Chapter Two

Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

— How to Save A Life, The Fray

Port Charles Courthouse: Elevator – 8:40 P.M

Carly was the queen of dramatic statements–though she’d admit that more than half of those statements had been lies or at least partial truths. Life was simpler when you lied to yourself or someone else. Because then at least, you could make up the way you wanted it to be. But theI’m dying line was one Carly hadn’t really had the occasion to use and now she wished she’d had because maybe she’d be able to remember how a person reacted to such a line or how that person looked because she was pretty sure she was doing it wrong.

She laughed nervously. “That’s not–I know I said–that’s not funny.”

“It feels like such a relief to tell someone that,” Alexis said, ignoring her. “I mean, I’ve told Mayor Floyd because he ought to know that he’ll need a new DA soon but I hadn’t really figured out how to tell Ric or the girls.”

Carly blinked. “So dying is….what do you mean by that?”

“I mean that I have lung cancer,” Alexis informed her. “I don’t know why as I don’t smoke and I’m arranging for treatment but the doctors are not optimistic.”

Your kids will be a lot better off when you do everyone a favor and just drop dead. Sometimes, Carly wanted to hit herself.

“Oh, God….” She slapped a hand to her forehead. “You knew–you knew when I said–Jesus, Alexis, if I’d known, I never–” she scowled. “Oh my God, I suck as human being.”

“You didn’t know, you were just being your usual annoying and harsh self,” Alexis looked away. “Not that I believe you would have acted any differently if you had known.”

“Probably not,” Carly admitted. And she hated that about herself, she really did. She pursed her lips. “So…how long?”

“A year,” Alexis sighed. She closed her eyes and let her head thump back against the wall. “At the most, two. Which means Kristina and Molly won’t remember and my only other child…” her face twisted. “I don’t want to think about that.” She hesitated. “I changed my will to leave primary custody of Kristina to Nikolas. With Sonny’s illness, I worried–”

“No, that’s good, that’s right that you did that,” Carly said unexpectedly. She twisted a ring on her finger. “Sonny’s sessions aren’t–they’re not going as smoothly as Lainey would prefer and she’s not sure if he’s going to stay on the medication. I thought–” her voice faltered but only for a moment. “I thought he wanted to stay strong and set a good example for the kids but he’d rather have it his way.”

Alexis exhaled slowly. “I thought he wanted help.” An altogether new fear gripped her and she worried that Sonny might have another breakdown, in front of her daughter. Oh, God, how could she leave Kristina? How could she leave Molly?

“So did I,” Carly murmured. “And now I don’t really know what to do. I can’t keep the boys from their father but I’m scared that he’s going to have another breakdown, and I don’t want Michael and Morgan to see that.” Her eyes connected with Alexis, the only woman in the world that might understand. “I know that Sonny loves his kids and that they love him, but I am terrified that he’ll hurt them without even meaning to.”

General Hospital: Roof – 8:45 P.M.

Dillon paced for ten minutes. He tugged on the door handle for another five and after ten minutes of peering down the ten stories to the sidewalk, hoping to see someone who could help them, he’d spent the last five minutes sprawled out on the ground, his head banging gently against the door.

He directed his attention to Lulu, seated fifteen feet away, her knees tucked under her body, her hand absently rubbing her stomach. Probably hungry, he thought absently remembering the aborted dinner plans with Georgie. She’d never forgive him now after finding out that he’d spent the blackout with Lulu.

Which led him back to something that kept bugging him. Lulu had gone to a lot of trouble to trick him up here. She’d forged notes and snuck around so he wouldn’t see her plant them. And once they were up here, she’d started to talk, to apologize again for what she’d done. He was tired of hearing it, tired of remembering that she had, in fact, told him the truth and he’d chosen not to believe her. It was much easier to just hold her entirely at fault.

But then he’d been angry at being tricked up here, he’d cut her explanations off and tugged on the door to find it locked. Lulu kept going, kept trying to talk to him to tell him something but then he’d told her what was probably the meanest thing he’d said to anyone in a long time, excluding the venom he’d spewed at Georgie. He’d told her to shut up, that he’d never believe another word that came out of her lying mouth.

It was easier to blame Lulu for what had happened and it was simpler to pretend that he’d been an innocent victim but the truth was that he’d believed Lulu because he’d only seen her words as confirmation of what he’d already felt. And he’d slept with Lulu because he wanted to, not because he wanted to get back at Georgie or because Lulu was convenient, but because he’d thought about the way she tasted since the islands and of course, that was wrong, right? He was a married man and over the moon about Georgie.

But Lulu would smile and she’d clap her hands together in excitement about something and he liked that, he liked watching her smile, liked being the one to make her smile and he really liked making her laugh because she’d had such a crappy life, she deserved someone who made her laugh and smile and be okay. And for a little while, he’d thought he could be that person. But then she’d lied and she reminded him of his mother, not caring who she hurt as long as she got her way. And he’d watched them together, Lulu and Tracy, watched them, listened to them and it had made his skin crawl to know that there were such similarities, that he could have thought for one second he’d fall for a girl like his mother, his cold conniving mother that he loved because she was his mother, his family and you couldn’t not love your family. It was written somewhere, he was sure.

And he’d told her they were nothing, because he was terrified that the cliché was true. A boy always fell in love with someone who reminded him of mother, the way girls fell in love with men who were like their fathers and he’d been so sure he’d escaped that with Georgie.

He’d been immersed his own pain, his own betrayal and his own fears before he’d even thought it through and remembered that she’d tried to tell him about Georgie, tried to tell him that she was selfish and not a good person. She’d told him the truth and he’d told her she didn’t have to lie to him. And then he felt guilty and the more guilty he felt, the more he took it out on her because he wouldn’t feel this torn up and twisted around if she had just stayed out of his life entirely. He’d be in love with Georgie without complications and he wouldn’t be thinking about Lulu Spencer, and the way her eyes crinkled when she smiled or how her nose would twitch right before she laughed.

He was terrified now that he loved them both. That he loved Georgie’s compassion and her generosity. That he loved Lulu’s smile, her laugh and her voice and her devotion and loyalty to a father that didn’t deserve it. He understood what it was to crave a family, he’d grown up like that.

“I’m sorry,” he blurted out. She turned her head to frown at him and he continued, “I’m sorry I’m an ass and I’m sorry that I said we were nothing because we weren’t and that was a lie and I think there have been enough lies.”

Her eyes filled and then he really panicked because tears were not his thing. He never knew what to say, what to do and he was pretty sure that tears led to crying and then he’d really be in deep shit. Her lower lip trembled but she bit down on it and he was relieved because maybe she wouldn’t cry after all.

“No, you were right,” Lulu said quietly. “We are nothing and it’s better that way.” She turned her gaze back over the dark city. She closed her eyes and without thinking about it, rubbed her hand over her belly in a way that reminded Dillon of something, he just couldn’t figure out what.

General Hospital: Elevator Shaft B – 8:50 P.M.

An hour, they’d sat in here. And Robin was sure he would have cracked by now. She didn’t know what that said about her as a woman, but he hadn’t even moved an inch her way. In fact, except for the tense expression on his face and the clenching of his fists, one might suspect he didn’t have any interest in elevator sex.

Which confirmed what she’d expected since he’d turned her down a few days ago. He’d lost his appetite for her, for sex between them and he couldn’t find a nice way to tell her. She couldn’t blame him. The risk when they’d slept together had been minimal, but it’d also been an abstract thing, nothing tangible he could wrap his hands around.

But now, with an actual exposure, it was probably more real to him. That he risked his life every time he took her to bed. And he’d probably decided it wasn’t worth it. It was understandable–he had a brilliant career in front of him and it would be a shame if it was cut short in anyway.

So Robin tugged her skirt down and folded her arms across her chest. She was done trying to tempt him. If he’d wanted her, he would have had her by now and she had more self-respect than that.

“You could have just said something.”

Her voice startled him, they hadn’t spoken in nearly a half hour. He blinked at her. “Tell you what?” he demanded, grateful that she’d opened her mouth. But with his luck, she’d say something that either pissed him off or turned him on (and truth be told, the former usually led to the latter anyway) and the battle to control himself would begin all over again. He really couldn’t win tonight.

“Why I’m here and you’re all the way over there,” Robin said. “I mean, I’m a big girl, I can handle it.”

“I did tell you,” Patrick said, confused. “The other night–”

“No, I mean you could have told me the real reason,” she interrupted. “And I wouldn’t have blamed you or held it against you.”

Women. You could always count on them to start at Point A and go directly to Point F without bothering with any of the stops in between. “I’m not exactly sure what you’re talking about,” he said, spacing the words out.

“You’re not attracted to me anymore,” Robin shrugged, trying to pretend that it didn’t cut deep because no one–not even Jason–had looked at her the way Patrick had, not since she’d been diagnosed. He’d looked at her like he was hungry and she was the meal and while it had irritated her in the beginning, she found that she liked being considered desirable and being wanted so fiercely by someone so….well experienced was probably the best word.

“Not attracted to you anymore,” Patrick echoed, wondering how someone so smart could be so completely stupid. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” The fact that he was still attracted to her after eight months of knowing her, two months after sleeping with her–well that was a worrisome fact that he didn’t really want to address right now.

“Well, what else am I supposed to think?” Robin demanded. “I throw myself after you the other night, you throw me back. And I’m practically naked over here and you won’t budge, so what exactly am I supposed to think?”

He opened his mouth and shut again, irritated beyond hell. Why did she have to complicate things and why the hell had the word naked have to spill from her lips? Damn her.

When he didn’t say anything, she nodded. “That’s what I thought–”

“Don’t take my silence as some sort of agreement,” he retorted. “I’m just trying to figure out how someone who’s so smart can be so absolutely stupid. I’ve been exposed to AIDS, you idiot. End-stage AIDS. If you get exposed to that–” his breath caught just thinking about it and he shook his head. “I’m not taking that risk. I refuse to. And if that means celibacy, well that’s fine. I don’t really care.”

“Oh, so it’s just me you’re being noble with, huh?” Robin demanded. “What about the other women?”

Other women! Other women! He was going to wring her neck before this over, he was sure of it. “When the hell do I have time for other women?” he spat out. “I’m working or I’m with you. When am I supposed to find the time?”

She closed her mouth and digested the fact that Patrick wasn’t seeing anyone else. “Okay, so you’re not sleeping with anyone for six months because you might be sick.” She nodded. “Well, I am actually sick and I didn’t sleep with you for months because I didn’t want to expose you.” She glowered at him. “Who’s hiding behind their illness now, you bastard?”

He opened his mouth but shut it abruptly. He cursed under his breath. “I don’t care for the fact that you have a point.”

She nodded. “Damn right. You accused me of using my HIV as an excuse, as a way to hide from the world, well now you have an idea of why.” She glared at him. “Do you think it was easy knowing that every time we were together, I could have killed you?”

“No, no, I don’t,” Patrick admitted. He’d handled this wrong, of course but wasn’t the first time he’d done so regarding Robin and it definitely not going to be the last. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize–”

“And I’m sorry,” Robin sighed. “I didn’t–I didn’t think you were really serious about the celibacy thing. But you are and I don’t have the right to try and change your mind.” She shifted restlessly, wanting this elevator to move, wanting to get away from this. Six months. In six months, without sex to hold him, her tenuous grip on Patrick would be gone and he’d be off chasing someone else by the time he was tested again.

But that was okay, because she might have almost been in love with him, but she’d caught herself before the final plunge and it was okay now. They’d be friends and she really did value that–

“I can’t believe you’d be so thick as to think I wasn’t attracted to you anymore,” Patrick said, still stuck on that. “You’re as dumb as a brick, you know that?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Keep calling me stupid, jackass, and find out what it’s like to be in an enclosed space with the daughter of two government agents.”

Harborview Towers: Jason Morgan’s Penthouse – 9:00 P.M.

Elizabeth wished she had charcoal or a decent pencil to go with this pad of paper she’d unearth from Jason’s desk, but all he’d had was an assortment of pens and a dull number two yellow pencil with no sharpener in sight.

When she’d arrived earlier, he’d been in a weird mood–he’d been his usual silent and brooding self but there was an agitation was that unnatural, and it worried her. Jason was rarely agitated and it always with a good reason. He’d alluded to having seen something he wished he hadn’t but beyond that he hadn’t been all that good for details.

And if she didn’t know what happened, she couldn’t help. And Elizabeth liked to help Jason, she liked thinking that someone besides her toddler needed her. So she sketched and listened to him play pool and she wondered why he couldn’t be like normal people and just have a breaking point.

It had to do with Sam, Elizabeth decided. Because he would be too used to anything Carly could do to him and Sonny, she knew was safely tucked away in his mansion. Emily was away with Monica at a spa and she didn’t think that really left anyone.

So he’d seen Sam doing something or heard her saying something to disturb him. He’d been somewhat restless after Carly and Sonny had slept together, Elizabeth remembered. And the look in his eyes had been the same too. So maybe that was it. Maybe he’d seen Sam with another man. Maybe it was sinking in that he’d tossed her away and had lost his chance to get her back.

But who could Sam have been with? She wasn’t a blonde, so she definitely wasn’t with Lucky, Elizabeth thought bitterly. And if it had been Sonny, Jason would look worse, she decided. Nikolas was family, so that ruled him out.

She tried to think of all the people that she’d seen Sam around lately. There was Detective Rodriguez from the PCPD, Ric–well that was really it. She and Ric had seemed close when they’d been on the docks the other day, Elizabeth remembered. But Ric was happily married, right?

But he’d cheated on Alexis before. With Reese Marshall. And Elizabeth’s pencil dropped to pad of paper. What better way to get back at Alexis for her part in breaking Jason and Sam up than to seduce her mother’s husband?

She felt really sick.

She peered over the back of the sofa and watched Jason line up another shot, the muscles in his shoulders bunching up. “Jason,” she said quietly. She set her pad aside and stood to round the sofa.

He didn’t reply, didn’t acknowledge her voice but Elizabeth slid in between him and the pool table, stopping him in his tracks. “What?” he asked roughly. He was glad she was going to talk again. Because when she talked, he could focus on her and not on what he’d seen. It was easier to listen to Elizabeth, to fix her life than examine his own.

“I am so sorry,” she said in a soft tone. “It’s awful when you see someone you love doing something so reprehensible and so unthinkable.”

He frowned down at her–how could she have possibly known?

She must have seen the question in his eyes and she shrugged. “I know that look; you’ve had it before–when Carly slept with Sonny. I didn’t know why then, but it makes sense. And it just makes sense to me that was Sam you saw.” She touched his chest, her small hand braced over his heart, her warmth bleeding through the gray of his shirt. “I am so sorry,” she repeated.

She felt empty inside, knowing that all the while Lucky had been accusing her of infidelity, that he’d only done it throw her off and keep her from discovering his secret. She was empty and she was cold and she wanted that to go away.

And so it seemed perfectly natural to lean up on the tips of her toes and press her mouth to his. It seemed natural and in a way, it seemed inevitable. Because Jason had always been able to make her feel safe and secure and more importantly, he’d always made her feel okay in her own skin. And she wanted to give that back to him at the same time.

As if her soft kiss was the key that unlocked something inside him, his arm slid around her waist and he crushed her mouth to his, accepting the comfort she wanted so desperately to give.

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