Oh days go by I’m hypnotized
I’m walking on a wire
I close my eyes and fly out of my mind
Into the fire
Oh light the sky and hold on tight
The world is burning down
She’s out there on her own and she’s alright
Sunny came home
– Sunny Came Home, Shawn Colvin
Saturday, June 28, 2003
Lansing Home: Living Room
Cody and Cruz stepped inside the house, both looking at each other hesitantly. The cop and the mob bodyguard. If Elizabeth had the energy, she might feel sorry for the rookie. It had been a hell of a first week for him. Cody eyed the younger man with an air of suspicion. “Ah, Jason said you wanted us both?” he asked, with his brows raised.
“Yes.” Elizabeth looked at the officer. “Right now, you know I’m not the biggest fan of your department.”
Cruz looked away, unable to meet her eyes, his cheeks flushing slightly. “Miss Webber, to be brutally honest, what happened makes me physically ill. I’m sorry—”
“But I know you didn’t do it. So that’s why I’m asking for your help.” She pressed her hand to her chest, irritated at the ache and exhaustion creeping into her bones. She just had to hang in there a little longer. “Nikolas and Bobbie talked to the real estate who sold Ric the house. There’s a panic room.”
Cruz blinked, then straightened his shoulders. “A panic room?” he repeated. His eyes lifted to the ceiling, started to glance around the room. “They’re hidden within the structure, right? You can’t see them from the outside?”
“Exactly. The agent wouldn’t tell Nikolas where it was, so Jason went to…” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Convince him. We’ve had the house under surveillance for a week hoping Ric would give something away, but yesterday we put in cameras here in the living room. Sonny and some of his men are watching footage right now. Any minute, one of them are going to call and tell us where the panic room and how to get into it.”
Cody exhaled slowly. “Holy hell, you did it.”
Cruz squinted. “So…if you don’t trust the department—”
“You can call anyone you want after we find Carly,” Elizabeth told him. “But if we tell Taggert now, I don’t know what they’ll do with the information. I’m not convinced they don’t want Sonny and Jason more than they want to find Ric. It’s important to me that we find Carly first. Taggert might go after the agent who might clam up—”
“Telling the PCPD might cause more problems than it solves.” Cruz nodded. “Yeah, I get it.” With a weariness that no cop should feel after seven days on the job, he took a deep breath. “What can we do until they call?”
“Jason and I were looking for a switch or something that might tell us…” She gestured to the wall near the door. “We’ve searched that—” She stopped, her lungs seizing up as she struggled for breath. Oh, God. What was wrong? She gripped the back of the sofa and tried to take smaller breaths but struggled to force air down her throat.
“Miss Webber?” Cruz said stepping forward, Cody on his heels. “You don’t look so good—”
“It’s…It’s the withdrawal,” Elizabeth managed as the sensation passed. She could breathe now—at least get air into her lungs. “Um, from the benzos—Monica said it was going to be bad for the first two weeks.”
Cody hesitated. “You’re sure—”
“Yes,” Elizabeth said, her teeth clenched. “I just have to get through it. It’s almost over. We’re—we’re going to find Carly—so—” Her cell phone rang—the little burner cell that sat on the coffee table. She stared at it wondering if she could make there in time before the ringing stopped.
Cody fetched it for her and handed it over.
“Hello?” Elizabeth said as the pounding in her chest began to echo in her ears. “Jason?”
“Sonny just called,” Jason said, his tone clipped. Short. Breathless. “They—they got it. Ric came into the living room at—the table against the wall, Elizabeth. The one near the stairs.”
Elizabeth turned. “The one with the cabinets underneath—”
“In the middle cabinet. Ric opened it, did something, and then—he disappears. I can’t tell but I think the panic room is across from the door—”
She stared at the wall, at the smooth expanse. “Right there. The whole time—” She stumbled towards the cabinet, but her legs gave out, and she fell against it. She tried to take a deep breath but couldn’t force the breath into her lungs. Oh, God. Not now. “Where are you?”
“Turning around, coming back—we’re all on our way—”
“I found a button—” Right there. Tucked in the corner by the door. She pressed it. Something whirled and groaned behind her, but it all felt so far away.
“Holy shit,” Cody murmured as Elizabeth turned her head—but they could already hear the screaming.
Carly’s voice, hoarse, raw came pouring out. “Press it, press it! Please—Thank God, thank God, you found me—”
But already Carly’s voice was receding. Her vision was dimming, fading at the edges. “J-Jason.”
“Elizabeth—I can hear her—” the relief was so evident in his voice, it was almost as if he was right in front of her. “I can—we did it—”
“You—I can’t b-breathe…” Elizabeth kept her eyes locked on Carly. Dimly, she could hear Cruz calling in for backup and an ambulance—he’d gone inside the room—but Cody was in front of her. Oh…he looked so concerned.
“Elizabeth?” Jason demanded. “Hey. Hey, are you there—”
“She’s okay,” Elizabeth murmured, but her words were slurring. “We did it.”
“Elizabeth, stay with me. Keep talking to me—”
“Can’t.” She closed her eyes, her wrist trembling with the effort to keep the phone at her ear. Cody was still talking but she couldn’t hear anything. “Always…liked your voice…”
Even as he called her name, the phone slid from her hand and the grays and blacks filled her vision until she couldn’t see anything.
Lansing Home: Street
Jason didn’t even know if he’d pulled the car into park or turned it off because he was shoving the door open and sprinting up the lawn. Near him, he was aware of other cars pulling up—of the sirens of an ambulance somewhere in the distance—
He registered Sonny’s voice, Bobbie’s cries—but he couldn’t stop, couldn’t take any of that in. He shoved through the door, all but taking it off the hinges.
A large gaping hole had opened directly in front of him, and oh, God—Carly—she was there, a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. She was sobbing, pointing down—the cop was next to her, holding her leg—
And Cody was behind the sofa, leaning over Elizabeth, who lay sprawled out over the hardwood floor, the phone still flipped open. Her eyes were closed, her skin almost gray.
Jason rushed forward, sliding to his knees at her side. Sonny and Bobbie rushed in, crying, screaming Carly’s name.
All of that disappeared as Jason cradled Elizabeth’s limp head in his hands. Her breathing was faint, and—he took her wrist—her pulse was barely there. “What happened?” he demanded. “What happened?”
“I—” Cody shook his head. “One second, she was explaining what we were going to be looking for—and then she couldn’t catch her breath. She managed to get the door open, but then she—She just passed out.”
Leaving Carly to her husband and mother, Cruz joined them, his eyes wild. “What’s going on? There’s an ambulance—” he started to say, but his voice had raised in pitch. The rookie was clearly out of his depth.
Elizabeth’s eyes fluttered and then she smiled, seeing Jason at her side. “You…you’re here…” but her words were still slurring, sliding into one another.
“Right here. I’m not going to leave again,” he told her, gripping her hand in his. “Stay with me, Elizabeth. Don’t close your eyes.”
“Can’t…” Her eyes fluttered. “Can’t stay.”
“Don’t you dare—”
“I found her. It’s okay.” She tried to squeeze his hand, but her grip was as weak as Michael’s had been when he’d been a newborn. Weaker, Jason realized, his heart pounding in his ears.
“You did it—”
Bobbie knelt, and Cody slid down out of her way. She took Elizabeth’s pulse, felt for her heartbeat and swore. “Her heart is racing—”
“How is that possible? Her pulse is barely—” Jason swallowed in fear. “What the hell did—”
“He drugged her…” Carly rasped as she limped towards them, Sonny holding her upright. “Drugs—”
“We know, with Valium, but—” Bobbie shook her head. “Elizabeth, hey, look at me, sweetheart.” Behind them, Nikolas hovered, worry in his dark eyes, and they could hear the ambulance coming closer.
“Elizabeth,” Bobbie said again. “Look at me—”
“Just want to go,” she murmured. Her eyes were unfocused and then…her eyes closed. “Want to go. Hurts.”
“Birth control,” Carly managed to get out as the ambulance screeched to a stop on a squeal of brakes. Cruz went outside to let them in. “He gave her birth control pills. Lots of it. He put it in the ice cubes. Every night. Every time she took a drink—”
Bobbie’s eyes bulged as she met Jason’s. “Birth control,” she breathed. “Jesus Christ. Rodriguez!” she cried. “Tell them to bring a defibrillator!”
“What?” Jason demanded. He tore his eyes away from Bobbie, then back to Elizabeth whose breathing had grown even more faint. “Elizabeth, hey, hey, please open your eyes. Let me see your eyes.” His voice broke. “They’re so beautiful. Let me see your eyes.”
She fought to open them. Her free hand came up and brushed his cheek. “Yours…like yours…. more…. sorry. Messed…it up.”
“Love…” And then her head slid to the other side, her hand dropped back to her side. Her chest stopped rising.
“Bobbie!” Nikolas shouted from the doorway, but then the paramedics were there. They came rushing in with a boxy object. Jason didn’t want to go, didn’t want to drop her hand—but he didn’t have a choice. He couldn’t help her now.
He watched in horror as the paramedics looked at one another for a split second before exploding into action. One tore Elizabeth’s tank top, and the other slapped electrodes on her pale skin. Her tiny body jerked as they shocked her.
“Still in V-fib. Charge it again—”
“Oh, God,” Carly choked as Bobbie leaned over Jason’s hunched form by Elizabeth. “Oh, God. He killed her.”
Another ambulance came to a stop outside, and more paramedics came in—each wheeling in a stretcher. One rolled towards Carly, and the other—
And then they got her back—he knew it because the box wasn’t screaming anymore. Everything happened in a blur after that—Elizabeth was placed on the other stretcher and rolled towards the door. Jason followed without even thinking, without even looking at Carly.
Nikolas was clutching at his hair, both of his hands digging into the dark strands. “Jesus Christ. What was that? They—they got her back?”
The second set of paramedics were settling Carly onto the other stretcher, and the blonde was sobbing. “She was trying to save me, wasn’t she? She stayed, and he poisoned her every day because of me—”
“Carly—” Sonny’s soft words were lost as the stretcher wheeled towards the door, with him next to it.
“Pulmonary embolism,” Bobbie murmured as the room cleared. She looked at the trio left behind—at Cruz, Cody, and Nikolas, all of them shell-shocked. “Blood clot in the lungs. It’s a common…side effect of estrogen imbalance or overdose.”
“But you know what it is—” Nikolas took her arm. “They know—”
“Patients who have gone into cardiac arrest have a high mortality rate.” Bobbie pressed her hands to her face, trying to process. Trying to understand. “We thought it was just—I never dreamed—Oh, God, he’s killed her—”
“Stop it!” Nikolas shook her a little more roughly than he meant, as if trying to shake sense into them both. “They got her back. You know what it is. We have to go to the hospital. We have to tell Monica and make sure that Ric can’t make any decisions.”
“What?” Bobbie blinked at him. “What?”
“He is her husband,” Nikolas said. “And she’s his best chance to get out of this. If Elizabeth dies, all of this—this might go with her.”
“No.” Bobbie shook her head, even as everything inside her screamed of course he was right. Reasonable doubt was all Ric needed. He could blame everything on Elizabeth. “We—we have to go. We have to go.”
“I’ll stay,” Cody said to Cruz as the two of them rushed out. “You—you need someone to give a statement.” He touched the rookie’s shoulder. “You okay?”
“No.” Cruz shook his head slowly. “No, I’m not. Everything she went through today—she did it with that happening inside her—and now she might die.” He exhaled slowly. “I’m supposed to protect people.”
“Welcome to Port Charles,” Cody said with a smirk as the cavalry arrived with Taggert and Mac rushing up to the lawn, followed by several other uniforms.
General Hospital: Emergency Room
Monica was already waiting when the doors swung open. They’d lost Elizabeth again in the ambulance, and Jason could see from the paramedics that they didn’t expect her to make it.
That cardiac arrest with a pulmonary embolism was a lethal combination—that once the blood clot had gone to her heart, that survival was almost impossible.
Somewhere in Jason’s head, that made sense, but he couldn’t let himself even think it.
Elizabeth had, until her final moments of consciousness, been trying to find and free Carly because Carly was his best friend. Because she was a kind and giving person. And even though Jason damn well knew differently, the world wasn’t supposed to give up on people like her.
“Jason,” Monica started as Elizabeth was wheeled into a trauma room. “The paramedics on the scene suspect a pulmonary embolism.” She touched his arm. “We’re going to confirm with an echocardiogram—”
“Just do whatever—” His voice failed him, and he had to close his eyes. “Just do whatever you have to do,” he managed.
“They’re stabilizing her for the test now, but I need you to know that if it’s true, then—”
“Then her chances aren’t good—”
“They’re almost non-existent,” Monica told him, and he snapped to attention at that, because that was different. This was Monica, and she loved him. She wouldn’t say that without a reason. “Mortality rate is ninety-five percent, Jason. By the time the clot reaches the heart—”
Jason shook his head. “No. No—” His throat seized, and he just kept shaking his head. “No. She’s stronger than that—”
“Okay, okay.” She took his face in her hands and he met her eyes. “I’m going to do my very best,” she murmured. “I promise you.” She kissed his forehead, and then she disappeared behind the curtain.
Another stretcher came through the doors—Carly, followed by Bobbie and Sonny. Jason turned, looked at her, dragging his hands through his hair. He wanted to follow them, wanted to see Carly, to check on her, but his feet felt glued to the floor.
Sonny murmured something to Carly and Bobbie before they were whisked away behind another curtain. “Jase? What’s going—”
“Monica thinks it’s too late.” Jason swallowed. “The blood clot reached her heart, and she went into cardiac arrest twice—they’re, uh, confirming the diagnosis, but—” The room started to spin, and Jason sagged.
Sonny half dragged him to one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs and then knelt in front him. “Hey. No one fights like Elizabeth Webber. Jason—”
“I knew something was wrong. I kept asking her to go see Monica, to take care of herself, but she refused. We were so close, and I let her—I let put her life at risk, so I could find my friend—”
“And I can never ever repay Elizabeth for that.” Sonny shook his head. “They’re looking Carly over, but she’s in remarkably good health, they said. She’s okay. My child is okay. And I can’t imagine the universe would give her back to me and take Elizabeth.”
“You know it doesn’t work like that, Sonny—”
They both lunged to their feet as Elizabeth was rolled past them on a gurney, her eyes closed, her head lolling to one side. Jason started to follow, but Monica stopped him, nodding to another doctor, a younger man, tall with a shock of dark hair.
He sighed and stepped away from the team as Elizabeth disappeared around a corner.
“Where are you taking her?” Jason demanded.
“You’re the next of kin?” The doctor said with an arched brow. “They’re taking her to get an echocardiogram. It wasn’t the right set up in there, and then from there, they’ll probably take her straight to the cath lab to start thrombolysis.” He hesitated. “They got her stabilized, man. Her chances went up to about fifteen.”
“Fifteen?” Sonny demanded. “That’s supposed to make us feel better?”
“It was at five percent,” the doctor pointed out. “So…that’s not nothing. It might take a few hours. We’ll know more then.” He shrugged and disappeared down the same hallway as Elizabeth, jogging to keep up.
“That’s good.” Sonny patted Jason’s shoulder. “They’re giving her better odds.”
“Yeah, only an eighty-five percent chance she’ll die. Great.” Jason scrubbed his hands over his face. “Okay, okay, I need to see Carly. I’m sorry, I didn’t even—”
“She gets it.” Sonny managed a half smile. “More than you might think. C’mon.”
Jason followed him to Carly’s examining area where the blonde was laying back against the pillows, her eyes closed. There she was. After a week of desperation, fear—his best friend had emerged mostly unscathed.
“Carly,” he managed, taking her hand in his. “Hey. Hey. I’m sorry it took so long—”
“I saw you,” she said, without opening her eyes. “Every day. I saw you looking for me. I saw you today, searching the walls. I knew you were getting closer.” Her dark eyes found his. “I knew you never stopped. I knew you and Elizabeth wouldn’t stop until you found me.”
“We didn’t.” Jason’s throat tightened. “Thank you. We—we were able to help her faster because of you.”
“I wanted to stop your wedding,” Carly said with a faint smile. “That’s what I was thinking before Ric grabbed me. I knew you were miserable. That you didn’t love her. I was thinking about how angry you’d be, but I was gonna do it anyway.”
Bobbie laughed with some surprise while Sonny looked pleased as if this was a sign his wife had come through this traumatic experience without any scars.
Jason sighed, but he didn’t look upset “Carly—”
“I didn’t mean I wanted to get kidnapped,” she said dryly. “But, hey, I stopped it. And you—” Her eyes filled. “I couldn’t help her. I couldn’t make him stop trying to hurt with the pills…I tried to stop him from taking—they’re in the panic room. In a lock box. He’d get them every day, make new ice cube trays. In the middle of the night. I saw the Valium, too. He didn’t use that again. Not after last week. But he used something else, something to make her tired and sleep. And the birth control.”
Jason exhaled slowly. “You did help her. You told us—”
“He was hurting her today. I saw it. I was screaming, but I couldn’t make it stop. And then they arrested him, and I was so scared it would never be over—” She squeezed her eyes shut as Sonny came to her other side. “I was scared I would die in those walls.”
“I was going to start ripping holes in the drywall,” Bobbie promised. “I was never going to let that happen.”
“I know, Mama. But you came back today, Jason, and I saw you searching again, but this time—you were searching the walls. I knew it would be today. I knew you would find me.” She closed her eyes. “She can’t die. It’s not fair.”
“They took her for an echocardiogram,” Jason told Bobbie as silent tears slid down Carly’s face. “And then thrombolytic treatment. I don’t—I don’t know what that is.”
Bobbie took a deep breath and explained. “They’re going to inject thrombolytic drugs into the site of the blockage to thin her blood and break up the clots. Either through an IV or a catheter. Um, knowing Monica, and the seriousness of the condition, they’ll probably go with the catheter, so they can try to also physically break it up.”
“How—is it dangerous?” Sonny asked.
“Not normally, but Elizabeth has some risk factors. She was already in poor health after her miscarriage and overdose, and then two rounds of cardiac arrest. They’re going to be worried about internal bleeding, and there’s always a small chance the clot could go somewhere else.”
“Somewhere else?” Jason repeated. “Like where?”
“It could develop into an aneurysm,” Bobbie admitted. She rubbed the side of her face. “But those are minimal risks.” She hesitated. “Elizabeth might also be at risk for organ damage.”
“Jesus Christ.” Sonny hissed something else under his breath. “Well, you make it clear to this hospital that money is no object. She saved my family—she gets whatever she needs. The bills go to me. My psychotic brother—Did they charge him with this yet?”
“I—” Jason blinked when he saw Nikolas over Bobbie shoulder, gesturing towards him. “I’ll be right back.”
He joined Nikolas back in the emergency room. “Hey. She’s—”
“I pulled her file. One of the small perks of my family basically owning this place. I was worried about Ric being her next of kin, legally speaking, and I wanted to contact Alexis if the hospital needed to file an injunction—”
“I hadn’t even—” Jason closed his eyes. He couldn’t seem to think straight. That was what he did every day in his job, but he couldn’t keep a thought in his head right now. “I hadn’t thought about that—”
“We’ve got a small problem. Spouses are legally the default next of kin, but Justus filed a restraining order and notice of separation. Elizabeth apparently started paperwork last summer to establish a power of attorney with control over her medical decisions, but she never completed the paperwork.” Nikolas hesitated. “She named you with her grandmother as a backup. But she was supposed to get you to sign it.”
“Last summer?” Jason frowned, shook his head. “She never asked—” Except there’d been that day she had told him she needed to talk to him. After she’d come home from the hospital and the gas explosion, he’d come over to see her because she’d asked him.
She’d been terrified, holding a knife when he arrived, and they’d been distracted by buying the baseball bat for better protection. Then he’d left when Carly called.
“So, what happens? Does Ric get control?” Jason demanded. “What can I do? How do I stop it—”
“I’ve called Alexis and asked for her opinion,” Nikolas said. “She said for the moment, Ric isn’t available to make any decisions, so they’ll perform whatever the doctor on call says is medically necessary. She said it’s a stop gap measure. We can use her paperwork from last year—all that’s left is your signature. Ric can always challenge it because the marriage happened in the interim—”
“Give me the paperwork,” Jason said immediately. “I’ll call Justus and ask him to prepare for that.” He closed his eyes, trying to think. He didn’t know the next step. Didn’t know where to go next. “We should find out what’s going on with Ric—”
“I gave your guard my number and asked him to give me the updates on the scene. I figured you were—” Nikolas swallowed hard. “Distracted here.
“Did they charge Ric with this? Are they—”
“Scott was already writing the indictment for the assault, Taggert said. They’re adding kidnapping and attempted murder charges—and anything else related.” Nikolas shook his head. “I knew she didn’t look well—we should have—I don’t know what we could have done. Elizabeth never did listen to anyone when she was sure she knew better.”
“Monica said her odds are at fifteen percent,” Jason managed. “It’s better than when she came in—”
“Monica’s the best in the state, if not the entire region,” Nikolas said after a long moment. “She knows what she’s doing. I’d trust her with my life.”
Jason looked down the hallway where Elizabeth had disappeared. “All we could think about was finding Carly. I knew she wasn’t okay, and I left her there—”
“With a body guard and a member of the PCPD.” Nikolas put a hand on Jason’s shoulder. “Short of throwing her on the plane to Emily or to me in London, what else were you supposed to do?”
It was over an hour before Monica came back through the doors, her eyes were exhausted but not devastated. Jason and Nikolas had been joined by Bobbie as Sonny and Carly had been taken upstairs to a private room where she’d be kept a day or two for observation.
Taggert had arrived, followed by Scott, who Bobbie had grudgingly allowed to sit next to her. “Elizabeth suffered a blood clot in her lungs as well as in her heart—”
Bobbie muffled a gasp at this second part of the news as Monica continued. “We were able to break up the major clots and stabilize her for now.” She hesitated. “I am upgrading her condition from critical to serious. She’s not out of the woods, but her response to the treatment so far has increased her odds to around thirty percent.”
Jason felt some of the pressure in his chest finally release as Scott hugged Bobbie, and Taggert’s shoulders slumped. “Is she awake?” Jason asked.
At this, Monica hesitated. “Elizabeth suffered a great deal of trauma today,” she said after a long moment. “And the blood clot caused a lack of oxygen—”
“She’s fallen into a coma,” Monica admitted. “This is not uncommon, and it’s not necessarily—” She saw the looks on their faces. “I don’t know when she’ll wake up. With the cardiac arrest—it could be hours, days—”
“Or never,” Jason said roughly. “She could survive the embolism, and still—” He closed his eyes. “She might never come back from this.”
“I don’t expect that, Jason. I really don’t. This is very common after what similar patients suffer. The body protects itself and I think that’s what is happening. We’ll move her to the ICU.” Monica touched his arm. “She made it this far, Jason. Give her some credit.”
“She’s tougher than she looks,” Jason said after a moment. He looked at his mother. “ICU usually restricts visitors to family, but—”
“Between Nikolas, myself, and your father,” Monica said with a brow, “I really doubt that’s going to be an issue. You’re now her power of attorney, Bobbie is the closest thing she has to a mother, and Nikolas was nearly her brother-in-law. That’s good enough for me. We’ll get her settled upstairs and you can see her then.”