God, keep my head above water
Don’t let me drown, it gets harder
I’ll meet you there at the altar
As I fall down to my knees
Don’t let me drown, drown, drown
Don’t let me, don’t let me, don’t let me drown
– Head Above Water, Avril Lavigne
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
The room was deadly silent after Jason had stormed out. Elizabeth stared at the frame on the floor, the jagged shards of glass scattered. Her hands were trembling as she moved slowly across the room—
“Let me,” Sonny said, roughly but his touch was gentle as he held up a hand. He knelt down and picked up the frame, kicking the glass into a pile. He got to his feet and looked at her, his eyes still red.
“I’ll get a broom.” Justus went towards the kitchen.
Elizabeth didn’t really hear either of them. She just looked at the glass on the floor, then the frame Sonny was holding out to her, a long, jagged piece of glass still tucked in the frame.
“He’s upset,” Sonny told her. “Not about you—”
“It’s me,” she said softly. “He was handling things until I lied—” Her voice broke. “I lied to him.”
Sonny set the frame on the desk. “I can’t make it stop. Can’t make it over. It just needs to be done.” His eyes found hers, the desperation and fear evident. “It all needs to be over. You know that, you get that, don’t you?”
“I do.” She curled her hand into a fist and held it against her chest as a hot tear slid down her cheek. Another followed. “I wish I’d let you kill him months ago. You were right. Better that it’s over. It should have been. It’s my fault. All of it.”
“I wish—” Sonny looked past her, shook his head. “No, she’s wrong.”
Elizabeth blinked at him. “She? What—Carly?”
“No, no. Not her fault. Not all of it. You can’t say it. It’s not mine, either. It’s hers. It’s theirs.”
“Sonny—” Elizabeth began, but Justus returned then with a broom and a dustpan. “I can do that—”
“Don’t,” Justus said with a shake of his head. “I dumped a lot of crap on Jason earlier today,” he told her. “You couldn’t have known that. And—”
“I got arrested,” Sonny muttered. “If Carly would just listen to me—”
“If you’d listen to her—” Justus began heatedly.
“If we just listened to each other,” Elizabeth murmured, but neither man heard her. She turned back to wander towards the sofa, letting them argue. She was so tired. So exhausted of all from all of it.
Why did it have to be so hard? Why did every day feel worse than the one before it?
Why couldn’t it ever just…stop?
“I don’t need to hear this shit from you,” Sonny bit out. “I have things to do, and they know you’re nothing, too!”
“They who?” Justus demanded, but Sonny pushed past the lawyer, yanking the door open and stalking out.
He left the door hanging open, so Cody hesitantly stepped to the threshold. “Uh, do you need anything, Mrs. Morgan?” he asked. He reached out grasped the doorknob. “Can I—”
“I know you’re usually off shift by now,” Justus said, setting the broom aside, the dustpan of glass in his hand. “We’ll need someone on the door tonight. Just to be safe.”
“I can stay—” Cody began.
“No,” Elizabeth said softly. “No. You’ve been here for so long, Cody.” She finally looked over at him. “Thank you. But you need to rest.”
“All right,” the guard said doubtfully. “I’ll call down for a replacement.” He closed the door, leaving Justus alone with Elizabeth.
“I never should have lied to him,” Elizabeth said. She stared down at her hand, then twisted her wedding ring around her finger. “He didn’t deserve that.”
“Neither of you deserves what’s going on,” Justus told her. He sat in the armchair. “You came home last night, Elizabeth, to chaos. And in that moment, you made a mistake. Because you just wanted to make things better. He’ll remember that. He just—he couldn’t absorb one more hit today. And this is the one that hurts.”
“That’s not blaming you,” he added. “It’s just acknowledging the truth. Nothing about this is fair. For any of us. He needs some time. He can hold it together when it’s Sonny or Carly or the business.” He waited for Elizabeth to look at him. “But not with you. You know that. You know why.”
“No, I—” A sob crawled up her throat, but she swallowed it. “I know. I just can’t stand to hurt him, and it’s all I do.”
“It’s not. I’ll stay until he comes back—”
“You don’t have to do that—”
“I do. He’s my cousin and my family. I came here to be closer to my family,” Justus reminded. “Not just so Mikki and Kimi could know Lila and Edward, but so that I could be here for Jason—and you. We’ll get through this. One day at a time. I’ll call Mikki and let her know I won’t be home for a while.”
Elm Street Pier
Jason was nearly at Bannister’s Wharf and the warehouse parking lot when he heard someone calling his name. If it had been anyone else, he would have ignored it.
But it was his sister.
Jason turned back to see Emily jogging down the steps, a parka pulled over her scrubs. “I thought you were working—”
“I am, and I have to go back, but I got someone to cover for me.” Emily folded her arms. “I was going to head over to the warehouse. Elizabeth called.”
Jason shook his head, turning back towards the wharf. “I don’t want to do this—”
Emily reached out to his elbow. “Hey, just let me talk for a minute, okay?”
“She told you what was going on and not me?” Jason demanded, betrayal washing over him as if someone had dumped a pot of scalding water over his head. “What the hell—”
“Can you blame her?”
Jason’s mouth nearly dropped open at that. “What the hell are you talking about? Of course I can blame her! She lied about her health! Again! How many times does she have to put herself at risk before I get to be angry—”
“I didn’t say you couldn’t be pissed,” Emily snapped. “I asked if you could blame her. You should have been at that appointment! She’s high-risk, facing fatal complications, and you were babysitting your boss again. Sonny’s a fucking adult.”
Jason fisted his hands at his side, but he had nothing to say to that. Emily was absolutely right. If he’d been at the appointment, supporting Elizabeth, then she wouldn’t have been able to lie to him. Wouldn’t haven’t felt the need to.
“She still shouldn’t—”
“No, she shouldn’t have. But what did she come home to, huh? In what world would Elizabeth have told you what was going on? And have you even been home today for her to talk to?”
“She absolutely should have told you the truth, and she knows it. But she didn’t want to hurt you, Jason. She made a mistake.” Emily folded her arms. “I made her tell you, you know. I didn’t expect you to walk out on her, making her feel even more like shit.”
“I—” His throat closed, and he couldn’t say a word. He’d left her. He hadn’t even asked her if she was okay or what was going on. What was next.
He’d just left. She’d told him the oxygen levels were still bad, and his brain had simply shut down.
“You need to tell her how scared you are,” Emily said, her tone softer now. More gentle. “You’re trying to make her feel okay with the decision she’s making, and that’s not working anymore. Because you aren’t talking to her about how you really feel, and she’s just trying to make things easier for you. She thinks she’s one more thing on the list of shit making your life difficult.”
“I’ve told her she’s the most important—”
“I know. And part of her knows that, Jase. But—” Emily looked away, out over the dark, swirling waters of Lake Ontario. “Last year, neither of us could convince her to leave that house. She risked her life to help find Carly. I think it’s because she didn’t really think her life was worth saving. Not that she’s suicidal,” she added hastily, “but I just—that miscarriage last year. It broke her, and I don’t think she’s all the way back. Even without what happened in that panic room with Ric—” She shrugged a shoulder. “I just think that maybe we’re not giving enough room for any of that. She wasn’t in a good place for a long time, and we both know that this pregnancy was not the plan.”
“We all love this baby, and we all want him to be healthy,” Emily said, cutting off his protest. “But there’s no shame in admitting that it would have been better if Elizabeth had never gotten pregnant. She probably should have had an abortion.”
Emily had said one thing that Jason never would have said out loud. Could never have admitted. He swallowed hard. “I can’t say that to her.”
“No, and I can’t either. But we can say it to each other. Because we love her, and we both know that if she hadn’t had that miscarriage, she probably would have terminated,” Emily told him. “But she thinks it’s her fault that the first baby didn’t make it, and I don’t know if we will ever be able to convince her it wasn’t. It does not make either of us a bad person to say Elizabeth is not healthy enough to bring a baby into this world full-term. It’s just honesty. She literally can’t make it to forty weeks.”
Jason dragged his hands through his hair, moving from his forehead to the nape of his neck. “How does saying it change anything?”
“It doesn’t. I just think you and I will handle this better if we’re honest with each other. We are both terrified that she won’t survive this pregnancy. That she will kill herself to bring this baby into the world. I love that little boy.” Emily’s voice broke. “I’ve felt him kick, I’ve seen him on that ultrasound, and I want him to be here with us. He’s real to me now, and we can’t go back. You and I would give our lives to protect him, so when we try to convince Elizabeth that she shouldn’t do the same—can you blame her for not believing us?”
“No.” He hesitated. “I didn’t—she didn’t tell me anything other than the levels dropped. What’s—what did Monica say? How bad is that?”
“She’s okay for now. Mom’s going to be sticking to her like white on rice,” Emily told him. “She’s increasing the oxygen, and if they’re not back to 95 when Mom comes to check on her tomorrow, then Elizabeth promised to induce.”
Jason exhaled in a whoosh, some of the tension and tightness in his chest dissipating. “I can’t keep doing this.”
“You need to talk to her,” Emily said again. “She knows you love her, but I think sometimes…I don’t know. It’s like she can’t believe she could possibly be more important than Sonny. Or the business. Or Carly and the kids. She keeps putting herself at the end of the list.”
Because Jason had put her there the year before, and she’d never fully believed it was different now. He’d known she was in danger from Ric, and he’d let her stay in that damn house. If he’d forced her out—if he’d made her leave, would she believe him now that she came first?
Was he ever going to be able to undo all the damage he’d done with Courtney? Or that her own family had done? That Lucky and the Spencers had done by guilting her into fighting the Cassadines and risking her own life to fix Lucky?
Jason didn’t know the answer to that. Was he supposed to spend the rest of his life apologizing for a mistake he’d made almost two years ago and had repeatedly tried to make amends for?
His phone vibrated in his pocket, and he pulled it out, wincing when he saw Justus’s name.
“What?” he asked. “Is Elizabeth—”
“She’s fine. I was going to stick until you came back, but Max just came over—Sonny’s gone. We thought he went to the penthouse, but he was gone by the time Max came on duty. I don’t know where the hell he is.”
Municipal Building: City Attorney’s Office
“You’re going to want to avoid my mother for a while,” Ned told Alexis with an air of exhaustion as he slumped into a chair.
“Of course the news would break while she was in Port Charles,” Alexis muttered. She folded her arms, leaned against her desk. “She never liked me.”
“I’m not her favorite person either.” Ned cleared his throat. “The thing is—finding out Kristina isn’t my daughter—”
“It’s hit the family hard,” he forced out. “Because we lost…”
Because they’d lost Brooke barely six months earlier, and the Quartermaines loved fiercely. They rivaled only the Cassadines in their devotion to protecting each other from outsiders—or destroying themselves from within.
“I can understand if with all the press—” Alexis bit her lip. “The scandal, I mean, if you want to pull back from her. If you want me to resign—”
Ned’s head snapped up, and he rose quickly. “Absolutely not. What kind of hypocrite would I be? I knew she wasn’t mine. And if it hadn’t been for you, for Jax—” He shook his head. “I wouldn’t accept Lois’s resignation, and I’m not interested in yours. And—” He paused. “I love Kristina. I don’t—” He looked past her to the window overlooking the streets. “I always knew one day the truth would come out, but I thought it would be years. I thought I would have more time.”
“Ned, I don’t—” Alexis reached for his hand. “I don’t want Kristina to lose you. I asked you to be her father. I never meant it just for the lie, to keep her safe. I meant it forever. You’ll just have to adopt her or something. I don’t know. Legally, you’re on her birth certificate, so Sonny will have to—”
Her words were cut off when Ned dragged her into a tight hug. She drew back, then laid a hand on his cheek. “If you still want her, then we’re in this together. No one has to lose anything.”
“Thank you. I didn’t know how I was going to ask, but—thank you.” He stepped back.
“Now, if we’re done with the dramatics,” she said briskly, “we need to talk about the press statement I’m planning.” She handed him a draft. “Lois will want the final say, but I wanted to take a crack at it.”
“It’s hard to admit it,” Ned said, as he skimmed it, “but Sonny getting arrested again might actually help swing this back our way.” He set the statement down. “Thank you, by the way, for forgiving Lois—”
“She didn’t do it on purpose,” Alexis interrupted with a shake of her head. “And I meant what I said. She had a bad moment, and some damned vulture was right there. When we get through with the Herald and the Sun, they’re going to regret ever running those stories—”
They both turned as they heard shouts and something crashed outside her office. “The whole world has gone mad,” Ned muttered, but the blood iced over in her veins as she heard someone demanding access to that bitch.
She knew that voice.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“I’m sorry,” Elizabeth said, wrinkling her nose as her mother-in-law came in. “Justus didn’t want me to be alone, and—”
“And Sonny’s off making a nuisance of himself again,” Monica muttered. She set down her black doctor bag. “Well, I wanted to come over tomorrow and check your levels, so—”
“I can’t—I can’t do anything until Jason comes home,” Elizabeth said, her heartbeat increasing as Monica took out the pulse oximeter. “If they’re not where you want them—” She squeezed her eyes shut. “I never told him. Not until tonight.”
Monica paused, then sat down on the sofa next to him. “You didn’t?” she repeated.
“I was going to, I promise. But I came home, and things were just—” She twisted her fingers in her lap. “It was bad. Sonny and Justus were arguing, and I couldn’t—I couldn’t tell him. I couldn’t. So lied. Then I told him tonight, and he walked out.”
Monica absorbed that, then nodded. “All right.” She reached for Elizabeth’s hand to start the reading, but Elizabeth frowned at her, fisting her hand in her lap.
“Is that all you’re going to say?”
“About Jason? Yes. I’m not surprised,” Monica told her. “Disappointed, but not surprised. You’ve always struggled to tell Jason about your health, and he’s always been too protective of you.” She paused. “You’re not seeing Gail anymore, are you?”
“No. I—we were pretty regular for a few months, but we tapered off after Vinnie was arrested. Um, I was doing those support groups, and I don’t know. Gail was in Arizona over the winter with Lee. Is—is she back?”
“She and Lee got home while you were gone.” Monica tipped her head. “You’ve got a lot of people who love you, Elizabeth. I think that’s hard for you to accept because the people who should love you the most aren’t here.”
Elizabeth shook her head. “I don’t care about that—”
“I used to be married to your father,” Monica reminded her. “He’s a great doctor, but he was a terrible husband. Not that I was all that much better at being his wife,” she admitted. “I’ve met your mother a time or two, you know. They’re together because they’re both obsessed with their careers. Steve and Sarah made sense to them, your grandfather used to tell me. But you never did. It was easier for them to stop trying.”
“I was a pain in the ass—”
“I wasn’t some great mother either,” Monica said. “Jason doesn’t remember just how terrible Alan and I were when they were growing up, but AJ does. We’ve done better with Emily. We learned so much, but the damage we did to our boys—it’s part of the reason Jason felt like he had to get in that car to stop AJ from hurting himself. He decided long ago he was the only one who could save AJ, and we let him. Because it was easier.”
“Jason loves too hard,” Monica cut in, and Elizabeth fell silent. “And so do you. You want so badly to protect him that you’ve hurt him to do it. And I’ve seen him do the same to you.” She took Elizabeth’s hand, wrapping it between both of hers. “You matter, Elizabeth. I’m sorry that Jeff and Carolyn don’t want to take the time to love you. That has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. I want you to stop thinking about them as anyone who should matter in your life, and remember the people right in front of you who love you.”
“I know that I’m not doing any of this right,” Elizabeth said, “but—”
“There is no right, and there is no wrong. There’s only the way that works for you. I think you should talk to Gail,” Monica said. “You’ll feel better if you can talk it out with someone who doesn’t have power over you, who isn’t someone who you want to protect and take care of. Or someone whose love and respect you’re trying to keep.”
Elizabeth’s vision blurred with tears. “That’s not….”
Monica brushed a piece of hair out of Elizabeth’s eyes. “I love you so very much. Not just because somehow you’ve brought Jason closer to us, but because of who you are. I want you to be okay. Will you think about it?”
“Yes.” Elizabeth nodded. “I’ll—I’ll call Gail in the morning.”
“Good. Now—” Monica reached for her hand. “Let’s see how you’re doing after some extra oxygen.”
Elizabeth watched Monica’s eyes very carefully as the doctor focused on the meter. “Is it better?”
“You’re not at 95,” Monica said, and Elizabeth’s heart sank. “But you’ve gone up to 94. That’s good. I wasn’t going to check until tomorrow, so we’ll do it again and see if we’re back at 95.” She smiled at Elizabeth, squeezing her hand. “We both deserved a little bit of good news. Why don’t you call Jason?”
“He’s dealing with Sonny—” Elizabeth wrinkled her nose when Monica just raised a brow. “Yeah, okay.” She reached for her phone, then got his voicemail. She sighed. “Hey. I just wanted to tell you Monica came over to sit with me, and she checked my levels. I’m not at 95, but it’s back to 94. If you don’t believe me—and I don’t blame you—you can call her. I’m sorry,” she added softly. “I just—I’m sorry. I love you.”
Municipal Building: City Attorney’s Office
Sonny stalked in, charging in her direction with Alexis’s secretary and two security guards behind him. Ned managed to step in front of Alexis just as Sonny reached her, his face so flushed Alexis thought he might actually pass out from anger.
Could someone be so angry they died?
“Get him out of here!” Ned snarled to the security guards, who tried to grab Sonny under the arms and drag him back.
“You lying bitch! You stole my daughter! I’ll make you pay!” Sonny screamed, and her eyes bulged—she’d never, ever seen him like this—
Alexis had heard what happened at the Brownstone, had seen Sonny angry before—but this was a level of furious that she just—
She was terrified.
“Call 911!” Ned told the secretary, who rushed away. He shoved Sonny back when the other man broke loose of the security guards and grabbed his jacket to shake him.
“You stole my daughter! You piece of shit!” Sonny swung at Ned, and Ned didn’t duck—he let Sonny’s punch land, sending him flying backward into Alexis. They both stumbled back, and Alexis tripped over her desk chair.
“The police are coming!” the secretary cried, wringing her hands. More security guards flooded into the room, and Sonny was finally dragged away.
Alexis pulled herself to her feet, swallowing hard as her heart pounded in her ears. She’d always known that if the truth came out, Sonny would lose his mind—but she couldn’t quite make herself accept this was actually happening.
“About fucking time,” Ned snarled as two officers came in. “Did you crawl across the fucking street?” he demanded. “I want him arrested for trespassing and assault—”
“Let me go!” Sonny shoved the security guards forward, but one of the officers managed to get the cuffs on him. Between the guards and the cops, he was dragged out of the office and towards the elevators.
Alexis closed her eyes and put her hands on her face, struggling to find her breath. “Oh my God,” she moaned.
“Are you okay?”
“I—” She looked at him. “I don’t know—” She swallowed hard. “You’re bleeding.”
Ned touched his lip, then scowled. “Figures. Let’s go across the street and sign our statements. They won’t let him out of lockup again. Not after his second assault in a matter of hours. He’s lost his fucking mind.”
Carly slowly placed the phone back on the receiver, then sat down at the table and put her head in her hands.
“Carly?” Bobbie’s hand dropped on her shoulder. “What’s wrong? Who was that?”
“I spent the last eight hours,” Carly murmured, “down at the PCPD making statements, talking to the ADA, talking to Jason and Justus, talking to Michael—Sonny has occupied every waking thought and moment of my life for months.”
“I just want a single minute when it’s just me. Is that so hard to ask? Just me and the boys.”
“Of course not. What happened? Who was—”
“Taggert. He was calling from the station.” Carly leaned back. “Jason was supposed to take Sonny home and keep him under wraps until he was completely calmed down, but he got away. He went to Alexis’s office and attacked Ned.”
Bobbie sat down, her eyes wide. “Sonny attacked Ned? What? How? Is—”
“He’s fine. Sonny got in a punch, so that’s another assault charge—” Carly put her head down, folding her arms underneath it. “They’re not going to let him out.”
“No, they won’t.”
“He’ll be locked up. In the dark. No windows. A small space.” Carly raised her head, tears streaming down her face. “He’ll be so scared, and it’ll be worse. Oh, God, Mama. He hates the dark. He hates it so much. I know how much he hates it.”
“I don’t know how to make this stop. Why can’t I make him get help? Why aren’t the boys and I enough to make it happen? He said he loves me, but—”
“Mental illness,” Bobbie said, “is a terrible thing to suffer from. Your own mind is your enemy, and you can’t trust your own thoughts. While I believe that some of what Sonny has done these last few months is completely under his control, I can also accept that even when he appears lucid to all of us, he might be fighting a war inside his own mind he can’t win.”
“He’s such a good man. Such a good father and it kills me to see this, you know?” Carly swiped at her tears. “He’d hate himself for what he’s doing to us. To Jason. But he can’t see it, and I’m so afraid that if none of this has been enough—Mama—”
“The only way we’re ever going to be able to force him to get help is if he hurts someone,” Bobbie told her. “And I don’t know if Taggert and Ned are enough to convince anyone that Sonny needs help. I hope so.” She paused. “You said Sonny got past Jason?”
“Oh, God.” Carly got to her feet and crossed back to the phone. “I hope everything’s okay.”
PCPD: Squad Room
Jason had spent way too much time in this room today and in the last eight months. He entered the room just as he finished reassuring Carly he was fine. When he ended the call, he saw a missed call and voicemail from Elizabeth. His finger slid over it, but he finally just closed the phone and put it in his pocket.
Justus was waiting for him, leaving Taggert at the desk and striding over to meet him. “Hey. Sonny’s being booked—”
“I already know that we can’t get him out tonight,” Jason said. “I just wanted to know how bad—”
“Bad,” Justus said grimly. “Scott’s taking point on the case since it involves the mayor. Sonny got past security by decking a few people downstairs and made it all the way into Alexis’s office before security was able to stop him. He’s being charged with assault on public officials and all the kind of crap that comes with it.”
“It’s bad,” Justus repeated. “And Scott made it clear — he’s not in the mood to negotiate. Ned’s got a PR mess on his hands with the Kristina stuff, and Sonny doing this makes him look better, but I also think—”
“Scott’s been talking to Bobbie,” Jason said. “He already hates Sonny, so he’s not going to do us any favors.”
“We can’t do anything tonight. Sonny’s stuck in here, and I don’t think he’s going to be allowed out on bail.” Justus paused. “I want to push for a psychiatric evaluation. I think this is our best chance to make it happen.”
Jason looked towards the interrogation room. How many hours had passed since he’d been here over another assault charge? “Find out which judge is overseeing the hearing,” he said finally.
“Got it.” Justus paused. “About earlier—”
“I don’t want to talk about it—”
“Then don’t say anything. You should go home,” Justus told him. “Because Elizabeth needs you—”
“And I need to not be angry when I see her,” Jason bit out. “I understand what she did and why she did it. That doesn’t mean I’m not still—” He paused. “I can only deal with one thing at a time, and I just—I can’t right now. You said on the phone Monica was with her, didn’t you?”
“Okay. She will call if anything happens.”
Justus opened his mouth but then shook his head. “All right. Let me go see if they’re ready to finish this.”
Jason watched Justus return to Taggert, then reached for his phone. He looked at the voicemail again, and this time he let it play.
“…it’s back to 94. If you don’t believe me—and I don’t blame you—you can call her. I’m sorry. I just—I’m sorry. I love you.”
He let the words wash over him, the relief that she’d improved a little, and the shame that he did want to call Monica and confirm. Then he put the phone back in his pocket and waited for Justus.
He knew what he could handle right now and what he couldn’t—and going home to Elizabeth, to have that conversation that he knew needed to happen—
He wasn’t ready for it, and he didn’t think Elizabeth was either. Maybe in the morning.