Pushing his worry for Sam’s safety to the back of his mind, Jason focused on the task at hand. Being distracted was only going to spell disaster for himself and he couldn’t afford that - he was not going to leave his daughter without him. That wasn’t an option.
“Everyone check in,” he said into the mic, knowing they didn’t have to speak too loud to be able to hear each other.
“All clear in the ER,” Max reported.
“All clear on the surgical floor,” Diego reported.
“All clear on the maternity ward,” Sam checked in.
“Roof is clear,” Jason said. “Max, head to the basement, take Milo with you. Check each level, including the sub-basement. Diego, head in Sam’s direction, I want you two to team up. I’ll check the other floors. Check in every fifteen minutes unless there’s a problem.”
Getting the affirmative from everyone, Jason left the roof and headed down the stairs, keeping his eyes and ears open. They couldn’t allow Manny and Mateo to get anywhere near Lorenzo and Skye or to get away. Not this time.
Staying focused, Sam made her way to Diego’s location. What was happening now was big. The Ruiz brothers were going to be more dangerous now than ever. Finding Diego, Sam headed over to him.
“Anything yet?” she asked her nephew.
Diego shook his head. “Nothing. It’s been quiet, but I’m sure that won’t last long.”
Sam agreed. “It’s almost like the calm before the storm.” A chill slid down her spine. “Have you checked in with your father?”
Nodding, Diego kept his eyes moving around the hallway they were in. “He and Skye are protected. Skye and the babies are holding their own for now.”
“I can’t wait for this to be over. It’s been one thing after another,” Sam said. “All starting with Faith. It would be nice for Lorenzo to have some peace for a little while. A little happiness thrown in wouldn’t hurt either.”
“Tell me about it,” Diego said. “When this is all over, I think we need to send Dad, Skye and the babies to the villa in Venezuela for some rest and relaxation.”
“I’ll help you plan it,” Sam said with a smile.
“Lorenzo, what’s going on?” Skye asked, somewhat more alert now. Dr. Lee had let up on the sedatives a bit once the babies had calmed down. But she could tell something was going on. There was a thick tension in the air.
He couldn’t keep the truth from her. “Manny and Mateo are loose and possibly here in the hospital,” he told her, going to her side. “But I don’t want you to worry. Jason has guards outside the door and in here with us. He, Diego, Sam, Max and Milo are all searching for them.”
“What about the police?” Skye asked, her eyes wide. “Shouldn’t they be helping out?”
Lorenzo shook his head. “No, they’ll just get in the way and there will already be enough innocent bystanders around here as it is. Jason is going to try and lure them out of the building where no one will get hurt.”
“What about you?” she asked, grasping his hand. “I’ve already almost lost you too many times, Lorenzo.”
Twining his fingers with her, Lorenzo kissed her hand. “I’m staying right here with you,” he said. “And if anything happens, I will be right here to protect you and our little miracles. I am not leaving you or our babies again.”
Skye believed him. She trusted Lorenzo, loved him with all her heart. And deep down, she knew that if something happened she would be able to take care of their children – she just didn’t want to do it on her own.
“As soon as these babies are born, we all need a vacation.”
Lorenzo laughed. “I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.”
Manny still had doubts about this whole plan. All they were going to do was paint themselves into a corner with no way out. But Mateo wouldn’t listen to reason. He was hell bent on getting to Morgan and Alcazar - he wanted to catch them while they were off guard.
“Where are we?” Manny heard Mateo growl from behind him.
“We’re in one of the subbasements,” Manny told him. “When I was working here, they rarely used these few floors for anything. If we can somehow lure Morgan or Alcazar down here, we can take them out and dispose of their bodies easily.”
“No. I want their bodies on display. I want everyone to know that we’re the winners here. That the once formidable Alcazar/Morgan duo are no more,” Mateo said.
Manny picked up the note of desperation in his brother’s voice. Was Mateo going over the edge? Did the years in prison and then the seminary bring his brother to the brink? Sighing, Manny lead Mateo to one of the subbasement doors, leading to another level. “The level above us is used for storage of equipment, old files, stuff like that. Not many people would come down here, but every once in a while an orderly would come down with something to store. We might be able to find some discarded scrubs – blend in a little.”
Mateo merely nodded and indicated that Manny should continue to lead the way.
Moving up the dimly lit stairwell of the subbasement, Mateo pulled his gun from the back of his pants. He was taking no chances. Morgan and Alcazar were not going to survive this night; he was going to make sure of it.
“Where did you get that?” Manny asked from in front of him.
“From the guard at the police station,” Mateo told him. “It’s the only way we’re going to get out of here alive.” He saw his brother nod as they continued up.
After splitting up, Diego checked the west stairwell. Manny and Mateo had to be here somewhere, there was no way either man would be able to resist taking advantage of what was going on with his father and Skye. It would be the perfect opportunity to strike.
Keeping his gun in front of him, Diego moved slowly up the stairs, keeping his back to the wall and his eyes trained on the stairs above him. Once he had checked this stairwell, he was going to head over to Skye’s room and make sure everything was okay there.
Hearing a door two floors above open and then close, Diego paused, listening. He didn’t want to accidentally shoot someone on the hospital staff, and he didn’t want to alert them that something going on. Diego quickly stowed the gun at his back as the nurse came down the stairs. He smiled and nodded to her as she pulled open the stairwell door behind him. Alone again, Diego moved to pull his gun out when he felt a searing rip of pain in his arm.
Biting his lip to keep from crying out, Diego looked up to see Mateo Ruiz looking down at him, a satisfied smile on his face.
“One down,” he heard the psycho say, then he was gone.
“Shit,” Diego swore as he clutched his arm to slow the flow of blood. He managed to activate his communication system. “Mateo’s in the west stairwell, fourth floor and heading up,” he said.
“Diego, what happened? Are you okay?” Sam asked over the system.
Diego looked at his arm. “He snuck up on me,” he reported. “I took a bullet in the arm. He’s got a silencer.”
Jason’s voice came through next. “Who’s closest to Diego’s position?” he asked.
“I’m already on my way,” Sam said. “Diego, is Mateo still around? Was Manny with him?”
Sitting on the stairs, Diego answered, “He was alone. I don’t see or hear him anymore, but I didn’t see or hear him before. Not sure if he’s heading for the roof.”
“I’m on the fifth floor. I’ll head down on the stairwell to you,” Sam said.
“You have your silencer, Sam?” Jason asked. “Gun shots will alert unwanted attention.”
“I’ve got it,” Sam said.
Diego heard the door on the floor above him open slowly and then close. Using his good hand, he clutched his gun.
“Diego?” It was Sam’s voice.
“One floor down,” Diego called up in a loud whisper. If one of the brothers were still in the stairwell he didn’t want to alert them.
A hiss and a plink of metal had Diego freezing. Another bullet had just barely missed the side of his head. “Sam! Watch out!” he yelled, shifting closer to the wall.
Another shot whizzed by, this one coming from above. They heard a grunt of pain and a clatter of metal on the stairs. Then a stairwell door opened and closed.
Sam appeared at Diego’s side, checking his wound. “It doesn’t look too bad,” she said. “Can you walk?”
Diego nodded. “Let’s head down to the ER from here, we can’t make it seem as if we were already in the building when this happened.”
Sam agreed. Then she checked in with Jason, letting him know Mateo’s last location.
“How’s Diego?” Jason asked.
“He’ll be fine. I’m going to get him down to the ER.”
“Alright, be careful. I’ll track Mateo.”
After signing off, Sam helped Diego down to stairs.
“Do not leave her alone for any reason,” Lorenzo said to Juan. “I’ve asked Dr. Lee to sedate her again for hers and the babies safety, so she’ll be asleep for a while.”
“I thought you were going to be staying with Ms. Skye, sir,” Juan said, confused as to the change in plans.
“I’m not going to sit here while Manny and Mateo are out there hurting innocent people,” Lorenzo said fiercely. “I’ve left Skye’s name on her old room – if not Mateo, then Manny will head for her, wanting to use her as bait. I’m going to be one step ahead of him. I’m going to lure him to her old room and end this now.”
Juan knew he should protest. But there was no way he could tell Lorenzo Alcazar what to do. He watched the other man stride down the hall full of purpose and determination.
Reaching the west staircase from the tenth floor, Jason caught a glimpse of Mateo Ruiz as he pulled open the door for the roof. Whatever Mateo had planned, Jason was going to make sure it didn’t happen.
Reaching the door, Jason slowly edged it open, not wanting to draw Mateo’s attention. Peeking around the door, the barrel of his gun preceding him, Jason didn’t see anyone in the immediate vicinity.
Staying alert, Jason left the cover of the stairwell and moved out into the open of the roof. Sam had said she had injured him but hadn’t known how badly. Glancing at his feet, Jason saw streaks of blood leading to the covered vents. He must be taking refuge, maybe to patch himself up before moving on.
Jason moved to the first area of cover he saw – some kind of low shed – and crouched down behind it. If Mateo knew he was there, Jason didn’t want to be standing out in the open. Not hearing anything, Jason hazarded a glance around the edge of the shed. Mateo had come out of hiding, his back to Jason.
Gripping his gun, Jason rose from his hiding place, keeping the low shed between them. He could see Mateo’s shoulder soaked in blood – looked like Sam had gotten off a good shot after all.
Aiming for the man’s other shoulder, the almost inaudible pop and hiss that propelled the bullet was drowned out by the generator. Sure, he could have just shot the man in the back of the head, Jason was never the one to toy with anyone, but in this case, Mateo Ruiz deserved to suffer.
He watched as Mateo’s body jerked in surprise and pain. The man turned around, his gun clutched in his hand. Blood seeped between his fingers, probably making it difficult to hold the gun securely.
A hideous smile stretched across Mateo’s face, his eyes shining in pain, but also in psychotic madness. Jason had seen that look before – it had been in Ric Lansing’s eyes more than once before Jessica had practically whacked his head off his shoulders with a tree branch.
“Well, well, Morgan,” Mateo said, ignoring the blood that seeped down his arms from his shoulder wounds. “Not as great as I was told you were.” He attempted to shrug, but wasn’t really able to do more than tilt his head to the side. “It’s actually cowardly to shoot a man in the back. What’s the matter, can’t face me?”
Jason was not going to rise to the bait. But he also wasn’t going to let this psychotic nutcase think he had the upper hand. “Being that you were originally shot by a woman, a petite woman at that – I don’t have to worry too much about my manhood.”
He watched as Mateo seethed with barely controlled rage. Jason could see that was going to be his undoing. It was something he could use to his advantage.
Anticipating it, Jason dove behind the shed again as a bullet whizzed past his right ear. Moving fast, Jason popped back up and took a shot, hearing a grunt as his bullet hit its mark. Another bullet flew over his head as he ducked back down. The unmistakable click a minute later told Jason that Mateo was out of bullets. Taking advantage, Jason moved from his protected area and managed to tackle Mateo to the ground. His own gun had been knocked out his hand, but he didn’t need it. Not this close up.
As he struggled with the man beneath him, Jason felt a searing hot pain near his collarbone. Ignoring it, he managed to get off a couple of good punches before Mateo bucked him off and Jason landed painfully on the concrete of the roof. Not sure where his gun had landed, Jason rolled out of the way as Mateo’s foot came toward his head. The pain in collarbone became excruciating and he realized there was a small knife sticking out of him.
Rolling onto his knees, Jason sucked in some air and pushed the pain as far out of his mind as he could. He was not going to let Mateo win here. Jason had too much at stake. Gaining his footing, Jason stood and faced the man.
Mateo laughed. “Any other man would have stayed down, died like the dog you are, Morgan,” he said in amusement. “Maybe you are as tough as I’ve heard.”
Jason knew pulling the knife out would only cause him to bleed more, but he needed to be able to fight and right now the knife was his only weapon. Showing no emotion on his face, Jason yanked the knife out and before Mateo could react, he threw it with his good hand – watching in satisfaction as it embedded itself in Mateo’s chest.
Moving quickly, Jason tried to stop the man from going over the edge of the building, but hadn’t made it in time. He watched as Mateo Ruiz’s body hit the pavement below, right in front of a PCPD police cruiser.
Lorenzo waited in the room, making sure the lights were kept low and the blinds drawn on the window. He heard the doorknob turn. He waited behind the door. As soon as the figure entered – and he could tell it was Manny’s figure – Lorenzo made the first move, dragging the man into the room and pinning him against the door a moment.
“Surprise,” he said.
Manny struggled immediately and Lorenzo let him go loose, moving him away from the door in the process. He was not going to chase this psycho through the halls of General Hospital and allow innocent bystanders to be hurt in the process.
Seeing Manny was not armed, Lorenzo removed his gun, putting on the floor by his feet. “Not that I care if this is a fair fight or not, but I’ll take great pleasure in ending this with my own two hands.”
Manny made the first move, but Lorenzo easily ducked the right hook and landed his own assault right into Manny’s gut, knocking the wind right out of him. Lorenzo pushed him away.
“Not as easy as you thought it would be, huh?” he taunted.
Quickly regaining his breath, Manny was a little more wary of his opponent, but knew if he wanted to get out of here alive, Lorenzo Alcazar was going to have to die.
Keeping his weight on the balls of his feet, Lorenzo watched Manny. It had been a while since he had sparred like this, but over the last couple of weeks he had been working more with Jason and felt confident in being able to defeat Manny Ruiz. He just had to make sure if anyone went for the gun, it would be in his hands first.
The men sized each other up, looking for an opening. Lorenzo found it first, making his move and then moved back out of range as blood spurted from Manny’s nose. He watched with wide eyes as Manny’s eyes rolled back into his head and he crumpled to the floor.
Cautiously, Lorenzo picked up his gun and approached the unmoving body. Knowing Manny, it could be a trick. There was no movement. Bending to one knee, Lorenzo checked for a pulse, not finding one. When he had punched the man, he had apparently put so much force into it that when Manny’s nose broke, it splintered up into his brain, killing his instantly.
“Well, damn,” he said, standing.
Sam had just stepped out of Diego’s cubicle, where he was getting his shoulder stitched up, when a gurney was rushed in, a man lying motionless on it, covered in blood. As she sidestepped out of the way, she saw the man’s face and her heart nearly stopped. “Jason!”
Strong arms stopped her from going to him as he was wheeled into a room. She turned to see Max. “What the hell happened?”
“He fought Mateo on the roof. Apparently, Mateo stabbed him while they were fighting – Jason pulled the knife out and used it on Mateo,” Max reported.
“Dead,” Max said.
“So is Manny.”
Both Max and Sam turned at Lorenzo’s voice. Sam ran over to him, throwing her arms around her brother. “Are you okay?” she asked.
Lorenzo hugged her tightly. “I am,” he said. “And so will Jason.” He looked down at her. “The Ruiz brothers are gone Sam. For good this time.”
After checking on his son, who was sleeping from the pain meds he had been given, Lorenzo returned to his sister’s side. “Any word on Jason yet?” he asked, taking her hand in his as he sat.
“Not yet,” Sam said. “But I know he’ll be okay . . . he has to be. There is no way we just went through all of this to lose Jason at the end of it.”
“Jason’s strong Sam, you know that. He’s survived a lot worse. He’ll survive this as well.”
Sam nodded. She believed that, she really did – but it didn’t stop her from being scared. She loved Jason too much to accept losing him.
They looked up to see Detective Lucky Spencer.
“I need to ask the two of you what happened here today. There are two dead men – one being scraped off the pavement in front of the hospital, one dead in an empty hospital room and Jason Morgan and Diego Alcazar injured.”
Before either could respond, Diane Miller came up behind the detective. “You can ask all the questions you want, Detective, after Mr. Alcazar and Ms. McCall have been assured that their loved ones are okay. I am sure they will not mind coming down to the station and providing their statements.”
Thankful for the lawyer’s intervention, Lorenzo and Sam stood as the doctors that had been working on Jason came out to see them.
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