November 25, 2003
Wyndemere: Elizabeth’s Bedroom
It was late when she woke up. She wasn’t sure what woke her up–maybe it was the discomfort of the floor or the absence of his warm body.
When she saw that he was gone, her heart dropped and she sat up, clutching the yellow afghan to her bare chest. She looked around, her eyes searching for any indication that it hadn’t been a dream–beyond her nakedness.
He was standing at her window, dressed only in a pair of briefs. His back was to hers and she knew what he was thinking.
How in the hell had they gotten to this point?
She reached around for something to pull on and found the maroon shirt he’d been wearing earlier. She tugged it over her head and stood. “Jason?” she said hesitantly.
He turned and sighed when he saw her–arms wrapped protectively around her waist, her eyes down cast. “I didn’t mean to wake you,” he told her.
“Well, I’m awake now.” She approached him. “Are…are you leaving?” she asked.
“I should,” Jason sighed. He put his hands on his waist and glanced back to the makeshift bed they’d created on the floor–with a sleeping bag hastily rolled out, a few pillows and her afghan. “Elizabeth…”
“Do we have to have this talk now?” Elizabeth asked. “I mean…in the morning…we can cover all of that but…can’t we just pretend it doesn’t exist?”
“Yeah.” He reached out took her hand, drawing her close to him. “Yeah, I like that idea.” He slid his hand into her dark hair and brushed a kiss on her forehead. “You look good in my shirt,” he breathed.
She flushed. “You kind of ripped the buttons on the one I was wearing.”
“Sorry about that.” His shirt was too big on her–the collar listed to the side and he leaned down to kiss the shoulder left bare. She closed her eyes, her mouth opening in a soundless moan as he moved his mouth to the soft skin of her neck.
“Let’s go back to bed,” he whispered, capturing her lips in a soft kiss.
The knock on the door made Elizabeth blink, breaking the memory. She sat up. “Come in!”
Nikolas pushed open the door. “Hey…just…wanted to make sure you’re not mad at me.”
Elizabeth frowned. “Why would I be mad?”
Nikolas sighed and sat down on the edge of the bed. “Last night…I was a little tough on you…” he trailed off.
“Hence the concept of tough love,” Elizabeth said with a tiny smile. “You didn’t say anything I didn’t need to hear, Nikolas. It’s okay.”
“Still…I know we’re still working on our friendship and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize it.”
“Seriously…Nikolas…you made me realize that I can’t be independent about this. This isn’t just happening to me. It’s happening to Jason, too.” She sighed and pulled her legs up, resting her chin on her knees. “I swear…just thinking about it all makes me want to crawl into bed for the next seven months.”
“I’m worried about you,” Nikolas confessed. “I can see you withdrawing into yourself…every time I see you, I see more sadness in your eyes.” He shook his head. “And it was happening even before the pregnancy. Since the moment you found Carly in the panic room…it’s been there–in the back of your eyes.”
“I thought…I thought he was a good man,” Elizabeth said softly. She tilted her head back and tried to swallow the tears she could feel burning her eyes. “I mean…I know he did horrible things but–I thought he wanted to change–I thought he had.”
“I know.” Nikolas slid closer. “There’s nothing wrong with believing the best in people. I saw you with Ric…he seemed better.”
“How could I have spent all that time…loving him…believing in him when Carly was just locked a few feet away?” She covered her mouth with her hand, muffling a large sob.
“You didn’t know–”
“But why didn’t I?” she cried. “Why? All of the signs were there! Jason was so sure Ric had something to do with it–why didn’t I just believe him?”
“Because Jason had about as much credibility with you as Luke does with the police, okay? He’d lied to you, hurt you…how were you supposed to believe him when the only thing he was offering as proof was his word?”
“Because it wasn’t something he’d tell me unless he was sure,” Elizabeth said softly. “God…why didn’t I look sooner? Why didn’t I see the button sooner?”
“What happened to Carly…was not your fault,” Nikolas told her forcefully. “It wasn’t.”
“If I had just…never left the house that night…if I hadn’t been outside…I wouldn’t have fallen,” Elizabeth breathed, her voice shaking. “I wouldn’t have miscarried–”
“Hey, hey…just because you miscarried your baby…that did not make it okay for Ric to kidnap Carly–and it did not make it your fault,” Nikolas interrupted. “Listen to me Elizabeth, No one blames you for this summer. No one. Jason doesn’t–Carly doesn’t–it wasn’t your fault. You were a victim. He took advantage of you–he took your love and twisted into something ugly, into an obsession.”
“But nothing,” Nikolas cut her off. “Elizabeth…you have to let go of last summer. You have to move on.”
“What if I can’t?”
“When you start thinking about the day you found Carly, or the day he kidnapped her–whatever…think about your baby,” Nikolas suggested. “Think about what you’ll name it if it’s a boy or a girl. What colors the eyes will be, the hair–what murals you’ll paint on the nursery…if the night of the conception is a good memory–think of that. Whatever good memory you need to think of–concentrate on that.”
“The night…it is a good memory,” Elizabeth assured him. “If I don’t think about the morning after…just the night…it’s a very good memory.”
“Elizabeth…you know I love you, right?” he asked. “I would do anything for you because you and me…we go ways back–I mean…ways that I don’t with Lucky or Emily. We’ve been through hell together.”
“I know,” Elizabeth sighed, thinking of the Cassadine/Spencer war and how she’d faked her death. “I know what you mean. And I love you, too, Nikolas. You’re the only person I can depend on to give me the cold hard truth.”
“You will always have a home with me,” he told her. “No matter what happens or where we go, I want you to know that.”
He tugged on her arm and pulled her into a tight hug. “Nikolas?” she asked, her voice muffled by his shoulder.
“Don’t let Lucky toss my couch.”
Nikolas laughed again. “How’d you know?”
She smiled. “I know him better than he thinks. Seriously…I love that thing.”
“It’s three threads from falling apart.”
“Yeah…but it’s got history. Don’t let him toss the couch.”
“Okay, your couch is officially under my protection,” Nikolas promised.
Carly pushed the door open slightly and entered, a bit mystified at the lack of a guard on Sonny’s door.
“Sonny?” she called.
He emerged from the kitchen, wiping his hands on a dish towel. “Carly…I didn’t expect…”
“I wanted to stop by and see how you were,” Carly told him. She closed the door and set her purse on the desk but made no move to take off her coat.
“I’m okay,” Sonny said. “Glad to be out. How are you? The boys?”
“I’m fine, the boys are great. Michael’s back in school so that’s a relief.” Carly shifted. “Sonny…about Jason–”
“I don’t want to talk about him right now,” Sonny said darkly. “Courtney just called to tell me she’s filing for divorce. I could throttle him–”
“Come on, Sonny, what he did isn’t so bad in the scheme of things,” Carly sighed. “It’s not the first time someone’s slept with a girl they weren’t really over, okay?”
“Doesn’t matter. He was committed to my sister–”
“And Elizabeth was committed to your brother,” Carly cut in smoothly. “People are only your family when it’s convenient. If you were to fake your death today, you would tell Courtney wouldn’t you?”
“Of course. She’s my sister, she’s Jason’s wife–”
“And Elizabeth was Jason’s girlfriend. She was living with him. But that didn’t matter then. People are only real to you when they can do something for you.”
He studied her. “Carly, what’s this about?”
“This is about me taking a stand for myself,” Carly told him. “I’m not taking sides because Jason is my best friend and Courtney is my sister-in-law but I am doing my best to be supportive of them both. They’re both under a lot of strain and pressure–”
“What pressure is Jason under?” Sonny said scathingly. “He wasn’t under pressure when he screwed around on my sister–”
“Come on, Sonny, you know Jason. You have known him longer than anyone involved in this situation. When has he ever done something like this before?” Carly demanded. “He cheated on Robin with me when he didn’t know any better and he entered a rebound relationship with your sister because he was avoiding the reality of his breakup with Elizabeth. He just didn’t know you’re not supposed to stay with the rebound.”
“My sister is no man’s rebound,” Sonny growled.
“And Jason was a rebound for Courtney,” Carly retorted hotly. “But neither of them were willing to admit it. The whole thing spiraled out of control and with me pushing marriage at them at every turn–how could it have gone anywhere but down?”
“Marriage vows are supposed to mean something–”
“Yeah, they mean you don’t send your pregnant wife packing days from her due date,” Carly replied scornfully.
“That was different–I was worried–”
“You made a decision and it affected our entire future. Oh, and then you shot me in the head while I was giving birth to our son.” Carly tossed her hair over her shoulder and focused her angry eyes on her husband. “What did you think I’d do? Run back into your arms? Just say I was sorry? You shot me!” she cried.
“I was–I wasn’t in my right mind–”
“Oh, cut the bullshit. I don’t deny that you need help Sonny but let’s be real clear here. That night you were very lucid and very aware of your surroundings. You saw Lorenzo leaning over me and you either thought he was trying to hurt me or you thought I was doing something I shouldn’t. You tried to kill him and nearly killed me in the process. I can’t live like this Sonny!”
Sonny blinked. “And what does that mean Carly?” he asked in a soft voice. One Carly knew to be wary of.
“It means I’m not coming home,” she told him with a deep breath. “Not today, not tomorrow…not ever.”
His eyes narrowed and he clenched his fists around the towel in his hands. “That’s not acceptable, Carly.”
“I’m not one of your guards. I don’t answer to you. Not anymore.” She yanked her purse off the desk and turned for the door.
But Sonny was quick and slammed it shut before she could leave. “You are my wife, Carly. Courtney is my sister. I will not lose my family. I will do what ever I have to do get them back.”
“Do your worst,” Carly hissed. She yanked the door open and stormed out.
“C’mere…” Darting a look towards the living where her uncle was still on a business call, Sage lifted Michael up to the counter where he took a long swipe at the mixing bowl with the brownie mix. He shoved it all in his mouth, leaving some of it around his mouth.
“Thanks.” Michael returned to his homework and Sage innocently continued to stir. “Sage?”
“Does my mom like your uncle?” he asked.
“Sure, why not?” Sage asked.
“Well…okay, so I know my dad is sick and all–does that mean my parents aren’t together anymore?”
Sage turned and appraised the little boy carefully. “Not right now they’re not,” she told him. “I know that my uncle loves your mother with everything in him and he would do anything she wanted him to do.”
“Would he let her drive me to school all the time?”
“I can’t imagine why not,” Sage responded. “Doesn’t your dad let her?”
“Nope. Leticia takes me and Max drives us. He always said that Mommy liked to sleep late.” Michael fished in his school bag for a pencil sharpener. “I love my dad but he was always kind of mean to Mommy. I heard her telling Aunt Courtney once that he makes her feel stupid.”
“Well that’s hardly fair,” Sage said softly. “Your mother is anything but stupid.”
Michael nodded. “She’s the smartest, most beautiful woman ever,” he said proudly. “Why don’t my dad think so?”
“I don’t know. Adult men are so odd sometimes,” Sage said. “My dad had this one girlfriend that I remember–one of his first after my mom left. She was this tiny little blonde wispy thing–like if you just touched her, she’d fall over, you know? But she was really nice to me. She’d take me to the park or she’d buy me really pretty clothes and I was like ten–I was in heaven.”
“What did your dad do?”
“He accused her of trying to replace him in my life and he kicked her out.” Sage sighed. “Don’t ever be like men like that, Michael. Don’t treat women like they’re objects–or like they’re just around for your entertainment. If you ever get a little sister or a girlfriend…treat them like you’d want someone to treat your mother, okay?”
Michael nodded. “Okay, but girls are still icky.”
She smiled. “Yeah, just wait until you’re like eleven. They’re not icky anymore.”
“Well, you’re not icky,” Michael corrected. “And neither is my mommy. Or Aunt Courtney.”
“High compliments,” Sage teased. She started to pour the brownie mix into the pan. “So, I’ve never met your Aunt Courtney. What’s she like?”
“She wasn’t really fun until we went to Haye’s Landing,” Michael admitted. “She was always with Uncle Jason or talking about him. But then we went there and she was kind of like my mommy only not, you know? She makes great nachos.”
“Oooh…so do I. We’ll need to have a movie night and I’ll make some and we’ll get some popcorn and watch a bunch of gory horror movies.”
“Oooh…” Michael brightened. “You like horror movies?”
“Oh, boy, do I.” Sage handed him the brownie spoon for him to lick clean.
“Sage…I’m not a little kid, you know. I mean…I’m a lot more mature than I look,” Michael told her.
Sage sat down and tugged her history book from her book bag. “I don’t doubt that.”
“Mommy said Aunt Courtney went back to Haye’s Landing but my uncle lives here and they’re married so did they have a fight?”
“Yeah…I think that they did,” Sage admitted.
“And…I’m pretty sure she would have told me she was having a baby, so…how is Uncle Jason having a baby without her?”
“Well, mind you, the information I’ve got is from the news so I can’t really say it’s true,” Sage told him. “But apparently, your uncle had an ex-girlfriend named Elsa or…” she frowned. “Liza? Lisa?”
“Elizabeth?” Michael supplied.
“Yeah, her. You know her?”
“Sure. She works at Grandma’s diner. And she used to live with Uncle Jason.” He frowned. “Then she married Ric.”
“Okay…well, they’re divorced now or in the process of doing that. She doesn’t like him anymore, you know?”
“Because he kidnapped Mommy and made Elizabeth sick,” Michael confirmed. “Mommy told me.”
“Okay, well sometimes when people break up, they don’t do it because they’re not in love anymore. You know, there’s other reasons.”
“But Uncle Jason loves Aunt Courtney.”
“Yeah…but…” Sage hesitated. “Something you’re going to find out when you get older…it’s not always black and white. Once you’re in love with someone…you don’t just wake up one day and decide you’re not anymore and have it be true, you understand what I’m saying?”
“Yeah, okay. So Uncle Jason and Elizabeth broke up but they was still in love,” Michael confirmed.
“Yeah. Sure. That works. Your uncle started dating Courtney and he loves her, too. Only he never stopped loving Elizabeth. That doesn’t make him a bad person–it just makes him a bit confused,” Sage said.
“How do you know he still loves her?”
Sage hesitated. Truth was–she didn’t still know that. But she thought it would make it simpler for Michael to understand rather than explaining sometimes a guy was horny and any woman would do at that point. Love was much easier concept for a seven-year-old.
“Because making babies is something you’re only supposed to do if you’re in love,” Sage told him. “And Jason made a baby with Elizabeth.”
“Oh. But he was married. Doesn’t that mean he’s not supposed to make babies with other girls?” Michael asked, frowning.
“Theoretically but like I said…it’s not always black or white, right or wrong. It doesn’t make your uncle or Elizabeth a bad person but I bet it makes your aunt sad so she’s probably living in Haye’s Landing so she can stop being sad all the time.”
“I don’t want Aunt Courtney to be sad.” His eyes brightened. “I could call Brian and tell him to go cheer her up.”
“Oh yeah? Who’s Brian?” The oven timer started beeping and she went over to pull out the lasagna and then slid the pan of brownies into the oven. She reset the timer and sat down to let dinner cool off.
“Brian’s a sheriff and he’s a good cop. Aunt Courtney told me so. See, not all cops are bad, did you know that?” Michael asked.
Her heart broke for the little boy who’d been raised to distrust the legal authorities much like she had. “It’s been my experiences cops are good more often than they are bad,” Sage told him. “I bet your friend Brian is a great cop.”
“He is. He has this really cool jacket and this car with these flashing lights. He let me play with them,” Michael boasted proudly. “Anyway, he likes Aunt Courtney. He makes her smile.”
“Well, then, I bet your aunt won’t be sad for long then if she’s got such a great friend to cheer her up,” Sage decided.
Haye’s Landing: Town Square
Courtney laughed as she got out of the car. “I can’t believe you actually have a town square.”
“Yep,” Brian nodded. “Every year, just before Thanksgiving, the town council starts putting up the Christmas tree.”
“Wow…” she shook her head. “It’s just…it’s like watching one of those old TV series, you know? With the perfect small town, the perfect family–where everything was just too good to be true.”
“Well, that’s television. Things aren’t that perfect around here,” Brian replied. He took her hand in his and tugged her towards the park where a lake was completely frozen over and several people were ice skating. “Do you know how?”
“How to ice skate? I haven’t…no I don’t,” Courtney admitted. “I lived in Atlantic City my entire life and there wasn’t exactly time to learn in Port Charles.”
“No time like the present,” Brian decided. He lead her over to the stand set up to rent ice skates. “Hey, Bill.”
“Hey, Brian,” Bill replied. He grinned. “Well, who’s this?”
“Courtney Matthews,” Courtney interrupted before Brian could call her “Morgan.”
“Nice to meet you, Courtney Matthews. What size do you wear?”
“An eight,” Courtney told him reaching for her wallet.
“Naw, on the house. Any friend of Brian after all.” Bill handed her the skates with a wink and a smile.
“What does that mean?” Courtney asked as Brian showed her to a bench where she could sit down.
“I have no idea. Bill’s a weird guy–” Brian hesitated. “Actually…he’s Karen’s brother.”
“Oh.” Courtney shifted. “Well, then this has to be kind of awkward, then.”
“No, not really. Bill and I grew up together. He’s a good guy. Likes to mess with me, a lot.” Brian tied his own skates. “You’re going to run into a lot of people who know me or knew Karen…does that bother you?”
“No,” Courtney replied. “I’m used to running into people who know the people I do.” A smile tugged at her lips. “I’m just not used to those people giving me freebies. I can see this is going to be a very beneficial friendship.”
Brian laughed and pulled her to her feet. “Time to get out on the ice.”
Carly’s House: Living Room
Carly entered the house and tossed her purse on the couch. She was mildly amused to find that Lorenzo had set up a makeshift desk on her coffee table. “Hey.”
“Hey.” He stood and kissed her cheek. “How did the meeting go?”
“Not how I expected,” Carly replied. “Dara decided that because of our respective private situations, Jason’s and my testimonies would be more hurtful than helpful to Sonny.”
“She doesn’t want Baldwin or Lansing cross-examining Jason about his marriage or you about me,” Lorenzo deduced.
“Yeah. Which I agree with. I mean, whatever makes it all easier and gets it over.” Carly sat on the couch. “Where are the kids?”
“Sage is handling dinner and making sure Michael does his homework and Morgan’s still sleeping.”
“Good.” She leaned back and closed her eyes. “And then I had an emotionally draining conversation with Jason about Courtney and Elizabeth, I went to see Sonny…” she opened her eyes and sighed. “He’s so angry. At me, at Jason…I hardly even recognize him anymore.”
“I guess that didn’t go well,” Lorenzo said.
“No. Not at all. I don’t belong with him anymore,” she told him. “I’m going to file for divorce as soon as the trial is over.”
Not wanting her to see the happiness the news brought him, Lorenzo just nodded. “If that’s what you think is best.”
She laughed a little. “Come on…I know how you really feel about it.”
“Okay, I can’t deny that it makes me slightly happy to hear that but I know that by no means guarantees something between us.”
Her eyes sobered. “You’re so good to me,” she said softly. “How did I ever deserve someone like you?”
Lorenzo took her hand in his and brushed a kiss across her knuckles. “You were due,” he replied in the same tone.
Harborview Towers: Hallway
Jason stepped off the elevator and nodded to Marco standing at his door. “Hey, anything happen?”
“Mr. Corinthos stayed in his penthouse all day and his only visitor was Mrs. Corinthos,” Marco reported dutifully. “She left ten minutes later.”
“Okay. I should be in tonight.” He started to push open his door but stopped. “I need someone on Elizabeth Webber’s door at night. Who would you recommend?”
“Ms. Webber, sir?” Marco frowned. “I thought–”
Jason scowled. “She’s important to me and she needs to be protected at all costs. She needs a guard on her door at night when she moves into her new apartment. I’ll ask again–”
“David,” Marco said hurriedly. “He’s got the best record at night. He was on Ms. Quartermaine’s hospital room this summer.”
“Okay, tell him to be over here first thing in the morning.” Jason pushed open his door. Before he could close it, he heard Sonny’s penthouse door shut.
He turned to see his former boss and business partner scowling in front of him. “We need to talk,” Sonny said shortly.
Jason frowned. “You’re no longer in the business and anything else is none of your business,” he replied briskly. “I’ve had a long day and I’ve got another one tomorrow so if you’ll excuse me.” He slammed his door shut and locked it.