- 6

Sonny woke up, stretched, and winced as he felt the scratch marks on his back. He turned and looked over at the still sleeping Dara. Now that her face was free of makeup, he could see the dark circles under her eyes. His heart wept at all she had endured.

Reaching out, he brushed her hair out of her face and instinctively her body sought out the warmth and comfort he provided. He wasn’t foolish enough to think her body knew it was him, remembering the passion they shared long ago. No, he knew, that she imagined it was Taggert brushing her hair and stroking her cheek. He chuckled quietly at the irony, someone mistaking him for Taggert.

Kissing her forehead, he rose from the bed and headed for the shower. As the steaming hot water flowed over him, he let his mind reminisce how one promise led him, them, here. He wondered how she would react when she woke up. Would she be embarrassed and try to pretend nothing happened? Or would she be filled with regret and remorse? Would she feel like she had betrayed her husband, their vows, and his memory? At one time, he would have known exactly how she would react, but that was a lifetime ago. They were both different people now.

When Jason told him about Taggert’s death, sorrow consumed his heart for Dara. He’d left her years before so violence and worry wouldn’t be her constant companions. And whom did she end up marrying? A cop. A cop, whose one final Good Samarian act plunged her into a life of murder and heartache. He wondered, as he stepped out of the shower and dried off, if Taggert was rolling over in his grave or jumping up and down in celebration at what he and Dara had done to the man that had taken his life. Tags was probably not jumping up and down, he imagined.

Sonny's thoughts drifted away from Taggert back to Dara. There was still more work they had to do. He would prepare her the best way he knew how for what was to come. But unfortunately it wasn’t over yet.

The men with Salvador Achoy, who couldn’t make bail, would soon meet a similar fate as him. Achoy was just a low man on the totem pole. He was a runner, a gopher. The man that ran the organization was who they really wanted. Sonny didn’t think Dara had thought about it yet, but he knew the hunger was there, her hunger for vengeance. She asked him for the head of the man who killed her husband and he hadn’t delivered that yet. He had only delivered the messenger. He prayed that she would have the strength to carry on, but he had a sinking suspicion she did.

It would take some time for his men to infiltrate and follow Achoy’s boss’ organization. Because not only was this about bringing Taggert’s murderer to justice, but it was also about laying down the law. No one, absolutely no one ran drugs through his territory or anything else without his knowledge and permission. He was going to make a statement. No one was to mess with Sonny Corinthos or what was his or under his protection. And if Dara and her son were included in that and thought of as his, then so be it.

These past few weeks he spent with her reminded him of their time together and revived his dormant feelings for her. He thought he should feel ashamed that he was having feelings for someone so recently widowed. But Dara wasn’t just anyone. She was his first love and he was beginning to realize, she was also his greatest love.

He easily recalled their last time together.

He was getting in deeper and deeper with Scully and the organization and Dara was doing so well in college that he decided it was time to end their relationship before his career truly started affecting her life. He decided to take her on one last trip, before they went their separate ways.

Sonny chuckled, he had been such an arrogant young man in some ways. All he wanted to do was protect her and instead, he broke both of their hearts and she still got pulled into his deadly way of life. Their heartache had all been for naught.

Shaking his head, he allowed the memories to continue.

He took her on an extended weekend to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. They tried to play tourists during the day, but more often than not the bed called them and they ended up rushing back to their hotel room, barely able to stop themselves from tearing each other’s clothes off before they made in into their room. Quite a few times, they never made it pass the front door. They must have given the people walking down the hallway plenty to listen to and talk about.

That weekend their love making always had an edge of desperation to it, regardless if it was playful, slow and lingering, fast and exciting. Although they both tried their best to hide it, it was as if Dara sensed that this was the end, their last big hurrah. Finally after a particularly toe curling session, he pulled her to his chest and she lay on top of him listening to the rhythmic beat of his heart. As they caught their breath and lulled in the peaceful afterglow, Dara spoke, breaking the silence.

“This is the end.”

He noticed her statement was a sentence and not a question. He longed to lie to her, but he didn’t because that wasn’t what their relationship was about. He never lied to her. He always told Dara the truth if she asked, regardless of what the truth was. She knew more details about his first hit than Joe Scully did. He had told her everything, and he would now.

“Yes,” he answered, playing with her hair. He waited for the emotions to roll off of her. The anger, the disappointment, but instead she remained eerily silent. They lay there with the sounds of their breathing, the only sound in the room. The steady feel of her breath on his chest was his only sign that she was still awake. Then ten minutes later, he felt the wetness of her tears on his chest and soon he joined her. He pulled her up as the sprinkle of tears turned into torrents and they cried their hearts out. They cried for the beauty of what they shared the past five years and sorrow for the divided roads they now must travel alone.

Sonny drew her to him and as their tears mingled, he kissed her passionately. With their fingers constantly intertwined or touching, words of undying love spoken through the sobs, he worshipped every inch of her body and she did the same. And as her tear, sweat dripped body fell into exhaustion on top of his own, they fell into a deep slumber.

Leaving the next morning, they dressed and packed in silence. Not an uncomfortable silence or a tension-filled one, or a regretful one. At the time, he couldn’t exactly put his finger on it, but later he recognized it as acceptance. Acceptance that the end was here and there was no way to fight it. As they made their last tourist rounds, they never strayed far from each other. They were continuously touching, caressing, hugging, kissing, and holding hands.

Dara rested her head on his shoulder, as the limo he rented drove them back to the city. He remembered the feel of her in his arms as he stroked her hair.

“Gizmo,” she whispered in the peaceful calm.

Sonny smiled whenever she used his nickname. He had once asked her what possessed her to name him after that furry little creature from "Gremlins." She told him, he and Gizmo had a lot in common. Gizmo shunned bright lights as he did when he first woke up. Gizmo couldn’t be fed after midnight and the same was true for him. Whenever Sonny ate after midnight, he had a stomach ache the next day. On the water front, they were the exact opposites. While Gizmo couldn’t be wet, Sonny adored the water. He had taught her how to swim and jet ski. But like Gizmo, Sonny loved fiercely and would protect those he loved with his dying breath, besides being cuddly and cute. After Dara’s explanation, his heart smiled when he heard her call him that. He even bought her a stuffed Gizmo to sleep with when he wasn’t there.

“Yes,” he replied.

“If I go to summer school again this year, I’ll graduate a year early. And then I can get a job while you go to college. We could take turns going to law school. You’d make a great lawyer or you could be a social worker or a teacher, help kids that need it. Or a cop, you could be the anti-Deke.” She sat up and looked into his soulful brown eyes with tears welling up in her own. “You don’t have to do this. You’re brilliant. And you are such a loving man with a great heart and I don’t want that to change,” she babbled earnestly.

Smiling sadly, he pinched the bridge of his nose before kissing her gently on the lips, ignoring the pleading request in her eyes. “My soul died the minute Deke entered our lives.” Dara stared into his eyes and saw there was no changing his mind. She leaned forward and kissed him softly. Her stroking tongue demanded entrance into his mouth which he instantly granted. Slowly bringing the kiss to an end, she crawled into his lap and rested her head once again on his shoulder.

Faster than he would have liked, the limo stopped outside of her dorm. He carried her bags and souvenirs into her room. They paused for a moment both unsure what to do. Then finally, she made the first move.

“It’s getting late and you still- -“ she started.

“Yeah, it is.”

He stared at the woman whom for the past five years meant as much to him as his mother did. He grabbed her and kissed her as if there were no tomorrow, as his hands made their final feel on the body he knew as well as his own. Gradually, he brought the kiss to a close. Leaning his forehead against hers, he gazed into her lovely brown eyes for the last time.

“I love you. And you deserve a life better than the one I can offer you. You deserve the white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and the dog.”

“I jus- -“

He shushed her and held her face between his hands.

“I want you safe and happy. I need to know one of the two most important people in my life is,” he finished.

Wanting to argue but knowing the futility of it, she remained silent. They had hashed and rehashed this argument and various versions of it on and off for the past year. She nodded and was proud of herself for not crying.

He kissed her ferociously, tightly gripping her hair. He stepped away from her and walked to the door.

“I love you,” he said, opening the door.

She couldn’t talk because if she did she would start to cry and never stop. So she simply nodded. And with that, he closed the door, walked out of her life, and never once turned back.

Sonny finished buttoning his shirt and slipped on his Armani jacket. Dara should be awake now, it was time to face the future. But with all of the memories fresh in his mind, he vowed to make her his once again. He had fallen in the habit of leaving the women he loved, so they could be safe. Yet it hadn’t worked for Dara or Brenda. He was done with playing it safe, he was now playing for keeps. He hoped Taggert didn’t start haunting his dreams, but even if he did that wouldn’t stop him.

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