But I’m a fire and I’ll keep your brittle heart warm
If your cascade ocean wave blues come
All these people think love’s for show
But I would die for you in secret
The devil’s in the details, but you got a friend in me
Would it be enough if I could never give you peace?
– peace, Taylor Swift
Thursday, February 19, 2004
PCPD: Locker Room
One step in front of the other. That was how he was going to handle this. He was back at work, starting a shift just like nothing had changed.
And he was going to ignore every other cop in the room staring at him with side eyes—so what if they thought he was a dirty cop? They were lazy pieces of shit—
Dante jerked away at the hand on his shoulder and nearly slammed into the lockers, his heart racing. Then he realized it was just Lucky and caught his breath. “Sorry—”
“I’m sorry—” Lucky began at the same time, then cleared his throat. “I didn’t mean to startle you. I was just—I was worried.” He set a duffel bag on the bench. “Cruz said you were staying somewhere else to get the press off your trail—”
“Yeah. They were outside our building, too,” Dante slammed his locker door shut. “They’re still at my ma’s. Trying to get to Lois or Alexis, I think. Ma’s not really rating any interviews. She’s just the teenager that Sonny knocked—” He stopped. “I’m fine.”
“You don’t have to tell me,” Lucky said after a moment. “I just—I wanted you to know if you need anything, I’m here.”
“I don’t—I just need everyone to pretend they don’t know.” Dante grunted as he fastened the last button on his shirt. “That’s not happening.”
“No, I guess not.” Lucky tipped his head. “Do they know how it leaked?”
He grimaced. “No. Not yet. No one was supposed to know. Me, my ma, and some family back in Bensonhurst. That was it.” He paused. “I told Lu the other day, but she didn’t say anything.”
“You told my sister.” Lucky squinted. “Uh, so I guess you cleared things up there.”
“Doesn’t really matter anymore, but yeah. I don’t know how the papers found out, but someone decided to destroy my life.” Dante stared at his badge for a long moment before pinning to his shirt. He wasn’t sure how much longer he’d be able to keep doing this job. Some were already looking at him weird after he’d testified against Vinnie, now—
It was just a matter of time before the job he loved was taken from him, just like everything else in his life. Brooke, his family—
The job was all he had left, and now the clock was ticking on that. Who the hell hated him that much?
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“Grandfather hit the roof when the papers were published,” Emily said as she handed Elizabeth a glass of water and sat next to her. “He’s threatening to sue the Herald and the Sun for putting Kristina in danger—”
“Maybe we should do a class action suit,” Elizabeth muttered. She rubbed her forehead. “It’s crazy. Jason spent most of yesterday trying to keep Sonny from flipping out—and he’s at the warehouse now because I think Sonny is trying to get a lawyer to go after visitation—”
“Christ. He doesn’t wait long.” Emily shuddered. “Justus won’t do it?”
“Justus—” Elizabeth paused. “He quit last night. Sonny was flipping out, and he—” She sipped her water, the guilt swimming in her stomach. “Justus doesn’t want to deal with it,” she said finally, uncomfortable telling Emily about the violent scene she’d witnessed the night before.
“Can’t blame him, but it sucks for you and Jason. Justus is a great lawyer.” Emily twirled her fork in her pasta salad. “How did your appointment go?”
Elizabeth opened her mouth to tell Emily the same thing she’d told Jason but then closed it. “Not well,” she said finally. “The glucose test went fine,” she said, “but…my oxygen levels aren’t getting better.”
Emily set down the fork and stared at Elizabeth. “Are they getting worse?”
“They dropped another point. I’m still a few points above where we need to worry, but—”
“But it could change at any minute.” Emily’s shoulders were tense as she leaned forward. “What did Mom say?”
“The same thing she did last month. And last week. She wants me to check in as soon as possible. Yesterday, even.” Elizabeth’s fingers suddenly felt limp, and she set down the glass on the coffee table with a thud. “But I’m—there’s still—there’s time—”
“There’s not as much as I wanted, but every day I can make it—it gives Cameron a better chance. I can’t stand the idea of him struggling in the NICU, Em, or ending up with a long-term complication. I mean, we’re talking about the difference between some vision issues and something like cerebral palsy or severe learning problems—”
“We’re talking about your life!”
Elizabeth closed her eyes. “Em—”
“You have the best medical care that money can buy. Between your husband and our family, Elizabeth, any complication Cameron has—we can handle it. We can get him tutors and doctors and treatments—”
“I know that—”
“But we can’t get another you.”
Elizabeth looked at her best friend, her sister-in-law, and tried to speak. The words refused to form as she processed Emily’s statement. “Em—”
“What happens if there’s a crisis and you deliver tomorrow?” Emily demanded. “If you have something happen at home and we have to rush you in, and by the time we get there—there’s no chance for you, just for Cameron? You want Jason to have to deal with that?”
“You want us to raise this little boy without you?”
“Then why are you refusing to remember that you come first?” Emily continued, almost ruthlessly. “Your body has to come first. You can’t help Cameron if you don’t help yourself.”
“I can’t—” Her throat closed, and Elizabeth’s chest tightened. Her lungs started to burn, the familiarity of the sensation so fucking frustrating—
She wanted to breathe. Why was it so hard to just breathe?
Without another word, Emily leaned down to the side table. She removed the oxygen tank they kept there and helped Elizabeth fit the mask over her face. She sat next to her, holding Elizabeth’s hand as the cool, sweet air flooded into her nose and mouth, and gradually, her chest eased.
“I’m sorry,” Emily said. “But I told you that we’d have this argument when your health started to change.”
Elizabeth kept her eyes closed as she pulled the mask down, letting it rest on her belly. “Do you think I want it this way?” she murmured.
“No, of course not—”
“I didn’t want to spend my pregnancy being scared all the time. I didn’t want to spend my life this way. I’ve spent too much time being afraid of taking chances. Of reaching for what I really want. I couldn’t get out of my own way long enough to be happy.”
“I understand that what I’ve—that the way I’ve handled things so far is unreasonable. Do you think I don’t?” she demanded.
“And it’s so easy for everyone to tell me to put myself first.” Elizabeth shoved the mask aside and pushed herself to her feet, her body protesting the movement. “So easy for you and Jason and Monica to look at me like I’m insane—”
“No one thinks that—”
“What was I supposed to do?” Elizabeth demanded. “Deliver my baby at twenty-eight weeks and give him the worst possible start to life when my vitals were relatively healthy?”
“Of course not—”
“My oxygen levels dropped two points to 92. I’ve read the stupid papers Monica gave me. Below 90 is a concern, not at 92.”
“Every single day I manage to stay pregnant is one more chance for Cameron to be healthy.” She rubbed her belly, feeling her son press his tiny feet against her hand, reminding her why she was struggling so hard. “You know better than anyone what it’s like to lay in a hospital bed, gasping for breath. After your accident—”
“I never said I didn’t—”
“I’ve spent six months not being able to trust my body. Not being able to trust that I’ll be able to breathe without oxygen nearby. I don’t want my son to spend a single day in the NICU longer than he has to. That’s what I’m fighting for.”
“I understand all of that.” Emily got to her feet. “And I’m on your side. We all are—this isn’t a battle. We’re not at war, Elizabeth. You’re at thirty weeks. It’s so much safer now—”
“And it’ll be even safer if I get to thirty-two—”
“Elizabeth—your condition could change overnight. You know that! You could—you could go to sleep tonight and not wake up—” She scowled. “What did Jason say? I know he’s not happy about any of this, not that he’ll say so.”
Elizabeth bristled. “What does that mean?”
“Don’t pretend you don’t know that Jason has spent the last two months biting his tongue,” Emily retorted. “We all decided not to argue about this until we have to. Since he clearly didn’t get you to check in yesterday, I guess he didn’t win—”
“He didn’t—” Elizabeth paused. “He doesn’t know.”
“He doesn’t—” Emily’s eyes widened. “What do you mean he doesn’t know?”
“I mean, that the papers hit right before we were supposed to leave,” Elizabeth said. “So Jason stayed to deal with Sonny. When I got home from the appointment—” She fisted her hand and rubbed it against her chest. “Sonny was here screaming at Jason, and Justus was angry. Sonny shoved Justus into the wall—”
“And Justus quit. After everything going on with Ric and Sonny and Carly—and there are other problems I’m not supposed to know about—the last thing Jason needed was for me to dump one more thing on him—”
“You are not one more thing, Elizabeth. You are his wife—”
Elizabeth shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. He didn’t need this last night—”
“And when is it going to be a good time?” Emily demanded. “Before or after your vitals crash and Mom has to explain to Jason what the hell is going on—”
“Look, I’m sorry for Carly and everyone dealing with Sonny. I am. And I know that’s Jason’s problem, too. But at the end of the day, do you think Jason is going to be happy you didn’t tell him this then? What did you tell him about the appointment?”
Elizabeth shifted her eyes. “That everything was fine, which is technically true, but I know he thought I meant my oxygen levels were better, or at least the same. Don’t look at me that way, Em. You didn’t see him. He needed someone to give him a break, okay? He needed me not to be something he has to worry about—”
“And that’d be great if it weren’t a lie.” Emily turned and went towards her purse on the desk. “I’m calling him—”
“If you’re not going to tell him there’s a problem with his family—”
“Then you tell him the next time you see him.” Emily arched a brow. “Or I will.”
Warehouse: Jason’s Office
“I’m sorry, Jason, I really am. Mikki and I talked it over,” Justus continued, “and I just can’t keep doing this—”
Jason rubbed the back of his neck, then looked out the window that overlooked the waterfront. “I know.” How could he ask his cousin for one more thing after the man had uprooted his entire family to move to Port Charles only to be attacked?
Jason had known Sonny was on the edge of the darkness he’d spent most of his life fighting. He slipped over it a few times, but Jason had always been able to drag him back. But since December, since that terrible night in the penthouse, Jason just hadn’t been able to reach him. Was it too late? Had Sonny slipped too far?
He turned back to Justus. “I can’t ask you to stay on. I knew you were only sticking because of Elizabeth and the baby—”
“And you,” Justus cut in. “I didn’t want to leave you with all of this going on.” He paused. “I still don’t. There’s something really weird going on with all this Ric stuff. I know you’re overloaded between the crap Sonny is pulling, the problems Tommy and Luke are warning you about—and all of that has nothing on what’s happening with Elizabeth and the baby.” He grimaced. “I just can’t pretend I can represent Sonny anymore. Especially after yesterday.”
“I know,” Jason repeated. He put his hands at his waist, dipped his head, and took a deep breath. “Okay. Okay. What if I get Sonny another lawyer? You won’t have to deal with him anymore.”
Justus squinted. “Jason—”
“I can explain that to him,” Jason said. “You’re needed here. At the warehouse. Concentrating on Ric. Sonny should have someone who can just focus on his family.”
“Do you really want him to have a lawyer that does nothing but focus on Carly and the kids? On Alexis?” Justus asked doubtfully. “You can probably convince him to leave the Falconieri kid alone because he’s a cop, but—”
“I want it all to go away,” Jason said flatly. “But that’s not an option on the table, so we’re going to go with what we have. Bernie can’t handle everything, and your biggest problem is dealing with Sonny. I can’t—” He shook his head. “If you really need to go, if you really can’t stay, then okay. I can handle that. But I’m asking you for more time. Just a few more weeks. I need someone I can trust. Bernie’s been good for us these last six months, it’s not the same. I know you,” he told Justus. “I trust you.”
Justus exhaled slowly, scrubbed a hand over his face, then remained silent for a long moment. “You’re not dealing with this, Jason. You’re just making Sonny someone else’s problem—”
“He’ll snap out of this—”
“He won’t.” Justus got to his feet. “Since the day I came to Port Charles to help you last summer, Sonny hasn’t been someone I reported to. He’s a figurehead, Jason. You’ve done your job and his—you’ve been taking care of his family and yours. You can’t do it all. I’d stay if I thought this was temporary, but it’s not. If Elizabeth delivers in a few weeks, you’ll have a premature baby in the NICU to worry about. You’ll be distracted even more than you are now.”
Jason swallowed hard. “What you’re asking me to do, I can’t—”
“I’m not asking you to do anything. The time is past for that. You’re weak, Jason,” Justus said, his tone gentle. “Because you’re not doing what needs to be done. You’re sticking your head in the sand, and you’re putting all of us—including Elizabeth—in more danger. The other reason I can’t stay on as Sonny’s lawyer is that I agree with Carly. She’s taking her boys and making a run for it.”
Jason said nothing. What could he say? Justus was right, after all. So were Luke and Tommy and everyone else.
But what the hell were they asking him to do? Exile him to the island and hope he didn’t come back—
What did they expect from him? To kill Sonny?
“The very thing that makes you the best right-hand man in the game,” Justus continued, “is what is making everything worse. Your loyalty to Sonny is admirable, and it’s what’s giving you the time you’ve been given. Tommy has a lot of power, and if he wanted it, he could have taken things months ago. But he respects you too much to do it now. You know he’s the threat he’s talking about. He didn’t go after Sonny when Smith went down, and he didn’t go to Moreno or Sorel because he thought Sonny was the right guy to follow. He doesn’t think so anymore.”
Jason sat down, stared hard at the surface of the desk. “I know all of this,” he admitted. “I just don’t see a way out of it. Not right now.”
The room was quiet as Jason’s words hung in the air. Finally, Justus sighed. “I’ll stay on,” he said. “Because I love and respect you, Jason. And if Mikki was going through what Elizabeth is, I’m not sure I’d be able to handle it either. Kimi is my whole world, and I want you to have that. I don’t want to deal with Sonny unless I have to, but we’re not going to maintain the status quo. Something is going to have to change.”
“I know,” Jason said again, but before he could continue, Bernie shoved the door open. His face was flushed, and he was breathing hard.
“We got a problem. Just got a call from our contact in Baltimore.”
Jason closed his eyes. “Ric?” he asked.
“Yeah.” Bernie scowled. “It gets worse. Big Bobby said he called Sonny—”
“What—” Jason’s eyes flew open as he gaped at his adviser. “What the hell—”
“And I called the Towers—Sonny took off. They called him ten minutes before us—”
“Damn it,” Jason swore. He looked at Justus, who was pulling out his phone. “Who are—”
“I’m calling the Brownstone—” He paused and met Jason’s eyes. “And I’m calling Taggert. We might already be too late.”
Port Charles Municipal Building: Mayor’s Office
“Edward wants to sue,” Alexis told Ned as Lois slipped into the office, “and I’m almost tempted. What the hell was the Herald thinking? I understand the Sun, but—”
“It’s the connection to the PCPD,” Ned said. He rubbed the side of his face, the weariness bleeding through every word. He sat behind his desk, then dragged his hands through his hair. “They couldn’t resist it. Local godfather has connections to the mayor’s office and the PCPD—all the scandals this last year—”
“But Dante’s a good cop,” Olivia said, her eyes flashing. “He’s clean! They torpedoed him—”
“It’s my fault.”
Alexis and Olivia looked at Lois while Ned just sighed. “What do you mean?” Alexis asked. “How is this—”
“You didn’t even know,” Olivia said at the same time.
“I did,” Lois said miserably. “I overheard you and Ned a few days ago talking about Dante and Kristina, and I just—” She stopped, her hands shaking, her entire body shivering and tingling. She didn’t quite feel like she was even in the room. Everything was happening around her, and she was floating.
“I was so angry,” she forced out. “I thought—if Ned wasn’t—” She pressed a fist to her mouth, wrapping her other arm around her waist.
Olivia was still blinking at her in confusion, but Alexis exhaled in a rush. “You thought if Ned hadn’t been lying about Kristina, he would have had more time for Brooke.”
Lois squeezed her eyes closed, nodding. She couldn’t bear to look at them, couldn’t bear to say anything.
“I don’t understand. I don’t—” Olivia’s voice sounded far away. “Did you call the papers?”
“Of course not,” Ned snapped. “Lois would never—” He cleared his throat. “We argued after hours,” he admitted. “But it was—at the office. Someone could have overheard.”
“I never wanted—” Lois’s breath caught on a sob. “I would never hurt your babies. I would never—” Her knees felt weak. “I just—I want my daughter back, and I can’t have it. I can’t ever have it, and it keeps hitting me over and over again—I’m so sorry.”
She pressed the heels of her palms into her eyes so hard that she saw stars. Still not able to look at them, keeping her eyes closed, Lois said, “I’ll resign.”
“I won’t accept it,” Ned bit out. “This is my fault—”
Lois snapped her eyes open to glare at her ex-husband. “It’s mine! I did this! I made this about me and I—”
“I didn’t do enough for Brooke. It’s my fault she’s gone.”
“It’s not—I asked him to lie,” Alexis said, quickly stepping in front of Ned, who just scowled at her. “Lois—”
“No, I won’t let you—” Ned put a hand on Alexis’s arm. “Yes, it was your idea, but I agreed. But that’s not what happened last summer. You had custody of Kristina. I was—it wasn’t Kristina distracting me.” He focused on Lois. “It wasn’t. I couldn’t reach Brooke. I couldn’t make her listen. I couldn’t make her see, and so I didn’t—I didn’t try enough.”
“Ned—” Lois shook her head. “I sent her away—” She looked at Olivia, who had said nothing so far. “I never—in my life— would have hurt Dante. I love him like my own. You know that, Livvie. You have to know that.”
“I—” Olivia cleared her throat. “I do know that. You were there when he was a baby. We raised our babies together. They were—” She closed her eyes, struggling for the words. “I just—he’s been hit over and over again. Vinnie, my ma and her bullshit—she told him about Sonny, and that’s been bad—but this—everyone knowing—”
“I’m sorry—” The guilt and shame flooded Lois with a hot flush that crawled up her neck and into her cheeks. “I’m so goddamn sorry, Liv—”
“But I get to wake up every day and have my kid. If I lost him, I’d be a wild woman. Losing Brooke almost broke me, and she wasn’t even mine.” Olivia went to her best friend, took her hands in hers, her dark eyes damp with tears. “I love you. I forgive you.”
“You lost a child,” Alexis interrupted, her voice soft. “When my sister died, I—well, we know what I did,” she muttered. “And then that man nearly cost me my baby. I made him pay. Lois, Brooke was a beautiful young woman who deserved better from all of us.”
“You didn’t do this,” she continued. “You had a weak moment, and someone saw it. They took your grief and used it. They made a profit off it.” Her tone grew more confident as she turned to Ned. “And that’s how we’re going to come back from this. This is seen as corruption? As a scandal? To hell with that! We’re mothers, and we were protecting our kids. Lois lost her daughter because of that corruption! You both lost her,” she added, “but—”
“But if we stand together as mothers,” Olivia cut in, “who were protecting their kids—just like Carly is doing now, then we can make the public understand. This doesn’t have to be a scandal. We can’t—we can’t really do much for Dante at the PCPD,” she admitted painfully. She squeezed Lois, smiling at her through her tears. “But I’m not letting the papers take your grieving and use it to hurt you. Or Ned. Or our kids. What can I do to help?” she asked Alexis.
“I love you,” Lois said, her voice faltering. “Both of you. All of you,” she corrected as she reached out her other hand to Alexis. “And I will do whatever I can to protect your kids. You’re right. The press wants to pretend those secrets were kept to get you into office? Bull-fucking shit. Let’s remind everyone that they knew about the serial rapist, and they held the story, too. They want to say that you did something wrong?” she said to Ned. “Let’s remind them that everyone has blood on their hands.”
Taggert sprinted down the steps and grimaced as he saw the double doors to Bobbie’s apartment open. In the living room, he could see Michael sprawled out on his stomach, his head propped up on his chin watching video games. Behind him, Lucas and Felix had controllers in their hands. On the opposite sofa, Maxie Jones was talking on a cell phone.
“Hey.” He stopped in the doorway. “Bobbie or Carly around?”
“Nah, Carly’s at the Cellar, and Mom’s at work.” Lucas paused the game, frowning at him. “What’s up?”
“Maxie, can you do me a favor?” he said. The blonde looked up, furrowing her brow. “Can you take Michael to his room? Just for a few minutes.”
“Uh, okay.” Maxie got to her feet. “Kyle, I’ll call you back, okay? No, things are fine, I just need to do something.” To Michael, she said. “Come on, kid. Let’s check on Morgan. See if he’s awake from his nap yet.”
Michael looked at Taggert for a long moment before climbing to his feet. “Is my daddy coming?” he asked in a small voice.
“I don’t know,” Taggert said, not wanting to lie. “But maybe. And I think it’d be better if you were in your room.”
“Yeah, come on. We’ll steal Lucas’s Game Boy, and you can play on that, okay?” Maxie put a hand on Michael’s shoulder. “Lucas?”
“Yeah, that’s fine.” Lucas saved the game and turned it off. He grabbed his Game Boy from the nearby table and tossed it to Maxie. “You call my sister?” he asked Taggert when Michael and Maxie were out of earshot.
“No, I didn’t want to worry her. If he shows up, then we’ll call. But I just wanted you to be on your toes. Justus Ward called me—”
“Why would Sonny’s lawyer call you?” Felix asked with a frown. “Isn’t that against the law?”
“Not if Justus thinks his client is about to commit a crime,” Lucas said, his eyes on Taggert. “Right? If he has knowledge of a future crime?”
“Violent crime, yeah. And considering what happened here earlier this week—” Taggert held up a hand. “Let me back up. Justus said that Sonny got news that Ric Lansing might be in Baltimore.”
“Damn,” Lucas muttered. To Felix, he said, “That’s a lot fucking closer than Atlanta.”
They heard a car squeal to a stop in front of the house. Felix leaned over to peer out the window. “Yep, that’s him. Hey, he’s driving himself. That’s new—”
“Probably couldn’t convince anyone to come with him,” Lucas muttered. He closed the doors that separated the living room from the kitchen. “I’m so over this shit, I’m calling Carly—”
He had just connected with her when Sonny banged on the door. “Carly—”
“Is Michael okay?” Carly asked. “What’s wrong?”
“Sonny’s here. Taggert got a call from Justus—I—” Lucas hesitated. “You know what? Stay put for right now, okay? I don’t want you walking into the middle of this—”
“Carly! Let me in!” Sonny thundered as the banging continued. “Let me in right now! Those are my kids!”
“Tell her to stay at the club,” Taggert said. He pulled out his phone. “I’m gonna have a patrol car head over. If he leaves here, I don’t want him going straight there. Tell her it’s under control.”
“Lucas—” Carly said again. “I’m getting my coat—”
“No, Taggert is sending you a patrol car. Sonny sounds—” Lucas blinked at something crashed through the glass window — a rock maybe.
Taggert winced. “Damn it, I’m gonna have to arrest him this time. Stay back—”
Sonny’s hand came through the window, brushing the glass aside, fumbling for the locks. Taggert growled as he stood in the foyer, his handcuffs in his hands. He’d wanted to arrest Sonny Corinthos for years, but this hadn’t been the way he’d planned it with a terrified little boy down the hall and a crazy ass mobster trying to break into his wife’s home—
“You idiot,” Taggert muttered as Sonny shoved the door open. “Sonny Corinthos, you’re under arrest for breaking and entering—”
“Where are my kids?” Sonny demanded, shoving Taggert back, moving past him into the living room where Lucas and Felix were blocking the way.
“I’m pressing charges,” Lucas told Taggert, who had already called for backup. “I can do that. I’m babysitting, and he didn’t have my permission—”
“I got all that, thanks —” Taggert grabbed Sonny’s arm and clapped a handcuff on him. “No, no, don’t help—” he ordered Lucas and Felix when they started forward. “You’ll make it worse—” He grunted as Sonny shifted and struggled.
“I have to keep them safe!” Sonny shouted as he twisted, trying to get away from Taggert. “They’re not safe here!”
“He’s gone crazy,” Lucas murmured, watching his sister’s husband fight Taggert, trying to stop him from snapping the other hand into the cuffs. The usually slick mobster was a mess—his dark curls disheveled, his eyes bloodshot, face red. “Damn it—”
“Stop resisting,” Taggert ordered. “Or I—” He fell back as Sonny managed to free himself and punched him in the jaw with his one free hand. “Goddamn it!”
Behind him, Cruz and Lucky came through the door. Lucky sighed as he came onto the scene, and Sonny barreled right into him, the handcuff dangling from one of his wrists. Lucky pushed him back, and Cruz managed to get the other cuff on him. Sonny twisted and shoved, trying to get away from them.
“Just stop!” Lucky said. “Sonny!”
“What do we do?” Lucas asked. “Taggert—”
Taggert waved them off as he strode forward. “Get him into the car,” he told the officers. “I’ll be there in a second.” He turned back to them. “Make sure Maxie is okay with the kids, and then you two can come down to sign statements. I’m not doing this shit anymore. He’s being booked for breaking and entering, for resisting, and for fucking assault on an officer—” He rubbed his jaw. “Damn it.”
Between the three of them, they dragged Sonny down the steps and into the car, Sonny fighting every step of the way.
Taggert picked up his phone and dialed. When Justus picked up, he said, “You better get down to the PCPD and if you can get in touch with Morgan—”
He heard Justus sigh. “Yeah, okay. I’ll take care of it. Was Carly there—”
“No, and Michael didn’t see anything.”
PCPD: Squad Room
Jason strode through the double doors of the department, Justus and Bernie on his heels. How the hell could this day get any worse, he wondered, as he found Taggert by a desk, an ice pack against his jaw.
Sonny had literally broken into the Brownstone while Michael was home, assaulted Taggert of all people—
Near Taggert, Lucas and his boyfriend were talking with Lucky. The boyfriend—Felix—bent down and scribbled something. Jason closed his eyes. A statement. Charges were being pressed.
“This might be for the best,” Justus murmured. “If he’s in lock-up, we get a chance to breathe, Jase—”
“And then we got cops looking at us even harder,” Jason muttered. “We don’t need this.” He didn’t believe for a second that organizations in other cities were helping them by reporting Ric Lansing sightings. More likely, the rumors were going around that Sonny was unstable, and that every mention of his psycho half-brother made things worse.
Someone out there was trying to destroy them by making them focus entirely on Sonny—and Jason didn’t even know where to start with that prospect. And what if some of the sightings were real? Where the hell was Lansing?
“I don’t think we’re getting Sonny out of this,” Justus said. “But—”
Taggert had noticed them and was striding forward. “Thanks for the heads up,” he told him. “We got Michael out of the room just in time.”
“Thank you,” Jason found himself telling the lieutenant. “He didn’t see anything?”
“No. Carly’s on her way down,” Taggert continued, “but the charges are going to stick. Lucas and Felix are pressing them, even if Carly and Bobbie don’t want to.” He paused. “And we’re adding resisting and assault.”
“I figured.” Justus grimaced. “I guess I need to talk to my client.”
“He’s in the room, waiting.”
Justus shook his head and went past them, heading for the interrogation room. Taggert turned back to Jason. “You’re not going in?”
Jason really wanted to go back to a world where he didn’t have conversations with the PCPD, but at the moment, Taggert had been more of an ally in recent months than Jason’s own business partner. “No. I’m here if Carly needs me, but—” He paused. “Sonny got a warning the last time. He knew what might happen if he did this again.”
“Yeah, I didn’t—” Taggert looked towards the room, through the window with the blinds down. “This definitely wasn’t the way I wanted this to go down,” he muttered. “I tried to get away from all of this.” He shifted the ice pack, wincing. “I don’t want those kids in the middle of this.”
“None of us do.” Jason left Taggert then, walking towards Lucas and Felix. “You guys okay?”
“Yeah, Taggert got nailed this time,” Lucas said. “It’s bad, Jason.” He exchanged a glance with his boyfriend. “He’s completely lost it. He broke a window. And your guys didn’t even stop him.”
“No.” And that burned at his gut like acid. He’d picked men who were supposed to be loyal to him, but it hadn’t worked. “No, they didn’t. We need—we need to do something else. Carly and the kids are supposed—they need to be safe.”
“If they lock him up this time, they will be,” Felix pointed out, echoing Justus’s earlier statement.
Locking Sonny up in a cell with no windows, no control over his own freedom? If Sonny was already teetering on the edge of lucidity, that might shove him over. Could Jason let that happen just so he could give himself a bit of space?
What if Sonny hurt himself to get free—he’d injured himself in those dark moments before and others. How could Jason live with himself if Sonny got hurt? He had to believe there was still a chance for Sonny.
Justus was right. So were Luke and Tommy. Jason needed to make a decision about Sonny and the business—but this wasn’t just business.
This was real life, and it was personal. Sonny was broken inside, and Jason was the only one left who could—or would—help him.
“I know,” Jason said finally, “but lock up is the last retort.”
Lucas narrowed his eyes. “Maybe you need to see what the hell he did to my mother’s home or talk to Michael about how scared he was—”
“I know all of that,” Jason snapped, and the younger man fell silent, his lips forming a stubborn line. “I know,” he repeated, his tone gentler.. “And I’m going to change the security. I’ll fix it. But I know Sonny better than anyone, and lock-up will only make all of this worse. We need to make sure that can’t happen.”
“It can get worse?” Felix asked doubtfully. Jason met his eyes. “I mean, I’m new here, but this is pretty bad.”
“I know,” Jason admitted, hating that he had to do this. That he had to have this conversation with anyone, but it was necessary. He didn’t know Felix DuBois, but the man had stood in front of Michael more than once, and he’d been there for Carly and Elizabeth. “So when I say it can get worse, I need you to believe me.”
“All right,” Lucas said. “You do what you gotta do. But I’m still pressing charges, and if one more thing happens to my nephew—” His expression was pained. “Or my sister,” he muttered, “that’s the last straw. Sonny doesn’t get another chance to terrorize them.”
“He won’t,” Jason said, wishing he felt as confident as his words sounded. He had to make this stop. At any cost.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
The sun had sunk behind the buildings of the Port Charles skyline while Elizabeth waited in the penthouse. Jason had called to tell her he was handling the Sonny situation and that he didn’t know when he’d be home.
She was relieved—shamefully—that she had a respite from having to tell Jason the truth, and if Jason didn’t come home until after she’d gone to bed, then maybe she’d just…not have to tell him. Monica was supposed to come over the next day, and just maybe her oxygen levels would improve.
Maybe Elizabeth would never have to tell him that she’d lied to him.
Then around five, Elizabeth got a tense voicemail from her best friend.
I went on break and heard what happened with Sonny. This sucks hard, and I know you don’t want to make things worse for Jason. But if God forbid something happened overnight, and he doesn’t know what’s going on, he would never forgive himself. I don’t want to be that person, but someone has to. I love you. I love my brother. I love my nephew. Please tell him. Sonny and his bullshit are not more important than you. I haven’t changed my mind. If you don’t tell him tonight, I will call him in the morning.
Elizabeth had listened to the message three times, trying to find the argument, the loophole that would release her from having to tell Jason one more piece of bad news. He was juggling so many things, and Elizabeth was just trying to protect him from worrying about something else he couldn’t fix—
But Emily wasn’t bluffing, and Elizabeth knew it would be so much worse if he heard it from someone else. Jason didn’t deserve that, and there were so many ways she wasn’t being fair to him.
Emily was right. Jason had been biting his tongue for weeks over all of this, and it was time that it stopped.
Around eight, Cody knocked on the door to let her know that the limo had just pulled into the parking garage downstairs. The limo. Which meant that, against all odds, Jason had managed to get Sonny released.
Elizabeth picked up the phone and called Emily. When her best friend picked up, Elizabeth blinked in surprise. “Oh, I thought I’d get your voicemail.”
“I’m on dinner break. What’s up? Did you—”
“He’s on his way up from the parking garage. Em—Sonny’s with him. I’m just—”
“Yeah, I know. The timing sucks.” Emily paused. “You need to tell him. There will never, ever be a good time. And you will always find a reason not to. I know you’re trying to protect him. Did you like it when he made decisions for you? When he tried to protect you?”
Elizabeth scowled. “I really hate you,” she muttered. She sighed. “No. It was terrible, but—”
“You are not one more thing to him or to anyone. Sonny is his friend, and he’s important, but you are his wife, and that is his child, too. I love you all, but you know I’m right.”
“I know. I just—” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “I hate this. I hate all of this so much, and I just want it to stop. Why can’t we get a break?”
“I don’t know, and I’m sorry. If I thought you were right, I’d be on your side. I just want you to be okay. I feel like shit that I’m doing this, but—”
“But you’re right,” Elizabeth managed. “You’re right, and I know you’re right. I guess—I don’t want to look at him and do this. It’s bad enough I have to live with it, but I can’t stand hurting him, and it’s going to hurt him—”
“Then you’ll hurt together. Until you’re honest that can’t happen. I love you,” Emily repeated. “Let him be there for you, and you can be there for him.”
The door opened then, and Jason strode in, his eyes exhausted, and mouth pinched. Justus came in after him, then Sonny stormed in. His hair was disheveled, his eyes bloodshot, and his skin mottled with splotches of red.
“You’re right,” Elizabeth said. “I love you, and I’ll call you later.”
“Hey,” Jason said as Elizabeth closed her phone and set it on the table. “I’ll take you to bed, but I still need to deal with some things—”
“You need to get them all out of here!” Sonny ordered. He stabbed a finger at Jason, his finger shaking. “Ric will come for them, too!”
Jason ignored him, looking back at Elizabeth, extending his hand to help her get to her feet. “I’m sorry,” he told her. “But I don’t know when I’ll be back tonight—”
Elizabeth nearly agreed. Nearly let it go, but remembered Emily’s words and their arguments. And the look on Jason’s face more than six months ago when she hadn’t told him about the oxygen tank, and she’d had an attack the first time they’d made love.
He’d watched her struggle for air and die twice. He deserved better from her.
Emily was right. There would never be a good time.
“I lied,” she blurted out in a rush. “About my doctor’s appointment.”
Jason stared at her, his expression blank. His hand, still touching her elbow as he’d helped her to stand, fell to his side. “What do you mean?”
“My glucose test was fine,” she said in a rush, “but my oxygen levels—they’re not normal. Or stable. They dropped two points.”
“They—” Jason just stared at her. “They dropped.”
“What the hell is going on?” Sonny demanded.
“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth began, taking a step towards him, but then Jason did something she didn’t see coming.
Jason stalked towards the door, yanked it open, revealing Cody’s confused and startled face.
Then he left, slamming it behind him so hard that the framed picture from their wedding next to the door fell and shattered.