Chapter Twenty-Seven

December 2, 2003

Port Charles High: Room 203

Sage was startled by the sound someone dropping their books down in the normally vacated seat next to her. Maxie Jones slid into the seat and sighed. “I hate when it rains. At least snow doesn’t make you look like a wet dog.”

She took a comb out of her purse and started pulling it through her damp hair. “I am so glad we have Fratelli first period. I mean can you imagine having a teacher who expects you to do something at eight-thirty in the morning?”

Maxie stopped talking enough to see Sage looking at her oddly. “What’s wrong?”

“Nobody ever sits by me,” she said nervously. “The whole week I’ve been here, everyone practically crowds at the front of the room to avoid me.”

“Yes…but well, you were Sage Alcazar, Luis Alcazar’s daughter. And you still are to the less intelligent, but to me, you’re my cousin’s girlfriend and therefore, you don’t sit alone. Now, how great was I last night in orchestrating that invitation to the dance?” Maxie proclaimed.

“You might be the strangest person I’ve ever met.” Sage shook her head. “You were great,” she admitted. “After you left, Lucas told he’d wanted to ask me but couldn’t get up the courage.”

“You two are really cute together. I think it’s fabulous that Lucas has someone so we can like triple date and stuff and now I don’t always have tag along with Georgie and Dillon on their dates.” She frowned. “Then again…Lucas isn’t anymore fond of Kyle than they are. How do you feel about reformed bad boys?”

“Well…” Sage smiled. “I suppose it depends on what made them bad.”

“Oh…Kyle wasn’t bad so much as he was stupid. I blame his friends. They wouldn’t know intelligence if it was wrapped in a hot girl’s body and walked up to offer them sex. Anyway, what he did isn’t important so much as he’s now a college guy and he’s reformed like I said.”

“Hey…you seem like a pretty smart girl. If you like him, there must be something good about him.”

Maxie beamed. “I knew we’d get along great. Now you just have to use your influence on Lucas so he doesn’t try to kill him. I spent most of my summer avoiding Lucas and Georgie did too, because he had this thing about her boyfriend. He holds a grudge like no one else can, you know? But he’s my cousin and my best friend and if you can’t forgive family, who can you forgive, right?”

Sage just nodded, sure that even if she said nothing, Maxie would keep talking anyway. She seemed to have that type of personality.

Cameron’s Office

“It’s been a while,” Cameron began their session. “But you called my secretary and said it was an emergency.”

Carly nodded and she shifted nervously in her seat. When she’d brought Michael home the previous day, she’d been unable to find the words to explain the bruise on her face and told her son they’d discuss it later.

“I’m sorry I’ve been canceling appointments,” she said. “It’s been…a crazy week.”

“I can imagine, with the changing of Sonny’s plea yesterday.” Cameron tilted his head to the side. “How do you feel about that?”

“I felt angry then. Betrayed and shocked. I thought Sonny understood but I realize now that he hadn’t crossed his breaking point yet and until he did, he would never accept that he’s sick.”

“And you believe that he’s crossed this point now?”

“I know it.” Carly sighed and brushed her hair out of her face, revealing the dark bruise that even makeup couldn’t cover. “I took him home yesterday. I still love him…not the way I should–or the way he needs but I care what happens to him, you know? But as usual…we started arguing and he was close to the edge…I could see it and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor.”

If Cameron had any reaction to this news, his face didn’t show it. He made a note on a piece of paper she couldn’t really see and motioned for her to continue.

“It’s all a blur after that. Before it sunk in that it even happened, Jason and Elizabeth were there. I guess they heard the shouting. Elizabeth took me over to Jason’s penthouse and got me some ice for my face and she–she really tried to comfort me. She’s good for Jason; I’m finally able to see it.”

Willing to go where Carly’s mind took her, Cameron sat up. “You didn’t before?”

“She was young when they first…when they first got close. Before they were more, they were friends. And–and I was still in love with Jason. I wasn’t willing to see that I couldn’t give Jason what he needed and it took a really long time for to admit that.”

“It was hard for you to let go,” Cameron observed.

“Almost impossible. Every time that fall…it felt like every time I needed Jason, she was with him and my brain wouldn’t get the fact that they were just friends and that’s kind of how Sonny and I started. I saw them dancing in Kelly’s and I went to Sonny for answers. He toyed with me…wouldn’t tell me right out if Jason was seeing Elizabeth and it just–we slept together that night.” Carly sighed and shook her head. “Anyway, it took a really long time but like I said–I believe she’s good for him. In a way that no one has been for him and it’s important to me that he’s happy.”

“It’s good that you’re being honest with yourself, Carly,” Cameron told her. “So Elizabeth was trying to comfort you after the fight.”

“She was trying but she didn’t know what to say and that’s understandable. I didn’t either. Um…I dozed off there. I don’t really know how I could sleep but I did. And when I woke up, Jason was there. He told me that Sonny had agreed to change his plea back and take a deal Scott was going to offer him.”

“So, theoretically, it’s over,” Cameron said. “Sonny crossed his breaking point and is going to get help. You’re okay physically.”

“Right…but it’s not. I try to pretend that it is–that I’m okay. And I have to keep doing that because–well because, I need to take care of myself. If I tell Jason or Lorenzo how I’m feeling–or even Courtney…they’ll want to fix it or press me and I don’t want to hurt them. Besides, Jason and Courtney had too much going on a-and I don’t want to hurt Lorenzo.”

“The last time we spoke, you weren’t clear on your emotions towards him. Has that changed?”

“It has.” Carly sighed and stared at her bare fingers. “When I got my feelings for Sonny back, I always held this idea in my head that it would end. That once the tangible feelings came back, the ones from the dream would go away.”

“And didn’t happen.”

“The opposite really. What I didn’t realize is that all this time–while I was suspended between feeling and not feeling, those feelings from the dream were crystallizing–were finding roots in reality. And when my emotions came back for Sonny…I realized that it didn’t clear anything up. It just made it all more confusing because I love Lorenzo. I am in love with him. But…I love Sonny.”

“But you weren’t ready to return to Sonny when you got those feelings back and I don’t believe that’s changed.”

“Right. If Sonny and I were as strong as we always believed, wouldn’t I have jumped at the idea of returning to him?” Carly stood and started to pace. “We’re due in court at noon, you know? He’s going to change his plea and I don’t know how I can be there but I don’t know how I can’t. I don’t know what’s going on in my head anymore, Cameron. I don’t feel like I’m sure of anything. What if I only think I love Lorenzo because I’m searching for a reason not to go back to Sonny?”

“Do you think that’s true?”

“No,” Carly admitted. “I told Lorenzo that I loved him. And after the Sonny thing yesterday, he listened to me and respected my wishes not to beat Sonny up or some other Neanderthal thing, you know? That means the world to me. That he would respect me enough–believe in me enough. I’ve never…I’ve never had that before. I mean–Jason would listen to me. And then he’d tell me my plans were stupid. Which–okay, yeah, they were. But he’d want to fix things for me. And Sonny wanted to fix me…Lorenzo’s just…he’s letting me be me and that’s…that’s the most incredible thing ever.”

“Well, Carly, what does that tell you?” Cameron asked. “I don’t want to tell you what to feel or think but if you don’t mind, I would like to tell you what I think.”

“Sure.” Carly sat back down.

“I think that you’re a woman who’s been knocked down a lot and that you fight back the only way you know how. Manipulation, schemes, whatever it might be. I get the impression that when you were with Jason or in love with him, your schemes were a bit wild and completely insane. Almost as if you knew they’d blow up in your face and you were hoping he’d rescue you and I think you made the mistake early on of doing that with Sonny. That’s probably why they both have the impression you need to be fixed or taken care of.”

He shifted in his seat and set her file aside. “With Lorenzo, you two came into each other’s life purely by accident. He did many things to gain your love, none of which worked but once he started to just be your friend, it happened naturally. Your face lights up when you talk about him, Carly. In a way that it doesn’t for Sonny. I also think that you’re a woman who needs to stand on her own for a while. Be a mother, be a friend, be a working woman…just do not let yourself fall into the role of Lorenzo’s wife or girlfriend as easily as you did being Sonny’s wife. You need your own identity, something that’s yours. You’re on the right track, Carly, but you’re trying to move it too fast. You think if you hurry along declarations of love or make decisions to decide the rest of your life, you can move on more quickly.”

“I just want to begin my life again,” she sighed. “I want a fresh start.”

“And a fresh start–a real one–only comes when you’ve got closure. You need to resolve your relationship with Sonny before you dream of moving on with Lorenzo.”

Elizabeth’s Apartment

“I can stay for a little while,” Jason told her as he handed her the keys. “But I have to be in court at noon.”

“Okay, well the furniture isn’t due until 10 and we were going to get that unpacked before moving my stuff over.” Elizabeth slid the door open and stepped inside, still overwhelmed by such a huge space.

“I could have gotten some men to do it,” Jason told her. “You know it wouldn’t be a problem.”

“No…it’s better this way.” Elizabeth wandered around the living room, picturing where she’d put her new sofa and things. The old sofa from her studio was going in her bedroom, she’d already decided on that. “We’re going to make a day of it, you know. Unpacking, doing a dinner thing. Try and–well, try and pretend things are normal. It’ll be a weird because Nikolas and Zander do not get along very well–not at all really, but he wanted to help.”

“I’ve got some meetings this afternoon,” Jason said apologetically. “Things have gotten really backed up these last few months and I just want to get it all running smoothly again.”

“You have your own life–its fine.” Elizabeth shrugged. She crossed to a set of windows. These overlooked the city–from the woods to the little suburban streets at the other end of town and all the buildings in between.

“Elizabeth…” Jason took a deep breath. “I’ll be done late but I thought maybe we could try out this compromise tonight. You know…a few nights a week?” he reminded her.

She smiled–and this time it was a genuine smile. “Great. Why don’t you stop by the penthouse and bring some things over?”

“Sounds like a plan,” he agreed. Loathing the idea of bringing this up, but wanting to do it before his sister and the others arrived, he reached into the inside pocket of his leather jacket and withdrew a thick envelope.

She eyed it suspiciously. “What’s in there?” she asked.

“Checkbook for the account we talked about,” Jason told her. “And some credit cards.” He handed it to her. She slid it open and pulled out the checkbook and smiled a little. He’d put the account in her maiden name.

“I’ll be glad to be Elizabeth Webber again,” she murmured. She put the contents of the envelope in her purse. “As soon as that divorce is final, I’m going back to it.”

“Has he signed the papers?” Jason asked, despite knowing the answer.

She grimaced and shook her head. “No. I chased him around the courthouse yesterday morning and I called his office again today, but he’s just not budging. I don’t know what he thinks is going to happen. What went wrong between us isn’t going to magically go away.” She walked away, hoping to avoid this conversation and disappeared into the kitchen.

After a moment, he followed her. “Do you still love him?” Jason asked bluntly.

Elizabeth said nothing for a moment, just continued to open and close the different cabinets, inspecting each carefully. “Yes and no,” she finally told him. “I love the man I thought he was and I don’t love the man he really is but to tell you the truth…I don’t know that I ever really loved him. I think that I wanted to, I think that I cared about him but in the end…” she shrugged. “I don’t know what you want me to say, Jason. Do you want me to say no…of course I don’t still love him? I only love you?”

“I want you tell me the truth,” Jason simply. “You want honesty from me…and I want it from you.”

Elizabeth studied him for a moment before taking a seat at the island. “Then yes, I do still love him. But he’s not the man I thought he was. I thought I was dating a Harvard lawyer who was this…great guy. Who cared about what I thought and what I felt and…” she bit her lip. “Faith told me once…that Ric was just you in a fancy suit and…she was right. I saw the things I had always loved about you in him and…I let myself fall for his act.”

She traced the smooth counter top with one of her fingernails. “And instead, I got a selfish, egotistical slightly psychotic man who found out what your weakness was–where you were vulnerable and preyed on it, used it to the best of his abilities. I love him, Jason, but mainly because I thought he was everything I loved about you…and nothing like what I hated about you. I was trying to replace you and I pretty much failed.”

“Yeah…I know what that’s like.” Jason sighed. “Courtney doesn’t like silences, so she always tries to fill them. That kind of reminded me of you at first–except you didn’t do it to fill anything. You just…you just rambled about pretty much anything you could think about. She had a lot of your…a lot of what I always liked about you–she was good at listening and she argued with me a lot when I tried to tell her what to do. But it’s not–it wasn’t right. Because even though you and she have a few things in common…she wasn’t you.”

Elizabeth reached into her purse and withdrew the set of keys he’d given her. There was a duplicate and she took it off the key ring. “With the way I seem to fall asleep at the drop of a hat…you might need this.” She slid it across the table and he covered her hand, grateful for this show of trust.

Sonny’s Penthouse

Courtney poured some water into the coffee pot and waited for it to start dripping. She needed to have Sonny alert and moving within at least an hour.

And if she concentrated on Sonny’s needs, she wouldn’t have to think about yesterday. God, Brian must think she was the most idiotic woman alive. It hadn’t even been Jason’s motorcycle the night before and she’d pulled away like her father was going to find them.

But so what if she’d pulled away? She hadn’t made any secret of the fact that she was still in love with Jason and just because she was attracted to Brian–okay, really really cared about him–and just because she was filing for divorce, that didn’t mean her feelings just got shut off. It wasn’t some light switch you could turn on and off.

She’d wanted Brian here with her today but he had a life in Haye’s Landing and damn it–she was going to start doing things for herself. She’d spent her whole life depending on other people and she refused to do it anymore. She was on her own woman.

Without a job or any other means of monetary support–but that was beyond the point. She could waitress again. She could find work. She was more than someone’s wife, someone’s girlfriend.

“Smells good,” her brother remarked, entering the room. He stepped up next to her and pulled out some pots and pans. “I thought I might make a big breakfast for us. A really good one.”

“Sonny, I don’t need–”

“I need to do it,” he interrupted her. “It’ll probably be the last time I can cook for a while–I need to do it.”

Courtney nodded and retreated to the table. “Are you ready for today?”

Sonny shrugged. “Ready to get sentenced to at least six years in a psychiatric hospital? Not really. But–it’s the right thing to do. I–I don’t know what’s going on in my head anymore, Courtney. I shot my wife in the head–and then I hit her. And between you and me, yesterday feels a lot worse than what I did in October.”

“It is in a way,” Courtney agreed. “But I’m glad you’re getting help, Sonny. And as soon as they start allowing visitors, I’ll come as often as I can.”

“You don’t have to do that,” Sonny replied. “I know you’re trying to rebuild your life and you shouldn’t have to worry about me.”

“You’re my brother,” she said softly. “I will always worry about you.”

“I’m–I’ve put Jason in charge of the business end of things and Carly’s–Carly’s got a bank account in her name that never goes below a certain number but everything else is yours,” he told her.

“Sonny…I don’t need anything from you,” Courtney protested.

He cracked open some eggs into a bowl. “It’s more for me than it is for you,” Sonny admitted. “I want to know that you’re okay. You don’t have to use it if you don’t want but the money’s there if you need it.”

“All right,” she agreed reluctantly. She cleared her throat. “Carly will probably be at the hearing today.”

“I’m hoping she is,” Sonny replied. “I need to apologize to her. I need for her to understand that I would rather cut off my arm than hurt her.”

“Then you need to let her go,” she said softly. “You need to let her stand on her own. She needs it.”

Sonny glanced over his shoulder at his sister. Though they were still separated by nearly fifteen years–she was far more mature than she should be at her age. Barely twenty-three and already facing the end of her second marriage. A year of living her life in danger. She’d seen things he’d never wanted for his family and he hoped to God she was really getting out of it now.

“If that’s what Carly wants…that’s what I’ll give her,” Sonny sighed.

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