24 April 2014, Part Two [The Bargain]

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Michael’s Apartment: Living Room

Michael pulled open his door and his face tensed for a moment before smoothing out.

That her son looked at her with such dread in his expression…

Carly knew she couldn’t live with herself if it ever turned to hatred, and if she kept this secret, it would.

“Mom.” He stepped back, gesturing for her to cross the threshold. “What brings you here?”

“I, ah, wasn’t sure if you’d be home—I thought you might be at ELQ.” Carly saw Starr step in from the kitchen, two bowls in her hand. “Starr.”

“Carly.” Starr set the bowls down next to sandwiches. “Michael stopped in for lunch. We’re both so busy with ELQ and the Haunted Star, we try to make room for lunch at home once a week.”

“Oh.” Carly blinked. It was such a normal, balanced thing to do. “I—I’m—this is a bad time—”

“It’s just tomato soup and some grilled chicken sandwiches,” Starr said when Michael didn’t correct his mother. “”Sit down, and I’ll make you some, too.” She tossed a look at Michael before stepping back into the kitchen.

“Michael,” Carly began, “I can go—”

“It’s fine.” Michael pulled out a chair. “Sit. You’re here for a reason.”

“Right.” Carly sat and sighed when Starr set down a bowl and plate down in front of her. “This is really nice of you, Starr.”

“I don’t know how to cook much, but we do all right. Michael’s a bit better than me.” Starr and Michael both took their seats and the only sounds for several moments were eating.

Carly set her spoon down. “You’ve been going through so much,” she told Michael. “And I haven’t been able—there’s not much I can do to make it go away.”

“I’m an adult now, Mom,” Michael said with an air of exhaustion as he pushed his own plate away. “That’s not your job anymore.”

“I wasn’t much good at it when it was my job,” Carly murmured. “I’m a selfish person,” she continued. “Very selfish, which makes doing the right thing so much harder—by the time I’ve figured it out, it’s too late to do it because it will always make my life worse.”

“My father has a similar problem,” Starr offered. “It’s his way of excusing the worst of his sins.”

Recognizing the rebuke, Carly nodded. “It’s a self-serving one, too. Because, again, I’m selfish.” She looked at Michael. “So even though the time has passed for the right thing, let me do it anyway. First, because I just—I want to address it. Elizabeth told me you know about Jason and Jake.”

“I do.” Michael leaned back in his chair. “They told me shortly after AJ’s funeral. Monica plans to make it public by throwing Jake a party in the Quartermaine gardens for his birthday. Jake asked for it to be a joint party with Cameron, since their birthdays fall a week apart.”

“He’s a considerate little boy.” Carly twisted her fingers in her lap. “I’m sorry if finding out hurt you. Elizabeth said you were made aware of most of the details. I—I wasn’t sure why it was necessary—”

“You mean knowing your part in it?” Michael offered. “That you assumed something and told Sonny, who proceed to inform Elizabeth it was for the best. Yeah. It came up. Sonny is the one who made it worse by making Elizabeth feel like Jake would be a burden to Jason, an obstacle in his life. But Jason is the one who agreed in the long run. He knew by the time Jake was born.” His eyes burned into hers. “He got to make the choice to be a father or step away.”

Carly exhaled slowly. “And AJ didn’t. I know. I—” She tilted her head to the ceiling. “I can’t go back and change things, Michael.  I can’t take those decisions back. I was a different person then—”

“Then let’s talk about now,” Michael cut in. “Why are you here, Mom?”

“Because I’ve done something I can’t live with forever.” She looked in his eyes. “If AJ had known he was going to die, I know his last words would be for you. He loved you, and he was so proud of who you turned out to be, despite everything you grew up with.”

“But that’s not what he said.”

“No.” Carly didn’t let her gaze waver. “He told me Sonny had shot him.”

Michael closed his eyes and looked away, the muscles in his face bunching. He said nothing, just shook his head.

“Why didn’t you say so from the start?” Starr asked quietly. “Why did you allow Michael to believe otherwise for nearly a month?”

“I was…” Carly hesitated. “I was horrified. I confronted Sonny immediately, but he—he convinced me that it would do more harm than good to turn him in. You would lose him as well. Morgan would lose his father, as would Dante and Kristina. I thought—it was tragedy compounding tragedy. I let him convince me.”

“And it’s not as though you gave a damn about AJ,” Michael said, roughly. “You probably thought he deserved what he got.”

“No.” Carly leaned forward. “No. Before all that craziness with Lauren last summer, before he lost ELQ, AJ was doing better. I could see it. He was handling things, he was doing well. He had you, and God, now I wonder if he had had a son like you all along, if he would have been a different man.” She pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. “I’ve spent the last three weeks thinking of all the reasons why AJ deserves to be gone—and I can’t make one stick.”

Starr leaned over to put a hand on Michael’s forearm. “You said Sonny admitted it as well.”

“Yes.” She pressed her lips together. “Sonny told me that he arrived at Ava’s to find AJ’s hands around her neck.. When Sonny pointed the gun at him, AJ stepped back and put his hands up.”

“He must…he was so convinced Connie died that way,” Starr murmured. “So he shot him anyway.”

“Ava’s a witness.” Some of the tension left Michael’s shoulder. “Does—Did Sonny know why AJ went after Ava?”

“No, and he isn’t much worried about it. No one likes Ava anyway.” Carly bit her lip. “Michael—”

“My father suggested maybe Ava killed Connie.”

At that, Michael and Carly both looked at Starr. “What?” Michael demanded. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

“It was just last week,” Starr said. “And I didn’t know if maybe it was worth bringing up. We had nothing to go on—”

“Connie might have discovered Julian’s identity,” Carly said. “Ava would have killed for that.”

Michael held up a hand. “We’ll—we’ll talk to Anna about it.”  He looked at his mother. “Because you’ll make a statement, won’t you?”

“I—” Carly sighed. “I don’t know. I mean, is there a point? Isn’t what I know hearsay?”

“No.” Starr lifted an eyebrow. “Sonny’s confession to you is a statement against penal interest—he has no reason to lie and admit the crime. And AJ’s is a dying utterance. Also, no reason to lie. You need to tell Anna.”

“Otherwise, why even bother to tell me?” Michael demanded. “I thought you were going to do the right thing.”

“The right thing for me is not to lie to you,” Carly said, rising to her feet. “Telling you the truth and then turning in Sonny to the cops? That’s different. I can’t—I can’t be the reason Morgan’s father goes to jail. Don’t ask that of me, Michael.”

“If you don’t tell Anna, I will. And then she’ll come after you for obstruction—” Michael began heatedly. He lunged to his feet. “Mom—”

“Wait, everyone just—” Starr stepped between them. “Michael, just take a deep breath. And try to see it from your mother’s point of view. It’s not easy to turn someone you love in, even if it’s the right thing. I know that—I’ve covered for my own father so many times, and you know you’ve covered for Sonny before.”

Michael exhaled slowly.  “But—”

“And Carly—” Starr turned her attention to her. “You have to see this from Michael’s perspective. It’s not just the betrayal of Sonny’s word. It’s what losing AJ has done to Monica. I know what it’s like to bury a child—”

“Starr—” Michael put a hand on her shoulder. “Don’t—don’t do this to yourself—”

Her voice broke. “I buried my little girl when she was only three. Monica has buried four children, two of which she lays direct blame at Sonny’s door. You know she’s not wrong to see Jason as partially Sonny’s fault. If you were Monica and Michael, would you want to see the man who destroyed your family walk away?”

Carly closed her eyes. “I just need—” She shook her head. She had always known what the outcome of today would be. “I just a bit of time to get used to the idea, okay?” She looked at Michael. “I have to live with myself after it’s all said and done.”

“You don’t get to pretend you’ve done the right thing because you’ve told me what I already knew,” Michael shot back. “Sonny murdered my father in cold blood. You raised me to think my own father was a monster and you drove AJ to the point where he faked my death and kidnapped me just so he could have a chance to be in my life. You’ve already proved to the world that when it comes to AJ Quartermaine, your notion of the right god damned thing is what’s best for you.”

“Michael—”

“Until Sonny Corinthos is behind bars,” Michael told her, “until I have justice for my father, there’s nothing more that you and I could say to one another.”

General Hospital: Board Room

Nikolas strode to the head of the long conference table and set down a packet of papers. “Welcome to the first meeting of General Hospital’s new board of directors.”

He looked at the faces around them.  After buying out the hospital, he decided the only way to prevent General Hospital from continuing down a destructive path was to put people in charge of its destiny he could trust. Members of Port Charles’s prominent families—people who felt loyal to the hospital.

“I want to thank you all for coming on board.” He took his seat. “It means a lot to me that you care about General Hospital as much as I do.”

“I’m still not entirely sure why I’m here,” Felicia offered from halfway down the table. She smiled nervously. “I mean, Audrey’s husband basically founded the place, Tracy and Ned are Quartermaines, and Alexis has been the hospital’s lawyer before—”

“Maxie had her heart transplant here,” Nikolas interrupted. “I know you’ve worked on the fundraisers and other functions the hospital has sponsored since. And Tony Jones was a dedicated member of staff. I wanted someone to represent his family. Bobbie and Lucas both work here.”

“Oh.”

“Well, I hope our first task is to put Liesl Obrecht in the unemployment line,” Tracy snapped. “And put Monica back where she belongs—”

Nikolas raised a hand to ward a further rant. “Tracy. We’ll get to the chief of staff momentarily. I wanted to take a vote on hiring Lucy Coe and Laura Spencer for the Nurse’s Ball this year. I’ve set up a foundation to ensure the Nurse’s Ball continues its good work in raising awareness for AIDS and HIV. Lucy has planned it for years, and she and my mother have decided to open a business together. She’s presented a plan for the the ball—its in your packet—”

“I have no objections to allowing Lucy to continue planning the event,” Ned interrupted. “She’s experienced and adapts relatively well to challenges. Laura will provide a good balance. I think I speak for everyone when I say it barely needs a vote.”

“I want Obrecht out of here,” Tracy snapped.

“Tracy.” Audrey Hardy leaned forward. “As much as I dislike Liesl Obrecht—and I do—we must be very careful to avoid a potential lawsuit. If she decides to sue us for wrongful termination, I do not want it to come back as though her dismissal was a persona vendetta to get your sister-in-law back in the position.”

“Though you being Monica’s champion is hysterical and I want to continue watching it,” Alexis put in.

“I don’t think we’ll have that problem,” Nikolas said. “I asked Monica if she’d be interested, but she’s satisfied now with her position as head of cardiology. She says she wants to dedicate her time to her grandchildren.”

“Oh.” Tracy furrowed her brow. “Well, then. I hadn’t heard about that. Fine. Who do we put in her place?”

“First, let’s make it clear that Liesl Obrecht is being dismissed because she is currently facing charges for kidnapping, not because we don’t like her.” Nikolas straightened. “All in favor of terminating her contract due to the morality clause?”

Every hand in the room shot up. “No opposition. I recommend we place Patrick Drake in place as interim chief. He’s been with the hospital for nearly nine years and serves now as the Chief of Surgery. We’ll reassess his ability in sixty days, where we will either offer the job permanently or set up a committee to interview new candidates.”

When that motion was approved as well, Nikolas sat back with a smile. Some of members of the Cassadines might have taken their revenge on Britt and Liesl through murder and mayhem, but he had been raised by Stefan.

And in Stefan’s earlier days, he would have agreed that revenge was best served cold.

Dante & Lulu’s Loft

Laura watched as her daughter fussed over the small children arranged on a blanket in front of the coffee table. Aidan was happily playing with a musical piano while Ben chewed on the ear of a stuffed rabbit.

“I was in tears last night,” Lulu confessed as she joined her mother on the sofa. “We had put everything into storage after…” She pressed her lips together. “After Connie. So we didn’t have anything ready for him and I didn’t want to pull it out ahead of time in case we didn’t have—”

“Lulu…” Laura pressed a hand to her daughter’s forearm. “Ben looks happy and settled. Babies don’t need nearly as much as we give them. He has his rabbit, he’s fed, changed and has a comfortable place to sleep. The rest can wait.”

“Right.” Lulu closed her eyes. “He’s my son, Mom. I can’t—I can’t make myself believe it. And that it’s temporary—if Britt gets the charges dropped—”

“We’ll fight her with everything we have.” Laura focused on her grandchildren. “We have more resources than Britt—”

Lulu huffed. “You don’t know her mother very well. Liesl Obrecht managed to get herself appointed chief of staff—”

“I’m talking about the legal system,” Laura said. “You practically grew up with the Quartermaines. Tracy was your stepmother, partially raised you. You’re telling me she wouldn’t pull strings for you?”

And if she resented the other woman for being present when Laura could not be, well that was petty and better kept to herself.

“Not to mention the fact  your brother loves you more than anything. Not that I condone corruption, but Nikolas could buy and sell most judges many times over.” Laura touched Lulu’s hands. “But none of that is going to matter. Because I believe in Dante and the police department, sweetheart. They’re going to make Britt pay for what she did it you.”

“I just can’t believe it’s not enough for him to be my biological son,” Lulu spat. “I never agreed to give her permission—”

“And that’s why you’d prevail in a custody hearing. It’s not as though Britt was some stranger who appropriated your eggs. She was your doctor and damn well should have known better.” Laura rose to her feet, restless now. “We’re going to make sure Ben stays with you. This family is too fragmented, I’m not putting up with it anymore.”

“Mom—” Lulu also stood. “I know how hard you’ve worked on your recovery and I’m glad you’re able to be home for now—”

“I’m home for good.” Laura turned to face her daughter. “I’ve opened the house on Charles street. Mom and I are going to live there. I’m going to enjoy my grandchildren. All of them. Aidan, Ben. Spencer. And Cameron and Jake, if Elizabeth will allow it.”

“I believe you,” Lulu murmured.

And I’m going to open the spa with Lucy,” Laura continued, on a roll. “We’re going to plan the Nurse’s Ball together and we’re going to be a success. I’m taking my life back, and Lulu, my life includes you getting everything you deserve. So when I tell you not to worry about retaining custody of your son, I want you to believe me.” She paused, meeting her daughter’s eyes, so like her own.

“Do you?” she pressed.

“Mom, I believe you,” Lulu said. “And whatever I can do make us a family again, I’ll do.” She stepped forward and slid her arms around her mother. “I love you so much.”

Mercy Hospital: Kelly’s Office

Kelly lowered herself into a seat across from Sabrina. “Patrick couldn’t make it?” she asked.

“No.” Sabrina twisted her hands in her lap. “He wanted to, but he was called into surgery at the last minute and I didn’t think we should postpone the results.”

“No.” Kelly leaned back. “Sabrina, you have an aneurysm in your brain.” She rose to pull some brain scans and pin them to a light board. She gestured, but Sabrina was no longer listening.

An aneurysm.

She closed her eyes. “I don’t—I don’t care about anything else, Kelly. What’s next? What’s the treatment?” She pressed a hand to her abdomen her son kicked back in response. “I have to protect him.”

“I understand.” Kelly took her seat again. “The aneurysm is of a borderline size. If it were just a bit smaller, I’d say we relax and keep an eye on it. If it were bigger, I’d be more comfortable recommending surgery. But it’s on the line. If it starts to bleed, Sabrina—”

“I know the risks,” Sabrina murmured. “What do you think I should do?”

“I think you should talk to the best neurosurgeon in the state,” Kelly said gently. “And then have Patrick recommend someone else. I’m not qualified to give you advice—”

“Everyone is going to have an opinion about this,” Sabrina broke in, “regardless of medical qualifications. I’m just…I’m…you know Patrick. You know everyone I know. I was so comfortable coming to you—”

“And I’ll continue to oversee your pregnancy,” Kelly told her. “I like you, Sabrina. I was prepared not to because of Robin, but you’re lovely and I hate all of this.” She sighed. “I’ll be moving back to GH in a week or so—Nikolas offered me too much money to stay away, so I’ll be able to monitor your condition closely.”

“You should know my priority is my child.” Sabrina pressed her hand to her belly again. “I’m twenty-six weeks. If I were to—” She closed her eyes. “If the aneurysm ruptures, even if there was an emergency C-section, the baby might not survive.”

“I know.” Kelly hesitated. “I’d consider surgery, either embolization or outright clipping.  We’ll need more scans to verify which one would work best. But any surgery risks rupture on the table. You might bleed out—”

“Which means I should wait as long as possible to have the surgery,” Sabrina murmured. “At least a month—”

“Maybe as long as three weeks,” Kelly hedged. “Again, I’m not qualified to advise you one way or the other. You could manage to finish the pregnancy, deliver by C-section and be okay—”

“But I might not.” Sabrina nodded. “Okay. Okay. Well I can’t make any decisions right now.” She rubbed her head. “I need—I need Felix, my room mate. And I should tell Patrick. He’ll know who to recommend—” She opened her eyes. “Thank you, Kelly. I appreciate you giving me an opinion.”

“I just wish I had better news.”

“I’ve learned not to expect better,” Sabrina said with a wry smile as she gathered her purse. “It’s easier that way.”


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