Sorel lingered in the shadows in the back of his cell, wincing and rubbing at his reddened, swelling fingers. Sonny stood unmoving, staring, his breathing so controlled that the air made not a sound as it drifted in and out of his lungs. Sorel finally sneered, breaking the thick silence.
“Corinthos - I’m surprised to see you. I thought you’d still be preoccupied with more pressing matters.” He grinned wide, baring his teeth like an animal. Even though caged, this animal would make a show of his strength.
“How is our sweet little brown-eyed angel – still flying high?”
Sonny lowered his head and fixed his gaze on the gray cement floor below, his eyes filled with the color red. His body turned slightly, and in an instant the block of empty cells echoed once more with the harsh sound of his foot hitting the metal bars. Sorel cringed.
“Sorel, Sorel, Sorel.” Sonny shook his head and coolly slid his hands into his pockets. “Do you never tire of showing the world what a miserable incompetent you are? What a complete and utter failure?”
Sorel took a calculated step forward and lifted head. “I’ll take that as a ‘Yes’.”
He took another step, needing to see his enemy’s face as the blade was twisted just a little…for now.
“You should thank me, Corinthos. I only gave her the GOOD stuff – nothing but the best for your Miss Davis. I knew you’d be able to keep her fixed in the manner to which she’d grown accustomed.”
Sonny stared at Sorel’s smug, twisted face for a long moment. Then, he took a step back and raised his arm straight up, finger pointing at Sorel’s head. He squeezed one eye shut and squinted the other as his gaze traveled down the length of his arm.
“Failure.” Sonny whispered. he bent his pointing finger and Sorel’s grin dissipated, but he met Sonny’s stare for every ounce of contempt that it held.
“After years and years of ill-conceived plans that have backfired in your face, here you finally are, locked in a teeny, tiny little cell, waiting to die. You ARE going to die, Sorel. Do you get that?”
“At least I’ll have left you something to remember me by.” He took another small step forward. “Someone.”
Sonny smiled. “Some things never change – once an idiot, always an idiot. Haven’t you noticed that every time you try to flex your muscles, you simply cramp up. Every time you try to roar, you simply squeak.” He cocked his head and shrugged.
“Miss Davis is just fine, Sorel. She’s not an addict…you failed.”
Sorel snorted. “Nice try Corinthos. Tell it to someone who doesn’t know smack.”
Sonny came closer to the bars, his fingers running absently up and down the cold, hard metal as if he was bored. “Modern medicine is an amazing thing. You may know smack, but did you know there’s a quick and painless way to make a person’s body not need it any more? Of course you didn’t!”
Sorel’s assured look began to wane.
Sonny laughed heartily and pointed his finger at Sorel yet again. “Failure! First, you try to kill people, but you hire gunmen who can’t aim. Then you try to hook someone on drugs, but the drug you chose can be detoxed just like that!” He snapped his fingers. “Dumb and dumber…”
Sonny paused and rubbed his hand over his mouth. “Did they make that movie about you, Sorel, because I think maybe you’re owed a screen credit.”
Sorel’s ire was re-fueled. He had yet to really hit Corinthos where he lived. “Sticks and stones, Corinthos. I got exactly what I wanted, and you and I both know that it had nothing to do with Miss Davis and everything to do with you! You and your damned arrogance! You had to stick your nose in my business matters. You had to get involved in a problem with MY employee. That Smith kid had nothing to do with you and you set about using him to take me down. You didn’t really think that I’d go down quietly, did you? Or alone?”
“I thought that you might want to go down like a man. But you went down like a baby, Sorel – hiding behind a defenseless woman and using her like a shield.”
“You’re damn right she was defenseless! Because of YOU!” Sorel raised his arm and pointed, squinting at Sonny in mockery as he whispered.
Sonny stopped breathing. His ears began to ring and Sorel’s eyes grew wide as he dropped his arms with a gleeful laugh. He’d hit his target, dead center.
“You put that kid, who meant NOTHING to you, under twenty-four hour guard. You even sent your ESTRANGED wife and her son out of the country. But when it came to Miss Davis, you left her absolutely vulnerable - standing naked, if you will. Miss Davis…a most devoted and trusted attorney, a most beautiful and compelling woman. She presented a temptation that I simply couldn’t resist.”
Sorel came closer to the bars, seizing his opportunity to taunt. His whisper took on the same lascivious tone it had taken with her, when she was at her weakest and he was at his most powerful.
“I’ve seen the way you look at her, Corinthos. I know what you want. What man wouldn’t want that from her? So tell me, my fellow failure, why did you leave Miss Davis out in the open…and mine for the taking?”
“You know what this tastes like?”
Johnny stopped eating and looked at her strangely. “Huh?”
Alexis squinted at him. “Spackle. You know - that rubbery, chalky stuff that you use to fill in the holes in your wall.”
He thoughtfully stuck another French fry in his mouth. Before he could bite down, he pulled it back out again.
“Are you trying to tell me that you know what Spackle…”
“I’m just making a point.” She frowned and pushed her hair behind her ears as Johnny grinned at her, taking a large bite of his French fry. Alexis began to busy herself with twisting her fork into the mashed potatoes on her plate. Johnny unconsciously stared at the fork and her eyes soon followed his. She dug in and offered him a large, pale forkful.
“Want to see for yourself, if you don’t believe me?”
His wide eyes shot up to her face and he shook his head. “I’ll take your word for it.” Another French fry disappeared into his mouth with a smile. Her hand wandered to her arm and began lightly scratching at the marks that were slowly beginning to heal there.
“Um…I don’t think you should do that. It’ll probably just make it itch more.”
Alexis stopped and looked down at the pink trails on her skin. “You’re probably right.”
She pulled her hand away and sighed, then forced herself to take another small bite. She wanted that IV out tonight and she'd do her best to make it happen. If Tony wanted her to eat she would eat. Alexis suddenly felt Johnny’s eyes watching her.
“You don’t have to stare, Johnny. I promise I won’t hide it in my napkin and throw it away when you’re not looking.”
His eyes darted down to the small bag he held in his lap. He pulled a French fry out and waved in the air like a magic wand.
“Sure I can’t tempt you with one of these? They’re not too bad for being from a hospital cafeteria. At least they don’t taste like something that came from a hardware store.”
Alexis wrinkled her nose and shook her head. “No thanks. Do you know how much fat is in just one of those things?”
Johnny’s hand froze and he frowned as he looked down at his flat stomach. As his eyes rose back up to hers he gave her a pouty look. “I work out.”
Alexis laughed. “I’m not talking about you.”
“I know you’re not.” Johnny tilted his head and raised an eyebrow - she’d been had. “But what you’re trying to do won’t work.”
His gaze at her was direct, steady and knowing, and Alexis met it questioningly. Johnny just looked at her in silence with his safe eyes, and finally she began to understand that this man had grown to read her well.
“In other words, you’re not easily distracted and you have no intention of humoring me?”
He smiled softly and shook his head, and the assured way he looked at her made her think of Sonny. Alexis shifted against the back of the raised bed and bit her lip. She glanced at the closed door and sighed.
“I’ll make a mental note. And I’ll eat a little more Spackle as penance.” She stuck her fork back into her potatoes. “And I know that Sonny’s made you his proxy for when he’s not here, but could we just talk without you watching me as intently as he does?”
Johnny smiled. “Don’t tell me that now I’m the one who’s making YOU nervous?”
Alexis feigned annoyance and dropped her fork down onto her tray. “Okay, you’re getting a little too good at this proxy thing. You’re even giving me grief like Sonny – and just for that, mister, you forfeit a French fry.”
“For you, I’ll forfeit two.” Johnny held the bag out to her.
“One is fine, thanks.” She stared at the skinny French fry in her hand. “So - where’s the ketchup?”
His eyes widened and he opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He peered down into the bag and groaned. “Awe, man!”
Alexis grinned as she snuggled back into the bed. “Gotcha! Now we’re even.”
Johnny pursed his lips – he’d been had.
Sonny was shaking inside.
Sorel’s words were an accusation emblazoned on his heart, and he had no answer to the question that had plagued him, night and day. Why had he left Alexis so vulnerable – why didn’t he cover her? Could he have been in such abject denial of his feelings that to pretend they didn’t exist made him pretend she couldn’t be a target? He didn’t know…he just didn’t know. Sorel’s voice recaptured his unwilling attention.
“If I had a jewel like her in MY crown, she’d have been under lock and key! Not that I’m complaining about your – how did you put it - miserable incompetence? Because your loss was truly my gain. The quality time I got to spend with Miss Davis showed me firsthand all the things about her that put that certain look in your eye. Things like how soft and warm her skin is…and how her hair feels like silk as it slips through your fingers. Oh – and of course, that slim, tight little body that could maybe do with a few more pounds, but which leaves no doubt that you’ve got a real woman in your arms.”
Sonny lunged, his arms jutting between the bars and grabbing at Sorel. His fist caught the pocket of his shirt and he heard the sharp tearing of fabric as Sorel jerked himself out of Sonny’s grasp. Sorel laughed in a high-pitched cackle, clapping his hands.
“Nice try Corinthos! I’ll tell the police commissioner to send you the bill for the shirt.”
“You may be ready to die, Sorel, but don't you care HOW you die, or how slowly and painfully it happens?” Sonny’s fingers tightened around the bars until his knuckles were white.
“Being in captivity, stripped of all freedom and control – it can reveal a person’s most primal self. I saw hers. There was one time, when she was in particular need of what I had to give her…you should have seen the way she looked at me. She welcomed me and she was grateful. After I’d given her what she needed, she leaned her face into my hand and those big, dark eyes of hers told me that she wanted something more. And when I brushed my lips against her ear, whispering to her, I felt her shiver beneath my hands. I know that if I’d moved my mouth to hers she’d have given back to me, she was that grateful.”
Sonny’s head was exploding and he lunged again, frantically. He knew Sorel had been alone with her, at least once, and while she was drugged – Malloy had told him so. Sorel could have done anything to her. Alexis had blocked out so many things already, and shed done it so well. But the hospital would have known…Malloy would surely have known.
“You would not even be standing here right now Sorel!”
Sorel laughed as he dodged Sonny’s hands, still grasping for him. “What’s so wrong with a woman showing a little gratitude to a man who gives her what she needs? Don’t tell me that Miss Davis isn’t showing you the proper gratitude for rescuing her? By all rights, the Knight in Shining Armor routine should get you lucky! That’s what you want, right?”
“I want you dead, Sorel! I want you to suffer a hundred times what you put her through And I want you to see her face in your head during every second of the pain that you’re going to feel while you die!
“I may die, Corinthos, but it’ll be the state’s doing, not yours. And I’ll have the pleasure and satisfaction of watching you die first.”
“You couldn’t kill me with a cannon in a three foot square room.”
“I’m going to kill you with my right to a trial by a jury of my peers…and my right to face my accuser in a court of law.”
Sonny swallowed against his arid throat - he knew where this was going. Sorel saw the recognition in his eyes and he began to slowly more forward.
“And it’s interesting that you brought up Miss Davis’ face. She does have one of those wonderfully expressive faces that lets you see every little thing she’s feeling – every ounce of fear and pain and need is living right there for all to see. But I’m sure you know that all too well by now, isn’t that right? And when I go to trial, YOU will be the one seeing her face right in front of you during every second of the pain you’re going to feel while you die…watching her die…on the stand.” Sorel took a deep breath and sighed wistfully, his eyes smiling at Sonny’s dark, blazing eyes.
“Yes, Corinthos, my right to due process – a thing that Miss Davis herself holds near and dear – is going to bring you to your knees, and I guarantee it will do her just as much damage.”
Johnny couldn’t help but feel a bit giddy inside.
After such a tumultuous day, her levity still thrived. Alexis could have easily given in to the weight of all that had borne down on her, but instead she wanted to laugh. Still, he wished that Sonny would return soon. Johnny knew that she was tired. but she wouldn’t let herself sleep. He thought she was afraid of waking up without Sonny there, just in case. He’d caught her glancing at the door now and then, although she didn’t say a word. Johnny was glad he could rise to the occasion of filling Sonny’s temporary absence, but after all, a proxy was just a proxy.
As Alexis slowly nibbled on her French fry, a small, sly grin still cast his way, Johnny allowed himself to feel the warmth that her smile spread through him. It was hard to believe that just a few days before he’d been terrified that they would find her dead. And just one day before, he’d been terrified they’d both have to watch her suffer through withdrawal. But today, Alexis was safe and well, and smiling like a mischievous kid…eating a French fry. Tomorrow, she would be home.
The sudden sound of her voice startled him and he took in a sharp breath. He looked up to see concern on her face.
“What? Sorry.” Johnny was sheepish – he hoped he wasn’t staring.
“I thought drifting off into oblivion was MY trick. Are you okay? Why don’t you lie down for a while…” Alexis nodded toward the cot and Johnny’s eyes followed hers, his cheeks flushing.
“No, I’m fine.” He noticed her fingernails brushing down her arm, but Alexis was unaware of what she was doing. He reached over and lightly touched his fingertips to the back of her hand. She looked down and he pulled away.
“Thanks.” Alexis moved her errant hand up to her shoulder and crossed her left arm over her right, hugging herself across her chest.
Johnny took a deep breath and sighed. “I was just thinking about how we get to take you home tomorrow…and how there was a point where I wasn’t sure we’d ever see you again. Don’t tell Sonny - I don’t want him to think I doubted him. He swore he’d get you back and I knew that he would…I was scared is all.”
Alexis felt her eyes well up at Johnny’s candid expression of the fear he’d felt for her. She scrunched her shoulders and smiled as a flush washed over her as well. She still had no idea what any of them had truly gone through over her…
“Do you remember what you said to me yesterday, about how you thought I was lucky? You’re absolutely right – I am lucky and I do know it.”
“Good. I’m glad.”
Alexis frowned as her eyes darted toward the door once more. “Johnny, was something wrong when Sonny left?”
“Not that I know of. Why?”
“He…he was quiet. And he seemed distant, distracted. I know that expression he was wearing and it usually means that something’s seriously bothering him.”
Johnny smiled at the pensive look on Alexis’ face. She knew what Sonny’s expressions meant - score one for the home team.
“And it seems like he’s been gone a while.”
Johnny checked his watch. “About an hour.”
“Oh. I guess it’s not so long then.” It felt longer to her. She pushed her tray away – she didn’t want to eat any more. Johnny took it and set it down on the dresser.
“This has all been too much for him, hasn’t it?”
Johnny frowned. “What do you mean? Sonny’s coming back.”
“I know he is. But would you please call him and tell him I don’t want him to? I want him to go home and have a normal evening to himself.”
Johnny laughed. “Yeah, right.”
“I mean it! I think his last nerve is probably frayed beyond repair after all these days of dealing with me. Why shouldn’t it be?”
Johnny saw the doubt that filled her ace and he sought to reassure her. “Alexis, Sonny is fine. He’s tough - like you.”
“He couldn’t even look at me when he left.” She pulled the covers up and gathered a ball of it into her hands, her fingers nervously twisting around the edge of the blanket.
“I think Sonny’s finally run out of steam and he just doesn’t want me to see it. He doesn’t want me to feel guilty for draining him dry.”
Johnny shook his head. “You couldn’t be more wrong.”
“Johnny, he’s got to be exhausted. I know that he hasn’t slept or eaten all that much – which is ironic, considering how much he’s been after me to do both.”
“Does he seem exhausted to you?”
She hesitated, her eyes drifting to the floor. “No…not really. But it’s not always that easy to see what Sonny doesn’t want you to see. If he felt like he was slipping, he might want to take off until he could pull himself together enough to put on a convincing show of fortitude.”
Johnny sat down on the edge of the bed. “Alexis - look at me.”
Alexis sighed and reluctantly gave him her attention.
“You’re wrong. I don’t know where Sonny went, or why, or what he’s doing. But I do know that he would only go home if he were taking you home too. The only place he wants to be tonight is here, with you. Don’t take that away from him.”
She bit her lip and furrowed her brow. “You make it sound like I’d be depriving him of something.”
Johnny held her gaze, his expression un-telling. To hold his tongue was torture…if she only knew.
“Alexis, there’s something I know Sonny would say to you if he were here right now. Do you mind?”
She tilted her head and smiled a left-dimpled smile. “Go for it.”
He reached past her and picked something up from the table, handing it to her with a stern face.
“Finish your orange juice.”
That word kept haunting him, as Sorel’s face haunted her. Alexis had been damaged and Sonny couldn’t stop it…but he would stop it from going any further, even if it meant his own end. He just had to be careful…he had to keep control
“Miss Davis won’t testify.” Sonny voice was flat.
“Oh, yes she will.”
“She WILL! She’ll insist upon it, and you know that she will!”
Sorel was right. Alexis would fight Sorel with the thing she trusted most – the law.
“I can picture it now – you sitting in the courtroom while my attorney makes Miss Davis testify about all the horrible things I allegedly did to her…makes her re-live every grotesque little detail. I’ll say one thing for the woman – she does rise to a challenge, and I’ll have this one last opportunity to test her limits. Only before it was in private, and this time it will be with the whole town watching…including you.”
Sonny’s eyes narrowed as he watched Sorel barely containing his mirth. He stayed silent, allowing Sorel a little more rope…
“Can you imagine the kinds of questions Mr. Baker will make her answer? I can.” Sorel crossed his arms and leaned his foot onto the railing of his cot.
“Miss Davis, you claim you were injected with heroin against your will – how do you know it was heroin? Had you ever shot up heroin before? Have you ever used ANY illicit substances before? What did it feel like? Did you enjoy it? Did you want to feel it again? How often did you shoot up, Miss Davis? Did Mr. Sorel hold you down or did you offer him your arm of your own free will? Did you fight it…did you ever say ‘No’?”
Sorel’s foot slipped off the rail and he continued his slow approach as Sonny kept his expression blank and hard, like stone. Sorel paused and focused his attention on Sonny’s blank face – the lights were on, but nobody was home.
“Where were you when you shot up - on the floor, against the wall, on the bed? And speaking of the bed…did Mr. Sorel ever touch you? How? Where? Did you touch him back? And was this before, during or after you started getting high? You were, in fact, continually high for days, isn’t that right Miss Davis? So, how much of your testimony can be considered credible? Do junkies make credible witnesses, having been under the influence of mind-altering substances? Is there anything you’ve said in this courtroom that isn’t just the by-product of a drug-induced hallucination? I understand you did experience some very disturbing hallucinations while under the influence. Did you really think you were a butterfly?”
Sorel smiled in all his arrogance. He was sure that Corinthos was dying already, and the trial had yet to start. But Sonny was very much present…waiting and watching, his blind fury kept in check by a miracle of God.
“Poor little angel. What a shame to see a woman like her suffer such a quick and complete undoing. Think about it – she’s gone from respected attorney, to internet sex goddess, to smack junkie…to a quivering, broken-down mess, whimpering and cowering on the floor.” Sorel cocked his head and squinted at Sonny, his voice dropping to a whisper.
“Maybe someone had better handcuff her to the stand while she testifies, just to be safe.”
Sorel was drowning in his newfound sense of power, his defeated enemy standing mute and bankrupt before him. He hadn’t realized how close he’d come to the metal bars…and this time, the fabric of his prison shirt held strong.
A spurt of deep red blood shot through the air as Sonny rammed Sorel face-first into the bars. Sorel was stunned, the sudden shock of pain sending a cold rush up his spine. Sonny released his grip on Sorel’s collar, allowing just enough slack to let him jerk his face back into the metal a second time. His fists snapped from collar to neck in an instant, fingers digging into Sorel’s flesh and locking him against the cold, hard, bloodied bars.
A strangled cry stuck in Sorel’s throat – a gurgling of blood that trickled down inside him from the bone he’d heard cracking in his nose. He coughed, the blood coming up wet and warm on the roof of his mouth. He licked his lips with his bloody tongue and Sonny stared, studying his fistful of dirt…watching as it sputtered and twitched against the bars like a bug on a windshield. Sorel’s hands grasped at Sonny’s wrists, as Alexis’ hands had done within her dream of this coward, whose neck could be so easily snapped. But Sonny had to keep control…Alexis still needed him.
Sorel’s eyes widened under Sonny’s growingly dark and stiff-jawed stare - he looked to suddenly fear for his life. The dripping blood continued to gurgle within his throat and drown the sound of his voice.
“You can mewl and cry all you want Sorel - the guard won’t hear you. He’s taking a little coffee break, courtesy of the Port Charles coffee-king. That would be me.” Sonny smiled wide and lowered his voice to a resonant hum.
“You think you’re the only one with connections here among Port Charles’ finest? I’ve got certain connections myself, including one or two that would absolutely shock you. And just how many connections do you think you’ve still got left anyway? You killed one of their own, Sorel, and then you messed with a colleague on top of it.”
Sonny laughed and moved his face in closer to Sorel, whose skin had grown clammy beneath Sonny’s hands. He could feel the man trembling.
“You really have lost all your pride, haven’t you? You shoot at children, you torture women, and here you are sniveling and shaking like the pathetic, IMPOTENT little worm that you are.”
Sonny paused to watch the drops of blood drip down from Sorel’s nose and across his tightened mouth. Sorel swallowed, his eyes squinting at the feel of the Sonny’s hands squeezing around his neck.
“Enjoy the illusion of control while you’re got it, Corinthos.” His voice was dry and choked, but he wouldn’t surrender. Not now, not ever.
“Once Baker gets her on the stand, your angel’s wings are gonna get clipped! And there’s not a damn thing you can to do stop it.”
“Wanna bet?” Sonny’s fingers began to firm their hold, his hands twisting. “You will never – NEVER – get near that woman again. And the only one who’s gonna get clipped…is you. Count on it.”
His fingers loosened and he felt Sorel try to pull away. He let him, just barely. And then, with a final, furious jerk, Sorel’s face smashed back into the steel. A fresh spurt of blood turned Sonny’s head away and he released his hold, sending the dazed Sorel to the ground. His eyes darted from left to right, though he knew that they were alone. It would have been so easy…just a sharp, strong twist. But it would have been too quick. Sonny stared down at the crumpled man and saw the blood that had speckled his own shirt and smeared on his hands. He’d never felt more dirty that having touched Sorel. He wondered if Alexis felt the same when Sorel touched her.
Alexis…the thought of her softened him and pulled him from the abyss. Sonny would feel clean again once he was with her. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his hands, then buttoned his jacket up over his shirt to hide the crimson stains. As Sorel groaned, his awareness returning, he slowly lifted his head up to look at Sonnys's face. Sonny leaned down and spat on him.
“If you’ll excuse me…I need to go take a bath.”