Notes: Set in 2002, I’m assuming before this Courtney bullshit. Part of the Picture Fiction Challenge at Liason Underground. The prompt was an old key.
“You collect keys.”
Elizabeth Webber frowned and pulled the large shoebox out of Lucky Spencer’s hands. “It’s not that pathetic,” she defended.
He raised an eyebrow. “After all these years, how is it possible that I didn’t know?”
Elizabeth shrugged. “Never came up, I guess.”
Lucky nodded. “All right fair enough.” He surveyed the studio. “I think we’re about done for this morning, don’t you think?”
Elizabeth bit her lip and shoved a box to the side with the tip of her foot. “Yeah, I guess. I really appreciate you helping me pack.”
Lucky sighed. “I’m gonna miss you.”
She hugged him lightly. “It’s only for six months. And when I get back, I’m going to find a good apartment.” Her eyes lit up. “Maybe I’ll even have enough money for a house.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “I don’t doubt it. The paintings you shipped to San Francisco were fantastic.”
Elizabeth grabbed her purse. “Come on, I’ll treat you to lunch at Kelly’s.”
“Good. You can tell me why you collect keys,” Lucky told her, snagging the shoebox from the couch.
“Okay, where’s this one from?”
Elizabeth set her soda on the table and rolled her eyes. “Lucky, I can’t remember where each and every single key is from.”
He scowled. “What’s the point of having them?”
“They’re pretty and they got these really awesome intricate designs,” Elizabeth told him. She dug around for a particularly ornate key with a piece of faded red ribbon attached. “I remember this one, though. It was my grandmother’s on my mother’s side. It was for her jewelry box.”
“You’ve never mentioned her before,” Lucky said, taking a bite from his cheeseburger.
“She died when I was really young. About six,” Elizabeth replied. “I don’t remember much about her except she always wore jasmine-scented perfume.” Her smile turned soft. “I’ve seen pictures of her. She’s the only family member I looked like.”
“So, how excited are you about San Francisco?” Lucky asked, raising his voice a little.
“I’m excited,” Elizabeth confirmed. “I’ve already arranged for an apartment overlooking the harbor. Can you believe the museum is paying for it?”
“Well, you’re a talented artist, Elizabeth. Your time was gonna come,” Lucky declared, his voice still a few decibels too loud.
“Thanks,” Elizabeth murmured, narrowing her eyes.
“So, are all the paintings you sent for sale, or did you just loan some for exhibit?” Lucky asked.
“They’re all for sale, except a few,” Elizabeth replied. She raised an eyebrow. “Why are you talking like that?”
“Which ones did you just loan?”
“All right,” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “We’ll play this game. I loaned the one I did for your parents wedding–you know, the one I never gave them. I’m saving that for when she’s better.”
“I appreciate that,” Lucky told her, squeezing her hand.
“And I’m loaning the Wind,” Elizabeth said softly. She looked down at the table. “I thought about selling it–even came close to listing it as for sale.”
“So why didn’t you?” Lucky asked.
“It’s not mine to sell,” Elizabeth answered simply. “I guess it doesn’t matter since I doubt the owner even remembers the damn thing anymore.” She snorted and lifted her glass to her lips. “Doubt he even remembers me,” she muttered before taking a sip.
Lucky smirked. “Oh. He remembers both, I’m willing to bet.”
Elizabeth frowned. “You know, you’re acting odd. Even for you.”
Lucky leaned forward and lowered his voice to almost a whisper. “Elizabeth, do me one last favor in the memory of our friendship.”
“Memory? You say that like it’s dead.”
“Details. Anyway, I want you to get up, go into the courtyard and say goodbye to Jason.”
Elizabeth sat back in her seat and twisted immediately to look out the door. Jason was standing there, looking away towards the far side of the courtyard. “How long has he been there?” she asked softly.
“Since he walked out of here.”
Elizabeth turned back to look at her ex-boyfriend. “When was that?”
“Right after you said you doubted the owner remembered the painting.” Lucky grinned. “You gonna grant me this favor?”
Elizabeth stood, grabbed the shoebox and glared at him. “I’m only doing it because I–” she stopped, at a loss for an explanation.
Lucky sobered. “Look, Elizabeth, you’re about to embark on the adventure of your life. A museum across the country wants you for six months. They’re doing an exhibit, asking you to teach a class, paying for your living expenses. You cannot leave Port Charles still thinking about Jason Morgan.”
“I am not thinking about Jason Morgan,” Elizabeth hissed.
“You are, and you know it. Say goodbye to him.” He studied her. “And this time, I want you to mean it. Because you walked away from him. And you’ve kept going. You’ve both been walking away in opposite directions, but neither of you has taken the chance to permanently end it. And as long as that loose end is still dangling, you will never move on.”
She scowled. “I hate when you make sense.”
Lucky shrugged. “Take advantage of it when it happens.” He grinned. “It only occurs so often these days. Go, babe. I’ve got the check.”
“Damn right,” Elizabeth muttered as she headed towards the door.
“Jason,” she said hesitantly. He turned and looked at her.
“Hey,” he said, shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans.
She bit her lip, cursing Lucky with every breath she took. Damn idiot he was. “I–I wanted to tell you” You can do it, Webber. “I’m moving to San Francisco for six months. And I guess…I just wanted to say…”
She couldn’t do it.
She set the shoebox full of keys on one of the tables and ran a hand through her hair. “They want me for six months, an exhibit of my own. They want me teach a class there.” She snorted. “I hate school and this museum…they sponsor art classes for underprivileged kids–they want me teach them.”
“You’ll do great,” Jason told her firmly and honestly, taking a hesitant step towards her.
“I sent the Wind to be put on display,” Elizabeth told him in a rush of breath. “I probably should have asked you first since it’s yours, but I still feel like it’s the best work I’ve ever done.” She bit her lip. “I’m not selling it…it’s on loan” She looked away from him, looked at the ground.
“I overheard Lucky and you talking about it,” Jason admitted. “I do remember it, Elizabeth.”
“I know. I was just…in a rotten mood,” Elizabeth replied. “I’m packing up my studio and you know I’ve lived there for over three yearsthere’s so much.”
“You’re not coming back?” Jason asked quickly, stricken.
“I am–I just can’t afford the rent on the studio while I’m gone,” Elizabeth replied. “I’m not getting paid for the class out there. They’re paying for the rent and everything. I’m hoping I sell enough paintings to put a down payment on a house or something when I come home.” She sighed. “Lucky told me I should come out here and say goodbye.” She met his eyes. “But I can’t do it. I guess it’s a curse or something.”
“What do you mean?” Jason asked, taking another step towards her.
“I can say it in my head,” she told him softly. “I can even say it when I’m alone and no one’s there to hear. Because, believe me, I’ve been practicing it. I thought–you know, if I could say it to myself, it would mean the same thing.” She sighed. “We’ve never said it, you know? Not even when I thought you attacked Lucky. Or when you left town the first time. Or when I walked out of the penthouse. We’ve never said it, not even in passing.”
“I don’t see why we have to say it at all,” he said suddenly. She frowned and looked at him. “You’re just going away for a while. You’ll be back.” He shrugged. “And maybe…we can go for a ride when that happens.”
“Can it really be as easy as that?” she softly.
“Not everything has to be complicated to work,” Jason told her. The corners of her mouth quirked up as she recalled the night he broke the window in Kelly’s when she’d locked herself out.
“No, I guess it doesn’t,” she replied, smiling.
“When do you leave?” he asked.
“Tomorrow,” Elizabeth said. “I still have so much to do. Lucky kind of got exhausted while we were packing up my studio, so I had to bring him for lunch. I’d better go and make him get back to work.” She grabbed her shoebox and headed for the door.
She turned when he called out. “Yeah?”
“When the exhibit opens,” Jason said, “let me know. I’ll come out and see it.”
She smiled. “I’ll do that. See you later.”