Something’s gotta give, something’s gotta break
But all I do is give and all you do is take
Something’s gotta change, but I know that it won’t
No reason to stay, is a good reason to go
Is a good reason to go
– Something’s Gotta Give, Camila Cabello
Saturday, June 28, 2003
General Hospital: ICU
An hour later, Elizabeth was moved to her own room in the ICU unit, and Jason went to sit at her bedside. Bobbie and Nikolas joined him, and they rotated to keep with the unit’s two at a time restriction.
Jason understood that comas could be healing—that this was likely Elizabeth’s body forcing her to stop, to take a break, and to rebuild her strength. But he also knew that she might not be completely unconscious, completely unaware.
He didn’t want her to wake up and be alone.
Around eight that evening, it was his turn to go for a coffee refill and Nikolas took his place. He knew the other man had spent most of the night on the plane from London, only to arrive in the middle of chaos, launch himself into Carly’s rescue, and then Elizabeth’s medical issues.
Nikolas seemed like a different person—not the immature man he’d quarreled with in the past, and Jason remembered now that he’d been in London with Laura Spencer after her breakdown. Maybe that accounted for the difference in attitude.
Jason took the elevator to the cafeteria where he intended to grab another round of coffees and something for Bobbie to eat. He hesitated when he saw Ned leaving the conference room, deep in discussion with another board member Jason didn’t recognize.
“Jason.” Ned’s steps slowed as they drew abreast of one another. “I—I heard about Elizabeth in the ICU. How is she?”
“In a coma,” Jason said, shortly. “She nearly died. Twice today.”
Ned looked away. “I can’t ever make it right,” he murmured. “I can’t ever go back—the signs were there, but I let myself ignore them. I let myself be swept away by hate and anger.” He locked eyes with his cousin. “Should I be looking over my shoulder for Faith?”
“No,” Jason answered. “She’s not an issue anymore.”
Ned exhaled slowly. “Thank you—I know you didn’t do it for me,” he said when Jason started to shake his head. “But my daughter is safe now. And that’s what matters. Grandmother is praying for Elizabeth, and…well, Grandfather sends his wishes. Emily is making arrangements to come home.”
Jason grimaced. “I forgot to call her—” he realized, dragging his fingers through his hair. “I should have—”
“I thought you had your hands full with finding Carly and…with Elizabeth. I ran into Monica and she asked me to call because she was busy with Elizabeth as well. She was trying to find a flight out tonight, but it probably won’t be until tomorrow—she had to deal with her program, but I’m sure she cares even less about that now.”
“I know Elizabeth will want to see her. Thanks.” Jason started past him. “I need to get coffee and food for Bobbie.” He dismissed Ned from his thoughts entirely and headed for the cafeteria.
General Hospital: Hallway
Sonny carefully closed Carly’s hospital room door as he joined Courtney in the hallway. He accepted his sister’s awkward embrace, then stepped back. “Michael is at the penthouse?”
He wasn’t really sure how to deal with Courtney—not after the last week. Courtney had called the police, proved how little she understood the way Sonny lived his life—and had actively proved to be a detriment. She wasn’t someone he could trust—and he struggled now to accept her as someone who belonged in his life at all.
Blood didn’t create that bond—his other half sibling had proved that thoroughly.
“Yes. We landed just after seven,” Courtney told him. She looked past him, through the small window into Carly’s room. “How is she?”
“All right, I guess. It’s hard to say. Everything is still settling in.” Sonny rubbed his hands over his face. “It still doesn’t seem real.”
“I know.” Courtney stepped closer to the door, sliding her fingers down the wooden surface. “It’s…it’s insane. No matter how much anyone searched, it wouldn’t have mattered unless they found the entrance. How did they figure out it was a panic room?”
“A lot of things went right at the same time. We got lucky.” Sonny shifted. “Courtney—”
“It was a bad week. We—we were all scared. And I know I made some mistakes, Sonny. I’m not oblivious. I know—I know I was wrong to make those calls, to let them in…I just—” She chewed on her bottom lip. “I wanted to help. I wanted to do something…it’s not like you or Jason would have let me.”
Sonny brought his fingers to his chin, stroked it lightly. “It’s not that things were said we didn’t mean. I…I don’t pretend I know what happened between you and Jason—”
“I threatened to move out.” Courtney avoided his eyes. “I was so jealous he was concerned about Elizabeth, but I guess it makes sense now. I mean, Ric was really going after her. I saw…I saw on the news that he hurt her this morning—that he was already arrested before they found Carly—” Courtney shook her head. “It’s awful. I didn’t know how bad it was. I would have helped her—”
“The thing is, Courtney…” Sonny shifted. Was it his place to tell her what was going on? “I think…this week cleared a few things up.”
She frowned. “What—what do you mean? I don’t—” She pressed her lips together. “No. No. I was jealous, but Jason asked me to marry him—” She held up her hand, wiggled her ring finger. “I know—I know we agreed to take a break—”
“Is that what you did?” Sonny asked gently. “A break? Or maybe…it was something more final?”
“Jason proposed,” Courtney repeated. “What are you trying to say—” She shook her head. “We argued, Sonny. And I know I made things worse—”
“Because Jason doesn’t love you the way you deserve to be loved,” her brother said quietly. “And you knew that. You figured you could live with it. And maybe Jason was going to try to, but…Elizabeth exists. And Jason almost lost her today.”
Her face crumpled. “He just—he just broke up with me yesterday,” she all but whimpered. “You’re telling me he moved on—”
“He never moved away from her to begin with, Courtney.” Sonny reached out, but she backed up. “You know that. You had to see it. The rest of us did—”
“He didn’t love her. He told me he didn’t love her—” Or…had he just not answered the question? She closed her eyes. And wasn’t her brother right? Hadn’t she always known? “He’s down with her now, isn’t he?”
“He hasn’t been up to see Carly since she was moved from the ER,” Sonny admitted. “Elizabeth is in a coma—and well, no one can say what’s going to happen.”
“Oh.” Courtney folded her arms. “I didn’t realize it was that serious. I—I guess—” She swallowed. “I’ll go back to the penthouse. Your penthouse,’ she said quickly. “Make sure Michael is settled. I’ll come back tomorrow. Hopefully Elizabeth…she’ll be better. And Carly will be up for visitors. I really…I am relieved she’s okay, Sonny. That’s all I wanted.”
“I know.” Sonny embraced his sister again. “Thank you for taking care of Michael this week. It meant a lot to me.”
PCPD: Commissioner’s Office
Shit was about to hit the fan.
Mayor Garrett Floyd stormed into Mac’s office around eight-thirty that evening. Trailing behind him was a sullen Scott Baldwin, who had likely already received his own chewing out. Mac rose from his desk, extended his hand, but Floyd ignored him.
“What we have here is a fuck up of massive proportions,” Floyd announced, folding his arms over his chest, his suit blazer discarded as soon as he entered the room. “I already told Baldwin I’m not interested in playing the blame game—”
“That’s not what it sounded like,” Scott muttered.
“I can recognize that I have not always sent the best of signals to your office. I’ve always prioritized organized crime when running for office. As did you,” Floyd said, shooting Scott a dark look. “And maybe I’ve been too focused on the election this year. But I think we can all agree that we’ve had blinders.”
Mac hesitated, then nodded. If that’s the way Floyd wanted to play this, fine. But he’d be damned if Floyd was going to make his officers look bad. “To be fair, this investigation was done by the book. All leads were followed. We didn’t find Carly because we—”
“Didn’t follow every lead,” Floyd corrected. “The way I read the report is Morgan and Corinthos confirmed the existence of a panic room. If Lansing was the main suspect, why didn’t you tear his life apart? He wasn’t even brought in for official questioning until after he assaulted his wife.” He narrowed his eyes. “An assault for which this department can be blamed.”
“I’ve already begun the process to terminate Capelli,” Mac began but scowled when Floyd shook his head. “Why not? He was insubordinate—”
“He can spin it by suggesting your directive was unclear. He had your permission to leak, Mac. We fire him, we got a wrongful termination suit on our hands.”
Mac exhaled slowly. “I can understand that but if we don’t do something, Elizabeth Webber can also sue us. She’s got Justus Ward on her side, and you better believe he’ll recommend filing charges.” He met Floyd’s eyes, knew the mayor followed him. “We don’t want her digging into how this case unfolded.” Or any other cases. Floyd cleared his throat—and Mac knew he’d gotten the message.
“We can turn that around,” Scott said. “You read the rookie’s report, Rodriguez? She asked him to come inside the house, kept him in the loop. She trusted him. Now yeah, he should have called for backup, but he kept the trust of the victim and was instrumental in Carly’s rescue. It would be good morale to reward him for it. Show the other rookies in his class the kind of behavior we’re looking for. Capelli takes a thirty-day rip—”
“It’s not going to change the beating we’re going to get in the papers tomorrow,” Floyd said. “But I see your point. We have three rookies, don’t we? They all worked the case. That’s good. They probably did the best work—”
“Taggert did good work on this case,” Scott murmured. “He was the arresting officer this morning. Took Elizabeth’s statement.” He met Mac’s eye. “But I know he’s upset with how she was treated. Has he spoken to you?”
“No, but I imagine he’s waiting to see how Elizabeth does. She’s still in a coma according to Monica.” Mac rubbed his eyes and took his seat. He gestured for both to take seats. “I have some thoughts on how we can get ahead of this. I talked to the beat reporter at the Herald—they’re planning a long editorial tomorrow about the way this case was handled. They’re going to criticize its handling and assignment to Organized Crime.”
“It made sense at the time,” Scott murmured. “It dealt with Corinthos and Morgan. It’s been policy to refer any case dealing with them to OCU, but…maybe that needs to be revised. Major Crimes should be getting the focus. The resources. One of the reasons the Alcazar case got all messed up is…we saw the mafia connection, and we didn’t think about outside of it.”
“Taggert took the Lieutenant exam a while ago,” Mac told them. “I propose creating a position in the MCU. Put him in charge of the squad and assign more officers. Right now, it’s just Vinnie Esposito and Jack Beaudry with Lucky Spencer and Dante Falconieri as rookies. I’d keep them, but I’d shift Taggert over there and I think Rodriguez should go as well. Organized Crime should be more focused, more narrowly defined. I can pull a replacement for Taggert from somewhere else to take over that unit.”
Floyd hesitated. “Just moving around resources. Promote the one officer who did good work, take responsibility from the other—and if we assign the rookie—Rodriguez— to Taggert, that’s fast-tracking him. We can play that up. We recognized his attributes. It’s what we want to encourage—”
“And I think Beaudry and Esposito need the oversight. Vinnie’s new—” Mac paused. “Well, sort of. He joined the force back in ‘95 but moved to Buffalo in 2000. He’s only been back since December. And Beaudry has his twenty years in. They’re both…” Mac shifted. “Less dedicated…than I would like. Taggert could do good work there, and I think he’s ready for the change.”
“Suggest it to him.” Floyd got to his feet. “Keep a closer eye on your officers, Mac. Or I’ll be making other changes. Regardless of what happened in the past.” He grabbed his suit jacket from the back of the chair and strode from the office.
Luckily, Scott didn’t pursue the final cryptic remark, and merely rolled his eyes. “Every public official in this town has made their careers running against organized crime,” he complained. “It’s how we get elected. We had one—okay, two if you count Alcazar—screw ups—”
“I really do think we need to adjust how we approach cases. It’s usually our way to blame Sonny and Jason for everything that goes wrong in Port Charles, but…” Mac shrugged. “They’re the best of a bad bunch, and when you think of the people who have vied for the territory over the last decade—it could be worse.”
“What? Are you suggesting we start ignoring them?” Scott demanded. “Look, I’m willing to grant we went too hard at them this last year—”
“I’m suggesting that we put Capelli on gambling and smuggling. That’s what I want him worried about. But someone is always going to want the waterfront, Scott. I live in the real world. The mafia is here to stay. Better the devils I know.” Mac shrugged. “I’m not saying we let it go—let’s just do a better job of picking our battles.” He was quiet for a moment. “What do you think about the case against Ric Lansing?”
“If the wife survives—rock solid.” Scott sighed. “But if she doesn’t…he’s going to blame it on her. He’s going to plead diminished capacity—he was just trying to help her—”
“Well, that’s bullshit—”
“I know that, but it’d be nice if she’d pull through, so she can tell him to go to hell.” Scott got to his feet, then snapped his fingers. “That’s what I wanted to tell you—I just got out of court when Floyd showed up. Ric got an arraignment earlier than I thought.”
“We…hadn’t prepared the new charges, yet—Damn it.”
“Which means he was eligible for bail.” Scott grimaced. “And the judge didn’t go for cash bail. Ric was able to post bond—and I saw him taking paperwork to the civil division to petition for control of Elizabeth’s power of attorney. Apparently, she started paperwork to give it to Morgan, but—I don’t have the details. Ric’s challenging it now—” He looked at his watch. “As we speak. I’m going to head over and see how it turns out. I want to warn Monica if it becomes necessary.”
“Damn it. If he gets control of her care—no judge is going to give him that, are they?” Mac got to his feet, alarmed.
“After this last week, I’m not going to predict what the hell is going to happen next.”
General Hospital: Carly’s Room
Bobbie stepped out of Carly’s room, and stopped Sonny from taking her place. She closed the door. “I’m worried,” she murmured. “Carly…she’s not herself.”
“Bobbie, she just spent the week locked up in a small room—” Sonny shook his head. “How is she supposed to be acting—”
“She’s not herself,” Bobbie repeated. “I’ve seen Carly after traumatic events. After losing her child. In post-partum. I know how my daughter generally reacts. This is…this isn’t it.”
Sonny hesitated. “What do you mean?”
“She’s…Courtney was here, and she carried most of the conversation. Carly just stared at her. One word, maybe two-word answers. She just seems…not to be there. I’m not saying that she should be bouncing back. Not within twenty-four hours, but I’m a nurse, Sonny. I know what I’m talking about.”
Sonny rubbed the back of his neck. “You think…something’s wrong.”
“I think we should keep our eyes open. Being locked in a small space, trapped without a lot of light.” Bobbie squinted at him. “You know what I’m talking about, Sonny. Carly’s…showing some of the signs of acute stress disorder, and if that’s not treated, it can end up developing into post-traumatic stress disorder. We don’t want that.”
“Okay. So…we keep our eyes open.” Sonny passed her, put his hand on the door knob. “How’s Elizabeth?” He looked at his watch. “It’s…been hours.”
“Five,” Bobbie murmured. “Not too terribly long in the grand scheme of things. She’s…being monitored. There are some more blood clots in her lungs that Monica is keeping her eye on. We’ll probably be sending her back into the cath lab in a few hours. Monica just…she’s being cautious.”
“Courtney came back,” Sonny told Bobbie. “I think that I convinced her to go home, to leave Jason be, but she has this idea that…it’s over now, and maybe things will go back to how they were.”
“I highly doubt that.” Bobbie shrugged. “At least for Jason. I don’t know. I think he turned a corner this last week. Even if it’s not how Elizabeth feels—I hope Courtney has the decency to stay away until we know if Elizabeth is even going to—” Her voice faltered.
“It’s not like my sister doesn’t…have a point,” Sonny said slowly. “Or that she doesn’t have a right to hope…they were engaged. They might still be, for all I know. I’m not—I’m not judging Jason, Bobbie. I’ve always known how he felt about Elizabeth. It’s the reason I was against this from the beginning. Also, I don’t know if you noticed this—but my sister is an idiot.”
Bobbie laughed despite herself, clasping her hands in front of her mouth. “Yeah. Yeah, I noticed. Still, this isn’t the time for Courtney to figure out her love life. Elizabeth could go into cardiac arrest at any time, Sonny—and this time—”
“She might not make it. She’s tough, Bobbie. She pulled through when it was at five percent. What is she up to now? Thirty-five? She’s a survivor. Just like you and me.” He pulled his mother-in-law into a hug. “Don’t count her out yet.”
Dante frowned when he saw Cruz sitting at the bar, and Lucky behind it. “Hey…I thought you guys were both on tonight.” He took a seat next to Cruz, and Lucky brought him a beer. “What changed? Did you get the same call I did?”
“From Taggert? Yeah.” Cruz sighed. “And they told me I didn’t have to go in tonight since I went above and beyond today.” He grimaced. “Mac told me they want to give me an award. I didn’t even do anything.”
“Things hit the fan today, my friends,” Lucky told them. “I heard the Herald is going to chew out the entire PCPD tomorrow in a Sunday editorial. I’m surprised Mac still has a job—”
“I can’t believe Capelli still has a job,” Dante muttered. “Turning an innocent woman into a pawn. Everyone knows he went too far, but gotta cover your ass—I swear, the second I hear someone else is hiring, I’m out of here—”
“That would be a shame.” They looked over to see Taggert with tired eyes joining them at the bar. He sat on the other side of Cruz. “How about a gin and tonic, Spencer?”
Lucky mixed him the drink and set it in front of him. “What’s going on, Detective?”
“Apparently…” Taggert leaned over, away from Cruz, digging into his back pocket and drew out a badge. “It’s Lieutenant Taggert now. I took the exam a while ago, and they decided that the officer who didn’t feed Elizabeth to the wolves should get a promotion.” He stared at it for a long moment before exhaling. “You all did good work on the case.”
“I just sat in the car,” Dante said, shrugging. “Nothing to it.”
“You didn’t actively make the case worse, and in Port Charles, that’s enough to be good.” Taggert sipped his drink. “I’ve been reassigned to take over Major Crimes. You both work for me, now, and Cruz, they’re assigning you to me as your training officer. They want to fast-track you.”
Cruz grimaced. “Politics,” he muttered. He tossed back his tequila shot and Lucky wordlessly refilled it.
“Look, you guys have been here a week, and I think that’s probably long enough for you to see the department is rotting from the inside out. I’m sorry to say it but we don’t do the job here.” Taggert paused. “But things are going to change. I’m not working Organized Crime, and I’m glad. And I know—I don’t know you that well, Falconieri, but I’ve seen you work, Cruz. And Lucky…” He met the younger man’s eyes. “I arrested you once, so I know how quick you are. You got the makings of a good cop. I’d like to see you turn into something. All of you. I’d like you to do it here.”
“I just wanted to make a difference,” Cruz mumbled. “I don’t think it can be done here.”
“After this case, I get that.” Taggert put a twenty down on the bar. “But I hope you give me a chance to do something better.”
General Hospital: ICU
Monica gestured for Jason and Nikolas to join her in the hallway. With some hesitation because Bobbie hadn’t returned from visiting Carly, they did so, though Jason positioned himself so he could see Elizabeth through the clear walls of the room.
“I just got a call from Scott Baldwin,” Monica said with some regret. “Ric made bail before they were able to charge him under the new indictment. They’re pulling that paperwork together, but they thought they had more time—”
“He’s out?” Nikolas demanded. “Security should keep him away—”
“I wish that were true.” Monica bit her lip, looked at Jason. “As soon as Ric posted bond, he had a lawyer file an injunction against you, demanding power of attorney be turned over to him. I guess Justus didn’t want to bother you with it.”
“He can’t do that—he has no standing,” Nikolas said. “Elizabeth has every right to choose who ever she wants—even if the paperwork was a year old, all it needed was Jason’s signature—”
“He won, didn’t he?” Jason said, cutting off Nikolas’s rant. “That’s why you’re here. To warn us that Ric is taking over her case.” He swallowed hard. “Monica—”
“Listen to me—I already called Alexis—”
“She thought this might happen. We met about it earlier,” Nikolas said. “She’s prepared to file—” He looked over as Justus stepped off the elevator, exhaustion lining his face as well. “That can’t be good.”
“I came as soon as we got out of court. I’m sorry I couldn’t warn you. It happened fast. I don’t know who he paid or what strings got pulled—” Justus grimaced. “I’m already filing an appeal—I called Alexis, Nikolas. She’s filing an amicus brief on behalf of the hospital. But—”
“The courts are closed. Even for emergencies.” Jason closed his eyes. “What can he do to screw up her recovery, Monica?”
“Well, I’m scheduled to take Elizabeth into the cath lab in another hour to break up more of the clots. I could try a less aggressive treatment, keep her on the medication. But—”
“We agreed that blood thinners would be riskier—that the risk of internal bleeding—” Jason shook his head. “And a clot—”
“But it’s an option Ric could allow, and no one is going to be able touch him on it,” Monica cut in. “I’ll do what I can to stress the better the option—but that’s something he could get away with. He could also try to transfer her to another hospital—”
“Where I don’t have any family and Nikolas doesn’t basically own it.”
Nikolas scowled. “Give me an hour and I’ll have controlling stock in any hospital he tries. This is complete bullshit, Justus. Elizabeth specifically—”
“Which is why when I get into court tomorrow morning, I’ll win. The hospital has documented her case, there’s report of the abuse, we have Carly’s statement—I don’t understand how he won, and if I hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
“Can you take her into the lab now?” Jason asked, even though he already knew the answer. If it could have been done already—it would have been.
“I might not even be able to take her in an hour. I need her blood pressure to stabilize. She could code on the table and if she goes into arrest again, that’s it. That’s the ball game. It would be a miracle to get her back, and I think we’ve exhausted our share of them.”
“We have to wait.” Jason went back to the doorway, took in Elizabeth’s still figure beneath the white hospital blankets. “What was the judge’s reason?” he asked quietly. Because he knew there was more.
“What does it matter—” Nikolas began.
“It was a family court judge who tends to favor the father over the mother, and frowns on adultery in divorce cases,” Justus said. “He was on the court when I lived here a few years ago. I remember Dara complaining about him. He suggested that Elizabeth had been seduced by a gangster and wasn’t in her right mind last year—that you were taking advantage of her after the miscarriage. That the court had a responsibility to respect the sanctity of marriage.”
Jason would deal with the judge later for that but nodded. It was always better to know what he was up against. “That’s what Ric is going to use against her all the way. In the restraining order. The divorce. The trial. He’s going to use me like a weapon.”
“She’ll hate that.” Nikolas sighed. “I’m going to call Alexis, start finding out who I know in the appeals court and how to buy them.”
“I didn’t hear any of that,” Justus said evenly. “I’ll go to work on my brief. Jase…I’ll be in touch.” He put a hand on Jason’s shoulder, and then followed Nikolas to the bank of elevators.
“You should sit with her while you can,” Monica murmured. Her hand fluttered out as if she wanted to touch his arm, but it fell back to her side. “I’ll warn you when Ric is on his way. His first…he’ll probably bar you from the room.”
“Yeah. Yeah, I know that.” Jason moved through the open door and resumed his seat at Elizabeth’s side. He took her pale hand between his larger ones. They’d removed her wedding and engagement rings for her procedures and never put them back on.
“It’s just for a few hours,” he told her. “I’m sorry. We thought we had protected ourselves, but—” He shook his head. He should have called in favors, had Ric killed in lock-up. He’d thought about it, but it was too hot right now and the last thing he wanted was to be arrested and put in jail.
“I’m sorry,” he said again. He pushed tendrils of her hair out of her eyes, tucking it behind her ears. Her face remained smooth, untroubled, and he hoped that she wouldn’t wake up until they’d won their case and Ric was gone.
If it was the last thing he did in this world, he would make Ric Lansing sorry he’d ever been born and remove the stain of his existence from all their lives.