March 31, 2018

Notes: I was really disappointed in the GH anniversary episode. The flashbacks were nice, but they didn’t feel all that connected to what was happening on the screen. It felt like random people put in the room. Also, Elizabeth didn’t get nearly the kind of prominence a character like her deserves. So I rewrote the episode, and yeah, it’s heavy on Elizabeth and Jason. That’s who I am as a writer, and it’s also where I think they should be. They’re two hugely popular legacy characters with a deep history and connections to basically everyone on the show. They’ve also barely shared any screen time in the six months Steve has been back.

So this doesn’t use all the vets the show did, but I still tried to do the same stories. Writing Mike’s scenes was hard. My grandmother is dealing with dementia, so I wrote his conversations to mirror the way my grandmother slips in and out. And the regret and worry I feel for me and family. I hope you like this.

(Also. I’ve killed off Audrey. Rachel Ames retired; they ought to let Grams go in peace.)

Song Credit


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Metro Court Hotel: Restaurant

In our times of trouble

Sonny Corinthos stepped off the elevator and smiled. He had asked Carly to arrange something that would remind them all of Luke’s, the jazz club he’d owned with Luke Spencer a lifetime ago, where his father had tended the bar, and as always, Carly had gone the extra mile.

She’d closed the restaurant for a week, redecorated with dark paneling, a stage that looked very similar to the one B.B. King had rocked on the opening night, and a long dark bar had replaced the restaurant’s smaller, modern modern feel.

“What do you think?” Carly whispered in his ear. She wound her arm through his, the sparkling silver of her dress catching in the dim lighting. “Do you think it’s too much? I never spent a lot of time at the club, but Mama helped. She said it brought back a lot of good memories.”

“It’s—” Sonny took a deep breath. “It’s perfect. I just…for a minute, I thought I was back there. I didn’t even know how much I missed the old place until—” He shook his head. “Until Mike broke into the gallery, I hadn’t even thought about the club in a decade. Not since…”

We only had ourselves
Nobody else

“I didn’t know you when you and Luke were close, but—”

“It cut something in me when he blamed me for Lucky’s death,” Sonny murmured. “He was one of my best friends. Like a brother. I loved that kid. I’ll never forgive myself—”

“But you didn’t—”

“Better security would have kept Helena Cassadine’s goons from stealing that boy’s life. From devastating his family.” Sonny looked over, caught sight of a brunette smiling, laughing with his mother-in-law. “You invited Elizabeth.”

“Yeah.” Carly sighed. “Yeah, I did. I wasn’t going to, but then Mama reminded me all of the years she worked at Kelly’s—and well…” She winced. “This night is about family, right? She’s Jake’s mother. Like it or not, we’re stuck with her.”

“That’s sweet,” Sonny said dryly. “It’s been twenty years. You ever gonna forgive her?”

“For what?” Carly rolled her eyes. “She’s the twit, not me.” And with that, his mercurial wife moved over to the bar to check on last minute additions. Sonny looked at his watch, then pulled out his phone to call his sons to make sure Mike was on his way.

No one there to save us
We had to save ourselves

“I can still remember the first time I was at Luke’s,” Elizabeth Webber said with a smile as Bobbie Spencer passed her a glass of wine. “Amy Vining won a dance contest. There was so much music, so much laughter.” Then her smile dimmed. “And then Nikolas—”

“That was a terrible night,” Bobbie said with a soft sigh. “But Jason was there. And he saved his life.” The redhead turned to find the enforcer deep in conversation with Anna Devane. The two of them looked as though they were arguing, so Bobbie turned her attention back to her former niece-in-law. “I imagine things have been…awkward since he came home.”

“Awkward.” Elizabeth’s lips pressed together as she stared into the wine. “That isn’t…even half of it. I’ve barely spoken to him.”

And when the storms came through

“Really?” Bobbie lifted her eyebrows. “I would have thought with Jake—”

“It’s not like I haven’t wanted to,” Elizabeth cut back in sharply. “I just—Franco—” She closed her eyes. “You know how everyone always gets when Jason and I breathe the same air. Lucky. Ric. Sam. Courtney. Even Carly. They always seem to think we’re just…waiting to go back to each other.” She sipped her wine. “We made our choices.”

“Mmm…” Bobbie nodded. “I know how people are. I know how my daughter is. I just didn’t know you and Jason gave a damn about any of that.” She eyed Elizabeth’s hand with its missing engagement ring. “None of those people are here tonight.”

They found me and you
Back to back together

“I’ve finally managed to convince Robert to give us a hand,” Anna Devane was saying when Jason tuned back into their conversation. “He’s been the devil to track down on this last assignment—”

“I don’t know what help you think he could give me,” Jason muttered. He was tired of everyone treating him like he couldn’t solve his own goddamn problems. Even if part of him thought maybe they were right.

“Well it’s not about help,” Anna said, with some impatience. “But it is clear that neither of us are able to see the big picture. I’ve been looking back of what we have so far—what we managed to glean from Faison—and it strikes me that we’re missing a rather big part of the puzzle.”

“And what’s what?” Jason demanded.

“The Cassadines,” Anna said simply. “And few people know the Cassadines better than Robert. He helped save the world from them. Luke’s out of commission. But Robert—”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. The Ice Princess. What about the Cassadines?”

“Well, I’ve just thought it odd we haven’t given them enough thought. Helena had a chip in Drew’s head when he first came back to Port Charles. And she held your son hostage for several years.” Anna gestured across the room where Elizabeth was standing with Bobbie, now joined by Mac Scorpio and his wife Felicia. “And Valentin sent Ava to that clinic where you were being kept. They are the common factor in all of this.”

“They’ve always been interested in playing with people’s heads,” Jason said, almost absently as he remembered the flashing angry eyes of Lucky Spencer and the switchblade he’d held in his hand.

“Precisely. I thought Robert could give us a perspective—”

“Great. Let me know when he gets here,” Jason said, and then abruptly walking away to find Carly.

He didn’t want to think about any of this any more tonight.

And when the sun would shine

The elevator doors opened, and Mike Corbin stepped out, clad in a tuxedo that matched his grandsons behind him. Sonny grinned and stepped forward. “Hey, Mike. Welcome back to Luke’s.”

He took in Mike’s astonishment, felt his smile slip slightly. What if Kevin Collins had been wrong? What if bringing back all of this would just upset his father?

He always felt like he couldn’t do anything right. He never knew what he would say, what would he do to trigger Mike’s irritation, his anger. Kevin could tell Sonny all he wanted that it wasn’t his fault, but damn it, didn’t it have to be somebody’s?

Maybe if he’d been a more forgiving son, a better brother to Courtney—maybe he and Mike could have been closer. What if Mike hadn’t left Port Charles? Sonny would have seen the signs earlier. Medication—something—

It was yours and mine
Yours and mine forever

“We thought it might be nice to bring back some old memories,” Michael said easily as he clapped a hand on his grandfather’s shoulder. “Dad says you were one of the best bartenders in the city.”

“The state, he told me,” Dante offered. “Maybe you want to make us some drinks and settle it.”

Mike swallowed, his eyes looking around. “You…you changed the whole restaurant for this—”

“I’ve been thinking of decorating,” Carly said as she stepped up to her husband, sliding her arm through his. A comfort at his side—thought if twenty years ago, anyone would have told him that Carly would be his solid rock of Gibraltar, he would have though they were insane.  “We don’t have a good old fashioned blues club anymore. Maybe we should invest in one.”

“Maybe.” Mike clapped his hands together with a smile. “Where’s the bar? Let’s get this party started.”

Oh how the years go by

“I can’t think of Luke’s without thinking of Georgie,” Felicia Scorpio murmured to her husband as she took a glass of champagne from a passing waiter. “Do you remember that night?”

“I do,” Bobbie said dryly.

“Oh, I think Lucky told me about this,” Elizabeth said. “You had her in the club, didn’t you?”

“I did. I went into labor right at Luke’s.” Felicia pressed her fingers to her lips. “It doesn’t seem right she’s been gone now for so long.”

“Ten years.” Mac stared down into his beer. “It feels like yesterday. And now, with Maxie—” He shook his head. “I’m sorry. This isn’t—”

“We tried to get her to come tonight. To just get out of the house, but I don’t know. Maybe we shouldn’t push.” Felicia chewed on her bottom lip. “What do you think?”

Bobbie glanced at Elizabeth, tilted her head. “What do you think?”

“What?” Elizabeth blinked. “Oh. Well…I know it’s not the same, but when I thought Lucky was gone—I tried to go back to my old life. Go out with friends. I went to Luke’s, too. But I always felt…pressured to be okay. I didn’t want anyone to worry about me, you know? So I pretended.” Her fingers tightened around the stem of her glass. “Until I almost drowned in the lie.”

Oh how the love brings tears to my eyes

“Oh.” Felicia’s eyes misted over. “Oh, sweetheart. But yes, yes that’s exactly what I think it is happening. We keep trying to bring her out of this, and God knows, Lulu is annoying her with trying to make Maxie forgive her—I just—”

“I don’t want her spin out like she did after Jesse,” Mac said roughly. “I know it’s not a good memory for you, either, Elizabeth—”

“She was so much younger then,” Elizabeth offered. “I always understood it. Lucky was her port in the storm. Her way of feeling normal. She was desperate to find anything that made her feel like she was still part of the world. I felt that way, too. I just…” She lifted a shoulder. “I found someone who would just listen, you know? That’s what she needs. Someone who doesn’t want to fix her. Who makes it okay to live with her memories. Some days are going to be bad. She’s going to want to drown in her grief. And some days are going to be better.”

“We’ll do better.” Felicia touched her arm. “Thank you. I appreciate your advice. And if you and Maxie were on a better footing, I’d say you could be that person—”

“It’s very easy to latch on to the first person you see, to the first person who makes you feel normal.” Elizabeth sighed. “And it’s easier to lose yourself in that lie. But Maxie is stronger than that, Felicia. I promise you that. She’s your daughter. And Mac didn’t raise any fools.”

“On a happier note,” Bobbie said. “Do you remember your first wedding?” she asked Felicia. “The double one with Kevin and Lucy that wasn’t?”

“Oh, of course. One of my favorites.” Felicia took Mac’s hand in hers. “Even if I messed it up later. Elizabeth!” The memory slipped back into her head like lightning. “You caught the bouquet!”

Elizabeth’s startled laughter rang out over the room. “Oh, my God. I completely—I did, didn’t I?” Her cheeks flushed. “I caught it more with my hair, but yeah. Oh, my God. I can’t believe I forgot that.” She shook her head. “It feels like a lifetime ago.”

“It does.” Felicia smiled up at Mac brightly. “We’ve been through hell, you and me, huh? But here we are.”

“Exactly where we’re supposed to be.” He pressed his lips to his wife’s. “You can’t fight destiny.”

All through the changes the soul never dies

“He’s going to be a father,” Carly said, taking a seat next to Jason and setting another Rolling Rock down in front of him. “Can you believe it?”

“No.” Jason exhaled slowly, following Carly’s gaze where Michael was laughing with his grandfather and brother. “I can remember the first time I held him. Bobbie had to show me how—” He stared down at his hands. “He was so small. I was so afraid I would screw it up.”

“I used to feel guilty about abandoning him that first month, that I missed most of his first year,” Carly said. “I still do, but God, looking back, it kills me, Jason, that Michael is the only child you got to raise.”

“I’m—” Jason’s throat tightened. “That’s not true. I’m spending time with Danny now, and—”

“But you’re still not seeing Jake—”

“That’s not—it’s complicated.” Jason shifted. “And you act like I never saw Jake before the accident. I was there when he was born. I held him—”

“Only for Elizabeth to give—”

“Stop.” Jason shook his head. “Just don’t do this, Carly. Jake is my son, and it’s complicated right now. But it’s getting better. He’s alive. I got a miracle. You think I care that he doesn’t love me? I don’t need him to love me. He’s alive, and he’s breathing.”

“Right.” Carly closed her eyes. “Right. Of course. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I guess I still— I blame myself for that, too. If I hadn’t been in such a hurry to keep her out of your life, I don’t know, maybe she wouldn’t have lied—”

We fight, we laugh, we cry

“It wasn’t just you,” Jason muttered. He stared down at the table. “And it’s not your fault. Not entirely. You and Sonny didn’t help, but I didn’t let her tell me anything. I told her it was better Lucky was the baby’s father. And she…”

“Thought it meant you didn’t want him,” Carly said. She tilted her head. “You never told me that before.”

“Yeah, well….” Jason tipped his beer back, took a long swig. “Sometimes it’s easier to forget that the reason Jake isn’t in my life, that he had Lucky at all is as much my fault as it is Elizabeth’s. More.”

“Oh, I doubt—”

“I asked her to marry me ten minutes before I found out Michael was shot, Carly. I stepped away from her. From the boys.” He shook his head. “I have to live with that, not Elizabeth. The first year, maybe that’s on her more than me. But the next three? It’s my fault. So stop blaming Elizabeth for everything that’s wrong in my life.”

“I don’t blame her for everything,” Carly muttered. “I don’t think global warming is her fault.” She looked across the room to find Elizabeth with her mother. “Mike said he talked to her in the church. The day she was supposed to get married. I had forgotten he knew her.”

“Well, she worked at Kelly’s with him and Tammy for years.”

Carly tilted her head. “Do you remember everything about Elizabeth? Good God. I bet you even remember the first time you saw her. No, don’t tell me.” She wiggled her shoulders. “I don’t want to know.” She waited. “No, I do. Tell me.”

Jason sat back, in a mood to rile her up. “Actually, it was at Luke’s. The first time I remember seeing her. The night Nikolas Cassadine was shot. She was with her sister in the parking lot.”

Carly glared at him. “In the middle of the parking lot, while you were performing an emergency tracheotomy, you noticed Elizabeth Webber.”

As the years go by

He shrugged. “I always know who’s around me when shots have been fired. But that’s not what you meant is it? You mean do I remember when we first became friends?” He leaned forward. “What exactly are you asking?”

Carly hesitated. “I’ve been shoving Sam at you pretty…strongly since you came home. I did the same thing when Drew was supposed to be you. I tell myself it’s because I want you to be happy, and you and Sam were married when you….left. But part of me…part of me knows that’s a bunch of bull. Because Drew was going to marry Elizabeth. And I wanted you back in my life. I don’t get to have you when she’s around.”

“Carly—” Jason closed his eyes. Shook his head. “That’s not true.”

“It’s not, no, but I guess…” Carly chewed on her bottom lip. “I guess part of me always remembered when you were hurt. When you were shot. You pushed me away—yes, you had your reasons and they were good ones, but all I felt was rejection. And I knew I was losing you. You told me you loved me, but it didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel true when you said it.”

“I thought it was,” Jason admitted. “I was wrong. I’m sorry—”

“I don’t want to go back to that,” Carly told him. “I don’t—that part of our life is over. I can honestly say I haven’t thought about you that way in decades. But I will always associate losing you with Elizabeth Webber coming into your life, so yeah, I’ve gone out of my way to demolish her in your eyes.” She smiled sourly. “I don’t think I’ve been good at it, huh?”

“You’re my friend, Carly, and I love you. But no. You need to worry about your own family. I can handle my own life.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Carly sighed. “I’m going to go check on the caterer. You should go talk to Monica. She’s been eyeing you up since she came in, and she’s still hesitant to come near you without some sort of engraved invitation.”

There were times we stumbled

“Luke’s seems like it was a pretty cool place,” Dante said, taking a seat next to his brother. “Whatever happened to it?”

“I’m not sure,” Michael said with a shrug. “Dad owned it until that fire with Jason’s garage, and he sold his interest to Luke. I think Luke closed it after Laura got sick.” He looked at the bar. “He seems like it’s a good night tonight.”

“Yeah, it seems that way. I just—” Dante exhaled slowly. “I don’t know how many of those nights we have left. It’s crazy, you know. We can be having a conversation, and he knows me, but halfway through his own sentence, it’s like he forgets me. We were talking about Rocco’s baseball team, and he was telling stories about Sonny playing stickball—and he asked about my ma. Like she wasn’t my mother. He didn’t know who I was.” His voice faltered. “He and I were never close, you know, but he’s always been good to me. And Christ, Michael, it scares the crap out of me.”

They thought they had us down

“Because it could be genetic,” Michael said. He exhaled slowly. “Yeah. Yeah, Dad was saying something about that. I guess I got lucky. I only got addiction in my genes—”

“Yeah, we Corinthos men got the winning hand. Bipolar disorder, dementia…can’t wait to see what else is in store.” Dante shook his head. “I don’t mean that. I’m sorry—”

“Hey, don’t apologize, man. We can’t say this stuff to Dad. He’s already got enough guilt over Morgan.” Michael rubbed the back of his neck. “Grandfather—Edward, I mean—he was sharp until the last few weeks. Even bedridden, he was always there. I mean, he drove me insane, and I wish like hell I had gotten to know him better.” He stared into space. “I’m glad he died before he found out about Jason going off that pier. That he didn’t live to see the last six years.”

“Losing ELQ would have killed him.”

But we came around

“It was never the company,” Michael said with a shake of his head. “I know everyone always thinks Grandfather was obsessed with business, and he was, don’t get me wrong. But it was what ELQ was supposed to represent. It was supposed to be family. He used it to keep the family tied to each other. That’s why he gave out the stock in his will. To make us sit in a room together. We just…never got the hang of it.”

“Do you think about AJ?” Dante said after a long moment.

“Yeah. A lot. Especially now that I’m about to be a father. I think a lot about what it must have felt like for him to always have to prove himself to everyone in his life,” Michael replied. “To constantly have to prove his worthiness to be my father. I wish I had known him better. And I feel guilty I let Dad back in, you know? He shot AJ. He killed him. And he lied to me for months.”

“Sonny raised you, Michael. No one blames you for not being able to forget that—”

“I blame me. He’s father, and I love him. But I can’t pretend it’s not different now. I know Mom wants me to figure out how to get Nelle out of my life, and I get it. Part of me even agrees, but then—”

“You think about who you thought she was.”

“Who she might still be,” Michael corrected. “I don’t know what kind of mother she’ll be. I just—she deserves the chance to do right by our child. I owe my father that. He spent his life drowning in the bottle, lying, stealing, cheating. Trying to live up to an image. And trying to be my father. Nelle…reminds me of him. She lies like someone people breathe, and I know it’s about protecting herself. Mostly.”

“She also loves to stick it to your mother.”

“Yeah, well, Mom doesn’t really endear herself to many people. And she’s got good reasons not to like Nelle either.” Michael shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess…I’m interested to see what happens when the baby is born. How Nelle handles it. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt. Does that make me an idiot?”

“It does,” Dante told him. “But you know, if part of you sees this as atoning for letting Sonny back in your life, then well, who I am to argue? The bastard shot me, and here I am in his life. I let my kid call him Grandpa. We’re all stupid sometimes.”

How we rolled and rambled

Elizabeth flashed a hesitant smile as she stepped up to the bar where Mike was carefully measuring out a drink. “Hey. Word has it you’re making a mean pomegranate martini tonight.”

Mike’s face, so familiar to her, creased in a wide smile. “Elizabeth! The prettiest girl in the room! I was wondering if you’d come over to see me. You want a pomtini? Coming right up.”

Elizabeth slid onto the stool. “You look like you’re having a good time tonight.”

“Oh, yeah, it’s a good day.” Mike nodded. He measured vodka into a shaker, followed by the pomegranate mix. “I still remember you, though.” He tapped his temple. “Hard to forget you with Tammy and Ruby always yelling at you for breaking something or forgetting an order.”

Elizabeth laughed, covered her face with her hands. “Oh, man. You remember how bad I was in the beginning? I was hopeless.”

“Nah. You were young.” Mike shook out the glass. “And you were never meant for that life. Waiting on others. You were supposed to be an artist. Tammy always thought you would set the world on fire.”

Elizabeth sighed and accepted the drink he handed her. “Well, life gets in the way. That’s…that’s not my life anymore.”

“Can’t let that happen. Can’t let excuses get in the way.” Mike hesitated, looked across the room at his son. Elizabeth twisted to follow his gaze where Sonny was talking to Carly. “I have a lot of regrets, Elizabeth. I made so many choices out of fear. I didn’t think I could be a good father, so I ran. Twice. And even when I showed back up, I wasn’t the kind of father my kids deserved. And now…I’m starting to forget my little girl.” Some of the mirth fell from his face. “So few of us remember her. And once I don’t—”

“I remember her,” Elizabeth said. She reached out and squeezed Mike’s hand. “I remember when Spencer was born. How hard she fought for him. Nikolas and Jax aren’t here to tell him that. Laura doesn’t know. I do. Sonny does. We’ll keep her alive for him.”

“You’re a good girl, Elizabeth. Always was. Don’t let Ruby get you down. You’ll be a great waitress yet.” He handed her a bottle of Rolling Rock. “Jason looks low on his drink. Why don’t you take him his order?”

Elizabeth’s throat clenched. Just that quickly, Mike had slipped away from her. Away from the evening. Didn’t remember that that she’d never worked at Luke’s. That she’d given up waitressing more than a decade ago—but she flashed him a smile, picked up her drink and the bottle. “Sure thing, Mike. I hope he still gives good tips. I’ve got my eye on some new shoes.”

“Flash him that pretty smile. You can’t go wrong.”

We got lost and we got found
Now we’re back on solid ground, yeah

Jason sat down at his mother’s table, wishing he had stopped at the bar to get another beer so he’d have something to do with his hands.

Nothing made him feel more awkward than a conversation with the woman who was the only mother he’d ever known. “I’m surprised to see you here tonight.”

“Oh.” Monica lifted a shoulder. “I wanted to be here for Mike. I’ve never changed the way I feel about Sonny and Carly, but they’re apart of your life. And Mike has always been good to me.” She cleared her throat. “How are you doing? We haven’t spoken much since—”

“I haven’t really talked to anyone,” Jason admitted. “I’ve tried to focus on finding out who did this more than…”

“How to pick up your life again.” Monica tilted her head. “It must have been a shock to come home, to find out that you had two sons. Especially Jake.” Monica looked at the bar where Elizabeth was sitting with Mike. “I wasn’t kind to Elizabeth through all of that. And after learning she’d lied about Drew—this whole town turned its back on her. I haven’t been as close to Jake as I would have liked.”

Jason furrowed his brow. Elizabeth had suggested things had been difficult after she’d kept the secret of Drew’s identity, but they hadn’t gotten into it.

They hadn’t spoken about much at all.

“Finding out Jake was alive was a miracle I didn’t—I don’t deserve.” Jason paused. “And Danny—yeah. We’re—it’s a lot.”

“Jake has been close to Drew. It—” Monica waited. “I don’t want to draw any comparisons because I don’t know how fair they are, but I wonder if it was anything like I felt after your accident. You were my son. The little boy I had raised into a man, but you didn’t know me. And you didn’t trust me. You turned to other people for support. To Sonny, even to Bobbie. They became your family.”

Jason clenched his fists at his side. “We all made decisions back then—”

“I don’t blame you. And that’s not why I brought it up. I just…I guess I wanted you to remember how you felt. Being told these people were your family when you didn’t know them.” Monica lifted her hands. “I just wanted to give you some advice that I wish I had listened to back then. I wish anything that Alan and I could have those months back. To do it again.”

“What could you have done differently?” Jason asked. “I’m not as angry as I used to be. I used to—Every thing used to be black and white to me. Right and wrong. I didn’t understand all the things in the middle. I didn’t understand how the Quartermaines could treat one another the way they do and still claim to love each other.”

“Oh, Jason—”

“I’m not entirely sure I get it now,” Jason admitted. “But I know hard it is to be a father. To make choices that you want to take back. You and Alan—even Edward. You all did the best you could.”

“I appreciate that.” Monica reached across, squeezed his hands. “But we could have all been more patient. That’s what I’m suggesting to you now. Jake doesn’t know you. And maybe there a lot of reasons for that that I don’t know about. He doesn’t know you. But he will. And if you’re lucky, if you’re patient, and you just keep chipping away, he’ll change his mind.”

“I know. I can believe that.” Jason squeezed her hands back. “Because I couldn’t have imagined being part of the Quartermaines twenty years ago. And today, I know you’re my mother. And I wish I had been able to let Alan—to let my father back into my life. To get to know Grandfather again. I wish we all could have given each other another chance.”

“Hey, I’m sorry to interrupt,” Elizabeth said with a hesitant smile. “But Mike…forgot who I was while he was talking to me, and he wanted me to bring you order.” She held out a bottle of beer to him. “And I just—I went with it to make sure he didn’t get upset.”

We took everything
All our times would bring

“Oh.” Monica sighed, looked at the bar. “I should go say hello to him. Elizabeth, it’s good to see you. How are the boys? Cameron is what, thirteen now?”

“Fourteen in a few weeks..” Elizabeth flashed a more natural smile as Jason accepted the beer from her and set it in front of him. “I really don’t understand how he’s going to be in high school next year. Aiden’s obsessed with Captain America, and Jake is going through art supplies almost faster than I can—” She broke off. “I mean, they’re fine.”

“I haven’t seen them in a few weeks. We should do something for Jake and Cam’s birthday next month.” Monica got to her feet. “I’ve been meaning to ask you if I could spend more time with Cam and Aiden. I know they’re not mine biologically, but—”

“Oh.” Elizabeth blinked. “Oh. That would be, um, great. It’s been hard—my grandmother—” She swallowed hard. “Since she passed away last summer.”

“I still expect to see Steve or Audrey around the corners at the hospital,” Monica said with a sigh. She turned to Jason. “You don’t remember Steve, but he was there from the beginning.”

“When the hospital opened,” Elizabeth said with a sad smile. “General Hospital was his dream. He’d be so happy with how you and Alan kept it moving forward.”

“And he’d be excited his Lizzie is carrying on the family tradition.” Monica touched her shoulder. “I remember you in the summers. You’d come to the hospital, trailing behind Steven and Sarah, completely bored by everything. You were always dragging markers and notepaper around.”

“General Hospital was always a safe place for me. And being a nurse has let me take care of my boys.” Elizabeth laced her fingers together. “But I should let you and Jason get back to your conversation—”

“No, no, I’m going to go talk to Mike. You stay here. I’m sure you two can think of something to talk about.” Monica flashed a smile down at Jason who just raised his brows at his mother. “After all, you’ve known each other your entire lives. Even if you don’t remember it, Jason.”

In this world of dangers

And at that, Monica left. Elizabeth flashed him an embarassed smile and started to slide away. “I see Bobbie over there, I’ll just—”

“No, no, not until you tell me what my mother meant.” He shoved the chair out with his leg. “We knew each other before my accident?”

“Oh. God. No. I mean, yes.” Elizabeth sat down, setting her martini glass down. “You’re older than me, Jason. You were at the hospital with your parents sometimes. And Steven used to hang out with you sometimes. And I followed him around because he was the only one who didn’t think I was insane. So I was someone’s bratty sister.”

“Okay.” Jason squinted. “Did your brother move? I haven’t seen him.”

Elizabeth winced. “No. He ended up—Heather framed him for something not long after you…He’s in Memphis. Serving a jail sentence for—” She sat back. “So he’s gone.”

He decided not to push her on Steven. “And so is Audrey. I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“It’s…it is what it is. It’s been a bad couple of years.” Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “Jake. He’s the bright spot. His coming home was like a miracle I really didn’t deserve, you know? But I got it anyway. All of my boys. They’re the reason I get up in the morning.” She bit her lip. “We should do more about Jake. I feel bad that I haven’t—I did try to push him a little bit a few months ago. But I let other things get in the way.”

‘Cause when your heart is strong

“Yeah.” He eyed the empty ring finger. “I can see that.”

“Oh. Yeah.” She stared down at her finger. “He stood me up at the altar—but you knew that. And then he lied. About a thousand more times. I guess I deserve it.”

“Why?” he demanded, leaning forward.

You know you’re not alone

Elizabeth squinted at him. “You—I told you why. I mean, you know better than anyone—I lied. I lied a lot.” She huffed. “The last time I saw you, I was—”

“Telling me the truth.” Jason waved that away. “Why does that mean you deserve…” He couldn’t even say the name.

“I lied about Jake—” She stopped. “Drew. But I called him Jake back then. We all did. I told you. Nikolas told me who he was, but I didn’t say anything. Even after we knew little Jake was alive, I kept lying.”

Jason tilted his head. “Why? Because he was supposed to be me?”

“Oh.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Great. You, too. I would have—” She shook her head. “You weren’t here, so I guess I can’t—no. Jake—Drew and I were already—at least I thought we were. He always seems to forget that I was the only one who gave a damn about him when no one else did. Sonny and Sam hated him back then, did you know that? But I didn’t. I was in love with him. So yeah, I didn’t tell him who Nikolas said he was. Because I know how that story ends and I don’t get the happy ending.” She tossed back the rest of her martini.

In this world of strangers

Carly scowled as she stepped back out from the office and saw Jason sitting at a table with Elizabeth. Alone.

Not on her watch.

But before she could take more than a step, Sonny grabbed her elbow, swung her around, and twirled her into a dance. “Nope.”

“But—”

“Uh uh.”

“She’s going to—”

“No.”

Carly scowled. “Sam—”

“They’re adults, Carly. And if nothing else, looking at my father…” Sonny sighed, looked at the bar with Monica and Bobbie were laughing with Mike. “It reminds me we have to grab every scrap of happiness we have while we got it. I don’t know how long I’m going to know your face.”

“Sonny—” Carly looked at him, her dark eyes stricken. “You don’t know—”

“No, I don’t. But anything could happen. I could have another break down. Or I could end up like Mike. And I want to make sure that my family knows how much I love them. And how much I trust them to make their own decisions.”

“Fine.” Carly sighed and leaned into the dance, pressing her cheek against his. “But if she hurts him, I’m going to gut her like a fish.”

“Wouldn’t expect any less from you.”

Oh how the years go by

On the stage, Ned Ashton checked the strings of his guitar, getting ready for his last set of the night. It had been a lot of fun to resurrect Eddie Maine for the night, even though his advisors had told him playing for a reputed mobster’s private party wouldn’t bring him much good press.

“Hey, Eddie, can I have your autograph?”

He grinned and turned to find to former rival, almost wife, and partner in crime leaning against the stage. “Hey. You look like a pinup I once had.”

With a smirk, Alexis Davis tossed back her hair. “You wish. Hell, I wish. I used to be younger.”

Oh how the love brings tears to my eyes

“I wish Lulu had come,” Olivia Falconieri-Ashton said with a sad smile. “Since Maxie ended up staying home.”

“She wanted some time with Rocco and Charlotte.” Dante folded his arms and studied his grandfather at the bar. “You know, mostly I think you made the right choice keeping me away from Sonny.”

“And yet?” Olivia prompted.

“I wish I had known so I’d have more time with Mike. With my grandfather. I had an aunt I never knew. A lot of people in Sonny’s life that he talks about like family, and I guess—” Dante shrugged. “You just wonder about the road not taken. Who would I have been if you’d brought me to Sonny when I was Rocco’s age? If I had known Stone Cates. Courtney. Michael talks about his aunt, sometimes. So did Morgan.”

“Oh, sweetie—”

“Like I said—I get why you made that choice. I just…I wonder.” Dante hooked an arm around his mother’s shoulder. “But you and me did okay, didn’t we?”

“We did. But I learned a lesson. As much as I hate Julian Jerome, I never want to explain those choices again.” Olivia sighed. “So Leo gets to know his dad. And Charlotte gets to know Valentin. All you can do is learn from your past, kid. And hope you took away the right lessons.”

All through the changes the soul never dies

Michael twirled his mother away from Sonny as Ned took the stage again and began his final set. “I’m under strict instructions to keep you occupied.”

“What, did Sonny send up a smoke signal?” Carly muttered. “I’m not going to bother them. He doesn’t look irritated.” She squinted, trying to peak around Michael’s shoulder to get closer. If she could just hear their conversation—

“Mom. Why do you care?”

“What?” Carly snapped her attention back to her son. “What?”

“All my life, you’ve gone out your way to irritate Elizabeth. More than anyone else I’ve ever known. Hell, I remember when Sam had an affair with Dad, you forgave her faster.”

Carly scowled. “I didn’t forgive. I moved on.” She had also possibly repressed that memory.

“Jason was gone for five years. He came home to find out that he has two sons. That someone stole those years from him. He gets to figure this out for himself.” Michael twirled his mother so she faced away from the table where his uncle sat. “And Elizabeth has always been good to me. To Jason. So whatever wrong you think she did—”

“She didn’t—” Carly huffed, rolled her eyes. “She didn’t really do anything. It’s just—I broke him once. I broke him into a million little pieces, Robin ground those pieces into dust, and then Sonny shoved that dust off a cliff. I guess…I’m a little obsessed with making sure he’s all put back together.”

“He looks good to me, Mom. I think you can get off guard duty.”

“For now. But I’m keeping my eyes open.”

Falconieri House: Living Room

We fight, we laugh, we cry
As the years go by

Lulu Falconieri sighed as she switched off the television and picked up her phone to look at the background wallpaper. Dante had told her to change it to something happier, something that didn’t depress her.

But she didn’t want to forget.

It was a photograph from the Christmas Party, and it was the four of them. Bright. Shining. Happy. Planning a wonderful future with their amazing husbands, incredible children, and budding careers.

And they were best friends. Against all odds, they had become each other’s families. And with one decision, with one story Lulu couldn’t take back—

She had shattered that image.

And she needed to remember that. Decisions had consequences.

Maxie & Nathan’s Apartment: Living Room

And if we lose our way

Maxie Jones-West sighed and stared at her missed calls. Her mother had called her twice. Bobbie and her father once. And now her mother had called a third let, which Maxie had let go unanswered.

But this time, Felicia had left her a voicemail, and reluctantly, Maxie pressed play.

“Hey, my darling girl. I just wanted to let you know that your dad and I are going to lay off tonight. And tomorrow. I love you. And I want to do what’s right for you. So if you want to sit in your apartment and cry, do that. If you want me to come over and listen while you scream about how unfair this all is, I’ll do that, too. I love you. And you need to do this in your own time. So you send a smoke signal when you’re ready for us. Make sure you get some sleep, though. Because I’m your mother, and I’m allowed to do that. Nathan loved you, Maxie. And you don’t get over that in six weeks. I love you, baby.”

Maxie pressed her phone to her chest and tilted her head back, letting the tears fall. Oh, God. He was dead. Why did it always have to feel so goddamn fresh and new when she thought about it?

Would she ever get past it?

Any night or day

Elizabeth shoved her chair back, feeling irritated that she’d talked to Jason about any of this. “I’m sorry. You don’t—You didn’t come back from the dead to listen to me whine—”

Before she could get to her feet, he reached out to touch her elbow. “Hey. That’s not what you’re doing. I haven’t seen you in five years, Elizabeth. I mean to me, I guess it was more like six months and I guess sort of it was two years or something since he was here—”

“No, five years—” Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “No, I mean Drew was supposed to be you. But I think part of us all knew—he wasn’t. I kept telling myself he’d been through a lot. That I had put him through a lot, and you know, I always figured I’d finally do something to make you stop giving a damn—”

Well we’ll always be

“Hey—”

“I mean, God, Jason, how much did I hurt you, you know? All that crap with Lucky back when he came home. I accused you of attacking him—and then I—” She shook her head. “And we really don’t have to talk about what a disaster Ric was. I mean, I almost married him again four years ago, so what the hell do I know about learning my lesson, right? And then lying to you about Jake—”

“I don’t blame you for that.”

“Why not?” Elizabeth demanded. “Of course you do. And then when you wanted to Jake save Joss, I slapped you. Like you weren’t losing your son. And that’s just—Anyway. That’s all ancient history. I just wanted to say that I lied to you again that day in the jail. I knew you who you were. I just couldn’t admit that I had blown up my entire life for something that turned out not to be even real.”

“Okay.” Jason tilted his head. “I mean, I knew you were lying, Elizabeth. I can always tell. Except—” He exhaled slowly. “Except with Jake. I mean, I knew something was wrong. But I thought I was just—I was disappointed. I wanted him to be mine, so I guess I thought whatever I was getting from you—”

“We made a lot of mistakes, Jason.” Elizabeth played with the stem of her empty martini glass. “I just wish I knew how to stop making them. I keep trusting people to be honest with me, but I should know better. What right do I have to expect that? I’m a liar, too. Why am I always surprised when people lie to me?”

Where we should be

“Because you usually lie to protect other people,” Jason said gently. “Or to protect yourself from a worst truth.  You said he lied a thousand times. Why didn’t you go before?”

“Because—” Elizabeth closed her eyes. Felt a tear slide down her cheek.  “He stayed.”

Jason furrowed his brow. “Elizabeth—”

“People have a hard time staying,” she confessed in a voice so soft he had to lean forward to catch it. “There’s something wrong with me.  You know that. It’s hard to love me. I expect too much, maybe. And people leave. So…he stayed.”

“There’s nothing—” Jason shook his head, fiercely. “There’s nothing wrong with you. Why would you—”

“Don’t make me do this, Jason. Don’t ask questions you already know the answer to.”

I’m there for you

“What does that mean—”

“You didn’t stay.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “You told me that being with me and the boys—that was all you wanted, but you couldn’t have it. And I believed you. I did. I thought it wasn’t me. It wasn’t Jake or Cam. It was how scary everything after Jake got kidnapped again. It hurt like hell, but I think part of me thought we’d get past it. I’d always found a way to convince you to give us a chance again. But you didn’t mean it.”

“I did—”

“Then why were Spinelli and Sam allowed to be in and out of your life? Kristina. Michael and Morgan. Carly. Brenda. You let all those people be part of your life, Jason. You went back to Sam. You married her. You made sure you and Sam could have children. But me? You left me. So don’t tell me there’s nothing wrong with me.”

She shoved herself to her feet and stalked away towards the terrace. After a beat, he followed.

And I know you’re there for me

Felicia jumped as she felt her cell phone vibrate, shaking her black clutch bag in her hand. With an apologetic smile to Mac, Bobbie, and Kevin, she pulled the phone out and gasped. “Maxie…she just—sent me a text.” Her eyes flooded with tears.

“She says that she loves us. That she knows we want to help. And that if it’s okay, maybe I could come over tomorrow and just watch television so she’s not alone.” She pressed the phone to her chest. “She’s reaching out. To me. Not to Nina. Or that idiot boss of hers. Me. Mac.”

Mac put his arm around her shoulders. Pressed his lips to his wife’s blonde hair. “She’ll be all right.”

“I want to find Elizabeth. To thank her for giving me that advice.” Felicia turned just in time to see Elizabeth rush out the terrace doors and Jason Morgan on her heels.

“This should be my cue to say something about how she could do better,” Mac said, “but considering her track record, he might be not be so bad.”

Bobbie snorted. “If only Robin were here for that. Did you get on tape, Kevin? I need witnesses.”

Oh how the years go by

“Thank you for coming tonight, Grandma,” Michael said he turned Monica around on the dance floor. “I know how hard this all is for you. With—”

“I do feel as though a part of me is betraying AJ by being here,” she murmured. “But he would want me to stand by you. And I want to be here for you. I know how hard it’s been for you these last few months. To bring a baby into the world with a woman you don’t trust. I can only hope good things for you.”

“My child will be loved from the moment it comes into this world,” Michael said. “Just like I was. I had a village to raise me. There are kids out there who don’t get one parent who gives a damn, I can’t get rid of the people who see me as theirs. That’s what I choose to think about. How lucky I was to have AJ. Jason. My mother. Sonny. And you and Grandfather. Aunt Tracy. Ned, even when he’s driving me insane. Dillon. Morgan. Dante. Kristina—I have an army behind me ready to love my child. We can make up for anything.”

“You will be the best of us all,” Monica said, hugging her grandson tightly. “I love you.”

Oh how the love brings tears to my eyes

“Thanks for this,” Mike told Sonny as his son sat at the bar. They watched as Ned broke down the stage, talking to his bandmates. “I don’t—I had some moments I think. I forgot—I forgot sometimes where I was.”

“It’s okay.”

Mike nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I know you mean that.” He looked around the room. “It’s okay because I can’t control it. You’d think it’d be simple. I’d mess something up, someone would correct me, and I would know it. I would know the truth. But that’s—that’s the part that’s going away. I’m going to keep messing up, and I’ll stop believing the truth.”

“Mike—”

“And one day, I won’t even be messing up. I’ll just be gone.” Mike laid his hands out on the bar. “Part of me is already gone, you know. I don’t know what to do. How to stop it. I can’t stop it. You can’t stop it, either. And I know that’s driving you insane. You hate not being able to control things.”

“Yeah.” Sonny cleared his throat. “I can’t stop it, Mike. Neither can you. And neither of us can take back the years or time we missed. But we got now. And we got as many moments as this world will give us, so we have to hold on to them.”

“Yeah.” Mike’s voice was rough. “I want to create as many memories for my grandkids as I can. I won’t be able to remember them but they need them. They need to know me before I was gone. I don’t want them to look back and wish they’d done more. I don’t want them to have my regrets, Sonny.”

“They won’t.” Sonny leaned across the bar, clasped his father’s hand in his. “They won’t. They already know you, they already love you. And we’re going to have more nights like this. Maybe not many. But we got time.”

“Yeah.” Mike’s eyes slid away. “Yeah, we got time.”

And they both knew they were lying. Because, yeah, Mike had time. But maybe he didn’t. Maybe he’d wake up tomorrow and be gone.

How the hell was Sonny supposed to do this?

All through the changes the soul never dies

Jason was already dragging off his suit jacket when he approached her standing on the terrace. She didn’t even flinch as he dropped the fabric over her shoulders.

“I’m sorry. I always make it about me. You’ve been through hell, Jason. And I’ve been the worst kind of friend.”

“Elizabeth—”

“I’m so happy you’re you. That you’re alive. It scares me how happy I am,” she admitted. “And I hate myself for not saying it sooner. For making every conversation about him. I always do that to you. I make it about what Lucky needs. What Ric needs. What Ewan needs. And now—of all people for me to throw in your face—you didn’t sign on to support me through my choices, Jason.” She sighed. “I guess—it’s mostly because I know why you walked away. I never put you first, either. I never made it about you. So what happened—that’s not just on you. That’s on me. We were never going to work. You just saw it first.”

He exhaled slowly, looked out over the skyline of Port Charles. “It was months before I knew how much time had passed. I woke up in the clinic, and I knew it was a while before I could fight off the drugs. I hate pain medication. I always have.”

“I remember. You used to refuse it after you were shot. I had to beg you that winter.”

“I hate losing time,” Jason continued. “After my accident, I had lost the first twenty-two years of my life. I didn’t want to lose any more. So I when I saw that newspaper on the ship back—when I realized it had been five years—” He dipped his head.

“So much of your life has been stolen from you, Jason,” Elizabeth murmured. “Unfair doesn’t seem strong enough.”

“I thought about everyone at home. What it would mean for it be five years. What had happened to Michael? To you? To Sam? Were you happy? Were you okay? And then I saw…I saw Sam with him. She was happy. And you had Jake. You were happy. I didn’t know he was—” Jason shook his head. “Maybe it was better before I came back.”

“No.” Elizabeth shook her head fiercely. “No. Don’t you dare ever say that. No one’s life was better because you were gone. These last five years, Jason? My God. Carly and I almost married Franco. Sam—she almost lost Danny to cancer. Michael has been through hell. I’ve been through hell. When Jake came home, he struggled with what happened. He’s still struggling, and I just—you would have had the words. I kept wishing for you. The old you. Because Drew wasn’t—he isn’t you.”

“Elizabeth—”

“You’ve been home for five minutes, and it’s like a fog has cleared. If you were still gone, I’d probably still be accepting and swallowing every lie—” She pressed her lips together. “You’re the only one who makes me think I do deserve something better. Because you’re the only one who gets so angry at me for destroying my own life.”

“Elizabeth—”

“You don’t even know half of the crap that Sonny and Carly went through. With AJ and Ava—God, if you’d been here for Morgan—” Tears spilled over her lashes. “We hurt without you, Jason. Not with you. I don’t care if you’re complicating Sam’s perfect life. Who the hell cares about her anyway? You matter to me. I want you to matter to Jake. And there’s Michael and Spinelli—”

“Okay.” He held up his hands, chagrined. “I’m sorry.” Jason managed a smile. “I forgot how you get when you’re mad.”

“Well, don’t mess with me then.” She jabbed a finger in his chest. “We’re going to find out who stole you from us, Jason. I have an opening in my schedule, and I’m not going to rest until I help you get to the truth.”

We fight, we laugh, we cry

She looked up at him for a long moment and then moved into to hug him tightly. “I’m so glad you’re you, and that you’re home. Don’t you ever forget how much we all love you.”

“I won’t.” He pressed his lips to the top of her head. “You deserve more than better, Elizabeth. Stop settling for anything else.”

“I’ll just have to start listening to you more.” She pulled away with a watery smile. “You’re always right, anyway.”

As the years go by