This was going to have a second scene, but I got halfway through it and hated it. So next time 😛 This is a bit shorter, written in 40 minutes.
It had been two years since he’d been in the same room as Elizabeth Webber, and before then, he could only remember a handful of times he’d run into her since she and his sister had moved back to Port Charles.
Growing up, she had been in and out of his house as often as Emily, but she’d always seemed…so young. He’d been a senior—she and Emily in middle school. He was in his first year at the PCPD when they’d gone to prom. There just…hadn’t been a reason to know her any better.
Until that last year when she’d been assigned to Violent Crimes at the district attorney’s office and had been overseeing the warrants and legal paperwork he’d needed investigating a string of rape-homicides.
He watched her from the corner of his eye as they cross the street to the Starbucks, and then held the door for her. She didn’t look much different. Still short, but the length of chestnut hair he vaguely remembered had been cut to something sharper, just beneath her jawline.
She looked older, but it wasn’t just the hair. The eyes were older. And he couldn’t help but look at her collarbone, where a thin, thin jagged scar snaked out beneath the blue blouse she wore.
“So,” he said as they waited in the order line. “You left the DA’s office.”
“Yeah. I couldn’t—” She lifted a shoulder, but it was a jerky movement—it wasn’t the casual gesture she’d intended. “I needed a more flexible schedule.”
“Yeah.” He ordered a black coffee and his gut twisted as he listened to Elizabeth order a hot chocolate. His sister’s favorite drink, and now, he remembered—it was something they’d had in common.
Jason didn’t think about Emily much these days. He had some photos of her hanging around, and sometimes he mentioned her to his parents or to his former sister-in-law, but he found it easier to just…not think about her.
Drinks in hand, they went outside to the terrace. It was empty this time of day—the change in season had brought a breeze that others weathered inside.
“You left the PCPD,” she said, as if there hadn’t been five minutes of silence as they settled themselves.
“Yeah. Well…my priorities changed.” It had been the last desperate attempt to salvage his marriage. After Emily, his wife Courtney had been…unable to handle the implied danger and threat. If one of Jason’s criminals came after his sister, well wouldn’t she be next?
And since he’d taken a vow, he left the department. It still hadn’t saved their marriage, and now Jason missed the work.
“What do you think they’re going to do with Dillon?” she asked. “I never worked with the Fourth District, but…they didn’t look like they’d let this case go.”
“Yeah, the Fourth has a reputation of being a bit cowboy,” he admitted. He’d worked out of Central, overseen a squadron of detectives. “One of my guys worked there for a while. Their lieutenant is a bit…enthusiastic. Taggart.” He sipped the coffee. “Death of an elderly woman. A young guy accused of it. There’s not a lot to tie him to it, but if those crime scene reports come back without any prints for someone else—”
“His alibi isn’t great. Lucas and Spinelli said they didn’t see him leave, but if they had headsets on—”
“I’ve seen those idiots play. They wouldn’t know if a marching band came through.” Jason exhaled slowly. “They’re not gonna hold.” He flicked his eyes to hers. “Look, after…I left the department and—well, anyway, I’m certificated as private investigator. I mostly work for other law firms. Some insurance work. You’ll need someone. I’ll do it for nothing.”
She bit her lip, said nothing, and sipped her hot chocolate. “We don’t know if we have to worry about any of that,” Elizabeth began.
“If we do.”
“I mean, I’d be stupid to say no,” she admitted. “I doubt Dillon can afford me, much less a PI. And don’t even say it—of course, I’m not charging him. I used to baby sit him and—” She looked away. “He came to the hospital a few times to see me.”
And then Emily was between them again. They’d been able to ignore it while they were talking about Dillon, but the hospital brought it back.
“Listen, I wanted to apologize about—I wanted to back then. It just never felt like the right time, and then you left your job—”
“There’s nothing to apologize for,” Elizabeth said with a shrug. “Everyone was upset. And it was just…it was bad. And—” She sighed. “It was easier in a lot of ways that your family kind of…”
Abandoned her, but Jason didn’t say it. Elizabeth’s family had left the area while the girls had been in college, and Elizabeth had come back to Port Charles because of Emily.
And after Emily died—
“I moved,” she said. “Robin packed up some of my things. I couldn’t go back. And the DA’s office was kind, but they…couldn’t give me the time off I really needed. So I left and went into private practice. Johnny and I have nearly starved, but it’s starting to get better. My therapist says I have avoidance issues. She wanted me to call you last year on the first—” Elizabeth shook her head. “But I didn’t.”
“I wanted to call you,” he told her. “But I didn’t think you’d want to hear from me.” He shifted in his seat. “Still, I never should have said it was your fault—”
“It was,” Elizabeth said flatly. “It was mine. It was yours. Because we did our job, and Emily was always the target. That’s why I’m not dead. So yeah, I’d say we each have like one percent responsibility. But that’s it. The rest of it belongs to Diego Alcazar.”
To hear her state the situation so bluntly, to have his thoughts put into words without any attempt soften them—
It shouldn’t have felt reassuring.
“Everyone told me it wasn’t my responsibility,” he said after a moment. “The captain. Hell, the commissioner. My parents. Courtney. It was just the job. The price of doing the work.”
“Our contact information is hidden like that does anything.” She snorted. “He followed me home from work. Had followed me every day for two weeks.”
“You didn’t—” He swallowed the words.
“I didn’t know it then. He told me while he was—” Elizabeth swallowed, looked away. “If I had looked over my shoulder, or watched the cars on the road. Maybe I would have been able to see him. Arrest him. It was my fault for being stupid. For doing a man’s job.” Her voice trembled. “So he wanted to make sure I knew what a woman was good for.”
He wanted to reach across the small metal table, just to to touch her hand. To let her know she wasn’t alone.
“He sent me pictures,” Jason said after a moment, the words forced from his chest. If she could open herself up, the least he could do was offer something in return. “Of…you. Of…Emily. During. After.” He swallowed. “And before. He’d stalked Emily, too. I didn’t know about you.”
“I used to blame you a lot more,” she admitted. “If you could have just found him, arrested him. And that’s not fair,” she added quickly. “You did the best you could. I know what that case was doing to you. How hard you were all working.”
“Didn’t matter.” Jason shoved the coffee aside. “Couldn’t find him then. They took me off the case after. They still—last known confirmed sighting was somewhere in Mexico.”
It had been the worst part of it — to know that the son of bitch who’d butchered his sister and all those other women—that he still had his freedom. That he hadn’t been caught.
“I’ve had to to figure out a way to live with that.” She lifted her chin slightly. “Anyway, all that’s to say is that I never held what you said in the hospital against you. Nothing to apologize for.” She lifted her bag into her lap. “Do you have a number where I can reach you if the PCPD decides to go further against Dillon?”
“Yeah.” He reached into his wallet and dug out of one of his cards. When she put her fingers around it, he didn’t let go right away. Their eyes met. “Thanks for helping Dillon. He’s an idiot, but he’s mine.”
“He was Emily’s,” she said simply. “And now he’s mine, too.”
He released the card. She slid it into the bag and then walked away, crossing the street back to the PCPD parking lot where her car remained. He watched her get in, back up, and then pull into traffic.