One after another, they’ve always come and gone
So what if I’m a monster that’s been here all along
They’re dropping like flies whenever I’m around
So used to goodbyes, there’s comfort in the sound
Maybe I’m the monster that’s been here all along
Bending ’till you break and you can’t take anymore
I’m not worth the trouble it seems
I would say you’re wrong, but I’ve been here before
You won’t be the last one to leave
– Monster, Gabbie Hanna
Friday, April 25, 2004
General Hospital: NICU
Elizabeth beamed as Nadine gently placed Cameron in her arms for the last time. She turned to look at Jason whose own grin was bigger than she’d ever seen.
This was the last day Cameron would ever spend in the NICU. Today they were bringing their son home.
“I’m gonna miss this little guy,” Nadine told them with a smile of her own, “but my favorite day is always their last day. I’m so excited to see him leave.”
“Thanks for taking such good care of him,” Elizabeth told her. “And for the tour before I delivered. I was so…” She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, before focusing on the nurse again. “I was so scared of what he’d face. But you believe me feel like he’d be safe.”
“Thank you,” Jason offered as Elizabeth handed him the baby. “For everything.”
“My pleasure. You know, we don’t always see a lot of family. Not because they don’t care,” Nadine added, “but for a lot of people—this is really hard. People get scared of getting attached or seeing the machines and wires. But your family—they really stepped up. And it makes me happy to know this little boy is going to have such a great start. Good luck. And, hey, send us pictures! I wanna know how he turns out.”
With another wave, the neonatal nurse left and Elizabeth turned her attention to packing up the things they’d brought to make Cameron’s room feel more comforting. A few photo frames, some stuffed animals—she tucked them into her tote as Jason fastened Cameron into the carrier. The baby swung his hands, opened his eyes briefly, then closed them again.
Cameron had already survived the car seat test the day before to make sure he could breathe without any issues. It had been the longest two hours of her life, but he’d emerged like a champ and—even more important, he’d gained two more ounces over the last few days. He was almost six pounds.
Their little miracle.
“You got everything?” Jason asked.
Elizabeth looped the tote over her shoulder, and he frowned at her slightly. She raised her brows. “It weighs, like, a pound. Cameron’s heavier.”
“I know.” He winced. “Sorry.” He lifted the car seat and she looped her arm around his, smiling at him.
“Nothing can get me down today,” she told him as they left the NICU. She waved at a few of the nurses she’d gotten to know over the last month, and they walked towards the entrance. When they’d exited the ward and started towards the elevators, she blinked back tears.
“Oh, man, he’s really going home. I kept thinking they’d stop us on the way out.” Elizabeth swiped her cheek, then pressed the button. “You sure you’re okay to be at home with us for the next few days?”
“I have a few things to handle today,” he reminded her, “and then I’m all yours. If Justus and Bernie need anything, they know where to find me. Stop finding things to worry about.”
He said this last part with a smile, so she knew he wasn’t really irritated. “I can’t help it. When we go to bed tonight, he’ll be with us. Honestly, I might not let him even sleep in his own room until he’s six. Or never.” She nodded as they stepped onto the elevator. “Never sounds good.”
“You’re laughing at me again. I can tell without even looking at you.” She slid him a playful glare from under her lashes, then pressed the lobby button. “You know, I can make you pay for that.”
Jason smirked. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”
“Oh, according to Kelly, I can keep that promise in about—” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “Five more weeks.”
“Five weeks?” He met her eyes, held them as her cheeks flushed. “Five it is.”
Lucky & Kelsey’s Apartment: Bedroom
Kelsey sat on the bed and picked at her cuticles. “Maybe your dad is right.”
Lucky drew a shirt over his head, then turned to her. “About letting it go? Kelse—”
“I mean—” She sighed. “If he can make sure my mom is safe, maybe I should just put the file back. I have to do that anyway, but maybe there are things I don’t want to know.”
He sat next to her, reached for her hand. “Kelsey—”
“My dad was a good guy. If I bring this out, the world will find out what he did for a living and maybe that’ll be how people remember him.” She rested her forehead against his shoulder. “Is that what I want?”
“You’re the only one who can answer that, baby. You tell me to drop this, we will. We’ll put it away.”
He would, she knew that. Because she’d ask it of him, and she mattered. Had she dreamed she’d find someone who’d love her like this when she’d sat at his bar last summer and flirted with the cop and his pretty eyes?
Could she live with herself if she buried this again?
“I don’t know. I keep going back and forth on this, I’m sorry—”
“You don’t need to apologize for anything.” He cupped her cheek and kissed her. “This is your family. Your father—”
“It’s yours, too—”
“And I can live with my dad and his secrets. I had to learn that lesson a long time ago.” Lucky paused. “The only thing I can’t live with is if my father’s past comes between us. I believe him when he says he didn’t do it—”
“So do I—”
“But I don’t think he’s told us everything. We’d have to let that go.” His thumb swept over her cheekbone. “Can you do that?”
Lucky laughed lightly, and it was lightly tinged with bitterness. “I’ve been letting my old man get away with a lot worse, you know. He’s never told me a truth when a lie sounded better. I didn’t always know that,” he murmured. “I used to believe every word out of his mouth like it was gospel. Like he was Moses on the Mountain.”
“And then I found out what he’d done to my mother, and I had to accept it wasn’t about me. I was horrible to her, did I ever tell you that?” he asked her. He got to his feet and went over to the dresser to pull out jeans. “Made it her fault that she’d fallen in love with the man who’d raped her.”
“Nikolas came along, and I made that her fault, too—because I didn’t know who my father was. I didn’t see him for who he was. I love him,” Lucky murmured. “Maybe that’s the hardest part of all of this. I couldn’t understand how my mother forgave him and lived with him, but didn’t I do the same?”
“You made peace with it, Lucky. And I can see why. Your father—”
“Is still lying to me. Still only telling me what he wants me to know. I had to learn the hard way to listen for the truth inside his lies. He lives his whole life like that—” Lucky scowled. “There’s the truth, the lie, and Luke Spencer is always somewhere in between. I can live with him lying to me, but I don’t know if I can live with him lying to you.”
Lucky zipped and snapped his jeans. “If you want to let this go, I can do it. Because this is your father and your life, and I love you. You matter. Whatever you want to do, Kelsey. I can do it.”
“I know you can.” She wound her arms around his waist and drew him in for another kiss. “And that’s why I love you.”
Corinthos & Morgan Warehouse: Office
Jason walked into the office, impatient to get the few meetings he’d scheduled over with. Now that his son was home, he wanted to spend as much time as possible with him. Cam still required a lot of close attention and constant care, and Jason wanted to be part of it.
He scowled when he found Johnny Zacchara standing by a table, a gift bag in his hand.
“What are you doing here?” Jason asked, frowning. He barely remembered that Johnny was even in Port Charles. The Zaccharas had been quiet and the son had been working at one of the clubs without an issue.
Johnny turned. “Dropping off a gift for the kid.” He nodded at the table. “Bernie put out word that it was okay. You know, people want kiss ass, Morgan. Or maybe people like your wife. I don’t know. It’s just what you do when the boss has a baby.”
Jason walked over to the table — it was stacked with several gift bags, a stack of cards, and a few boxes that had baby-related things on it. He grimaced. “We didn’t do it for Morgan,” he said more to himself.
“I don’t know anything about that, but Tommy stopped by the Star—the club he’s letting me manage,” he added when Jason didn’t say anything. “He said it might be a gesture of goodwill. It’s not from my dad—”
“It’s fine. Uh, thanks. We just—” Jason picked up the stack of cards, sure there were was some hefty cash gifts. He didn’t want to deal with any of this. He looked at Johnny. “We’re not much on the old school stuff in Port Charles.”
“Yeah, Dad used to hate that about Sonny,” Johnny said easily. “Some of that old school stuff kept up the lines of communication. Made it easier to stop things before it got bad. I don’t want anything to do with this stuff,” he reminded Jason, “but I grew up with it, so I guess I gotta say that anything that keeps the peace or at least the crap away from your family is probably worth it.”
“Yeah.” Jason agreed with that, and it made sense now that he remembered Bernie had been the one to talk to Elizabeth about the guest list. She’d played into those traditions and the men she’d invited were probably returning the gesture. He looked back at Johnny. “You’re good at the Star?”
“Yeah, yeah. It’s nice. My sister was right. Coming up here to get away from Dad and do something I actually like—not a bad thing.” Johnny shoved his hands into his pockets. “Course if I try to stick around after the six months are up, I’ll have to give Dad a good reason.”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Jason told him. “I’ve got meetings—”
“Yeah, yeah. See you around. Congrats on the kid, by the way. Coming home, I mean. It’s gotta be a relief,” Johnny said over his shoulder as he left. Jason looked back at the table, peering into one of the bags that held a stuffed yellow bear. He’d have to take this stuff home to Elizabeth, and she’d probably have to write thank you cards.
He’d never wanted to be in power, but Sonny hadn’t left him a choice. Jason wouldn’t make the same mistake he’d made six years ago, thinking there was a chance to get out. There was no getting out, so he’d just have to make the world he lived in as safe as possible for his family.
Sonny smoothed a hand down his chest, his heart beating a bit fast. He hadn’t felt nervous until Max had pulled up in the parking lot and let him out. He wanted to get back to his life, wanted to be normal again but people kept looking at him. Kept waiting for him to flip.
He wasn’t going to do that. He was under control again. He’d agreed to therapy, hadn’t he? Wasn’t he shoving the medication down his throat every day? Hadn’t he sworn off alcohol?
He deserved a second chance, damn it. He’d done some terrible things, but he was sick. And he was getting better. If Justus, Jason, and Carly were too selfish to see it, that was fine. There were other people who might give Sonny a chance.
He went into the diner, smiling at Lulu Spencer behind the counter who stared at him for a long moment, her eyes wide. She looked so much like her mother, Sonny thought, as he slid into the seat. “Hey, Lu.”
“Uh, Mr. Corinthos, hi. I didn’t—” Lulu took a deep breath. “I didn’t know you were home. I’m glad you’re feeling better. Can I get you anything?”
“A coffee.” Sonny flipped the cup over and waited as she poured the liquid. He saw a flash of dark hair in the window behind her. “And maybe a small favor.”
“A favor?” Lulu’s hand trembled slightly as she set the carafe back on the hot plate. “What’s up? Did you want to talk to my dad?”
“No, I thought you might go and ask Dante if he has a break coming up,” Sonny said. He cleared his throat. “I, uh, hoped he’d talk to me. For a few minutes.”
Lulu pursed her lips. “I’m not sure—I mean, I could ask him,” she allowed, “but I’m not sure he’ll come—”
“If he says no, that’s fine,” Sonny assured her. He could understand that. He’d heard somewhere that Dante was friendly with Lucky which naturally followed to his sister. He was glad Dante was the kind of man who inspired people to look out for him. He was sure Olivia had done an excellent job raising him.
And unlike Alexis, Sonny held no ill will towards Olivia for hiding the truth. He’d broken her heart and tossed her over for Connie, then he’d left the neighborhood. No, Olivia didn’t owe him anything. Neither did Dante. That was why it was easier to approach him. To ask him for a chance. Just a small one.
He just needed someone to give him a break.
“Okay,” Lulu said. She went into the back, tossing another glance at Sonny over shoulder.
Corinthos & Morgan Warehouse: Office
“I’m putting together a buyout package,” Justus told Jason, “but I thought we might want to discuss doing a more silent partner thing. It might be easier for Sonny to agree to,” he added.
“Yeah. Yeah.” Jason scrubbed a hand over his face, scanning the vendor contracts and the property agreements. “I don’t care. Whatever Sonny will agree to. I don’t want him at the warehouse, confusing the guys.”
“He’s handling all this pretty well,” Bernie admitted. “When he came home, I thought we’d have a fight on our hands.”
“He’s saving that for Carly,” Jason replied, getting to his feet. “Maybe his meds are starting to work. Maybe he’s biding his time. I don’t know.” He glanced at the clock on the desk. “All I know is he’s not making any moves. Max would tell me if he was, and it’s been quiet. He hasn’t even come over to talk to Elizabeth.”
“Well, that’s good.” Justus paused. “It just seems like it all ended abruptly, but I’m not going to be mad about it.”
“Is that the last of it?” Jason asked. “I’ve already been gone a few hours. Cameron needs feeding every few hours, and Elizabeth needs to make sure she’s still resting.”
“I thought she was recovered,” Bernie said, alarmed. “I know she hasn’t had the surgery—”
“She’s recovered from the C-section, but she’s still at risk for blood clots—” Jason caught sight of the gifts out of the corner of his eye. “About those—”
“Oh, yeah, Tagliatti reached out when Cameron was born,” Bernie said. “Wanted to send over something as a sign of respect. He paused. “I thought—”
“We both thought it might be better if everyone waited until Cameron had a release date,” Justus finished. “I didn’t want you have to deal with any of that if—”
If Cameron hadn’t survived. Jason nodded. “Yeah. I wasn’t expecting—I mean, I didn’t think—”
“Some are from guys in our organization,” Justus reported. “A lot are from the families that Elizabeth invited to the wedding. And there are several from the organizations that, uh, Zacchara used to screw with us on the Ric stuff.”
Jason grimaced. “You mean those assholes sent me a baby gift thinking I’d forget about the bullshit they pulled?” He scowled. “I don’t want anything from them, and I’m not making Elizabeth write them a damn thank you card—”
“I put those aside,” Justus assured him. “We need to deal with that at some point, but look at it this way—they’re groveling for your favor. That’s a good sign. We could donate them or something. It’s a peace offering, Jason, and I don’t think they’re expecting a thank you card from Elizabeth.”
“Make sure they’re not.” Jason pulled on his leather coat. “I’ll take them home and let Elizabeth start sorting through them.” He might not like the idea of people using his son to curry favor with him, but Elizabeth always saw things like this in a different light. He’d let her decide what to do.
Dante was at the tail end of the lunch rush, clearing the last of the tickets, and looking forward to the end of his shift when Lulu came into the kitchen. “Hey,” he said, grinning at her. “You’re off at two, aren’t you? You wanna go do something?”
“Um, yeah. Sure. We can do that, but Dante—” She put a hand on his forearm. “Sonny’s out at the counter.”
Dante stilled as her words sunk in. “Sonny.”
“He asked to talk to you. He says it’s okay if you said no, but that he wanted me to ask anyway. I was going to refuse,” Lulu said when he looked at her. “But I thought—I don’t know. It should be your choice if you talk to him or not, you know?”
“Yeah.” His good mood had faded. “I heard he was home, but I figured he wasn’t going to look me up. Why would he?”
“Aunt Bobbie said that he’s in therapy for the bipolar diagnosis,” Lulu reminded him. “And that he started meds like three weeks ago. He could be feeling better from all of that.” She paused. “The Sonny we’ve seen the last year or so — it’s not the best version of Sonny. All the problems since the kidnapping, I mean. But I grew up with him, you know. And there’s—I don’t know. I just—” She lifted her hands. “The man at the counter? He looks like the guy I knew as a kid.”
“And it’s harder to say no to that,” Dante said. “I’m not mad, Lu. You don’t need to shield me from things like this.” He’d been feeling better lately. Leaving the department and getting away from all of that, taking the job here, and letting himself finally open up to Lulu — Dante felt like he had a future again.
“I’ll go out and talk to him,” he decided. “He deserves that much, I guess.”
“Yeah?” Lulu’s brows shot up. “I thought—”
“I may not like the idea of him being my father,” he cut in. “And I may not want a relationship with him, but if you’re right—if the illness caused most of what was going on, then he should at least hear that from me. It’s only fair.” He met her eyes. “You’ll come out with me?”
“If you want me to.”
“I do.” He turned down the heat on the pot of simmering chili, then took Lulu’s hand, and led her back out to the counter where Sonny was sitting.
It was the first time he’d been face to face with the notorious gangster since moving to Port Charles. Dante wasn’t sure what he expected. Sonny was clean-shaven, his hair was carefully slicked back, with strands of gray still showing at his temples. The suit he wore was obviously expensive, a ring on his finger flashing as he sipped his coffee.
Objectively, Dante could even see a resemblance to his own face. The color of his hair, the line of his jaw—Sonny Corinthos was, without a doubt, the man who had donated the genetic material necessary to create Dante.
But that didn’t make him a father.
“Uh, hey.” Sonny straightened, setting down the cup. He flicked his eyes to Lulu, then down to their intertwined hands before meeting Dante’s cool gaze. “I didn’t—I didn’t expect you to come out. I mean, I thought maybe—”
Dante squeezed Lulu’s hand once more before releasing it and going over to the counter. “I came out because we should at least talk,” he told Sonny. “I’m sorry you found out from the papers. About me and Kristina.”
“You—you already knew?” Sonny’s voice sounded nervous, and that comforted Dante a little bit. “I mean, did you know when you came to Port Charles—”
“No. If I had suspected it, I wouldn’t have moved here,” Dante cut in. “I wanted to be a cop my entire life, and I can’t be a cop with people knowing we’re related. I never would have come here and put that in jeopardy. I’m sorry, Mr. Corinthos, but that’s just how it is.”
“No, I, uh, get that. So you did you find out from the papers—”
“No. My grandmother told me after the hearing,” Dante replied. “Apparently testifying against my cousin the serial raping monster made me no better in her eyes than you. I’ve known for a few months, and I was hoping that no one else ever would. I don’t know you, Mr. Corinthos. Lulu says you were a decent guy to her growing up, but that’s not the man I’ve met.”
“No, I know that—”
“And I’m not a cop anymore because the whole world knows the truth now.” Sonny’s head dipped. “I liked being a cop. It was all I ever wanted, and the world finding out about you made it impossible for me to have that. Thanks for coming today, but I don’t really have an interest in getting to know you better. I’m sorry, but that’s just how it is.”
Sonny closed his eyes. Nodded. “Yeah. Yeah. No, I get that. Um, I just—if you change your mind or you need anything—”
Dante nearly told him he wouldn’t, and even if he needed an organ, he’d never ask him for it—but there was a sadness in the man that stopped him. A year earlier, Sonny had been one of the most powerful men on the East Coast, and he’d lost it all. His wife and children were gone, his business, the respect, even his own mental health was fragile.
Dante didn’t need to slide the knife even deeper. “Yeah. Sure. Thanks for coming by.”
“Yeah.” Sonny took a deep breath, then laid a hundred down next to his cup. “Thanks for this, Lu,” he told her. “You grew up really good, you know. Your mom—she did good work. I’m glad she’s home.”
“We all are.” Lulu stepped up to Dante’s side. “And I’m glad you’re feeling better,” she told him. “I really am. I hope one day your boys—all of them—get to know the guy I grew up with.”
Sonny left then, ignoring the stares of the people at the tables around him.
Lulu bit her lip. “I’m sorry for the last part,” she told Dante. “I just—he looked so sad—”
“Yeah, I know. I thought it would feel better to turn him away,” Dante murmured. “But it really didn’t.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Elizabeth was just stepping off the bottom step when Jason came in, followed by Marco and another guard, both of whom had their arms full with boxes and bags.
“What’s going on?” she asked, mystified as Jason kissed her cheek and the guards set down their items. “Hey.”
“Hey. First, I told you were getting a new daytime guard,” he said, nodding to the new guard. “This is Richie. He’ll be on the door and going out with you. Marco’s going back to nights.”
“Oh, good. I know you like that schedule better,” Elizabeth said to Marco. She smiled at Richie. “I probably won’t be going out much with Cameron home, but I hope I won’t be any trouble.”
“None at all, Mrs. Morgan.” Richie flashed her a warm smile, then nodded at Jason. “Is that everything?”
“Yeah, thanks.” Jason closed the door, then turned around to find Elizabeth going through the boxes and bags. “I’m sorry. I went in today, and this was in the office. Apparently, people wanted to give us something for Cameron. Justus had them waituntil Cam was home.”
“That makes sense.” Elizabeth sat down, blinking as she opened the first envelope and took out a thick wad of cash. “Holy crap—”
“Yeah, uh—” Jason hung up his coat, then crossed to her. “Look, if you don’t want any of this, then I’ll have them send it back—”
“No, no. Bernie said before the wedding this kind of thing helped. I actually just sent a card off to that guy in Baltimore,” Elizabeth told him. “His daughter is getting married, Bernie told me. So I wrote them a card and he said he’d put in some money.” Her eyes continued to widen as she counted the money. “I guess my idea of some money and his are very different.”
“You shouldn’t be worrying about any of that right now,” Jason said with a scowl. “How long has Bernie been bringing this kind of thing to you?” And Baltimore? Which guy in Baltimore? Had Elizabeth been asked to send congratulations to one of the assholes who’d helped Zacchara?
“Since the wedding. Carly used to do this stuff,” she continued. “She told me that. She helped me write the cards. Benny used to bring it to her before he died—” Elizabeth frowned at him. “You didn’t know that?”
“No, I—” Jason leaned back. “Benny brought it up once. When I was with Robin, after Sonny left. But I turned him down. Robin wouldn’t have been interested. I didn’t—” He shook his head. “I didn’t think about it.”
“Oh. I thought you—well, anyway, it’s like an hour a week. Plus—” Elizabeth shrugged. “I don’t get to do a lot to help you with the job. And I don’t want to,” she added when he frowned. “But it seems like an easy thing to do to keep peace. Or at least humanize all of us. Bernie was telling me that everyone wants to do more to contain collateral damage. Except for Anthony Zacchara. I heard what he did to that guy’s wife.” She shuddered, then continued going through the cards.
“Thank you,” Jason said after a long moment. She met his eyes, confused. “I guess it’s selfish of me to wish none of this would ever touch you.”
“Jason, this is your life. It touches me because you’re part of it. I can’t keep you safe when you go out the door. I can only hope the men you’ve paid will do what they’ve agreed to do. If I can write a few stupid cards and throw some parties that make the men in your business happy, it’s a simple thing—”
She opened another bag and slowly pulled out a yellow bear. The same one he’d noticed earlier. “Elizabeth?” he said when she just stared at it. “Hey, you okay?”
“Baby’s first toy.” Elizabeth brushed her fingers over the soft fur. She looked at him, and he was surprised to find tears clinging to her lashes. “This—I’m sorry. It’s just, um—” She closed her eyes. “Last year, the day after we got married, Ric gave me a bear that looked like this one.”
His throat tightened as Jason looked down at the bear again. “Like this one?” he echoed.
“Yeah, it was a present for the baby. When I got out of the hospital, I saw it sitting on the mantel—” She turned the bear over in her lap, sliding her fingers over the price tag. “I made Ric get rid of it. I didn’t want to see it. It was supposed to be the baby’s first toy, but—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. It’s not—it’s over. It really is. I have you and I have Cameron—”
He drew her into his side as she pressed the bear to her chest, the tears sliding down her cheeks. “But you loved that child,” he murmured. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. Or it will be. One day.” Elizabeth took a deep breath, kissed his cheek. “It just—it threw me for a minute. But it’s not—it’s not someone messing with us, you know? It’s—there’s no way someone knew about that toy unless Ric told them, and it’s new—” She tapped the price tag. “See? It’s not the same one. If Ric had done this, he’d have sent the old bear.”
“I guess.” Jason took it from her. “I don’t know—which bag did it come from?”
She pulled out the card and skimmed it. “It’s from Solana Ruiz,” she said. “I don’t remember who she is.”
“Hector Ruiz’s wife,” Jason said tightly. And one of the families that had manufactured a Ric sighting. Obviously, Justus hadn’t gathered all of them. “He has three sons and a few daughters.”
“Oh, oh, I remember now. Her daughter just had a baby, too. I sent a card for the shower.” Elizabeth nodded. “That makes sense. She must have sent this. I can’t—I can’t keep it. But I’ll write a thank you note anyway. It’s not her fault.” She put the bear back in the bag.
“I’ll take care of it. I’ll donate it to the hospital,” he told her. “Isn’t it time to feed Cameron?”
“Oh, yeah, in about ten minutes.” Elizabeth got to her feet. “I’ll go get his bottle ready, but you want to do it, right?”
“Yeah, I’ll be up.” He smiled as she went into the kitchen, then pulled out the bear again. It could have been as simple as Elizabeth said. She’d sent a card for the Ruiz family, and they’d reciprocated. And maybe Bernie and Justus hadn’t put the Ruiz family in the same category as the others. After all, it hadn’t been Hector who’d called it in, and Sonny hadn’t been contacted.
But it still gave him pause. Was it a coincidence that Elizabeth had received a replica of a bear that brought back such a dark memory from the Ruiz family? Or was something else going on?