But I’m only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I’m only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
‘Cause I’m only human
– Human, Christina Perri
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Hardy Home: Sidewalk
The day was fading into early evening when Jason pulled the SUV to a stop in front of Audrey Hardy’s home. He switched off the ignition, but Elizabeth made no move to exit the car.
“I can stay in the car,” he offered. “It might be easier for you to tell her—”
“Having you wait out here for us is like…” Elizabeth sighed, letting her head fall back against the head rest. “It’s being ashamed of what I did. It’s not going to make it any less true if you sit out here.” She turned her head to meet his eyes. “And I want her to believe me when I tell her I’m not sorry.”
“Okay.” There was no arguing with any of those reasons, though he didn’t care for the pressure she was putting on herself. But he knew what it was like to have family who claimed to care about you only as long as you performed to their expectations.
“My grandmother encouraged me to stay with Ric, so it’s not like her credibility with me is high anyway.” Elizabeth pushed open her door and stepped outside the car.
Jason removed the keys from the ignition, slipped them into his pocket and joined her on the sidewalk. “Did you tell her everything he did?”
“Well, no,” Elizabeth admitted as they started towards the house. “Holding Carly hostage in our local panic room didn’t seem quite believable, particularly when Scott Baldwin hired him to work at the DA’s office rather than you know, prosecuting the bastard.” She huffed. “I told her he’d had an affair—which was technically true.”
Should have shoved the scum off a cliff in Venezuela that summer—their lives would be a lot easier right now.
“And your grandmother still encouraged you to go back to him?” Jason asked, his respect for Audrey Hardy all but disappearing.
“Well, I think her exact words were something along the lines of—’at least he’s not Jason’ or my personal favorite, ‘he didn’t get you shot at or kidnapped’.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Yeah, because those were the worst things that ever happened to me.” She touched the door knob. “So, yeah, she really doesn’t care for you. I’m sorry. This is going to suck.”
“It’s not going to be nearly as bad as other people,” Jason told her, knowing that Sam was going to take it particularly hard since he hadn’t warned her and had ignored all of her calls for more than a week.
“You say that now,” she murmured as she pushed open the front door.
Audrey sat on the sofa, a book in her hands. Cameron was at her feet, using a pile of Legos to construct a large tower. At the door opening, Cameron’s head snapped up. He grinned and lunged to his feet, rushing towards Elizabeth.
“Mommy!” The curly-haired boy threw himself into her arms, and with a laugh, Elizabeth lifted him into a tight embrace.
“Cam, I missed you so much.” She pressed kisses to his cheeks until he giggled.
Audrey rose to her feet, not looking at her granddaughter any longer. Her eyes were on Jason. “Mr. Morgan.”
“Gram…” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Cam, do you remember my friend Jason?”
Cameron nodded, but buried his head in his mother’s chest with a small smile in Jason’s direction. “Hi,” he said quietly.
“Can you show Jason your room and let him get your things together so we can go home?” she asked him. “Mommy has to talk to Grandma for a minute.”
Elizabeth carefully transferred Cameron into Jason’s arms. He’d held him before—when he was just a baby and then a few times in the ensuing years, but this time was different.
This was his stepson, a little boy who would be living with them, and part of the family they were putting together. Who had been shuffled back and forth between his apartment and his great-grandmother’s as his adopted father struggled with injuries and drug addiction.
“His room is upstairs,” Elizabeth murmured to him. “He doesn’t have much to put together, but knowing him, it’s strewn all over the room.”
“You’ll be okay?” he asked, glancing at Audrey who looked distinctly unhappy at being ignored.
“Okay is a relative term.”
He wanted to stay, to stand beside her as she told her grandmother about their marriage but maybe it would just make things worse if he insisted, so he started to climb the stairs.
Once Jason and Cameron were on the second floor, Elizabeth stepped further into the living room and knelt on the floor to begin putting Cameron’s Legos into a container.
“Elizabeth, I want an explanation.”
“I’ve been trying to think of the best way to tell you this since I left on Sunday,” Elizabeth said, tossing the last yellow plastic piece in the container and fitting on the top. She drew herself to her feet. “But I suppose the best way is to just say it, like ripping off a bandage. I divorced Lucky in the Dominican Republic in Tuesday morning. Diane filed the paperwork here to register the divorce that afternoon. And that evening, I married Jason.”
Audrey sucked in a sharp breath. “Elizabeth.”
“And I know you’re going to be angry, but I was afraid if I told you my plans, you would have—” Elizabeth sighed. “You would have tried to stop me.”
“I would have tried,” Audrey replied, her pale cheeks flushing. “What in the world could you have been thinking?”
“I know you don’t care for Jason, but you don’t know him,” she responded. “Not the way I do. You don’t know how good he is to me, how good he’s going to be for Cameron and this baby. He doesn’t treat me like garbage or—”
“No, he’ll just get you killed or put in jail,” the other woman snapped. “For heaven’s sake, Elizabeth, you were kidnapped because of him—shot at—”
“And I was raped because I walked through the park one night alone,” Elizabeth murmured. “And my ex-husband’s mistress poisoned me, put a venomous snake in my studio, and caused my miscarriage. The worst things in my life, Gram, cannot be laid at Jason’s feet. And I wasn’t shot at because of Jason.” She pursed her lips. “That was because of Zander.”
“Another one of your stellar choices,” Audrey retorted. “My God, Elizabeth, have you no self-respect?”
Tears burned in her eyes, but she refused to allow them to fall—she would not give her grandmother the satisfaction. “Maybe I didn’t for a long time. After all, why else would I stay with Ric Lansing when he’d brought me nothing but pain and misery? Or why would I put up with a drug addict who put my child in danger and slept with a teenager? I must have thought very little of myself to allow those situations to continue, but it’s over now. I’m done with guilt and obligations, doing the right thing because someone else told me what it is.” She tossed her hair over her shoulder. “I married Jason because I wanted to, and that’s good enough for me.”
“Well, I hope that’s a comfort to you in his bullet proof penthouse,” Audrey murmured. “With your guards and the danger—I hope you’re happy with the world you’re bringing your children into. I cannot imagine Lucky will allow you to keep them full-time after this.”
“If you think any judge is going to give him custody of my children,” Elizabeth said evenly, her blood boiling just at the thought, “you’re insane. He’s an unemployed and unstable drug addict who screwed an eighteen year old in our bed.”
“I see you have answers for everything.” Audrey pressed her lips together. “I can’t imagine what else we have to say to each other—”
“Neither can I, Gram.” She picked up the container and watched as Jason came down the steps, Cameron’s duffel bag swung over one shoulder and her son in his arms. “Thank you for watching Cameron for me.”
When Jason stepped on the landing, Elizabeth tilted her head to the door. “Let’s go.”
“Cameron,” Elizabeth began as Jason pulled away from the curb, “we’re not going back to the apartment.”
“Why?” Cameron asked from his booster seat in the back. “My toys are there.”
“Um.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “You know your friend Morgan from school? How his mommy is going to marry Jax?”
“Yep,” Cameron nodded. “Morgan is my best friend in the whole wide world. Jax is gonna be his second daddy and he’ll live with them.”
“Well…” Elizabeth glanced at Jason who pulled to a stop at a traffic light. “I married Jason, so we’re going to live with him.”
Cameron frowned. “So he’s my second daddy like Mister Jax?”
“He’s your stepfather now.” Elizabeth twisted in her seat to get a better view of him. “Is—is that okay?”
“Do I got my own room?” the little boy asked. “Because I gots my own room, it’s okay. I don’t wanna share. Does he got kids too?”
“Not yet,” Jason told Cameron. “You’ll be the only kid until your mom has the baby.”
“Okay.” Cameron nodded. “Okay. It’s cool. But what about my toys?”
“I packed our things after I dropped you at Gram’s,” Elizabeth told him. “Some friends of Jason moved them for us, so we’ll unpack everything tomorrow after school, okay?”
“Okay. As long as I got my toys.”
“To be three years old,” Elizabeth murmured, leaning her head back against the head rest, “and that be the most important thing in the world.”
“It’s going to be okay.” Jason took a hand off the wheel and laced their fingers together. “I know it was rough with your grandmother, but we’ll get through it tomorrow.”
“Yeah, letting the Port Charles Herald announce it to the world may not have been the best idea,” she murmured.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Kelly’s: Dining Room
Emily slapped a newspaper down in front of Nikolas, the dark headline crawling across the front: Cop’s Ex Married to the Mob!
“What the hell is this?” she demanded.
Nikolas took the paper from her and frowned as he read the brief account. “Looks like Elizabeth divorced Lucky in the Dominican Republic and married your brother on the island that evening.” He set the paper aside. “I wondered.”
Emily dropped into the seat across from him. “You wondered?” she repeated. “What the hell does that mean?”
“When Elizabeth went out of town immediately after getting those papers signed, and Jason disappeared as well?” Nikolas shrugged, sipping his coffee. “I assumed they were Dominican divorce papers.” He tapped the headline. “The marriage…well that I didn’t see coming.”
“How could she do this to Lucky?” Emily asked. “This is going to set his recovery back so badly—” She shook her head. “With the second baby coming—she should have waited. He’s going to get over this and be himself again—’
“And there’s no law that said Elizabeth had to wait around for him to get there. Christ, Emily, he had an affair with another woman.” Nikolas eyed her. “If you remember correctly, that was reason enough for you to leave me.”
“That is just—” Emily pressed her lips together. “That’s not the point, Nikolas.”
“I’m not sure what caused her to turn around and marry Jason so quickly,” Nikolas said. “I worry that maybe she’s in trouble, but I do know that your brother saved her life last spring. After the hell my family put her through—I don’t know that I have the right to judge.”
He set his coffee down and handed the paper back to her. “And I don’t know why you are.”
General Hospital: Nurse’s Station
“Well.” Kelly slapped the paper down, her dark eyes lit with excitement. “Never let it be said that our Lizzie doesn’t know how to make a splash.”
“I feel like this violates some sort of Girl Code,” Lainey murmured, taking the paper from her and skimming the text again. “I feel like a decision of this magnitude should been covered in some sort of way over drinks. Or tea, since she’s pregnant.”
“Hey, more power to her. She traded in a five for an eleven on the smoking hot scale.” Kelly leaned across the counter, her lips curved in a wicked smile. “I would not mind a piece of Jason Morgan—”
“Everywhere I go,” Patrick complained as he stepped up to next to Kelly with a chart in his hand. “People are poring over that damn paper.”
“Well, we’re concerned,” Lainey said. “We consider Elizabeth a friend. She divorced one man in the morning and married another by the end of the night. I just hope she knew what she was doing—”
“Oh, she did,” Patrick muttered, thumbing through the chart and scrawling his signature. “Wouldn’t listen to reason.”
Kelly and Lainey both stared at him for a long moment until he felt the heat of their gaze and raised his head. “What?”
“You knew?” Kelly shrieked.
“Oh, see, now you have to die,” Lainey said, jabbing him with the pen.
Carly’s Home: Dining Room
Carly stepped into the dining room and held the paper up. “So, this happened.”
Jax glanced up from his breakfast and coughed harshly. Next to him, fourteen-year-old Michael pounded him on the back until his future stepfather had regained his breath. “What the hell?”
“You know, I should have seen this coming,” Carly mused as she took a seat at the head of the table, skimming the paper. “Jason thought someone was threatening her—Elizabeth was calling him for help. She was being charged with a bunch of nonsense—this all makes sense.”
“In what bloody universe does it make sense that Elizabeth is now married to Jason?” Jax demanded, snatching the paper from her hands. “A Dominican divorce? Hell.”
“Ric must have tried blackmail,” Michael shrugged. “Ha. This is going to piss him off.”
“Watch your language in front of your brother,” Carly told her son as she glanced at three-year-old Morgan, who just blinked at his mother. “An angry Ric is a dangerous Ric.”
“True.” Jax shook his head. “I thought spousal privilege only protected you after the marriage?”
“That’s technically true,” Carly said reaching for a muffin and tearing off a piece. “But this makes it way more complicated to compel her testimony. She can only testify about what she sees with her own eyes. Communications with Jason are off limits. Ric could ask her about something before the marriage, but she could easily derail the whole thing by telling him something Jason told her after the marriage.” Carly grinned. “And then her testimony is thrown out, there’s a mistrial. Very expensive. Hardly worth the trouble.”
“Mom has some experience in this matter,” Michael told Jax wryly. “No one knows the spousal privilege laws better.”
“Eat your breakfast, smart mouth.” Carly grinned. “God, I would love to be a fly on the wall at the Davis-Lansing home when Ric and Sam read the news.”
Davis-Lansing Home: Breakfast Nook
Sam’s wail broke the silence of their normal quiet breakfast. Alexis stopped trying to force Molly to eat her oatmeal and turned towards the front door. “Sam?”
“What now?” Ric muttered, reaching for his coffee.
“Look at this!” Sam shoved the paper at her mother. “Just look! What the hell was he thinking? He loves me.”
The first inkling of danger seeped into Ric’s brain and he tuned back into the conversation. “Can I see the paper?”
“This is not an attractive headline,” Alexis murmured as she passed the paper to her husband. “I thought she’d left this life behind.”
Cop’s Ex Married to the Mob!
Son of a bitch.
Morgan Penthouse: Kitchen
Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. “They make me sound…I don’t know…like some sort of femme fatale.”
Jason scowled and leaned against the kitchen counter. “Sonny said he was just putting an announcement in the paper. I didn’t think they’d go this far—”
“How could they resist?” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Listen to this: ‘The new Mrs. Morgan was not only previously married to a detective with the PCPD, but to our very own interim prosecuting attorney.” She huffed. “He wasn’t the DA when I married him, and he sucks at it now.”
“I’m going to call Diane,” Jason muttered. “Did you see what they said about Cameron?”
“Oh, yeah, where they insinuate he’s the illegitimate son of a wannabe gangster.” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “I want to be angry about this, Jason, but it’s not like it’s not true. I’m not sure what Diane can do.” She set the newspaper down. “Cameron is Zander’s son—it’s a fact I’ve never tried to hide. He was killed in a shootout with the PCPD, so you know, it’s not like I can pretend he was an upstanding citizen.”
She peered down at the newsprint. “Though I noticed they left out Lucky’s stint in drug rehab and his affair with the commissioner’s daughter. Are they more scared of Mac than they are of you?”
He continued to scowl. “Why aren’t you more angry?”
“Because I don’t see the point.” She wrapped her arms around his waist and tilted her head up to look at him. “They didn’t print anything that wasn’t true. And I’m glad they left out some of it.” She pressed a quick kiss to his lips and returned to making Cameron’s breakfast.
“Which parts?” Jason reached for the newspaper again. This wouldn’t bother him normally, but he didn’t like the way the Port Charles Herald had talked about her or Cameron.
Maybe they should buy the newspaper.
“I’m glad they left Maxie out of it.” Elizabeth stepped towards the doorway of the kitchen to peer into the living room where Cameron had been glued to his cartoons since waking up twenty minutes earlier. “She’s dealing with enough.”
Jason frowned and picked up his coffee mug. “Elizabeth, she slept with your husband—”
“I remember Maxie a year ago, when she first started to date Jesse.” Elizabeth scooped the last of the scrambled eggs onto a plate. “She was different—still headstrong, but a good heart. And then he was murdered. Right in front of her.” She turned to him. “I remember what that was like—to think you’ve got your future in front of you and then to see it literally shatter into a million pieces before your eyes.”
“And I know that it can make you so angry that you decide you’d rather feel anything other than the despair, the devastation.” Elizabeth pressed a hand to her chest. “So you start to do self-destructive things. I got lucky, Jason. The first time I decided to go wreck my life, I found you.” She arched a brow. “I should punish Maxie because she found Lucky?”
He exhaled slowly. “You’re giving me too much credit.”
She just smiled and set Cameron’s plate on the table. “Anyway. This is a phase for Maxie. It’ll pass. She and I will never be friendly again, I’m not crazy, but you know, I can see her pain. She’s clinging to Lucky because he makes that pain go away for a bit.” Elizabeth shrugged. “She’ll figure it out.”
She stepped towards him, her eyes soft. “And if she’s really fortunate,” she began, stressing the word, “she’ll find someone who doesn’t make her forget about the pain of losing someone you love, but helps her learn to live with it. And move on.” She kissed him again. “Like you did for me.”
She went to the doorway to call to Cameron as Jason tried to process the way she saw their early friendship. He remembered the night of the blackout—when she’d told him she’d been in love with him back then. He had assumed she’d meant that last summer—before Courtney and Ric.
But maybe she had meant those first few months.
Cameron rushed into the kitchen and climbed into his booster seat. “I can’t wait to tell Morgan about my new room,” he chirped, shaking the ketchup bottle over his eggs. “It’s so big, Mommy.”
“And yet you still managed to make a mess in less than three hours.” Elizabeth slid into a chair at the table, sipping her tea. At her side, her cell phone vibrated and shook but she only reached for it to look at the caller id.
The only phone call either of them had taken all morning had been from Sonny. At last count, Jason had two missed calls from his sister, one from Carly, and three from Sam.
Elizabeth pursed her lips. “It’s Patrick again, but I bet he just wants his race cars back now that we’re back in town.”
Jason sat opposite of Cameron and furrowed his brow. “His race cars?”
“Yeah, Mister Patrick has the best!” Cameron told him, bouncing in his seat. “He lets me play with them sometimes.” He pouted. “Do I gotta give ‘em back, Mommy?”
“I’m sorry, baby.” Elizabeth ruffled his curls. “It was nice of Patrick to lend them to you this entire week, but he loves those things more than some people love family members.”
“Man.” Cameron huffed and pushed his plate back. “How come I gotta play with otha people’s toys?” He sniffled. “Morgan’s got a whole room for his toys.”
“Cam…” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I-I know I wasn’t able to do much this last year, and I’m sorry—but things are going to be different—”
And that was all Jason was going to listen to. “Cam, you know, I missed your birthday last year.”
“Jason…” Elizabeth began. She laid a hand over his. “You don’t have to—”
“I-I know, but I didn’t get him anything and I should have. We’re friends,” he told her. “I mean, then. We were friends—”
“Can I have race cars for my birfday now?” Cameron demanded, not interested in his mother’s protests. “I don’t gotta wait until I’m four do I?”
“If it’s okay with your mother,” Jason said, glancing at Elizabeth, “maybe we can go to Wyndham’s after school.”
“Please, Mommy?” Cameron asked. “Pretty please?”
She sighed. “All right.”
“Yay!” Cameron slid off his chair and rounded the table to launch himself at Jason. “Thank you, thank you!”
Jason hugged him and set him back on the ground. “Finish eating so you can go to school.”
After Cameron had finished eating and returned to his cartoons, Elizabeth started to clean up. “I didn’t overstep, did I?” Jason asked, setting his dirty coffee mug in the sink.
“What?” Elizabeth blinked at him. “No. No. I—I just hate that I haven’t been able to do much for him.” She sighed and tucked a plate in the drying rack. “We were barely able to celebrate his birthday at all this year. Lucky had just left the hospital and he was still in so much pain.” She bit her lip. “I was working on Sam’s case. There wasn’t much money because Lucky’s health insurance with the department only covers him when he’s working, which idiotic but it’s not like I make the rules.”
She sighed. “Bobbie made him a cake, and my grandmother bought him a few toys. There were some clothes, but it’s hard for him. He started preschool this year and he’s absolutely in love with Morgan. But Morgan has a big house and lots of toys—”
“I get it.” Jason touched her back lightly. “I just—there’s no reason for him to go without something he really loves. I have money—”
“But it’s not why—” She stopped. “Never mind. I know you don’t think I married you for money, so there’s no point in arguing that. It’s more that…” She pressed her lips together. “I’m not entirely used to having someone to…share in the decisions.”
“But Lucky’s been in his life—”
“Yeah, Lucky and I have been together since Cameron was a baby, but—” she paused for a long moment. “He left most of it to me. I took Cam to the doctor, got him ready for daycare, spent my free time with him. I’m not saying Lucky was a bad father….just…” She shrugged. “Not very involved. He never got around to adopting him—never enough money for that either.”
Jason didn’t know what to say to that, so he didn’t respond at all. The more he learned about Elizabeth’s marriage to Lucky even before the drugs continued to leave him confused as to why she’d married the bastard at all.
“Um, so when I turned my phone on this morning,” Elizabeth said, wiping her hands dry on a towel. “I had a voicemail from Mercy.”
He tensed. “They—they didn’t give you the results over the phone did they?”
“No, but it was a message to let me know the results are ready today.” Her cheeks flushed. “Um, I thought I’d pick them up after I drop Cameron at school. And-and if you’ll still be here, I could bring them back…” Flustered, she twisted her hands together. “I mean, unless you have to go meet Sonny or something—”
“I told Sonny we were getting the results back today,” Jason said. “And that we’re getting everything settled. I’ve got the day clear.”
“Okay. Good.” She smiled, but it was nervous now. “I mean, I just—I think we should look at the results together.”
“Hey, whatever they say, Elizabeth…” He drew her close and pressed his lips to her forehead. “We can deal with it.”