Chapter Sixteen

Bobbie and Carly arrived at the brownstone in time to see Tony Jones entering the establishment, obviously moving in. Bobbie was shocked, but then nodded in understanding. He had promised not to take Lucas from her, but was determined to be a part of his life again.

"God, Momma, I can't do this." Carly turned to back away, but Bobbie grabbed her daughter's hand and held on.

"We're going to do this, Carly. We have to. For the first time in our lives, we're going to do the right thing, both of us as mother and daughter."

"But he hates me. And I hate me. And I hate him. Damn! I hate everybody." Her eyes filled with tears of frustration and disillusionment.

"He doesn't hate you, Carly," Bobbie assured her. "You're the mother of his son, and you didn't know what Jason and I did."

"So? I'd have backed you on it if I had. He was going to take Michael away from me."

"His name is now 'Robbie'," Tony told her. "It'll be a little confusing for a while, but he'll learn who he is. This is a clean start for him." Tony saw the sadness in her eyes and shrugged. "Maybe for all of us on some level. Look, Carly. I know the truth now, and I think I understand why you ran away. I was wrong-very wrong on many levels. Hell, I've been wrong about a lot of things, but one thing I know I'm right about is this-Robbie is going to need a lot of love and the three of us and Lucas are his family. Granted, we're not the conventional family, but we're his."

"Along with the other Spencers and the Jones family. See, Carly," Bobbie continued. "Our family may fight and squabble, but we learn from our mistakes and we love each other." She turned dark eyes on Tony. "Sometimes we learn a little too late to avoid some of the dumber ones, but we learn."

Tony met her eyes and nodded. "Yeah, we make mistakes all the time, but", and he looked at Robbie who had just entered the room on the arm of Leticia, "we go on. Look Carly. I can't say that I'm entirely happy about everything that has happened in the past-I'd be a liar if I said that-but if not for our past, we wouldn't have Robbie." His whole expression softened at the sight of his son. "And he's worth all that I've gone through. I don't hate you, Carly. We made some wrong turns in the past, but between the two of us, we created someone wonderful. Hell, I don't even hate Jason anymore."

Jason stood on the edge of the Seine, looking at the water flowing past. It had been a long day, one more spent in introspection walking around Paris, reacquainting himself with the city. True, he had seen it before with Robin, and as he'd been given to understand, he'd seen it as Jason Quartermaine, but he'd never seen it quite as he had today. Today, it was a city filled with people with a purpose, people laughing, people smiling, people hurrying somewhere. He, on the other hand, had nowhere to go, nothing to see, and nobody who wanted to see him. He was alone, as alone as he'd been when he'd awakened after the accident. This time, oddly enough, his life seemed bleaker. This time, he knew what he'd lost, because he could remember the last couple of years.

Robin Scorpio had turned him away, just like he'd turned her away not so long ago. She'd told him what would happen, how it wasn't right to keep a child that wasn't really his, and deep in his heart, he knew that it was wrong. Hell, he'd known it all along. He also knew that the life he'd been leading was wrong, too.

"I lied to her. I lied to myself. I even lied when I said that I didn't lie. All I did was lie!" The words were torn from him in a moment of anguish. He gritted his teeth to keep the tears from falling, turned his face away from the people who strolled past him. There was no way he could stand to see lovers walking hand in hand, or see the faces of the parents with their children as they taught them about life. Once he'd thought that life held good things for him. He'd wielded power and controlled wealth. Robin had loved him.

Now? Now nobody would miss him if he never went back to Port Charles. Even the Quartermaines didn't want him back, and he couldn't really blame them. He'd used AJ as he'd allowed himself to be used, as the father of a child who was the son of a better man than either of them. He'd made decisions that weren't his to make and now, as a result of those decisions, AJ was dead. And because AJ was dead, that sweet old lady, his grandmother, Lila, was sick. She might even die. And that crusty old buzzard, Edward, was not doing all that well, either. Monica and Alan were grieving, too, over the loss of both sons and Emily-God, he didn't even want to think of what she was thinking. She'd idolized him, and he'd betrayed her with his lies, as well. For what? For the respect of a woman nobody else respected, as Sonny had pointed out, he was standing here alone with his own thoughts, and miserable company they were. "I might as well be dead!"

Jason leaned down and picked up a rock, throwing it into the water that flowed past. He watched as it splashed down, creating ripples that were almost at once swallowed up by the flow of the river. Would that be all that his life would ultimately become? Just one more rock pitched into an endless river, amounting to nothing, invisible almost immediately. Was he less than nothing?

"It doesn't have to be this way," Robin whispered from behind him. Turning, he looked back at her, his expression unguarded. "You don't have to go on like you have in the past."

"What are you doing here?"

"Looking for you. I thought I might find you here, if you hadn't left Paris by now."

"I've got nowhere to go. I'm sure you've heard what has happened by now, and it's all my fault."

Robin nodded thoughtfully. "You made some bad choices, that's true. And, I'm sorry that AJ is dead, but if he hadn't been trying to shoot you, he wouldn't have been shot himself."

"He didn't even like guns," Jason said, wondering how that odd memory had filtered into his present life. "I'm surprised that he hit me."

Robin paused thoughtfully. "That was either some good shooting, or dumb luck, at the distance that was reported." She looked at Jason. "But, regardless, your life doesn't have to stay on the same track."

"What other track is there? I've screwed up, Robin. I can't go back. Sonny..."

"Sonny doesn't run your life," Robin told him. "He's a criminal who turned his back on you because you did something like love the wrong person." She grinned. "Bet you never thought you'd hear that from me."

"Frankly, I'm a little surprised. He's been good to you."

"For as long as it pleased him. As long as I pleased him. That's how he likes it, you know. He likes to have people depend on him, to have them respect him. It feeds something inside him, something that needs to be needed, something that needs to be respected, but something that cannot ever be satisfied. You see, Jason, Sonny doesn't respect himself, so he has to get that respect from somewhere else. From outside sources. From other people. He needs validation for his life and his choices, and since he knows that he's wrong about his job, wrong about those choices, he has to surround himself with people who have either made similar choices, or will turn a blind eye. He is generous, Jason, but generous with ill-gotten gains, with money he hasn't earned, but has extorted by crime. He is powerful, Jason, but his power-base is illegal and therefore illegitimate. And, he knows all of this, so no matter what he does, he'll never truly be satisfied with himself."

"After all he's done for you..."

"He paid for medicine with money that he did not earn. With money that he, for all practical purposes, stole."

"And you took it."

"For a while, Jason, to my shame I did. But, I've had time to think about my life, about what it has become and I've changed. I lost my way for a while, and made some bad choices. So have you. The difference is that I've decided to change. It's not enough to stand by-like you're doing by the Seine. I'm still alive and I've got a lot of living to do. So do you."

"That's debatable."

"If you thought that, you'd already be dead."

"There's no guarantee that I won't be soon if Sonny changes his mind and sends someone after me."

"And you accept that as your fate?"

"I can't change his mind, if that's what you mean."

"No, Jason, what I mean is, are you ready to live again? I heard you saying that you might as well be dead, but your life doesn't have to be like it's been."

"What do you mean?" He was wary, uneasy, yet profoundly unhappy with his circumstances.

"Your past doesn't matter to everyone. I know a few people who might even consider it a plus, if you're willing to switch sides....."

"But I told Sonny..."

"Screw Sonny," Robin told him. "He's yesterday...."

Sonny stood on the dock and stared out across the water. Once more, he was alone. Once more, it was by choice. Once more he was miserable. Everybody who had meant anything to him was either dead or gone, and somehow, he had figured in each departure.

He cursed softly, wondering if the power he held and the money he commanded were worth the life he led. Still, he reflected sourly, he sure as hell didn't want to be powerless and broke. He'd been there, done that. Never again would he find himself in the position of having to ask anybody for anything. Nope, they'd ask him, depend on him. They'd look up to him, even if they were a foot taller than he was. They'd respect him even if they were millionaires many times over. They knew who he was, even if he didn't advertise it in the yellow pages. He and he alone was the power in Port Charles, not that wannabe Moreno, and not that aging old goat Edward Quartermaine who thought he owned the city.

Sonny Corinthos smiled as he thought of himself and his success as the fog rolled in across the water. Damn he was good, when he thought about it. He'd carved a place for himself out of nothing, and now he was on top. So what if he was a little lonely? What was that expression?

"It's lonely at the top," he said aloud.

Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw somebody plunge into the water, and somebody running away from the scene. He heard a gasp of fear, and a low cry. Then, some really expert swearing.

"That #$%^&*!!!"

Sonny watched as a slight form climbed up the wooden ladder that led down to the river. His eyes widened as he saw noticed that the dripping wet shape was definitely feminine. Very definitely feminine.

"Uh, excuse me..."

"There's no excuse for you or any other man," she spat angrily, pushing long dark hair out of her eyes. "You're all users or abusers of some kind. Now, do you mind getting the hell out of my way?"