The sound of police radios and about a dozen muffled voices whizzed in Matt’s ears.   Even with all the commotion around him, his attention was held on the covered heap that lay in the middle of the floor.   He shook his head and buried his face in his hands.   He felt the warmth of a hand on his shoulder.  He didn’t have to look up to know it was Ellen.

 

“I’ve given my statement to Detective Taggert,” she said.  “You don’t have to leave now, one of the officers can give you a ride home.  I understand if you need more...”

 

Matt shook his head.  “No, I’ve been here long enough.”  He watched as the coroner came in and removed his brother’s body.  “He died the way he lived his life, in violence.  I’m sorry you got involved in all of this.  I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am.”

 

“You don’t have to keep apologizing, Matt, you’ve done enough of that.   Bobby didn’t give you a choice.  The authorities know what happened.”

 

“But does that make it alright?”  Matt sighed.  “My father always wanted me to be a killer, and now he’s got his wish.”


She placed her hand on his shoulder and gently kneaded the tense muscle.  “Matt, this is not your fault.”

“Not my fault?  My brother is dead, Ellen.   I killed him.”

 

“He was going to kill us.  Don’t beat yourself up over this.”

 

“That’s just it, I’m not.  I’m not beating myself up.”  Matt didn’t understand what it was he was feeling, but it was unlike anything he had ever felt before.  “I’m a monster, Ellen.   I’m finally the hateful, unfeeling, Mancusi mobster monster Pop always wanted me to be.   I killed Bobby, and I’m not sorry.”  The look on her face upon hearing those words mirrored the fear he was feeling in his heart.  He thought for sure she would move her hand, but she didn’t.    “I took my brother’s life from him and I’m not feeling one bit of regret.  There’s even a part of me that wishes he was still alive, just so I can kill him again.”  

 

“You’re not a monster, Matt,” Ellen said, her voice soft and reassuring.  “I know who you are, and you do care and you do feel.   Don’t let what happened here change that.”

Matt wanted to believe her, but the plethora of emotions he was feeling at that moment made doing so impossible.  “Didn’t you hear him, Ellen?  You wondered how he could talk about killing me like it was taking a breath, and he told you it was in his blood, just like it’s in mine.   He was right; this is who I am.  I’m just like him.”

 

“No, you’re nothing like him, and I’m going to prove it to you.”  Ellen removed her hand from his shoulder and extended it to him.   “Come with me.”

 

He shook his head. “No, I think I’m the last person you need to be around.”

 

“I disagree.  Don’t argue with me, Dr. Harmon, come along.”

 

He wanted to protest, but he also knew it would be futile to try.  She had pulled rank; her tone and the Dr. Harmon spoke volumes.    With the crime scene unit completing the last of their work, Matt took one final look around the room before following Ellen out the door.


~*~



Ellen tossed her keys on the coffee table and took a seat on her couch.  “Come in and make yourself comfortable,” she said.


Matt rolled into the apartment and pulled up to the couch.  “Ellen, why are we here?”

 

“I live here, and we needed to talk away from all of the craziness at the warehouse.”

 

“What’s there to talk about?” he asked, brushing his bloody-stained hands against his thighs.

 

“A lot. There is so much for us to talk about.   Look, why don’t go into the bathroom and take a shower.  I’m pretty sure I have a pair of extra-large scrubs around here, and while you’re showering, I’ll make us some tea.”

 

Matt frowned.   “Tea?”

 

“I like tea, and it’s calming.   Come with me.   I’ll show you to the bathroom and get the scrubs.”

 

About twenty minutes later, Ellen made her way out of the kitchen with the tea to find Matt on the couch flipping through a magazine.   “You look better,” she said, setting the serving tray on the coffee table.

 

“My body feels clean, but my soul…”

Ellen joined him on the couch.   She added a lemon wedge and spoonful of sugar to a cup of tea and extended it to Matt.    “Take a drink of this.”

 

Matt accepted the cup and stared down into the steaming liquid.   “I don’t know how much good tea will do, but if you like it.”  He took a sip.  “It’s not soy milk, but…  Thank you,” he said.

 

“You’re welcome,” Ellen said as she prepared a cup for herself.   “A lot happened today.  So much could have happened.”  She closed her eyes as memories of Bobby’s lecherous gaze and threatening words came rushing back.   Her hands shook.

 

“Ellen,” Matt said, quickly removing the shaky cup from her hands and placing it on the table.    He took her unsteady hands in his.

 

She looked into his concerned brown eyes.  “I’m okay,” she assured him.  “I’m okay because you made it so.”

 

“No.”  Matt shook his head.   “If it wasn’t for me, there would be no question as to whether or not you were okay.  I’m the one who did this.  I put you in danger, and am responsible for whatever horrible thoughts are invading your beautiful head right now.”

 

“Bobby is responsible for that, Matt.   He put me in danger.   You didn’t grab me from the hospital – he did.   You know, in actuality, I put you in danger.”

 

“What?”

 

“I tried to act nonchalant when Bobby showed up at the hospital.   I guess I’m a little too cool.  My being in danger wasn’t about Bobby wanting to hurt me; it was about him wanting to hurt you.  I was a means to an end for him.  He was here for hours, if he waned to hurt me for the hell of it, he would have done it.   He wanted you.  He used me to get to you, and I’m sorry.”

 

Matt’s brows furrowed into a curious, crinkly line.   “I can believe your closest friend is a psychiatrist, because that is an amazing spin.   You don’t really buy that load of bull, do you?”

 

“No, I don’t, but I wanted to paint a picture of how you sound to me.”  She closed her hands around his.  “This is not your fault.   Bobby dictated his own fate.  You know, when Bobby had me, I tried to play it cool, I did, but I was really scared there for a while.”

 

“You were scared?  My heart stopped when you jumped in front of Bobby when he pulled out that gun.  My God, what were you thinking?”  He cupped her face.   “You could have gotten yourself killed.”

 

“I wasn’t thinking, Matt, I was reacting.  All I saw was Bobby pointing that gun at you, and I had to stop him.   I couldn’t let him hurt you.”

 

Matt caressed her cheek.   “And I couldn’t let him hurt you.”  He sighed.   “My bullet just missed you, Ellen.   At first, I wasn’t sure who got hit.  My heart stopped when you went crashing to the floor with Bobby.”

 

“Mine did, too.  I didn’t know you had another gun.  I was shocked to see you had one, but two?”

 

“I took it from Mike.  I’m sorry I had to hit him, but he didn’t give me any choice.   I’ll try to explain it to him tomorrow.    The hospital is only keeping him for observation, right?”

 

Ellen nodded.   “Yes.  Luckily for you, Mike has a hard head.   I guess I should be grateful you did hit him.  Having that second gun saved both of us, and it’s given me the opportunity to say what I was afraid I’d never have the opportunity to say.

“Ellen…”

 

“No,” she interjected, not interested in him cutting her off again. The overwhelming need to unburden herself was too strong to fight, and she had no intention to try.    “You wouldn’t let me say this at the hospital this morning, but you can’t keep me from saying it now.    Words I thought I’d never be able to say.” 

 

“Ellen, I know.  I’ve always known.”

 

“Shhh.  When Bobby pointed that gun at you and there was so much anger and hatred in his eyes, I knew I had to stop him.   There was no way I could stand back and watch another man I love die at my feet.   I couldn’t live through that twice.   We have a second chance, Matt, and I plan to take complete advantage of it.   I love you, and I want us to be together.”

 

“I love you, too, Ellen.  I love you so much, but…”

“No buts.  I love you and you love me.  That’s all that matters.”  She pressed a soft kiss to his lips.   “Stay with me tonight.”

 

Matt closed his eyes.  A soft groan fell from his lips.  “Ellen, I’m sorry, we can’t do this,” he said in one breath.

 

“What?”

 

“We can’t be together, Ellen.  Not ever.”

 

She shook her head.  Confused and more confused.   “You don’t mean that.  You want me.  I can tell by the way you look at me and touch me.”

 

“You’re right.   You’re absolutely right.  I want you.  I want you so much, and I love you even more, but that’s the problem, Ellen.  Bobby is gone, but the threat isn’t.  I told you before, loving me will get you killed.  My loving you will get it done that much faster.   Today, you got closer to that than I ever wanted.  I won’t allow you to be put in danger again.  And that’s that!”

 

Ellen’s heart hammered in her chest.   It was so full of love for this man, but at the moment, it took every ounce of strength she had not to pummel him to within an inch of his life.  “So, I don’t get a say in this?”

 

“No, you don’t.   This is hard enough for me to do now after hearing your words of love, but to indulge in the sweetness of your love -- to feel your love surround me completely -- I would never be able to do it.   Hate me, Ellen.  Hate me.  That’s what will keep you alive.   I’m sorry if this hurts you, but I promise I am doing it for you.  I have to leave you and Port Charles, it’s the only option.”

 

Through tear-filled eyes, Ellen watched him transfer to his chair and head toward the door.  “Matt,” she murmured.

 

He put his hand on the knob and looked over his shoulder at her.    Streams of tears spilled down his cheeks.  “Goodbye, Ellen.”

 

Ellen slammed her hand on the empty space beside her.  “Matt Harmon, you get back over to this couch now,” she demanded.  “You’re aren’t going anywhere!”

 

 

 

533