Jason set the box of pizza on the kitchen table and his sixteen-year-old nephew immediately launched himself at it, taking three slices and inhaling one before either Jason or his ex-sister-in-law could put even a single slice on their own plate.
“You want to try breathing?” Carly Jacks asked with a wry smile. She poured herself a soda and tossed a bottle of water at Jason. “I swear—”
“I got soccer practice in like twenty minutes,” Michael complained. “Dante’s gonna pick me up because you won’t let me have my car—”
“He’s grounded for curfew violations again,” Carly offered to Jason as an aside.
“Eleven is too early—”
“I think eight is too late, so we’ve compromised.” Carly ignored Michael’s protests and turned her attention to Jason. “Have you heard anything more about Dillon?”
“No.” Jason set a slice of the supreme pizza on his plate but didn’t eat. “It’s been a few days. Elizabeth said they’re waiting for the crime scene report and fingerprints.”
“Lu’s brother said it doesn’t look good,” Michael said with confidence.
“Lucky probably shouldn’t have said anything,” Carly said when Jason frowned. “He wasn’t specific, but he felt bad.” She tilted her head. “Have you talked to Elizabeth since she got Dillon out of jail?”
“Yeah. Uh, once on the phone. I’m looking into a few things, but there aren’t a lot of witnesses willing to talk to me.” If he’d had a badge, they would have talked, he thought with a bitterness he didn’t usually allow himself.
But that was probably a lie. People didn’t cooperate with cops much better than private investigators. People, in general, just didn’t want to cooperate at all with any kind of authority. Not in Port Charles.
Still, a badge would have felt better.
“Hmm…” Mercifully Carly didn’t comment it either—she had not been thrilled Jason had left his job to placate Courtney, but then Carly had never been a fan of Courtney. The feeling had been mutual—Courtney could never understand why Jason had remained friendly with his brother’s ex-wife.
Jason didn’t much like his brother, and he could respect Carly’s upfront selfish nature. Her first priority was her kids, of which she had three. Michael was his only biological nephew, and her two younger children, Morgan and Jocelyn, spent more time with their fathers than Michael did with AJ. But Carly always worried about herself next. Everyone else was tied for distant third.
You knew what you were getting with Carly.
“I haven’t seen Elizabeth since the funeral,” Carly continued as she sipped her soda.
At this turn in conversation, Michael stopped inhaling his dinner and looked up. “She’s at the hospital a lot. Or she was last year when I volunteered.”
Jason frowned at this. “Was she hurt?”
“Nah, I mostly saw her in the community wing where all the support groups and psych doctors are. She was probably visiting a client.” Michael shrugged. “She always says hi to me.”
“Why wouldn’t she? We weren’t…not talking,” Jason said, but he felt defensive about the nearly two years of radio silence with his sister’s best friend. No, they had not been best friends. Not even close. But they’d been friendly. Work colleagues.
And Elizabeth had been essentially without family in Port Charles after her parents had moved to Miami during her college years. The Morgans had been a surrogate for her.
Had he…somewhere given the impression that he didn’t want to continue that bond? Or had his family felt the same way he had—that contact with Elizabeth was just another reminder of Emily when they just wanted to put it behind him?
“How is she doing in private practice?” Carly asked. “It’s strange to think of her as a defense attorney. I can remember her at the holidays talking about justice and serving the people. Being a prosecutor would help her prevent abuses just as much as she could punish them.” She sighed, a bit over dramatically. “Then again, a lot of people made decisions they shouldn’t have trying to make amends.”
“That’s not why I left my job,” Jason said, with a dose of irritation. “Stop it, Carly.”
“Oh, right, it was to make Courtney happy. Or give your mom some relief. Or make Alan look at you again.” Carly raised her brows. “Are you sure it wasn’t all of them?”
He wasn’t, but he wasn’t going to tell her that. “Things with my parents are fine.”
“Uh huh. I’m probably closer to them than you are—”
A beeping from the driveway out front broke into their conversation as Michael shoved the last of his third slice into his mouth, grabbed his soccer bag, and shot through the kitchen door.
Carly frowned. “Goodbye!” she called after him. When there was no answer, her frown deepened into a scowl. “I don’t understand teenage boys.”
“I gotta go—”
“You’ve been here five seconds,” Carly complained. She huffed. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t poke at you about the job. I just…” She shrugged. “It’s close to two years, you know. And…I just…I don’t know. I miss how things used to be. Alan and Monica here. You doing something you like. I don’t miss Courtney, so I guess that’s a bonus—”
“And I miss Emily. You guys were my family, even after I left AJ. And it’s just…it’s over, and it sucks. And you and I are all that’s left.” She shrugged. “I wish you were happier.”
“I’m fine,” Jason said evenly, even as he acknowledged her point. Their once happy and boisterous family had been decimated, and life had changed for all of them.
“Yeah, I didn’t say fine, I said I wish you were happier.” Carly sipped her soda and was quiet for a moment. “Maybe it’ll be good you’re back in contact with Elizabeth. Did you apologize for being a son of bitch in the hospital?”
“I wasn’t…that bad,” he mumbled as he ignored the question and ate his pizza. But he had been, of course, even if Elizabeth had let him off the hook.
Those first hours after it had happened—they were hazy. A blur of rage. Tears. Frustration. Devastation.
He’d gone to the scene even when his partner had begged him not to and had seen the carnage left behind. Had seen his sister’s broken and bruised body laying on the floor, her dark hair soaked with her own blood, her eyes open and lifeless. Her face twisted in reflection of the horrors in the last moments of her life.
Elizabeth had already been removed from the scene, rushed to the hospital for surgery, but he could see where she had been found. Next to his sister, another pool of blood.
It would be hours before Elizabeth would wake and tell them it was Diego Alcazar. Hours before before Jason would know he was to blame as much as Elizabeth.
But in those moments, he’d raged at the world. At his partner when Sonny had tried to hold him back. At the crime scene techs who were treated his sister like a piece of evidence—
At Elizabeth for not living in a better building with better security. It had been her fault. Her home. Her responsibility to make sure the animals she prosecuted never found her.
And he’d taken that rage at the world and the people in it to the hospital, where he waited for her to go into recovery. Waited for her to wake up.
Even when she’d said it was Diego Alcazar, it hadn’t made a dent in his desire to hurt her. Knowing it was Alcazar and partially his own fault had only intensified that rage—
And he’d left Elizabeth in that hospital room, barely removed from her own horrors, having unleashed his fury on her.
Later, that anger had turned to deep shame as the medical reports had come back. He’d used all his connections to get into the case, had burned more than one bridges in his desire to find out what had happened to Emily in her final moments.
Both women had been savagely raped and beaten, the calling card of Alcazar’s prior victims. Emily had been stabbed more than forty times, sixteen of which would have been fatal. And Elizabeth…stabbed eight times, only one of which had been potentially life-threatening.
Alcazar had left Elizabeth alive on purpose.
Later statements revealed Elizabeth had been stabbed first—that she’d been bleeding out while Alcazar murdered Emily in front of her. Somehow…Jason had blocked out the idea that Elizabeth had that in her head. That she’d witnesses Emily’s brutal death as much as she’d gone through her own trauma.
And that shame had kept him from seeking her out. What kind of man would do that to someone he cared about? To someone who his sister had loved so much?
“Jason,” Carly said when he said nothing. “It was a bad night.”
“Yeah.” He pushed aside his half-eaten pizza. “Yeah. Doesn’t make it right.”
“Did you apologize to her?” she repeated.
“She didn’t want the apology.” Jason swallowed. “Because she does blame herself. And me. We’re both the reason it happened. He left her alive on purpose.”
Carly exhaled slowly. “Well, yeah, I guess we knew that—”
“He told her that while he was—” Bile rose in his throat and he took a long gulp of water to force it down. “He told her it was her fault for doing a man’s job, so he needed to show her a woman’s place.”
Color slid out of Carly’s cheeks. “God. I didn’t—”
“So, yeah, she knows I’m sorry. Doesn’t change anything.” He rubbed his face. “Doesn’t matter. Alcazar is long gone. He’s in Mexico or somewhere else in Central America.”
“I hate that he’s not rotting in hell,” Carly muttered. “Jason—”
“It’s over. It happened. And now it’s done.” Jason rose to his feet to throw out his unfinished slice. “Dillon is what matters now.”
“Right.” Carly rubbed his shoulder. “Jason—”
“I’m gonna hit the road. Tell Michael I’ll see him at his soccer game later, and tell Morgan and Joss I said hi when they get home from their dad’s.”
“Okay,” she murmured, and thank God…she said nothing else as he left.
It was another two days before Elizabeth called Dillon to meet her at his office. And because Dillon didn’t want to have this conversation with his cousin later, he immediately passed the message on to Jason to meet him at the office.
So Elizabeth sat down at a conference table with both Dillon and Jason that afternoon, trying not to let her irritation show. She wasn’t even sure why she was irritated. Dillon didn’t have any other close family in Port Charles. Jason had always been the one his family turned to.
And Jason was going to do the investigation work for free, which mattered in a struggling practice.
“The crime scene report came back. There are no other finger prints or indications that someone else was driving the car.”
Dillon’s face fell. “What? But how am I supposed to prove—”
“Are they making noises about arrests?” Jason asked, interrupting his cousin. “Or did they believe the alibis?”
“My source says that they believe Lucas and Spinelli were playing video games, but woudn’t have heard a damn thing. Case in point, they didn’t hear the car being stolen. So, it’s not really giving you any weight against Dillon being involved.”
Dillon’s face was pale, so she went on. “However, the district is being prevented from swearing out a warrant against you, mostly because there were some calls from Central.” At this she looked at Jason who just shrugged. “Your clean record is being noted. And no one can place you at the scene, so in this case, ownership isn’t going to be enough.”
“But they think I’m guilty,” Dillon muttered.
“There are some who are leaning that way, and it’s in our interests to prove you weren’t,” Elizabeth told him. “The family of the victim…are making noises. Talking about going to the press. Even filing a civil suit if the criminal courts don’t take action.”
“Civil…” Dillon’s voice weakly faltered. “I don’t have money—”
“Your family does,” Jason said. “Your mother married into the Quartermaines. You have a trust fund, don’t you?”
“I guess, but I don’t really see my Quartermaine grandparents. I think my trust is from my grandmother, Lila. For education and stuff.” Dillon moaned into his fingers. “Oh, God. If they get wind of this—”
“On bright side,” Jason said, dryly, “They’ll probably pay elizabeth so she won’t have to do this pro bono.”
Dillon’s head snapped up at that. “What? Oh, I didn’t even think about that. I should call them. Ask them—”
Elizabeth held up a hand. “Let’s cross that bridge if we need to. I’m not much for civil court, so you’d probably need other representation at that point. Let’s focus on clearing you and making sure the right person is charged. Someone died, Dillon. That matters.”
“Right. Right. I should think about that, too. They need to find the right person, so I need to cooperate and make it easier for them to do that. What’s next?” Dillon asked, looking a bit more…together.
“I’m looking into security footage and witnesses to the accident,” Jason said. To Elizabeth, he said, “We might need a subpoena for some it. There’s a bank across the street who won’t release it without it. And there’s no guarantee we’d get it from the DA unless Dillon is charged.”
Dillon moaned again, but they both ignored him. “I’ll draw up the paperwork,” she agreed. “I don’t want Dillon charged, and well…the new district attorney is pretty strict about discovery laws. We might not even get it if Dillon is charged.”
Maxie knocked on the slightly ajar door to the conference room. “Hey, Liz? The commissioner is here to see you.”
“The commissioner of the…” Elizabeth frowned. “About Dillon?”
“Ah…” Jason looked uncomfortable. “You know, Jordan stepped down as commissioner last month.”
“Yeah, I know. Anna Devane—” And she stopped. Closed her eyes. Remembered who Anna Devane was.
And what she had been doing two years ago.
“She was your commander at Central.”
“Yeah.” Jason rose to his feet. “When the case went cold, she was angry. Sure they weren’t putting enough resources into it. When she got the job, I wondered if—”
“Liz?” Maxie asked. “Should I ask her to come back—”
“No, no…” Elizabeth stood, smoothed her hands down her skirt. “Dillon, I’ll get the paperwork together, and I think between Jason and I, we’ll get this taken care of. Go back to your life. To your classes.”
“Okay.” Dillon got up, looked uncertainly between them. “Do you think there’s a lead on—”
“I don’t know,” Elizabeth said quickly. Couldn’t afford to know. To wonder. She looked at Jason. “You know Anna. Could you…maybe if it’s about the case—”
“I’ll come with you,” Jason said quietly. “If it’s about the case, I want to know, too.”