Bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong.
The grandfather clock in the corner tolled the six o'clock hour. Justus Ward glanced up in surprise, gathered up all the paperwork atop his desk and shoved it hastily into a long manila folder. Double-checking to make that nothing had been missed, he took the time to look underneath the large oaken desk. Satisfied, he walked over to the safe located prominently in the back wall of his office.

It wasn't arrogance that caused him to place the safe there in plain view. Well, it wasn't just arrogance on his part. The safe was of the latest technology, so new that the highest levels of government were not even aware of its existence. Justus smiled. It paid to have connections.

Justus' connections were Michael 'Sonny' Corinthos, and his cousin Jason Morgan nee' Quartermaine. They were Port Charles' top Mob Boss and his right hand man, respectively. And Justus was their lawyer. He'd gone into the 'Business' as a favor to Jason, who needed someone he could trust to watch his back. Not physically. Sonny had enough guards for that. Sonny's friendship with Jason led him to extend his umbrella of protection over Justus. In time, Justus repaid the favor by adding Sonny to his very exclusive client list.

In the early days of their friendship, several skirmishes with both the Port Charles Police Department and the Quartermaines had allowed Justus the opportunity to prove himself to Jason. And Jason's trust in his newfound attorney became absolute.

As their friendship deepened, Jason was overheard to say that Justus was one of the few people he truly considered family. And the feeling was mutual. After his Granny Mae died, Justus felt an isolation from people that he could not shake. Without his grandmother there as the common bridge between the two halves of his heritage, he was caught in the middle of a tug of war for his loyalties. Keesha and his family in Philadelphia wanted him to have no part of his Quartermaine relatives. Edward, on the other hand, took every opportunity to bind him more closely to them.

So Justus had done the only thing he could - walked away from both sides. There he was, searching for some direction, when Jason came along. Blunt, straightforward, up-front Jason. Undemanding, reliable Jason. The answer to his prayers during those dark days. No matter that his business was illegal.

He shook his head, glancing once more at the clock. If he didn't hurry, he would be late for dinner at Sonny's. The finicky Mob boss was an excellent cook, and he controlled his kitchen with an open show of power that was rarely seen in his business dealings. Any of the inner circle who came to dinner late would not get to eat. Sonny refused to serve a creation of his in any condition other than ideal.

Firmly shutting the safe's door, Justus placed his palm against the sensor. His identity verified, the safe quickly initiated its locking program. click. The soft sound signified the completion of the locking procedure. The attorney shook his head in disbelief. After all this time, he was still amazed by the level of technology at Sonny's disposal. And his.

He shrugged his broad shoulders. His jacket was not as comfortable as he would have liked. Justus made a mental note to speak to Sonny about the man they'd hired to tailor their garments. In the business, appearances mattered. A lot. For the price they had paid, there was no excuse for flaws.

Justus pulled the door shut. He didn't bother to lock it. His office was one floor below the two penthouse apartments. One of the penthouse apartments was his and the other was Sonny's.

The entire building belonged to the organization. It was their central headquarters. Protected by an army of guards and the same state of the art technology as the safe, no one entered the building unless they had the blessing of Sonny or Jason. Confidently Justus strode down the hall, his shoes sinking into the plush carpet which lined the hallway. He stepped into the waiting elevator and pushed the button for the top floor.

In the silence of the elevator he strained to hear the music playing from the decorative speakers in the upper corners. Ah, there it was, he smiled. It was a private joke among the inner circle how Sonny had lost the battle with his wife over what kind of music would play in the elevators. Sonny said the sappy love songs she played over and over was enough to drive a man to violence.

Chime. The elevator's bell signaled Justus' arrival at the top. As the doors slid smoothly open, his world seemed to decelerate to slow motion. All Justus got was a glimpse of movement before the flashes of fire blinded him. Thud, thud, thud . . . the dull sound of the bullets striking him sounded unreal to his ears.

As he lay sprawled in the corner of the elevator, a growing pool of red surrounded him. Dazed, he heard the approach of several sets of footsteps. Someone crouched down beside him, the still smoking gun in his hand. Justus fought to focus his eyesight. He looked up into the face of the man who had just filled the elevator with gunfire. "Why you?" he asked weakly.

"I needed to send a message," Jason Morgan replied.

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