Chapter Twenty

Prompt #78: "Don't try to explain your mind; I know what's happening here; One minute it's love; And suddenly it's like a battlefield.

One word turns into a war; Why is it the smallest things that tear us down?; My world's nothing when you don't; I'm not here without a shield; Can't go back now.

Both hands, tied behind my back with nothing; Oh no, these times when we climb so fast to fall again; Why we gotta fall for it now?

I never meant to start a war; You know I never wanna hurt you; Don't even know what we're fighting for."~ "Battlefield" by Jordan Sparks

"Sonny's... not the man he shows to the rest of the world."

Elizabeth was silent, attentively listening but silent. Since coming home and finding Jason sitting quietly on the edge of his bed, his copy of the ultrasound picture clutched in his hands, she had known that, whatever was on her husband's mind, it was important. Usually, she always seemed to ramble around Jason, especially now that she was fully aware of her feelings for and attraction to him. Though they needed to discuss what was happening between them, Elizabeth knew that their talk would have to wait. Whatever was bothering Jason, whatever was weighing so heavily upon his mind that it was making his shoulders droop and his eyes constantly skitter away from her own, that had to come first.

So, she sat beside him – so close that their thighs brushed together, for she was hoping that he would find her physical proximity reassuring. After all, Jason's presence near her always had that effect. Otherwise, though, Elizabeth didn't touch the man beside her, using the pain of digging her fingernails into the palms of her clenched hands to keep from reaching out and doing so. Jason seemed too skittish for that – like he would clam up and make some excuse to leave if she broke through the wall he had erected between them with his emotional distance.

"Publicly, he's this... celebrity – confident, cocky, untouchable, and he and his men take great pains to make sure that no one realizes the truth." Jason lost some of the distance to his voice, his tone hardening when he resumed his speech. "In reality, he's unstable. He's claustrophobic – hates small spaces and flips out if he's locked up or trapped. If the police knew this..." His words trailed off, and Elizabeth was surprised to see her husband smirk slightly. But then the ghost of a grin was gone, and he was talking once more.

"He's also extremely temperamental. Anything can set him off. He loses his cool, acts emotionally, and that's terrible for business. It leaves him open and vulnerable to emotional manipulation, and his enemies have taken advantage of it on more than one occasion in the past. Like when Lily – his wife – was killed," Jason offered as an example. Elizabeth couldn't remember the details of the woman's death – after all, she had been quite young and self-centered then, she did recall that it had been violent, and had Sonny's wife been pregnant at the time...? "Sonny lost it. He fell into this extremely dark place, locking himself away from the rest of the world, ignoring the business, trashing his home, himself. There were rumors that he saw things, too – Lily's ghost."

Startling Elizabeth, Jason stood up then and started pacing. As he walked, he briskly rubbed his hands across his cheeks and jawline. "I shouldn't know any of this. Part of the reason Sonny pays his men so well is for their silence, but, when Sonny starts acting irrationally, the guys get nervous, and, when they get nervous, they talk – not openly, of course, but..." Elizabeth could fill in her husband's trailing sentence. But Jason was good at blending into the shadows, into the background. He was quiet, and unobtrusive, and she had no doubt that Sonny's men would forget that he was even there, allowing Jason to hear tons of things their boss would not want someonewho was a mere boxer and not actually involved in his organization to know.

"Sonny's also paranoid," Jason continued several moments later, bringing Elizabeth out of her thoughts. "He demands loyalty, but he doesn't know how to trust. When things start to go wrong, everyone's a suspect. Combine this with the fact that he is extremely emotional and easily distracted from business by his personal life, and, really, it's amazing that Sonny has lasted this long without either being taken out by a rival or convicted and sentenced to life in prison."

When Jason fell silent once more, Elizabeth spoke for the first time. "I don't understand why you're telling me all of this," and she emphasized her words with a confused shrug of her scrub-encased shoulders.

"Don't you see," he questioned her rhetorically. "I knew all of this, and I used it against Sonny; I used it to set Ric up."

"Ric...? What does he..."

Interrupting her question, Jason answered, "you know that Ric is Sonny's half brother, right?"

"Yes...?"

"Well, long story short, there's a lot of baggage between them – between Sonny and Ric."

"But Ric's working for Sonny now," Elizabeth supplied, still not seeing Jason's point. "Isn't that why you brought Jagger into town – to bust them on racketeering charges?"

"Kind of." Expanding upon his oblique statement, her husband explained, "Jagger's not here on official FBI business; he's not formally investigating Sonny, but, if the right circumstances were to present themselves... Right now, he's serving as a liaison to the PCPD. The FBI doesn't have a field office here in Port Charles – why, with all the mob activity, I'm not sure, but that's partly why this town is so popular with organized crime rings. Anyway, yes, Jagger is here to take down Sonny'sorganization, but I don't trust the Feds when it comes to your ex-husband. He's too... slippery for prison. He'd find some legal loophole and worm himself out of jail after a couple of years, and that's a risk you and your child... your little girl don't need."

Chewing on her bottom lip, Elizabeth looked up at Jason. "So, then, what do you have planned for Ric?"

"Sonny's going to kill him."

Despite her best intentions, Elizabeth gasped. "But... how do you... I mean, you can't be..."

"But I can," Jason said definitively. Arms folded across his chest and eyes hardened against the world, against her so that no one could see anything lurking behind those aqua depths, he looked ferocious, yet he didn't scare her. "Sonny's in a darker place right now than he's ever been before. While he's trying to accept his mother's other son, he's jealous that he's not her only child and territorial over her memory. Add to this the fact that he now knows that Ric is here to take him down not help him, that Ric blames Sonny for their mother's death, and that we've set it up so that Ric looks like the mole in Sonny's organization... Well, let's just say that Sonny won't be able to look past Ric's transgressions, his betrayals – especially not after Sonny essentially made him his second. He'll kill him, and, when he does, Jagger's going to be right there to witness everything."

This time when she gasped, it wasn't in shock but in recognition. "The restraining order," Elizabeth whispered.

Jason didn't respond, though. Instead, he surprised her when he fell to his knees before her, reached for her hands, and opened himself and his eyes to her so that she could see everything that he was feeling. "I need you to understand, Elizabeth. I shouldn't have told you any of this; I should have kept you in the dark and safe, but you needed to know the truth about me. We... there's something between us." Although she didn't say anything, she squeezed his hands to recognize and agree with his admission. "I want to be with you, I want to stay married to you, and I want to help you raise your daughter, but, after tonight, you won't need me to keep you safe any longer. More than that, you deserved to know what kind of man I am. I... I'm not..."

"Ssh," she murmured, scooting forward on the bed so that she could more completely wrap her legs around his torso. Releasing one of her hands from his grip, Elizabeth brushed her index finger across Jason's lips, her touch doing more to silence him than anything else. Even once he fell quiet, though, she didn't remove her finger from his mouth. Instead, she traced his lips with the pad of her thin, small digit, her gaze locked on where she was touching him. "Jason, I know exactly what kind of man I'm in love with."

! & !

He should have felt guilty. As an officer of the law, he was supposed to uphold the rules that governed society, but Ric Lansing was slime, and Jagger didn't doubt Jason's prediction of what would happen if the attorney went to prison alongside his equally corrupt half brother. He'd serve some time – six months, a year, perhaps even two, but, eventually, the man would be released on some technicality, and he'd immediately start gunning for his ex-wife and her child again. And, just like Corinthos, he was a sick man who mistreated women.

Sonny was chauvinistic and controlling, whereas Ric believed that he owned the women in his life – not because he was a man but because he thought of himself as smarter and better than everybody else. At first, Jagger had considered standing by and allowing Sonny to be murdered as well... just like he was going to do with Ric, but, after learning of the mob boss' fear of small, enclosed spaces and his behavior that screamed of bipolar schizophrenia, he had gladly reconsidered. Death would be too merciful for Sonny Corinthos, especially after the hell he had put his wife through when she was a teenager.

Just as Francis had let it slip that Ric would be "meeting" his FBI contact that evening so as to alert Sonny to the set-up, Marco had called Jagger fifteen minutes before to inform him that Ric was on his way down to the warehouse to personally oversee the latest shipment... probably because it was suspected that Ric was smuggling in drugs through his brother's shipping lanes. Dressed in regulation combat wear, Jagger moved swiftly across the docks. If things went south fast and off plan, he was prepared with a bullet proof vest on underneath his dress shirt and suit jacket, and it was well known that, despite being one of the most influential crime lords in the country, Sonny Corinthos had a horrible shot and always aimed for the chest and not the head in fear that he would miss entirely.

Just before Ric disappeared into the shadows of the Corinthos Imports and Exports Warehouse, Jagger made his move, calling out to the lawyer. "Lansing!" Though he knew that Ric didn't recognize his voice, he had infused enough force and authority into his tone that no self-aggrandizing man would be able to ignore the challenge. As the other guy turned around, Jagger added, "you and I, we need to talk."

! & !

Elizabeth giggled around her husband's mouth – her husband's, teasing him, "I thought you wanted to talk?"

He grunted in frustration, moving his lips away from her own and settling his face in the crook of her neck so that he could kiss her there instead. "Talking's overrated," he mumbled, making her laugh even more.

Plus, it didn't hurt matters that she kind of suspected that Jason preferred to express what he wanted to say without words. He lived by his actions instead... which, at the moment, she could definitely appreciate. Somehow, they had ended up fully sprawled out across Jason's bed. One minute, she was breathlessly confessing that she was in love with him, and the next thing Elizabeth knew, Jason's hands were gripping her underneath her arms and tossing her back so that her head landed against his pillows. Then he had pushed her legs open with his own body, her limbs falling wantonly to the side in order to further encourage him to settle himself between her thighs. When he rocked into her for the first time – already fully aroused and hittingjust the right spot, everything else faded away... except her need to make him smile, to tease him, to make him see himself the way she saw him.

Jason was rigidly holding his upper body away from her own, his arms fully extended from where they were pressed into the bed on either side of her shoulders. While Elizabeth found his concern for her and the baby sweet – even endearing, the last thing she wanted between them was distance. So, she used her hands to tug against elbows, then his waist, finally settling her grip upon his shoulder blades in an attempt to pull him down on top of her. "You don't have to be afraid, Jason. You're not going to hurt us."

Instead of answering, instead of relenting, he rolled off of her and onto his side, astonishing Elizabeth with how quickly he could move... and move her, for he rolled her body as well, repositioning them so that they were molded together from head to toe – her back to his front, his head once again positioned in the crook of her shoulder. As his lips skimmed, and his teeth nipped, and his tongue laved the sensitive flesh of her throat, all Elizabeth could do in response was moan in pleasure, her toes curling in ecstasy.

! & !

"You're not going to get another chance to hurt them – Elizabeth Morgan and her daughter."

"I'm sorry," Ric apologized, though the gesture was just as empty as his crooked smile. "Who exactly are you, Mr...?"

"You can call me Jagger," he said instead of providing his last name. After all, it would be more convincing if Sonny were to stumble upon them and they were using each other's first names. "Do you mind if I call you Ric?"

"You can call me whatever you want, because I'm leaving. If you'll excuse me, I have business to attend to."

Before Lansing could turn his back on him, Jagger taunted, "you sound just like him, you know – smooth, arrogant, professional, though we both know that you're no Sonny Corinthos."

Just like he had planned, mentioning Sonny captured Ric's attention even more so than Elizabeth and her unborn child. It proved that their suspicions were right. While Ric enjoyed the game of terrorizing his ex-wife, and while he wanted a son, the latter was because it would allow him to one-up his brother, and, after all, nothing and no one was more important to Ric Lansing than Sonny Corinthos. "You know my brother?"

"Oh, Sonny and I go way back. You could say that... our families are associated."

That piqued the lawyer's interest even more. "Well, that's funny, because I've never heard Sonnymention you before, Jagger."

He smirked. "Likewise,Ric."

The other man bristled under the obvious dig but quickly recovered as he prepared to walk away again. "Obviously, you're nothing but a small time player, because, otherwise, we would have already met. In case you weren't aware, I now attend all of Sonny's meetings for him, and your name has never once been brought up."

"That's probably because I just relocated... from the West Coast."

Controlling territories on both coasts was every mobsters wet dream. Jagger knew it, and so did Ric. The bait was set, and all he needed to do was reel in his prey. As Lansing quickly strutted across the docks, coming closer so that they could talk without others overhearing them, Jagger smirked. It was all just so easy, and it made him realize how lucky he was that Jason had never decided to take Sonny up on all his multiple offers to join the business. If he had...

"So, where exactly on the West Coast were you located, Jagger – Seattle, Portland...?"

He crossed his arms over his chest, raised an inquiring brow. "And why exactly, Ric, should I tell you anything; why in the hell should I trust you?"

"That's a good question," a third voice, a familiar voice, and an unhinged voice said from above where Jagger stood with Ric Lansing. Twisting his head around, he met the empty gaze of a man he hadn't seen in years... and the barrel of his shaking gun. "Especially since you can't trust a word out of this lying traitor of a bastard's mouth."

"Now, wait a minute, Sonny," Ric immediately started to step away from Jagger, backpedaling figuratively as he tried to sooth the incensed mobster before him. "You need to calm down."

! & !

"Hey, hey, easy now. Calm down," Jason murmured into Elizabeth's ear. Though she loved the deep, rich timber of his voice – the sound vibrating against her skin and echoing back to her through her raging blood, if her husband thought that she was capable of calming down in that moment, let alone that she would actually want to...

They were naked. Lying together in Jason's bed – skin to skin, heartbeat to heartbeat, she was consumed by him, her every thought, feeling, and impulse wrapped tightly around her husband's little finger... the same one he was using to stimulate the tiny pearl of pleasure between her thighs, the rest of his fingers spread out wide and softly caressing low against her abdomen. His other hand was clenched possessively in her long locks, the hair tie which had been holding the thick layers back disappearing somewhere along with all of their clothing.

"Stay with me," Jason coached her, bringing Elizabeth back to the moment – to the delicious, sensual moment. But then he thrust his hips and surged slowly back into her, his hard length burning inside of her and scorching a path through her body that Elizabeth instinctively knew only Jason could sooth, one that she knew only Jason would ever be able to sooth. Their love making was so tender, yet, at the same time, it was the most erotic sexual moment of Elizabeth's life. Since their first embrace, Jason had not kissed her on the mouth, instead focusing all of his attention upon her shoulders, her back, the dip of her waist, and her bottom, while his long, lean fingers pleasured the front of her body – caressing and petting her to distraction before he had finally joined them together from where he still remained behind her and on his side. And, with his hand tangled in her hair, she couldn't even turn her face around to see him as he brought her to the cusp of orgasm over and over again before slowing their bodies down and starting to buildtheir pace back up once more.

But something felt different about their movements now. Jason's breaths against her ear were coming faster and faster, his heartbeat hammering against her left shoulder blade. The hand in her hair was spasming – releasing and then clenching, releasing and clenching once again with the same rhythm of his thrusts into her welcoming, eager body, and the hand against her belly was quivering, shaking with his need. Though she could do nothing but bite her bottom lip and clench her husband's forearm in a desperate grip of anticipation, Elizabeth said the three words which she hoped would have the power to send Jason spiraling over the edge.

"I love you," she screamed.

As he orgasmed, Jason returned in a choked whisper, "I love you, too," his release triggering her own.

! & !

"I loved you," Sonny bellowed, shaking his gun menacingly towards his brother. While he ranted, Jagger repositioned himself, slowly skirting the edge of the docks and moving towards the stairs so he could circle back around and approach the mobster from behind. "I loved you, I took you in, and I trusted you despite everything, and this is how you repay me?" Practically spitting with disgust, he added, "you betray me to the Feds?"

"To the Feds," Ric questioned, his gaze momentarily flickering off the semi-automatic and towards where Jagger had previously been standing. "Sonny, what are you talking about? I haven't done anything but be there for you." Narrowing his eyes, the attorney accused, "you stopped taking that medication I got for you, didn't you, Sonny? I thought we talked about this? You need to trust that I know what I'm..."

"Enough," Sonny roared. "I've had enough of you and your lies, of your manipulations. This ends tonight."

Nervously, Lansing asked, "what? What ends tonight, Sonny?"

"You." And, with that, Corinthos pulled the trigger.