So little time
Try to understand that I’m
Trying to make a move just to stay in the game
I try to stay awake and remember my name
But everybody’s changing, and I don’t feel the same
You’re gone from here
Soon you will disappear, fading into beautiful light
‘Cause everybody’s changing, and I don’t feel right
– Everybody’s Changing, Keane
Friday, April 9, 2004
The Cellar: Office
“I’m sorry,” Carly said as Jason closed her door. “I never meant to blindside—”
Jason held up a hand to ward off her protests. “You don’t owe me an explanation. Michael is your son—”
“But everything about Sonny affects you. Especially right now,” Carly cut in and he exhaled slowly. “And it’s not like I didn’t have a chance to tell you”
“I knew you were working with AJ—”
“But I didn’t tell you what I was going to do.” Carly folded her arms. “At first, it really was just about getting Sonny out of Michael’s life. Even if Sonny does get better, Morgan’s an infant and he won’t have memories of this time. Michael always will. And I knew there was a big chance Sonny would win supervised visitation. Revoking the adoption was my only way out.”
“I understand all of that—”
“And after Sonny was forced into Ferncliffe, I was even more determined. But then, the bipolar diagnosis came down and I—” Carly sighed. “I told AJ we were still going forward, I just wanted to wait until Sonny was released. It would look better in court.” She paused. “And then AJ tried to talk me out of it.”
“AJ.” Jason stared at her. “He tried to talk you out of the revocation?”
“What’s stopping me from doing this to AJ in two or three years?” Carly asked softly. “How many times have I jerked my son around, pushing him from father to father, Jason? From Tony to you to AJ to Sonny—” She squeezed her eyes shut. “I can justify it all I want, but AJ’s right. I still think of Michael as mine to give and to take.”
She opened her eyes, stretched her mouth into a thin, sour smile. “You’re not going to argue with that?”
“No,” Jason replied. “No. I can’t. Because I’ve always seen Michael as yours. From the beginning. I never cared about Tony or AJ. You were the one who was pregnant. It made sense to me then that you should be in charge. The rights of the mother—” He paused. “Then I realized what it meant to be a father. I understood what I’d done. It was just too late, and I was in too deep. I loved him too much.”
“You still walked away,” she murmured. “And I wish I’d let it go then, Jason. When you gave up visitation, when you tried to cut ties. You told me to move on, but I clung and I dragged you along, still believing we could have everything.” She sank down, into her chair, her hands on her desk. “And when you didn’t do what I wanted, I tried to hurt you.”
“And you did it,” Jason said roughly. “You and Sonny destroyed me. But you did me a favor at the end of the day. Because I was still holding out for the chance to be with Michael again. I had to let go, and I don’t know if I could have if you hadn’t—”
“You were almost there, Jason. I know what we thought we felt, but it was never love.” She smiled sadly, and he nodded. “But that’s why I have to do this now. I never had the right to cut AJ out. He never, ever hurt Michael. And he was a good father. This isn’t about Sonny anymore. This is about taking accountability for the things I’ve done. I’m sorry if this makes things harder with Sonny, I am. But I have to do this—”
“It’s okay,” Jason said. “I wish you’d said something earlier, but I can understand it’s not an easy conversation to have. I don’t really like going back to that time. I hurt a lot of people,” he continued. “I’ll never regret the time I spent with Michael because loving him, being his father made me a better man, but I hurt Robin. I lied to my grandmother—” He shook his head. “You need to make it right however works for you, Carly. I’ll support it.”
“Thank you.” Carly took a deep breath. “That leads me to why I asked you to come by. Before I could file my paperwork, Sonny got there first. He must have been meeting with his lawyer in Ferncliffe.”
Jason grimaced. “How bad is it?”
“He’s going to drag every wrong thing I ever did through the mud to make sure I’m labeled an unfit mother and blame the breakdown of the marriage on me.” Her throat tightened. “I know this is going to make things worse with him, but I need you. I need you and I need Elizabeth to tell the court about December. I need Elizabeth to talk about all the things he’s done to her, even after he knew she was facing a fatal pregnancy complication. And if it’s possible, if Justus could—”
“That’s—” Jason scrubbed a hand down his face. “I’ll testify, and I can talk to Justus, but—”
“I know. You want to leave Elizabeth out of it. I wish I could, Jase. I really do. But she’s the other target of Sonny’s anger. He never turned on you like he did on us. She can say no. I’ll be okay with that. But I need you to ask her. Or I need to. I just—I have to get Sonny out of my life. And I can’t afford to play safe or fair. He won’t.”
Dante unfolded the last chair and set it in place by a table. Georgie and Lulu had both argued to set up the courtyard for the day, but he liked the physical labor and they had to deal with customers all day. The least he could do after the first morning rush was give them a break.
He adjusted a few of the chairs, then headed for the diner entrance. He stopped when he heard his name called.
“Dante, I was hoping to catch you before your shift.” Alexis walked through the arched entrance and flashed a smile. “Do you have a minute?”
“I’m on break, actually, but yeah—” He shoved his hands in his pockets. “Is this about Capelli or the PCPD—”
“Oh. No. I’m not dealing with any of that, actually. I was just—” Alexis paused. “I’ve wanted to reach out to you since all of this hit the fan, but I thought it might be better if I waited until the press died down. The reporters are gone from the building, and I asked Lu if they were still around here.”
Dante shrugged. “Every once in a while, but not like before.”
“Good. Good. I’m so sorry this came out the way it did. I never wanted anyone to know about Kristina,” Alexis said, “and clearly you and your mother felt the same way—”
“I saw the press conference,” Dante said. “With you and Aunt Lo. I’m glad Ma didn’t go through it, but I guess you and Aunt Lo work for the city, so—”
“But the truth is out there now,” Alexis interrupted. “Whatever you decide to do about your relationship with Sonny—you’ll do what’s best for you. But you have a sister. And brothers,” she added, “but Carly will choose her own path there. Kristina is your sister, Dante.”
Dante stared at her for a long moment, then cleared his throat. “I—”
“She’s much younger than you, of course. Still just a baby still.” Alexis flashed a hesitant smile. “I had a sister once, too, and I was separated from her most of my life. Once she came back into my life, we didn’t have nearly as much time together. I just thought you should know if you want to be part of Kristina’s life, if you want to be her brother, the door is always open.”
NICU: Cameron’s Room
Cameron was out of the incubator when Jason arrived that morning and laying on a table with Dr. Ian Devlin and Nadine on one side, Elizabeth on the other, her arms tightly crossed.
“Is everything all right?” Jason asked, quickly crossing to his wife, a hand on her shoulder. “Cameron—”
“They’re doing a temperature check,” Elizabeth told him. “If Cameron can regulate his own temperature for a longer period of time—” She took a breath, and Jason immediately noted that it was much deeper than before she’d delivered the baby. Her lungs could nearly fully expand now—
She cleared her throat. “It’ll be a big step towards letting him come home soon, right?” she asked.
Dr. Devlin removed the thermometer and studied the results. He grinned, and Jason’s chest eased. “97.7,” he told Nadine who scribbled it down. “Exactly where he needs to be.”
“What does that mean?” Elizabeth asked immediately. “Does that mean we can take him home—”
“Not yet, Mama, but we’re getting closer. This means Cameron can stop using the incubator,” he said. He nodded to Nadine who left the room. “We’ll be upgrading him to an open bed. He can start wearing t-shirts but you’ll need to keep his head covered at all times,” he told them. He lifted Cameron, then settled him in Elizabeth’s arms. “This is a big step. I want him to gain a bit more weight to help him continue maintaining that temperature. I think we can start scheduling overnight stays,” he told them. “One or both of you staying overnight with him to handle the feeding and changes—”
Elizabeth’s eyes glittered with tears. “I can stay now. Tonight—”
Dr. Devlin laughed, but Jason knew she was completely serious. If the hospital gave Elizabeth the opening, she’d move into Cameron’s room. And he’d be right there with her. “We’ll look at that. I think we can start thinking about scheduling the tests he’ll need for release. As soon as he gains two more ounces, we’ll do the hearing and vision tests. And don’t forget about the car seat. He needs to be able to sit for almost two hours in one without any issues—”
He made some more notes in the chart. “Nadine will arrange for the open crib—it should be here in a few minutes. Now that Cameron can regulate the temperature, we don’t want him getting overheated. Congratulations, Mom and Dad. He’s doing great.”
The doctor set the chart aside and left the room. Elizabeth beamed at Jason. “We’re going to be able to bring him home soon!”
“I heard.” Jason ushered her over to the chair. Her health had rebounded but he still wanted her to take it easy. “And as soon as they tell us we can do overnight, we’ll do that.” He hesitated. “I talked to Carly this morning.”
“And judging from the look on your face, it didn’t go well?” she asked, adjusting Cameron again, sliding her fingers over his fuzzy head and tufts of blond hair.
“I don’t know.” Jason sat in the other chair. Before he said anything else, Nadine and a few other hospital techs rolled out the incubator, replacing it with an open crib. He went over to one of the bags they’d kept there, and drew out a t-shirt. He handed it to Elizabeth and Nadine gave them a stash of hats.
“Congratulations,” Nadine told them again. “He can spend as much time as you want out of the crib, just make sure his head is covered and check his temperature every twenty minutes or so.”
When they were alone and Cameron was dressed in his new clothes, Jason told Elizabeth about Carly’s decision to bring AJ back into the picture and Sonny’s divorce paperwork. “She’s having Alexis send me a copy so I can get an idea of what he’s saying, but—”
“It’s terrible. You can’t even blame Sonny’s reaction on AJ because he clearly had this ready to go. He was planning this in Ferncliffe,” Elizabeth said. “Doesn’t that bother you? While he was starting therapy and supposed to be getting better, he was planning how to destroy Carly.”
“It tells me she’s right to get out.” It seemed even colder to him knowing that Sonny had walked into the penthouse the day before asking Carly for another chance. He’d had this paperwork waiting, ready to launch it like a nuclear attack. How could someone claim to love someone and do this?
He paused again, watched as Elizabeth readjusted Cameron from one side to the other, fussing over the hat and t-shirt, making sure they weren’t bunched up and their son was comfortable. Everything outside this room was still a complete clusterfuck, but his family was safe. Happy. Healthy. For the first time in months, Jason felt like he could actually breathe and think clearly.
“She needs me to testify about December,” Jason told her. “And about last summer. She’ll limit it because she knows Sonny can’t afford to go too deep, but Bobbie’s already going to talk about what she saw.” He paused. “She needs you, too.”
Elizabeth squinted. “Why do you say it like that? Of course she does. I was there that night. And I’ve seen how scared Michael is of Sonny. Plus, I’m sure she wants me to talk about the things Sonny said to me right before I got sick.” She stood and handed Cameron to him. “Your turn.”
“I just—” Jason shook his head. “It’s instinct, I guess. After all of this. I don’t want you to have to think about any of that. To think about the panic room and last summer or how sick you were—”
“I don’t want to, either, but this is the right thing to do, Jason. Michael and Morgan need us. I want them to have the best life they possibly can.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I know all the reasons it isn’t my fault, but I still feel responsible for what happened in that panic room—”
“For that entire week, we weren’t just working to find Carly. We were trying to bring Morgan home safely, too. And Michael saw what happened to his mother. I wish this weren’t the answer. I wish Sonny could have bent just a little six months ago when it came to the trial. Or maybe I wish Carly and I had felt differently. There were hundreds of little ways maybe we could stopped what’s happening. We didn’t, Jason. I’ll never forgive myself if Sonny ends up with custody of those boys. The man who screamed at me while I was so sick—who locked Carly in that room—he’s not a good father. It’s up to Carly to stop that. She’s asking us for help. We need to be there.”
General Hospital: Hallway
They left Dr. Lee’s office and walked towards the bank of elevators, but Taggert’s head was still back in the room, watching the little black screen and green squiggles. It hadn’t looked like much, but then he’d seen the heartbeat—
A little pulsing squiggle on a screen was the heartbeat of his kid. And it was beating inside of the woman walking next to him, her arm wound through his—
“It didn’t seem real before,” Taggert said suddenly, and Portia stopped, blinking up at him. “I mean, I saw the test and I knew it was, but before—”
“Before it was a concept,” she finished. She reached into her purse, drew out the print they’d been given, the DVD still tucked inside. “Now it’s here. Our baby has a heartbeat.”
“I want to be a good father,” Taggert said. “Not like mine. He took off, and he broke my mother—” He cleared his throat.
“Marcus, you’ll be an amazing father.” Portia leaned up to brush her mouth against his. He cupped her face gently. Delicately. How did women do this? How did they grow a whole person inside of them? And how did people just let them walk around normally? He wanted to wrap her in bubble wrap so nothing could touch her—
“I don’t know about amazing. But good—” He nodded. Good was a realistic goal. “I know this is all still new and we’re figuring things out, but I love you, and I love this baby already.”
Portia grinned. “I knew all of that, but it’s nice to hear.” They resumed walking towards the elevator. “Now, I don’t want you thinking that we’re gonna rush into getting married or anything.”
He frowned. “But—”
“I always wanted to design my own dress,” Portia continued, “and that’s gonna take me some time. We’re gonna have to have two ceremonies,” she decided. “A small one up here in Port Charles for this part of our family, and then we’ll go to Philly—” Her smile broadened. “You need to meet everyone—”
Taggert pursed his lips. “How are you so sure I was gonna propose?” he demanded. “Maybe I wasn’t—”
She arched a brow. “Marcus, this isn’t the time to be playing funny. We both know that you got a ring burning a hole in the top drawer of your dresser. So you’ll go ahead with your plans to ask me properly so one day we can tell our daughter—”
“Women just know,” Portia said, “and we’ll tell her about how you asked all romantically. Then—” Her eyes lit up. “Oh, and if we wait long enough after she’s born, she can have the cutest dress—you need to drop me off at the shop. I wanna start sketches. I just know exactly what she should wear—”
She practically danced into the elevator, and Taggert followed, still a bit mystified and overwhelmed, but damned if he wasn’t already thinking about his pretty Portia in a gorgeous gown, and maybe his mother in the front of the church holding a baby girl in her own dress—
Portia did know how to paint a picture in your head.
Spencer House: Kitchen
Lucky stepped into his parents’ house by way of the kitchen door, and stood there for a long moment, enjoying a sight he’d never take for granted again.
His parents were standing by the sink, laughing and teasing one another as Laura washed the breakfast dishes and Luke dried them. He’d watched them do that a thousand times growing up, but he hadn’t seen it in so many years.
Not since his mother had been away, living in London then North Carolina with his grandmother. Lucky had never lived with both of them at the same time again.
“Hey.” Laura smiled broadly at her son. She flicked her hands at Luke, letting the last of the water hit his face. He tried to grab her, but she danced away from him to cross over to Lucky. She hugged him. “I wasn’t expecting you. No work tonight?”
“I have the second shift,” Lucky told her. She kissed his cheek. “Got any coffee left?”
“Sure thing, Cowboy.” Luke reached for a mug and filled it with the last of the pot. “What brings you by?”
“Some questions,” Lucky said. He went to the fridge to grab milk, then joined his parents at the island.
“When I was shot—you know, Kelsey—” Lucky hesitated. “She struggled with it. We’re fine and everything, but her mother brought up her dad’s death and said something that confused Kelsey. So she looked up his case.” He saw his father drop his gaze to the counter. “You already know what she found, don’t you, Dad?”
“Luke?” Laura said when Luke didn’t answer. “What is he talking about?”
“He was shot in the head, execution style. He was driving home from a meeting, and someone was with him in the car,” Lucky continued. Laura closed her eyes. “He died in June. When Frank Smith was still alive and could have ordered it.”
“I knew Ollie worked at the clubs, but—” Laura looked at Luke. “He worked for Frank? Like that?”
“I don’t know much,” Luke said, with a shake of his head. “Ollie worked for Frank Smith from the beginning. Low-level stuff. He probably didn’t know what he was dealing with. He did the books for the club,” he told Laura. “The…disco.” Her mouth tightened as she looked away. “When we left town, that’s what he was doing. He was just one of a few lawyers that worked with the Smith organization. And—to the best of my knowledge—it was all legal.”
“Until it wasn’t,” Lucky said. “What about when we moved back?”
“Ollie had moved up. He was Smith’s top lawyer. I still think it was mostly legal. You generally—you have two lawyers. Look at Jason and Sonny. They have Bernie and Justus. Bernie—and his brother before him—was trained in the law and accounting. That’s what made him valuable. Benny worked for Frank Smith, too. He and Ollie worked together. Ollie handled the legal end of the business.”
“But he knew who he was working for.”
“Oh, yeah, no doubt. You don’t work for a man over a decade without finding out a thing or two or crossing the lines at times.” Luke shrugged. “That’s about as much as I ever knew. Ollie handled the legal end of the clubs and gambling—which was all Frank really got into at the time. The smuggling and international stuff—that was Sonny’s contacts from New York and Puerto Rico through Lily.” He winced. “This is off the record, right, Cowboy?”
“It’s not a PCPD investigation. It never was. The cop who handled it closed it.” Lucky lifted a brow. “You ever work with a Detective Case? David Case?”
“I didn’t work with him, no,” Luke said tightly, “but I knew he wasn’t clean. He closed it? No investigation?”
“No. That wouldn’t have raised flags for the commissioner? I didn’t know Sean.”
“You work for the PCPD—you tell me. Mac was a good guy, and still people get away with all kinds of shit.” Luke hesitated. “Look—I don’t know what bringing this up now is going to solve. I don’t know what I can tell you. I wasn’t part of the organization back in ’94. Not after I helped Frank get out of prison.”
He paused. “Maybe Ollie asked the wrong questions. I can’t say, Cowboy. But I can tell you that there’s no point in bringing this up now.”
“I can’t just leave it alone, Dad. Kelsey talked to her mother. Her mother claimed she was threatened and paid to leave town right after. Her mom is still terrified.”
“That poor woman,” Laura murmured. “To lose Ollie, then this?”
“Her mom asked Kelsey to drop it, and she did at first, but Kelsey’s having trouble putting it away. She thinks her dad deserves more—”
“If Frank Smith ordered it, I already got her father justice,” Luke told him flatly. “There’s no point in dragging up ancient history. Does that cop still work at the PCPD?”
“No, he retired in ’97 and died last year.”
“Then why go into it now?” Luke shrugged. “Let her father rest in peace. It was a bad time for us, Cowboy. Leave it alone.”
Lucky studied his father for a long moment, then finished his coffee. “All right. Let me know if you think of anything else.” He hugged his mother, then left.
When he was gone, Laura turned to Luke and raised her brow. “What do you know?”
“What I know, Angel, is not provable in a court of law,” Luke told her. He kissed her forehead. “And some people got enough problems without opening up that can of worms.”
Laura scowled, but Luke set his coffee cup in the sink and left the kitchen.
Brownstone: Front Step
The universe was sending all kinds of signals these days, Carly thought as she approached the front step of her mother’s home and saw Tony Jones jogging down the steps. He stopped when he saw her, his face tight.
“Tony.” Carly tightened her hand around the strap of her purse. “I don’t see you much around here.” Her stomach fluttered. “That’s my fault, isn’t it?”
“Not entirely,” Tony admitted. He shoved his hands into his pockets. “Lucas is old enough to come to me, and we don’t do visitation anymore.” He cleared his throat. “I was dropping some things off. I thought you’d be at work.”
“Early night. Um—wait—” she said as Tony started towards his car. “Can I—” He turned back towards her, his facial expression carefully blank. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve…about the things I’ve done. Um, I’ve been in therapy off and on since last summer.”
Tony exhaled slowly, nodded. “I heard something about that, I think. We don’t need to—”
“No, we do. I wasn’t always a good person.” Carly made a face. “I’m not sure I qualify now, but I’ve been working with AJ to get his parental rights reinstated.”
Tony raised his brows. “Really? Things with Sonny that bad?” he said sourly.
“No, well, yes,” Carly admitted. “And that’s how it started. But it’s not why I’m still doing it. I was messed up about a lot of things back then. Why I went after you, why I lied about the baby, the things I did to AJ—I have a lot of regrets, Tony. I’m sorry I lied to you about the baby. About the way I treated you when you found out the truth.”
“Sorry about shooting me?” he asked dryly. She grimaced. “No, that one is on me. I went a little crazy for a while,” he admitted. “And look, we both did a lot wrong, Carly—”
“Let’s just leave it there, okay?” he told her. “You’re not the same person—”
“You know, people say that all the time,” Carly cut in, “but it feels wrong. It feels like I’m blaming someone else for what I did. I’m still her, Tony. I did those things, and I did them without a regret in my heart for a long time. God, even six months ago—” Her chest tightened. “I’m not sure I could have stood in front of you and felt bad about it.”
He said nothing, and she took a deep breath. “But I am sorry now. Mama forgave me a long time ago, even though I barely gave her a reason, too, and I think Lucas is on his way. Maybe. I hope so. He’s been good to me. To me and to my boys. You don’t need to forgive me, Tony. I can’t ask for that, and I won’t. I still need to offer the apology.”
“All right,” Tony said slowly. “Then let me give you an apology, too,” he said, and she blinked at him. “Because you did what you did, but I lied to you, too, didn’t I? I didn’t love you. And I nearly married you for the baby. I kept lying to you because I was going for custody. Maybe if I’d come clean, if I’d admitted it earlier, you might have done things differently.”
“I wish I could believe that. You were kind to me, Tony, and for a while, I thought that meant you loved me. I thought it meant I loved you, too. We were both wrong, I guess. But I know I was more wrong. For going after you—”
“Yeah, the reasons you targeted me weren’t right, but I still said yes, didn’t I?” Tony shrugged a half shoulder, but his face had loosened. “I still made the choice, Carly, and I’m not here to give you more blame than you deserve. Thanks for clearing the air.”
“Thank you for listening.”
Kelly’s: Dining Room
“Now, you can have this one cookie,” Tamika told her daughter. “But we’re taking the rest home.”
Kimi pouted, then turned her dark eyes on her father. “Daddy—”
“Not a chance. Me and Mama are a team,” he reminded her. His eye caught someone in the courtyard, and he grimaced. “Mikki,” he murmured to his wife. “Stay in here with Kimi. Sonny’s outside, and he just made eye contact with me.”
“It’ll be fine. We’re in public.” He kissed her temple, then left the diner to find Sonny waiting for him. “How did you know I’d be here and what do you want?”
“I didn’t know,” Sonny said, squinting. “I came to grab something to eat—” He paused. “And maybe see if I could talk to my son—”
“Dante isn’t working right now,” Justus said, “and I doubt he wants to see you. You’re the reason he had to leave the department—”
Sonny scowled. “You don’t know that—”
“I know that everyone was looking at him funny, thinking he knew about his father and was a dirty cop. So maybe you came looking for Dante, but you saw me. What do you want?” he repeated.
“I thought I could apologize—”
“Justus, come on—” Sonny said as Justus reached for the door. “I’m trying to do better, okay? I’m doing the damn therapy, the meds. No one is giving me a chance—”
“What makes you think you deserve one?” Justus wanted to know. “Maybe six months ago when Carly walked out on you the first time. Or four months ago after you locked in her a goddamn room. Maybe two months ago when Jason told you Elizabeth was sick. Maybe then you had a right to ask about chances. But no one owes you shit, Sonny. Don’t be mad. It’s called the consequences of your actions—”
“I didn’t know—”
“You didn’t know the diagnosis,” Justus retorted, “but you damn well knew you weren’t okay. But you’re the big bad Sonny Corinthos, right? Can’t go for help even though your family is begging you. You made that choice, Sonny. Not the illness. You’re not going to get back in by appealing to me. Jason’s my cousin. My loyalty is with him. You and me got nothing else to say to each other.”