Rate yourself and rake yourself,
Take all the courage you have left
Wasted on fixing all the problems that you made in your own head
But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time
Didn’t I, my dear?
– Little Lion Man, Mumford & Sons
Tuesday, October 8, 2002
Safe House: Living Room
Jason tossed the cell phone aside and took a deep breath. “There was a shooting at the No Name tonight,” he told Johnny who swore and immediately turned on the television. He tuned it to WKPC, and for a moment, watched the coverage.
The reporter gave no names—no one was in custody. Three men were shot and sent to General Hospital. Johnny scowled, wishing for once the vultures in the media would have been more helpful in giving them some goddamn answers.
“That was Benny on the phone,” Jason said. “He was treated and released. Sonny and Max are still—he doesn’t know their condition. They’re not releasing it.”
“This wasn’t the goddamn plan, was it?” Johnny demanded. He gestured at the television. “Sonny laid up in the hospital, the top security guard out of commission, we’re stuck—” He frowned when he saw Jason had picked up the phone. Not his usual phone, but the burner Johnny had arranged for him.
“Hey.” His voice was a little bit quieter when he spoke. There was a moment of silence. “I—I know. I saw the reports. I don’t know anything. I just—I wanted to warn you. I need to—I’m coming back tonight. I don’t know how it’s going to work out—I’m calling Alexis to pave my way. I just can’t let things—okay.” Jason closed his eyes. “Yeah. You should go to the hospital. I’ll try to meet you there if I’m not arrested—”
He closed the phone, squeezed it in his fist for a minute. “This is ending tonight. Elizabeth is going to the hospital. Bobbie’s there, and it just makes sense. That’s where anyone would expect her to go.”
“Okay. How are we—”
Jason opened the phone again. “I’m calling Alexis. The official story is that I had to go out of town, and I got into a car accident. Get our people on the records. Call Stan, make it look good. I was out of commission. Couldn’t call anyone. I don’t know anything about a damn dead body.”
“No one is going to believe it—”
“It just has to work long enough to keep me out of jail,” Jason told him. “They’ll take me in, but I need something for the official records. I don’t know what Sonny had planned. Talk to Benny, see if anything was already set up. I’ll go to the hospital first, that’s where Taggert will probably be.”
He dialed his lawyer’s phone number. “Alexis—it’s Jason.”
Gate House: Living Room
Alexis tapped the phone against her mouth and closed her eyes, praying for the patience she was going to need to get through the next few days. She’d made a deliberate choice last month to confide in Ned that she’d been hiding a pregnancy—that she’d become pregnant in April from a disastrous one-night stand with Sonny and had said nothing to the father of her child.
In a few weeks, she would be starting her third trimester, and thanks to the glory of large purses, bulky clothing, and infrequent meetings all summer, she’d been able to hide it.
Ned had stepped up and had immediately volunteered. He liked Jason just fine—but Sonny? Sonny was no kind of father. It wasn’t about the danger—Alexis wasn’t a hypocrite. She’d been born to an evil man, had venom in her blood. Danger followed Cassadines like the tides followed the moon.
She was no innocent. But she wasn’t selfish. She wasn’t cold. She wasn’t deliberately cruel.
And it was nights like this that reminded her that for all of Sonny’s good traits, he was, at heart, not the man with whom she wanted to bring a child into the world.
“Alexis?” Ned got to his feet, his brows furrowed in concern. “You sounded upset—”
“That was Jason.”
“J-Jason who?” When Alexis didn’t answer, his face leeched of color. Ned swore and strode towards her. “Alexis—”
“Morgan. Apparently, he went on a job for Sonny last month, got into a car accident, and was in a coma until earlier today.” Alexis looked at him, her lips pressed together in a grim smile. “Imagine his surprise when he woke up to find himself dead and buried and Sonny in the hospital with gun shot wounds.”
“Are you—” Ned held out a hand, braced the other against the wall of his living room. Closed his eyes. “He’s alive.”
“Jesus Christ. The family—they mourned him. They buried him—”
Ned looked at her, his eyes dark with worry, concern, and anger. Not at her. God bless him, he seemed to understand right away that she hadn’t been involved. That she never would have sanctioned this. “And he put my grandparents—he put Alan and Monica—Emily—and—”
“Elizabeth. Michael. AJ. All of them.” Alexis sank into the desk chair, her hands absently rubbing the child she protected within. “Do you think any of them knew?”
Ned hesitated. “I should hope he would have told Elizabeth, but I don’t know. I saw her when he was missing. And she came by after they pulled that body—if she knew, she’s a goddamn good actress.”
“I don’t think Jason did this,” Alexis murmured. “I wondered—I wondered why Sonny never moved to have the estate disposed of in probate. He has the business partnership—it would have been sensible. Jason left money to Elizabeth—guardianship of Michael. So many loose threads in his life—and Sonny waited. I called, and he said he wasn’t up to it.”
Alexis met Ned’s eyes. “I think Jason was shot that night. That he went into hiding, and something went wrong. Something didn’t happen the way it was supposed to. But Sonny did this.”
“It would make sense,” Ned allowed. He perched on the arm of the sofa. “Do you think Jason would tell you?”
“I think,” Alexis said slowly, “that as much as I genuinely like Jason and hope for good things with him—that this is a good time to start transferring work over to my new partner. I’ve been able to keep the baby from Sonny up until now, and I want to keep…avoiding the question. But I think I need to be done with Sonny. And that means walking away from Jason.” She sighed. Looked away. “I’ll give Ric a call. He’ll have to get used to the late nights.”
General Hospital: Emergency Room Entrance
Elizabeth stopped just short of the general entrance to the emergency room and took a deep breath. She looked to Gia, whose worried dark eyes mirrored her own anxiety. “This is your last chance,” she told her roommate. “Because Jason is probably almost here. And no one is going to believe I didn’t know.”
“You didn’t,” Gia insisted. “You worried when he was missing, you grieved when they found that damn body. You didn’t know when it counted. And anyone who thinks knowing for five minutes makes you the bad guy in this is going to get their ass firmly kicked.” She took Elizabeth’s arm and steered her through the doors. “Stop giving me outs. We’re in this together. I knew, too, and I didn’t tell my brother.”
In the bustle of the room, Elizabeth quickly found the administrative desk and asked after Sonny. When she was informed in a rather clipped voice that there was no information released to anyone but family, Elizabeth scowled. Even as angry as she was with Sonny right now, she was the closest thing the man had to family.
She turned to find Bobbie embracing her with a hug. “Hey. I saw it on the news, and I just—I had to come and find out.”
Bobbie nodded, drew her away from the desk. “He’s in surgery. It’s…critical. He was wearing a vest, but a bullet went through his femoral artery and they’re trying to repair the damage. Trying to keep up with the blood loss and get ahead of it.”
Elizabeth pressed her fist to her mouth, with a stifled cry. Why…why had Sonny done this? He’d worn a vest to this meeting. He knew that danger was coming. Why—
“It’s so much, so close to losing Jason,” Bobbie murmured. “Monica is in there right now trying to save his life. To stabilize him for surgery.” She rubbed her hand down Elizabeth’s arm, then up to her shoulder. “I’m so sorry, baby.”
Elizabeth’s chest was so tight she could barely force a breath out. “Is he—what about the other injuries? The news said there were other people hurt—”
“Benny, their business manager, was treated and released,” Bobbie said. “One of their guards—Max, I think—he got a bullet to the shoulder.” The redhead shook her head. “I expect Taggert and the rest of the PCPD to descend on us any minute—maybe I should—”
Monica stepped out of the curtain, her green scrubs stained with blood—the fresh red and dried scarlet. Elizabeth stared at the splotches, her vision dimming. “Elizabeth. Have you talked to Courtney—?”
“She’s waiting for our call,” Gia said quietly. “But she’s not close with Sonny. Not like Elizabeth—” Gia tensed when Emily burst through the doors.
“Elizabeth.” Emily joined them with a brisk hug. “Hey. I saw it on the news, and I called the Brownstone—Lucas said you and Gia—”
“How is he, Monica?” Elizabeth cut her friend off. God, this was like a goddamn car crash in slow motion. All of these people who mattered to her—she respected Monica so much, Bobbie was like her mother, and Gia and Emily were her closest friends.
And in minutes, Jason would arrive. And all of this worry would turn into bitterness. Anger. Loathing. She didn’t know how to prepare for that, didn’t know what to do. Why did Monica and Emily have to be here? How could she get away from them?
Wouldn’t they know the minute—
Before Monica answered her question, Taggert swaggered into the room, followed by Andy Capelli. “Monica, tell me we’re going to get lucky and get rid of this bastard once and for all.”
“Marcus, you fucking tool,” Gia hissed as Elizabeth’s face whitened, and Monica’s expression turned into a scowl. No one loathed Sonny more than Monica, but damn it, she was a doctor who took her oath seriously.
“We’ve stabilized Sonny for surgery—”
“You should have let him die,” Capelli said with a smirk. “He’s going to wish he did when we’re through with him. We got a call from the station before we left the scene, Dr. Q. Looks like your kid ain’t dead after all. That bastard in there faked his death.”
Monica stared at him as if the words didn’t quite sink in. “What?”
Elizabeth sucked in a breath. Was this how it would be then? The news reaching them first—before the shock of seeing Jason—
Was any of this the plan?
Bobbie braced Monica with one hand as Emily’s hands fluttered in front of her face. “What did you just say?”
“Morgan’s lawyer called. Apparently, he went out of town on business, got in an accident, and only just woke from a coma.” Taggert scowled. “And this hospital confirmed that body to be his. He sure as shit was shocked to find out he was supposed to be dead.” He turned his burning eyes on Elizabeth. “You got some nerve, Webber.”
“W-what?” Elizabeth asked, her voice trembling. His anger—that deep down incinerating anger at Sonny and Jason—was focused on her now. It hit her like a physical wave. “What—I don’t know—what’s going on right now? Are you—” She shook her head. Looked at Monica. At Emily. Bobbie.
All three of them were staring at her. All with mixtures of worry, disbelief, and anger in their eyes.
No one….no one believed she hadn’t known.
“You better be goddamn sure of what you’re saying, brother of mine,” Gia said with a low growl. “You accusing her of something? In one breath you tell her Jason’s alive, and now…what? You’re saying she was in on it—”
“The only thing I know about Jason Morgan is that he would not to do that to her,” Taggert hissed at his sister. “Sonny? Yeah, that I’d expect. But not Morgan. He doesn’t have that streak of cruelty in him. Of course, she knew.”
And that would damn her, of course. Because Taggert was right. Jason never would have done that to her. He hadn’t done this.
“Tell them you didn’t know, Elizabeth,” Emily said with a pleading in her voice. “You grieved with us. You buried him. Of course, you didn’t know. I don’t understand. How is this happening?”
“I didn’t,” Elizabeth said, but her voice faded. She couldn’t make the words come out, couldn’t figure out how to defend herself. Couldn’t tell any of them the truth with Taggert and Capelli staring at her like that, ready to string her up just for existing.
“You never—you knew,” Monica breathed. “You knew at some point what was going on.” She squared her shoulders. “He was never out of town on business,” she snapped. “You were as worried as the rest of us—”
“Monica,” Bobbie murmured, touching her friend’s arm. “Don’t do this—”
“He’s alive,” Monica snarled, “and he played us all for fools. Just like you. I thought you were better than that.” Her voice broke. “I thought he loved us more than that.”
“No.” Elizabeth shook her head. “Monica, I swear to God, I didn’t know.” And Gia was right—she hadn’t known when it would have made a difference. She’d believed like all of them that he’d been murdered and dumped in the harbor. And the waves of grief crashed over her again as she tried to convince them. “Monica—Emily—”
“I was so angry at the reception,” Emily murmured. “So angry that Nikolas said those things—”
“I ought to arrest you for obstruction of justice,” Taggert said, jabbing a finger in her face. “You lied to us. You lied to me.”
“Stop it, Marcus—you came and told her he was dead, don’t you remember?” Gia said, shoving her brother back a step. “You told her his body was too decomposed to see. She believed he was dead.” She whirled on Monica and Emily. “And you damn well know her better than that. She killed herself with worry when he was missing. She cried herself—”
“Stop it, Gia,” Elizabeth said, voice almost a murmur. She didn’t need Gia to plead her case. To give them the truth. “Just—it’s not—” Her eyes burned.
She’d known it would be like this. That the people she loved most in the world would look at her like this. Even Bobbie with that mixture of disappointment and anger that Elizabeth’s mother had so carefully perfected over the years.
Looking at her, finding her wanting.
“You can’t even defend yourself,” Capelli said with a smirk. He removed a pair of handcuffs from his belt. “I think we should bring her down, Taggert—”
“If you lay a hand on her, I will have you brought up on charges of harassment so fast your head will spin.”
A smooth, urbane voice broke into the din and Elizabeth turned to find—
He was standing next to the man who spoke. His facial expression was its usual mask of emptiness, but his eyes were apologetic. Worried.
And anyone who knew him—knew he was looking at her with an expression of guilt for having put her through this. No one would believe her now.
They would always think she was a liar.
With a cry, Elizabeth turned and fled down the hallway, away from Jason and away from everything.
Capelli hissed and moved after her, but the lawyer stopped him. Gia cast them all a dirty look and followed Elizabeth.
“Don’t even try it, Morgan,” Taggert said as Jason started to follow the cop’s sister. “You’re in enough trouble—”
“You don’t have a leg to stand on,” the lawyer snapped. “You can’t prove anything against my client, and if you try to use Elizabeth Webber to go after him, I will not only file harassment charges but bring you up on civil rights violations and bury your ass in paperwork until your grandchildren can’t dig you out—”
Taggert scowled and turned back to Monica. “Is Corinthos stable enough for questioning?”
“He’s still alive,” Monica said dryly, stepping aside. “Do what you want.”
The detectives disappeared behind the curtain, leaving Jason alone with his mother, sister, and…Bobbie.
“How could you do this?” Emily whispered. “How could you—what made you hate us all so much—how did you manage to convince Elizabeth—”
“She didn’t know the whole time,” Bobbie murmured. “Did she?” She tilted her head. “Did you?”
Jason hesitated. Looked at his lawyer. “I can’t tell you much right now. But no, I didn’t. And Elizabeth didn’t know.” He looked at Monica. “None of this was my idea, Monica. And it wasn’t hers—”
Monica exhaled slowly, closed her eyes. “I can’t do this right now. I have to go find the strength to save Sonny’s life and remember that I took a goddamn oath.”
“I have to go warn the family,” Emily said. She looked at her brother. “I want to be glad it was all a lie, but I can’t think that far ahead right now. You broke me, Jason. And if Elizabeth didn’t know—then shame on you and Sonny for letting this happen. For letting Sonny think he could do this to you.”
She stalked away, and Jason looked at Bobbie. “Bobbie, it would kill Elizabeth if—”
“Of course, she didn’t know right away,” Bobbie murmured. “Sonny never would have trusted her. And he kept you in isolation, away from the truth. She suspected you were shot, that you were laying low. Trusting Sonny to keep her in the loop. She didn’t know. But at some point, she did know.”
“And if you think any of the anger I feel right now is directed towards her, then you don’t know me very well. You let this happen, Jason.” She shook her head. “At some point she knew. And you knew what Sonny had done to all of us. And you didn’t end it. You let her walk around lying to people she loves. You did that to her. We can blame Sonny, but I don’t expect much from him.”
And when she turned those dark, angry eyes on him, he wished like hell he was anywhere else. He hadn’t realized how much he valued Bobbie’s respect for him, her place in his life. “Bobbie—”
“’I expected better from you. I warned you she was delicate. That if you were going to be with her, then you’d have to take care of that fragile part of her that is still trying to figure out how not to be someone who wears a mask. You knew she spent years lying to herself and the world, Jason. And then you made her do it again.”
“Bobbie…” He turned to his lawyer, who had mercifully moved away towards Sonny’s curtain but had clearly overhead most of the conversation. “I never wanted any of this—I’ve talked to her about my reasons—”
“Do you think she could remember any of them tonight? With Frick and Frack threatening to arrest her? Monica and Emily going at her?” Bobbie smirked, a sadness twisted in the expression. “Go after her, Jason, before she has time to convince herself that she was right at the beginning not to take a chance on you. Before Taggert and Capelli figure out how to arrest you.”
General Hospital: Parking Lot
Elizabeth burst out of the hospital doors and into the chilly fall night air. Her knees buckled, and she dropped to them, clutching her arms at her middle.
Oh, God. It had been so much worse than she’d expected, so much more devastating—
To have her mask torn from her, to see the people in her life turn on her. To suspect her. To be so sure she was a liar.
Of course, she was. She’d always been a liar. They knew better than to trust her, to expect better from her.
“Elizabeth…” Gia murmured as she heard her friend behind her. “Hey. C’mon, let’s get out of here.”
“I thought I was ready for it,” she gasped, her chest rising and falling so fast that it burned to breathe. “I th-thought I knew how it would feel to have—but I can’t do it. I can’t do it.”
“Even if they believe me that I didn’t know at first—they’ll always know I was lying. Emily, Bobbie—they’ll never trust me again, and your brother will hate me for—”
“You don’t worry about Marcus. He’s an asshole who knows better, and he and I are gonna have words about this bullshit tonight.” Gia took Elizabeth’s arm and gently pulled her to her feet, directing her towards a stone column and helping her lean against it. “They’ll come around. They’re just so angry, and shocked, and surprised—it’s a fucking mess. And we would have been better off staying at home.”
“There’s a lot of things I would have been better off doing,” Elizabeth murmured. She closed her eyes, let the coolness of the stone seep into her bones. “Last year, after the wedding, we talked about leaving Port Charles. Why didn’t we do that?”
“You thought you had something to prove.” Gia tilted her head. “Is that what you want to do now? Toss in the towel?”
“Would you think less of me if I just said I wanted to disappear?” Elizabeth replied softly. “I can’t think right now. Every time I try to remember this wasn’t Jason’s idea, I can’t seem to make it matter. I want to be angry for him—to be so angry that Sonny played God with all of us but right now—”
“Because you’re a good person who sees through the bullshit. But, girl, you are allowed to take care of yourself first. Jason’s had it easy up until now. You’ve been bearing the brunt of it. You take care of you first. That’s where you go wrong, Elizabeth.” Gia scowled. “You think everyone else’s damage has to come before your own. Fuck them. And fuck Jason, too. I don’t care why he let this keep going. The point is that he did. And you get to be pissed about it. Stop trying to rationalize and reason it away.”
The doors swung open and Jason emerged. “Elizabeth—”
She looked at him, this man she loved more than anything in the world. Whom she wanted a life with.
And she couldn’t make herself care anymore. Couldn’t make herself want anything except to escape.
“Gia, can you go get the car?” Elizabeth said.
Gia scowled, turned to Jason. “You’re an asshole who deserves to burn in hell.”
Once she was gone, Jason stepped toward Elizabeth, stopped when she held a hand up. “I can’t do this right now. Please don’t—”
“I told them you didn’t know,” Jason said, his words tumbling around in an uncharacteristic rush. “And I’ll tell them it was Sonny’s idea—that I never did this on purpose—”
“But you did.” Tears slid down her cheeks, but she was past the point of noticing. “I know you had your reasons. I know you. I love you. But right now, I don’t care why. I can’t find the energy.”
“Elizabeth, can we just go somewhere—”
“Anger Boy,” Taggert declared as he and Capelli came through the exit doors, followed by Jason’s irritated lawyer. “We’re taking you in for questioning. Falsifying an insurance report.”
Jason scowled and did something he almost never did around the police. He spoke directly to them. “I didn’t do any goddamn thing—”
“Jason,” the lawyer said with an exhausted sigh. “I know you don’t have a reason to trust me, but there’s enough probable cause to bring you in for questioning. Let’s just—get it over with.” His dark eyes flicked past Jason toward Elizabeth. “Give everyone some space.”
Gia’s car pulled up, and she got out of the car long enough to give her brother the finger. “You’re an asshole, Marcus,” she called. “I hope you rot in hell.”
“You fake your death,” Taggert grumbled at Jason almost in commiseration, “and somehow, my sister thinks I’m the bad guy.”
“Elizabeth,” Jason said, looking back at her, but she was already moving toward the car. “Wait—”
Elizabeth stopped just before climbing into the passenger seat. “I’m going to go to AJ and Courtney’s,” she told him. “I want to check in with her.”
“Yeah, hopefully she’s still talking to you,” Gia said with another dirty look toward Jason.
Elizabeth tossed her an exasperated look as if to say, enough is enough. She turned back to Jason. “I think you’re going to have your hands too full to worry about me anyway. Wouldn’t be the first time.”
She got into the car, and Gia drove away.
“So that last dig—” she said after a long moment. “Was that for my brother’s benefit?”
“Not entirely.” Elizabeth let her forehead rest against the window. “Let’s go to Courtney’s. If she’s gonna yell at me too, I’d rather get it over with tonight.”
“She won’t. I only said that to get at Jason.” Gia paused. “If my brother hadn’t showed up—”
“He wanted to go somewhere and talk.”
“Would you have gone?”
“No.” Elizabeth sighed. “No. I can’t—I don’t know what I would say to him. I’m so angry, Gia. So hurt. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be feeling. How I’m supposed—”
“Stop worrying about what you’re supposed to do, Liz. And just do what feels right. You want him to give you space while things settle? Then do that. You want him to get away from you because you won’t be able to look at him again? Then do that. But stop worrying about what you’re supposed to do.”