March 31, 2018

I was really disappointed in the GH anniversary episode. The flashbacks were nice, but they didn’t feel all that connected to what was happening on the screen. It felt like random people put in the room. Also, Elizabeth didn’t get nearly the kind of prominence a character like her deserves. So I rewrote the episode, and yeah, it’s heavy on Elizabeth and Jason. That’s who I am as a writer, and it’s also where I think they should be. They’re two hugely popular legacy characters with a deep history and connections to basically everyone on the show. They’ve also barely shared any screen time in the six months Steve has been back.

So this doesn’t use all the vets the show did, but I still tried to do the same stories. Writing Mike’s scenes was hard. My grandmother is dealing with dementia, so I wrote his conversations to mirror the way my grandmother slips in and out. And the regret and worry I feel for me and family. I hope you like this.

The Years Go By

Notes: I was really disappointed in the GH anniversary episode. The flashbacks were nice, but they didn’t feel all that connected to what was happening on the screen. It felt like random people put in the room. Also, Elizabeth didn’t get nearly the kind of prominence a character like her deserves. So I rewrote the episode, and yeah, it’s heavy on Elizabeth and Jason. That’s who I am as a writer, and it’s also where I think they should be. They’re two hugely popular legacy characters with a deep history and connections to basically everyone on the show. They’ve also barely shared any screen time in the six months Steve has been back. Also. I’ve killed off Audrey. Rachel Ames retired; they ought to let Grams go in peace.

So this doesn’t use all the vets the show did, but I still tried to do the same stories. Writing Mike’s scenes was hard. My grandmother is dealing with dementia, so I wrote his conversations to mirror the way my grandmother slips in and out. And the regret and worry I feel for me and family. I hope you like this.

Update: I wrote and published this on March 31, 2018. On April 21, 2018, my grandmother passed away in her sleep after a short battle with dementia. She had been on hospice, a fact that was not shared with my side of the family because my uncle had taken over her care and refused us access. I don’t think I could have written this story after that fact.  This will likely be the last story I write for a while referring to Mike’s storyline.

Song Credit


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Metro Court Hotel: Restaurant

In our times of trouble

Sonny Corinthos stepped off the elevator and smiled. He had asked Carly to arrange something that would remind them all of Luke’s, the jazz club he’d owned with Luke Spencer a lifetime ago, where his father had tended the bar, and as always, Carly had gone the extra mile.

She’d closed the restaurant for a week, redecorated with dark paneling, a stage that looked very similar to the one B.B. King had rocked on the opening night, and a long dark bar had replaced the restaurant’s smaller, modern modern feel.

“What do you think?” Carly whispered in his ear. She wound her arm through his, the sparkling silver of her dress catching in the dim lighting. “Do you think it’s too much? I never spent a lot of time at the club, but Mama helped. She said it brought back a lot of good memories.”

“It’s—” Sonny took a deep breath. “It’s perfect. I just…for a minute, I thought I was back there. I didn’t even know how much I missed the old place until—” He shook his head. “Until Mike broke into the gallery, I hadn’t even thought about the club in a decade. Not since…”

We only had ourselves
Nobody else

“I didn’t know you when you and Luke were close, but—”

“It cut something in me when he blamed me for Lucky’s death,” Sonny murmured. “He was one of my best friends. Like a brother. I loved that kid. I’ll never forgive myself—”

“But you didn’t—”

“Better security would have kept Helena Cassadine’s goons from stealing that boy’s life. From devastating his family.” Sonny looked over, caught sight of a brunette smiling, laughing with his mother-in-law. “You invited Elizabeth.”

“Yeah.” Carly sighed. “Yeah, I did. I wasn’t going to, but then Mama reminded me all of the years she worked at Kelly’s—and well…” She winced. “This night is about family, right? She’s Jake’s mother. Like it or not, we’re stuck with her.”

“That’s sweet,” Sonny said dryly. “It’s been twenty years. You ever gonna forgive her?”

“For what?” Carly rolled her eyes. “She’s the twit, not me.” And with that, his mercurial wife moved over to the bar to check on last minute additions. Sonny looked at his watch, then pulled out his phone to call his sons to make sure Mike was on his way.

No one there to save us
We had to save ourselves

“I can still remember the first time I was at Luke’s,” Elizabeth Webber said with a smile as Bobbie Spencer passed her a glass of wine. “Amy Vining won a dance contest. There was so much music, so much laughter.” Then her smile dimmed. “And then Nikolas—”

“That was a terrible night,” Bobbie said with a soft sigh. “But Jason was there. And he saved his life.” The redhead turned to find the enforcer deep in conversation with Anna Devane. The two of them looked as though they were arguing, so Bobbie turned her attention back to her former niece-in-law. “I imagine things have been…awkward since he came home.”

“Awkward.” Elizabeth’s lips pressed together as she stared into the wine. “That isn’t…even half of it. I’ve barely spoken to him.”

And when the storms came through

“Really?” Bobbie lifted her eyebrows. “I would have thought with Jake—”

“It’s not like I haven’t wanted to,” Elizabeth cut back in sharply. “I just—Franco—” She closed her eyes. “You know how everyone always gets when Jason and I breathe the same air. Lucky. Ric. Sam. Courtney. Even Carly. They always seem to think we’re just…waiting to go back to each other.” She sipped her wine. “We made our choices.”

“Mmm…” Bobbie nodded. “I know how people are. I know how my daughter is. I just didn’t know you and Jason gave a damn about any of that.” She eyed Elizabeth’s hand with its missing engagement ring. “None of those people are here tonight.”

They found me and you
Back to back together

“I’ve finally managed to convince Robert to give us a hand,” Anna Devane was saying when Jason tuned back into their conversation. “He’s been the devil to track down on this last assignment—”

“I don’t know what help you think he could give me,” Jason muttered. He was tired of everyone treating him like he couldn’t solve his own goddamn problems. Even if part of him thought maybe they were right.

“Well it’s not about help,” Anna said, with some impatience. “But it is clear that neither of us are able to see the big picture. I’ve been looking back of what we have so far—what we managed to glean from Faison—and it strikes me that we’re missing a rather big part of the puzzle.”

“And what’s what?” Jason demanded.

“The Cassadines,” Anna said simply. “And few people know the Cassadines better than Robert. He helped save the world from them. Luke’s out of commission. But Robert—”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. The Ice Princess. What about the Cassadines?”

“Well, I’ve just thought it odd we haven’t given them enough thought. Helena had a chip in Drew’s head when he first came back to Port Charles. And she held your son hostage for several years.” Anna gestured across the room where Elizabeth was standing with Bobbie, now joined by Mac Scorpio and his wife Felicia. “And Valentin sent Ava to that clinic where you were being kept. They are the common factor in all of this.”

“They’ve always been interested in playing with people’s heads,” Jason said, almost absently as he remembered the flashing angry eyes of Lucky Spencer and the switchblade he’d held in his hand.

“Precisely. I thought Robert could give us a perspective—”

“Great. Let me know when he gets here,” Jason said, and then abruptly walking away to find Carly.

He didn’t want to think about any of this any more tonight.

And when the sun would shine

The elevator doors opened, and Mike Corbin stepped out, clad in a tuxedo that matched his grandsons behind him. Sonny grinned and stepped forward. “Hey, Mike. Welcome back to Luke’s.”

He took in Mike’s astonishment, felt his smile slip slightly. What if Kevin Collins had been wrong? What if bringing back all of this would just upset his father?

He always felt like he couldn’t do anything right. He never knew what he would say, what would he do to trigger Mike’s irritation, his anger. Kevin could tell Sonny all he wanted that it wasn’t his fault, but damn it, didn’t it have to be somebody’s?

Maybe if he’d been a more forgiving son, a better brother to Courtney—maybe he and Mike could have been closer. What if Mike hadn’t left Port Charles? Sonny would have seen the signs earlier. Medication—something—

It was yours and mine
Yours and mine forever

“We thought it might be nice to bring back some old memories,” Michael said easily as he clapped a hand on his grandfather’s shoulder. “Dad says you were one of the best bartenders in the city.”

“The state, he told me,” Dante offered. “Maybe you want to make us some drinks and settle it.”

Mike swallowed, his eyes looking around. “You…you changed the whole restaurant for this—”

“I’ve been thinking of decorating,” Carly said as she stepped up to her husband, sliding her arm through his. A comfort at his side—thought if twenty years ago, anyone would have told him that Carly would be his solid rock of Gibraltar, he would have though they were insane.  “We don’t have a good old fashioned blues club anymore. Maybe we should invest in one.”

“Maybe.” Mike clapped his hands together with a smile. “Where’s the bar? Let’s get this party started.”

Oh how the years go by

“I can’t think of Luke’s without thinking of Georgie,” Felicia Scorpio murmured to her husband as she took a glass of champagne from a passing waiter. “Do you remember that night?”

“I do,” Bobbie said dryly.

“Oh, I think Lucky told me about this,” Elizabeth said. “You had her in the club, didn’t you?”

“I did. I went into labor right at Luke’s.” Felicia pressed her fingers to her lips. “It doesn’t seem right she’s been gone now for so long.”

“Ten years.” Mac stared down into his beer. “It feels like yesterday. And now, with Maxie—” He shook his head. “I’m sorry. This isn’t—”

“We tried to get her to come tonight. To just get out of the house, but I don’t know. Maybe we shouldn’t push.” Felicia chewed on her bottom lip. “What do you think?”

Bobbie glanced at Elizabeth, tilted her head. “What do you think?”

“What?” Elizabeth blinked. “Oh. Well…I know it’s not the same, but when I thought Lucky was gone—I tried to go back to my old life. Go out with friends. I went to Luke’s, too. But I always felt…pressured to be okay. I didn’t want anyone to worry about me, you know? So I pretended.” Her fingers tightened around the stem of her glass. “Until I almost drowned in the lie.”

Oh how the love brings tears to my eyes

“Oh.” Felicia’s eyes misted over. “Oh, sweetheart. But yes, yes that’s exactly what I think it is happening. We keep trying to bring her out of this, and God knows, Lulu is annoying her with trying to make Maxie forgive her—I just—”

“I don’t want her spin out like she did after Jesse,” Mac said roughly. “I know it’s not a good memory for you, either, Elizabeth—”

“She was so much younger then,” Elizabeth offered. “I always understood it. Lucky was her port in the storm. Her way of feeling normal. She was desperate to find anything that made her feel like she was still part of the world. I felt that way, too. I just…” She lifted a shoulder. “I found someone who would just listen, you know? That’s what she needs. Someone who doesn’t want to fix her. Who makes it okay to live with her memories. Some days are going to be bad. She’s going to want to drown in her grief. And some days are going to be better.”

“We’ll do better.” Felicia touched her arm. “Thank you. I appreciate your advice. And if you and Maxie were on a better footing, I’d say you could be that person—”

“It’s very easy to latch on to the first person you see, to the first person who makes you feel normal.” Elizabeth sighed. “And it’s easier to lose yourself in that lie. But Maxie is stronger than that, Felicia. I promise you that. She’s your daughter. And Mac didn’t raise any fools.”

“On a happier note,” Bobbie said. “Do you remember your first wedding?” she asked Felicia. “The double one with Kevin and Lucy that wasn’t?”

“Oh, of course. One of my favorites.” Felicia took Mac’s hand in hers. “Even if I messed it up later. Elizabeth!” The memory slipped back into her head like lightning. “You caught the bouquet!”

Elizabeth’s startled laughter rang out over the room. “Oh, my God. I completely—I did, didn’t I?” Her cheeks flushed. “I caught it more with my hair, but yeah. Oh, my God. I can’t believe I forgot that.” She shook her head. “It feels like a lifetime ago.”

“It does.” Felicia smiled up at Mac brightly. “We’ve been through hell, you and me, huh? But here we are.”

“Exactly where we’re supposed to be.” He pressed his lips to his wife’s. “You can’t fight destiny.”

All through the changes the soul never dies

“He’s going to be a father,” Carly said, taking a seat next to Jason and setting another Rolling Rock down in front of him. “Can you believe it?”

“No.” Jason exhaled slowly, following Carly’s gaze where Michael was laughing with his grandfather and brother. “I can remember the first time I held him. Bobbie had to show me how—” He stared down at his hands. “He was so small. I was so afraid I would screw it up.”

“I used to feel guilty about abandoning him that first month, that I missed most of his first year,” Carly said. “I still do, but God, looking back, it kills me, Jason, that Michael is the only child you got to raise.”

“I’m—” Jason’s throat tightened. “That’s not true. I’m spending time with Danny now, and—”

“But you’re still not seeing Jake—”

“That’s not—it’s complicated.” Jason shifted. “And you act like I never saw Jake before the accident. I was there when he was born. I held him—”

“Only for Elizabeth to give—”

“Stop.” Jason shook his head. “Just don’t do this, Carly. Jake is my son, and it’s complicated right now. But it’s getting better. He’s alive. I got a miracle. You think I care that he doesn’t love me? I don’t need him to love me. He’s alive, and he’s breathing.”

“Right.” Carly closed her eyes. “Right. Of course. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I guess I still— I blame myself for that, too. If I hadn’t been in such a hurry to keep her out of your life, I don’t know, maybe she wouldn’t have lied—”

We fight, we laugh, we cry

“It wasn’t just you,” Jason muttered. He stared down at the table. “And it’s not your fault. Not entirely. You and Sonny didn’t help, but I didn’t let her tell me anything. I told her it was better Lucky was the baby’s father. And she…”

“Thought it meant you didn’t want him,” Carly said. She tilted her head. “You never told me that before.”

“Yeah, well….” Jason tipped his beer back, took a long swig. “Sometimes it’s easier to forget that the reason Jake isn’t in my life, that he had Lucky at all is as much my fault as it is Elizabeth’s. More.”

“Oh, I doubt—”

“I asked her to marry me ten minutes before I found out Michael was shot, Carly. I stepped away from her. From the boys.” He shook his head. “I have to live with that, not Elizabeth. The first year, maybe that’s on her more than me. But the next three? It’s my fault. So stop blaming Elizabeth for everything that’s wrong in my life.”

“I don’t blame her for everything,” Carly muttered. “I don’t think global warming is her fault.” She looked across the room to find Elizabeth with her mother. “Mike said he talked to her in the church. The day she was supposed to get married. I had forgotten he knew her.”

“Well, she worked at Kelly’s with him and Tammy for years.”

Carly tilted her head. “Do you remember everything about Elizabeth? Good God. I bet you even remember the first time you saw her. No, don’t tell me.” She wiggled her shoulders. “I don’t want to know.” She waited. “No, I do. Tell me.”

Jason sat back, in a mood to rile her up. “Actually, it was at Luke’s. The first time I remember seeing her. The night Nikolas Cassadine was shot. She was with her sister in the parking lot.”

Carly glared at him. “In the middle of the parking lot, while you were performing an emergency tracheotomy, you noticed Elizabeth Webber.”

As the years go by

He shrugged. “I always know who’s around me when shots have been fired. But that’s not what you meant is it? You mean do I remember when we first became friends?” He leaned forward. “What exactly are you asking?”

Carly hesitated. “I’ve been shoving Sam at you pretty…strongly since you came home. I did the same thing when Drew was supposed to be you. I tell myself it’s because I want you to be happy, and you and Sam were married when you….left. But part of me…part of me knows that’s a bunch of bull. Because Drew was going to marry Elizabeth. And I wanted you back in my life. I don’t get to have you when she’s around.”

“Carly—” Jason closed his eyes. Shook his head. “That’s not true.”

“It’s not, no, but I guess…” Carly chewed on her bottom lip. “I guess part of me always remembered when you were hurt. When you were shot. You pushed me away—yes, you had your reasons and they were good ones, but all I felt was rejection. And I knew I was losing you. You told me you loved me, but it didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel true when you said it.”

“I thought it was,” Jason admitted. “I was wrong. I’m sorry—”

“I don’t want to go back to that,” Carly told him. “I don’t—that part of our life is over. I can honestly say I haven’t thought about you that way in decades. But I will always associate losing you with Elizabeth Webber coming into your life, so yeah, I’ve gone out of my way to demolish her in your eyes.” She smiled sourly. “I don’t think I’ve been good at it, huh?”

“You’re my friend, Carly, and I love you. But no. You need to worry about your own family. I can handle my own life.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Carly sighed. “I’m going to go check on the caterer. You should go talk to Monica. She’s been eyeing you up since she came in, and she’s still hesitant to come near you without some sort of engraved invitation.”

There were times we stumbled

“Luke’s seems like it was a pretty cool place,” Dante said, taking a seat next to his brother. “Whatever happened to it?”

“I’m not sure,” Michael said with a shrug. “Dad owned it until that fire with Jason’s garage, and he sold his interest to Luke. I think Luke closed it after Laura got sick.” He looked at the bar. “He seems like it’s a good night tonight.”

“Yeah, it seems that way. I just—” Dante exhaled slowly. “I don’t know how many of those nights we have left. It’s crazy, you know. We can be having a conversation, and he knows me, but halfway through his own sentence, it’s like he forgets me. We were talking about Rocco’s baseball team, and he was telling stories about Sonny playing stickball—and he asked about my ma. Like she wasn’t my mother. He didn’t know who I was.” His voice faltered. “He and I were never close, you know, but he’s always been good to me. And Christ, Michael, it scares the crap out of me.”

They thought they had us down

“Because it could be genetic,” Michael said. He exhaled slowly. “Yeah. Yeah, Dad was saying something about that. I guess I got lucky. I only got addiction in my genes—”

“Yeah, we Corinthos men got the winning hand. Bipolar disorder, dementia…can’t wait to see what else is in store.” Dante shook his head. “I don’t mean that. I’m sorry—”

“Hey, don’t apologize, man. We can’t say this stuff to Dad. He’s already got enough guilt over Morgan.” Michael rubbed the back of his neck. “Grandfather—Edward, I mean—he was sharp until the last few weeks. Even bedridden, he was always there. I mean, he drove me insane, and I wish like hell I had gotten to know him better.” He stared into space. “I’m glad he died before he found out about Jason going off that pier. That he didn’t live to see the last six years.”

“Losing ELQ would have killed him.”

But we came around

“It was never the company,” Michael said with a shake of his head. “I know everyone always thinks Grandfather was obsessed with business, and he was, don’t get me wrong. But it was what ELQ was supposed to represent. It was supposed to be family. He used it to keep the family tied to each other. That’s why he gave out the stock in his will. To make us sit in a room together. We just…never got the hang of it.”

“Do you think about AJ?” Dante said after a long moment.

“Yeah. A lot. Especially now that I’m about to be a father. I think a lot about what it must have felt like for him to always have to prove himself to everyone in his life,” Michael replied. “To constantly have to prove his worthiness to be my father. I wish I had known him better. And I feel guilty I let Dad back in, you know? He shot AJ. He killed him. And he lied to me for months.”

“Sonny raised you, Michael. No one blames you for not being able to forget that—”

“I blame me. He’s father, and I love him. But I can’t pretend it’s not different now. I know Mom wants me to figure out how to get Nelle out of my life, and I get it. Part of me even agrees, but then—”

“You think about who you thought she was.”

“Who she might still be,” Michael corrected. “I don’t know what kind of mother she’ll be. I just—she deserves the chance to do right by our child. I owe my father that. He spent his life drowning in the bottle, lying, stealing, cheating. Trying to live up to an image. And trying to be my father. Nelle…reminds me of him. She lies like someone people breathe, and I know it’s about protecting herself. Mostly.”

“She also loves to stick it to your mother.”

“Yeah, well, Mom doesn’t really endear herself to many people. And she’s got good reasons not to like Nelle either.” Michael shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess…I’m interested to see what happens when the baby is born. How Nelle handles it. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt. Does that make me an idiot?”

“It does,” Dante told him. “But you know, if part of you sees this as atoning for letting Sonny back in your life, then well, who I am to argue? The bastard shot me, and here I am in his life. I let my kid call him Grandpa. We’re all stupid sometimes.”

How we rolled and rambled

Elizabeth flashed a hesitant smile as she stepped up to the bar where Mike was carefully measuring out a drink. “Hey. Word has it you’re making a mean pomegranate martini tonight.”

Mike’s face, so familiar to her, creased in a wide smile. “Elizabeth! The prettiest girl in the room! I was wondering if you’d come over to see me. You want a pomtini? Coming right up.”

Elizabeth slid onto the stool. “You look like you’re having a good time tonight.”

“Oh, yeah, it’s a good day.” Mike nodded. He measured vodka into a shaker, followed by the pomegranate mix. “I still remember you, though.” He tapped his temple. “Hard to forget you with Tammy and Ruby always yelling at you for breaking something or forgetting an order.”

Elizabeth laughed, covered her face with her hands. “Oh, man. You remember how bad I was in the beginning? I was hopeless.”

“Nah. You were young.” Mike shook out the glass. “And you were never meant for that life. Waiting on others. You were supposed to be an artist. Tammy always thought you would set the world on fire.”

Elizabeth sighed and accepted the drink he handed her. “Well, life gets in the way. That’s…that’s not my life anymore.”

“Can’t let that happen. Can’t let excuses get in the way.” Mike hesitated, looked across the room at his son. Elizabeth twisted to follow his gaze where Sonny was talking to Carly. “I have a lot of regrets, Elizabeth. I made so many choices out of fear. I didn’t think I could be a good father, so I ran. Twice. And even when I showed back up, I wasn’t the kind of father my kids deserved. And now…I’m starting to forget my little girl.” Some of the mirth fell from his face. “So few of us remember her. And once I don’t—”

“I remember her,” Elizabeth said. She reached out and squeezed Mike’s hand. “I remember when Spencer was born. How hard she fought for him. Nikolas and Jax aren’t here to tell him that. Laura doesn’t know. I do. Sonny does. We’ll keep her alive for him.”

“You’re a good girl, Elizabeth. Always was. Don’t let Ruby get you down. You’ll be a great waitress yet.” He handed her a bottle of Rolling Rock. “Jason looks low on his drink. Why don’t you take him his order?”

Elizabeth’s throat clenched. Just that quickly, Mike had slipped away from her. Away from the evening. Didn’t remember that that she’d never worked at Luke’s. That she’d given up waitressing more than a decade ago—but she flashed him a smile, picked up her drink and the bottle. “Sure thing, Mike. I hope he still gives good tips. I’ve got my eye on some new shoes.”

“Flash him that pretty smile. You can’t go wrong.”

We got lost and we got found
Now we’re back on solid ground, yeah

Jason sat down at his mother’s table, wishing he had stopped at the bar to get another beer so he’d have something to do with his hands.

Nothing made him feel more awkward than a conversation with the woman who was the only mother he’d ever known. “I’m surprised to see you here tonight.”

“Oh.” Monica lifted a shoulder. “I wanted to be here for Mike. I’ve never changed the way I feel about Sonny and Carly, but they’re apart of your life. And Mike has always been good to me.” She cleared her throat. “How are you doing? We haven’t spoken much since—”

“I haven’t really talked to anyone,” Jason admitted. “I’ve tried to focus on finding out who did this more than…”

“How to pick up your life again.” Monica tilted her head. “It must have been a shock to come home, to find out that you had two sons. Especially Jake.” Monica looked at the bar where Elizabeth was sitting with Mike. “I wasn’t kind to Elizabeth through all of that. And after learning she’d lied about Drew—this whole town turned its back on her. I haven’t been as close to Jake as I would have liked.”

Jason furrowed his brow. Elizabeth had suggested things had been difficult after she’d kept the secret of Drew’s identity, but they hadn’t gotten into it.

They hadn’t spoken about much at all.

“Finding out Jake was alive was a miracle I didn’t—I don’t deserve.” Jason paused. “And Danny—yeah. We’re—it’s a lot.”

“Jake has been close to Drew. It—” Monica waited. “I don’t want to draw any comparisons because I don’t know how fair they are, but I wonder if it was anything like I felt after your accident. You were my son. The little boy I had raised into a man, but you didn’t know me. And you didn’t trust me. You turned to other people for support. To Sonny, even to Bobbie. They became your family.”

Jason clenched his fists at his side. “We all made decisions back then—”

“I don’t blame you. And that’s not why I brought it up. I just…I guess I wanted you to remember how you felt. Being told these people were your family when you didn’t know them.” Monica lifted her hands. “I just wanted to give you some advice that I wish I had listened to back then. I wish anything that Alan and I could have those months back. To do it again.”

“What could you have done differently?” Jason asked. “I’m not as angry as I used to be. I used to—Every thing used to be black and white to me. Right and wrong. I didn’t understand all the things in the middle. I didn’t understand how the Quartermaines could treat one another the way they do and still claim to love each other.”

“Oh, Jason—”

“I’m not entirely sure I get it now,” Jason admitted. “But I know hard it is to be a father. To make choices that you want to take back. You and Alan—even Edward. You all did the best you could.”

“I appreciate that.” Monica reached across, squeezed his hands. “But we could have all been more patient. That’s what I’m suggesting to you now. Jake doesn’t know you. And maybe there a lot of reasons for that that I don’t know about. He doesn’t know you. But he will. And if you’re lucky, if you’re patient, and you just keep chipping away, he’ll change his mind.”

“I know. I can believe that.” Jason squeezed her hands back. “Because I couldn’t have imagined being part of the Quartermaines twenty years ago. And today, I know you’re my mother. And I wish I had been able to let Alan—to let my father back into my life. To get to know Grandfather again. I wish we all could have given each other another chance.”

“Hey, I’m sorry to interrupt,” Elizabeth said with a hesitant smile. “But Mike…forgot who I was while he was talking to me, and he wanted me to bring you order.” She held out a bottle of beer to him. “And I just—I went with it to make sure he didn’t get upset.”

We took everything
All our times would bring

“Oh.” Monica sighed, looked at the bar. “I should go say hello to him. Elizabeth, it’s good to see you. How are the boys? Cameron is what, thirteen now?”

“Fourteen in a few weeks..” Elizabeth flashed a more natural smile as Jason accepted the beer from her and set it in front of him. “I really don’t understand how he’s going to be in high school next year. Aiden’s obsessed with Captain America, and Jake is going through art supplies almost faster than I can—” She broke off. “I mean, they’re fine.”

“I haven’t seen them in a few weeks. We should do something for Jake and Cam’s birthday next month.” Monica got to her feet. “I’ve been meaning to ask you if I could spend more time with Cam and Aiden. I know they’re not mine biologically, but—”

“Oh.” Elizabeth blinked. “Oh. That would be, um, great. It’s been hard—my grandmother—” She swallowed hard. “Since she passed away last summer.”

“I still expect to see Steve or Audrey around the corners at the hospital,” Monica said with a sigh. She turned to Jason. “You don’t remember Steve, but he was there from the beginning.”

“When the hospital opened,” Elizabeth said with a sad smile. “General Hospital was his dream. He’d be so happy with how you and Alan kept it moving forward.”

“And he’d be excited his Lizzie is carrying on the family tradition.” Monica touched her shoulder. “I remember you in the summers. You’d come to the hospital, trailing behind Steven and Sarah, completely bored by everything. You were always dragging markers and notepaper around.”

“General Hospital was always a safe place for me. And being a nurse has let me take care of my boys.” Elizabeth laced her fingers together. “But I should let you and Jason get back to your conversation—”

“No, no, I’m going to go talk to Mike. You stay here. I’m sure you two can think of something to talk about.” Monica flashed a smile down at Jason who just raised his brows at his mother. “After all, you’ve known each other your entire lives. Even if you don’t remember it, Jason.”

In this world of dangers

And at that, Monica left. Elizabeth flashed him an embarassed smile and started to slide away. “I see Bobbie over there, I’ll just—”

“No, no, not until you tell me what my mother meant.” He shoved the chair out with his leg. “We knew each other before my accident?”

“Oh. God. No. I mean, yes.” Elizabeth sat down, setting her martini glass down. “You’re older than me, Jason. You were at the hospital with your parents sometimes. And Steven used to hang out with you sometimes. And I followed him around because he was the only one who didn’t think I was insane. So I was someone’s bratty sister.”

“Okay.” Jason squinted. “Did your brother move? I haven’t seen him.”

Elizabeth winced. “No. He ended up—Heather framed him for something not long after you…He’s in Memphis. Serving a jail sentence for—” She sat back. “So he’s gone.”

He decided not to push her on Steven. “And so is Audrey. I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“It’s…it is what it is. It’s been a bad couple of years.” Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “Jake. He’s the bright spot. His coming home was like a miracle I really didn’t deserve, you know? But I got it anyway. All of my boys. They’re the reason I get up in the morning.” She bit her lip. “We should do more about Jake. I feel bad that I haven’t—I did try to push him a little bit a few months ago. But I let other things get in the way.”

‘Cause when your heart is strong

“Yeah.” He eyed the empty ring finger. “I can see that.”

“Oh. Yeah.” She stared down at her finger. “He stood me up at the altar—but you knew that. And then he lied. About a thousand more times. I guess I deserve it.”

“Why?” he demanded, leaning forward.

You know you’re not alone

Elizabeth squinted at him. “You—I told you why. I mean, you know better than anyone—I lied. I lied a lot.” She huffed. “The last time I saw you, I was—”

“Telling me the truth.” Jason waved that away. “Why does that mean you deserve…” He couldn’t even say the name.

“I lied about Jake—” She stopped. “Drew. But I called him Jake back then. We all did. I told you. Nikolas told me who he was, but I didn’t say anything. Even after we knew little Jake was alive, I kept lying.”

Jason tilted his head. “Why? Because he was supposed to be me?”

“Oh.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Great. You, too. I would have—” She shook her head. “You weren’t here, so I guess I can’t—no. Jake—Drew and I were already—at least I thought we were. He always seems to forget that I was the only one who gave a damn about him when no one else did. Sonny and Sam hated him back then, did you know that? But I didn’t. I was in love with him. So yeah, I didn’t tell him who Nikolas said he was. Because I know how that story ends and I don’t get the happy ending.” She tossed back the rest of her martini.

In this world of strangers

Carly scowled as she stepped back out from the office and saw Jason sitting at a table with Elizabeth. Alone.

Not on her watch.

But before she could take more than a step, Sonny grabbed her elbow, swung her around, and twirled her into a dance. “Nope.”

“But—”

“Uh uh.”

“She’s going to—”

“No.”

Carly scowled. “Sam—”

“They’re adults, Carly. And if nothing else, looking at my father…” Sonny sighed, looked at the bar with Monica and Bobbie were laughing with Mike. “It reminds me we have to grab every scrap of happiness we have while we got it. I don’t know how long I’m going to know your face.”

“Sonny—” Carly looked at him, her dark eyes stricken. “You don’t know—”

“No, I don’t. But anything could happen. I could have another break down. Or I could end up like Mike. And I want to make sure that my family knows how much I love them. And how much I trust them to make their own decisions.”

“Fine.” Carly sighed and leaned into the dance, pressing her cheek against his. “But if she hurts him, I’m going to gut her like a fish.”

“Wouldn’t expect any less from you.”

Oh how the years go by

On the stage, Ned Ashton checked the strings of his guitar, getting ready for his last set of the night. It had been a lot of fun to resurrect Eddie Maine for the night, even though his advisors had told him playing for a reputed mobster’s private party wouldn’t bring him much good press.

“Hey, Eddie, can I have your autograph?”

He grinned and turned to find to former rival, almost wife, and partner in crime leaning against the stage. “Hey. You look like a pinup I once had.”

With a smirk, Alexis Davis tossed back her hair. “You wish. Hell, I wish. I used to be younger.”

Oh how the love brings tears to my eyes

“I wish Lulu had come,” Olivia Falconieri-Ashton said with a sad smile. “Since Maxie ended up staying home.”

“She wanted some time with Rocco and Charlotte.” Dante folded his arms and studied his grandfather at the bar. “You know, mostly I think you made the right choice keeping me away from Sonny.”

“And yet?” Olivia prompted.

“I wish I had known so I’d have more time with Mike. With my grandfather. I had an aunt I never knew. A lot of people in Sonny’s life that he talks about like family, and I guess—” Dante shrugged. “You just wonder about the road not taken. Who would I have been if you’d brought me to Sonny when I was Rocco’s age? If I had known Stone Cates. Courtney. Michael talks about his aunt, sometimes. So did Morgan.”

“Oh, sweetie—”

“Like I said—I get why you made that choice. I just…I wonder.” Dante hooked an arm around his mother’s shoulder. “But you and me did okay, didn’t we?”

“We did. But I learned a lesson. As much as I hate Julian Jerome, I never want to explain those choices again.” Olivia sighed. “So Leo gets to know his dad. And Charlotte gets to know Valentin. All you can do is learn from your past, kid. And hope you took away the right lessons.”

All through the changes the soul never dies

Michael twirled his mother away from Sonny as Ned took the stage again and began his final set. “I’m under strict instructions to keep you occupied.”

“What, did Sonny send up a smoke signal?” Carly muttered. “I’m not going to bother them. He doesn’t look irritated.” She squinted, trying to peak around Michael’s shoulder to get closer. If she could just hear their conversation—

“Mom. Why do you care?”

“What?” Carly snapped her attention back to her son. “What?”

“All my life, you’ve gone out your way to irritate Elizabeth. More than anyone else I’ve ever known. Hell, I remember when Sam had an affair with Dad, you forgave her faster.”

Carly scowled. “I didn’t forgive. I moved on.” She had also possibly repressed that memory.

“Jason was gone for five years. He came home to find out that he has two sons. That someone stole those years from him. He gets to figure this out for himself.” Michael twirled his mother so she faced away from the table where his uncle sat. “And Elizabeth has always been good to me. To Jason. So whatever wrong you think she did—”

“She didn’t—” Carly huffed, rolled her eyes. “She didn’t really do anything. It’s just—I broke him once. I broke him into a million little pieces, Robin ground those pieces into dust, and then Sonny shoved that dust off a cliff. I guess…I’m a little obsessed with making sure he’s all put back together.”

“He looks good to me, Mom. I think you can get off guard duty.”

“For now. But I’m keeping my eyes open.”

Falconieri House: Living Room

We fight, we laugh, we cry
As the years go by

Lulu Falconieri sighed as she switched off the television and picked up her phone to look at the background wallpaper. Dante had told her to change it to something happier, something that didn’t depress her.

But she didn’t want to forget.

It was a photograph from the Christmas Party, and it was the four of them. Bright. Shining. Happy. Planning a wonderful future with their amazing husbands, incredible children, and budding careers.

And they were best friends. Against all odds, they had become each other’s families. And with one decision, with one story Lulu couldn’t take back—

She had shattered that image.

And she needed to remember that. Decisions had consequences.

Maxie & Nathan’s Apartment: Living Room

And if we lose our way

Maxie Jones-West sighed and stared at her missed calls. Her mother had called her twice. Bobbie and her father once. And now her mother had called a third let, which Maxie had let go unanswered.

But this time, Felicia had left her a voicemail, and reluctantly, Maxie pressed play.

“Hey, my darling girl. I just wanted to let you know that your dad and I are going to lay off tonight. And tomorrow. I love you. And I want to do what’s right for you. So if you want to sit in your apartment and cry, do that. If you want me to come over and listen while you scream about how unfair this all is, I’ll do that, too. I love you. And you need to do this in your own time. So you send a smoke signal when you’re ready for us. Make sure you get some sleep, though. Because I’m your mother, and I’m allowed to do that. Nathan loved you, Maxie. And you don’t get over that in six weeks. I love you, baby.”

Maxie pressed her phone to her chest and tilted her head back, letting the tears fall. Oh, God. He was dead. Why did it always have to feel so goddamn fresh and new when she thought about it?

Would she ever get past it?

Any night or day

Elizabeth shoved her chair back, feeling irritated that she’d talked to Jason about any of this. “I’m sorry. You don’t—You didn’t come back from the dead to listen to me whine—”

Before she could get to her feet, he reached out to touch her elbow. “Hey. That’s not what you’re doing. I haven’t seen you in five years, Elizabeth. I mean to me, I guess it was more like six months and I guess sort of it was two years or something since he was here—”

“No, five years—” Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “No, I mean Drew was supposed to be you. But I think part of us all knew—he wasn’t. I kept telling myself he’d been through a lot. That I had put him through a lot, and you know, I always figured I’d finally do something to make you stop giving a damn—”

Well we’ll always be

“Hey—”

“I mean, God, Jason, how much did I hurt you, you know? All that crap with Lucky back when he came home. I accused you of attacking him—and then I—” She shook her head. “And we really don’t have to talk about what a disaster Ric was. I mean, I almost married him again four years ago, so what the hell do I know about learning my lesson, right? And then lying to you about Jake—”

“I don’t blame you for that.”

“Why not?” Elizabeth demanded. “Of course you do. And then when you wanted to Jake save Joss, I slapped you. Like you weren’t losing your son. And that’s just—Anyway. That’s all ancient history. I just wanted to say that I lied to you again that day in the jail. I knew you who you were. I just couldn’t admit that I had blown up my entire life for something that turned out not to be even real.”

“Okay.” Jason tilted his head. “I mean, I knew you were lying, Elizabeth. I can always tell. Except—” He exhaled slowly. “Except with Jake. I mean, I knew something was wrong. But I thought I was just—I was disappointed. I wanted him to be mine, so I guess I thought whatever I was getting from you—”

“We made a lot of mistakes, Jason.” Elizabeth played with the stem of her empty martini glass. “I just wish I knew how to stop making them. I keep trusting people to be honest with me, but I should know better. What right do I have to expect that? I’m a liar, too. Why am I always surprised when people lie to me?”

Where we should be

“Because you usually lie to protect other people,” Jason said gently. “Or to protect yourself from a worst truth.  You said he lied a thousand times. Why didn’t you go before?”

“Because—” Elizabeth closed her eyes. Felt a tear slide down her cheek.  “He stayed.”

Jason furrowed his brow. “Elizabeth—”

“People have a hard time staying,” she confessed in a voice so soft he had to lean forward to catch it. “There’s something wrong with me.  You know that. It’s hard to love me. I expect too much, maybe. And people leave. So…he stayed.”

“There’s nothing—” Jason shook his head, fiercely. “There’s nothing wrong with you. Why would you—”

“Don’t make me do this, Jason. Don’t ask questions you already know the answer to.”

I’m there for you

“What does that mean—”

“You didn’t stay.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “You told me that being with me and the boys—that was all you wanted, but you couldn’t have it. And I believed you. I did. I thought it wasn’t me. It wasn’t Jake or Cam. It was how scary everything after Jake got kidnapped again. It hurt like hell, but I think part of me thought we’d get past it. I’d always found a way to convince you to give us a chance again. But you didn’t mean it.”

“I did—”

“Then why were Spinelli and Sam allowed to be in and out of your life? Kristina. Michael and Morgan. Carly. Brenda. You let all those people be part of your life, Jason. You went back to Sam. You married her. You made sure you and Sam could have children. But me? You left me. So don’t tell me there’s nothing wrong with me.”

She shoved herself to her feet and stalked away towards the terrace. After a beat, he followed.

And I know you’re there for me

Felicia jumped as she felt her cell phone vibrate, shaking her black clutch bag in her hand. With an apologetic smile to Mac, Bobbie, and Kevin, she pulled the phone out and gasped. “Maxie…she just—sent me a text.” Her eyes flooded with tears.

“She says that she loves us. That she knows we want to help. And that if it’s okay, maybe I could come over tomorrow and just watch television so she’s not alone.” She pressed the phone to her chest. “She’s reaching out. To me. Not to Nina. Or that idiot boss of hers. Me. Mac.”

Mac put his arm around her shoulders. Pressed his lips to his wife’s blonde hair. “She’ll be all right.”

“I want to find Elizabeth. To thank her for giving me that advice.” Felicia turned just in time to see Elizabeth rush out the terrace doors and Jason Morgan on her heels.

“This should be my cue to say something about how she could do better,” Mac said, “but considering her track record, he might be not be so bad.”

Bobbie snorted. “If only Robin were here for that. Did you get on tape, Kevin? I need witnesses.”

Oh how the years go by

“Thank you for coming tonight, Grandma,” Michael said he turned Monica around on the dance floor. “I know how hard this all is for you. With—”

“I do feel as though a part of me is betraying AJ by being here,” she murmured. “But he would want me to stand by you. And I want to be here for you. I know how hard it’s been for you these last few months. To bring a baby into the world with a woman you don’t trust. I can only hope good things for you.”

“My child will be loved from the moment it comes into this world,” Michael said. “Just like I was. I had a village to raise me. There are kids out there who don’t get one parent who gives a damn, I can’t get rid of the people who see me as theirs. That’s what I choose to think about. How lucky I was to have AJ. Jason. My mother. Sonny. And you and Grandfather. Aunt Tracy. Ned, even when he’s driving me insane. Dillon. Morgan. Dante. Kristina—I have an army behind me ready to love my child. We can make up for anything.”

“You will be the best of us all,” Monica said, hugging her grandson tightly. “I love you.”

Oh how the love brings tears to my eyes

“Thanks for this,” Mike told Sonny as his son sat at the bar. They watched as Ned broke down the stage, talking to his bandmates. “I don’t—I had some moments I think. I forgot—I forgot sometimes where I was.”

“It’s okay.”

Mike nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I know you mean that.” He looked around the room. “It’s okay because I can’t control it. You’d think it’d be simple. I’d mess something up, someone would correct me, and I would know it. I would know the truth. But that’s—that’s the part that’s going away. I’m going to keep messing up, and I’ll stop believing the truth.”

“Mike—”

“And one day, I won’t even be messing up. I’ll just be gone.” Mike laid his hands out on the bar. “Part of me is already gone, you know. I don’t know what to do. How to stop it. I can’t stop it. You can’t stop it, either. And I know that’s driving you insane. You hate not being able to control things.”

“Yeah.” Sonny cleared his throat. “I can’t stop it, Mike. Neither can you. And neither of us can take back the years or time we missed. But we got now. And we got as many moments as this world will give us, so we have to hold on to them.”

“Yeah.” Mike’s voice was rough. “I want to create as many memories for my grandkids as I can. I won’t be able to remember them but they need them. They need to know me before I was gone. I don’t want them to look back and wish they’d done more. I don’t want them to have my regrets, Sonny.”

“They won’t.” Sonny leaned across the bar, clasped his father’s hand in his. “They won’t. They already know you, they already love you. And we’re going to have more nights like this. Maybe not many. But we got time.”

“Yeah.” Mike’s eyes slid away. “Yeah, we got time.”

And they both knew they were lying. Because, yeah, Mike had time. But maybe he didn’t. Maybe he’d wake up tomorrow and be gone.

How the hell was Sonny supposed to do this?

All through the changes the soul never dies

Jason was already dragging off his suit jacket when he approached her standing on the terrace. She didn’t even flinch as he dropped the fabric over her shoulders.

“I’m sorry. I always make it about me. You’ve been through hell, Jason. And I’ve been the worst kind of friend.”

“Elizabeth—”

“I’m so happy you’re you. That you’re alive. It scares me how happy I am,” she admitted. “And I hate myself for not saying it sooner. For making every conversation about him. I always do that to you. I make it about what Lucky needs. What Ric needs. What Ewan needs. And now—of all people for me to throw in your face—you didn’t sign on to support me through my choices, Jason.” She sighed. “I guess—it’s mostly because I know why you walked away. I never put you first, either. I never made it about you. So what happened—that’s not just on you. That’s on me. We were never going to work. You just saw it first.”

He exhaled slowly, looked out over the skyline of Port Charles. “It was months before I knew how much time had passed. I woke up in the clinic, and I knew it was a while before I could fight off the drugs. I hate pain medication. I always have.”

“I remember. You used to refuse it after you were shot. I had to beg you that winter.”

“I hate losing time,” Jason continued. “After my accident, I had lost the first twenty-two years of my life. I didn’t want to lose any more. So I when I saw that newspaper on the ship back—when I realized it had been five years—” He dipped his head.

“So much of your life has been stolen from you, Jason,” Elizabeth murmured. “Unfair doesn’t seem strong enough.”

“I thought about everyone at home. What it would mean for it be five years. What had happened to Michael? To you? To Sam? Were you happy? Were you okay? And then I saw…I saw Sam with him. She was happy. And you had Jake. You were happy. I didn’t know he was—” Jason shook his head. “Maybe it was better before I came back.”

“No.” Elizabeth shook her head fiercely. “No. Don’t you dare ever say that. No one’s life was better because you were gone. These last five years, Jason? My God. Carly and I almost married Franco. Sam—she almost lost Danny to cancer. Michael has been through hell. I’ve been through hell. When Jake came home, he struggled with what happened. He’s still struggling, and I just—you would have had the words. I kept wishing for you. The old you. Because Drew wasn’t—he isn’t you.”

“Elizabeth—”

“You’ve been home for five minutes, and it’s like a fog has cleared. If you were still gone, I’d probably still be accepting and swallowing every lie—” She pressed her lips together. “You’re the only one who makes me think I do deserve something better. Because you’re the only one who gets so angry at me for destroying my own life.”

“Elizabeth—”

“You don’t even know half of the crap that Sonny and Carly went through. With AJ and Ava—God, if you’d been here for Morgan—” Tears spilled over her lashes. “We hurt without you, Jason. Not with you. I don’t care if you’re complicating Sam’s perfect life. Who the hell cares about her anyway? You matter to me. I want you to matter to Jake. And there’s Michael and Spinelli—”

“Okay.” He held up his hands, chagrined. “I’m sorry.” Jason managed a smile. “I forgot how you get when you’re mad.”

“Well, don’t mess with me then.” She jabbed a finger in his chest. “We’re going to find out who stole you from us, Jason. I have an opening in my schedule, and I’m not going to rest until I help you get to the truth.”

We fight, we laugh, we cry

She looked up at him for a long moment and then moved into to hug him tightly. “I’m so glad you’re you, and that you’re home. Don’t you ever forget how much we all love you.”

“I won’t.” He pressed his lips to the top of her head. “You deserve more than better, Elizabeth. Stop settling for anything else.”

“I’ll just have to start listening to you more.” She pulled away with a watery smile. “You’re always right, anyway.”

As the years go by

March 21, 2018

Hey! So I got really sick this week and have spent the last day in bed, hacking up a lung. I’m also working on my edTPA application, which is this insane testing thing I have to do for my teaching certification. It’s an obnoxious experience but I spent $300 so failure is not an option.  Cora also got a great opportunity at work, and all of this has put us behind in the beta process, so we’re taking a break.  I’ll be back the first week in April.

March 13, 2018

It’s Angelina’s birthday, so I decided to give her a birthday gift and give her Bittersweet a day early. I don’t really have much to add today — I’m on spring break, taking it easy, recharging the muse, trying to get some things organized because I’m home at night.

Hope you like it!

Bittersweet, Chapter 21 

This entry is part 21 of 24 in the series Bittersweet

Maybe there’s a God above
All I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
– Hallelujah, Rufus Wainwright


Friday, September 6, 2002

Pier 52: Warehouse

Jason parked the SUV and looked at the man in the passenger seat. Johnny O’Brien, their warehouse manager and Sonny’s top enforcer at the moment, was checking the clip in his handgun.

“Is Richie in place?” Jason asked, squinting. “Did he say?”

“Yeah, he got there about ten minutes ago. Scoped out the place and found a spot to cover both exits. He’s ready.” Johnny hesitated. “Are we sure this is the way we want to handle it? Maybe it would be better if we just didn’t show up.”

Jason shook his head. “No. If someone is watching Carly, they know she came to me today. They know I want to know where she’s been. I’ve run around town for the last two weeks proving that I jump when she calls. If I don’t show up, they’ll be on to her.”

“So?” Johnny muttered. “You slap a guard on her idiot ass and move on—” When Jason scowled, Johnny shrugged. “Hey, it’s not like I wish her ill, Jase, but she put everyone in danger last year when she turned on Sonny. And no one’s really ever liked that much to begin with.”

“They want me out of the loop, Johnny. I need to know what we’re up against—”

“Yeah, yeah. I get it. I’ll follow orders.” He shoved open the door. “I’ll take the back exit, you take the front.”

“Yeah.”

They split up. Jason tugged his gun from behind his back and held it low in front of him as he crept towards the entrance of the abandoned warehouse where Carly had been told to send him.

Why this place? Did they think he would go anywhere Carly asked? Jason shared Johnny’s doubts, and Benny had been skeptical that this would be worth the effort. But if they could just get their hands on one of the guys sent by Roscoe—maybe they could get somewhere.

This life was always risky, but Jason preferred it when the risk was legal, not mortal. Most of the time, the danger was getting arrested, or being on the wrong end of a police raid. Territory squabbles were minimal, particularly this far from New York City.

There was always someone lower in the ranks who wanted to make their bones by taking out someone closer to the top, but Sonny usually ran an effective organization—those kinds of men were weeded out before any real damage was done.

Every once in a while, though there was a Moreno or a Sorel who wanted their own piece and didn’t want to share. And Jason was tired of taking bullets for assholes who wanted power they couldn’t handle.

The door to the warehouse was hanging off its hinges, the larger garage door to the truck entrance was dilapidated and looked as if it hadn’t been opened for business in years.

Jason hesitated before opening the door. Even if Carly hadn’t told him it was a trap, his instincts would have been screaming it by now. Had they expected Carly to come clean?

But he pushed open the door, the hinges creaking in the cavernous open space. There were stacks of packing crates, cardboard boxes with papers spilling out of the sagging sides. The odor of mildew and mold seeped into his nostrils.

He made it no more than ten feet into the room before he saw a black boot sticking out from behind a pile of packing crates. The hair on the back of his neck stood up as he moved closer. He kicked the boot and raised his gun—

It was Richie, their best sniper. He was lying on his back, his arms and legs spread eagle across the cement floor. His eyes were wide open, staring at the ceiling. A small round bullet hole in his forehead. No blood on the floor around him, which meant he’d been placed here.

Damn it. Jason spun around at Johnny’s shout. At the sound of gunfire—

And then he felt the first bullet slam into his upper chest, the hot metal digging through muscles and tendons. Another in his shoulder. He grunted and fell back, getting off his own shot in the process. Another bullet in his leg.

And then he was on the cement ground, choking. A man walked towards him. Jason’s vision was beginning to blur—the first bullet must have sliced an artery because he couldn’t catch his breath.

He could see the dim outline of a gun as it pointed straight at his head. Jason closed his eyes. Elizabeth’s smile, her eyes flashed in front of his face.

Another shot echoed in the room, and Jason choked, struggling—a man’s weight slumped over him. “Jesus fucking Christ, Morgan—” Johnny’s voice faded as Jason couldn’t manage to stay awake.

The world dimmed and he closed his eyes.

Saturday, September 7, 2002

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Every hour that passed added another layer of uncertainty and terror. The clock struck six. Seven. Eight. Nine.

Courtney’s shift finished at ten, and AJ came to pick her up, but Courtney refused to leave. She was too worried about Elizabeth. So AJ called the babysitter with Michael and sat down to wait with them.

Because Jason hadn’t called. And neither he nor Sonny were picking up their phones.

By eleven and closing, Gia had joined them and the four of them sat around a table in the back, Courtney having put together a pot of coffee and served it.

Elizabeth’s mug was ice cold and untouched by midnight.

She called Alexis, finally, but Jason and Sonny’s lawyer hadn’t heard from them either. Jason had called her to cancel the meeting, but she knew nothing beyond that. Nothing she could share. Gia, who had started an internship in Alexis’s office the week before, could offer nothing else.

Jason and Sonny had not answered any phone calls in eight hours.

Elizabeth still refused to go to the warehouse or get her phone from Jake’s. She couldn’t. If she took any action that suggested something was wrong…then something was wrong.

And she knew that in Jason’s life, when something went wrong, and he was out of touch, it was never good. And for Sonny to be gone as well—

Around twelve-thirty, AJ shifted and sighed. He drew Courtney out of her seat and pulled her towards the entrance. “I’m going to go home and relieve the babysitter,” he murmured to Courtney. “Call me when you know something.”

“I can go…” But Courtney’s voice faded, and she looked at Elizabeth. “But I want to be here.” She looked at AJ. “You must be scared, too. I should stay with you—”

“I am,” AJ admitted. “But not as scared as she is. I can least admit that something is wrong. She’s not there yet.” He kissed her cheek. “She needs you more than I do right now.”

“What if something happened?” Courtney asked, her voice trembling. “What if he’s hurt? God, AJ. Gia and I pushed her towards him.”

“Hey.” He shook his head. “Let’s not think that way. Odds are that he got hurt, and Sonny’s being a dick and keeping it from everyone. He’ll get in touch when he can. Jason’s too stubborn for anything else—”

“He’s not Superman,” Courtney muttered, but she watched AJ leave and turned back to the table where Gia and Elizabeth still sat. Gia was attempting to study, to turn this into anything other than what Courtney knew this was.

Waiting for someone to deliver devastation.

Safe House: Living Room

Sonny rocked back on his heels as he waited for the doctor to emerge from the back room. At a table, Benny was restless, going through the same paperwork he’d been looking at for the last four hours. Sonny didn’t think he was even reading the words at this point.

Johnny was grimacing at the sling hanging over his left shoulder and attempting to drink a beer with his right, less dominant hand.

Jason had required surgery to repair a partially severed artery in his chest, and only Johnny’s quick first aid had kept Sonny’s partner from bleeding out as they transported him to the only safe house with a sterilized surgery in one of the bedrooms.

And still, it was touch and go.

Johnny had suggested maybe calling Elizabeth—Jason had asked for her in the car, his words slurring, but the request had been repeated several times.

Sonny knew that Elizabeth was waiting for Jason, that he was supposed to pick her up from Kelly’s. He had picked up his phone to call her more than once. Not to tell her Jason was hurt, but just that he couldn’t be in touch.

But something held him back. By now, Elizabeth must be worried. It was after midnight—the diner closed at eleven. Hell, she must be terrified. She’d called Sonny’s phone three times, twice in the last hour alone.

Sonny hadn’t answered any of those calls. He didn’t know if Jason would survive the bullet wound, and God, he did not want to be the one to tell her. She would be able to hear it in his voice. And she was probably with Gia or his sister. Maybe even Bobbie.

No one could know that Jason had been shot. They had gotten one of the shooters, but he’d died before Johnny could ask him any questions, and the gunfire had been called into the PCPD. They had barely been able to remove Richie and the other body from the warehouse before the cops had showed up.

And…this was how it was supposed to work. There were things Elizabeth couldn’t know. She’d only known the last time Jason had been shot because she found him. If Carly hadn’t been there—if Sonny hadn’t betrayed him—Jason would have recuperated in a safe house and Elizabeth would never have been brought into it.

Jason always told Elizabeth more than Sonny wanted her to know. No one had been supposed to know Jason was in town the year before—but Jason had gone straight to her, like a goddamn moth to the flame. Had put her in danger. Again.

No, it was better this way. Better to wait until he had something to tell her.

And Jason needed to be out of commission. If no word was had from him, if no one knew where he was—whoever had gone after Jason might step it up. Make more mistakes. Sonny had to know who was coming after him.

The doctor finally emerged, his eyes lined with exhaustion, a blood stained towel in his hand. “I’ve stabilized him for now.”

Sonny exhaled slowly as Johnny and Benny got to their feet. “For now?” he echoed.

“He lost of a lot of blood,” the doctor said with a mutter. “He should be in the hospital. I’ve sedated him, and I’ll leave the necessary medication—I’ll have to get a few things, but he’s going to be weak. Woozy for a while. If I can get my hands on blood for a transfusion—”

“But he’ll make it—”

“Barring infection, as long he doesn’t move around—” The doctor shrugged. “Sure. Lucky son of a bitch.”

“I’ll call Elizabeth,” Johnny interrupted, reaching for his phone. “She must be out of her mind—”

“No, no.” Sonny held out his hand. “Not yet.”

“Sonny—the warehouse shooting was called into the police. If the PCPD haven’t harassed her yet, they will—”

The doctor, seeing that he was no longer needed, returned to his patient as Johnny gave Sonny a questioning look. “Jason’s going to ask for her the minute he wakes up—”

“We’ll put him off. He’ll understand once he’s alert.” Sonny shook his head. “They wanted to eliminate him tonight, Johnny. We gotta do what we can to make sure Jason stays out of commission—”

“Boss, I agree, but I don’t see what that has to do with Elizabeth. We can make arrangements to bring her here in secrecy—” Benny began.

“What does Roscoe know right now?” Sonny demanded. “He knows that Richie is dead—” and he took a moment for that, because Richie had been working with them for years and had always been reliable. “Maybe he knows Jason was shot. He knows that the cops were called, but none of our guys were left on the scene.”

“Which means they think Jason’s alive, which the opposite of what they were trying to do,” Johnny argued. “So this is just bullshit—”

“But if Jason doesn’t turn up, if Elizabeth doesn’t disappear—” Benny sighed. “Roscoe knows how we operate. It’s how everyone operates. Jason’s injured enough to go MIA, he’s out of the way. I don’t like it, but I think we gotta hold off making any moves for at least twenty four hours.”

Sonny nodded. “Elizabeth knows how this works. She’ll be worried, but it’ll be temporary and Jason will be too out of to know any better. It’s just for a little while, okay?”

“You’ll be the one explaining it to Jason,” Johnny muttered. “But fine.”

Jake’s: Van Ess Street

Around one in the morning, Elizabeth gave up.

Jason was two hours late picking her up. Phone calls to Sonny and Jason were still not being returned, and Elizabeth was ready to give in.

Something had happened. Something bad.

They dropped Courtney off at her house first—Courtney was reluctant to leave, but Elizabeth told her that AJ needed her, too. He was at home with Michael, and they’d keep her in the loop.

Gia drove her to Jake’s first to get her phone—but there were police cars out front, and the bar was clearly closed for the night.

“Do you want me to go ask questions?” Gia asked as their car sat idling a few spaces back from the bar as the red and blue lights flashed, illuminating the stark white pallor of Elizabeth’s face. “Maybe it was just another bar fight.”

“No.” Elizabeth cleared her throat. She nodded at the men walking out. “That’s a crime scene unit—you see their jackets? They’re looking for something. And Jason is Jake’s only tenant right now.” She swallowed. “Go to the warehouse.”

Gia muttered something under her breath but pulled the car back out onto the street and drove the mile that separated the bar from the docks.

More police cars surrounded the piers, and the entrance to the Elm Street Pier was closed off entirely. There was another set of crime scene tech guys milling about in the parking lot, as if waiting for clearance. Here, Elizabeth saw more than that. She recognized the curly hair of the police commissioner, and the long dark hair of Detective Andy Capelli.

Her heart was pounding. Her mouth was dry. “They’re at the warehouse. They’re at Jake’s.”

“I’ll call my brother,” Gia said, offering for what must have been the tenth time that night. But this time, Elizabeth closed her eyes and nodded.

She waited long enough, and if anyone wanted to take her to task, she’d tell them to go to hell. She had a right to know what the hell was going on, and if no one wanted to tell her—

She’d find out for herself.

“Marcus, I’m with Elizabeth. We’re at the warehouse—” Gia scowled. “No, we’re in the car. Look—stop talking for five seconds and I’ll tell you why I’m calling—Okay. Okay.” She hung up, took a deep breath, and put her phone back in her bag.

“Marcus wants us to go back to our place and wait for him. He has questions for you.”

“Did—” Elizabeth licked her lips. Forced the words out. “Did he say where Jason was?”

“He refused. This doesn’t mean anything, Liz. You know that. My brother, the PCPD—they’re assholes in general. They could have Jason in a holding cell—”

“Without telling Alexis?”

“Maybe,” Gia said with some hesitation. “You know they can get desperate—”

“Gia, let’s just go home and wait for your brother.” Elizabeth closed her eyes and tried to breathe. In and out. In and out.

She could do this. She was strong. She had survived the worst life could throw at her. This was nothing. Piece of cake.

Palm Beach, Florida

Ruiz Compound: Hector Ruiz’s Study

Zander grimaced as he was shown into the inner sanctum of the Ruiz family’s seat of power. It was a hot, muggy night, and even the open terraced villa that Hector had constructed looking over the ocean didn’t provide any relief from the miserable, heavy humidity.

It was after one in the morning, and he’d been pulled from a comfortable bed with a sexy woman in order to answer the summons of Hector Ruiz.

Inside the study, Hector sat behind his desk, a man leaning toward his late sixties with olive skin, salt and pepper hair slicked back, and mean dark eyes.

He sat across from Luis Alcazar, each with a tumbler of liquor and a cigar in hand as if it wasn’t one-thirty in the fucking morning.

Assholes.

“Smith. You made good time.” Ruiz gestured at him with his cigar. “Luis has some news for us.”

“News, and some questions.” Neither men rose nor indicated that Zander would be taking a seat or offered his own drink or cigar. This was obviously not a social call.

“There was a shooting tonight on Pier 52,” Luis said.

Zander hesitated. “Your ambush happened?”

“That’s what I want to know,” Luis murmured. He shifted to face Zander more directly. “You heard that Carly Corinthos’ death had been exaggerated slightly?”

“She was your plan?” Zander asked with raised brows. “You used her to lure Jason into an ambush?”

“I had hoped to turn her more forcefully,” Luis admitted. “I had…hopes she could be twisted entirely. She’s known for her rash decisions. Her anger—” He sighed. “But I have reasons to believe it did not go as I had intended.”

“Well, what did happen?” And why the fuck had he been dragged from his bed for this?

“Gunfire was reported. Blood was found,” Luis continued. “One of Roscoe’s men was shot, the other escaped. He seemed convinced that Jason had been mortally injured—he saw a shot to the chest. But no one has been admitted to the hospital. Does Corinthos have off site medical assistance for a serious injury like this?”

“Probably,” Zander admitted. “He might also be licking his wounds with a shot to the arm.”

“If he’s not dead, we gotta go again,” Ruiz began, but Zander shook his head. “Why not? You said Jason had to be eliminated—”

“If he took a shot to the chest, he’s going to go under. The last thing Sonny needs is an actual injury on his hands. The cops will crawl all over Jason. Blood being found doesn’t mean much. It could be from anything. No telling they can even prove who it belongs to.” Zander shrugged. “You wait a few days, Jason doesn’t surface, then he’s badly injured—”

“But he’s not eliminated—”

“You want to take out Sonny Corinthos, don’t you?” Zander demanded. “Here’s your chance. Jason’s out of commission. You get Nico or Roscoe to take the hit, Sonny will go after them. Your hands will be clean. You don’t want the territory, so what do you care if Nico and Roscoe take the fall. Nico doesn’t even know your name, and Roscoe will be probably be eliminated before he has a chance to say your name. He’ll go out in a blaze of glory before they take him alive.”

“I like this kid,” Hector said with a grin. “He thinks through all the angles. Why the hell did Corinthos let him go?”

“Because I think for myself, and I put myself first.” Zander shrugged. “Corinthos still thinks he’s Vito Corleone.”

Luis tipped his head. “What makes you think I don’t want the territory?” he asked coolly.

“Because by now you know that Nico and Roscoe are morons which is why they’ve never been able to step up when someone else was available. There’s a reason they stayed beneath Moreno and Sorel. Why they’re basically third string.”

“So?”

“If you wanted the territory, you wouldn’t be a silent partner. You wouldn’t let Roscoe and Nico take the lead. You wouldn’t have sent me away to keep me under the radar. You wouldn’t have faked Sonny Corinthos’s ex-wife’s death. You don’t want the territory. You want to destroy the man.”

“He’s got you there, my old friend.” Hector raised bushy brows at Luis. “I’ve never liked Corinthos, but what do you have against him?”

“That is my concern. After he is gone, you can do what you like with Morgan.” Luis blew out a stream of thin smoke out from his lips. “Because you’re right. I want to eliminate the man. Nothing else matters.”

Elizabeth & Gia’s Apartment: Living Room

It was nearly two in the morning by the time Gia let her exhausted brother through the front door of their apartment.

Elizabeth was curled on the sofa, staring at their land line. Begging silently for it to ring. For someone to make this nightmare go away.

Taggert looked at the two of them, at Elizabeth sitting, at Gia standing in front of him, and his shoulders slumped. “Hell, you don’t know anything more than me, do you?”

“Do you know why the police were at Jake’s and the warehouse?” Elizabeth asked listlessly. “Because that’s more than I know.”

Taggert sighed. “We got reports of gunfire at an old warehouse near Pier 52. It’s one of Anthony Moreno’s old holding companies. It’s been wasting away for three years and it looks like a pile of crap. When we got there, we found blood on the ground, some places where someone had clearly been laying—and spent casings from bullets that match the type of gun Jason Morgan has registered in his name.”

“But no one was there,” Gia said slowly.

“No.” Taggert hesitated. “But we also can’t find Morgan. We’re trying to get his phone records. We’re executing search warrants. Sonny Corinthos is MIA. Elizabeth, listen—”

“How much blood?” she asked softly. “Because you know, it’s a warehouse. People get hurt.”

“We found some blood upstairs—a lot.” He paused. “And some…brain matter. We’re having it tested, but the preliminary blood type did not come back to Morgan.”

She closed her eyes, exhaled slowly. “Okay.”

“You haven’t heard from him?”

“The last time I saw Jason was when he dropped me off for work around eleven. I was working from twelve until closing.” Elizabeth rubbed her eyes, trying to get her brain to think. To focus. “He was supposed to do some paperwork at the warehouse, and then meet with AJ and some lawyers about Carly and Michael.”

“He was supposed to have that meeting at six, but AJ said it got canceled about five—at least that’s when his lawyer called AJ,” Gia volunteered. “And that’s the last anyone has heard from him.”

“My phone is at Jake’s,” Elizabeth said. “So if he called me, I wouldn’t know. He—” She swallowed hard. “He doesn’t call the land line at Kelly’s. Or at least he didn’t today.”

“Okay.” Taggert nodded. “Okay.” He waited a moment. “If you hear from him, would you tell me?” His tone was gentle. Compassionate. So at odds with the way he usually spoke—God, if he thought Jason was dead…

“I don’t know,” she said honestly. “If I can…I will.”

“I appreciate that.” He touched her shoulder gently. “Okay.”

Gia showed him out and closed the door behind him. “You were pretty cooperative,” she murmured.

“Two hours—” She looked at the clock on the wall. “Three hours since Jason was supposed to pick me up. Jason wouldn’t let me worry like this. Maybe once he would have left town and not told me. It was different before. We’re different now.”

She thought they were different.

“And what I told Taggert? It’s nothing that AJ and Courtney probably wouldn’t tell him. No state secrets.” Her lips twisted. “And if Sonny didn’t want me to talk to the cops, then maybe he should have called me.”

“You don’t think something happened to Sonny?” Gia asked with raised eyebrows.

“That’s not how this works. Jason went somewhere tonight. Something went wrong. And Sonny is mopping it up. He’s keeping me out of the loop.”

Her roommate exhaled slowly. “That’s cold—”

“That’s Sonny.” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “If he doesn’t come to see me tomorrow…then I’ll start to worry. For now…I just have to keep my cool. This is the life. I love Jason. I’m in this. I just…” She let her legs fall to the ground. “I thought he might be coming to notify me that they had Jason’s body.”

“But they don’t have any bodies.”

“Which means the warehouse was cleaned up. There was time for that. So until someone tells me differently, Jason is somewhere where he can’t contact me, and Sonny isn’t getting in touch.”

“Okay.”

Elizabeth rose to her feet. “I’m going to try to get some sleep.”

Safe House: Bedroom

Between Benny, the doctor, and Sonny, they managed to transfer Jason to a bedroom with an IV. Jason was pale, sweating, like a furnace to the touch—an infection was already setting in.

“Elizabeth,” Jason murmured, stirring slightly. His eyes were slits, just a mixture of blue and red underneath the pale lids. “Did you…”

“Hey, she’s fine. I’ve got it handled,” Sonny murmured, eyeing Johnny with a warning glance. “You better not make her cry for you, man.”

“Tell her…” Jason exhaled slowly, his head lolling to one side, his voice fading in and out. “No soup.”

“No soup?” Johnny repeated, but Sonny shook his head.

“Got it. I’ll let her know.” He nodded to the doctor, and then exited the room with Benny and Johnny. “What’s going on back home?” he asked once they returned to the living room.

“Cops are all over the warehouse,” Benny said. “And they’ve closed Jake’s as a crime scene, so they suspect Jason is involved. Our guy at the Brownstone says Taggert went inside briefly, then left. No guarantee he talked to Miss Webber, but—”

“Odds are,” Sonny murmured. “We go talk to her now, the cops will know. Taggert is too close to Elizabeth. He knows her movements. We bring her here and it’s nothing but problems—”

“That doesn’t mean we don’t tell her,” Johnny hissed.

“We need to let things cool down,” Sonny said with a shake of his head. “She can’t be involved. Jason wouldn’t want her in the middle with the cops. Hey, Elizabeth knows how this works.”

“This is bullshit,” Johnny muttered. But he had his orders, so he swallowed and looked away.

Sonny dismissed them both as he returned to Jason’s room. “Hey, I’m going back to Port Charles,” he murmured, perching on the edge of the double bed. “The doc and Johnny are going to hang out here. Take care of you.”

“Elizabeth,” Jason managed. “Bringing her?”

“Yeah, I’m gonna bring her when I come back. She’ll be glad to see you.” Sonny rose and met the doctor at the door. He hesitated, waiting for Jason to slip back into unconscious. “You’ll do what I told you?”

“Keep him sedated on pain meds for a few days?” the doctor replied in a low voice. “He hates them—”

“He’s too delirious to know better. I’ll be in touch.”

Sonny intended to keep his promise — he would try to stay away until it was time for Elizabeth to be told. He would bring her here just as soon as it was safe. He knew Jason wanted her to know he was okay, but Elizabeth was stronger than Jason gave her credit for.

As soon as Roscoe made his move, as soon as Sonny knew who the hell was coming for him—well then, this would all be over.

March 11, 2018

I’m not watching these days, but I’m paying attention through recaps and clips. I don’t have the time and energy to deal with this show as a whole right now. So on Twitter, when Elizabeth overheard Jason and Sam, everyone started to speculate how Elizabeth would deal with that information, and I saw someone (apologies, I didn’t catch the handle) mention Carly wanting to know this info.

So…I wrote the scene. In about a half hour. It’s set as an actual scene, with dialogue tags and whatnot. It picks up from Friday’s episode.

Dirty Work

 

This is a short sort of episode tag for this last week of General Hospital. I’m not actively watching, but I’m doing clips and recaps. Apologies if I mess anything up with continuity.

It’s written as a scene because sometimes that’s easier for me to write faster.


INT. METRO COURT – RESTAURANT – BAR – NIGHT

Elizabeth steps off the elevator and finds Carly sitting at the bar, sipping a martini. She twists her diamond engagement ring on her finger. Nervous.

She approaches.

ELIZABETH: Hey. Carly, do you have a minute?

Carly looks at her. Suspicious. Curious. She nods. Tips her head toward the bar stool next to her.

CARLY: I hear you had another aborted wedding.

ELIZABETH: (sighs) Yeah. The, ah, earthquake, or whatever it was, you know—

CARLY: Mmm…that’s not the way Mama tells it. She had the boys back at the house before it even hit.

ELIZABETH: Let’s not…that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.

CARLY: Hey, if you don’t care that you got stood up at your wedding, then why should I? I guess you should just be lucky Franco only humiliated you by not showing up. He’s not really good at weddings.

ELIZABETH: Okay, this was a bad idea.

CARLY: (with a smirk) No. Sorry. I can’t resist. It’s my fault anyone even takes that psycho seriously anyway. I had my own year of temporary insanity. I hope yours ends soon. What can I do for you?

ELIZABETH: Look. It’s not that I want to be involved. I don’t. I mean, I do. Part of me really wants to just…do this myself because—anyway, I don’t think I should get involved.

CARLY: You’re babbling. This should be good.

ELIZABETH: What I did to Drew was unforgivable. It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t actually Jason. I thought he was. I was told he was. And I lied to him. I promised him I would never lie to him again.

CARLY: (slowly) Okay. So, don’t.

ELIZABETH: I know something that…he should know. He has a right to know. But I’m afraid if I tell him…I’m afraid that he won’t believe me. Or that it will just…look like I’m trying to get revenge on Sam, and I don’t…I don’t want that.

CARLY: Of course you do. (leans forward) You want me to do the dirty work, babe, let’s at least be honest about what we’re talking about, okay? You’ve never liked Sam.

ELIZABETH: And you only liked her because it kept Jason away from me, so let’s go ahead and be honest, Carly. Your enthusiasm for Sam and Jason only started after they broke up. Until then, you hated her, too.

CARLY: Why the hell would I care about you and Jason?

ELIZABETH: I don’t know, Carly. Are we really going to go back twenty years and talk about why you’ve always hated me?

CARLY: I don’t hate you.

ELIZABETH: You did everything you could to undermine my relationship with Jason. Even when we were just friends. You risked his life and safety to get him out of my studio when he was hurt—

CARLY: (sniffs) That was a long time ago.

ELIZABETH: Every time he was with me, you called him—

CARLY: And he came running.

ELIZABETH: You pushed him towards Courtney, and we both know that was a mistake—

CARLY: She was better for him.

ELIZABETH: And you rushed right away to tell him your version of Jake’s paternity. Because you were so excited that that he wasn’t going to be tied to me.

CARLY:  Hey, I didn’t tell you to confirm that—

ELIZABETH: I’m just saying, Carly, that you have never been a fan of me being in Jason’s life. Why do you care if Jason goes back to Sam? Didn’t you give a damn about Drew? You were the one that pushed him towards Sam when we found out the truth. Even before you knew I was lying.

CARLY: (pauses) Listen. Okay. Maybe there’s a point to that. I don’t know. I guess I get you’re still irritated Jason went back to Sam after claiming to love you—

ELIZABETH: Carly, you have no idea about my issues with Sam. I doubt Jason told you what she did to Jake, what she did to both my boys, so let’s just knock it off—

CARLY: What? Destroyed your marriage with the affair with Lucky? (snorts) Please. That entire relationship was doomed, and you know it.

ELIZABETH: She stood by while that psycho kidnapped Jake. She knew where he was. Refused to tell us. Refused to let us go on her show. Came to tell me that my son was probably dead. She hired men to hold guns on us—she’s the reason Jason spent most of the summer in jail that year—

CARLY: Wait. (holds up a hand) Wait. Sam helped someone kidnap Jason’s kid? (pause) Jason knows that?

ELIZABETH: Look, it was a decade ago. God. More than that now. He made his choice. We have to live with it. And besides, it’s not like I haven’t had my opportunities to get back at her. I’ve taken them, you know? I did what I could to torpedo her relationship with Lucky, not that it worked. And—

CARLY: Lied about Drew.

ELIZABETH: Part of me wants to cause trouble for her. She’s always been a hypocrite, always pretended she’s better than me. And the only reason I put up with her is because of Jason. And now Jake and Danny. So, this thing I know—this thing I heard her say to Jason—Drew should know it. I just don’t want to be the one to tell him.

CARLY: You’d like to keep your hands clean.

ELIZABETH: I also don’t know if he’d believe me.

CARLY: So you want me to do it for you.

ELIZABETH: (hesitates) Yes.

CARLY: Like a hired assassin.

ELIZABETH: Carly.

CARLY: You know, Sonny keeps telling me not to meddle. Jason hates me getting involved. I’ve been busy with Michael, and Sonny and his dad. I’m not sure this is something I should get involved with.

ELIZABETH: Okay, fine. If you really don’t know what to know what I know, I can respect that.

She waits.

CARLY: Damn it. What do you know?

ELIZABETH: That Jason and Sam were together the night of the earthquake. That Sam told Jason she’s still in love with him. And there was something about New Year’s she hasn’t told Drew yet. I don’t know. I didn’t hear that part as well.

CARLY: Let me get you a drink.

She signals the bartender.

CARLY: (continues) You know, I guess you’ve really moved on from Jason if you’re trying to patch things up with him and Sam. (smirks) You do realize that’s the natural ending for this?

ELIZABETH: I don’t, actually. Jason goes back to Sam for whatever reason, but they never last, Carly. Or haven’t you noticed that? I don’t know why he goes back, but she drives him away. Every time. She lies, she cheats, she schemes. She cons him. She’s a lot like you.

She sips the martini the bartender hands her.

ELIZABETH: She thinks Jason should be a certain way, and then she punishes him when he’s not.

CARLY; What the hell—

ELIZABETH: I’m not any better, so don’t get pissed. We all do that. Jason has surrounded himself with takers all his life, Carly. You, me, Sam. Sonny. We all love him, but we take from him, too. Since he’s been home, you’ve been shoving Sam in his face, Sam is shoving Drew in his face, and God knows, I’ve been shoving Franco in his face, which makes me the worst of all.

CARLY: Elizabeth—

ELIZABETH: I’m not taking from Jason anymore.  I saw his face yesterday at the hospital when I tried to thank him for saving Franco’s life. I tried to make him see he’s not that person anymore, and then, you know, I stepped outside of myself. I could hear myself trying to justify my choices to Jason. Trying to get Jason to accept them.

CARLY: Why does that matter?

ELIZABETH: Because Jason’s always right. (sips martini) He was right about Lucky. Right about Ric. Right about Ewan. He’s always been right about the men I let into my life.

CARLY: You know you deserve better than Franco, Elizabeth. Tell me you know that.

ELIZABETH: Do I?

She finishes her martini and drops a twenty on the bar.

ELIZABETH: Look, tell Drew or don’t. I’m just—I can’t be the only one who knows this. I’m tired of keeping secrets.

CARLY: Hey. Listen. About Franco. You think no one else gets it, but I do. I get how he can make you think he’s the only one who understands you. How he can isolate you from the rest of your world because he’s the only one you can turn to. The problem is that he builds his world around you. He puts you on a shelf. He builds this idea of who you are. And then when you disappoint him—because you will—he will blame you. And then he’ll destroy you.

ELIZABETH: Carly.

CARLY: You might not think there’s anything left to destroy, but he’s not going to come for you. He’s going to come for what you love best. He did that to me. He humiliated me, sure. But he destroyed Michael. He went after my child. Tell me you’re one hundred percent positive it’s not the same for you. That it can’t happen to you.

Elizabeth is silent for a long time.

ELIZABETH: I’ll see you around, Carly. Thanks for the drink.

March 6, 2018

I’m posting early for a couple of reasons. One, I’ve been looking forward to getting this section of the story to you guys for ages. I had to do a lot of things to get all the pieces in the row to make these final ten chapters or so gel together. When I was first playing around with the idea of rewriting 2002, I only knew that I wanted to do more with Gia and Courtney, give Liz more of a character rebuild than she got post wedding, and that Carly’s faked death would be drawn out more and rolled into the larger umbrella story.

And then, as I plotted, I started to think about what Carly’s return would look like. I can still remember subbing at a horrible school, scribbling in my notebook over the break, trying to figure out what Zander’s story would be and how Carly would fit into Alcazar’s story. How to take the beats of 2002 and rework them into something was ultimately more satisfying with long-term effects and more in character.

So I’m posting tonight because I really want to see if you guys can see where we’re going from here, and I want to know what you guys think.

Two, I’m posting early because we’re getting a storm, and my school district hasn’t closed — they’ve just shortened the day so we’re still dragging our asses into class for half hour periods and I’ll be cleaning my car off twice, and with my luck, my second job won’t cancel so my day will be a complete pain. I didn’t want to forget.

And finally, in late December, I posted kind of cryptically about having gotten to Chapter 26 and just…feeling stalled about a story decision. The only way to fix it was to go back and massively rework 20-25. I did it, and I feel really good about it because I think I got to some really interesting things with all the relationships. This is the first chapter with that change. The final scene is completely different. Once we get to the end of the story, I’ll go back and post the cut material. Like the custody stuff, none of it is bad, but it felt out of character. It just meant that I didn’t get to finish the final chapters before I started student teaching and that has definitely killed the momentum.

Still, it’s not how fast I post, it’s how good the story is. If it’s good, you guys have proven to me you’ll stick around, and I think my best is what I’ve promised you.

So, here’s Chapter Twenty of Bittersweet.

Oh….and as a treat for you guys being so massively supportive — I’m posting stuff from Mad World. I’ve got three full chapters done of the rewrite and I…love it. I can’t wait to get back to it. So I’m posting a few cut scenes from it.

Mad World Excerpts

So I told you guys ages ago I was going to take Mad World back and rewrite Carly’s kidnapping. I’ve written three chapters, and this is two scenes from Chapter Three, when Liz wakes up after Ric has already drugged and kidnapped Carly.

I really like these scenes, they made me feel like I could really go back and do this story right and I’m just dying to get back to writing this. I miss writing.

This does not have the Cora seal of approval, so forgive any errors.


Lansing Home: Master Bedroom

When Ric was finally gone, Elizabeth released a breath and managed to pull on the thin gray sweatpants and blue tank top he had given her.

He had been irritated that she wouldn’t dress in front of him, and Elizabeth wasn’t entirely sure where her reticence had come from.

Hadn’t she just promised herself that she would reapply herself to her marriage? She looked at the clock and frowned slightly. It was nearly seven-thirty.

How long had she dozed? Ric had said it was for a few minutes but that couldn’t be right. She’d arrived just before six. She had had a glass of champagne.

And her head was fuzzy. Her mouth was still dry. She felt a bit better after the shower, but—

She looked at herself in the mirror and shook her head. There were circles under her eyes, her skin was pale—even more than usual. She wasn’t sleeping. Wasn’t eating well. And she hadn’t felt right since her miscarriage. Dr. Meadows had given her a clean bill of health but Elizabeth thought maybe it was time to go back—

A crash and men’s shouts drew her attention. Elizabeth’s ears perked up—she knew those voices. But—but he was getting married—

Elizabeth rushed out of the bedroom and towards the stairwell, bracing herself against the wall. Why couldn’t she walk straight?

She could hear the shouts more clearly—Sonny’s demanding tones—something about Carly—and Jason’s growls. Something else crashed.

Elizabeth started down the stairs, holding on the rail with a death grip. Her stomach was rolling and her head was swimming.

“J-Jason?” she managed as she came to the bottom of the staircase, switching her grip to the doorway that separated the stairwell from the living room.

Sonny and Jason were in her living room, clad in disheveled tuxedos. Sonny had Ric against the wall, his hands at his throat while Jason was opening a closet door.

All three men turned to look at her and she couldn’t process the scene. Couldn’t make it come out right. “You’re getting married,” she said without thinking to Jason. “Aren’t you?”

Jason scowled at her and then something in his eyes changed as he drew closer. He touched her chin, turned her head slightly and then turned back to Ric. “What did you give her?” he said, his voice reaching a low dangerous growl she had only heard a handful of times.

“What are you talking about?” Ric asked, his fingers digging at Sonny. “She’s fine. Elizabeth, tell them—”

“What’s going on?” Elizabeth licked her lips. She reached out, but she just couldn’t…there was no energy in her fingers as they brushed Jason’s tuxedo jacket. “What—I don’t—”

She could feel the fury radiating from him, but Jason’s touch was gentle as he put a hand under her elbow and led her to the sofa. Helped her to sit.

He took her wrist in his and laid two fingers against her skin. “Your pupils are dilated,” Jason told her. “Your pulse is ragged. What did you eat or drink tonight?”

Elizabeth stared at him. Shook her head. “N-No—”

“Leave my wife alone,” Ric growled, but he couldn’t quite break free of Sonny’s grip.

“I had—what’s going on? Did-did you say something about Carly?” Elizabeth said, drawing her wrist from Jason’s grip. “Is she okay?”

“She’s missing,” Sonny said flatly. “And Michael saw Ric take her. Where is she?” he demanded, digging his hands in more tightly. Ric gasped.

“He was—” Elizabeth forced herself to think. “He was here. I think. I don’t know—” Why did her tongue feel so heavy?

“Elizabeth. He drugged you.”

“Call the cops, Elizabeth,” Ric choked out.

Elizabeth turned to look at him. At the man who had fathered her child. Whom she had promised to love, honor, and cherish.

Did he drug her? Is that why this sensation felt so…familiar?

“I need you to tell me what happened tonight.”

She turned her head back to that familiar voice. That gentle, beloved tone in Jason’s voice that he adopted when he spoke to her. Tears slid down her cheeks.

“I don’t know,” she managed to say. “I can’t—I came home at six. I was at the studio. I—I don’t—We had champagne…” Elizabeth looked at the table, but the glasses were gone. The champagne was gone. Like it had never happened. “Didn’t we?”

“No,” Ric said, as Sonny finally released him. “No, we didn’t. Elizabeth, you came home and went upstairs to sleep. You’ve been sleeping so much since we lost the baby.”

The baby. God. She closed her eyes. Her baby. Her little shining ray of light in the darkness.

“Shut up,” Sonny growled.

She had been sleeping a lot, Elizabeth thought. Or no, wait. No she hadn’t. She never slept. Did she? Why couldn’t she remember?

“I—” Elizabeth looked at Jason. “I don’t know. Maybe—maybe I took a nap. I don’t know.”

“Michael said he took Carly. Was Ric gone?” Jason asked.

“I’ve been here the whole goddamn time. Tell him, Elizabeth. You woke up at seven and I was here. You took a shower—”

“I—” Elizabeth’s voice faltered. “Maybe.”

“Damn it, we’re not going to get anything from her,” Sonny growled. “Whatever he gave her is screwing with her memory. We’ll take him to the warehouse. Jase, you take her to the penthouse. Get her some rest. Some coffee. I don’t know. Call Bobbie—”

And then the door was open again, and two women clad in wedding gowns rushed in. “Courtney called the PCPD,” Emily said in a rush.

“Where’s my daughter?” Bobbie cried as she pushed past Emily and started for Sonny and Ric. Jason sprang off the sofa and intercepted her.

Emily sat next to Elizabeth. “Elizabeth, are you okay?”

“I don’t know,” Elizabeth said slowly, drawing her words. “Am I?” she asked Jason. Jason would know. Jason would protect her.

“He gave her something,” Jason bit out. “What did you say about Courtney?”

Bobbie pushed herself away from Jason’s grip. “I tried to stop her, but she called the cops.”

“My sister did what?” Sonny demanded.

“Called the authorities,” Marcus Taggert said as he and Andy Capelli swaggered into the room. Behind him, a shorter dark-haired uniformed officer entered, his expression aggravated. “When someone is missing, the first few hours are crucial, Corinthos.”

Sonny closed his eyes, and Jason scowled.

“These people are trespassing,” Ric snarled. “I want them out of here—”

“No—” Elizabeth managed. She stood. Shook her head. “No. They’re not. They—” She closed her eyes, and Emily put an arm around her waist to steady her.

“What happened to her?” Capelli demanded of Sonny. “Did you terrify her into a nervous breakdown?”

“Oh, for the love of—” Bobbie muttered.

“They’re not trespassing,” Elizabeth said. She could do this. She had to do this. Everyone was so angry. So afraid. “They—they’re looking for Carly. And—they should look. You should all look.”

“Elizabeth—” Ric said with a devastated look in his eyes, in his words. “You don’t believe I would—”

“They have to look,” she repeated. “Or they won’t know for sure. They have to know for sure—”

“We have your permission, Elizabeth?” Taggert asked. He approached her. “You’re sure—”

“You don’t have mine!”

“We just need yours, Elizabeth. And exigent circumstances will take care of any gray areas.”

She latched onto that. She could do this for Jason and Sonny. Carly was missing. Carly was important to them. She knew how much Jason loved Carly.

“You can look.”

“Damn it,” Ric growled. “You should get a warrant—”

“Got something to hide?” Sonny demanded.

“No, but—”

“Rodriguez, make sure Corinthos and Morgan stay right here. Lansing, you come with us. We’re going to search this house from top to bottom,” Taggert said. To Jason, he growled, “Don’t go anywhere.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Jason muttered.

When the trio had disappeared into the back of the house where the basement door was located, Jason turned his attention back to Elizabeth. “Bobbie, Ric gave her something. Her pulse isn’t right—”

Bobbie hustled over to Elizabeth, repeating Jason’s earlier measurements. “Honey, you need to come to the hospital. We need to take care of you—”

“N-No.” Elizabeth shook her head. She had to stay here. Had to make sure the PCPD could look for Carly. If she left, Ric would stop them from looking. “I—I have to stay here.”

“Elizabeth,” Emily said, with anguish. “You look like hell. Your pupils are so big I can’t even tell what color your eyes are—”

“Elizabeth, I appreciate you giving your permission for them to look,” Sonny said with a soft sigh. “But he probably already stashed her somewhere else.” He scowled at Jason. “We’re wasting our time here.”

All eyes turned to the uniform at the doorway who took a deep shaky breath. “Look, if you leave now,” he said with a sigh, “you know Taggert and Capelli are gonna just come after you. It’s better if you let them do what they want and then you’re not running from warrants, too.”

“Why is it always the rookies with common sense?” Sonny muttered.

Jason ignored him, and gently pulling Emily away from Elizabeth so he could take her place, he sat next to Elizabeth on the sofa. “You have to go to the hospital, Elizabeth. Please. I need you to be okay. I can’t worry about you—”

“You’re not,” Elizabeth said, deliberately taking her time with her words. Couldn’t slur them. Couldn’t mess this up. “I’m…I’m okay. I, um, I haven’t—” She closed her eyes. Her hands were shaking. Why were the shaking?

Jason’s warm hands closed around hers, stilling them. “Elizabeth—”

“Since the baby. Haven’t been okay,” she admitted, finally saying out loud what had been locked away. “I’m not okay about that. I mean…” What did she mean? “I’ll see someone. But this—”

“Elizabeth,” Emily muttered. “For God’s sakes, Jason, don’t argue with her. Make her go—”

“With the PCPD here?” Sonny shook his head. “Right now, Elizabeth, do you think you gotta stay so me and Jason don’t get arrested for trespassing?”

“I—” Elizabeth stared at the other man for a long moment. “I—yes. I’m here. I can let you in. The police—” She licked her lips. They were dry and cracked. How long had they been like that? “Maybe they don’t believe Michael. Maybe they won’t look very hard.”

“And if you’re here, you can let Jason and Sonny in again to look for more evidence,” Bobbie said with a shake of her head. “Elizabeth—”

“Can’t get arrested. He’s—” Elizabeth turned squinted at the uniform, who was trying to pretend he was anywhere else. “He’s right. You can’t find Carly if you—”

“That is not your job,” Jason began. “It’s mine—”

“My fault.” Elizabeth wasn’t sure how, but it had to be. Ric was hers. She had promised herself to him. Chosen him.

“No—”

“Elizabeth, do you believe Michael?” Sonny said, his voice tight. “Do you think Ric is involved?”

Elizabeth drew in a sharp breath. “Oh, God. Oh, God.” She couldn’t say it. Couldn’t. If it was true, oh God, what had she done?

“Please come with me,” Emily begged, tears sliding down her cheeks. “Please don’t stay here. It’s not worth it. Jason and Sonny—” She got to her feet, went to the uniform. “You’re new, right? Do you know Lucky Spencer?”

“I—” The uniform nodded. “Yeah, we’re friends—”

“Then you need to listen to me. My brother is going to get Elizabeth out of here. And you have to help—”

“I can’t—” the cop shook his head. “I can’t let him leave—”

“Then, Jason, you have to come back—”

“Elizabeth is right,” Sonny muttered. “Even if she’s drugged out of her goddamn head, she’s right.” He scrubbed his hands over her face. “Taggert and Capelli are just looking for Carly. They’re not going to tear the house apart. But Elizabeth being here means we can. Jason—”

Elizabeth nodded, relieved that someone understood. “You can come back. If Ric did it, you need to know for sure. You can’t waste your time. I can’t go.”

She had to stay. Had to make it right.

Her head started to swim, and she pressed a hand to her eyes. “Oh, God. I think I’m going to be sick.”

“I don’t care about any of that,” Jason growled. “I’ll come back with or without permission. She’s not staying here another minute—” He started to get up, but Elizabeth’s other hand shot out, took his hand.

“I can do this. I’m—I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I think I might be sick.” Elizabeth took a deep breath, and her stomach started to settle. “But I told you. I wasn’t lying. I haven’t felt well in weeks. I’ll go see a doctor. But Carly’s missing. And she’s pregnant.”

Her head was starting to clear. She could finally feel herself coming back. Elizabeth rose to her feet and saw Jason. The anguish. The fear.

And the knowledge that some of that was for her—that it wasn’t just because of Carly—that filled something in her. An empty piece of her soul that she hadn’t even realized was missing.

“This is the way I can help,” she said softly. Meeting his eyes. Looking at him the way she used to, begging him to believe her. To know her again.

His eyes softened. “Don’t ask me to leave you here—”

“You can’t make me go. You know I’m stubborn. I promise. I—I’ll go talk to a doctor or something. But right now, you need me here.” She looked to Bobbie. “I can be more useful here. Let me help.”

Jason pressed his lips together, shook his head. “No—”

But he was cut off when the police returned with a smug Ric. “Now that you’ve looked in all the rooms,” her husband said as he wisely stopped at the doorway, scowling at how close Jason was standing to her. “You can all get the hell out of my house—”

Elizabeth took a step back, relieved when her balance held. “I let you look,” she said, hardening her voice. She kept walking back, away from their worried expressions. “She’s not here. Ric didn’t do this, okay? He wouldn’t hurt Carly.”

“See?” Ric said with a lift of his chin. “You tried to make her turn against me, but Elizabeth loves me, Morgan. Not you.”

Jason swallowed, looked at Sonny. “Let’s go,” he said.

He stalked towards the doorway and out to the porch.

“Don’t think this clears you,” Capelli said with a jab of his finger. “Just because she’s not in here, it doesn’t mean anything.”

“I’ve been home all night,” Ric retorted.

“Elizabeth, please—” Emily said, anguished. But Bobbie took her arm and led her from the room.

“Corinthos,” Taggart said. “Let’s go. We need to go down to the station.”

Sonny shook his head, but left the living room, following Taggert out the door.

The uniform looked back at Elizabeth once more before closing the door behind her, leaving her alone with her husband.

Lansing Home: Front Lawn

Jason wanted to put his fist though the goddamn wall. Why the hell had Courtney called the fucking police? If Taggert and Capelli hadn’t shown up, Ric would be somewhere being tortured for what he knew, and Elizabeth—

Elizabeth would be safe.

He had seen her swaying, her pale face, her dilated pupils, listen as she tried to think. Tried to understand what was happening around her. And the fact that this wasn’t the first time she had felt like this didn’t really make him feel better.

It just meant that the fucking monster had been drugging her for weeks.

And bringing up Elizabeth’s miscarriage—watching her crumble inside, admitting that she wasn’t okay. He’d wanted to take her away, to tell everyone else to go to hell, Elizabeth had to be safe.

But then she’d been there at the end, her head had cleared enough for her to give him that look. She wasn’t asking to stay because she didn’t understand what was happening.

No, Elizabeth had done what she always did—took the weight of the world on her own shoulders. Blamed herself for Carly’s kidnapping. Made it her problem to fix.

“Jason,” Bobbie said with tears in her eyes. “I am so sorry, I tried—”

“I’m going back there,” his sister hissed as she left the house, joining them on the front step. “As soon as Taggert lets us go, I’m going to drag her out of here by her hair, and then you’re going to lock her somewhere until she stops being so goddamn hard headed—”

“Right now, she thinks she’s helping. She’s upset. She’s not thinking clearly.” Jason swallowed. And if the PCPD hadn’t been there, he could have done more. She would have come with him willingly before they arrived. Before she understood Carly was missing.

“Are you going to meet us at the station?” Taggert demanded as he joined the group and the front door closed. “Or do we have to take you in the patrol car?”

“I should stay here,” the uniform said. Capelli turned to glare at him. “I mean, the witness saw Lansing. If he leaves the house—”

“That’s a good idea,” Taggert said before Capelli could snarl at the uniform. “Good clear thinking, Rodriguez.” He looked at Morgan. “I saw her, too, Morgan. He’s guilty as fuck.”

“Taggert,” Capelli began.

“He did it. I don’t know how. But she consented to a search which gave us nothing. And she refused medical treatment, didn’t she?” he asked Bobbie.

Bobbie sighed, and Emily just folded her arms with a scowl.

“Rodriguez, you stay here until the end of shift—we’ll bring someone to relieve you—”

“I’m fine. I’ll work a double. I’ll stay all night if I have to.” Rodriguez lifted his chin. “I—I didn’t like how she looked, sir. If she changes her mind—”

“A patrol car should be right outside.” Taggert nodded. “Okay. Let’s get down to the station and figure out what’s next.”

Jason met the rookie’s eyes and, for the first time in his known life, felt a rush of gratitude for a cop. He’d listened to them. He knew Elizabeth’s condition. And the kid was going to stay.

And as soon as Taggert let him go, Jason was coming right back here to force her to go. He just had to pray she would be okay until then.

Lansing Home: Living Room

Her shoulders slumped when the door closed and she looked at Ric. “Why did he say those things?”

“What?” Ric said, with wide eyes. “You know I didn’t take Carly. I’ve been here—”

“About my pulse. My pupils.” Elizabeth went to the mirror over the fireplace mantel and scowled. She couldn’t tell now, but she didn’t doubt Jason for a moment. Still… “My eyes look okay—”

“He was lying to you,” Ric said gently. He moved behind her, put his hand around her shoulders, gently rubbing. “Trying to get you to leave me. You stayed. You believed in me.”

He leaned down, brushed his lips against her neck, and it took everything in her not to flinch. Not to move away.

Because she didn’t believe Ric. She believed Michael. She believed Jason. And she knew…she knew something wasn’t right about tonight. It wasn’t the first time she had felt so fuzzy, so tired, and weak. She’d thought it was from the fall. The recovery. The deep sadness inside.

But maybe…

She had a job to do. She turned and managed a weak smile. “He was scared. Carly’s missing. And Michael probably saw something in the dark that looked like you. Poor kid. He must be terrified.”

Ric nodded. “But the PCPD are involved, and you were right to let them search. I’m sorry I was so angry—”

“Well, now they know she’s not here.” She forced herself to kiss his cheek. “They can look for her somewhere else. I’m still not feeling well—I think I’m just going to go upstairs. Get some sleep.” She hesitated. “I’m going to sleep in the other room, though.”

“Elizabeth, I thought—”

“I’m just feeling sick to my stomach a-and you know I haven’t been sleeping well. You said you were getting up early to look for office space, right? I don’t want—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. She could do this. “You need your rest.”

“Okay,” Ric said, with a tilt of his head. “If you’re sure.”

“Very sure. Good night, babe.”

She kept the smile on her face as she turned away, as she climbed the stairs, and went into the second room. She wouldn’t sleep, but at least…she wouldn’t feel obligated to let him touch her again.

Not tonight.

This entry is part 20 of 24 in the series Bittersweet

Through this world I’ve stumbled
So many times betrayed,
Trying to find an honest word,
To find the truth enslaved,
Oh you speak to me in riddles and
You speak to me in rhymes
My body aches to breathe your breath,
Your words keep me alive

Possession, Sarah McLachlan


Friday, September 6, 2002

Jake’s: Jason’s Room

Elizabeth squinted at her textbook. “What made me think I wanted to major in business again?”

“You thought you should know what you were doing with Kelly’s.” Jason dropped a kiss on top of her head as he set coffee down in front of her. “Sorry—it’s from down the street.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Maybe Jake will let us have a hot plate or a coffee machine in here. You should look into it—”

“Maybe.” Jason sat across from her at the small table currently covered with textbooks, folders, and notebooks. “You don’t like coffee enough to worry about it.”

“You don’t have to like something to appreciate its benefits.” Elizabeth sipped the glorious caffeine. “After January, I won’t need it as much. I won’t have to schedule my shifts around my class schedule, and I think one of the benefits of being manager is I shouldn’t have to work opening. No need for coffee when you’re not dragging your ass out of bed at four-thirty.”

She hesitated a moment before asking, “Are you and AJ still meeting with your attorneys today?”

“Yeah.” Jason rubbed his temple with his thumb. “Yeah. Carly…should be served on Monday. Once I surrender guardianship to AJ…I’m out of it. She won’t have an excuse not to tell me.” He paused. “You still don’t like this idea.”

“Anything that gives Carly more of a reason to be angry with you is not my first choice, no. And you lose your leverage. As long as you control Michael’s custody, Carly has to pay attention to you. You give it to AJ…” Elizabeth shrugged. Picked up her highlighter.

“I know it’s risky. I know it might make Carly…go crazy. But it also might make her angry enough to let something slip. We have to change the situation.”

“I know, I know.” She bit her lip. “I just…I don’t want you to get hurt.”

He lifted a shoulder in a shrug. “I’ve survived Carly’s plans before.”

She sighed but said nothing more on the subject. Jason still had his blinders on where Carly was concerned. Carly had only been able to inflict emotional damage on Jason because Jason had never been the direct target, and he wasn’t taking that into account. But she had already voiced her worries and concerned. Jason had considered them but had ultimately decided it was worth the risk.

So, she managed a smile for him. “You have to go to the warehouse today?”

“Yeah, September is the end of the fiscal year, so Benny wants me to look at the books for the warehouse.” Jason eyed her. “You want me to look at Kelly’s records, too?”

“No,” Elizabeth muttered. “I’m smart. I can do it.” She wrinkled her nose. “Maybe you could double check them or something.”

When he just shrugged, she set her highlighter down. “What?”

“You don’t like managing Kelly’s,” Jason said after a moment. “And you hate your business classes.”

“So why do I bother with either?” Elizabeth asked her brows raised. “I needed something to do every day after I called off the wedding. I had really lost touch with my art, and I didn’t have anything else. I was afraid if I didn’t fill every hour of my day with something—I might be tempted to drift back.” She shrugged. “Bobbie asked me to take over Kelly’s. And Gia thought it might be fun to go back to school together. I’m not sorry I did it. And I’m excited to graduate. To finish it. And I know I’ve done a good job at Kelly’s.”

“Okay.”

“But you’re right. It’s not really what I want to do. I was gonna talk to Bobbie about it…about maybe training Courtney or someone else so I could start focusing on art.” She bit her lip. “And then Carly came home.”

“Yeah.” He scratched his forehead. “Well, that…I don’t know what’s going to happen with that. But you should tell Bobbie. You know she wouldn’t want you to put your life on hold for her.”

“Yeah.” Elizabeth put the cap on her highlighter and closed her economics book. “Well, that’s a conversation for another day.”

Kelly’s: Alley

Jason followed Elizabeth to the back door, but before she opened it, he touched her elbow. “Hey…about this morning—”

Elizabeth turned back to him with a quizzical smile. “What? Kelly’s?”

“No.” He hesitated. “You…said we should ask Jake about…a hot plate or something.” Jason shifted, unsure why he felt nervous. He knew he wanted to make some changes, grateful that he and Elizabeth were on the same page after last week.

“Oh. I was just joking—”

“Yeah, but it made me think…” He took her hand in his. “It might be nice to have…good coffee for a change. And not always order out.”

“What, can you cook?” Elizabeth asked with a grin. “Because I can make a mean bowl of soup on the hot plate at my studio…” She poked him in the chest lightly with her free hand. “I bet Sonny taught you, didn’t he?”

“Yeah.” He grabbed her other hand, and then held both of them behind her back as he kissed her. She laughed against his lips as he backed her against the brick wall of Kelly’s back alley, deepening the kiss.

“What was that for?” she asked, her breath shallow as Jason pulled back.

“Just wanted to.” Jason slid a tendril of hair behind her ear. “What I was thinking is maybe we should find a place. With a kitchen.”

“You mean…live together?” Elizabeth asked. She bit her lip but smiled. “You could always move into our place. I bet Gia—”

“Yeah, I want live downstairs from Taggert,” Jason replied with a grin. “Elizabeth—”

“No, I think—” She hesitated. “I like it. Let’s talk about it. You’re coming by after you and AJ meet with the lawyers, right?”

“Yeah.” Though he shared her concerns that this wasn’t the best way forward—no one had had a better idea when they’d talked about it earlier that week. And he still had an itch between his shoulders at the thought of going to AJ with problems and working together to solve them.

He wondered if that was what was to really have a brother. A person you didn’t like one hundred percent of the time, respected sometimes, wanted to slap upside the head for being an idiot most of the time, and yet…turned to for help when you needed it.

“Well, you owe me a rain check on driving…” She pressed her lips to the corner of his mouth. “So, I’ll take it tonight, and we’ll talk it over…but…” Elizabeth licked her lips. “I like it. We already spend all our time together anyway. Might be nice not to pay rent on a place where I barely live anymore.”

He laughed, kissed her again. “I’ll see you tonight.”

“Mmm, I love you.”

“Love you, too.”

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Elizabeth grimaced as she saw Carly sitting at a table in her section. That’s what she got for trading the opening shift with Penny.

“Carly,” she said with a wary smile, digging a notebook out of her pocket. “What’s—” And then she looked at the blonde for the first time since their encounter the Sunday after she’d blown up all their lives.

Carly looked like shit. Her eyes were red, her makeup nonexistent, her hair drawn back into a ponytail—Elizabeth wasn’t entire sure she’d seen the woman not look perfectly put together.

“Tell me about the custody problems Jason had,” she said softly, her fingers clutching the empty water glass like a lifeline. “Why did he agree to give AJ custody?”

Elizabeth sighed, and then sank down into a chair across from her. “Carly, you should talk to Jason about this—”

“He’s so angry with me,” Carly murmured. Not meeting her eyes. Her red nails were chipped. “I’ve never seen him so angry. Not even when I slept with Sonny. When I went to the Quartermaines. I see him now, and it’s that look—it’s not even hurt. It’s just…anger.”

“Okay.” Elizabeth set her order pad and pencil on the table. “Jason couldn’t get back for almost a week. By that time, the Quartermaines had already started circling Bobbie. Not AJ—it’s important that you know that. AJ told me, and he told his family, that he would not go after Michael’s custody right away.”

Carly raised her eyes. “What? Why? Wouldn’t—Jason wasn’t there—”

“To disrupt Michael’s life in that way when he was already grieving you,” Elizabeth said slowly, “was something AJ didn’t want to do. I’m not going to pretend it was his conscience entirely making that decision. He had an attorney advising him to wait as well. To go after Michael before his legal guardian could take stock of the situation—it wouldn’t reflect well. So, yeah, AJ waited.”

“It wasn’t…” Carly closed her eyes. “You said Mama grieved.”

“She went to the PCPD every day for a week. The Coast Guard wouldn’t search after the first few days. The currents were too strong, they told us. But Bobbie convinced Mac to keep looking. And Sonny offered money if they wanted to do private searches. But…. based on what we knew about the location of the accident—it’s where Brenda’s car went into the lake.”

“I—” Carly cleared her throat. “I remember. I think they said it would be impossible. With—with how deep the lake is there.”

“Her car would have been swept out towards the St. Lawrence.” Elizabeth rolled the pencil between her fingers. “You know how Bobbie gets. She started to throw herself into the details. Into dealing with your estate. Into the memorial service. Anything she could do to occupy her brain. Lucas and I took care of Michael the first week because she wouldn’t sit down long enough. If she did—she wouldn’t be able to breathe.”

Carly nodded. “Okay. Then what happened?”

If Carly wanted a blow by blow—if this would help—Elizabeth just shrugged. “Jason came home. And then your will was read. Alexis told him his chances in court were just…awful. He was probably not going to win.”

“Why?” Carly demanded, her eyes fierce now. “That’s stupid. AJ gave up his rights. So, it shouldn’t have mattered—”

“And that’s how Jason saw it at first, too. AJ wasn’t in the picture for him. He had this promise to you, and he wasn’t convinced AJ was good for Michael.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “But it wasn’t that simple, Carly. AJ didn’t have his rights taken by the court. He surrendered them voluntarily.” Her lips twisted. “Or so the court is concerned. Jason is Michael’s uncle, but he was also the reason AJ wasn’t in Michael’s life from birth. His lie was part of it. And Jason actively worked to keep them apart.”

Carly huffed and sat back. “So, the court would have thrown the book at him for it,” she muttered. “That’s fucking stupid.”

“Maybe. But that’s how the court would have seen it, Carly. And if Jason had a prayer of winning, he’d have to drag Michael to therapists. He’d have to talk to lawyers and judges and counselors. He’d already lost you, and to do that to him, and not be guaranteed anything—do you have any idea how much that broke his heart?”

“Maybe,” Carly murmured. “Then he should have taken Michael and left—” Her eyes burned. “He wouldn’t leave you.”

“I was not a factor in this, Carly,” Elizabeth retorted. “We weren’t even dating at the point most of this was happening. The truth of it is, Carly, AJ is not the villain you think he is—”

“He killed my baby!”

Elizabeth sat back. Waited a moment. “I won’t pretend I understand that pain, Carly. I don’t. I know what it is to lose someone you love, but I can’t imagine it holds a candle to the loss of a child.”

A tear slid down Carly’s cheek. “It was his fault. It is. He pushed me…” Her voice faded, and she looked away. “I wanted him dead. But Sonny wouldn’t let me. So, I had to settle for taking Michael away. Keeping him safe.”

“And punishing AJ for it forever.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Carly said, lifting her chin defiantly. “But, yes. Why not?”

“Because AJ didn’t push you—”

You weren’t there—”

“But other people were,” Elizabeth said gently. “And no one else tells the story that way. I get it, Carly. I get why you blame him. You have to blame him. It has to be his fault completely. Because it’s the only way you can get past it. But it doesn’t change the fact that he didn’t push you.”

“You don’t understand—” Carly shoved to her feet. “It is his fault. And now he has my little boy—”

“He’s been sober a year, Carly, but Jason was worried. He signed an agreement that kept him in control. AJ only saw Michael when Jason said it was okay. They talked to therapists. AJ and Michael went to a counselor. They started with supervised visits. Last week? It was the first full week after three entire months. Jason did everything he could to protect Michael, and AJ agreed every step of the way to let Jason keep that control. Because Michael came first for both of them.” Elizabeth pushed to her feet. “Can you say that for yourself?”

“Excuse me?” Carly demanded.

“Have you ever put anyone but yourself first?”

“How dare you—”

“Were you putting Michael first when you slept with Sonny and ruined his family at the Quartermaines? When you forced AJ to give up his rights in the first place? When you ran away for five months?” Elizabeth retorted. “When you came home and refused to tell anyone what the hell was going on? Did you put Michael first when you tried to seduce Jason last week?”

“Oh, that’s what this is about.” Carly flipped her hair over her shoulder and that arrogant light was back in her eyes. “You’re just mad because I tempted your boyfriend. You worried?”

“Not in the slightest, Carly.  If Jason wanted you, he’d have you. And you know that. I am not the reason you don’t have Jason.” Elizabeth jabbed a finger at her. “That’s on you. You destroyed any chance you ever had with Jason, and you hate me because I’m the one he loves. That’s not my fault. None of this is my fault.”

“I don’t even know why I bothered to ask you anything—”

“Because you know I don’t give a shit about you enough to lie.”

Elizabeth’s words stopped Carly as she started to storm out of the courtyard. “What?” Carly asked, whirling around.

“You thought your mother would sugar coat it. Make AJ into some kind of sympathetic hero. Or absolve Jason of something. Because she loves you. And Jason would take the blame all on himself. You know I don’t care enough to do either.”

Carly pressed her lips together and looked away. “I had my reasons for what happened.”

“And that’s great. I don’t care about your reasons, Carly. They’re not my problem. What matters to me is Jason, Bobbie, and Michael. They’re my family. And you destroyed them. Right now, you have the two people who love you—who genuinely grieved your loss—you have them thinking you did it on purpose. That you faked your death to get Jason’s attention or something.”

“Yeah, everyone loves to make me the bad guy,” Carly muttered.

“And I’m not saying it’s not something you would never do,” Elizabeth said. “But I know how much you love Michael. And how much you loved that club. And your car. You never would have sacrificed all three of them to make a stupid point.”

Carly’s eyes were wet with tears when she met Elizabeth’s eyes. “I didn’t fake my death.”

“I’m not the person you should be telling.” Elizabeth gestured in the direction. “You should tell Jason. Because whatever trouble you’re in, he can fix it. More than that, he wants to fix it. So just let him.”

Corinthos & Morgan: Warehouse

When one of the guards told Jason Carly was there to see him, Jason almost told him to send her away. Having made the decision to surrender guardianship to AJ, Jason really didn’t want to go another round with Carly.

Particularly when he was almost convinced that she would never tell him what the hell was going on, and he wasn’t interested in keeping his life on hold to fix hers anymore.

He’d wanted to take a few days with Elizabeth before her classes started. He knew that she and Gia had been saving for a vacation for that week all summer, and Jason had planned to surprise them both with a week on the island. He could have gone to Puerto Rico to do some business, giving them time alone.

But Carly had come home, and none of them had left. Gia Campbell would never be his favorite person, but she’d proved to be the kind of loyal and devoted friend Carly had always claimed to be, and she’d stayed home with Elizabeth.

“Jason?” Max asked again with raised brows. “You want me to get rid of her?”

He sighed.  “No.” Jason waved his hand. “Let her in.”

He’d tell her in person what he was planning to do. Maybe the shock of it—

But then Carly came in, tears stained her cheek, her hands were trembling. “I can’t—I can’t do it.”

“Okay.” Jason got to his feet and steered her to one of the chairs in front of the desk. “Can’t do what?”

“I can’t do what he asked. I can’t. I’m so mad at you, Jase. So angry. But not that angry. I’m not. I can’t ever be that angry.”

With a sinking feeling, Jason sat in the chair next to her. He’d been right. Someone had orchestrated this. “Who asked what? Let’s…start at the beginning.”

“Elizabeth was right. I loved that car.” Carly’s lip trembled, but she swallowed hard. “I was just…I was driving the cliff roads. You used to talk about your bike a-and I hated that stupid thing, but I loved taking those turns in that car. Sonny hated that car, but I loved it—”

She pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. “I don’t—I don’t remember the accident. Just—there were bright lights. And then pain. And then nothing. I don’t know if the car went into the water. God. I don’t know if I went into the water. I just—there was an accident, Jase.”

Bright lights. Maybe headlights. “What is the next thing you remember?”

“It’s hard…I feel like…” She bit her lip. “I think I was kept drugged. I don’t know. You know that feeling when you just drift? You can’t…you can’t wake up. You can’t open your eyes. You just…drift. You tell your body to move and it just ignores you.” She sucked in another shaky breath. “I don’t know how long that…that lasted. I just don’t. But um, when I was conscious—I thought I was in a hospital or something. A nurse told me—she told me I was in Canada. Toronto. But I think—”

“That was a lie,” Jason told her gently. “The PCPD looked in all the hospitals in the region. Sonny and I did, too. And then we looked a second time when you came home. No one with your description was admitted and then wasn’t accounted for.”

“Okay. Okay. Um, she told me there was an accident. That I had been in a coma for a while or something. It was…I woke up two weeks before that night. I didn’t stay away the whole time, Jason, I wouldn’t do that to Michael.”

“I didn’t think so, either.” Jason hesitated. “I thought you might have…that you might have faked the accident, but not for so long. I thought whoever helped you kept you—”

Carly closed her eyes. “Yeah, I guess…I guess I haven’t given you a reason not to…think that. The shit I’ve pulled, Jase…I’m surprised your hair isn’t white.”

She dragged her hands through her hair. “Okay. Okay. So, then this guy comes in and he’s got this—he’s got these pictures. And this crap from the court. It’s AJ and Michael. And he’s telling me that AJ has my son. That Michael is living there. That no one misses me. And I’m like, that’s bullshit. I told him it was bullshit, Jase.”

“Carly—”

“But he showed me the court records and photos from the Fourth of July, and you’re—you’re with AJ. And Michael is with them. And I was so angry—and then pictures of you and that stupid twit—” She closed her eyes. “Pictures of everyone laughing. Smiling. Like I didn’t matter.”

“Carly—”

“I get it. I mean, I kind of get it. I understand mostly. It was months, right? April, May, June—July. Of course, life moved on. But it didn’t for me—” Carly pressed a hand to her chest. “I wasn’t dead. And I didn’t—I didn’t know it was faked. I just thought no one was looking for me—”

“A guy comes in with all this information and you didn’t think someone faked your death?” Jason asked skeptically. “Carly—”

“You know I don’t think,” Carly snapped. “So, I kept telling him it was bullshit and as soon as I got out of the hospital, I’d prove it to him. You were my best friend and you loved Michael. You would never do that to me.”

“Carly—”

“So, he told me that that was the plan. That when I went home, I should see how much people missed me. And—and I could go home. But there was a deal. There was a catch—”

“You couldn’t tell me anything.” Jason leaned back in his chair. “It was a test, wasn’t it, Carly? If I had given you Michael right away, you’d have told me everything.”

“B-but you wouldn’t.” Carly’s hands fisted. “You refused. A-And I was so angry. And when I get angry, I just—I react. I tried to—I used Michael the way you hate. I knew you’d say no. But it was the last thing I knew to do. Nothing else was working.”

“And when I refused, what did this man ask you to do?” Jason said, but he had a feeling he already knew.

“He—he asked me if I wanted revenge.” Tears slid down Carly’s face. “And I did. I did. Until he told me what he wanted me to do. I agreed, but I was scared, Jase—I never would have—”

“What did he ask you to do?” Jason repeated, getting to his feet. “Carly—”

“There’s—he wanted me to get you to come to a warehouse tonight.” Carly also stood. “But I wasn’t gonna be there. He said he just wanted to talk to you away from Sonny, but I knew what he was asking. I never—I couldn’t.”

“Tonight.” Jason hissed under his breath. “When did he ask you this?”

“A few—a few days ago. I was still so mad. I didn’t want to do it, but I thought I would just ignore it all, but then he called me today and told me that he knew I hadn’t come to see you yet. He was watching me—watching you—”

Her eyes filled with tears. “So, I had to come to you. But I didn’t know what to do. How to deal with it. But—I wanted to know. I wanted to know what Elizabeth knew about AJ and Michael. She’s right. She doesn’t care enough to bullshit me. So, I get it now. I still hate what you did, Jase, but I get it. And I’m sorry, but—”

Jason held up a hand to cut off her rambling apologies. “Stop. When is this ambush? Because that’s what it is, Carly. You agreed to lure me into an ambush.”

“I wouldn’t do that!” Carly cried. “Except. Yeah. I did. But to stall for time. I didn’t—Tonight. At nine. At Pier 52. Jason—”

“Just stop.” Jason took a deep breath. It was almost four o’clock. They had time…time to set up something. A trap, maybe. To get at the bottom of all of this. “Did the man ever introduce himself?”

“No, but I know who he is. I’ve seen his face in the paper and his wife has come to my club. Mickey Roscoe.”

“Roscoe,” Jason repeated. He had to be working with someone. Could Nico and Roscoe have started to work together? They didn’t have evidence of that, but— “Okay. You can go. You’ve done your part, Carly. Go.” He hesitated. “Go talk to Bobbie. Tell her that you’ve told me everything, and that I’m satisfied. Tell her you were kidnapped. I’m sorry this happened to you, Carly, but damn it—” He closed his eyes. “Go talk to your mother.”

“I’m sorry, Jase—”

“Yeah, me, too. Now go. I’ve got things to do.”

She left with more tears on her cheeks, but he couldn’t spare time to think about that. He knew what had happened during those five months, but why was Roscoe’s first plan to take Jason out? What did that serve?

He strode down the hall to Sonny’s office, pushing the door open to find Sonny meeting with Benny. “We’ve got a problem.”

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Courtney returned from her break with a pensive look on her face and made a beeline for Elizabeth counting receipts behind the counter. “Hey. Have you talked to Jason today?”

“Not since he dropped me off. And he hasn’t called–” Elizabeth reached into her purse for her phone and cursed. “I left it at Jake’s. Damn it.” She looked at Courtney. “Why?”

“AJ just called. His lawyer said that Alexis Davis called him and canceled the meeting for tonight. He tried to call Jason, but—”

“It’s already five—” Elizabeth frowned. “They were supposed to meet in an hour—why would Jason—” She bit her lip. “Maybe something came up at the warehouse.” And wasn’t that a comforting thought? Why had she forgotten her phone today of all days?

She picked up the phone behind Kelly’s counter and dialed Jason’s cell. It went straight to voicemail. That did not make her feel better. She tried Sonny’s number. Nothing.

She furrowed her brow. What was Alexis’s office number? Had they been arrested? Should she call the PCPD to find out? Damn it.

“Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth met Courtney’s worried gaze and took a deep breath. “This is something that happens sometimes,” she said softly. More to herself than to her friend. “Things come up. A-and I can’t know about it until it’s okay. So, they’re not answering their phones. I just—I have to wait. Someone will tell me something soon. It’s how it works.”

“You okay?”

“Yeah.” Elizabeth cleared her throat. “There’s no reason to panic. This just happens sometimes. Jason had to go out of town once really unexpectedly, and he couldn’t tell me. I kind of freaked out a bit, and I felt stupid asking Sonny about it. So…this is fine. I’ll just…wait it out.”

Even as all her nerve ending were standing up and screaming that Jason and Sonny were never out of touch at the same time.

“I could cover for you if you want to go to the warehouse? Or to Jake’s to get your phone.”

Elizabeth hesitated, considered it, but ultimately shook her head. “No. No, it’s fine. Jason will probably stop by before closing and let me know what’s up.”

And if she went to the warehouse or to get her phone…it would be admitting something might be wrong. And she wasn’t ready to do that.