Flash Fiction: Chain Reaction – Part 18

This entry is part 18 of 28 in the Flash Fiction: Chain Reaction

Written in 60 minutes.


Kelly’s: Dining Room

Jason had been on Elm Street Pier, crossing over towards the street when the call came. And at Max’s words — “Sonny’s at Kelly’s and he’s pretty ticked off at Miss Webber. Something your sister said, I think. You should get over here.” — he’d been off and running, his heart pounding at the thought that Elizabeth might end up like Carly—

He’d jerked open the door to the diner so hard that the jingle of the bells sounded harsh and strangled. Sonny was at the counter, Elizabeth standing behind it, her eyes wide, her cheeks pale. Max hovered by nervously.

And three or four tables listening to every word. Jason swallowed hard, released the door, then stepped forward.

Sonny turned, his eyes hard and dark. “Good. She said she wouldn’t answer any damn questions until you got here. Maybe we can get somewhere.” He shot Elizabeth a look so filled with loathing and disgust that she swallowed hard, looked down. “She keeps talking in circles.”

He wanted to drag Sonny away from her — wanted to take him by the arm and shove him through the door, into the car, and just tell Max to keep driving. And maybe if it had just been the three of them, Jason would have done that—

But there were witnesses, and not only could Sonny not be seen as irrational or unstable, but there couldn’t be any hint of issues between them.

Jason crossed the room, putting himself between Sonny and Elizabeth. “I’ll answer any questions you want,” he told Sonny. “But we should go somewhere and talk. These people—” He gestured around them, and Sonny looked now, squinting then blinking rapidly. He hadn’t even noticed them, Jason realized. “These people just want to eat. So let’s go talk. You and me, I’ll—”

“No, I don’t want to talk to you. I want her—” Sonny jabbed his finger past Jason. “Courtney said it was because of her, so that’s what I want—”

“Elizabeth will come with us then.” Jason shifted, turning slightly so that he could see them both, met her eyes, hoping she could see the plea. Just let me get him out of here. I’ll take care of it.

She nodded. “Yeah, sure. I’m done in twenty minutes,” she said. “I—”

Mike appeared from behind her, emerging from the kitchen, his own eyes dark and worried. He set a hand on Elizabeth’s shoulder. “You go on ahead, sweetheart. I’ll take care of it. Go get your things. Michael and Jason, you should wait in the courtyard, all right?”

Jason looked at the other man, at Courtney’s father, knowing he’d heard whatever Sonny had said. He didn’t want Mike to find out this way — he’d always been there for Jason, especially when Sonny had been gone. “Yeah. We’ll wait out there. Sonny?”

“Don’t try to sneak out the back,” Sonny warned her, and Elizabeth nodded, then disappeared into the kitchen. He turned to Jason, those eyes still flat, hard, and furious. “Let’s go.”

Kelly’s: Kitchen

“You okay, Lizzie?” DJ asked as Elizabeth came in, tried to open her employee locker with shaking fingers. “I called Mike as soon as—”

“I’m fine. I’m fine.” She exhaled slowly. Jason had told her Sonny wasn’t doing well — that he’d been having issues, but he’d never really gone into the detail. And the Sonny she’d always known would never have started that kind of confrontation with witnesses.

“You sure you’re okay to go with them?” Mike asked from the doorway. He came over, brushed her fingers aside and used his master key to unlock it. “Say the word, and I’ll make them leave—”

“Mike—” Elizabeth hesitated. “It’s not what you think—”

“I don’t think anything right now other than my son doesn’t look well, Jason looks a little panicked, and you?” He handed her purse she’d stowed inside. “You look worried. So if you don’t want to go, then I’ll make Jason deal with it. Sonny’s out of the diner now. That’s the important thing.”

She didn’t want to go, no, but Jason had made the suggestion, not Sonny. He wouldn’t have done that unless he’d felt like he had to. “No, it’s okay. Thank you.” She met her manager’s concerned gaze. “Thank you.”

“I like Jason, I always have. He’s been like a son to me, you know. Whatever’s going on, I trust him to do his best by everyone. Including my daughter, I suppose. You’d better get out of there if you’re going.”

Kelly’s: Courtyard

“You can go ahead to the penthouse,” Jason told Sonny. “I’ll bring Elizabeth—”

“We go in the same car so you can’t get your stories straight,” Sonny retorted. “Max, call back the car.”

“We came in the limo. Dougie is circling the block,” Max told Jason as he moved aside to take out the phone, but he sent Jason an apologetic look. “I’ll get him back here right now.”

“Where the hell is she?” Sonny demanded, craning his neck, looking through the courtyard. “If she’s trying to get out of this—”

“Trying to get out of what?” Jason snapped before he could think better of it, and Sonny scowled at him. “She said she’d come with us. She’s coming. What else do you want, Sonny?”

“You don’t get to talk to me like that,” Sonny retorted, stepping towards him. “You don’t make the rules, I do—”

Jason opened his mouth, but then Elizabeth stepped out, her purse clutched her arm. “Sorry, I had trouble with the combination on my locker. Um, where—where are we going?”

Sonny reached for her, as if to grab her arm, but Jason stepped in front of him. He didn’t care if they were in public, if people were still watching from inside the courtyard. He didn’t care if Lorenzo Alcazar himself strolled into the courtyard — Sonny wasn’t going to lay a hand on Elizabeth.  “You don’t touch her. She’s coming with us, but you don’t come near her. That’s the deal.”

Sonny furrowed his brow, uncertain now. “I—” He looked at his hands, then at Elizabeth just past Jason’s shoulder. “I wasn’t going to.” His tone had changed. There was less edge now. “We’re—we’re just going to talk, aren’t we?”

“Yes. We’re going to talk,” Jason said. He nodded when Max stepped back towards them. “The car here?”

“Yeah. Yeah. We’re all set.”

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

The ride back to Harborview Towers was short, tense. For a moment, Sonny had seemed to shift back into his old self, and Elizabeth wondered if that meant the danger had passed — but Jason didn’t seem to think so. She’d sat next to him in the limo, on the side seat along the windows while Sonny had sat alone in the back, looking pensively out the window. She’d wanted to take Jason’s hand, to just reassure him she was here, but she was afraid it would have set Sonny off.

Max hurriedly opened the door in front of them, and Sonny strode in first then whirled around to confront them when Jason closed the door, but kept himself between Sonny and Elizabeth.

“So start talking.”

“I—” Elizabeth began, but Jason held out his hand. It was different now. They were at home, and Jason didn’t have to be as careful. He wasn’t going to put her at Sonny’s mercy.

“I want to know what the question was,” Jason said. “I wasn’t there. I don’t know what the problem is, Sonny, or why you think Elizabeth owes you any answers. So before you start interrogate her, start with me.”

Sonny pursed his lips, then stabbed a finger in Elizabeth’s direction. “Courtney told me to ask her why you’d broken up. Why you’d told my sister that you never loved her. You slept with her, didn’t you? You’re having an affair behind my sister’s back!” His voice began to rise, and Jason grimaced. He’d made a mistake — he’d tried to refocus the attention on him, but it had only pushed Sonny back to the edge—

And damn Courtney for unloading on her mental unstable brother who’d already put his hands on one woman, and sending him in the direction of another woman. A man who saw betrayal as the worst crime that could be committed against him—

“What happens with Courtney is my business—” Jason flattened a hand against his chest. “Mine. I’m the one to blame if there’s blame to be given. Elizabeth doesn’t answer for any of that, okay? She’s not part of this. You be angry with me.”

“You’re not even going to deny it?” Sonny demanded, his eyes burning. “You betrayed my sister and you’re not even going to try to lie—”

“No, I won’t. I made mistakes, and I hurt people that matter,” Jason said carefully. “I decided you were right. You remember, don’t you? Months ago, you told me Courtney wasn’t right for me. That we wouldn’t be happy. You were right. I’m sorry I didn’t see that sooner.”

Sonny squinted, confused by that. “I was…I was right?” He looked down at his hands. “I was right. You—I told you to leave my sister alone,” he said more to himself. “Why didn’t you listen?”

“I thought I knew better. Okay? But I didn’t.” Jason stepped towards Sonny, sensing that he was really starting to shift and dial back. “I didn’t. Why don’t you and I talk about it, and I’ll have someone take Elizabeth home?”

“Elizabeth.” Sonny lifted his eyes, looked at her for the first time. “She said it was your fault. But you—you were here first. I don’t understand. How does that make sense?” He turned in a slow circle. “Where’s Carly? She’ll know. Courtney’s her friend. When did that happen?” he asked Jason. “Where’s Carly? Where’s Michael?”

“They’re not here right now. Sonny—”

“I’m wearing my jacket—” Sonny looked down at his sleeve. “Did I go out?” He looked up, looked at Elizabeth again. “Elizabeth. You’re here. Good. Good. I told Jason it’s good that you’re here. That you’re safe here. Alcazar, you know—he’s ruthless. He shot at you in a hospital, he’ll keep trying to hurt you.”

Jason swallowed hard. Sonny had slipped into a different time, and that always made this harder.

“I’m glad to be here,” Elizabeth said softly. “I know you and Jason will keep me safe. You always have.”

“Have we?” Sonny squinted. “You were kidnapped. Weren’t you? Jason was looking for you.”

“He found me. I’m okay. Why don’t you let Jason take off your coat? You look warm,” Elizabeth suggested. She shot Jason a look, as if asking for permission to move towards Sonny. Jason started to shake his head, but she was already stepping around him. Reaching for his jacket.

Sonny let her remove it, staring at it with confusion. “Why am I wearing that? It’s too hot for that, isn’t it? Where’s Carly?” He took Elizabeth’s arm, and Jason jolted, but it was a gentle one. “It’s good that you’re here,” he repeated. “It’s good. Jason misses you when you’re away. But you’re going to be a doctor. We’re going to be so proud of you, Robin.”

Jason came to Sonny’s side, sent Elizabeth a look that had her stepping back. “She’s going to be a great doctor. Why don’t we go sit down?”

“Yeah, yeah, we should talk about Moreno. He’s a pain in the ass. Tell Lily—” Sonny’s eyes flicked to the terrace. “Tell Lily to come in. She’ll be cold. She’s too used to Puerto Rican winters. But that’s not how it is in New York. Tell her.”

“I’ll tell her. Come on, sit down—”

Sonny frowned, looked at Elizabeth. “You’re not Robin. Who are you?” The edge was back slightly, but it was panicked. “How did you get in here—”

“Sonny—” Jason blocked Elizabeth from his view, forced his friend to look at him. “You know me, don’t you? You know who I am.”

“Yeah. Yeah. Why are you asking stupid questions?” Sonny demanded, vaguely insulted.

“Then you know you trust me. Elizabeth is with me. You know her, too. Elizabeth. You knew what she meant to me before I did.”

Sonny squinted, then looked past Jason to Elizabeth, then back at him. “Elizabeth. You take her for rides.”

“That’s right.”

“You talk about her. You were happy. She was—” Sonny pressed his lips together. “She was kidnapped, and you found her. Then she came to stay here. Elizabeth.” He looked at Elizabeth. “You left. You left Jason. And he’s engaged to my sister.”

“Not anymore,” Jason said. “Sonny—”

“Right. Right.” Sonny backed away, dragged his hands over his face. “Courtney. She told me you broke up with her. Told me to ask Elizabeth. And I did. I went. I asked you. But I don’t know why. I don’t—what’s going on? How did we get back here?” He looked around the penthouse, and his eyes were clear now. “What’s going on? How did we get back here?”

“We came back because I wanted to tell you about Courtney without witnesses. It was none of their business,” Jason told him. “I’m sorry I hurt her. I never wanted that.”

“No. No. I told you it was a bad idea. I knew you couldn’t love her. But I let it go. I let it go.” Sonny let his hands fall away, falling to his side like a child might. “It’s—I can’t make it come into focus. Why isn’t it—why can’t I keep it in focus?”

“You need to sleep. Lay down, and it’ll be okay in the morning,” Jason told him. “Come on. Let’s go.”

“Yeah, okay. I can—I can do it myself,” Sonny said when Jason started for the stairs. “You should take Elizabeth home. It’s not safe out there for a woman. Not alone.”

Jason stood there in the middle of the living room until he heard the door close upstairs, then he looked at Elizabeth. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for doing this to you, for putting you in the middle. I’m sorry—”

Elizabeth just shook her head, closed the distance between them and slid her arms around his waist. “Is it always like that?” she asked softly. He sighed, rested his hands on her shoulders, then down to stroke her upper back. Just touching her, hearing her quiet breathing soothed him.

“Not always. But that was the worst. He was…between a few different times. And he usually remembers faster. I’m sorry. I should have left you at Kelly’s—”

“But he might not have left,” Elizabeth said, lifting her gaze to his. “And you needed him to go quickly and quietly. I know that, Jason. I tried not to say anything that would upset him, because you’d told me he was struggling. I just—I didn’t have any idea how bad it was. You’ve been managing this on your own?”

“Mostly. He didn’t used to lose time like this. The moods just—he’d get depressed. Paranoid. But he’s been seeing Lily and his mother. Forgetting who people are.”

“Does he ever forget you?” Elizabeth asked. She slid her hands up to his chest. “What if he forgets you?”

“I seem to be the one thing he doesn’t forget,” Jason said, and the bitterness startled him. “I told you, I’m going to fix this—”

“You can’t fix this alone, Jason. And you shouldn’t have to. It’s awful watching it happen, and it must be awful for him to live through it. To constantly question his own mind and memories. I’m so sorry. For all of you.”

He cleared his throat. “I’m fine—”

“You don’t have to say that to me, Jason. You know that. You don’t have to be strong for me. Or pretend to have all the answers. This is one of those temporary problems you were talking about, isn’t it?”

“You—and this baby—you come first, so I—”

“This baby and I are perfectly fine right now. And we will be tomorrow and the day after that. Why don’t we go take one of those rides you told Sonny about and we’ll talk about what happens next.”

Comments

  • It had to be so scary watching Sonny when he’s so confused. He needs help. I’m glad that Elizabeth was there. I was so scared for her. This makes me hate Courtney even more. Sonny needs professional help.

    According to arcoiris0502 on May 27, 2024
  • It is so scary seeing Sonny like that. He needs to see a psych doctor to figure out his Bipolar situation. Great update. Courtney needs a reality check that Jason was not hers in the first place.

    According to Shelly Samuel on May 27, 2024
  • It doesn’t happen often but I actually had some empathy for what Sonny is going through. Not enough to give him a free pass but enough. Courtney, however needs to slapped six ways to Sunday for unleashing an unstable man on someone. Great update

    According to nanci on May 27, 2024
  • I know a macho boss can’t go to a shrink BUT one could come to him in private, yet even the show wouldn’t go that way.

    According to leasmom on May 27, 2024
  • ++ to all of the above, Happy Birthday Week! And huge thank you for stopping at a point where I feel like I won’t pass out holding my breath waiting for the next chapter.
    On top of all the comments above, one of my favorite things about this couple is how well they can read the other and know what they need to do in situations like this. You captured it perfectly.

    According to LivingLiason on May 27, 2024
  • That could have gone so badly. Glad Jason and Mike were able to talk him down. Courtney needs a giant dose of a reality check. I’m so ready for Jason and Elizabeth to have that talk. At least they have Emily and Bobbie in their corner already. They’ll need all the support they can get. I’m ready for Bobbie and Monica to go into full “protective grandma” mode. Hope Sonny gets the help he needs and Carly does what’s best for her and her kids

    According to Beth on May 27, 2024
  • It’s my birthday tomorrow and I plan on reading the new Nora Roberts book but this was a great early bday present! 2 updates so thanks and I hope you have an amazing birthday week and the kids go easy on you!

    According to Golden Girl on May 27, 2024
  • I am so glad Elizabeth wasn’t hurt and got to see what Jason is having to deal with. I’m surprised Mike very helpful and didn’t want any explanation.

    According to Carla P on May 28, 2024
  • Sonny was scary there for a few minutes I thought Jason was going to have to tackle him. He needs some serious help.
    Courtney is such an uncaring bitch.
    Mike was helpful so that was good.
    The scene in the penthouse was sad for all three of them.

    PS: My husband was watching the Phillies and was amazed at how good they are so I bet you are super happy about that.

    According to Pamela Hedstrom on May 31, 2024