This was written for the Triangle Challenge at The Canvas. Write a story where Jason must choose between saving Elizabeth's life or someone else. So, this is my take on that. Takes place late February/early March, 2003
He sat in the driver's seat of the limousine; his hands sweating so hard he thought they would slip right off the steering wheel. And yet he didn't dare take them off to wipe them on the pants of his suit. Corinthos guards and drivers did not get sweaty palms merely because they were going to be driving one of the most power men on the Eastern Seaboard to a business meeting.
But this was no ordinary meeting, and he knew it. He could only hope that the other men around couldn't tell it as well. At least there was a bit of luck going for him tonight. Jason Morgan would not be riding with them to the meeting, Marco would be instead. Marco would be easily dealt with, as he looked to at the thermos beside him that contained the drugged coffee. He wasn't foolish enough to think he could have dealt with Jason that way; coffee probably wouldn't even phase him.
He gripped the steering wheel tight until his knuckles turned white. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to relax and calm down. He couldn't help it, but Jason pissed him off. He had come to work for Sonny Corinthos while Jason had been gone for over a year. Sonny had told him he had promise and potential to move through the organization. Then the prodigal son had returned in May, and his life had gone downhill ever since.
Jason was the right hand man, the chief body guard, primary enforcer, everything to Sonny. A snort escaped from him, as he thought that Jason would probably wipe Sonny's butt because the old man was incapable of doing it himself. He seemed to be incapable of doing anything himself. Because how many times since Jason's return had Sonny told the younger man that he was the only one he could trust? It was like the rest of the people in the organization had been demoted or became invisible when Jason was around.
So when this opportunity arose, he jumped at it. He wasn't feeling any loyalty to the man who had turned his back on him for the all-wonderful Mr. Morgan.
Catching movement in the rearview mirror, he sat up straight. Marco opened the door and Sonny climbed into the back, and then Marco joined him in the front seat.
"Marco," he said with a tip of his head while starting the car. "Brought some coffee along for us."
"Great," Marco said with a yawn. "Mind if I help myself to some?"
"Knock yourself out," Paul replied with a glint in his eye.
Sonny Corinthos was a man who craved order. Thrived on it. Which was why he was in a particularly foul mood lately. Ever since last summer when Jason returned, he felt like he couldn't get his head screwed on straight. He thought Jason's return would make his life easier, and he'd deluded himself into believing it had. What he'd failed to miss was that while Jason was making his own life easier, his best friend's was falling apart.
Elizabeth Webber had been kidnapped and Jason had gone to Marcus Taggert and Edward Quartermaine for help. Then things had happened between Elizabeth, Jason and Zander Smith that Sonny didn't fully understand, and instead of trying to help, he'd questioned Jason's loyalty. He should have realized that Jason was hurting, and how much he truly did care for Elizabeth. Maybe if he had, none of the stuff that was throwing his life into chaos would have happened.
Elizabeth walked out on Jason because of Sonny's fake death, something he'd told Jason not to tell her about despite his friend asking. Looking back now, he realized that hadn't been necessary, or smart. He'd been so caught up in himself that he hadn't thought of his friend, or remembered that Elizabeth had hid Jason in her studio twice and never said a word to anyone. Her leaving had sent Jason into a tailspin that had gone unnoticed by everybody who claimed to be close to him. It finally took some drastic events for Sonny to realize the extent of Jason's problems.
Jason's marriage to Brenda Barrett had been odd enough, but when Sonny found out about his involvement with Courtney to say he'd been shocked was an understatement. He didn't remember a lot of what he'd felt or said during that time, but he'd been extremely angered about Jason involving his sister in the life. He felt like a failure when he finally realized the reasons behind it. Too bad he'd stumbled upon the answers now that he and Jason were hardly talking. Their relationship was strained, to say the least, and had nearly come apart for good.
He didn't know how to reach out to Jason now and tell him he wasn't mad anymore. That he finally understood how Jason had always been there for him, but Sonny couldn't say the same. No wonder Jason hadn't talked about Elizabeth leaving him, why he felt he had nothing to lose by marrying Brenda - something he'd done to help Sonny and Carly's marriage, and was trying to fill a void in his life during everything with Courtney. Even now, or maybe especially because of it, that Jason had ended things with Courtney and gotten an annulment from Brenda, he was just wandering aimlessly through life.
Sonny had heard from Carly that Jason was trying to make things right with Elizabeth. She wasn't making it easy on Jason, but from Carly's anger recently it appeared she was now at least talking to him. Sonny hadn't said anything to Carly or Jason, but he hoped things worked out for his friend. He was trying to remember that Jason was his partner and not only a man in the organization, or the only man he could rely on. Hopefully without constantly being paged, Jason could get his life back on track.
That was why Marco and Paul were accompanying him on this business meeting. Jason had offered to come, but since it was actually the coffee business, negotiating a new deal, Sonny had insisted he was fine with Marco and Paul. He knew Jason would be bored stiff as Sonny glad-handed and worked out shipment amounts and prices.
When the car suddenly gave an unexpected lurch over uneven ground, Sonny looked up from the papers he'd had on his lap but hadn't been paying attention to. He looked out the window and noticed they weren't in the city anymore. They were passing through the woods. Reaching down, he picked up the phone to the front, but neither Paul nor Marco picked up. He scooted to the seat across from him and rapped on the raised partition, but again nothing.
Moving back to his seat, he paid no attention to the papers now scattered on the floor of the car. He had no idea where they were, but the woods were getting thicker. He reached for the door, ready to take his chances and jump from the car. But panic started to set in even more than it had when he realized it wouldn't open. He was trapped inside. What was going on?
She was tired. Beyond tired, actually. She could barely stand and she was sure her eyelids were closed more often than they were open. Working two jobs sucked. The good news was that she was being given more and more tasks at Deception and Nikolas wanted her there full time. The pay was better, she'd actually get benefits, Nikolas said he'd work out her schedule if she decided to take classes at PCU in the fall, and most of all she wouldn't have to work with Courtney.
Ever since Jason had ended his relationship with her co-worker, the blonde was a pain to work with. Courtney alternated between being heartbroken and thoroughly ticked at Elizabeth because she was convinced Jason breaking up with her had been because of Elizabeth. Never mind that Elizabeth and Jason hadn't talked in several months, and Ric had started showing an interest in her. It clearly had to be Elizabeth's fault Jason had walked away from Courtney after she'd told A.J. that Jason's marriage to Brenda wasn't real and Taggert had overheard.
Despite how much Elizabeth still cared about Jason, just because he was suddenly showing an interest in her didn't mean she was just going to fall right back into a relationship with him. There was a lot of hurt, on both sides, and she told him that maybe they could try being friends again. Carly and Courtney had accused her of playing Jason and Ric against each other, but she considered Ric a friend, nothing more. And she'd told him that. She'd told both Ric and Jason that she wasn't ready for a romance with either of them, she needed some time to figure her life out on her own without being someone's girlfriend. If she was truly honest with herself, she knew her heart lay with Jason. Even though at times she wanted to be with him desperately, they had to change some things between them before they could try again.
She was enjoying getting her friendship back with Jason. Valentine's Day he'd showed up as she was closing the diner and offered her a bike ride. No strings attached, no special meaning because of the day, just two friends who hadn't taken a ride in a long time finally sharing one. Over the past month they'd spent even more time together. Pool games at Jake's, talks in the park and on the docks, and of course, more rides. Just two nights ago Elizabeth had managed to get Jason to let her steer. She was feeling better than she had in months. A lot of that was because she and Jason had finally sat down and discussed what had gone wrong between them, and were working to put that hurt and anger in the past.
Looking up at the clock, she saw it was finally time to go. Turning off the lights and flipping the sign to closed, Elizabeth stepped outside and locked the doors. She tightened her coat around her as the mid-March night was still a little cold, and headed off towards her studio. Max was walking her home tonight, she could tell by his steady and long stride. Putting her hands inside her coat, she couldn't help but smile. After being mugged for a measly four dollars two nights before Valentine's, Jason had insisted that if she worked the night shift someone would be there to make sure she got home safely. Often times it was him, but not always.
As they took the shortcut across the Elm Street Pier, she heard Max suddenly yell for her to run. She was tempted to look over her shoulder, but Elizabeth didn't. She merely did as Max instructed and took off for her studio. She heard thundering footsteps behind her and she didn't know if it was Max or someone else, all she knew was she had to get to her studio and call Jason.
The stairs were in sight, just two more steps and she'd be in her building, when strong arms grabbed her from behind. One meaty arm latched around her waist and lifted her kicking and flailing off the ground. Then one large hand covered her mouth with a cloth and the last thought through her mind before darkness claimed her was, Not again.
There were times Jason really hated telephones. They always seemed to ring at all the wrong times. Like when he nearly kissed Elizabeth in her studio, then Carly called and he left and Elizabeth ended up sleeping with Zander. If he'd never had a phone that would never have happened, because he didn't know about Elizabeth but he had planned on spending the night with her. Instead there had been months wasted on hurt, pushing one another away, getting involved with the wrong people and miscommunication. All because of a telephone.
Tonight he was ready to gather up every single telephone around him and throw them in the harbor. While Sonny was off at the meeting, he decided to go over the books at the warehouse. Of course, the night that Sonny was gone was the night everybody from here to Timbuktu called complaining about their orders and shipments. After yelling at the last person he spoke to, he decided he should just let the machine get the rest and the foreman or Sonny could deal with the idiots in the morning.
Unfortunately after that, his cell phone began ringing. First it was Carly, then Carly again, then Michael calling on behalf of Carly, then for some inexplicable reason Courtney called - he'd ended that call very quickly, then Carly yet again. When had things gotten so out of control with Carly? What next, she'd call him when she had a hangnail?
He sighed and rubbed his temples and looked at the clock on the wall. He'd lost track of time and he still hadn't done half the invoices he'd wanted to. It was later than he'd expected and so he stood, grabbed his jacket and phone and turned off his light. Maybe Elizabeth would still be up and like to go for a ride. He certainly wasn't going to get much work done here, and he could really do with a break and a break with her sounded like the best thing. Of course, she'd been really tired lately as she finished up her two week notice at Kelly's, but maybe she'd feel up for it. As he reached the door and nodded to the guard on his way out, his phone rang.
"Morgan," he said, trying to mask the exasperation he felt.
"Jason, it's Ric."
"I think there's a problem. Sonny hasn't shown up and I can't reach him or the guards. I tried to get a hold of you earlier, but your phone was busy."
Of course his phone was busy, he was dealing with Carly. And to know that Ric was calling because Sonny was missing and the guards were unreachable, he didn't like the sound of that. Looks like his ride with Elizabeth was scratched. "Alright, Ric, thanks. I'll get started on it."
"Alright. Let me know if there's anything I can do."
"There is, don't mention this to Carly," Jason said and then killed the phone. He strode quickly to his bike and was about to climb on when the phone rang again.
"Max?" he asked, the sinking feeling in his stomach suddenly got worse.
"I-I'm sorry, Jason. Someone go-got Elizabeth."
"What?!" Jason could hear Max struggling to talk, and yet he was desperate to know what happened.
"A-ambush on the...the docks. Six or seven...I told...told her to run. They kn-knocked me out. When I came...came to she was gone."
Jason waited as a Max struggled to stifle a cough before asking, dreading the answer, "Did you search the studio?"
"That's...that's where I am. I-I'm so sorry, Jason."
"I know, Max. I'm sure you did everything you could. I want you to get checked out by the doctor." He knew Max would have given his life for Elizabeth, all of the guards took their duties very seriously, whether they were guarding Sonny or him or Elizabeth. And instead of taking care of himself, when he was obviously hurt, Max's first thing was to look for Elizabeth and then call Jason.
"Please let me know..."
"I will," he said quietly, as coughs once again overtook Max. Then he ended the call and stood there. What did he do now? Go after Sonny or Elizabeth? There were lots of other guards who could look for Sonny, but shouldn't he look for the man who had once been like a father to him? But how could he not look for Elizabeth? The feeling of panic and dread filling him now was worse than when Roscoe had kidnapped her. How could he abandon her now when he was working so hard to get her back?
His phone rang again, pulling him from his struggle and Jason answered it eagerly, hoping for news. "Morgan."
"Hello, Mr. Morgan."
"Tagliatti." The name came out strained and Jason clenched his free hand into a fist.
"You seem a little tense. Lose something, or somebody? Or maybe it's not just one," he said with a slight chuckle.
"Where are they?" Jason demanded.
"Don't play dumb with me. You have Sonny and Elizabeth. Where are they?"
"Take a drive, Mr. Morgan. There's an old cannery down Route Two. I suggest you get there quickly if you ever want to see your boss and girlfriend alive again."
Then the line went dead and Jason swore long and loud to the stars. They were together, so that was a plus. At least he certainly hoped it was. Quickly climbing on his motorcycle he set off for Route 2 and the cannery.
He watched, relieved, as she started to open her eyes. When two men had dragged Elizabeth's unconscious body in, Sonny had struggled against the restraints and yelled so much that he'd been backhanded across the mouth. He didn't care about the split lip that now throbbed, or the blood which had stained his shirt, all he cared about was the young woman across the room from him. He worried when she didn't wake up, fearing they'd given her something stronger than chloroform, and what that would do to her. And most of all, he worried about the woman who had been a friend to him and who held his best friend's heart.
"Hmm...oh," she moaned as she tried to hold her head up straight.
"Welcome back," he said softly. "How are you feeling?"
She blinked and tried to focus her eyes. "Like I was run over by a truck."
"Do you think - are you hurt anywhere?"
"I don't think so," she murmured. Then she seemed to shake more of the cobwebs away and she looked at him as her eyes widened. "Sonny? What are you doing here? Where are we?"
"I don't know," he admitted. "I'm not sure who has us. One of my drivers turned traitor and drove me here. I didn't see anyone but some guards. Did you see who grabbed you?"
He could tell it wasn't the answer she'd hoped to hear. Her head dropped as she shook it in answer to his question. Her body slumped against her restraints and she looked like a broken doll. He hated that she was here. Because it was Paul who had brought him, Paul who had knocked out Marco and then handed them both over on a silver platter, he knew it was business. And once again, Elizabeth had been grabbed because she knew Jason.
Jason. Jason was going to flip, if he hadn't already. He had nearly come unhinged the past summer when Elizabeth was kidnapped. What would he do now? All Sonny knew was that he would kick his friend's butt to China and back if he tried to shove Elizabeth away again. He knew, and it had taken a lot for him to realize it, that Jason without Elizabeth was only half a person.
"Well," Elizabeth's shaky voice brought him to the here and now, "this time around is a little better. I...I mean I could do without the restraints, but there's a light, there are no dead bodies, a huge plus, and I have company right from the start instead of going out of my mind."
She was sitting up straighter, and Sonny knew what she was doing. She was trying to be brave. Put on a good front, while her eyes showed how truly frightened she was. Jason had told him once about this technique of hers, and he'd witnessed it before, but it still amazed him. She would probably break down later, but for now, she was acting calm.
"I'm sorry about this," Sonny told her.
"Oh man, you sound like Jason. You didn't do this to me." She raised a pointed brow, preventing him from speaking and continued, "Would this have happened if I didn't know you? Probably not. But so what? I like you and Jason, you're my friends, and I would have a much lonelier and poorer life if I didn't know you."
"So you like being kidnapped? You truly are an adrenaline junkie, aren't you?" he teased, trying to keep the moment light. It also helped him think about something else besides the four walls he was trapped in and which were inching closer with each passing moment.
"Of course not," she said, sobering them. "But I can't imagine my life without Jason. It's not as full or good without him."
"I understand," Sonny told her. And he wondered if she even realized what she'd just admitted. She couldn't imagine her life without Jason. Not Jason and him, as she'd previously said. Her life wasn't as good without him, just as Sonny knew Jason's wasn't as good without Elizabeth.
The door opened and they both turned their heads, startled by the sudden squeak of metal. Sammy Tagliatti walked in and Sonny's glare turned dark.
"Ah, Miss Webber," he smiled at her, "nice to have you back. This will make things so much easier...and fun. It's time to move you to your next accommodations. Mr. Morgan will be here soon, and we want to have you ready for when he arrives."
He snapped his fingers and two men came in and untied her, then started pulling her from the room. Sonny watched her go, cold dread pooling in his stomach. "You're a weak man, Tagliatti. Using a woman in all this. Let her go and deal with me and Jason."
"Don't worry, Mr. Corinthos," Sammy sneered. "You're going with her, so you can keep an eye on her if you'd like. Besides, what we have planned won't work unless you're right beside her."
"We?" Sonny questioned, even as two men came in to untie him.
"Yes, my associates," Tagliatti smirked and then stepped out the doorway Elizabeth had already gone through. "I believe you know Mrs. Roscoe and Mr. Ashton."
Numb. That was the only word to describe Elizabeth. After she and Sonny had been taken from the room, they'd been tied and suspended up to their waists in the river that bordered the cannery. The water was freezing with the run-off of melting snow heading down to the harbor. The water had numbed her completely, and it had been some time since she'd felt her legs.
Her mind seemed to be going numb as well. The physical and mental exhaustion she had from her two jobs had caught up. Plus there was too much going on, and it was just easier to think about nothing than to relive seeing Marco's lifeless body slumped against a wall, his unseeing eyes still open as she'd been removed from the room. Or thinking about Ned Ashton being a part of this.
He'd been her boss as well as Chloe when she'd worked for the designer at L&B Records. He was Emily's cousin, and Emily always said he was the sane Quartermaine, the one who calmed everyone down. And here he was, standing with a man and woman who clearly despised Sonny. Elizabeth wondered if Emily would ever forgive Ned one day for her death. Because this time around, she knew that even if Jason got there soon there was no way he could save both of them.
She opened her eyes slowly and looked over at Sonny.
"Stay with me, Elizabeth," Sonny commanded. "You've got to hold on until Jason arrives."
She couldn't speak, her teeth were chattering too hard. But she told him with her eyes that it wasn't going to matter soon. Sleep was beckoning her. And it was better this way, that she was the one fading out. Jason needed Sonny. She knew how important their friendship was, and Jason would become a shell of a man if something ever happened to Sonny.
"Ned," Sonny shouted, making Elizabeth jerk her head slightly. "This is low, even for a Quartermaine."
"But rather fitting, considering you held A.J. in a meat locker," Ned replied in a scathing tone.
"Elizabeth," Sonny yelled again, and waited for her to open her eyes. "Come on, stay with me."
"C-c-cold," she stuttered.
"Ned, what do you think Emily's going to say? Even if Elizabeth doesn't by some miracle die, how do you think she'll react to what you've done to her friend?"
If Ned said anything in reply, Elizabeth didn't hear it. All she felt was cold, and the world seemed to be growing dark around the edges whenever she could pry her eyes open. Her arms, which were once on fire, seemed heavy and numb now. She leaned her head against her left arm and gave in to the comfort of sleep, despite Sonny yelling at her to keep her eyes open.
She had no idea how long it was before a splash of water in her face woke her up and she opened her eyes to see the woman looking at her intently. "It appears Mr. Morgan has arrived. Wouldn't want to be asleep when your lover arrives, would you, dear?"
Then the blonde turned to the two men beside her and asked, "Do you think he'll like the surprise we have for him?"
It was a great struggle to keep her eyes open, but finally she saw him. Jason, an essence of black against the dark night, was walking down the wooden walkway toward the trio. Jason's here, her brain whispered. It will all be okay now. Go back to sleep.
Then the world around her roared. Blinding flashes stunned her even behind her closed eyelids, and Elizabeth felt herself fall, plunging into the icy water.
As Jason roared down Route 2, he seethed. Tagliatti had snatched both Sonny and Elizabeth. He skidded the bike to the side of the road and grabbed the handlebars in pure frustration. He had to get it under control to be of any good to his boss and friend, and the woman who had held his heart. Pulling out his phone he quickly dialed a familiar number.
"Johnny, it's Jason."
He quickly told him everything that was going on. Sonny missing his meeting, Max calling him from Elizabeth's studio, Tagliatti calling him. He told Johnny to get someone to Elizabeth's studio to check on Max, told him not to tell anything to Carly, and to get Francis and get to the cannery as quickly as possible. Johnny said he'd take care of everything and hung up. Back up in place, Jason started off again. This time he was steady, in control, and ready to face whatever awaited.
As he walked down the walkway towards the klieg lights he could see after he'd arrived at the cannery, he discovered he wasn't fully prepared. Sammy Tagliatti and Faith Roscoe turned to face him, and then he saw Ned as his cousin turned partway towards him. He realized in that moment that he and Sonny had underestimated Ned and his desire to get revenge on them for Kristina Cassadine's death. Ned had turned to people that under normal circumstances he would have despised and shunned, but to take down Sonny he was willing to move in with the mob.
Then he looked beyond the trio and saw Elizabeth and Sonny hanging by their arms, partially submerged in the river. He almost felt frozen as he saw Elizabeth looking pale, her lips blue, shaking with cold. Then an explosion ripped through the air and he watched in horror as the beam holding them splintered and Sonny and Elizabeth fell into the water. Instinct took over and he crouched down as the explosion echoed around them, swiftly pulling his gun out and fired. With grim frustration he watched Tagliatti duck down and return fire. Several shots later the other man crumpled to the ground and Jason looked around. Faith had taken off and was several yards away, and Jason started to run after her, before he stopped and looked back at the damage. He shot wildly after her until his gun was empty, then dropped it and ran for the wreckage.
He passed by Ned who was on the ground, a bleeding gash at his temple. Jason dropped to his knees at the edge of the wood and peered into the water. All the lights, save one that had been knocked loose and was illuminating the area to the right, had stopped working from the explosion. Jason cursed the fact that he hadn't thought to grab his flashlight from the saddlebags on his bike. In the dim moonlight he could make out several shapes in the water, but had no idea what was human and what was flotsam.
"Elizabeth! Sonny!" he shouted into the now quiet night. "Elizabeth!"
"Jason." Sonny's voice carried to him, and as the clouds uncovered the moon, he could see the scene before him better. Sonny was clutching onto a piece of the pier; his hands still bound at his wrists.
"Where's Elizabeth?" Jason yelled.
"J-J-Jason." Her weak, thready voice came from beyond Sonny. Sonny turned to look, even as Jason shifted his gaze, and his heart lodged in his throat when he saw her. Elizabeth, her hands free, was clinging to a piece of wood wedged between two rocks.
"Hang on," he yelled to both of them. And then he froze when he heard the click of a hammer behind him.
"Well, well, how marvelous," he heard Sammy Tagliatti wheeze. Jason wouldn't take his eyes off the water though to even see if he had hit the other man, or where he was standing.
"Now the fun will begin," the Italian said. "Do you come after me, or go for one of them? Who do you save, because I have one bullet left and I will kill whoever you leave behind. Of course, you could always come after me, but will they be able to hold on until I'm dead? Miss Webber didn't look so good before the explosion, I wonder how she's doing now."
Jason dropped his head as Tagliatti's taunting words continued to carry to him. Why didn't he make sure the man was dead before he got here and saw how desperate the situation was? No time for regrets though, he had to make a decision.
"Jason," Sonny's voice, growing weaker, carried through the night. "Get Elizabeth. Tell Carly...tell her I-"
"T-tell her yourself, S-Sonny," Elizabeth rasped. "He's closer. J-Ja..."
Her voice trailed off and Jason clenched the edge of the wood in frustration. She was further away; perhaps Tagliatti wouldn't be able to hit her. Or she could get behind the rocks. He closed his eyes sadly, it would never work. She was too weak, barely hanging on. She wouldn't be able to move fast enough. He should go for her.
But what of the man who had been so much to him, done so much for him? Boss, friend, brother, mentor. The man who had given him a life, believed he could be more than a person who parked cars or unloaded boxes. He had to choose, but who? And how? He could only get one. How would he be able to live with himself when the other one died?
"Jason," Sonny called. "Move. Come on, she won't make it much longer."
He wasn't aware he'd moved, until the shock of the cold water snatched his breath out of his chest. With broad, powerful strokes he closed the gap between him and Sonny, and then went past. His eyes were locked on Elizabeth who was shaking her head. Then he watched in mute horror as she let go of the wood and kicked, not towards him, but away from him to where the current was stronger.
"Get Sonny," she said. "I love you."
A shot rang through the night and Jason's world exploded in pain.
Tears streaming down her face, Carly Corinthos knelt on the damp earth and touched the headstone before her. She couldn't believe he was gone. Never in her life did she imagine she would ever have to bury him. Even when he'd been shot and near death before, she never truly thought she'd be without him until she was an old woman.
She would never forget when Johnny had come through the door that morning after she'd spent the night wondering where Sonny was. Johnny was pale, his eyes drawn and haunted; his clothes muddy and damp. And when he told her what happened she couldn't believe it. Didn't want to believe it. How could he be gone when she was still here?
She heard footsteps behind her and a large, comforting hand settled on her shoulder. "Carly."
Standing, she turned and buried her face in his coat as tears sprang anew. "I miss him so much."
"I know," he said as his voice cracked. "I-I know. I do too."
She straightened and pulled back. "I'll go wait in the car. You take all the time you need to say good-bye."
"Thank you," he whispered, and watched her walk to the limo before he knelt down beside his best friend's grave. The man who had given his life for him, and also for love.
"I'm so sorry, Jason," he choked out. "I'm so sorry. I- I never should have given you a job that day. I should have turned you away, so you wouldn't get sucked into this life. You gave so much for me, and it doesn't seem fair that you lost your life because of me."
He closed his eyes, even as tears fell and went back to that night. Elizabeth let go of the wood and started to float away from them. Jason yelled for her and Sonny yelled at him to go after her, even as he knew he couldn't hold on much longer. A shot sliced through the night and Sonny almost welcomed the thought of death. But no pain came, and as Jason jerked and swam after Elizabeth, Sonny looked back towards Tagliatti.
Instead he saw Ned standing over Sammy, a large piece of wood wielded in his hands like a club. Ned let go of the wood and dropped into the water and swam towards him. Roughly he was grabbed and shoved in the direction of the dock. He heard shouting in the distance and then Johnny and Francis were pulling him out of the frigid water. They reached for Ned next and hauled him to the dock where they deposited him unceremoniously.
"Please," Ned wheezed out as he reached towards Sonny's coat. "Please don't tell Emily...or Brooke Lynn."
Sonny nodded once and then looked at Johnny who had put a single bullet in Tagliatti's gun. He took the gun and fired before throwing the weapon in the water. There was still a part of him, even to this day, that hated having to kill Ned. But the other man chose to put his lot in with Sammy Tagliatti and Faith Roscoe. Ned saving his life in the end didn't change the fact that he'd gone after Sonny and then endangered Elizabeth. That couldn't go unpunished. He had to make a stand and make a bold statement that anyone who came after him would be dealt with. For too long he'd been letting people live.
He'd acted on instinct that night, and he couldn't really regret it. Besides, the person who usually kept him calm and from making rash decisions had just floated down the river. Until they found Jason and Elizabeth hours later, Sonny thought the bullet meant for him had gone wild. But it had hit Jason, and the damage was far too great. Elizabeth, cradled in Jason's arms as they rested on the shore where Jason must have pulled them, had died from exposure. Her body was stiff and cold, but Jason's was still warm - though equally as dead.
Sonny cursed the world that Jason had died before he'd gotten there. He felt like he'd been robbed of the opportunity to say good-bye and tell him just how much the younger man meant to him. His best friend and brother was gone.
"I hope you know how much I love you," he said, not embarrassed by the emotion. "You gave me so much. I-I am so sorry that it happened like this. And I'm sorry that you never got your time with Elizabeth. I should have done so many things differently where you were concerned. You deserved to be happy too."
He wiped his eyes and turned to the grave next to Jason's. "E-Elizabeth, sorry can't even begin to tell you how I feel. So much bad touched you because of me, and yet you never really held it against me. Take care of him for me. He loved you too, even if he never got to tell you."
Then, standing, Sonny straightened his coat and turned. He walked out of the cemetery, seeing the Quartermaine family gathered near Ned Ashton's grave. He looked away, not wanting to see Brooke Lynn standing beside her father's grave.
"Hey, boss," Max said as Sonny reached the car. The tall guard's broken arm was still in a sling, and he still had balance problems due to the hit he'd taken to his head. "Johnny and Francis called while you were up there. Mrs. Roscoe has been found, and eliminated."
The news did very little to comfort him, but he thanked Max and climbed in the car. Max got in the passenger's seat and the car slowly pulled away from the cemetery. Carly sat beside him, saying nothing, just sniffling as she looked out the window. Sonny turned his gaze out his side and watched as the last of the gravestones slipped out of sight and sighed. What was one more body, when Jason and Elizabeth were still gone, never to return?
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