July 13, 2015

Welcome to Hand Me Down, a General Hospital alternate reality that takes place primary in the future. I began writing this story in 2008, setting it sixteen years in the future. I really hope, haha, I finish it before the year 2024 hits us.  This story picks up in April 2008, beginning with Michael’s shooting at the warehouse, when he slipped into the coma.

At the moment, I haven’t posted any of the main stories (Feels Like Home is a rerwrite of Tangle), but I have posted two prequels, and plan to post the first story sometime this fall.  To begin HMD, you should start by learning about what the setup of the story is on the About page, then check out the Characters page to find out their status at the beginning of the story. Check out the prequels designed to bridge the gap between 2008-2024 and enjoy some of the media I’ve created for the site.

Feels Like Home will be posted soon!

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Prequels

Story Notes: This story is one of a few Hand Me Down prequels I have in my head. It was originally going to be a standalone, but the more I wrote, the more I wanted it to be part of my own little universe.  This story picks in April 2008, long before the gender of the baby was revealed. It is told entirely from Patrick’s point of view.

SongLullabye (Goodnight My Angel) by Billy Joel

Goodnight, my angel
Time to close your eyes

April 2008

“I like the yellow.”

Patrick nodded. “Yellow’s nice.”

Robin pursed her lips and tossed the fabric sample aside. “I think the green would be better.”

“I agree completely,” Patrick said. She eyed him and he held up his hands. “I have no opinion.”

“You have to have an opinion,” Robin stomped her foot. “This is your baby, too. What color do you want to see at three o’clock in the morning?”

“I don’t think any color is going to let me forget I’m about to change a stinky diaper.” Patrick pinched his nose. It had taken the better part of two weeks to convince Robin to move into his apartment and sublet hers to Maxie. His apartment had two bedrooms. It was closer to the hospital.

They had argued about it for days before Maxie had sat him down and carefully explained to him—in the strictest confidence, of course—that Robin was extremely insecure about the small dressing area she had for the nursery and talking about decorating a larger area in his apartment was a surefire way to get his way.

Maxie had had a twofold reason for helping him – one, she’d actually thought it be good for Robin to have a bit more full-time support and more importantly, two, she was making enough money to afford Robin’s apartment.

It had worked but now Robin thought he wanted to be part of this decorating process and whenever he’d voiced an honest opinion, she’d started to cry.

Apparently, agreeing with her wasn’t going to work either. Maybe shooting himself in the foot would clear things up.

“You have that look again,” she complained.

“What look?” Patrick answered.

“You hate this and you wish I had never moved in.” Robin flopped on the couch and sulked. “Because now you’re stuck with a fat girlfriend and you hate me.”

Oh good grief. Patrick sat on the edge of the coffee table. “Robin, you’ve gained ten pounds. No one even believes you’re almost four months along.”

“I am fat,” she repeated flatly. She dragged her shirt up and touched the tiny bump that protruded. “And I’m just going to get fatter. You won’t even be able to recognize me in a few months.”

“Sweetheart, I barely recognize you now,” Patrick said with a good-natured smile. He patted her knee. “You’re not fat, you’re pregnant. And hey, upside is that the bigger you get, the sooner you can feel the baby kick and you want that right?”

“Yes,” she said glumly. “But it’s taking forever.” She huffed. “And I can’t even settle on a color for the nursery. The entire thing is a disaster.”

“You can’t decide between the green and the yellow right?” Patrick said.

“They’re not really unisex. I mean, green is totally a guy’s color and yellow is so for a girl. What if I screw up this baby by choosing the wrong colors? Don’t laugh at me,” she warned, seeing the corners of his mouth curve up. “It’s not a silly thing to worry about! Stupid things screw up kids all the time.”

“I don’t doubt that,” Patrick said. “We can do this one of three ways. We can close our eyes, pick a color and hope for the best, we can wait to decorate the nursery until after the baby is born—”


“Or we can go to our ultrasound next week and ask Kelly to tell us the sex of the baby.”

“I want it to be a surprise,” Robin said stubbornly. She crossed her arms.

“Okay, then we can do it this way. Kelly will tell me the sex of the baby. I will tell Maxie and she will decorate the nursery.”

“I want to decorate the nursery!” Her eyes filmed over with tears. “That nursery should be created by this child’s parents, not an aunt who’s…” she searched for the right word. “Who’s Maxie.”

“Okay, then Kelly will tell me the sex and I will decorate the nursery,” Patrick said, running out of patience. He waited for her to veto the suggestion.

Instead, she stared at him. “You’d do that?” Robin asked softly. “Really?”

He hesitated. “Yes,” he replied warily. He was never quite sure what the right answer was anymore.

“That is the sweetest thing!” She wrapped her arms around his neck and smacked a loud kiss on his lips. “You are going to be the best daddy.”

Relieved, he joined her on the couch and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. He wasn’t so bad at this after all.

And then it hit him of course.

He’d just agreed to decorate a nursery. Without Maxie’s help.


And save these questions for another day
I think I know what you’ve been asking me

April 2008

“This is going to be a little cold,” Kelly warned as she smeared the clear gel across Robin’s bump. She grinned up at Patrick. “You excited for this, Daddy?”

“Sure,” Patrick said, mostly because it was expected and he figured it would make Robin happy. Or she’d be less likely to cry. His goal for the day was to say or do as little as possible because just about everything that came out of his mouth these days upset her.

She was a minefield and he kept smacking up against them.

He was definitely interested in seeing this ultrasound. The baby wasn’t abstract to him, but neither was it really concrete. He still was unsure if he could pull off being a father with any kind of success but he was willing to try very hard. He was secretly hoping that the paternal gene would kick in after viewing the ultrasound.

It worked in Nine Months after all.

“So, are we checking for the sex today?” Kelly inquired, reaching for the little wand she’d rub over Robin’s tummy.

“I still don’t want to know but Patrick volunteered to decorate the nursery,” Robin said with a wicked smile. “So he gets to find out.”

You’re going to decorate the nursery?” Kelly repeated. She stared at him. “For real?”

“I’m perfectly capable of buying some furniture,” he muttered.

“You’re not just choosing furniture!” Robin protested. “It’s a color scheme, a concept! This is the room that our child is going to be spending a lot of time in. It has to feel like home!”

He saw her lower lip tremble and wanted to throttle Kelly. “Of course. I’m going to stop at the bookstore and stock up on some design books. The room will be perfect, I promise.”

Kelly clearly had her doubts but she tactfully kept them to herself. She switched the screen on. “Well, let’s see if Baby Drake is willing to help Daddy out and give us a color to work with.” She fiddled a bit and smiled. “Here we go.” She turned the screen to face them. “Everything looks fabulous.”

“Wow.” Patrick blinked. He’d seen ultrasounds before, had watched them on television so he knew that he would be able to see the head and the limbs but maybe there was something to that daddy gene kicking in at the ultrasound. That was his kid on the screen, after all. Half him, half Robin. Pretty cool concept.

“Everything’s normal?” Robin asked anxiously. “I haven’t gained much weight.”

“Sweetie, you’re going to wake up one morning and wish you hadn’t complained about not gaining the weight. You’re going to have a basketball there.” Kelly grinned. “But, everything is normal. Right size.” She hit a few screens. “Baby Drake is also going to help Daddy with the color scheme but I’ll save that for when you’re changing.” She patted Robin’s hand. “You’re going to get some energy back; you’re into your second trimester. The nausea is going to fade a bit, but it might not go away.”

After she’d sent Robin out of the room, Kelly held out the ultrasound photo to Patrick. “Congratulations, Daddy, you’ve got a very healthy daughter.”

“Daughter.” Patrick sat back down on the stool hard. “Christ. I don’t know anything about daughters.”

Kelly arched an eyebrow. “They’re not that much different than sons.”

“But they are,” Patrick said. “There’s going to be ballet lessons and lacy dresses and boys are going to want to touch her.” He frowned. “I’m going to go to jail for beating up boys, aren’t I?”

“It’s a possibility.” Kelly patted his shoulder. “Cheer up. You could get a tomboy that likes to play sports. You could even teach her to appreciate the finer art of race cars.”

The idea started to appeal to him but then he remembered just how fast those cars could travel and no way in hell was his kid getting in a car like that!

“She can watch,” Patrick said. “But that’s it.”

I think you know what I’ve been trying to say
I promised I would never leave you

May 2008

Patrick planted his hands on his hips and glared at the wallpaper in the second bedroom. He’d bought some books, watched a few television shows. How hard could it really be to strip the wallpaper?

Very difficult apparently as he was into hour three and had only managed half a wall. He still had four months to accomplish it but he was beginning to wish he hadn’t volunteered to do this. With his luck, it would be all wrong and Robin wouldn’t let their kid sleep in here a night before wanting to change it.

“Any fumes in there?” she called. “Or colors I shouldn’t see?”

“Other than the crap green that was already here,” he muttered. “Fumes are gone, I’m taking a break.”

Robin entered and sat on the floor cross-legged, a notebook in front of her. “I have a few things we need to discuss.”

“Wonderful,” Patrick said, trying to sound sincere. “Where do we start?”

“First…” Robin glanced up. “Can you sit down, too? My head is going to ache if you keep this up.”

Patrick folded his long legs into the same cross-legged style. “Okay, shoot.”

“First,” Robin repeated, “I wanted to tell you that I really do appreciate how supportive you’ve been, even when I’ve been a little…” she hesitated, “unstable.”

“Nothing to it.”

“You didn’t exactly sign up for this and you’re really going out of your way to be a good guy.” She stopped. “I know we haven’t really established this, but I thought we should put it into terms. I’m living here, we’re sharing a bed, so you know, I guess we’re back together.”

“I had assumed that, yes.”

“Good, good, that takes care of another item.” She actually marked it off. “So even when I get really fat and unbearable, you won’t leave me right?”

Patrick scrubbed a hand over his face. “That’s a trick question right? If I say of course not, you’re going to assume I think you’re going to get fat and unbearable and sock me. If I say yes, you’re going to sock me. If I say nothing, you’re going to sock me. So just go ahead and sock me.”

She smiled faintly. “I’m sorry, I know I haven’t been very easy to deal with. My emotions are all over the place and I’m sure if feels like everything I ask you is a declaration of war. I’m trying to work on that.”

“Okay, with that in mind, then I can say that I love you,” he said. “I don’t love you because you’re thin and let’s face it, you’ve never been easy going. Most of our relationship has been somewhat prickly, so I don’t really see that changing because your hormones get a bit whacky and you’re not going to be fat, you’re going to be pregnant. Also, I knocked you up so I can’t complain much. You’re going to give me a kid, right? So it’s a win-win situation.”

“Are you…looking forward to this baby a little more?” she asked softly. “I guess…I want to know if you want the baby.”

“Kelly told me the sex of the baby,” Patrick said, “and I have to say, it did change things a little. I was always going to step up and do the right because that’s the way my mother raised me but I could kind of picture the baby now. And while the future scares the hell out of me, it’s not because I’m going to have a kid, it’s because of all the things in that world out there that the kid can get a hold of that’s going to hurt them. That is a very scary world out there, Robin, with poisons and bad people and people who speed on residential streets. Can we just leave the kid in one of those playpen things until its eighteen?”

She laughed and leaned forward to kiss him. “That’s very cute. No.”

And you should always know
Wherever you may go

June 2008

“I need a favor.”

Elizabeth blew the excess steam from her hot chocolate and sipped it gingerly. She grimaced. “Still too hot.” She looked at Patrick. “What kind of favor? My shift starts in ten minutes.”

“That’s fine.” Patrick dropped a stack of books on the table. “I’m back from break about then anyway. I need you to be my lookout. I can’t leave these around the apartment because she’ll see and if she does see them, she’ll know the sex of the baby.”

“Ah.” Elizabeth moved to the doorway of the break room and kept a look out while peering at the books he was opening. “Wallpaper samples? So the rumor’s true?”

“In an act of desperation, yes, I agreed to decorate the nursery.” He thumbed through the pages. “I mentioned that I was getting paint samples and she was horrified. She wants wallpaper. I barely managed to strip the existing stuff without screwing it up but that’s okay. That’s why they have shows like Bob Vila right?”

“Of course,” she said soberly. She glanced at the samples. “So a boy, huh?”

“Yep. Kelly thought it was a girl first but then the baby turned in another direction last week and she changed her mind.” Patrick turned the page. “I’m a little relieved because, you know, boys are okay. I was one, so I think I’ll be able to cope. Girls come with a whole set of issues I know nothing about.”

“I want a little girl,” Elizabeth said wistfully. “When Jake’s a little older, I’m definitely going to convince Jason we should have another baby. But he’s not ready to even set a date.” She paused. “I should be grateful he didn’t just call off the engagement.”

“You should be mad he didn’t set you free,” Patrick grumbled. “Stop reminding me about your unfortunate taste and keep a watch. It’s Wednesday.”

“Yeah, so?”

“Robin has specific reactions on certain days when I do something that upsets or offends her,” Patrick explained. “On Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays, she just cries. On Mondays and Tuesdays, she socks me. Saturdays are tricky. It might be either one.”

“And Wednesdays?”

“She socks me and then she cries. It’s my least favorite day so I try to keep my interaction with Robin limited to a smile and a nod. It’s worked well so far.” Patrick held up a sample. “I like this one.”

“Racing cars,” Elizabeth nodded. “Clearly the right choice.”

No matter where you are
I never will be far away

June 2008

“We have to talk about names.”

Patrick paused, wiping the sweat from his brow. It was his third attempt to get the wallpaper to stick to the wall. No matter how many times he painstakingly followed the directions in the book, it still bulged in spots. Maybe it was time for another book.

Robin’s voice came to him from the other side of the door. He knew it was difficult for her not to at least peek inside but so far her willpower was holding up. “Names,” he repeated.

“Yes, names. I made up a list of the ones I like but I thought I’d ask you first.”

Patrick continued to press another sheet of the paper to the wall, smoothing it down. “Um. What do you like?”

“Well, I don’t want anything that will get the kid laughed at but I want something strong. That would sound just as nice when they’re five as when they’re thirty. I was talking to Lulu the other day and I just thought—God what was Laura thinking? Lulu is cute for a little girl but ridiculous for a grown woman.”

He’d never thought Lulu Spencer was much of a grown woman, but he wasn’t about to expound on that. “Sounds about right. Wouldn’t want a kid named Bambi. Doesn’t sound right after a certain age.”

“Bambi never sounds right,” Robin said, exasperated. “So I also thought we should think of something that’s nickname friendly. I hate that the only thing people can call me is Robbie. It’s like, longer than my name.”

“Ian calls me Pat sometimes,” Patrick mused, pleased when the sheet of wallpaper appeared to stay nice and smooth. “But he only does it because he knows I hate it.”

“Exactly. So I was also thinking about naming him for someone in my family. What about Noah for a boy?”

“No,” Patrick said shortly. “What about Robert?”

“I’m already named for him, so I don’t want to saddle a third generation with that.” She pursed her lips. “But Anna for a girl is nice.”

“I like Anna.” Patrick started on another piece. Maybe he was finally making progress. “What about Malcolm?”

“Malcolm,” Robin repeated. “It’s a little out of fashion,” she said slowly. “But it can be shortened to Mac or Mal which works out well. I like it.”

“Good. Malcolm for a boy, Anna for a girl.” It was the first time she’d easily accepted one of his suggestions and he was proud of himself. Maybe he was going to be okay at this after all.

The piece that he’d just finished started to peel off the wall.

Damn it.

Goodnight, my angel
Now it’s time to sleep

 June 2008

“What do you mean you haven’t told your mother?”

Patrick narrowed his eyes, watching Robin shove a whole cookie in her mouth at once. “Robin.”

“It never came up.” Except she tried to say it with a full mouth, so it sounded more I nevaw ca u.

“Robin.” Patrick shoved himself up off the couch. “If your mother doesn’t know, then I guess neither does your father.”

Robin swallowed and chased it down with a swig of milk. “I suppose that’s entirely possible.”

“By entirely possible you mean that’s exactly what’s happening here,” Patrick said flatly. “You didn’t tell your parents.”

“I couldn’t!” Robin stood and planted her hands on her hips. “My mother is not ready to hear that she’s going to be a grandmother and my father, oh my God, my father—”

“Is probably going to string me up by my thumbs,” Patrick muttered. He went to the phone book and started to thumb through the pages. “If I can find a justice of the peace who’d be willing to marry us over the phone, I think I can probably save my life.”

Robin frowned. “What was that?”

“Because your parents are in the elevator, on their way to this floor and if you’re unmarried when Robert Scorpio walks through that door and sees…” he gestured towards her protruding belly, “…that and finds out you’re not married? You’ll never get the chance to be a widow because I’ll already be dead.”

“Now you’re overreacting.”

“That’s rich coming from the woman who cried over a Hell’s Kitchen episode,” Patrick grumbled.

“I didn’t think Vanessa should go home!” Robin stomped her foot.

“Can we please focus?” Patrick demanded. “Look, can you just tell your dad we’re married so he won’t kill me?”

“He’ll ask for proof.”

“You’re right.” Patrick dropped the phone book. “I’m pretty good under pressure but I don’t think I’d be able to create a marriage certificate in the next two minutes. Are you any good with Photoshop? We could stick a white dress on you in something we already have.”

“Patrick. You’re babbling.”

“Wait…I’ve got an idea that I just might be able to pull off.” Patrick crossed to the coat closet and dug around the top shelf. “You go lock the door so we can stall them.”

“I am not going to lock the door. Besides, my parents can pick a lock.” She watched him pull down the locked gray metal box and then root around in the desk for his keys. “What are you doing?”

“Just wait a second. How much longer do we have?” he asked, inserting the key in the lock. He threw the box open.

“Probably a minute,” Robin replied.

“Should be enough.” He withdrew a velvet box. “I was saving this for later, for our two year anniversary, but an emergency is an emergency.”

“We have an anniversary?” Robin said. “What are we celebrating in June?” She gasped. “Are we celebrating the first time we broke up—”

“We took time off, we did not break up,” Patrick muttered. “And no, I was saving it for the blackout because that when I knew I was in love with you.”

“That’s sweet, but you forget what came after that. I think you sleeping with someone else constitutes an actual breakup,” Robin pointed out, hands on her hips.

Again, the focusing could use some work.” He took her hand, flipped open the box and showed her a diamond solitaire ring. “Marry me.”

“I feel like I’ve missed a step,” Robin said. “Shouldn’t you be down on one knee?”

“Hey, you’re the one that didn’t tell your parents about the baby,” Patrick pointed out. “If you wanted a real romantic proposal, maybe something better than a five minute warning would have been nice.”

“If you’d actually had a romantic proposal, I probably would have thought it was a sick joke,” Robin said, tapping her chin. “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised you’re glaring at me at a moment like this.”

“We’re down to like thirty seconds here.” Patrick plucked the ring from the box. “Are you going to marry me or not?”

“I can’t wait to tell our kid about this moment one day,” Robin sighed with a fake dreamy smile. “Your father was glaring at me and demanding an answer with Grandma and Grandpop on our front step.”

“We’ll lie to the kid, parents do it all the time.” Patrick narrowed his eyes. “Don’t make me tackle you and shove this on your finger.”

She pursed her lips and took the ring from him, studying it. “How long have you had this?” she asked curiously.

“About ten years,” Patrick answered. At her questioning look, he exhaled slowly. “It was my mother’s. She left it to me in her will.”

“Oh.” Robin bit her lip. “But you kept it here in the apartment. Instead of the deposit box where you keep all your documents and that cute coin collection—”

“I think I heard the elevator ding. Can’t you just say yes?” Patrick asked.

“I think I’ll give you an answer when you tell me why you want to marry me,” Robin said, arching an eyebrow. “And to save your own hide is not a good enough reason.”

“I told you,” he said, exasperated. “I was saving it for next week. I got it out of the bank a few days ago so I could have it cleaned and polished. And I’m asking you because I love you.” There was a knock at the door. “And if you even love me a little, you’ll say yes before your dad walks in here.”

Robin slid the ring on her finger and leaned up on the tips of her toes. “Yes,” she whispered against his lips. “But only because you asked so sweetly.”

And still so many things I want to say
Remember all the songs you sang for me
When we went sailing on an emerald bay

 July 2008

With a flourish, Patrick smoothed over the last of the racing car wallpaper and stepped back with a triumphant grin. For a month, he had slaved in this room stripping the old paper and forcing the new stuff up. He’d thought about quitting, thought about calling in reinforcements a thousand times, but now…

His hands at his waist, he did a slow turn around the room. Now…he was glad he had impulsively promised to decorate the nursery. He’d been terrified when he thought he’d bring a daughter into this room, and then less so when Kelly had corrected her earlier estimation to a boy.

Still, you could really screw up a son. You could be too hard on them, push them too far…you could neglect them for your own career and desires. There were so many things he thougt he might be responsible for now that he might not have been with a daughter. Robin would have handled the uncomfortable discussions and the girl related stuff.

Patrick was going to have talk to their son about sex, about girls, and maybe even answer uncomfortable questions about love. So maybe a son was more terrifying than a daughter, after all.

But this…this room was one step on the right road. The first job he’d have as a father, to create a place for his son to sleep, to grow. Just a few more months until he could bring him home.

“Patrick?” Robin knocked on the door. “Did you finish? We’re meeting Elizabeth and Kelly for dinner in a little while, so you should get cleaned up.”

“Yeah, I finished.” He cleared his throat. “Do you want to come in and see?”

“Um…yes.” The door started to push open but then it stopped. “But I shouldn’t. I’m due in two months, I can wait to find out.”

He grinned. “Really? Because I’d love to get your opinion on what I picked out.”

There was a silence, as Patrick pictured his fiance battling her urges. Finally…

The door opened, and Robin gingerly entered, her dark eyes sweeping over the blue walls with red and white racing cars. She pressed a hand to her mouth and looked at Patrick, her eyes wet. “A…boy?”

“Yeah.” He crossed to her and took her hand in his. “I still have to do the carpet, before we start setting up your baby shower gifts.”

“Oh, Patrick…” She pressed a hand to her belly. “We’re having a little boy.” She looked up at him. “And you did exactly what you promised to do. You did the nursery. And it’s perfect.” She stretched up to kiss him. “I am so lucky.”

He covered her hand over their son. “I’m the lucky one.”

And like a boat out on the ocean
I’m rocking you to sleep
The water’s dark
And deep inside this ancient heart
You’ll always be a part of me

August 2008 

Elizabeth patted his bow-tie, grinned and stepped back. “Are you ready to be a husband?”

“Well…” Patrick returned her smile. “How different is it being married than living with someone?” He tugged at one of her curls. “You’ve got some experience there.”

Elizabeth laughed. “It’s the same, but it’s not.” She pursed her lips. “It’s one thing to share a living space, and you can even pledge each other everything, but there’s something about standing in front of your family and friends and promising to cherish one another for a lifetime.”

Patrick looked towards the door that would lead him through to the rest of the church. “I can’t wait to do that, you know. I never thought this would be my life, that I’d ever want to find someone to spend my life with, much less have a family with, but I saw Robin and I never looked back.”

“You’re going to be a great father.” Elizabeth smiled. “And let me tell you, I am ridiculously excited to be the best woman. This is the most fun I’m going to have…” Her nose crinkled. “Well, until it’s your turn and you can walk me down the aisle.”

Patrick heaved a sigh. “Well, if you’re going through with it.” He reached into his pocket and held out his mother’s wedding ring. “You ready for this part of the ceremony?”

“Absolutely.” Elizabeth closed her hand around it and looked at him, her eyes misting. “I love you both so much and I can’t think of two people who are more perfect for one another. Your kids are going to grow up with mine, and we are going to have the best time.”

“All right, all right,” Patrick chuckled, but his throat felt tight. “Let’s go make me a husband, so I can hurry up and be a father.”

Goodnight, my angel
Now it’s time to dream
And dream how wonderful your life will be

August 2008

Robert Scorpio paused at the end of the aisle, refusing to allow his daughter to release his hand. “You understand that I am giving you the most precious gift in the world.”

“Dad,” Robin hissed.

“I do, Mr. Scorpio.” Patrick noddled solemnly, not taking his eyes off his beautiful pregnant almost-wife. “And you have my permission to issue any threat you deem necessary.”

Robin rolled her eyes, but Patrick saw Mac nod his approval from the first row. Robert finally released her hand, and Patrick took hers in his own.

“Ladies and gentleman,” the reverend began, “family and friends, we are gathered here today to witness and celebrate the joining of Patrick Drake and Robin Scorpio in marriage. With love and commitment, they have decided to live their lives together as husband and wife. They have decided to write their own vows.” He looked at Patrick. “Would you like to begin?”

Patrick took a deep breath and looked into the dark eyes of the most beautiful woman on the planet. “I did not like you the first time I saw you,” he told her, and she laughed, because she knew the feeling had been entirely mutual. “But you got under my skin until I tricked you into making the first move.”

“Oh, really?” Robin grinned. “That’s not how I remember it.”

“Hush,” he teased. “It’s my turn.” He cleared his throat. “I never pictured myself as a husband or a father because I never thought I could find anyone I wanted to spend my life with. Until you. And now, I can’t picture myself with anyone else.” Tears gathered in the corners of her eyes, one sliding down her cheek. “You make me a better man, and it humbles me that you decided I was worth spending your life with.” He glanced down at her belly, where their son rested. “To create a new life with. My promise to you is to be a better man tomorrow than I was yesterday, and to love you for the rest of my life.”

Someday your child may cry
And if you sing this lullaby
Then in your heart
There will always be a part of me

September 2008

“I have never hated a man more than I do right now.” Through gritted teeth, Robin glared at him. The sweat was rolling down her face and her hair was matted around her face.

“I know.” Patrick squeezed her hand. “More ice chips?”

“Let me tell you what you can do with your ice chips,” she snarled.

And so it went for another hour, and had for three previous. Contractions did not make Robin a happy woman, though from what Patrick understood of the process, he thought she was being rather nice.

Elizabeth handed him another cup of ice chips. “Kelly says it won’t be much longer.”

“Oh, what does Kelly know?” Robin bit out, collapsing against the bed.

“Rather a lot, I should think,” Patrick said under his breath, but Elizabeth whacked him. He exhaled sharply. “Is there anything else I could be doing that I’m not?” he asked Elizabeth.

“Why are you asking her?” Robin demanded. She pointed at her belly. “I’m the one in need.”

“I’m going to go…set myself on fire.” She squeezed Robin’s hand. “I’ll go talk to your uncle and parents, update them.” She squeezed his shoulder.

“So is there anything I could be doing that I’m not?” Patrick asked her. “Do you want Maxie to come in and sit with you? Your mom? Someone who isn’t a man?”

“No.” Robin sighed and looked at him. “I’m a horrible person, aren’t I?”

“No, you’re a woman in labor. I wouldn’t want this job for all the money in the world,” Patrick said. He pressed a kiss to her forehead. “You know how I hate pain.”

Her laughter was tinged with exhaustion. “I just want him to be here already. I’m tired of waiting. I want to bring my son home and put him that beautiful nursery his father created for him. I want…” She squeezed her eyes shut. “Oh man, here comes another one.”

Someday we’ll all be gone
But lullabyes go on and on

September 2008

While Robin slept, Patrick sat in front of the bassinet holding his son. His son. Man. That was never going to get old. As long as he lived, no matter how many children he and Robin had, there would always be this first moment where Patrick looked at this baby and knew he was physical representation of their love for one another.

Malcolm Robert Drake. When they had revealed him to Robin’s family, he’d thought Mac might lose it, knowing his grand-nephew was going to carry his name. Though Patrick loved his own family, he wanted to honor Robin’s family in this way, because they were going to be in Port Charles watching Mal grow up.

“You’re two hours old and already I love you more than anything else in this world,” Patrick murmured. He reached down and brushed a knuckle down his son’s cheek. “I’ve waited months for you to get here, but now that you’re here…” He chuckled. “Man, it’s so much better than I thought it would be, but…God, so much more terrifying.” He exhaled slowly. “I can’t promise I’m not going to make mistakes, but I’m going to do my best not to screw you up too much.”

His throat thick, Patrick glanced away for a moment. “So, how about we agree that since this is your first time being a son and mine as a father, we’ll learn it as we go along.”

He laughed lightly and swiped at his eye. “But no matter what happens, I will never stop loving you.”

They never die
That’s how you and I will be

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Prequels

Notes: This is the true beginning of Hand Me Down:  the choices made in the moments, days and weeks after Michael was shot on April 4, 2008. The show stops for me at that moment. I always thought it was a shame that for such a devastating event, there were no true consequences. Michael woke up (and I’m still surprised that six years later, Chad Duell’s version of Michael is my favorite part of the show), Sonny and Carly received no real punishment for their actions that led to Claudia’s hit on Sonny, as if she was the only guilty party. In fact, the only true change as a result was Jason leaving Elizabeth. Well…I thought that something like this ought to have devastating consequences.

So, this obviously begins after April 4, 2008. I can’t quite remember if Sonny had given Jason the organization yet, or if they were in the process of doing so so Sonny could be the better father, so for the sake of argument and to explain why Sonny had no godforsaken guards at the warehouse, he’s already put Jason in charge and pulled back.

Song: Step of Faith (Rie Sinclair)

Time touches my shore, broken up from the storm
Lost at sea, and then you found me

April 2008

She saw it in his face when he stepped through the door. The grief, the regret, and beneath those, the anger that this could happen to a boy he loved as a son.

Elizabeth Webber stood in front of the mantel, her hands clasped loosely in front of her. In the two days since that terrible phone call, since their engagement, she had been preparing for this fight.

This would be the last time she’d fight for them to be together. If she did not convince him today to let her stand by him, to take on the risks because the rewards were worth it, she had sworn to herself she would never ask again.

She only hoped she was strong enough to keep that promise.

Jason stood in front of her, his eyes tired, his clothes wrinkled. She wondered if he’d been eating or sleeping, if there was anyone looking out for him, as he looked out for Carly and the boys, for Sonny, and even, she suspected, for Jax.

Was there never anyone who would take care of him?

“Elizabeth,” he began in a low voice, as if the sound pained him. It ought to, since he was going to break their engagement.

“No.” Elizabeth lifted her chin. “I know why you’re here, and my answer is no.”

Jason hesitated, unsure what to say. “No…what?” He rubbed his eyes. “I can’t—”

“We don’t have the luxury of time right now, Jason. You have so much you need to be doing,” Elizabeth cut in. “And I won’t be one more person you need to take care of. You’re here because you think we should break our engagement, and my answer is no. I know what you’re going to say, but I don’t care—”

I care.” His voice cracked and he turned away.

She sighed and stepped towards him, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her forehead against his back. “Jason, you need me, and I need you. I know what you’re going through—”

“I have watched Carly sob for hours,” Jason said, his body tense. “I can’t…I won’t do that with you, watch you cry over our boys—”

“Like I did when Jake was kidnapped?” Elizabeth murmured. “Or the fire that nearly killed all three of us?”

He turned and looked at her, the indecision in his eyes. She was making progress. “Elizabeth—”

“Jason, there are a thousand reasons a mother cries for her son, and not all of them are when they get hurt.” She raised her hand to her cheek, and he closed his eyes. “But they are going to get hurt. They’re going to get sick. And if I know you at all, I know that you already know why what happened to Michael happened, and you’re never going to let it happen again.”

“I can’t control everything—”

“No,” she murmured. “But you can make us safe as possible.” She slid her hands up his chest. “Jason, the little boy you love as a son is in the hospital, with little chance of waking up. Your best friend and her husband are wrecked. Your other best friend is probably going off the deep end. You need me, if only to make sure you’re not driving yourself into exhaustion.”


“I’m not asking you to get married tomorrow, next week or even a month from now. I know that we have to table the future for a while. I’m not asking you to take an ad out in the newspaper.”

She felt some of the tension bleed from his body, and she thought…the tide might be turning. “I’m asking you to let me help. To see you through this. You need to concentrate on Sonny, because I know how he gets. So let me help Carly. I can take Cam and Jake to the penthouse, and I’m sure Morgan is with Bobbie. Let me take Morgan with me, so Bobbie can be with her daughter.”

He looked at her, and the anger and regret had faded. All that was left was the devastating grief. He’d lost Michael once, and it had nearly destroyed him, but this was different. This might be final.

Her fingers fisted in his shirt. “Jason, I love you. I just want to be here for you. Don’t push me away when you need me the most.”

“I should argue,” he said softly. “Something in me still says I should fight you, but I…” He closed his eyes, and still…a tear slid down his cheek. Her heart was aching for this man who so rarely showed any emotion. “It would be selfish.”

“It would be selfish to deny ourselves the chance to be happy when so many people never get the opportunity.” She paused. “Let’s take the boys to the penthouse, okay? Because I know you feel better if we’re behind bulletproof windows and guards. We’ll go to the hospital first, and check on Carly and Sonny. And if Carly says it’s okay, we’ll pick up Morgan from Bobbie and the boys from my grandmother. We’ll go be safe, so you can do what you need to do.”

Finally, Jason nodded. “All right. I can’t…” He shook his head. “I don’t know how to argue with you.” His hand cupped her cheek. “I don’t want to argue with you,” he continued. “I came here, knowing what I had to do, and hating it because the happiest I can remember being is the moment you said yes, and I didn’t want to let that go.”

She covered her hand with his. “Then we won’t. We’ll hold on to it, and maybe it will get us through this.”

Well, I can’t afford to throw my heart on the floor
I want to believe this is for real

Carly Jacks had finally exhausted herself of tears as she sat by her son’s bedside. She sat alone in the room, Jax having gone for some coffee. She didn’t need coffee to keep her awake.

She thought she might never sleep again.

She wanted so badly to believe in a miracle, but she trusted Patrick. And she knew she could bring in all the surgeons in the world, but they were unlikely to disagree with his initial prognosis. She knew that some point soon, she may be signing an order to switch off the machines breathing for her son.

He looked so small, so innocent, lying there, with gauze covering the red hair he’d inherited from his grandmother. She’d wanted so many things for her little boy, had seen so many bright things in his future. He’d been her salvation, her reason for growing up—at least a little. And how had she repaid him? She’d been selfish. She’d dragged him from father to father, always hoping this one would be what they needed.

She’d given him to Sonny instead of Jason, and now here they were. Sitting in a hospital because the man she’d sacrificed so much for had taken their sweet little boy to a warehouse without guards, out in the open. Someone had tried to kill Sonny, and their son was collateral damage.

She should have stayed with Tony. Even AJ. Found Jax before. She should have taken Michael and run when Robin told the truth. She should have trusted Jason to find a way for them to stay a family.

With the beauty of hindsight, Carly could now see a thousand different things that would have been better than ever letting her son near Sonny Corinthos.

She heard the door open behind her, and light footsteps. She turned and blinked in confusion as Elizabeth Webber came towards her, dressed in a pair of jeans and a casual top. “Elizabeth?” Her voice cracked, rusty from her sobs.

“Hey. I…” Elizabeth hesitated. “I wanted to say I’m sorry, but I know it doesn’t…it doesn’t help or change anything.” She looked at Michael, her eyes heavy with sorrow. “I remember him as a baby in the garage Jason owned once. And seeing him at Bobbie’s brownstone.” She cleared her throat. “I know Morgan is with Bobbie, but I thought you might rather have her here.”

“I…would,” Carly admitted. “But Morgan—”

“I’m going to the penthouse with Cam and Jake,” Elizabeth said, setting her hand on Carly’s shoulder. “Because I know Jason feels better when we’re not out in the open, even if no one knows anything. I thought I might pick Morgan up, and take him with us. He’ll be safe with me, I promise. And then Bobbie can be with you.”

Carly licked her lips. There was something here, something she wasn’t wrapping her mind around but all she could see was Elizabeth, offering her a way to be with her mother. For her other son to be safe. “Cam’s…just a little younger than Morgan, isn’t he?”

“Six months or so. I think they’ll get along, and it’ll keep Cam occupied because Jake isn’t really old enough for him to play with yet.” Elizabeth cast her eyes back at Michael, and Carly followed her gaze. “Carly, if there’s anything I can do for you—”

“You love him,” Carly murmured. “Jason, I mean.” She looked at the brunette and none of the annoyance or irritation that had plagued their relationship for so long was present. “I never wanted to see that. I can’t remember why. It seemed like a good idea at the time.”


“But you love him, and he loves you.” Carly took a deep breath. “I’m useless to him right now, and God knows, Sonny is, too. But Jason needs someone to love him, to take care of him, because…” Her throat was tight, and those damn tears she’d thought she’d exhausted were choking her now. “Because he loved Michael so much, and I don’t know how he’s walking. I feel like if I stood up, I might fall and never get up again. I don’t know how he’s moving.”

“I love him,” Elizabeth admitted. “And I love him enough to take care of him, whether he wants it or not.”

“Good.” Carly closed her eyes. “I’ll call Mama and let her know you’re on your way. You’re right. I want her here more than anything in the world, and I know Morgan will be safe with you. He doesn’t…understand right now. Cam and Jake will be good distractions.”

“I’ll go let Jason know. He’ll probably stop in before we go. Carly…”

“I know.” Carly attempted a smile, but couldn’t make it. She watched Elizabeth walk to the door, and then looked back at her son.

She wanted a miracle, but she knew…

She knew better.

Cause the tears will be all mine if you walk away
Would you be fine?

Jason watched Elizabeth disappear into Carly’s room, and tried to remember exactly how this had happened. He had left the hospital, intent on setting Elizabeth free, on making her safe, and instead, she was in the thick of it even more. They were going to take the boys to the penthouse, where they would all stay with guards. There would be no turning back from this.

But as selfish as it felt to keep Elizabeth him, it kept him upright. He could get through today, because tonight, he would go home to his family. To his fiancée, to his sons, and his nephew. And he could find the strength to repeat the routine tomorrow.

“Where the hell have you been?” Sonny growled, rounding a corner and finding Jason leaning against the wall of Michael’s hospital room.

Jason straightened. “Taking care of a few things,” he said. “Sonny—”

“I hope Johnny Zacchara is one of them.” Sonny jabbed a finger at him. “He and his whole goddamn family are the reason my boy is in there.”

That might be true, but the real reason Michael lay near death was the lack of guards at the warehouse and Sonny’s neglect in sweeping the perimeter before allowing Michael and Kate near. For Sonny shielding Kate before thinking of Michael.

Elizabeth was right. He’d had nothing but time since the phone call to learn the details, and there wasn’t a man in the organization who didn’t know Sonny had screwed up.

“If they are, I’ll take care of it,” Jason said, trying to sound firm but he was just…exhausted to the bone. “But I’m not starting a war without proof. If we start with the Zaccharas and it’s not them, then we’re fighting on two fronts.”

“You need to—”

“You wanted out of the organization so you could be with Kate, so you could be a better father,” Jason interrupted, a swirl of anger spreading in his chest. “You don’t get to tell me what I need to do anymore.”

Sonny’s eyes bulged. “I made you what you are, Jason—”

“Yeah.” That much was true. Sonny had seen a young man who didn’t think about the future and had taken it away from him, without bothering to tell him. “You did. Now you have to live with it.”

The door opened, and Sonny cut off any argument he might have made next. He frowned when he saw Elizabeth step out. “What are you doing here?”

Elizabeth hesitated, but decided not to address Sonny’s question. She looked at Jason. “Carly’s calling Bobbie, we can pick up Morgan and my grandmother is expecting us.”

“What…” Looking at Jason, Sonny jabbed a finger in her direction. “This is what you were taking care of? Instead of my son?”

“I was taking care of your son,” Jason retorted. “But I have my own to worry about, Sonny. I have a family, too. And before anything else happens, I have to keep them safe.” He looked back at Elizabeth. “Is she expecting me?”

“I told her you might stop in.” Elizabeth folded her arms and stepped away from the door. “Go on and check with her. We should get the boys to the penthouse as soon as possible.”

Jason cast a warning glare at Sonny before disappearing into the room.

Elizabeth bit her lip. “Sonny…I am so sorry about Michael—”

“Why?” Sonny demanded. “You’re getting what you want. Jason’s taking care of you instead of looking after Michael—”

She closed her eyes, and tried to remember the grief, the anger Sonny must be feeling, even the guilt, but she just couldn’t do it. “He is taking care of Michael. And Morgan. We’re bringing Morgan to the penthouse so Bobbie can be here with Carly. So that Jason can concentrate on what needs to be done. Isn’t that what you want, Sonny? For Jason to focus?”

“I—” Sonny shook his head. “You’re just using this situation—”

“I don’t need to use anything,” Elizabeth cut in. “I love him, Sonny. And I know, apparently better than you, what this is doing to him. You think that Jason looks at the hospital bed and sees someone else’s child.” She pointed at the room. “It doesn’t matter what the legal papers say, what Michael calls him. To Jason, that will always be his son. So if it’s okay, I’m going to support him. He has one son lying in a hospital, so I’m going to take our boys to where he knows they’ll be safe. Because when they are safe, Jason will be able to breathe and find out what happened to Michael, without constantly worrying.”

“Michael is my son,” Sonny pressed a hand to his chest. “He’s not—”

“You used to be a better friend than that,” Elizabeth murmured. Her eyes burned for all that Jason had apparently lost. “I am so unbelievably sorry for what’s happened to Michael, because he’s a good little boy who deserves better, but I’m not going to do with this you.”

The door opened and Jason stepped out, tense and upset. He glanced at both of them before looking at Sonny. “I’m picking up Morgan and the boys, taking Elizabeth to the penthouse to get her settled in. And I’m meeting Spinelli and some of the other men at the warehouse so we can dig into this. You can come to that meeting, but it might be better if you stayed here with Carly and Jax.”

He held his hand out to Elizabeth, and she took it, feeling for the first time that they were in this together.

Cause it’ll bleed, it’ll hurt
It’ll take everything to say that I’m yours

It was past midnight when the elevators opened on the penthouse level. He turned the corner and found Milo on his door, exactly where he’d left him so many hours ago. “Milo. You should have switched with another guard.”

“We were waiting on Francis to come up from the island,” Milo said. “Once word spread that we were protecting Miss Webber and the boys, Francis wanted to be on her detail.” The corner of his mouth curved slightly. “He’s always liked her.”

“Oh.” His eyes felt gritty, but he was relieved Elizabeth had experience with guards, even it had been almost six years since she’d stayed with him. That they remembered her, particularly Francis, who had always guarded her, meant she would be safe.

As safe as anyone else in his world. “Anyone been by?”

“Not since you left, Boss. It’s been quiet since about eight.”

“Okay.” Jason pushed open the door and couldn’t help it…he smiled at the changes in the room since he’d left that morning, intent on pushing Elizabeth away. Instead, there were toys littering the floor. Not messy, but the evidence that three small boys had spent the afternoon here made him feel, for the first time, they could do this.

He started up the stairs, and peered into the first guest room to find Cameron and Morgan sharing a bed. Action figures were clutched in their hands, telling Jason that putting them to bed had been a serious negotiation. In the next guest room, he found Jake curled up in a portable crib, separate from the boys so that their rambunctious play wouldn’t wake the younger boy.

There were only two rooms left—the old room Spinelli had used and his own. His chest loosened, because he knew he’d find Elizabeth waiting for him in his bed, where he’d always wanted her to be, even all those years ago when she’d slept down the hall.

He pushed the door open, and frowned when he saw her sitting up in bed, the light at the side of the table switched on. She glanced up from her sketchpad and smiled, relief etched in her face. “Hey, you’re home.”

Home. He let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. “You didn’t have to wait up.”

She smiled and set her sketchpad on the night table. “I was only going to wait another twenty minutes.”

After tugging off his shirt, jeans and boots, he crawled in next to her and drew her close. “I’m still not sure we made the right decision,” he admitted.

“I know.” She covered his heart with her hand. “But you also know there’s no turning back.”

“I do.” He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “I know that I love you, so if there’s a way we can make this work, then I want to find it.”

“Good.” She tilted her head up and pressed a kiss to his mouth. “I called Epiphany and I can take off work for the rest of this week. We can talk about next week if it comes to it, but I’ll be here.”

He closed his eyes, breathed in her familiar vanilla scent and slept for the first time since learning Michael was shot.

It’ll sink deep into my heart
If you fall in love and fall right back out

Carly had thought the days Michael had been missing earlier that year had been long and torturous. She’d believed him dead once before, his death faked by the father Carly had spent Michael’s entire life forcing out. She’d grieved for him, she’d had a mental breakdown.

But now, sitting by this bed, Jax’s strong hand in hers, Carly felt hollow. Empty. As if she’d exhausted all her love, anguish and hatred, and now she was drifting in a sea of nothing.

“Should we…” Jax stopped and hesitated. “Should we talk about what the doctors are saying?”

She knew what he was asking. A week after Michael’s shooting, his situation hadn’t changed. It hadn’t worsened, but it hadn’t improved and Patrick Drake’s eyes were full of sympathy. He was expecting a child in the fall, so she knew he was thinking how he would feel in this situation.

She hoped like hell he would never know.

“I know we should,” Carly replied. “But I…” She looked at him, and she saw the raw grief in his eyes. And then she didn’t feel nothing anymore.

She felt too much. “I’m just not ready yet.”

“All right.” His fingers traced the back of her hand. “Elizabeth brought the boys by this morning. That’s why I went home, to let her in. She wanted Morgan to have some more clothes, some of his own toys.”

Morgan. Her sweet little boy. The only one she would have left. Carly exhaled. “How is he? Does he look all right?”

“He looks good. He showed Cam all his toys, and they were picking out which ones to take back to the penthouse.”

“I should see him,” Carly murmured. “But I’m afraid if I go near him right now, he’ll see everything I’m feeling. And he’s so little. He wouldn’t understand. He’s… not even five years old, Jax. How…how do I explain this to him?” She rubbed her eyes. “Where does he think I am? Or Michael?”

“Elizabeth told Morgan that Michael is sick and you’re taking care of him. She said anything else ought to come from us.”

“Okay.” Carly looked back at her son. “I haven’t seen Jason in a few days. Has he been by?”

“He checks in a few times a day,” Jax told her. “I think it’s difficult for him to see Michael like this and he’s doing what he can to keep Sonny on a leash.” He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and drew her closer. “He knows you’re not leaving Michael alone.”

“I think he asked Elizabeth to marry him,” Carly murmured. “Before this happened. Something changed. She’s taking care of my son like he was her own, living with her boys at the penthouse with guards. I’m glad. They made a lot of mistakes, most of them hers.” She felt Jax’s smile against her hair. “But I always knew she loved Jason first and best. I loved myself best, and so did Sonny. Jason should be first.”


“I know what the doctors want me to do,” Carly said softly. “And I know I’ll have to decide soon, but for just a few days more, I want to have two sons in this world.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “I never thought I’d have to say goodbye to one of them like this.”

It’ll crush, it’ll leave me blown away
But I’ll regret every single day

“We still don’t have proof.” The words felt empty, felt hollow. He’d been repeating them for over a week, but Sonny just didn’t want to listen. He wanted blood, he wanted retribution. He wanted justice.

It burned in Jason, because he wanted all that, too. He would step into that hallway, and look through the window of the room to see Michael lying there, to see Carly exhausted beyond measure. To go home, and see Elizabeth with their boys, with Morgan, and to picture one of them in that bed. Someone had to pay for Michael.

But justice could not be the only thing in front of him. He had to keep perspective. It could not be enough to make someone pay for Michael—he had to keep his family safe. All of them, even Sonny. He had to do this right the first time, because he would only get one try.

But Sonny wasn’t focused, hadn’t been in years. The man that had fought his way up the ranks through Frank Smith’s organization had lost the edge, the cunning that had led him to that place. Now, all that remained was the burning anger and desire for power.

“I don’t give a damn about proof,” Sonny growled. “We know what happened. The Zaccharas are a plague, and I want them dead—”

“I cannot afford to start a war we can’t win!” Jason cut in, feeling the desperate need to punch the wall in Sonny’s entry way. “There’s too much at stake. You have other children, Sonny, that we need to protect. Kristina and Morgan are important. I have children—”

Sonny dismissed the notion with a wave of his hand, and Jason’s eyes hazed with anger for a moment, as he realized that Sonny didn’t take him seriously about Cam and Jake, about his own family. As if not having been in their lives all along negated his love for them, his desire to keep them safe. “Sonny, I don’t want one of them to be next one in the hospital—”

“They will be if you don’t take care of Johnny Zacchara!” Sonny jabbed a finger at him . “I’ve begged for you over a year to take care of that punk—”

“He’s never been guilty of a single thing you’ve accused him of.” Jason fisted his hands. “You were sure he’d kidnapped Michael, arranged for Kate to be shot earlier this year. And if this is the Zaccharas, if it is Johnny, it’s fucking retribution for your mistakes!”

Sonny’s coal black eyes blazed. “You blaming me?” he hissed. “I was in the warehouse, Jason. My son’s blood was on my…” He trailed off as if realizing what he was saying.

“I don’t want to blame you.” Jason shook his head. “I don’t, but I can’t avoid it. You’re right. Michael’s blood is on your hands. You kidnapped Johnny Zacchara and held him in an abandoned insane asylum instead of looking for Michael. You left a gun where Michael could get it. You took him to the warehouse without guards. You shielded Kate before you even thought about Michael!”

“You blame me for what I did in a moment of terror and confusion?” Sonny demanded. “You’re standing there and telling me you wouldn’t do the same for Elizabeth—”

“I wouldn’t have to,” Jason bit out. “Because she’s already be shielding our sons. But I wouldn’t have her in the warehouse, without security. Without precautions.” Without even realizing the thought was lurking in his head, he stepped forward. “So, tell me Sonny, if you want justice so damn much, then why don’t you look at yourself?”

“Get out,” Sonny said flatly. “You’re either with me or against me.”

If I don’t try with you
You’re worth the pain I’m going through

The flickering images of fire caught Elizabeth’s eye as she carried a basket of laundry into the living room. “Cam, Morgan. I thought you were watching cartoons.”

“We were, Mommy,” Cameron said, pouting at her. “This came on instead.”

Elizabeth set the basket on the coffee table and her breath caught when she saw the ticker at the bottom of the screen. Anthony Zacchara. She reached for the remote and raised the volume.

“…the PCPD is not willing to comment at this time, but the SUV at the center of this scandal was registered to John Zacchara, son of Anthony Zacchara. One source at the station states that they fear this is the beginning of a bloody mob war, in retaliation for the attempted murder of Michael Corinthos, III, son of Sonny Corinthos and nephew of Jason Morgan. We also have no official word on the body recovered at the scene, but it is reputed to be a member of the Zacchara family.”

“’Lizabeth?” Morgan blinked and Elizabeth realized a moment too late that the two boys had heard everything. Thank God they were only four and three. “They said my daddy’s name.”

“Yes.” Elizabeth flicked the screen off and swallowed hard. “I…can you guys play upstairs for a little while? I have to make some calls.”

Cameron opened his mouth to argue, but, with a sinking heart, she knew that Morgan had understood more than his new friend. He had grown up around Sonny and Jason, and knew what fire and his father’s name on the news meant. Morgan silently started up the stairs, and confused, Cameron followed.

This was the life she was signing her boys up to, for any future children she and Jason brought into the world. A world where little boys knew the tone of a grown-up’s voice meant something dangerous or bad was happening. She closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. No. This was the world that Sonny had raised his children in.

Jason and Elizabeth could, and would, do better.

She lifted the phone and left a message for Jason. “I saw the report on the news. We’re okay here. I just wanted to check in, make sure you’re okay. Call me if you’re hurt or going to be late, or send someone who can tell me. I love you. Be safe.”

Her second call was to Jax, where she left another message. “This isn’t urgent, and I promise Morgan is okay. But he saw the report on the news. I don’t think he understood the words, but he knows something is wrong. Please let me know what I should say or not say. Take care of yourself, and Carly.”

I’ll give myself, give myself away
And I’ll take a step of faith

The only one way this moment could end was in bloodshed. Jason stood at the coffee shop, in Sonny’s office, standing off to the side as Claudia Zacchara pointed a gun at Sonny, who had one pointed at her. And the presence of a cop car outside the shop was the only reason no one had pulled a trigger.

“You son of a bitch,” Claudia hissed. “That was my brother’s car!”

“Kind of the point,” Sonny growled. “Just give me a reason, you fucking whore. Give me a reason.”

“Put down the damn guns!” Jason said through clenched teeth. “This is the last thing we need—”

“Your wacko boss tried to kill my brother. He’s lucky he only got my father.” Claudia’s finger tightened on her gun, but Jason knew the mob princess had incredible control and would only shoot if she meant it. “He blew up my father!”

“You killed my son!”

“He’s not dead yet!” Jason shot back. He crossed to Sonny’s side. “Sonny, put down the damn gun or I will shoot you myself, and I’m the only one bright enough to have silencer.”

“You siding with this trash?” Sonny demanded. “She’s responsible for everything.”

“She very well may be,” Jason snarled. “But this isn’t the time or place to deal with this, and you would have known that once.” He looked to Claudia. “Back away, Claudia. Back away, and leave.”

“You get this son of a bitch under control.” Claudia took a careful step back, never taking her eyes off Sonny. “If he goes for my brother, if he succeeds in harming a single hair on John’s head, there will be no saving him from my wrath. I will ruin you and yours.” She flicked her eyes to Jason, briefly. “And if you don’t control him, I won’t stop at ruining everything he loves. I’ll go for you and yours, as well.”

And Jason believed her. He nodded. “Understood. But likewise. You come after my family, including Carly and her kids, I will take great pleasure in removing the Zaccharas from this world. Slowly. Leave.”

She smirked. “I actually believe you, Morgan.” And with that, Claudia disappeared down the hall.

Sonny started to follow her, but Jason, pushed past the point of no return, grabbed the wrist of the hand holding the gun, and twisted it. Sonny went to his knees, and the gun clattered to the floor.

“You get me now?” Jason growled, wishing he could tear Sonny’s arm from the socket. “You get it? You pissed off one of the most dangerous and lethal women we’ve come up against since Faith Roscoe. Claudia’s fucking crazy and you went after her brother without disabling her first. You dumb son of a bitch!”

He released Sonny, and Sonny collapsed on the floor. He raised his head, and his eyes were dark with anger. “You’re a fucking traitor, Jason—”

“You’re going to get us all killed. It’s not enough that Michael is going to die?” Jason demanded, his low but fierce. “You have to take the rest of us? If that had been Johnny in that car, Sonny, she would have gone after the people we love most. She would have gone for Kate, Carly. The kids. Elizabeth. You think because she’s a woman, she’s not dangerous?”

“I can take care of her—”

“You’ve just proven you’re not capable of rational thought.” Jason stepped away. “I’m putting guards on you, and from now on, you won’t be allowed to step past your home or the hospital. You’re finished in this business, Sonny. I’m not going to let you put anyone else I love at risk. Not ever again.”

The emptiness in me, from the wreckage of my dreams
All alone – were you rescuing?

Johnny Zacchara sat in his father’s chair at his father’s desk in his father’s study in his father’s house. Everything in Johnny’s life had centered around his father, and now his father had died instead of him.

He’d once thought he’d feel nothing but freedom if Anthony Zacchara had been removed from this world, but instead, he just felt a choking sense of reality. Anthony was gone. Claudia was out of control, because they both knew the bomb had been meant for him. Sonny Corinthos had gone after him, and Claudia would raze the city to the ground before she’d allow Johnny to pay for her crimes.

The terrace door swung open and Johnny looked up to see Jason Morgan standing there. Fucking guards. Not worth a damn.

“You here to kill me?”

“No.” Jason stepped forward, and Johnny saw the exhaustion behind the hard lines of his face. He’d always felt bad for Sonny’s enforcer—the aging mobster was a fucking lunatic, and it was usually Jason’s job to talk him down.

But everyone knew there would be no talking Sonny Corinthos down this time.

“And why do I deserve to live?” Johnny asked, leaning back in his chair.

“I’m not sure you do.” Jason’s face remained impassive. “I want someone to pay for what happened to Michael, and I’m almost sure that someone from your family was behind the hit on Sonny.”

“Not like he’s made many friends elsewhere, you know,” Johnny pointed out. “If it wasn’t us, it could have been the Ruizes. Someone looking for payback for Alcazar. Or Roscoe. Or Sorel. Or Moreno, or any of the dozen people you and Corinthos have taken out since you took over the territory. I’m a convenient target.”

“Which is why you’re not dead.” The unspoken yet hung between them. “But your sister doesn’t fight fair, and if I come for you, I have to take her into account. There’s too much at stake.”

Johnny nodded, because he was aware that Jason Morgan was living with a single mother, with two children, one of whom was rumored to the biological son of the man standing in front him. Sonny had two other children at risk. “And you can understand that I don’t particularly wish to die. So, you’re in charge now, like I suppose I am. What makes you think I can control Claudia any more than you can control Sonny?”

“The fact that Claudia defends you with deadly force is why I know if the hit came from the Zaccharas, it came from her. And she did it to avenge you. For all the bullshit Sonny put you through when he locked you in a padded room.”

Johnny kept his breathing even, trying not to remember those days. “Well, he might have been asking for it, but Michael sure wasn’t, and as crazy as my sister is, she doesn’t go for collateral damage first.”

“I’m going to lose a member of my family,” Jason said. “Whether he dies tomorrow, or next week, or next year, Michael’s not coming out this. You’ve lost a father. This is a one-time deal, Johnny. You get your sister out of the country and if she steps foot back in the United States, there won’t be a rock she can hide beneath.”

“And you and I call a truce?” Johnny arched a brow. “Don’t get me wrong, Morgan. You, I take at your word. Your former boss?”

“It won’t be easy,” Jason admitted. “I can control Sonny to a point, but he’s going to come after you. And the next time, he’s not going to use a car bomb. He’s going to come personally. I’d be ready.”

And in that moment, Johnny understood the terms of the deal. He had this one opportunity to save his sister from herself, and in return, all he had to do was kill Sonny Corinthos so that Jason Morgan, his organization, and his family would be safe. Luckily for him, it was likely to be in self-defense. He exhaled slowly, and understood he was crossing that point of no return. Once he agreed, he could never again pretend he wasn’t his father’s son.

“We’ve got a deal.”

Will you take apart this man, leave your shadow in the sand
Or be a shelter and my way home?

Two weeks since the call that her son was in the emergency room.

No miracle had arrived.

Carly sat in Patrick Drake’s office, alone. She had thought of calling Jax, but she knew his feelings on the subject. He had been patient with her, but they’d known for days this was coming. She had considered Sonny, but since Anthony Zacchara’s fiery death the week before, he’d been in a dark place, rarely leaving Greystone Manor. She had also rejected the idea of Jason sitting beside her, because she had leaned on him enough.

Michael was her son, and it was her decisions that led to this moment, so it had to be her decision to stop it.

“I wish I had better news, Carly,” Patrick said. “It’s not even that he’s in an irreversible coma, where there’s brain function. Michael has experienced what neurologists call…” He cleared his throat and dipped his head.

“Brain death,” Carly murmured “I…know. It’s what you said that first day. And the second. And the fifth. And on Monday. And yesterday.” Her eyes felt swollen, her body was numb, and she almost felt as though she was floating above this all.


“I just…I hoped for a miracle,” she murmured. “Not that I deserve one, I guess. But Michael does. He deserves all the love and happiness I can give him, but I gave him none of that. I gave him bitterness, anger, pain, confusion. I delivered him into a world that killed him.” She focused on him. “You’re having a child.”

Patrick hesitated and nodded. “Yes.”

“Boy or girl?” Carly asked.

“Ah…we haven’t…Robin wants it to be a surprise.” He shifted in his seat. “Carly—”

Becoming a parent is almost deceptively easy, you know.” She blinked and felt a stray tear slide down her cheek. “A few extra drinks one night, the wrong guy, a room above Jake’s, and a baby is made. But…being a parent…it’s so much harder. Everything you do has a consequence. If I had stayed home that night and slept with the man I was actually living with, Michael would have been Anthony Jones, Jr. Tony would have had the second child he wanted so much. I never would have fallen in love with Sonny. And that little boy, Anthony…he’d be alive today.” Her eyes burned. “If I ran when Tony found out he wasn’t the father, and never gone to Jason, I could have spared Jason the pain of loving and losing Michael. If I hadn’t slept with Sonny, maybe I could have made my marriage to AJ work. All these ways I could have saved my son, Patrick, and I chose none of them.”

“Carly, do you want me to call someone?” He leaned forward and she smiled at him now, because he was a good person who would be a good father, but he didn’t know what to say to her.

“I used to think AJ Quartermaine was the worst choice to be a father to my child, but he was merely an alcoholic, and most of the time he was a recovering one. Maybe if I meant my marriage vows, not chased after Jason…we would have had a life. He never would have kidnapped Michael and faked his death. He did that, you know, because I stole Michael first. I stole his chance to be a father, so he just stole it back.”

Patrick exhaled slowly, and tapped his pen against his notepad. Not impatiently, but uncomfortably, but the words were spilling from her lips now and she wasn’t sure she could stop them.

“So, it’s almost fair, isn’t it? That I don’t get to be Michael’s mother anymore.” Carly tilted her head back and closed her eyes, and felt despair begin to slide through the numbness in her body. The burning in her eyes became hot tears. “I mean, maybe Michael…he’ll see AJ. And Alan, Emily, and Lila. All these people who loved him, but I never let him know. And they’ll take care of him better than I did.” She closed her eyes. “Do you think that’s possible? That I’ll let my little boy go in peace, and his family will take care of him in Heaven? Because…he’s just…a baby, really. I d-don’t want him to be alone in death.”

“I…” And she saw Patrick swallow hard, his own eyes glossy. “Carly, if there’s any justice in this world, no child…no person is ever alone in death. I think the people who went first will be there take care of him. I’m sure Emily will be waiting to take him under her wing. She won’t let him be scared.”

Carly nodded, and took a deep bracing breath. “Thank you. Thank you, Patrick. That’s…what’s exactly what I needed to hear right now. Give me the paperwork.”

But the tears will be all mine if you walk away
Would you be fine?

In a conference room, Patrick at her side, Carly sat in front of the three men she loved most in the world. Jason, her best friend; Sonny, the father of her children; and Jax, her soul mate. She had gathered them here in this strange room because she thought that it might be easier to tell them.

Patrick cleared his throat. “I’ve discussed the options with Carly almost daily since Michael was brought in last week.” He met her eyes and she nodded for him to continue. “At her request, we continued to keep Michael on life support, hoping that one of the tests we’ve run daily for two weeks would show a change.”

“And they haven’t.” Jax’s hoarse voice filled the room, the sound almost echoing off the walls.

“But they still could.” Sonny leaned forward. “They said Jason would never wake up, never have any functioning life—” At his side, Carly saw Jason close his eyes, because Sonny was not going to accept this easily.

“I know the case you’re referring to,” Patrick said. “And it’s…different. Jason Quartermaine was considered in an irreversible coma, that is true. But he had brain function. The doubt in his case lay with the area that showed the damage. It is extremely rare for any patient to wake up from those types of injuries without serious drawbacks.” He looked at Jason, who looked resigned. “Which is why Jason Quartermaine isn’t with us today. You know, better than anyone, Jason, what I mean when I say that an irreversible coma is not the same thing as what Michael is going through.”

“Why is he even here?” Sonny shot back from the table and glared at Jason. Carly rubbed her forehead with the heel of her hand, because she’d expected this. She’d known, almost from the moment this had happened that the relationship between the two men had been fractured, and it appeared…it had been shattered entirely.

“You’re nothing to Michael,” her ex-husband continued. “You’re not his father, or even his stepfather—”

“I asked Jason to be here because he loves Michael,” Carly cut in, unsurprised that it was always someone else’s job to reign in Sonny and not his own. “He had nothing to do with my decision. Just as neither you nor Jax were privy to it. I am Michael’s mother. Jason was his uncle. Biologically and in every other way that matters. In fact, Sonny, I didn’t really want you here, but Jax thought you ought to be.”

Sonny glared at her. “So you blame me like everyone else?”

“Is this really the time, Corinthos?” Jax asked, resigned. No heat in his words, just the same sheer exhaustion Carly felt, that she could see written all over Jason’s face. “Can we just finish this?”

“As I was saying,” Patrick said, and she felt sorry for this man, who was almost a friend sometimes, being subjected to the insanity of her family. “Michael is not in an irreversible coma. He is brain dead—”

Sonny dismissed his words with a wave of his hand. “We’ll get another doctor—”

“Patrick is the best in his field.” Carly shot to her feet. “But he gave me the names of other doctors, and we sent over his case. They all agree. Michael is brain dead. Brain death is…not something people come back from. There’s nothing left of my little boy, except a machine that keeps his chest rising and falling. What made him who he was…it’s already gone, Sonny. I want to let him rest in peace. I don’t want him on machines when there is no hope. I’ve waited for a miracle, Sonny, and you know what? We’re not going to get one. This is the price I have to pay for letting you anywhere near my baby.”

She flicked her eyes to Jason, who was ashen and staring at the table. “Jason, I don’t blame you. And I’m not saying that bringing Michael into this world was the reason this happened. He lived with you, in this world, for an entire year and he was safe, happy and calm. I’m blaming this entirely on Sonny and the way he lives his life. No regard for collateral damage. Act now, act later, never think. Never ask questions.”

Jason just closed his eyes. “Carly—”

“I do not blame you,” she repeated. She took a deep bracing breath and looked into the eyes of her ex-husband, the father of her children. “I blame you, Sonny. I blame myself. I trusted you to keep him safe, and you took him to a place of violence without taking any of the security precautions we’d had in place his entire life. And he’s paying the price. It should have been you. I wish to God it was you.”

Sonny narrowed his eyes and then left the room, without another word.

“As Patrick has been kindly trying to explain for the benefit of people who just don’t care to listen to reality,” Carly continued, “’I signed paperwork to stop the machines. In an hour, we’re going to turn off the machines, his organs are going to be donated, and I’m going to let my little boy go in peace.” Her shoulders started to shake, and she slowly slid back into her chair. “For the first time in Michael’s life, I’m going to think of him rather than myself, and I’m going to let him go.”

After a moment of silence, Jax cleared his throat. “Patrick, thank you for everything you’ve done. I know…that you did all that you could.”

Patrick closed his file. “I’ll…be there in the operating room when the machines…” He cleared his throat. “I’m just…sorry.” He rose and left the room.

Carly dragged her fingers through her hair and looked at Jason. “I called Elizabeth. She’s having her grandmother stay with the boys at the penthouse. I want…you to have her here. Jax and I have each other, but you need…someone, too.” She hesitated. “Jason, I want you to promise me something.”

Jason finally lifted his eyes to hers and if she’d any tears left, they would have begun again for the devastation in them. “What?” his voice was almost inaudible.

“You hold your boys close to you every day for the rest of your life,” she said softly. “Never take a single moment with them for granted. You hold Elizabeth and your family close. I do not, and will never, blame you for what happened to Michael, because it would not have happened if you were his father. Cam and Jake are going to be safe with you, because you were always better at this life than Sonny. So promise me, that you’ll love your sons with every breath you have and keep them with you. Don’t push them away.”

Jason nodded and placed his hands on the table, slowly rose to his feet and left the room.

Jax also rose, but rounded the table to lean against the edge next to her. “Carly, I know this was a difficult decision…”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” she murmured. She raised her eyes to him. “When I really sat down and thought about it, I was keeping him alive for me. And once I knew that, letting him go was almost easy. Because I love him too much to see him like that. He’s already gone, Jax. And I have to learn to live with that.”

Cause it’ll bleed, it’ll hurt
It’ll take everything to say that I’m yours

Nadine Crowell sighed with sadness as she took Michael Corinthos III’s vitals for the last time in his short life. She blinked when the door opened and Leyla Mir poked her head in. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Leyla entered the room, standing away from the bed, near the bathroom. “Is it true? I heard at the nurse’s station…”

“His mother signed the paperwork.” Nadine wrote down the last number down from the machine, and then squeezed Michael’s hand. “Go be in peace, Michael. And I hope Heaven is filled with video games, candy and…everyone else who loves you.” She stepped back from the bed and joined Leyla at the door. “I hate when it’s kids.”

“Well, then you ought not to work in pediatrics,” Leyla murmured with a sympathetic smile. “Let’s go. I’m sure his family—”

The door slammed open, and Sonny Corinthos stormed in. Leyla and Nadine both jumped and started to edge toward the door, but Sonny was blocking the way. He stood there for a moment, his face twisted with anger and violence simmering beneath the surface. He jabbed a finger at the bed. “Johnny Zacchara is going to pay for this, Michael. I promise you that.”

And then he turned and left as abruptly as he’d entered.

“Nadine…do you think…”

Nadine sighed. “Should I…call the police? Because Johnny Zacchara is gonna need them.”

“Better to just send the ambulance now,” Leyla said, nodding in agreement. They left the room, and Nadine hesitated just a shade longer than she should have to call the PCPD, who promised to forward her concern to the Crimson Pointe department.

No one willingly got involved in a mob war without thinking it through a dozen times.

It’ll sink deep into my heart
If you fall in love and fall right back out

Jason stood in Michael’s hospital room, staring down at the form lying there. He could feel Elizabeth standing behind him, her arm wound through his, her fingers laced through his. “I can go,” she murmured.

“No.” Though she was slight and he could probably pick her up with one arm around her waist, her strength in his moment was all that was keeping him upright. “I can’t…” He closed his eyes. “I don’t know if I can do this.”

“He always knew you loved him,” Elizabeth murmured. “Always. From the moment you held him. You know that.”

“I wanted him to be safe. I wanted him to be free to make his own choices, to belong to himself.” The vise around his chest squeezed. “But I failed him.”

“I remember the first time I came to the garage you owned all those years ago, after Lucky had moved in,” Elizabeth said. “You were sitting on a bike, maybe you’d just fixed it, and Michael was in your arms, holding a wrench with the biggest smile on his face. And I wanted to paint that.” She pressed her forehead against his arm. “I don’t know the words to get you through this, Jason.”

“I don’t think there are any.” He stepped back and cleared his throat. “I’ll get Carly.”

It’ll crush, it’ll leave me blown away
But I’ll regret every single day

Carly sat in the surgical waiting room. She had signed all the paperwork, said her goodbyes, and now, surrounded by her family, she waited for Patrick to return from the operating room where Michael’s organs had been harvested.

He’d been a kind little boy, an amazing older brother, so she knew he’d approve of helping others. Some child would receive his heart, another his liver, still more his kidneys and lungs, and even his eyes. Her son would live on in others, and that was best she could make out of this tragedy. Sonny had never come back, and she no longer cared. After this was over, she would do whatever it took to make Michael’s siblings safe from their father. She would get Morgan away for good, and she’d help Alexis and Kristina be free as well. No child would ever pay for Sonny’s choices again.

The door slid open, and Carly felt Jax and Bobbie tense on either side of her. She saw Jason sit up across the room, his hand in Elizabeth’s tightening.

Patrick stepped in, dressed in his surgical scrubs and cleared his throat. “Michael…passed away at 4:05. And his organs are en route to the people who need them. I’m…” He looked at Carly, and just shook his head. “I’m so sorry.”

She now existed in a world where Michael did not. Her son was no longer breathing.

She would never see his mischievous smile again. He would never be older than ten years old. He should have turned eleven after Christmas, but instead, he would never be a teenager. He’d never drive a car. Kiss a girl.

She would never know what he would have done for a career, if he would fall in love or have children.

Michael, the reason she had grown up and tried to be a better person…he was gone. A decision that, five hours ago, had seemed simple and right, now seemed like the worst.

She was as responsible for his death as his father was.

If I don’t try with you
You’re worth the pain I’m going through

Johnny waited in his study, his gun clenched in his hand on the desk. A source at the hospital had informed him earlier that day him that Michael Corinthos was being removed from life support that day.

And ten minutes ago, they’d confirmed the little boy’s death.

He’d had Claudia tied up, gagged, and put on the flight to Rome shortly after Jason’s nocturnal visit. She’d been furious, but in the end, Claudia understood that as long as she remained out of the country, Johnny was safe from Jason Morgan.

As long as he held up his end of the deal.

The scuffle in the entry way was Johnny’s only warning. He rose to his feet, and extended his hand, the gun pointing at the doors.

When Sonny Corinthos strode in, his gun out but not pointing at him, Johnny did not wait for him to fire first. If Sonny shot first, Johnny might end up dead. That wasn’t the deal, and Johnny didn’t really feel like dying for something that hadn’t been his fault.

So he fired first. He fired twice, both to the chest. Sonny managed one wild shot, but he went down.

And Johnny stood over Sonny Corinthos after kicking the man’s gun away, and watched the older man as he slowly bled out. “I could shoot you in the head,” the Zacchara heir mused. “But you know, that would be too quick. And you don’t deserve it.”

He crouched next to him. “But you should know…before you die…that you were almost right.”

Sonny’s eyes bulged, and he opened his mouth. Blood trickled from the corner. “You…killed my son.”

“No.” Johnny tilted his head. “No. I didn’t. I didn’t even try to kill you. But my sister…she did.”

Sonny coughed. “Jason…will…”

“Don’t be so sure. He and I have an understanding.” He leaned closer and hissed in the dying man’s ear. “You brought this on yourself, you bastard. You made my life a living hell when I did nothing to you. You have made everyone around you live in fear of the next time you lose control. The world is going to be a better place without you, Sonny Corinthos, and it is my pleasure to make it so.”

For the first time in John Anthony Zacchara’s life, he embraced being his father’s son.

And then Sonny’s chest stopped rising. He died, just after four in the afternoon, and later Johnny would note, with some irony, that Sonny and Michael had left the world almost at the same time.

When he was satisfied that Sonny was dead, Johnny took Sonny’s gun, and emptied the clip into the wall, into the furniture, carefully wiped the prints, and then arranged it so it was if Sonny had dropped it as he fell to the ground.

He had killed Sonny Corinthos in self-defense, but he didn’t want the cops to know he’d merely been waiting to do so. He could hear the sirens in the distance. Too little, too late.

I’ll give myself, give myself away
And take a step of faith

Elizabeth, with Spinelli’s help, took Jason’s cell phone from him. She promised him that she wouldn’t take any calls, that she would only allow Spinelli to do so, but tonight, he was going to let the world go.

She’d asked him if they should track down Sonny, but he only shook his head. She asked if they should bring the boys home from Audrey’s, but he’d said it was better for them to be there a little longer. If Audrey didn’t mind, they’d pick them up in the morning.

So she sent Spinelli to bunk up in his old room, because she knew he was worried for his mentor. And she curled up with Jason on the couch. She left the television on, wanting him to feel as though he could lose himself in his own mind and she’d be occupied.

But the news broke into the documentary she’d been ignoring, and they both sat up.

“The Crimson Pointe Police Department are confirming that Sonny Corinthos was killed tonight. While they aren’t releasing specific details, we can also confirm that Corinthos received the news that his son was being removed from life support today, and that someone witnessed him issuing a threat to John Zacchara, an alleged rival of the alleged mafia don. The police were unable to arrive in time, as John Zacchara shot and killed Sonny Corinthos, in what sources claim appears to be a clean-cut case of self-defense.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes and pressed her face into Jason’s chest, wondering how many more hits he could take, that Carly could take. To lose Sonny and Michael on the same day. And then she frowned. She drew back. “You knew he’d go for Johnny.”

Jason didn’t met her eyes, but only stared straight ahead.

“Jason…” She didn’t want to ask the question, but she thought she really ought to. That he should know she understood what his business entailed, that her head wasn’t stuck in the sand.

He drew in a shaky breath. “I knew he would go for Johnny. Which is why I warned Johnny to be ready.” He dipped his head and closed his eyes. “Because we were never going to be safe otherwise.”

And she knew it was the only answer she would receive. She even understood it—she’d watched Sonny spiral out of control these past few weeks, and she knew, somewhere inside, she’d thought it would end this way.

But for all the pain and devastation Sonny had brought to his family, she knew that Jason also remembered the man who’d taught him about loyalty and honor. He’d once told her that he learned half of everything he knew from Robin Scorpio, and the other half from Sonny Corinthos. She’d laughed, and said that was why he wasn’t like anyone else.

And he had, in a way, arranged for that man to die so that Sonny’s children, so that their family would be safe.

She tightened her grip around his waist, and rested her cheek against his shoulder. She had promised him once, years ago, that her face would not change.

And she was relieved to know she’d been telling the truth.

She knew the worst of him, and her love shined even more brightly for the sacrifice he’d made.

But the tears will be all mine if you walk away
Would you be fine?

“…The police were unable to arrive in time, as John Zacchara shot and killed Sonny Corinthos, in what sources claim appears to be a clean-cut case of self-defense.”

Carly heard the news report from her position, lying prone on her bed, staring at the ceiling. She was in her own home for the first time since Michael’s shooting, and less than hour after she’d arrived home, she heard the report on the television Jax had switched on to fill the silence.

She raised herself up on her elbows and found Jax seated at the edge of the bed, watching it as well. He twisted and looked at her, his face as ravaged as her own.

She lay back down and stared at the ceiling again. Maybe…one day she’d feel grief for Sonny, for the man he’d been once, for the man she loved enough to give her son to, to give him a second son. But today, she could only find the room to grieve for the son she’d lost because of him.

They were free now.

Cause it’ll bleed, it’ll hurt
It’ll take everything to say that I’m yours

Elizabeth stood next to Jason at the edge of a burial site. Today was the first time many had seen them out together, though most knew they were living together. News of Jake’s paternity had slowly filtered through the ranks, she wasn’t sure if someone had told or perhaps people had only been willing to believe her lies at Jason’s trial if she stayed away from him.

Or maybe no one had ever really believed them.

They had buried Michael that morning, and now this, afternoon, they were the only mourners at Sonny Corinthos’ burial.

Almost three weeks earlier, they had stood in his penthouse with smiles on their face, ready to embark on the next phase of their life—finally together, finally free, finally a family. She’d fought for that dream, to preserve it in the wake of Michael’s death, of Sonny’s murder. She knew there would be always be people who wondered how she could justify her decision to bring her sons into that world just as it claimed another child.

But as always, those people did not know Jason Morgan. They had never cared to look past the surface to find the generous heart underneath. She loved him not despite his job, but maybe even because of it. He’d begun working for Sonny when he didn’t know much about himself, before he could appreciate which his choices would cost him. And he’d remained loyal to Sonny, to that man he’d been once. The man who had looked at her with sad eyes when she apologized for what everyone said about Lucky’s death, because it was her fault. She’d told him to light the candles. The man who had hired a guard to watch out for her when Jason was gone.

That man had disappeared somewhere along the line and she grieved for his loss, wondering how they had missed it. And she didn’t think it was a betrayal of that man for Jason to have taken the actions he had, and it was that man to whom he owed that unswerving loyalty. Not the man who died in a hail of gunfire.

Elizabeth would stand next to Jason for the rest of their lives, raise their children together. She would even bring more children into the world with him, if that was in the cards. Because she knew who he was, inside and out, and she loved every inch of him.

It’ll sink deep into my heart
If you fall in love and fall right back out

Elizabeth stepped inside the penthouse, exhausted from a long shift and ready to put her feet up. She’d had lunch with Robin and Patrick, and was enjoying watching her friends deal with Robin’s pregnancy. Patrick was so clueless, and trying like hell to stay one step ahead of his hormonal girlfriend.

She smiled when she saw Cam and Jake in the large space between the desk and the sofa, surrounded by action figures, trains, cars and a motorcycle. Life went on, despite the worst of tragedies. Today was marked the one month anniversary of Sonny and Michael’s deaths, and slowly, everyone else was putting the pieces back together.

Carly and Jax were still drifting, she knew there were days Michael’s mother could not summon the strength to leave her bed, but she hoped that would change eventually. That Carly would find her inner resilience. Jax had thrown himself into being Morgan’s father, as the little boy began to understand that something dreadful had happened. She thought they might pull it together.

Johnny had been charged in Sonny’s murder, despite the evidence of self-defense. Scott Baldwin had insisted on it. He’d missed his chance to nail Sonny Corinthos, but he wasn’t going to miss another mobster. He’d somehow managed to get jurisdiction, despite Sonny having died outside the city limits. Elizabeth was sure Ric would set Johnny free—he didn’t deserve to go to jail for doing what everyone knew had to be done.

Jason was struggling. He was in charge now, without a doubt. He was no longer the back-up or the stand-in, but the boss of an organization he’d never wanted. But he knew, from his last attempt to leave the business, that it was better for him to be in charge than someone else who didn’t operate with any honor. He was still quiet, even withdrawn at times, but Jake and Cam kept him from being too sad. Cam had turned four the first week of May, Jake had turned one a week later, and she was so relieved they could share those moments together.

Jason emerged from the kitchen, a bottle of water in his hand. “Hey. You look tired.”

“Ugh. I had fill in for a nurse in peds today. I think all the children in the world today vomited on me.” She wrinkled her nose and accepted the water. “But luckily, I’m used to it, because the boys enjoy doing it to me, too, when they’re sick.”

Jason grinned then, and she lightly whacked him. “It’s not nice to laugh at my pain.”

He just shook his head and sat on the arm of the sofa. “Lucky came by today.”

Elizabeth paused in the act of twisting the top from her water. “Oh?” Lucky had been angry initially at her decision, and they hadn’t spoken since the day he learned she was moving in with Jason, and that he would no longer be Jake’s father. “Is…did you need Diane?”

“No.” Jason hesitated. “He came to tell me that he was going to sign over rights to Jake. That we didn’t need to fight over it. He saw us at the birthday party in the park. And…” He looked away. “He said that he could see we were a family, and as much as he hated it, he knew that I would take care of the boys. Because he remembered me with Michael before the fire. He told me that Sonny was the cause of most of the problems, and while he didn’t relish the thought of Cam and Jake growing up in this life, he thought…they’d be safer with me.”

Elizabeth frowned. “That…almost sounds like the Lucky I knew a long time ago. I wonder what’s changed in just a month.”

“He said he and Sam are still dating, and he thought it was for the best if we didn’t try shared custody. That if we just all went our separate ways, we could…move on.”

Elizabeth nodded, her heart sad for her ex-husband and old friend. “He loves her, but he doesn’t think she’ll ever love him the way she loved you, so he’s making sure you don’t have to be in each other’s life. He’s not going to fight us changing Jake’s birth certificate.”

“And he never adopted Cameron,” Jason continued, “so he told me not to make the same mistake. So…if that’s what you want.”

“What do you want?” Elizabeth leaned into him, standing between his legs. “I know you’ll love Cam regardless of paperwork. I said that to Lucky, too. Paper doesn’t make a family.”

“No,” Jason nodded. “But the law wouldn’t recognize him as my son if we don’t do it this way. And I don’t want him to grow up and ever feel like I didn’t love him enough. So…I’ll ask Diane to start setting it up.”

She smiled and kissed him, believing that this time they were going to get it right.

It’ll crush, it’ll leave me blown away
But I’ll regret every single day
If I don’t try with you
You’re worth the pain I’m going through

“That’s so awesome!” Cameron stood on tips of his toes, straining to see over the wrought iron lining the balcony. He poked Morgan in the shoulder and pointed up. “It had so many colors.”

“Be careful!” Elizabeth called from the doorway, a glass of iced tea in her hand. She smiled at Jason, who had Jake in his arms. She knew the fireworks didn’t take the same shapes for him due to his accident, but he could still see the colors, and Jake’s eyes were glued on them, in studied concentration. Just like his father.

After another moment, Jason set Jake on his feet, and fourteen month old rushed toward his brother and his new cousin. Elizabeth frowned, but she logically knew that the iron was solid and too tall for them to climb over.

“Relax. I had someone reinforce it after you moved in.” Jason wrapped his arms around her waist, and she leaned against him, remembering the last time they’d stood here like this, the morning after they’d conceived their beautiful little boy.

“Did you ever think, that morning we were out here,” Elizabeth said softly, tilting her head up so she could look at him, “that we would be here like this?”

“No,” Jason admitted, “but I think that’s because I never thought I’d be able to be with you like that again. I thought we’d just have that one moment. That’d you walk out of here, and we’d go back to our lives.”

“I tried,” Elizabeth sighed. “But you ruined me for an ordinary life.” His mouth curved into a slight grin, and she laughed. Leaning up with her free hand to brush her fingers against his jaw. “Or maybe you did that all those years ago in my studio. When you looked at me and told me there was no word for what you felt for me.”

He took his hands from her waist and slid his hand into his pocket. When he withdrew it, he reached for that hand and she felt cool metal slip over her finger. She glanced down and saw a flawless diamond on her finger. “Jason…”

“I am so…” He exhaled slowly. “There aren’t words, Elizabeth. I tried to push you away, but you knew better. You knew that we needed each other. That I needed you and the boys. I asked you to marry me all those months ago, and tried to take it back. You wouldn’t let me.”

“You asked me to share your life,” Elizabeth murmured. “I figured that meant the good and the bad. What kind of coward would I be if I’d let you walk away when it got tough?”

“So, I’m going to ask you to keep the promise you made that day. To marry me, to share my life, to raise our family. There still aren’t words for how I feel, Elizabeth, so I guess I’ll settle for saying I love you.”

She closed her eyes, and let the beauty of the moment slide over her. For so long, she’d had to bury her dreams of them, bury her love, and her fantasies, but he was standing here, making them come true.

“And like I told you that day…” She opened her eyes, her lips curved into a smile. “There is nothing I want more than to share forever with you. To raise our sons, maybe have more children. You know how I love to talk, but like you, I’ve never found the words to describe what I feel. I look at you, Jason, and I see the rest of my life, and so much reflected back. So, I guess I’ll have to settle for saying I love you, too.”

He leaned down and kissed her. Above their heads, the sky exploded into shimmering clouds of white, red, gold, purple, green and all the other colors of the spectrum, as the Port Charles Fourth of July fireworks finale seemed to celebrate the beginning of the rest of their lives.

I’ll give myself, give myself away
And take a step of faith