HHFC#7: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Dr. Richard in Haunt You Every Day, Grey's Anatomy

Death with Dignity

Jason was not going to be very happy with her.

However, at that point, she just didn't care. She wanted everything taken care of, done with, and, if that meant taking matters into her own hands, then so be it.

She wasn't callous or cold; she understood why the man she loved was having such a difficult time with the tasks laid out before him, but that compassion on her part did not diminish her determination. For, perhaps, the first time in her life, right or wrong, Elizabeth was about to get everything she wanted, and she wasn't about to allow her boyfriend's misplaced loyalty to stand in their way.

So, that was why she was here, reclined and perfectly still, her drug induced breathing so miniscule it could not be detected by the mere human touch, battling her rather paralyzing case of claustrophobia. Thankfully, though, there were things to distract her. For one, the young mother of two found it fascinating how her life had finally come full circle. Six years before she had been the one left in the dark when Sonny faked his death, and, now, the tables had been turned, and it was the former don's turn to be lied to. However, this time, the deceit would not lead to a broken heart but to a ceasing one.

Or two.

And then there was the fact that, like before, she was in the very center of a mob war, but, now, older, wiser, and less idealistic, the brunette nurse had finally accepted the fact that such danger was going to be inevitable in her life. As long as she was with Jason Morgan, risk would be unavoidable and almost certain, and, for her and her boys, there was no other option but a life with the Port Charles mob boss. With that thought in mind, she found herself here, at The Queen of Angels, pretending for the entire world, her friends and family included, to be dead.

It had all started when word of strife and discord in the extensive yet hostile Zacchara camp surfaced just a week prior. According to gossip, it had been revealed that Trevor Lansing and not Anthony Zacchara was Johnny Zacchara's biological father. The certifiable kingpin's deceased yet cherished wife Maria was shown to be an adulterer, further exacerbating the elderly man's madness. In a fit of rage, he had suffered a stroke and was now hanging precariously, but not for long, between the very fine line of life and death.

To further the dire circumstances for the crumbling family, Claudia Zacchara, showing she was very much her father's daughter, shot and killed her brother's father in front of several witnesses, effectively sentencing herself to life in prison. She had already been arrested, the balance of power in the Zacchara organization had shifted once again, and the men left standing, Sonny, Ric, and Johnny, all brothers in one way or another, were reduced to plotting and scheming against each other.

Somehow, despite his only claim to the empire being his once imminent but now cancelled marriage to the eldest Zacchara child, Sonny had come out on top, and, to prove his validity as mob boss and to strike against in an effort to retaliate for supposed crimes visited upon him, he had immediately started a war with his former business partner, going after the man Elizabeth loved through their family as soon as he had disposed of Andre Karpov.

His first attack, one against her children, had luckily been thwarted when Max and Milo stepped forward, confessing their employer's intentions. Finally convinced that they no longer needed to show loyalty to a man that had no loyalty to himself any longer, the two brothers had rejoined the Morgan organization and, in the process, managed to save her boys' lives. It was why the two lovable teddy bears were now her kids' personal guards and why, for the rest of her life, the blue eyed surgical nurse would be forever in debt to the security experts.

When Sonny had come against them a second time, they had been ready and prepared for him. Switching tactics, the Hispanic had, instead, targeted her, personally aiming for the kill when he had shot her in the chest at point blank range, standing right outside the hospital before her third shift start time. Though Jason had been nervous about their decision to allow her to take the shot with a bullet proof vest on, they had agreed it was their best option, and, knowing his former mentor's lacking gun skills, chances had been highly likely that she was safe from a head wound. In fact, the only time the older man had successfully shot someone in the head was when he had accidentally fired upon his own pregnant wife while she was giving birth to their son.

So, here she was, supposedly dead, spread out on display as Sonny Corinthos' grand triumph over his onetime protégé. However, what the head of the Zacchara organization didn't realize was that she was still very much alive, and, if her plan succeeded, by the end of the afternoon, the only person between the two of them who would be facing a higher judgment would be the cursed Hispanic, and that was the part where her plans deviated slightly from her boyfriend's.

While Jason, understandably hesitant to outright murder his former best friend, had wanted to allow the arm of the law to handle the older man, Elizabeth knew the police would not come through for them. Something would go wrong – a key piece of evidence would be lost, a hung or bought jury would release the guilty man, or even a jail break on Sonny's part would end up freeing him, and she was not about to place the future of her family in such a precariously unreliable situation. Rather, she planned to end things between the man she loved and his enemies once and for all, at least until another new source of contention, a new adversary arrived on the scene to challenge the Morgan organization.

Interrupting her thoughts, she heard the confident yet somewhat hesitant steps of her outmatched foe as he approached her open casket. Though the ceremony to mark her death was not scheduled to begin for another hour, Elizabeth had been absolutely secure in the knowledge that Sonny would not be able to stay away from her that afternoon. The religious and often superstitious man had always had a sick fascination with death, dealing it out, running from it, and fearing its power over those he loved. And, seeing as how he had been the one to supposedly level her fate against her, the mother of two knew the head of the Zacchara empire would not be able to deny himself the chance of self-reckoning.

He would apologize, profess that he had only done what was necessary, that her death was in fact everyone's fault but his own, for he was just being a smart businessman and a proactive father and lover. He would say a prayer over her immobile body, lighting a candle like a good little Catholic boy should. And he would leave the church five, ten, maybe even fifteen minutes after arriving, feeling perfectly contrite yet wholly cleansed of his sins. Even partially unconscious, it made Elizabeth sick to her stomach.

"I, uh, I wanted to come and see you today," Sonny started, and, inside her closed eyes, the brunette saw him bending down, his perfectly pressed and finely tailored suit moving with his conditioned movements. "I know you probably don't understand why I did this now, but it's for the best, Elizabeth. Jason, he… he was going to be the death of you anyway, and, at least, now, you died mercifully.

"I made sure that it was quick and painless, and don't worry about your boys, sweetheart. Once Jason's taken care of as well, I'll make sure that both Cameron and Jake have everything they could ever want or need for. The finest colleges, the fanciest cars, hell, I'll even set them up in a business of their choice when they're older if they want.

"I just… I just wanted you to know that this wasn't personal, that, if I could have done this any other way, I would have. You were a good woman, Elizabeth, and a friend to me at one point in time, and, even though you didn't deserve to die so young… It's Jason, though," the Hispanic man ranted, losing his words and his train of thought in the bubbling tide of his own out of control anger. "All he had to do was give me back my organization, and none of this would have happened. But he got greedy, power hungry, and he refused to see what was best for everyone concerned.

"He allowed my fiancée to be gunned down at our wedding, and, when I went to him for help afterwards, he refused me," Sonny spat, his fist coming down upon the top ledge of her open casket. "He disrespected me, he turned his back on our friendship, and he ungratefully threw back in my face everything that I had done for him over the years. Without me, he would have been a nothing. A nothing, probably dead right now in some dirty alley or backstreet dump! I made him, and the first time I turned to him, needing help, he…"

"Sonny, Sonny, Sonny."

Elizabeth almost smirked at the kingpin's shaken and traumatized reaction to her words – almost, and, if it wasn't for the practically paralyzing drugs still coursing through her system, she probably would have. Even lying down, she could almost feel his quaking form nervously shuddering beside her through the thick and elaborate wood of her coffin, and, when the older man next spoke, she could hear his fear and confusion trembling through his once steady and oh-so-sure voice.

"You… you're dead," Sonny accused, his tone rising in both pitch and volume with every word he shrieked. "I'm looking at you right now with my own eyes, and you're dead. Cold. Lifeless. I shot you."

And he was right. To all natural appearances, the petite brunette did seem as dead as he believed her to be, but she wasn't, and the voice that was speaking to him was her own, prerecorded hours before she had taken her place in the casket and the ruse she and Jason were playing that day. Hidden so that he would only find the tape recorder if he removed her form from what was supposed to be its final resting place, Elizabeth was confident that the Hispanic would not discover her trick.

"You can justify your actions all you want, Sonny," her detached voice warned him, "but you'll never be able to cleanse yourself of your guilt. And what are you going to do when you're face to face with your loved ones? How are you going to explain this to Kate, Sonny? She thought that you were out of the mob, that you loved her enough to finally give up the power, and the money, and the control in order to live a normal, safe life. Do you really think she's going to stay with you after she finds out what you've done?

"And Carly and Morgan, they'll be done with you, too. Jason will never forgive you for killing me and taking me away from my children, and Carly will never forgive you for hurting her best friend. To take it out on you, she'll make sure that you never see your son again, and you know that she'll be able to do exactly what I say, Sonny. Plus, there's Kristina. If you think that Alexis will ever allow you near her little girl again, then you're even more delusional than I thought you were.

"And those are just the people who are alive that you love. What about those who are already dead, dead thanks to your world, your sins, Sonny? Lily won't forgive you either. She'll hate you for what you did to me and my children, and the child you lost with her and the one you lost with Carly, the one I helped you grieve for, the one I held you together for while you fell apart at the hospital, they'll want nothing to do with you either after witnessing what you just did to me.

"You're a monster, Sonny Corinthos, a cold blooded, ruthless, destructive monster. You're no better than Deke, no better than your abusive step-father, and don't think that you're mother, that Adela won't realize this as well. Won't she be proud, Sonny, to see what her precious little boy has become? The next time you see her, she'll turn her back on you, just like everyone else who has ever loved or cared for you will as well. You certainly have lived up to every single appalling thing expected of you."

As her voice trailed off, the young nurse waited to see if her enemy would react the way she anticipated, but she didn't have to wait for long. Mere seconds later, the loud, reverberating shot of a handgun went off in the church, its metallic sound ringing off the stone and wooden beamed walls and ceiling of the beautiful church.

One down, Elizabeth thought to herself as she heard the main entrance of the sanctuary open once again. By the steadied, measured steps of the man approaching her, steps she knew from the time she had spent married to the attorney, she knew that Ric had just arrived – Ric who had been obsessed with her for years, Ric who had pinned so much of his salvation and grace upon her, Ric who had been told it was her sons his brother had gone after and murdered and not her. What he was about to find in the pretty, white casket, though, was not what he was expecting.

One down, she repeated to herself. And one more to go.