Part Two: Redemption
“Bipolar illness, manic depression, manic-depressive illness, manic-depressive psychosis. That’s a nice way of saying you will feel so high that no street drug can compete and you will feel so low that you wish you had been hit by a Mack truck instead.”
― Christine F. Anderson, Forever Different: A Memoir of One Woman’s Journey Living with Bipolar Disorder
What have I done?
I wish I could run
Away from this ship going under
Just trying to help
Hurt everyone else
Now I feel the weight of the world is on my shoulders
– Get it Right, Glee Cast
Saturday, March 5, 2005
The Cellar: Carly’s Office
When Courtney had moved to New York City in the wake of her divorce, she had promised herself and Michael that she would not drift away—she would remain a strong presence in his life, as he and Morgan had already had enough upheaval.
For the first six months—until Christmas—she had broken that promise. She rarely called and visited only a handful of times, but after seeing the slow disintegration of her brother’s marriage and Carly’s behavior, she knew she had a responsibility to her nephews that superseded her own peace of mind.
So here she was again—she now came to Port Charles every other weekend and called Michael three times a week to check up on him.
And nothing had improved. In fact, she knew it was just getting worse, but she still felt powerless to stop it.
Today felt different. Today, as she sat in Carly’s office and watched her sister-in-law pace the small confines of the room, her movements jerky and exuding anxiety and nerves, Courtney wondered if the breaking point had finally arrived.
“Has something happened? I mean, since I talked to you on Wednesday?” Courtney clasped her hands loosely in her lap, trying to exude calmness, but her foot tapped restlessly against the carpeted floor.
“I heard back from the last specialist yesterday.” Carly rested her hands on her hips and scowled down at Courtney. “And there’s nothing wrong with me.”
“Oh.” Carly’s quest for another child continued unabated. When Dr. Meadows had had no answers, she 1traveled to New York City, Boston and Philadelphia for the best specialists in the area. “Are…you going to get another opinion?”
“What would the point be?” Carly huffed. “Five doctors concurred. I’m not the problem.”
“Maybe Sonny is,” Courtney said tentatively. But she didn’t believe that.
And neither did Carly, from the way she snorted. “Please. The man looks at a woman, she gets knocked up.” But then she pressed her lips together, as if she hadn’t meant to say that. “Anyway. I don’t know what to do.”
“I’m sure it’s just stress.” Courtney took a deep breath. “Carly—”
“Sonny is Evie’s father.”
The words tumbled from Carly’s mouth in a rush, and then both women blinked at one another. Courtney’s palms were clammy. Of course she told herself she had always known, because nothing else made sense.
But to hear the actual words…
To hear them from Carly…
Courtney closed her eyes. “Carly,” she began again.
“And he’s driving himself to the edge over his guilt,” Carly continued. “That’s the real problem. I’ve been ignoring it because I thought I could fix it—”
Courtney leaned forward. “Carly, why…” She hesitated. “How did this happen? Sonny and Jason clearly know the truth, as do you. Why is Jason…”
“I should have said something sooner, I know.” Carly collapsed into her chair, her eyes dark with misery. “I just…I couldn’t. I know it might have saved your marriage, but—”
“Nothing would have saved my marriage.” Courtney bit her lip. “I never really believed it, Carly, but I thought…it was for the best. That Evie would be better off this way.”
“I thought she would be, too.” Carly crossed her arms beneath her breasts. “I thought we’d all be better off with that whore and her bastard away from my family. Jason’s a good man. He’s a good father. But, with Sam gone…”
“Sonny feels like he’s abandoned his daughter,” Courtney murmured. “Carly—”
“I don’t know all the details,” Carly interrupted, “because I’m not supposed to know the truth. Sonny took me at my word that if the kid turned out to be his, I would take the boys and leave. So whatever happened when Evie was born and Sam died, I don’t know. But somehow, it continued.” She pursed her lips. “And I was okay with it. I don’t want her in my home.”
Courtney was quiet for a moment, because she didn’t know what to do with that information. As a woman who would never have her own biological child without an operation or a surrogate, the idea of rejecting a little girl because she was not related by blood, or because her mother was someone Courtney didn’t like…
But this was Carly, and for some reason, this rejection did not surprise her.
“Then it’s for the best that she stays with Jason. Evie should be with someone who loves her.”
“I thought that as well, and when I thought I could fix it by giving Sonny a daughter of our own, that was fine, but…” Carly sighed.
“No, Carly…” Courtney gripped the sides of her chair, leaning forward. “You cannot do this to Jason. Not to bring Evie into a home where she’s just there to keep Sonny sane. She deserves love—”
“I know that.” Carly’s dark eyes bore into hers. “I’m selfish but I’m not cruel. I know Evie’s better off with Jason, but how do I let Sonny continue on this way? Can I let him slide towards the edge, maybe even crack so I can do what’s best for some kid I don’t really care about?” She rubbed her temple. “If it were anyone else but Jason…”
“Carly, he’s your best friend—”
“Damn it, Courtney, I get that,” Carly snapped. “This is killing me, you know. I can’t do anything to fix it. I can’t even get pregnant.”
“Why even tell me the truth?” Courtney asked. “Did you think I might agree to help you with Jason? To take Evie away?” She got to her feet. “Please don’t ask me to do that. Don’t ask me to choose between my brother and Jason.”
“It shouldn’t be a contest.” Carly’s hands were fisted at her sides. “He’s your brother, Courtney.”
“I don’t care if Jason is my ex-husband. We’re not like you and Sonny. We got divorced because it was best for us, and I want him to be happy. I know he wants the same for me. You can’t ask me to tear out his heart.” She shook her head. “I won’t do it—”
“You never gave a damn about Sonny,” Carly accused. “You used him to get to Jason—”
“No, I didn’t, but I’m surprised you of all people think so.” Courtney sighed. “I’m not going to help you, Carly, and I’m doing that for Sonny as well. At the end of the day, my loyalty is to my family. Evie is part of that, and she’s better off away from both of you.”
At that, Carly’s eyes narrowed. “Get out,” she said through clenched teeth.
Courtney did so without a backward glance, only feeling slightly guilty for having taken a stand finally.
Kelly’s: Dining Room
Nikolas suppressed an exasperated sigh when his brother slurped the last of his milkshake and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
Some things would never change.
“I’m telling you, Nikolas. It doesn’t bother me about Elizabeth being maid of honor.” Lucky shrugged and reached for another fry. “We’re friends. And it’s not like we have to do much. I throw the bachelor’s party, she throws the bachelorette. We stand fifteen feet apart at the altar, smile for some pictures.” He snapped his fingers. “Done. You and Emily are giving yourselves ulcers for no good reason.”
“I’m not worried.” Nikolas said. “Emily wants this day to be perfect, so I’m going to make it perfect.” He narrowed his eyes. “Understood?”
“Perfectly.” Lucky leaned back in his chair, his expression sobering. “Listen, I’m sure Elizabeth is telling Emily the same thing right now. It’s not going to be an issue. She and I are friends of a sort. It’s been more than three years since we were close, since we were together. I went to her showing didn’t I?”
“Yes, you hugged her and then barely spoke with her the rest of the weekend.” Nikolas’s restless fingers tapped the table. “Lucky—”
“She’s hanging around Jason again.” He shrugged a shoulder. “And I’m sure seeing me is just a reminder that she chose me once and probably still regrets it.” A shadow flickered over his face and he looked away. “Seeing that painting…the one with the red shoe? I remember that moment like it happened yesterday. Sometimes, it feels like I live it over and over again. I’m freezing, thinking about how annoyed I am that Lizzie the Terror has pulled another trick, another scam, probably trying to make her sister worry. I’m annoyed I finally get Sarah out of the house with me, and she’s only concerned with you…” He wiped his hands on a napkin and looked down at the table.
“And I turn that corner by the fountain, and I hear the rustling. And she crawls out, looking at me like…” Lucky expressed a quick annoyed breath. “Before she was my girlfriend, before we were Lucky and Liz, Liz and Lucky, we were best friends. She knew me inside and out, and I knew her. So I’m not gonna lie. It bothers me that we took any chance of being those people again, of being that close, and ground it into the nothing. We both did that. I guilted her into staying with me, and she listened instead of throwing me into the harbor. So I’m doing her a favor and staying out of her life, and I’m not going to remind her of why she and Jason didn’t work out once. I knew she was in love with him, and I knew how to make her stay with me, so I did it. And I put her on a path that led to Zander and Ric—”
“Lucky, you did not make her do any of those things—”
“The summer she was kidnapped?” Lucky said. “You know why she and Jason weren’t dating yet? Why she was still dancing around him, afraid to really commit to him, letting Zander into her head? It wasn’t because of the danger or Courtney. Not then. It was because I broke her heart that winter, and then I took her trust and ground it into dust. So by the time she was ready to trust, Jason was gone and Ric was there. It’s a little bit my fault, Nikolas. And the only way I can make it right is to stay out of her life the best I can, so maybe she and Jason can get it right this time.”
“All right.” Nikolas hesitated. “But Lucky—”
“Your wedding is going to be perfect,” Lucky told him. “Because Elizabeth and I love you and Emily more than we care about being awkward around each other. I have Leyla, who’s fantastic. We’re different people, Nikolas. It’s going to be fine. We will never be Liz and Lucky again, and that’s a good thing. We’re Lucky and Elizabeth, two separate people with separate lives.”
He cleared his throat. “Now, about the bachelor’s party. How do you feel about strippers?”
Warehouse: Sonny’s Office
There were moments Sonny felt outside of himself, as if he were standing next to his desk and watching his body clench its fists, crumple paper and snap at long-time employees whose loyalties had never been in question.
Today was not the first time he had this eerie feeling, but somewhere inside, he knew these moments were happening too often. That they were coming too close together, almost on top of one on another. He was rapidly reaching the point where he could no longer point to a moment when he could say he had been one hundred percent in control.
When Jason stepped into the room, Sonny took a deep breath and looked down at his customary page of notes. Truck. Rumors. Michael’s behavior. Zacchara. It was an innocuous list of words that would not raise any suspicions should someone discover the pieces once he shred them, but these lists had preserved the peace for the last month.
Since that morning in Jason’s penthouse where he had once again attacked Elizabeth to Jason’s face. Another moment he had not been in control of his own mind.
“Jason.” He cleared his throat, forced his fist to relax and reach for a glass of water. He would keep himself under control. He would not attack Jason for his choices, would not say a word against Elizabeth. He would put his life back on a normal footing, beginning with this moment. “How are things?”
“Fine.” His partner and former friend lowered himself gingerly into the chair across the desk, his shoulders tense. “I wanted to update you on the truck shipment from January.”
“Still no word?” Sonny asked, reaching for a pen to cross the word from his list. “Two months and no trace. Not a good sign.”
“No,” Jason agreed, releasing a short breath. “We’ve combed all the roads from here to Rochester, looked into all of Mickey’s activities. He pulled off in a rest area about fifteen miles away from Port Charles, and then just disappears. No activity on his accounts.” He shook his head.
“Are…” Sonny stopped, because he was about to demand that Jason admit he was right all along and had wasted time dicking around for proof. No. No. That was not the way. Jason had been right to be cautious, had been right to advise patience. He knew that. He did. “I spoke to Hector Ruiz, and the relationship there seems to be unchanged. He does not hold us responsible for Alcazar’s misfortunes.”
Jason nodded. “I got that sense, too. But he’s got two sons who are not so trustworthy.”
Javier and Manny, Sonny knew, were ruthless and would become problematic one day. “I think Hector still has them under some sort of control for now,” Sonny continued. “Feelers to Zacchara’s people were not returned.”
He saw Jason hesitate and that familiar rolling nausea rolled in his abdomen. Jason knew something. Had kept something from him.
Was lying to him—
No. Sonny exhaled on a short breath. No. No. That wasn’t Jason’s style. “You know something about Zacchara?” he asked, trying for a casual tone. When Jason did not tense, did not change his expression, he thought he might have been successful.
“Not exactly. I would have mentioned it earlier, but it didn’t seem important.” Jason leaned forward, bracing his elbows on his denim-clad thighs. “Johnny Zacchara was at Elizabeth’s showing last month.”
All other thoughts flew from Sonny’s brain. “I knew it.” He lunged to his feet. “That slimy little bastard was taunting you, letting you know he knows about her—”
“I didn’t get that impression, Sonny.” Jason’s voice remained calm. Placating. Fucking bastard. Why didn’t he ever see it Sonny’s way? Didn’t Elizabeth’s safety mean anything to him? He was picking the little bitch over Sonny—
God. No. Stop it. Sonny closed his eyes and tried to concentrate again. “Why the hell not?”
“Because Johnny’s known for going to art showings,” Jason said, his voice shifting into wariness. He, too, rose to his feet. “For the last two years or so, since he graduated from Oxford and came back to New York. He’s usually at galleries on the weekends, except when he’s been in Port Charles. I didn’t just take his word for it, Sonny. I looked into it after I saw him there. Her showing was heavily promoted. Maybe he remembered her name being linked to mine, but he went out of his way to introduce me to his girlfriend.”
That got Sonny’s attention, and the red haze cleared. “Girlfriend.”
“Yeah.” Jason nodded. “Nadine Crowell. Works at General Hospital. I figure it’s why he’s been hanging around a lot. She goes to Luke’s with some of the other nurses. I had her looked at. Her sister is an issue, maybe. She’s suspected of some Angel of Mercy killings back in Ohio, but is in some sort of vegetative state in a New York hospital. Nadine is clean.”
“He deliberately showed you his vulnerable spot.” Sonny lowered himself back into his seat. “That’s…that’s a good sign.”
“That’s what I thought. And he’s green. He didn’t know how to introduce her, didn’t know how to prep her for meeting his associates. If he’s working an angle, Sonny, I’m not seeing it.” Jason leaned forward. “I’m not taking chances. I agree with you that Anthony Zacchara is a prime suspect for the problems we’ve been having, just like Ruiz is to an extent. But I don’t think he’d use his son to come at us. Johnny’s not in the business all the way.”
“I get it.” Sonny picked up his pen and struck a line through Zaccharas. “And you wouldn’t put Elizabeth in danger.”
“No.” Jason eyed him. “No, I’m not taking chances with her safety. Even though I don’t think Johnny’s an issue, I can’t say his father wouldn’t find out about Elizabeth. Anthony is crazy and known for having his son under his thumb. I think Johnny’s keeping his relationship away from his father as much as he can, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Anthony had him tailed.”
“And would have had eyes on you at the gallery.” Sonny nodded. He felt good in this moment. There had been a brief loss there, but he could feel that cool certainty filling his veins. He was in control at the moment. He could even see the way forward. A way to maybe heal the breach. “Have you…talked to Elizabeth about the possibility?”
“Not…” Jason paused. “Not in so many words. I told her that I…” He hesitated again. “I put someone on her. Not…to follow her, to drive her around like Carly. But just…to keep an eye on her. I put Milo on her, because she knows Max from before.”
“Good, good.” Sonny nodded. “You guys aren’t…particularly public, but there’s no reason to take chances. And the security at the Towers is still good? We had the annual inspection, but—”
“I doubled the guards on the lobby,” Jason said. “And the guards at Michael’s school, as well as Carly’s club. I thought you might want to put an additional guard on her, but that’s up to you.”
“Right. I’ll talk to her.” This was good. This felt right. God, it felt good to be Sonny fucking Corinthos again. “I think you should consider your own security. At the penthouse. I have Max on my door, and I know it’s just right around the corner, but with Evie there, I—”
“I agree. I talked to Nora, and her guards were also doubled,” Jason told him. “And I’m looking into the available guys to find the right door guards.” He hesitated. “I’m not taking chances with the people that matter, Sonny. I would never do that. Maybe you and I don’t really agree on who the danger is coming from, but we know it’s out there.”
“We do.” Sonny nodded. “And maybe it’s good we don’t know just yet who the bastard behind it is. Reminds us, at the end of the day, we can only trust each other.” He paused. “Right?”
But Jason hesitated a shade too long, and Sonny knew that this moment of control, of understanding, was just that. A moment. They would trust each other to keep the people they loved alive, but that’s where it ended.
And maybe this was part of the new order Sonny would have to accept to retain control and keep the darkness from closing in.
Wyndemere: Sitting Room
Elizabeth knew what the conversation was going to be about as soon as she entered Emily’s sitting room and found her best friend surrounded by magazines and making notes in a notebook.
“Yup.” Emily’s smile was bright as Elizabeth joined her on the sofa. “Nikolas and I set the date for the end of May. We have less than three months to pull it all together so I’m hitting the ground running. May 27 will be here before we know it and there’s so much to do.”
“What can I do to help?” Elizabeth reached for a magazine. “I have time on my hands.”
“Oh…” Emily hesitated. “Well, obviously you’re going to be my maid of honor. But um, you know…” She fidgeted a bit. “You know Lucky is going to be…”
“Oh…” Elizabeth shook her head. “You know that’s fine. I don’t even…there’s no awkwardness there anymore. We’re friends now.”
“Are you?” Emily leaned forward, a magazine spilling from her lap to the floor. “I know he went to your opening, and it was all okay, but—”
“But nothing. Lucky and I are friends. Barely that.” Elizabeth reached over to squeeze her friend’s hand. “I promise it won’t be weird—”
“I just…” Emily sighed and looked down at a photo of a bride and groom on a beach. “I just wish sometimes it was like it used to be, you know? The four of us were best friends—”
“For ten minutes.” Elizabeth hesitated. “Em, I spent too many years trying to get back to that point, trying to be that girl again, but I just can’t. Lucky and I…we destroyed any chance of really being friends a long time ago. We’re in each other’s lives now, on the fringes. I’m happy he’s moved on, honestly I am but—”
“I’m not hoping you guys could get back together. I just…” Emily stopped and shook her head. “No. I guess, I just wonder why you guys couldn’t be friends the way you were before you were a couple.”
Elizabeth set a magazine on the table and leaned back against the sofa, pondering the question. Why did she find it so difficult to recapture the camaraderie they’d once had? Forget the romantic entanglements—Lucky really had been one of her best friends.
“Maybe we will one day,” she said finally. “I just know that it’s easier for me to…leave certain things in the past. I’m building a new life for myself, Em, and I just…don’t think there’s space for things like that.” She shifted on the sofa. “I go out of my way to avoid Ric, you know, and he’s doing the same. I was on the elevator to meet my grandmother at the Grille last week, and he was getting in as I left. He just…never looked at me. I prefer it that way, Em.”
Emily frowned. “Let me get this straight. You’d rather Ric and Lucky stay out of your life for the most part, so really what you’re telling me is that romantic reminders are not welcome right now.”
“I guess.” Elizabeth blinked and looked at her oddly. “Yeah, maybe. Ric and Lucky…they represent some of the worst mistakes in my life, some of the really bad decisions I wish I hadn’t made so not having them around right now makes it easier. I know it can’t be that way forever, but—”
“Why doesn’t that apply to my brother?” Emily asked. “He’s a romantic reminder of bad decisions. Why is he different?”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “It’s not even remotely the same. I never…we were never like that. Yes, we briefly…considered going further but we never did. We used to sit and talk or just…take rides. It’s not like that now. We’re not…going down that path, Em. I wish you’d get that.”
“I’m not pushing you,” Emily responded after a moment. “I just…you’re not even listening to yourself. What are you and Jason doing now if not the same exact thing? You talk, and I know sometimes he drives you home on his bike.”
Elizabeth just stared at her. “I—”
“So, it’s exactly how it used to be. You told me that what was going on now…it was just residual.” Emily reached for her notebook. “I’m not saying it’s not, but I think you’re just fooling yourself if you think you and my brother are not heading down the same path. The only thing that is different is where you’ll end up.”
Thankfully, Emily dropped the subject and they moved on to planning a day for Elizabeth to meet with the dress designer, but Emily’s words stayed in the back of her head because they were true. And as much as she had tried to deny what was happening, she knew her feelings for Jason were building again, that she had reopened that part of her heart.
And she thought maybe…just maybe…he felt the same way. She recognized the look in his eyes sometimes, the way he said her name, but she didn’t know for sure. And there was no ignoring the complications in his life. The presence of Sonny and Carly. The situation with Evie.
She was falling in love with Jason all over again, but she had this sinking feeling this time might not be different at all. That his loyalties to Sonny Corinthos might again leave her out in the cold.