Chapter Three

Lansing Apartment

Elizabeth was curled up on the couch, reading a magazine when Ric came home late that afternoon. He tried not to look at the plush teddy bear still perched on the mantel of the fireplace. He’d tried to take it down when he’d first come home from the hospital, but he’d found himself unable to do so.

Elizabeth had touched it once when she’d come home. She’d picked it up, stared at it for a moment and then set it back in its place. It seemed neither of them were quite ready to give up the fantasy of their own family.

He’d been avoiding her–he knew it, and he knew that she knew it. Ever since the horrible day in the hospital when she’d looked up at him with those beautiful trusting eyes and asked him why he’d made Carly believe they’d slept together.

He couldn’t answer her and he found that it was hard to look at her now. She had a right to know why someone she’d been dating had pretended to sleep with someone else and she had even more of a right to know why her husband had done it.

He’d spent the last week or so searching for the answer, an answer that she’d accept and understand. An answer so that they’d be able to put it behind them and move on.

He hadn’t found that magical answer yet, but he was tired of avoiding her. So he was going to tell her the truth.

Elizabeth looked up at him from her position on the couch. She was facing the door–almost as if she was waiting for him to come home. She closed the magazine she’d been reading and set it on the table. “Mac Scorpio was by,” she told him. “You didn’t tell me he’d called.”

Ric nodded and sat gingerly on the other end of the couch. “I know. I’m sorry. I didn’t want to be here when he came by.”

‘Why not?” Elizabeth asked softly, hurt. “It didn’t occur to you that maybe I’d need you here?”

He exhaled slowly. “I was wrong not to be here and I admit that. I know that he arrested Sonny after he left here–I heard about it on the radio while I was driving home. But I should have been here for you.”

“What’s going on?” Elizabeth asked. “You’re never home, don’t think I don’t know that you’ve been avoiding me. Why?”

“Because I don’t know what to say to you,” Ric admitted. “You asked me to tell you why I made Carly believe we’d slept together and I didn’t answer you. The truth is, Elizabeth, that the only answer I have is not good enough for you. It won’t make you forgive me and you probably won’t accept it. And all I’ve been trying to do this last week is find an answer that’s good enough.”

She sighed and drew her knees up, wrapping her arms around them. “I don’t need an answer like that. How am I supposed to know you, supposed to trust you…if you’re constantly searching for some way to explain the truth away. I don’t need to be coddled or protected…all I want is the truth.”

“The truth is that I wanted leverage on Sonny,” Ric said quietly. “He didn’t trust me, he didn’t want to let me near him. Nothing I’d done up to that point had worked. I saw Carly at Jake’s. She was drunk…and I could tell she was close to passing out. I took her to the motel room and the idea…the idea just occurred to me.”

“You wanted to get close to Sonny so that you could destroy him,” Elizabeth said slowly. “Why?”

“We’re half-brothers,” Ric said unnecessarily. “We share the same mother. When our mother was pregnant with me, she and Sonny and my father were staying at the house on Martha’s Vineyard. He pushed her down the stairs and she nearly died. She nearly lost me. My father told her that he couldn’t be around Sonny–that he was dangerous. He wanted her to give him up and she wouldn’t. She chose him–over me.”

Elizabeth sighed and slid closer to him, wrapping her arms around his neck. “He was just a little boy,” she said softly. She used one of her hands to stroke his hair. He turned and pressed his face into her neck. “He was a little boy and it wasn’t his choice to make Adela choose. It was your father’s. I can’t imagine any mother who would turn their child over for adoption.”

“But she didn’t even think twice about giving me up,” Ric said in a strained voice. Elizabeth closed her eyes and drew him closer.

“She was in love with your father, right?” she asked. When she felt him nod, she continued. “She knew that your father would love you. That he would take care of you. That you would not be hurt. How could she know any of those things about the family that would adopt Sonny?”

His arms hesitantly reached for her. They slipped around her waist and tugged her closer to him. “I guess she didn’t.”

“She made the only choice she could have…the only choice that would ensure both her sons would be loved. And I’m sure she missed you every day of her life,” Elizabeth assured him. “I can’t imagine any mother who’d make a choice like that and not miss her child.”

“But he ran away…he let her die…”

“And I don’t think a day goes by that Sonny doesn’t regret that,” Elizabeth replied. “He’s so controlling, so fiercely protective of his family. He’s trying to compensate for failing your mother. And I’m sure in his mind, he’ll never measure up to it. He’ll never be able to make peace.”

Her fingers were still combing through his hair and she exhaled slowly, sighing in relief, when she felt warm tears on the soft skin of her neck. “It’s okay,” she murmured. “It’s okay.”

Jason’s Penthouse

Carly shook her head. “This is unacceptable,” she snarled at the lawyer Jason had hired for Sonny.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Corinthos,” Robyn Nichols apologized. “But I can’t argue with the judge’s reasoning. Like it or not, your husband is a flight risk and you managed to come up against one of the few judges in the area that isn’t impressed by the name Corinthos.”

“Sonny cannot stay in jail all night!” Carly declared. She looked at Jason. “We have to do something–he can’t sit in that cell, you know that.”

Jason exhaled slowly and looked towards the redhead again. “What about the charges? Can you get them dropped?”

“I’m inclined to wait until the grand jury hearing on Friday,” Robyn told him. “If the statements are right and Mrs. Lansing testifies the way we expect her to, Mr. Corinthos will not be indicted and this will go away.”

“And what if Scott Baldwin doesn’t give her an opening?” Carly challenged. “What if Sonny is indicted and forced to go to trial?”

“Then I’ll reopen the bail issue,” Robyn said coolly. She was not impressed with Carly’s hysterics nor intimidated by Jason’s blank stare. She had only been recently retained by the reputed mobsters and this was her first chance to show her skills. The best kind of lawyer for people like them was someone who wasn’t scared of them–and could play on their field. “Mr. Corinthos will surrender his passport and we’ll make some sort of arrangement. I’m sure the only reason bail was denied was because of his name. Assault defendants usually aren’t held without bail.”

“I just can’t stand the idea of Sonny locked up all night in a tiny little cell,” Carly whimpered. “I want this to go away.”

Jason put a hand on the small of his friend’s back and directed her towards the door. “Carly, just let me handle this.” He looked at Courtney. “Courtney, take her across the hall. Make sure she eats. Check on Michael, okay?”

“Okay,” Courtney said. She wrapped an arm around her sister-in-law’s shoulders and they left the penthouse.

Jason eyed their lawyer. “What are Sonny’s chances of being indicted?”

“It all depends on Scott Baldwin’s questions and Elizabeth Lansing’s testimony,” Robyn replied immediately. “Mr. Corinthos is the only witness, he has a known grudge against Mr. Lansing. They both admit they were arguing. There’s no evidence that says he did it, but there’s no evidence that says he didn’t. If Mrs. Lansing gets the chance to tell the grand jury she doesn’t believe he did it, then I don’t think he’ll be indicted. Juries aren’t quick to indict someone the victim doesn’t believe committed the crime. If Scott Baldwin doesn’t give her that chance, he will be indicted.”

“And if he’s indicted?” Jason questioned.

“He’ll go to trial,” Robyn told him. “He won’t be convicted because then I’ll have the chance to present a defense. I’ll be able to cross-examine Mrs. Lansing, present different theories of the case. I’m positive, Mr. Morgan, that Mr. Corinthos will not be convicted for this.”

“All right,” Jason replied. “Then we’ll see you on Thursday.”

“You won’t be allowed in the courtroom,” Robyn said as she picked up her briefcase and headed for the door. “Neither will I. We’ll be waiting outside to find out.”

“I understand,” Jason replied. “Thank you.”

She nodded and left.

PCPD

Georgie Jones knocked on Mac’s open office door, a large paper bag in her hands. “Hey, Dad,” she greeted.

He smiled and motioned for her to come in. “Georgie, what brings you by?”

She set the bag in front of him. “Making sure you eat dinner,” she reported. “You’ve been late so often this week. Maxie and I are worried about you.”

He opened the bag and removed the wrapped plate of hot dogs, beans and French fries. “Maxie?”

“It was her turn to cook,” Georgie offered. “There’s a can of soda and some ketchup, mustard and fork in there.”

He nodded and started unwrapping everything. “How did you get here? Lucas?”

She shook her head. “No. Dillon drove me. He’s waiting outside and then we’re going to the movies.”

Mac glanced up. “It’s nine.”

Georgie sighed. “Dad…it’s just Dillon. I’ll be home by midnight, I promise. He’s just really excited about this new film that’s opening. It’s the old theater on Van Ness that shows a bunch of old movies and he’s been waiting for Some Like It Hot to open for the past month.”

“He’s really into all these old movies, huh?” Mac asked, opening the can of cola. “Well, I suppose with taste like that, he can’t be that bad.”

“He’s not,” Georgie replied. “He’s really great. I know if you got more of a chance to get to know him, you’d love him.”

“I thought you were interested in Lucas,” Mac said.

She sighed. “I was. But after I had an absolutely boring time at the prom, I gave up on that. Besides, Dillon’s just a friend.”

He nodded. “Okay. If you say so.”

Georgie hesitated. “So…why are you here so late all the time?” she asked.

“Georgie…”

“Come on, Dad,” Georgie protested. “I can tell it bothers you. You’re so tense now and distracted. It’ll help to talk about it, I promise.”

“You’ve heard about Sonny Corinthos’s latest arrest?” Mac questioned. She nodded. “Well, I don’t think he’s guilty of what we’re charging him with.”

Georgie frowned. “Then why did you arrest him?” she asked.

“Because we needed to save face,” Mac admitted bitterly. “Because I need to save my job.”

“And the fact that you’re charging an innocent person bothers you doesn’t it?” Georgie asked. “Because you don’t believe you’re doing the right thing.”

“I’m doing the right thing for me, for my family,” Mac replied. “But no, on the large scale of justice, I’m not doing the right thing.”

“If he’s not guilty,” Georgie said slowly, “then I’m sure it’ll work out. I mean, the system is designed to set innocent people free, right?”

He had to smile at her innocence. His sweet little girl had grown up so fast–already dating boys–dating Quartermaine boys, much to his chagrin. She seemed so mature, so much older than her sister, that at times Mac would forget she was only fifteen.

“Right,” he replied. “I’m sure it’ll work out. You should go…don’t want to keep Dillon waiting.”

She stood and leaned across the desk to kiss him on the cheek. “Don’t worry, Dad. Even if you’re not doing the right thing right now, you will in the end.”

Port Charles County Jail

Carly clutched at Sonny’s hand from the other side of the table in the visitor’s room of the jail. It was the first time Sonny had gone to the county jail–he’d never been denied bail before so he’d never really gone further than the PCPD lock up.

His eyes were sunken and red, his face ashen and drawn. He hadn’t slept the night before–every time he’d tried; he’d seen the inside of the closet from his youth. He’d been unable to breathe at alternate times that night. He’d tried to pace the room, tried to remind himself that the cell was not as small as the closet was and that he was no longer nine years old being held in a small closet by his stepfather.

But the pacing had just reminded him that cell was small–that he had no way to escape–that he couldn’t leave at any time.

“The lawyer said that after tomorrow, this should be all over,” Carly told Sonny for the fifth time. “You’ll come home and we’ll…we’ll go to the island where the beach is nice and it’s open and air is fresh. I promise Sonny.”

Sonny nodded absently. “Yeah.”

“Even if you are indicted, she’ll get the bail issue reopened. She promised, Sonny. And–and Elizabeth will tell everyone that you’re innocent, that she knows you’re innocent. I know she will.”

“Carly,” Sonny said softly. “Go home. This place…it isn’t healthy for you.”

She shook her head fiercely. “No. I’m not leaving here.”

“Carly. Go. I…” He took a deep breath. He had to be strong–he had to show her that he was strong. That he could take a few nights in a jail cell as long as he knew his family was safe. “I’m okay. I promise. Go home.”

She was still shaking her head. “I am not leaving you. I am going to stay until they kick me out.”

“I will feel better if you go home,” Sonny told her. “I will be okay if I know you are at home, with Michael, taking care of yourself and our child. Please, Carly.”

Her voice was thick. “God, Sonny, I hate to think of you here, for a crime that you didn’t commit. They’re railroading you, Sonny. And I can’t sleep knowing you’re here. I can barely breathe. Sonny–”

“Go home, Carly. I will be okay,” Sonny said, even though he knew he wouldn’t he. He needed to show her that he was strong. He’d be okay if she thought he was strong.

“But–”

“Go home,” Sonny repeated again. “Please.”

Finally, she nodded in agreement. She stood and kissed him softly. He could feel her tears against his skin. She left the room.

Sonny was waiting for the guard to take him back to his cell when he realized that someone else was making their way through the room. She was weaving in and out of the other tables full of inmates speaking with their lawyers, their families, their girlfriends.

Elizabeth Lansing sat across from him and sighed. “I’m so sorry,” she apologized quietly.

He nodded. “I know you are.”

“I never once accused you,” she told him. “Even when I knew that’s what they wanted me to do…I can’t imagine ever accusing you of this horrible thing. I’m sorry, Sonny.”

“Elizabeth…I know you are,” Sonny said quietly. “But…I…I don’t really remember what happened and you don’t know who pushed you.”

Elizabeth stared at him for a moment. Her face was confused and she tilted her head to the side. “You think…you think that you could have, don’t you?” she asked softly.

Sonny shrugged a little and looked away.

“Oh, God…” she shook her head. “No, Sonny. I know you didn’t do it.”

“How?” he demanded. “How can you know?”

“I can feel it in here,” Elizabeth replied, pressing a hand to her heart. “I know you, Sonny. I pretend that I don’t, I pretend that we don’t know anything about each other. But I know you. I remember the night you and Carly lost your baby. I saw you…you would never hurt anyone that way–you would never push a defenseless woman down a flight of stone steps, much less a pregnant woman.” Her eyes filled with tears. “Sonny, you didn’t touch me. You walked away. I know you did. You didn’t do this.”

Some tension left his shoulders and he slumped a little. He closed his eyes. “Thank you.”

“Do you believe me?” Elizabeth asked intently. “Do you?”

“I…I believe you.” He raised his eyes. “I know that I yelled at you that night. I said things that I didn’t mean. You matter to me, Elizabeth. You’ve always been there when it counted and I can’t…I can’t fault you because you’ve chosen to believe there’s more to Ric Lansing than he’s shown the rest of us.”

“There is,” Elizabeth told him. “I know you hate him, but he’s screwed up. He’s screwed up from his father telling him that it was your fault Ric never had a real mother and believe me, Ric knows more than anyone else that he’s screwed up. But he doesn’t want to be like that anymore. He wants to build a life for himself that doesn’t include hating you and wanting revenge.”

He nodded. “I remember how much you used to fight for Jason and how loyal you’ve always been to the people you love. I hope…I hope your faith in Ric is justified and he makes you happy.”

“I will make sure you’re out of here,” Elizabeth promised him. “You didn’t do this. And you don’t deserve to be here.”

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