed a finger at him. “But if it we get married and there’s still no change, I make no promises, you understand?”

Nikolas arched an eyebrow. “Fair enough I suppose.”

“But you’re right about the seating. Jason is probably only going to see Elizabeth, they’re friends anyway. Audrey tolerates him now, and Steve doesn’t have a problem with him, so…” She took out a notepad and made a notation. “I’ll do it that way.” She sighed at him. “I just…I want everyone to be as happy as we are.”

He reached across the table, and took her hand in his. “But our road wasn’t easy,” he reminded her. “You were married, I was accused of murder, then I had lost my memory, and we had to deal with Mary…” He trailed off and dipped his head. He raised it and sighed. “Emily, we’re stronger because we got through all of that. We’re going to stand the test of time because I know there will never be anyone I love the way I love you. Don’t you want your brother and our best friend to reach the same realization?”

“God, I hate when you’re logical. Yes, of course, I do.” She grimaced. “You bastard with your sense-making.”

Corinthos & Morgan Warehouse: Sonny’s Office

Jason leaned forward and set a folder on Sonny’s desk. “We found Mickey.”

His partner lifted his eyebrows. “And since he’s not in front of me explaining himself, he’s not available to do so.” He nodded and pursed his lips. “Who’s responsible for his…scheduling difficulty?”

Relieved that today Sonny seemed mostly himself, Jason answered him. “Not us. Johnny and his men found him in the bushes off the interstate. He’d been recently shot in the head.”

“So they kept him alive for two months or he turned on us and they shot him anyway.” Sonny stroked his chin. “We don’t know anything more yet?”

“No…not yet, but I got Johnny and Francis on it. I don’t know if we’ll find out more unless something else happens,” Jason admitted. “We don’t have the same resources the authorities do when it comes to crime scenes and it’s not like they left a calling card.”

“Fuckers never do.” Sonny sighed and leaned back in his chair, perusing the ceiling. “I don’t like sitting back, I don’t like being on the defense.”

“Neither do I,” Jason admitted. He rubbed the back of his neck. “I’ve got Stan looking into the Ruiz and Zaccharas, but nothing’s popping at the moment.”

“Security still heightened?” Sonny asked. “I know Carly’s guards are doubled, I’ve seen the extra men in the lobby…” He hesitated. “Is…Elizabeth being looked after?”

Jason waited a moment, but decided to trust this stability for however long it would last. “I’m seeing her later today,” he admitted. “I’m going to ask her if she would consider someone more full time, and I’ve organized a man on her house for now, but I don’t want to…there’s been no direct threat against anyone.”

“Right, right. And extra security just draws attention to the people who aren’t fucking with us at the moment.” He rubbed his eyes. “I get we don’t know much about who’s behind this, but, Christ, Jase, there’s got to be something we can do. Some…” His hand clenched in a fist, Sonny dropped it on the desk. “Tell me we can do something.”

“I told Stan to step up, he’s bringing on some extra fire power behind the scenes to cover all the bases. I pulled Jimmy and Roscoe from the warehouse. I put Jimmy on Anthony and Roscoe on the Ruiz brothers. If nothing else, it might help to rule them out.”

Sonny waited a moment. “What about Johnny?”

Jason exhaled slowly. “Like I said, I don’t…consider Johnny part of his father’s business. I don’t see a point in wasting man power. I’d rather pull a third man to cover Javier and Manny more effectively. I don’t think Hector would be involved, but if he is, it’s through his sons.”

“That’s true,” Sonny allowed, “but I think it’s a mistake to exclude Johnny Zacchara from surveillance. He’s in Port Charles often enough. Maybe you’re giving the kid more credit than he’s due. Maybe he’s using the nurse as a shield.”

It hadn’t felt that way then. Nadine had been too green, and Johnny had looked chagrined when Jason had taken him to task for putting her in that situation. Could that have been an act? Would it really hurt to eliminate Johnny Zacchara once and for all from suspicion?

“We can’t rule that out, I guess. I’ll talk to Johnny, see who he recommends—”

“Don’t do it just to placate me.”

Sonny’s tone was low, almost dangerous. His dark eyes snapped to Jason’s and the man he’d been speaking to for the past half hour had vanished. Swallowing, Jason leaned forward. “That’s not what I’m doing—”

“What do you take me for?” Sonny bit out, rising from his chair. “You’ve been telling me for months Johnny ain’t the guy, and now you’re just willing to investigate? What, you think I’m stupid? I don’t see what you’re doin’?”

Slowly, Jason pushed himself to his feet. “No, Sonny. I’m just agreeing with you. Maybe I don’t want to think I’m wrong. I let him near Elizabeth, I allowed him to engage her in small talk, to stay at her showing. If he is involved, he’s aware of her. You think I like knowing that?”

His chest heaving, his eyes blazing, Sonny all but snarled, “Don’t play, Jason. Who the hell do you think you are? You work for me! This is my territory!” He planted a hand flat against his chest. “You fucking taking orders from me!”

“I know. You want Johnny investigated more fully, that’s what I’m gonna do.” Keeping his voice even and hoping like hell his expression was as blank as he intended, Jason continued, “I told you I’m not taking chances with the people who are important to us. I’ve always…made the security decisions. Taken the lead when looking into a threat.”

Sonny stared at him for another long moment before nodding. “Fine. Just so long as you get it.” He dropped back into his seat and something on his desk caught his notice. He stared at it for a moment before raising his eyes. And…there he was again. His partner. His friend.

“I-I’m sorry.” Roughly, Sonny continued. “I just…I don’t want to take any chances.”

That was true, but he and Jason both knew that while the last few weeks had been stable, Sonny’s temper always simmered under the surface. Jason was going to have to tread even more lightly to keep it from being triggered. Too much was at stake.

Old Bridge

As soon as the bike drew to a stop on the bridge, Jason switched off the engine, hit the kickstand, climbed off and stood looking over the side, his hands clenched in fists on the stone ledge.

Elizabeth slowly drew off her helmet and shook out her hair. He’d been pensive since he’d picked her up almost an hour ago, and had taken the cliff road faster than she could remember.

She drew her leg over the side of the bike and joined him. “Can you talk about it?” she asked.

He exhaled slowly and turned to face her, resting a hip against the stone. “Not really,” he admitted. “I’m sorry—I should have canceled but—”

“It’s fine.” She lifted one shoulder in a casual shrug. “I was already free since Steven came over to have dinner and offered to watch Cam. Get some guy time in, he told me.” Looking down at the helmet she still held in her hands. “I guess it’s about Sonny.”

Jason dipped his head, and for a moment, she wish she hadn’t pushed. But he shook his head slightly. “He’s been good for a while. In control. I almost thought…”

“You had your friend back,” Elizabeth finished softly when he trailed off. “I’m so sorry, Jason.”

“It’s getting worse.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. “The slide doesn’t usually last this long—he’s holding back the crash, but now he’s switching back and forth. One second, he’s there and the next…it’s like we’re not having the same conversation.”

“I know what it’s like to watch someone change in front of you like that,” Elizabeth said. “I mean, it’s not…really the same, except I suppose it was kind of a mental illness.” When Jason just tilted his head towards her in question, she clarified. “When Lucky was brainwashed. Remember? I told you back then that we’d have these conversations where it felt like we were connecting like we used to, but then he’d just go blank and turn into this other person. This stranger who kept telling me to be with Nikolas. It was…not scary, but just…” She shrugged. “Unnerving.”

“Yeah, I guess that’s the word for it.” Jason was quiet for a moment, the rushing water of the creek running towards the lake the only sound. “I used to be able to keep him steady, to bring him back, but I can’t this time. Nothing I do is making it better, only worse.”

Elizabeth drew her bottom lip between her teeth. “Because you’re part of the reason it’s happening,” she said quietly. She set the helmet on the ledge and stepped towards him. “Jason—”

“I didn’t start this slide,” Jason said, cutting her off. “That was Carly’s shooting and all that crap with Alcazar last year. But…I aggravated it. With…faking the paternity results. And then custody—”

“You didn’t ask for custody of Evie,” Elizabeth reminded him. “If on the day she was born and Sam died, if Sonny had asked you to sign over guardianship, you would have done it.”

“Yeah,” he admitted. “I would…I would have hated it. I would have been breaking my promise, but he…didn’t know what Sam did. He never would have agreed willingly. But…things with Carly and the boys were up in the air and he wanted to keep his family together.”

“But he sees keeping her as a betrayal.” She twisted her fingers together to prevent herself from reaching out toward him. “Jason—”

“It’s nothing new,” he said, interrupting her again. “I wanted to ask you about Milo.”

Elizabeth blinked at the swift change in subject to her part-time guard. “Sure, what about him?”

“I…know he’s only around some of the time. He’s not taking you places or…following you directly.” Jason faced her more fully, and she could read the exhaustion, the misery and the nerves in his eyes. “But I…want him to be more…full-time. For a while. I…assigned another guard to sit outside your house at night, but in his car so Audrey or your neighbors won’t see—”

Security was part of being in Jason’s life and she knew he had enough on his plate. “Whatever you think is good,” she said. “I know you wouldn’t ask if you didn’t think it was necessary. Just let me know what to expect and I’ll do it.”

Jason closed his mouth, the explanations and justifications stopping mid-stream. “Thank you,” he said. “I appreciate it.”

“In return,” Elizabeth said, holding up one finger. “I’d like you to bring Evie—and yourself—to Cameron’s birthday party next week.”

Jason grimaced slightly, which she didn’t take personally as she knew how he loathed gatherings of any kind. “Elizabeth—”

“Hear me out.” She held up a hand. “It’s not a big gathering. We’re going to be here in the park. Emily and Nikolas, my grandmother and my brother, Bobbie, Lucas, Felicia and her girls. I invited Alexis and Kristina, but you know…her husband is staying home.”

He muttered something under his breath, but she couldn’t quite catch it. “Anyway, Jason, it’s important to me that Cameron’s first birthday be filled with the people who are important to us.” This time, she did reach forward and grasped his hand. “You are important to me. I want you to be important to Cameron, too.”

Jason looked down at their hands before raising his eyes to meet hers. There was something in them she could not quite describe. “I want that, too,” he said, his voice dropping slightly. “I-I’ll be there.”

“Great.” Elizabeth squeezed his hands and smiled. “I’m really glad we did this. Tonight, I mean.” Her cheeks heating, she glanced away. “Sometimes I feel like we run into each other accidentally, but…I want to make the effort…to see you more.” Her heart in her throat, she risked a look at him.

Jason looked slightly surprised, but not horrified. He cleared his throat. “That’s…okay.” He was quiet for a moment. “Thank you for listening tonight.”

“Anytime.”

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Comments

  • great chapter I’m with emily for once I wished they’d wake up and smell the coffee and for once why can’t he make a move–go for it man.
    sonny is annoying the hell out of me and I just want jason to smack him really hard and to realize carly is being a snake in the grass and not a friend. tell him courtney.

    can’t wait to read more

    According to PAMELA HEDSTROM on November 12, 2014
  • great update. Carly needs to commit sonny not try to hurt her best friend. em needs to listen to nic. love liason talk

    According to Nicole on November 12, 2014
  • Great update, I am with EMily, those two need to see they belong with each other. They need to stop fighting it, I’m glad they agreed to see more of each other. I like that she agreed to Milo being full time, without any issues.Also glad they talked about sonny.

    According to shay on November 15, 2014