Well I met someone who touched my soul
And made my world brand new
There’s a part of me, a place inside
That now belongs to you
The love we found, the love we found
We carry with us so we’re never quite alone
– When Love Is Found/It Feels Like Christmas, A Muppet Christmas Carol
Monday, December 29, 2008
West Plana Cays: Sonny Corinthos’ Villa
Sonny had built the villas on the private island he controlled during the long year he’d lived in exile after leaving Brenda at the altar. He’d built his to be open — every single room had a door to the outside world, whether it was to the courtyard at the center or the beach that surrounded three sides.
It had had been his dream home, a place where he’d thought he’d escape from the pressures of being Sonny Corinthos. He’d even built a place for Jason to have when he came down to the island so that Sonny would remain alone here in the paradise he’d built.
He’d never thought he’d be imprisoned in it. That his entire world would stop at the water’s edge.
The quiet voice of the latest doctor hired by his jailer didn’t make Sonny turn around. Neil Winters was nice. He was quiet. And he didn’t pretend to have all the answers. Sonny appreciated that. It made it bearable for get through the sessions the doctor held three times a week. He flew in from Miami just to take care of Sonny’s fractured psyche.
If Jason wanted to waste his money pretending there was some kind of end to any of this that wasn’t a bullet in Sonny’s brain, Sonny figured he might as well let him.
“Yeah?” Sonny said. He heard Neil’s soft footsteps draw closer as the doctor joined him at the edge of the railing in Sonny’s suite of rooms overlooking the ocean.
“A plane just landed at the air strip,” Neil said. “I thought you might be interested in who was on board.”
Sonny frowned now—because this he hadn’t seen coming. Jason had just flown back to Port Charles a week earlier and he hadn’t expected to see him again until the spring.
Or the next time Sonny stopped taking his meds and tried to throw himself over the railing and make it all stop.
“Who?” Sonny demanded.
“Jason came back,” Neil said. “And he’s not alone.”
The spit in Sonny’s mouth dried as he tried to work through what meant. Was it one of the guys? Maybe Bernie. The Abrams brothers had worked for him for years and he was sure Bernie still had some fondness for him. Or maybe Tommy or Max, one of the guys that had come up working for Sonny.
Was that supposed to cheer him up?
“He brought his family,” Neil continued. “And yours. Your sister is with him. And so is Evangeline.”
Sonny closed his eyes. The little girl he hadn’t seen since the engagement party, dressed in ruffles and bows to celebrate the engagement of her then-guardian. Sonny had looked at the little girl with Sam’s pretty black hair and his dark brown eyes and thought—one day, one day he’d show the whole world that he was healed and get to be part of her life.
He’d get to be her father.
“Why?” Sonny managed. “Why would Elizabeth let him bring her—”
“Jason brought his entire family,” Neil clarified. “His wife and all three of the children. You haven’t met his youngest son yet, have you?”
Jason had another son. A child of his own blood. Sonny knew that. Somewhere in his brain he’d known Elizabeth and Jason’s lives had gone on. That the set of toddlers he’d seen that August night were now small children.
Just like he knew his boys had grown. Michael was nearly—no, he’d turned eleven, hadn’t he? And Morgan—Morgan would be five. Had just had his birthday in October.
The world in Port Charles, the world on the other side of the ocean had just…kept going. It had kept turning.
And now Jason had brought a piece of that world here—why? Why would he be so cruel?
He must have said this last part out loud because Neil furrowed his brow and tilted his head to the side. “Why is it cruel to bring his family to visit you, Sonny?”
Sonny pressed his lips together and shook his head. “I’m not playing this game—”
“I’m sorry, but Anais said I should just come up.”
Sonny turned at the sound and saw his sister standing there. He hadn’t seen Courtney since…
He didn’t know. Maybe when he’d been in the hospital, but so much of that period was foggy, stolen from him in a haze of medication and psychosis.
She looked…good. Her blonde hair had been cut shorter than it’d been three years earlier, swinging just below her shoulders. She wore a pair of jeans and a thin sweater, likely as a nod to the warmer weather here on the island.
Courtney stepped closer to him, coming into the soft light of the balcony and smiled hesitantly at the doctor. “You must be Dr. Winters. Courtney Matthews.” She held out her hand.
“Are you his sister? Jason said you’d be coming by first.”
“Yeah, it’s a lot more work to unpack a family of five than it is a single woman.” Courtney shook his head, then turned back to Sonny. “It’s—it’s good to finally be here, Sonny.”
He narrowed his eyes. “Really.”
“I wanted to come before, but it wasn’t—” Courtney bit her lip. “I don’t want to blame Jason, because I know he had his reasons, but I tried to get a flight here. I tried to get a boat. But without his clearance…” She lifted a shoulder. “I wanted to come down here with you when you left Ferncliffe. I wanted to help you settle in.”
He didn’t know what to believe. He barely knew this sister of his, outside a single moment of closeness they’d shared in New York, when he’d gone to seek help and she’d pretended to give a damn.
Sonny took a deep breath. “Well, thank you for coming. But you should go home. Tell Jason to take his family and go.”
“Sonny…” Courtney tucked her hair behind hers, then shook her head. “No. I want to be here with you.”
“No, you don’t.” But Sonny was kind when he said it. “And I—I appreciate that you’re trying. That Jason is…I don’t know what, but I’m sure he means well. But there’s no point to this.”
“No point?” she repeated. “Sonny—”
“I’m not worth this trouble,” he said, gently. “Jason knew that when he sent me here. He locked me away because we all knew there was no saving me. No chance that it would get better.”
He turned back to the balcony and thought about just making it clear to them all. Maybe he should just throw himself off. But it was only the second floor, and it wasn’t high enough.
He should have built a tower. He’d die in a fall from a tower. Maybe there were cliffs. Or maybe he could drain the pool—
Courtney’s pleading tone broke into his thoughts, and he looked back at her, a bit confused. Was she still here? Why?
“If you and Jason want to do something for me,” Sonny told her, “then maybe you can tell him to leave me a gun and a bullet. Otherwise, this is just a waste of time. For everyone.”
Then he left the balcony, went through his sitting room, and closed his bedroom door behind him.
Morgan Villa: Living Room
“There’s no snow,” Cameron declared with a folding of his arms. He glared at the ocean in front of him. “This isn’t Christmas.”
“Oh, good, I was worried he wouldn’t find anything to complain about in a tropical paradise, but there you go, proof that he’s still my kid.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes and shoved Jake at Jason as one of the drivers brought in the last of their luggage in. “I think the older they get, the more sympathy I have for my parents.”
Jason just laughed and shook his head. “C’mon, Cam, let me show you where you and Jake are gonna sleep—” He took Cameron’s hand and started down the hallway towards the bathrooms as Cameron continued to complain.
“Whoa, time out—I gotta sleep in the same room with him here? This is supposed to be a vacation. Why don’t I ever get break? He’s just a baby! Ow!”
“Jake threw his toy at him,” Evie reported with a sneer as she started to drag her tote full of Barbies toward the sofa. Evie didn’t travel anywhere without her army of dolls.
“Well, he had that coming,” Elizabeth shrugged. She picked up Evie’s suitcase. “C’mon, I’ll take you to your room.”
In Evie’s room, she opened a pocket in the suitcase to take out the pair of frames Evie refused to go anywhere without.
Evie clambered onto the twin bed and picked up the photo of her mother. “Hi, Birth Mommy. I got to go on a plane. I never been on a plane before. Did you go on a plane?”
Elizabeth smiled as Evie continued to chatter to Sam’s photo. She opened a drawer and started to unpack Evie’s clothes. Evie had talked to Sam every day since she’d first heard her story, and she hoped, somewhere, Sam could hear her daughter.
She knew Sam’s fear had been being forgotten—that Sonny and Carly wouldn’t raise Evie to know her—and her desperation and fear had been the tipping for Jason continuing the secret. She hoped somehow Sam knew they’d tried to do right by her.
“How come I don’t have a picture of Birth Daddy?” Evie asked as she carefully placed Sam’s photo next to Jason and Elizabeth’s wedding photo. “Do you gots pictures of them together? Like you and Daddy?”
“I…don’t think so,” Elizabeth said after a long moment. She turned to frown at Evie. “I guess…I don’t know why we never gave you a picture of Sonny. Give me a second.”
She went back into the living room and opened one of the boxes she’d brought to show Sonny. Each of her kids had a huge scrapbook for each year of their lives, and she’d brought all of Evie’s in case Sonny was up for it. Inside Evie’s scrapbook box, she found a box of photos that she kept with the books and took it back to Evie’s room.
Outside of Jake and Cameron’s room, she could hear Jason and Cam talking as Jason struggled to set up the DVD player—Cameron refused to go anywhere without a way to play his beloved Ghostbusters movies.
Smiling now, she returned to Evie’s room and set the box on the bed. “Let’s pick out a picture of your birth daddy—I know just the right one, I think.”
Elizabeth dug to the bottom of the box and pulled out a batch of photos from her engagement party. The last night Sonny had truly been part of her life. “Here’s one of you and Gram Audrey—”
“She was so pretty,” Evie said, tracing the photo. “And look, there’s Grampy and me.” She beamed at Elizabeth holding up a photo of her and Edward. “And there’s Daddy. He looks grumpy. He and Grampy are funny. They’re always making fun of each other.”
“Sure.” Elizabeth held out a photo. “There. That’s you and Sonny, your biological father. He’s holding you at our engagement party.”
“Oh…” Evie smiled at it. “He has dark hair like me. Did I get my hair from him?”
“Maybe. I think you get the color from your mommy, but his hair gets curly, too, when he doesn’t put anything in it. You have his pretty brown eyes.”
“I need a frame, but I think he’ll fit next to Birth Mommy, and then I can tell them both all about my dolls. But…” Evie pursed her lips. “Maybe if Birth Daddy likes me, I can tell him in person. Do you think he’ll want to hear about my dolls? I tell really good stories, Mommy. You should tell him that.”
“I think if your father is feeling up to it, I think there’s nothing more in the world he’d want than to listen you to tell stories with your dolls,” Elizabeth told her. She tugged Evie in her lap and hugged her tightly. “And I’ll tell him that myself. I love you so much.”
“I’m so glad I picked you and you picked me, Mommy. Birth Mommy was so smart to make sure Daddy got to have me, because he picked you, too.” Evie pressed her rosebud lips to Elizabeth’s and gave her a smacking kiss. “Even if I gots dumb Cam, too.”
After Elizabeth finished unpacking Evie’s things, she settled Evie in the boys’ room with her favorite Barbies so Evie could watch Ghostbusters with Cam. She went out to the kitchen where Jason was pouring himself a glass of water.
“Let me talk to Sonny first,” she told him. Jason blinked at her, shook his head.
“No. I let Courtney go over first because I couldn’t—well, I didn’t know how to stop her,” he admitted. “She’s not good at taking no for an answer—” He squinted. “Which is, uh, something that you have in common, so I’m not sure why I tried to say no.”
“I like when you talk yourself out of an argument,” Elizabeth said with an arch of her brow. She climbed onto the stool by the island. “So, I need to see him first.”
“I—” Jason sighed. “It’s just me wanting to protect you that makes me want to say no, you know that. I guess…I just…I don’t know.”
“I don’t know if I can reach him again,” she said. “But I want to try. And you’ve been down here before—but hey, maybe Courtney will get somewhere—”
The sliding glass door to the front of the house opened and they both turned as Courtney came in, her cheeks stained with red. “I’m sorry. I—”
“It didn’t go well,” Jason guessed as he approached his ex-wife. “What happened?”
“He’s…” Courtney shook her head. “You weren’t kidding. He’s suicidal, Jase. He wants you to leave him a gun and a bullet. He told me to tell you to just take the kids and go—for all of us just to go.”
She closed her eyes. “I can’t help him. I don’t even know where to start.”
Jason exhaled slowly. “So, Neil told him we were here—he knows Evie is here—” He looked at Elizabeth. “Maybe we should just…spend a few days here, then go home. Maybe this was a mistake.”
“Maybe,” Elizabeth allowed. She slid off the stool and pulled Courtney into a hug. “I’m sorry, Courtney. I know how much you’ve wanted to come here.”
“I never know how to fix it,” Courtney said, hugging her back fiercely. She pulled back slightly, sniffling. She managed a small smile. “But you might.”
“What?” Elizabeth blinked, stepped back. “Courtney—”
“Something I had to accept a long time ago was one of the reasons Sonny and I couldn’t connect is that he’d never needed a sister. He had Robin, and he had you. He had Jason. He didn’t need a family. You got through to him the last time. He came to me in New York and told me so. That’d you made him feel like he wasn’t alone.”
Courtney stepped back, looked at Jason with a sad smile before looking back at Elizabeth. “You told me once you felt like I’d come into your life and taken it over.”
“Courtney—” Flushing, Elizabeth shook her head. “No, I was—I didn’t mean it.”
“No, I know. You were hurting, but—I think maybe you had a point. I came in and I took your place as someone Sonny could protect. As someone Jason…” She shrugged. “Wanted to be with. But I was a square peg in a round hole. I didn’t fit. You always did. You know Sonny more than I do.”
“You were just saying you thought you might be able to help,” Jason told Elizabeth. “I think Courtney’s right.” He traded an uncomfortable look with his ex. “I don’t want to go home without trying everything. Courtney’s tried. I tried.”
“I guess I’m all that’s left.” Elizabeth sighed. “Okay, but I need you to put a few things in the car.”
Sonny’s Villa: Living Room
Elizabeth didn’t go upstairs to meet Sonny on his own turf in his bedroom. Instead, she lugged in her box of scrapbooks, pulled out the one she was working on for Jake’s birthday in May and waited.
She’d met Neil Winters about ten minutes after she’d arrived and had told him briefly what she thought she might try to talk to Sonny about. Neil was undecided if it would work but thought it had about as much chance as anything else, so he went upstairs to tell Sonny that it was okay if he didn’t want to talk to Elizabeth right now.
She’d wait until he did.
Neil went to his suite of rooms on the first floor but promised to check in on her in a little while. Elizabeth knew she wouldn’t have to wait long.
It was maybe thirty minutes before she heard Sonny’s footsteps padding down the stairs that lined the outside of the room—then he was inside, walking through one of the archways from the courtyard.
She glanced up from perusing photos of Jake opening Christmas presents but remained seated. “Hey. I have to say, thank you so much for making me wait. Do you know how long it’s been since I had thirty uninterrupted minutes?”
She held up a photo of Jake. “What do you think of this one?”
Obviously irritated, but curious despite himself, Sonny came forward and took the photo from her. “This is…this is Jake, isn’t it?”
“Jacob Martin,” Elizabeth confirmed. “He was only six months old last Christmas, so in a lot of ways this was his first Christmas. And Evie and Cam really got into the Santa thing this year.” She flipped through a few others. “Here—this is the three of them at the Christmas party with Edward playing Santa.”
“Edward, huh? It used to be Tony Jones,” Sonny said. He gingerly sat next to her and picked up the photo she offered. “They’re…so big now.”
“Yeah, Cam turned four in May, Evie in November. She looks so much like you and Sam.” Elizabeth considered his hair. “She wanted to know if I thought she got her hair from you or Sam.”
“I—” Sonny cleared his throat. “She knows….about me. And Sam.”
“She does. We kept a photo of Sam on her nightstand pretty much since the day I redecorated her room.” Elizabeth sighed. “But she hadn’t seen a photo of you until tonight. I’m sorry about that. I guess…I knew she’d never get to see Sam, you know? And you’re still alive. So, there was always a chance.”
“I know you came here…for something. That she’s with you.” Sonny set the photo down and got back to his feet. “You should go home.”
“If after you and I talk tonight, you still feel that way, we will.” She bit her lip and found another photo of Evie from the Christmas party, sitting on Edward’s lap, looking at him suspiciously. “She’s so smart, Sonny. She’s sitting here, and she knows that Santa’s voice sounds familiar. His eyes are the same. She doesn’t know it’s Grampy, but she knows something isn’t right. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to keep the magic for her as long as I want to.”
A smile tugged at Sonny’s lips as he took the photo. “She’s beautiful.”
“She’s been asking for her special story a lot these days,” Elizabeth told him. She closed Jake’s scrapbook and put it back into the box. “She knows it by heart, but she likes having it told to her. She knows that her birth mother couldn’t stay and that her birth father was too sick to. She knows about you, Sonny. Not as well as she should. But I’m hoping to change that. I don’t have a lot of stories to tell her about Sam, but I have stories about you.”
Sonny exhaled. “What story do you plan to tell her, Elizabeth? The one where I tried to kill Jason? The one where I broke her mother’s heart? Where I gave her away? What story do you want to tell Evie about me?”
“Well, I was going to start with something a bit nicer. I know Luke and Lucky have some stories. And Jason has them, too. She loves stories, Sonny. She wanted to tell me that she tells great stories with her dolls, and she hopes you’ll let her show you.”
“I—” Sonny stared at her. “You mean that, don’t you? You actually think I should be in the same room with that little girl? That I deserve to be? After—” He closed his head, shook it violently. “I deserve to be dead. Jason should have finished the job—”
“Okay.” Elizabeth’s palms were sweating as she got to her feet. “Can I ask you something about that?”
Sonny frowned at her. “What? Why? What?” He squinted. “Elizabeth—”
“I know what you or I would have done if we were faced with that situation. If I’d been Jason, I might have done exactly what you’re suggesting. You know? He told me you’d said it needed to be you or him, and I agreed with you. I told him that before he left. That if it came down to it, if there was a choice—it needed to be him. Jason had to come to home to me. I told him that the Sonny we both loved would agree—”
“Because you and I are different people. We thought there had to be a choice. We think in black and white, which is…” Elizabeth raised her brows. “Ironic, don’t you, think? Because Jason used to be one that thought everything was clear like that. You taught him differently. We both taught him about all the shades in between. So why did either of us ever think he’d make a choice if it came down to it?”
“I…” Sonny pressed a fist to his best. “Because it needs to be over, Elizabeth. And as long as I’m here, stuck here—it’s not over. You deserve this to be over. Everything I did to you, to your family—the day your grandmother was buried, I nearly got your kids killed—” His voice broke. “I don’t deserve to live.”
“For a long time,” Elizabeth said carefully, “I agreed with you. In fact, I think you wouldn’t be surprised to know that part of me still agrees.”
And the relief in Sonny’s face broke her heart—the dizzying relief that finally, someone understood what he’d been screaming for three long years.
“Which is why Jason needs to just…the next time I have a break—when I go off my meds, just let me make it stop—”
“If you think Jason would ever let you go like this…” Elizabeth closed the distance between them, took Sonny’s hand where it still laid against his chest. She wrapped both of her hands around it. “If you think he wouldn’t have let you die three years ago when he could save you, why do you think he wouldn’t keep trying to save you now?”
“Then you need to convince him we’ll all be better off—”
“If he could be convinced, then he’s not the man I fell in love with. That’s not our Jason, Sonny. And you know that.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I understand, though. What it’s like to think the world is better off without you.”
“I told you I went to therapy in California, remember? Because I couldn’t understand the life I was living—”
“You really don’t have to do this—” He shook his head.
“After Cameron was born, I thought…I thought I was going to be a terrible mother. That’s part of the reason my aunt wanted me to go to see a therapist. She found me crying in the room I was staying in. I told her I’d be a terrible mother, and the best thing would be if I just…died and someone who would do better would raise my baby.”
“Elizabeth.” Sonny blinked at her, stepped back, his face frozen in horror. “That’s—”
“I never told Jason that, you know.” Her lip trembled a bit. “Don’t tell him, okay? He doesn’t know just how bad it got there. He knows I went to therapy, that I was…that I was low, but sometimes I think he blames himself. I just…I get it, Sonny. I told you years ago I understood what it was like to stand outside of yourself and wish you were anywhere else. I meant that. I know what it’s like to wish it was over. California wasn’t even the first time I thought about suicide.”
Sonny exhaled slowly, looked around. “I need—I need to sit down.”
He made it to the sofa and put his head in his heads. “Elizabeth—”
“I don’t anymore,” she told him. “Therapy really did help. And I started to make better decisions. I started to really put my own mental health first. I asked for things I need. And my family was there. My grandmother, my brother. Of course, Jason.
“That’s part of the reason I feel so guilty about what I’ve put you through—when you told Jason you wished you were dead…” Elizabeth hesitated. “I mean it, Sonny, I’ve never told anyone that. Jason. Emily. Only my aunt and my therapist. I realized that my pain and my trauma was making you feel the way I felt then.”
“But it’s true for me—”
“I’m sure it is,” Elizabeth said. She sat next to him. Reached for his hand again. “That’s what makes it all so terrible, isn’t it? The conviction that no one else really gets it but you. Of course the world would be better off without you, you think. What have you ever brought people but pain and hurt?”
A tear slid down Sonny’s cheek. “So just let me go—”
“The last time we saw each other, at the engagement party…” Elizabeth let his hand go so she could find the picture of them from the party. Just one of her standing with Sonny as they grinned at the photographer. “I haven’t looked at these photos since…since they were developed.”
“It was such a perfect moment,” she murmured. “My family was perfect. Jason was finally making peace with the Quartermaines. And you—God, Sonny, we had you back. Even though I knew it meant I wouldn’t get to keep Evie—I would get to have you. More—Jason would get to have you. I wanted you at the wedding. Standing beside him. We deserved it. You deserved it.”
“It’s an illusion—”
“Is it?” She licked her lips. “Sonny, it’s hard to convince yourself that you—just you—are enough. You know? That just you being in the world is reason enough to stay. I’m a mother, and there were days when Cameron was first born that I wasn’t sure he was enough to stay. I knew I wasn’t enough. But my aunt and my therapist told me just…give it one more day. Wake up tomorrow. Get through tomorrow. And I did that. I did it day by day. I watched Cameron start to wiggle around, you know? And he smiled at me.”
She looked down at the photograph of her and Sonny. Set it down, and pictured up another of she, Jason, and Sonny posing together. Held it out to him. “Cam’s smile gave me a reason the day after that. I thought—I can do anything if he smiles at me. I just needed a reason. Because eventually, I realized I was enough. It took time, and it was hard. And sometimes, I slid back into old habits. But I found the first thing. I found something to wake up for.”
“You feel terrible about what happened the day of my grandmother’s funeral. What Cam and Evie—what we all went through. I’m asking you…” She waited until he took the photo of the three of them. “I’m asking to do this for me. It’s okay if it’s not for you today. I’m asking you to look at this photograph.”
He looked down at it, focused on Elizabeth standing between Jason and Sonny, Jason’s grin, on Sonny’s own smile.
“This man wasn’t an illusion, Sonny. This man was Jason’s family. And I want him in our lives. Maybe you’re not him today. And maybe you won’t ever be him again. We’ve been through a lot. You’ve been through hell. But you’re still here. I have to believe it’s for a reason.”
“It took me so long to forgive you. For the terror of that moment, and now I need you to forgive me.”
“Forgive—” His head snapped up. “Elizabeth, no—”
“Because I knew you were sick. And I punished you for it. It’s because of me you’re still here. Do you know what really turned me around after all those months?” She smiled through her tears. “I came home to Port Charles, and I sat on a bench next to Jason, and we bantered about the smell of snow. I needed to come home. I don’t—I don’t know if that’s the answer for you. But this—staying here, alone, it’s not the answer. I’m asking you to let me, to let Jason—to let us help you find another way—”
She set the photos in front of him, added a third of Sonny and Evie. “I want you to keep these photographs. And use them as reason to get through tonight. Because tomorrow, Evie wants to tell you a story with your dolls, and I think you should let her.”
Sonny closed his eyes. “Okay. Okay. I want to hear Evie’s stories.”
“Good.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “You won’t be sorry, Sonny. She really does tell the best stories.”