Flash Fiction: Chain Reaction – Part 20

This entry is part 20 of 28 in the Flash Fiction: Chain Reaction

Written in 58 minutes.


The Recovery Room: Storage Room

Jason hesitated in the doorway of the storage room, and watched Mike check off items on his clipboard. How many times had Jason watched Mike count inventory at Luke’s back in the early days? How many times had Jason sought Mike out in this very bar, looking for guidance and advice once Sonny had left? He’d been so grateful he’d named Mike as Michael’s godfather.

And now Jason had to face him, knowing that Mike, at the very least, suspected that Jason had hurt Mike’s daughter in the worst way possible. It wouldn’t be an easy conversation, but it was a necessary one.

“Been a long time since you came around here,” Mike said, not glancing up. His blue eyes looked at another shelf. “Not since Michael came home that last time. You didn’t have much need of me then.”

“Didn’t want to hear what you’d say to me,” Jason said, his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. “You never liked Carly much. Always said she’d get me into trouble. Easier to avoid you.”

Mike looked at him then. “I wasn’t wrong.”

“No, you weren’t.”

“Which of my children are you here to talk to me about?” Mike set the clipboard on the shelf, turned to face Jason more fully, his arms folded. “My son who’s clearly troubled and sliding out of control, or my daughter — who isn’t the woman you walked out with last night.”

Jason exhaled slowly. “Wherever you want to start, Mike, is fine with me. I don’t know if Courtney’s told you anything—”

“She’s avoiding me, too, so the news isn’t good, is it?” Mike walked past him, and Jason followed the older man back out through the hall to the small kitchen. He poured himself a cup of coffee, then handed another to Jason.”

“No, it’s not.”

Mike nodded, leaned against the counter, sipped the coffee. “You know, when I first found out about all of that—you and Courtney—I thought—well, that won’t last.” The corner of his mouth curved up in a half-smile. “She’s not for you. But I didn’t say anything. I don’t have a lot of power where my kids are concerned — or authority. My fault,” he added. “But then you were engaged, and I was okay with it. I wanted you to be a good match. Because I like the idea of you being my son-in-law.” He lifted his brows. “That’s not going to happen, is it?”

“No, I—I’m sorry. I won’t lie to you. I respect you too much for that.” Jason paused. “What Sonny said last night—about Elizabeth—it’s—it’s not the way he made it sound. But maybe it is. I don’t—” He stared down into the untouched cup of coffee. “We slept together,” he admitted. “And I know it was wrong because I’d made promises, but it didn’t feel that way. And…I wasn’t sorry.”

The words hung between them for a long moment, the silence lingering. Mike absorbed that. “I wondered,” he said, finally, “at how fast it was all happening. But I was just getting to know her, you know? I didn’t think I could say to this woman I didn’t raise and didn’t know — don’t you think it’s all too fast? Marrying one man, divorcing him six months later, going to his brother, getting engaged in a few months — it all seemed so rushed. And knowing you the way I do, having been around you since almost the beginning…it didn’t seem like you.”

“Mike—”

“If you’re waiting for me to castigate you, to judge you, to throw you out, well, you’re not going to find that here. Jason—” Mike paused until Jason reluctantly met his eyes. “I like Elizabeth, you know that. I always have, even when she was the young woman with the sad eyes, bringing Sonny brownies so he knew she didn’t blame him for that fire. Tammy liked her, too. Worried about her with that Lucky business. If she makes you happy, if that’s where you think you belong, then okay. But I’m not going to throw a punch. A man with my history, whose walked out on both his kids? Who I am to judge another man’s actions?”

Some of the tightness in Jason’s chest eased, and he cleared his throat. “I appreciate that.”

“Good. Now that we’ve cleared the air there—let’s talk about what really matters right now.” Mike set his coffee aside. “Tell me about my son.”

Port Charles Park

Courtney checked her watch, then sighed, leaning back on the bench and staring at the sky. She might not have had anything better to do, but Carly didn’t know that. Was Courtney supposed to waste her entire day waiting for her sister-in-law to show up?

“Hot date?”

Courtney lurched off the bench, whirling around at the sound of Ric’s voice. He stepped onto the path from behind a set of bushes. “What are you doing here?”

“Taking a walk. Just like you.” Ric tipped his head. “Waiting for Jason?”

“Carly. So you better not stay long,” she bit out. “She wants to do a lap around the walking track to stay active, and if she sees you, she’ll lose it—”

“That’s fine. This won’t take long. I feel like I owe you a slight warning—” Ric paused. “Elizabeth knows someone was slipping me information about her shifts. And she said as much in front of Jason, so—”

“Oh, I see you’re behind on the times—” Courtney raised her hand, wiggled her fingers with a bitter smile. “Turns out just telling you what time Elizabeth worked was the dealbreaker.”

His slight smile faded. “What?”

“Oh, yeah, marrying you, having a child with you, choosing you over and over again—” Courtney huffed. “None of that seems to register with him, but I’m the devil and she’s the perfect angel. I’m out, and she’s definitely back in—”

“You had one job, damn it—”

“So did you!” Courtney cut in, slicing her hand through her hair. “You were supposed to keep her distracted so I could get Jason focused back on me and our future—I did everything right, okay? I forgave him for sleeping with her. I accepted it, and just because I wanted to rub her snotty little face in it, I’m out in the cold, you’re out of luck, and they get to ride off into the sunset together—”

“Damn it,” Ric muttered. He dragged a hand through his hair. “And Jason definitely knows you told me her schedule?”

“I wouldn’t have done that if you hadn’t assured me you’d get rid of her! I don’t know why I thought you’d be able to do it, not when she had Jason back on the hook. God, it’s just like AJ said, you know? He loves a damsel in distress, and I guess I wasn’t needy enough,” she retorted. Hot tears stung her eyes, and she squeezed them shut. “I didn’t know what a conniving, manipulative bitch she is—She managed to make me the unreasonable one, can you believe that—”

“Hey, watch it—” Ric snapped, jabbing his finger at her. “I’m not the one who just had to drag Jason to Kelly’s — that was all you, sweetheart. You watch how you talk to me—”

“Oh, what are you going to do?” Courtney said with a roll of her eyes. “Lock me in the panic room, too? You can’t lay a finger on me, and you know it. So go do what you were supposed to do and get rid of that little bitch. As long as she’s in the picture, Jason will never remember that he loves me.”

“I’m working on it, but maybe you keep your head in the game and focus on what’s important. Has her schedule changed?”

“No. She’s still on closings, but just be careful,” Courtney muttered. She folded her arms, looked away. “Jason knows, and she might get it changed. You better get out of here. Carly will be here any minute.”

Recovery Room: Kitchen

“Sonny,” Jason said slowly, “isn’t well. He’s…had issues for a long time, you know that. But it’s worse now than it’s ever been.”

“I’ve seen him talk to people like that before, but never Elizabeth. Not even when all that was going on with Ric last spring.” Mike furrowed his brow. “I know he feels strongly about loyalty, but there was something in his eyes—”

“I don’t know how much of that is Sonny or his paranoia. By the time we got back to the penthouse, he had started to lose time. He didn’t know what year it was. He thought it was last year, a few years ago—he thought Elizabeth was Robin—sometimes he forgets Carly,” Jason added. “And…he’s been seeing Lily.”

“Lily,” Mike repeated. He closed his years. “God help us. He’s seeing Lily because of Carly, isn’t he? Another pregnant woman he couldn’t protect.”

“Yeah. Yeah. I think Ric telling him about his mother—the story that Sonny pushed his mother when she was pregnant — that his mother left Ric with his father and went back to Deke—blaming himself all over again for that.” Jason’s mouth was tight. “With the kidnapping—it’s brought it all back. It was too much for him. He’ll be fine for days, even weeks, but then he slips and this last time, he didn’t recognize Carly. He was shaking her.”

“Jesus. What—”

“She’s all right. Max was there, and she’s staying somewhere else. He still—he never forgets me. That’s—that’s a relief, I guess. I can always bring him back.”

“That’s not fair to you,” Mike said. “It’s not,” he continued when Jason just shook his head. “And you must know that, Jason. It’s too much pressure on you to keep him anchored to reality.”

“I—” Jason didn’t know what to say. How to even think about it. “I know.”

“Do you? You’ve always taken the weight of the world on your shoulders, Jason, and sometimes I think you don’t realize it until it’s too late. It can’t be your job to keep my son sane. Not alone.”

“I—” His throat was tight, so Jason looked away. “It’s frustrating. Courtney knew what happened with Carly. Knew that Sonny was in this mood, and maybe she was hurt and she lashed out, but she set him off. And he went to Kelly’s. He did that in front of witnesses, Mike. What if I hadn’t shown up? What—” Jason cleared his throat. “It’s just…exhausting,” he admitted, “to feel like I’m the only one who can’t make mistakes. I’ve made a mess of my life, and I’m trying to dig it out, but I can’t do that alone.”

“No, you can’t. And you won’t. Do you have any plans? Or do we need to brainstorm—”

“Bobbie’s—she’s putting together list. Of doctors. Maybe someone can talk to him, or look at him, and tell us what to do. I don’t know, Mike. It’s all I’ve got right now.”

“Okay. Okay.” Mike stroked his jaw. “Okay. I like that. Bobbie will give you good recommendations, and we can take it from there. I’ll talk to Courtney. She gets to be angry with you, Jason, I think that’s fair to say. But you’re right. If she wants to vent — she can’t do something that makes Sonny’s situation worse.”

“I don’t expect her to forgive me, and I’m not looking for it. So if you could—thanks. And thank you for not…for not being angry about the rest of it.”

“The heart doesn’t listen to logic or common sense,” Mike said. “You love who you love, and we both know that life can be too brutally short to waste a moment. You say you’ve made a mess of your life. Let’s get you back on track, too. Just like my kids, Jason, you deserve to be happy, too. And I’m not going to let you forget that.”

When Jason got back into the parking lot, he felt lighter, and bit more determined. He wasn’t handling Sonny alone anymore, and after talking to Bobbie, to Elizabeth, to Mike, he realized he hadn’t needed to be alone at all. He should have brought Mike in sooner or talked to Bobbie. Or anyone.

But he was doing it now, and as soon as Sonny was on the road to recovery, Jason could get back to focus on what mattered most—

The phone in his pocket vibrated, and Jason pulled it out, wincing when he saw Carly’s name on the notification screen. He nearly ignored the call — but he already knew Elizabeth was at Kelly’s, and he’d made plans to see her later, and of course, Carly was near her due date.

“Hey. What’s up?”

Corinthos & Morgan Warehouse: Office

Jason’s heart began to beat faster when he came into the office, saw Carly’s tear-stained cheeks. “What happened—did you see Sonny?”

“It’s—” She pressed a hand to the small of her back and closed her eyes, wincing. “No. No. I—I was in the park. I was supposed to walk, and Courtney was going to meet me there but I was late—” She sucked in a sob. “Jason, when I got there, she was talking to Ric.”

Jason’s hands fell limply to his side, and he exhaled in a rush. “Talking to him how?”

“They—they were talking like they’d made a deal—” The words were halting, forced out, punctuated by sobs. “She told him Elizabeth’s s-schedule, and she was angry because-because Ric hadn’t gotten rid of her.”

Jason pressed his lips together, the rage crawling up his throat again at the thought of Courtney throwing Elizabeth to the wolves. “She said those exact words?”

“You had one job,” Carly said softly. “And he was angry, too, because I guess Elizabeth—I guess she figured it out, and Courtney was acting like you’d confronted her, so you know about this, don’t you?”

“I knew the basics. Not the rest of it. Elizabeth said Ric was always showing up when she opened, so she shifted to the closing shift. And he knew. Courtney admitted it to me the other night.”

Carly closed her eyes. “Why? Why would she do that? It—it sounded like Courtney thinks you’re sleeping with Elizabeth, but she’s wrong. You wouldn’t do that.” When Jason said nothing, she looked at him. “Jason?”

“The night we thought we were losing Emily, she and I—it just happened.” Jason shook his head. “No. No, I’m not going to act like it was an accident. I kissed her, and I wanted it to happen. We spent the night together, and I had made up my mind to break up with Courtney.”

“Oh.” Carly’s eyes were wide and she backed up a few steps until the back of her knees hit the sofa. She rested a hand on the arm of it and slowly sat down. “But you—you didn’t. I knew something was off, but I guess—” She rubbed her cheeks, pushing some color back into them. “I suppose that explains a few things,” she murmured. “Courtney did want to go to Kelly’s a lot these last few weeks. She knew.”

“I didn’t want to hurt, and I thought—I thought I owed it to her to try to fix things. I asked her to marry me. I thought that was supposed to mean something. But I already knew it wasn’t working when I found out what she’d done. That she’d told Ric Elizabeth’s schedule. She can be angry with me, but—”

“Giving Ric that kind of ammunition—and she must have told him about you two. He didn’t sound surprised when she said something.” Carly’s breath was shaky. “She wasn’t even scared of him. You know? She was…taunting him. Like they were actually—like she actually felt like they were on the same side. I don’t—that’s what I don’t understand. She’s…” Her eyes found him, and Jason swallowed hard at the shattered expression. “She said we were best friends. Like sisters. I wanted that to be true. I wanted to believe it. But how can she hold my hand through all of this—when she knows—she knows what he did to me.” She pressed two fingers to her lips. “She knows everything,” she murmured again.

Jason crouched in front of her. “I’m sorry. I know this has to hurt. On top of everything else.”

“Was she…was it a lie?” Carly asked. “Why didn’t I see it then? I—I should know when someone’s using me. I should know when I’m being played, don’t you think? I used to know that.”

“You’re a little off your game right now. It’s okay—” Jason scowled when his phone rang. “It’s—It’s Bobbie. She said she’d call when—” He answered it. “Hey. Yeah, yeah, I’ll come by and get it. Thank you.”

“What did my mother want?” Carly held out her hand, and Jason hauled her back to her feet.

“She’s going to get us a list of doctors. Sonny needs more help than I can give him. I don’t want you to worry about Ric, okay? He’s in the ADA’s office, and it’d be suicide for him to do anything to screw with that. Right now, anyway. As soon as I’ve got Sonny sorted, believe me, Ric’s the top priority.”

“Good. Good. You go ahead, get that list from my mother. I’ll call Rocco and get the car brought around.”

“Are—are you sure?”

“Sonny’s a danger to himself, and God knows who else like this. For all our sake’s, we need to figure that out. And I really want you to focus on getting rid of Ric. Especially when it seems like he’s focusing on Elizabeth again. He’s obsessed with her, Jason. No, I don’t mean like he loves her. I mean, obsessed. He won’t stop at anything to get her back.” Carly’s mouth trembled. “And I’m afraid of what he might to do to you if he thinks you’re a threat. Or even to her if she refuses to go back.”

“I’m handling it,” Jason promised. He kissed her cheek. “Call Rocco. And I’ll let you know what Bobbie says.”

Carly watched him go, then, still troubled, she reached into her purse and removed her phone. She punched in a few numbers, then waited. When the other phone went to voicemail she said, “It’s Carly. I think you and I should have a conversation. I have some information that you should know.”

Comments

  • Mike surprised me but I like that he was supportive. Courtney is the manipulative one and Ric is a nut. I just hope that Jason can keep Elizabeth and himself safe. Sonny needs so much help.

    According to arcoiris0502 on June 7, 2024
  • Surprised and happy that Mike took the Courtney news well and didn’t judge Jason. Even more surprised that Carly is actually acting mature and gave Jason a heads up about Courtney’s shenanigans. I do have to wonder who she called. Great update.

    According to nanci on June 7, 2024
  • Who the hell Carly called. I am happy that Mike understand and knows that Courtney is not for Jason.

    According to Shelly Samuel on June 7, 2024
  • Wow practically a who done it. Who did Carly call. Mike and Jason do judgement, thats anew one.

    According to leasmom on June 7, 2024
  • You have no idea how happy it made me to know that Carly overheard Courtney. You keep surprising me with this story – just when I think it’s going to be more of the same that we saw on the show, someone’s actions pleasantly surprise ,e!

    With that being said I think Carly called Elizabeth to let her know what she overheard. She probably thinks Jason won’t tell her.

    According to Julie on June 7, 2024
  • I wonder what games Carly is playing. She had me fooled. I really liked the conversation between Mike and Jason.

    According to Carla P on June 8, 2024
  • I’m also happy Carly heard Courtney and Ric! Carly surprise me with her talk with Jason.

    According to Tammy on June 10, 2024
  • loved it
    glad Mike and Carly are not giving Jason too much crap and are taking a wait and see approach due to Ric’s interference.
    Courtney is a sneaky liar

    According to Pamela Hedstrom on June 15, 2024