Sonny & Mike Fan Fiction
Mike gets hurt after he wins big in a poker game. Sonny finds him and brings him to the Penthouse. Both father and son start to open their hearts to each other and vow to heal some old wounds. (Sonny & Mike only).
Mike shivered with cold as he woke up in an alley behind Courtland Street. It was dark and snowing. His body ached and he felt confused and disoriented. He struggled to sit up, but winced out in pain. He wasn’t sure what happened. He knew he was at a poker game. He had hit a couple of jackpots right away and he was feeling really lucky. The game had lasted for two days and Mike was on a winning streak. But, his lack of sleep had finally caught up with him and he cashed out. That’s the last thing he remembered. He reached his hand in his pockets and was disappointed to find they were empty. His wallet was missing too. He looked around the alley, wanting to call out for help, but there was nobody around. He suddenly felt tired and he closed his eyes and went to sleep.
Sonny looked out the Penthouse window and watched the snowfall. There was a big storm coming in and the city was already starting to shut down. He was starting to get a little worried about Mike. He hadn’t seen him in weeks and he had just gotten a strange phone call. The person wouldn’t give his name, but thought Sonny ought to know that his father was in a high stakes poker game in the back room of the River Rat with some very serious players. Sonny dismissed the call, not giving a damn about Mike’s latest gambling escapade. But then he decided to make a few phone calls of his own and make sure Mike wasn’t in over his head.
Sonny finally decided to go down to Courtland Street and look for Mike. It was late now, almost midnight, and the snow had already blanketed the ground. He wasn’t even sure where to look. The bartender told him Mike had left the game hours ago. He could be anywhere. Sonny thought is was highly likely Mike found another card game, or dice, or another place where he could gamble away his winnings. Mike had never been able to keep money in his hands for very long. If Sonny knew anything, he knew that much about his father.
The storm was getting worse and Sonny buttoned up his coat and wrapped his scarf around his neck. He knew Mike rented a room in some seedy motel around the area, but he wasn’t sure where. He had never been there. He had tried all of the bars, but Mike hadn’t been in any of them. He was just about to give up, when he came upon a slumped figure lying in the alley. He stopped in his tracks. It was dark, but a streetlamp gave some light, and he could tell by the jacket that the person was Mike. Sonny kneeled down and gently shook him. “Mike! Mike, wake up!”
Mike let out a small moan.
“Mike!” Sonny repeated. “Mike, wake up.”
Mike tried to gain his bearings. His head was pounding. He moved slightly and let out another moan. His whole body hurt.
Sonny could tell someone had worked Mike over really well. He felt disgusted and angry that Mike would even get himself in this situation. But he also knew Mike was hurt and he wanted to help him. “What happened?”
“Michael, I . . . can’t . . . find anything,” said Mike, shivering with cold.
Sonny took off his coat and covered Mike. “Can you sit up?”
Mike was shivering uncontrollably, but he was able to sit up. “I won, Michael. I won big.”
Sonny knew that Mike’s winnings were gone. His clothes were ripped. His face was bloodied. He had been beaten. He was obviously followed out of the bar and attacked. Easy prey, Sonny thought. He wished his father never cared about money. He wanted him to know that he could give him all of the money he would ever need. But, it would never be enough for Mike. “I need to get you inside. Can you walk to your place?”
Mike closed his eyes. “No.”
“Do you want to go to the hospital?” asked Sonny with concern.
Mike looked away from Sonny. “I’ve been evicted,” he said with shame. “I don’t have anyplace to go.”
Sonny looked at Mike with disbelief. “Where have you been staying?”
“Around,” said Mike vaguely, still shivering. He started searching his pockets. “I have to find my money.”
“Mike . . .”
“I won big,” rambled Mike. “You wouldn’t believe the hand I got. I won the jackpot . . .”
“Stop!” yelled Sonny, as he shook Mike by the shoulders. “Your money’s gone, Mike! You were jumped after you left the game.”
Mike looked at Sonny with uncertainty. He started feeling his pockets again. “I need that money,” he said with despair.
“Did you see who did this to you?” asked Sonny, wanting to find the people that did this to his father. “Do you remember anything?”
Mike closed his eyes. It was finally sinking in that he had lost his money. He didn’t want to believe it. It was the best game he had played in years. He was going to do so many things with that money. He wanted to prove to Sonny that he wasn’t just a bum. He buried his face in his hands. “No . . . I don’t know . . . I’m not sure,” he cried, feeling confused and in pain. “It’s so . . . cold,” he shivered.
Sonny looked at Mike with worry. He needed to get him inside and get him warm. They could talk later. He helped him stand up. “Come on, Mike. I’m taking you home.”
A few hours later, Sonny was again staring out his Penthouse window and watching the snowfall. The snowstorm had gotten worse. The wind was howling and they would probably lose the power soon. But at least he could rest a little easier knowing that Mike was safe. He would never tell his father how much he really worried about him.
Sonny wondered what would have happened if he hadn’t gone out and looked for Mike. He had been beaten up pretty soundly. Mike had strongly resisted going to the hospital, so Sonny had one of his own doctors make a house call. Mike had been lucky. He had gotten mostly cuts and bruises and would be sore for a while. The doctor wanted Sonny to keep an eye on him for the next twenty-four hours due to the bump on his head. After having Mike drink some hot soup to get warm, Sonny sat with him until he had fallen asleep. He kept checking on him, just to make sure he was okay, and a couple of times he had stood in the doorway and watched him sleep.
Sonny was in the living room, adding a log to the fire, when the storm finally knocked the power out. He lit some candles and then poured himself a drink. Even though it was the middle of the night, he wasn’t tired. He sat on the couch in front of the fire and sipped his drink. He was full of anger and confusion. Mike scared the hell out of him tonight. He could have died in that alley. He briefly thought of Deke and how he had met his fate in a dark alley so long ago. Sonny didn’t want the same thing for his father. He didn’t understand why Mike would do that to himself. He would never understand it.
Mike walked into the living room. He had awoken to the sounds of the storm and was full of thirst. He was cautiously making his way to the kitchen in the darkness when he saw Sonny sitting in the living room. “It’s really bad out there,” he said.
Sonny turned around and looked at Mike with surprise. “Are you sick?”
Mike felt like a truck had run over him. “I need some water,” he said hoarsely.
Sonny had him to sit down on the couch. He came back with a glass of cold water and handed it to Mike. “The doctor wants you to get some sleep.”
Mike drank the water with thirst. Everything seemed a little hazy to him. “The fire feels good,” he said, as he looked around. “I guess the power’s out.” He could tell from Sonny’s silence that he was angry. He looked at his son and saw the firelight dance in his eyes. “Don’t be mad, Michael.”
“You should be in bed,” said Sonny, as he walked over to the fire. He took a heavy sigh. He threw on a log and stoked the fire as it roared to life. His back was to Mike. He could feel his father stare at him and he suddenly felt like a little kid. It was the feeling he hated the most.
“I want to apologize . . .”
“Please don’t. It’s late and I don’t want to hear all of your excuses,” Sonny spit out with anger, his concern for Mike suddenly overtaken by his simmering anger and disappointment.
Mike touched his swollen lip. He had been beaten pretty badly tonight. But, he really didn’t care about that. He was devastated that he had lost his money. He had won really big and in an instant it was all gone. He had wanted to rent a new place before Sonny found out he had been homeless for weeks. He didn’t want him to know. “It could have been different tonight.”
“You could have died in this storm, Mike. Did you ever think of that?” asked Sonny, his voice laced with anger. “What if I didn’t find you?”
“I understand that you’re angry . . .”
Sonny stood up and faced Mike. “Why didn’t you tell me you were evicted?”
Mike put his head down. “Because I didn’t want you to know,” he said with shame. “Please don’t lecture me, Michael. I already know that I messed up. I just didn’t want to hear it from you.”
“You could have asked me for the money,” Sonny said with exasperation. “You know I would have taken care of it.”
“I don’t want your money,” said Mike. “I wanted to take care of it myself. I won some money tonight and . . .”
“IT’S GONE MIKE!”
Mike looked away from Sonny, full of shame. He hated how he always made Sonny feel such fury. He had been trying for years to get close to his son. But at every turn, he always seemed to lose what little trust he would gain with him. “I don’t hurt you on purpose,” he whispered. “I want things different between us.”
Sonny shook his head. “How Mike? You pull the same thing over and over. I’M TIRED OF IT!” he yelled. He turned around and threw yet another log into the fireplace. The fire crackled with life as it lit up the entire room.
Mike felt the heat of the fire and it was like it was an extension of Sonny’s wrath. He listened as Sonny continued with his angry outburst. He had heard it all before. He wondered if Sonny remembered the many arguments he had with his mother, Adela. They had fought about the same thing. Mike was a disappointment to everyone. It was one of the reason’s he had left those many years ago. He was a failure.
Sonny walked over and poured himself a drink. He needed to calm down. He tried not to get so upset with Mike, but he couldn’t help himself. He took a sip of his scotch and glanced towards his father. Mike was slumped on the couch, looking defeated. His face was swollen from the beating. He was wearing Sonny’s robe that didn’t quite fit him. Sonny took a heavy sigh. He poured a drink for Mike, went over to the couch, and handed the glass to his father. “This will help you sleep.”
Mike took a few sips of the scotch, not looking in Sonny’s direction. The warmth of the drink felt good and he closed his eyes for a brief moment. “I don’t know how to change,” he said, his voice full of despair. “Do you think I like myself like this? I can’t help it. I have a sickness, Michael. I have an addiction that started when I was twelve years old.”
Sonny stared at the roaring fire and sipped his drink as Mike continued.
“There are things you don’t know about me,” continued Mike. “There are things that you’ll never understand.”
“You’re right. I don’t understand,” Sonny answered with weariness. “I could give you all of the money you ever dreamed of,” he whispered, his voice full of emotion. “You don’t have to place another bet for the rest of your life. I can get you out of this life, Mike.”
Mike moved closer to Sonny. “I can never get out. Don’t you see that?” he said with acceptance. “That’s what you need to understand, Michael. I can’t stop. I have to have that next bet. It’s in my blood.”
Sonny turned, looking at his father. “You don’t want to change. You’d rather place a bet than take care of your family,” he said simply.
“No,” Mike disagreed. “That’s not the way it is.”
“What about my mother?” Sonny reminded him.
“I loved your mother,” answered Mike with sincerity. “I swear I did.”
“You hurt her,” Sonny whispered, in a barely audible voice. “You chose your damn poker games over her. You lied to her over and over. She didn’t deserve that.” He wiped away his tears, remembering all the years that his mother suffered. How he wanted to make life better for her, but didn’t know how.
Mike hated hearing the pain in Sonny’s voice. He knew he could never take back all of the suffering he had caused his family. “I came back here to make it all up to you,” he explained. “I’ve been trying for so long, but you won’t let me in.”
“It’s too late,” whispered Sonny hoarsely. “I’ve told you that so many times.”
Mike’s head was starting to throb and he took a slow sip of his drink. He didn’t know how to talk to his son, he never did. But he wanted him to know they weren’t so different. He awkwardly reached out, putting his hand on Sonny’s arm. “Michael . . .”
“What?” Sonny said distantly.
Mike leaned in, almost whispering to Sonny. “I understand your hate, Michael. My father was a gambler, just like me. He never had a job. He was never around. He died when I was young.” Mike paused for a moment, then continued. “I don’t miss him . . . because I never really knew him. I hated him,” he said with anger. “I promised myself I would never be like him. But, I’m worse than him. I’m worse!” He put his head in his hands, softly crying. “I hated my father like you hate me.”
Sonny, taken aback by Mike’s emotion, reached over and comforted his father. He put his hand on Mike’s shoulder. “I don’t hate you. You’re wrong about that.”
Mike let out a sob. “It feels like hate to me.”
“It’s not that way at all,” corrected Sonny, tears welling in his eyes. “You never listen to what I’m saying. You don’t know how I feel.”
“Then tell me,” Mike pleaded tearfully.
Sonny shook his head. “It shouldn’t be this way.”
Sonny let out an audible sigh. “Nothing.”
“Tell me,” insisted Mike.
Sonny set his glass down on the coffee table. “I always have to look out for you,” he said. “I have to pick up the pieces when you make mistakes. I have to protect you. It should be the other way around.”
“I try and look out for you . . .”
“I’m not talking about now,” Sonny interrupted with frustration.
Mike looked at Sonny with confusion. “I love you, Michael. I’ve always loved you. You need to believe that. I know I was never around to tell you that,” he said tearfully. “But, I’m here now. We can make this work. I’m trying so hard, but you push me away.”
Sonny wiped away his tears. He looked towards the floor and talked in a distant voice. “I needed you for so long, Mike. I needed to be protected . . . I needed someone to look after me . . . and you never helped me.”
“I’m so sorry about that,” responded Mike. “I would do anything to change what happened to you. You don’t know how terrible I feel about it. I hate what Deke did to you and Adela. I’ll never forgive myself.”
Sonny closed his eyes. Did his father really think about that? Did he know how it ate away at Sonny every single day of his life? How it haunted his dreams? How he would do anything in his power to never feel helpless again.
Mike immediately regretted mentioning Deke’s name, as he could see Sonny start to shut down. “I can never fix all of the damage that I’ve done to you,” he whispered with sadness. “You might not believe this, but I ached for you all of those years. I’ll never forgive myself for not going back and,” he choked back some tears, “seeing you grow up.”
Sonny only felt rage and anger inside of himself. He couldn’t seem to let go of it. He didn’t know how.
“Michael . . . don’t shut me out,” Mike whispered gently. “We need to figure this out. Tell me what you want me to do.”
“I don’t know,” Sonny answered honestly. “I can’t stop feeling like this. I don’t know how . . . to forgive.”
“I love you, Michael.”
Sonny turned towards Mike and studied his father. The darkness of the room almost hid his face, but Sonny could hear the sincerity in his voice. In silence, he gently laid his head down on Mike’s shoulder. He wasn’t sure why. It was just something he felt like doing. He knew Mike was trying to reach out to him. “Why didn’t you take care of me?”
Mike wrapped his arms around Sonny and held him for a while. He had tried to take care of Sonny ever since he came to Port Charles, but his son would have none of it. “It’s not too late,” he whispered. “But, sometimes I don’t know how to help you. I want to be there for you, Michael. I want the chance to be your father again.”
Sonny released himself from Mike’s embrace. “As long as I could remember, that’s what I’ve wanted.”
“Then let’s forget the past, Michael. Let’s start over,” said Mike.
“Sometimes, I think you might leave again . . . that’s why I push you away,” Sonny confided.
Mike looked at him with surprise. “Does it mean anything to you that I stayed this long?”
Sonny nodded his head. “Of course it does. But, sometimes I get this feeling that you’ll decide to move on and not tell me,” he admitted.
Mike could understand Sonny’s fear. He had broken so many promises to him. “I’m done running away,” he said with assurance. “I know where I’m supposed to be now. It’s taken me a long time to figure it out, but I want to be here with you. You’re my only family, Michael. You’re all I’ve got.”
Sonny looked down towards the floor. It felt good to hear Mike say those words to him. They meant more than he could ever know. He wanted to start trusting his father. He had to give him a chance. He was about to say something when Mike shakily stood up from the couch. “What’s the matter?”
“I think . . . I better go back to bed,” Mike mumbled.
Sonny walked Mike back to the bedroom and helped him get into bed. The power had gone back on and he turned on the lamp. “We can talk another time, Mike. You don’t look very good.”
Mike felt exhausted, but he didn’t want to end the conversation he was having with Sonny. His body ached and he couldn’t keep his eyes opened. “Talk to me, Michael,” he pleaded. “Don’t stop . . .”
“Later,” said Sonny.
Mike grabbed Sonny’s hand. “You promise?” he asked with agitation.
“Yes,” said Sonny.
“I want to finish this,” insisted Mike.
“Okay,” promised Sonny.
“I’m sorry,” Mike said wearily. “I guess I didn’t realize how much you have to look out for me.”
“I don’t mind,” Sonny answered quietly.
“No. You were right. I never took care of you like I should have.”
Sonny smiled weakly. “I don’t need to be taken care of anymore. I’m not a little kid that can’t protect himself.” He looked at Mike and he had already drifted off to sleep. “I was talking about a long time ago,” he whispered to himself.
Mike woke up and looked around the bedroom. It took a few moments to remember he was at Sonny’s place. He wasn’t sure how long he had been here. He slowly sat up on the bed. His head still hurt and he felt sore. He noticed some clean clothes on the end of the bed. He picked them up and went and took a shower.
Mike walked into the living room. Sonny was on the phone, obviously talking business with someone. He walked over towards the balcony and looked out. It was bright and he shaded his eyes, waiting for them to adjust to the light. The storm had ended.
Sonny had already made some calls to take care of whoever did this to Mike. He knew he had to send a message out that no one could touch his father. He hung up the phone and went out on the balcony.
“How long have I been here?” asked Mike.
Sonny sat down next to him. “A couple of days.”
Mike took a heavy sigh, surprised at Sonny’s response.
“Do you remember anything that happened the other night? Did you see who did this to you?”
Mike shook his head. “No.”
“Okay,” said Sonny, knowing he would find who did this whether Mike told him or not. Someone would talk.
“Sonny, I don’t want to cause any problems. I have a lot of friends down there . . .”
“Friends?” Sonny responded sarcastically.
Mike rubbed his hands together. “It was just a misunderstanding. Let’s just leave it at that.”
“Whatever you want Mike,” agreed Sonny, although he knew he wouldn’t be able to heed his wishes. “I have some lunch ready,” he said, changing the subject. “You need to eat.”
Mike gingerly stood up from his chair and followed Sonny to the table. He quietly ate the soup that Sonny had made. “Aren’t you having any?” he asked.
“No,” said Sonny. “I made it for you. It has lots of nutrients in it. It will help with your headaches.”
Mike wondered how often Sonny had done this for Adela. He knew he had taken care of her when he was just a little boy. Sonny had told him how he cooked for her. “I won’t stay long,” he said, not wanting to overstay his welcome.
Sonny had actually given this some thought. He knew Mike had no money and no place to go. There was another storm due in by the end of the week and he knew he couldn’t be out on the streets. Besides, Mike looked so frail he could fall over. It would take him a while to recover from this. “You can stay here if you want,” he offered.
Mike looked at Sonny with surprise. “Do you think that’s really a good idea?”
“It’s up to you,” said Sonny with slight irritation, feeling he was giving Mike a generous offer.
It didn’t take long for Mike to decide. The last few days were hazy, but he remembered their long talk the other night. He didn’t want to give up the chance to change things with his son. “I’d really like that,” he answered softly. “Thank you.”
Sonny stood up and cleared the table. He went into the kitchen and started doing the dishes.
“I’d like to finish our conversation,” said Mike.
Sonny turned off the water and looked towards his father. “Listen, Mike. Just because I’m letting you stay here, doesn’t mean we have to do this all of the time.”
Sonny sighed. “Talk.”
Mike held up his hands. “I just think it’s important that we finish what we started.”
Sonny folded his arms over his chest. “I’m not sure what you want from me, Mike. I’m really trying here. I’ve been taking care of you for the last three days.”
“That’s what I’m talking about,” explained Mike. “I want to change that. From now on I’m going to stay clean. No more gambling. No more trouble . . .”
Sonny took a dish off the rack and threw it on the floor, shattering it to pieces. Then he stormed out of the kitchen.
Mike always seemed to make Sonny so upset. He was never sure exactly what he was saying to make him so mad. He thought Sonny would be thrilled about his announcement. Mike swept up the broken dish pieces from the floor and threw them away. He wanted to go after Sonny, but decided to give him a little space.
Later in the afternoon, Sonny finally came back to the Penthouse. He had an armful of groceries and went directly to the kitchen without saying a word. Mike waited for a little while, then poured two drinks and headed into the kitchen.
Mike set Sonny’s drink on the counter. “I thought you’d like an afternoon cocktail,” he said, trying to break the tension of the room. He was still feeling a little shaky and he leaned against the counter. “You’ve been gone all afternoon. I was getting worried.”
“I can take care of myself,” Sonny answered distantly, as he started cooking dinner on the stove.
“Can we talk now?”
“Our talks don’t go very well,” sighed Sonny.
“Please,” said Mike. “I’ll try not to upset you.”
“Look Mike. I’m making dinner right now. Can you at least wait until I finish the meatloaf?”
“Of course,” said Mike. “Do you need any help?”
Sonny turned around and looked at Mike. He thought he looked terrible. “I think you’d better sit down and relax. You shouldn’t be exerting yourself anyway.”
“Okay,” agreed Mike. “If that’s what you want.” He started walking out of the kitchen, feeling slightly dizzy. He suddenly felt Sonny’s arm around him.
“Mike? What’s the matter?”
“Nothing,” insisted Mike, as Sonny led him over to the dining room table. “I’m fine.”
Sonny sat Mike down, looking at him with concern. “Are you dizzy?”
“A little,” admitted Mike. “It’s nothing.”
“Don’t move,” ordered Sonny. “I want you to sit here until dinner’s ready.”
Mike didn’t have to wait long for dinner. Sonny had fixed meatloaf and potatoes and it was just what Mike needed. He was starting to feel better already. “This is as good as your mother’s,” he smiled. “Did you know she made the best meatloaf I ever tasted?”
“Yeah,” smiled Sonny. “This is her recipe.”
“I could never make it exactly the way she did,” said Mike. “Something was always missing. Can you tell me her secret?”
Sonny shrugged his shoulders. “I guess I can do that,” he teased.
Mike wondered why they couldn’t have civil conversations like this more often. He put his fork down. “Listen, Sonny. I guess I need to be honest with you. I know who did this to me. It was Reggie’s guys, you know, he runs a lot of the games at the River Rat. I won a few good hands and I guess they didn’t like that.”
“I know,” Sonny said matter-of-factly. “It’s all taken care of.”
Mike took a heavy swallow. He knew what that meant.
Sonny saw the expression on Mike’s face. “I can’t have my own father attacked and not have people answer for it. It just can’t be allowed,” he said coldly.
Mike nodded his head with understanding. He knew what Sonny had to do. That’s why he had been reluctant to tell him anything about that night. “I’ve been thinking and . . . maybe it’s not such a good idea to stay here with you.”
“Why not?” asked Sonny.
“I make you too angry,” explained Mike. “Everything I say seems to upset you. I’ll just get a room somewhere. That’s probably for the best.”
Sonny knew Mike was right. But, he didn’t mind his father staying with him. “I want you to stay,” he whispered quietly.
Mike looked at Sonny with surprise.
“Besides, you shouldn’t be staying in some drafty motel room,” said Sonny. “You have to start taking care of yourself. The doctor said it would take a few weeks to recover from that concussion.”
Mike nodded his head in agreement, not sure how to respond to Sonny’s thoughtfulness. The truth was that he had liked staying with Sonny the last few days. “Why did you break that dish this morning?”
Sonny shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know.”
“Is it because of what I said?” asked Mike. “I thought you’d be happy if I quit gambling.”
“No, Mike,” said Sonny. “I was mad because you told me something I wanted to hear, not something you’re really going to do,” he explained. “I don’t like that. It’s like you’re playing with my head.”
“But, I meant it . . .”
“But, you told me you couldn’t stop gambling!” Sonny said with intensity. “So don’t tell me you’re going to stop if you’re not.”
Mike took a sip of his coffee. It seemed so simple. Why didn’t he see it this morning? Sonny didn’t want any empty promises. That’s all Mike was good at. He studied his son from across the table and he knew he had to change. He had to start being honest. “I shouldn’t have promised that,” he admitted.
“Do you know what I really want?” asked Sonny.
Mike looked at him with curiosity.
“All I want is to not find you in some alley . . . hurt or almost dead . . . or getting phone calls in the middle of the night that . . . you’re in trouble,” said Sonny, his voice full of emotion. “Your luck is going to run out someday . . . and where would that leave me?”
Sonny was talking in a voice that seemed small and Mike could actually imagine him as a little boy again, full of seriousness even at a small age, but at the same time aged beyond his years. He wasn’t exactly sure how to respond. But, he didn’t have to, as Sonny started talking again.
“I want you in my life,” Sonny whispered softly. “I always did.” He wiped away the tears that started to well in his eyes. “I don’t hate you, it’s not really about that.” He struggled for the words. “I just can’t get past . . . those things that happened to me. No one understands what he did to me.”
“Deke?” said Mike, almost afraid to say the name out loud.
Sonny didn’t answer. He simply stared at his plate of half eaten meatloaf. He couldn’t look at his father when he talked about this. He was ashamed.
“You can talk to me, Michael. I want to know about it. I need to know.”
“No. No, you don’t.”
“You said you needed me to take care of you,” said Mike with gentleness. “I wasn’t there for you then, but I’m here right now.”
Sonny took a heavy sigh. He needed to get this off of his chest. He focused on the table as he spoke. “No one understands how he made me see things . . . how he pushed me into that darkness . . . how much he hurt me. I never let him know it, but I think maybe . . . maybe he really did break me down.”
“But, you’re okay now,” said Mike.
“No,” Sonny shook his head with disagreement. “Most people don’t walk around breaking dishes or yelling at people for no reason.”
“So, you have a little temper,” said Mike.
Sonny knew that Mike wouldn’t understand what he was trying to say. He pounded his fist on the table. “Don’t you understand? I do bad things. You know I do things worst than that! I saw the fear in your eyes when I told you I took care of who did this to you. Deke told me . . . ” Sonny stopped talking and looked away from his father. He was visibly shaking from emotion.
“You need to forget what Deke told you,” said Mike. “He was wrong about you.”
“I can’t . . . I can’t get him out of my head. I can’t forget what he did to me. He’s still in my dreams . . . the scars will never go away . . . and I still go into that darkness.”
“I’m sorry, Michael,” Mike whispered with sadness, finally realizing the hold Sonny’s stepfather still had over him. “I wish I could help you forget everything he did to you.”
Sonny looked up at Mike for the first time. “I don’t hate you, Mike. You’ve never hit me. You’ve never hurt me like he did. I hate what he did to me,” he said with anger. “When I break something or yell I feel just like him . . . like he’s inside of me and controlling everything I do.”
“You aren’t Deke,” Mike assured him.
Sonny rubbed his eyes with weariness. He knew Mike could never understand his fear of being just like his cruel and violent stepfather. “Sometimes I go to church and pray. But I know I can’t take back all of the things that I’ve done. And sometimes . . . I pray that I can be a better son to you. I don’t want you to be ashamed of me . . . of the things that I do.”
“I’ve never been ashamed of you,” said Mike.
Sonny nodded his head. “That’s good,” he said in relief. “But, I don’t think I make a very good son. So, I’m not sure why you want to be around me. I hate the way I treat you. I don’t know why I do it.”
“I don’t mind . . .”
“But, it’s not right!” said Sonny with intensity.
“I think you’re being way too hard on yourself,” said Mike. “I can’t pretend to know what it was like living with Deke. I can’t image what you went through. But I know one thing. You’re not like him.”
“You don’t know that, Mike,” said Sonny tearfully.
“Do you know what I remember most about the other night?” asked Mike. “I was laying in that alley and I thought I was really finished. Nobody was around and I was hurt and cold. When I opened my eyes you were there, Michael. You were like a gift. I was so glad to see you because I knew . . . I knew everything would be okay. You take care of things. You make sure everything is okay. You’ve been doing it your whole life and it’s not such a bad thing. Look at what you did for your mother. You protected her.”
Sonny looked at Mike with shock. He had never told him. “Did she tell you that?”
“No. But, I know you,” explained Mike. “You think you’re like Deke, but you’re nothing like him. I’ve seen how you are with the people you love, Michael. You protect them. You don’t hurt them. You’re the exact opposite of what he was.”
Sonny had never thought about it like that before. He wondered if Mike was right. He stood up from the table, feeling confused and upset. He walked out onto the balcony, where the air was cold, and took in some deep breaths.
“Don’t you believe me?” asked Mike, who followed him out to the balcony.
Sonny didn’t turn around. He just continued to look out at the city. “I always thought of myself as bad,” he whispered. “I heard it so many times, I just started to believe it. I thought maybe . . . you thought of me that way too.”
Mike walked up to Sonny. He put his hand on his shoulder. “No, Michael.”
Sonny looked at Mike with tears. His father really meant it.
Mike could see the pain in Sonny’s eyes. “You might not remember, but I was around when you were little. You were a great kid. I would play with you or take you to the park. We had it good for a while.”
Sonny gave his father a bittersweet smile. “I remember,” he whispered.
Mike shook his head. “I wish I listened to your mother. She loved you very much and she always told me to spend more time with you. She said boys really need their father. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you. Things would have turned out so different.”
Sonny nodded his head in agreement. For the first time in his life he heard regret from his father. Or maybe it was the first time he was really listening. “I don’t want to think about the past anymore,” he said quietly. “It won’t change what happened.”
“You’re right,” said Mike. “We need to figure out how to move forward. All I want is to make you dinner sometimes or watch a baseball game together.” He reached out and put his hands on Sonny’s shoulders. “I’m not going to hurt you anymore, Michael. You need to believe that.”
Sonny felt overwhelmed by Mike’s words. He had always wanted a father and he was finally standing right in front of him. “I believe you,” he said, with tears in his voice. “I really want this to work, Mike.”
“Me too,” said Mike, as he pulled Sonny into a hug. He wanted to hold his son right now and he was relieved when Sonny allowed him to hold him. “This is what your mother would want,” he said. “And from now on we’re going to take care of each other.”
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