Don’t say what you’re about to say
Look back before you leave my life
Be sure before you close that door
Before you roll those dice
Baby, think twice
– Think Twice, Celine Dion
Saturday, January 1, 2000
Morgan Penthouse: Bedroom
The sky behind the shades was still a grimy gray when her eyes drifted open the next morning. Blearily, she focused on the clock sitting on the table — it was just after six. Hmmm, maybe she should just go back to sleep.
She was so wonderfully warm and comfortable—not a sensation she was used to since she’d moved out of her grandmother’s house. The mattress was soft and plush, and she was wrapped in a cozy cocoon of comforter and—
Elizabeth’s eyes snapped wide open as she took in the feeling of weight behind her, and an arm slung over her waist, holding her against a furnace of heat. Jason. Jason was holding her against him, his hand resting loosely over her abdomen. She could feel all of him. Every single inch, and—
And she was fine. She was comfortable. She wasn’t scared. Elizabeth closed her eyes as a shudder slid through her and tears stung her eyes. She’d dreamed of this so often—first with Lucky, and more recently with Jason and now—
She felt him tense behind her and that hand started to jerk back. She reached for it, lacing her fingers with his. “No, um, not yet.”
“I’m sorry, I—” His voice was rough with sleep. “I didn’t mean—”
“I’m okay.” She released his hand and twisted until she was flat on her back and Jason was resting next to her. He sat up slightly, propping himself up on his elbow. “Really.”
His eyes searched hers, doubting. Or maybe just worried that she was covering it up. Elizabeth bit her lip, then slid her hand up his chest—over the soft cloth of the t-shirt he’d worn to rest at his collarbone. There was a flicker in his eyes when her fingertips brushed his bare skin and she realized—
He hadn’t been lying the night before. He really did—he found her attractive. Desirable. He liked when she touched him. And she liked knowing it.
Feeling brave, Elizabeth tugged his head down to kiss her. His legs were brushing hers under the comforter, so she slid her one of hers between his, and he tensed. She could even feel his heart pounding against her chest. She’d done that to him.
Fragile and damaged her ass.
“Good morning,” she murmured when she pulled back, her cheeks flaming.
“Good morning,” he managed. “I guess you slept okay.”
Elizabeth laughed then. “Oh, yeah. You?”
“Yeah.” He kissed her again, lingering for another minute. “I hate to get up,” he admitted.
“Me either, but I have to work,” Elizabeth said with a grimace. “And I know you have stuff to do.”
He paused and she wondered if he was going to suggest they both blow things off for a few hours—she’d like to explore just how comfortable she really was—but then the cell phone on his side of the bed vibrated. With a scowl, Jason rolled away. “It’s Sonny,” he said with some surprise. “I need to—”
“I’ll get a shower. I need to stop by the studio before work to get clothes,” she reminded him as she moved towards the bathroom and left him alone with his phone call.
Maybe this would work after all.
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
“Isn’t this a little early?” Jason asked Sonny as Max closed the door behind him. “It’s barely six—”
“Some of us haven’t been to bed yet,” Sonny muttered. He stalked towards the kitchen. “I need coffee. You want some?”
“Heard from Roscoe a few hours ago,” Sonny said, dumping some beans into the grinder. “He says Sorel is denying the bomb was on him.”
Jason scowled. “I don’t even know why you’re bothering to ask him,” he muttered. “Of course he denies it. She said it was Sorel—”
“Because that’s what the man on the phone said. But she doesn’t know him.” Sonny held up a hand when Jason glared at him. “He might be telling the truth. It might not be Sorel.”
“It could be guys who worked for Moreno wanting us to take Sorel out.” And at that, Jason fell silent. Sorel’s takeover of Moreno’s organization wasn’t a done deal, and he knew there had been issues. Shipments that didn’t make it to port, guys going missing —
And if it was true—if it hadn’t been Sorel ordering the bomb, then it put Elizabeth in the middle of a civil war with another organization. That was the worst possible scenario. “Damn it—”
“I spent half the night with the guys tracking down everything. Paulie went to our explosives contact with the bomb. He can’t tag the maker from it — it’s generic.”
Jason grimaced. A bomb that couldn’t be traced made it harder to pin this on Sorel. “So we don’t know anything.”
“Well, if what was said to Elizabeth was true, Sorel and his guys know about you being targeted by the PCPD and Elizabeth’s role in it. That Christmas party—it put you two on the map,” Sonny continued. “No one knew where you’d been in those weeks, but Nikolas Cassadine made it very clear. Apparently, after we left, Stefan confronted him and Nikolas told him—in front of witnesses—he’d caught you at the studio.”
Jason exhaled slowly, then leaned back against the counter. “Am I supposed to keep Elizabeth locked up in the penthouse until we do know—”
“We need this PCPD crap to go away. I think Elizabeth should take herself out of this by coming clean about the whole thing. You were right to make sure she didn’t alibi you. She needs to tell them she saw you and then you left. She doesn’t know where you were the rest of the night. Sorel’s guys can’t go after her for what she doesn’t know.” Sonny poured the coffee, avoiding Jason’s eyes. “The thing is—”
“If she does that, Taggert’s coming right at me. I dropped out of sight when Moreno did. He’ll know Elizabeth is involved in that, thanks to Cassadine.” Jason took the cup of coffee from Sonny but set it on the counter. “We have another problem,” he said, reluctantly.
“Of course we do,” Sonny muttered. “What is it?”
Sonny’s hand fumbled slightly as he spooned sugar into his cup. “What about her?” he said evenly.
“She’s making noise about telling the cops I was shot. She does that and Elizabeth makes sure the PCPD know I have no alibi—”
“Why the hell—” Sonny whirled on him. “Why is she doing that?”
“She wants me to get her out of town with Michael.” Jason scrubbed a hand down his face. “She’s insisting I go with them. I told her no, and I don’t care if she goes to the PCPD about me, but—”
“But Cassadine has put Elizabeth with you in the same time period you’d be recovering. She’s on the hook as an accomplice. It’s circumstantial, but it’s a distraction we don’t need with all of this—”
“I talked to Alexis—she’s worried they might come after Elizabeth with drug charges. For the pain medication,” Jason admitted. “I’ve been thinking about it—Carly made Bobbie come to the studio one day and Bobbie and I talked about it. I said I’d only used pain meds the first day, but that Elizabeth flushed the rest. I don’t know if Carly heard it.”
Sonny stared him for a long moment, then nodded. “Well, there you go. All Taggert has to do is hear that, charge Elizabeth with distribution which carries like twenty years if they want to be bitchy about it. She’ll have to flip on you to save her own skin, but somehow I doubt she’d go that way without kicking and screaming—”
“The only way to make this go away is to get one of you out of town.” Sonny paused. “Or both of you, but that will just make it harder for you to come back. With just one of you gone, we got a shot of this going cold.”
Jason said nothing. He knew Sonny was right. To keep Elizabeth from being used by Carly and Sorel’s organization, Jason needed to remove himself from the situation.
“I know this isn’t what you want,” Sonny said slowly. “And I’m sorry. I should have taken the meeting—”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Jason said flatly. He could do this job if he didn’t think about that morning. If he didn’t remember how it had felt to watch Carly coming down the stairs in Sonny’s shirt or the way Sonny had tried to spin it like he was doing Jason a favor—
He had considered leaving town before his relationship with Elizabeth had changed, but after last night—
“I gotta think about it,” he said. “It’s not that easy.”
“No, I know—” Sonny closed his mouth.
“I need to go. Elizabeth has to work, and I want her to get some things from the studio. If I—” He hesitated. “If I go, I want her to stay here. At least until you know it’s safe. She might argue, but I’ll figure that out—”
“I’ll make sure she’s safe, Jason. She’s in this because of me—”
“I said I don’t want to talk about it.” And with that, Jason left the kitchen wondering how the hell he was going to explain to Elizabeth he probably needed to leave Port Charles, probably for good.
Quartermaine Mansion: Bathroom
Carly dipped her hands into the cool water streaming from the faucet, then splashed it over her face.
She hadn’t heard a word from Jason.
She would have thought he’d get the picture pretty quick. Either Jason went with Carly, or the little bitch was going to pay the price. How was he going to argue with that?
He was angry at her now, Carly considered as she looked at her reflection in the mirror over the sink, but once she had him to herself — once they were away and they had Michael with them—
He’d remember that he loved her. Hadn’t he told her that only weeks ago? Elizabeth Webber was a distraction, Carly assured herself. Jason was only a man, and the waif probably made him feel better after the year he’d had. Carly had even meant what she’d said to her the day before — she really did feel sorry that the girl had been raped so young.
Not that there was ever a good age for it, Carly decided as she went back into the bedroom and wandered over to the walk in closet. But to be violated that way before you even got a chance to experience how good sex could be? Tragic.
Carly didn’t mind if the waitress used Jason to get back out there, but her generosity only went so far. Jason was hers. He’d forgotten that for a little while, but she could remind him. When it was just the two of them, she’d lure him back to bed.
She’d get pregnant, Carly decided. She’d find out when she was fertile—maybe some of those ovulation tests or—
And just like that—her brain skittered to a stop.
It was January 1.
And she was late.
“Oh, God. Please, God, no.” Carly closed her eyes, pressed her hands against her face. “Oh, no. No. No.”
“Hey, DJ. Table ten is still waiting on their order,” Elizabeth said as she untied her apron. She tossed it on the hook. “Penny’s taking over my section, but—”
“I got you, Lizzie,” the cook said affably. “You look better today. Must have been one of those bugs going around.”
“Yeah, must have,” Elizabeth said with a weak smile. She wasn’t sure she shared DJ’s optimistic outlook — she and Jason seemed to have resolved the issue of their non-existent sex life, but he’d been strange when he’d come back to Sonny’s that morning.
He’d been quiet, Elizabeth remembered as she cashed out her receipts and separated her tips. Not that Jason was ever much of a talker, she considered, but there was quiet and then there was quiet.
When she went out into the alley, she realized she was almost surprised to see Jason there, the engine on the bike idling. She’d half thought he’d make an excuse and send her home with Francis.
“Hey.” She accepted the helmet from him, but didn’t put it on right away.
“Hey,” he said, returning the greeting with a half smile. There it was again—that flicker of something in his eyes. She didn’t know him well enough yet to know what it was—but she could tell something was not okay.
Elizabeth chewed on her bottom lip, then pulled on the helmet. Maybe he’d just had a bad day.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Jason dumped the keys on the desk when he came in, Elizabeth trailing behind him. “We need to talk,” he said finally after he’d taken her jacket and hung it up with his. Anything to stall and keep his mind away from the conversation they needed to have.
He didn’t want to do this, he realized now as he looked at her standing in his living room. This place was too big for him and he’d only come to stay there because the cottage had been too painful. Too many memories of Michael. But he liked seeing Elizabeth in this room—in his bedroom, waking up with her.
He’d wanted more of that. Instead, he had to tell her he needed to leave Port Charles. That this had to end.
“Okay.” She folded her arms. “Um, what’s going on?”
“A lot,” he admitted. “I don’t really know where to start.” Jason paused. “I guess with the most important part — we don’t know for sure that Sorel put the bomb in your studio. I know the guy said it was him—” he said when she opened her mouth, “but it could also be—it’s complicated. Long story short, we need to get you off Sorel’s radar.”
“Okay, but I don’t know how that—” Elizabeth stopped, swallowed hard. “Off his radar,” she replied softly. “What does that mean?”
Jason looked away from her, shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “You need to go to the PCPD and tell them that I dropped you off around midnight. You didn’t see me the rest of the night.”
Elizabeth drew her brows together, puzzled. “I don’t understand. That leaves you without an alibi. How does that get me off the radar—”
“Because the PCPD won’t be coming after you for a statement anymore,” Jason continued.
“But then they’ll go after you—”
“I know, but you won’t be something Sorel or his guys can use. He can’t scare you into not giving me an alibi if I’m telling you to do the same thing.”
“Oh. Well, that doesn’t sound great for you,” Elizabeth said slowly, “but that doesn’t sound so bad. You had me—” Then she closed her mouth. “That’s not everything, is it?”
“No,” Jason admitted. Uncomfortable, he walked over to sit on the arm of the sofa. “Carly gave me an ultimatum yesterday. I turned it down,” he continued, “which is why she went to you. But I can’t ignore the threats. They’re about you. And Bobbie.”
“About us?” Elizabeth blinked. “What was—Jason, I wish you’d just tell me what’s going on. You’re making me nervous. Are you breaking up with me? Is this what’s happening? Is that what she’s making you do—”
“She wants to disappear with Michael. She’s demanding that I go with her,” Jason continued. “If I don’t do it, she’s going to tell the PCPD that I was shot—and turn you and Bobbie in as accomplices.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened. “Are you kidding me? She’s going to throw her own mother under the bus? I can’t—” She pressed her hand to her chest. “Oh, God. If she tells the PCPD that you were shot and I make sure they know about you not having an alibi—Jason—that’s bad. For you. I can’t go to the PCPD—”
“You have to,” Jason told her. “And you need to tell them everything. You need to tell them that I threatened you.”
“Because Carly is going to tell them that you gave me pain meds. She knows you did. She might not remember it, but if she makes a statement, Taggert will make sure she goes over every detail. Bobbie and I talked about it when she was in the room. So you need to tell them I threatened you—”
“There’s no way in hell—first of all, I made you go to my studio, and I went to Sonny—” Elizabeth shook her head. “I am not going to testify against you—”
“I won’t be here to go on trial.”
She stumbled to a stop. “What the hell does that mean?”
“I’m going to leave,” Jason said. “Before any of this happens. With any luck, if I’m not here to go after, Sorel’s men will back down on the alibi, and Carly—”
“Let me get this straight,” Elizabeth said, clenching her jaw. “You think these are our choices? One, you stay and I throw you under the bus to save myself and you end up in jail, or two, you leave Port Charles, and Carly will somehow not take that out on me?”
“Wait, what?” Jason shook his head. “No—”
“Yes,” Elizabeth cut in, slicing her hand through the air. “You’ll leave, and Carly will know you did it to get away from her. She won’t blame herself, she’ll blame me. And maybe even Bobbie, but mostly me. And she’ll be furious at you. Carly’s going to do this thing whether you’re here or not, Jason. Only if you’re not here—” Tears stung her eyes and he just stared at her in shock. “Why are you giving up?”
“This happened last night! And you’re already—you’re probably half-packed, aren’t you?” Elizabeth accused. He cast his gaze aside, and she scowled.
“You’re going to run away and leave me and Bobbie to deal with Carly? How is that fair?”
He hadn’t thought about it that way—he’d just thought if he took himself out of it— “Elizabeth—”
Her voice faltered. “You have to leave me, too. Or doesn’t that matter? Is it that easy to walk away from me?”
“No!” He didn’t know how to walk this back, how to fix this. It had seemed so simple when he and Sonny had talked about it. If Jason wasn’t here—the situation would cool down. “No, I don’t want to leave you. If it weren’t for you—” He’d be dead right now. She’d dragged him back into the world of living—how couldn’t she— “I’m doing this to protect you. To keep you safe—”
“Safe.” Elizabeth laughed, a jagged, harsh sound he didn’t recognize from her. “Sure. Okay. Tell yourself that. Fine.”
“There’s no other way—” He stopped because to say that to her was a lie. There was another way that might work, but — “Anything else — it’s a risk and it just keeps you in the middle of it—”
“So there is another way and you’d rather leave? How am I supposed to take that, Jason?”
“It’s—I mean it, it’s asking too much—”
“You don’t get to decide what’s asking too much. If it keeps us both in Port Charles, out of jail, and together—” Her eyes burned into his. “Or isn’t that important to you?”
“It is,” he insisted. He took her hands and pulled her towards him. “You know it is. I just—” Jason paused. “There’s no guarantee it would work, and we might be right back where we started.”
“Then at least we’ll say we tried everything. Jason—”
“If we were married, we couldn’t testify against each other.”