The Final Outlines

Here are my final outlines for the story, complete with a breakdown of the envisioned custody battle.

Post Engagement Announcement

What happens at the end of Part Two? The last event is going to be Sonny going on his meds, because I want Part Three to be the middle section—to be the part where he’s on the meds, with the warehouse explosion and maybe right through to the custody battle. Yeah, Part Three begins Sonny on his meds, engagement party, warehouse explosion, Audrey’s death, Sonny v. Johnny all through this. Then Sonny and Carly file for custody.

Okay, so at the end of Part Two.

It’s the second week of July. Jason and Elizabeth have announced their engagement to their family and friends, and there’s the scene where it’s starting to come together in Elizabeth’s head, maybe for the first time, that Jason and Sonny might not work this out. I think it’s always been a given that some how this is going to work out, even if she can’t quite work out how, but the reaction of Sonny to the engagement and to the possibility of getting help, plus the way Carly is working out — it’s driving home to her, that this might be the thing that doesn’t get fixed.

And she’s kind of sat back and just let Jason handle his relationship with Sonny, knowing that her presence in Jason and Evie’s life is a source of the tension. And it was one thing to let the chips fall where they may when she was on the periphery, just Jason’s friends, or when they were just dating, but she’s planning to be a permanent part of Jason’s life.

And she’s also pointed out to Jason that having been married to Ric, the darkness inside these brothers isn’t news to her. And she and Sonny do have a previous, if somewhat dormant, connection.

So Chapter 18 has to be about Elizabeth taking this step forward to speak to Sonny. Would she talk to Jason first? Probably not. Maybe she’d talk to her grandmother or Steven. Probably not Emily, who would only encourage her to follow Jason’s lead. Or maybe she’d just go on her own. That’s probably more likely.

So she shows up to talk to Sonny. Sonny’s manic episode is subsiding as fast as it blew up, and he’s teetering on the edge of a depressive episode, so it’s probably the most receptive he’s going to be. How does she broach the conversation? It needs to be Sonny’s POV.

He tells her Jason isn’t there, which is why she is, because she waited for a day Jason had other things to do. She knows that things are difficult, and even admits that her being here today might not improve the situation, but she doesn’t want to sit by if there’s anything she can do.

Sonny doesn’t know what to tell her. He created this situation and he has his reasons for it. Does it matter he no longer believes in them? That he sacrificed Sam and Evie to protect Michael and Morgan? Elizabeth tells him it was unfair that he’d had to make a choice—but it doesn’t have to stay that way. But Sonny can recognize that he doesn’t quite have a handle on how he considers Jason. Today, he’s upset for how things have been handled, but it’s always easy for him to regret in hindsight, but he can’t always control himself in the moment.

She agrees that it can upsetting to look back at things you’ve said or done and not be able to understand them. Her entire relationship with Ric feels that way. She refers briefly to her experience with therapy, and what she learned about herself—how, in her heart and her mind, she had never moved past the broken teenager in the snow trying to put herself together.

Sonny interrupts her—is she like Jason, thinking he needs help? What is he, Tony Soprano? She doesn’t know, except that just in her brief experience, she knows some thing’s changed. Because she remembers him the way he was when she met him. The first time they’d interacted at the garage—how he caught her. His kindness in those days. The way he gave Jason his space after the shooting. How he’d looked out for her when Jason wasn’t there. They’d been friends once, maybe even something akin to family.

Sonny remembers all that, and says he’s not that man anymore and she agrees — she’s not that girl anymore. They’ve both grown and changed, but that innate kindness he once showed her—that had been part of his core. Maybe he’s lost his way a bit, but she thinks that’s in him. She used to be a hellraiser, someone who didn’t take shit from anyone and always looked out for herself. She lost that ability after her rape, after Lucky’s death and allowed Lucky and Ric to define who she was. But she found it again.

Since her son was born, Elizabeth has been very careful with her choices and weighed them against her own sense of self. And maybe that’s why it’s working with Jason this time when it never did before. She never felt like she had much to offer to Jason, he never seemed to need her, not like Lucky or Ric. But she doesn’t have that desire anymore. She knows she’s worth more to someone than what she can do for them.

Jason does love Evie, and so does she, and while not being in her life as a constant presence would be painful for Jason, Elizabeth tells him Jason would do it in a heartbeat if it meant Sonny was okay. Because that’s why Sam wanted Jason to promise to keep Evie away from Sonny. Because Sam feared Evie would always be second-best, that she would treated as less than. That she’d be discarded as Sam had been. If Sonny stays out of Evie’s life, she’s going to grow up to feel that way, that she wasn’t good enough. Elizabeth has an idea what happens to a child who feels discarded by a parent in favor of other children. Does he want Evie to grow up like Ric, believing his mother loved Sonny.

It’ something Sonny has never considered, but it doesn’t mean he likes the implication. His mother made the best choice she could and can’t be blamed for Ric—which Elizabeth agrees. Ric has his own darkness, probably inspired by a lifetime of hatred instilled by his father and maybe something he shares with Sonny, but she doesn’t dwell on that. She knows Evie would grow up different. But she’d grow up like Elizabeth, maybe. Always knowing there was something different about her. Always feeling less than Sarah or Steven. Not neglected, not unloved. Her grandparents, her mother’s sister had made up for it. But there’s something about parents.

She doesn’t know if any of this helps or she’s making it worse. She just knows that when she and Jason started to discuss the kind of wedding they would have, she realized that it wouldn’t be right without Sonny standing up next to Jason. Despite all the problems, despite the pain, and the arguments, Jason still looks at Sonny as the man who looked at someone the rest of the world wrote off as something less, and saw more. She hopes Sonny and Jason can do something to make this better. If that means he talks to someone about the control problems or not, she doesn’t think any of them should just sit back and hope things get better.

So after that, she leaves. How does Sonny decide what to do next? He’s not going to talk to Carly, so he decides to go to New York to see Courtney.

Audrey should corner Jason to suggest an engagement party. Jason tells her it’s not necessary, but she really wants Elizabeth to know how much she approves of it all, and even to let him know that she approves. Jason doesn’t know why that should matter. She feels a bit faint, maybe a bit light-headed and sits. Jason’s a bit worried, but she waves it off. She hasn’t eaten today. She feels guilty for any part she played in Elizabeth’s troubles, in not supporting her choices, not seeing how she was sinking before she left for California. And also, she feels a small responsibility to him, because she was close to Lila, and his own grandmother can’t be there. And because Jason can see she’s truly trying to come to terms with her granddaughter marrying him, he agrees to the party.

So in Chapter 18, I have Elizabeth/Sonny, Jason/Audrey…I think there needs to be a Carly/Courtney interaction. A phone call in which she tells Courtney that everything is in the open, and that she expects Jason to sign over custody any time now. It’s a good plot point for a Courtney/Sonny interaction once he’s in New York.

Chapter 19. Sonny is in New York. Open with his talk with Courtney. Just discussing that she has also recognized the changes, and is glad he’s getting help. They talk a bit about Jason and Elizabeth, and Courtney asks about his hopes for Evie, and his marriage to Carly. Sonny’s not ready to deal with any of that yet.

Then there’s Audrey talking to Jax about renting Club 101 for the party. The Port Charles Hotel is still under construction — permanents and whatnot are still rough, so this is her best bet. Jax tells her that he sold it to Carly, and that’s a good thing since it’s a party for Jason. They’re at Kelly’s, and Jax points it out in Carly’s hearing, so Audrey decides to go ahead and book it to avoid causing problems, and Carly agrees.

Some Steven and Emily at the hospital. Steven is finally taking this Jason and Elizabeth thing seriously, haha, because before he was just a guy, and now he’s the guy. He admits he’s trying to lay back on big brother, since he’s barely qualified in years, but he’s just not sure how he feels about any of this. Emily understands, but there’s no one better. And she tries to pump him for information about his perfect woman, so he flees.

A Jason and Elizabeth scene. He talks about Sonny taking a sudden trip to New York, but he doesn’t really know why. She talks about her visit and worries maybe she made it worse, but Jason doesn’t think so. It’s been about three days between the visit and his leaving, and he was quiet in a way he hadn’t been in a while. Maybe he’s going to talk to someone.

And end on Sonny and Courtney discussing the doctor. He’s on medication for depression now, and he hopes this is a good turning point. Courtney’s a bit surprised he was diagnosed with depression, but she’s not a doctor, so what does she know? Sonny prepares to return to Port Charles, hoping for a change.

He’s on the meds for a month, and at first, he’s doing okay. Jason notices a change, and Sonny tells him he’s talking to someone. But he understands if Jason doesn’t believe him or trust it. Sonny doesn’t yet either, and it’s not the first good month.

Meanwhile, between July 15-August 15, business problems ramp up again, but Sonny seems to accept that Johnny isn’t involved. There’s a labor strike, or something that feels minor going on. Jason and Sonny are dealing with it. Jason tells Elizabeth that something has changed, but Jason isn’t sure how to trust it. She admits that she went to see him. Maybe that’s what encouraged him.

Carly feels a bit better about things, but Sonny is still reluctant to discuss Evie with Jason, and he seems to be pulling away from her more and more. She’s worried that Sonny might decide to leave her, making all of this for nothing. Some Courtney interaction here as a sounding board. She and Jason are avoiding each other, but there should be some stilted interaction, some discussion to other people about how it looks like Jason is finally done protecting Carly.

But the anti-depressants only work when Sonny is in the low point of his cycle. As he starts to cycle back up, because the labor strike isn’t breaking, the rumors of drugs and disappearing bookies, and more trucks being hijacks (something with the business problems getting worse), and Sonny starts to revisit the idea — maybe just to himself — that the Zaccharas are behind it, and Johnny is at the forefront. Still hanging around, whatnot. But he doesn’t voice it to Jason. He’s sure Johnny will show his hand and force things.

So the engagement party is not the end of Part 2, as I had originally outlined, but rather the toward the middle of Part 3. It’s in mid August, and Sonny is starting to cycle again. The mania is starting, but it’s light at first. Like Sonny is in a good mood. He’s looking forward to the party, looking forward to making changes. He’s been feeling so good that the line where he tells Jason it’s time to reevaluate the situation is less ominous and more helpful. There’s even a moment of relief for Jason, that even as he knows his role is going to change, that he’s relieved. He’s Evie’s father because that’s the role he had to play, but he recognizes it’s better for everyone, even Evie if is this not a truth that stays hidden.

Carly is less convinced. Because she lives with Sonny, sees him every day. And he’s not talking to her anymore. But she thinks he’s heading closer to the crash—because he’s so convinced everything will be okay. And she’s learned never to trust the world when it looks good.

So then we have Audrey’s illness starting mid August, after the party is over. Elizabeth is slightly distracted by the illness, and Jason is a bit with her on this as well, because he feels like he can devote his attention to her a bit more here because Sonny is doing better. They’re both tackling the idea that Sonny will be part of Evie’s life, and how to do that best.

It’s a brief down time — two weeks at most. And all notions of Sonny getting better, of Audrey improving end the first week of September. Sonny’s cycle breaks wide open when the warehouse catches fire. He had thought he was getting a handle on things, they had people on the Ruizes, but he’s been proven wrong. It’s not the Ruiz family, which means it has to be the Zacchara family. He blows up at Jason for not taking care of Johnny, for being too distracted by Elizabeth, etc. The cease fire is over. Jason starts to draw back from him — the fire has been ruled accidental, there’s no reason to say other wise so Jason sees this as the paranoia flaring again.

Johnny Zacchara disappears from PC, which Jason does not immediately take note of being related to Sonny. In fact, he thinks Johnny’s sudden absence points more guilt in his direction, and he starts to feel guilty for not seeing it. This needs to be the turning point—he needs to have a confidante in the business. Max is too loyal to Sonny, so we’ll go with Cody. Cody and Jason are talking about it. The men are antsy, they know some thing’s not right. And Jason starts making decisions based on protecting Elizabeth and the kids in case things with Sonny continue to get worse.

Audrey is in the hospital now with her condition, and Elizabeth is faced with losing her grandmother. Emily and Steven are there, Jason is there when he can be, and she’s not holding it against him. There’s not much he can do but offer comfort. Courtney and Carly need to be fleshed out a bit here.

Sonny has kidnapped Johnny—and this lasts about a week. The timeline on this is a bit shaky. Why does Sonny kidnap him instead of kill him outright? He wants Johnny to admit what he’s done, to vindicate Sonny’s suspicions all along. He’s in the manic episode, and it’s been exacerbated by the antidepressants, which only turn up the volume on his disorder. He’s convinced that Jason was protecting him. Jason is now the enemy.

Cody notices Max is absent with Sonny and tells Jason there’s no trace on Johnny anywhere and Anthony is starting to ask questions. Jason begins to suspect Sonny is involved, but has trouble nailing his partner down in order to ask the question.

Johnny gets free, but Sonny stops him before he can leave. Johnny gets to Max’s gun, there’s a shoot out in which they’re both shot, Sonny badly so. Max calls for help while Johnny escapes.

The same night Sonny is rushed to the hospital, Audrey passes away, so Jason and Elizabeth are already at the hospital. He gets word from Max to go to the ER, where Carly is already freaking out at Jason. Why didn’t he protect Sonny? What the hell is going on? Jason gets his answers from Max. Suspicions are confirmed about Johnny. Sonny’s out of control and out of commission, at least for a few weeks. Max, as loyal as he is, is starting to question. Jason has to take charge now.

Sonny’s shooting, coupled with the warehouse the week before — it’s the first time Nikolas and Steven are both starting to have doubts surface. Emily is also worried — not for the safety angle, just for the details. Things were supposed to be getting better. She tries to reassure them both, but Steven is genuinely worried. He’s just lost his grandmother, and he and Liz are just getting close again. Nikolas, however, gets Elizabeth’s resilience after the Cassadine nonsense.

So here we are — beginning of the second week of September. Sonny is laid up in the hospital, Audrey has passed away. Jason is taking over day to day operations—ostensibly while Sonny is out of commission, but in the back of his head, he knows the time has come to consider a true takeover. They don’t know where Johnny Zacchara is, and if Sonny managed to kill him, they have to make sure Anthony never traces it back to him. Cody has to be more a confidante here, and Max as well. Jason is trying to juggle this with Elizabeth’s grief.

What’s Carly doing during this period? She thinks it’s slipping away from her. She can see Jason stepping in, not seeing it as permanent because she’s always been able to read Jason. With this latest bit, there’s no way he’s giving custody over, which means if Jason isn’t going to do it willingly, she’ll have to force Sonny into it, and if she can engineer the reunion of Sonny with Evie, he’ll forget about leaving her. This is Jason’s fault. He could have made it stop and he refused. Her path is clear. The old if you’re not with me you’re against me schtick.

Jason and Elizabeth are keeping the children at Audrey’s. This is Steven’s idea, because he knows Audrey has left the house to Elizabeth. It’s good for the distance Jason wants to build between he and Sonny and Carly, but it’s a stopgap measure. He’s doing other security arrangements that are more in line with the danger he’s fearing. He’s trying not to really let on to Elizabeth how much is going on, not because he doesn’t trust her, but he doesn’t want her to feel pressured into forgoing her mourning, but Elizabeth is sharper than that. They have a frank discussion on the possibility he may have to take over the business. It’s not what she signed on for, but she’s not an idiot. He was always second in command to Sonny, and always something that could happen.

The hunt is on for Johnny Zacchara. He’s underground, and Jason has people on his girlfriend’s place but it looks normal.

Jason finally goes to see Sonny, and Sonny is still riding high in his manic episode. Zacchara’s dead, he shot the bastard and he’ll take out all the Zaccharas when he gets out of here. Sonny hasn’t quite crashed, but he’s lost grip on the control. Jason goes to Max and Cody. He’s taking over.

Carly can tell the tone of her security has changed. They’re not longer protecting the boss’s wife. Max no longer guards Sonny. She tells Sonny that Jason isn’t just running things while Sonny is in the hospital, but that he’s taking over. He’s been waiting for this moment, she continues, and Sonny showed his weakness by allowing Jason all this time with Evie. He needs to take back his daughter.

But Sonny isn’t so sure. The mania is subsiding. He’s off his pills, but settling back into a bit of normalcy, even sinking closer to the low point. He tells Carly that he’s not ready to be a father to Evie, she needs to lay off for all their sakes. He doesn’t trust himself to take the business back at the moment. He goes back the doctor in New York. Those pills aren’t working and describes some of his symptoms, while cloaking the obvious crimes. The doctor prescribes anti-psychotics, feeling that pulling a gun on someone is a sign of a psychotic break and suggests Sonny find someone closer to home.

This is towards the end of September. Sonny visits Jason and he’s not quite right, the new meds are making him fuzzy, but they’re doing the job for the moment to keep him stable. He wants Jason to continue staying in control. He’s on a new medication, and wants to see how this one works. Jason is relieved by this news and agrees. They each broach the topic of Carly very lightly. Sonny knows he has to make decisions but he’s not there. There may need to be Courtney in this.

As October continues, Sonny’s mood stays fuzzy. Even numb. He decides, on his own, to stop taking so much of the meds, and within a few days, he feels better. More like himself. He wants to start getting involved again, but Jason thinks it’s too soon. It’s only been two weeks since the conversation. Sonny agrees in person, but he’s not feeling it. He stops taking the meds completely, not enjoying the way his brain feels disconnected.

The first week of November is Evie’s first birthday, and Jason and Elizabeth have a party for her. They’ve both tabled the discussion of adoption at this point because Sonny’s been trying to get help. Johnny is still missing.

By the middle of November, Jason has given Johnny up for dead. He’s fielding questions from Anthony. Sonny’s episode is picking back up. He’s missed the entire first year of Evie’s life. He’s been trying to get help, and Jason isn’t even addressing it. He asks Jason to spend some time with Evie, but Jason hedges just a moment too long and it triggers something in Sonny. Remembering the conversation with Carly as to whether Jason had intended to trick him into handing over Evie, Sonny flips. He accuses Jason of it, of stealing everything that Sonny has. Does he want to get rid of Sonny? Does he want his boys? What’s next? What’s left to take? He storms out, but Jason has seen Sonny reach for his gun. He didn’t pull it, but the urge was there.

Sonny goes to Carly and tells her to call Jordan and file for custody. It’s time to end this.

Undecided whether to address Johnny’s fate before Nadine steps forward to Elizabeth about it. They’ve been floating in the background the story, but maybe for some of the stuff in the fourth part to work, they need to come to forefront sooner, perhaps after the shooting. And Nikolas and Emily have to be more in here, with her pregnancy around Audrey’s death or just before.

Jason and Elizabeth are discussing the immediate future when Diane reports to them she’s received notice from Jordain Baines that Sonny is filing for custody. They set up a meeting for the next day to discuss options. Jason knows that Sonny has been going downhill again, that whatever meds he was on this time didn’t work. There’s no way he’s okay with allowing Sonny custody at the moment. Elizabeth agrees. They’re going to fight this.

Carly and Courtney discuss her testifying on his behalf, but she refuses. Sonny needs help, he needs a real therapist, he needs something. Not this. Carly is pissed because Bobbie has already refused to testify.

Originally, I had Johnny and Nadine stepping forward at this point, but as I’ve adjusted the timeline a bit — he’s shot the second week of September, and we’re closer to Thanksgiving, I really think I need to pepper some more scenes in, some more Nadine with Emily at the hospital, particularly during Sonny’s shooting while he’s in the hospital, because she’s dealing with the same thing with Johnny. So their part of this has to start earlier, with Johnny deciding to stay low for a while. So at this point, he’s chafing and the custody news coupled with the takeover leads him to believe Jason would listen to him.

Emily discusses character witnesses with Jason and Elizabeth. Monica and Steven are testifying, Emily plans to discuss what she’s seen of Sonny. Bobbe is worried for her grandsons, about Sonny, and Carly isn’t listening to her. Diane also agrees with Emily’s assessment. It’s unlikely Jason and Sonny are going to let either lawyer go after their careers, so it’s likely to come down to the stability of their respective homes. Elizabeth wins.

The facts are clear. Sonny never contested the termination in the last year. Jason’s a member of the Quartermaines, whether he likes it or not. Diane plans to go after Carly, which makes Jason feel like crap, but Elizabeth knows Carly has engineered this. Sonny was really trying, really struggling to come to terms with hias problems. She has no doubt Carly is poisoning him in order to retain her position. Carly only worries about herself.

While the personal business is imploding, the business problems that have been plaguing the organization worsen. Trucks are hijacked, the warehouse is raided, Mac is convinced Jason is dealing in drugs — arrests are up. There’s some problems with prostitution. Jason is keeping it under control, but he and others suspect Sonny is pulling strings with another family, because some of the attacks are too targeted. They’re also dealing with the fact Johnny Zacchara’s body hasn’t surfaced and while Anthony isn’t after them yet, the time is going to come.

Courtney stops by the house before the hearing, and she and Elizabeth have a long talk. She begins by telling Elizabeth that she’s not going to testify for Sonny and Carly. She’d prefer to testify for Jason, but that might create more problems than she needs with Sonny and Carly. She honestly believes Jason and Elizabeth are the better parents, she’s just not sure she can get on the stand while Sonny is crashing like this and tell him he’s a bad father, and that Carly is, at best, a mediocre mother. She still loves them. However, she’s going to the hearing, because if at any point she thinks it’s going against Jason and Elizabeth, she’ll step in. Elizabeth is grateful, and knows Courtney is in a difficult position. They talk a little about the situation, how Courtney understands how it all unfolded, how she understands how Carly talked herself into this, that she always knew Jason hadn’t cheated on her. She admits to Elizabeth that she’s happy they’re together—she feels terrible that she trashed their friendship and used everything Elizabeth told her about Jason to win him for herself. Elizabeth admits none of them were stellar, but she’s not bitter. Without the way things unfolded, they wouldn’t have Cam and Evie. At some point, she hopes Courtney can be in Evie’s life, she’s her aunt. Courtney would like that, but she’s not sure how they could make it work.

Elizabeth tells Jason about Courtney’s visit, and he’s relieved she won’t testify. He’s also relieved she never believed he cheated. He should have talked to her, but he knew she’d disapprove. He tells Elizabeth he loved Courtney, but they were never going to work. She didn’t see him. Elizabeth does, she always did.

At the actual custody hearing, Diane leads with Elizabeth, establishing her role in Evie’s life, her art career, her own son. Jordan skips over much of the bad stuff, knowing that much of it isn’t admissible. Ric was never charged or prosecuted for Carly’s kidnapping, so there’s not much they can do on that end. She brings out that Elizabeth has been married twice to the same man, but there’s just not much dirt there. Diane puts Jason the stand, bolstered by Jordan’s light-going on Elizabeth, and asks him to describe the situation about the paternity change and the guardianship. He describes Sam’s last words, and talks about how he tells Evie stories about Sam all the time, and how Elizabeth painted a portrait of Sam and Evie for Evie’s room at Audrey’s home. Yes, Elizabeth plans to adopt her, to be a mother figure, but he plans for Evie to always know her mother.

After a parade of character witnesses who wax poetic about Jason raising Michael, to discuss Carly as a mother and Jason as a father, Jordan reluctantly puts Sonny on the stand to explain why he didn’t contest guardianship initially. Sonny’s story doesn’t really make him come across well (hiding it from his wife, having a second affair, with it’s clear from Carly’s expression she was unaware of), but then Diane rips him apart on the stand—talking about the shooting of Carly the night Morgan was born, Michael’s long absences, the faking of his death. She keeps pushing at Sonny, and he’s growing angrier and angrier as if he’s about to explode, and then Diane abruptly calls off the questioning and sits. The hearing is over, the judge will return with a determination in a few days, but there are very few people that don’t think Sonny and Carly have lost—Sonny may be the only one. After all, blood is blood.

Carly is worried — none of this is happening the way she thought it would, and now she can see Sonny is sliding toward an edge he’s never gone over before, and she doesn’t know how to make it stop.

There’s no air of celebration as the Morgan side of the courtroom separates and heads to their homes. Jason and Elizabeth will surely retain custody of Evie, but there’s no winners here.

Jason and Elizabeth head back to Audrey’s, and her heart is breaking for him, because she remembers Sonny once, and how wonderful he was to her, to Jason, how much Sonny meant to Jason. To see them at odds like this, she wishes they could have found a way to avoid it. He does, too, but he thinks the decision was made the moment he honored his promise to Sam over his loyalty to Sonny. It’s almost the same thing that happened with Robin in some ways. His promise to Carly resulted in falling in love with Michael, and he couldn’t see how things were falling apart with Robin until it was too late. But it’s complicated because of Sonny’s mental problems. He thought for a bit there there a chance they could come out the other side of this, but it’s looking less and less likely.

Nadine has kept Johnny informed about the custody battle, and he’s decided it’s time to make his move, and throw in his lot behind Jason. He thinks he can get his father on the right side if he does it right. He needs Nadine to make the contact, because it’s not safe for him in public with Sonny on the loose. She suggests going to Jason’s fiancee, Elizabeth. She goes to Kelly’s, she thinks that might work. Johnny agrees but makes her promise not to take any chances. He doesn’t think Jason will hurt her, but he can’t guarantee about Sonny.

Sonny’s reaction once they get home is disturbing to Carly. He doesn’t seem to realize how badly it went, as if he just doesn’t see it. She’s angry about the way it’s falling apart, that Sonny had another affair with Sam, and she’s angry that Jason didn’t help them avoid this breakdown. She sends Michael and Morgan to stay with Bobbie for a few days, not wanting them in the house.

Jason is trying to get things under control, but the word on the street is that Hector Ruiz’s son Javier has been seen in the area—that Ruiz is working with someone. Jason’s almost sure that Sonny’s gone to the Ruizes for manpower, which was a sign that Sonny was near the edge — because Jason finally has evidence the Ruizes were behind the sabotage altogether. Jason’s walking a very thin tight rope, which he knows will snap when Sonny loses custody. He cautions Elizabeth, tells her to take a guard with her at all times (she already does, but it’s just a reinforncement), and that the kids aren’t leaving the house until further notice. He can’t take them to penthouse because that’s where the threat is, and the other safehouse he’d been working on isn’t ready yet. He gives orders to Cody and Francis to work overtime making it ready. They’re going to need it soon.

Nadine approaches Elizabeth at Kelly’s. She tells her that it’s important she speaks to her, that it’s about Johnny Zacchara. Elizabeth is hesitant, remembers Nadine from the gallery, and steps into the courtyard for a quiet chat. Nadine tells her that she’s been dating Johnny for nearly a year, and that Sonny thought Johnny was up to something when he kept coming to town—he was coming to see her, after they’d met at a party in New York City. The night Sonny thought he killed Johnny, he came to her, she’s been hiding him, but Johnny wants Jason’s help getting out of this, and in return, Johnny will keep Anthony Zacchara from blowing them all up. Elizabeth didn’t know most of these details ,but she knew there as direct source of disagreement. She immediately brings Nadine to the warehouse.

Nadine repeats her story to Jason and Jason agrees to offer protection. He knows he’s going to need Anthony Zacchara on his side if Sonny is going to bring Hector Ruiz’s sons into this. Javier is more old school, like his father, but Manny is a fucking lunatic. He tells Nadine and Elizabeth stay exactly where they are. He’ll get Johnny to a safehouse, but he wants them safe in this room until Johnny’s out of Nadine’s apartment. He leaves.

Carly and Sonny are in the penthouse, and she’s wondering what she should do when the news comes down. She’s never been as good at helping Sonny in breakdowns. She’s tried to talk to Bobbie about what might be wrong, and doesn’t know that Sonny has been trying different medications. She thinks she’s opened a gate that she can’t close, and she’s aimed him directly at Jason. It’s a little late for regrets, she knows, but man, if Jason had just told her Sonny had had an affair with Sam while Carly was living across the hall, she would have left him. They’d been separated before but they’d been together. It would have been the end.

Probably. Maybe. But at least she could have made the decision, so maybe it was little his fault.

Carly gets a call from Jordan, and the judge has delivered her decision. They’re upholding the termination of Sonny’s rights. They’ve lost custody. And…the judge recommends social services be involved with Michael and Morgan. Sick to her stomach, she hangs up and reluctantly begins to prepare to tell Sonny the truth.

At the warehouse, Nadine is on pins and needles. She was so nervous about approaching them, and Johnny hated her doing it, he hated her being involved but it wasn’t like they had a choice. She hadn’t saved his life and nursed him back to health to see him screw it up now. Elizabeth completely understands. She hid Jason once while he was shot, and it was less dangerous in some ways, but one of her well-meaning friends started a fight with him that ended up reopening his wound. Also, he pushed himself. She tells Nadine not to worry. She trusts Jason to keep them safe. She gets a call from Diane, who gives them the joyous news. Elizabeth is relieved, but admits to Nadine she’s kind of terrified. The other shoe is going to drop.

At the penthouse, Sonny has flipped the minibar and Carly is terrified, because she’s never seen the look in his eyes before. He flips the coffee table, and then throws a vase. It crashes past her, and she’s cut by the shards. And his words begin to penetrate that haze. Jason is a traitor. Jason’s going to pay. He’s going to get his daughter. He doesn’t care who gets in his way. He storms out. Shaking, Carly calls Jason’s phone. No answer. She leaves him a message, and then texts him. Get the kids out. Move the kids. Sonny’s slid over the edge.

At the warehouse, Elizabeth and Nadine are startled when the guards rush in and rush them to waiting car. They’re going to the safehouse now. Elizabeth is upset, where’s Jason? What about the kids? Milo doesn’t know what to say. And then Elizabeth is quiet, because she doesn’t think she wants the answers.

At the safehouse (which is a compound outside of Port Charles with stone walls, security cameras, electric fences — Jason wasn’t kidding with making it safe.) Elizabeth and Nadine go inside, but Jason still isn’t there, and they’re still not answering her questions about the kids.

At the hospital, Emily is worried, talking with Steven and Leyla. Leyla’s friend Nadine hasn’t come for her shift, and she’s been dating Johnny Zacchara. Emily says she just heard from her mother that Sonny and Carly lost the case. Quartermaine connections at the courthouse meant they knew before even the participants. Steven wonders what Sonny Corinthos is capable of.

The door burst open at the safe house, and its Johnny with Cam in his arms, and their nanny, Nora with Evie. Elizabeth is relieved, but Jason’s not with them. Where is he? What happened? She takes Cam from Johnny, who rushes to Nadine. Cody tells them Jason is in the car behind them.

Jason comes in, and he looks haggard. There’s a cut on his forehead. Elizabeth doesn’t understand what’s happened. Were they attacked at Nadine’s? Jason says he’ll explain, but they need to get the kids calmed down and settled. And Elizabeth realizes they’re too upset for them just to have been picked up on the way from Nadine’s. But she gets Jason. Leaving Johnny and Nadine, she and Jason and the nanny take the kids upstairs. They get them calmed down. Jason apologizes to Nora for this, but she responds she knew what she was getting into.

Once Cam and Evie are calm and in the nanny’s safe hands, Jason and Elizabeth return downstairs. He tells her that Diane called him as they were in the car going from Nadine’s to the safe house. And three minutes later, he received a call from Carly. He ignored that, but then he got her text. He turned the car around immediately, and called the security at the house. By the time Jason and Johnny arrived, the car was outside, and the men were inside the house. The kids heard guns as the nanny and Cody were rushing them out the back, and men died.

Elizabeth is wrecked that Sonny sent armed men to the home they share with the kids, to her grandmother’s home. He would have killed the nanny, probably Elizabeth, would he have hurt Cam to get to Evie? She’s devastated, and looks like she’s going to crumble.

Instead, she turns away, takes a deep breath, and when she turns around, she looks steely-eyed, with a sense of resilience Jason didn’t even know what she had. She tells him okay, now she knows the situation. What’s next? Jason exchanges a glance with Johnny, and Elizabeth can see he’s about to send her and Nadine out of the room. She balks. Not after her babies were threatened, after gunmen went to their home. This isn’t business, it’s personal. Jason reluctantly sees her point. Sonny has allied himself with the Ruizes for their resources. Elizabeth gets it—Jason needs back up, he needs help. She looks at Johnny. It’s got to be his family to help, since Johnny coming to town to avoid his father is fed into this mess. Johnny agrees, and he’s already pledged his help to keep Anthony from retaliating. It’s not enough, Elizabeth tells him. She looks at Jason, Because he knows she’s right. He’s going to have to ally with Zacchara against Sonny. Johnny tells him he can convince his father to do that. He’s never liked Sonny anyway—because you know, Trevor Lansing and all.

Jason takes Elizabeth into his office. Nadine wants to know how much more dangerous this is going to get. Johnny tells her it’s going to get worse before it gets better. He can send her away, do something extra to make her safe, but she says she’ll call out of work for a few days and if Jason is okay with it, she’ll stay here. If he thinks his kids and his fiancee are safe here, she’ll be fine. Johnny agrees. He’s sorry about this, it’s hardly what she signed up for. She signed up for him, and whatever comes with that. Again, though, he’s lucky he’s cute.

Jason apologizes to Elizabeth for this getting so out of hand, could they have avoided it if he’d talked to Sonny earlier? Elizabeth isn’t sure. Sonny might have snapped earlier, there’s no way to tell. They have to concentrate on the now. She’ll stay here, with the kids, to stay safe. But he has to come home to her. They’ve come too far for them to lose each other now. He tells her he’s not going to make her promises he can’t keep. He’ll do what he can.

There needs to be a conversation between Jason and Elizabeth at some point during this scenario that uses the conversation, or at least the theme of it — Elizabeth recognizing the possibility that the only way Jason comes home is if Sonny doesn’t, and that he needs to know she’s aware of it. It doesn’t fit at the end anymore, because Jason isn’t going to kill Sonny anymore, but I think it’s important that Elizabeth really faces it, and that Jason knows she has.

Jason and Johnny leave immediately for Crimson Pointe to make the deal with Zacchara and secure his resources. He only takes Francis with him as security. Everyone else stays in Port Charles. Nadine asks Elizabeth how scared she should be, and Elizabeth tells her somewhere under terrified. She should have known it would get this bad. Carly was involved, and she just knows Carly kept pushing and pushing until Sonny was too far gone to control. She wonders at Michael and Morgan’s safety, and Carly’s location. Despite everything Carly has done to Jason, she knows Jason will take it badly if she’s hurt in the crossfire. Nadine doesn’t know Carly that well, but she’s never seemed that stable. Elizabeth blames Carly entirely, because she thinks Sonny started to change because of her. Because, maybe to with someone as destructive, selfish and needy as Carly Benson, Sonny need to kill that part of himself that was generous and warm. He’s never been the same since he hooked with the walking hurricane. Jason was smart to get himself away from that while he could. If Carly’s selfishness is the reason Jason doesn’t come home, Elizabeth will destroy her.

Jason and Johnny meet with Anthony Zacchara and Trevor Lansing. Johnny quickly explains that he’s been hanging out in PC, not in New York, he’s been seeing someone. Anthony figured, but he decided to let Johnny annoy Sonny. Well, unfortunately, Johnny admits, he annoyed Sonny a little too much, and Jason had to step in—not that Johnny knew this. Had Jason come to him, he would have figured something out. Jason’s annoyed by this, because, yeah, there’s a point, but let’s focus. He admits that Sonny shot him, and Johnny hid out for six weeks with his girlfriend, waiting for the right time to come forward. Now Anthony’s pissed, but Johnny says that the action caused Jason to split with Sonny and take power. But Sonny lost the custody hearing, and he’s going after Jason’s family. Johnny wants his father to back Jason in this power struggle, because Jason saved Johnny’s life.

Anthony isn’t keen to come in on either side of the equation, but he’s old school enough to understand that he needs to back Jason, as repayment for his son’s life. He agrees to supply Jason with anything he needs. And with his support comes other members of the syndicate on the East Coast. The Ruizes will back Sonny until it’s not useful to them anymore—and they want to work with Boston and New York too much to risk it for Sonny Corinthos, a two-bit player from upstate New York.

With the deal in place, and Anthony’s pledge to hold a meeting with the Families to make it clear to Hector Ruiz how the cookie crumbles, Jason returns to Port Charles alone. Johnny remains in Crimson Pointe to keep his father honest, but asks Jason to protect Nadine. She’s like Elizabeth—she’s only in this because she loves him, and she doesn’t deserve to get hurt. Jason agrees.

He returns to the penthouse to find it empty and trashed. And he finds Carly upstairs, bleeding from a head wound. He takes her to the hospital, and she drifts in and out of consciousness. She told Bobbie to get her brother to get the boys to disappear, because once Sonny realizes she sent them away, he’d come for her and she wanted them safe. Did…Sonny do this to her? He asks, appalled. She admits he threw her against the wall when she refused to tell him where the boys are. He’s out of control, she knows it, and she did this. She didn’t think long-term, she just wanted to fix her family, and instead she destroyed them. It’s all she knows how to do.

Shaken at Sonny’s actions—from injuring Carly to threatening children, Jason returns to his penthouse, to make it center of operations. He can’t contact Elizabeth, can’t give away the location of the safehouse. The house isn’t even in his name, or Elizabeth’s, but in Sam’s. He’d initally bought the property the summer before, thinking she’d want to live on her own at some point. And then he’d turned into a fortress to protect his family. Sonny’s not likely to look for Sam’s property. He hopes. He meets with Cody and Max about the situation. They’re trying to locate Sonny, what’s he going to do when he finds him? Jason doesn’t know.

At the safehouse, Elizabeth tells Nadine she wishes she could contact Emily and her brother. She’s sure they’re worried, and while Jason will eventually get around to telling them everything is okay, it’s not high on the list of priorities. Nadine asks how she can be in this life like this? What made her choose to really do this? And Elizabeth responds it wasn’t a choice, not really. She loves Jason. Every bit of him. Even the shadowy dark parts. She won’t say she’s not scared, but the end of the day, her family with Jason is worth it. Nadine admits that she loves Johnny, and she wants to think she’s cut out for this, but this has been such a shock. She hopes she’s strong enough, and Elizabeth thinks she might be. She hasn’t flipped yet.

Jason finds Emily at the hospital, and she’s been worried sick. There were reports of gunshots near the Hardy house, but nothing was found, and she knows about the custody decision. Where are Liz and the kids? Jason says they’re safe, to let Steven know that, too. If anyone asks, they went to California to see some friends Elizabeth made while she was living there. Emily agrees and tells him to be careful. He’s put a guard on her, and on Steven. Sonny might not think of them, but Jason’s not taking any chances.

Bobbie visits Carly in the hospital, and pleads with her to divorce Sonny. Carly agrees, and she’s worried about Jason, his kids, about her boys. They’re safe right? Luke hid them. Bobbie promises that Luke, with Lucky’s help, will protect them. This will be over soon. One way or another. Jason’s not going to let this stand. Carly feels like she’s seeing clearly for the first time in years and she’s destroyed over what she’s done, over what she allowed to happen to Jason, to Sonny. She’s the common denominator. She’s what went wrong. Bobbie can’t deny that.

Jason, in an effort to draw a confrontation, heads to the warehouse. His instincts are right…Sonny is there. And he’s alone. His alliance with the Ruizes is about causing trouble elsewhere—with shipments and the police, and the bookies, hookers. But Jason thought Sonny would deal with him on his own. Sonny confronts him about all that Jason’s stolen from him, and Jasonsays it’s true that he participated in Sam’s scheme to block him from Evie, but Sonny brought that on himself by lying to Carly and not coming forward. He took the business, but Sonny was putting them all in the danger. Jason pleads with Sonny to get help, to find a way back to the surface again, to be that man he knows, that he considers his brother. He knows Sonny, the real Sonny, wouldn’t have sent men after two small children, wouldn’t have thrown Carly into a wall.

Originally, I had this as Sonny’s breaking point, where he goes for his gun to shoot Jason, but instead, I think I need to hit Sonny’s POV during all this. The last time I kind of have anything from his POV is during the custody trial, and I don’t think I need a ton, but this scene needs to be in Sonny’s head, or I have to find a place for it.

Because Sonny’s starting to come down, the Carly bit probably would have been his trigger between the mania and the depression, and Jason’s pleas here might only exacerbate the situation — the depressive part of the cycle is when people are often most susceptible to risks of suicide, so it’s all coming down on him. He’s lost his marriage, his children, his business, his friendship, it’s starting to sink in that he sent men to take Evie, putting Elizabeth’s son at risk — it’s a crushing weight and Sonny turns the gun towards himself.

Jason aims for Sonny’s shoulder, which knocks the gun out of his hand. Sonny wants to know why he just won’t stop, if he were gone it would all be better, and Jason tells him that nothing is better that way. Or something. I’m not articulating the dialogue I picture very well.

So I don’t really know how I would wrap it up after this. I have this vague idea of Sonny going to the island, away from the stress. Carly recovering and taking the boys somewhere, maybe to Courtney in New York. Several months would pass, Emily would have her baby. There’d be some kind of wrap uo with Jason and Elizabeth going down to the island because Sonny has recovered.

I honestly think that there would be a lot more fallout if Sonny tries suicide, and the people around him would need to deal with that. There would need to be wrap up with Carly, because she’s been pretty damaged by all this. Which would have been true if even Sonny died. It might make the story longer, but it would probably be somewhat satisfying. I don’t know.

Surprisingly,  I don’t seem to have any notes for how to rework the story when I got rid of the custody battle. That tells you that it lifted pretty neatly out of the story and I definitely think the story is stronger for having cut it.

I have small snippets of some deleted material that I’m posting next, but if you’ve made it this far, I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into my writing process and the way I thought about this story.




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