Written in 35 minutes.
Though she had known Jason for several years before they both ended up working at the same place, the garage held bittersweet memories. She’d taken the job while pregnant with Cameron, had gone into labor while working behind the desk, and had very nearly given birth there.
Cameron was her impatient baby who had to do everything as soon as he thought about it, so Elizabeth was unsurprised her first child had actually been born in the hospital parking lot. Jason and one of the other workers had driven her to the hospital, Max Giambetti driving like a lunatic while Jason was holding her hand in the back. The startled thrill when she’d given birth to a son. She’d never even bothered with a gender report from her doctor—Devane women had girls.
And then she and Jason had started to flirt while working together, gradually building themselves up to a date. And then the best year of her life. Elizabeth had really thought it was her turn to be happy.
Until Jason had brought the garage and suggested they move into the rooms above. Together. As a family.
She still hadn’t told him all her deep, dark secrets and Jason was talking about a future? Elizabeth had freaked out, split, and gone to a party with her cousin.
The one time she had tried to bond with her hostile family member and it had shattered her life.
With the passage of time and the maturity one gathered parenting two rambunctious boys, Elizabeth could see now that she’d missed the signals—that Jason had always clearly intended a future for them, and for him, moving into together had likely been a compromise. He probably would have rather proposed and this had been a middle ground.
She pulled into the parking lot and bit her lip. She could do this. She needed to do this. Jason had to have all the facts if Elizabeth expected him to take on Jake—and possibly Cameron—if the worst happened. She hoped Jason would keep her boys together. He’d loved Cameron once.
And now that she knew he hadn’t rejected Jake at all—it seemed like less of a far-fetched fantasy.
She got out of her car and walked up the sidewalk to the concrete building, and pulled open the door.
The interior looked the same as it had the day she’d fled almost eight years earlier, down to the dingy desk in front of the manager’s office. There was a larger computer screen now, and a young man with lanky brown hair tucked under a backwards black ball cap, and eyes that seemed to bulge slightly.
“Oh!” He jumped, startled. “Oh. Profound apologies, ma’am. I was—” They both looked at the computer screen where he’d clearly been playing a video game. “I was multi-tasking. Can I help you? Interest you in an oil change?”
“No. I was wondering if Jason Morgan was around—he said—”
“You must be Elizabeth.” He stood with a flourish and bowed. “Greetings. I am Damien Spinelli, Jackal of Cyberspace and Stone Cold is my Yoda. Everyone calls me Spinelli.”
Elizabeth furrowed her brow. “Stone Cold—is that—is that Jason?”
“But of course. He said to bring you right back as soon as you arrived.” Spinelli gestured for her to come behind the desk and rushed in front of her to push open the door to the office. “Stone Cold, your VIP guest hsa arrived—”
She saw Jason wince from behind the desk. “Spinelli—”
“I have brought her back forthwith just as instructed—”
Jason pushed himself to his feet, crossed the room, took Spinelli by the shoulder and gently directed him back out. “Thank you. Go.” He closed the door and shook his head. “Sorry. He…gets carried away.”
“He seems nice.” Elizabeth bit her lip, gripped the strap of her purse at her shoulder. “So. Hey.”
“Hey.” He cleared his throat, dragged his hand through hair, then gestured at the rickety wooden chair in front of his desk. “Um, do you want to sit—”
“You should probably be the one sitting,” Elizabeth admitted. She frowned down at the chair. “Is that the same chair that’s been here since Pete owned this place?”
“Yeah, I didn’t see the point—” Jason cleared his throat again. “It’s fine. I don’t get a lot of visitors.”
“Okay.” Elizabeth reached into her purse—really a tote bag—and drew out a thin photo album. “I, um, thought you might want—I keep an album of the boys. Every year, I add another page with the important—I just—”
Jason took it, his fingers gripping the bright blue fabric tightly. “Yeah. Yeah. We should talk about—”
“There’s a lot I have to talk to you about before we get to—” Elizabeth sat down and Jason returned to his desk. “I’m not sure where to start. You know…there are things I never told you. Why I came to live with Anna, why I was…” She wiggled her fingers. “Insane before I got pregnant.”
“But I don’t know—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “And maybe I should start there because it’s kind of why it all went off the rails. I just…” She laughed weakly. “Because it doesn’t even start when I was fifteen.”
“Elizabeth.” Jason met her eyes. “I just want you to talk to me. Wherever you start is fine.”
“Okay.” Elizabeth hesitated, thinking about it for a minute. “You know that my mother died when I was born, and that my father didn’t really like my aunt. I grew up on the other side of Port Charles. I didn’t know there were reasons Anna and my dad didn’t talk. Until I was twelve, and I tried to kill myself.”
Jason swallowed hard. “At… twelve.”
“Yeah, I…a few months before I turned twelve, things started…to change. I started to think I was insane. Because I could…I could see colors around people.” Elizabeth’s eyes darted away. “And I thought I could see what people were feeling. Not their thoughts, but their feelings. I knew when my dad was angry, because the world around him just vibrated red—”
“Are—” Jason swallowed. “You saw colors and emotions.” He was looking at her when she dared to meet his eyes again. “Okay.”
“And my dad thought I was crazy. He started sending me to doctors, and they kept giving me these medications, and it made it worse because I could see that they thought I was crazy, and it was getting worse anyway, because I started to see the colors and emotions everywhere, and they were screaming at me all the time—I was having nightmares—” Elizabeth squeezed her eyes shut. “So I took a bunch of the medications.”
“My dad called my aunt, and it turns out Dad knew I wasn’t crazy.” Her voice faltered. “Because he knew about my mom. My mom, my aunts—every female in my family for generations—and probably some of the men, but I’m the first one to have boys in like sixty years, so it’s harder to be sure—”
“Anna has…she can see emotions, too?” Jason said hesitantly. He cleared his throat. “Sorry. I don’t mean to sound—I’m just…I’m trying to process…”
“No, we all have abilities, but they manifest in different ways.” She licked her lips. “Apparently, I’m pretty rare. I’m an empath. And…I can do some healing.”
“Healing,” Jason repeated.
“Yeah…” Elizabeth got to her feet and rounded the desk. She held out her hand and he hesitantly stood, giving her his hand. She ran her fingertips over the calluses of his fingers and found what she was looking for. A cut. She concentrated, pressed the tip of her index finger to it, and….
It was gone.
Jason stared down at his hand and nodded. “Okay. All right. So you—you’re…” He squinted at her, trying to figure out what to say next.
“We don’t really like the term witch, but it’s okay if you want to use it. Um, so Anna came to see me in the hospital, and for three years, she tried to convince my father to let me live with her. He finally agreed when I was fifteen. It didn’t matter. Anna didn’t know how to help me. Empaths are rare, like I said. We have to figure out how to block our powers, and I just—I couldn’t.”
“I tried to drown them out. Anyway I could. And drinking helped better than anything else.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “And, yeah, I slept around. Because sometimes that helped. Anna thought I was going nowhere. She threatened to throw me out a lot, and then she finally did. And Robin hated me because I could heal people—”
“Hey—” He tightened his hand around hers, letting the other drift through her hair. “You don’t have to tell me all of this—”
“I do, because it’s all part of it. I got pregnant and I was kind of terrified. I stopped everything, and I started trying to figure out how to do this on my own. I cleaned up my life, but no one believed I could. Until you.” She looked at him, tears sliding down her cheeks. “You believed in me.”
“Then—” He hesitated. “Why did you leave that day—Why—”
“Because it was too much. I went to that stupid party, and—” Elizabeth tried to pull her hand back. “And I was drinking. Robin’s boyfriend—he gave me a drink. A—and the next thing I rememeber…I was laying on my back, and he was on top of me—”
Her voice broke and she turned. “When it was over, he laughed at me, and poured more of his drink on me. He said to go ahead and tell Robin. No one would ever believe me because she made sure everyone knew I was a whore.”
“Elizabeth—” Jason’s voice was raspy, strained. “Elizabeth—”
“I thought—I thought Robin can see things. That’s her power. She can see truth. I knew she’d have to believe me, even if she hated me.” She pressed her hands to her face. “So I tried to put myself together. I tried to find her, but he was already there. And she already—she was already crying and screaming at him. He told her I had seduced him. That it had been my idea, and she believed him. And when she looked at me, I could—I knew she was too hurt, too angry to let the truth—she couldn’t see.”
He put an hand on her shoulder gently, turned her back to face him. “So when you came to see me—”
“Our powers—they’re not always reliable, you know.” Elizabeth inhaled a sharp breath. “Our own emotions—they can warp what we see. I—I didn’t know that then. So when I got to your place, Robin was already there. And she was already telling her what she thought was true—and I could see you—and I don’t know if it was just her overlapping onto you or just me seeing what I thought—” She bit her lip. “So I fled. I wanted to go to tell my aunt. I thought—I thought she’d help me figure it out but that was—”
She was sobbing now, her breath hitching. “But Anna had Cameron and she told me she wouldn’t give him back to me. That I was going to ruin him like I ruined myself and she wouldn’t let it happen—I managed to get him out of the house—and so I ran. I ran from this place.”
Jason’s breath was shaky as he exhaled, his eyes rimmed with red. “I don’t—I don’t know what to say to you. To know you were going through that—and then felt like I had rejected not just you but our son—” He cupped her cheek, his thumb brushing away some of her tears. “Why would you ever come back to this place?”
“Because you’re all the family my boys have,” Elizabeth managed. “And here’s a good change that a stupid family curse that we thought was broken—that I might die.”