‘Cause we are broken
What must we do to restore
And all the promise we adored?
Give us life again
‘Cause we just wanna be whole
– We Are Broken, Paramore
Thursday, February 12, 2004
Lake House: Living Room
Elizabeth rolled her arm, wincing as Jason removed the blood pressure cuff. “Well? It’s lower, isn’t? I can feel a difference this morning—”
“Yeah.” Jason took his first easy breath in days. “It’s 121 over 81. That’s the closest it’s been to normal in weeks.”
“I could feel it when I woke up, you know? My head felt clearer, and I’m not as tired.” She sighed happily. “I almost feel normal.” Then she winced as Cameron kicked hard at her ribs. “Well, except for the soccer player.” She reached for Jason’s hand and he grinned. “See? Even he knows I’m feeling better.”
“I’m glad.” He kissed her, lingering with his forehead resting against hers. “This is what I wanted for you. You needed the rest.”
“Monica also said things could ebb and flow, remember?” She squeezed his hand. “I might have days like yesterday again, too. I want more days like today, but it’s not guaranteed.”
“I know.” He hesitated. “Maybe we should stay until Monday.”
“If you’re feeing better today, another few days could only help,” he pointed out.
“And they might not make a difference. I had good days at home, even with everything else going on.” She curled into his side. “I’m not saying no, Jason. I just—I’ll be worried if we stay just for me—”
“I wanted time away. Just the two of us. We haven’t been alone this much in months.”
“Or ever,” she admitted. “It’s been nice, just us. I’m glad you made this happen.” She kissed his jaw. “I don’t want you to think if we go home early, I’ll feel like you’re choosing Carly over me. You know I want her to be okay, too.”
“I know you do.”
“And it’s not just Carly. Bobbie’s in the middle of it, too. So is Justus. If us being at home makes it slightly easier for everyone, then I’ll be better for it. Plus, you know Monica will feel a lot better if she can nag me in person every day.”
“Yeah, that’s true.” Jason slowly rubbed circles over her belly, and Cameron rolled a few times before settling down. “But you asked me to make sure we give Cam his best chance. A few more days here might be better for him.”
She wrinkled her nose. “You think you’re clever, don’t you?”
“I have my moments.”
Elizabeth sighed dramatically, pleased when her lungs only mildly protested. “All right. We’ll see what Justus says, and if you think we can stay, we will.” She rested her head in the crook of his shoulder, closed her eyes, and just let herself drift. Having her husband all to herself wasn’t the worst thing in the world, after all.
Blue Moon: Office
“I’m surprised you let me through the front door,” Luke said as Tommy Marcheski ambled over for a casual, quick handshake. “Last time you saw me, you threatened to put a bullet in my backside.”
Tommy shrugged. “I’m sure you deserved it, but—” He squinted. “I can’t really remember why I wanted to kill you.”
“Me either.” Luke shoved his hands in his pockets. “I’ve been dipping my toe back in—not permanent-like because my kid is a cop now—”
Tommy winced. “I hated to see it. Your boy had a quick mind and nimble fingers. What we could have done with him—”
“Well, you know kids. They never do what you expect. I heard yours is a prosecutor—”
“Hey, hey—” Tommy shut the door and glared at Luke. “He’s in Los Angeles, okay? You don’t need to be telling people that.” His scowl deepened. “If you’re here to argue for Sonny—”
“I’m here as his wife’s uncle, not his friend.” Luke paused. “I’ve heard stuff at my place, Tommy. Rumors. Complaints. The men aren’t happy, and having seen Sonny lately, I think I got a good idea why.”
The other man exhaled slowly and returned to his desk. “Sonny hasn’t been doing jackshit for months,” he muttered. “Doesn’t take meetings, doesn’t do anything except yell at Morgan and anyone who gets in his way.”
“Jason asked me to keep an eye on my niece while he was out of town.” Luke raised his brows. “What are your thoughts on him taking this long, extended honeymoon in the middle of all of this?”
“I wasn’t happy,” Tommy said slowly, “but I’ve met his wife, and she’s a good kid. She’s been through hell, and there’s some health things going on. With the baby.” His mouth took on a pinched look. “He’s picked his family over all of this, and I can’t blame him. Loyalty’s never been his problem.”
Luke’s chest eased a bit. “I’m glad to hear it. Jason’s an old friend, but Elizabeth was like a daughter to me. He’s done what he can to keep things stable while he’s gone, but—”
“I have no problem with the wife,” Tommy repeated. “Or your niece. I like both of them, and it’s out of respect for them and the heavy load Morgan’s carrying that I gave him time.”
And that’s what Luke had been afraid of. He sat down and met Tommy’s gaze. “I need to know everything.”
Kelly’s: Dining Room
“You’ve barely touched your breakfast.”
Lulu glanced over at the table where Dante was sitting with his mother, Olivia, and frowned, watching as the older woman gestured at Dante’s mostly untouched omelet.
“Ma, stop worrying—”
Lulu didn’t intend to eavesdrop, she really didn’t. She remembered what she and Dante had talked about a few days ago—that he was dealing with something related to Sonny Corinthos—
But she also remembered what else they’d talked about—Lulu’s habit of telling people things they didn’t want to hear, even when they were the truth. And how that made people hate her.
So she kept working, waiting on her tables, refilling coffees, and keeping one ear on Olivia and Dante.
“I know things have been hard these last few months,” Olivia said. “I was hoping you’d feel better once the hearing and all the legal crap was done, but—”
“Is it me?” Olivia asked. “Are you upset that I’ve stayed in Port Charles? That I’m living here now? I know you wanted to get away from me—”
“No, I came here for a job.” Dante’s smile was sour. “Vinnie recommended the academy up here, remember? Fast track to detective. You came here for Aunt Lois and Brooke. I don’t blame you for sticking after things went down the way they did. It’s not any of that—”
“Then why do I gotta use the guilt to get you to meet me for a meal?” Olivia demanded. “Why do you look like you’re gonna vomit—”
Lulu might have stayed quiet—she really might have managed it, but she’d passed their table just as Olivia had gone down that road, and she could see the tears in the older woman’s eyes, the distress in thinking Dante was angry with her.
She thought of her own mother, constantly swallowing terrible things and closing off from the traumas of her life—and then escaping to the safety of her own mind, then getting trapped there.
“It’s about Sonny Corinthos,” Lulu blurted out, startling both Dante and Olivia, who stared up at her. “That’s what he’s upset about. Not you.”
“Damn it, Lu—” Dante growled. “What the hell—”
“Sonny?” Olivia repeated. “Dante—”
Dante shoved himself to his feet, tossing down some money with jerky movements. “You know, maybe Dillon had a point,” he snapped at her. “Some good fucking listener you are.”
Then he stalked out of the dining room, leaving Lu shaken and ashamed of herself, wishing she could drag the words back. She turned to Olivia, but Dante’s mother was already rushing out after her son.
Port Charles Municipal Building: Mayor’s Office
Lois strode into Ned’s office with a scowl on her face. Ned set down the phone he’d just been picking up. “Uh oh, I know that face. What disaster are we facing—”
She furrowed her brow. “What? Oh. No. I was just talking to Julia, and she said you’d cleared this weekend because you were going out of town. I didn’t know about any trip—”
“It’s just a quick overnight trip down to New Orleans,” Ned said. He gestured for her to take a seat. “I’m leaving Saturday morning and coming back Sunday.”
“New Orleans? What’s down there?”
Ned made a face and picked up a pen to twirl with his fingers. “My cousin. AJ,” he added. “Alexis asked me to arrange a meeting, and once I did that, I started to think about how he could be useful.”
Lois snorted, crossing her legs. “AJ hasn’t been useful since 1993.” Then she sighed. “I’m sorry. That’s not fair—”
“It’s also not wrong.” Ned got to his feet. “Alexis is representing Carly in her divorce case. I’m warning you in case that comes up later with the media. Once she files—”
“The media is going to eat that up. Why is she taking that risk? I didn’t think she liked Carly.”
Ned hesitated. Here was his chance to come clean. To bring Lois into the circle of people who knew about Kristina. He opened his mouth, then closed it. Telling Lois that the daughter he had left wasn’t even his —seemed unfair somehow. To Alexis, who had trusted him, and Lois, who had already suggested over the summer Ned had been too distracted by Kristina to pay attention to Brooke. It was an uncomfortable situation, and he wasn’t ready to address it yet.
“Carly’s been through a lot this year,” Ned said, wandering over to the window. “I think Alexis is just trying to help. And she’s always had a soft spot for Michael, from back when Jason was still involved, and she was representing him.”
“I suppose that makes sense.” Lois made a note in her portfolio. “I’ll probably use that spin. Children and whatnot. Let’s hope it’s not needed. Does she think it’ll be an acrimonious split, or—” She paused. “Wait, you said Alexis is the one that asked for the meeting.”
“Which means Carly is doing something with custody.” Lois shook her head but made another note. “Bringing AJ into what will already be a volatile situation. That should be interesting. And with AJ’s connection to you, Alexis to the city — I’ll be surprised if the media doesn’t pick it up. There’s nothing you can do to convince Alexis to pass on the case?”
“No. I tried,” Ned added, “but she’s pretty set on it, and I’m not opposed to AJ getting another chance with his kid.” He gripped the back of his office chair, the grief sweeping over him. He closed his eyes. “We can’t get one with our little girl, so I’m maybe feeling a bit too invested in this.”
“I understand, and you’ll probably be a good buffer—”
“I’m going to ask him to take over ELQ here at home. Mother can’t handle New York and Port Charles. She offered to come here, but then we’d just need someone to replace her.”
“This makes sense,” Lois said, “and if we can spin the kid angle—Alexis is involved because of her connection to Michael and your connection to AJ—” She nodded. “Sonny’s not as popular as he used to be. We put another one of those polls out to see if we’re starting to rebound. Sonny still beats Floyd and the PCPD—”
Ned winced. “Great—”
“But,” Lois continued with a half smile. “The mayor’s office is more popular than Jason. Elizabeth still wins the day, and I know Carly has a great deal of sympathy from the PCPD mess.” She folded her arms. “Thanks for the heads up. I’ll get in touch with some sources at the Sun and the Herald when she’s ready to file to keep the focus on Sonny. We get lucky, and Elizabeth supports Carly, we’re golden.”
Ned forced a smile, wishing he felt as confident as his ex-wife. He didn’t care if they tore apart Sonny in the press as long as Kristina’s paternity remained a secret.
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
The conversation he’d had with Luke yesterday was still rolling around in his head. What did Luke think he was doing?
Luke was soft. Luke was out of this world, and he had some damn nerve dragging up old business.
That was done. That was before. If Spencer knew what was good for him—
Sonny dragged his hands down his face. He just had to keep himself focused on the goal. He had to find Lansing, murder him in his sleep, and get his kids back. If he could convince Carly to give him another chance, fine.
But he was going to get his damn kids back.
“Yo, Mr. C, Justus is here.”
Sonny turned to find his lawyer striding in and Max pulling the door closed. “You need to talk him about letting just anyone upstairs.”
“I’ll put it on my list,” Justus said calmly, setting his briefcase on the desk. “Carly’s hired a lawyer, Sonny.”
Sonny took a deep breath, accepted that. “I figured she would after last week,” he muttered. He poured himself a bourbon, frowning when he needed to shake the last drops of the bottle to fill the tumbler. Hadn’t he just put out a new one a day ago?
“She hired the lawyer last week,” Justus said carefully. “We need to talk about what she might be putting in the petition.”
Kelly’s: Parking Lot
Dante tried to fit his key into the door of his car, but he was shaking. From rage, from worry, from nerves—he didn’t really know what he was feeling.
How could Lulu have done that to him? He’d thought she was on his side—he’d started to think that—
It didn’t matter what he thought. Not anymore.
He shook his head even as his mother appeared in the corner of his eye. “I’m not talking about it, Ma—”
“What did that girl mean, it’s about Sonny? What about him? Dante Angelo Falconieri, you look at me right now, and tell me—”
“I know, okay?” Dante hissed. He glared at his mother, who had gone as pale as the snow around them. “Grandma told me months ago. I know he’s my father—”
“Dante—” Olivia swallowed. “When? How? Why—”
“After the hearing, when she slapped me. She told me I wasn’t any better than my father. It’s true, isn’t it?” he demanded.
Olivia closed her eyes. “Yes. Yes, it’s true, but—”
“I don’t want to talk about it. I didn’t tell anyone—”
“But that waitress—”
“She’s no one,” Dante cut in. He saw a movement near the gate that led from the parking lot to the diner and saw Lulu. “No one,” he repeated, meeting her eyes. Lulu flinched then disappeared back into the courtyard.
“I said I don’t want to talk about it.” This time, when he put the key into the door, it unlocked. He slid into the car, and Olivia stepped out of the way. Dante started the engine and peeled out of the parking lot, wishing he could drive away from everything else as easily.
General Hospital: Tony Jones’ Office
His father beamed when Lucas pushed open the door. “This is a surprise!”
“Hey. I hope it’s okay to just pop up,” Lucas said, a bit unsure. He leaned against the door frame. “Kelly said you didn’t have anything scheduled for a little bit—”
“No, no. It’s a light day.” Tony Jones got to his feet and hugged Lucas. “How’s school? I haven’t seen you in a few weeks.”
“Yeah, sorry. The new semester is killing me, and I’ve, uh, been sticking close to home.” Lucas shoved his hands in his pockets, waiting for his father to sit back down. “It’s kind of why I’m here.”
“Is everything okay? You and Felix?”
“No, that’s great. Um, I told you at Christmas we were moving in together. That’s good so far. We’re in some of the same classes.” Lucas shifted. “It’s good,” he repeated. “Thanks for helping him with the nursing program next year.”
Tony held up his hand. “Felix had great credentials, and he charmed the recruitment officer on his own. All your mother and I did was make a call. General Hospital is the lucky one.” He tipped his head. “But that’s not why you’re here.”
“No.” Lucas rubbed his hand against his chest. “I’ve been sticking close to home for the last few weeks. Months really. Since Carly came back.”
“Ah.” Tony leaned back. “I knew she was at the Brownstone with the boys.”
“Yeah. And I don’t know if Mom’s talked to you or anything about how things are—um, I mean with Carly and Sonny. Not that you care, but—”
“She hasn’t mentioned much, but I hear things in the grapevine. I know Carly’s been having some issues since last summer. Are you having problems with her?”
“No. No.” God, why was this so hard? Why couldn’t he just— “The thing is, the kids, they’re um, I mean they’re technically—”
“They’re your nephews,” Tony murmured. “You’ve been spending time with them?”
“Michael especially,” Lucas added, his chest tightening. He remembered a time when he’d thought Michael would be his brother, not his nephew. When Tony was supposed to be there. “The thing is, Dad, I feel like, um—” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t know. Lately, at least since December, it’s sort of feeling like she’s…my family. Like she’s my sister. I mean, she always was, but—”
“But now you feel it,” Tony said, his eyes a bit somber. “You’re getting closer to her?”
“I guess. I mean, it’s not like—she’s not the sister I wanted,” Lucas said, a bit miserably. “That’ll always be BJ, but—”
“Did you think you had to apologize for that?”
Lucas stumbled to a stop, then frowned at him. “No. I mean, yes. I mean, it feels wrong. To like, include Carly in anything. She’s just always been there. Taking up Mom’s time. And I guess that’s still true. But it doesn’t feel like I’m supposed to care about her. I don’t want to.”
“What happened between me and Carly was years ago,” Tony said. “And it’s not a time I’m proud of. I hurt a lot of people, Lucas. Including you—”
“So did she—”
“It would be easy to blame it all on her,” his father continued with that soft, kind tone Lucas knew so well. “To blame the affair, the way you got in the middle, the grief I felt over the baby, and how badly things went for a few years after—but all I had to do was say no.” Tony got to his feet. “You’re a good kid, Lucas, and you’re growing into a wonderful young man. I’m proud to call you my son. In the last year, Carly was kidnapped and traumatized. Her marriage fell apart. She’s someone your mother loves. If you’ve accepted even a part of her into your heart, Lucas, despite the past, that says a great deal about the man you’re going to be.”
His throat was tightened. “You’re not mad.”
“Not even a little.” Tony came over and hugged him again. “I didn’t handle losing BJ well. Neither did your mother. And you got lost in the middle. Don’t think I don’t know how we failed you—”
“But instead of becoming bitter, instead of holding it against us, you’ve forgiven us.” Tony smiled at him.
Lucas felt the weight lift from his shoulders as he absorbed his father’s words. “Thanks, Dad.” He embraced his father one more time, holding him tight. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“We’re seeing a lot of you around here lately,” Bobbie said as she led her brother into the kitchen where Carly was looking over paperwork for the club.
“Yeah, well, can’t be a deadbeat forever. Caroline, how’s tricks?” Luke asked.
“Luke.” Carly sat back, setting down her pen. “Is this going to be about Sonny?”
“I won’t stay long. I gotta get to the club.” Luke drew out the chair across from Carly and sat down. “I wasn’t happy when Lucky told me Sonny didn’t listen to him—”
“I didn’t think it would work, but—” Carly rubbed her temple. “I wanted to try everything I could other than filing charges. I figure that’s the last thing Jason needs when he’s out of town.”
“I know. The thing is, I went up to see Sonny myself yesterday, and he was mostly his old self,” Luke told her. “I know you’ve been worried about his state of mind, losing track of time and place—but he and I had a real conversation about the old days, about today, and everything in between.”
“And because he was having a good day, I should change my mind about the divorce?” Carly retorted. “Luke—”
“Actually, I want the opposite. The fact of the matter is that it makes me more nervous that he was having himself a good day and he was still as angry as ever. He understands perfectly fine what’s going on. Always has.”
Bobbie frowned. “I don’t understand what you’re getting at.”
“According to you and Morgan, this all went south when Lansing jumped bail and Sonny got twitchy about protection. He basically locked you in the penthouse with no keys, guards, or access to access to the outside world. This was all before the bedroom.”
“The man who did that? He’d do it again. I saw that in him today. I know that man. I’ve always known him.” Luke waited a beat. “Lansing still breathing makes Sonny feel weak. And knowing what I know about the organization, it makes him look weak—”
“No, no, let me finish. I made some calls, and the thing is—all of this isn’t going unnoticed. Morgan doesn’t play politics, he never needed to. Even when he was a kid in over his head, he never paid attention to the petty bullshit. Everyone knows Ric Lansing is alive because you and Elizabeth wanted to testify against him. No one in a position to do damage has a problem with that.”
“What are you getting at?”
“Everyone knows there’s something rotten going on. Morgan’s running things behind the scenes, but he’s on a deadline to make it permanent or some guys are gonna do it for him.”
Carly stared at her uncle. “A deadline.”
“He asked for time. April.” Luke tipped his head. “None of us know what’s going on with Elizabeth and the baby, but we all know something ain’t right. April is her due date. There’s no going back.” He took a deep breath. “Sonny’s about to go through a power struggle he hasn’t dealt with since Frank Smith was around. You do not want to be in this when that starts. You need to get this divorce, Caroline. And you need to be away from Sonny when this explodes.”
“Luke, are saying Carly’s in danger from—”
“Not from the organization. The guys I’m talking to—there’s no quarrel with you or Elizabeth. Everyone blames Sonny for it. If he’d taken care of Lansing last year, none of this would be happening. I’m saying if you’re anywhere around Sonny when he realizes that he’s about to lose everything—locking you in the bedroom is gonna look like a favor.”
Lake House: Front Porch
Jason closed the door behind him, leaving Elizabeth in the living room with one of her shows, then dialed Justus’s number.
“Hey, man. I didn’t think you’d call back tonight,” his cousin said. “How’s Elizabeth?”
“Having a good day.” Jason stared out over the frozen waters of Lake Seneca. “You left me a message?”
There was silence on the other side of the phone, and Jason braced himself. “Justus—”
“I don’t know anything for certain yet, just rumors.” Another pause. “Mikki and I had dinner at the mansion last night, and AJ came up.”
“AJ,” Jason repeated. “Why?”
“Ned and Alexis are flying down to New Orleans to talk to him. The official reason is ELQ. Ned has resigned from the company, and Tracy and Edward are getting on in age, so it’s a good cover.”
“But the timing,” Jason said, “is suspicious.”
“Yeah. I think Carly’s going to pull AJ into the custody battle.”
Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “Oh, man. Sonny is going to go ballistic. Did you tell him?”
“Absolutely fucking not. I’m not insane,” Justus said. “And I’m under no legal obligation to, though I’m riding close to the line on this one. All I told him was that Carly’s probably going full custody.”
“What did he say?”
“Sonny flipped out. He’s ready to go nuclear and destroy her. Dragging out that paternity crap with Tony Jones, the shooting, her time in Ferncliffe—just throwing everything at her.”
Jason turned and looked at Elizabeth, visible through the windows. She laughed at something on her show. He said nothing to Justus.
“I can keep things under control here until you get back on Monday. This is bad, but I think I’ve convinced Sonny that if he goes to the Brownstone, it will make his case worse. I don’t think he believes she’ll actually file. He’s angry and sliding out of control, but I can probably—” Justus hesitated. “I can string him along by prepping opposition against Carly. I don’t really want to,” he added, “but it should buy you the last three days.”
Justus might be right, but it also might backfire. Sonny might just get fueled by the reminders of Carly’s perceived crimes and go after her anyway. “Let me call you back.”
Jason went back into the living room, locking the door behind him. He settled himself on the sofa. Elizabeth offered him her bowl of popcorn, and he wordlessly took a handful.
“It’s a marathon of last year’s Road Rules,” she said as if he’d asked her a question. “They’re in the South Pacific.”
“That’s the one where they travel in an RV, right?” Jason said, squinting.
“Yeah. You had to sit through a marathon last October.” She curled into his side and tugged the throw blanket up to her shoulders. “When I was on bed rest after everything happened. You liked it because it’s basically a travel show.”
They finished the episode in relatively comfortable silence, but when the credits rolled, she turned her head, resting her chin on his shoulder. “It’s bad, isn’t it?”
Jason tensed. “Yeah.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“No. Not really. But I guess I should.” He rubbed a hand down one side of his face.
“Justus thinks Carly is going full custody and might drag in AJ,” he admitted. “He thinks he can keep a handle on it for a few more days, but it might—it could blow up any minute if Sonny finds out Carly is talking to AJ.”
“Okay.” She waited. “What do you want to do? Should we go home? Will it help if we do? Because we can leave in the morning.”
He considered the question. Would Sonny have stormed the Brownstone if Jason had been there for him to yell at? Probably not, but there was still a chance—
And if Sonny finds out about AJ, he might find it easier to cross the hall first. He’d blow up, but he’d blow up at Jason.
And if Elizabeth was in the room—
“No,” Jason said finally. “I don’t think us being there will make it better or worse. It will just give Sonny someone else to scream at, and I don’t want you in the middle of it.” In fact, he almost hoped Sonny did lose it before they got back.
“Luke is doing what I asked him to do. He’s staying on top of things. Carly told me she can handle it.” He waited a beat. “I need to trust her. And Justus. They’re telling me they can give us a few more days.” He met her eyes. “So we’re going to take it. It’ll be the last quiet we have for a long time.”
“Okay,” she said finally. “I trust you.”
“Okay.” He kissed her forehead. “What do you want for dinner? We’ve some food left in the fridge.”
“You should go get us another pizza. Cam wants pepperoni.”
Despite the worry lingering in the back of his head, Jason found himself smiling. He recognized that look in her eyes. She would try to get his mind off what was happening, and he decided to let her. “He does, does he?”
“Yep. And it’s your job as his dad to get him what he wants. After this episode.” She stifled a yawn. “Because you’re comfy, and I want to take a nap.”
“Sounds like a plan.” He listened to her slightly shallow breathing as it slowed, then felt her head slump as she slid into slumber. No matter what was happening back home, staying here was worth the risk.
If she was determined to give their son more time, it was up to Jason to make sure Elizabeth had her best chance to come out on the other side.