Disclaimer: I do not own the characters in this story. They belong to TPTB at ABC and the creators of General Hospital.

The One

By, Ashley J.

Sitting at the pier, Carly stared over the calm waters that led to the Cassadine estate, and she thought about how, with the right amount of money, she could slip onto the island, break into that old, gothic mansion, and take Little John out of his bassinet before leaving the country with him and her boys forever. They could go in search of Jax—if he wanted to be found—and start a new life together.

God, how could I have been so stupid?

She looked up, staring into the clear, blue sky, and she thought about how if Robin hadn't opened her whiny little mouth, she could have that perfect little family. Maybe after a while, the lies would be forgotten, and they could all be happy. But, she knew she had nobody to blame but herself. She had been so focused with getting over Sonny and being at peace with his relationship with his latest lay that she'd let herself get caught up in another heartbreaking relationship that left her alone and on the verge of spiraling out of control.

She stood up and moved to the edge of the pier, leaving over to look into the blackness. It was amazing how black it could be even on the sunniest of days. No wonder Sonny came out there so often to think. Even when they were married, he'd gone out there and stared out over the water. Perhaps he was looking into the own darkness that had been consuming his spirit since he was a little boy locked in a closet, listening to the frantic screams of his battered mother.

Her heart began to feel that familiar ache, as she thought about her own children. It had been weeks since they'd spent any quality time with Sonny, and they were all beginning to feel the affects. Sonny was a good father and a good man despite his many quirks, but hell, how didn't have quirks? Carly knew that she herself probably had more than he did, and she'd even lost it for a little while. But she'd bounced back. She had always been resilient, and she knew that her children were just as strong and able of getting through anything, no matter how big or how bad.

"Carly?" Carly turned around, and she saw the face that had recently become so familiar.

"Hi Lulu," she said, not bothering to put on a smile. "Do you need something?"

"No. I was just…on my way to see Dillon. I…is something wrong?" Carly shook her head, letting out a low chuckle.

"The story of my life," she replied. Lulu came closer to stand beside her cousin.

"I know we don't know each other very well, but we are cousins, and you've given me some good advice. I can listen if…if you want." Carly turned to the younger girl, and she shook her head.

"Sometimes I wonder if the advice I gave you was the right advice. I just hope you don't turn out like me." Lulu raised an eyebrow.

"What's wrong with being you? You're awesome, you've got two great boys, and you can have any man you want." Carly cringed.

"That's debatable." Lulu watched her, and she furrowed her brows.

"Is this about Jax?" Carly shook her head. "Sonny." She already knew the answer.

"It's a long story, Lulu, but if I ever give you any advice that's worth listening to…it's this. If you ever, ever get involved with a man that you destroy as much as he destroys you run. If you don't run and it falls apart, and he comes back and apologizes for everything he's ever done and you know he's serious, run anyway."

"Ok," Lulu said slowly. Carly rolled her eyes. "I don't understand."

"Sonny came to me today," she said slowly. "He was apologizing left and right and thanking me for…for being me, I guess. I don't know what the hell he's thanking me for."

"Maybe for being such a good mom to your kids? I know a lot of people don't think so, but you're a good person. From what I've seen, you're the only one he's been able to let his guard down with. He trusts you. I haven't even seen him like that with Emily." Carly turned away. "Do you think he still loves you? He wants to be with you?"

"I don't know!" Carly admitted. "I don't know what he wants. Hell, when I was married to him, I didn't know what he wanted half the time, but…"

"But what?"

"But it worked for us. I mean, we got married three times. We made two babies together…Morgan. I just…" She shook her head. "But he also got two other women pregnant. We cheated on each other, we tore each other down, and that's…that's something I swore to myself that I'd never go through again once I got out of Roselawn. Now look at me! I'm sitting here pouring my heart out over my ex-husband who just so happens to be in a committed relationship with another woman!" She finally met Lulu's gaze, and she shook her head. "Sorry. Sorry. I don't know why I'm telling you this."

"Because you need to tell somebody, and if you didn't tell me, you'd be telling Sonny right now." She paused. "But maybe that's what you need to do."

"It won't do any good. In my mind, we'd talk about it, argue a little, make up, and ultimately end up in bed." She shook her head.

"Is that what you want?"

"Honestly?" Lulu nodded. "Sometimes I miss it. I miss him."

"I guess the question I'm shooting for is…do you love Sonny? I mean, really love him. Like you loved him when you were married."

"No," Carly answered truthfully. "After we got divorced, I saw another side to him. We were friends, Lulu. He was so different with me, and I saw him from a different perspective. I think…I love him even more now than I did before, and that's killing me, because I know I can't have him, and I know I shouldn't have it. It would probably end in disaster anyway."

"You don't know that," Lulu pointed out. "He's in therapy now, isn't he? He's sorting things out. Maybe…maybe the fourth time's the charm." Carly eyed her, and she closed her eyes. How were the words of a seventeen year old making more sense to her than her own thoughts?

"When did you grow up so fast?" Carly asked, trying to make light of the situation, as a tear trickled down her cheek.

"Hey, I might be young, but I know what it's like to want someone you think you can't have." She swallowed hard. "You have two kids together. I think that's a pretty strong bond. If he loves you as much as you love him…why not give it another try?"

"It's not that simple, Lulu."

"Why does it have to be complicated?" the girl asked. She looked at her watch. "I'm late…I can call and cancel thought if you…"

"No. No, go on and have fun. I need to get home to my boys anyway." Lulu nodded.

"I'll call you…tomorrow or something." Carly only nodded, and she watched Lulu walk away. The tears continued to slip down her face, and finally, she brushed the last one away and straightened up. She couldn't spend her entire day crying over him. She had two precious boys at home that needed her much more than that. She had to lead her life and not depend on the men in her life to make her feel like she was doing the right thing for once.

When she turned to walk away, she froze, seeing those soulful brown eyes staring into hers from a few feet away. She couldn't breathe. She couldn't see anything but his soul.

"Sonny? What are you doing here?"

"I didn't know where else to go. I thought maybe you'd be here."

"Why?" she asked.

"Just a feeling," he replied. He swallowed hard and stuffed his hands in his pockets, moving forward a few steps. "You ok?"

"Fine. Shouldn't you be…anywhere but here? Maybe with your girlfriend?" Sonny said nothing, and Carly threw her hands up in the air. "I don't have time for this." She started to walk away.

"Carly." She stopped, knowing she couldn't resist him, even though she hated herself for it.

"What?"

"There's something I didn't tell you about therapy today."

"You don't have to tell me anything, Sonny. It isn't any of my business anymore."

"You're wrong, Carly." She shook her head.

"You should be telling this to Emily. Sonny, she's the one you…"

"You're the only one that ever really got me. You're the only one I can tell this to."

"That isn't true, Sonny. I'm still trying to figure you out." She smiled a little. "Go home, Sonny." She started to walk away.

"I still love you." She froze again. "You're the mother of my children. I'm always gonna love you."

"What about Alexis? What about Sam? You got them pregnant too…when you were married to me." She knew that had cut him deeply.

"I never felt that way about them, Carly. You know that."

"Well, now you have your precious Emily. You fought so hard to be with her, so you should just go home and be with her. You won't get any argument from me."

"Emily…she knows I still love you." Carly shook her head. "She told me…that if I realized I wasn't supposed to be with her…"

"You're just confused, Sonny! You don't want to be with me! We tear each other apart, and I swore that I was through with that!"

"I don't wanna hurt you, Carly. That's the last thing I wanna do. You're the mother of my boys. You…you're the only one that understands…"

"Make Emily understand. Leave me out of it, Sonny, please." She turned her back on him, and it killed her to do so. She loved him, and she knew that now. The pain of the last few years was weighing heavily on her heart again. Lorenzo, Sam, Reese, Jax. They all began to blur together.

"You want me to leave you alone?" he asked. "If you really do, I'll walk away now. But I need you. I need you in my life, because you're the only one that understands me…really understands. Jason does, but it's different. You're the one that looks at me and doesn't sugarcoat anything. You tell me like it is, and that's what I need. I don't need someone to be careful with me. I need somebody who'll test me…who'll push me so I can push back. That's the only way I can feel alive, Carly."

"Don't say that," she whispered, not sure if he'd heard her. When she felt his hand on her shoulder, she turned to face him, her eyes staring into his.

"You have Emily…"

"She understands."

"No woman understands when the man they love decides he wants to be with someone else," Carly whispered.

"If you don't want me, Carly, just say so. I can take it…I can…"

"Don't you ever, ever put me in that position, Sonny!" Carly exclaimed. "You know the last thing I want to do is see you hurt. We've hurt one another enough. We do things that cause the other to retaliate and do stupid things. We…we've never been good for each other, but look at us. We're still here. We're still friends." She closed her eyes. "I can't stop loving you. I never have." Sonny stepped even closer, and that gaze drew her in.

"I promise…I won't ever do that…"

"You can't make those promises, Sonny. You love Emily."

"I thought…I thought I did, but Lainey made me realize that…Emily was there when I needed comfort. I care about her, Carly. She's a good woman, but she's not…you." Carly sighed softly, considering her options, and she swallowed hard.

"I can't promise you I won't make you so mad you wished you'd never met me. I can't promise that…that it'll work this time around, but I can promise you, that I'll love you forever, no matter what happens." Sonny took her hands in his, and she shivered.

"I promise you, Carly, that I'm gonna do whatever it takes to get through this. But, I know that as long as you're there with me, I can fight this thing. I can get better. I was better when I was with you…even when we were ripping each other apart." He caressed her cheek. "I can't stop loving you. I tried, but I couldn't, and I know that's never gonna change."

"I can take another broken heart, Sonny, but what about our boys? What if this doesn't work?"

"They're strong boys."

"But they can only stand so much. Sonny, I want this to work. You have no idea how much I want this."

"Then don't think about the bad things. Just…just come home."

"Home…" She closed her eyes and squeezed his hand. "I don't even know where that is anymore."

"We'll find it together," he offered, his eyes telling the honest truth.

"No lies this time, Sonny. No lies. No games. Just…the truth."

"I can do it if you can." Carly smiled, and she sighed softly.

"I must be crazy…" She shook her head, and she smiled, as tears flickered in his eyes. Finally, she stopped fighting herself, and she saw what she wanted in his eyes. Leaning in to kiss his cheek, she felt him squeeze her hand, and he led her away toward a new future. It scared her, but she knew in her heart that with Sonny was where she was supposed to be.