Chapter Twenty-Three

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series The Best Thing: Mercy

I’ve come too far
To see the end now
Even if my way is wrong
I keep pushing on and on and on and on
There’s nothing left to say now
There’s nothing left to say now

Nothing Left To Say Now, Imagine Dragons


Monday, August 15, 2005

 Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom

 Everything happened at once. Jason’s cell phone began to chirp just before the land line’s shrill ring joined in, and somewhere in the distance, a loud banging could be heard.

Elizabeth sat straight up, instantly alert, as Jason reached for his phone, already climbing out of the bed. She heard him say something, but she was already standing and reaching for her robe.

She pulled open the door and winced as she heard Evie’s soft cries joining Cameron’s surprised wail. Nora stepped out of her room, blearily rubbing her eyes. “Is there a fire?” she mumbled.

“I don’t know,” Elizabeth said, moving down the hall and heading for the stairs. The door downstairs opened and she heard Milo, Max, and Sonny’s voices. “Hell. Can you calm the kids down?”

“Sure.” Nora disappeared into the nursery.

“Damn it,” Jason muttered, exiting behind her and tugging on a t-shirt. “There’s a fire at the warehouse,” he told her.

Elizabeth frowned. “And that’s reason for them to burst in—” She huffed. “Excuse me while I go downstairs and knock some sense into them—”

“I’ll take care of it,” Jason interrupted. He winced again as he heard the cries from the nursery. “I’d rather if you—”

“Stay out of the way.” She nodded and sighed, tying her robe more tightly. “I get it, Jason, but this is insane—”

“I know.” His face was tight, his annoyance clear. “The cell phone was enough.”

“Jason?” Sonny bellowed. “Where the hell are you?”

“He’s coming!” Elizabeth snarled. “It’s three in the morning, Sonny! Thanks for the waking the kids—” She bit off the profanity she was about to let loose. It wouldn’t help. “Just get him out of here,” she hissed to Jason.

He nodded and headed down the steps as Elizabeth went to assist Nora with the kids. It would be a miracle if she could get them to settle back down, and it was more likely that they would both join her in bed.

Corinthos-Morgan Warehouse: Exterior

 If Jason had any doubts Sonny’s illness had been misdiagnosed, they were gone within the hour.

The warehouse was engulfed in flames by the time Jason and Sonny arrived at the warehouse, Milo and Max both having been left behind in order to keep the penthouse level secure.

“I fucking knew it!” Sonny growled as they exited the car and came to the police line. “I told you he was up to no good!”

Seeing as how just hours earlier, Sonny had been convinced the troubles were gone, Jason said nothing.  He searched through the various emergency vehicles and officials, hoping to find one of the men who staffed the warehouse at night.

“Jason, Sonny.” Mac Scorpio approached them, his face marked with soot, his skin sweaty from the steaming heat. He rose his voice to be heard over the din. “We’re not sure how many people were inside—”

Sonny caught sight of Johnny O’Brien and abruptly left without a word. Jason kept an eye on him while trying to concentrate on the police commissioner. “Ah,” he coughed. “I think maybe five, seven at the most. Johnny—” He jerked this thumb at the duo standing about ten feet away. “He’s the warehouse manager, he’d know the schedule better.”

They both watched for a moment as the man in question stood like a statue while Sonny ranted and raved. The words “Zacchara, your fault, and bomb” filtered back to them.

“Any indication this is retribution for something?” Mac said blandly.

“No.” Jason shook his head. It would have been his standard answer regardless, but it was true. The problems they had been having were penny-ante. Blowing up their warehouse would have been an insane next step—it stopped all movement through the territory cold for weeks, even months. “I mean that, Mac. If you find evidence of arson, I’m going to be pissed as hell.” He planted his hands at his waist and shook his head. “Are they going to be able to put it out?”

“They’re trying to keep it from spreading at the moment,” Mac answered. He looked again at Sonny. “He seems convinced of this Zacchara guy. I’d rather keep the devil I know, if you know what I mean.” He rolled his shoulders. “Jason—”

“Mac, I’m not bullshitting you,” Jason said. He looked back the fire. “Did anyone make it out?”

“We’ve got five men. Two are en route to the hospital,” Mac answered. “Some burns. Some smoke inhalation. One looks serious.” He hesitated. “They said the fire looked like it started in one of the large work rooms, where the coffee is stored.  That’s where the flames came from.”

“It looked fine when I left.” Jason folded his arms. “I’ll have Johnny talk to you, give you a full statement.” When Mac looked skeptical, he continued. “Full cooperation on this, Mac, you have my word. I have no reason to suspect arson, and no way to find out on my own if it was.”

“Fair enough.” Mac saw a firefighter trying to get his attention. “I have O’Brien’s information. Tell him we’ll be in touch. Right now, our focus is on getting this bastard out.”

“Yeah.” When the commissioner had left, Jason went over to Sonny and Johnny. The younger man looked pissed as hell, and Sonny—

Sonny looked like he had several months ago, when the slightest upset could send him over the edge.

“Mac said they got five men out so far, two are at the hospital. How many men were working tonight?” Jason asked, ignoring Sonny.

“Just them,” Johnny said. “It was a light night, they were mostly for security—”

“Some fucking security—”

Jason shot Sonny a glare. “Remember where we are,” he said, his teeth clenched. He looked back to Johnny, “We’ll be working out of my office at the penthouse for the next few days. You’re to give Mac your full cooperation—”

“God damn it, Jason—”

“I don’t believe this is arson,” Jason told Johnny. “The whole point of making commercial deals with the other Families was to ensure peace was in their financial interests. It would be the height of insanity, and I can’t think of how a bomb would get past the new security measures.”

“Me either—”

Obviously they did,” Sonny cut in, his face flushed, his eyes bulging. He slashed his hand through the air. “I’ve had it up to here, Jason. I want Zacchara gone.”

The order, given so publicly and so precipitously, was also the height of insanity, and Jason saw Johnny’s eyes shift away. He sighed. “Johnny, have our guy double check Zacchara’s whereabouts.” When Johnny just lifted his brows, Jason clarified. “To put doubts to rest.”

“You’re fucking countering my orders?” Sonny demanded. His eyes narrowed. “I’ll take care of it myself.”

He stalked away, towards the car that brought them there.

“Jason—” Johnny began.

“Put someone on Johnny Zacchara immediately,” Jason interrupted, his eyes trained on Sonny. “And—and someone on Sonny. I don’t want him going off like this. I don’t want Anthony Zacchara going after us for doing something to his kid when the facts aren’t in.”

“I’m on it, but Jase?” Johnny shook his head. “We need to make some changes, and we need to make them fast. Or this whole thing is going to fall apart. We’re not going to survive another year like the last.”

“I know.” Jason exhaled slowly. “I know,” he repeated. “We’ll—we’ll talk about it. But I want eyes and ears on Zacchara and Sonny for now. I want to know what we’re dealing with first.”

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Carly sighed and nodded when Max opened the door to reveal Elizabeth standing there. “Sure, why not? This day has been shot to hell anyway.”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes, but came in. “Hey. Were you able to get back to sleep?”

Carly hesitated, looked away. She and Sonny no longer shared a room, so he’d received his phone call, dressed, and left for Jason’s without even telling her. “Yeah. You?”

“Not really.” The other woman waited a moment. “But that’s because Cam and Evie are so young, I guess. It’s not easy to settle them back down after someone pounds on the door at three in the morning, then bursts in shouting at the top of their lungs. I had to put them in bed with me just to get another hour.”

Carly frowned and gestured towards the breakfast nook. “Have a seat. I don’t know why Sonny would do that. Jason’s always been a light sleeper.”

Elizabeth lifted a brow at the reminder that Carly knew Jason’s sleeping habits, but let it pass. She and Carly sat down. “I guess Sonny wasn’t thinking. I haven’t heard from Jason, but that’s probably a good sign. He’d be in touch if something was wrong.”

Carly nodded, still mystified at this visit. Their last interaction had been at the party a few days earlier, but Elizabeth looked to be ignoring it for some reason.

“I’m here, Carly, not because of the fire, but because I wanted to talk to you.” Elizabeth waited a moment, as if searching for the right words. “We’re both raising children in this world, and I’m tired of walking on eggshells. I know you must be, as well.”

Carly nodded, warily. “Sure.”

“Sonny and I are not having an affair,” Elizabeth said. Carly narrowed her eyes, but the other woman continued. “I don’t think it’s my place to tell you what’s been going on but I highly doubt Sonny has told you and after this morning, I can’t take the chance he might later.”

“If someone doesn’t tell me what’s going on, I’m going to scream,” Carly snapped. The twit got to be in the inner circle, but not her? What the goddamn hell?

“I think it’s for the best if we lay our cards on the table.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “You know Sonny’s been struggling all year, and it’s not just about Evie and Sam.”

Her muscles tightened at the name of that soul-sucking whore, but Carly fought back the urge to snarl something. She needed information. Elizabeth had it. “I’ve noticed,” she said, her tone clipped. Get on with it.

“He went to a doctor in New York last month,” the brunette revealed. “That’s where he was with Courtney. And the doctor diagnosed him with depression. He’s been taking medication.”

Carly blinked at that and sat back. She had not expected that. “Depression,” she repeated. “That…” She squinted. “So that’s why he’s been better?”

“I think he’s actually bipolar,” Elizabeth replied. She reached into her bag and removed a few pamphlets. “They used to call it manic-depressive disorder. It’s marked by extreme highs, extreme lows—”

Against her better nature, Carly reached for the pamphlets. “What makes you think you know Sonny better than an actual doctor?” She winced when she heard the annoyance in her voice.

“I don’t know if I am right,” Elizabeth admitted, unfazed. “I just…I’m worried that if it is bipolar disorder, anti-depressants can exacerbate the symptoms, particularly if Sonny starts to head for an extreme high.”

Carly hesitated. “Because if he’s already feeling the highs from the disorder, the medicine makes it worse.”

“It’s been known to trigger psychotic breaks,” Elizabeth replied with a nod. “Carly, I’m not saying I’m right. I’m just saying I’m not satisfied anymore with Sonny’s progress. He was doing well for a few weeks, but I know he’s not being honest with you. I’m sure he’ll be angry that I’m telling you this, but you have a right to know. You have children in this home.”

How she despised being in the position to be grateful to this woman, but Carly couldn’t ignore the gesture. “You know Sonny won’t listen to me. He’s waiting to divorce me.”

Elizabeth faltered, looked away for a moment. “I think it’d be a mistake right now for him to start a process like that. He’s not stable, Carly. The man who burst into my home this morning—Sonny wouldn’t do that. The way he’s treated Jason for the last year—that’s not the Sonny you and I know.”

“No, I suppose not, though Jason’s not helping things.” Carly set the pamphlets down. “How much easier do you think this would be if Jason hadn’t started this mess?”

Elizabeth leaned back and shook her head. “Carly—”

“He’s not a saint, Elizabeth. He lied to Sonny. He lied to me. He took Evie from Sonny. And he knew what that was doing to him—”

“I can’t answer for those things,” Elizabeth interrupted. “I wasn’t here. I wasn’t involved. What is the point of looking back—”

“Because this is Jason’s fault.” Carly rose to her feet. “He lied to us both. He and that manipulative whore trapped Sonny into giving away his daughter. Now Jason won’t give her back—”

“He’s not stable,” Elizabeth repeated, getting to her feet and narrowing her eyes. “I don’t think he should be around any child, much less a defenseless infant. Sonny isn’t blameless, Carly—”

“No, but maybe that’s why he’s going over the edge again,” Carly challenged. “Because he was better, and Jason still refused. Maybe this is the payback Jason has been waiting for—for sleeping with me, for Michael.”

And that had to be it. Because if Sonny was raising Evie, it would all be better. She knew that. It would be the way she planned it. Maybe Sonny was ill—maybe this explained everything. If Carly could get him Evie, could get him the right treatment, he’d stay with her.

And it would be good again.

“You tell Jason he knows how to make this end. He always has. He just refuses to do it.” Carly lifted her chin. “I’m sorry for what I put him through with Michael, but that doesn’t give him the right to keep Evie.”

“I’m not having this conversation with you.” Elizabeth picked up her purse. “I came here to tell you what Sonny’s dealing with. How you deal with it is up to you, Carly.”

Before Carly could think of a retort, the other woman turned and stalked out, slamming the door behind her.

As if she were the wronged party!

Carly was the one who had been lied to, was the one whose way of life and marriage was at risk.

But maybe Elizabeth Webber had given the tools to make it better. She could still fix this. She could still make this right.

If Jason didn’t want to see reason, well then, Carly would have to make him.

Morgan Penthouse: Jason’s Office

Jason had never intended to put this small room to active use. It housed his desk only because the space in the living room was better suited to a playpen and other pieces of furniture necessary for a nine-month-old and fifteen month old.

The idea of discussing business while Nora had Cam and Evie in the playroom upstairs tied his stomach in knots, but it could not be helped. The warehouse was off the table and until something more permanent could be arranged, this was for the best.

“They got the fire out after about two hours,” their business manager Bernie said. “They called out the arson investigators but I don’t think they found anything suspicious. We won’t have the report for a few more days, though.”

Jason sighed and put his head in his hands. “Johnny, eyes and ears on Zacchara and Sonny?”

“Max is with Sonny, but he only caught up to him about an hour ago.” Johnny hesitated. “We haven’t located Zacchara yet.”

Jason exhaled slowly. Shit. “Okay. How did Max…how did he take that assignment? I know we pulled him off the door—”

“He’s fine with tailing Sonny since he’s refusing his normal guards.” Johnny shifted. “Rocco is on the door, now. He’s good. Listen, Jason—”

“Johnny, I don’t have the time right now to deal with that,” Jason cut him off. “I know what you’re going to say. I can’t—” He shook his head. “I can’t do anything out right. We need to do damage control.” He looked to Bernie. “You’ve been in touch with Families?”

“They’ve expressed their concerns,” Bernie responded. “We’re putting an offer in a second warehouse—we had discussed buying a second one some time ago but it didn’t seem necessary. For the future though—”

“It probably doesn’t hurt to have a backup the next time.” Jason glanced around the all but bare room. It had a desk, a filing cabinet and a chair.  “We’ll meet here for a while. The cops will probably back off by the end of the week. We can probably get back to a reasonable schedule in about two weeks.”

Bernie exchanged a look with Johnny before pursing his lips. “Jason, you know I have nothing but respect for Sonny—”

Jason doubted that. “Bernie—”

“Jason,” the older man interrupted, “the men are restless. Sonny’s actions this morning did not go unnoticed. He was…not himself. And I don’t have to tell you that the reason we haven’t seen more of an erosion of trust is more about you than it is loyalty for Sonny.”

“Sonny’s a loose cannon,” Johnny said bluntly. “None of us want to work for him anymore and we don’t know why the hell you put up with him.”

Jason stared at his friend, at someone who had been with Sonny almost as long as he had. This was what Jason had been trying to avoid for more than a year. Johnny had addressed the elephant in the room.

“Johnny—”

“You got a family now,” Johnny continued. “You can’t tell me you’re not afraid of what’ll happen if we can’t get Sonny on a leash. Do you think Max can really control him? He’s just a babysitter and knows it.” He lifted his chin. “I love you like a brother, Jase, and I’d walk through fire for you. But not for him. Not ever again.”

“Johnny, maybe not so bluntly,” Bernie murmured.

Jason honestly didn’t have an answer—and certainly not the one Johnny was looking for. It terrified him that Sonny could go off half-cocked and do something to the son of Anthony Zacchara. Zacchara was an old-school mobster with a penchant for cruelty and a touch of insanity himself. He was ruthless. If something happened to his pride and joy while on Sonny’s turf…he’d raze the city to the ground.

And there were too many people in the line of fire. Elizabeth and their kids. Carly and her boys. If something happened to one of them because of Sonny’s instability—

But to take control was to say something definitive about the future, about Sonny himself, and maybe Jason just wasn’t ready to let go.

Sonny knew he had problems. If they could get him under control, get him real treatment, not all was lost. They just needed to contain him until this had passed.

“You’re not wrong,” Jason said finally. “Sonny’s not stable. And all decisions are going through me right now. I need you to put all your energy into locating Zacchara—”

“Calling him Zacchara makes me think of his father. Can’t we just call him Junior?” Johnny interrupted. “Little bastard has my name—”

“Whatever. Find him. Bring him to me. I have to get him out of Port Charles until I can—” Fix Sonny. Fix the world. Maybe even in that order. “I can’t have Anthony Zacchara bringing his brand of crazy up here. Not now.”

“And when we have Junior contained?” Bernie prompted. “This isn’t going away, Jason. If you don’t step up, someone else will. And what should be a relatively peaceful exchange of power might turn bloody. It might not be one of our own who challenges us—”

“All we need is Hector Ruiz smelling blood in the water and he’ll sic Lorenzo Alcazar on us all over again,” Johnny interrupted. “Or he’ll send one of his insane sons. Jason—”

“I get it!” Jason shot back. “I’m putting out fires right now, Johnny. Don’t ask me to do this. Not now. I have to talk to Sonny. I have to get him under control—”

“I get that he’s your friend, that he’s family to you,” Johnny countered. “But you have a responsibility to the men who lay their life on the line for you. To your new fiancée and to those kids upstairs—”

“Don’t fucking tell me my responsibilities, O’Brien,” Jason snarled. “I get it. Go find Junior.”

“This isn’t over,” Johnny tossed over his shoulder as he stalked out.

Bernie sighed. “It grieves me that it’s come to this,” he said quietly. “I remember when men followed Sonny without question, but that changed somewhere along the line. They follow you now. And you know that. Moreover, Sonny knows that. I’m not blind—Sonny has troubles.”

“Bernie—”

“You’ve had your head in the sand for more than a year,” the older man said, almost gently. “Sonny hasn’t been himself since Lorenzo Alcazar gas lighted him with that Lily look alike. He shot Carly in the head, he had an affair—and he treated that young woman with such disrespect…” He sighed. “And then the business with your daughter. You and Sonny have been traveling down different roads for a long time. You’re just the only one who doesn’t see it.”

“I see it,” Jason said after a moment. He looked at Bernie. “I didn’t want to, but I do. I promise you, Bernie, that I don’t just worry about my family. I worry about all the men who work with us. I won’t let it turn bloody.”

“Good.” Bernie nodded. “I’ll get started on the new warehouse.” He hesitated. “I really am sorry about this, Jason, but if something happens to Johnny Zacchara—”

“I know,” Jason said. “Let’s…let’s just hope that’s not the case.”

Or he wouldn’t be able to stop the blood from running in the streets.

Hardy Home: Living Room

“Your mind is somewhere else, darling.”

Audrey’s tired voice drew Elizabeth’s attention and she focused on her grandmother. “I’m sorry, Gram. I didn’t get much sleep.”

“I saw the fire in the newspaper.” Audrey shifted her position on the sofa and sipped her tea. “Is everyone all right?”

“Everyone got out,” Elizabeth responded, leaning back and closing her eyes for a moment. “Jason called me a little while ago to let me know he was okay. He had to go down there around three. The commotion woke Cam and Evie, I barely got another hour…”

“You should have stayed home and rested while your nanny took the kids—”

“No, I wanted to see you, Gram. I’ll sleep tonight, I’m sure.” Elizabeth offered him a smile she hoped was more genuine than it felt.

Jason had told her that with the offices at the warehouse of commission, he’d be using the office at home. Not Sonny’s penthouse. Jason’s. And Sonny’s ranting and early morning visit to the penthouse made her worry that he’d begun to lose his control again.

She was beginning to believe Sonny’s days of running Port Charles were numbered, and she wasn’t sure how she felt about that.

“Gram,” Elizabeth said, taking a deep breath. “I wanted to talk to you about what Monica said yesterday.”

Audrey pressed her lips together. “Elizabeth, I don’t want to argue—”

“I don’t either.” She leaned forward. “But, Gram—”

“I’ve done nothing but consider my options for months. I’ve made my decision, Elizabeth. Please tell me you respect it.”

“How can I?” Elizabeth demanded. “You’re giving up. I need you. Steven and Sarah need you. Uncle Tom needs you—”

“You’d never know from the copious amount of phone calls,” her grandmother said tartly. “Elizabeth, I promise you, I am not giving up. We’re trying a new treatment—I don’t want to argue about it.”

“Gram—”

“I don’t want to argue,” Audrey repeated.

Because she recognized the glint in her grandmother’s eyes, Elizabeth subsided. She’d try again later, but she wasn’t going to contribute to her grandmother’s stress. “I just…I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Audrey squeezed her hand. “Please trust me.”

“I do,” she replied, though her heart wasn’t in her answer.

In the span of only a matter of days, everything she’d built over the last year suddenly seemed to be slipping away and she wasn’t sure how to stop it.

Nadine Crowell’s Apartment: Living Room

Nadine Crowell had told herself that dating Johnny Zacchara was going to be a disaster, but more than a year later, she’d mostly dismissed their major obstacles.

He didn’t seem to mind that she hadn’t traveled as much as he had, that she wasn’t a huge fan of classical music (though she could listen to him play all day long), and that she didn’t have a lot of money.

But he was always going to be Johnny Zacchara, son of Anthony Zacchara. He didn’t want to introduce her to anyone in his family, though she occasionally ran into his sister in New York. He wanted to keep her separate from all of that.

Which might have worked if she didn’t live in a town controlled by Sonny Corinthos.

With one eye on the tabloid news program speculating on the various rivals that could have blown up the Corinthos-Morgan warehouse, Nadine kept an eye on her phone, waiting for Johnny to call.

Because he was late. And he was never late. He considered being on time as being late, so he was always obnoxiously early for everything.

Except tonight.

On a night when his father was rumored to have blown up a warehouse owned by the local gangster.

He never came that night. He never called or returned any of her texts. His phone rang and rang until somewhere around one in the morning. It went straight to voicemail, meaning it had either been shut off or the phone had died.

Something horrible had happened to her boyfriend and there wasn’t a soul in the world Nadine could tell.

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Comments

  • Carly needs help as well to see reality! I can’t believe she’s blaming JM! Liz was right in sharing the info on Sonny with her; the kids come before any personal issues. I hope JM can see his way clear to containing his friend and partner for the good of all at risk of his erratic behavior. The Families would be appreciative, I think. Loved the whole update, including the tense convo with Johnny and Benny.

    According to Carla on July 22, 2015
  • amazing. hope jz is alright . they need to commit sonny and carly is wrong in thinking that jason started this

    According to Nicole on July 22, 2015
  • Carly is just as crazy as Sonny and both their kids would be better off with Bobby or the Qs. Jason needs to step up before there is a disaster. Poor Nadine.

    According to Tani on July 25, 2015