Here I stand
Consumed with my surroundings
Just another day
Of everybody looking
I swore they’d never see me cry
You’ll never see me cry
– Everybody Knows, Dixie Chicks
December 29, 2005
Quartermaine Mansion: Parlor
Emily stopped in the doorway of the room, hesitating. The conversation she was going to have with her grandfather was one of the most important in her life and she hoped she was going to walk away with an outcome she could live with.
She hadn’t spoken to Nikolas since her exit at the Grille two days before. He hadn’t called and she’d gone out of her way to avoid him. She knew he was coming very close to issuing her an ultimatum and for the first time since he’d asked her to marry him, Emily knew she might actually have to choose.
“Oh, hello, dear,” Edward said absently, glancing at her from the table near the terrace windows. He turned a page in the newspaper. “Have you seen this editorial about the upcoming election for school board? Bunch of pansies.”
Emily smiled faintly and sat at one of the adjacent chairs. “Can we talk? I mean…really talk?”
Edward peered over his newspaper and studied her face for a long moment. “Is something wrong?”
“I don’t know.” Emily shrugged. “Maybe.”
He folded his newspaper and set it aside. “All right, my dear. What’s on your mind?”
Emily folded her hands on the table and took a deep breath. “I have been very patient with you about Nikolas and our engagement because I can sympathize with where you’re coming from.”
“If this is going to be about that reprobate—” Edward shoved his chair away from the table and started out of the room.
“Grandfather, please!” Emily stood. “When have I ever asked for anything?”
He stopped and turned back to her. “Haven’t I made my feelings about this subject very clear?”
“Yes,” Emily nodded. “You have. But you haven’t given me the same courtesy and I’m just asking you to listen to me.”
“Then talk,” he said shortly.
“I can understand how you feel about the Cassadines,” Emily said. “It’s so much easier for me to understand why you feel the way you do because this feud started with your brother. You have very real personal feelings about it and I—”
“I don’t want to talk about any of that.” Edward sliced his hand through the air. “It’s done, Emily. You know how I feel. You know the history. If you need anything else from me, well I can’t imagine what it is.”
“Grandfather…” Emily took a deep breath. “I know this isn’t an easy subject for you—”
“No, young lady, you do not know.” He took a step towards her and jabbed a finger in her direction. “I had to watch my brother spiral out of control over that woman and I had to be the one to find him, dead by his own hand. She broke his heart and did what her family wanted. It’s the Cassadines’ fault and that’s the end of it.”
“But why does that have to mean Nikolas is cut from the same cloth?” Emily pressed.
“Because he will do the same to you that Sofia Cassadine did to Thomas and I refuse to stand by and watch. Not again.” He nodded brusquely. “It’s already started. He’s come between you and your family, he’s pressed you to ignore your obligations to us and if he hasn’t issued any ultimatums, then it won’t be long before he does.”
“So if I marry Nikolas, I’m no longer welcome in this house,” Emily stated softly.
Edward closed his mouth abruptly. He looked away for a moment before meeting her gaze again. “If that’s how you want to put it, then yes.”
“Okay.” Emily swallowed hard. “I just…I wanted to make it clear to myself. Thank you.” She wrapped her arms around herself.
Edward looked at her as though he wanted to say something else but instead, he just left the room.
General Hospital: Locker Room
Elizabeth sighed and neatly folded her scrubs uniform to place it in her bag to take home for washing. She had worked a very long shift and wasn’t entirely looking forward to going home and dealing with her wayward cousin. She hadn’t seen much of her brother since the sojourn to Jake’s and she was worried enough for him.
Not to mention the fact that she hadn’t seen Jason since the day after Christmas. He’d warned her there would be no contact but after two years of seeing or talking to him every day, it was an adjustment not to have him to lean on.
One of the student nurses plopped onto the bench next to her and started to untie her sneakers. “Ellie, you’re going to the party at the hotel for New Year’s, right?” Nadine Crowell inquired.
“Every year,” Elizabeth replied. She closed her locker and looped her coat over her arm. “Why?”
“Well, this is the first time I’m going and I was wondering how dressy it is. I mean, I know it’s dressy but there’s like a code of dress – is it really conservative?”
“It runs to the conservative. The pillars of the community don’t like anything cut too low or too high and nothing really flashy.” Elizabeth hesitated and studied the younger woman with a little curiosity. “I don’t mean to pry, but ah, how is it that you’re going to the party?”
“You mean how am I affording the ticket?” Nadine said wryly. She tugged on her jeans. “Patrick asked me to be his date.”
“Oh, good Lord,” Elizabeth muttered and banged her head against the locker. “My brother is an idiot.”
“I’ll try not to take that as an insult,” Nadine said good-naturedly. “Look, Ellie, there’s not a person on staff here that thinks Patrick is a good bet relationship wise and I’m not interested in that anyway. Some of the board members from the hospital will be there and I just want a chance to schmooze. Robin has nothing to worry about from me—”
“No, I’m sorry. It’s not…it’s not like that. He’s trying to make her jealous for all the wrong reasons and he’s going to make everything worse in the long run.”
“Well…” Nadine shrugged. “Then I guess it’ll be an interesting party.” She grabbed her coat and purse. “Thanks for the advice, Ellie.”
General Hospital: Nurse’s Station
Robin stepped behind the counter and handed a chart to Epiphany. “Mrs. Kyle is ready for discharge in Room 220.” She paused for a moment when she saw Patrick at the other side the station.
She stepped towards him, putting her hands in her pockets. “Hey, do you have a minute?”
He glanced at her and then looked back at his charts. “No.”
A bit stung, Robin bit her lip but decided to forge ahead. Her mother was flying in that night and she didn’t want Patrick to be the last to know. “Patrick—”
“Robin, I’m a little busy right now,” Patrick said, “I don’t have time to talk to you about anything. We agreed three years ago to go our separate ways. You’ve clearly done that, now it’s my turn.”
“Fine,” she said shortly. She stripped off her lab coat and turned to Epiphany. “I’m done for the day, I’m on my way to the airport and I’m not on call for the night but if any of my patients need me…”
“I’ll take care of it, Dr. Scorpio,” Epiphany said.
Robin stepped out of the station and started for the elevators.
“Say hi to your boyfriend for me,” Patrick muttered, but didn’t bother to keep his voice low.
Robin stopped in her tracks and closed her eyes. It was clear Patrick assumed she was going to the airport to pick up Stone. She wasn’t angry at him, but angry at herself for making this situation into the mess it was now.
If she had been honest with everyone from the beginning, even if she had come clean the second she’d stepped off the plane, none of this would be happening now.
She regained her composure and went to the elevators.
Elm Street Pier
“Penny for your thoughts.”
Elizabeth glanced up as Lucky settled himself on the bench next to her. “Hey. What brings you out here?”
“Just wandering. Saw my best girl sitting by herself here.” He shrugged. “I know that you don’t sit here alone unless something’s on your mind.”
Elizabeth smiled faintly. “Noticed that did you?”
“Yep.” Lucky stretched his legs out in front of him and crossed them at the ankles. “So spill it, Ellie. What’s on your mind?”
“Robin told me about Stone,” Elizabeth replied. “And about her illness. So I know you knew.”
He nodded. “And I was sworn to secrecy. Not exactly the easiest thing to accomplish being around you and Patrick all the time, especially Patrick.” He grimaced. “She’s having trouble telling him.”
“She’s only managed to tell him that she fell in love with someone else and he flipped. He asked a nurse to the Quartermaine party.”
Lucky whistled softly. “Ballsy. That party is not the time and place to make a stand but I guess he’s not really thinking clearly. And I bet he thinks that Stone is alive and well and probably on his way to Port Charles.”
“That would be correct.” Elizabeth shook her head. “He’s acting like an asshole which is only going to make things worse in the long run. He won’t shut up and listen to Robin long enough to get the truth and as much as I want to shake him and make him listen, I can’t.” She shook her head. “There’s just way too much going on, especially now that Will has moved in.”
“Will.” Lucky nodded. “He’s, ah, doing all right?”
“As well as can be expected. He’s going through something rough with his parents but Patrick and I think we can get him back on track.” Elizabeth glanced at him. “Your sister broke his heart.”
“Well, he certainly left his mark on my little sister.” Lucky hesitated. “She’s pregnant.”
“Oh my…” Elizabeth blinked and stared out over the water. “Oh my God.”
“Yep.” Lucky shifted. “She’s scared to death, she almost had Dillon talked into claiming paternity but decided it wasn’t fair for Dad to kill him over something he didn’t do.”
“Naturally,” she said dryly. “Will’s a good kid, he’ll stand up.”
“Yeah, I know. She’s just got to get the courage up to tell him, or to keep trying until he shuts up long enough to listen to her. It’s like everyone in our lives is having the same problem. No one ever closes their mouth long enough to listen to anyone else.” He jerked a shoulder. “Anyway, I told her about what happened to us. Senior year.”
“I guess you would.” Elizabeth fell quiet. “Did it help her?”
“I’m not sure but it got me thinking…looking at how scared she is to tell Will…it made me glad that you were able to come to me.” He looked at her. “I know we didn’t work out, Ellie, mostly because we weren’t supposed to. It was just that normal first love thing and we burned ourselves out but I’m glad that we were able to share all that together and still come out with love and respect for each other. It doesn’t happen enough.”
“No, no it doesn’t.” She smiled. “We had a good time, Lucky. I’m almost glad we had that scare because we were just…we were so close to sliding into a future together because neither of us had ever seen anything else. We’d already been together for so long, it would have been easy to keep going on that road.”
“I’ve been thinking about that lately,” Lucky nodded. “And yeah, you’re right. We were very comfortable, Ellie. We probably would have been married right out of college, settled right down and probably have a few kids by now.”
“Probably,” she agreed. “And that wouldn’t have been a mistake, you know. It would have been nice, safe and comfortable.”
“But we both deserve more,” Lucky said. “And if I’m not wrong, I think you’ve found it in Jason. I’m glad. It’s all I’ve ever wanted for you, you know?
“I hope I have found it. It’s not that easy but nothing worthwhile ever comes from taking the easy way out, right?”
“Nope.” He grinned at her and bumped his shoulder against hers. “We coulda had it all, babe.”
She giggled. “And bored ourselves to tears in the process.”
On the top level of the docks, Jason Morgan stepped out from one of the buildings, returning from his meeting with Sonny. Trailing Manny Ruiz had not taken as long as either of them expected. Jason had found the youngest son meeting with a competitor the night before and Sonny had called him off the assignment.
He was on his way to Jake’s to clean up and call Elizabeth. He’d missed her so much and there wasn’t too much snow on the ground. They could go for a ride. He really just wanted to see her.
Jason heard her familiar laugh and glanced down at the bench to find Elizabeth giggling with Lucky Spencer. Something tightened in his chest, a sensation that was both familiar and strange at the same time. He knew she’d dated Lucky in high school but they’d had nothing but friendship since then.
But she was laughing with him, looking happy and for some reason Jason couldn’t quite name, that made him uncomfortable. He thought about making himself known but instead, he continued on his way. He’d call her tomorrow.
Spencer House: Porch
As soon as Lulu opened the door to find Will standing there, she blanched, glanced over her shoulder and quickly stepped out, pushing him back a step. She slammed the door behind her. “What are you doing here?”
Will frowned. “I needed to talk to you—” he stopped and narrowed his eyes. “Is there a reason we can’t go inside?”
“Um. Yes.” Lulu went to the window and sighed in relief when she saw her father sitting contritely on the couch with her mother lecturing him. When Luke had seen Will briefly at the door, he’d started towards the entryway with blood in his eyes, hence Lulu’s quick escape.
Her father had taken the news in stride mostly, quick to let her know that while she had his utmost support…the boy would have to die. Lulu had been trying to talk him out of it when Will had made his untimely appearance.
“Okay,” Will said slowly. “I wanted to apologize. You came to see me, you had something to say and I cut you off. That wasn’t fair and I should have heard you out.”
And now here was her chance. Except Lulu couldn’t wrench the words from her throat. How hard could it be? I’m pregnant. She could say it in her head. Why couldn’t she open her mouth and make the words come out?
“Lu?” Will prompted. He stripped off his suede jacket and draped it around her shoulders. “Are you okay?”
He was sober, Lulu could see. For the first time in months, he was completely sober. His eyes were clear and focused and he was starting to sound like the Will she’d fallen for. The one she’d had a crush on for most of her teen aged life. He’d always seemed so strong and able and she’d wanted that more than anything.
And then he’d been dangerous and exciting so she’d thought it was all her favorite things wrapped in a gorgeous package. Until he was drinking to dull the pain of his parents’ problems more than he was doing it to have fun and that no longer appealed to her.
But now that Will was gone. Or on hiatus. She wasn’t sure. In his place was the boy she’d known forever and just like that, her terror and apprehension melted.
“Will, I am so sorry,” she said softly. “I don’t know how to tell you and I was scared for so long but I ‘m not anymore.” She paused. “You’re really doing okay, aren’t you?”
“Getting there.” Will hesitated and tilted his head to the side. “But you’re not. What’s wrong?”
She swallowed hard. “I’m pregnant,” she said quietly.
Port Charles Hotel: Anna’s Room
Robin twisted her fingers together and refused to look at her mother. “Say something,” she murmured.
Anna Devane stood from the sofa and crossed to the terrace doors, sweeping her dark eyes over the harbor. “I’m not sure what there is to say, love.” Her accent slid over the words in a short, clipped manner. “I suppose your father took the news with his customary anger before settling down and promising you the moon and stars.”
“Something like that,” Robin said uneasily. “Mom…”
“For three years, I knew something was wrong with you,” Anna said, as if her daughter hadn’t spoken. “I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but there was a reason you were never available when I wanted to fly in and why you never had time for more than short phone calls and pithy postcards. I told myself that I had raised a bright and independent daughter who clearly wanted some space to herself.”
She turned and confronted the daughter in question. “I’m not sure what reaction you want from me, Robin. Should I be angry that you kept it from me? Should I be devastated for your loss? Scared for your future? Happy that you were able to find someone to love? I am all of those things, Robin. I just don’t know which one to concentrate on at this precise moment.”
“I know three years seems like a long time,” Robin said haltingly, “but it was all so fast to me. I was swept up by medical school and by Stone that by the time I realized I wanted to tell you guys, we were engaged. I thought I could fly to London and surprise you and then he got sick. I just…I could never find the words. And then I was just so wrapped up in Stone and his illness.” Her voice thickened. “I am so sorry, Mom, for what I’ve put everyone through. You and Dad, my friends. I would do anything to change it but I can’t.”
“I am terrified that despite everything your father and I have done to protect you from the evils of the world—his work with the police and mine with the government—we might lose you in a way that never really occurred to us.” Anna wrapped her long arms around her slim torso and Robin realized her shoulders were shaking.
“Mom…” She stood and took a step towards her mother.
“If you are ever blessed with a child, you may one day understand a portion of what is going on inside of me,” Anna continued. “You don’t realize how easy it is to go from anger to terror in a split second but when it comes to your children, you tend to spend a lot of time with those emotions. Of course, there is always happiness, and joy. Quite a lot of worry but I have spent most of the time being terrified.”
“I’m okay,” Robin assured her. “I’m on the cocktail, I’m relatively healthy. There are advancements being made all the time. My doctors can’t imagine why I wouldn’t live another fifty years.”
“I am desperately grateful for that.” Anna exhaled slowly and turned around. “I’m sorry to be such a drama queen, darling, it’s just not the easiest set of news for a mother to receive and for it to be such a large dose…it was almost a bit more than I could digest.”
“I wish I hadn’t put it off so long,” Robin admitted. “I’ve made a big mess out of everyone’s lives and I just hope I can make it right. In case…”
Anna sighed. “Oh darling, is that why you came home? So you could fix everyone in case the worst happens?”
“I guess. I wanted to make sure you and Dad were okay. That Patrick and Ellie were happy. That the people who mattered the most would be taken care of. I’m not expecting to die any time soon, Mom, but…” Robin shrugged. “I have to be prepared. Just in case.”
“Come here.” Anna drew her daughter into a bone crushing embrace. “You are forgiven for not telling me, love of my life, but promise me that you will never shut me out like this again?”