Title: " To the Loser Go the Spoils"
Author: monimala
Fandom: "General Hospital"
Rating/Classification: NAC, Carly/Lorenzo-ish, angst.
Disclaimer: Nope. I don't own them. Lyrics stolen from the Marc Anthony duet with Jennifer Lopez.
Summary: It's not allowed.
Notes: The bulk of this was written *before* Carly and Lorenzo get through her labor pains, so after that wrenching and wonderful episode, I just added a few details to make the fic flow a little more smoothly.
Notes2: Of course, this will be probably get Jossed in a matter of a day or two.

Sometimes, when she closes her eyes, she is back in that room. That box. The shackle around her ankle, chafing the skin. The heavy stale air and the monitors that show her the never-ending saccharine soap opera of Elizabeth believing in her precious, psychotic, bastard of a husband. Days and nights, one and the same. Beloved faces beyond the wall that can't see her on the other side. *Jase*. *Sonny*. *Jase*. *Sonny*.

And she wakes up gasping for breath, kicking at the nonexistent chain, and willing the baby to stay with her, to stay inside her, because she has fought too hard, too long, to lose him now.

Sometimes she screams and the door bursts open and there are arms around her... arms that still don't know how to hold her, don't know how to offer comfort for something so alien as a pregnant wild woman who sobs like her heart has been torn out and kicks and scratches... and plays civil games of backgammon in the morning.

She is, as he says, making the best out of a bad situation.

Her whole life has been a bad situation.

Lorenzo Alcazar's strong, bare, arms pulling her, tentatively, against his chest make no difference.

She can't allow them to.

***

A Spanish pop song drifts from the radio in between the static crackles of the men checking in via cell phone. They're always careful to speak in incomprehensible codes but she strains to hear anyway...just in case. Just in case.

"*No me ames...porque estoy perdido...*"

She tilts her head and scrambles for the high school Spanish she barely remembers...for snatches of things she's picked up from Sonny but she's still totally in the dark. She really *is* going to take one of those damn correspondence courses one of these days. All she knows how to do is ask "where's the bathroom?" which is really handy in her case since she has to go twenty times an hour.

"Don't love me," he says, quietly, as he sets up the backgammon board that has somehow made it from yacht to plane to here. And his voice is thick like red wine and stories about palaces in Italy. She's always hated red wine. She likes white because it sparkles. "Don't love me," he repeats, louder, huskier. Repeats? Pleads?

"Wh-what?" She jerks her head up, feeling her cheeks redden as she remembers gripping his hand and pleading...*praying*...for the baby to live. Asking him to tell her anything...anything... to keep her distracted. Anything but... "What was that, Lorenzo?"

"The song." Something like a smile quirks on the edges of his lips but she can't quite tell because of the thickness of his beard. It could be something sadder than a smile. "They're saying 'don't love me...because I am lost.' "

"Are you lost?" The question is out before she can stop it. And she tells herself it's just part of the con. Part of being civil and playing the game until she's out of this place, away from this man.

Now it is wide. White. A definite smile. Unsettling. "What do you think?" he counters as he slides his tiles around.

"I try not to think at all. It's bad for my health," she retorts on auto-pilot, lining up her own pieces for the assured win ahead.

He laughs, abruptly, and it's like Sonny's laugh. Full and kind of crazy...but with joy, not anger. "You're an amazing woman, Mrs. Corinthos."

After what happened at the hospital, she said he could call her 'Carly.' It only makes sense. He saved her. He saved her baby. He told her about gardens and the Medicis. It's only polite.

But the way he says 'Mrs. Corinthos' is...is...*too* polite. Restrained. Except for the 'r', which rolls out of control.

Not that she notices that kind of thing. No.

Mrs. Corinthos. She wonders who he's reminding. Her? Or himself?

And she swallows hard, telling herself to think of twenty more bucks in her pocket and the story she's going to read to Michael when she's home.

"I don't care if you're lost, Lorenzo," she lies. "I just care about me being *found.*"

He leans back in his chair, folding one hand over the other. Waiting. Waiting for her to make her move. "By whom, Carly?" he wonders, softly. "Found by *whom*?"

"Don't love me," she replies.

*Pleads*.

***

Sometimes, when he closes his eyes, he is back at Oxford. That haven. The musty-paper smell of old books and older wisdom. That place where laughter goes hand-in-hand with lively debates over a cuppa and a tin of biscuits. Where backgammon tiles fall onto the board and are scooped back up by slender fingers that float across his body like feathers from a down pillow. Where that selfsame pillow is summarily thrown at his head to the tune of free and easy laughter.

And he wakes up, tears dampening his cheeks, as he reaches out for someone who is not next to him in his wide, empty, bed, struggling for the strength to face another bleak day where all he knows are dark suits and darker purposes and nothing...nothing beautiful or pure.

Sometimes, he throws open the door to the adjoining room and reaches for the sobbing woman sitting upright in that far fuller bed...a woman that is far too fair-haired and angry...and he wants to stop her from going to that village... no, that man...to that horrible place where she will die and he'll lose her forever... and he hears himself whisper "Sophie...Carly...Sophie...Carly" like some broken *cancion* floating across the warm wind.

He is making the best of a bad situation. *Si*.

One he, himself, created.

Carly Corinthos...*Mrs. Corinthos*...is not his wife. The baby in her belly is not his. Never. Nothing. *Nada*. *Nada*. *Nada*.

And it makes no difference.

He can't allow it to.

--end--

August 5, 2003.



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