Liz was not in the greatest of moods as she crossed the diner after the last
of the lunch crowd had left. Tammy had had a doctor's appointment and she'd
agree to take over the shift with the help of one of the other waitress.
Laura, as always, had been understanding and had allowed her to work out a
compromise that let her still work part time at the diner.

Today she wondered why she bothered. She blamed her attitude on a sleepless
night. The winds howling outside her window had done nothing about to help
her sleep. They'd kept her awake as much as those humiliating scenes between
her and Jason. How had she miscalculated so badly? But it wasn't over between
them, no matter what he said. She'd just have to find another way to get back
in his good graces. At least long enough until she found another way to get
between him and that Eliana. And she would, she promised herself. Glancing
out of the door, she noticed that a few of the chairs outside and been
knocked over. Shrugging on her coat with a sigh, she went outside to pick
them up.

    At the sound of rapidly approaching footsteps, Liz looked up just in time
to see Eliana enter the little square. The other woman's eyes flicked over
her and away, and that simple gesture set Elizabeth's anger to boiling. How
dare she dismiss her just like that! "Bad day at the office?" she couldn't
help but say as Eliana approached. When the other woman would have continued
on, Elizabeth tried again. Something hard and unforgiving in her, an unspoken
need to strike back, to cause hurt like she'd been hurt, bubbled over inside
of her. She couldn't let Eliana go that easily. "Or maybe something in the
love life department?"  Maybe she wouldn't have to do anything to get Jason
back. Maybe Eliana had done it for her.

 Nerves already stretched to the breaking point from her encounter with
Taggert, something inside Eliana snapped. She swung around to face Elizabeth.
"Why don't you just mind your own business for a change?"

Had she struck a nerve? Elizabeth went on the attack. "Maybe it's time you
stopped using Sonny and Jason and move on."

"You're the one that needs to move on!" Eliana shot back. "No one wants to
play your little games anymore!"

"Am I? And who's the one playing games…how long are you going to camp out in
Jason's apartment, interfering in his life? He does have a life beyond you,
you know."

"You mean he has a life beyond you, that's your problem." Eliana said. "It's
always been your problem. You're the one that couldn't let go"

"So who's hanging on now? Are you afraid when you don't need rescuing
anymore, that he won't have a use for you?" Liz said spitefully "Why don't
you quit playing that victim role and see how long Jason sticks around after

"You're the one that has that down pat, chica. I've never had to play your
little girl games to get a man, and I don't now. Get a life and get out of my
face! Take your little girl games and..."

"Little girl?" Those words still stung her. Infuriated, Elizabeth shoved at
Eliana before she could finish her words. Eliana shoved her back and then,
Elizabeth slapped her. With a wordless exclamation of rage, Eliana brought
her own hand up and backhanded her across the face.

Elizabeth grabbed her by the hair with both hands, yanking at it hard while
Eliana grabbed at her wrists, trying to break her grip. The momentum spun the
two of them around and across the small space to slam painfully against the
diner wall. Eliana swung her hand back to smash it into Elizabeth's face,
then her arm was grabbed and she was being dragged backwards.

"What the hell  is going on here?" Sonny looked from one woman to the other,
totally stunned. The both of them were gasping aloud in rage, glaring
furiously at each other. Eliana jerked in his grip but couldn't get free.

"Let me go, Sonny, damn it! Let me go! That little puta started it all!"

Sonny looked at her. She hadn't looked so upset or out of control in a long
time. "I'm sure whatever you said, you didn't mean it." He hoped she hadn't
said anything that would tell Elizabeth that they were anything more than
friends. It's not that he didn't trust Elizabeth, he did, but the secret that
Eliana and he were brother and sister was one that should stay a secret for
as long as possible. As soon as he got Eliana to apologize, the sooner they
could get out of there and Elizabeth wouldn't be the wiser.

His words chilled her to the core. "Whatever I said…"

Sonny kept on talking. "Elizabeth is a friend of mine. I'm sure after the
dust settles down, you'll find that whatever it was you were arguing about
wasn't worth it." He smiled an apologetic smile at Elizabeth and turned back
to Eliana, sure that she'd see the wisdom in what he was doing.

The look that she saw him give to Elizabeth only infuriated Eliana more. She
was totally misreading Sonny and his intentions. All he can see is little
miss perfect,  she thought furiously, Carly was right!

"You don't even know what happened and you're taking her side!" She hissed at

"Did I say I'm taking anyone's side?"

"I don't see you taking her to the side to scold her and tell her what to do."

"It's just that Liz is usually the calm and reasonable type."

How dare he treat her like a child, after everything she'd been through -
because of him. He didn't even know what had happened. But his precious
little Liz had to be right. And he disrespected her in front of Elizabeth.
One glance at her showed the satisfaction in her eyes, satisfaction that she
was quick to hide from Sonny when he looked at her again. An unreasonable
rage took hold of her and she didn't care. "And I'm not?"

Unfamiliar with this side of her, Sonny missed the danger signs. He shrugged.
"She and Carly have tangled too many times in the past. I've gotten used to
protecting her."

"Too bad you couldn't be that way about me!" Eliana hissed at him. Sonny took
a step back from her in shock at her words. She jerked her arm away. This
time Sonny made no move to stop her. "You couldn't protect me from Sorel, you
couldn't protect me from Taggert and you won't protect me from her! That's
fine, because I don't need you!"  This time she did make it out of the square.

    In the shadows, AJ smiled.


    Carly came home in a happy mood. Things were going well at work, and most
importantly, with Sorel behind bars and convicted, there was no threat to her
family anymore. Her last phone call to Roy DiLucca had confirmed that for her.
    "It'd be better if we don't have any contact for a little while for now,
Carly." He'd told her. "Just because Sorel has been taken care of, means that
the street might be safe, but it also means that the more diligent members of
the PCPD are going to be watching every move that your husband makes. And
that means a closer eye on everyone around him. You don't want to be caught
up in anything that might give them cause to come after him openly." He'd
warned her. It was good advice.

    So she came home, her heart light and full of happiness. She didn't
notice Sonny's quietness, but chattered on and on, buoyed up by the relief
she felt. "It's so good to know that everything is calm and that everyone has
agreed that things should remain calm. The situation is diffused, what with
the main perp being behind bars. As long as we all stay cool while the PCPD
does its regular surveillance thing, it'll all be business as usual."

    "The perp? Surveillance?" Sonny's voice was quiet. And cold. Too late,
Carly realized her mistake. "How do you know all of this, Carly?" His
confusion over Eliana's painful outburst, combined with the knowledge of
Carly's…yes betrayal, there was no other word for it, had him seething with
rage inside.

    In the face of her all too obvious and guilty silence, Sonny repeated the
question. It hung in the air between them, a deadly and silent apparition
sucking all the warmth out of the room and leaving an icy stillness.

    "Sonny…you don't understand…." She began…

    "Don't I?" He'd had too much time to brood about the situation. One part
of him tried to explain away Carly's actions, but in another part of him, the
anger had already rebuilt the wall of anger that had surrounded his heart too
many times in the past, and the rage of his betrayal flaring white hot. Sonny
moved to the bar, splashed some liquor into a glass and swallowed, all in one
smooth continuous motion.

    "I only went to Roy to ask about information."

    "You know that Roy worked for the FBI. He's a snitch. A professional
snitch. For all we know, he still is."

    "He wouldn't do anything to hurt you or me, Sonny. He was the love of my
mother's life once."

    "I don't know that. You damn for sure don't know that. Or have you
forgotten that the FBI brought him to Port Charles specifically to take me
down." Sonny's voice was harsh and Carly shrank from the ice-cold anger in
it. He hadn't sounded so cold towards her since their first days and weeks
together after she had come to live in the penthouse. She shuddered with the
memory, but Sonny went on inexorably. "Roy found himself in a bad situation
before. That's what made him take the first deal with the Feds. He's made a
life doing exactly that. Who's to say it won't happen again?"

    "He wouldn't betray you then, why do you think he'd do it now?" Carly was
desperate to convince her husband that she'd done the right thing.

    "That's what you don't understand, Carly!" Sonny spun around to face her,
eyes blazing. "They call informants rats for a reason! A rat will eat
anything to survive. That means Roy will betray anyone if the price is right.
If it came down between his life and mine's or even yours…who do you think
he'd choose?" He turned back away from her, unable to look at her, unsure and
afraid of his own reaction if he did.

    I'm sorry," Carly said, unable to look in his eyes, afraid of what she'd
see there. But she crossed the room to stand behind him. One hand lifted and
reached for him, but something in her, no - in him, made her afraid to
actually make contact. Her voice was trembled with remorse. "I made a
mistake, Sonny. But can't you see… I did it out of my love for you."

    "I hear the same nonsense coming out of Mike's mouth every time he screws
up and every time I have to clean up after him!" Sonny exploded. One arm
swept out and smashed the  array of glass in front of him.  Carly jumped
back, shocked at the sudden explosion of violence. "What makes you think that
Roy won't take what he knows and run straight to the FBI with it?"

    "He doesn't know anything!" Carly shot back. "Because I didn't tell him

    Sonny trembled with emotion, still was afraid to look at her. His first
instinct was to turn away; he could feel that old hurt and rage rising up in
him.  He looked at Carly as she turned away from him. The thought that she
was afraid of him, which was painfully obvious from the way she held herself,
hurt him. More than she could know. The fact that the woman he loved feared
him pained him. But his feet stayed where they were. His heart went out to
her, even as his mind screamed betrayal.

    Carly couldn't stand the weight of his cold black gaze on her. Lost in an
agony of fear, unthinkingly, she lashed out first, before he could hurt her
more. "What's next? Am I going to be banished to my room? Are you going to go
cold on me, freeze me out of your life again, because I screwed up - even if
nothing happened? Well, let me save you the trouble! Michael's already at
Bobbie's; I'll go there so I won't be a liability to you any longer!" Without
waiting for a reply, she whirled and stormed upstairs.


    Carly grabbed a suitcase from a closet and began indiscriminately jerking
drawers open and throwing clothing into it. What did it matter what she took
or didn't take? He'd just have it boxed up and delivered to her mother's
brownstone in the next few days. So that's all she needed clothes for...just
for the next few days. She slammed the one suitcase shut and went into her
son's room.

    Michael would want his stuffed animals.  He'd only taken his twin
giraffes tonight, but if he were going to be gone from here, he'd have to
have them all. As she jerked open his toy chest, a stab of pain slashed
through her, radiating from her left hand. Carly looked down to see a slash
of red on her palm. A splinter of glass must have cut her when Sonny had
smashed the all the crystal on the bar. But it was nothing compared to the
pain in her heart. Carly looked around Michael's bedroom, at the circus tent
ceiling, painted by Sonny himself, not a contractor. He'd insisted on doing
it with his own two hands. The fun they'd had together, the three of them, as
they painted a jungle on the walls of their son's room. This was his room,
this was their home. Was she about to lose it all?  She sank to the floor
with a sudden sob.


    Sonny listened to the angry sounds upstairs as his wife jerked clothes
out of drawers and closets. Of course she was running. Rather than wait for
him to push her away this time, she was leaving. After all, Carly had her
pride. There was only so far you could push her before she pushed back. Or
pushed first, if she had the chance. She'd opened her heart to him and in
return, he'd taken it and let his life batter and bruise it. She'd run now,
before he had the chance to break it completely. Then it got quiet. Too
quiet. And that was somehow that was worse. The silence reminded him of how
things used to be.

    He looked around the apartment, at the signs of his family that lived
there with him. A picture of Carly and Michael on the mantelpiece caught his
eye and he picked it up and gazed at it sadly. If he lost them, his life
would be a little more darker…

    Carly came back down more slowly, weighed down by the two suitcases. Not
looking at Sonny, she crossed the room towards the door. Sonny glanced up
once and then his gaze fell again, unable to bear the sight of her walking
out of his life.

    "You don't have to go."

    Sonny's words hung in the air between them. Carly stopped.

    Sonny stood there, not daring to turn, waiting to hear the sound of the
door opening and closing. But there was nothing. He said the words again,

    And then her voice, still and very quiet. "Give me a reason to stay."

    There was a long pause, an entire lifetime of silence.

    "You know I'm not a man that finds it easy to say what's in my heart."
Sonny answered. The words were true, but oh so hard to say aloud. He forced
himself to turn and face her. "But I need you. And you need me. Or don't you
love me anymore? Have I destroyed that, too?"
    His eyes burned into hers, then dropped down to her hand, seeing the
cloth wrapped around it and the red stain seeping through. His face paled.
Another memory of blood came to him, all his fault, it's all my fault...ahh
mami, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make him mad…I didn't mean to make him mad…

his glass fell from nerveless fingers.

    Carly followed the direction of his eyes then came back up to meet his
anguished gaze. "No, Sonny, no…it's nothing, I swear it!" As the glass fell
from his fingers onto the carpet unnoticed, Carly realized what was happening
to her husband…the nightmares of his past were swallowing him whole….All
thoughts of leaving flew out of her head. It had never been her intention to
punish him, but even if it had been, she couldn't punish Sonny any more than
he was punishing himself right now. Pride and anger and fear be damned. She
rushed to him, her hands instinctively gripping the both of his. "Sonny, it's
me - look at me Sonny, please!"

    He gripped her hand in an iron grip, his eyes never leaving her wound.
"I'm sorry…" he whispered, his voice rough with pain. "I always hurt you
don't I. Everything I do, everything I am, hurts you." . A part of him knew
that it would be so easy to give into it; to push her away. But, God, he
didn't want to. He couldn't. She made a mistake. A mistake. All from the love
of him. This was all his fault.

    Carly pulled him down to the couch. "I'm all right, Sonny, I'm all right.
It's just a scratch." Sonny raised his eyes to hers, and she was relieved to
see that he did indeed, see her.

    He unwrapped the cloth she'd tied around her palm. The cut was still
bleeding, and Sonny tried to stop it with his own hands. "Your blood is on my
hands." He whispered. A single tear fell from his eyes and the sight of it
ripped all thoughts of pride from her heart. She slid to her knees and knelt
before him.

    "You didn't mean to." She whispered. She took his hands in her own. "I
know you didn't mean to."

    "I never mean to, but it happens anyway." Sonny said. He took a deep
breath and steadied himself. "Maybe the smart thing for you to do is to walk
out that door, Carly. To walk out that door and  never look back. That's the
only thing that will maybe guarantee that you and your son stay safe."

    "But staying here, with you, is the only guarantee that we, me and my son
will be loved, totally."  Carly raised herself up so that her eyes were level
with his. "I would never betray you, Sonny. I would give my life first, die
gladly, first."

    Sonny gazed at her with wonder. But Carly wasn't finished yet. She
pressed her soft fingers to his lips to prevent him from replying just yet.
"You were right to be angry. I was wrong. I just didn't trust enough." She
paused, trying to put her jumbled thoughts into words. "We hurt each other
most when we're trying to do right for each other the most, you know that?
But when you aren't honest with me, even when you think you're protecting me,
then it's like you leave me no choice. I have to act to protect my family.
Just like you would. Right or wrong, it's no more, no less than what you
would do."

    Why should he be surprised, Sonny thought. Carly was just as much as a
fighter as he was. As fierce as he was about protecting his family, she was
just as fierce as he was. Sonny bowed his head, wearily. He couldn't fight
anymore. Tomorrow, let what come, come. Today, let there be peace between
    Carly, as drained and torn as he, let her head bow forward until her
forehead touched his. His hand came up to cup the back of her neck holding
her there. She did the same. Neither of them spoke another word. They didn't
have to. Together, they clung to one another wordlessly, comforting and being