No idea how long this one took. The Supreme Court screwed over the student loan forgiveness program, and I got distracted. And then the Liz/Patrick scene got carried away, so I figured what the hell.
General Hospital: Locker Room
Robin stared blankly at the inside of her locker, at the pair of emergency scrubs she always kept neatly folded at the bottom of her locker, with an extra pair of sneakers in a plastic bag resting on top. On the inside of her locker door, she had taped a few photographs — one with her uncle at high school graduation, one with Stone so she’d never forget the reason she’d become a doctor—
And a photograph of Robin with Maxie and Georgie, the last Christmas before Georgie had graduated high school. Robin had only just moved home and begun working at General Hospital, Maxie hadn’t yet lost Jesse and spiraled out of control, and Georgie—
She hadn’t been back at work since that terrible day, since Mac had come to the hospital, and he’d told her, and the world had stopped spinning for a horrible second, and now it seemed like it was spinning too fast—
Robin carefully lifted the photo from the locker, pulling gently at the tape so that the photo didn’t rip. She touched Georgie’s smile and thought about how she’d never see it again.
She couldn’t quite understand why this was hitting her so badly. She’d lost people before. Her grandmother when she was a child. Duke. Then her parents. She had them back now, but that hadn’t erased the pain.
And of course, Stone. Beloved, wonderful, forever young Stone. And those years she’d grieved for Brenda—
But somehow Georgie’s death—her murder—it was more jarring. Life-altering. And maybe it was because she’d been young when she’d lost her parents, and the grief felt fuzzy and immaterial after all this time. Stone—she’d had time to prepare. To be used to it. She’d watched him gradually fade away until his death had been a sweet release from the pain of living.
Brenda had been like a sister to her, a best friend. But she’d been older and they’d found their friendship later in life.
Georgie—Robin had known her from birth, had watched her grow and shift from the sweet baby to a thoughtful child to a compassionate young woman—she’d watched Georgie blossom and grow up. She’d been an older sister, and there was some weight in being the eldest. A sense of responsibility.
And while Robin could rationally remind herself that she couldn’t have prevented Georgie’s death, that didn’t mean she couldn’t find a way to blame herself. Her cousin had been receiving strange flowers and hang-ups. But she’d told no one but Chelsea and Spinelli. Mac had been preoccupied with Maxie, whose flair for the dramatic had always commanded more attention—and maybe if Robin hadn’t been so absorbed by the end of her relationship with Patrick—
She broke out of her thoughts slowly, and it took a moment to focus on her friends and roommates as they stood in the aisle of the locker room. “Kelly. Lainey.”
“Hey.” Kelly looked over her shoulder at the photo in Robin’s hand. “That’s a great picture of you guys.”
“Yeah. It is.” Robin put it back on the door her locker, rubbing her thumb firmly over the tape to reapply the stickiness.
“If you need more time, I’m sure Dr. Ford would give it to you.” Lainey wrinkled her nose. “Or Patrick can put you on a case and not use you. That would give you time, too. It’s the least he can do after everything he’s put you through.”
Robin exhaled slowly, pulled her sweater over her head. Dr. Ford, appointed as the Chief of Staff after the death of Alan that winter, had already granted Robin more time than he probably should. Ten days was enough time. Robin needed to get back to work, back to her life. She’d waved goodbye to her parents, to Felicia and Frisco, and now—now it was time.
Then the second part of Lainey’s statement registered and Robin turned to her. “I really wish you’d both lay off Patrick. I told you, there’s no bad guy here. He didn’t cheat on me. He didn’t break my heart—”
“He dated you for over a year knowing damn well you wanted a family—” Kelly snorted, folded her arms. “It’s selfish, of course, but who’d expect anything else from him?”
“Never trust a guy with dimples—”
“Would you rather he married me, had a family with me, and then resented us all in a few years?” Robin shook her head. “And he didn’t know that I wanted kids. I didn’t make that clear to him. When I did—”
“Please. He’s using it as an excuse to run from being an adult—”
Robin slammed the locker door, and Kelly jumped. “Stop it. Just stop. I’m asking you to stop making this harder.”
Lainey frowned. “We’re not making it harder, we’re just saying that you should be able to lean on people you love during this and he deliberately—”
“And this is how you help?” Robin wanted to know. “By being petty about something that didn’t happen to you?” She yanked her hair out from beneath the collar of her scrub top, wound her stethoscope around her neck. “Patrick, by the way, has been amazing through this. He’s checked on me. He’s done everything I’ve asked him to. You could take a lesson or two from him.”
General Hospital: Cafeteria
“That does not look edible,” Patrick said, leaning towards the serving dish that held some sort of brown meat dish. He wrinkled his nose and looked at Elizabeth. “You think it’s dog food?”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes, slid her tray down towards the cash register. She paid for her salad and water, and wasn’t that surprised when Patrick followed her to a table. “You don’t have anyone else to bother today?”
“Nope. Free until surgery later. You sure you don’t want to scrub in? It’s supposed to be a good one.”
“I absolutely do,” Elizabeth said, “but I can’t. Epiphany has me on insurance detail for another week. It’s supposed to discourage me from doing foolish things like coming back a month early from maternity leave.” She jabbed her fork in her salad. “She’s mad at me.”
“Why did you come back? I mean, if you were still at your grandmother’s house, I guess I’d understand. But you’re, uh, living with Jason now, right? So he can’t afford the bills on his own?”
Elizabeth furrowed her brow. “We haven’t talked about it. And it’s not about the bills. I have to take care of my kids. Cameron isn’t Jason’s son. He needs to eat. And he’s growing so fast—” She jerked a shoulder. “And I don’t want anyone to think I left Lucky because Jason has money.”
“Why do you care what anyone thinks? Isn’t that what got you in this mess?”
“Okay, I don’t want the judge in my custody case to think I’m just a gold digger hopping from one baby daddy to another. I can provide for my kids. I can also be in a healthy, supportive relationship where money isn’t a factor. I’m not on Jason’s accounts—”
“Ha. I bet he put you on them the day you agreed to move in.”
Elizabeth opened her mouth to protest, then closed it because that sounded like something Jason might do and just not mention it. “Okay, well I didn’t ask to be. He can do what he wants with his money. I’m not asking for it.”
“I don’t care what you do. I’m just saying—” Patrick shrugged. He shoved his tray away, folded his arms. “Listen, I have a question. And it’d be nice if you’d just, you know, answer it without thinking about why I’m asking it or that I have ulterior reasons or if I’m thinking about changing my mind, because I’m not. I’m collecting information. Okay? That’s it.”
“Oh, this should be good.” Elizabeth set down her fork. “I love when there’s conditions on questions. Sure. Go for it.”
“Did you always want to have kids?”
Elizabeth blinked because she hadn’t really expected that, though now his preamble to asking it made sense. “Honestly, no. I don’t think I really thought about it much. When I was a teenager, and Lucky and I were dating, I knew we would always be together the way you do at that age, but the future was, like, this abstract concept. And maybe I thought kids would be part of it. Later, when I thought he was dead, I wished we’d had a kid. Even though we were young. So there’d be a piece of him to love. But if you’re asking me if I ever sat down, and thought I would like to have children and this is the man I want, and then we went ahead and did it, no. I never really thought about kids until I got pregnant.”
“Okay.” Patrick absorbed that. “Follow-up?”
“Go for it.”
“And remember, this—” Patrick mimed making a box around them. “This is a judgment-free zone. So my follow-up is—when you found out you were pregnant—either time—did you ever think this is a terrible idea and I have no business bringing life into this world when I have the emotional capacity of a hamster?”
“That’s oddly specific, and I think you underestimate yourself—” He glared at her, and she sighed. “Patrick, if a parent ever tells you they have it all figured it out, they’re just fucking lying. And there are days when I regret every single moment that led me to being up in the middle of the night changing Jake’s diaper because there are things that come out of a child’s body that can’t be human—”
“I need you to take this seriously.”
“I am. Yes. Every single time I had a positive pregnancy test, I was pretty sure that this was a terrible mistake, and that I had just made my life more complicated. I had a miscarriage before Cameron,” she said, and he frowned. “About six months before. I had just found out Ric was a terrible lying liar who lies like people breath, and—well, we won’t get into that. I thought I would be a single mother who was working as a waitress and lived in a drafty studio without a bathroom of my own. I considered abortion.”
“You didn’t go through with it.”
“No. I lost the baby a few weeks later. After I’d made the mistake of forgiving and marrying Ric. Later, when I was pregnant with Cameron, and I realized Zander was his father, God, I was so angry with myself.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Here I was again, in the same situation. I still didn’t have a stable life. I knew that Ric wasn’t trustworthy. Zander’s life was chaos, and I was supposed to bring a life into that situation?” She shook her head. “What business did I have being a mother and being in charge of raising a decent human being when it was clear I could barely take of myself.”
“But you went through with it.”
“I did. And that’s not the right answer for everyone, Patrick. Last year, when I was lying about Jake’s paternity, I doubted myself at every moment. It’s a terrible way to live, and to wonder if you’re doing more harm than good creating life and bringing it into the world. That was my experience a lot of the time I’ve spent pregnant. Because my life is littered with a series of terrible choices, mostly made because I was scared to be alone, so I’d cling to anything or anyone I thought would keep me afloat.”
Patrick nodded, stared at his hands. “So you get it. You understand why I don’t want to take that chance.”
“I do. And I respect you for it. No one should be pressured to be a parent. And as much as what you and Robin are going through hurts—you’re doing the right thing if you honestly don’t want to have kids.” She bit her lip. “Am I allowed to give unsolicited advice?”
“It’s not really unsolicited at this point, is it?” he muttered. “Clearly, my clever ruse hasn’t fooled you.”
“As someone who has made life-altering choices because I was scared of the harder road—if you live your life that way, it’s lonely. And it’s painful. Don’t deny yourself something you might want because you’re afraid of what kind of father you’ll be.”
He sighed, nodded. “That’s fair.” He met her eyes. “What’s it like? Being a parent, I mean.”
“Chaotic joy.” Elizabeth’s lips curved into a smile. “Constant wonder. The fear never goes away. The world is a scary place, and children are fragile. It’s terrifying.” She closed her eyes. “I remember when they gave me Cameron for the first time. He was this wet, slimy mess, and they laid him on my chest—and our eyes met, and I just—” Her voice faltered. “You can’t describe the way your heart and world just expands in that moment. How you can love someone so deeply that didn’t exist five seconds ago. Being a parent, it’s not for everyone, Patrick. But it’s a pretty wild journey that never gets boring.”
PCPD: Squad Room
Lucky checked his inbox for a report from the state lab, and grimaced when it was still showing the DNA results were a few weeks ago. The lab was backed up, and his wasn’t the only murder in New York state.
He leaned back, irritated with the world, and with himself because it certainly wasn’t fair that he had nothing but the slim hope whoever had murdered Georgie and Chelsea had their DNA in the CODIS system.
He set aside the murder file, as much as it pained him, and worked on other open cases, preparing some for warrants, and looking over his notes for court next week — he was due to testify on a robbery—
“There you are!”
He glanced up, found Sam smiling at him as she stood next to his desk. He’d declined her invitation to unload on her a few days ago after he’d learned Lulu planned to testify against him at the custody hearing. While Sam might argue they were on the same side, he knew that wasn’t true.
Lucky wanted his kids. He wanted Jake and he wanted Cameron, and that was the end of it. At the beginning, he’d been interested in revenge, in punishing Elizabeth, but after that day in the park — after standing over Georgie’s broken and bruised body with her roommate only steps away—there was no point in punishing anyone. He just wanted to move on with his life.
Sam had no dog in the fight, only the desire to watch the world burn.
“Did you have something on an open case?” Lucky asked, leaning back in his seat. “Because otherwise, Sam, I’ve made it pretty clear that there’s nothing I can do for you.”
“I thought about what you said at Kelly’s, and you’re right. You’re right,” Sam repeated, dropping into the wooden seat next to his desk. “I was just focused on hurting Jason. You’re a good guy, Lucky. I just keep thinking about how it’s not fair. I can’t get the revenge I want, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help you win.”
“I tried it your way, and I ended up feeling like a scumbag, Sam, so I’m good.”
Sam’s eyes darkened. “I didn’t—”
“I appreciate the offer, I do. And I can almost understand why you want to keep putting the screws to Jason. He humiliated you in court when Diane called you a gold-digging tramp—”
“That wasn’t the words she used,” Sam said, her teeth clenched.
“No, that was the papers. Sorry. You got humiliated there, and now Jason’s moved on and Elizabeth is living with him—”
“And that doesn’t make you angry?” Sam demanded.
“Am I angry that my wife has moved on before our divorce is final?” Lucky sighed. “I am. I am furious that Elizabeth could and has walked away so cleanly like nothing in the last two years mattered to her—”
“And I was willing to do whatever I could to make her pay, to twist her to what I thought I deserved — and maybe it’s not fair that she’s going to probably end up with full custody and a new husband before the end of the year—”
“I have a dead girl, Sam. Two dead girls,” he added. “I don’t have the luxury of worrying about getting revenge on my ex-wife.” He gestured to the door. “You wanna waste your life on it, go for it. But I’m moving on. I’m going to plead my case, hope for the best, and then close the door.”
“You know what? You deserve whatever happens to you, you weak son of a bitch,” she bit out, then stormed out.
“Funny, five minutes ago I was the good guy.” Lucky dismissed her and got back to work.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“Stone Cold—” Spinelli stopped, furrowed his brow. “What are you doing?”
Jason paused, the rag in his hand poised above the stain on the rug next to the sofa, glanced up at the younger man. “What does it look like?”
“Well,” Spinelli said, then looked at Cameron sitting on the sofa, his mouth stained with red. “It looks like Little Dude got in a fight and the rug won.” The rug in question was also stained with the same shade.
“Mommy said no juice on the sofa.” Cameron blinked at Spinelli, slid his hand over the sofa cushions. “See. No juice on the sofa.”
“No juice on the rug either,” Jason said. He sat back on his knees. “Did you need something Spinelli?”
“Oh. It can wait—”
“No, it’s good.” Jason got to his feet, rag in hand. “Cameron, you’re still in time out for two more minutes.”
“Don’t move from sofa.” Cameron nodded. “No moving.” He held his hand out. “See? I froze.”
Jason considered the toddler with a furrowed brows, likely trying to sort out the next loophole Cameron would discover, but evidently decided to give up. “We can talk in the kitchen.”
Spinelli followed, waited as Jason washed his hands. “The Jackal was wondering if maybe he should pursue other living arrangements.”
Jason frowned, turned to him. “What? Why?”
“Uh, well, our humble abode is quite full, and the Jackal thought now the Fair Elizabeth and Little Dude and Stone Cold the Second have joined us, Stone Cold might want some, uh, privacy.” Spinelli shoved his hands in his pockets.
“Spinelli—if I wanted you gone, you’d be gone.”
Spinelli looked up. “Really?”
“Yes. Really.” Jason hesitated. “Elizabeth and the kids like you. And if you don’t mind occasoinally hanging out with Cameron, then I don’t see why anything has to change. Now, if you want more privacy, we can move you somewhere else in the building. But for right now, I’m fine with how things are.”
Spinelli’s chest relaxed. “The Jackal is not imposing on the family bliss?”
“The family bliss—” Jason narrowed his eyes, went around Spinelli. “Cameron!”
Spinelli turned to find that Cameron had climbed onto the back of the sofa, with one leg on either side. His eyes were wide. “I still on the sofa! Cameron a good boy!”
“Sofa cushion. Don’t move from the sofa cushion—” Jason went back into the living room to once again negotiate with a terrorist leaving Spinelli relieved in the kitchen. He wasn’t going to be expelled from the only home he’d ever really known.