Adversaries and Allies
Emily dropped in to have a snack and visit with Elizabeth while she was working the late afternoon shift at Kelly's. She watched her best friend as she scrubbed angrily at an imaginary stain in the counter top. For the last twenty minutes Liz has done nothing more than go on and on about one subject. She interrupted her.
"So you saw the two of them at Jake's. Why is it such a big deal?" Emily asked.
"You had to see them, Em. She was hanging all over him. It was disgusting." Elizabeth shook her head at the thought. "Sonny said she was Carly's friend, so what was she doing there with him?
"What were you doing there?"
Elizabeth tried for a casual shrug. "I just like to talk with Jason sometimes. He seems so alone most of the time. He probably didn't even want her around, and was just feeling sorry for her to begin with. How much do you want to bet that Carly schemed some way for her friend to stay with Jason instead of in the penthouse with Sonny and her?"
"Well, we both know Carly is capable of anything," Emily admitted. "But Jason knows her well enough not to be fooled by her little plans. Besides, what do you care if Jason has a new friend? From what he's said, she's really an old friend of his, not Carly's. He told me he's known her for more than a year."
"You've talked to Jason about Eliana? When? What did he say?"
"Not much." Emily said. "I ran into him the other day and we just talked for a few minutes. You know Jason. But when I asked her about him, he said that she was a friend of his."
Elizabeth didn't like the sound of that. "What else did he say?"
Emily wasn't happy talking about Jason behind his back. "Nothing much more than that. Honestly, Elizabeth. If they are more than friends, which I don't know and Jason didn't say, shouldn't we be happy for him? I mean, I'm happy with Zander, you're happy with Lucky and maybe it's time for Jason to be happy with somebody too."
Elizabeth didn't know if she liked the sound of that either, but sensed that this was not the time to push the issue with her friend. Wisely, she changed the subject until it was time for Emily to leave.
An hour later, towards the end of her shift, she looked up to see Carly enter the diner, Michael in tow. Elizabeth groaned inwardly; it was obvious that Carly wasn't exactly happy to see her either. After the first initial glare, by mutual silent agreement, they ignored each other.
Carly managed to ignore the little witch. She quickly found a table and fetched a high chair from one of several placed to the side. She took the seat that would leave her back to Elizabeth. Out of sight, out of mind. "Let's hope that works." She muttered to herself. She was definitely not in the mood for miss saccharine-fake-sugarsweet-and-dayglo-phony-sunshine today. Inadvertently, her thoughts went back to Sonny. They hadn't been any more angry words between them lately; in fact they were still barely talking and Carly couldn't think of a way to heal the sudden breach between them. Between both of them and their stubborn pride, silence was all they had. been words between them at all. Something big was happening or was about to happen. Sonny tried to hide it, but she knew better. Carly could see the strain on his face when he thought she wasn't looking. Didn't he know by now that her heart could see past whatever shell he tried to put up?
A happy laugh from Michael brought her attention back to her him. She leaned down. "Did we have fun with the ducks today, Mister Man?" she crooned to her little boy. "And as soon as Auntie Elli gets here…oh look...here she is now!" Carly said as Eliana came in, cell phone firmly affixed to her ear.
Eliana waved as she made her way over to them, hanging up as she sat down across from Carly. "Hey, Mikey." She bent down to give the little boy a kiss. "I am officially on a break. Man, those ad people are relentless." She said to Carly. "If only I didn't have such a demanding boss."
"Funny." Carly smirked. "But look at the fringe benefits."
"Oh yea, late afternoon ice cream power breaks. Can you see that on the cover of Business Week?" Eliana laughed at the thought.
"I was just telling Michael that as soon as you got here, we could order ice cream. I gave Leticia the rest of the afternoon off. Believe it or not, when I was staying at the Quartermaines' she got tight with the butler, Reggie. The two of them have been inseparable ever since."
They studied the menu for a few minutes before Carly ordered a scoop of vanilla for Mikey and a banana split for herself. Eliana decided on a hot fudge sundae.
"We'd like to place our order now." Carly said, a little too loudly, turning around to stare right at Elizabeth at the same time.
Elizabeth glanced around; Tammy was busy with another table. She sighed. That left her no choice; so she steeled herself and went over to take their orders, doing her best to be polite, if nothing else.
Eliana watched as she and Carly tried to be civil to one another and both of them barely succeeding.
"What was all that about?" Eliana looked at Carly, one eyebrow cocked, after Elizabeth had taken their orders and left their table. She had definitely been chilly towards Carly and hadn't spared Eliana an ill-concealed nasty look as well.
"All right, I admit it. I enjoy having little Lizzie waiting on me. I take my small pleasures where I can get them."
"You are bad." Eliana laughed.
Carly nodded. "Yeah, for sure. Ask anybody in Port Charles. They'll tell you that. Over and over and over again."
Eliana shrugged. "Who cares? You wait long enough, everybody gets talked about, sooner or later. You, me, everybody. Think of the fifteen minutes of fame thing."
"Fifteen minutes of infamy, you mean." Carly said. "And I'm in overtime."
Elizabeth arranged their orders on a tray, her eyes never leaving the two women laughing and joking. About her, no doubt. Carly had had it out for her ever since the two of them had met. Always calling me names, she thought, the biggest whore in Port Charles has the nerve to look down her nose at me. And just because she married into money…. illegal money, but that never mattered to her, she thought that made her something. Look how she had just created a position within the company for her friend. Poof, just like that. It wasn't fair. She was an artist, she could have had that position. She should have.
Her eyes dropped to the tray. There was one way to bring miss high-and-mighty Caroline Benson-Spencer-Quartermaine-Corinthos down to earth. A dose of ice cream cold reality was just what the situation called for. Wiping the smile from her face, Elizabeth approached them, carrying the tray with their order.
Carly had her back to the counter, so she couldn't see, but Eliana, after glancing at Elizabeth while she talked with Carly, looked again. Something in the younger woman's eye jarred her. She looked again, then noticed how Elizabeth's hand deliberately shifted its center of balance as she drew closer with the tray. That and the sudden light in her eye warned Eliana of what she was about to do.
"Michael dropped his spoon." Eliana announced suddenly. She slid out of her seat and stooped down as though to pick it up, then turned, directly in Elizabeth's path, just as she was about to dump the whole tray onto Carly. Instead, Eliana's movement caused the tray to back flip, drenching Elizabeth instead.
"Oh, Elizabeth, I am so sorry!" Eliana exclaimed. She grabbed up some paper napkins, ineffectually dabbing at the other one's blouse, which was now covered with ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate sauces. She stared straight at Elizabeth, letting her know that she'd caught her game.
"I'm fine." Liz said, her lips thinning out in anger.
"I'm sure." Eliana shot back, with a hard glance.
"If you're such a klutz here, how are you going to manage in front of a camera?" Carly snapped. "God! Do you think you can get someone else to handle our order while you get yourself cleaned up?"
"Don't worry about it. I'll get someone on it right away." Elizabeth said tightly.
"Glad to hear it hon." Carly said with a wee bit of sarcasm in her voice.
Liz first rushes to the kitchen to clean herself off, then realizes that the chocolate is going to stain unless she rinses it out right away. She has to go upstairs to fix the mess. As she heads up, she heard Eliana's voice. "I can't believe she was going to dump that tray on you -- that was so twelfth grade."
The sound of their laughter made Liz furious.
Tammy managed to make up their re-order pretty quickly, and soon they were enjoying themselves.
The front door jingled a welcome as another customer came in. Eliana looked up to see a curious expression cross Carly's face. She turned to follow her gaze as an older man entered. He smiled at the curly headed blonde woman behind the counter and crossed over to her. After seating himself at the counter he continued to chat with her.
Eliana looked back at Carly. "Who's that?"
"Sonny's father." Carly replied.
"Oh." Eliana turned her gaze back to the man Sonny had said abandoned him and his mother.
He turned around on his stool and caught sight of them. His gaze lingered on them, and Eliana got the distinct impression that he was studying them. After a moment, he stood and came over.
"Hello, Carly." He said before bending down to speak to Carly's son. "Hey hey Michael. How the ice cream?" Michael grinned up at him before returning his attention to his ice cream. "How's my godson?"
He looked at Eliana, then Carly, expectantly.
"Eliana Salazar, this is Mike Corbin. Mike, this is Eliana." Carly made a reluctant introduction. "Sonny's father."
"Charmed, I'm sure." He said, putting out his hand. Eliana took it.
They exchanged small talk for a few minutes, but his eyes rarely left Eliana's face. After a moment's hesitation, Mike asked to speak to Eliana alone. He led the way into the foyer that leads to the upstairs apartments. Mike looked up the stairs and then around, making sure they were alone.
"I don't know how much you know about me..." he began.
"Just what Sonny has told me about you."
"That might be good or bad." He joked; trying to smile.
Eliana tilted her head slightly as she looked at him, in a manner that suddenly reminded Mike of his son. He found it familiar in the light of what Sonny had confided in him and disconcerting, all at once. "I'm guessing you know who I am?" she asked. "Or better yet, who I've just discovered myself to be?"
"Yes, Sonny told me about you."
"Aha." Eliana replied.
"I didn't meant to stare at you so. I guess I was looking for some trace of Adella in you."
"And did you find it?"
"Actually, yes. Around the eyes. You and Sonny both have her eyes." He sighed heavily.
Upstairs, Liz started to come out of her room, when the sound of voices made her pause. She stepped backwards, but held the door open slightly so that she could see and hear.
"Don't worry," Mike said. "You can trust me with your secret."
Liz stood there, thinking furiously. What secret?
"Thank you. Right now, that knowledge is not for general use."
"That's already been made clear to me. I understand the reasons why."
"I usually don't like secrets, but this is a necessary one. All the clues we have are being followed up on and the documents I've uncovered are being authenticated as well."
Liz listened with growing pleasure. It proved what she'd known all along, The other woman was involved in some sort of secret plot. Maybe this was a secret she could go to Jason about, or maybe even Sonny. That would get her out of Harborview Towers in a hurry. Out of Port Charles. Yes, and Jason would be proud of her and they could maybe, get back to the way their friendship used to be, when he was her rock.
"Leaving no stone uncovered?" Mike said. Before Eliana could answer him, raised voices from the diner interrupted them.
"What the devil…?" Mike said. The two of them returned to the dining area to see Carly squaring off with three of the Quartermaines. Monica and AJ were both glaring at Carly, while Ned stood behind them.
"You are absolutely worthless. Moving from man to man. But I suppose that's because you don't know who your own father is. So you go looking for someone to take care of you. Over and over and over again." Monica was saying. "There's something wrong with you, deep down, like an rotten apple, pretty enough on the outside, but decayed inside."
"Rotten to the core." AJ taunted, his voice heavy with satisfaction.
"That's not true..." Carly said. But her voice shook ever so slightly. Monica caught the tiniest tremor and moved in for the kill.
"Of course it is Carly. You're damaged goods. Weak. You look to men to take care of you because you never had a father to begin with. And you're doing the same thing to Michael. As long as you have him, that little boy is going to grow up so confused. With you as his mother, how else do you expect him to turn out?"
"With AJ as his father, he'd be so much better off?" Carly shot back. "I love my son, Monica; no matter what you say, I love him and I would do anything for him." She covered Michael's ears, praying that he didn't understand what was going on.
"Monica, AJ, this isn't going to resolve anything, doing this here. Not in front of Michael." Ned made one attempt at being the voice of reason, knowing even as he spoke, that it was a futile exercise.
"You have done anything. Everything and anything." AJ said; his lips curled in contempt. "But don't try to fool yourself into thinking that it's about my son. It's all about you. You're selfish, an amoral whore, without scruples and without a conscience."
"Any parent would be better than you! Any slut in the gutter, any mongrel in the street, would make a better parent than you." Monica put in. "Michael has paid for your mistakes over and over again. As long as you're in his life, he'll continue to pay. He'll grow up to be just like you. Not knowing who his daddy is and being just as damaged and warped as you are!"
"That's enough!" All heads turned to Mike as he roared the words. He stormed into the room, Eliana close behind him. She stood at Carly's side while he moved to stand between Carly and the Quartermaines. "Not one more word from any of you!"
"Oh, look, a man rushing to Carly's defense." AJ sneered. "How typical. What is it, Mike, is she giving you a little fun on the side? She likes to keep it all in the family, remember?"
"Who the hell are you people?" Eliana demanded.
"Meet the Quartermaines, Eliana. God's gift to Port Charles." Mike turned back to them. "What is it with you people? You walk around here like you own the town, like you're so powerful, but look, it takes a gang of you to pick on one woman." Mike growled. "You're like a pack of wild dogs."
"The only wild dog here is Carly. A female one, isn't that right, sweetie?" AJ said.
"I'd say it takes one to know one, but that would be insulting the dogs." Carly snapped. Her face was pale but her eyes blazed with anger.
"That's no woman, that's Carly, a one person wrecking crew." Monica stepped around Mike to confront Carly once again. "What's the matter, honey? You can dish it out, but you can't take it?"
Carly motioned for Eliana to take charge of Michael and got nose to nose with the older woman. Their accusations have shaken her, they've put voice to her own deepest fears, but she will be damned if she lets them see it. She'd die first. With an effort, she kept her voice controlled. Anything for Michael's sake. "I can take anything you Quartermaines can dish out. But I will not make a scene and spoil anything for my son. Being that you've screwed your children up so much, Monica, you can't help yourself. But I can."
"The truth of it is, you can't defend yourself and you know it. You're a worthless slut, looking for the next sperm donor, and who could be surprised?"
Alexis walked in just in time to hear their last exchange. She halts just inside the door, stunned and distressed as Mike spoke. "That's enough. I think the three of you need to take your poison over to the Grille. I'm sure your attack on Carly has already sharpened your appetite. But go feed somewhere else."
Ned spoke. "You don't run this place, Mike."
"But I do." Tammy said. She moved from behind the counter and pointed at the door. "And I'm asking you to leave. Now."
Alexis could only stare at Ned in dismay, unwilling to believe that he is a part of this. He turned and saw her. Ned took a step towards her, but halted as she took an equal one back and away from him. His face tightened in anger. He doesn't even try to explain, but follows his family out without a word. She shook her head in disbelief, walking slowly over to their table.
"Are you all right?" she asked Carly. She was not a fan, or even a friend, to the younger woman, but what the Quartermaines had just done to Carly, in a public place, no less, was brutal.
"I'm fine." Carly said, but her voice was shaky.
"Are you sure?" Mike asked. When she nodded, he reached over and squeezed her hand. "I'm really sorry about all this, Carly."
She smiled her thanks. Mike squeezed her hand again, and after a glance at Eliana, went over to talk with his friend, Tammy.
Eliana looked at Carly's face and the way she was biting her lower lip. Despite the brave front she was putting on, Eliana can see that what those people said to her, had hurt her. Badly. Carly was shaking. "Why don't you go to the bathroom and splash some water on your face and then we'll get out of here? I'll keep an eye on Michael."
Carly left. As she headed for the bathroom, she doesn't see Liz standing at the bottom of the stairs. Thinking she is alone, Carly pauses to catch her breath. She would never let the Q's see that their words hurt, but alone, she stops and takes a shaky breath, raising her hand to angrily dash away the threat of tears.
"I guess it's true what they say, the truth does hurts." Carly looked up to see Elizabeth looking at her heartlessly.
"You really are such a bitch." Carly said, and walked on past her to the restrooms before Elizabeth could reply.
"What was that all about?" Alexis asked as she sat down in the seat Carly had vacated.
"I don't know exactly." Eliana said. "I was talking with Mike Corbin in the back, we heard all these voices and come out to see those three attacking Carly." She glanced back towards the restrooms. "She's really upset. More than she's showing. As soon as she comes back, I'm getting her out of here."
Alexis gave Eliana a quick version of Carly's history with the Quartermaines. Her unfortunate involvement with AJ and the whole mess with their obsession with Michael. There was enough blame to go around on both sides.
"Remind me never to get any of them mad at me." Eliana said when Alexis had finished.
Tammy called out that Alexis' pick up order was ready, so Alexis stood up to go. "Usually their bark is worse than their bite. But not always. If you ever have cause to get tangled with them, and I sincerely hope you don't, be careful."
Alexis paused outside the door, inexplicably saddened by everything she'd just witnessed. She was hardly a fan of Carly's, but what had just happened was so terribly unfair. No one should ever have to have such things said to them; especially in front of their child.
He'd been waiting outside for her. Alexis turned to him with a look of sadness on her face. He took a step towards her, but stopped as he read her expression. "Alexis, you can't possibly think that I had anything to do with what went on in there?" he said, one hand gesturing towards Kelly's.
"I don't know what to think right now." Alexis said. A part of her heart went out to him, seeing the sadness in his eyes that she was sure echoed in her own.
"Maybe they didn't put it in the kindest of words, but a lot of what they said about Carly was dead on."
"So that makes it all right to attack her like that? In front of her son, no less?"
"Look, I didn't wait for you to talk about Carly, or my family." Ned said. "I wanted to talk about us."
"What about us, Ned?" Alexis asked. Her tone changed as she repeated the words in a tone that gave them a whole different meaning. Was there even an us anymore? it asked. "What about us?"
"I've missed you." he said.
"Have you? Have you missed me or just being with me." Alexis answered. She felt as though she'd splintered into a million pieces was being split into a million pieces.. A part of her wanted to let go of everything and run into his arms, but another part of her, something deep and obstinate in center of her being, kept her still.
"What do you mean? We haven't spoken in days. I miss the sound of your voice; I miss having you in my arms when I wake in the morning and when I go to sleep at night. I miss you in my bed, in my life."
She'd missed him too. But it was more than stubborn pride that had kept her from going after him. Alexis had had time to recognize some hard truths. "What I mean, Ned, is it me you really miss? You can't seem to accept who I am. You love me as long as I do and say all the things that make you happy. But whenever I do something that makes me step out of the box, you get angry and you walk away. So I have to ask myself is it me;" Alexis touched her hand to her heart. "..is it really me that you say you love?"
"What do you want from me, Alexis?" Ned spread his hands in frustration. "Just what is it you want me to do to fix things between us?"
"I don't want you to do anything to fix things. A relationship can't be fixed by one person. Some nails, and hammer, or maybe a spot of glue to hold things together. It doesn't work that way. You have to see me for who I am, what I am, and accept it."
"This all comes back to Sonny and Zander, I see." Comprehension dawned in his face. "You want me to accept your involvement with them."
"Not them specifically, but yes, that's a part of it. You have to be able to accept my choices. Not necessarily agree with them, because I don't expect you to change who you are for me. But you have to respect the fact that I am the person who makes the decisions for my life."
"I'm sorry, Alexis. I can't do that. I can't accept the fact that you are willing to choose Sonny Corinthos and his crime associates over me. Over us."
Alexis felt something inside her break as she saw Ned's eyes harden. "You're not hearing anything I'm saying, are you? This has nothing at all to do with Sonny or anyone else. This is all about who I am."
"Maybe I never knew who you were, Alexis."
"I thought you did." She said quietly, letting the pain of what he was saying show. The few steps between them had somehow widened to an unbreachable gulf. How did they get here in so few words?
"I thought I did too. I guess I was wrong." A long silent moment passed between before Ned turned and walked away.