Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Three
 
December 1, 2003

Port Charles Courthouse

The judge had called the court into order and was dealing with a few last minute briefs. Courtney shifted uncomfortably in her seat, well aware that her estranged husband was seated behind her, his mistress was seated next to her and the man who was rapidly becoming one of the most important people in her life was to the right.

Sonny leaned into Dara and whispered something into her ear. Courtney couldn’t hear what it was exactly but it made Dara blink and turn in her chair to look at him. “Sonny–”

“Do it.”

Dara sighed and stood. “Your Honor, the defendant wishes to change his plea from guilty by reason of mental defect to not guilty.”

“What?” Carly yelped. She leapt to her feet.

Scott glared at the aging mobster before slowly standing. “Your Honor, this is–this is ridiculous. We have been preparing our prosecution on the basis of the mental defect plea. We have lined up expert testimonies up the wazoo. This is just a stall tactic by the defense–”

“Hold on a moment, Mr. Baldwin,” the judge said. He turned to Dara and Sonny. “Ms. Jensen, what is the meaning of this?”

“Mr. Corinthos has just informed me of this change and I request a continuance until I can change my defense.”

“Mr. Corinthos, what is the reasoning behind this change?” the judge demanded. “Are you just seeking to waste my time and the valuable tax payer’s dollars?”

“I was coerced by my family into choosing that plea,” Sonny remarked. “I have decided that I will not spend time in jail for a crime that I did not commit.”

Dara bowed her head and shook it. “Your Honor, I will be filing a motion removing me from this case. Mr. Corinthos, find yourself another lawyer.” She gathered her things into her briefcase and stalked from the courthouse.

“I…ah…court is recessed. Mr. Corinthos, you have one week to find yourself a new lawyer and new defense.” The judge rapped the gavel.

Courtney stood and crossed her arms tightly. “What the hell is going on?” she demanded. “Sonny, I thought you agreed you were going to get help.”

Sonny moved into the aisle and passed by Brian–completely ignoring him. “I don’t need help. My family needs me more.”

Courtney sighed. “I’m fine, Carly’s fine, Jason’s fine. We don’t need you to help us.”

Elizabeth edged out of the opposite row and moved towards the back, trying to stay out of sight. But Sonny saw her movements and narrowed his eyes. “What are you doing here?” he demanded.

“Is this another one of Corinthos’ flip outs?” Scott asked, swaggering over, Ric hot on his heels. “If so, I’d like to get it on tape.”

“Go away,” Carly hissed. “This is a family matter now. We don’t need you butting in.”

“Don’t worry. He’ll hang himself with or without our help.” Scott nodded to Ric. “Let’s go. We have a conviction to work on.”

For once, Ric kept his mouth shut and the two prosecutors exited the room–leaving it occupied only by the rapidly disintegrating Corinthos family.

Elizabeth had moved towards the doorway a little more and was almost near the entrance when Sonny growled at her again. “What are you doing here?” he repeated.

“Sonny, don’t start,” Carly sighed.

“I came to get Ric to sign the divorce papers,” Elizabeth said softly, unaccustomed to having that intense glare turned on her. She jerked a thumb over her shoulder. “I’ll just go.”

“Yeah, go ahead. We don’t need a home wrecking slut in this family.” Sonny stepped towards her but Jason moved in front of her, blocking his progress.

“Back off,” Jason warned. “Right now.”

“Sonny, don’t do this,” Courtney yanked on his arm. “Look, I appreciate the support but I have explained this to you. I spent the entire weekend explaining this to you. Jason and I are getting a divorce, okay? You don’t have to go after Elizabeth or be angry with Jason. It’s over.”

“It’s not over. You and Jason were just fine before Elizabeth decided to step back into the picture,” Sonny retorted. He noticed Brian standing behind Courtney and frowned. “Who the hell are you?”

“Sheriff Brian Beck,” Brian remarked. “Courtney’s renting a house from me in Haye’s Landing.”

“Sheriff,” Sonny said slowly. “You’re befriending cops now?” he asked his sister coldly.

Disturbed by Sonny’s abrupt shift in moods and his obvious tenuous grip on his temper, Carly stepped forward. “Sonny–why don’t we get you back to the penthouse? We can start looking for a new lawyer.” She took his arm and averted her eyes from Jason’s exasperated eyes. “Come on.”

“Will you stay?” Sonny asked her softly. Carly took a deep breath and nodded.

“Yes–until I have to pick Michael up from school.” She started to move him past Elizabeth and Jason, the former taking a big step back to avoid him.

Once they were gone, Courtney slowly exhaled. “What is he doing, Jason?” she asked her estranged husband softly. “I thought you talked to him–I thought he agreed that he had problems.”

“I thought so too.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “I guess he thinks if he can get acquitted, he can get his family back together.”

“Well–that’s…that’s not going to happen,” she replied, folding her arms and looking away, her voice suddenly sounding a little less sure.

Elizabeth cleared her throat. “Okay, I’ve had enough drama for the day. I’m going to head back to Wyndemere and finish packing, okay?” she told Jason.

“Wait…I’ll give you a ride to the docks. I need a moment to talk to Courtney, though.” Jason hesitated and then eyed Brian with obvious reluctance. “Can you wait outside with Elizabeth while I speak with Courtney?”

Brian waited for Courtney to signal it was okay before he followed the brunette into the hallway.

Jason slid his hands into his jacket pockets. “I asked Dara to recommend a good divorce lawyer.”

Courtney blinked. “I thought we agreed to wait–I thought I was the one pushing for this.” She looked away.

“You were the one that asked for it, yeah. But I think–no, I know that you’re right. It was a mistake to get married.” Jason tilted his head to the side. “You’re upset about this. I thought this is what you wanted.”

“Well, yeah, but…I’ve been so wrapped up in the idea of making myself enough for you that it’s harder to let go than I thought.” Courtney stared at her hands–at the engagement and weddings rings on her fingers. “I was right though…wasn’t I?”

“About what?”

“About you. About Elizabeth. The way you just jumped in front of her a bit ago–” Courtney sighed and tilted her head towards the ceiling. “I wanted to make my peace with her, today. To apologize for using the man she loved as my rebound guy–for spending the last year as this girl who didn’t think she could do any wrong–for taking those pills and nearly…” her voice faltered. “But as much as she deserves those apologies…I think I deserve one from the both of you.”

“I’ve apologized,” Jason said shortly. “She doesn’t owe you anything, Courtney.”

“You’ve apologized for the act, yes. And I can almost understand it. But I want one from you…for coming back to me that morning. For marrying me and making me believe that you loved me. I deserved better than that, Jason. You love her–I can almost understand that. You’ve been in love with her for far longer than you’ve even known me. But you came from her bed to mine and let me believe that I was the woman you loved. Instead of standing up and taking responsibility…you took the coward’s way out.”

“That’s hardly fair,” Jason argued. “You tell me you knew all along how I felt about her–then why did you say yes? Why did you marry me?”

“Because I loved you! Because I believed you that you loved me! I thought you were over her!” She choked back a strangled sob. “But if she hadn’t gotten pregnant–if she hadn’t come to you and told you…that you were gonna have a baby…you would have let me believe that you loved me for the rest of our lives, wouldn’t you?”

“Courtney, I do–” Jason broke off and shook his head. “We’re not going to do this. We’re getting a divorce. It’s what you want, it’s what I want. It’s what’s going to happen. It doesn’t matter what might have happened–”

“It does!” she protested. “It matters to me and I can assure you–it matters to Elizabeth. You think she isn’t wondering? You think the thought hasn’t crossed her mind? What if she hadn’t gotten pregnant? Would you have spent the rest of our lives lying to me, lying to her, lying to herself?”

“But she did get pregnant!” Jason exploded. “This is what I don’t understand about people–how you can get yourselves all worked up over what ifs. If you let that rule your life, you’ll just go insane–”

“It’s more than a what if, Jason. It’s a matter of knowing how important I am to you–or how important she is to you. You think Elizabeth isn’t going to ask this question? You think you’re just going to apologize for letting her walk out of your life and everything’s going to be okay? It matters. It matters a hell of a lot. How can you say you love her and have been prepared to lie to me for the rest of our lives?”

“She already has asked!” Jason retorted. “And believe me, I’m getting the same silent treatment from her that I have been for the past year. So, yeah, I probably wouldn’t have said anything and we probably would have ended up making each other miserable. I would have lied to myself, to you, to everyone. But that’s not how it happened. She is pregnant and you are divorcing me.”

“No…I believe that this whole conversation began because you decided to divorce me.” Courtney shrugged. “So what? This is going to be your grand romantic gesture to her? Prove to her that you love her? After what you’ve put me through for the past two weeks, you don’t even have the decency to let me handle this on my own terms, on my time?” She yanked her rings from her hands. “Fine. I just want this whole thing over with.” She shoved the two pieces of jewelry at him and slammed out of the courtroom.

She stopped short in front of Elizabeth and Brian who were politely conversing. “I’m sorry,” Courtney said shortly. “I’m sorry that I slept with Jason last year when I knew how you felt about him. I’m sorry that I never apologized for it and that I spent a year pretending that I hadn’t done anything wrong. And I’m especially sorry that I got addicted to pain pills and nearly killed you.”

Elizabeth blinked. “I–” She took a deep breath and recovered. “I’m sorry for telling you that it was okay if something happened between the two of you and then turning around a month later and acting like a jealous shrew. I’m sorry for being a bitch every time that we met after that and for slapping you–twice. I’m sorry for assuming that you were engaged to Ric for anything more than his own purposes. And I’m especially sorry that I slept with your fiancé.”

Though both statements were said quickly and in one rush of breath, both women recognized the sincerity in the apologies. “I’m glad we got that out of our systems,” Courtney said with a weak smile. She turned to Brian. “I need a drink.”

“It’s not even noon,” he said with a smile.

“Well, then let’s go eat and then I can get drunk.” She took his hand and yanked him away.

When Jason didn’t emerge from the courtroom after another few minutes, Elizabeth hesitantly approached it and swung the door open. He was sitting one of the vacant chairs, staring at the rings Courtney had practically flung at him.

“Are you okay?” she asked politely.

He sighed. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with these,” he admitted. He stood and slid them in his pocket. “If I keep them, they’ll just sit in a box somewhere, collecting dust. If I tell her to keep them, it’d probably a reminder of how much I hurt her.”

“I pawned mine,” Elizabeth admitted. When he looked at her–his lips twitching into a smirk, she just shrugged. “I needed the money.”

“I asked Dara for a divorce lawyer and Courtney was angry with me,” Jason informed her. “I thought if I took the initiative–if I were the one to physically file for divorce, you might–you might believe me.”

“It’s not that I don’t believe you…I just don’t…” Elizabeth sighed. “I don’t trust you.”

“You don’t trust me?” Jason repeated, surprised. “I thought–”

“With my life, yes. With our child, yes. Things like that–I have no choice but to trust you. You have never let me down in that respect. But it’s so much harder to let myself–to open myself up to you like that. Every time that I have…you’ve…you’ve asked for more than I can give and left when I can’t give it.”

He shook his head. “I don’t understand.”

“When I told you that I had feelings for you that went beyond friendship–you asked me to run away with you.” She shook her head. “I was barely ready to admit one thing and you asked for everything.”

“I was worried about–about Lucky and what he might do.”

“I understand that but it doesn’t–I was scared, Jason. Terrified of letting go of the one thing I had always been sure of–the role that had never really changed for me. Being Lucky’s girlfriend was something that I was comfortable with.” She sighed and looked away. “And when I told you I wanted to be with you–you disappeared. You deliberately lied to me and left me alone for days and days. Were you testing me?”

“No,” Jason said immediately. “No–I should have told you what was going on. I just–I couldn’t lie to your face and at the time, I couldn’t tell you what was going on.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “When does my apology start being enough, Elizabeth? How many hoops am I going to have to jump through to prove that I’m sorry?”

“You don’t need to prove anything or jump through anything,” Elizabeth remarked, a little stung. “It’s been three weeks since I told you about this–and over a year since we’ve been more than acquaintances. Who had a one night fling,” she added, seeing his mouth open to protest. “What did you think was going to happen? You were going to tell me that you love me and I run into your arms?”

“No,” Jason said reluctantly, “I didn’t think you’d look at me like you did on Thanksgiving, either.”

“I was surprised.” Elizabeth sighed. “Jason…I just–I need time, okay?”

“Okay.” Jason gestured towards the court room entrance. “Are you ready to go?”

“Yeah, I’ve been ready for the last half hour or so.”

Sonny’s Penthouse

Carly handed him a cup of coffee, which made Sonny regard her with suspicious eyes. “Since when can you make coffee?”

“Since Lorenzo showed me how,” Carly remarked honestly as she took out her address book. “I suppose Alexis would rather die than take your case–”

“What the hell is going on here, Carly? Are you here to stay or just until your precious Lorenzo tells you he wants you again?” Sonny demanded, setting the cup down with a heavy thud. Dark liquid sloshed onto the glass coffee table.

“I’m here because you are still my husband and you need someone to help you and I am the only person still stubborn enough to offer my assistance.” Carly flipped to another page. “This is by no means a reconciliation. I don’t plan on moving home, Sonny. You’d better get used to that.”

“I want my boys back in this penthouse,” Sonny said angrily, rising to his feet. “I don’t want them with you–exposed to that criminal and his little brat–”

“You watch what you say, Sonny Corinthos,” Carly seethed. “You readily forget that no judge in the world would give you custody of my boys seeing as how you are currently on trial for trying to kill their mother and for putting a bullet in her brain–”

“I thought he was trying to hurt you!” Sonny yelled.

“He was delivering your son!” Carly shouted back. “And if you’d taken five seconds to look at the situation instead of automatically reaching for a gun, then you would have known that! You shot me in the god damn head, Sonny, Jesus Christ. Plead guilty. Do your time!”

“I will see you dead before you take my boys to Lorenzo Alcazar,” Sonny threatened. “You are my wife, Carly, and those are my boys–”

“A fact that you didn’t take into consideration when you threw me out originally,” Carly seethed. “What did you think was gonna happen, Sonny? You get acquitted and I move home? I’m not coming home, Sonny!”

“I’m not around for a few weeks and everything gets shot to hell. You take my boys away from me, Jason sleeps with that little whore wife of my brother’s and Courtney–what the hellhappened to Courtney?”

“Hey, give Jason a little credit. He slept with Elizabeth long before you shot me in the head!” Carly’s voice raised to a high-pitched shriek. “Courtney has decided to stand up for herself–there’s nothing here for you to fix, Sonny! I don’t need you anymore!”

 Harborview Towers: Elevators

“Let me just get the keys and the lease agreement from my place,” Jason told her as the elevator climbed to the top floor. “Do you need help with furniture and stuff tomorrow?”

“No…Nikolas, Zander and Lucky took the day off tomorrow and they were gonna help out.” Elizabeth shifted from one foot to the other. “But you know–Emily’s gonna come over and we were thinking of doing dinner so if you wanna come by, that’s fine.”

“Okay.” The doors slid open and the first thing they both heard were the raised voices coming from the right. He closed his eyes for a moment. “Look, here are the keys. Can you wait for me in there?”

As they stepped off the elevator, the voices became even clearer. He handed her the keys and they separated. Just as Elizabeth slid the key into the lock, she heard the sound of crashing glass and then a loud thump from the other penthouse.

She abandoned the keys and ran over to the other door–that Jason had already pushed open. And the scene inside seemed like one out of a horror movie.

Glass was smashed everywhere–Sonny had not only thrown it, he’d overturned the entire mini bar. He stood in the middle of the room, staring at his bleeding hand like he’d never seen it before.

And at his feet, Jason was leaning over a crumpled Carly. 

 

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