March 30, 2021

Update Link: Ricochet, Chapter Fifteen

Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone is having a good week! I’m so glad everyone enjoyed the end of A King’s Command. I had a lot of fun writing that story, and I’m glad I spent some time this last year working on alternate universes.

I wanted to let you guys know that I’ll be taking a break from posting Fool Me Twice after Chapter 20. That’s going up on April 10, and then we’re taking a two week break until April 24. New chapters will return Tuesday, April 27. I’m running a little behind on editing chapters, and I don’t want to feel rushed. I’m going to use my spring break this weekend to get a few chapters put away, but I’ll feel better if we take a break. Also, I know some of you might be a bit behind or were holding off on reading so this would be a great chance catch up.

I’m trying not to feel too guilty about taking this break. I used to run out of chapters all the time, but they were written chapters. I’m okay with running out of edited chapters because it feels like a lot less pressure and I think you guys are more reassured the story is still on track since you know I’ve written an entire first draft.

I’ll see you guys on Thursday!

 

This entry is part 15 of 38 in the series Fool Me Twice: Ricochet

Am I hiding behind my doubts?
Are they hiding behind me?
I’m closer to finding out
It doesn’t mean anything.
I remind myself of somebody else now
Feeling like I’m chasing
like I’m facing myself alone
I’ve got somebody else’s thoughts in my head
I want some of my own
Somebody Else’s Song, Lifehouse


May 2015

Cassadine Estate: Lab

Jake practically skipped into Andre’s lab and smiled broadly as he climbed up onto the examining table. “Hi, Dr. Maddox,” he said cheerfully. “Guess what?”

“Good morning, Jake.” Andre smiled over at his patient, but it was a bittersweet smile. In the last five months, he and the little boy had spent a great deal of time together as Andre had perfected the programming he’d been asked to create for him—along with Andre’s additions.

He and Kita hadn’t been able to have children, but Andre had wanted them. He’d looked forward to being a father, and he thought that these last few months might be the closest he’d ever come to being one.

Today, however, was Jake’s final visit. Andre had completed his work and would be performing a final act that would erase Jake’s memories of him. It was necessary, Helena had told him, since she planned to send Andre to Port Charles in a few months if Jason Morgan hadn’t regained his memories. Once Jake was sent home, Helena had plans for the boy and his family. She hadn’t cared about the man running around Port Charles calling himself Jake Doe, but she’d used him to run errands and commit crimes. Now, however, with his obedience chip removed, it was time for Helena to start the clock on whatever revenge she’d cooked up.

Andre only hoped he’d done enough to stop it from hurting Jake.

“Today is my birthday.” Jake’s grin deepened. “I’m seven.”

“I know. I saw the date in the chart.” Andre returned his smile. “Are you having a party?”

“No. Tana said Mrs. Cassadine was too busy, but she also said that maybe I was going home soon. Mrs. Cassadine is really close to finding my mother.” Jake practically vibrated with excitement. “Do you think my mom misses me? Why do you think she doesn’t know where I am?”

“I don’t know what your mother knows or what happened,” Andre said as he approached the child with the sensors to place at his temple. “Lay down. You know the drill.”

“I think maybe I just got lost, and maybe my mom is looking for me, too. And that’s why Mrs. Cassadine thinks she’s found her. I bet my mom misses me.”

“I’m sure she does.”

“I wonder if I have brothers or sisters. Or if I ever had a dad. I wish Mrs. Cassadine knew more about me.” Jake sighed and laid down, ready to let Andre start the procedure. “She said she found me wandering the island, but I don’t know Greek. So I’m not from here. She tried really hard, but the police didn’t know who I was either. So she took care of me. You think Tana will come with me?”

“Probably not,” Andre admitted as he returned to his work station. There wouldn’t be any place for a Greek governess. “Has she been with you long?”

“Oh, yeah, for a really long time,” Jake said. “She was always here. And Mrs. Cassadine’s family is always nice when they visit.”

Andre frowned. “I didn’t realize you’d visited with her family.” He wished Helena had told him more about Jake’s time on the island. It was so hard to pinpoint which memories he needed to suppress.

He wasn’t going to erase a single minute from this child’s memory—only shove it down for as long as possible. One day, when Helena’s plans had been foiled, Andre hoped that Jake would remember him. Or remember his time on the island. He’d been happy here. And maybe one day, his mother would want to know that he’d remembered her all along. Would that comfort the mysterious Elizabeth Webber?

“I met her son. The creepy one,” Jake clarified. “There are two creepy ones, but one of them looks mean, and the other one is just really stuffy.” He shrugged. “And her grandson. But he only came once.”

Andre frowned. He’d only met Valentin—who—

“The stuffy one went away, though. That happens a lot,” Jake said sadly. “There was a tutor I had before, but he went away after he tried to help me find my mom. I had a second nanny once. But she left, too. I thought she’d found my mom, but I guess not.” Jake was troubled now. “That’s weird, isn’t it, Dr. Maddox?”

“What is?” Andre asked gently.

“Lots of people wanted to help me get home, but then they left me. I wonder why.” Jake closed his eyes. “Are we almost done?”

“Almost. You’ll feel sleepy, and then when you wake up—” Andre hesitated. “You’ll feel better when you wake up.”

And he would remember nearly nothing about anyone he’d met over the last four years. He’d only remember Helena.

“God help us all if this doesn’t work,” Andre murmured, and pressed the button.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Greystone Manor: Driveway

Joss waved at the guard at the gate who let Jason through. “Thanks again for the ride home,” she told him, popping her gum, “but, like, you should know that you are not going to be very popular with my mother when we get inside.”

Jason winced, glancing at the blonde teenager in his passenger seat. “Because I didn’t take her to the PCPD?”

“Yup. I mean, I know what you were doing, and, like, totally the right call, you know, but—” she shrugged. “Thwarting Carly is never a good idea. This can only lead to tears.” She frowned when he didn’t say anything. “You never saw Anastasia, did you? That’s, like, a reference—” She huffed. “Man, I forgot you don’t do pop culture.”

“Why do you call your mom by her first name sometimes?” Jason asked, ignoring the pop culture complaint. “That’s the third time I’ve heard you do that.”

“Oh, well, it helps me keep her in perspective, you know? Like — Mom is my mom. She’s the person that I can go to with problems and stuff. The woman who raised me and all that,” Joss said as Jason parked the car behind one of Sonny’s cars. She pushed open the door, waiting to continue until Jason came around to her side of the SUV. “Carly is a production. An event. The hurricane. And sometimes—” Joss folded her arms, stared at the ground, and kicked at a piece of gravel. “She’s not really the same woman. It helps to keep them separate. Does that sound stupid?”

“No,” Jason admitted. “That’s…actually the way I’ve been able to stay friends with her for so long.” Joss raised her head, her eyes widened. “Because your mom is my friend, but sometimes—yeah, Carly isn’t always fun to be around.”

Relieved, Joss nodded. “So you get it. Cool. You won’t, like, snitch on me?”

“No. But you’re about to miss curfew, so—”

“Frick on a stick,” Joss muttered and hurried inside. She flashed a bright smile at Max, who opened the door. “I made it!” she declared.

“You’re thirty seconds late and you know how your mom gets,” the guard said dryly. “She’s in the living room. Hey, Jase.” Max paused. “Uh, you are Jason, right?”

“Yeah, Max. We got the results back,” Jason said. “Sonny in there, too?”

“Ah, no. Mr. C went over to the restaurant for a few hours.” He glanced at the double doors where Joss had disappeared. “He and Mrs. C had some words earlier, and he left.”

Jason made a face, then nodded. “Thanks.” He looked at the entry to the living room and decided to just get it over with.

“You can’t just decide you’re going to break curfew without permission,” Carly was saying when he came in while Joss muttered something about thirty lousy seconds. She huffed, then met Jason’s eyes. “And I am mad at you,” she snapped.

Of course you are,” Joss said dramatically. “He just found out he has a secret twin brother who was magically implanted with all of his memories and living his life, raising his kids—oh and the evil doctor behind it all also tried to screw with Jake— but, hey, let’s make this about you.”

Carly’s mouth dropped as she stared at her daughter. “Excuse me?” She looked at Jason again. “What’s going on?”

“Actually—” Grateful to the teenager whose eyes were sparkling with mischief. “It’s pretty much what Joss said. “I’m Jason, he’s Drew Cain. Andre Maddox did something he calls mapping to take my memories and put them into Drew’s brain. He wanted to do the reverse to me, but the brain damage from the accident meant he couldn’t. He worked for Victor, who was also working with Helena, and he put some sort of trigger in Jake to make the Nurse’s Ball happen.”

“I—”

“So you’re up to speed now. I’m going to go find Sonny.”

“Wait, Jason—”

But Jason had already walked out, leaving Carly watching him with stunned hurt while Joss fought the urge to cackle behind her. She almost never got to be around for the good stuff.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

General Hospital: Nurse’s Hub

“I’m so sorry I missed your cake last night.”

Elizabeth looked up, frowning at her former mother-in-law and the hospital administrator, Laura Spencer. “Oh—that’s okay. I ended running out after we ate.” She hesitated. “I went to the PCPD with Jason. You heard about Andre—”

“I did.” Laura folded her arms over the folders she held against her chest. “I saw his hasty resignation letter, and Robert paid me a visit last night to make sure I knew who was working at the hospital.” She shook her head. “We trusted him with Jake. That’s the most upsetting part of all of this. It’s terrible what happened to Jason and Drew, but Jake—”

“I took my son to Andre to help him, and he was the reason Jake was going through any of it in the first place.” Elizabeth made a face. “And now I have to find a way to tell Jake that his friend, that the man he trusted was the bad guy.” She paused. “I thought about not telling him, but—”

“It happened to him, and he’s been through enough. He deserves the truth,” Laura finished with a nod. “I agree. Luke and I might not have done everything right, but we tried to be honest with Lucky when we needed to be about things that put him in danger. Speaking of our ex-husbands,” she added, smiling grimly when Elizabeth made a face, “Luke called me as well. Sonny asked him and Lucky to try to track down Faison.”

“Oh, yeah, that was my idea.” Elizabeth signed a chart and set it aside. “Jason’s trying to find out if Faison was only working for Victor. If we can be sure that Victor and Helena were behind everything—if Andre was just tying up loose ends, this could be over—” She bit her lip.

“But you don’t think that,” Laura pressed gently.

“Honestly, I think every third word out of his mouth was a lie or a half-truth. It would be great if Helena and Victor were the bad guys,” Elizabeth admitted, “but it doesn’t explain why Andre showed up after we knew Helena was dead. Or who sent the men after Jason when he escaped from Russia.” She waited. “And there’s the fact that Nikolas told me Jake Doe was Jason.”

“Now you’re wondering what Helena knew and what she told Nikolas.” Laura closed her eyes.

“I just—he was so far from the man I knew—from the friend that I had counted on for so long,” Elizabeth continued. “What happened with ELQ—and Hayden—I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around any of it. I don’t know why Helena would lie to Nikolas or why he’d lie to me. And if that wasn’t bad enough, there is one Cassadine left who could be responsible for taking over after Helena died.”

Laura’s lips thinned as she pressed them together. “Valentin. I want him to pay for what happened to Nikolas. If you need anything—anything,” she stressed. “Please promise that you’ll come to me. Valentin is a dangerous man, and I can’t bear for him to get away with one more crime.”

“I will,” Elizabeth promised, flashing Felix a smile as he stepped up into the hub, and Laura walked away towards the elevator.

“Everything okay?” Felix asked as he traded one chart for another.

“Yeah, Laura and I were just catching up—” Elizabeth frowned when she saw Felix’s face go still. She turned toward to follow his gaze, grimacing as she recognized Franco by the elevators. Staring at her. After a moment, he turned and walked away.

“It would be great,” Felix said, “if he wasn’t so damn creepy.”

“Felix—”

“You watch your back, Elizabeth,” he cautioned her. “Because that man isn’t going down without a fight.”

Davis House: Living Room

Sam frowned when she found her sister lying on her back on the sofa, her phone in her hands. “Where’s Mom?”

Kristina didn’t look away from the screen. “I think she went into work today or something. She said something about needing to deal with paperwork.”

“Oh.” Oddly disappointed, Sam sat on the edge of the armchair. “Why aren’t you in class?”

“Canceled today. Prof had a conference in Rochester, so we gotta write a paper.” Kristina sat up, tossed her phone on the table. “I can’t wait to be done with this semester. One more month. You know, I was thinking — now that you own a huge media corporation, you should just, like, hire me.”

Sam raised her brows. “You hated it when Sonny pulled strings for you—”

Kristina shrugged. “Yeah, well, I also hate business school, but if I just drop out without a plan, Mom will, like, totally set me on fire.” She folded her legs, then wiggled her eyebrows at her sister. “So, how’s it going?”

“Is that supposed to be funny?” Sam asked darkly.

“No, it’s a legit question with a snarky tone of phrase. You and, uh, Drew sticking together? Or are you gonna throw your hat into the Jason ring again?”

“Why does everyone think I’m going to leave my husband?” Sam demanded. “And don’t say Patrick—”

“Okay, well, there’s also the fact that you trash every relationship eventually to be with Jason. I mean, you and Lucky were solid—”

“He was still in love with his wife—”

“Well, that is the danger of seducing a married man,” Kristina said prosaically. “Sometimes they’re screwing you for nefarious reasons—” Ignoring her sister’s growl, Kristina continued, “and you can’t discount Patrick. You didn’t even like Jake Doe before you found out who he was supposed to be. Any time you think you have a chance at Jason, you take off running to him. So, I mean, what are people to think?”

“They’re supposed to think that I’m not who I was twelve years ago,” Sam said, darkly. “Or that I’ve learned my lesson. I married Jason—” She closed her eyes, took a deep breath. “I married Drew. I married the man. Yes, I thought we had a history together, and maybe, I don’t know—if we had found this out a year ago—I don’t know. I think maybe it would be harder. But he’s Scout’s father, and he loves Danny. He’s a good man, and he deserves my support.”

“Maybe,” Kristina said, “and, like, great for all that, but, you know, Jason isn’t gonna wait around for you to figure this out. You pick Drew now, you’re gonna have to live with that.” She picked up her phone and started to flick through it again. “I heard from Joss that Elizabeth Webber broke up with Franco, so you know—”

“I’m so glad we had this conversation,” Sam retorted, getting to her feet. “Drew’s pissed at me because maybe part of me knew the truth, and it was hard for me, and Mom’s looking at me like I’m crazy, and you don’t seem to respect me—”

“I love you, Sam,” Kristina told her quietly. “I have no room to talk, and I barely have it together, so, like, what’s my opinion worth, you know? I just—I’ve watched you for a long time. I’ve watched you screw up and hurt yourself. Hurt others. And, like, I get it. Drew’s a good guy. I like him. But you’re addicted to danger. Absolutely addicted. And it turns out Drew’s a good guy who wants to run a media company. He’s never gonna give you the high you want. So if you pick him now, really pick him. You don’t get a do-over on this.”

“You,” Sam said carefully, “don’t know what you’re talking about. You said it yourself—you’re a mess who can barely keep it together. You’re not better than me, Krissy—”

“No, but at least I’m not approaching middle age still trying to figure out who the hell I am!” Kristina called after her, but Sam had already slammed the front door before she finished her taunt.

Quartermaine Mansion: Foyer

“Oh, I wish I could stay to talk,” Monica complained as she let Jason in. “I have a board meeting—”

“It’s fine,” Jason told her. “We can catch up later.” He paused. “Michael told you the results came back?”

“Yes,” Monica said with a nod, “and I’m glad it was sorted out so quickly. We’ll have to reach out to Drew and Oscar, but—” She grimaced. “I really do have to go—”

“It’s okay,” Jason told her.

“Call me,” Monica said, buttoning her coat. “We’ll talk—” When his mother left, Jason went to meet Michael in the office, his shoulders itching as he walked into a room he had stayed away from when he’d lived in the mansion. This room reminded him of Edward and the angry disappointment of his grandfather.

He’d wanted Edward out of his life and shoved him out—but now Jason thought he might not mind one more run-in with the old man.

“Hey.” Michael grinned as he got to his feet. “Sorry—I was swamped and couldn’t get away from work.” He gestured at the paperwork on his desk. “Contracts. And I’m trying to get our corporate lawyer to work on ELQ shares now that you’re back and Drew is also a blood relative. Not to mention Oscar—” He dragged a hand through his sandy blond hair. “Not that Drew is ready for that, but I wanted—” He stopped, stared at Jason. “Why are you smiling? What’s funny?”

“Nothing. I just—” Jason sat down and Michael returned to the desk. “I never pictured you doing this, but you look happy. It’s what you want?”

“It is,” Michael said, carefully. “And it made sense with Ned in New York and Aunt Tracy retiring to London. It wasn’t easy, but I’m where I want to be.” He tapped a pencil against the desk. “Spinelli still coming today?”

“Supposed to be here this afternoon. Said something kept him in Portland,” Jason added. He paused. “Have you talked to your mother yet?”

“Yeah, I got an angry voice mail last night, and then a crying one this morning.” Michael tipped his head. “She can’t decide if she’s angry at you or at herself, but you know Mom. She’ll come back to being angry at someone else entirely before it’s done.”

Jason did know that, and it was part of the reason he was here. He didn’t need Carly running around, feeling hurt and betrayed because she wasn’t included in every part of his life. “I can’t go back in time and change what I did,” he said. “And I wouldn’t. I just wanted answers last night. And once I knew that Andre Maddox had been arrested—I knew Elizabeth would—” He stopped, shook his head. That wasn’t how it had happened, and Jason didn’t know why he was telling Michael this. He hadn’t known Andre was being arrested when he asked Elizabeth to go with him. He’d just known he wanted her there, not Carly.

But once Jordan had told him that Andre had been arrested, Jason knew it was a good idea to take Elizabeth and leave Carly and Sonny at home.

“You knew that Mom would make a scene, go after Andre, and make it about her. Dad might have been okay, but you couldn’t take him without her.” Michael raised his brows. “And Elizabeth was invested because of Andre and she’s good at doing the moral support thing. You don’t have to sugar coat it with me, Jase. I know—” A strange shadow crossed his face as he took a deep breath. “I know how level-headed she can be in a crisis. And the last thing you need is Mom pulling her Carly tricks—”

He paused. “The thing is,” Michael continued, “that this has been a bad year. I mean—insanely bad,” he added. “I’m not trying to make excuses for her. There’s usually not an excuse for Mom. Believe me. But it’s barely been a year since Morgan—” He leaned back in his chair. “Has Mom talked to you about Nelle?”

“Your girlfriend?” Jason shrugged, shook his head. “No. I know she doesn’t like her, but I wouldn’t expect her to like anyone you were dating.”

Michael’s smile was brief, but humorless. “Well, yeah, but with Nelle, she’s got good reason. Nelle is Mom’s….you know Frank Benson? Her adopted father?” When Jason nodded, Michael continued, “After he left Carly’s mom, Virginia, he had another daughter. Nelle. And it was Nelle’s kidney that saved Joss.”

“Nelle’s—” Jason hesitated. “I didn’t—with Jake being alive, of course—I didn’t even—” He scrubbed a hand down his face. “How did that—”

“Jax bought her kidney on the black market. Nelle was just a kid. She came looking for Mom, and…well, she might not be related to Mom, but I guess revenge grows in the Benson family anyway.” Michael twirled a pen in his hand, staring at it. “She, ah, tried to ruin Mom’s life by going after Dad. You know, pulling one of Mom’s old tricks.”

Jason stared at him, then frowned. There had been so much information in that sentence—how had Jax known about Joss needing a kidney from the black market? And he had the feeling that, once again, Jason was only getting half the story with this Nelle person. “And you’re dating her?”

“I am. Because I saw who she really is,” he said. “You know, how you forgave Mom for all the crap she’s pulled over the years? Sometimes people do insane things and lash out.”

“Okay—”

“The point is that me dating Nelle, losing Morgan, and a few other things—Mom is just—she’s doing the best she can. But Jason—Drew—” Michael grimaced. “He was pulling away months ago, and he was never the kind of person Mom could depend on. She’s…had a rough time. It doesn’t make it right,” he repeated, “but I just thought—I don’t know—she’s gonna start crap with Elizabeth because since the Jake Doe stuff and finding out Jake didn’t donate the kidney—”

“She doesn’t feel as obligated to be nice,” Jason finished. “Michael, I’m not trying to hurt your mother. I just—”

“You need to handle all of this in a way that works for you,” Michael said with a nod “Yeah, I get that, Jase, and I’m here to help. Whatever you need. I’m glad you’re back. That you’re safe. That you get to know Jake. I don’t know Danny as well,” he continued, “Sam’s kind of kept him away from us, but I know Jake and his brothers really well thanks to Joss and Grandma bringing them around. He’s a great kid who’s been through hell. He deserves to have you in his life. Just like me and Morgan.”

“I wish I’d been here for Morgan,” Jason said, his throat tightening at the thought that the little boy that Carly and Sonny had named after him had died so violently.

“Me, too,” Michael murmured. He flashed his uncle a smile. “But you’re here now, and all we can do is move forward.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“Hey, man.” Curtis nodded at Drew as he closed the door behind him. He grinned at the little girl in the bouncy chair trying to scoot across the room. “Oh, man, every time I see you, kid—” Curtis knelt down, and Scout giggled, bouncing up and down. “She’s getting big.”

“Yeah.” Drew sighed. “I’m sorry I should have called—I shouldn’t have left like that. I guess I don’t really know what I’m doing yet—”

“You’ve been smacked down hard, man. You gotta get back up however works for you.” Curtis straightened, then held out a folder. “Didn’t know if you’d want this now, but it’s the background you wanted on Andrew Cain.”

“On me.” Drew took the folder, stared at it, then over at the little girl with the dark eyes and dark curls. His little girl. He walked over to the desk, set the folder down, then flipped it open, finding the same photo Alexis had shown him a few days ago.

“Distinguished career,” Curtis said. “Lots of medals and honor. And those Navy Seal skills—explains how you were able to live the Morgan life. And why you didn’t really fit into the crime part of it.”

“Maybe—” Drew picked up a photocopy of a marriage license. Andrew Cain had married Cara Sanders on June 12, 2000, in Rochester, New York. Beneath the license lay a photograph of a couple in wedding gear — Drew in the uniform again, and the woman — a beautiful brunette with light blue eyes and pale skin — staring into each other’s eyes. “Oscar’s mother?”

“Yeah. Born here in Rochester, abandoned as an infant. She had some medical issues that kept her from being adopted. Andrew Cain showed up as a two-year-old abandoned a firehouse,” Curtis continued. Drew looked at him sharply.

“Was that—was that my name at birth—”

“Andrew? Yeah. Copy of a birth certificate was dumped — had the right birth date — September 19, 1974 — but a bogus father. Susan Moore is listed as the mother and Scott Maine as the father. I figure—”

“Combination of Scott Baldwin and Alan Quartermaine. She was married to Scott when she was murdered,” Drew said faintly. “Close enough to the truth if anyone was looking for it—”

“I got curious,” Curtis interrupted. “Because I remember you telling me the story about Franco being the twin brother, and I wondered what the plan was. How did you end up in Rochester? How was he involved? Why did Heather give his name? And you were born in New York City—so I did a search—”

He took out another folder from his bag and handed it over to Drew. “I did a deep background on Susan Moore — and found the birth certificates registered in New York on September 20, 1974, the day after you were born. Jason and Andrew Moore. There’s a box on the long-form certificates—single, twin, or triplet. Both are marked as twin.” He paused. “Susan Moore had both of you long enough to name you. She put herself on the birth certificate — but the father was left blank.”

“But that’s proof she knew there were two of us.” Drew frowned. “I don’t get it. She went to a lot of trouble to get a million-dollar trust for me—” He squeezed his eyes shut. “For Jason. If there had been two—”

“She’d have taken the Quartermaines for double. So why didn’t Susan bring you home with her?” Curtis lifted his brows. “It’s a shame that she’s not around to ask, but you know there are a couple of people who knew her. And only one of them is psychotic.” He paused. “Well, I guess that depends on how you feel about Scott Baldwin.”

Kelly’s: Courtyard

“I know,” Elizabeth told her youngest son as they trudged towards the diner, “I know she’s a pain, Aiden, but if you’re going to call her names, you need to do it where the teacher can’t hear you.”

“Why am I not surprised that the Maternal’s One advice is so practical?”

Elizabeth turned and grinned at the lanky younger man as Damien Spinelli entered the courtyard from the opposite side, a little girl with curly blonde hair clutching at his hand. “Spinelli! Hey!”

“It’s good to see you.” Spinelli embraced her and kissed her cheek before giving Aiden a high-five. “Where’s the rest of the crew?” His eyes fastened on hers. “Has Little Stone Cold met his namesake?”

“He has,” Elizabeth said, smiling brightly. “It’s been hard, but I think it’s going okay. And look at you, Georgie! How grown up you are!”

“Mommy’s got a baby in her tummy,” Georgie said before ducking behind her father’s pant leg.

“Oh, man, uh, that is not public information—” Spinelli winced. “Maximista is not telling people that yet—”

“I’ll keep my lips zipped,” Elizabeth promised. “What are you doing at Kelly’s? I thought you’d be glued to Jason’s side—”

“Ah, I’m meeting Stone—” Spinelli stopped as he stared straight, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “Stone Cold,” he finished in a quiet voice. Elizabeth turned to find Jason standing in the slightly open doorway. “It’s—” He couldn’t finish.

“Daddy?” Georgie said, tugging on his hand. “You ‘kay?”

“I am beyond magnificent,” Spinelli told his daughter before grinning, releasing Georgie’s hand and hurtling himself across the courtyard like the twenty-year-old slacker he’d been once. Jason grunted as Spinelli threw himself into his arms.

“Daddy’s happy,” Georgie told Aiden. “He was very bouncy at home.”

“It’s good to see you,” Jason said, drawing Spinelli back slightly, then fully stepping into the courtyard, letting the door close. “Thank you for coming.”

“Wild horses couldn’t keep me away,” Spinelli told him, his voice thick. “I thought you were back—and I’m sorry I married your wife to your brother, my bad—but you weren’t back, and I can see it now, I don’t know why I didn’t before—and I looked, and I looked—I looked so hard for you—” He turned to Elizabeth. “Didn’t I?”

“For days,” Elizabeth said softly. “He was diving in the harbor long after the rest of the world had given up.”

“But you weren’t there to find, and I’m so glad. It kept me up thinking of you like that—” Spinelli took a deep breath. “You’re here. My Yoda is home, and you’ve come to me, the Jackal, for assistance—” He blinked, then turned to put a hand out. “My daughter. Georgie, come meet Daddy’s best friend in the entire world. He saved my life.”

“Spinelli—” Jason began, but Spinelli picked Georgie up and shoved the little girl at him. “Uh, hey.”

“I’m Georgiana,” Georgie said. “Mommy named for my aunt who is in heaven. Do you know anyone in heaven? Daddy says it’s nice and that Aunt Georgie is happy.”

“I know a few people,” Jason said. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Jason.”

“I know. Daddy talks about you a lot.  My middle name is Morgan. Did you know that? Georgiana Morgan Spinelli.”

“That is…” Jason paused. “A lot of name for someone so little.”

“Daddy says I’ll grow into it,” she said confidently as Jason set her on her feet. “Ellie says my mouth already did, but Mommy thinks I’m perfect just the way I am.”

“You remind me of your father,” Jason said dryly.

“Why don’t I take Georgie inside for a milkshake?” Elizabeth suggested. “Aiden and I were picking up dinner for everyone back home, and you two definitely need to catch up.”

“Oh—” Spinelli nodded. “Yeah, that would be great.”

“Thanks,” Jason told Elizabeth. “Hey, Aiden.”

“Hey,” Aiden said glumly. “I got in trouble again at school,” he told Jason. “Did you know that even if someone calls you names, it doesn’t count because the teacher only hears you?”

“I didn’t—”

“Charlotte said I was a bastard, so I called her a brat—” Aiden looked at Spinelli and Georgie as if looking for some extra support. “I think she was worse, but Miss Tate says she didn’t hear it and I should have came to her. But I did that last time, and nothing.” He kicked the ground. “I coulda used one of the words Cam does, but—”

“Let’s go inside and discuss new ways to deal with your cousin,” Elizabeth said hastily. “Georgie? What kind of flavor of milkshake do you want?”

“Oh, I like all flavors—” The doors closed as the three of them went into Kelly’s, cutting off Georgie’s answer.

Spinelli wrinkled his nose after them. “That Charlotte kid—Maxie has the worst stories to share—” He shook his head, then focused on Jason. “It’s really you.”

“It’s me.” Jason shoved his hands into his pockets. “I need your help,” he said. “No one follows the money like you do.”

“Well, then,” Spinelli drew up his shoulders and grinned wildly. “The Jackal is reporting for duty.”

March 28, 2021

This entry is part 27 of 27 in the series Flash Fiction: A King's Command

Written in 52 minutes.


Jason abandoned the horse almost as soon as he had rode into the woods—the trees were too tightly clustered together—he couldn’t take the risk the horse would step wrong and throw him—he had to get to his wife—had to get to Elizabeth—

He heard a scream—Elizabeth’s scream—and then it cut off abruptly. Jason’s head turned sharply and he fought to focus in the inky darkness. If he chose the wrong route—if he went in the wrong direction—he’d never get a second chance.

So he listened for just one extra precious moment, listening for the sounds of movement, of bodies, of any evidence—

And heard branches breaking, heard another short grunt—more screaming—his direction assured, Jason started to move.

Elizabeth fought Stavros every step of the way—she dug at him with her nails, with her fingers, with her legs, kicking and scrambling wildly as he pulled her across the clearing, wrapping his hand around a chunk of her hair.

She wasn’t going to go quietly, she wasn’t going to go without a fight—

But this man—this man she had only met less than a day ago—seemed to be imbued with superhuman strength. He grunted and ignored all her kicks, her screams, her jabs and scrapes. She knew he was hurt—knew Johnny had landed a few hits—

But whatever righteous hatred beat in his chest was fueling him, keeping him standing—giving him strength as he hauled her over the wood pile and shoved her against the wooden pyre.
“Please, stop, stop, stop!” Elizabeth sobbed. She raised her voice again. “Help!”

“Shut up,” Stavros grunted as he roughly pulled her arms behind her back and tied them, the coarse rope biting into her skin. Then he shoved some cloth into her mouth. “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts,” he hissed, “the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.”

He stepped back and did something with his hands, with a piece of wood and then suddenly the night was lit with bright flames, illuminating the twisted expression of the man who was going to kill her.

“This is the second death—” Stavros began as he lifted the torch high in the air. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live—”

He was tackled from the side as a dark blur appeared out of nowhere, the torch went flying and Elizabeth kept screaming, the cloth finally falling out of her mouth—the flames licked at some of the kindling—

And the woodpile around her went up in flames.

Elizabeth kicked and kept screaming, even as voice went hoarse and disappeared—she twisted and pushed against the ripe—

“M’lady, m’lady—” She could scarcely hear the worried cries of Max, one of Jason’s men, as he climbed over the woodpile towards her, the flames licking at him. He hissed as a piece of his shirt ignited, batting it out. “I’ll get you out, I’m sorry, I’m sorry—I didn’t mean to set the fire—”

Elizabeth felt the ropes loosen around her wrist just as Stavros pushed himself up and looked at them, his face twisted in rage. “No!” he roared. “She must pay!” He launched himself at the Highlander and the two of them rolled down the woodpile. Elizabeth struggled to free herself from the rest of the rope, but her hands were twisted and the flames were inching closer—

The bottom of her skirt caught and Elizabeth could feel the heat on her skin, as the rest of the pile became engulfed—Oh, God, Oh, God, this was how it was going to end—she was going to burn—

And then she was free—flying through the air, landing with a grunt against the hard ground and then being rolled.

“Are you burned?” Jason demanded, running his hands up and down her body, checking her legs, checking her feet— “Elizabeth!”

“You—” Elizabeth wrapped her arms around his neck, burying her face against him. “You came. You found me—”

“Are you burned?” he repeated, his voice hoarse.

“I don’t—” Elizabeth shoved Jason away from her as a a dark figure lurched behind him, a large branch in his hand. Stavros grunted as his hit landed in the ground between them and Jason scrambled to his feet as Elizabeth tried to crawl away. Stavros grabbed her foot and started to drag her again, dragging her towards the flames—towards the inferno—

Then her foot was free and she rolled over to see her husband and Stavros on the ground, rolling, punching, and kicking—she couldn’t even—

Elizabeth got to her feet, sobbing, looking around for anything that could turn the tide, that would give her a chance to save him—she wouldn’t run, wouldn’t hide in the trees, not again—

She spied the branch Stavros had used on the ground and picked it up—she watched the fight—she didn’t want to hit her husband—

“You will not stop me!” Stavros growled as he wrapped his hand around Jason’s neck, momentarily getting the advantage on the younger man. Jason grunted and was about to dislodge the insane bastard when Stavros cried out in pain and rolled off him.

Jason blinked, sitting up to see Elizabeth standing behind them, wielding the branch. He struggled to his feet, intending to take it from her, to finally end this—

But Stavros hurled himself up and launched himself at her—Elizabeth stepped aside—and Jason realized what she’d done—where she had positioned herself..

And so did Stavros—an instant to late. He tried to stop his forward motion, but he just stumbled and then—

He fell onto the pyre—his screams echoing in the night as his body was consumed—then they stopped, the only sounds in the night were the flickering of the flames, Elizabeth’s broken sobs, and Jason’s ragged breathing.

Elizabeth looked over at him, her face shadowed. Then she dropped the branch, ran at him, and threw herself into his arms. Jason caught her against him, pressing her tightly against him.

“Are you hurt?” he demanded, harshly, his fingers tangled in her hair.

“N-No, I don’t—” She drew back and framed his face in her hands. “You came—”

“Always,” he promised her, then he took her mouth, drinking in her taste, her touch, her scent—the reassurance that she was still alive and in his arms— “Always.”

By the time Jason and Elizabeth returned the encampment, there was a crowd gathered around their tent. Jason handed the slightly injured Max off to one of his men before taking a deep breath. He’d known that Johnny’s wound was serious when he’d left him—

He wasn’t ready to see his oldest friend’s body.

“He sent Francis with the boys,” Elizabeth whispered softly. “He tried so hard—”

“I know he did—”

“J-Jason—” His sister’s anxious voice caught his attention, and he turned to find Emily with her cheeks tear-stained and the stone-faced man behind her.

Jason clenched his jaw. “Emily, you’re always welcome, but I think you’d best tell your husband to get out of my sight—”

“No—” Elizabeth shook her head and he swung around to look at her. Her eyes were ravaged and her voice hoarse from the screaming, the nails on her hands all but gone from the scratching and digging—

“Elizabeth—”

“He had nothing to do with what Stavros had planned.” Elizabeth took a deep breath, faced Nikolas and her sister-in-law. “Trust me.”

“I do,” Jason muttered. “But—”

“My father was insane,” Nikolas said with a hard swallow. “I knew he was devoted to the Church, but in the last few years, it became worse. But he never—there were always—he followed the law.”

“The law?” Jason bit out. “The law that says a woman can be burned or hung if one thinks her a witch?”

“I didn’t say I agreed,” Nikolas managed. “I just—I never—” He focused on Elizabeth, taking in her destroyed appearance. “I can’t—there are no amends that can be made.”

“No, there aren’t,” Jason said. “Excuse us.” He took Elizabeth by the elbow and found Milo at the front of the tent. “Did he suffer?” he asked the young man.

“Oh, m’lady, you’re all right!” Milo said brightly. “M’laird, the Camerons sent their healer—she says that Johnny might live.”

“He’s still alive?” Elizabeth demanded. Without another word, she flipped back the flap of the tent and was infused with joy at the sight of the burly Irishman stretched out on the palette. He was pale, but his chest was rising. “Oh—Jason—”

Jason helped Elizabeth take a seat before crouching next to Johnny. “Thank you,” he told the warrior. “You saved my family.”

Johnny opened his eyes, just slits. “She’s…you found her.”

“Because you slowed him down—thank you—” Elizabeth frowned when Jason stopped her from coming to his side. “I’m all right—”

“Rest,” Jason told Johnny. “We’ll leave for Braegarie in the morning.” He squeezed Johnny’s hand. “Thank you,” he repeated.”

“Aye, well, took me long enough to get used to her,” Johnny muttered. His eyes closed. “Don’t wanna break in another…lass…”

——

Elizabeth pushed Jason not to rest too long on the journey home—Johnny was following behind them, much more slowly—but she wanted to be back at Braegarie—she wanted to see her boys—

They reached the keep by the evening of the next day, and Elizabeth rushed right past Jason’s started aunt to the master bedroom.

“My lady!” Lulu’s eyes were wide as she took in Elizabeth’s scratched face and ruined hands. “Are you all right?”

“I am—” Elizabeth looked at bed where she found Cameron curled up in the furs, his face scrunched up in sleep. Jake was also sleeping peacefully, in the cradle where Lulu sat. Her boys were safe. “I’m fine. You can go for the night—”

“Aye, m’lady,” Lulu murmured as she slipped around Jason and left. Elizabeth stayed where she was, her feet fixed to the floor.

“Elizabeth?” He put a hand at the small of her back. “Let me call for Barbara—those scratches—” Jason took a hand in his, grimacing at the pain he knew she was hiding from him.

“They’re safe.” Elizabeth closed her eyes, tears sliding down her face. “It’s all I ever wanted. I wanted them to be safe.”

“They are. We all are,” he told her. Jason drew her into his arms, breathing easier when she relaxed against him. “I’ll call for a bath and for Barbara.”

“All right.” Elizabeth managed a smile, then looked up at him. “It’s over. I don’t—I don’t have to be afraid anymore.”

“I—I should have kept you home,” Jason muttered, but she shook her head.

“No. It was always going to happen,” Elizabeth told him. “Whether Stavros found out about me from Albany or some other way — he was Emily’s stepfather. It was always going to happen. If we’d stayed home this year, it would have been next year. I can see that now. I can feel it.” She took a deep breath. “The vision—the nightmares that followed—I was so sure I was seeing my death. I could feel the heat—”

“Elizabeth—”

“But I never saw how it ended. You came and you stopped it. You saved my life.”

“You saved mine, too,” Jason reminded her. He stroked her cheek. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” She leaned up and kissed him lightly. “And I can’t wait to start the rest of our lives. We’re finally free.”

Update Link: A King’s Command, Part 27

Happy Sunday! As always, I’m writing this update post before I actually start writing for the day, so I think I’ll be finishing up King’s Command, but you never know. I think honestly, the only thing I might not get to is like a wrap-up, epilogue situation, you know? So maybe I’ll just tack that on in a 20 minute session later this week. We’ll see.

ETA: Checking in after writing. I was able to finish it, so yay! Not Knowing When will be back next week!

My original plan with Flash Fiction was to use these as first drafts and then rework the content at some point. I still have that vision, and I think King’s Command will definitely benefit from that. I didn’t do enough research when I started it, and so you can kind of see my thoughts and plans changing as we went through it. I don’t know when I’d get to it, but it’s something I might revisit this summer.

I don’t have a lot to say other than that. I’ll see you guys on Tuesday!

This entry is part 14 of 38 in the series Fool Me Twice: Ricochet

Cut me down
But it’s you who has further to fall
Ghost town, haunted love
Raise your voice, sticks and stones may break my bones
I’m talking loud not saying much

Titanium, Jasmine Thompson


Mykonos, Greece; December 2014

Cassadine Estate: Nursery

The boy was clearly too old to be cooped up in the suite of rooms that had served as the estate’s nursery for more than a century. Andre didn’t know a lot about the little boy that Helena Cassadine had kidnapped almost four years earlier, but he knew the child was approaching the age of seven.

He was a bright and cheerful little boy with sandy blonde hair, kind blue eyes, and a smile for anyone who offered him one first. He seemed somehow untouched by his time in Greece—almost as if Helena had kidnapped him, set him up in this room with a tutor and a governess, then had forgotten about him until the time came when he would be useful.

That day had finally come.

“Hi.” The boy waved at him and got to his feet, pushing aside the truck he was playing with. “My name is Jake. Who are you? Does Tana know you’re here?”

“Yes,” Andre said. He took a chair from the table and sat down. “I’m a doctor working with Mrs. Cassadine. Can you sit down, talk with me for a minute?”

“Sure. I haven’t seen Mrs. Cassadine in forever,” Jake said. He joined Andre at the table, taking a minute to climb into the adult-sized chair. “She’s nice, though.”

“Is she?”

“Tana says she’s very busy looking for my family.” Jake squinted at Andre. “Do you know where I came from?”

“No,” Andre said, slowly. This was mostly true. He didn’t know much about the boy in front of him, other than the fact he was the son of Jason Morgan and a woman Helena obviously loathed. She wanted to make this woman—Elizabeth Webber—pay for some slight, for some crime she’d committed. “Do you know?”

“Tana says I used to have a mommy, but not a daddy. She says my daddy left.” Jake furrowed his brow. “I don’t know what happened, though. Tana says I shouldn’t ask questions.”

“How long have you been here?”

“With Mrs. Cassadine?” Jake paused, clearly thinking over his answer. “A few years. I think. I don’t know. I didn’t always live here because I remember what my room looked like before. I had lots of posters. And trucks. I like trucks. And motorcycles. And cars,” he added.

“You remember your old room? What about your mother?”

Jake paused, then dipped his head. “I sort of remember her,” he said in a small voice. “But Tana said it was a dream.”

“What do you remember?” Andre asked gently.

“She was crying, and I missed her, and then someone took me away.” Jake rubbed a hand over his eyes. “She tried to come after me, but—I don’t remember anything else.” He pinned Andre with his bright blue eyes. “Do you know my mommy? Why are you asking all these questions?”

“I don’t know your mother,” Andre said, “but I’m here to help you get ready to go home. Mrs. Cassadine—'” He closed his eyes. He’d done so many terrible things in his search for answers—what he’d done to this little boy’s father and uncle was beyond anything else—

But Andre knew what he was about to do to this child—the lies he would tell—the things he was supposed to put into his brain—

It was too late to get out. Too late to turn back. But maybe he could try to help. Maybe he could—

He was the expert, after all. Helena didn’t have to know—

“You missed your mother?” Andre said quietly. “So you remember loving her.”

“It’s weird,” Jake admitted. “Because I can’t really remember what she looked like. She had shiny brown hair and a nice smile. But I remember that I loved her. And I know she loved me. It’s like—” His face scrunched up. “You know how you can remember a feeling?”

“Yes,” Andre said slowly. “I do.”

“I’m going home to her?” Jake asked. “They found her? Where is she? Where has she been all this time?”

“We haven’t found her yet,” Andre told him. “But Mrs. Cassadine thinks we’re close, so she wants you to be ready.” He smiled at Jake. “So we’ll get you ready.”

If Jake could remember the feeling of his mother’s love after all this time, then maybe Andre could use that love as a failsafe.

If Helena was determined to use this little boy to trigger a biological weapon, then it was up to Andre to do whatever he could do to protect him. There was obviously no one else who would.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

PCPD: Squad Room

Sam didn’t know what she was expecting when she and her husband arrived at the department that evening — but she certainly was not expecting Elizabeth Webber with the other man.

She felt her husband stiffen as he saw the two of them standing by Dante Falconieri’s desk, talking with the detective.

“Let’s just get this over with,” Sam told her husband, tugging on his coat sleeve. “Let’s find Jordan—” Then her eyes widened when she saw Dante’s partner, Nathan West, strolling out of the back room with Andre Maddox in handcuffs. “Andre? What the—”

The doctor looked away, and Elizabeth glared at her colleague. “How could you?” she bit out. “How could you do that to Jake?”

“Elizabeth—” Andre began.

“He trusted you—we all trusted you—”

“I swear, since I started treating him—”

“What the hell is going on?” Her husband declared, shoving his way forward. “What happened to Jake? What did you do to my son?”

Andre stared at the other man, then closed his eyes, and fear licked at Sam’s throat. Oh, God, oh God—

“You didn’t tell him the results yet?” he asked, turning to Dante. Her husband’s face stilled, and Sam pressed her fist to her mouth. Oh, God, she’d known, but she hadn’t wanted to—

“No, not yet,” another voice sounded from the other side of the room. Jordan Ashford strode forward, her boyfriend just behind her. Curtis’s eyes were averted, and Sam turned to look at the man who was about to lose everything.

“I love you,” she told him. “Please remember that.”

“What do the fingerprints say?” her husband asked, ignoring her. He swallowed hard, nodding at the file in Jordan’s hand. “You have them, don’t you?”

“I do,” Jordan said. “And advanced DNA results. I know which one of you is Jason Morgan, and we can say—for certain now—that the other man is Andrew Cain, his twin brother.”

Greystone Manor: Kitchen

Carly charged into the kitchen, waving her phone. “Look at this text message!” she told her husband.

Sonny frowned, stepped back from the stove, and wiped his hands on the dishtowel hanging over the oven handle. “What?”

“Just read it—”

Sonny squinted at the text.

hey mom gonna go to cams hes got leftover cake and his mom went with jason to pcpd to resolve the whole jase-face drama will prolly make curfew unless something interesting happens.

Sonny knew exactly why his wife was irritated, but he really didn’t want to have this argument. “Jason will probably let us know what happens when he gets a chance—”

“Why didn’t he call us?” Carly demanded. When she didn’t take the phone Sonny held out to her, he tossed it on the island counter and went back to the simmering sauce. “Why is he with her?”

“Because he probably got the call while he was at her house. You knew he was going there to do cake with the boys—” Sonny reached into his own pocket, then nodded. “Okay, yeah, he sent me a text a half hour ago. PCPD called, he’s going with Elizabeth. They arrested Andre. Well, that makes sense—”

How—”

“Jason told us that Andre was involved up with the Chimera situation,” Sonny reminded her. Carly pressed her lips together, mutinously. “Elizabeth probably wants to hear Andre’s reasons or something.” He shrugged.

“Fine, then why didn’t he also call us? He called you, but he didn’t ask you to go. And he didn’t call me—”

“Maybe because he didn’t want to have this argument,” Sonny muttered, wincing when he realized he’d spoken loud enough for Carly to hear him. “Carly—”

“He came home four days ago,” she said. “I am the same person I’ve always been, but it’s like he hates me. He refuses to talk to me, to let me be there for him—” Tears spilled down her cheeks. “I thought I was getting my best friend back—”

“Maybe,” Sonny said, reaching for patience, “he’s not interested in the same friendship you had before. He’s been spending time with Elizabeth, and that always gets you mad. You have no idea how much time he used to spend with her because he kept you out of that.”

Carly stared at him. “But—”

“He’s not pretending anymore, Carly. And you and I can’t be everything he needs. We never could.”

“I’m not trying—” She squeezed her eyes shut. “We should be able to do this. We should be there for him when he finds out out the truth about what happened to him. Why is it her? Why isn’t me or you? Or Sam? Spinelli—anyone else—”

“He’s known Elizabeth almost as long as he’s known the two of us,” Sonny reminded his wife. “And you haven’t liked her since the second you realized she was competition.”

“That—” Carly squeezed her hands into her fists at her side. “Yes. At first. But later—”

“Later, she never did anything to either of us to deserve the way you’ve treated her. No, Jake didn’t donate the kidney that saved Joss’s life, but Elizabeth did not know that. She thought he was dead.”

“I know—”

“Jason buried his son. We have buried a son,” Sonny said roughly. “It could have broken us, you and me. It nearly did. We don’t get a chance at a miracle with Morgan. And part of me—yeah, maybe part of me is angry that I don’t get to have another chance with Morgan. To save him this time. Maybe it’s not Elizabeth you resent Jason spending time with—”

“Sonny—”

“Maybe it’s Jake. Maybe it’s the son Jason gets to have in his life when he wasn’t supposed to. I don’t know what’s worse, Carly.”

“It’s neither of those things,” Carly said tightly. “Why do you always think the worst of me? Of course, I don’t resent Jason for getting to be with Jake. I want him to have his son. Both of his sons—”

“Right now, he can’t be with Danny. Sam isn’t opening that door. It might change after the truth comes out, but Jake—Elizabeth is not only opening the door, she’s pulling Jason through it. After all the sacrifices Jason made for our family—for Michael—” Sonny paused. “He went to jail to protect Michael, Carly. He couldn’t even see Jake around town. You don’t like his mother. Fine. But whether you like it or not, Elizabeth Webber is here to stay.”

“You’re telling me it doesn’t hurt that Jason didn’t want you with him when this happened today?” Carly demanded. “That you’re not upset he pushed you out—”

“No,” Sonny said, honestly. “Because I already know the truth. I know who he is. And everything else, Jason can tell me later. Jason has been through hell, Carly. He lost the first twenty-two years of his life to his alcoholic brother, then sixteen years later, someone else stole five more years. I think Jason gets to handle this whatever way he wants. And right now, he wants Elizabeth to be the one standing next to him.”

“It should be me—”

“Why?” Sonny challenged. He switched off the sauce. “Why?” he repeated. “You can’t be first in his life. I’m tired of this argument, Carly. I’m not doing this again. Every time you complain about a woman taking your place in Jason’s life, I—” He stopped, biting back the angry words.

“What?” Carly retorted. “Finish it—”

“It makes me wonder if maybe the only reason you and me are still here is because Jason doesn’t want you.”

Carly stared at him, her eyes wide. “Sonny—”

“I’m going to the restaurant to wait for Jason to call me. Don’t wait up.”

“Sonny—”

PCPD: Squad Room

It felt like forever before Jordan spoke again, but it was probably no more than a few seconds.  “According to the DNA tests, the fingerprints in our archives and what the Navy sent over—”

She turned to Sam’s husband, and Jason thought he could see the truth in the other man’s eyes even before she spoke.  “You are Andrew Cain,” Jordan said.

“Are you—” Drew began, his face blanching. He stopped abruptly.

Jordan looked at Jason. “And you are Jason Morgan,” Jordan said. “But—” An ironic smile played on her lips. “You already knew that.”

Jason tipped his head to that, then looked at Drew. “I’m sorry—”

“Don’t—” Drew put a hand, looked away from his brother, focused on Jordan. “How can you be sure?”

“The DNA was performed by GH and the outside lab. The outside lab isn’t back yet,” Jordan said, “but combined with GH’s results, the marker tests, and these prints—the two of you are twin brothers. GH’s testing says that you’re Oscar Nero’s father and that—” Jordan nodded to Jason. “He is Jake Webber’s father.” She held the folder out to Drew. “This is a copy of your military file with the prints and the tests. If you want to do an independent conformation.”

Drew stared at the folder but didn’t take it. Instead, he slid his hand into the pocket of his pants and drew out a wallet. He flipped it open, and one by one, he dropped plastic cards onto the ground. A driver’s license. Two credit cards. A bank card.

“Am I going to be arrested for desertion? They told me that’s what happened to Drew Cain. He went AWOL in Afghanistan,” Drew said flatly, his eyes staring at the ground, at the cards.

“No, I’ve been in contact with the Navy. They might send a JAG officer to wrap things up,” Jordan said, “but I assured them that whatever happened, it wasn’t voluntary. Drew—”

“Don’t—” Drew bit off whatever angry words he’d been about to say. He looked at Sam. “Well, he’s right over there. Isn’t that what you do when Jason Morgan shows up? You drop everything and run?”

“That’s—” Sam’s voice faltered. “That’s not fair—”

Drew turned and stalked out. After a moment—a moment longer than Jason expected—Sam looked at him, their eyes met. Then her eyes drifted to Elizabeth before she turned and followed Drew, only pausing to take the folder from Jordan.

Jason exhaled slowly, ignoring the ache in his chest as he turned to the other man in the room—the one in handcuffs. “Did you do this to us?” he demanded. “Why does he think he’s me?”

Andre closed his eyes, looking vaguely ill. “Because I put your memories in his brain,” he admitted.

“You played with his mind,” Elizabeth said, vibrating with anger, her voice shaking from the fury. “Just like Jake. And you must have done it to Jason. How else could you get the memories? Why?” she demanded harshly. “Why did you do this to them?”

Andre sighed, and Nathan shook him slightly when the doctor said nothing. “Talk,” he ordered, “or you’re going back to your cell—”

“Detective West,” Jordan said, but Andre shook his head.

“I’ll tell you what I can,” he said finally.

Webber House: Living Room

Joss refreshed her Twitter feed again, scowling. “How much longer is this going to take?”

“What makes your dumb ass think it’s going to be on social media?” Trina demanded as she sat down with a slice of cake. “It’s not like the launch party where everyone is gonna start oversharing—”

“Cam said you weren’t supposed to fight at our house,” Aiden told Trina very seriously as he sat on the sofa. “He said you gotta have neutered ground, but I don’t get that because when Mark’s dog got neutered, he got this cone—” He peered at Joss. “Which one of you wears the cone?”

Neutral ground,” Cam corrected. “It means they don’t fight here because this is a safe place.” He handed Jake the bowl of popcorn before perching on the arm of Trina’s chair. “Won’t your mom tell you?” he asked Joss.

“I don’t think Mom got invited,” Joss said carefully. “She called me when she got the text demanding to know how I knew Jason was at the PCPD and how long ago he was called—”

“Whoa, your mom wasn’t asked to go?” Oscar shuddered. “I’m glad we’re hanging here and not at your place.”

“Right?” Joss repeated, her eyes widened. “When Carly gets left out of things, it’s drama city. I mean, maybe we could have been there because it would have been fun to see her flip out, but she usually just insults Cam’s mom, so, like, I’ve heard it before.”

Trina shrugged. “Then I guess we’re waiting on your mom and Jason to come back.” She leaned back in the chair. “I wonder how that’s going.”

“Maybe,” Oscar said. “But I mean, I guess we already know, don’t we? Your mom seems so convinced,” he said to Cam and his brothers. “I mean, she told Jake the new guy is his real dad.”

Jake made a face. “I know Mom is right, and the new guy is nice, but I like my other dad, I mean your dad, I mean my uncle—” He scowled. “This is annoying. Why can’t people just be who they’re supposed to be? Why does everything gotta be all weird?”

“I wish I could tell you it would get better,” Joss said with a sigh, “but as long as you live in Port Charles, this is pretty much the way things are.” She frowned at Oscar. “But why didn’t you think it was Jason yesterday at the hospital? I mean, he looks just like your dad.”

“I know, and that was weird, but the more I thought about it, the more I just didn’t feel it. And I think I’d feel it. He’s my dad. And he didn’t know me—”

“But the other guy—Drew—” Cam said, “he won’t know you either. Not until we figure out what’s wrong with his brain—”

“He’s my dad,” Oscar argued. “Maybe he won’t know me like he remembers teaching me to throw a baseball or whatever, but he’ll know me. You know? Like he’ll feel a connection once we know the truth.” He focused on Jake. “Didn’t you feel it with your dad?”

“Well, no,” Jake said slowly. “He doesn’t feel like my dad yet. I’m sorry,” he said when he realized Oscar’s expression had soured. “That’s not the right answer.”

“It’s fine—”

“Oscar,” Joss began.

“No, I know you guys think I’m insane, but it’s like—you said your mom knew Jason was who he was supposed to be,” Oscar said to Cam. “So did your mom and stepdad,” he said to Joss. “That’s what I mean. He’s gonna know me. He’s gonna see me, and part of him will recognize me. I know it.”

“Maybe he will,” Trina suggested, shooting a glare at Cameron as if to remind him not to argue. “I mean, brains are weird, right? Maybe seeing you will trigger something. But it also might not, Oscar. We just—” She bit her lip. “We like you, you know. We don’t wanna see you get hurt.”

“I won’t be,” Oscar said confidently. “He’s my dad. I’m finally gonna get him back.”

PCPD: Squad Room

“Well?” Jordan said sharply when Andre didn’t continue speaking. “What did you do? And why?”

Andre looked away from his ex-girlfriend, but if he was hoping to avoid the bitter disappointment in someone’s eyes, he shouldn’t have looked at Jason and Elizabeth standing to his left. Jason’s expression was carefully controlled, but anyone could see from the way his hands were clenched into fists at his side that he was furious — and Elizabeth’s rage was written all over her face.

If he told them everything he knew right now, there was every chance that this man would end his life. Even if Jason Morgan could be convinced to show him mercy, Andre would lose any and all leverage.

He’d never be able to finish his work.

“I don’t have all the answers that you want,” he said slowly. “I worked for the people who did this—”

“You’re a doctor,” Jordan snapped. “How could you—”  She stopped when Curtis put a hand on her arm.

“Who?” Elizabeth demanded. “Was it Victor? Helena? Faison? Someone else?”

“Victor brought me into the experiments because of the research I had suggested in mapping memory.” Andre paused. “My wife,” he said after a moment. “She suffered from young-onset dementia. We hoped we could slow the disease, but by the time she was thirty-eight—” His voice faltered for a minute. “I needed to find a way to stop it from happening to anyone else. I changed my research focus to the development of memory. I thought—if we could map memories, maybe we could reverse—”

“And the Cassadines were the only people crazy and unethical enough to give you live patients,” Elizabeth hissed. “Is that it?”

“Victor wanted to experiment with a set of twins,” Andre said dully. “He brought you to me. You and Drew. I never knew the names or histories. You were just—” He closed his eyes as Jason Morgan’s blue eyes burned into his. “You were numbers. Five and Six.”

“Five and Six,” Curtis repeated softly. “And Patients One through Four? Were there any after Jason and Drew?”

“What was the plan, Andre?” Elizabeth demanded. “What did you do to Drew? Can he get his memories back?”

“I don’t know,” Andre lied. “I couldn’t finish the project. Not at first.” He looked at Jason. “I could map both of your memories, but implantation—it failed with you. The brain damage—” He shook his head. “You shouldn’t be alive, much less walking around—”

“But you went ahead with Drew,” Jason interrupted, drawing Andre’s focus. “You gave him my memories—”

“How was Helena involved?” Elizabeth cut in. “When did she get there? And what about Jake?”

“Maybe if we stop interrupting,” Curtis suggested gently, for which Andre was reluctantly grateful. Jordan and Elizabeth were liable to rip him into shreds, and if anything was left—he avoided Jason’s eyes—he still wasn’t convinced he would survive a run-in with Jason Morgan.

“I don’t know much about Helena’s involvement,” Andre lied. “She was interested in the work I was doing with the memory mapping. And she and Victor were…I think collaborating on some other projects I wasn’t part of. She wanted me to implant subliminal suggestions into Jake’s head. I didn’t want to do it, at first—” He grimaced. “But I didn’t have a choice.”

“There’s always a choice,” Elizabeth bit out.

“You’re right. I just didn’t have a good choice. I didn’t know Jake. He was Patient Three. And no,” Andre said with a shake of his head. “I didn’t run the other experiments. I can’t tell you anything about them. I was barely involved with Jake, but once Helena decided to return him to you—to Luke—” he corrected, wincing as Elizabeth’s eyes narrowed.

“What about me?” Jason said quietly. “Who put me in that clinic in Russia?”

“I don’t know,” Andre said. “When I told Victor I couldn’t complete the experiment, he was supposed to end it. That was maybe eight months after I started. Originally we were supposed to put Drew here in Port Charles and send you to San Diego. To get a sense of how much memory implantation could actually affect the people you were,” Andre said.

“And that’s why Drew got Jason’s memories after you came to Port Charles?” Elizabeth said, lifting her chin. “Is that what you did? Why did anyone let him walk around without those memories for a year?”

“I wasn’t part of that,” Andre said, choosing his words carefully. “I just know that it suited Helena’s plans. After Victor died, Helena called the shots, and she didn’t tell me very much. She wanted to return Jake, so I finished the work. She wanted me in Port Charles—and I thought—”

“Well, you’d come this far,” Jordan growled. “You might as well finish your experiment.”

Andre closed his eyes. “Yes,” he admitted.

“And that’s all you know,” Elizabeth said, lifting a brow. “You don’t know what else Helena and Victor were doing—but Helena’s been dead for two years, Andre. She was dead before you put those memories into Drew for the second time. Who were you taking your orders from then? Who are you taking them from now?”

“No one. There’s no one.” He stopped. “I didn’t realize how wrong I was until I came here. Until then, they were just numbers, but then they became people—you showed me those pictures of Jason before the accident—”

“You treated my son,” Elizabeth said in a low, dangerous tone. “You looked at him every day, trying to make his nightmares and trauma go away, and you were the one that put the trigger in his head that nearly killed him. That nearly killed my entire family—” Jason put a hand on her shoulder, and she stopped to take a breath. “Spare me your newfound regret and remorse,” she retorted. “You knew exactly what you were doing—what I was up against last spring with Jake, and you stayed silent. You left town instead of coming to me. I am sorry for what happened to your wife, but you had no right to destroy Jason and Drew’s lives for research. To destroy my son.”

“I know,” Andre said. “I wish I could take it back.”

“You can’t.” Elizabeth turned to Jason. “I’ll wait outside—”

“I don’t have any questions he’ll answer,” Jason said with a shake of his head. He leveled one more look at Andre that made it clear Jason didn’t believe that Andre was telling them everything.

Which meant Andre would live a little longer.

“Take him back into lockup,” Jordan told Nathan. When the two of them had left, she turned to Jason and Elizabeth. “You should know he’s only here on loan from the WSB. They want to debrief him about the research he did with Victor.”

“So he’s not even going to pay for what he did,” Elizabeth said. “How is that fair?”

“It’s not, but my hands are tied. The DA already agreed to extradition, and if we hadn’t signed the paperwork—” Jordan nodded at the door through which Andre had disappeared. “You wouldn’t have had that much.”

“Then thank you,” Jason said, taking Elizabeth by the elbow. “We can talk to Anna and Robert,” he reminded her. “If Andre was still working for the WSB with Jake—”

“They might be able to find out more,” she murmured. “I just feel sick to my stomach. I want to go home and see the boys.”

“Then let’s go.”

Penthouse: Living Room

When Drew stormed into the penthouse and yanked off his coat, Alexis stood up from the sofa, her eyes going to Sam behind him, closing the door more quietly. “Well?”

“It’s true,” Drew bit out. “I’m Andrew Cain. Not—” He closed his eyes. Scrubbed his hands over his face. “Not Jason.”

“I’m sorry,” Alexis said. When he just scoffed at her, she just sighed. “I am. You didn’t deserve this. Any of this.”

“Mom—” Sam sighed. “Maybe you should—”

“I’ll call you in the morning.” As she grabbed her coat and passed her daughter, Alexis kissed her cheek. “Good night.”

When her mother was gone, Sam turned to her husband—to Drew—and waited. “It doesn’t change anything for me,” she told him, even though she wasn’t entirely convinced that was true. It felt true. She knew she loved the man in front of her, and she knew they’d been through hell in the last two years—in the last year, they’d pulled their lives together—rebuilt their family— had their little girl—

And yet—it also felt like a lie. And Sam didn’t really know what to do with that. How to handle it. Since she didn’t really know what she was feeling, she decided to focus on what she could do. She could figure out what her husband needed and do that.

He’d just had his entire life ripped apart, and he needed someone to help him get through it. He needed her.

“You know what really kills me?” he murmured, so quietly she almost didn’t hear him. Sam shook her head wordlessly. He focused on her, his eyes rimmed with red and exhaustion. Neither of them had been sleeping well. “I knew.”

“You knew,” Sam repeated, frowning slightly. “What—”

“A voice in my head,” Drew continued. He turned back to the fireplace, unlit and dark. He stared into it blindly. “At the church. Carly told me who I was, and I turned around to look at Elizabeth, and by the time I’d gotten all the way around—my brain was on fire. Screaming at me that it wasn’t real.”

“Jas—Drew,” Sam said, testing out the name on her lips. “Drew,” she repeated. “This is…a lot. And it’s okay not to know what you’re feeling—”

“I refused to be him,” Drew continued. “Remember? I wanted to know what happened to me, but I wasn’t going to be Jason Morgan. I wanted Jake Doe. That felt right. I almost hated you for forcing it on me—”

Her stomach twisted, and a sour taste rose in her throat. “What—”

“But then—” He exhaled slowly. Shakily. “Then the memories started. And the voice just got louder. Because the memories were just…there. They didn’t feel right. I thought it was just all the trauma, all the things I’d been through. I drowned it out. I ignored it. But it never went away.”

“I—”

“And now I know I was right. That I should have listened to those voices. I’m not Jason Morgan. Jake is not my son. Danny is not my—”

“Yes, he is,” Sam snapped. “Jason didn’t want him! You know that!”

“I—he—” Drew squeezed his eyes shut. “He changed his mind—”

“He felt guilty,” Sam retorted. “You’ve loved Danny. You’ve been his father. He knows you. Not Jason. You’re not losing Scout or Danny. Or me. And you’ve got friends. Friends who love you,” she reminded him. “Curtis. We have Aurora—”

“How much of that is really mine?” he asked roughly. “I can’t—” Drew shook his head. “I can’t deal with this right now. I have to—I’m sorry.” He exhaled slowly. “I can’t. I need to go.”

“Drew—”

“Don’t—” He turned back to her, his hand outstretched. He drew it back, curling it into a fist. “I need to be alone. I’ll call you in the morning.”

Sam watched him leave, the door closing behind him, and had no idea what she was supposed to do next.

Webber Home: Living Room

Elizabeth was unsurprised to find all three boys up when she came home with Jason that evening. Oscar and Trina must have gone home because only Cam and Joss were sitting on the sofa. Aiden and Jake were lying on their stomachs in front of the television. “I thought you were supposed to watch Hocus Pocus last night,” she said, making a face.

“Mom.” Cam jumped up, and Jake rolled over into a sitting position. “Hey. What happened?”

“Basically what we thought,” Elizabeth said. She and Jason exchanged a look. They had already decided to keep what happened with Andre to themselves for the moment. “Jason is Jason…and Drew is the other man. Jason’s twin brother.”

“And Oscar’s dad,” Joss said with a sigh. “Well, that’s good, I guess. Do you know what happened yet?”

“Not all of it,” Jason said.

“Jake?” Elizabeth asked. “What are you thinking?”

Jake paused, then looked at his father. “I’m glad you came home,” he told him. “It was really mean what they did to you. And you seem nice.” He paused. “I just…I really love my other dad.”

“I know,” Jason said with a nod. He crouched down so that he was at eye level with Jake. “And it was really mean what they did to him. I told you, Jake, I don’t want you to lose anyone that matters to you. I know he’s been important to you. He should keep being important if that’s what you both want.”

“And hey,” Cam said. “He’s still your uncle, Jake. He and Jason are brothers. Like us. Well, not like us,” he corrected. “But maybe like—”

“Like Charlotte and Rocco?” Aiden suggested. “Rocco hates his sister—”

Cam eyed him. “Uh, yeah, maybe not so much like Charlotte and Rocco. I just—”

“Drew and I are brothers. We have the same father,” Jason told Jake. “The same biological mother. But we didn’t grow up together like you and Cam and Aiden. We don’t know each other yet.”

“Oh. Well, sometimes, I wish I didn’t know my brothers either,” Jake admitted. “But he’s a nice guy.” He got to his feet. “Maybe I could help you guys be okay if he still likes me now that he’s not my real dad.”

“I’m sure he’s still going to love you,” Elizabeth assured her son. “It’s just hard right now. Because everything is changing for him, and we need to be patient with him.”

“Right.” Jake smiled at Jason. “But I’m glad everyone knows the truth.” He stepped forward and gingerly wrapped his arms around Jason’s waist. “Welcome home…Dad.”

“Thanks,” Jason said, his voice a bit rough as Jake stepped back with his shy smile still intact. “It’s good to be home.”

March 26, 2021

Update Link: A King’s Command, Part 26

Not a lot to babble about since I just updated yesterday, but I will say my car is testing my patience, LOL. I typed Thursday’s update blog on Wednesday — and then Thursday morning, I went out to start my car and it was completely dead. It was raining the day before, and I left my lights on. It was so annoying, LOL. Luckily, my VP was super awesome and let me hold my meetings from home so I could still work and not take a day. My dad came up and took care of it, so I’m just relieved it wasn’t a more annoying situation.

I’ve edited two chapters this week, and I’ll be working on a third tomorrow so I’m meeting my goals in that respect. I also finished the large scale outline on Smoke & Mirrors. I’m waiting on my iPad to start filming videos for the channel. My old iPad is completely out of space, so I can’t even film in segments. I’ve been saving up for six months for this thing, so I’m just hoping Apple ships it soon. I’m enjoying working on AU — I don’t write them a lot because I usually feel more inspired by GH canon and there’s also other challenges I really want to dig into. I don’t know yet how long the project will be and I’m not setting a deadline for writing it. I think I’ll have a better sense of all of that after I get into it.

And in preparation to work on Smoke & Mirrors, I worked on the template for the Alternate Universe page. Like Alternate History, I’m working on streamlining how my stories are listed. Right now, they’re kind of scattered across a few pages. I want you to be able to go to one or two places and find everything. The AU page will be divided into genres and is in the early stage.s

See you tomorrow for another update of Ricochet!

This entry is part 26 of 27 in the series Flash Fiction: A King's Command

Written in  56 minutes. Did a spellcheck but not a reread.


Elizabeth watched numbly as the men remaining at festival completed the caber toss. She couldn’t remember what excuse she offered to Emily as to why Cameron had stayed behind with Francis at the tent, but her sister-in-law seemed to accept it.

Emily clapped happily as her husband strode out onto the field, having replaced Jason in the competition while Elizabeth tried very hard to avoid looking at the Cassadines just a few feet away—Stavros was so close, she could scarcely breathe.

She could feel Johnny behind her and tension radiating from Jason’s first in command was palpable. He was careful not to stand too close but neither did he let much space come between them. If Stavros made a move, Johnny was ready.

She was still practically vibrating, her mind racing, and everything inside screaming to run, to get her babies away from this man. To be safe behind the walls of Braegarie.

“Nearly done,” Johnny muttered behind her. “You’re doing well, my lady.”

“Not so bad for a Lowland lass,” Elizabeth said, reminding him of the first relatively nice thing he’d ever said to her nearly three years earlier when they’d traveled from Edinburgh. She flashed him a smile full of nerves and he just raised a brow.

“You survived a Highland winter and you’ve given our laid two strong sons. I think it’s safe to call you a Highland woman,” Johnny said. His mouth tightened as the caber toss came to an end. “Let’s head back to the camp site—”

“Oh, but Nikolas and his men won!” Emily said. She grabbed Elizabeth’s sleeve. “Won’t you want to celebrate with us?”

“I’m feeling a bit tired,” Elizabeth said. She flashed Emily a smile and avoided the prickle of unease as Stavros joined them. “And the boys are napping. Cameron can be disoriented when he wakes from a nap.”

“Oh, well, then come by the camp later,” Emily offered.

“Yes. With Morgan gone to help Camerons, you must let us look out for you,” Stavros said.

“That’s why he left me,” Johnny said, stepping slightly in front of Elizabeth. “And I can look out for my lady quite well enough. Excuse me.” He took Elizabeth by the elbow and drew her away without another word.

“I thought we were trying not to draw attention to us,” Elizabeth said, feeling a strange spurt of amusement trickle through her anxious terror. It felt almost ridiculous to want to laugh, but maybe that was the hysteria.

“I also don’t like him and he knows it,” Johnny replied. “I’m Jason’s first in command. It’s insult to suggest that I can’t protect you.” They rounded the hill and found Francis and some of the other men milling in front of the tent. Elizabeth’s heart began to race in relief — Francis looked almost relaxed which meant the boys were safe inside.

“If Jason isn’t back by nightfall,” Elizabeth said, “I want you to split us up.”

Johnny scowled. “What—”

“I’ll stay with you or Francis, but send the boys home separately.” She swallowed hard. “They come first, Johnny. And if Stavros comes for me, I don’t want the boys anywhere near. He’ll be focused on me. Please.”

Johnny grimaced, but didn’t respond.

“How was the competition?” Francis asked. “The boys woke a little while ago,” he told Elizabeth, “but Lu was able to get little Jake back to sleep. Cameron was looking for you.”

“I’ll see to him.” She ducked beneath the flap.

“Johnny?” Francis prompted.

“Jason should have realized by now that I’m not following,” Johnny said. “I was supposed to have met with him, and I would have caught up already. I’m hoping he’s on his way back now.”

“And if he’s not—”

“If he’s not—” Johnny turned and looked towards the edge of the lake. They couldn’t see the Cassadine encampment, but he could picture it in his mind. Stavros might have been insulting Johnny with the invitation to look out for Elizabeth, but there had been a look in his eye that had sent shivers down his spine—and Johnny O’Brien didn’t scare easily.

“If he’s not,” Johnny repeated, “then you’ll take Francis, Lu, and two of your best men quietly with the boys. You’ll head for Braegarie.”

“Johnny—”

“Elizabeth and I will go over to the camp to distract them,” Johnny continued. “I want the boys away from here as quickly as possible. If you travel through the night, you’ll be home by mid-day tomorrow.”

“And you and Elizabeth will follow?”

“I’ll take her another route,” Johnny continued. “She wants the boys safe, and that means I can’t risk Stavros running into you if he comes after her. We’ll distract him for a few hours while you get safely on the road. She’s right. If he’s looking for her, he’ll leave the lads alone.”

Francis’s lips thinned, but he nodded. “Aye, that sounds like the safest best. You and Elizabeth will be able to move more quietly and quickly on your own.”

“Aye, the rest of the encampment will stay here. No one will even know we’ve left until the morning. I’ll leave Milo behind with a note for Jason if he returns.” Johnny took a deep breath. “He’ll never forgive himself if anything happens to her. Not after he pushed her to come to this festival.”

“Nothing will happen,” Francis said confidently. “We’ll get Elizabeth and the boys back to Braegarie, and then Jason can hunt this animal down and end the threat for good.”

“Has your man abandoned you?” Alexander Cameron demanded, almost good-naturedly as he and Jason left the barn where David Hume and his wife had been hiding out from de la Bastie. “He should have found us by now—”

“Aye, he should have. We settled out David and Alison here just two weeks ago,” Jason admitted. “He knew where we were going.” He exhaled slowly. “There might be trouble. He wouldn’t have left if there was—” He’d had to leave his family behind—it was his duty—but the only reason Johnny wouldn’t have followed is if there was a threat to them.

Had Elizabeth’s nightmare come true? Had one of the boys fallen ill?

“Then we should get back to the festival grounds,” Alexander said, reading the expression on Jason’s face. “You’ve done your duty by us and the Humes. It’s our turn to do the same.”

Elizabeth did her best to smile and enjoy the evening by the Cassadine encampment, though she knew with the rise of the moon in the sky that her sons were already on their way home.

She’d kissed and hugged them both fiercely, praying this wasn’t the last she’d see of them. She knew Johnny would do his best to get her home safely—she knew Jason was probably already on his way back—

“Are you missing my brother that much?” Emily teased as she sat down next to Elizabeth. “Johnny should relax. I’m sure Stavros was just having fun with him earlier—” She eyed the scowling Irishman who was less than three feet from them. “It’s the last night of the festival. He should go have a good time—”

Elizabeth smiled faintly. “He takes his duties very seriously. And I’m only a few months from childbed,” she reminded Emily who flinched slightly. “I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I wasn’t thinking—”

“No, of course. It’s quite fine. Nikolas—he tells me it’s all right, and I believe him.” Emily took a deep breath. “But is it wonderful?” she asked wistfully. “Being a mother?”

“Aye,” Elizabeth said, tears stinging her eyes. “‘Tis the hardest thing I’ve ever done but the most amazing at the same time. Cameron—I love to watch him following Jason. He wants to do everything, be everything—he’s so impatient to grow up.” She closed her eyes, picturing the face of her eldest son, with his sunny blond hair and bright blue eyes.

They were gone from her — vanished like they had in the dream. Jason had gone first, then the boys. Was this how it would start?

“I hope one day that I’ll be able to have it,” Emily said. “Not just for Nikolas and his family, but for me. I want to be a mother. More now that I’ve seen Jake and Cameron. You and my brother are so happy. You’re a family. I want that.”

“You’ll have that,” Elizabeth told her. “Families come in all shapes and forms, Emily. But I know you’ll have what you deserve.”

“Lass—” Johnny murmured. “We should—”

“Aye.” Elizabeth rose to her feet, hoping that the anxiety and worry in her eyes didn’t show when Stavros also rose to his feet from across the fire pit. “Thank you so much for the meal—”

“Do you need to go already?” Emily said, with a pout. “We’ll all be leaving in the morning.”

“I’m still—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “My son is young,” she said, raising her voice slightly as Stavros came closer. “And I need to see to him.”

“Oh, aye—” Emily nodded. “I’ll come by in the morning. I hope Jason is back by then.”

“So do I,” Elizabeth said. She smiled brightly, then hugged her sister-in-law. “You mustn’t tell anyone,” she murmured in her ear. “Promise me you’ll keep this to yourself—you’ll be with child by the end of the year.”

Emily blinked at her as she pulled back, her eyes widening. She nodded. “I’ll write,” she said, faintly. “And I will listen to what you’ve said.”

“Elizabeth,” Johnny said, taking her by the elbow. Elizabeth followed him and said nothing until they had rounded the hill that separated the encampments.

“Did Francis get on his way when he was supposed to?” Elizabeth asked numbly.

“Aye. I saw the signal from Milo. He’ll have been on the road for hours already. He took the best of our men, Elizabeth. The boys couldn’t be safer.”

“Thank you. For doing as I asked.” When they reached the tent, she stopped to look at him. “When do you want us to make our escape?”

“I want to wait for some of the celebrations to dim a bit more. Most are still going strong,” Johnny said, scanning the area. “And I’m hoping Jason will be back sooner rather than later. He should be on his way now. The Humes were maybe two hours away—” He looked at her, but she couldn’t read his expression in the shadows of the night. “This would be a great time for you to get a vision, lass, and tell us how this ends.”

“I wish I could,” Elizabeth said with a sigh, “but the Sight has never been predictable. I wish we could slip away now.”

“Aye, but we want to make sure we’re gone in the cover of the night. I can cover our tracks better.” He flipped the tent flap and gestured for her to go inside. “Go inside, lass. I know you won’t be able to sleep, but try to rest. We’ll be walking through the night.”

Elizabeth flashed him a grim smile and disappeared inside the tent. Johnny slid the flap back in place and turned around, scanning the area around him. Their encampment was surrounded by Camerons and Frasiers, many of whom had either gone with Alexander and Jason or were at the main festivals.

He’d wait maybe thirty minutes to be sure — but he knew Stavros wouldn’t want to chance running into Jason and this—the last night of the festival was the best time to attack. Johnny just hoped Stavros would wait until the wee hours when they were supposed to be sleeping.

But Stavros had watched the interaction between the witch and her protector all day—since the moment O’Brien had stayed behind, he’d known something was wrong. When he’d let the witch come to the meal—Stavros had been convinced.

The woman must have sensed his righteousness, his conviction and dedication to the Lord. Albany and de la Bastie might want her delivered to Sterling, but Stavros had an obligation to God to rid the world of evil.

He went around to the back of the encampment, around the other side of the hill, careful to keep his steps light, the claymore tight in his grasp. He would get the witch away from the protector and take her to the woods where he’d assembled his pyre.

He was looking forward to hearing her screams as the evil was purged from her body.

He crept up behind the tent—but was nearly ten feet away when O’Brien swung around and growled. He flipped the tent flap back —

“Run!” he grunted then he launched himself at Stavros who hissed as a dark shadow lurched out of the tent, stumbling and falling over herself. He shoved the warrior aside but O’Brien was quicker—younger—he found himself on his back, his fingers scrambling and reaching for the claymore that had been knocked from his hand.

Johnny reared back with his own weapon but before he could plant the killing blow, Stavros flashed up with a dagger from inside his shirt and shoved it into Johnny’s gut. The other man fell back, grunting but then slugged Stavros hard in the side of the head—

His head was swimming, little pinpricks of light—he could hear screams and grunts from around him—but he had to get his feet—he had to get to the witch before she could escape—

“You’ll never find her—”

Stavros cut off Johnny’s boast as he shoved his claymore into the Irishman—much deeper than the dagger thrust. Johnny fell back, and Stavros didn’t even wait to see if it was a mortal blow. He was on his feet and running into the woods.

Time to burn the witch.

Johnny rolled over on his back, fire in his gut, blood on his lips. He stared up at the night sky, tears of rage in his eyes. He’d promised Jason he’d protect his family—

He heard a roar—horses were galloping—

“Where is—”

Someone skidded in the dirt beside him and Johnny felt himself being lifted up to see Jason’s panicked face.

“Stavros,” Johnny managed. “Sent boys away, but she’s—she’s alone. Running. Tried to stop—”

“My laird, my laird—” Milo Giambetti came up behind them. “Max went after my lady, before the Cassadine—”

“I’m sorry—” Johnny managed even as his vision grayed. “Tried to stop him.”

“Aye, aye, get him help,” Jason told Milo as he got to his feet and took off, swinging himself back onto the horse.

Johnny turned to watch his best friend and brother gallop away and hoped he wouldn’t be too late. Then he closed his eyes.

She was running, she was running so fast her lungs were burning and still she knew she couldn’t get away—he were going to find her— he were going to take her—she wasn’t going to be able to get away—they would find her—Oh, God, was Johnny all right? Was he alive?—

Her foot caught on a root and she went flying—waves of pain vibrating up her leg as Elizabeth tried to get to her feet, planting the palms of her hands against the ground, trying to raise herself up—

The moment she put weight on her ankle, she cried out—and then hissed, because now he find her—

“Did you really think you could run—”

Elizabeth rolled over on her back, her eyes wide as she saw him—”Why?” she choked out. “Why are you doing this?”

Stavros knelt beside her, took Elizabeth’s chin in his hand, his fingers digging into her skin. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

He grabbed her by the arm and dragged her, Elizabeth sobbing, her breath harsh and ragged as she tried to move her legs. If she could just get away—if she could just stop it—

She felt like he dragged her for hours, but it must have only been minutes before they reached a clearing. Stavros shoved her to the ground so that she was on her stomach, her face hitting the dirt. She raised her face just high enough to see the makeshift pile of wood with the tall wooden pole in the middle, strands of rope.

She screamed, and Stavros kicked her hard in the stomach, the wind rushing out of her. Elizabeth fell onto her back, gasping for air, staring up at the night sky.

She’d never see her boys again. Never see Jason. She’d never go home.

She was going to burn.

March 25, 2021

Update Link: Ricochet, Chapter Thirteen

Happy Thursday! I’m having myself a pretty decent week for a change. I’ve finally managed to do a few chores around the house I’ve been putting off, and I always feel better when my space feels more organized.  There’s still a lot I need to get done, but I’m finally chipping away at the big to-do list.

I went to my first physical therapy appointment for my TMJ, and my therapist told me my neck muscles are messed up which might explain the whooshing in my ear. The TMJ is a factor as well because it’s like all my muscles in my head, neck, and shoulders are completely out of whack and so my body is just rebelling. She gave me a deep tissue massage and it hurt like a son of bitch today. I’m going to need to go there twice a week, so that should be interesting for my schedule. We’ll see how it goes.

I honestly haven’t had a chance to start editing yet this week, but I’m typing this on Wednesday night, and I have a few scenes in Chapter 20 left to edit that I’m going to try to finish tonight, so I can work on writing a brand-new Chapter 21 Thursday-Sat. That would take care of the three chapters a week goal I set myself.

I should see you guys tomorrow for Flash Fiction Friday!

This entry is part 13 of 38 in the series Fool Me Twice: Ricochet

And who do you think you are?
Runnin’ ’round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
Don’t come back for me
Who do you think you are?
Jars of Heart, Christina Perri


October 2014

Scarsdale, New York

Andre set the newspaper down and rubbed his temple. All of his time and effort—the risks that he took to send Patient Five to Port Charles instead of his brother—and it had been for nothing.

Everything had gone to hell since Victor had died the month before—and he was definitely dead, Andre thought dubiously. Unlike his other Cassadine relations, Victor’s burnt and broken body had been pulled from the wreckage of Crichton Clark. Drew Cain, believing himself to be Jason Morgan, had escaped in the melee along with Dr. Scorpio, but he’d been hit by a car just after reaching Port Charles, and the good doctor had disappeared into thin air.

Andre had been waiting for weeks for the second shoe to drop and, well, maybe this wasn’t quite what he expecting—

He looked down at the Port Charles Sun, rereading the headline proclaiming that the mysterious accident victim that had been brought into the ER with life-threatening injuries had woken from his coma with amnesia. Since he had required facial reconstruction, learning his identity would be nearly impossible.

Would they run his fingerprints? Would that mean that they’d discover the man in the hospital was Drew Cain—

And what would Helena think if that happened? Would she believe—

Lost in his thoughts, he ignored the knock on his apartment door at first, then whirled around when he heard the lock clicking, then the knob turning.

Helena Cassadine stood in the doorway, smiling as a man got to his feet, sliding a set of tools into his back pocket. Andre stared at the pair of them, his mouth dropping slightly. What the hell was Valentin doing with his mother—

Had Valentin sold him down the river?

“Hello, my dear Dr. Maddox.” She stepped inside the apartment and waited for Valentin to close the door behind them. “My son tells me he met you while I was briefly indisposed last year.”

“Ah, yes—” Andre looked at the other man, dubiously but, maddeningly, the man just smiled at him, a faint curve of his lips that could have been mocking or true amusement. One could never tell with the Cassadines. “Briefly.”

“With the unfortunate loss of my brother-in-law,” Helena said, with a sigh, “it is time for us to pick up the pieces the best we can. You’ve seen the papers?”

“Yes.”

“A man of few words,” Valentin said. “I like him, Mother.”

“I thought about sending you to Port Charles to keep a closer eye on the situation,” Helena told Andre. “I’m sure there are things you could do to jumpstart his memory,” she continued. “But, I’ve decided that I don’t want Jason Morgan’s amnesia to be dealt with. Not at the moment,” she added. “I am quite intrigued at the idea of using him behind the scenes. The chip in his head, you’re sure it will work?”

“Yes,” Andre said. “As long as it’s not damaged.”

“Well, I suppose I’ll learn that for myself when the time comes.”

“Won’t they—” Andre braced himself. “Won’t they run his fingerprints?”

“Oh, I took care of that,” Valentin offered. “I simply deleted the electronic prints from the system,” he clarified when his mother looked at him. “If they were to take his prints and compare them to everyone in their physical archives, they’d find him, but they won’t bother with that.”

“For now, it serves my purpose. We’ll revisit it at a later date.” Helena focused on Andre. “Now, Dr. Maddox, I want you to know that I value your work and loyalty. There’s a place for you in Greece at my new lab.” She lifted a brow. “You’ll have the same freedom there as you did in the States. I have a few projects on which I’d like to consult with you.”

“Greece?” Andre repeated. Could he afford to refuse? He met Valentin’s eyes, and the man lifted his brows slightly. Had Valentin also deleted Drew Cain’s fingerprints? Had he truly taken care of it? He should say no. Wash his hands of the whole thing and hope that the Cassadines forgot he existed.

But maybe it would be better to keep his hand in—to know what the Cassadines were up to and if he was in danger.

“Thank you, Mrs. Cassadine,” Andre said. “I’d be happy to continue working with you and your family.”

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Metro Court Hotel: Restaurant

Carly tossed a napkin on the table and sat back in her chair, a disgruntled expression on her face. “You’re supposed to hear from Jordan about the fingerprints today. I don’t understand why you can’t just stick close so we can go find out together—”

Jason sipped his coffee. “I am. Until around four. It’s Elizabeth’s birthday—do not make that face—”

“Carly,” Sonny said, leaning forward. “You know Jake is his son. You want them to spend time together, don’t you?”

“Yes, Jason should spend time with both of his sons, but so far, he’s just talked about Jake. I mean, have you even seen Danny?” Carly demanded. “Why aren’t you talking to Sam? She’s your wife—”

“She’s his wife,” Jason corrected gently. “And yes, I’ve seen Danny. Last night, when he was trick or treating. But Sam has made it very clear she’s waiting on the results of the fingerprints.” He paused. “Danny doesn’t know me—”

“But he will. And Sam will come around. You know how obsessed she is with you—”

Jason shook his head, then sighed. “Jake asked me to come over,” he told her. “He’s willing to accept who I am to him because Elizabeth has. Why don’t you get that? Danny—he’s not an option for me right now.” And might never be if Sam’s expression had been any indication the night before, but — “I’m finally getting the chance to be with Jake.”

“But it’s always with her. And Elizabeth is the reason you can’t—”

“Not that I don’t enjoy rehashing the past,” Sonny said dryly, “but I think we’ve got more important things to worry about, Carly. Spinelli is coming in tomorrow, isn’t he?”

“Yeah.” Jason scratched his temple, relieved for the change in conversation. He really just wanted to keep putting one foot in front of the other, take things as they happened, but Carly made it difficult. Reminding him that the woman he’d planned to spend the rest of his life with had looked at him, then refused to believe he was who he said he was. And she knew the truth. He could always tell when she was lying. He’d seen it in her eyes the night before.

He had people who did want to support him. He had Michael and Joss, Sonny and Carly—he had Elizabeth and her boys. He’d started to rebuild his life over the last few days, but it would take a long time before any of this felt normal again. If it ever did. But he had to just keep looking ahead.

“He’s going to look into the clinic in Russia and follow the money,” Jason continued, “to see if we can trace it back to the Cassadines. I know Victor and Helena are supposed to be dead, but whoever Klein was working for is still out there—if it’s Valentin, then I want to know.”

“Maybe Andre was carrying the torch on his own,” Carly suggested. “He did split town really fast. If we track him down, this might be over.” She tipped his head. “That would be a good thing, Jason. The last thing you want to do is chase answers for the rest of your life. Let’s find out who was behind this, make sure it’s over, and get on with your life.”

“I don’t know if it’s going to be that easy,” Sonny began.

“And that life is with Sam and your sons,” Carly said, and Jason just closed his eyes. “What? You know I’m right. She’s going to find out that you’re Jason, and she’ll come running. She always does. She’s obsessed with you.”

“I thought Elizabeth was obsessed with him,” Sonny said. “And that it was a bad thing.”

“It is. The way she does it,” Carly said as if that made all the sense in the world. “Sam gets how Jason’s life works. Elizabeth never has.” She focused those intense eyes on him. “She never will. You know she shoved Franco to the curb because you came home. I mean, how can you trust someone who does that?”

Clearly, no one had told Carly what had actually happened at Elizabeth’s house that night, but Jason wasn’t going to get into it when she was in a mood like this. No telling what she would do with the information.

“You don’t even listen to yourself when you talk, do you?” Sonny said pleasantly. Carly scowled at him. “You’ve been complaining for months that Joss has to go over to that house with Franco around, and that you can’t understand why Elizabeth doesn’t have the self-respect to understand that Franco is the worst. She kicks him out, and now, that’s a bad thing.”

“Her reasons make it bad,” Carly insisted. “Do you honestly think she would have broken up with him if Jason hadn’t come home?”

“I wish you’d just say it,” Jason said, suddenly, bringing both their attention back to him. “Just admit it.”

“Admit what?” she asked, blinking.

“You’re bothered that I’m spending time with Elizabeth and her sons because you hate her. You decided a long time ago you’d rather I be with Sam and not her.” Jason pushed his coffee mug away. “You can’t even stop complaining long enough to get that the only good thing in my life right now is getting to see Jake, and Elizabeth’s making that happen—”

“Not the only good thing—” Carly protested.

Carly,” Sonny gritted.

“I thought he was dead,” Jason retorted. “I buried him. He had a gravestone with his picture on it, Carly. You get that? And not only is he alive, but I get to be his father. You’re so concerned with being number one in my life that you can’t even stop to be happy for me.”

“I—” Carly gaped as Jason got to his feet. “I am happy—”

“Then act like it and stop insulting Elizabeth. I’m tired of warning you about this. It’s been twenty years. Get over it,” Jason told her. He looked at Sonny. “I’ll call you if Jordan gets in touch.” Then he walked out of the restaurant.

“He’s just—” Carly took a deep breath. “He’s missing the point—”

“If Morgan came back to us tomorrow and the only way you could see him is if you were in the same room with Ava,” Sonny said slowly, “you wouldn’t even blink. You’d snap that chance up in a heartbeat.”

“The difference is that I’m not going to let Ava push me around and break my heart again,” Carly snapped. “Jason will never see Elizabeth Webber for who she really is—” She stopped as Sonny dropped his napkin on the table. “What—”

“Your best friend in the whole world just came back from the dead, and you’re just going back to business as usual. Excuse me if I’m not in the mood.” Sonny gestured at her. “This is the woman I nearly divorced last year. I thought you were done with being petty and immature.”

“How dare you—” Incensed, Carly got to her feet. “That is not what happened last year—this isn’t even related—”

“Then shut up about the time Jason spends breathing the same air as Elizabeth because you’re asking him to choose between you and his son. You’re going to lose that fight, Carly. And you should.”

General Hospital: Cafeteria

“All these years,” Elizabeth said with a sigh as she and Felix rolled their trays down the row of meager offerings, “and I can still be surprised by the terrible options.”

“Careful.” Felix nodded to the sour woman at the grill behind the counter, who gave them the side eye. “Brunhilda might hear you.”

Elizabeth snorted, then slid her tray down to the cashier. She swiped her ID card to pay for her salad and water, then went over to set her lunch down next to Griffin Munro, who was perusing a patient file on his tablet. “Hey. Anything good happening on the surgery floor?”

“Not today,” Griffin said, setting the tablet down. “Happy birthday, by the way—”

Elizabeth whipped her head around to narrow her eyes at Felix. “What did I tell you about reminding people?”

Felix rolled his eyes. “I didn’t remind people, babe. Some people like you—”

“Facebook told me,” Griffin said dryly. “You should take the information off there if you don’t want people saying things to you.”

She made a face. “I really need to deactivate that,” she muttered.

“Hey, cheer up. How many years do you have left before you actually start looking your age?” Felix asked. “Right now, you can still pass for forty.”

Elizabeth narrowed her eyes. “I’m thirty-seven.” She threw a carrot slice at him, and Felix ducked.

Griffin grinned, then his eyes sobered as he looked across the cafeteria. “Anyone talked to her since this started?

Elizabeth twisted in her seat, sobering as she saw Kim Nero winding her way through the line, ducking her head. She and Kim were friendly enough since Cam and Oscar had met six months ago, but now she saw the other woman in an entirely new light.

“We talked briefly when I set up the test for Oscar,” Elizabeth admitted. She twisted the cap from her water and rolled it in her fingers. “She was pretty matter of fact—let’s wait until the tests are in, wait for the facts, but I haven’t called her since the tests came back. I’m not sure what to say to her. Drew’s been living here for three years and doesn’t remember her or his own son. She knows that. ”

“You think Drew and Sam will split over this?” Felix asked. “You remember how hard she went after Jake Doe when she found out he was supposed to be Jason—”

“Yeah, I have a vague recollection,” Elizabeth muttered. She shifted uncomfortably. “I don’t know. Jason and I haven’t talked about Sam. Last I heard is that she hasn’t reached out, and he hasn’t seen Danny.”

“You’re sure the guy who came back is actually Jason?” Griffin asked. “It’s not the other way around?”

“Not a doubt in my mind. And that’s not just because the other guy picked Sam,” Elizabeth said, warding off Felix’s likely retort. “I mean, I know Jason. I know the way he carries himself. The way he talks. And the way he talks about Jake—it’s just different. It feels right. Maybe that’s not science—”

“But there’s something to be said for the gut feeling,” Griffin replied. He hesitated. “So Sam is taking the other guy’s side.”

“Probably playing both sides like she always does,” Felix suggested. “Face it — if she’s wrong, Jason’s probably the kind of guy that would forgive her. And if she’s right, she’s the one that looks like the hero. She’s the only one sticking by Jake Doe or Drew Cain, whoever the hell he is.”

Would Jason forgive her for freezing him out and refusing to acknowledge him?” Griffin asked Elizabeth, intrigued.

“He’s forgiven her for worse,” she replied sourly. “So, yeah, you’re probably right, Felix. She’s hedging her bets. It’s not my business—”

“If she’s wrong, you might finally get rid of her for good,” Felix said brightly. “What if she stays with Drew slash Jake? He’s not Jake’s dad anymore, so—” He made a gesture as if he was washing his hands. “You’re out of it—”

“If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last eleven years,” Elizabeth said, wrinkling her nose, “is that I’m never going to be rid of Sam McCall.”

“Kim’s coming over here—”

“Then stop looking at her—” Griffin reached over, slapped Felix’s arm. “Be cool—”

“Uh, hey.” Kim held her tray with all the confidence that a new girl in a high school cafeteria might possess. “Elizabeth, Oscar said it was your birthday—so I wanted—” She closed her eyes. “That’s a lie. I just wanted an excuse—”

“You know, I have a lot to do.” Felix got to his feet, picking up his tray. “Griffin? Any heads to sew?”

“I’ll find some.”

“Oh, wait—” Kim sighed as both men hurried away. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to chase them away.”

“It’s fine, I know where to find them.” Elizabeth nodded to the chair that Griffin had vacated across from her. “Take a seat. What’s up?”

“Well, Oscar and I are trying to decide how to deal with all of this. Even though the fingerprints haven’t come back and established anything definitely, he said you and your boys are convinced you know which twin is which.” She paused. “The DNA seems clear that one of them is my husband. Or—” She closed her eyes. “Was my husband.”

“Yes—”

“But neither of them remember being Drew. They both think they’re Jason.” Kim opened her eyes, looked at her. “You think the man who came back last week is Jason, and the one that ‘s been living here is Drew.”

“I do. Kim—”

“Drew was a good man. He never would have done this,” Kim said. “He never would have helped anyone hurt someone else. Take them away from their family—”

“I never believed for a second that the man I knew as Jason for the last two years—I never thought he was part of this. I think he and Jason are both victims.” Elizabeth paused. “What was Drew like?”

“Oh.” Kim paused. “Funny,”  she said a minute. “He took his job so seriously, you know? He grew up without family in a group home here in New York. In Rochester, actually. When he joined the navy, it was like he found the family he’d always wanted.”

Kim’s smile was faint. “But outside the job—everything was a joke to him. He loved to tease people and have a good time. We met on the base in San Diego. I worked in the hospital there. Um, after his first wife—Oscar’s mother—after Cara died—he was so determined to be a good father. He loved that little boy. He never would have left him—” She closed her eyes. “It’s so hard for me to think that he’s been here all this time or that someone else held him hostage for another two years—I’ve been so scared he was dead, but—”

She hesitated. “He doesn’t know us. This man. When he woke up three years ago—he never once remembered us, did he? Me or Oscar.”

“No. Whatever they did to him before he showed up—” Elizabeth sighed. “It was bad. It wiped it all out. I’m so sorry—”

“I’m a big girl, you know. I grieved him a long time ago. And maybe—well, Oscar’s young. They can always rebuild.” Kim pushed her sandwich across the plate absently. “It just seems a shame. His first wife, Cara, grew up in the group home, too. No family. She had some friends, but they’ve mostly moved on. Oscar and Drew were her entire life. And now—Oscar barely remembers her, and Drew might never get those memories back.”

Elizabeth bit her lip. “That’s terrible.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to depress you on your birthday—”

“No, no, it’s just—I’ve been really focused on Jason mostly because it’s something I can help with. Drew—or whoever he is—he hasn’t really been interested in hearing from anyone who disagrees with him, which I get. But talking to you, knowing Oscar—so many lives were destroyed by this.”

“Whoever did this,” Kim said, “deserves to rot in hell.”

Devane Manor: Foyer

“Where’s the file?” Anna demanded as Robert stepped into her house that afternoon. Her ex-husband narrowed his eyes and closed the door behind him.

“Let a man breathe, will you?” he drawled. He went into the living room to drop his duffel bag on her coffee table.

“You can breathe while I’m reading,” she retorted. “Hand it over—”

“Fine, fine—” Robert unzipped his bag and handed the thick, manila personnel folder to her. “I glanced through it a bit on the plane—some of it has been classified—”

“Classified?” Anna wrinkled her nose, taking a seat on the sofa and flipping it open. “Frisco won’t get you access?”

“More like he can’t,” Robert told her. “Some of Cassadine’s projects are still encrypted. With his death, it hasn’t been a priority to dig into some of this. Frisco’s been more concerned with weeding out any agents that went rogue—”

“What is this?” Anna asked. She pointed to a line in his file. “This transfer from Special Research to Special Operations in late 2011? That’s the last thing in this file. Where’s the rest of it?”

“Well,” Robert said, leaning forward. “That’s something we might ask Dr. Maddox ourselves.”

“I wish we could,” she muttered. “But he’s disappeared—” She stopped, then looked up at him, realizing he was smiling. “Robert?”

“I dropped a present off at the PCPD,” Robert reported. “As soon as they’re done with him, the WSB will take custody of our rogue doctor, and we’ll get some answers.”

Webber Home: Kitchen

Jason eyed the layers of cake cooling on the counter. “When you said you and Aiden were baking—” he began but Elizabeth pointed a spatula at him.

Watch it. I know where that’s going. I’ve always been able to make anything that comes out of a box.”

Jason put up his hands in mock surrender. “I know, I know. Emily used to talk about your brownies all the time.”

“Exactly,” she sniffed, then sobered. She looked out into the living room where Cameron and Jake were playing another round of some video game where Jake was losing miserably, and Cameron was crowing. Aiden was sitting at the kitchen table, stirring a bowl of chocolate icing. “That’s one of the reasons I stopped celebrating my birthday,” Elizabeth said finally. “It never really felt right again without her.”

“I know,” Jason said, his mind drifting back to that terrible night, to the ballroom and his sister’s broken body, laying in a crumpled heap of white. “I hated that I had to be the one to tell you.”

“There was never going to be a good way to find out. Better you than someone else.” Elizabeth folded her arms, trying to block out the memory of Sam screaming at her that night. “I know…I know the doctors said it was technically—that it happened before midnight. But I found out on my birthday.” She looked at Aiden again. “Two years ago, he decided he loved baking and wanted to bake me a cake. I think Emily would be okay with me taking this day back.”

“She never would have wanted you to lose it in the first place.”

“Fair enough.” They fell silent for a moment, then Jason cleared his throat.

“Jordan is supposed to call any minute with the fingerprints.”

She frowned, then looked at him. “Oh. I forgot that was today—”

“I was gonna call Carly and Sonny,” he said, “and I still can, but—” He paused. “I mean, I figured since Jake was involved—”

“Jason, do you want me to come with you tonight when you get the call?” she asked, surprised. “I mean—I can, but you know it’s just another reason for Carly to hate me.”

“I’m not sure she needs any new ones,” Jason said. “I just—” He looked down at his hands. “I don’t know. If I call Sonny, Carly will want to come, and I don’t want this to turn into a circus. I also—I don’t want to go alone.”

Not since Drew would likely bring Sam, and Elizabeth understood that. He wanted to be on equal footing. She just wasn’t wild about having to be in a room with Sam and the man she’d once called Jake Doe.

Still — Jason had a point. Carly and Sonny would make everything more intense and dramatic because Carly didn’t know any other speed. “Sure,” Elizabeth said after a minute. “When Jordan calls.” She looked over at the table. “Hey, Aiden, you about ready to frost this cake? I think the layers are cool enough.”

“Almost, Mom. You forgot the candles again,” Aiden said as he climbed down from the table and walked over to her with the bowl of icing. “I think Jake was kidding when he said if we put all the candles on the cake, there’d be a fire.”

“You know, a lot of people making age jokes today,” she muttered as she took the bowl from him, then lifted him onto the stool. She looked at Jason. “I don’t know where Jake gets it from—”

“You don’t? I do,” Jason replied. She made a face at him, and handed Aiden the spatula. Twenty minutes later, the cake was iced and Elizabeth unearthed a single candle. Jake and Cameron trooped into the kitchen, Jake having whooped Cameron’s butt in the last round so he was in a good mood.

“Mom, you’re missing some candles,” he said, climbing up next to his father. He looked at Jason. “She’s definitely not one.”

“You know, Christmas isn’t that far away,” Elizabeth reminded him.

“Yeah, Webbers hold grudges,” Cameron reminded Jake as he poked his finger in the leftover icing and licked it. “I mean, Mom and Joss’s mom have hated each other since the Stone Age—and neither one of them remembers why.”

“Not remembering and not telling you and Joss are two different things,” she began, irritated beyond the speaking of it, but Cameron just smirked and flicked the light off in the kitchen.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Sam watched as her husband paced the room, back and forth in front of the fireplace. She folded her arms. “Are you ever going to talk to me again?” she asked finally. “You’ve barely looked at me since yesterday—”

He stopped to glare at her, his blue eyes blazing. “What do you want me to say? You’re just like the rest of them—”

“Am I?” Sam demanded. “Did I stop calling you Jason? Did I tell Danny that you weren’t his father? I’m sorry, what exactly is my crime? It’s hard for me to see him because he has your old face. I’m supposed to be magically okay with everything that’s happened in the last three days—”

“This is happening to me, not you—”

“It’s happening to both of us,” she shot back. “Both of our lives are being questioned, and I’m so sick of this, Jason! Why does any of it even matter? It’s not like we’re together because you’re Jason—”

“Aren’t we?” He stopped to focus on her. “Before Carly came to the church and announced I was Jason Morgan, did you even give a damn about me? Did you feel any connection to me?”

Sam hissed. “Why are we back to this again? Why does that matter? That was two years ago! You left that life behind—you came back to me—to me and Danny, and now we have Scout—” She crossed the room to take his face in hers. “Why does your name matter? Why does it have to change anything—”

He shrugged out of her grasp. “So you do believe him,” he said, his voice raspy with pain. “You think he’s Jason—”

“I didn’t say that—”

“You didn’t have to, Sam.”

“I had my chance to take his side,” Sam reminded him. “Last night—when you had your tantrum and refused to come out with us. I ran into him with Danny—”

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Because it didn’t matter. I walked away from him, and he didn’t say anything to Danny. Danny knows who his father is, Jason. And it’s you. You’re the man that’s raised him, loved him—”

His phone rang, interrupting her. He pulled it out of his pocket and sighed. “It’s Jordan—” He answered it and pressed it to his ear. “Yeah? Okay. I’ll be there—fine. Call him, too. Whatever.” He looked at Sam as he slid the phone back into his pocket. “The fingerprints are back, and so is the advanced DNA. Jordan said she’s expecting the Navy to release Andrew Cain’s fingerprints by the time we get there. She’s going to have them compared—”

“This is about to be over, Jason,” Sam said, emphasizing his name. “This will be just a bad dream in a few hours. Let’s go to the PCPD and see if we can make this go faster. I’ll call my mom or my sisters to watch the kids.”