Tribute To Gus Aitoro

Note: I began writing this entry on 3/31/08 at 10 a.m.

As most online people know, Ricky Paull Goldin had decided to leave Guiding Light and Gus will perish from injuries of a motorcycle accident. His heart will go to Olivia, who is dying and needs a new heart. Harley will have a tearful goodbye with Gus, and every Gus/Harley fan will be emotional wrecks this entire week. It's a sad time, especially for GusHers, but we will always remember the character of Gus Aitoro and Ricky's excellent portrayal of him. He'll forever be near and dear to our hearts. His relationship with Harley will be treasured and never forgotten.

Gus (and Ricky) will be missed so much, but as we grieve, we'll also look back on his amazing seven-year history. I present to you now Gus Aitoro year by year.....

In April 2001 we were introduced to Gus as an FBI agent. He came to town to investigate the Santos family with the SPD. His and Harley's first words to each other were along the lines of, "Who the hell are you?" He became Harley's boss, and they shared an office. But it was not love at first sight. They hated each other, and they bickered constantly. Gus was an arrogant jerk set on destroying the Santos's, and he belittled Harley many times. It was difficult to like him, especially since he was brought on to be Harley's new love interest. But as the year went on, we saw glimmers of humanity. There was much more to him that meets the eye. He slowly showed Harley that he does have a heart, feelings, and compassion. It was also eventually revealed that his dad, Joe, was killed by a member of the Santos clan and his real name is Nick August. He opened up to Harley about his dad, and he even delivered her second son, Jude. Harley began having feelings for him even though she repeatedly denied it. Gus began pursuing her; he knew there was an intense attraction between them. They shared a few kisses, but Harley was still in denial. Only she knew his soft side, though, while the rest of Springfield hated him completely. As the year ended, Gus contemplated leaving town but stayed because of Harley.

In 2002 we witnessed the glorious first year of GusH being a couple. They slowly built a wonderful, magical relationship despite her family being against them. Gus was no longer with the FBI; he became a SPD detective, working side by side Harley. He struggled admitting his true feelings for her on Valentine's Day, their first date, and other moments. He stumbled with words, he didn't like talking about his past, and he didn't want to rush their relationship. He respected the fact that she wasn't fully ready to be in another committed relationship. Gus had a major breakthrough when he finally let go of his vendetta against the Santos's. He didn't need it anymore since he now had Harley. With that, he showed what a good, funny, romantic, and adorable man he is. And only Harley understood him and saw him for who he truly was for the longest time. Her family thought he was a bad guy and so did her children's fathers. But Gus and Harley fell in love and moved in together. And Gus showed that he's good with children; he could care for Harley's kids just fine. Gus and Harley's love proved to be very strong against obstacles: Marina setting up Gus to look like a pedophile; Phillip gaining full custody of his & Harley's son, Zach; Gus's sister, Eden, coming to town. Gus was torn between Eden and Harley for many months because they didn't get along. Gus & Harley even took a short break so she could get Zach back, but they couldn't stay away from each other. They were in love, and nothing could come between them. The year ended with Gus and Harley winning a huge police case and Harley becoming suspicious of Gus's dad (details of which I can't remember).

In 2003 Harley and Gus stuck by each other through everything. She got her son back after he had a terrible accident. And then she and Gus were on the personal mission of their lives. They investigated Gus's past and realized he had been adopted. Gus how so much to deal with when he discovered his was the son of Alan Spaulding, and his mother was a former Spaulding maid, Lucia. It was a tough adjustment and a real shocker. Gus wanted to get to know his Spaulding family, but he knew the warnings of how deceitful Alan was. Alan also never liked Harley, so Gus tried to get to know the Spauldings without being sucked into their wealthy world. The hardest thing Gus dealt with this year was Harley being shot on the job during a domestic disturbance. She almost died, but she wasn't ready to leave Gus and her children. Then they were no longer partners because Harley quit the force, but their love was as strong as ever since Gus proposed at their home. He had given her his adoptive mom's, Angela's, ring as a "training" ring the year before, but this year was the real thing. They were engaged for over a full year. A big case that put GusH at odds was the Garden of Eden murders (referring to Eden's escort business). Harley wasn't a cop, but she was investigating behind Gus's back. She believed that Eden was the murderer, but Gus had trouble dealing with that. Turns out that Eden was innocent. Then GusH were on to another case but on opposing sides. Harley began a detective agency, and her first client was a woman looking for her missing daughter, The police picked up the case too, and GusH made a bet with each other about who would solve the case first. Gus had always been competitive with Harley on the force; they always bantered at work. During this case they had lots of fun bantering, and the competitiveness proved to be a huge aphrodisiac. They did take the case very seriously, and the daughter was found. Harley technically won the bet, but it was a close call. They called it a tie and celebrated by "getting a room" at the hospital (hehe). The year ended with Gus not knowing about Harley working for Jeffrey O'Neill. He was kept in the dark a couple times over the years, unfortunately, but it was never anything too serious.

In 2004 Gus also began working with Jeffrey. He had to infiltrate the Spauldings by joining Spaulding Enterprises. He and Harley were both working for Jeffrey behind each other's back, but soon they worked together. It was a big case involving drug smuggling. Gus had some undercover assignments while Harley had to worm her way into another man's business, which almost went too far. But nothing disrupted GusH's relationship...yet. Gus had to deal with saying farewell to his sister when she had to go into the Witness Protection Program. We saw a new side to Gus once the drug case was solved; it was a side we never thought we would see. His aunt Alexandra was the person in charge of the drug smuggling, and Alan begged Gus to keep the secret. What was Gus to do? He was forced into protecting his family, and everything went downhill from there because he even kept it from Harley. He was not the kind of man who would keep something like that from his girl. The secret was a big burden for Gus, but it was not revealed until one and a half months later. Frank, Harley's brother, was set up for something, and Gus could have stopped that from happening. It was bad. But in the mean time, GusH finally planned their wedding, which was to be a grand Spaulding affair. Gus had decided to tell Harley the truth right before the ceremony occurred, but he was too late. There was a security tape showing Gus deciding to keep the secret, and Harley viewed it. She was crushed. He tried to explain, but she would not hear it. She exploded at him, and they were over. No wedding. He chose his family over her and betrayed her. Gus was then labeled untrustworthy; how could the trust ever return? Gus was longing for Harley for months; we saw how much of a mess he is without her. What brought them slowly together again was Phillip's "murder". Anyone could have shot him since he became a terrible person (and even demolished Harley's house). Gus found Harley after it was already done. She looked a wreck, and he helped her. That was only the beginning. The year ended with GusH sharing an amazingly long kiss on Christmas and Harley being the prime suspect in Phillip's "murder".

2005 brought us renewed hope for Gus and Harley. Gus proved that he is trustworthy and that he would do anything for Harley. He gave Harley her land back and immediately began planning to have her house rebuilt. We saw how much GusH truly and deeply love each other. They faced one of their toughest battles: Harley going to prison. She was innocent, but so much evidence mounted against her. Gus became her lawyer, and defending Harley was his first trial. He had no doubts about her innocence, and he stayed true to her. He stuck by her through the whole ordeal. Harley wasn't sure of her innocence because she could not remember what happened to her that night; she wasn't nearly as optimistic as Gus. There was a month of bail hearings and whatnot before the actual trial, and together they tried finding Phillip's "killer". No luck, though. The events of the trial didn't help Harley at all, and she prepared for a guilty verdict. Through all of this, Gus was determined to keep their relationship professional, but they were gradually falling in love all over again. He also did just about everything he could to prove her innocence, but she was guilty of 2nd-degree murder and sentenced to prison for 15-20 years (I think). While she was in there, Gus was held captive by Olivia Spencer for a while (for reasons I don't remember). It was rough, and he imagined Harley being there with him once. Harley dreamed about Gus often while in prison, and he did sneak in too see her once (he stole a guard's uniform). Harley was only in prison for about two months; there was a huge prison break with the help of her ex-husband, Mallet. Gus caught up to them, and GusH became lovers of the run. They were on a mission to find Phillip's real "killer", which led them to New York City. While on this fun and dangerous adventure, they became a couple again. They re-connected on many levels, and their love was stronger than ever. Eventually it was revealed that Alan shot Phillip, and Harley won her freedom. GusH became engaged again, and a month later they were married in a simple yet beautiful ceremony outside Company Restaurant in the courtyard. With Harley's sons their family was complete but not their house. The remainder of the year showed GusH mostly happily married, but Harley had trouble getting Mallet out of her head. The year ended with Alan being released from an asylum and Gus worried about him going after Harley. Gus left home to take care of Alan, making sure his wife was safe.

In 2006 we saw more obstacles for Gus and Harley. Gus was gone for a whole month before even viewers knew what happened to him. We knew he went after Alan, but we didn't know where he went or what he intended to do with him. He was out to protect Harley like he has always done. Harley didn't know anything either, just the reason he was gone. She searched for him, and for three months she tried not to give up hope. Poor Gus had been in a car accident with Alan, and they were retrieved by Beth, Alan's current wife. But for some reason she held them captive at a cabin. Both men were seriously injured, and she did what she could to "help" their injuries. Gus fought to leave and get back to Harley, but he couldn't. Meanwhile, all signs pointed to Gus being dead, and Harley had no choice but to grieve for her husband. She and Mallet had been growing closer during this ordeal, and they took comfort in each other for one night (meaning, they slept together). Harley gained a renew hope in Gus being alive, and she eventually found him. Gus shared a long, joyous reunion with his girl before everyone else knew he was back. But damage had been done. While in the cabin, Gus became hooked on painkillers. He had a very powerful addiction and a very sore leg. Harley didn't know of the addiction for a while, but she discovered it on her own. He tried going to rehab, but he left immediately because he couldn't handle not being able to have contact with Harley. All he needed was her. At the cabin with her and sheer willpower he faced 48 hours of detoxification. It seemed he was done with painkillers, and on a whim he and Harley renewed their vows. They had wound up on an island for an investigation and discovered that Phillip was alive and in hiding. Also while there, Gus discovered Harley and Mallet's fling, and he was crushed. He began popping pills again. He didn't let on about him knowing at first, but soon he couldn't keep his cool anymore. He had a huge confrontation with Harley, and they were over again. His addiction was back, and he was a mess again. But he picked himself up and got back in shape. He realized that he could get past Harley's mistake, and he was determined to win her back. Harley returned to town after a small trip to find Gus doing well, completely clean of drugs, and attempting to finish her house. The reunited and built their house together, but it still wasn't 100% complete. They were happy the rest of the year with Zach and Jude. They became partners on the police force again, and an abandoned baby, Sidney, kind of fell into their lap. They took care of her for one night and realized it was the right time to expand their family. They had always thought about having children together. They talked about it, and Gus wanted twins - a boy and a girl. They tried to make a baby...and tried...and tried. But they learned that Gus was sterile from a chemical exposure during his FBI days. They had no chance, but Sidney re-entered their lives. And Gus was so smitten with her; he wanted to have a child of his own more than anything. The year ended with GusH beginning the battle to adopt Sidney.

In 2007 we saw the slow, step-by-step destruction of GusH and a personality change in both of them. But it began with them being united and living happily in their house. They tried to adopt Sidney, but her family from another state wanted her too. The biggest barrier was the fact that Harley gave up her daughter, Daisy/Susan, when she was just 17. She wasn't being a good mother to her now since Daisy had so much freedom at her boarding school. Daisy was forced to move return to Springfield, and GusH saw just how rebellious she was. They had their hands full with her. Harley was dumbfounded while Gus had to fight off Daisy's crush on him. The worst thing Daisy did was lure back Gus's first love, Natalia, into his life. Everything was fine at first. Harley and Natalia got along while Gus remained completely devoted to Harley. But while Daisy was in juvenile detention for a few months, it was discovered that Gus and Natalia have a son together, Rafe, who was also in juvie. That's when Gus and Harley slowly pulled apart. And Dylan, Daisy's father, returning to town didn't help either. Gus tried making things right with Natalia and Rafe while Harley felt drawn to Dylan and raising Daisy with him. GusH had trouble handling their teens together, especially since they began dating. Everything fell apart; the once-happy home came tumbling down. Gus went trough a change when he believed Harley slept with Dylan (she didn't), and he slept with Natalia out of rage. That is an act that Gus would never do; he was never the cheating type. But he made that one mistake and tried making things right with Harley. They really tried to fix everything as their second wedding anniversary passed, but they ultimately chose to end their marriage. Harley pushed him away, and he went straight to Natalia - something that he wouldn't do. Normally, he'd fight for Harley, but he just let her go. He tried making a family with Rafe and Natalia and eventually proposed to Natalia. Meanwhile, Harley became smitten with Cyrus Foley, her niece's boyfriends at the time. That's something out of the blue for her because he wouldn't hurt her niece like that. And both Gus and Harley wouldn't be able to move on from each other so fast, but strangely, they did. Gus's life didn't include Harley much anymore. A terrible annulment occurred between them, but it didn't quite go through. They divorced, and that was that. Gus continued to be there for Zach and Jude, though; he was their father in a sense. The year ended with Gus beginning a close friendship with Olivia, who had a heart condition, and Natalia being suspicious.

In 2008 we saw the end of a wonderful man. Before that, however, Gus began dividing his time between two women. He did marry Natalia, but Olivia wanted him for herself. The two women battled for him, but nothing physical occurred of course because of Olivia's condition. That condition was an advantage for her because she could always pretend she had trouble breathing or was feeling faint, and Gus would be there if she needed him. He was always a protector; I think he was a sucker for damsels in distress. He did get pretty close to Olivia, but he claimed to love Natalia. He wasn't in love with Olivia. Harley was barely a part of his life; they bumped into each other every now and then. He was still around for her sons, of course. But most of his screen time was divided between Natalia, Olivia, and Rafe. Olivia heart gradually turned worse...eventuall to the point where she would die if she didn't get a new heart. It was only a matter of time for her, and Gus and Natalia supported her and her daughters. Olivia wanted to marry Gus as her time started diminishing, but she married Jeffrey, who would look after her daughters. Gus remained a great friend to her till his tragic end... Olivia was whisked to the hospital, and Gus's final scenes alive and uninjured were with Harley first and then Natalia at the new house he bought for them and Rafe. Unfortunately, when he finally received news of Olivia, he borrowed a motorcycle. And that's when tears began for everyone.

As it says at the beginning of this entry, I began it on Monday of this week. It is now Wednesday. Gus had to have surgery to stop bleeding in his head. Harley sensed he might not make it, and GusH shared a tearful goodbye. Natalia got to say goodbye too. When the surgery was over, Dr. Rick Bauer said he was barely hanging on. He didn't hang on much longer, and that was the end of a heroic, funny, offbeat, endearing character. He was all about saving other people and making sacrifices for others. Like Harley said today, "He died the way he lived," because his heart has gone to Olivia.

Gus Aitoro was one in a million (as is Ricky). He had a wonderful seven-year run. We will never forget him. He'll live forever in our thoughts and hearts. We'll always love him and miss him. And we will miss his amazing relationship with one Harley Cooper. They were the light of Guiding Light (in my opinion).


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