Chapter Thirty-One

Just give me a reason just a little bit’s enough
Just a second we’re not broken just bent and we can learn to love again
It’s in the stars, it’s been written in the scars on our hearts
That we’re not broken just bent and we can learn to love again

Just Give Me a Reason, P!nk & Nate Ruess


Wednesday, October 9, 2002

 General Hospital: Hospital Room

The next time Sonny fought his way to the surface, sunlight was dimly shining between the cracks in the shades of his hospital room. He blinked, turned his head, and found Jason sitting at his side.

Waiting.

Sonny coughed. Cleared his throat. “You look like hell,” he said with a rasp. Jason’s clothes were wrinkled as if they’d been slept in, his eyes shadowed, the growth of a day-old stubble lining his cheeks, hair mussed. “You…you came back.”

“When I heard about the shooting.” Jason flicked his eyes to the doorway as if to make sure it was closed. “Max took out the shooter before he passed out, and some of his guys got the rest of the team. Lenny and Roscoe were with them.”

Sonny nodded, though the movement pained him. “Yeah. Yeah, I thought—I thought I saw him in the window of the car—”

“Lenny didn’t give up Nico, and Roscoe was shot in the crossfire.” Jason’s continued, his tone clipped. “We took Nico in, but he claims he doesn’t know who Roscoe was working for. He tried to cut a deal. He doesn’t have anything to give us.”

“Okay—”

“I’ll look into it, but we don’t have anything that convinces me the Ruiz family is interested in actively going after you right now.” Jason got to his feet. “The fires are out. The men are settled. It’ll hold until you get out.”

Sonny frowned at him. “Wait. You came back,” he repeated. “How did it—”

Jason turned back to him at the door. “How did it go?” he finished. “What do you think, Sonny? Taggert and Capelli nearly arrested Elizabeth last night. Monica and Emily attacked her, then me. Alexis quit—she sent over someone else from her practice, she’s so fed up with us. I’ve got a mountain of paperwork to get myself declared legally alive. I have to go talk to Michael and hope he understands it, and you—” He stopped the uncharacteristic rush of the words.

“Elizabeth—” Sonny winced as he shifted. Tried to sit up.

“You knew what she means to me. You knew before I did,” Jason said quietly. He looked away. “And you knew how hard this last year has been. You let her believe I was dead.”

“I—” Sonny tried to defend himself, but the words died in his throat.

He knew that expression. He’d seen it before.

“I trusted you with my life. I trusted you with hers.” Jason shook his head, his hand on the door knob. “I don’t know—I don’t know, Sonny. I don’t even know if she’s going to be—So, don’t ask me how it went. You blew up my life, and I’m not even sure you regret it.”

And with that, Jason was gone.

Brownstone: Living Room

The situation didn’t feel any clearer eight hours after Elizabeth had come in from the front step. She had hoped she might wake up with some distance and time—and have the answers.

“I don’t even know what I’m trying to figure out,” Elizabeth muttered as she pushed her toast around her plate. “What’s really changed?”

“Nothing,” Gia admitted as she sipped her coffee. She set it down, pursed her lips. “You just know more now. You always knew Sonny was selfish. Now you know how far he’s willing to go if he thinks he’s right. You always knew Jason was loyal to Sonny. Now you know what he’s willing to sacrifice. You knew you loved Jason. Now you know how it would feel to lose him.”

“Thanks,” Elizabeth said dryly, slumping in her chair. “But none of that tells me anything.”

“Well, what are you trying to figure out?” Gia huffed. “You didn’t break up with Jason last night. You just wanted time. What’s time going to do?”

“I thought you were on my side—”

“I am. I just…” Gia paused. “I just want you to define your terms. And if you don’t know, then fine. But don’t just…wander around here feeling sorry for yourself.”

“You were nicer last night.” Elizabeth shoved herself to her feet, but her voice lacked any irritation. “I don’t think time and space are going to solve anything,” she admitted as she crossed to the bay window overlooking Elm Street. “You’re right. Nothing’s changed. I am in love with Jason, and his loyalty to Sonny and Carly…is not news to me.”

Gia hesitated. “I told you last night to take your time with this, and I meant that, Elizabeth. You don’t have to do a damn thing you don’t want to do. I just…I don’t know…I keep remembering how much I pushed you last spring into being with him—”

“That’s not what you did.” She turned back to her best friend. “You pushed me to be honest with myself and not to be afraid. I made the decision to be with Jason. I’m not sorry I did. I guess I just—I know that this won’t be the last time I’m in this situation. As long as Jason works for Sonny—Sonny will have the power. And of course…”

“There’s still Carly.”

“Yeah. Whatever Carly told Jason that night, he went to the warehouse and nearly died. Instead of coming to pick me up, instead of dealing with Michael’s custody—he went there.” She chewed on her bottom lip. “And he let the lies continue after we found out. I know I’ll understand his reasons. I know that I’ll probably even agree with them.”

“But it doesn’t change what happened. What you went through.” Gia crossed the room to answer the knock at their door—and found Emily standing at the threshold.

“Hey.” Jason’s sister shifted her weight from one foot to the other and looked past Gia to find Elizabeth’s eyes. “I was hoping we could talk.”

“I guess.” Elizabeth shrugged.

“I have to get down to the office,” Gia said. “Alexis’s new partner is really bitchy about being punctual.” She grabbed her purse and let the two friends alone.

“I’m sorry,” Emily said as soon as Gia closed the door. “I am so sorry that I flipped out last night, that I blamed you at all, and I know my mother is sorry—I just had to think about it for five seconds and I knew you didn’t know—”

“I did, though,” Elizabeth said dully. She sank onto the sofa. “Not at first. But at the funeral—last week—I had just found out.”

“Yeah, but—” Emily joined her, curling her leg up underneath her body, twisting to face Elizabeth. “After it was all in motion. It’s not like you planned it with Sonny. Mom and I just—we just—we blanked.” Her eyes filled, and she shook her head impatiently. “I mean, it’s so stupid, you know? I’m so happy he’s alive, but I’m so angry at him. And God, at Sonny. It was his idea, wasn’t it? Jason said something about not knowing.”

Elizabeth hesitated, unsure how much Emily was supposed to know, and then decided it was ridiculous to pick and parse out her words.

So, she told Emily everything.

She told Emily everything she hadn’t said at the funeral. Everything she hadn’t said in letters or phone calls or emails. About Jason coming home, about being terrified to go near him. The trouble with Lucky. The catastrophic return of Carly and her suspicions Carly had been involved.

The terrifying weeks Jason had been missing—that horrifying week Elizabeth believed him to be dead—the scene at the safe house. The guilt trip.

Emily said nothing as Elizabeth poured her heart out. When Elizabeth was done, Emily took a deep breath. “I really don’t know who I’m angrier with. Sonny or my brother. You know, I knew he left town because of Carly all those years ago. When she turned up pregnant, I just knew it was related.”

“Em—”

“For Sonny to betray him with Carly that way, which sounds insane since she was married to my other brother…” Emily exhaled. “I don’t know how Jason could ever work for Sonny again. I don’t know how he’s supposed to trust him, now, you know?”

“I think that’s what weighs on me the most,” Elizabeth admitted. “I remember how…lost Jason looked. I know how much he defined himself by his job—especially during that time when he’d lost Michael, and his job was all he had. He didn’t know if he could do it. And faking his death without—” She leaned back against the sofa, closing her eyes. “I can’t stand how hard this must be for Jason.”

“It’s worse now,” Emily insisted. “Because Sonny didn’t just sleep with someone Jason was kind of—whatevering with. He destroyed Jason’s life. My family was devastated, and I don’t know that Jason is going to tell them the truth. I mean, I can if he lets me. But they were getting closer. I could hear it in my mother’s voice. Grandmother was so excited when Jason went to AJ’s chip ceremony. How does he get that trust back?” She huffed. “And then what he did to you—Christ, Liz, Sonny not only let you think Jason was injured and missing, he let you think he was dead. And now you’re telling me he drugged Jason, so he wouldn’t notice?”

“Johnny—he was at the safehouse, too—he told me that Jason asked for me.” Elizabeth’s voice thickened. “Every time he woke up. He made Sonny promise to get me. To tell me no soup—” Tears slid down her cheeks. “He needed me, Em. And I couldn’t be there because of Sonny.”

Emily slid over a cushion and wrapped her arms tightly around Elizabeth’s upper body. “That’s what you’re worried about, isn’t it?”

“What?” Elizabeth sniffled as she drew back. “What do you mean?”

“You told me you asked Jason for space to figure out what you were thinking. But you already know. You know what’s keeping you from him.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes. “I always understood that when it came to Jason’s job, there would be times when I wasn’t his first priority. I knew that. And I understand it. But…no, what I can’t accept is Sonny and Carly. The way they treat Jason like he’s their personal toy, like he only exists for them—I can’t.” She pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. “How do I tell Jason that? How do I tell him I don’t think I can do this? I can’t play second fiddle to Sonny and Carly.”

“You think Jason isn’t coming to that same conclusion right now?” Emily asked with a frown. “Liz—”

“You don’t understand. I tried to do this already. I tried to tell Jason that I couldn’t stand by while Carly destroyed everything, I just—I thought Sonny understood.” Her throat was so thick, so tight, she could barely force the words out. “I told Jason I couldn’t do it. And I caved. I let him back in. And it happened. And it happened because he’s blinded by Sonny and Carly.”

Emily waited a long moment before speaking. “Do you think he’s not going to understand?”

“No, I think he will. He understood about Carly. He just…” Elizabeth sighed. “He asked me to give him time to make it right. And I just—I thought about all the times I hadn’t been there for him, and I couldn’t stand it. I knew what would happen, Em. And I ignored it because I knew it was what Jason wanted. That’s what I do. I damn well knew I was unhappy with Lucky, but I let myself keep going with him because I thought that’s what Lucky needed. Why can’t I ever learn?”

“Maybe if you felt like you had someone to back you up with Lucky,” Emily said after a moment. “That’s why you and Gia found each other. Because Nikolas and I failed you.”

“Em—”

“Never mind.” Emily was quiet for a moment. “You don’t really have any choices here, Liz. You know your line in the sand. You can’t deal with Sonny and Carly. You should tell my brother that. What he does with that information—that’s on him.”

“It’s so selfish,” Elizabeth murmured. She reached for a tissue from the box on the coffee table and blew her nose. “Asking him to give up people who’ve been in his life—”

“People who take him for granted and destroy his life on a regular basis,” Emily said acidly. “Yeah, it’s a great loss. It’s not selfish, Liz. It’s not like Jason broke a date to be with them. Sonny faked Jason’s death because Carly refused to tell anyone the goddamn the truth and the whole thing blew to hell. You have every right to remove yourself from this situation if that’s what you need. Christ, in a year or two, you could have kids with my brother. If he’s not putting you first, how can you trust he’d put your family—”

“We’re a long way away from kids,” Elizabeth muttered, crumbling the tissue in her hands.

“Then fine. Don’t do it for the future. Do it for the now. You matter, Liz. Jason matters, too. You can’t control what he’ll do. All you can do is worry about you. Take what you need. I think it’s about time you did.”

AJ & Courtney’s House: Front Porch

 Jason wasn’t prepared for the bullet that shot into his arms as the front door opened and Michael all but launched himself into the air.

Behind him, AJ stood, his hands in his pockets and a half-smile. “Hey, Jase.”

Hey, Jase. As if Jason hadn’t disappeared a month ago. As if AJ hadn’t been one of the pallbearers who put a fake body into the ground. Jason sighed and let Michael’s feet touch the ground. “Hey.”

“I told you he wasn’t dead,” Michael said with a confident smile to his father. “Just like Mommy. I knew Uncle Jason would come back.”

“Yeah, lucky you were right this time.” AJ ruffled Michael’s blonde hair. “We’re the idiots, I guess. You know it’s not always like that.”

Michael shrugged. “It is in Port Charles. Can I go play on the swings?”

“Sure.” AJ waited until Michael had gone through the back door into the kitchen before turning back to Jason. “So. You’re not dead.”

“I’m not.” Jason squinted after Michael. “I’m—I’m sorry. I didn’t—I wouldn’t have done that to Michael—”

“Elizabeth came by last night.” AJ closed the door after Jason had stepped into the living room. “She gave us the cliff’s notes.” He hesitated. “Pretty rough on her, but I guess it’s not much better for you.”

“I’m not the one who had to lie to everyone,” Jason said with a mutter, not really sure why he was here. He could have arranged to see Michael another time—could have had someone else run interference.

But after seeing Sonny, after going through the pile of paperwork with his new lawyer—Jason wanted…he wanted to talk to someone.

And almost everyone else in his life wasn’t an option.

So here he was…with AJ. The older brother Jason had never intended to claim as such. A man Jason had once held so little respect for he’d claimed paternity of the man’s son. Had orchestrated AJ’s loss of custody on more than one occasion.

“You are the one who has to explain it,” AJ said. “You have people who care about you. I’ve already talked to Emily, so I know she’s pissed. Mom was at the hospital, trying to save Sonny’s life, and you know…I saw Liz last night.”

Jason’s jaw clenched, and he looked away. “Yeah, well. I should be going—”

“When I thought you were dead,” AJ said, “I didn’t want to take a drink.”

Jason squinted at him. “What? I don’t—”

“You were missing for two weeks. My wife was upset because Liz was upset. Mom and Dad were worried. Carly was home—the custody issue was on the table again.” He shook his head. “That’s usually the time I tell myself—one sip. Just one. To take the edge off. To take a break.”

“AJ—”

“But I didn’t. I thought well if the worst happens, my family will need me. And someone has to make sure Liz is okay. That’s something I can do. I can look out for her, because Sonny sure as fuck wasn’t doing it.” AJ exhaled slowly. “And I can be strong for everyone. I never once thought I could do that.”

Jason frowned at him. “I’m glad it worked out for you—” he said, irritated. AJ had apparently done better with Jason dead.

“Elizabeth asked me to be a pallbearer,” AJ interrupted. “Almost from the start, when she and Bobbie were planning things. She didn’t know how you’d feel about it, but she thought—she thought it would be a good idea. Because that’s what she was doing while you were dead, Jase. She was trying to do right by you.”

“I know—”

“I don’t think you do.” AJ tipped his head. “That night you canceled the meeting? When you didn’t show up? She waited in the diner for you for hours. Sonny never once called her, so she talked to Taggert. She just wanted some damn answers. And Sonny punished her for that. He lied to her. He turned her away.”

“I—”

“Even the day your body was found,” AJ said, using air quotes when he said the words your body, “Liz went to him at the Towers, and he refused to see her. Gia was so angry when she told us—but Liz didn’t say anything. Sonny wouldn’t tell her anything, and when he did, he lied.”

“I know—” Jason shifted from one foot to the other. “I know Sonny lied to her.”

“But that day at the memorial, before he finally came clean, she couldn’t keep herself together anymore.” AJ’s jaw tightened, and he looked away, his voice a bit raspier when he spoke again. “She started to sob at the idea of you being in the ground. She wanted you to be free. Even at that moment, Liz was putting you first. She sat with Sonny, she went with him that day because she thought he was finally reaching out to her. That they could grieve together.”

Jason closed his eyes. “And instead he was bringing her to the safe house,” he said more to himself than AJ.

“Where he asked her to lie some more.” AJ picked up a few of Michael’s toys and tossed them in the box near the television. “My point to all of this, Jase, is that I know you don’t really think of me as your brother. That’s fine. But I’m done pretending that I don’t still claim you. You’re my little brother. I was supposed to look out for you because that’s what older brothers do.”

“AJ—” Jason shook his head. “I don’t—” He exhaled slowly. “I know you’re my brother.”

“I never took care of you,” AJ repeated. “You always looked out for me. Because that’s who you are. You find something worthwhile in a person and then you’re loyal to them. You give. And you give. But you don’t know how to stop. You got in a car with me and got your head bashed in. And you gave your trust to Sonny, and what did you get for your troubles?”

“Look—”

“So, I’m going to be your big brother for the first time in my goddamn life and start looking out for you because it’s clear you don’t know how to put yourself first,” AJ told him, roughly. “Liz fell apart because of all of this. Because of her grief. Because of the lies. But every step of the way, she was putting someone else first. I know she’s struggling with this. Because she’s never going to ask you for what she really needs. She needs to be first. She deserves that.  If you can’t do that, you need to leave her the hell alone.”

“I do want—” Jason stopped abruptly. Nothing AJ was saying was a surprise. Of course, Elizabeth needed to be first in his life. She was. None of this had been his idea—

“I’ve got to get going,” he said instead. “I—” He shook his head. “Thanks. For taking care of Elizabeth. Of everyone.” He waited a moment. “Your son knows I’m his uncle. We are brothers. You don’t have to pretend.”

When he had left, AJ released a long breath. “Well, okay then.”

Kelly’s: Courtyard

 Jason hesitated when he turned the corner and saw Bobbie at one of the outside tables with Felicia Jones.  He started to step back, thinking this was probably not the best place to have this conversation and that maybe it was too soon to trying to talk to Elizabeth again.

But Felicia saw him before he could fully retreat and arched a slim brow at him. “Robin says hi,” she said dryly. “She’s glad you’re not dead.”

Jason winced. He rarely spoke to his ex-girlfriend—things had ended too badly for them to be on good terms—but he knew Robin had likely grieved the news of his death. “I—I’m sorry. I should call her.”

“Hmm…” Felicia got to her feet. “I’m going to go inside and check on Georgie. Make sure Elizabeth isn’t going to fire her on her first day.”

When the blonde had disappeared into the diner, Bobbie remained seated though she was looking at Jason carefully. She looked as if she hadn’t slept the night before, and Jason wondered just how many sleepless nights Carly’s mother had suffered over the last month.

“Take a seat, Jason. I think we need to talk.”

“I—” Jason swallowed the protest and followed her directions. “I’m sorry.”

“For a moment, last night, when it was all happening, I doubted Elizabeth,” Bobbie admitted. “I know how much you love her. I know you would never do that to her. Maybe the rest of us—maybe I could make myself believe you’d do that, but not Elizabeth.”

“I wouldn’t—”

“So, for a moment, I wondered how she had fooled me. And then I looked at her.” Bobbie rearranged the silverware next to her plate. She met Jason’s eyes. “And I knew. Even as Emily and Monica accused her. I knew her grief had been real. I’ve made my apologies to her, and I know Emily has as well. I’m sure Monica will seek her out in the next few days. But there will always be that moment where I doubted her. I can’t take that back.”

Jason’s throat was tight, and he remained silent. What could he say? He could defend himself, but it wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t change anything.

“Elizabeth has already forgiven me though I don’t deserve it. She doesn’t see that she’s been wronged. She’s so worried about earning my love—deserving my love—that she didn’t even stop to think that she’d done nothing wrong.” Bobbie pursed her lips. “I can even pinpoint the moment Sonny told her. With some thought and reflection. The night after your memorial. Before we buried whatever Sonny planted in the harbor—she went with Sonny, and I can say now that something changed. She started to avoid all of us.”

“I can’t—” Jason shook his head. “I didn’t want any of this, and by the time—Elizabeth actually knew before I did what Sonny had done,” he confessed. His voice sounded rough even to his ears, and he swallowed hard, trying to clear his throat. “Sonny drugged me the first week. I told him to stop lying to Elizabeth when I found out she thought I was missing.”

“But he kept lying.” Bobbie rested her chin on her clasped hands. “And then he faked your death. How long were you drugged?”

“Just—the first week or so, I think. And then Sonny kept saying he’d tell her, but I knew—I knew he was lying to me. I knew he was keeping something from me, but—” Jason exhaled slowly. “I didn’t stop it. And that’s  on me. Sonny lied. This was his idea. All of it. But I didn’t stop it.”

“I’m sorry any of this happened to you,” Bobbie said finally. “That Sonny didn’t value the trust you placed in him. That he didn’t take care of Elizabeth. He and I have already had words on the subject, and believe me, they won’t be the last.” She waited a moment. “So what are you going to do?”

“What?” Jason shook his head. “I don’t know. It’s not up to me.”

“I fear, Jason, that’s where you’re wrong. Because it’s entirely on your shoulders. How you handle Sonny, how you deal with Elizabeth—”

“She—she asked for space,” Jason said finally. “She—she understood what happened. That it wasn’t my idea. But all of it—the grief, the lies—it’s—she doesn’t deserve to deal with any of it. It wasn’t part of the deal.”

“I want you to think very carefully about what Elizabeth has said to you these last few months,” Bobbie told him. “Because, no, none of what’s happened is your fault. Not really. But how you deal with it? That’s you. What happened with Carly? That didn’t need to be as bad as it was. You have a blind spot where my daughter and Sonny are concerned. Elizabeth has had enough of not coming first—”

“She comes first—” Jason bit off his protest because, more than AJ, Bobbie knew the truth. And Jason couldn’t pretend that she was wrong. “I love her. She knows that.”

“I don’t want to be a cliche, Jason, but sometimes—that’s not enough.” Bobbie peered past him into the diner. “She’s hurt, Jason. More than you think.”

“She needs time, I’ll give that to her. But I can’t—” Jason got to his feet. “I need to see her. I need her to know how much I love her, and that I’m not going away. That I won’t give up on her.” He hesitated. “I’m sorry, Bobbie. I never wanted you to—”

“I’m just glad you’re alive.” She stood up and embraced him. “Don’t do this again, do you hear me?”

“I won’t.”

He opened the door to the diner and ignored the way people looked at him as he approached the counter where Elizabeth was showing Georgie Jones how to work the coffee machine.

From the way her movements became stiff and forced, and the slight amusement in her eyes faded, Jason knew she was aware of him—but she never once looked at him.

He took a seat at the counter, next to Felicia who muttered something about stupid men, and waited.

Finally, Elizabeth took a deep breath and looked in his direction, letting her beautiful blue eyes meet his. His chest tightened and he drew in a sharp breath at the mixture of misery and anger he could see in her expression. He hadn’t really let him see it the night before—hadn’t really let himself process how much this had wrecked her.

He’d been in denial, Jason could now admit to himself, hoping that Elizabeth would be able to see past everything that had happened.

“Can I get you something?” she asked, her voice slightly husky. Her lower lip trembled for just a moment before she sucked it between her teeth and bit down. “A black coffee? To…go?”

“Yeah.” Jason swallowed hard. “Yeah. That’ll be good.” She handed him a temporary cup, and he left a twenty on the counter. He left quickly, not wanting to linger.

Elizabeth wanted time and space, she said, and this time he was going to listen to her.

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Comments

  • Thanks for the update my heart goes out to Liz and Jason and I really hope Jason takes what everyone is telling him about Liz.

    According to SHELLY W SAMUEL on September 26, 2018
  • I loved this chapter. I could fill the pain everyone went through. I can even feel Jason’s confusion but I hope he makes the gruesome twosome pay.

    According to Threegirls on September 27, 2018
  • Well crap, only two more chapters, that can’t be right. Is Jason that dense or that preoccupied by Sonny and Carly’s needs that he doesn’t see what he’s doing. Elizabeth needs to realize that love just isn’t enough sometimes. You can love but if you can’t make it through a week or a day without some conflict or pain… such a powerful chapter, lump in my throat, oh my. Thank you

    According to Kikimoo on September 27, 2018
  • I hope Jason doesn’t drop out of Elizabeth’s life because he wants to give her time.

    According to Carla P on October 11, 2018