FF#249: Make a wish.
Appropriately, it was a beautiful day. Despite the dismal, harsh reality of a Port Charles winter, the sun had come out, the wind had calmed down, and the snow had stopped just long enough for those gathered at Ritchie Morelli's gravesite to send him off in style. No one wore black; instead, the select mourners were attired in bright, festive colors, just as the vibrant guard would have wanted. Suits were exchanged for jeans and t-shirts; dresses forgone for slacks and sweaters. The preacher was dismissed, as nicely as a ragamuffin group of non-believers could dismiss a man of the church, and, rather than eulogizing the fallen security expert with psalms and hymns, everyone in attendance told a funny, enlightening story about their departed friend and coworker. It was exactly what Ritchie would have wanted.
And when the event was over, the sun disappeared behind the ever awaiting clouds, seemingly having parted just for the perpetual optimist being buried that day, and the large, loud group broke up into small portions. The guard contingent – an injured yet rapidly healing Max, his brother Milo, a recently returned from Puerto Rico Adam, and Johnny as their leader, accompanied by Stan, Bennie, and, their newest member and fellow stooge, Spinelli, all rode back to town together in a limo, the festivities of shared memories continuing in the car. Discretely, Francis escorted Alexis home, using the excuse of business to spend more time with the lady lawyer, and the last to leave, after saying a second goodbye to his grandmother, were Jason and Elizabeth, ostensibly on their way out of town despite how it would appear to the rest of the world.
Time progress; life continued.
/ / /
Milo was unsure of how to react around his new neighbor. Because of his collateral from the gym, he was planning on purchasing Elizabeth's art supply store from her… posthumously, as far as the business world was concerned, but, because he knew his friend wasn't dying but, at the same time, wasn't coming back to town either, he had already moved his things into her second story apartment. The place was much bigger than his old home, was a hell of a lot nicer, and, thanks to the measures Jason had put in to protect the artist, safer, too. However, there was just one thing he wasn't used to yet: a constantly camped out Damien Spinelli on his couch.
At first, though slightly awkward, the genius' presence had been tolerated, even encouraged. The younger guy had managed to organize all his paperwork and files for the gym onto an easy to access and understandable computer system, he started a similar set up for Milo's eventual sports equipment store that would replace Elizabeth's business, and he had even completed the Italian's taxes, months before Uncle Sam would come calling in April. But then the nerd stopped going home at night to sleep in his own place, and he had started eating all his meals with Milo and following him to the gym at night to help with the
late shift. The bottom line was that Spinelli, though a cool enough guy in his own right, was starting to be a little too much, a little too clingy. Hell, the kid felt like his own personal, rambunctious, talkative shadow. Something was going to have to give.
Having collapsed onto his couch after returning from Ritchie's less than standard funeral service, the dark haired man cringed as he felt the cushions beside him dip and plump as The Jackal followed suit. It wasn't as though he didn't understand why the nerd was so upset. Spinelli was lamenting the fact that his one and only true friend, Elizabeth, was leaving town, for good, and that he'd never get to see her again. The painter was the book store owner's only real link to the outside, social world, and, with her practically gone already, he was clinging to Milo as a replacement. But he wasn't nearly ready or prepared enough to fill such big shoes. Someone else, maybe even a few people, were going to have the share the burden with him until the computer expert recovered from his emotional loss.
"Look, dork, we need to talk."
"Yes, Frankie Dunn?"
Really, he had no idea why the kid called him that, but he accepted the nickname, not particularly wanting to know what had inspired it. Truthfully, he was afraid to find out. "You know, I've been thinking, and it seems unfair that you spend all your time with me." The green eyed dweeb immediately appeared crestfallen. "I mean, you're a vital part of the organization now. Max was just telling me how much Francis appreciates all the hard work you put into helping put Ric away and that he's looking forward to working with you more. So, I think you should start making the rounds, you know, so you can get to know all your new coworkers."
"Really," Spinelli brightened, beaming at the thought. "You sincerely think they'd like to hang out with me, The Assassin of Cyberspace?"
"Sure, why not. Take for instance my brother," Milo suggested. "He's laid up with that shoulder injury for at least a month, maybe two. You could go over after work every night. Take him some food, watch a little tv with him, maybe help out with a little housekeeping, seeing as how he can't really do much of anything besides gain weight right now – it would be good for the both of you, and, if nothing else, you could do his taxes, too."
"I could," the geek agreed readily.
"And then there's Johnny. He's always looking for a new drinking partner. And Benny could probably use your help organizing all the financial aspects of the business." Suddenly becoming even more animated in his persuasive tactics, the gym owner stood up, moving around his new apartment to gather up his neighbor's things. "And don't forget about Stan. You two will be working shoulder to shoulder together in the future. He'll be the Smith to your Wesson."
"And then there's Patrick, too."
"There's who," Milo asked, scrunching up his face. After several silent seconds of thought, realization dawned. "Yeah, Elizabeth's brother – he'll need a friend now, as well, seeing as how his sister's ditching town."
"And also because his relationship with The Blonde Barracuda has understandably hit the skids. To think, The She-Lion did all that she did in order to hang onto The Charismatic Neurosurgeon, and, in the end, it's what pushed him away. He's probably heartbroken."
"Or relieved," Milo offered. "You know, now that I think about it, you should introduce him to O'Brien. They could go out trolling together."
"For tramps," the older of the two young men supplied helpfully. Shoving Spinelli's things into his arms, he glanced at his watch, pretending to appear thoughtful, before opening up his front door. "Oh, would you look at the time. You've gotta run, nerd."
"Yeah, there's so much you have to do this evening, so many people to hang out with, to meet. It's just too damn bad that I have to work and can't go with you." Feigning disappointment, Milo swore, "shit, that sucks. Guess I'll just have to see you later – like next week. Sayounara!"
Once the door closed behind the younger kid, he leaned against it, sighing in relief. Though a small part of him regretted doing that to the dork, he simply needed a few hours of peace. Spinelli would be back, and, eventually, he'd look forward to his return, but, in the meantime, the soon-to-be Corelli-O'Brien dynasty was large and full of employees for the tech expert to harass… starting with his very cranky, very demanding, injured, big brother. It was exactly what the chubby lug deserved after scaring him by getting shot.
/ / /
"Thank you, Mr. Corelli, for showing me to my door, but, really, there's no need for you to come any further."
Holding up the bag he held in his hand, the bag that had been waiting for them in his car during the service, Francis argued with his future attorney, "but I brought beer."
"Beer is for commoners. I don't drink the stuff."
Quirking his brow, the next in line to the Port Charles territory parroted, "commoners? Why such a snob, Miss Davis?"
The brunette shrugged, unlocking her door as he followed her into the cluttered apartment. "Cassadines are members of the Russian royalty, and, despite the fact that my step-mother
tried to deny my parentage, I am a Cassadine. There are just some things I can't lower myself to do, and drinking beer is one of them."
"Aw, but you see, I fully plan on having at least one beer while I'm here."
"Too bad I never invited you in," Alexis remarked pointedly yet not throwing him out at the same time either.
Francis ignored her. "And, as my host, it would be rude of you to make me drink alone. I'm sure, as a member of the Russian royalty, you were taught that, right?"
"Your assumption would be correct, Mr. Corelli."
"So, I guess that means that you're going to have to pick the lesser of two evils. You can either drink a bottle of beer with me in a toast to our new business association, or you can disregard proper etiquette and insult a guest by refusing to accept their gesture of good will and best wishes in the form of a simple six pack."
There was the barest hint of a smile on her thin, perpetually serious lips as the lawyer rolled her eyes, effectively informing the future crime boss that she was willing to compromise. "Fine," Alexis agreed, "hand me a bottle."
Smirking in victory, the former guard watched as the older woman twisted off the beer cap, tossing it over her shoulder, and took a hefty drink of the frothy ale. Putting the bottle down, she grimaced. "That stuff is disgusting. People willing drink this… and enough of it to get drunk?"
"The more you drink, the better it tastes."
"Apparently," she scoffed, lifting the bottle back up to take another large gulp.
Francis just laughed, enjoying their, if not promising, then certainly empathetic relationship. Both of them were losing their best friends that evening, but, in the process, they were gaining a whole new life, a whole new set of challenges, and it was going to be exciting. Despite the fact that he not only admired the lady lawyer but also found her attractive, the soon-to-be don of Port Charles realized that Alexis Davis could be nothing more to him than a friend and a trusted employee. And he was okay with that.
/ / /
Safely ensconced in the organization's private jet, Jason and Elizabeth watched as the car reportedly taking them out of town for a private weekend alone blew up… just like a trick candle on a birthday cake reigniting itself. It was an explosion no one could survive, and, as the live coverage streaming through the plane's flat screen television announced their deaths, he pulled the woman beside him just a fraction of an inch closer, needing to feel her warmth and life encompassing him.
Their plans had changed after Ric's arrest at the Towers. Because it had been such a public affair, their relationship had been broadcast on national TV for the world to see, so there was no way Jason could die, seemingly in a mob hit set up by Francis so the guard could take over the organization, and Elizabeth could just leave town. Instead, they made it appear as if they had both perished in the explosion.
It wasn't the perfect solution. People were hurt and left behind. Alexis and Spinelli both lost their best friend; Patrick lost his sister and his girlfriend because of their plan. Jason had to leave behind the men he had grown up with, some of them both friends and mentors, others new, respected acquaintances. But, in the end, all the suffering, all the pain, all the loss was worth it, because, as he said goodbye to his life as Jason Morgan, he said hello to a brand new one, one filled with hope and promise. Essentially, just as he had been taught as a child, their actions were a necessary evil.
Squeezing Elizabeth's left hand placed confidently in his right, he felt the metal of her rings bite into his own flesh, and he smiled.
It was a necessary evil because, when everything was said and done, he was someone's husband now, and, eventually, he would be someone's father, too, and those two things made everything he had done as an individual and everything he and Elizabeth had done as a couple worth it. They had no regrets.