Family Ties Ch 15

The Council

It was not until Sonny's plane was lifting off into the late afternoon sky,

that he allowed himself to think of what was ahead. The trip was not as safe

as he would have Carly believe. He'd asked for a convocation of the council,

a loosely knit federation of the heads of the most powerful organizations on

the east coast.

Sonny was going there to tell them his intentions of not keeping the

moratorium between him and Sorel. True, the council only advised, but when

one went renegade against their word on a grand scale, then the others would

and could band together to bring the outlaw down, like a pack of wolves

bringing down a wounded prey. He had to cover all the bases. At the very

least, he needed their neutrality. Whichever way this went, he was going to

handle it face to face.

It wouldn't do any good for him to rehash what he had to say to the council

any more than he already had, so Sonny forced his mind to other matters. He

shut his eyes and images began forming his closed eyelids. Then he was

remembering the talk he had with Jason back at the warehouse office the first

day he'd visited Eliana at Jason's penthouse


Sitting in his office, he couldn't concentrate on the papers before him.

Eliana's attack was still too fresh, all too real. The day after she'd

settled into Jason's apartment, he'd stopped in to see her. He was shocked by

her appearance. Her bruises had darkened. The first sign of healing true, but

the sight of them, marring her flawless light honey skin tone, froze Sonny in

his tracks. Jason had already told him that she'd slept badly that first

night and it showed in the circles under her eyes. Her own reaction was just

as painful. Before he could conceal it, she'd seen the look in his own eyes

as he looked at her and had quickly turned away, arms wrapped tightly around

herself in protection.

"Is there anything I can get for you?" he'd felt so helpless. Sonny reached out

a hand in an effort to comfort her. She jerked away, her whole body reacting

as she nearly jumped in an effort to get away from him. Her eyes went blank

for a moment and he knew she wasn't seeing him at all.

She blinked and her eyes cleared. "No...nothing." her voice was strained, as

though words were an effort. Even her voice was different now. But it was

something. Something was wrong now, changed forever, and they both knew it.

Sonny looked at her and saw Sorel. Gloating and spiteful. Inflicting pain on

an innocent woman, all because of family ties neither he or she had known

about. He wondered what she saw when she looked at him.

Sonny glanced over to the still figure leaning against the wall by the office

window. Jason was quiet as usual, watching him, but saying nothing. That was

Jason, friend -- almost-son - brother. This man, the closest person on the

earth to him. He knew that Sonny had to find his own way through this. When

he was ready to talk about it, he would be there to listen, never pushing,

never judging. Just being Jason by being there.

He didn't think he could even talk about this with Carly. He splashed some

brandy into a glass, then set it down without tasting it. Not even the

familiar burn of alcohol could sear this pain away.

Sonny stared at his office wall, not really seeing it, unable to shake the

memory of Eliana's face out of his mind. He saw her face when he'd first saw

her at the Grille and all the times before Sorel had kidnapped her. Those

images clashed violently to when he'd found her then in the small room where

Sorel had held her, in the hospital, at Jason's apartment. He saw the joy of

life, the confidence that had been ripped out of her gaze and hated it, hated

himself. It was all because of him. In a sudden sickening surge of anger, at

the attack, at Sorel, at himself, Sonny turned and sent his glass

splintering against the far wall.

"She'll be all right, Sonny." Jason said. He knew what was on Sonny's mind

without asking.

"Will she?" His voice was bitter. "This isn't a broken arm. It's not a clean

wound, like bam! A gunshot, or a knife, and you heal. She was raped.

Because of me. Because she's my sister." Sonny sank back into his chair. "Why

doesn't she hate me? How can she not hate me? All of this happened because of


"This is not because of you. This is because of Sorel and she knows it."

"Sorel." Sony said. "I am going to pay him back tenfold for this.

"What about the council?"

"I know that there are some on the Council that will advise that I back

down, that I compromise with Sorel, let him run his drugs through my

territories, use my conduits. That it's win-win situation and the profits to

be recognized are worth it. Not to me. Never. I made a promise

someone and to myself long ago. I broke it once. I will never break it

again."If he's going to be in this life, then he had to be the best, be

strong. And let no one cross him. Let no one dare. Sonny hadn't realized that

he's spoken the last two sentences aloud until Jason answered him.

"No one will, Sonny. Together, we can handle anything that anyone sends

against us."

**end flashback**

The pilot's voice announcing their arrival broke through his reverie. There

was a car waiting for him at the airport when he arrived, that took him first

to his hotel, then returned an hour later to transport him to the meeting

place, a lodge on the outskirts of the city. A silent guard led Sonny into a

conference room where six of the most powerful men on the east coast stood

waiting for him.

Conversation stilled as he entered. He nodded in greeting to each of them.

Once Sonny had arrived, the room and each of them were swept for safety and

security a final time. Then they all seated themselves at the long polished

table, Sonny being shown to a chair at the far end of the table. The others

ranged themselves, three to each side along the length of it. Formalities

swiftly dealt with, they came straight to the heart of the matter.

While they waited for his arrival, they've taken the time to review the

long-standing rivalries between he and Sorrel. Tensions had been mounting

between them for several years now, and it was time for the council to decide

whether or not to take a more involved interest in their conflict. Sonny was

an independent concern, one of few. But he acknowledged the more powerful men

before him.

"Long standing on his end, not mine's. I have always been content with what I

have. He wants what I have. He can't have it."

There were dissenting opinions about that; Sonny could see it in their faces.

Some thought accommodations should be made but others held the opposite view.

After the debate had gone on for more than twenty minutes, Sonny decided to

speak his mind.

"It all comes down as to whether or not my territories are mines." His eyes

traveled to each man at the table, meeting and holding their gazes in turn.

Even while respectful, the possessiveness and pride was in his voice and

Sonny didn't care who knew it. He'd paid too high a price for what he was.

"Either I run them as I see fit, or let someone stronger come and try to take

them. That is not going to happen. Who here would allow it?"

"How can you ensure that this vendetta stays between you and Sorel?" The

question was asked.

"Yes," said another. "How do you guarantee it. Stefano Barton, based in the

DC area, with influence stretching from Virginia to the Florida Keys looked

up from the glass he held in two hands. "You've already shut down a

profitable conduit. How long before that impacts on my profits?"

"Let Sorel put himself before this Council as I have, lay out his defense to

his breaking his word and I'll lift my shut down. Otherwise, it stays in

place until I have him."

"And when you get him?" This was from Marchese's successor, Alberto Falconi.

He had taken over when Marchese had been killed in a drug war and had

expanded his empire until he was one of the more powerful men on the council.

"He's done." Sonny answered shortly.

"You still haven't said how you will keep this battle between you and he."

Another man asked.

Sonny shrugged, showing nothing but cool and calm. "Nothing is guaranteed. I

have no intentions of involving any of Sorel's connections. No one's

interests or associates will be impaired by my actions. But Sorel himself is

out of control. He broke the agreement first. He went after noncombatants, he

went after a courier."

"A courier that turns out to be a blood relation to you. Could we say that he

was - provoked?"

"His actions have no honor." Sonny reined in his temper. "Do you condone what

he has done? Did he come before the Council and lay out his grievances, as

we've all given our word to do? If you know that about Eliana Salazar and

myself, then you know the rest. Neither Eliana Salazar nor I had prior

knowledge of the fact that we were - are - related. It was a family secret

that was withheld from her until the death of another family member.

Irregardless, he dishonored the word of the council when he acted against one

of your couriers. What will the other couriers think if and when this comes

out? If they become convinced that they are no longer inviolate, what will

they do? If they feel that they can't trust the council's word, then what

kind of loyalty do you expect from them in return. If Sorel is allowed to go

on without retribution, then it will spread dissension and discord throughout

everyone's organizations. The fact remains that Sorel's like a mad dog, rabid

and uncaring about who he savages in his anger, and there's only one way to

deal with a mad dog."

The questioning went back and forth for a length of time. And then: "We will

be in touch with you at your hotel when we've made a decision. This meeting

is ended."

As the other members filed out, one of them caught his eye and nodded almost

imperceptibly. Sonny got the message and remained by his chair. He looked

each man in the eye as they passed him, trying to gauge their temper. Most

were deliberately neutral. No matter, Sonny decided. His path was chosen.

The last man but one had left the room. Albert Falconi turned back from the


"Do you think to old friends have time for a drink?" He said as he walked to

the end of the long table and picked up a heavy crystal decanter. "Brandy,


"You remember right." Sonny said, a small smile passing over his face.

"I remember a lot of things. We young bulls should." It was a nickname he and

the other young toughs that hung around the capos and bosses of New York had

called them. Falconi picked up his glass and brought the decanter back to

where Sonny still sat. He poured them both a drink, then lifted his glass.

"To the Young Bulls. May they roar forever."

The two of them touched glasses and drank deep. "May they roar forever.."

Sonny repeated. It was their old toast. "Man, we were something back then,

weren't we?"

"Still are."

"Damn straight.

Falconi looked at him. "You could have come back and be his successor you

know. Or Joe Scully's."

Sonny shrugged. "What I have, I built with my own two hands. And I'm content

with what I have."

Falconi nodded. "I can respect that." He took another drink. "I don't have to

tell you that the council is pretty much split down the middle about this


"And where do you stand?" Sonny asked. It had been a long time since the two

of them had been what you could call friends. Loyalties change, shift with

need in their world. Sonny knew that as much as anyone.

Falconi clapped one hand on his shoulder. "What do you think? We're still the

young bulls."

"Not so young, anymore, Falcon." Sonny called him by his old street name.

"But we still got the cojones, right?" Falconi laughed. He sobered quickly.

"The others are waiting for me. Corinthos, be careful. They can't understand

why you can't come to a compromise with Sorel. Not me."

He stood and slipped on his jacket and started to walk towards the door. He

stopped by Sonny and put his hand on his shoulder again. "I see you're still

keeping your word to her, Sonny." Falconi walked out the room.

Back in his hotel room, Sonny looked out over the city. Then the phone rang.