Title: "For Alone I Fear the Tide"
Author: monimala
Fandom: "General Hospital"
Rating/Classification: SAC, Carly/?, angst.
Disclaimer: Nope. I don't own them.
Summary: Heavily inspired by Circe's MonaBoyd tale, which was heavily inspired by Annie Sewell-Jennings' "The Last Summer", which was heavily inspired by Neville Shute's On the Beach, this is the way Port Charles ends.

The water is red. Whether that's the reflection of blood from the Pier or the sun through the haze, she doesn't know, but the harbor glistens like overripe peaches crawling with ants.

She wraps her arms around herself, wanting to turn from the windows, but unable to move just yet. The penthouse is coated in reinforced glass. The elevator stopped working three days ago. She's keeping it out. Keeping herself in. But it's only a matter of time before it comes. She sees it out there ... throbbing... like something alive. No hitman, no enforcer, no legion of cops. It's something bigger, more powerful, than her husband could ever have imagined. Something that even the Great Sonny Corinthos couldn't control, couldn't protect his family from.

He called from the island the day he arrived there. His cell phone crackled and died and she heard a woman's voice in the background. She hopes whoever it was held Sonny in the darkness. She hopes he died feeling safe, free...and not behind the confines of a locked door. She hopes the woman reminded him he was loved.

She knows he called her "Brenda" with his last breath. She knows it might have *been* Brenda.

She knows he wouldn't think "Carly." She knows that's simply too much.

The children are asleep upstairs. They might wake up soon. They might not. Leticia went to visit her mother on Cortland Street and never came back. There's death there. Rotted skin and eyes unseeing. She told Michael that Leticia was in Heaven... knowing, privately, that it was more likely Hell. The nanny was more a parent to him than she ever was. Than she'll have a chance to be... but she'll rock her boys in their last hours. She'll hold them close, carry them, just like she did in her womb. It's the least she can do.

The power has been spotty for a while. It actually gave up and went out two days ago, but the freezer is still cold enough to keep the frozen pizzas edible... and she's pretty sure she can work the gas stove. If she can work a 9mm handgun, she can work the stove.

Max is dead, too. Like Leticia. He didn't want to leave them... but the curiosity killed the bodyguard and the elevator shaft was like a Siren's call. She didn't listen for the crunching of bone when he fell. She just went back inside and shut the door. At least it wasn't what's Out There. At least he still had his skin and his teeth and his unwavering loyalty.

Although, by now, rigor will have set in...and rot is next. Not that it matters, because the building all ready smells like decay. The hallway is stale with death.

There are big red Xs on the wall calendar. Two and a half weeks since it happened.

Jason and Courtney were coming back from Niagara after renewing their vows for the millionth time... and it was over. Like that. She doesn't like to think about Jase dead. Instead, she remembers him beautiful, sweating and naked, above her in his bed at Jake's when they were two dumb kids who didn't know any better. She remembers playing pool with Zander until close. AJ's dirty jokes. Tony's pasta primavera. Lorenzo's rare smile and the endless backgammon games on the yacht last summer.

Everyone she knows is gone. Besides the boys. She's had to accept that. Anyone outside is a lost cause. And, soon enough, she'll be lost, too.

"Did you ever think we'd be here...? On the edge of the world together?"

"Port Charles isn't the edge of the world," she counters, sharply. Too sharply. Because even she isn't sure about that anymore.

The man on the sofa is lying with his feet crossed at the ankles, relaxed, as if he's on a pleasure cruise. To him, maybe this is. The ultimate vacation. The ultimate adventure. "It might as well be," he says, with a shrug. If he crosses his arms, too, he'll be ready for burial.

He, of all people, shouldn't be here. He should be on a beach somewhere, digging his toes into the sand and meeting the inevitable with this same devil-may-care calm. Blond and tanned and perfect. Hanging ten. She pictures him body-surfing all the way to the horizon line and disappearing. Life's a beach and so am I. Should she giggle or sob? She doesn't know and stifles the strangled sound against her palm.

"What...what is it?" he wonders as she finally turns from the windows.

She almost smiles. She's too weary to make the effort. "We...Courtney and I... we used to call you Malibu Jax behind your back."

"Well, I'm glad you didn't say it in front of my back. It has a very fragile ego." His eyes twinkle. He doesn't look offended. And he has enough energy to smile. She doesn't know where it comes from. He must have a reserve. A battery pack that runs the lights in his eyes and keeps the corners of his lips up. "Was this a comment on my personality or my anatomical correctness?"

"A little of both." Although, she knows now that he's definitely anatomically correct. She likes to think his personality still leaves a bit to be desired.

They've been fucking for two weeks.

Since the night he arrived.

"Bobbie," he'd whispered, ashen, as Max let him in. "She wanted me to...she wanted me to make sure you and the kids were all right." The phones had been out by then. The cellular network demolished.

The radiation sickness had just begun to send a few people to the hospital. Momma was working double shifts. She likes to think that in the days since, Bobbie just went to sleep on a gurney, exhausted, and never woke up.

"Skye or Sam?" she'd asked.

"Sam. I carried her...I carried her the whole way...God, she's so light... and there are cars stalled in the streets...and I don't know where Skye is...I don't know..." That was the only time he'd cried, covering his face with one large palm and shaking as she led him to the couch. By the time they were tearing at each other's clothes, scrambling for something to hold and hold onto, his eyes were dry.

Miracle of miracles, Michael didn't come downstairs and, since then, they've been more careful. Her son catching her having sex seems like a small problem in the grand scheme of things, but it's one thing she can control. Maybe the only thing.

So, now Jax shares her bed. Her dead husband's mortal enemy makes love to her quietly and they listen for the creak of doors, Morgan's whimpering cries, or the patter of feet. They're all ready in tune enough to stop when the door opens and Michael appears wanting comfort. He doesn't seem to mind the man who isn't Daddy in his mom's bed. He just climbs up between them and listens to stories about diving the reefs and wild dingoes and aborigines. The rhythm of Jax's voice, his husky accent, usually sends him right to sleep. But not her. Never her.

Did she ever think she would be holding a wake for the world with Jasper Jacks?

"Carly...?"

She joins him, stretching out next to him on the sofa. Her head fits, perfectly, under his chin, and he pretends strands of her hair don't come away as he threads his fingers through it.

The water is red.

She remembers when she never used to think at all.

--end--

January 13, 2004.



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