Sonny and Alexis drifted in and out of a light afternoon sleep.
In a rhythmic pattern, as if taking turns, each stretched, sighed and settled back into the pillows and cushions of their respective sofa. Alexis had succumbed first, within minutes of setting down her fork and almost mid-sentence. It had made Sonny laugh, and put him in a bit of awe. Though he knew the root of her body’s need, his own tendency toward insomnia was all the worse under stress. It was a trait for which he’d recently been grateful. Having grown used to a lack of sleep prepared him for none but short thefts of rest – throughout her captivity and hospital stay, they had held him for long stretches of time. And now, gazing at Alexis’ peaceful face, he marveled at how she released herself so quickly into sleep. Sonny envied anyone who could turn off their hectic mind, as if controlled by a switch, and just surrender. He wondered if she slept as easily under normal circumstances. Type-A personalities though they both were, he knew that his own such manifestation of it would not necessarily be hers. He hoped it wasn’t.
As Alexis stirred, she bent one leg and pulled her knee up alongside her hip. The movement parted the fabric of her robe and allowed her leg to slip through to the open air. Sonny consciously drew his eyes away from her newly bared skin, but something took his focus – a small blotch of bruising across the bottom of her knee. He was stunned that he hadn’t known that was there. The length of her hospital gown had clearly kept it covered, but Alexis hadn’t said a word about it. She hadn’t wanted him to know, just as she hadn’t wanted him to see her back and what Malloy’s strong arms had left there. Malloy. Sonny was abruptly struck my the memory of something else he’d been told - that Alexis had fallen from the cot in the darkness of that basement and her fevered state. She must have bruised her knees then. He was desperate to know what else was hidden from his eyes, but he already felt guilty for sneaking a look at her spine between the ties of her gown while she was groggy from Demerol. He would respect her wishes this time, and shield her uncovered limbs from his own temptation to pry.
Sonny went upstairs and passed her bedroom door on the way to the guest room that would be his for the next two nights. His pace slowed as the light, lovely scent of her bath drifted out from her room and into to the hall. If the air carried it as far as his bed, he’d sleep like a baby and undoubtedly have very pleasant dreams. He took the chenille throw, the color of deep amethyst, from the footboard and made his way back downstairs. By the time he returned to the sleeping Alexis, she had shifted her position once more to nuzzle her face into the crevice between the pillow and back cushion. Sonny sighed, knowing from unpleasant experience that her face should be unobstructed.
“Aw honey.” He whispered, laying the soft throw over her lower body. “We need to make sure you can breath, okay?”
He brushed her hair from her cheek and carefully slid his hands beneath the pillow that cradled her head. He shifted it just slightly, moving it away from the cushion. Alexis groaned with the motion and pulled her arms up, hugging the pillow against her head. But still, her face was clear. She sighed lightly, and then was quiet. Sonny grinned.
His voice floated over his vocal chords as he lingered above her, staring down at the soft curve of her lashes. She looked like a sleeping child. Sonny slowly leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on the top her head. He couldn’t NOT do it. The smell of fruit suddenly met his nose and he reluctantly turned his attention to it. He quietly cleared their lunch plates from the coffee table and took them to the kitchen. Alexis had eaten fairly well, which pleased him to no end. He took it as a good sign for both her returning health and also his culinary skills. As he regarded the half-empty bowl of fruit, it occurred to him that Alexis seemed to have a particular fondness for strawberries. His own particular fondness was now, of course, the peach.
With the plates and silverware deposited into the dishwasher and Alexis in steady slumber, Sonny’s work, for the moment, was done. A sudden wall of exhaustion hit him. He checked his watch to see that there was another forty minutes or so before Taggert would leave the station. He intended to stop by on his way home, having made a point to Sonny that Alexis’ time to control information would be coming to a quick end. They both agreed it was best to bite the bullet and disclose everything to her, but to allow her some proper nourishment and rest beforehand. There would be a flood of reality coming her way – only some of it would be disturbing, but she was still fairly raw, and anything could push her the wrong way. Sonny knew that Taggert would be gentle and cautious, as he’d been the day before, but he would still keep him under very close watch…and he would need some rest beforehand as well. Besides, he’d promised Alexis he would join her in a post-lunch nap.
On his way back to the sofa, Sonny gazed down to see that Alexis hadn’t moved since he’d been in the kitchen. As he passed by her desk, the telephone caught his eye. He bent down and examined it, quickly finding what he was looking for. He muted the sound and turned off the ringer. Sonny didn’t want Alexis disturbed, and he longed for just an hour of undisturbed rest himself. He was gone before his eyes were fully closed.
Asking for an hour was asking a lot – Sonny was back to consciousness in forty minutes.
The sound of Alexis squirming came at him from across the coffee table, and it affected him like Pavlov’s dog. His arm’s instinct to reach out for her was met not with warm skin, but empty air, and it felt so wrong. It awakened his mind more fully, and opened his eyes in search of her. They found her quiet and unmoving, legs tangled in the amethyst chenille with her arms crossed and tucked into her chest. Sonny smiled at the way her hair had dried on its own to form light waves that fell across both her throat and the pillow. He’d never seen it like that before – slightly mess, unpolished. He liked it. And it suited her more than he ever would have thought some years before when he’d first met and been slightly taken aback by the sharp minded, tough talking attorney. But there were many fascinating layers to this woman that were just waiting to be peeled back by anyone curious enough to do so. Sonny was curious. Alexis was not just garden-variety beautiful and smart, she had an interesting mind – to him, that was catnip.
Sonny laughed as he remembered her bearing in their first professional meeting. He’d begun by engaging her with his usual style of dimple-flashing charm – the male version of coyness that he tended to employ with all women. But Alexis would have none of his little games, knocking him out of the ballpark with charming dimples of her own and one very direct question: ‘Are you flirting with me?’ He laughed out loud and she simple smiled, peering at him over the top of her glasses. They knew right where they stood with each other from then on…although his flirting with her never did stop. As Sonny lay ensconced in his warm memories of how their complicated relationship began, the sound of his private chuckle opened Alexis’ eyes.
“What’s so funny?” She asked in a lightly raspy voice.
“Hey. How did you sleep?” He propped himself up on his elbow and smiled at her.
“Fine. But what’s so funny?” She looked down at herself. “Am I flashing you for real this time?”
“As a matter of fact, you WERE flashing me a little leg at one point.”
Alexis lifted her head and looked down at the blanket across her legs. “And, gentleman that you are, you covered me up.”
“I didn’t want you to catch a cold.”
She smiled and lay her head back down as she stretched her limbs out along the length of the sofa. “You are too preoccupied with my catching a cold.”
She settled onto her back, with one arm draped across her chest and the other curled up alongside her face. As she looked at him across the coffee table, Sonny pulled a pillow under his head and crossed his arms over his stomach to look back at her. Alexis frowned at him and turned her head to get him better in her view.
“Aren’t you going nuts by now?”
Sonny frowned back, his expression questioning.
“You’ve spent the better part of the last several days sitting, laying or contorting yourself next to me, watching me sleep. How can you stand it? I’d think that at this point, the prospect of watching paint dry would be exciting for you.”
Sonny’s dimples took over his face as she looked at him in solemn worry for his sanity. Watching her sleep was a precious grace. He could spend the rest of his life watching Alexis sleep – safe, serene, and just an arm’s reach away.
“And don’t think those dimples of yours are going to fool me into thinking you're all perky."
"Perky? I've never been referred to as 'perky' before. I find it vaguely disturbing."
"You look tired. I should be watching YOU sleep.”
“You don’t have to worry about me, I’m not tired. In fact, I just woke up from my nap a few minutes before you. And I can stand it just fine – watching you sleep, I mean.” His smile turned sly as a bit of mischief crept into him. “After all, it’s not all that often that you’re so quiet for such long periods of time. I suppose I’d better appreciate it while I still have the chance.”
Alexis stared at him with her mouth open. She sat up and leaned on her elbow as she turned onto her side to face him.
“You keep making these little jokes, which are not all that funny OR clever, by the way, about how I talk too much. What is that all about? Where is this coming from all of a sudden? Are you just grasping for something about which to harangue me, are you trying to incite me to amuse you again, are you seeking an effective diversionary tactic, which this is NOT - and I’m the queen of such, so I should know - or do you…really think…that I talk too much?” Her face had morphed into a serious expression, and she cocked her head at him while she waited for a response.
Sonny ran his tongue across his lower lip and slowly sat up, pulling the pillow into his lap as he looked at her soulful eyes. “Alexis, you have more words tucked away in that incomparable brain of yours than most people ever even hear in a lifetime. And you have a tendency to use at least a quarter of your vocabulary in any given conversation, sometimes turning what could be a two-minute statement into a fifteen minute soliloquy.”
Alexis regarded him for a moment, then pulled herself up to a sitting position as well. She sighed and smiled sweetly.
“Said tendency does tend to keep certain people from tending to be incarcerated.”
“True. And I’m not saying I don’t appreciate said tendency. In fact, I tend to find it rather fascinating. But I expect that in the future, there will be an occasion or two when this tendency of yours will kick into gear and my mind will tend to wander away from your verbal fountain and back to the memory of the very peaceful and very quiet experience of watching you sleep.”
Alexis stared at him with a studious expression, and Sonny prepared for the hearty comeback he was sure would soon follow. Instead, Alexis leaned back against the couch and pulled the chenille up over her body, gathering a fistful under her chin.
“Now I know you’ve been hanging around me too long – you’re starting to sound like me.”
Sonny shook his head. “There’s only one you, Alexis. That mold was definitely broken.”
“I really hate when you say things to me and I’m not sure if it’s a compliment or not.”
Sonny grinned. “No you don’t. It’s a challenge – you love a challenge.”
He watched her eyes drift away from him and stare into the distance. ‘What else do you love, Miss Davis? Or should I say, WHO do you love…’
Alexis held her body still. He didn’t have to ask – he knew he’d said something that reminded her of Sorel. But he waited for her to shake it off on her own. Alexis soon moved her gaze downward, into her lap, as her hand slipped under the thick collar of her robe. Her fingers quickly found what they sought, and Sonny saw the faint glint of the diamond that had been hidden beneath the deep blue velvet - Ashton’s diamond. Sorel had made a threat against him, probably to keep her in line, keep her from fighting him too hard. Sonny remembered the last time that specific memory had been triggered, and he didn’t want to see it again. Alexis was inconsolable when coming out of sedation, calmed only by the presence of Ned, alive and well in front of her. It had been a devastating kind of grief for Sonny to witness, despite Charlie’s insistence that it was not an unusual thing. Charlie didn’t understand the complications – he didn’t understand what Sorel had really done, or what Ashton meant to her. But he did understand that seeing her so wracked with emotional pain made Sonny want to die.
“I expect Taggert to show up soon, so if you want to get dressed…”
“Oh, right. Yeah, I do.”
She swung her legs over the side of the sofa and dropped the chenille into a ball beside her. Sonny reached out and offered his hand in assistance, and Alexis took it. As he helped her rise to her feet, Sonny set his hand against her hip.
He tapped her left temple. “Don’t for get to put the Vitamin E…”
“I will – I mean, I won’t. You know what I mean.”
She moved past him and headed toward the stairs. The flashing light on her answering machine stopped her at the desk.
Sonny shrugged. “I don’t know. I turned the ringer off and muted the sound so it wouldn’t wake you.”
She turned the sound back on and rewound her single message, leaning with both palms flush against the top of the desk as the sound of Ned’s voice reached out to her.
“Hi, it’s me. I called the hospital and Tony said that he finally turned you loose a few hours ago. I just wanted to call and check up on you, make sure you were safely tucked away at home.” He laughed lightly. “I suppose right now you’re probably tucked away in that hot bubble bath you wanted, or maybe you’re already tucked away in bed. In any case, I know your machine is downstairs so hopefully I’m not disturbing you.” Ned sighed and cleared his throat. “I’m glad you’re home, Alexis. Just know that I really, really meant what I said about calling me with anything you need or want – no matter what or when. And I intend to hold you to what you said about me coming to see you tomorrow. You tell me when, and I’ll be there with bells on…or maybe with more muffins. Blueberry, of course. Which reminds me, please...just make sure you try to eat, okay?” There was a brief pause and then his softened voice returned with a decided edge of longing. “Sleep well, sweetheart. Goodnight.”
Alexis smiled down at the machine as she turned the message off, then wrapped her arms around herself. “It’s so hard for Ned to keep himself from pushing. I must say, he’s doing surprisingly well so far.”
Sonny's pulse quickened. He suddenly felt threatened in a strange new way. It had seemed so natural, so easy and right to be at home with Alexis - taking care of her, feeding her, joking with her...napping with her. But to Sonny's mind, the unexpected sound of Ashton's voice was an invasion that tore at the tenuous threads connecting Alexis to him. He knew he had no right to feel it, but he felt it all the same. No matter. Sonny would continue to give her what she needed - he would continue to love her.
“Alexis? Do you want to call him back?”
She looked up at him with a bit of a far away look in her eye. “Yeah, but not now. I’ll wait until after Taggert leaves.”
She turned and continued on her way to the stairs. Two steps up, she stopped and looked back at him. “I think I fell asleep before I got to finish telling you this, but lunch was really good. Thank you.”
Sonny grinned wide. “Thank YOU. And you’re welcome.”
Alexis tilted her head and gave him a serious face. “Just remember that the kitchen – MY kitchen – is to remain a beet-free zone.”
The light hum of the elevator was a welcome distraction.
Taggert had a lot on his mind and was glad to be rid of the hectic goings on at the station.
He’d been there since too early that morning, and his visit with Malloy had left him oddly reflective and somewhat disturbed throughout the day. Taggert didn’t like reflecting – what was done was done. And then there was Dara and her ever-darting, inquisitive looks. Dara was not pleasant to be around when she felt put out, and she sure felt put out with Taggert. But he had too much going on in his head to allow her to distract him for long. There were other issues to deal with, like intruding upon Alexis her first day home from the hospital. He hated it.
He felt like a bit of jerk, demanding Sonny grant him access to her so soon, but it was both professional courtesy and personal concern that made him press the issue. He wanted to prepare her for what lay ahead – he wanted to get to her before the media freaks could shine their unwelcome spotlight on her yet again. She hadn’t asked for it the year before, and she didn’t deserve it now. In retrospect, Taggert wished he hadn’t ribbed Alexis so much about her reluctant celebrity, but he knew she’d hold her head high this time, as she had then. If only this wasn’t so much more devastating an exposure than a sweetly sexy photograph. He couldn’t help but conjure all the ugly things she could be subjected to in the tabloids, and it made his temples throb.
Eddie’s Angel takes a fall…
Sonny’s Junkie flies high...
He pushed the sickening imagined headlines from his mind, replacing them with the memory of the day before, when he’d opened the door to her room with his heart in his throat. He’d been nervous - it was the fist time he’d seen Alexis conscious and alert since before she’d been taken. What a blessed thing it was to see her eyes meet his with such clarity and to see her timidly smile. But behind the clear eyes, beneath the timid smile, there lingered a shadow of fear and confusion around her – it was the vulnerability of a puppy that had been whipped too many times and didn’t know why. It was difficult to keep looking her in the eye, and soon Taggert’s gaze was drawn away from those big pools of brown and toward the nasty bruises and puncture marks. It threw him unexpectedly back to the moment that he and Sonny thought they were too late.
He’d never seen Sonny in such a state of near hysteria. The panic in his face while he hovered over her limp, lifeless body, begging her to wake up, was surreal. His paralyzed hands were too afraid to touch and hurt, and Taggert had to push him away to press his own fingers deep into her neck. The soft, thready pulse brought the kind of smile to his face that was usually inspired by quite different, but equally fascinating aspects of a woman’s body. The experience gave him a whole new perspective on the things that were truly worthy of his fascination. The miracle of life was a one - the anguish of Sonny Corinthos over the threatened loss of Alexis, was another.
Taggert smiled, still fairly amused by the lack of guile Sonny displayed in his defense, protection and adoration of his attorney. He wondered if the woman had yet to catch a clue. Severe trauma had been known to compromise one’s perceptive abilities.
The elevator bell rang softly before the doors opened. Taggert stepped out and turned toward Sonny’s door, feeling more assured that his visit would be without incident. Alexis was strong and she was, most definitely, loved – just as he’d told Malloy. And as the image of the blonde, blue-eyed lug popped into his head, the sight of Sonny’s big, burly bodyguard was directly in front of him. He looked up and grinned with a small shrug of his shoulders.
“Oops. Wrong door.”
He spun around and headed for PH2 with a new concern on his mind - Thomas Malloy and the mea culpa he wanted Taggert to relay to Alexis. Would his message of contrition do her more harm than good? He’d need to decide that one for himself, even if it meant risking Sonny’s wrath. The mention of Malloy’s name alone made Sonny’s teeth clench in anger, and Taggert suspected that not all of his ire was due to the man’s guilt, but to the fact that Alexis would surely have died if not for his help. Sonny had to share the role of savior, and it was eating him up. It was jealousy of a strange form, the likes of which Taggert had never seen before. But he would do what he sensed was best for Alexis, no matter what.
“Sorry, Corinthos.” He muttered, knuckles rapping against the wood. “But this one’s going to be MY call.”