December 2, 2003
Elizabeth’s Apartment: Bedroom
Elizabeth was a little startled when she felt the bed dip and someone slide in underneath the blanket. “Jason?” she murmured, dragging her heavy eyes open.
“Sorry I’m late.” He kissed her forehead. “A meeting ran over.”
She yawned and slid into a sitting position. “How did the sentencing go? The cable’s not hooked up yet so I missed the news.”
“He got the six years minimum deal I told Carly about. But the judge allowed him some leniency and his sentence doesn’t start until January 1.”
“So he can spend Christmas with the boys, that’s good.” Elizabeth pressed the heel of her hand against her eyes and rubbed. “Okay. I’m going back to sleep now.”
She shifted back down and turned on her side, curling up. “I have a doctor’s appointment December 28 if that’s okay.”
“Sure,” he agreed. “Good night.”
“‘Night,” she murmured.
December 12, 2003
Lorenzo studied the disposable camera. “And if I need the flash?”
Michael pointed. “You press this down,” he said. “Like this.” He held it up and took a picture, nearly blinding Lorenzo in the process.
“Michael, how many times do I have to tell you that’s not funny?” Carly called from the stairwell.
Lorenzo blinked. “I’m seeing spots.” He shook his head, trying to clear his vision. “Is she almost ready?”
“Just about.” Carly stepped off the landing and peered out the lace-trimmed curtains. “She’s got about ten minutes before the others get here.” She turned and smiled. “She looks so beautiful. She’s gonna knock Lucas’s socks off.”
Lorenzo scowled. “I don’t want her knocking off anyone’s socks.”
She laughed and kissed his cheek. “She’s gonna grow up sometime.”
“Okay, I’m ready!” Sage called.
“Get the camera,” Carly elbowed Lorenzo. He retrieved it from Michael. “Okay, we’re ready!”
Sage stepped down the first few steps and tugged nervously at the hem of her knee-length black silk dress. It was strapless with a straight cut across her chest, the dark color setting off her tan skin perfectly. “So…how do I look?”
“Beautiful,” Lorenzo said. He snapped a picture. “Put a jacket on.”
Carly rolled her eyes and moved to the closet. “I didn’t tell you when we were at the store but I picked this up for you.” She removed a white silk wrap. “It can get cold out and you don’t want to ruin the effect with a winter jacket, right?”
“Oh…I love it.” She kissed Carly’s cheek. Carly helped her wrap it around her shoulders. “Better Uncle Zo?”
“Still too much skin,” he grumbled.
“You look like a princess from one of my Final Fantasy games,” Michael said seriously. “Except their boobs are bigger and they always have blue or pink hair.”
“Thanks, buddy…I think.” Sage checked her makeup and hair in the mirror one last time, touching the French twist self-consciously. “Thanks for letting us use your limo, Uncle Zo.”
“My pleasure.” Lorenzo smirked. “The car will be outside the dance the whole night in case you want to leave early.”
“You told the driver we wanted to go to Kelly’s afterwards right?” Sage asked hopefully.
“Yes, but you have to be home by midnight,” Carly said firmly. She handed her the matching purse. “No negotiating.”
“Twelve-thirty,” Sage tried anyway. “Please?”
“Kelly’s closes at eleven-thirty. It shouldn’t take any longer than that to drive everyone home,” Carly said. “Right, Lorenzo?”
“Carly’s right. Midnight.”
Sage pouted. “Fine.” She peered out the window and grinned. “There are cars pulling up. They’re here!” She turned back around and hugged Carly tightly. “Thanks for helping me get ready and letting me stay over tonight.”
“I want to meet this boy,” Lorenzo began but Carly put a hand over his mouth.
“Bye!” Sage called. She pulled open the door and disappeared after her.
Carly and Lorenzo waited exactly three seconds before dashing to the window and fighting over who got to look first. Michael rolled his eyes and went back to playing a video game.
“Wow, you look awesome!” Maxie said with a huge smile. She tugged on the elbow of the guy standing next to her, the vest and bow tie of his tuxedo matching the cranberry red of Maxie’s spaghetti strap dress. “Kyle, this is Sage Alcazar. Sage, Kyle Radcliffe.”
“Maxie’s been chewing my ear off since I got home last night.” He kissed his girlfriend’s forehead. “Telling me all about her cousin’s new girlfriend.”
Sage flushed. “There’s nothing to tell.” She scanned the area behind him, her eyes settling on an equally tuxedo-clad Lucas. He, too, had dressed to match her black dress.
He crossed the grass and kissed her cheek. “Hey, I got this corsage thing for you.” He held up the box. “White. Figured it would look good.”
“I figured it would,” Georgie corrected smoothly as she and Dillon joined them. She had a dress that matched her sister’s, only the straps were thicker and the color was a dark violet. “Hey, Sage.”
“Hey.” Though they’d all been eating lunch together and hanging out over the last two weeks, Sage, Dillon and Georgie were still awkward around each other.
“Um, so is that the limo?” Dillon asked. He rubbed his neck. “We should go.”
Sage sighed as the two walked towards the long stretch limo. She barely even noticed as Lucas removed the orchid from the plastic case and slid it onto her wrist. “They still hate me.”
“They do not hate you. It’s just–it’s just going to be weird for a while. But they’ll get over it.” He entwined their fingers. “All you have to do tonight is look beautiful and keep me from knocking out Kyle. Don’t worry about them.”
“He seems very nice,” Sage remarked as he pulled her towards the limo. “And it’s obvious that he adores her. Everyone deserves a second chance, Lucas.”
He turned and looked at her with an appreciative smile. “You’re right. After all–three weeks ago, I told myself that you were just a spoiled little brat and well–you’re like the opposite of that.”
“Thank you,” she said. She touched his face, the soft petals of the orchid brushing his face. “You’re second best thing about living here.”
“What’s the first?” Lucas asked, covering her hand with his own.
“Well…my family,” Sage admitted. “Carly, Uncle Zo, Michael, you know.”
“Hey, you two! Let’s get this show on the road!” Maxie called from inside the car.
Harborview Towers: Hallway
Jason turned away from the elevator he’d just been about to board when he heard Sonny call his name.
“Hey…I’ve been trying to get a hold of you for the last few days.” Sonny rubbed the back of his neck. “You’re not spending a lot of time at the penthouse.”
“No.” Jason shrugged. “Elizabeth agreed to try living together part-time so when I’m not at her place, I’m down at the warehouse. Did you need something?”
“Yeah–yeah, I don’t know if Courtney said something but I’ve been seeing Kevin Collins since the sentencing,” Sonny informed him.
Jason shook his head. “I haven’t seen Courtney in almost two weeks. I didn’t know she was still in town.”
“She was but she, ah, had to get back to Haye’s Landing. She had a job interview. Yeah–Kevin’s gonna be working at Ferncliffe so he’s gonna be my doctor. And I’ve been–I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, Jason and I didn’t–I haven’t been very fair to you.” He sighed. “I was trying so hard to keep my family together that I didn’t see what was really going on. You weren’t happy, my sister wasn’t…Carly wasn’t. And I wasn’t either.”
“I’m sorry that it all exploded at the same time.” Jason exhaled slowly and scratched the edge of his eyebrow with his index finger. “I didn’t–I mean, I’m sorry you had to find this all out from Ric. I just hadn’t figured out how to tell you–”
“There is no right way to tell your best friend something like that–especially when he happens to be your wife’s brother.” Sonny shook his head. “Anyway, what happened–it happened for a reason. And, you know, you’re all probably better off. Carly’s been at me to get help pretty much since the first time she saw a breakdown but I always thought I could handle it on my own.”
“But you crossed that line two weeks ago,” Jason said quietly.
“I crossed the line,” Sonny agreed. “And there’s no way to tell Carly that I’m sorry, no way to express that to her and I don’t deserve to. I became my stepfather, Jason, and that’s why I’m removing myself from all of you. I can’t–I won’t put anyone else in that sort of danger.”
“Crossing that line once does not make you Deke,” Jason argued firmly. “Yeah–it was pretty bad. And I wish to God I could have prevented it in some way but the difference between you and your stepfather is that you did it and you knew you needed to find a way to keep it from happening again. You knew that you were wrong and you want help. Deke felt justified and continued doing it. Don’t ever say you’re him.”
“I don’t–I don’t deserve to have a friend like you, Jason,” Sonny said quietly. “You’ve always been in my corner when all I’ve really done is hurt you. I hope–I hope this thing with Elizabeth is the real thing. You know–I said some things to her that I didn’t mean. I always liked her, Jason. You know that.”
“I know that, and she does too. She was worried about you that day,” Jason told him.
“Yeah–I don’t really remember her being there but I remember you telling her to get Carly out of there.” Sonny sighed. “I haven’t talked to Carly since that night. Do you–do you think she’d agree to see me? I mean–she can have anyone she wants there. You, Courtney, a dozen guards. I just–I need a chance to tell her that I’m sorry and that I love her.”
“I can talk to her,” Jason told him. “I can’t promise you more than that, Sonny. I won’t convince her to do something she’s not ready for. She knows that you didn’t want to hurt her but she’s not going to forget any time soon what you did.”
“You know–you used…you used to be like this. Letting people talk, doing what you could for them but letting them make their own decisions. I never realized how much I depended on you to fix things for me this last year–but now that you don’t do it, I realize how out of character it was for you to do that. Why did you?”
Jason hesitated. “The best thing I can think of is that I didn’t realize I was doing it. A lot of things changed for me last year, Sonny. I was–I was in a bad place for a while when Elizabeth walked out on me a-and I didn’t see it. I just–I guess I was doing everything I could to keep the other people who were more important to me from leaving me, too.” He shook his head a little. “Elizabeth–you know, she told me that I had changed but I didn’t–I didn’t understand what she meant until now.”
“Well–I said what I needed to say.” Sonny stepped back. “I’d like to work on being a good friend to you again–if you’ll let me.”
“You’ve always been a good friend to me, Sonny,” Jason corrected. “You just lost your way for a while. I’m glad you’re getting the help you need. I’m just sorry it had to work out like this.”
“Me, too,” Sonny sighed. “Me, too.”
Haye’s Landing: Courtney’s House
Courtney licked the whipped cream off her thumb and thumbed through the stack of papers. “I never knew there was so much paperwork involved with getting a job.”
Brian leaned over and dipped his spoon into her melting sundae. “Well, there’s insurance papers, right? And there’s tax forms and all that.”
“Plus this thing I have to fill out about my car and license.” Courtney slid her ice cream bowl out of his reach when he went for another bite. “I don’t even know if I’ll make a decent receptionist.”
“When do you start?” Brian asked. He picked up his empty bowl and headed for the sink.
“January 3,” she answered, filling in her driver’s license number. “I asked for that so I can spend more time with Sonny before he starts his sentence.” She cleared her throat. “I’m actually driving back home on Sunday and staying until he goes. I’ve got some last details to tie up there anyway.”
“If you want, I’ll drive down Christmas Eve,” Brian offered. He set the bowl in the drying rack and retuned to his seat.
“Brian–” Courtney sighed. “We’ve been tip-toeing around this for weeks. Can we just be honest here?”
“Honest about what?” Brian asked. “I thought we were being honest. We’re friends, Courtney. I want more. You’re not ready and you won’t be for a long time. That’s fine–”
“Don’t do that.” Courtney tossed her pen down. “That day in the parking garage–I just–I don’t know what was I thinking.”
“You were thinking that the motorcycle belonged to your husband and he might see you kissing another man–”
“No!” Courtney argued. “That is–” she broke off and took a deep breath. “Brian, I care about you. I do. And I want–I want to be able to give you the things you want. But I have to feel okay about myself and I don’t. Yes, my marriage is over. But I spent so long fighting for it to work that I lost sight of who I was and none of that changes the fact that I love my husband. I don’t want to hurt you, Brian but–”
“I knew you were married when I met you,” Brian interrupted. “And I know that you still love him. And I know that you need time. I know of all of these things up here–” he paused and pointed to his head. “It’s here that’s having the problems.” He set his hand over his chest. “I’m not asking you to forget all about Jason and your life in Port Charles. I understand that you have family there, friends–I’m not asking you to give that all up. I’m just–I’m just asking for you to make some room for me.”
Carly stepped off the landing for the steps and made her way across the room, picking up Michael’s various toys and dropping them in the toy box next to the couch. “She looked so beautiful,” she said, sitting on the couch next to Lorenzo, who was flipping through the television channels. She turned to the side and put her feet up. Lorenzo slung his arm across her chest and kissed her forehead.
“She did,” he agreed. “That Lucas–he’s a good, kid right?”
“He’s not bad. Not fond of me, but that’s to be expected,” Carly admitted. “But she’s been happy since she started dating him. Happier than when they were just friends.”
“She came in yesterday from school–the apartment is packed with boxes for the move to the new house next week, but she and her friend–that Maxie girl–they made nachos, did their homework and their nails in the living room. I walked in after work and it was like stepping into one of those girl movies. But she was smiling. Port Charles has been good for her. You’ve been good for her, Carly.”
“Well, I adore her.” She reached over and took the remote control from him. “Nick-at-Nite’s on.”
“I’m in the kitchen!” Elizabeth called. She studied the color of her sauce and reached for the oregano. “Hey.”
“Hey.” Jason sat on one of the kitchen stools across from her. The stove was situated on the island in the middle of the kitchen. “You’re cooking?”
“Yeah, I figure I gotta conquer this eventually.” She brought the spoon up and extended it across the table. “How does this taste?”
He looked at her suspiciously as if she were trying to poison him but took a taste anyway. “Not bad, actually.”
“Don’t be so surprised.” She stirred the sauce a little more. “Emily was by earlier–she wanted to talk to you about Christmas.”
“What about it?” Jason stood and crossed to the fridge to get a bottle of beer out. “It’s still the same day as last year right?”
Elizabeth shot him an amused look. “Yeah. But she wants to know if we’re going to go over to Wyndemere or if we’re doing it here.”
“Doesn’t matter to me.” Jason shrugged.
“My nausea’s been better but I still don’t feel up to a trip on the launch,” Elizabeth admitted. “We could do it here,” she suggested. “I was talking to Carly yesterday–don’t give me that look–and she wants to do a dinner at her house. She knows it’s the last holiday Sonny will have with the boys for a while so she was hoping you could invite him for her.”
Jason sat back down and took a long pull. “I talked to him today–he caught me in the hallway and he wanted to apologize for a lot of things. He wanted to know if I could ask Carly to give him a chance to talk to her.”
“Well, maybe it would be good for them to have some sort of closure.” Elizabeth filled another pot with water and set it to boil. “Anyway–she wants to do dinner so I thought we could do brunch here with Emily, Nikolas and Lucky. And when I told her that idea, she wanted to know if she could bring the boys, Sage…and Lorenzo.”
Jason closed his eyes. “I do not like that man–”
“I know, but he’s a part of her life now and if she invites Sonny to dinner, Lorenzo can’t come then, you know?”
“Yeah, I know.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m trying to support her decision the best I can but it’s so hard, you know?”
“You don’t have to come, you know. I’m not coming to her house for dinner.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “She invited Courtney and Brian and I just–I don’t think it would be a good idea for me to go there, you know?”
“Brian Beck is coming?” Jason grimaced. “Is every holiday going to be like this?” he wondered.
She laughed and shook her head. “Maybe we should just do what my family always did. Pretend it doesn’t matter. Of course, that’s just like bottling it all up and that never gets you anywhere.” Elizabeth sighed. “Well, it’s just something to think about.”
She dumped a box of spaghetti into the boiling water and changed the subject. “If you’re not busy–maybe we could go get a Christmas tree sometime this weekend,” she suggested hopefully.
He did have wall-to-wall meetings at the warehouse this weekend, he realized with disappointment. He’d scheduled the meetings with the suppliers and with one of the families to discuss Faith Roscoe now because he knew how important the holidays were to Elizabeth and he wanted to spend them with her.
He cleared his throat. “I–I have some meetings this weekend,” Jason admitted. “But I can cancel a few of them–”
“No, it’s no big deal. I mean, it’s still about two weeks until Christmas. I can ask Nikolas or Lucky.” She pressed her lips together and set about making some garlic bread but he knew he’d let her down.
He took another sip of his beer, irritated with himself. Didn’t take him more than two weeks to screw this one up.