Chapter Eighteen

As he begins to raise his voice
You lower yours and grant him one last choice
Drive until you lose the road
Or break with the ones you’ve followed
He will do one of two things
He will admit to everything
Or he’ll say he’s just not the same
And you begin to wonder why you came

How to Save a Life, The Fray


Thursday, July 14, 2005

Warehouse: Sonny’s Office

Max tapped on Sonny’s partially open door and stepped just over the threshold. “Mr. C? Elizabeth Webber is here to see you.”

Seated at his desk while scribbling notes for his next meeting with Jason, Sonny glanced up. Squinted at his bodyguard. “Elizabeth? To see me?”

“Yeah.” Max glanced over his shoulder. “Said so herself. Should I show her back?”

“Uh.” Sonny blinked, leaned back in his chair. “Yeah. Yeah.”

He had not seen Jason since the meeting on Tuesday, since he had missed his chance to put his relationship with Jason on a better footing—since he had treated the news of the engagement as a personal attack.

Sonny still couldn’t quite articulate where it had gone wrong, but that was beginning to feel familiar. He would think one thing and something entirely different would fly out of his mouth.

Elizabeth stepped up behind Max with a hesitant smile. “Hey, Sonny. I hope this isn’t a bad time.”

Her easy tone and smile threw him off. Surely Jason had told her of their volatile relationship, and Sonny could still taste the shame as he remembered the way he’d gone after her the few times they’d been in the same room.

“No, no.” He rose to his feet and rounded the desk. “Ah. You know Jason isn’t here.”

“I do.” She toyed with the strap of her purse as it rested over her shoulder. “I made sure today was a day he was going to be at home with Cam and Evie.”

And the easy way that flowed from her—Cam and Evie. As if they were already a family unit. Sonny tensed, but the vitriol he expected didn’t rise in his throat.

Maybe today would be a good day.

He looked at Max. “You can go, but, ah, we’ll leave the door open—”

“Sonny, that’s not necessary.” Elizabeth flashed a smile at the guard. “I think maybe we should have some privacy.”

He watched as she closed the door behind Max and moved more into the room. The trust she was showing him, the open and friendly expression—he couldn’t figure out what was happening.

As if the last few years hadn’t happened.

“Ah, do you want some water? Some tea?” Sonny gestured towards his mini bar, but she shook her head.

“No.” She set her purse over the seat and then clasped her fingers together. “Sonny, I hope me coming here today isn’t going to make things worse, you know? I just…I’ve been kind of taking a back seat, letting Jason deal with it all.”

“Ah…” Sonny blinked. “I know the last few times we’ve spoken, I’ve been out of line, but—”

“It’s just…” Elizabeth glanced down at her hand and he noticed that it was now adorned with a delicate diamond ring set in a silver band. “Jason and I…we’re really planning a future together, and I want—I need to know if you’re going to be part of it.”

His mouth was dry, he took a slight step back. “Elizabeth—”

“I know Jason has talked to you a bit about Evie,” Elizabeth continued. “About a way out of this mess, particularly now that Carly knows. But I don’t think he articulated himself all that well.”

“He made himself clear.” Sonny returned to his desk and lowered himself into his seat. “He thinks I’m crazy, that I’m a bad father—” He exhaled on a rush of breath. “Maybe he’s right. I created this situation, didn’t I?”

“Jason isn’t blameless,” Elizabeth murmured as she sat down as well. “And neither is Carly. The three of you made this what it is. I don’t pretend to know all the reasons, but how we got here isn’t the point anymore, Sonny. It’s what we’re going to do from now on.” She hesitated. “I know Jason suggested you…talk to someone—”

“Like I’m fucking Tony Soprano,” he muttered, but he looked away. “Like talking fixes anything—”

“Sonny…” She rested her hand on the edge of the desk, leaning forward. “I’m sure Jason has told you next to nothing about the months I spent in California before and after Cameron.”

He blinked at the sudden topic change. “No, it, ah, never really came up.”

“I went to stay with an aunt I had been close to before I moved to Port Charles.” Elizabeth tucked a piece of hair behind her ears. “And I was there, facing the end of my marriage, being a single mother—and feeling like such a complete failure at life. Everything I had touched turned to ashes. Everything I tried fell apart around me. I couldn’t even…” She sighed. “I couldn’t even explain to her why I had married Ric in the first place.”

“It was the million dollar question.” Sonny leaned back in the chair.

“I felt so alone, so—broken.” She bit her lip. “I know what it’s like to look at yourself, to see these choices you’ve made, the things you’ve said, and to feel like a stranger inside your own head. I know now that most of it was the way I coped with my own sense of inadequacy, but the more I tried to explain it, the more I tried to rationalize it, the less it made sense to me. And it’s scary to look at yourself in the mirror and not recognize the person looking back at you.”

His mouth was dry because so much of what she was saying felt right to him, but how could she really understand? “What’s your point, Elizabeth?”

“I used Ric’s alimony to get myself a really good therapist. I figured it was the least he owed me.” She crossed her legs at the ankle and looked away. “I know you don’t see the value in that, and maybe it’s not the right way forward for you. I don’t know, I can’t answer that. I just know—” She bit her lip and was quiet for a moment. “I couldn’t see the patterns in my life until I was talking to someone who didn’t know me, who didn’t know the people involved. There was no pressure to protect myself, to protect others. I just…talked. And the more I talked, the more I started to understand what was wrong with me.”

“Elizabeth, look—” He hesitated. “There’s nothing wrong with you, okay? I don’t know why you needed a therapist to see that—”

“I needed to learn that for myself,” Elizabeth interrupted, but she smiled. “Because I didn’t know that. I thought there had to be something wrong with me. Because Lucky didn’t love me anymore, because Jason turned to Courtney, because I was never enough for Ric—I was the common denominator, so it had to be me—”

“They’re all idiots,” Sonny growled, because he hated this. He hated watching Elizabeth tearing herself down in his presence because she thought it might build him up. “Even Jason. If he couldn’t see what you were worth—” He planted a hand against his chest. “I saw it. Years ago. He used to talk about taking you for rides and his voice would change—”

“I didn’t see him either, Sonny.” Elizabeth stood, rounded the desk and leaned against the side of it, only a few feet from him. “I took him for granted, because it’s so easy to do that. Jason gives, and he gives, and he gives. He gives so effortlessly that you don’t even realize you’re using him until it’s too late. Until you’re so reliant on the stability, on the trust, on the way he cares about you. You know what I mean, Sonny. Because Jason is loyal even in the face of his own destruction.”

And God, she was right. He’d used Jason until Jason had had nothing left to give, and continued to demand. Sonny braced his elbows on his desk and rested his head in his hands. “God. Elizabeth.”

“I remember the first time I really met you. I mean, the first time I saw you for who you were.” Her voice was softer now. “You have this innate kindness and warmth, this beautiful core of compassion and strength—”

He laughed then and looked at her in disbelief. “Are you kidding me?”

“You’ve lost your way a bit, Sonny. That’s all. I remember the night of the garage fire.” Her voice faltered a bit. “When Taggart showed me that subway token, and I just…I don’t remember much. It’s really hazy, but I know I never hit the ground.”

His chest burned. “I thought it was my fault—”

“And you helped me sit down, you stayed with me.” She touched his hand. “You didn’t know me, but you sat with me until Bobbie could gather herself. Jason was there, but you were the one that stepped forward to support me. It was that effortless kindness that made me see you and Jason as more than what Port Charles made you out to be. When I came to you that winter because Jason was shot, you knew he didn’t want to see you—”

He shook his head. “Don’t—I can’t think about those days—”

“He didn’t want to see you or Carly,” Elizabeth continued. “But you, Sonny? You gave him the space to deal with it. She kept pushing herself into my studio, but you kept your distance. And I saw how it was tearing you apart. I knew it was hurting him—that he didn’t know if he could do his job anymore—”

It was a wonder that Jason had ever returned at all. The expression on his face that evening, when Carly had come down those stairs in his shirt—God. How Jason could stand to come back to the penthouse, to look at him…

“Sonny, Jason loves you. You saw something worthwhile in him when everyone else saw a brain damaged nothing. You gave him self-esteem, a sense of identity. You were his family.” She straightened. “When Jason told you he couldn’t see Evie with you unless you talked to someone, it’s because of that relationship. He loves you, Sonny.”

“I doubt that.” Sonny got to his feet and moved back into the main part of the room, started to pace a bit. “He must not tell you much—”

“He tells me enough to know that some days are good—some days feel like you’re really in the room with him. And other days, it’s like a switch flips and you’ve stepped away.” Elizabeth tilted her head. “Jason loves Evie, don’t get me wrong. He loves her enough to do right by her. You didn’t want custody all year—I can’t believe that’s only because of Carly.”

Sonny said nothing because she wasn’t wrong. Not really. He was damaged inside and had nothing to offer this little girl he had so carelessly created and given away.

But Elizabeth was looking at him as if that didn’t have to be the end of it. “I—”

“Jason and I were talking about the kind of wedding we’d want. When we’d set a date…” Elizabeth stepped towards him. “What kind of ceremony…and I realized every time I pictured our wedding—I saw you standing next to Jason. That’s where you should be, Sonny. I want that for Jason. I love him so much, Sonny.”

“I know—” Sonny couldn’t let himself imagine a day when he could be part of the picture she was painting. “I know I’ve been…the things I’ve said to you—I can’t seem to—” Even the words were stuck in his throat. “He’s always cared for you, Elizabeth—”

“Neither one of us were ready before,” she murmured. “But we are now. We’re going to be happy, Sonny, because we’ve worked too hard to get it right.”

She reached for her purse. “I don’t know if talking to someone could help you the way it did me, Sonny. But you know that something has to change. He loves you, Sonny. More than anything else in this world, and the thought of being without you is killing him. I can’t watch him die a little every time he comes home from meeting with you and it’s gone badly. It breaks my heart.” A tear slid down her cheek. “And I love you, too, Sonny. For all the ways you were there for me once, and for what you’ve been to Jason. Please. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your children.”

She walked out the door, closing it gently behind her.

And he just stared after her because he realized he hadn’t lost his temper, hadn’t cursed her out. Hadn’t blown the situation up.

Why had her plea to talk to someone cut him to the quick when Jason’s had only inspired anger?

Because for the first time in so long, Sonny didn’t feel alone.

Could he make a change? Could he find a way to get it back? To be even a shadow of the man Elizabeth spoke of with such warmth, affection, and love?

God, wasn’t it worth the try?

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

When Cody tapped on the front door the penthouse and then pushed it open, Jason was surprised to see Audrey Hardy standing next to him. He set Cameron on the floor so he could run to his great-grandmother, and then got to his feet from the floor where he’d been with both children.

“Mrs. Hardy.” He shifted, somewhat uncomfortable. “Elizabeth isn’t here—”

“Yes, I know.” Audrey leaned down and lifted Cameron in her arms. “Hello, my little darling.” She pressed a smacking kiss to his cheek and laughed as he giggled. “She told me she would be painting most of the day, so I thought it would be a good chance to catch you alone.”

“Oh.” Jason grabbed Evie as she made a beeline for the open door. “Cody, no interruptions, okay?”

Cody closed the door once Audrey had stepped over the threshold. “He seems nice. Elizabeth’s guard—Milo, I think she said his name was—he’s a sweet boy.”

“Um.” Jason looked around, but he didn’t know what he was looking for. The last time he’d been alone with Audrey Hardy, he’d been recovering from a gunshot and she’d thought he was sleeping with Elizabeth.

“Relax,” Audrey held out a hand as she moved past him towards the sofa. “I just—I realized that I don’t know you very well, and there was something I wanted to ask you before I broached the subject with Elizabeth.” She set her purse on the table and then turned back to him. “I was quite close with your grandmother, and I’m sure you know that Monica, Alan, and I are very old friends.”

“I know.” When Evie started to squirm, Jason set her back on the ground. As she crawled towards her play mat, Jason gestured for Audrey to take a seat.

Once she had, he sat in the chair. “I-I know that you and my grandmother discussed the situation with Evie, Mrs. Hardy, so if that’s—”

“Oh, no.” Audrey smiled briefly at the crawling eight-month-old child. “I mean, of course, I’m concerned for the outcome of the situation because I can’t imagine it will end well, but I’m sure you and Elizabeth will be able to handle whatever happens.” She folded her hands in her lap. “Jason, I’m here because I wanted to throw the two of you an engagement party.”

Jason hesitated, because he couldn’t think of anything he wanted less, but he knew how much Elizabeth’s grandmother meant to her—and that Audrey’s full-throated approval and blessing towards their relationship this time around was important to her.

“And I can tell from your face it’s not a particularly welcome idea.” Audrey pressed her lips together, as if to suppress a smile. “Which is why I decided to ask you first. I didn’t want to bring it up to Elizabeth if you weren’t in favor of it—”

“It’s not that exactly.” Jason shifted and looked at the kids before returning his eyes to Audrey. “I just…I kind of thought we had covered all that the other night—”

“I know, and you know that Monica was over the moon about it, but this would be something a bit more formal. Not quite on the level of something Nikolas and Emily might throw—” Audrey hesitated. “Jason, you know better than anyone that I haven’t always been the sort of family Elizabeth needed—I often judged her choices and encouraged her to stay in situations that—in hindsight—I can see contributed to her problems last year.” She glanced away, towards the window.

“When she told me about being in therapy, about the reasons she had stayed with Lucky, with Ric—it broke my heart. When she’d been attacked in high school, she held back from telling me and I…” Audrey looked at her hands. “I encouraged her to forget about it, not to dwell on it. Though I tried to make it up to her later, I can see now where those feelings of shame came from.”

“Mrs. Hardy—” Jason began again.

“So when she came home this last year, looking strong and confident, with her beautiful son, I told myself that it would be different this time,” Audrey continued, meeting his eyes again. “I would stop telling Elizabeth what I thought and just listen to her. Even when it became apparent she was opening her heart to you again, I encouraged her to follow her heart. And I’m glad I did, Jason.”

He had nothing to say to this—he had never expected anyone outside of his own sister to see him as worthy of Elizabeth, much less her grandmother. “I was lucky she gave me another chance,” Jason said, finally.

“She’s been so happy these last few months, and the sparkle in her eyes when she stood by your side on Tuesday evening…” Audrey smiled. “It’s all I could ever want for her. I can worry about her, but when I think of all the heartache and pain, all the terror she’s been through since moving to Port Charles, I can honestly say that I don’t believe the worst of it could be laid on your doorstep. You always took care of my Elizabeth, even when I couldn’t see it.”

Audrey shifted forward slightly towards the edge of the sofa. “And Jason, that’s why I would like to throw a party for the two of you. So that Elizabeth sees the love and acceptance I have for her. For your future. So that your family and mine can join in this celebration. You…may still struggle with your connection to the Quartermaines, but I—” She paused now, looking uncomfortable. “I remember you before. When you were an aspiring medical student. My husband—Elizabeth’s grandfather—looked forward to you starting an internship at the hospital.”

The idea of Jason Quartermaine’s old plans didn’t sting as much as they’d one had, because Jason could hear in her voice she was speaking of something that just…hadn’t happened. Not with regrets or bitterness, just a recitation of the facts. “I know how much she loved her grandfather,” he said, because he didn’t know what else to offer.

“But I hoped from your inclusion of Monica the other night, that you might be moving past that, and I thought a party might be a trial run—to see if you can be in the same room with other members of the family without wanting to throw Edward out a window.”

The idea didn’t quite appeal to Jason, but he could see the hope in Audrey’s eyes, and he remembered the way Elizabeth had spoken of their wedding—of something she wanted to celebrate. To enjoy.

And it went without saying that his grandmother would have been an honored guest.

“Elizabeth…talked about doing things differently this time,” Jason said after a moment. “We’ve both been married before, but neither of those were quite…” He hesitated. “Conventional, I guess. And she deserves something special. If it were just up to me, I mean, we’d get a license tomorrow and be married in a few days, but I know she wants something more.” He lifted Evie into his arms again when she tugged at his jeans. “And we’ve talked about inviting the Quartermaines to the wedding, so I guess a trial run would be a good idea.”

Audrey beamed at him which told him he’d made the right choice. It was only one night after all, where was the harm in that?

General Hospital: Nurse’s Station

Emily peered at Nadine Crowell with an eye towards setting her up with Steven. Now that Jason and Elizabeth were engaged—and she allowed herself a mental happy dance at the reminder—she could move on to the true challenge.

After six months of a several carefully crafted opportunities, Emily could now admit that it was easy to set up two people who were really just looking for an excuse to be together. She had just…facilitated their time together.

Steven Webber, the adorable bastard, was a playboy. And they were so much more difficult.

But Emily was up to the task.

“Are you seeing anyone?” she asked the blonde scrawling in a chart.

Nadine blinked. “What? Oh. Yeah.” Her cheeks flushed. “For almost a year now. Why?”

Crap. Emily pursed her lips. “No reason.” Maybe a nurse was the wrong person. Maybe Steven needed someone who could help him unwind at the end of the day, but still understood his dedication and the time he put into his work.

This was going to require a great deal more research and planning.

As if she had conjured him from a spell, Steven stepped off the elevator and headed for the desk. “Hey, Em. I wanted to see if you had a minute.”

“Sure.” Emily followed him to the waiting area. “I’ve got about five minutes before my resident finds me.” She perched on the edge of the chair as he leaned against the sofa. “What’s on your mind?”

“Ah.” Steven rested a few charts against his midsection and squinted. “Listen. I like your brother. Even though I know…maybe he’s not particularly the guy I would have picked for Bits.”

She narrowed her eyes. “You certainly seemed happy about it when they announced their engagement.” He was not going to rain on her parade.

“No, listen. I am.” He leaned forward. “I decided to move here a few years ago, but I had to wait for a spot to open up at GH—and the reason I did that was to be closer to Bits and my grandmother. I know my sister has had a rough time of it, with her first marriage and her relationship with Lucky. We weren’t close for a long time, but we wrote and called. I can see that she’s happy now, and that’s all a brother really wants.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“I guess I’m just worried with the situation surrounding Jason.” Steven shifted. “With his partner. I don’t even care about his job, because I don’t know much about it, to be honest.” He hesitated. “Elizabeth having Jason as a support system—it’s going to be really important. I want to make sure that it’s…whatever’s happening with Sonny Corinthos and his wife—it’s not going to be an issue for my sister and her fiancé.”

Emily frowned. “Steven, is something going on with Elizabeth I don’t know about? Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Steven sighed. “I don’t meant to be cryptic—”

“Look, whatever’s going to happen, I can tell you that Elizabeth and my brother are solid. As frustrating as it was to watch them to take baby steps towards each other for months, it gave them a chance to really establish a foundation. They’re going to hold strong. So whatever comes their way, they’re going to handle it together.” She tilted her head. “Does that help with your concerns?”

“Yeah.” Steven nodded. “Yeah.”

“Okay, well, I should get back to my rounds before Dr. Drake finds out I took a minute for myself. He’s a slave driver.”

New York City, Upper West Side: Courtney’s Apartment

Courtney slid out of her heels and tossed her leather bag to the side, ready to unwind after an exhausting day of meetings. Even as she walked towards her wine rack and picked out a bottle, her busy mind refused to shut down, thinking about the slate of appointments the next morning.

Henry from the Harlem Boys Home—she remembered his name because of the alliteration. Joanie from the mayor’s office, Kamille from the Plaza where the next fundraiser would be held—

Jax from Port Charles, to talk about doing a joint fundraiser. One of her brother’s old enemies, but Courtney had separated herself from all of that.

Still, it would be nice to see a familiar face.

As she poured herself a glass of pinot grigio, her cell phone rang. She looked across the room at her bag and grimaced, but trekked back to retrieve it.

“Hello?”

“Courtney? What took so long?”

Courtney sighed and took a long swig of the wine. She was going to need it. “Carly. Hey. Sorry, my phone was in my bag.”

“Oh. Did Sonny call you?”

“Um…” Courtney lowered herself onto her sofa and squinted. “Yeah. He said he’s coming to the city this weekend, asked if he could stay with me rather than a hotel.”

“Did he tell you why?”

“No.” She rolled her eyes. “Hey, by the way, Carly, I’m fine, you know. Not seeing anyone new.”

“What? What are you talking about?” Carly snapped. “Why are you changing the subject?”

“Just to hear myself clearly.” Courtney tipped her glass back. “No, Sonny didn’t mention it. I thought maybe it was for a meeting.” Or maybe to get away from his shrill wife.

The longer she was away from Carly Corinthos, the more she remembered why she hadn’t initially liked the woman. She was snappish, selfish, and mostly—a twit.

“You don’t think it’s to see a woman?”

“Carly, I have no damn idea. I was surprised when he called, but if he wanted to see another woman, he’d hardly stay in his sister’s guest room.” Courtney pressed the heel of her hand to her forehead. God.

“You would tell me if he was?”

Courtney blinked. What a question. “Sure,” she said, not sure if that was a lie or not. “Of course. Carly—”

“Because he’s not telling me what’s going on, and things have been weird since I told him I knew about Evie—”

She eyed the wine in her hand. This wasn’t strong enough to deal with Carly—

Hell, now Courtney understood why AJ had been alcoholic. This woman could drive anyone to drink.

“Well, Carly, I don’t know what to tell you—oh, hell, my phone is dying. Should have charged it, bye.”

She pressed the end button and tossed the phone toward the ends of the sofa.

She had a sudden urge to contact her ex-husband with profuse apologies for not believing him about how toxic Sonny and Carly could be to a person’s mental health.

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Comments

  • loved it. Liz and get through to most men,

    According to leasmom on February 11, 2015
  • GREAT UPDATE. GLAD THAT IT SEEMS THAT lIZ GOT THROUGH TO SONNY. COURT SEEMS TO BE BETTER. LOVE AUDREY

    According to nICOLE on February 12, 2015
  • great update!!! loved that sonny and elizabeth could talk like they used to. im glad that she got him to see what jason was really trying to say at their last meeting. I also like that audrey went to jason about an engagement party and that she wanted his approval before going to liz. loved stephen and em’s talk. loved courtney hanging up on carly- priceless.

    According to shay on February 18, 2015