You walk along by yourself
There’s no sound, nothing is changing
Been gone away, left you there
Emptiness is nothing you can’t share
All those words that hurt you
More than you would let it show
Comes apart, by yourself
– Falls Apart, Sugar Ray
December 31, 2005
Port Charles Hotel: Ballroom
Dillon dropped into the seat next to Lulu and popped a hors d’oeuvre in his mouth. “You know what I like best about the stuff they serve here?”
“What’s that?” she asked, smiling and leaning forward.
“I don’t care what’s in them. They usually taste good.” He leaned back and sipped a glass of the wine he’d snuck with Emily’s help. “So I haven’t heard from you much since you left my house the day after Christmas.”
“Yeah…sorry…” Lulu jerked a shoulder. “I’ve just been in my own head about things, you know? I told Will a few days ago and he was kind of…shell shocked.”
“I may have a few things in common with that sentiment.” He paused. “But what else did he say?”
“Oh, all the right things, of course. He said we’d keep the baby, we’d figure it all out. He would be there for me, we’d get married and somehow he’d still go to college. We’d still get everything we wanted.”
“You sound like you don’t believe him.”
“Well,” Lulu paused, as if considering the notion, “he said he would call me, that’d we discuss sitting down with my parents and talking about what would come next.” She took an olive from her plate and tossed it, aiming for an empty wine glass across from her table setting. “He never called.”
“I can beat him up for you,” Dillon said. At Lulu’s arched brow, he clarified. “I mean, I have money. I can pay someone to beat him up.”
“Thanks, but I’m not going to force him into anything. He’s still trying to figure himself out; he doesn’t need to be saddled down with a kid. I care about him too much to force him into this, Dillon.”
“I’m all for figuring things out and being honest with yourself, but, Lu, we both know what happens when a parent disappears without a word.” He tapped his fingers. “I never met my father and I’ve never even had a letter from him. It sucks. It sucks large.”
“I know, but we’ve seen the other side of the spectrum, too. How crappy is it when a kid knows they’re not wanted? My brother Nikolas knows that even though my mom loves him, she didn’t really want him, that when she looks at him, she can’t help but see Stavros. I mean, sure, she loves him but that’s because he’s her kid and she’s just built that way. But he wasn’t planned and my father was never a magical stepfather to him, you know? I can’t force that kind of life on my kid.”
“So you’re keeping the baby?” Dillon asked.
“Yeah.” Lulu smiled at him. “That’s, like, the only thing that’s really been solidified in my head. I know it’s early, and I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing with the rest of my life, but I think I’d be all right at being a mom. I had a great example. Plus, my parents are being really good about this. My mom just hugged me and told me that she’d always be there for me.”
“And your dad?”
“I think maybe he was disappointed,” Lulu admitted. “But mostly because he just wanted life to be easier for his kids than it was for him and my aunt Bobbie, so he’s worried that I’m going to have a hard life but he loves me anyway. I’ve got a good family, Dillon. It makes up for a lot of things.”
“Yeah, family’s good.” Dillon frowned and glanced over at the Quartermaine table. “Even when they’re bat shit crazy.”
Lulu glanced over her shoulder and pursed her lips, drinking in the members of Dillon’s clan. “Someone should tell AJ that it’s bad taste to finish a bottle of champagne in an hour. And why does Emily look so sad?”
“I don’t know,” Dillon murmured. “I think she had some kind of argument with Edward or Nikolas, but she’s not talking. I keep trying to pry it out of her but she’s not having it. And I think AJ’s about to be shipped off to rehab again.”
“Eighth time’s the charm?”
“One can always hope.” Dillon’s eyes darkened as he saw something over Lulu’s shoulder. “If you don’t want to see Will, then I can get you out of here.”
Lulu twisted in her chair to find Will at the entrance. The rest of the ballroom’s attendees paid more attention to the people he had arrived with – or to be accurate, the person. Elizabeth had her arm intertwined with Jason Morgan’s, who hadn’t been to this party since before his accident.
So one could say Jason Morgan had never attended at all.
Edward Quartermaine started to stand but his daughter-in-law Monica quickly told him to sit back down. Patrick Drake, who had arrived earlier with his date Nadine, looked furious.
Elizabeth ignored them all and smiled up at her date before whispering something to Will. She and Jason started towards her brother’s table but Patrick quite pointedly turned his back and started talking to someone at his table.
Elizabeth stopped in her tracks, mortified.
Suddenly feeling brave, Lulu stood and started across the room to the girl she’d known her entire life and had once dreamed would be her sister. “Ellie, you look absolutely fabulous tonight,” she said with a bright smile. “Jason, you should always wear a tux!”
“Hey, Ellie, Jase,” Dillon nodded, sidling up to his friend’s side. He lifted his chin. “Will.”
Will scratched the side of his nose. “Lu, you look really pretty tonight.”
“Thanks,” Lulu answered absently before extending a hand to Elizabeth. “Lucky’s running a little late tonight but we’ve got some seats at our table. Come and join us.” She looked to Dillon. “We’ve probably got a seat for you for dinner if you’d rather steer clear of the Quartermaine’s.”
“I almost want to say yes but I want to give Em some support.” Dillon kissed Lu’s cheek. He left her and went back to his seat next to his cousin.
“Let’s sit down,” Lulu said, waiting for the trio to start over to the table. She backed up a few steps and went straight to Patrick. She smacked him upside the head.
“Damn it, Lu,” he swore, rubbing his head. “What is with you?”
“We only get one family, you jackass, and you’re not exactly blessed with a multitude of friends. So why don’t you stop acting like an absolute asshole and start acting like a man?”
She flounced off to resume her seat.
“Crazy teenagers,” he muttered. Nadine, the nurse he’d asked on a whim, smiled sadly at him. “What?”
“She’s right, you know. Sisters do not wait around until you’re good and ready to make time for them.” She sipped her wine.
“What do you know?” he demanded. He took a piece of bread from the basket and ripped it in half. “My sister’s deranged.”
“Mine, too,” Nadine replied. “She’s in a coma right now but before that, she arranged for some people in the hospital she was working at to die accidentally.”
Patrick choked on his bread. “Excuse me?”
“She was being paid by this company to make the hospital look really bad so they’d have to be bought out but Jolene always was an overachiever.” Nadine sighed, seemingly oblivious to the stares of the people at their table. “She wasn’t supposed to kill anyone but she thought it would get the job done.”
“Ah…” Patrick fumbled.
“So, you know, some people would say she got what she deserved, getting shot in the back, but she was still my sister and I’d rather she be dating someone I didn’t really like than in a vegetative state.” Nadine shrugged and eyed the kitchen. “When do you think they’ll serve dinner?”
Port Charles Hotel: Balcony
“You’re avoiding me.”
Emily smiled and turned to the doorway to find her fiancé standing there. “When my grandfather remodeled the ballroom, he thought I was being ridiculous in suggesting a balcony that was closed in by glass but I told him that when it comes to parties like these, people like to think they’re getting away. But it’s too cold to stand outside.”
Nikolas joined her. “I’m sorry for our argument, Emily; I suppose I am getting frustrated with the state of things.”
“I know,” she answered. “I haven’t been fair to you.”
Something in her tone made his blood run cold and a strange feeling sank into him. He wasn’t entirely familiar with panic, but he thought that’s what this might be. “Emily.”
“I haven’t been fair to anyone. To you, to myself, or to my grandfather. Nikolas, you’re okay with Stefan moving back to Greece and I envy you that. Because I know somewhere in your head, you’ve made yourself believe that he’ll still love you. That he will still visit and he won’t cut you out. I don’t have that same kind of faith.”
“Wait a second, Emily—”
“I think it has to do with the Quartermaines having chosen to love me. They adopted me, and they made me part of the family. But I know I’m not truly a Quartermaine. I’ve been living on borrowed time with them, waiting for the moment they look at me and know that I’m not really one of them.”
Nikolas frowned. Now he wasn’t sure what was going on. Was she abandoning her family? Was she breaking up with him? “I’m not following you.”
“They have been so good to me, Nikolas. So patient. Even when I was a brat and they could have easily tossed me back, they kept me.” She paused. “My grandfather is the love of my life, Nikolas. He held me when I cried about my mom, he would sit with me and talk about his business even though I was twelve and didn’t understand a word of it. He treated me like his own from the moment I came to the Quartermaines. I am breaking his heart.”
And then he knew. “Emily, if you do this, you’re giving an old man exactly what he wants and you’re breaking your heart instead.” He swallowed hard. “My heart. How is that fair?”
“It’s not,” Emily admitted. “And I wish I could be selfish. I wish I could be stronger. But I’m not. I love my family too much to give them up.” She slowly removed the diamond ring from her finger and held it out. “I can’t marry you, Nikolas.”
He refused to take the ring. “This is insanity. You can’t do this.”
“I thought that if I tried hard enough, if I really worked at it, Edward would love you as much as I do. That he would accept you into his family, but I realize now that it will never happen and I can’t be happy knowing he’s not part of my life.” She held out the ring again.
“I’m not taking the damn ring.” He stepped back. “This is a mistake, Emily. You and I love each other and that’s not going to go away.”
“I won’t let it,” he promised her. He turned and stalked back into the ballroom where he made a beeline for the Quartermaine table.
“Listen up, old man,” he all but snarled at the patriarch who sputtered in surprise. “You may have won for now but I am not going away. She can end the engagement but Emily still loves me and I love her and I’m not going to let you destroy us.” He slapped his hand on the table and then stormed out of the room.
Monica watched her daughter’s fiancé leave. She then turned to her father-in-law and just glared.
“I suppose you’re going to blame me for this,” Edward muttered.
“Edward, you are going to find my daughter, you are going to fix what you have done and I swear by all that is holy, if you fail, you will be living in this hotel for the rest of your life.”
“Monica, you can’t kick my father out of the house,” Alan admonished. “Not over a Cassadine.”
“It’s my house,” she declared.
“But I gave it to you!”
“Oh, will somebody save me?” Dillon moaned and put his head in his hands.
Across the room, Elizabeth checked the time on her cell phone. “I wonder what’s keeping my father,” she said.
“Maybe he’s at the hospital,” Lucky suggested. “Is he on call?”
“I don’t think so, I didn’t see his name.” Elizabeth sighed. “I just haven’t seen him since he and Patrick argued on Christmas and I’m worried. I hate when they fight.”
“I think Patrick’s an ass,” Lulu grumbled, pushing what was left of her entrée around her plate and ignoring her ex-boyfriend across the table. Where was Dillon when she needed him?
“He’s just mad because you’re not doing what he wants you to,” Jason said. “Don’t you remember when he wanted you to share an apartment with him and Robin after high school and you kept telling him no? He didn’t talk to you for a week.”
Elizabeth blinked at him. “I remember that,” she said softly. “But…”
“How do you?” Lucky finished. “That was…you know…Jay Quartermaine’s time.”
Jason’s lips thinned and he shrugged, a little uncomfortable. “I don’t know. Sometimes things just….they’re just in my head.” He glanced up from his plate to find the stares of everyone directly on him. “I’m not getting my memory back,” he said flatly. “I just get…flashes. Okay?”
“Right.” Elizabeth glanced at her cell phone again. “I’m just going to step out and call him, okay? Just to make sure.”
“I’ll go with you,” Jason offered, eager to be away from the stares. He followed Elizabeth into the foyer.
Lucky shifted, feeling somewhat uncomfortable being left with Will and Lulu. Part of him wanted to choke the crap out of the younger man and the rest of him wanted to leave them alone, in hopes that it might force some kind of confrontation.
He opted for the responsible adult rather than the annoyed brother. “Lu, I’m going to go check in with Patrick. He’s got a really cute nurse with him I’d like to get to know.” He stood and made his escape before his sister could stop him.
The two were silent for a while but finally Lulu couldn’t take it anymore. “You didn’t call,” she stated. “Did you change your mind?”
“No,” Will said. He shook his head. “I didn’t…I’ve been…I don’t really have an excuse, Lu. I was just kind of figuring things out.”
“That’s fine,” she said dully. “I imagine you’re trained to say the right thing without thinking about it. Don’t worry, I don’t hold you to anything.”
“I meant what I said,” Will replied, irritated. “I just…I had to deal with what that meant. Look, I wanted to have some answers the next time we talked, to have some ideas. A kid needs more than promises.”
“Oh, and what? Now you have all the answers?” Lulu asked, feeling nasty. “Lucky me.”
“I’m not going to let you piss me off,” Will said. “I went to the hospital to talk to one of Ellie’s friends. She’s a counselor. I wanted to get my head on straight. And then I talked to a college counselor to find out if I could still get in next fall.”
“Oh.” Lulu hesitated. “I’m sorry. I know how much you wanted to go college…before. So I just wanted to you know that I was serious about not…I don’t want you to feel like you have to do anything—”
“I wanted to make sure that any scholarships I get won’t be taken away if I’m going part-time,” Will continued. “Because I also had an interview at the hospital as an orderly. They have great health insurance. I figure I’m a Drake, I’m a shoo in. Ellie said she’d try to pull some strings.”
“I…” she stopped. “Will, I’m just…you’re serious about all of this?”
“Look, I know you think I’m a bad bet because my dad walked out and my mom has lost it, but I’m going to be okay. Plenty of people get through college and med school with kids, you know? It’ll be hard but there’s no reason why we can’t do it. Ellie’s volunteered to baby-sit and I bet your mom will, too.”
She blinked. “Um, yeah.”
“So, when we sit down to talk to your parents about this, I’m thinking Luke will be less likely to kill me because I have a plan to support you. Or I will after I graduate. I can only work part-time until then. It’d be stupid to drop out of school when I only have a semester left. I’ve got money saved we can use for the hospital stuff…”
“I’m still on my parents’ insurance until I get out of school.” Lulu moved over to the empty seat next to him. “I don’t need you to support me, Will. I’m going to work, too. I have some money saved. But…” she bit her lip and smiled at him. “Thank you for wanting to. I never expected you to have all the answers, but it’s nice to know you have some of them.”
He took her hand between both of his and squeezed. “I’m not my father. I don’t have to make the same mistakes. It’s going to be okay.”
“I almost believe that.” Lulu sighed and rested her head on Will’s shoulder. It was so nice to have solid and stable Will Drake back. He was the boy she’d fallen for in the first place.
Port Charles Hotel: Outside Balcony
“You’re going to freeze out here.”
Robin blew out a frustrated breath and didn’t even bother to turn around. “I’m fine. Go back inside.”
Patrick stripped off his suit jacket and placed it over her bare shoulders. “I noticed you came in with your parents. Alone.”
“Patrick, I’m not really in the mood for this,” she sighed. “Why don’t you go back to humiliating your sister? You’re getting really good at it.”
He hunched his shoulders, wishing he could defend that but knew he couldn’t. “Ellie and I are just fine,” he replied shortly. “We’ll be fine long after you disappear again. I don’t need you to tell me how to treat her.”
“I guess we’re back to that.” Robin shook her head. She closed her eyes. “We still have to talk about a few things. I think you really need to listen to me—”
“I’m done listening to you,” Patrick interrupted. He sliced a hand in the air. “Done! You come back, pretend you care, go around acting like you’re sorry for what happened but it was all a lie, Robin. You just wanted to make yourself feel better for going away and finding something better. Well, I hope you go back to your something better and choke on it—”
“He’s dead!” Robin cried. She whirled around and hurled his jacket at him. “God damn it, Patrick, he’s fucking dead! He died!”
He caught the jacket, his face pale, his eyes wide. “What are you talking about?”
“He died just before Christmas last year.” Robin dragged her hands through her hair. “That’s what I wanted to tell you. Not that I had met someone, that I had become engaged, I wouldn’t…God, Patrick.” She swallowed hard. “He was sick. Stone had AIDS and he died.”
“Jesus Christ.” His jacket fell to the ground and he staggered back. He thought of the things he had said—those he’d said the day he found out and what he had said in the interim. What he had said just moments ago.
He felt sick.
“Robin, I—” And then something slammed into place so fast he almost retched. Her behavior since she had returned and her reaction to the cut on her finger after she’d broken some glass in the lab. The way her beeper went off at the same time every morning they started their shift.
“Oh, God.” There were spots in front of his eyes. “Oh, God. You…” He shoved his fist in his mouth and bit down, turning away from her.
“Patrick,” she said softly. She stepped forward and reached out. “It’s okay—”
“Are you kidding me?” he demanded. “Okay? You…you’re sick. You have…” He couldn’t bring himself to say it. “Oh, God,” he repeated.
“I came home because I wanted to be sure everything was okay for you,” Robin said, “for you and Ellie, and Emily and Lucky. I wanted to know that you guys were happy.”
“Happy?” he echoed. “You’re going to die and you want to make sure I’m happy?”
“I’m not—” Robin closed her mouth as he kicked a chair. It flew across the balcony and hit the stone wall. “Patrick—”
“My mother wasted away from cancer,” Patrick bit out. He kicked another chair. “My father tried to kill himself with alcohol.” Yet another went flying. “My best friend had his brains scrambled.” He overturned the table. “And the girl I’ve loved my entire life went away and when she finally comes back, it’s to die.” He sank to his knees and stared blindly at the stone ground. “I have been horrible to you.”
Robin slowly sank to the ground in front of him. “Patrick, I don’t blame you. For any of it. I knew you were upset, angry and hurt. I know you didn’t mean any of it.”
“I think I’m going to be sick,” he choked. “I am an awful brother, I’m a terrible friend and—” He couldn’t speak anymore.
“You have to let me tell you everything,” she said. She touched his shoulder with one hand and with the other, she caressed his cheek. “You have to let me explain so you understand.”
The balcony doors flew open and Elizabeth stumbled out, Jason on her heels. Her gaze took in the destruction of the scene and her brother on the ground. Her eyes softened. “Patrick.”
He turned and saw her and scrambled to his feet. “Ellie. You have to let me fix this.” He started towards her and then stopped, seeing the tear tracks on her cheeks. “I made you cry?”
“What?” She touched her cheek absently. “No, no. This is—the hospital called.” She hesitated. “There was an accident. Dad.”
Patrick froze. “Is he…?” he couldn’t finish.
“I don’t know,” Elizabeth answered. She bit her lip. “After the hospital called, your dad came to get me.” She directed this to Robin.
“My dad?” Robin repeated. “Why?”
“Because he hit someone else,” Elizabeth whispered. She brought a hand to her mouth. “They said he lost control and slammed into another car.” She stopped. “Patrick, there’s more.”
“They think he was drinking,” Patrick finished roughly. “That’s the more. He was drunk out of his mind and lost control.”