I’m in a daze stumbling bewildered
North of gravity head up in the stratosphere
You and I roller coaster riding love
You’re the center of adrenaline
And I’m beginning to understand
– The Best Thing, Savage Garden
Sunday, May 5, 2002
Kelly’s: Dining Room
Courtney winced when Elizabeth stalked in from the kitchen and snatched the white apron from behind the counter. “I guess Jason found you,” she murmured as she gently set the carafe of coffee back on the hot plate. “Elizabeth—”
“I told him,” her friend snapped. “And of course, it’s all my fault. What am I supposed to do? Ignore the situation? Maybe I could run away for a year and just pretend everything is exactly the same when I come back—” She stopped and closed her eyes. “Jason,” she continued without opening them, “isn’t thrilled that I don’t plan to sandbag AJ’s character on the stand if I’m asked.”
“Oh.” Courtney bit her lip. “I mean…” She looked at the counter, focusing on a small crack in the laminate surface. “I’m sorry—”
“Why?” Elizabeth asked. “None of this is your fault. You married AJ, Courtney. You get to take his side, particularly when, you know, he’s not wrong.” She hissed through her teeth as she yanked out the ledger and reached the receipts from the lunch rush. “Michael is his son. AJ’s not wrong to do whatever he thinks is best.”
“But Jason isn’t wrong to be concerned,” Courtney said. “I’d be lying if I said I were one hundred percent convinced AJ will never take another drink.” And God, didn’t she feel disloyal admitting that? But this was Elizabeth. The first friend she’d made in Port Charles. Her best friend.
“I guess I just…” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “I don’t know. I thought—I thought if I took that step forward. If I…let myself feel those things for Jason again—”
“Or admitted that you already did.”
“Semantics.” But Elizabeth smiled, a slight shift in the curve of her lips. “I thought if I took that leap—he’d be there waiting. That…it was me holding us back.”
“It’s not. It’s him, too.” She waited a moment. “He doesn’t trust me. Not where it counts. He can’t see that I love Michael, that I want what’s best for him—”
“I think he’s scared—” Courtney lowered her voice when a customer wandered in. “Elizabeth, you’ve said it yourself. He still loves that little boy like his own son. That doesn’t go away. You never stop protecting your children. Maybe the reason Jason is so angry is because he knows you’re right, and he doesn’t want to admit—”
“What am I supposed to do with that?” Elizabeth cut in. “I spent two years of my life running after Lucky, fixing his problems—” she shook her head. “No, this—this is a sign. It’s not enough to care about Jason. It’s not enough that he cares about me. We don’t work. When the rest of the world gets involved—”
“And that is a copout,” Courtney interrupted, slapping her hand over the ledger, forcing Elizabeth to stop writing, to look at her. “What would Gia say if she were here?”
“Oh, God…” Elizabeth rolled her eyes and sighed. “Courtney—”
“This situation with Michael? Where you’re in the middle? This doesn’t go away if you stop…if you pull away from Jason again. What changes, Elizabeth? Nothing.”
Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “Courtney—”
“But maybe that’s not the point. Because if you walk away from what you feel this time, if Jason lets you—” Courtney shrugged, stepped back, and let her hand fall back to her side. “Maybe that’s for the best. Because if you let something that has nothing to do with who the two of you are together—if you let something that’s not even about you get in your way—maybe you were right. Maybe it’s just lust. Residual. Unfinished business.”
“That’s not fair,” her friend managed, her voice weak, even a bit shaky. “He doesn’t trust me—”
“You don’t know that.” Courtney took a deep breath. “I love you. I don’t know Jason that well, but I do see the way he looks at you. I think, before you write this off, before you let fear get inside your head—you owe it to both of you to give it a chance.” She hesitated, but decided to press her advantage. “You both love Michael. AJ loves Michael. I want the chance to love him. We are all good people, Elizabeth. Good people should be able to find a way to make this right.”
Jake’s: Upstairs Hallway
Elizabeth closed her eyes and took a deep breath before knocking on the door. She had to…she had to do this. To talk to him. To just…make sure that walking away was the right decision.
Courtney was right—if something that had nothing to do with who they were together could affect their relationship, it wasn’t strong enough. It was smart to stop now. To get out before they ruined each other.
She hadn’t been smart before. She’d hung on, clung to the dream so long that there had been nothing left when she’d finally woken up.
Not this time.
She raised her hand to knock before it was yanked open, and Jason appeared, about to step over the threshold. He stopped, obviously not expecting her. “Elizabeth—”
“Oh.” She chewed on her lip, taking in the jacket he wore and the keys in his hand. Reprieve. “You’re—you’re leaving. I can—”
“I was going for a ride.” He shifted back, stepping to the side so she could enter. When Elizabeth didn’t move, his hand tightened on the edge of the door. “Elizabeth—”
And now that she was standing in front of him, ready to call the whole thing off—
“I’m a good person,” she said, softly. He furrowed his brow, opened his mouth to respond. “And you’re a good person.”
“And so are Courtney and AJ.”
He sighed and dipped his head. “Elizabeth, don’t—”
“Good people should be able to work together.” She swallowed hard. “I love Michael, Jason. I tried to stay out of this, I did. But I can’t. Because Courtney is my friend, and I’ve known AJ for years. And I love that little boy. Good people who want the best for that little boy—I have to believe that we can work together—”
He looked away and shook his head lightly. “Elizabeth—”
“Because I care about you,” she said in a rush of words. “I always have, but I mean—I just—” She licked her lips. “If this were before, if this was Lucky—” He scowled, but she continued. “I would have done whatever he asked. Whatever made him happy. Because that’s how I judged my life. If Lucky was happy, if I did what he wanted—I can’t do that anymore—”
“Elizabeth—” Jason’s voice was quiet, but there was anguish there. “That’s not—I’m not—” He stepped back. “Come in. Please.”
Hesitantly, she stepped over the threshold and waited for him to shut the door. He dropped his keys on the dresser and looked at her. “I’m sorry about today.”
“I’m not trying to box you in. To convince you to give up—”
“No, I know.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “You weren’t saying anything you haven’t before. Nothing Alexis or Bobbie hasn’t said. My chances in court are next to nothing, and dragging Michael through it would just…”
Her throat felt raw as she forced the words out. “Jason—”
“But you never have to tell me what I want to hear, or do anything because I—” He sliced a hand through the air. “I don’t want that from you. I saw—” He stopped and looked away, swallowing. “I saw you do that before. I Last year, I watched you twist yourself around to be what Lucky wanted. I would never—”
She exhaled slowly. “And I know that. I do. Here.” She gestured at her head. “It’s just…it’s hard to believe it everywhere else. I have a lot of…damage from before—”
“There’s nothing wrong with you,” he cut in, his eyes fierce. “Elizabeth—”
“Baggage then,” she continued, with a hesitant smile at his complete faith in her. At least one of them had it. She bit her lip. “It’s there. And I can’t pretend it isn’t.”
“I’m not asking you to.”
She could do this. She could be honest with herself, with him. About anything. This was Jason. He was safe.
Elizabeth stepped forward until she stood just before him, tilting her head up to meet his eyes. “Last night, in the alley—today—”
“If you’re not ready—”
“It felt right,” Elizabeth interrupted. “And it felt good. And I wished—” She shook her head. “No. No regrets. If it had happened last year, I wasn’t ready to do anything about it then. I am now. I want to be with you.” She hesitantly reached out, her fingertips brushing the soft cotton of his black shirt. She flicked her eyes back at him. “And not in some…abstract sense. I mean…” She pressed her hands against his chest, his skin warm under the cotton. “Now. Tonight.”
She slid her hand up slightly to cover his heart. She’d felt it before—could remember checking it during that winter in her studio. He slept so soundly, so little movement, she would often lean over at night to check his heartbeat.
And it was quicker now, his breath had changed. She had never really let herself believe a man like Jason would want her—would find her attractive, but he did. She could see it in his eyes, feel it in the way his body had tensed.
“But maybe you would rather go out for a ride,” she teased as she slid up on her toes and pressed her mouth to his quickly. “You know I like the bike—”
She moved, as if going towards the door, but he laughed, the sound low and rumbling through his chest as he lightly tugged her back, letting her almost stumble into him. Her answering grin was swallowed by his mouth as he dipped his head, speared his hands in her hair and kissed her.
This. This feeling, this sensation, this dizzy, intoxicating sensation—this was why she had to give this a chance. She wanted to drown herself in him, in his touch, in the way everything just ignited inside her when he was with her. Elizabeth slid her hands up his chest again, moving under his jacket so she could shove the leather from his shoulders.
She fisted her hands in his shirt, pulling him backwards toward the bed. Jason hesitated when her knees brushed the edge. His hands resting at her hips, his thumbs brushing the skin just under her shirt, he raised his head and licked his lips. “Elizabeth—” he began, his voice a bit rough. “We don’t—”
She raised a brow, and swiftly turned so that she could lightly shove him on the bed before climbing on top, her denim-clad thighs straddling him on either side. “Do you know how long I’ve been thinking about this?” she asked, her tone idle as the tip of her fingers lightly danced on his abdomen, on the bared skin where his shirt had tugged up.
His eyes were dark in the dimly lit room as he braced himself up on his elbows. “Not as long as I have,” Jason managed.
“I should have felt guilty,” Elizabeth mused with a smile that felt wicked even as it slid across her face. “I mean, you were hurt and I was supposed to be taking care of you, but every time I changed your bandage…” Her fingers traced the scar that bullet had left. “I had this crazy thought about just…” She bit her lip, but what the hell? “Licking you.”
He didn’t laugh at her, didn’t even smile at the thought of that silly girl thinking such naughty thoughts about a bullet-ridden older man in her care. Instead, Jason sat up, tugging her closer, bringing her into closer contact with all of him. Her breath caught—she could feel him, even though two layers of denim. “If you had,” he began, but stopped and shook his head. “I want this to be right for you,” he said, finally, his lips feathering along her jaw.
“Being with you makes it right,” she murmured. “You are—this is what I want.” She rocked back lightly, heard his breath hitch. “I’m not going to pretend anymore.” She leaned down, nipped at his mouth. “Are we done talking yet?”
He answered with a light growl that had her giggling as Jason dipped her to the side, her back against the mattress. “I think we’ve talked enough,” he told her with a wicked grin before he took her mouth again.