Being me can only mean
Feeling scared to breathe
If you leave me then I’ll be afraid of everything
That makes me anxious, gives me patience, calms me down
Lets me face this, let me sleep, and when I wake up (I wake up, I wake up)
Let me be
– Afraid, The Neighbourhood
Tuesday, December 2, 2003
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“All right, baby watch, Day Three,” Carly said as Francis pushed the door open and she bustled in, pushing Morgan’s portable bassinet. “Let’s pop this sucker out today, what do you say?”
Elizabeth smiled, but just leaned her head back against the arm of the sofa. “From your mouth to God’s ears. Ugh.” Since Kelly had told her at her doctor’s appointment three days earlier that she was two centimeters dilated and that it could be any day now, Carly and Sonny had decided she should ever ever be alone.
Ever. Ever. Carly still remembered her difficult delivery of Michael, and Sonny…well, he was just a control freak. So they both alternated in the penthouse during the day, with the help of Audrey and Nadine, and Marco and Ricky, her evening guards, alternated spending the night in one of the guest rooms while the other sat on the door.
She hadn’t had a moment’s peace in three days, but she wouldn’t know what to do with that peace anyway. Strange that the penthouse seemed more quiet without Jason since he wasn’t much of a talker, but well…such was life. He’d made the choice to leave and his missing the birth of her child told her everything she needed to know about how he felt about her daughter.
“Morgan’s taking his nap, so let’s just hope he stays down for a few hours.” Carly grinned down at him and then at Elizabeth. “I’m getting good at this mom thing. Michael’s a breeze, always was. By the time I came home from the nuthouse, Jason had him on such a schedule that I barely had to do any work—” She coughed. “Not that we’re talking about it.”
“It’s fine, Carly.” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “Just because Jason and I aren’t going to work out—” She paused when she heard Carly muttering under her breath across the room. “What was that?”
“You’re both dumb bastards,” Carly said, her hands on her hips. “I bet you didn’t even let him get a word in edgewise while you broke his heart, and then he’s dumb enough to let you get away with it. This is what happens when I don’t take a hands on role in helping.”
“What exactly would you have done differently?” Elizabeth demanded. “I gave him months to step up, to talk about the future. I asked him dozens of times—”
“Ah, can it, Muffin. You and I both know you did not ask him straight out.” Carly waved her hand. “I don’t blame you, because I told Jason what you were thinking because a blind man could have seen it, but he wasn’t going to ask straight out either, because you were both so damn sure of the answers.”
“Nope. You didn’t say to his face: Jason, I love you. I want to be a family. Do you want to be a family with me with Cady? Do you want her to be your daughter?” Carly huffed. “I told him that’s what you were freaking out about, but does anyone ever listen to Carly? Nope. And he never said to your face: Muffin, I love you—”
“—he wouldn’t call me Muffin, for one—”
“I want Cady to be mine, blah, blah. Cowards.” Carly tucked Morgan in more tightly. “But I guess I figure it’s what he didn’t say that matters.”
“Carly.” Elizabeth looked at her. “Is that why you were nice to me? And asked me to be Morgan’s godmother? Because you were pushing me and Jason together? Because if that’s the only reason, then let me know right now so I can be prepared for things to go back to the way they used to be.”
“Oh…” Carly sighed. “You mean, like Courtney said that day at Kelly’s, that you were only family until Jason dropped you, like she was. Hey, I was only nice to her because I thought she’d be good for Jason. That wasn’t true. You…” She eyed Elizabeth. “You’re different. Sonny’s not going to let me get rid of you as easily.”
“Would you if you could?”
“It’s usually a reflex,” Carly admitted. “I think Jason learned it from me. You push people away before they can leave you. You test them. And if they go, they failed.” She sighed. “You know what’s what he’s been doing to you. He thought you were going to leave anyway.”
“And he did nothing to stop me, like always.” Elizabeth closed her eyes and winced as Cady whacked her in the ribs. “If it were just me, Carly, I’d stay, but—”
“It’ll never be just you again, so you’ve got to plan accordingly.” Carly shrugged. “We are where we are. I’m not giving up.” She frowned. “Muffin, you’re making that face again.”
“I think Cady’s trying to move into my bladder or…something.” Elizabeth shifted and started to sit up. “Crap. Can you help?”
Carly came forward and helped Elizabeth into a sitting position. “You sure that’s all it is?”
“Don’t get too excited—” Elizabeth broke off, as everything inside her clenched at once and she lost her breath. “Oh, son of a bitch.”
“Contraction?” Carly demanded. “Or the Braxton-Hicks like they were last month? Tell me, Muffin—”
“Remember…my grandmother told me that I’d know the difference between false and real contractions?” Elizabeth asked. “Um…I do. Get the clock out. Start timing these.”
“Yeah, yeah…” Carly grabbed the stopwatch from the table, and then headed for the door. “Francis!” she yelped, pulling it open. “I’m gonna need Sonny here stat. And get Leticia so she can take Morgan home and pick Michael up. We got a baby coming!”
She turned back to Elizabeth and sat next to her on the couch, placing a hand on her shoulder. “Muffin…you’re crying—”
“I thought I could do this,” Elizabeth whispered, her fists clenched. “I thought I was okay with Jason missing her birth, but I love him so much, I really do and I just don’t understand why he doesn’t love me, why he doesn’t love her?”
“Oh…” Carly hesitated and then glanced around as Sonny came through door. “Hey. Get her bag out of the closet. She just had her first noticeable contraction, so we’re waiting for the next one to time it.”
“Got it. I’ll call ahead at the hospital,” Sonny said. He opened the closet and pulled out a duffle bag that had been prepared a few weeks earlier. “You want me to call your grandmother? Nadine?”
“Um…” Elizabeth gasped and blindly reached out for something to hold. Carly offered her hand and Elizabeth clutched it. “My gram…yes, but um….Nadine had to go to New York to see her sister. Some sort of emergency, how long was that, Carly?”
“Seven minutes between contractions.” Carly narrowed her eyes. “Unless your water breaks, we’re supposed to wait, right?”
“Um…” Elizabeth hesitated. “I may… have been having some odd twinges all day. I thought…” She closed her eyes. “Carly, don’t let him call Jason,” she whispered. “I don’t want him to feel like he has to hurry back—”
“Muffin…” Carly glanced at her husband but Sonny had stepped into the hallway to make some phone calls. “I know you’re angry at him—”
“Please. I don’t want Jason there. He doesn’t want to be there, so I don’t want him there.” Another sharp wave of pain. “Oh, man, Carly…that was one was faster—”
“We’re down to five minutes. Sonny!” Carly called.
Harborview Towers: Hallway
Sonny punched Jason’s speed dial and was relieved when his friend didn’t ignore the call. “Jase, how far away are you?”
“Two hours out of Port Charles,” Jason said. “What’s going on?”
“Elizabeth’s in labor. We’re not leaving for the hospital yet, it just really kind of started…” He glanced back towards the door where Francis was standing, alert. He hadn’t told Carly or Elizabeth Jason was on his way home, because he intended to have it out with the bastard as soon as he stepped off the plane. “Call when you land, and I’ll let you know if we’ve gone to the hospital.”
“All…all right. Is…she in a lot of pain?”
“Do you really give a damn?” Sonny snarled. “Because if you did, I’d be on that plane and you’d be standing here making phone calls and you’d be holding her hand instead of Carly. For once, Jason, we’re cleaning up your mess. But you’re coming to the damn hospital if I have to drag you kicking and screaming.” He slammed his phone shut.
Francis raised his eyebrows. “If Miss Webber doesn’t want him there—”
“Oh, don’t start with me, Francis,” Sonny said, dragging his hands through his hair. “They’re going to work this out, eventually. Even if I have to lock them in a room until they do. And when they do, he’ll kick himself for missing it.”
“I see Mrs. C is rubbing off on you.”
“Sonny!” Carly called from inside. She stepped up to the door. “What did Kelly say?”
“Bring her in when the contractions are four minutes apart,” Sonny said. “And Jason was flying back today anyway, he’ll land in two hours.”
“Oh, frick. You called him? She doesn’t want him there.”
“Well…” Sonny scowled. “She’ll have to suck it up. I got a call from Vega last night wondering what the hell we were doing up here with the father of this supposedly in danger child off gallivanting out of the country. I can’t have them on my ass right now.”
“Fine.” Carly folded her arms across her chest and nodded toward the inside of the penthouse. “You go tell the woman in labor she’ll have to suck it up. Go right ahead.”
“I hate everyone in this world right now,” Sonny said fervently.
General Hospital: Maternity Ward
The elevator doors slid open and Jason started for the nurse’s station to ask which room Elizabeth was in. He had prolonged his trip in Puerto Rico as long as possible, but he couldn’t put it off coming home any longer. Ric, if he’d been there, was now long gone and he worried that the problems down there had been a distraction, to divide their resources.
Before he reached the hub, he heard Sonny call his name. He turned to find Carly and Sonny standing in the waiting room. “Hey. I got here as soon as I could—”
“Audrey’s in with Muffin right now,” Carly said briskly. “She wanted a little alone time with her grandmother. Her contractions slowed down once we got here, but her water broke about ten minutes ago. She’s dilated six centimeters.”
“Is she in pain?” Jason asked, feeling completely useless and ignoring the heat of Sonny’s glare. “How is she?”
“Well, bastard, you can go in and find out for yourself,” Carly hissed. “If you even give a damn, because I’m the one who was there when this happened and she asked me not to tell you.”
Jason’s hands had been in fists at his side, but at that, they loosened and he swallowed hard. “She doesn’t want me in there, does she?”
“I don’t know, but I know that Sonny keeps telling me we don’t have a choice. You at least have to make this look good.” Carly jabbed him in the chest. “You listen to me, you dumb son of a bitch, you’re going to go in there and you’re going to be the best father you know how to be. I know you’re amazing at it, I know you want this baby. I know you want the Muffin, so what the hell is your goddamn problem?”
“Carly.” Sonny took her by the shoulders and pulled her back. She turned on him, her voice raw with anger and pain.
“No, Sonny, he’s wrecking everything and he doesn’t even see it—”
“Carly, it’s not the time or place,” Sonny told her quietly. He looked at Jason. “Vega’s suspicious, and if he is, he’d be talking to Ruiz. Hector Ruiz is not a man you want looking twice at your personal affairs, so whatever your issues with Elizabeth are, you need to at least go in there and make an appearance.”
General Hospital: Elizabeth’s Room
Elizabeth was floating a little from the drugs, but her head hurt and her eyes were tired. She just wanted to have her daughter. She wanted her to be here, so she could start the next part of her life.
“Darling, just breathe,” Audrey murmured. “I don’t understand why Jason had to go out of town so close to the due date—”
“Unavoidable, Gram,” Elizabeth murmured. She saw the door push open, and then Jason was there, standing hesitantly just inside. “What…” She remembered her grandmother at her side. “You’re here.”
“I was flying back today…” Jason stepped forward and cleared his throat. “Sonny called me, so I came straight here. How…are you doing?”
Elizabeth glanced at her grandmother, who was beaming. “Gram, can…Jason and I have a moment?”
“Of course, darling.” Audrey kissed her forehead and squeezed Jason’s arm as she passed out of the room. When the door closed behind her, Elizabeth let her head fall to the pillows.
“What are you doing here?” she asked flatly. “Making it look good for everyone else?”
“Elizabeth, I wanted to be here,” Jason said. “I just…didn’t know how to tell you what I was thinking—”
“Well, that’s too bad for you, because now I no longer care—” She gasped, as one of her contractions appeared to break through the haze of the drugs and steal her breath. Jason was at her side, and she found herself clutching him, trying to get through the pain.
“I know I made you think I didn’t want Cady—”
“You don’t, you don’t…” Elizabeth closed her eyes, and felt the tears slide down her cheeks. “And I can’t…you can’t be in here. I don’t want you in here. I…spent my whole life not mattering to my parents, not having my father love me the way I wanted him to. My daughter is never going to know that. Not for one minute, one second am I going to let you make her think there’s something wrong with her—”
“There’s nothing wrong with her,” Jason cut in, his voice rough. “Or you. I do want her—”
“No, you don’t.” Her chest was heaving now from the force of her sobs. “Just go. I don’t want you. Go. I want…” She gasped. “I want Carly. Tell Carly I want her. Not you. I want you to go.”
“Just go. Go!” she repeated when he didn’t move. “You’ve walked away from me so many times, Jason. One more isn’t going to change things.”
General Hospital: Maternity Ward Waiting Room
Sonny leapt up from his chair, Audrey and Carly at his side when Jason stepped out, his face ashen. “What’s going on?” Sonny demanded.
“She…” Jason took a deep breath and looked at Carly. “She wants you in there, Not me.”
“Me…but…” Carly hesitated, looking at Audrey for a moment, before looking back her best friend. “Jase…you should be in there. I know…she’s angry with you, but—”
“It’s fine.” Jason swallowed hard. “Mrs. Hardy, I know Elizabeth wants you back in there.”
“I’ll try to talk to her, Jason,” Audrey promised him. “Sometimes mothers in labor are a little unpredictable, and I know Elizabeth wasn’t happy about you taking that trip.” Her lips thinned. “None of us were, but that’s water under the bridge. I’ll talk to her—you should be in there with her.” Audrey disappeared into the room.
Carly narrowed her eyes. “What did you say that makes Elizabeth want me and not you in the room? Because, I assure you, you said something.”
“It’s all the things I didn’t say,” Jason said finally. He cleared his throat. “She’s asking for you, Carly. Would you please, for me, go make sure she has everything she needs?”
“You see what happens when you’re a good person, Sonny?” Carly growled. “Nothing good.” She followed Audrey in the room.
Sonny wiped his mouth and sat back in his chair. “I don’t get you, Jason. I really don’t. All these months, you’ve gone through this charade to protect her and I know…you tried to say it was because you owed her, but I always knew the reasons even if you didn’t want to verbalize it. I thought you two were going to get it together this time, that you were going be a family.”
“I wanted that,” Jason admitted. “But I didn’t know how to make it happen. I told you, Sonny. Elizabeth never stays. She keeps telling me I don’t give her a reason to, but I don’t know what she’s looking for.”
Sonny exhaled slowly and leaned back against the wall, closing his eyes. Sometimes he forgot that Jason Morgan had not existed for more than eight years, and maybe he really just didn’t get it, that sometimes words were important, that sometimes reassurances mattered. “Jason, do you love her?”
“Just answer me.”
Jason was quiet for a moment. “Yes. I love her. I have for…a long time now. But—”
“When she moved in this summer, when you two started working things out, did you happen to tell her that?”
“I…” Jason hesitated. “No.”
“Did you ever sit down and discuss what would happen after Cady was born? What role you would play in her life if we tied up all this other crap? What it would mean for the two of you to be seeing each other at the same time the world believes Cady to be your daughter?”
“We…didn’t.” Jason leaned forward, dipping his head down. “She thinks it’s because of Ric. You think that, too.”
“I’m at a loss, honestly, Jase.” Sonny shrugged. “Because if it was just about not wanting to get attached to a child who could walk away, there were things we could have done. We could have quietly signed adoption papers and then had them sealed so no one would see them. You could have asked Elizabeth to marry you, to make a commitment to her.” He looked at his best friend. “But maybe you don’t think those things would have worked. That Elizabeth still would have taken her and walked away.”
“Michael was my son. I had papers saying I could have visitation, but I had to give him up. It was for the best. But…Robin and Carly…they took him away.”
Tricky territory here, because now Sonny was raising the little boy. “Robin made her choice, she had her reasons and Carly was scared—”
“But they knew what they were doing,” Jason said thickly. “Robin wanted to protect me from Carly, so she told AJ the truth. How she thought I’d be better off that way, I still don’t understand. And Carly never even gave me a chance to fix it, she just ran to the Quartermaines and told them I made her to do it. I know…she was scared, but it doesn’t change anything.”
And here was the truth that Sonny had ignored all along. Jason had loved two women before Elizabeth and they’d both betrayed him. He’d had one another best friend, and God knew that Sonny had betrayed him by sleeping with Carly. Somewhere along the line, between the three of them, they’d taught Jason that to trust someone all but ensured betrayal.
“You had months to talk to Elizabeth about all of this,” Sonny said finally. “I get it, I do. But she shouldn’t pay for Robin and Carly. For the things that they did, that I did. Elizabeth would have understood…after what you went through with Michael. She was there for the aftermath, wasn’t she?”
“She was one of the few people I talked to about it.” Jason hesitated. “The only one. It’s…how we met. She went to Jake’s, wanting something to replace the emptiness she felt after Lucky died, and she asked me if I knew what nothing felt like.”
“God, the two of you are going to give me a headache.” Sonny put his head in his hands. “You’re so perfect for each other that it’s almost nauseating and yet you two can’t get out of your own way long enough to get it. Jason, she spent years trying to make herself the woman she’d been before that fire. Trying to be good enough so that Lucky would love her again, and how did he repay her? He got her involved in a ridiculous scheme where she faked her death and she had to come to me for help. And then he almost married her out of pity when he didn’t remember loving her. She turned herself inside out for that man, and she got nothing in return for years. You’ve got baggage, but so does she, and instead of dealing with it, you both made it so much worse.”
“Carly told me for months I was pushing her away,” Jason admitted. “But I just…thought if I didn’t talk about it—”
“You know better than that, Jase.” Sonny leaned forward. “Listen to me. I don’t know if it’s too late to fix this, I really don’t. She wants a reason to stay, Jason. And she wants you give it to her. She wanted you to love her daughter the way you love Michael. Effortlessly. If you really don’t think you can figure out a way to trust her to stay, then fine. Make it amicable. We’ll figure out a way to extricate you from this situation after Ric is dealt with.”
He put a hand on Jason’s shoulder. “But I think you and I both know that you can trust her. That she knows better than anyone how it felt for you to lose Michael. And if I know you at all, you already love that little girl. So when Carly comes out here to bring us back, I want you to remember that. You never used to live in the past, Jason. Don’t start now.”
General Hospital: Elizabeth’s Room
Barely a year ago, Carly was shoving Elizabeth Webber out of Jason’s life and ushering Courtney in. She would have told most people that Elizabeth was nothing more than a little girl with an infatuation who couldn’t handle what it meant to be in Jason’s life. Her best friend deserved better.
Today, as she stood by Elizabeth’s side, clutching her hand as Kelly Lee told Elizabeth she was finally dilated to ten and could start pushing with the next contraction, Carly couldn’t really pinpoint when she’d shifted that thought. Had it been the first time Elizabeth offered her ice cream? Or played blackjack with her while cooped up in the penthouse?
Or had it started further back than that, when Elizabeth had cleaned up the penthouse and comforted Carly after believing Sonny to be dead. How she had stopped by just to check on her, and to hesitantly ask after Jason.
“This hurts so much, Gram. Why did the pain meds stop working?” Elizabeth sobbed. “Make it stop.” Six hours of labor had left her exhausted.
“The baby is crowning, Liz!” Kelly called. “Just a little longer!”
“Oh, suck it up, Muffin,” Carly snapped and Elizabeth glared at her. “You damn well can do this. Anyone who can…” She glanced at Audrey and decided to just shrug it off. “Anyone who can put up with the crap you have can do this.”
“You stood up to me when most people in this town just ignored me,” Carly continued. “You told me you’d protect Jason from me until he was well enough to deal with me. I told you I’d gotten rid of one little angel, and I was going to drop you kick you so fast into next year, you wouldn’t see it coming.”
Elizabeth bit out a pained laugh. “How’d that work for you?”
“Exactly my point, Muffin. Anyone who can stand up to me and actually win can do something measly like give birth. Hell, I did it just last month and did I whine nearly as much?”
Kelly popped up from the end of the bed. “Actually—”
“Quiet, you.” Carly jabbed a finger in her direction. “Concentrate on that…down there.”
“All right, Elizabeth…here comes a contraction. Push!”
With a grunt, Elizabeth bore down, panting. “Come on, come on.”
“You can do this, Elizabeth,” Audrey said, wrapping an arm around her granddaughter’s shoulders. “I know it!”
“The head is out, Elizabeth!” Kelly told her. “Let’s get the shoulders and I can just pull her out—”
“Get out, get out, get out!” Elizabeth screeched.
And then there was a cry.
Kelly rose to her feet, her eyes bright and shining, with a messy baby in her arms. “And here we go!” She leaned forward to lay the newborn on Elizabeth’s stomach.
Carly pressed her free hand to her mouth, watching Elizabeth’s entire countenance shift immediately from pain to joy. “Oh…” Elizabeth broke off and took a deep, shaky breath. “Oh, she’s so perfect.”
“Oh, my darling…” Audrey kissed Elizabeth’s forehead.
“Who’s cutting the cord?” Kelly asked. She looked at Carly. “Godmama?”
“Um…” Carly looked at Elizabeth who was focused on her daughter. “Sure.” She reached for the scissors and gingerly snipped it, shuddering a bit. The things she did for family.
“Let’s clean her up,” Kelly said, with a smile, reaching for Cady. Elizabeth protested, but Kelly shrugged. “I’ll give her right back.”
“Oh, Gram…” Elizabeth leaned back against the pillows as some of the nurses came forward to help her clean up herself. “She’s here.”
“And she’s beautiful,” Audrey murmured. “Absolutely beautiful.” She paused. “I told Monica I’d come get her as soon as she was born. Would you mind?”
“No…” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “No. You can get her.”
Audrey smiled again and disappeared out the room. Carly took a deep breath. “Well, Muffin, you did it. Cadence Audrey Morgan is now in the world.”
“Cadence Audrey Caroline,” Elizabeth corrected. She opened her eyes and Carly saw the tears, the joy, the bliss. “She’d never be here if not for you, for Sonny. For Jason. So if you don’t mind…”
“Oh…Muffin…” Damn it. Carly swiped at her eye. “I never mind knowing there are more Carolines in this world.”
“Speaking of which…” Kelly stepped away from the nurses with Cady in her arms, now swaddled in a hospital blanket. “How about we let Godmama hand the baby over.”
Carly stepped towards Kelly and accepted the baby in her arms. She looked down at this little scrap of humanity and just…
This baby was the reason for all of this, for the love, the arguments, the fear, the extra security, for the pain. For the bliss. Here was the center of it all, and she looked so incredibly innocent.
“She’s just…so perfect,” Carly murmured. She looked at Elizabeth. “I can’t even describe it.” She stepped forward and set her gently into Elizabeth’s arms. “There’s my niece.”
“I thought about this moment, I’ve imagined it a thousand times over the last eight months,” Elizabeth murmured, her hand smoothing over Cady’s cheek, “but this is so much better. She wasn’t here five minutes ago, and now…”
“Do you think you’ve punished Daddy long enough?” Kelly asked, with a good-natured smile. “All her tests are perfect. She’s completely healthy, so maybe she should meet him.”
Elizabeth hesitated and then looked at Carly, looking a little lost. “Is he angry with me? Because I didn’t…Because I wanted you.”
“No, no.” Carly shook her head. “He understood. He’s angrier with himself for making this happen, for making you think you weren’t important, that he didn’t love you.”
“I’ll be back in to check on you guys in a bit.” Kelly squeezed Elizabeth’s arm. “Congrats, Liz. I can say without bias she is the prettiest little girl I’ve ever delivered.” With a wave, Kelly and the other nurse left the room.
“Bring him in,” Elizabeth said after a moment. “And Sonny, too. I want them to meet her.”
“I’ll be right back.”
General Hospital: Maternity Ward Waiting Room
Jason and Sonny were already on their feet, having been told briefly by Audrey that the baby had arrived and she was on her way to get Monica. A few minutes later, Carly exited the room, and Jason was relieved to see her smiling. “Hey, is she okay? Is Cady okay?”
“She’s perfect. She wants to see both of you.”
Jason hesitated. “Does she? I don’t want her to do anything—”
“Jason, look at me.” Carly grasped his chin in her hand and forced him to make eye contact with her. “You’ve messed this up pretty badly, but at the end of the day, it’s not lost. You can make this better. Maybe you didn’t make Elizabeth feel like you loved her or Cady before, but from the moment you step in there, it’s different. I know you love her already.”
“No, just…” Carly took a deep breath. “I didn’t always get it, I didn’t always like it, and maybe I made it more difficult for you, so if that’s true I’m sorry. But I want you to be happy. So I am telling you right now, if you go in there and you show Elizabeth how much you love her and how much you love that little girl, it can be better. Just…try.”
General Hospital: Elizabeth’s Room
Jason stepped in to find Sonny already holding the baby. He was grinning at the pink bundle. “I’m an uncle, Jase!” he proclaimed proudly. “Can you believe it?”
Carly came in behind him and went to stand by Elizabeth’s bed. “He’ll never stop this now. She’ll be spoiled ridiculously. Ponies. Castles. He doesn’t do things in half measures.”
Sonny just shrugged and then looked at Jason. “You want her?”
Jason took a deep breath. “Yeah.” He stepped over to his friend, prepared to take Carly’s advice for once. As Sonny gently laid her in his arms, Jason remembered the moment he’d held Michael in his arms, and though he loved Michael still…this moment was it in a class of its own.
This was the little girl who he had felt kick, who he had watched grow, who he had tried desperately not to love and failed. For the first time since this began, he admitted to himself that he’d always wanted her to be his.
“She’s…” He faltered, and cleared his throat. “I can’t…find the words, Elizabeth.” He looked up, to find her eyes glossy with tears. “There aren’t any.”
“That is exactly how I feel,” Elizabeth murmured.
Carly wiped her eyes with a tissue. “This is just too damn sappy for me,” she muttered. “Tell them, Muffin. Tell them what you’re naming her.”
Jason frowned and exchanged a look with Sonny. “It’s Cady, isn’t it?” Jason asked. “Cadence Audrey.”
“I’m changing it a little.” Elizabeth hesitated and looked at Carly, with a smile. “Cadence Audrey Caroline.”
“That’s right.” Carly nodded. “I want all of Port Charles to know that someone actually named their kid for me. They’ll never believe it.”
“I barely believe it,” Sonny returned, but he looked at Elizabeth. “We’re never going to hear the end of this, Liz.”
Elizabeth laughed, as the door opened and Audrey stepped in, followed by a hesitant Monica. “Is there room for a couple of grandmothers?”
“Of course,” Carly said. “Jase, you might have to give the kid over.”
Here was his chance to show Elizabeth it could be different. That he could be different. He stepped forward, towards his mother. “Mon—” He hesitated. “Mom. This is our daughter, Cadence Audrey Caroline Morgan.” And with those words, he set Cady in his mother’s arms. He was facing away from Elizabeth, so he couldn’t see her face, but he hoped she believed them.
“Oh, Jason…” Monica’s lips trembled as she looked down at the baby. “Oh, she’s just too precious.” She blinked and looked up. “Caroline?”
“That’s right. Named for me,” Carly pointed out, looking satisfied. “Suck it, Port Charles.”
“Carly,” Elizabeth said, swatting her. “Knock it off, or I’ll change it to…Robin.”
Carly gasped. “Oh, you better not even joke about that, you brat.”
“Audrey, have you had her?” Monica asked. “If you don’t take her from me, I’m liable to keep her forever.” When Audrey held out her arms, Monica handed her over and then turned to Jason. Without another word, she embraced him.
His first instinct was to stiffen, but he knew Monica had been a source of support for Elizabeth during all of this, that despite the past, she did love him for who he was, even if she didn’t always accept his choices. So he gingerly hugged her back and looked at Elizabeth over Monica’s shoulders. She looked…contemplative.
He only hoped he still had time to make this right.