Note: After November 25, 2014’s episode, in which Carly tells Michael that Jason named him Michael Corinthos, I nearly broke my television. How like Carly to white wash a history that no one else was present for. And then I started to wonder–how much does Michael really know about the year he spent with Jason? And who is left that will tell him the truth?
Tell the truth, or someone will tell it for you.
When Elizabeth Webber opened her door three days before Christmas, she did not expect Michael Corinthos III—no, Michael Quartermaine—to be standing on her doorstep. She frowned and stepped back slightly. “Michael?”
“I’m sorry to just…show up like this,” Michael said, shifting uncomfortably on the porch. “I called the hospital and they said you weren’t on the schedule—”
“I’m wrapping the last of the gifts while the boys are at school.” Elizabeth stepped back and gestured for him to come in. “Then I can take them to my grandmother’s and hide them until Christmas Eve. Cameron nearly found my hiding place in the attic last year.”
They stood on her landing, somewhat awkwardly as Michael glanced around a bit more. “And your houseguest? Jake?”
“Out looking for a job again.” Elizabeth waved a hand. “Do you want to take off your coat?”
“Oh. Yeah.” He stripped the long black coat from his shoulders, revealing the charcoal suit underneath. She smiled, taking the coat, and hanging it on the post next to the door.
“AJ would love that you’re the CEO now,” she murmured. She gestured towards the table where she had set up her wrapping station so that he could join her. “But he’d be worried that you’re taking on too much.”
“I should have come earlier,” he told her. “To see how you were dealing with what happened—” He swallowed. “You…and Sonny used to be friends—”
“That hasn’t been the case in a very long time.” Elizabeth tucked a leg underneath her to give her some height at the table as she reached for her roll of tape. “I wanted to be surprised at what happened, but mostly, I was just sad.” She stared at the strip. “For you. For all that you lost.”
“That’s why I’m here.” Michael leaned back in the small dining chair. “I…recently decided to change my name to Michael Alan Quartermaine. A name I should have had all along. My—” he grimaced. “My mother was there when I signed the papers and said that…” He swallowed. “Jason chose to name me Michael Corinthos, after Sonny.”
Elizabeth frowned, but bit her lip and looked away. “Michael—”
“There’s no one left I can ask who would have known that for sure.” Michael leaned forward now, his elbows on his thighs, his eyes on the ground. “I know Emily and Mike were my godparents, but they’re not around. I know Jason was sort of involved with Robin, but she’s not here either. And it goes without saying that Jason isn’t here either.” He straightened abruptly. “But you knew all those people. You and Emily were best friends, and I know you loved my uncle—”
“Michael, anything I know is second hand.” Elizabeth pulled a piece of wrapping paper over a white cardboard box and taped it. “And your mother would not appreciate me speaking out of turn—”
“I don’t care what she wants.” Michael rose, began to pace. “She’s always shaped the narrative, don’t you see? She and Sonny told me for years how awful AJ was, how evil. What a monster he was. But I finally had a chance to know him.” He turned to her. “You knew him, too. You saw him for who he was that last year. You knew him back then.”
“Sort of.” Elizabeth sighed. “Michael, I’m not one to cast stones at someone for choices they made in a difficult position, okay? You know the mess created by Jake’s paternity, the horror I went through with Aidan—”
“That’s why I know you’ll tell me the truth.” Michael shoved his hands in his pockets. “You’ve never lied to me, Elizabeth. Even when it was convenient. You never promised to stick by AJ, just that you would show up that day to give him some hope. And thank God you did, because he wasn’t guilty.”
“I know, and I was so glad to learn he knew the truth before he died.” Elizabeth set the tape down and got to her feet. “All right. I do know some things. Emily and I weren’t particularly close when you were born, but when AJ found out, we were friends. And I knew Jason after he’d surrendered custody—”
“Custody?” Michael repeated.
And Elizabeth had long-suspected that portion of Michael’s life had been kept from him. “I don’t know the specific reasons you ended up with Jason, why Carly left Tony, or why she hid the truth from AJ. I can only guess AJ found out there was a chance he was the father and told her he’d go after custody. She probably panicked.” Elizabeth twisted her fingers together. “She usually did her worst damage when she panicked.”
“That much I know.” Michael leaned against the back of the sofa. “She told me she went to Jason, that she begged him to look after me because she couldn’t. Because of the post-partum.” He shook his head. “But why would he name me for Sonny? My mother didn’t even know him then—”
“He named you Michael,” Elizabeth confirmed. “Because you didn’t have a name and people were starting to worry. Jason had already dealt with the medical decisions after your heart defect, and Tony was threatening to call Social Services because he didn’t feel Jason was a fit parent—Jason knew if he kept putting off the simple things, no one would believe he was your father.”
Michael stared at her. “My father.”
“Jason named you Michael Morgan,” Elizabeth said softly. “Because the world believed you to be his. And he raised you for more than a year while Carly was dealing with her post-partum and then while she was in Ferncliffe after she shot Tony for kidnapping you. She told that lie to keep Tony and AJ from taking you from her. At least, that’s how I always understood it. And Jason agreed because he didn’t much care for the Quartermaines or Tony at that point. He thought Carly had a right to make her own choice.”
“She told me Jason named me for Sonny, but that was a lie—”
“It was a partial truth,” Elizabeth cut in. “Emily told Jason he should name you for someone that meant a great deal to him. So he chose Michael, because Sonny had been like a brother to him, maybe even a father. He’d given Jason a job, an identity when everyone else saw him as damaged. So yeah, Jason named you Michael, but you didn’t become a Corinthos until you were almost four years old.”
Michael exhaled slowly and looked away. “I knew it didn’t sound right, and I knew that Jason had cared for me when my mother couldn’t. I guess I never thought about what that meant—”
“I wasn’t sure if anyone had ever told you about that year with Jason.” Elizabeth approached him. “I was dating Lucky back then, who was living over Jason’s garage. And I remember seeing you with Jason and Robin. They loved you so much. It changed when Carly came home from the hospital.” She looked away. “Jason told me that Robin told the truth to protect him, because Carly would use you as a weapon to keep him around. It always drove Jason crazy that Robin hadn’t allowed him a choice in the matter.”
“Do you think Jason would have told me the truth one day?” Michael asked quietly.
“Yeah. And I’m not saying that because I have rose-colored view of him.” Elizabeth leaned against the back of the sofa as well. “I’m saying that because I knew him well enough back then. I don’t know about the chain of events, but I know Carly went to the Quartermaines to make sure she kept custody. That she accused Jason of kidnapping you, of making all the choices. Jason forgave her for that, mostly because I think he understood she hadn’t thought it through. Carly wanted to make sure no one took you from her.
“Like I was some kind of possession.” Michael looked at her. “So Robin left town, and my mother accused him of kidnapping.”
“And Alexis got him visitation,” Elizabeth said. “For months, Jason visited you. Until he realized that it would just confuse you as you grew older. That as much as he loved you, you weren’t his son. So he surrendered all rights to give you a chance to bond with AJ. To let you grow up without him.”
“You said you knew him after that?”
“It’s why we became friends.” Elizabeth glanced at her window table where a photo of herself and Jason sat. “I had lost Lucky—so I thought—and he’d lost you. We were both drifting. And found something in each other. Jason left town after that, though. I think Carly hadn’t quite given up the ghost and he knew she’d just keep using you—” She stopped. “Michael, this was so long ago—”
“My mother’s been using me all my life.” Michael straightened. “She used me to keep Tony, to keep Jason, to keep Sonny. She says she loves me, but I’ve never seen much evidence of it. She didn’t want me to lose Sonny, that’s why she kept this latest secret.” Michael’s face twisted. “Why doesn’t she understand? The moment he pulled that trigger and murdered AJ, I lost him. I didn’t even have to know the truth.”
“I’m so sorry, Michael,” Elizabeth murmured. “I hate that you’re going through this. And it would have broken Jason’s heart. But he wouldn’t want you to live with this…” She gestured. “Bitterness, this anger. That’s not what he wanted for you. He wanted you to belong to yourself, to grow up and make your own decisions.” She pressed a hand against his suit jacket. “He’d be proud of how you’re taking care of Monica. She’s buried all her children. Four of them. And she buried her boys twice.”
“I wish I could see him one more time,” Michael admitted. “I-I don’t know if I’m doing it right. If I’m—” He looked down. “Kiki and Morgan knew the truth. And they didn’t tell me. So I cut them out—”
Her heart ached for his young man, for the little boy she remembered. “Do you think that was the best decision?” she asked softly. “Or just something you had to do in the moment?”
“I…look at myself sometimes,” Michael admitted, “when I’m that angry and I see Sonny.” His dark eyes met hers. “After it’s over, after I’ve said these horrible things to Kiki, I tell myself to apologize. But I can’t. And then I just do it again.”
“It’s natural to feel betrayed,” Elizabeth told him. “And I don’t know if I should give you advice—I’ve done some awful things…” She hesitated. “But I don’t think Jason or AJ would want this to rule your life. Sonny plead guilty. He’s in jail, and he’s paying for his crime. Don’t destroy your life to punish him.”
“I just…they looked at me and lied to me,” he murmured. “I was looking for AJ’s killer, I thought Ava was guilty, and Kiki—she knew what this was doing to me—”
“It’s never a good idea to protect someone you love from the truth,” Elizabeth interrupted. “But that’s a lesson that comes with time, with mistakes. Whether you forgive Morgan and Kiki—that’s up to you. But try not to let the anger eat you up, Michael. That’s what happened to Sonny.”
“Yeah.” Michael exhaled slowly. “Thank you. For telling me the truth—”
“That’s just the truth that I know,” Elizabeth said. “If Jason were here, he might tell you something entirely different—”
“Your truth is a lot more believable than my mother’s.” Michael awkwardly embraced her. “It’s just—I’m glad there’s still someone I can count on—”
“Of course.” Elizabeth kissed his cheek as he drew away. “You know that you can come to me any time. You’ve been part of my life since you were little, Michael. That doesn’t have to change because Jason and AJ are gone.”
Her front door opened then on a bitter and brisk wind. Jake stepped in, stamping snow from his feet. “It’s really starting to come down out there—” He stopped, seeing her standing there with Michael. “Oh. I’m sorry.”
“I was just leaving.” Michael squeezed her hand. “Thanks again, Elizabeth.” He nodded to Jake, drew on his coat and left. Jake closed the door behind him.
“Michael Corinthos right? I didn’t know you knew him.”
“Forever, it seems.” Elizabeth moved to the window and pushed aside the curtain, watching as Michael walked down the driveway to where a dark car was parked at her curb. “He just found out his adoptive father murdered his biological father, that his mother knew—” She sighed and drew back. “And that his uncle was once believed to be his father.”
Jake frowned. “Uncle? That was Jason, right?”
“Yeah.” She shook her head. “I wish he were here. Michael could use him right now.” She turned back to him after a long moment with a bright smile. “How did job hunting go?”