I try to face the fight within
But it’s over
I’m ready for the riot to begin
I walked the path that led me to the end
I’m caught beneath with nothing left to give, forever
– Angels Fall, Breaking Benjamin
Friday, March 6, 2004
Corinthos & Morgan Coffee House: Office
“No word from yet?” Justus asked when Jason checked his phone for what felt like the thousandth time.
“No. Jordan is supposed to call as soon as they leave the station.” Jason turned the phone over in his hands, unsure why he felt so on edge.
“I could give Taggert a call,” Justus offered, pulling out his own phone.
Before Jason could say one way or the other, the phone in his hand lit up with Max’s name on the identification screen. “Yeah, Max, what’s up—”
“Jason, you gotta get to the hospital right now—”
“What?” Jason lunged to his feet. “What’s wrong?”
“Cody—he’s bringing Elizabeth—She was coughing up blood—”
Jason slapped the phone shut and left the room without a word. Bernie stopped Justus from following. “Call Max back and find out what’s wrong,” Bernie told him. “We need to know what we’re dealing with.”
“Right.” Justus reached for his own phone. “Max? Jason just took off without a word—what the hell—”
“Oh, man, Justus—Elizabeth started coughing up blood, and Jesus, he’s gonna kill the boss when he finds out—”
“Why? What does Sonny have to do with this?” Justus demanded. He looked at Bernie. “Elizabeth, coughing up blood—”
Bernie swore. “What—”
“Sonny came over to yell at Jason and just went after Elizabeth—Christ, Justus. We’re in such deep shit. Elizabeth didn’t look so good, so we—we called other—wait, wait—No, Mr. C. You can’t go anywhere—”
Justus waited a long minute until Max came back on the line, sounding exhausted. “We—we’re keeping him in the penthouse. I was afraid he’d go to the hospital or somewhere else, he said something about the Brownstone—”
“Keep him there.” He hesitated. “Make sure he doesn’t leave that penthouse until we can figure this out. Whatever you have to do.” Justus closed the phone and looked at Bernie. “Sonny forced his way into the penthouse, was screaming at Elizabeth—and while they were getting him out of there, she started coughing up blood—”
Bernie sat heavily in his chair and mopped at his forehead. “What are we going to do?” he muttered.
“I don’t know,” Justus said. He gripped the phone more tightly. “You need to finish here. I’ll go to the penthouse. If—if anything happens to Elizabeth or that baby and Jason finds out Sonny was there—”
He didn’t have to finish that statement. If the worst happened, and Jason could place the blame at Sonny’s feet—Sonny was a dead man.
And right now, that didn’t sound like such a bad idea.
PCPD: Commissioner’s Office
The recorder clicked off as Scott stared numbly at the the report in front of him, the black text swimming as Capelli’s voice echoed.
“Fuck that traitor.”
He’d known what Taggert and Anna had suspected, had read Dante’s statement, insisting he’d called for backup but it wasn’t until this moment that Scott realized he’d held out a glimmer of hope that it wasn’t true.
He thought about Laura’s quiet, desperate fear and Kelsey’s tear-ravaged face. And even damned Luke Spencer, with the kind of raw terror that only a parent might truly understand. They’d buried their boy once, and the PCPD had nearly stolen him again—
And after the shit show of the Rick Webber investigation that had led to Laura’s breakdown–
“Where are we on the union?” Ned asked, drawing Scott out of his funk. He looked over at the mayor, squinting in confusion. “Are they going to back him? Because if they do—”
“Of course, I haven’t heard anything official,” Anna said. “But I put out some feelers. With Officer Murphy’s statement, we were able to pull Commander O’Rourke in.” She gestured at the report. “He stonewalled Taggert’s investigation on a request from Capelli, admitting to changing the Code 8 to a 10-97. He says he never listened to the audio, but wanted to cover for the unit who hadn’t responded. He didn’t know Capelli was in the car, and was worried we’d take it out on a pair of rookies.”
“Bullshit,” Scott muttered. “Bullshit. He knew Capelli was in the car. No way he didn’t—”
“Maybe. But I need him to tie Capelli in, so we’ll accept this statement, and he’s taking the thirty day suspension. With Dispatch on board, and Capelli’s record, the union isn’t inclined to do him any more favors. They took a lot of heat in the press for the Lansing case—”
“Not enough,” Ned retorted. “Capelli is why Elizabeth was assaulted—”
“I realize that—”
“With all due respect, Anna, you weren’t here,” Scott interrupted. “I told Mac and Capelli not to leak the damn story, but Mac thought something in the gossip section might shake it loose. A small item. In the Sun. But Capelli handed them everything, along with a source from the PCPD that Morgan was in the house every damn day. They dragged out those photos—”
“Scott—” Taggert shook his head. “There’s no point in going over this again—”
“There is,” Scott insisted. He shoved himself to his feet. “Capelli’s been a goddamn cancer on this department for most of the last year, and it starts with that case. He should have been fired—”
“But he wasn’t.” Ned looked at Anna. “You know that Elizabeth is having her baby today, don’t you?”
Anna raised her brows. “No, I don’t think I had heard that. I thought she wasn’t due for another month or more.”
“She’s not,” Taggert murmured. “She has to deliver early because of what Lansing did to her. He screwed up her lungs with those blood clots. Capelli and I both screwed up that case, Scott. It’s not all on him. The assault, yeah. But he was able to drug her her for another week because I only saw a chance to get Morgan and Corinthos.”
“That’s all any of us saw,” Scott admitted as some of the adrenaline surge drained and the familiar, hollow guilt sank in. “We all got blood on our hands.”
“The difference is you both realized it.” Ned stood, straightened his suit. “And decided to do better. Capelli just doubled down and nearly got a cop killed. I bring up Elizabeth,” he told Anna, “because you might want to use it to get Capelli to go quietly. Elizabeth could have sued the city and him personally for what he did. A few calls to the press, and that’s back in the news. And it won’t be regional this time. She got national press after the Esposito case.”
“She’s moved on,” Taggert began, “and I don’t like you using her—”
“Why not?” Ned demanded, snapping his head around to glare at Taggert. “No one had a damn problem doing it last summer. I want Capelli gone. He’s a stain on this department. He thinks Dante’s a traitor because of Vinnie. Do you get that? That kid risked everything to get justice for my little girl and this asshole—” Ned closed his eyes, took a deep breath.
“He needs to go,” Scott said. “And Elizabeth is used to her name in the press by now. Anna—”
“I’ll keep it in mind,” she told them. “As a last resort,” she added when Taggert scowled.
General Hospital: Emergency Room Entrance
Monica’s heart was pounding as she waited at the entrance to the emergency room. She’d paged Kelly, she’d called for Patrick and Emily to assist—
“Mom, where are they?” Emily demanded as she and Patrick rushed up. She pulled on her gloves. “What’s going on?”
“One of Sonny’s guards called ahead,” Monica said, keeping her eyes peeled on the light across the street from the hospital. Travel time from the Towers was ten minutes—less if traffic cooperated. “Elizabeth was coughing up blood—”
“I’ll get the embolization treatment ready in the trauma room,” Patrick said, darting backward.
“Emily, can you handle this?” Monica turned to her daughter. “I can reassign you, you’re an intern and close to the family—no one will think less—”
“I can handle it. Jason and Elizabeth need me.” Emily forced herself to breathe. “First thing we do is get her on a ventilator and oxygen to prevent exsanguination. Then we do imaging to find the bleed and use the embolization to cauterize the site—”
“Good girl—” Monica patted her shoulder as the dark sedan pulled up. Cody flew out and around to the passenger side. Monica and Emily were already pulling the door open, an orderly with a stretcher behind them.
“Monica—” Elizabeth’s lips were stained with blood as her head listed to one side, and she lost consciousness. Monica’s blood iced as she took in the amount of blood on the towel in her hands, on the front of her shirt—
She shoved Emily out of the way so that Cody could lift Elizabeth onto the stretcher. “Get her to the trauma room, get her intubated!”
Emily and the orderly raced ahead as Monica turned to Cody. “Where’s Jason? Is he on his way?”
“Max was calling him. He wasn’t home—” Cody followed Monica in. “Um, she was feeling dizzy before it started—I was going to bring her early—but then Sonny—”
“Sonny?” Monica swore, then took a deep breath. “Okay. Okay. I need you to stay out here. Get Jason here now. We might—” She saw Kelly Lee rush into the trauma room. “We might need him to sign some things.”
“I won’t move,” Cody promised. He stared down at his hands, stained with Elizabeth’s blood. “I won’t—I’ll wait right here.”
Monica nodded and then left him standing in the middle of the emergency room.
Brownstone: Front Steps
Luke waited at the top of the stairs for Laura to join him before reaching for the doorknob. He knew Sonny was getting out today, and he didn’t want his sister or Carly to be alone.
“I really hope we’re overreacting,” Laura said. “I hate to think of those boys going through another day like the last time Sonny was here. Morgan is too young, but Michael—” She sighed. “He reminds me of Lucky.”
“Seen too much, I know.” Luke’s phone vibrated in his pocket as he pushed open the door. “Bernie? What’s up?”
“Are you at the Brownstone?” the adviser demanded.
Luke raised his brows as he and Laura went into the living room. “Yeah, why? You lose sight of Corinthos again?”
“No. He’s at the Towers. He didn’t go there first, did he?”
Luke frowned, then looked at Bobbie. “Sonny wasn’t already here, was he?”
“No,” Carly answered. She got to her feet. “What’s wrong?”
“No sign of him today. What’s going on, Bernie? What’s the deal?”
“Sonny got released from the PCPD and apparently went straight to the Towers to scream at Elizabeth.” Bernie paused. “We were hoping to find out why he lost it between the station and the penthouse—”
“Is Elizabeth okay? What’s going on?”
“Luke?” Bobbie’s voice was sharp.
“Cody and Max had to physically remove Sonny from the penthouse, and when Cody came back, Elizabeth was coughing up blood. He rushed her to GH, and I don’t know anything else. Jason’s on his way to the hospital, and Justus is going to the Towers.”
“Hell,” Luke swore. “No, he never came here. Call me when you know something.” He closed his phone. “Sonny apparently lost it with Elizabeth again, and she was coughing up blood—”
“Oh my God!” Carly started for the foyer. “Mama—”
“She’s at the hospital?” Bobbie demanded. “Where’s Jason?”
“On his way. Angel—” he looked at Laura.
“I’ll stay here.”
Port Charles Grille: Bar
“You know,” Scott said as he slid onto a stool next to Mac Scorpio, “I miss the Outback.” The former commissioner eyed him with some suspicion, then picked up his beer. “Anna said you were hanging around here these days.”
“Not that many places I’m welcome,” Mac muttered. “Or want to go.”
Scott ordered a whiskey, tossing some bills on the bar. “Yeah, I guess Luke’s would be out. Man never did respect the bounds of marriage.” He exhaled slowly. “You shouldn’t have been the only one to take a hit last year, Mac. None of us were doing the job all that well.”
“Yeah, but not all of us falsified records and screwed up a serial rapist case.” Mac leaned back. “Some of us just badgered a mentally ill woman into a catatonic state, then got elected into office anyway.” He paused. “You do something new, Baldwin? I thought you’d turned over a new leaf.”
“I did. I have,” Scott corrected. “It’s not me. This time,” he added. “It won’t hit the news until later, but I know you tried hard to get rid of Capelli last year with the leak to the press.”
“Goddamn union,” Mac muttered. “Blaming me—I told him—” He took long pull from the bottle. “What did he do this time?”
Scott stared into the tumbler of whiskey, still hearing the audio. “Refused a backup call, then tried to cover it up. He’s why Spencer is in the hospital. Why Falconieri quit.” He paused. “I think he’ll be gone this time, Mac. I think we finally have enough. I just thought you should know.”
“Yeah.” Mac was quiet for a long moment. “You were the leak in the rape case, weren’t you? You told Ned about Floyd and the lab reports. About the case being misfiled.”
“I didn’t—” Scott met the other man’s eyes. “Yeah. I was. Couldn’t stand the thought of Floyd winning. I didn’t think you’d go down with it. I didn’t know how bad it was. How much you were involved—” He stopped. “I suspected,” he corrected. “And I didn’t care. Maybe it’s not fair that I got away with what I did and you didn’t. I don’t know.”
“It’s not,” Mac said. He smiled thinly. “But that’s Port Charles for you. Don’t lose sleep over it, Scott. I made my choices, and I can live with them. You were right. This city didn’t deserve another term from Floyd. And the department will be better off once Capelli’s gone.”
“I just hope he’s the last hit. We can’t take another one.”
Kelly’s: Dining Room
Lulu scowled as she watched Dante fill out the application. “It’s not that I doubt your cooking skills,” she told him. “But I really don’t know if this is a good idea—”
“I need a job,” Dante said. “Bobbie needs a cook. I already live here.” He slid the finished application over to her. “Makes sense to me.”
He dismissed her grumbling as he reached for the nearby newspaper for the movie listings. He wasn’t going to sit upstairs and wallow anymore. He’d gone to see Lucky, and the press hadn’t followed him. Maybe they’d moved on to the next story.
And that meant it was time for Dante to figure out the next step. For him, it was getting a job, and just maybe, Lulu was right about them trying to pick up where they’d left off a few weeks ago.
“What are you in the mood to see?” he asked her.
“Oh, well, it depends on what you want to do afterward,” she said with a wiggle of her eyebrows. She reached for the phone behind the counter when it rang. “Kelly’s, Lulu speaking.”
Dante was considering a Drew Barrymore romantic comedy when he heard Lulu’s voice become strained. He slapped the newspaper back on the counter, startled at the pallor of her skin. “Lu—”
“Where’s Dad? Is he—okay, okay. No, okay. Call me when you know something. I’ll take care of things here. Tell Aunt Bobbie I got it.” With a shaking hand, Lulu gently put the phone back on the receiver, then looked at Dante. “Mom is at Carly’s with her boys. They had to go to the hospital.”
Dante’s brows drew together. “What’s wrong?”
“Sonny got released today, and he was arguing with Elizabeth. She started coughing up blood. Sonny had to be dragged from the room.”
He exhaled slowly. “Is she—”
“I don’t know. Mom doesn’t know, either. Um, I just—I don’t know. I thought it might end up in the papers like everything else does, you know? And I wanted—I wanted to make sure you knew what was up.” She tucked a piece of hair behind her ears. “I don’t think Sonny did anything, but—”
“But he wasn’t much of a help either.” Dante stared at the paper, then closed it. “I guess you’re not getting off in an hour.”
“No, I should probably stick close. Dante—”
“I’ll hang around in case you get busy and need a hand.” When she opened her mouth, he shook his head. “I don’t know what I’m thinking, I just—let’s wait for news, okay?”
General Hospital: Emergency Room
He never should have left her.
It didn’t matter if she wasn’t alone—she hadn’t been alone the last time, and she had still nearly died—
Jason didn’t remember the drive to the hospital and ran at least three red lights between the warehouse and the hospital, but if there had been any cops on his tail, he didn’t hear them. He didn’t even bother parking the SUV in the lot, just left it haphazardly outside the emergency room entrance.
He didn’t even know if he’d put it in park.
Jason had just one thought, one goal, one mission—get to the hospital. Get to his family.
He found Cody standing in the emergency room and drew up short when he saw the guard staring at his hands. Max had said Elizabeth was coughing up blood, but to see Cody with his hands stained red—
Cody turned, saw him, and swallowed. “Jason.”
“What happened?” he demanded roughly, striding forward. “She was fine—”
His head snapped to the side as he saw Kelly striding out of a room—out of a trauma room. The same room as the summer. For one maddening moment, Jason thought he was back in that moment, the sound of her flatlining echoing in his ears.
“What’s going on?”
“Elizabeth has suffered massive hemoptysis,” Kelly told him. “Her airways were bleeding, and she was coughing up blood—”
Jason’s chest felt tight, and it was a struggle to force out the words. “Why? Is she okay now? What—”
“We had to put her on a ventilator when she arrived to stabilize her breathing. She was—” Kelly hesitated. “She lost consciousness just after arriving at the hospital—”
“Where is she? Is she—” Jason’s voice faltered. He couldn’t say it. Couldn’t even let the word into his brain.
“She’s—she’s alive, Jason, but we’re—it’s not—” Kelly pressed her lips together. “I need to deliver the baby now. Elizabeth wasn’t able to get oxygen until we intubated, which means the baby might already be compromised—”
“What do you need me to sign?” He took the paperwork she gave him and scrawled his name. “Kelly—is she—will she—”
“We’re still stabilizing her—but we have to—we have to make a choice. We can’t treat her and deliver the baby at the same time. If we wait, the baby might not survive or—”
“Cameron could have serious complications.” Complications a thirty-two-week preemie might not survive.
“But if we wait to treat the bleeding—”
“Cameron,” Jason said roughly. Almost without thinking. He knew what Elizabeth wanted. He had to believe it was the right choice. “Deliver Cameron. You know—that’s what Elizabeth—”
“Got it.” Kelly disappeared into the trauma room as Jason tried to collect himself.
This morning, Elizabeth had been tired, a little dizzy, but ready to face delivery. Ready to get on with her treatment and their lives together. She’d been happy, even excited.
Jason turned back to Cody, who had turned an ashen gray. “What happened?” he demanded. “She was fine when I left—where the hell is Nikolas?” He broke off as the man in question jogged up to them, out of breath and red-faced. “What the hell—”
“The launch was delayed—I got to the Towers just after you left,” he told Cody. “They told me what happened in the lobby—the extra guards are still upstairs—”
Cody closed his eyes. “Damn it,” he muttered, looking back at Jason. “She was starting to feel a little dizzy, and we were going to call you—but then—”
“Then what?” Jason demanded, his teeth clenched. Before Cody answered, he turned to see a nurse and another doctor wheeling in an incubator he recognized from the NICU. He strode forward and reached the doors just as Emily came out, tears in her eyes. “Jason—”
Oh, God. They were dead. They were both gone—
“Cameron—he’s being delivered now—come in—” She grabbed his arm and dragged him over to the sink to scrub at his hands, even as Jason twisted around, trying to find his wife.
Alarms were screeching, the room was insane—but then Jason saw something—someone being lifted toward the incubator—
Emily wiped down his hands and steered him towards Elizabeth. “Mom wanted you to—”
Elizabeth’s face was pale, turned towards him, blood trickling out of the corner of her mouth, the ventilator taped to her cheeks. Her eyes closed.
The world stopped.
“No, no—they’re going to start the embolization in a minute—she’s on a ventilator, getting oxygen. But—”
“Just in case,” Monica murmured. “We have maybe a few minutes while they sew up from delivery—”
Jason knelt down in front of the head of the bed, smoothed her hair off her face. Her skin felt smooth and warm, and he concentrated on that. Warm meant alive. She was still with him.
This wasn’t like last year. It wasn’t going to be like last year when he’d sat on the floor of that house and watched her chest stop rising. When he’d had to crouch in that tiny ambulance, helpless as the paramedics fought to keep her alive on the way to the hospital. He could still remember the way her body had jerked as they’d shocked it over and over again, trying to bring her back.
Four times they’d used that paddle.
It had been the longest thirty seconds of his life as the alarms had screamed. She’d been dead for thirty seconds.
This wasn’t like last year. He wouldn’t let it be.
He leaned forward to gently press his lips against her forehead. “I love you. You’re going to come back to me.”
“Jason, we had to take—” Emily held out her rings as he stood up. “She can’t wear them—”
He took the ruby engagement ring and simple wedding band she’d only worn for only a few weeks. “Can I see—Can I see Cameron—”
“For a minute, then we need the room,” Monica told him as Emily took him over to the incubator where a neonatalogist and a nurse were arranging wires.
“How is he?” Jason asked, looking down at the tiny scrap of humanity. He was so small, barely visible through the tubes and wires, but Jason could hear soft little sounds that almost sounded like crying.
“Made it through delivery. Apgar score is a four—” The nurse glanced at Jason. “That’s normal for a baby this young,” she reassured him.
Jason nodded. “I know—” His voice was rusty as he tried to take it all in—it had happened so fast, and now—now his son was here. “His name is Cameron. Cameron Hardy Morgan.”
“Cameron,” the nurse said with a smile. “It’s a good name. I’ll make sure it’s on his paperwork. We should—we have to take him up to the NICU. You can see him in a little while—”
“It’s time to go, Jason,” Emily murmured. Jason looked at his wife and son—at his life—one last time before he let his sister push him back towards the emergency room.
“How long until we know—”
“Mom said the embolization should take about thirty minutes. Then they’ll do another imaging scan,” Emily said. “And we’ll—we’ll see.”
“I can’t believe this is happening again. We were—we were checking in today.”
“This wasn’t supposed to—” Abruptly cutting himself off, Jason strode over to Cody and Nikolas and took the guard by the shirt. “What the hell happened? Why did you need extra guards?”
“Where’s Elizabeth?” Nikolas demanded of Emily.
“She’s…being treated. Cameron’s on his way up to NICU. It’s, um, we don’t know enough yet,” Emily admitted.
“Sonny came over,” Cody admitted as Jason released him. “We tried to get him to leave, but Max couldn’t do it on his own, and Elizabeth was feeling dizzy. He was yelling at her—” He swallowed hard. “We called for extra guards, and we had to remove him. I thought—I thought it was more important to get him away from her—I didn’t know how bad it was until I came back—”
“Sonny,” Jason repeated. He felt his blood pounding in his ears as he took that in. “Sonny came in to scream at my pregnant wife. Again.”
“Yes. We tried to get him out—”
“Was she dizzy in front of him? Did you tell him she wasn’t well today?” Jason bit out, his fists clenched.
Cody stared at him for a long moment before reluctantly nodding. “Yeah. We told him.”
Jason exhaled slowly. “Okay.”
Then he turned and stalked out of the emergency room.
“Um—” Emily looked at Nikolas. “That’s—we should do something—”
“What? It’s not like Jason doesn’t know how to hide a body,” Nikolas retorted. “And good riddance. What’s going on with Elizabeth?”
Before Emily could fill Nikolas in, Bobbie and Carly came through the emergency room doors. “What the hell is going on?”
“Where’s Elizabeth? Where’s Jason?” Carly asked.
Emily took a deep breath. “Elizabeth was coughing up blood. It was—” She had to force herself to keep talking. To treat it like any other patient. “When she got here, her oxygen levels were dangerously low, and we had to decide whether to treat the bleeding first or deliver the baby. If we waited to deliver, there was a chance Cameron might have not survived.”
Carly pressed her fingers to her lips. “Oh, God, he had to choose—”
“Elizabeth—is she okay—”
“They’re treating her now. Monica and Patrick are doing that, and Cameron is in NICU. But yeah, Jason had to decide which treatment first—”
“And he chose Cameron,” Nikolas murmured. He scrubbed his hands over his face. “What does that mean for Elizabeth?”
“We think we were able to get her on the ventilator fast enough to minimize oxygen deprivation, but we don’t know how much time she lost.” Emily’s hands were trembling slightly as she folded her arms. “They’re stopping the bleeding. We won’t know until the first round of embolization is done—”
“Did Jason go up to NICU?” Carly asked.
“No, he went to choke the life out of Sonny,” Nikolas bit out. “Because apparently, Sonny decided to celebrate being released by screaming at Elizabeth, who was already dizzy and struggling to breathe—”
Carly reached out—gripped Nikolas’s shirt front. “Jason left—he went to the—” she turned wide eyes on her mother. “Mama, I have to go—he’ll kill him—”
“Who cares?” Nikolas muttered.
“Jason will if he ends up in jail instead of here with Elizabeth. Mama—”
“Nikolas, wait here for news about Elizabeth. I’ll go with you to the Towers,” Bobbie told Carly. “Cody, we might need your help,” she said to the guard, who nodded grimly.
PCPD: Commissioner’s Office
Capelli had the look of a hunted man when he came into the office, and whatever color he had left drained when he saw Anna standing behind her desk, Taggert on one side and a union rep on the other. Still, he lifted his chin and sneered at them.
“What the hell is this?” he demanded.
“Andy,” the rep began with a heavy sigh, “you might want to sit down.”
“I’m not sure why you thought we wouldn’t trace this back to you,” Anna said, “but perhaps it’s more evidence of your unfitness to wear that uniform—”
“How dare you—” Capelli roared.
“How very dare you,” Anna responded in her soft, cool British accent, and at that, Capelli fell silent, his eyes burning like hot coal, “betray the badge you swore to uphold. At the moment, I have negotiated that you will not face charges if you agree to resign quietly—”
“You want me gone?” Capelli demanded. “You’ll have to drag me out of here kicking and screaming—”
“Don’t tempt me,” Taggert muttered. Anna cut him a cool glance, and he fell quiet.
“This is a statement from Commander O’Rourke in Dispatch who admits to changing official records upon your request.” Anna set down another piece of paper. “This is Officer Byron Murphy, who took the original dispatch call and relayed the all-call for back-up.”
“Their word against mine—”
“These are statements from Unit 81. Your officers,” Anna added, “who back up the story. And the audio call that underpins it all. You see, Detective Capelli, you have gravely underestimated how well you are liked in this department—”
“Fucking British cunt—” Capelli swore.
“Andy—” the rep said, putting up his hand. “After last summer and the search warrant slap—the union isn’t going to do more than the bare minimum for you. If you offer to resign, this can go away—”
“Kiss my ass! You think you can run this place without me? With traitors like this asshole?” He jerked a thumb at Taggert.
“I think you have dragged this department down long enough,” Anna said sharply. “You can either resign quietly, or Lieutenant Taggert will arrest you for tampering with official records, and we will begin the termination process.”
“Andy, I’ve been over this case—”
“You’re supposed to fucking defend me!” Capelli whirled on the union rep who threw up his hands in frustration.
“And I did that last summer! I got that suspension overturned,” the rep snapped. “This isn’t going to work! The union is under just as much pressure as the department after Esposito! We can’t be seen covering for a dirty cop—”
“There’s a dirty cop right there!”
Taggert just sneered at him. “You’re the only one who broke any damn laws—”
“Fuck all of this!” Capelli tossed his badge across the desk. “I’ll go somewhere else and do the job! You can’t stop me—” He stormed out, followed by the union rep.
“He’s not wrong,” Anna said to Taggert. “Even if we tell the papers, it won’t change anything. He’ll get hired somewhere.”
“And that will be their problem. We can’t fix the world.” Taggert reached for Capelli’s badge. “But this is our corner of it, and I’m going to do whatever I can to keep it safe. But I’m calling Jessica Mitchell at the Herald and giving her a heads up. I don’t plan to make it easy for him.”
Harborview Towers: Hallway
The elevator doors slid open, and Jason stalked out, scowling when he found Justus, Luke, Max, and a few other guards lingering outside Sonny’s penthouse. “Where is he?” he demanded.
“Jason—how’s Elizabeth—” Justus held up his hands, but Jason was in no mood to be calmed down. He shoved Justus’s hands away, avoided Luke’s grasp, and pushed Max away from him as he kicked the door open.
Sonny had been sitting across the room, nursing a bourbon. His eyes and hair were wild as he lurched to his feet, slightly unsteady. “Jase. Jase. You gotta—you gotta tell me—is she okay—”
He broke off as Jason started across the room. Sonny backed up, but Jason kept coming, not stopping until the other man was against the wall. Then Jason reached out—wrapped his hands around Sonny’s neck—
“Jason—” Sonny sputtered, clawing at Jason’s hands. “Jase—”
“Jason, man—” Justus tried to grab at Jason’s arms again, but Jason only had eyes for the man in front of him.
The man he had lied, cheated, and stolen for—he had killed for this man—and the only thing Jason had ever asked in return was a little fucking respect for his family—not even for Jason—for his family—
And Sonny had refused. Over and over again.
“This is how it felt,” Jason growled as he shoved Sonny against the wall harder. “When she was gasping for air while you screamed at her. You feel your lungs burning? No? Not yet? Maybe I should squeeze harder—”
“In a minute, you’re going to feel dizzy—” He tightened his fists as Sonny’s face flushed. “Maybe I can make you bleed inside the way she did—”
“She could die. My son could still die. Was it worth it?” Jason growled. Sonny’s hands fell to his side as his eyes started to glass over.
Jason closed his eyes. “Go away, Carly.”
“No.” She came closer and then was next to them. “No. Not this way, Jason. Let him go.”
It took everything Jason had to release his partner and former best friend, but he did it. He let Sonny slump to the floor, gasping for breath.
He looked at Carly, at her own tear-stained cheeks. “Carly—”
“You need to be at the hospital with your family.” She touched his arms, gently turned him away from the man on the floor. “Because as angry as we both are with Sonny, it doesn’t change the fact that Elizabeth needs you with her.”
“Every time I leave her—” His voice broke as he looked at his best friend, the only friend he had left. “Every time—”
“I know. I know—” Carly framed his face with her hands. “I know,” she repeated. “But Sonny didn’t create her health problems. He made them worse, yeah, but he didn’t start them. So let me deal with Sonny. For once—let me be strong.”
Carly took a deep breath. “Go to the hospital. I have Mama and Uncle Luke, but Elizabeth needs her family. She needs you to be thinking about her, about that precious little angel who didn’t ask for any of this.”
“Okay.” Jason nodded. “Okay.” He turned back to Sonny, who was now on his knees, still gasping for air. “We’re done, Sonny. You and me? That’s over.”
He slammed the door behind him, and Carly turned towards Sonny.
“I didn’t—I didn’t realize—” Sonny looked up at her, eyes bloodshot, his cheeks still flushed. “Didn’t mean to hurt her.”
“No, I’m sure you didn’t.” She looked back at Max. “Get the sedatives. He needs to rest.”
She turned back to her estranged husband and helped him to stand. “Let’s go upstairs, Sonny. You need to sleep.” Luke went to Sonny’s side to stabilize him better.
“I didn’t—I didn’t mean it, Lily—” He gestured towards something Carly couldn’t see. “Lily—tell her I didn’t mean it.”
“I know you didn’t—”
Outside the penthouse, Justus found Jason getting on the elevator. He went in with him. “What can I do? What can I do for you? How is Elizabeth?”
“She’s alive,” Jason said shortly. “So is Cameron. For now. I don’t care what Carly wants. If they don’t make it—”
The doors opened in the lobby, and Jason walked away without finishing his statement.
He didn’t need to.