I wrote this in 42 minutes, give or take about ten seconds. Not edited for content, spelling, or grammar. Alternate universe and a new version of the short Micro Fiction series, Birthdays and Anniversaries.
When the leaves changed color in upstate New York during the fall and the cafes began stocking pumpkin spice in bulk, not everyone was overjoyed.
In fact, for the last two years, when the short summer season signaled the coming of autumn, Elizabeth Webber considered hibernation. The bears had the right of it.
She’d once been ambivalent about this season — years of going back to school or beginning a new semester at college and later law school never triggered much excitement.
But Halloween and her birthday day after? Those had been holidays to anticipate with glee. She’d once scoured newspapers and internet listings for haunted houses to explore. She and her small group of friends had made it an all night event in college and law school — celebrating the candy filled horror and the passing of another year in life.
And in the two years after law school, when friends had scattered and she’d settled into her job as an assistant district attorney in her hometown of Port Charles, Elizabeth and her long time best friend, Emily Morgan, had created a new tradition.
They’d watch scary movies and hand out candy and sit up all night talking. Catching up with gory stories of Emily’s first year as an intern at General Hospital and Elizabeth’s first foray in the legal system.
Her birthday and Halloween had always seemed like the same holiday to Elizabeth.
Until it was the two days of the year she’d do anything to wipe from the calendar altogether.
She tried not to think about it anymore, and after the first year and therapy, she did an okay job of it.
But this year, the leaves had changed and it was harder to forget.
“Take a vacation,” her other oldest friend, Robin Scorpio, had suggested. “Just get away from Port Charles for a few days.”
“Avoid people and social media,” her boyfriend Patrick had added. “Like the plague.” He seemed to reconsider it for a moment. “You should just do that in general.”
But as September began to slip away and October was just around the corner, Elizabeth had made no plans to leave.
Leaving felt like a defeat. An admission that the last time she’d celebrated Halloween or acknowledged her birthday…it would continue to destroy her life. That the nightmare wasn’t over.
Not that she had much of a life left, she thought to herself as she let herself into the cramped suite of offices she shared with her law partner, Johnny Zacchara. She frowned when she saw that their receptionist, Maxie Jones, wasn’t behind her desk.
“Johnny?” she asked, poking her head into the office next to her own. “Where’s Maxie? Did she call out?”
“No.” Johnny stood, his handsome features twisted into concern. “She’s usually pretty good about opening the place up, but she hasn’t called yet. Should we call her?”
Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. “It’s only nine. Let’s give her a bit more time. Maybe she forgot her phone. Or didn’t set it.”
Her cell began to ring even as she started to cross the tiny lobby to her own office. She dumped her bag on the chair in front of her desk and fished the cell from inside. “Elizabeth Webber.”
“Liz? Oh, my God. You have to come. Right now.”
The panicked words fell on top of one another as Maxie Jones continued to speak, and Elizabeth had difficulty deciphering them.
“Maxie, calm down. Take a breath. Where are you?”
“The police department. Um, I’m at—” There was a moment as her voice was slightly muffled. “The fourth district. Downtown somewhere. They’ve got Dillon.”
“Dillon?” Her pulse picked up. “What do you mean, they’ve got Dillon? Where?” Oh, God.
“In interrogation. They’re threatening to arrest him, he asked for a lawyer and they ignored him or something, and then he managed to convince them to call someone. Georgie called me because of you, but I thought she was insane. Or mistaken. Dillon wouldn’t hurt a fly. So I came here first just to be sure, and holy shit, Liz. They’re holding him for manslaughter, and they’re not listening to me about a lawyer.”
“The Fourth District?” Elizabeth repeated. “Okay. Okay. Breathe. Tell whoever is in charge they’re about to get a fax about representing Dillon and if whatever asshole is questioning my client after he asked for an attorney is interested in getting a boot up his ass.”
Behind her, Johnny had come in, overheard part of the conversation, and was already pulling up something on her computer. Probably the letterhead so he could type the fax.
“Maxie, why didn’t Dillon call Jason?”
“Oh.” Maxie hesitated. “Jason left the department last year, I think. Or something. Maybe Dillon didn’t think to ask. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Jason’s not a lawyer. You are. Come down here and make them let him go.”
“I’ll be right there, Maxie.” She shut her phone and tapped it against her forehead just a moment.
“Or maybe he called Jason, who got the ball rolling to get to you and Maxie isn’t telling you.”
Johnny even tone had her turning with a frown. “There’s no reason not to tell me. Jason and I aren’t…we’re not not talking. We just…haven’t talked.”
“He’s been going through a lot in the last two years. His parents moved to Arizona, his brother went to New York. I think Maxie said his marriage fell apart, and apparently he left the department.”
Johnny raised his brow. “And his sister was brutally murdered.”
Her chest squeezed. “Johnny—”
“And you barely survived the same attack.”
“You think I don’t know—”
He rose and set the sheet in the fax machine. “Look, I’m just saying, I get it. You both look at each other as the reason Emily was in the middle of things. Diego Alcazar wanted to swipe at the cop who arrested him and the attorney who was prosecuting them.”
“I can’t think about this right now,” Elizabeth said as she tossed her cell back in her bag and looped it over her shoulder. “The Fourth District has Jason’s cousin—Emily’s cousin—in interrogation on charges of manslaughter, and God knows how long he’s been talking without me.”
She turned back at the door to look at him. “Jason and I were barely friends when Emily died. He was my best friend’s older brother. Always in college, always doing something else. We only knew each other really that last year when we started to work some of the same cases. He didn’t owe me anything when it happened. And honestly, looking at him—it was too hard. So yeah, we didn’t keep in touch. It doesn’t make him the bad guy.”
“Doesn’t make him a great guy,” she heard him mutter as she left the office.
Dillon had not called his older cousin. When the cops had pulled him out of bed in the middle of the night, he’d cooperated. He had nothing to hide, and he wasn’t going to play the My cousin is a kick-ass cop card.
Because it wasn’t true, and hell, Jason hadn’t worked at the Fourth District so maybe these assholes didn’t even know him.
By the time Dillon worked out that his car had been at the scene of a hit and run resulting in the serious injury of an elderly woman who had later died in the hospital and he was the primary suspect—well, by then, he’d used his only call to tell Georgie he’d be missing class in the morning.
He’d asked for an attorney then, but somehow they’d talked him out of it. He still wasn’t sure how that worked.
“Let’s go over it again,” the bald one said. He was angry. One of the guys who seemed like he thought everyone was guilty of something and all that was left to figure out was what crime had been committed.
“What’s to go over?” Dillon demanded. “I parked my car around three yesterday. I worked until like two last night on a project for school. You guys pulled me out of my bed at four.” He rubbed his eyes. “That’s all I know.”
“Look, we get it. Freedom in college. You’re enjoying yourself. Maybe you had too much to drink—”
He scowled. “I want an attorney.”
“We’ve been over that—”
“Nope. It’s been six hours. I’m done now. Attorney.”
“I can spell that for you if you want,” Dillon said, his teeth clenched. “Let me call my attorney.”
“Why do you have an attorney? You got a record we don’t know about?” the bald one pressed.
“My girlfriend’s sister works for one. Elizabeth Webber. She’s…well, I’ve never asked her before but I’ve known her all my life. She’ll represent me. Let me call her.”
“You got her direct number?”
There was a knock on the door, and then it opened. Like a manna from heaven—there she stood. Five foot nothing, brunette, and pissed as hell.
“You charging my client with anything?” Elizabeth demanded.
“It’s his car,” Baldy began.
“And witnesses who said it was him behind the wheel? Proof he wasn’t exactly where he said he was?” Elizabeth held out her hand. “Arrest warrant or we’re walking.”
They stared at one another for a long moment before Baldy looked at Dillon, disgusted. “Get out of here.”
“Don’t open your mouth,” Elizabeth said as Dillon passed her. She pushed him out of the interrogation area and through the squad room. Neither of them said anything until they reached the parking lot, where Maxie, her sister Georgie had been joined by Lucas Jones and Damien Spinelli.
There were hugs and relief, and measures of gratitude directed at Elizabeth, who allowed it for a minute.
“What did you tell them? What did they say?” she demanded.
“My car was found abandoned a block away from a hit and run,” Dillon told her. “A woman was hit.” He swallowed. “She died like an hour ago. I didn’t know what they were asking for, Liz. I swear. They came in at four this morning, hauled me out of bed, put handcuffs on me.”
“He called me because he just thought he was coming in to talk about his car,” Georgie said. “I came to see what was going on, and they refused to let me see him. I got worried, so I asked Maxie for your number.”
“And I printed up a letter of representation,” Maxie said without shame. “But it wasn’t signed by you or Johnny, so they refused to take it. So I had to call you.”
“I just told them I don’t know anything. I came home from class at like three. Parked my car in the driveway. Worked on a project pretty much until two.”
“I can confirm that,” Lucas said as Spinelli nodded. “He was holed up in his room the whole night while me and Spinelli were playing Call of Duty. I mean, he could have gone out his window, but why?”
“And when did you notice your car missing?” Elizabeth asked.
“We didn’t hear anything. Video game was loud and, uh, we may have been too.” Lucas’s cheeks flushed, but Elizabeth understood the way some guys played video games—as if they were going to war. And if they’d had their headsets on.
“Okay. You don’t talk to them again. They’ve got my card. They go through me from now on.” Elizabeth pressed a hand to her head. “Go home. I’ll be in touch—”
A green SUV pulled into the spot next to Spinelli’s second-hand beat up Datsun. Elizabeth watched as Jason Morgan slid out, his long legs quickly eating up the space between him and his cousin.
“Why the hell didn’t you call me?” he demanded, folding the younger man into a rough hug that looked half affectionate, half-irritated. “Did you even mention me?”
Dillon shrugged, swallowed. “Didn’t think of it honestly. But Georgie got it all going.” He glared at her. “And I guess you called him.”
“You’re suspected of manslaughter, you dink,” Georgie shot back.
“You got him out?” Jason asked as he focused on Elizabeth for the first time. His chiseled features twisted in relief as he stepped forward for just a moment—maybe to hug her or something. But then he didn’t. “Thank you.”
“Hopefully the crime scene report will have someone else’s prints,” Elizabeth said with half a shrug. “And I’ll send over Lucas and Spinelli as alibi witnesses, for what it’s worth.”
“I’ll make a call of my own,” Jason said to Dillon. “Between the two of us, we’ll get this taken care of.”
“Great,” Dillon said with great relief. “Can I go now? I got two hours of sleep and I’m supposed to work tonight, and I got class—”
“Get out of here and remember—”
“Don’t talk to the police,” he muttered. “Yeah, yeah. You’d think they were the enemy.”
Jason remained while the five of them crammed into Spinelli’s car. “If I were still on the beat, I’d write them a ticket for reckless endangerment,” he muttered as the car left the lot.
“Considering the way you used to pile football players into your sad little Chevrolet,” Elizabeth said with half a smile.
He looked at her then, the first time they’d been in the same room since he’d visited her in the hospital after the attack. “Hey.”
“Hey.” She shifted. “It’s, um, nice to see you.”
He managed half a laugh as he shook his head. “You don’t mean that, but thanks.” Jason gestured to the cafe across the street. “Let me buy you a coffee. We can catch up and talk about making sure my cousin doesn’t get into anymore trouble.”
“All right,” she said with a half-hearted shrug, even though everything in her screamed to refuse.