There’s an albatross around your neck
All the things you’ve said
And the things you’ve done
Can you carry it with no regrets
Can you stand the person you’ve become
– The Weight of Living, Part 1, Bastille
Friday, October 20 , 2006
General Hospital: Nurse’s Station
Elizabeth Spencer glanced up as Kelly Lee tapped her fingers on the counter in front of her. “Hey, Kelly.”
“Hey, babe.” The obstetrician joined her inside the hub and reached for a chart. “Ah, I hadn’t heard from you since we confirmed your condition. Regarding that test. Have you decided not to take it?”
“Oh.” Elizabeth flushed and looked down at the charts. “No, it’s not…I decided to have it at Mercy.” She bit her lip. “It’s not personal, Kelly. It’s just…his family works here. I’m afraid if his name comes across on a record, they’d look into it, and it’d be out before I knew how to deal with it.”
Before she could tell Jason and see his reaction face to face.
“No sweat.” Kelly set the chart down. “But, hey, let me know if there’s anything I can do.” She touched Elizabeth’s elbow. “You just say the word and we will totally replace the tequila with some ice cream.”
“Thanks, Kel.” The beeper at her waist vibrated and emitted a sound. Elizabeth glanced down, frowning. “I’m being paged to the conference room.”
When she opened the door to the conference room, a chill slid down her spine. Epiphany Johnson sat there with an annoyed look on her face—but next to her, Ric Lansing with a smirk.
“Um, what can I do for you guys?” Elizabeth asked, stepping over the threshold.
“You’d better close the door, Elizabeth.” Ric leaned back in his chair. ‘You don’t want others to overhear.”
“Shut up,” Epiphany shot back. “You’re here as a courtesy. I do not have to allow you to harass my nurse on my watch. Elizabeth, before we start this, I think you should call a lawyer.”
Elizabeth shut the door and leaned against it. “I—I don’t think….why do I need a lawyer?”
She didn’t even have a lawyer.
“Elizabeth, the board has voted to suspend you indefinitely without pay,” Epiphany said bluntly. “The DA here has informed them you’re under suspicion for theft and distribution of narcotics.”
Elizabeth just stared at her. Those words—they made sense. But they couldn’t. Because how was any of this possible? “I—” Blindly, she reached out for the chair and dragged it out so she could sit before her knees gave out.
“I fought it, honey, but they weren’t interested.” Epiphany leaned forward. “Call a lawyer—”
“Elizabeth can trust me to watch out for her interests,” Ric said coolly. “While the DA’s office is pursuing the charges, Nurse Johnson, I am not a vindictive man. I believe Elizabeth made a mistake. I’d like to make it go away.”
“I’ll bet you do.” Epiphany rose to her feet. “You don’t say a word to this scum, Elizabeth. You get yourself a lawyer and keep your mouth shut.”
“It’s time for you to leave, Nurse Johnson,” Ric said. “Elizabeth and I will discuss her options.”
“It’s all right,” Elizabeth told her supervisor while looking at Ric. “I can handle this.”
“Ain’t right,” Epiphany muttered as she made her way out of the room. “Going after a woman like this.”
“Put your cards on the table, Ric.” Elizabeth took a deep breath, hoping her face looked as stoic as she intended. She was a quivering mess of jelly inside, but Ric Lansing would not prey on her again.
“Your husband is in a rehab center recovering from an addiction to Oxycotin,” Ric said, flipping through a file. “We served a search warrant on your home this morning—”
“You did what?” Elizabeth cut in, stunned. “How—why wasn’t I notified?”
“I’m not required to do so.” Ric set the paper aside. “We found a stash of pills in the cookie jar. Despite the fact your husband has been gone for some time.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes. “I—I thought I found them all—” How could he have left that in her home, the sanctuary she shared with her son?
“The pills have been traced back to General Hospital, where a rash of thefts have occurred recently. On your floor, during your shifts.”
Her heart began to race. This wasn’t Ric playing around. The PCPD had searched her home, had had her suspended from her job. Without pay. Those words began to sank in. “I didn’t—”
“Elizabeth, no one wants to see a single mother go down for this. I want to make this go away for you.” Ric leaned forward. “If you can help me, I can help you.”
“There’s always a price isn’t there?” she murmured. She swiped at her eyes. “You don’t want to help me. You started this. You came at me because there’s something you want from me. What is it?”
“I’m empaneling an investigative grand jury to bring RICO charges against Jason Morgan,” Ric said simply. “You testify truthfully in front of that panel? This goes away.”
Elizabeth folded her trembling hands in her lap. “Are you kidding me? I don’t know anything—”
“You don’t even know what you don’t know.” Ric turned a page in his file. “You’ve been in and out of Jason’s life for many years, Elizabeth. More than anyone else, I’m aware of the hold he has over you.”
“But now I’m asking you to make a choice. Do the right thing. Save yourself for once. Save your career, your life with your son.” Ric leaned forward. “You wasted so much time running after Lucky and Zander, after Jason, trying to save them. You sacrificed yourself for them. What have they ever done in return?”
“Are you insane? What about what you’ve done to me? What you’re doing now?” Elizabeth started to shove the chair back, but he held out a hand.
“I’m giving you a choice, Elizabeth,” Ric repeated. “It’s Jason or your freedom. You will be convicted for this. What happens to your son if you go to jail? Audrey’s in her seventies, hardly able to care full-time for a toddler. He might end up in Lucky’s custody. A drug addict for a stepfather?” He pursed his lips and leaned back. “I don’t know if I could stand back and let that happen. I might have to step in, petition that he enter the system—”
Her vision blurred and her heart felt like it was leaping into her throat. “You…you stay away from my son. How…” She closed her eyes. “You can’t do this to me.”
“I can, Elizabeth, and I will. I may not be able to work on cases involving my brother, but I will punish Jason—”
“Why?” she bit out, her voice sounding tinny to her ears. Distant. “Because Sonny chose him?” She raised her eyes to his. “Or because of me?”
“Because he’s a criminal,” her ex-husband said tightly. He rose to his feet. “You have a week to consider your choice. Testify against Jason or you’ll go to jail yourself.”
General Hospital: Parking Lot
Elizabeth’s hand slipped as she tried to slip her key into the lock. God. What was she going to do? She couldn’t testify against Jason. She couldn’t. He was…it was Jason.
But she couldn’t lose her baby. Her career. Her freedom.
She had to talk to Jason.
The phone was in her hand before she could remember removing it from her bag, but she stopped before she could dial.
What if Ric had her phone bugged? What if he’d put a GPS on her car? Was he even required by law to inform her? She couldn’t do that, get Jason swept up in this mess that way.
Robin Scorpio’s soft voice broke through the haze of terror and Elizabeth focused on her dark-haired friend. “Robin. Thank God. Thank God. I—” She closed her eyes. “I need you to do me a huge favor and not to ask a lot of questions.”
“Of course.” Robin stepped forward. “Honey, what’s going on?”
“I—I need your car. And your phone.” She dug her keys out. “Here. Can we trade? Just for tonight.”
“Um…” Robin blinked and looked down. “I mean, it’s not a problem. But what’s going on?” Her eyes were soft with concern. “Elizabeth—”
“I need to make sure that no one follows me. Or knows who I’m calling.” Elizabeth shoved her hair out of her face. “I-I need to talk to Jason. I might have to meet with him. I can’t…no one can know.”
“Oh.” Robin held out her keys and phone. “Are you in trouble? Is he? Is there anything else I can do?”
Elizabeth accepted them gratefully and traded her own. “Yes. But I can fix it. I think I can fix it. I have to fix it.”
“Elizabeth, let me drive you somewhere. In my car. I’m…you don’t look good.” Robin held out a hand. “Please. Come with me. We’ll have dinner with Patrick and we’ll work this out—”
“No, I can’t involve you more than this. I wouldn’t ask but I just…I don’t know…” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “Okay, okay. I have to chill out. I just…I need to talk to Jason. He’ll make this go away.”
Robin still looked unconvinced but reluctantly pointed out her own car, . “Elizabeth, promise me, when you can tell me what’s happening, that you’ll tell me.”
“I…yes.” Elizabeth nodded. “Yes, I can do that.”
Once inside Robin’s car, she took out the phone and dialed Jason’s number. Let him pick up, let him pick up.
“Robin? What’s up?”
“Thank God, you’re there. It’s Elizabeth.”
His voice shifted to worry. “Elizabeth? What’s wrong? Why do you have Robin’s phone? Are you all right?”
“I—I didn’t want anyone to know I was calling you. I have to meet with you. Please. I promise it’s an emergency.” The first tear slid down her cheek. “God, this is all falling apart and I don’t know what to do. I just made Robin trade me her car and her phone so no one would know and that’s all I know to do. I don’t know if I can make this go away.”
“Hey, hey…” Jason paused. “Give me one second.” She heard mumbling in the background. Oh, God, what if Sam was there? She squeezed her eyes shut. “Sorry, Carly’s here. I had to leave the room. Listen, are you…are you okay to drive? Can you come here?”
“No, no, he might be watching your building. If he finds out I contacted you—”
“Vista Point. We-we can go there right? It’s out of the way. He’ll never think of it.”
“Elizabeth, what’s going on?”
“I-I can’t. I mean, over the phone.”
“Okay. Right. I can be there in a half hour. Elizabeth, are you sure you’re okay to drive?”
“Yes. I can be. I have to be. I just…” She took a deep breath. He had enough crazy people in his life. “I’ll be fine. I just…I’ll be fine as soon as I see you.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Jason emerged from the kitchen and scowled, finding Carly still there. “I told you to go away.”
“Please,” his friend snorted. “You mentioned two of my least favorite people on the phone. If you think I’m—” She stopped. “Jason, what’s wrong? Is…Elizabeth okay?”
Jason reached for his keys. “No, but I’m going to find out what’s going on. I think someone’s threatening her. She had Robin’s phone, she’s using her car. Which means she’s scared to be her in own.” He tugged out his phone and sent a quick message to Milo to track Elizabeth’s car, to make sure if someone was tailing Elizabeth, Robin wasn’t in any danger either.
“It’s not like her to overreact,” Carly followed him out the door and onto the elevator. “I mean, she’s a pain in my ass, but not as much as she used to be. Do you think it’s Lucky bothering her?”
Jason hesitated, because that had been his first worry. But how could Lucky simultaneously be tailing her car, monitoring her phone, and watching his building? “I don’t think so.”
The elevator opened to the parking garage. “All right, well let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Jason frowned at her, and she scowled. “Shut your face and just go.”
He pulled his bike into a parking spot next to a red sedan he recognized as Robin’s. She must have broken all the speed limits to get here before him, and that all but terrified him. Elizabeth knew better than to take risks like that when she was pregnant.
Pregnant. God. What if something had happened to the baby?
Elizabeth was pacing on the upper landing of the point, where the cliffs opened up over the Port Charles skyline out to the harbor. Her fingers were twisted together, her movement jerky. Tears stained her face.
“Oh, thank God.” She rushed towards him but drew up short just before reaching him, as if she’d been out to embrace him in relief. “God, Jason. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to do.”
“Okay.” He put a hand on her elbow and drew her closer. “Just take a deep breath. Someone’s threatening you? Is it Lucky?”
“No, no.” She shook her head, her loose hair flying around her face in the October wind. “No, I—” She took that deep breath. “Okay. Okay, I can do this. I was paged to the conference room at work. Epiphany and Ric were there.”
Ric. That slimy piece of shit. He should have known. “What did he do to you? What did he say?”
“I’ve been suspended indefinitely without pay,” Elizabeth said, her words tripping over each other. “The board found out the DA is investigating me for stealing pills and giving them to Lucky, I think. They—they searched my apartment this morning. I-I didn’t even know until Ric told me, but Lucky had one more stash, and they traced it to GH.”
Would those two assholes never stop ruining her life? “Okay. Do you need a lawyer? I can get Diane—”
“Ric said he’d drop the charges if I testified against you in a grand jury he’s putting together.” The words flew out of her mouth so fast he nearly missed them. Christ. This is what that little animal was holding over her?
“Elizabeth, I don’t know what you could testify about—” And then he stopped. “Did he ask you about anything specific?”
“No, no, and I don’t even know what I could tell him.” Her face was sheet white. “Not that I would. I mean, Jason, I can’t testify. But what if I refuse, and he does that subpoena thing? I’ll have to lie, and I don’t even know what he wants from me—”
“Just…” He placed his hands on her shoulders. “Okay. Let’s just take a minute, okay? He told you if you testified against me, these other charges go away?”
“Yes. He told me if I don’t, he’ll make sure I get convicted, then he’ll petition to send Cameron into foster care. Jason, I can’t—my baby.” She pressed her lips together. “I don’t know what to do.”
“You have to testify.” His mouth was dry. “Elizabeth, I can’t ask you take a chance with your freedom, with your son—”
“Jason, I can’t testify against you.” She stepped towards him, her hand slid over her still flat abdomen. “What, I should raise my child to know I allowed myself to be blackmailed? What if this baby is yours? What if you go to jail?”
His fingers tightened around her shoulders before they slid away. “I’ll make sure you have everything you need—”
“There has to be another way,” Elizabeth said. “I mean, Jason, why do you think I panicked and freaked Robin out? I came to you so we could find a way out of this without Ric knowing. I was scared he’d see me coming to the penthouse, or if he could search my place, I thought maybe he could bug my cell phone. I-I don’t know how any of that works.”
“Elizabeth, I can’t let you protect me. Not again. You’ve already risked yourself enough,” he said, remembering the file she’d shredded. “Tell Ric you’ll take the deal.”
“No,” she said, some of the panic fading from her expression. “No. I can’t…I won’t be responsible for that. There has to be away to make sure he can’t force me to testify. If I can’t testify, he won’t bring those charges against me, right? He already told me he’s not really interested in that.”
One day, Jason was going to make that psycho pay for the pain he’d inflicted on the people he cared for, particularly Elizabeth and Carly.
Sonny and Carly.
An idea flickered in the back of his head. A crazy idea. He swallowed. “I might—I have to check with Diane to see if it would work. Okay? How long did Ric tell you had?”
“A week.” She drew closer to him. “What? You know something.”
“It’s…an idea, but I have to check with her. Can give you me a day? I have to make sure all our bases are covered.” Without thinking, he stroked her cheek, and she turned into his touch. “I will make this go away, Elizabeth. No matter what I have to do.”
“Hey, you don’t want me sacrificing myself to protect you?” She arched a brow. “I don’t intend for you to sacrifice yourself for me, either.”
He nodded. “I’ll call a guy. I’ll have a burner phone sent to you at your apartment. And a temporary car so Ric can’t trace your movements. Give Robin back her stuff.”
Jason took her hand and led her back to the parking lot. “Ah, when do you hear back about the paternity test?”
“Next Friday.” She closed her eyes. “The same day I have to tell Ric.”
“Okay.” He stopped next to Robin’s car. “Are…everything else is okay?”
“Other than my blood pressure today? It’s fine.” She touched her belly. “I should—pick up Cameron. Drop Robin’s car off so he doesn’t know I had it, and then go pick him up. I can do this.”
He watched her drive away before pulling out his phone. Diane was on speed dial and picked up on the second ring.
“Hello, hello. I’m ready to earn my fabulous retainer.”
“Diane, I have a question about spousal privilege.”