Traditions

I can’t remember why I wrote this. It’s labeled as a response to a challenge in my writing folder, so I’m assuming I was supposed to write about a traditional PC event. Anyway. This is kind of set in my Hand Me Down universe, in which Michael and Sonny were killed (see If I Don’t Try With You) and Elizabeth and Jason are married with the boys, and a daughter, and Carly has Cece.  Other than that, not much else is needed.


July 4, 2010

The annual Fourth of July picnic was one of the few days of the year when the citizens of Port Charles gathered and managed to remain civil to one another for at least three hours. That particular record had been set by the Quartermaines themselves in the early nineties. They had been within fifteen minutes of three and a half hours, but Edward had blustered about something that Alan had taken offense to and somehow, the mayor had ended up with mashed potatoes in his hair.

Each year, the celebration had grown in attendance until one couldn’t go to the park on that day and not tread over a picnic blanket, a table or in the case of more well-to-do residents – an entire tent.

On this particular day, the tent in question belonged to Jason Morgan. He was there with his wife, their two boys and their newborn daughter, Juliet. He had invited his best friend Carly, her husband Jax and their two children. It was a bittersweet celebration as neither Jason nor Carly were completely adjusted to spending this holiday without Carly’s ex-husband Sonny Corinthos and son Michael. Both had died just two years earlier.

They had endeavored to move on with their lives and both had done so with the birth of subsequent children. Each had solid marriages to their spouses and if life wasn’t exactly perfect, it was as close as either of them had ever been.

Despite the shade the tent offered, the day was steaming hot and sweat dripped from Jason’s adopted six-year-old son Cameron’s face. Cam had been chasing Carly’s son Morgan in a circle and both were red-faced and panting from the heat.

His wife, Elizabeth, bit down on her lower lip. “Maybe I should take them back to the car. Sit in the air conditioning for a while.” She adjusted her two month old daughter in the portable crib that had been set up and studied Cameron and their three-year-old Jake, who didn’t look much cooler. “It’s hotter than it was supposed to be.”

Carly gripped the front of her sweat-soaked cherry red tank top and pulled it away from her chest. “Well, it is summer,” she said with a smirk. “I’d be surprised if it was chilly.”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Anyway,” she said, directing her remarks to Jason. “Maybe we should feed the kids and take them home. We can bring them back for the fireworks.”

“No!” Cameron argued. He shook his head. “I want to stay!”

“It’s too hot out here.” Elizabeth reached for a napkin, dipped it into a glass of iced water and started to wipe down her son’s face. Cameron squirmed.

“Come on, Mom!” he complained, twisting away. “I’m not a baby!”

“Which is why I didn’t spit on it first.” She sighed and released him. “Fine. Go. Run. Get heatstroke.”

“Thanks, Mom!” Cameron immediately tagged Morgan. “You’re it!” he crowed and took off.

“I’m taking Jules back to the car,” Elizabeth told Jason. She reached down and picked up the infant. “I can take Cece if you want.”

Carly glanced over to her fourteen month old daughter who was chattering away to her daddy about a ladybug she’d seen crawling on her arm. “I think she’s okay for now. I’ll make sure the boys don’t keel over from too much sun.” She glanced over at them and narrowed her eyes. “Excuse me. My kid is wandering too close to the Quartermaine tent. Nothing good comes from that.” She made a quick exit to grab head off Cameron and Morgan.

“We can all go back to the house,” Jason offered. He rubbed the back of his neck. “I mean, I’m okay, but if you think the kids are going to get too sick—”

“No, no,” Elizabeth shook her head. She smiled. “It’s the first year we’ve all been together as a family. Last year Carly and Jax were visiting Lady Jane,     and I know Cam’s having a good time with Morgan.” She brushed her hand over Juliet’s almost existent fluff of blonde hair. “I just don’t think it’s good for Jules.”

“I wasn’t able to stop Edward from coming over to see his great-grandchildren,” Carly huffed, hauling both boys back, a hand wrapped around each one of their arms. “What did we say about wandering away from the tent?” she demanded.

“To stay away from Robin Drake,” Morgan said with an impish smile.

“And the Zacchara tent,” Cameron added dutifully. He grinned, revealing his dimples.

“I’m pretty sure that’s not what I said,” Carly muttered.

“And I’m almost positive that I said not to leave the immediate area,” Elizabeth said, arching an eyebrow. “Isn’t that right?”

“Possibly,” Morgan nodded. “But Cam was gonna tackle me and the last time he did that, I ate dirt.” He shook his head. “So not interested in repeating that experience, Aunt Liz. I think you can get what I’m saying.”

“I can get that you didn’t follow my instructions or your mother’s,” Elizabeth remarked. She grinned. “Because I’m pretty sure we both said to stay away from the Quartermaine tent.”

“That is…” Cameron paused. “Entirely possible.”

“Mayday,” Carly hissed to Elizabeth. “Incoming. Quartermaine at ten o’clock.”

“You think if I hide Jake under the table, he won’t notice him?” Elizabeth asked. “The last time we took the kids over, Edward was trying to convince us it was time for Cam to go away to boarding school.”

“I told you visiting Edward was a mistake,” Jason shook his head. “But you insisted.”

“To be fair, I took them to see Monica,” Elizabeth reminded him. She pasted a smile on her face as Jason’s grandfather joined them. “Mr. Quartermaine,” she greed politely.

Edward rubbed his hands together, looking uncharacteristically harmless in a pair of khakis and a polo shirt. Elizabeth wasn’t sure if she’d ever seen him out of a suit. “Now, now, my dear, I’ve told you to call me Edward.” He smiled charmingly. “Or Grandfather.”

“Right, Mr. Quartermaine,” Elizabeth nodded. She turned to Jason. “I think I should take the kids to the car for the air conditioning. They need a break from the heat.”

“Oh, but I’ve just arrived.” Edward leaned closer trying to get a closer look at Juliet. “And I’ve hardly had time to meet my great-granddaughter.”

“Will you try to enroll her in college before she can walk?” Jason asked, a little resigned.

“It’s never too early to plan for the future,” Edward advised firmly. “If you have a firm idea now, you will be able to execute it without a flaw later. It’s solid parenting advice that Lila and I followed for our children and it worked. Alan was a splendid doctor and Tracy is well…” he paused. “She had great potential at one time. I can’t quite fathom her marital choices, but she’s not bad at business.”

Elizabeth glanced at her husband, looking for some direction. Jason just shrugged. When it came to Edward, it was best to let him have his say and avoid conflict. “That’s very nice advice, Mr. Quartermaine,” she said. “Jason and I appreciate it.”

“Don’t patronize me, young lady,” Edward said sternly. “It’s not my fault that they were both incapable of raising their own children. Lila and I did a fine job but our entire crop of grandchildren was worthless. Except for Emily, of course. She was a fine girl who is still missed greatly.”

“Of course,” Elizabeth replied, softening. She held out her daughter. “Would you like to hold Juliet for a moment? It’s a bit warm out here for her so I’m going to take her into some air for a while, but I’m sure she’d like to meet her great-grandfather first.”

Edward’s eyes lit up as she placed the infant in his arms. “That’s very kind of you, my dear.” He cradled Juliet in his embrace and smiled down at her. “I was very pleased when Monica told me Jason was marrying you, you know.”

Jason shook his head, knowing that Elizabeth was a lost cause now. She’d insist Edward have regular visits from now on, she’d feel obligated to both the old man and his sister. His wife had always been a soft touch.

“You were always so good to Emily,” Edward continued, “and you had such a good work ethic and a strong moral compass. You are the exactly the right woman for my grandson and for the mother of his children. He is very lucky you chose him.”

He handed the baby back to her. “You get that child out of the sun,” he cautioned. He looked to Jason. “You have a very nice family. Don’t screw it up.”

Edward ambled back over to his tent where Monica and Tracy were arguing, Dillon was attempting to hide behind Alice and Ned was ignoring everyone and speaking to his daughter, Brook Lynn. Another day at the Quartermaines.

“I give them five minutes before Tracy throws water in her face,” Carly nodded.

“Ten before the ribs goes flying,” Elizabeth replied.

“I doubt they’ll hold out that long,” Jax joined them. “I can see Monica eyeing up the hot dogs.”

“You’re all wrong,” Jason surprised them by speaking up. “Tracy’s hand is inching towards the chicken wings.”

Sure enough, a moment later, Tracy flung the first chicken wing at her sister-in-law. Monica retaliated with a hot dog and Dillon ducked in the picnic table entirely to avoid the ribs that flew a moment later.

“They’re going to need that water,” Carly remarked. “To cool down and to clean up.”

Elizabeth laughed and reached up to kiss Jason’s cheek. “I think I can take Jules back to the car now. I’m glad I didn’t miss the annual food fight. It’s just not the Fourth of July without it.”

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