December 1, 2003
Jason stared at her for a long minute as if trying to gauge if she was really serious or not. Finally, he shrugged. “Okay. Will you move in with me?”
“Not here,” she said immediately.
He shook his head. “I don’t understand.”
“And not full-time.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I still want time to sort things out and the last thing I want to do is rush into something I’m not ready for. So…maybe we could compromise. I like being with you, Jason, I’m just not ready to do it all the time.”
“So what are you suggesting?” he asked curiously.
“I don’t want to live here. I mean–it’s a nice place and I did like staying here but there are more bad memories than good and if we’re going to start something, I want to start fresh.”
“Okay,” Jason agreed. “That’s more than reasonable. I only live here because Sonny’s across the hall and he…” he hesitated. “He won’t be there much longer.”
“I really am sorry about–about what’s been going on. I know it’s got to be hard for you to watch him go through this.”
He exhaled slowly and pushed away from the pool table. He moved towards the window and stared out of it. “He was the strongest man I’d ever met, you know? I didn’t think there was anything he couldn’t do.”
Elizabeth nodded. “He was your mentor, Jason. He taught you so much…”
“Yeah, yeah, he did.” Jason crossed his arms and put his chin into his chest. “Sonny showed me a lot of concrete things that Robin couldn’t. He–he’s the one who told me that you never lay a hand on a woman in anger. That you never commit violence against them for any reason and now…after what he’s done to Carly…I have to wonder…how much did he really teach me?”
Elizabeth frowned and crossed the room, standing against the edge of the window, across from him. “What do you mean by that?”
“I mean…he taught me how to treat a woman. And despite all of his problems, he has never violated that. You know how some people have this line that they just don’t cross? For Sonny, that line is abusing a woman. His–his stepfather used to hit his mother.”
Elizabeth’s throat tightened. “Oh, that must have been so horrible for him,” she said softly.
“He used to lock Sonny in a closet and you–you know he’s still claustrophobic. He was this monster and the thing that always terrified Sonny was becoming just like him.”
“Doing it once does not make him a monster,” Elizabeth protested. “Yes, it’s a horrible thing and I do not think he deserves to be forgiven right now but he knows it was wrong. I mean–Jason, I saw his face. I don’t think he knew what he was doing and that’s got to be more terrifying than hitting someone.”
“I’ve been so busy taking care of other things that I haven’t been paying attention to him. Last week, he came over and wanted to talk–and I just brushed him off.” He looked at her and she wanted to cry at the anguish in his eyes. “What if he coming to tell me he was close to the edge?”
“You cannot blame yourself for this,” Elizabeth said firmly, closing the distance between them. “You have the right to your own life and after everything you’ve done for Sonny, there is nothing wrong with wanting a night to yourself, okay?”
He shook his head. “Sonny depends on me to be there for him–to pull him back–”
“I don’t think anyone could have this time,” Elizabeth interrupted. “Everyone has had way too much going on in their lives and maybe that made Sonny feel a little out of control himself. When were you supposed to find time in between dealing with the business, with Courtney, with me, with Carly and God knows what else you have to do that I don’t know about?”
“I should have found the time,” Jason protested.
“You are only one man,” Elizabeth told him softly. “You cannot do everything on your own and you cannot be strong all the time.”
“Everyone expects me to be. They come to me because they I know I’ll listen and they know I’ll help them,” he said. He shook his head. “I just have to find a better way to handle it all–”
“Jason, when you’re off taking care of everyone else, who’s supposed to take care of you?” Elizabeth asked pointedly.
“I don’t need anyone to take care of me,” he told her firmly.
She threw up her hands in frustration. “Sometimes I just want to throttle you,” she seethed, stalking away from him. At the foot of the stairs, she whirled around. “Some day, Jason, you’re finally going to be done taking care of everyone else and then what are you going to come home too?Nothing! Because you were too busy to have your own life and no woman in her right mind is going to wait for you to get around to being with her.”
“Are we doing this again?” he asked, sounding just as aggravated as she was. “Elizabeth, I’m already doing everything I can to prove that you’re a priority in my life. What else do you expect me to do?”
“I want to be able to talk to you,” Elizabeth exploded. “I don’t want to just be priority–I want to be with you. I want to be the person that you turn to when you need someone to talk to. Why is it so hard for you to just…just be with me?” she demanded.
“Because you want things I can’t give,” Jason argued. “You want honesty and for me to sit and pour out my feelings and I just can’t do those things–”
“I never said I wanted you to pour your feelings out to me. That’s not who you are,” Elizabeth sounded vaguely insulted. “All I want is for you to be with me. I don’t want to be another person you take care of, Jason, and the second I feel like that, I’m walking out that door.”
“Elizabeth, I don’t know what you want from me. First you say you need time and then you give me this cryptic answer when I ask you to move in with me and now–you’ve got to be the most confusing woman I’ve ever met.”
“I was being selfish this morning,” Elizabeth remarked. “I was thinking of myself and I have to stop doing this. If this is ever going to work between us, I have to start thinking of you when I make my decisions and I’m sorry–but you actually sounded like you wanted to be with me when you asked earlier and suddenly, now I’m too confusing.”
“I do want to be with you,” Jason protested. “But I don’t want to disappoint you again. You said that while we were apart, I turned into someone else and maybe that’s true. But what I need to know is if you can still love the person I am now.”
She rolled her eyes. “Of course I still love you. Would I be standing here arguing with you if I didn’t?”
“Well, it’d be nice to hear it once in a while,” Jason retorted. “Instead, all I get is what I’m doing wrong.”
“Good lord,” she muttered. “Okay–maybe we should get back to the original topic. The moving in thing. When I said not full-time, I meant that a few nights a week, we’d try it out. No physical stuff, you know? I don’t feel ready to go back there just yet but we could share the bedroom, I guess. I know you want to be around during the pregnancy and this is a way for you to be around more. Is that what you want?”
“That sounds fine,” Jason said warily. “What about the rest of the stuff?”
“The rest of the stuff we could figure out along the way. No one says we have to have all the answers right now.” Elizabeth sat on the couch and rubbed her eyes. “Man, arguing really sucks the energy out of you.”
Jason moved away from the window and sat next to her. “It’s getting kind of late, you know,” he began. “And since the launch doesn’t work past dark…maybe you should just stay here,” he said hesitantly. “I mean–I know you don’t want to stay here permanently or anything but what about just for tonight?”
“Yeah, actually, that would really be a good thing because then I could just go from here to the apartment tomorrow and not have to face that horrible launch again.”
“Okay, then. I’ll go to Kelly’s and get some food. I’ve got something to do so I’ll do that while I’m out, okay?”
“That works for me,” Elizabeth agreed, already planning to nap while he was gone. She wasn’t kidding–the entire conversation had seemingly sucked any energy gained from the previous nap.
Scott Baldwin’s Office
Scott had barely exited his private bathroom before his eyes focused on an impatient Jason Morgan standing in his office.
Scott narrowed his eyes. “I know you’re not here to confess,” he remarked dryly moving behind the large mahogany desk.
“Tomorrow when Dara Jensen informs you that Sonny’s changed his plea back to guilty due to a mental defect, you will offer her a deal,” Jason said firmly. “He’ll serve a minimum of six years in Ferncliffe, a maximum of twelve. Do you understand me?”
Scott smirked. “If you think you can intimidate me, Morgan–”
In a flash Jason reached across the desk and yanked Scott towards him by grabbing the lapels of his electric green shirt. “If you think you’ve got a choice, you’re sorely mistaken. You’ll do it Scott, or you’ll regret it. I will take Sonny out of this country and you will never find him. Would you rather have a conviction or let Sonny get away again?” Jason released him and Scott jerked back, straightening his collar.
“That’s assault right there,” Scott huffed. “Why shouldn’t I have you arrested?”
“Because Sonny in Ferncliffe for six years is almost as good as two years in Sing Sing,” Jason said coldly. “Like I said, you can have a conviction or a fugitive. What looks better in the papers?”
Scott hesitated. Putting Sonny Corinthos behind bars had been his goal for the past two years. Putting him away someplace for the criminally insane was almost as good. He cleared his throat. “When Dara calls, I’ll offer her the deal.”
Jason left the office and headed for Kelly’s.
“Here,” Lucas said, handing Sage a Styrofoam cup of hot chocolate. “This should warm you up.”
“I’ve never been ice skating before, thanks for teaching me,” Sage remarked, her teeth chattering a little. “But you didn’t have to push me into that snow bank. I am freezing now!”
“Sorry, I slipped.” Lucas hid his smirk behind his own cup but she didn’t miss. She smacked him in the shoulder.
“I’ll get you back,” she promised.
“Oh…hey, it’s Lucas and Sage.”
Sage sighed. She knew this night was going too well. She turned and saw the Jones sisters coming down the steps followed by a reluctant Dillon. “Hello,” she said politely.
Maxie, having been the one who’d spoken, stepped forward. “Hey, I’m Maxie Jones. I don’t know that we ever got a chance to really meet but you know Lucas can’t shut up about you,” she tossed a teasing glance at her now glaring cousin.
Sage flushed. “It’s nice to meet you. I take it you already know my name.”
“Well duh,” Georgie said dryly. Maxie elbowed her sharply. “Ow. Oh…God…look, did you really mean that apology last week?”
“Georgie,” Lucas sighed, “don’t start.”
“Hey, butt out for a second,” Georgie remarked. “Well?” she asked expectantly.
“I don’t tend to dole out insincere apologies,” Sage replied. “Why?”
“Because I think that it’s obvious you and Lucas hit it off and he’s not really stupid enough to hang around with someone unless they’re worth knowing, you know? So maybe we all really did get off to a bad start.” Georgie shifted uncomfortably.
“We did,” Sage assured her. “I really–it was really just a matter of seeing a cute boy and going after him. I didn’t think I was going to be living here and–things are just really different than they were even a month ago, okay?”
“Okay.” Georgie shrugged. “Clean slate?”
“Great,” Maxie said. She saw the ice skates dangling over Lucas’s shoulder. “So you guys were down at the lake?”
“Yeah, Lucas was showing me how to skate. I’ve never really been in places where it snowed so I never got the chance to learn,” Sage informed her. “It’s a lot harder than it looks on television.”
“Yeah, the first time I was on the ice, I must have fell about eight thousand times,” Georgie said, making an obvious attempt to be friendly. While Sage still felt the girl was being slightly insincere, she appreciated the effort.
“Well, I wouldn’t have fallen more than ten times myself but Lucas tripped and knocked me into a snow bank,” she threw a nasty glance at the boy in question. “I’ve never been so cold in my life.”
“Just wait until winter really sets in,” Maxie said. “It’s only early December now. January is absolutely horrid and February’s not much better.”
Sage wrinkled her nose. “Ugh. I thought I’d like living with all this snow but I know now I’d much rather look at it than sludge through it all the time.”
“Well, I’d better finish walking you guys home,” Dillon said, speaking for the first time. “If you’re not back by eight, Mac will skin me alive. Nice to see you again, Sage. Hey, Lucas, we still on for that hockey game?”
“Yeah, we’re going to kill you guys,” Lucas boasted.
“Oh, right, that’s next Saturday,” Maxie said, clearly pleased that Dillon had brought it up. “The night after the dance. Are you guys going?”
“I hadn’t decided yet,” Sage said hesitantly, glancing at Lucas. He hadn’t kissed her since Thanksgiving which made her wonder if he was interested in her romantically at all.
“We should all go,” Georgie suggested. “Kyle will be home for Christmas break by that time. We have to do a group date or Mac won’t let Maxie near Kyle, so why don’t you two come with us?”
“Sure,” Lucas agreed. “That okay with you Sage?” he asked.
“It’s great. Hey, my uncle has a stretch limo. Maybe he’d let us use it,” Sage suggested, hoping she didn’t come off as haughty and arrogant.
Instead Maxie’s eyes lit up. “Ooh…that would be awesome. It’d be like prom all over again. Except, you know…better than last year.”
“Speaking of Prom, I think we should start planning for it soon,” Georgie said. “Because we want to get the right dresses, the right shoes and we need to coordinate seating arrangements–”
“My sister’s an organizational freak,” Maxie said, shaking her head. “But she’s right. The best dress prices are in February. Maybe we could go together.”
Sage’s grin widened. “I’d love to. I love dances and I really like shopping for them.”
“Great,” Georgie agreed. “Okay, you can walk us home now,” she told her boyfriend.
“Well, thank you,” Dillon replied shortly. He walked past Lucas and Sage and the two sisters followed him.
“He hates me,” Sage sighed.
“Nah, he hates everyone except Georgie and Maxie,” Lucas tried to assure her. “After all, you apologized.”
“Yeah…but apologies don’t solve everything,” Sage said softly. “I just have to try harder, you know? I mean…Georgie doesn’t hate me anymore or maybe she’s just being nice to me because of you but Maxie seemed to like me.”
“Are you okay with the dance thing?” he asked hesitantly. “I wanted to ask you but I didn’t…I didn’t exactly have the courage.”
“The courage?” Sage repeated, slightly bemused. “Why would you need courage to ask me to a dance? You asked me to go ice skating today. Why is one thing different than the other?”
“Because this was between friends and the dance…I would have been asking you on a date,” Lucas admitted. “I mean–I know we’re just friends and all but…I–” he shrugged and ducked his head. “I like you, Sage.”
“Just for the record, if you’d asked me one on one, I would have said yes,” she informed him. “And I like you, too, Lucas.”
He raised his eyes back to her. “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” There were those damned butterflies again, Sage mused as Lucas stepped a little closer to her. This was going to be the second time a boy had ever kissed her. Usually she’d done the initiating but Lucas was proving to be a different sort of boy altogether.
He lowered his lips to hers and though both were chilled from the cold, it still felt like heaven to her.
Harborview Towers: Parking Garage
“Are you sure you don’t want to come back tonight?” Brian remarked, pulling his keys out of his pocket.
Courtney rested her hand on the hood of his car. “Yeah. I need to stay with Sonny. But you–you have to go back. I mean, you only got the one day off.”
“Yeah, but I could arrange for another if you need me,” Brian told her. “Do you?”
“Yes…but I need to handle this on my own. Besides, I’m going to be with Sonny all the time and now is not a good time to be springing you on him especially with how you feel about his line of work and how he feels about yours…you know?”
“Yeah, I can understand that. Well, you know my number. Call me any time.” He leaned to kiss her forehead. She closed her eyes at the soft contact and when he pulled away, she opened them to look up at him.
Brian hesitated only a moment before lowering his head to kiss her. Unfortunately, their lips had barely met before the roar of a motorcycle echoed through the garage. Courtney pulled away abruptly and put some distance between them. “I’ll call you, okay?”
“Yeah, I’ll see you when I see you then.” He opened his car door and got inside. He glanced in his rearview mirror but Courtney was already walking back towards the elevators.