Part Two

Oh Christmas lights
Light up the street
Light up the fireworks in me
May all your troubles soon be gone
Those Christmas lights keep shining on
Christmas Lights, Coldplay


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Morgan & Corinthos Warehouse: Jason’s Office

Jason signed the last contract Bernie Abrams, his business manager, handed him, then shoved back from the desk. “Is that everything we need to do before the New Year?”

“Barring emergencies. It’s usually quiet this time of year,” Bernie offered as he placed the paperwork into his briefcase. “Your flight to New York leaves soon, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah, but it’s only overnight. I’m having dinner with Carly and the kids for Michael’s birthday, then flying back here in the morning.” Jason grimaced. “Then we’re flying down to the island the day after.” He hesitated. “I guess almost everyone knows I’m taking Evie down to meet Sonny.”

“It’s like a high school locker room out there,” Bernie agreed. “Most of the rank and file don’t care. A lot of them never worked that closely with Sonny anyway. A few…more than a few,” he admitted, “are a bit nervous this might be the first step of something.”

“Yeah, I figured.” Jason pushed his hands into the pockets of his pants and turned to look out the window over the harbor. “That’s part of the reason I had Sonny moved to the island when he was released from Ferncliffe. I knew if he was in Port Charles, there would be problems. I don’t think Zacchara or Ruiz would ever work with him, not after the last time. But there’s always someone who wants to prove himself.”

“Jason—”

“And I can’t promise you that things aren’t going to change. If Sonny were anyone else with bipolar disorder, we wouldn’t be keeping him from his family. From his life.” Jason looked at Bernie. “Maybe it would have been easier if I’d let him pull the trigger and end it four years ago.”

“I’m sure sometimes it feels that way,” the older man said. “And you know, there were a lot of us who thought so at the time. But those of us who knew you, who knew Sonny, we always knew you made the right decision, even if it was ultimately the harder one.” He paused for a long moment. “Do you expect that Sonny will be returning to Port Charles?”

“I don’t know,” Jason admitted. “I know that we can’t leave things the way they are.” He was quiet again and returned to look out the window. “Sonny brought me into this business. And everyday I’m here and not him, it feels like a betrayal. Even though I know it had to be this way. Everyone is safer this way. I had to protect my children. After he went to the Ruizes, after he sent men into the house with guns—”

He’d had to kill a man who had been carrying Evie out the door. His daughter, barely a year old at the time, had seen him shoot a man between the eyes. Cameron, only steps away, had seen him as well. Maybe they didn’t remember it—they’d been so young—but Jason always would carry it with him, the way their screams had grown louder and more shrill as the gunfire exploded around them.

“He’ll be better for months,” Jason continued. “And then he’ll stop taking his meds. He’ll have another breakdown. How do I let him back home where he can try to challenge me for the territory again? How do I open all of us back up to it?”

“But how can you live with yourself if Sonny does something terrible because you kept him locked up?” Bernie finished his thought. “Before, it would have been on your consciousness that you didn’t stop him from pulling that trigger but it wasn’t your fault. Not really. Now…”

“It would be.” Jason took a deep breath. “Nothing is changing here,” he told Bernie. “I’m in charge. Tommy, Johnny, Max, and Francis. They’re seconds in command. Sonny isn’t. And that’s not something I ever plan to change. Wherever Sonny lives, he has to be out of the business. He can’t be trusted. Make sure that’s clear.”

He went to the closet to pull out his jacket and the overnight bag he’d packed for the trip to New York. “I’ll call you if anything changes.”

“Good luck in New York, Jason. And on the island. Give Sonny my best.” Bernie put a hand on the door as Jason twisted the knob to open it. “I mean that, Jason. Sonny was a good friend for a long time, and my brother was devoted to him. Please let him know that.”

“I will.”

Kelly’s: Dining Room

 Elizabeth set Jake in his high chair and frowned at her sister-in-law, Emily Cassadine, as she sat alone at the table. “Where’s Spencer?”

“With Laura, thank God. She’s giving me a break.” Emily rolled her shoulders. “Grandparents, man. They are lifesavers.”

“Tell me about it. If Monica didn’t want to spoil Evie and Cam every five minutes, I’d never get a second to myself. And Nora isn’t coming back until the first week in January.” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “But I think we’re going to be losing her anyway. She’s graduating in the spring and Cam and Evie are in school full-time. It’s easier to find baby-sitting for just Jake.”

“And you never liked the idea of having a nanny anyway,” Emily reminded her. “What day are you going back to work?”

“Same day Cam and Evie go back to school. Ava’s supposed to come up in mid-January.” Elizabeth wrinkled her nose at the mention of Ava Jerome, her partner in the art gallery she’d opened two years earlier. “That woman is literally the worst.”

“I remember her from your last show, so you don’t have to tell me.” Emily sipped her hot chocolate. “So, enough small talk. Did Jason leave for New York?”

“Yeah.” Elizabeth checked her watch. “His flight took off about a half hour ago.” She handed Jake his sippy cup filled with fruit juice. “I’m sure Courtney is going to go—she would have gone ages ago if Jason had let her.”

“But you don’t think Carly is going to let the boys go with you guys?”

“No, I don’t. And, you know, I’m not sure I blame her.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Part of me doesn’t want to go at all. We told the kids last night, and Evie was so upset. She thought meeting her birth father meant we were going to give her away. And Jason and I both promised her it didn’t mean that, except—”

“Except this might be the first step to Sonny really getting himself together. And if he can get his meds right, he might come back to Port Charles. Or he might move somewhere else to start over.” Emily hesitated. “What do you think Jason would do about custody?”

“We’ve talked about it. I’m not really worried about Sonny moving somewhere else and asking for custody. He terminated his rights before she was born, and even though he could argue he’d been tricked into doing it, he never did anything about it. The adoption was finalized. I don’t think a judge would take her from us. Not now.”

“Yeah, but that’s not what I asked, is it? I asked you what would Jason do? Because you know, if you hadn’t been involved four years ago—if you hadn’t been there with him through all of that—”

“I don’t know, Em. I don’t think Jason would have given Sonny custody. Not with things the way they were.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “But Jason’s feeling guilty about Sonny struggling on the island. I am, too. I am,” she insisted when Emily looked dubious. “I feel like everything Jason and I have is because we sacrificed Sonny and his happiness.”

“Elizabeth—”

“And I know Jason has kept him on the island because of what happened with Cam and Evie. Because he doesn’t trust that Sonny wouldn’t try to take power back by force. But he’s kept him there because of me. You’re right about that much, Em. If not for me, Jason would still be propping Sonny up and cleaning up after his messes.”

“But you said it was your idea to change things. To bring Evie down to meet him—”

“When Jason called me three years ago and told me that Sonny was in the psych ward, do you know the first thing I felt? Anger. I was so angry at him for putting Sonny first again. Because I knew as long as Sonny lived, we’d have this cloud over our lives.”

“I know that—”

“Even knowing how much Jason loves Sonny, knowing that Sonny isn’t well, that he doesn’t deserve the pain he’s been living in, part of me…” She shook her head. “Still resents him. And resents Jason for doing what I know he had to do. I understand it, and the fact that he was able to do the right thing—I love him for it, Em. I do. But how do I live with myself knowing that selfishness is in me? When Jason has to go to the island to save Sonny again, I get angry all over again because it will never be over.”

Emily said nothing as Elizabeth took a deep breath. “That’s why I have to go to the island. Because I need to put that part of me away. I need to see Sonny again. I need to be able to talk to him. To get some closure. And to separate the man I know he really is from the man who sent armed thugs to my home to kidnap Evie no matter what the cost. I have to get rid of this anger and resentment, Em. Because it’s not fair to Jason.”

“Does he know how you feel?”

Elizabeth managed a smile. “No. I don’t think so. I’m the selfish one, not him. I’ve always told him that the choice he made in that moment, and the choices he’s made since to take care of Sonny—that’s the man I love. If he’d done anything else, he wouldn’t be Jason. He came home this time, Em, worried about Sonny, and I started in with the same old argument, reminding him of all the damage Sonny’s done—but then I stopped myself. I looked at Jason, and I realized he’s bearing the weight of all of this.”

She closed her eyes. “It’s Jason who has to go to the island every few months and tell the man he loves like a father that he can never come home. It’s Jason that has to live with the guilt of knowing he took power from Sonny and locked him up—things Sonny feared more than anything else. And I had to stop. I have to stop letting Jason carry this. Because it’s my burden, too. I walked into Jason’s life and this crap with Sonny with my eyes wide open. I promised him I’d take it on. And I haven’t.”

“Elizabeth—”

“It stops now, Em. It has to. I need to be able to live with myself and look at my daughter, knowing I did the right thing. Jason did the right thing three years ago even though by any measure, letting Sonny kill himself would have made everything easier. It’s my turn to do it now. I love Jason, and I need to do what’s right. Even if it makes everything worse.”

New York City

 Jacks Penthouse: Living Room

 Carly Corinthos-Jacks had fled Port Charles three years earlier with little more than her boys and the clothes on her back. With a later divorce settlement in hand, she’d gone into business with Jasper Jacks and opened one of the best hotels in the city. Despite Jax’s misgivings, they’d flourished as business partners.

This January, they’d celebrate their first wedding anniversary.

But she’d never forgotten Jason or the support he’d given her as Carly had waged a path of destruction through Port Charles, so when he asked to come down to New York to talk to her about Sonny, something he hadn’t done in three years, Carly agreed.

They were never going to be as close as they once were, but Jason visited every year for Morgan and Michael’s birthdays, and this year, Carly and her family had been invited back to Port Charles for his children’s birthdays — Cam and Jake both celebrating in May, and Evie in November.

Holidays and birthdays — it was more than Carly ever thought they might share and she was willing to accept it.

She offered him a beer, then poured herself a glass of water before they sat in the living room, in front of the ten foot tall Christmas tree she’d decorated with the boys.

“Michael is going to be so excited to see you when he gets back from ice skating with Jax,” Carly told him. “He’s missed you. So has Morgan, but—”

“Michael knows me better,” Jason said, and Carly knew Jason would also have a soft spot for the little boy he’d raised and loved as his own. “How was Christmas?”

“Good. A little sad,” Carly admitted. “It was Michael’s first year not believing in Santa, but he kept up the pretense for Morgan. I appreciated it.” She sipped her water. “You?”

“Good. Cam and Evie are fighting all the time now. Elizabeth thinks it’s because they’re so close in age, but it’s…” Jason shook his head. “They remind me of the Quartermaines,” he admitted. “They’ll fight viciously with each other, but man, the minute you threaten one of them—”

“They protect each other.” Carly took a deep breath, relieved that the resentment she’d once felt towards the little girl had faded into nothing but the wisp of memory and regret. “You’ve done such a great job with both of them, Jase. No one would ever believe they’re not yours.” When Jason opened his mouth, she hurried to add, “By blood, I mean. Though…I’m small enough to be happy that you finally have Jake.”

Jason shook his head. “None of that ever mattered to me.”

“I know that.” She bit her lip. “I’m not sure how to explain it. I guess—I don’t know. You’ve taken such good care of my kids. And Cam and Evie—you’ve been there with them from the nearly start of their lives, but I guess—I mean, with Jake, you got to do it all, right? Finding out about having him. The pregnancy—I mean, it was different, right?”

“I guess.” Jason frowned. “I don’t love him differently or more because he’s my biological son, but yeah, okay. I guess I see what you’re getting at. Elizabeth and I got to do it all together. Even—” He hesitated. “Even when we almost…”

“When you almost lost her,” Carly murmured, remembering her mother’s frantic call that Elizabeth had nearly died during labor due to blood loss. “I guess it’s on my mind because of this last year with Jax. He’s come in so late with Morgan and Michael, but he adores them. I’ll never doubt that. But…” She pressed a hand to her abdomen. “He gets to do it from the start now, too. I’m pregnant.”

Jason grinned, leaned over to hug her with one arm. “Congratulations.”

“Yeah, we’ve been trying for a few months, so…” Carly took a deep breath. “And man, it’s nice to kind of do it right. No paternity tests. No drama. Pretty sure Jax isn’t going to shoot me in the head as I’m delivering the baby.”

“Probably not,” he agreed with a wince. “I’m glad things are going well for you, Carly. I am.”

“Me, too, even though most of the time I know I don’t deserve it.” Carly hesitated. “You’re here to talk to me about Sonny. And since you asked that Courtney come to dinner, I guess it’s bad news.”

“It’s not…” Jason shook his head, stared down at his beer. “It’s not bad news. Not the way you think.” He set the beer on a coaster on the coffee table and got to his feet. “I was called down to the island a few weeks ago. Sonny had another psychotic break. The doctor told me he’d gone off his meds again.”

As he had every three or four months since moving to the island, but Carly said nothing. They’d had this conversation a few times. “Is he okay now?”

“Yeah. They sedated him and gave him his meds by force. Again.” Jason grimaced. “I hate that. I do. I know Sonny hates it, too. But he gave me his power of attorney for things like that, so…” He shook his head. “If it were just another episode, I’d have called you about it. We got a new doctor after the last one, remember?”

“I do.”

“He told me that one of the reasons Sonny can’t seem to stabilize is…” Jason looked at her. “Because he doesn’t want to. Because when he’s lucid, he realizes he can’t leave the island.”

“He realizes we’ve locked him up,” Carly murmured. She closed her eyes. “It doesn’t have to be a closet, I guess, for it to feel like one.”

“And it starts the cycle over again. He’s powerless to change it and knows the only way he gets off the island is if I let him, and he has no reason to believe I will.”

“Not after what happened three years ago.” Carly rubbed her chest. “Jason—” She just looked at him, knowing the horror of it was in her eyes. Didn’t they know exactly what torment Sonny was dealing with? Hadn’t they always known what was at the root of Sonny’s worst fears?

Being weak. Being alone. Being locked up.

And they’d done it all to him.

“I know.” Jason paced the length of the room. “I saw Sonny and he said—he told me I should have let him die. That I should just let him end it. He’s a ghost anyway.”

Carly looked around at her home, at the photos on her mantel of her family, the world she’d built after leaving Port Charles. Then she looked back at Jason, knowing he was feeling the same. “We did this to him, you know. The two of us. We should have gotten him help ages ago. But I was selfish, and you were too loyal. Then I made it worse—”

“We both made it worse, Carly. By hiding, by pretending it was anything other than a serious illness.”

“You still let me off the hook too easily,” she told him, but smiled as she said it. She stood. “So what do we do now?”

“Elizabeth and I are taking the kids to the island for New Year’s. We’re going to let Sonny spend some time with Evie.”

Carly blinked, shook her head. “Are—are you sure that’s the right thing to do? Jase—”

“I don’t know if it is. But I’m not ready to just…bring him home,” Jason told her. “And short of that, I don’t know what else could help except trying to make him feel less alone. That helped him last time. When he went to New York to look for help—I mean, he got the wrong diagnosis—”

“But he looked for help because of Elizabeth. Because she told him about going to therapy in California,” Carly said, remembering the conversation she’d had with Jason’s then-fiancée. “And you’re here to ask if…we’ll go, too?”

And what if he was? Was she ready to do this again? To put her boys in the middle?

“Mostly, I wanted to ask Courtney to come with us this time,” Jason told her. “Because I know she’s been waiting to go, and I want Sonny to know the only reason Courtney hasn’t been there before is me. I know you might not be ready. I’m not even sure Elizabeth and I are ready.”

“But you want me to think about it.” She folded her arms. “If it goes well with Evie, you want Sonny to know Michael and Morgan.”

“Maybe. It’s different for you, I know that. What you went through the last time you saw Sonny—”

When he’d hit her, thrown her across the room into her vanity table—

“He also sent men with guns after Elizabeth’s kids, so if she can get past that—” When she saw Jason wince and look away, Carly frowned. “What? You don’t think she’s past it?”

“I think,” Jason said carefully, “she’s doing this for me. But when it comes to Sonny, I know you both feel like as badly as things are for Sonny on the island, it’s not as bad as what we went through here.”

“Well, you know Elizabeth and I will never be the best of friends, but we’re not wrong. I had to send my kids away, Jase. And her kids probably saw more violence than you’ve ever admitted when you were getting them out of the house—so yeah, maybe part of Elizabeth and I can put it behind us. I don’t know what that says about us, but the thing is, we both love you. And you need this. So…she might be doing this for you, but she’s still doing it. That’s more than I can say right now.”

Carly sighed. “Because no, at the moment, I’m not open to bringing Sonny into Morgan’s life. Morgan has no memory of Sonny. But Michael does. He’s eleven now, and he can make his own choices. So….” She shrugged. “I’ll talk to him. And I’ll talk to Jax. I’m not saying never, Jason. I’m just—I’m selfish. And I’m happy. My heart breaks for Sonny, but I’m not sure it breaks enough to mess up the life I’ve built here.”

“I get that, Carly.”

“But if you go down there, Jase…” Carly touched his arm. “And it’s okay…if Sonny meets Evie, and Elizabeth can make her peace? If you tell me it’ll be okay, I’ll…I’ll do it. I’ll go to the island myself. Maybe not the boys. Like I said, Morgan—I’m not ready for that. And Michael—he’ll decide for himself. But I’ll go to the island and tell Sonny I forgive him.”

“Carly—”

“Because I did. And I do. And I know, when he came back to his senses, how it must have weighed on him, what he’d done. I’ll do that for you. I can promise you at least that.”

“It’s more than I thought.” He embraced Carly tightly. “I’m happy you’ve got this life here, Carly. You and the boys—all I ever wanted was for you to be happy.”

“Same. You and Elizabeth have a good thing going up there with the kids. With the family you have.” She kissed his cheek. “Now, I guess we both need to do something to feel like we deserve what we have. It came at Sonny’s expense, and I guess…you’re right. Something has to change.”

Sunday, December 28, 2008

 Morgan Home: Bedroom

Elizabeth carefully folded a pair of jeans and placed then into her suitcase. “I’m surprised Carly agreed to visit Sonny,” she said finally as Jason sat down and tugged off his boots. “I guess it was a good idea to ask her in person.”

“She’s changed a lot since leaving Port Charles.” Jason came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “I’m sorry I was gone longer than I planned but—”

“You don’t get to see Michael and Morgan enough, so I’m glad you stayed with them a little bit.” She closed her eyes, leaned back against him, resting her arms along his. “The kids were fine. They hung out with Monica yesterday, then Emily came over with Spencer this morning.”

“How many fights did Cam and Spencer get into?”

“Not nearly as many as usual.” She turned in his arms and looked up at him. “We’re doing the right thing, Jason.”

“I know. I just…” He hesitated. “We can still change our minds. I didn’t tell Sonny or the staff we’re coming.”

She frowned, tilted her head to the side. “Why? I mean…do you want to stay home? What’s…Why?”

“Because I’m asking you to go see Sonny, to take our kids to see him, and I’m not…” Jason waited a moment. “I don’t want you to do this because you think it’s something I need. Evie’s not just my daughter. She’s yours. And we need to be together on this.”

“I thought we were.” Elizabeth stepped back with a frown. “What changed your mind?”

“I don’t know. I guess I talking to Carly…I just think…” Jason sat on the bed, looked at the night stand on his side of the bed where he kept a framed photograph of Elizabeth with all three of their children taken at Evie’s last birthday party. “She talked about the reasons she’s not ready for Michael and Morgan to be a part of Sonny’s life. She’s not even really open to letting Morgan meet him. And they’re older than Cam and Evie.”

“Jason—”

“They didn’t get to—Carly sent them away with Bobbie—they weren’t a part of it. Cam and Evie…they were in the house.” He looked at Elizabeth. “Carly was hurt, yeah. But she never feared for the boys’ lives. You did. I keep thinking about going to the safe house—all of us in separate cars, not knowing until we arrived that everyone had made it.”

“It was the most terrifying thing that’s ever happened to me,” Elizabeth agreed. “And yeah, I know the kids were in the middle of it. I know there was violence. You’ve never talked about it—” When he looked away, his jaw clenching, she sighed. “And you still won’t. After that day, Jason, okay, yeah, I stopped really thinking we could have Sonny back the way he’d wanted. I knew he’d never be in our wedding. I knew you’d never let him in charge again. He used the security plan you designed to protect his family, his kids, against you.”

She took the photo from him, traced her fingers over her son’s face. “That was the closest I ever came to agreeing that maybe I wasn’t cut out for this. That it wasn’t the life I wanted for Cam.”

“I know.”

“And you nearly sent me away with both of them. You were talking about a safe house in Europe—” Her eyes burned. “Because I knew when you walked out that door you didn’t expect to come back. I wanted you to promise me if it came down to you or Sonny, you’d come home. I asked you for that promise even though I knew you’d never keep it.”

Jason looked at her, frowning. “Elizabeth—”

“I’m doing this for you,” Elizabeth interrupted. “That’s true. Because I can’t let you do this alone. I made a promise to you that my face would never change. That I would give you my child to love and to protect. We got married, and I promised that I would always stand by you—” She reached for his hand where he wore a slim gold band around his ring finger. She touched it, rubbing her fingers over it the way he often touched her engagement and wedding set. “And I haven’t done that—”

“That’s not true—”

“It is true.” She sighed. “I knew Sonny was struggling, and I knew it was agony for you to deal with it every few months. But I didn’t try to help. I couldn’t. I was too scared. I was still, I think, living in that terror of not knowing if my little boy was safe. If my choices had cost me my baby.”

He closed his eyes, bowing his head. “I know—”

“But that moment is over. It’s been over for three years.” She touched his chin, lifting it with her fingers so he’d open his eyes and look at her. “My little boy is not only safe, he’s happy. He adores you. He loves the little sister you gave him. I have a daughter that I love more than life. And we not only survived all of that, Jason, we…” She gestured around the room—

The room they’d moved into before her grandmother had passed away—her bedroom during her teen years. They’d never moved into the master room, preferring to turn it into a playroom for the kids, hoping they’d feel Audrey’s presence.

“Look at the life we’ve built. I have an art gallery that, for some reason, people from around the world come to visit, and your life is safer now than it’s ever been. We have Cam and Evie, and Jake—our little miracle—” Her voice broke, likely remembering how difficult the pregnancy and his birth had been.

“I need to stop living in the past,” she told him. “We both do. What happened was terrifying, but it’s over. And Sonny was sick. He was so sick that he tried to take his own life to make it stop.”

“He told me—” Jason took a deep breath. “He told me that he’d come to the warehouse because he’d decided one of us had to go. And then he’d remembered you, coming to visit him. He said you reminded him of his mother.”

Elizabeth’s lip trembled. “He did?”

“But he wished she’d been stronger. That she’d had your courage. He said he was like Deke, the man who’d killed her. He couldn’t save his mother. And he’d hurt Carly. But he wanted to save you.”

“You never…” Elizabeth closed her eyes, took a deep shuddering breath. “You never told me that before.”

“I just wanted it to be over, too,” he admitted. “And I didn’t want you to think…that I was choosing him. I didn’t choose to save his life because of all of the things he meant to me—I mean, not really. I didn’t even really choose, Elizabeth. I didn’t think.”

Jason’s eyes were damp, lined with red when she opened his eyes to look at her. “I couldn’t let him kill himself to protect me. I couldn’t live with myself. I couldn’t let him think he was that broken—”

“Of course not.” She leaned forward to wrap her arms around his neck. “You and I have the life we wanted. We got the happy ending.” Elizabeth pressed her cheek to Jason’s, then drew back to kiss him. “I can’t let the life Sonny’s living be the end of his story. For everything he meant to us, for how hard he tried to do better even when his own brain turned against him, we have to find out if there’s more.”

“I love you.” Jason kissed her again, then pressed her back against the pillows of their bed. “I should tell you that more.”

“You say it enough,” she murmured as their lips brushed again. “But why don’t you show me?”

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Comments

  • Thanks for the update I am so happy that Carly and Jason talked and Liz and Jason talked about what happened with them and Sonny. I can’t wait to find out what is going to happen next.

    According to Shelly Samuel on December 30, 2019
  • Nice update. I enjoyed Jason and Liz’s conversation as well as his talk with Carly. I can’t say I blame Carly in her trepidation over exposing Morgan to Sonny.

    According to nanci on December 31, 2019