Reach down your hand in your pocket
Pull out some hope for me
It’s been a long day, always ain’t that right
And no lord, your hand won’t stop it
Just keep you trembling
It’s been a long day, always ain’t that right
– Long Day, Matchbox 20
Friday, April 14, 2000
General Hospital: Conference Room
“A moment, please.”
Nikolas’s shoulders stiffened as his father called to him, and he stopped, letting other members of the hospital board flow past him. He waited until they had all left the room before turning. “Yes?”
“I had hoped we could talk for a moment.” Stefan removed his reading glasses, carefully stowed them, then met his eyes. “You’ve not returned my calls.”
Nikolas jerked a shoulder. “I had things to do.”
“Of course, but—” Stefan took a step towards him. “I know this weekend will be a difficult one—”
Nikolas clasped his hands behind his back, shook his head, as if he had no idea what his father was referring to. “No more than all the rest—”
“Yes, it will be the anniversary of my brother’s death. But there is nothing special about that day,” Nikolas bit out. “It is no different than any other in the last year. He won’t magically come back to life. He was dead yesterday, he’s dead today, and he will be dead on Sunday. I told you. Nothing different.”
“I lost a brother,” Stefan began and Nikolas scoffed. “You think the quality of the life lost changes the grief?”
“It should. Stavros was a monster—”
“A monster with whom I had shared a childhood with,” Stefan cut in, and Nikolas fell silent. “He was not always the man he became. I have memories of him, Nikolas, that are mine alone. And though he’s been gone for many years, I still have grief in my heart for the boy he was, and the man he never grew up to be. So, yes, I understand that in many ways, Sunday is just another day without Lucky. But it has been a tragic year with many losses for you. Lucky was merely the beginning.”
Nikolas dropped his eyes, stared blindly at the worn carpeting. There was no lie in his father’s words. Lucky had been the first devastating blow. Then Katherine and the baby that never was. And the loneliness of his life now with Emily gone and Elizabeth remaining stubborn about his apologies. Refusing to understand his own anger, refusing to only think of anyone but herself—
“I am fine.”
“You are not fine,” Stefan argued. “And I’ve worried for months. It’s the only thing Alexis and I agree on anymore. Even Barbara has sought me out—”
Nikolas clenched his jaw. “She doesn’t care—”
“She doesn’t,” Nikolas retorted. “Did she tell you that she took Elizabeth’s side? That she didn’t even care that Elizabeth getting mixed up with Jason Morgan? There was a bomb in her studio! He nearly killed her, just like—” He stopped, took a deep breath. “I am the only one making any sense. And while the loss of my friendship with Elizabeth has been regrettable, I refuse to accept the blame. She’s better off with him gone, and she’ll see that one day.”
“Perhaps. But are you better off for having picked this hill to die upon?”
Nikolas glared at his father for a long moment, then stormed out of the conference room, letting the door slam behind him.
Hardy House: Living Room
“Thanks for letting me crash this weekend,” Emily said cheerfully. She dumbed her backpack on the sofa. “It’ll be more fun than the mansion.” She turned to Elizabeth. “We should get a movie or go out. Maybe a nightclub or—”
“Em.” Elizabeth tilted her head to the side. “If you really want to go out, we will. And I’m happy to have you here. Really. The house feels too empty most of the time.” Haunted, really, she thought as she nudged Emily’s suitcase towards the stairs and away from the main entry. Between her grandmother and those brief memories of Jason, Elizabeth didn’t quite feel settled. “But—”
“But I’m home this weekend because of Lucky.” Emily flashed a miserable smile, then flopped into an armchair, curling her legs underneath. “Because Sunday is—”
“The anniversary.” Elizabeth sat on the sofa, then stared at her hands. Maybe that was why she had trouble sleeping, why her stomach didn’t quite feel right. Twisting and turning. Her appetite was off, too. Between the looming anniversary and the misery of the last three weeks—
Jason hadn’t sent a postcard. He’d kept his promise.
It was supposed to make things easier, but—
“We’re going to spend Sunday night with the Spencers,” Emily reminded Elizabeth. “I want to spend time remembering him and being together. I also—” She chewed on her bottom lip. “I don’t think Lucky would want us to be like this all weekend. Or all the time. He really wouldn’t.”
“No. He’d probably like the idea of going out and doing something fun.” Elizabeth nodded. “Where do you want to go?”
“Well, I was kidding about the nightclub. I am way too drained from school for that, but let’s go to the movies. We’ll eat ourselves silly on popcorn and candy.”
“I like that idea.” Elizabeth went over to the desk to grab the paper she’d tossed there that morning, then stopped as her eye caught the desk calendar. At the little red dot she’d marked last month when she’d moved back in.
She swallowed hard, then covered her abdomen for a moment before letting it slide away. She turned back to Emily, paper in hand. “Have you, um, heard from Jason? Or is he still leaving voicemails?”
“Voicemails,” Emily muttered. “I’m tempted to just sit at home for a week until I catch him.” She sighed, took the paper from Elizabeth and went to the movie section. “What about you? Did he ever get around to calling or is it still postcards?”
“You know, I didn’t get around to seeing Erin Brockovich,” Emily mused, “and it’s already been out a month. We should see it. I’m not in the mood for any romantic comedies—”
“Yeah, that’s fine. Emily. I need to tell you something.”
Emily glanced up, furrowed her brow. “What? Is something wrong? We don’t have to see it—”
“No, it’s not that.” Elizabeth twisted her fingers. “It’s about Jason. Um, I didn’t really—I didn’t—This is so stupid,” she muttered.
“Liz.” Emily set the paper aside, focused now on the conversation. “You know you can tell me anything. Absolutely anything in the whole wide world—”
“Jason and I—Before he left,” Elizabeth added, “we, um, there was—I know we both told you we were just friends, and we were at that point, but—”
“But then you weren’t.” Emily tipped her head. “He left anyway.”
“I told him to go. He’d already decided to, but I told him to go.” Her throat felt tight. “But before he went, we—I mean—”
“Ah.” Emily nodded, her eyes serious, sober. “Okay. And he only ever sent postcards. Did he stop?”
“I asked him to. When he came to see me.”
“He came—” Emily simply stopped in the middle of the sentence, stared at her.
“When my grandmother died. He came overnight. And we talked. And he wasn’t ready to come home, and I couldn’t go with him—”
“Go with him?” Emily squeaked. “Oh man, I definitely missed a chapter somewhere.”
“Yeah, it’s just—I mean, it all made sense in the moment. It still does. Even when it doesn’t.” Elizabeth dragged her hands through her air. “He told me he only sent the cards because he couldn’t call me. He didn’t know if he could stay away if he heard my voice.” She looked at her best friend, at Jason’s sister. “So I told him to stop. Because every time I got a card, it hurt worse. And if he can’t be here, and I can’t be there—”
“It’s just drawing it all out.” Emily came to sit next to her. “So he hasn’t sent any more.”
“No. A-And—” Elizabeth faltered. “Em. I’m late.”
“Late—” Emily’s eyes bulged. “Oh. Late. Um. Okay. How much?”
“A few days. It’s probably nothing,” Elizabeth added. “It’s been a crazy month. My grandmother died. People miss and skip all the time. And it’s only been three weeks. That’s too early.”
“All of that could be true.” Emily rubbed Elizabeth’s shoulder. “Tell you what. We’ll go to the store, we’ll take a test, and when it’s negative, we’ll go to the movies.”
“What if it’s not?” Elizabeth murmured. “What do I do if it’s not? Or what if it’s too early?”
“I don’t know. We’ll figure it out, though.” Emily waited for Elizabeth to look at her. “Hey. Whatever it is, I’m here. I promise. If it’s positive, if it’s negative, if it turns into a werewolf. No matter what.”
Spencer House: Living Room
Laura stared down at the sheaf of papers. At the line waiting for her signature. Then at the man sitting across from her with a sober expression on his face. “It seems so strange,” she murmured as she picked up a pen. “We’ll sign these, we’ll file them, and that’s it.”
What would her life have been like if she’d told the truth from the beginning? If she’d escaped Greece and told Luke about her little boy? Would Luke have gone after him? She’d wanted to forget about that time, to shove it down, out of sight, out of mind, and Bikolas had been part of that. It had started to seem like a bad dream, a terrible nightmare, and now she was awake and it was over—
She looked at Luke. “I never understood,” Laura began, almost without thinking, without knowing where the words would lead her, “why I was the villain in this story.”
Luke frowned. “What do you—”
“I disappeared,” she said quietly. “Very soon after our wedding. Not terribly long after we’d gone after the Cassadines.” She met his eyes. “You weren’t alone while I was gone. You certainly didn’t mourn for years. I know about Holly.”
Luke closed his eyes. “Laura—”
“I was kidnapped and terrorized,” she continued slowly, not understanding where the words came from, only that now that she had begun, she couldn’t stop, “and forced into an abomination of a marriage. I stopped fighting him at some point, Luke, but that didn’t mean it stopped being rape.”
“Christ—” Luke shoved himself to his feet.
“And during that time, when I believed you to be dead—and I was convinced of it because why else hadn’t you come for me? Why couldn’t you find me on the island?” she wondered, more to herself than him. “I found refuge. I found an escape. I found kindness.” Her eyes shimmered with tears. “And when I finally found the courage to tell you, to tell you about Nikolas—oh, how I hoped you’d understand. I hoped that I could finally have my children all together. Isn’t it silly? I dreamed for years of telling you about Nikolas, and you charging to find him. To bring him home to me.”
She swiped at her face, laughing now, bordering on hysteria. “But instead, you treated me as if I’d chosen it. As if I were the villain,” she repeated. “And you made Nikolas feel like garbage—And Lucky, he took his cue from you.” She picked up the pen again, scrawled her name across the bottom. “You both treated me as if I’d done something dreadful. Lucky was a child, I could forgive him. But you, Luke—” She got to her feet, faced him, waited for him to meet her eyes. “It was if you thought — well, she fell in love her with rapist once, why not again?”
“I—” Luke squeezed his eyes shut. “It wasn’t like that—”
“Since the moment Nikolas came into our lives, you’ve never looked at me the same way.” Laura handed him the papers. “The man I married is gone. The life I thought we’d built, it shattered that day. I just didn’t see it.” She hadn’t seen it, hadn’t really accepted it until this moment. Until she’d finally dredged up all the darkness that had been eating at her soul all these years.
“You were always more than I deserved,” Luke said slowly, accepting the papers. “I know that I ruined everything—”
“I’m glad you’re here to be with Lulu,” Laura continued. “That you want to be a better father. But that’s all that I need. I stopped relying on you a long time ago.”
After the Badlands of South Dakota, Jason had continued his trek west to the Pacific Coast Highway. He’d started in Washington and had worked his way south, thinking that he’d keep going right into Mexico. Maybe it was time to head out of the country, go international. He’d seen South America a few times working for Sonny, but there were other places he’d wanted to go and hadn’t had a reason —
He’d only meant to stay in Astoria overnight, but the town that boasted itself as the oldest city west of the Rocky Mountains pulled at him and he found himself staying another night and wandering down to the waterfront where the the Columbia River flowed into the Pacific Ocean — it reminded him of home. Of Port Charles where Lake Ontario stretched into the horizon. There were piers to wander, a wharf with shops and cafes.
Jason knew about being homesick — Robin had talked about it in Paris, but he’d never really experienced it for himself. Places were things. They only had the value you placed on them. So maybe it wasn’t the Port Charles waterfront he missed so much so much as what it had represented. He’d slept under those docks, he’d worked on those piers — before he’d been Jason Morgan, Sonny’s right-hand man, he’d just been Jason, the outcast from the Quartermaines who worked a nameless job in a warehouse and drove his bike too fast.
The waterfront had always felt like home, more than anywhere else in Port Charles. Sonny had opened the coffee warehouse there the year before, and Jason had immediately volunteered to work out of the offices, wanting to be closer to the water.
And Elm Street Pier had been a place where he’d wander, sitting on the benches, taking a moment to clear his thoughts. How many times had he and Elizabeth sat there last fall, getting to know one another?
It didn’t hurt as much as it once had — thinking of her — and Jason wondered if it meant he was finally letting go. Or maybe it didn’t hurt because somehow, standing here on a pier thousands of miles away, he felt closer to her. Maybe she was on the docks right now.
He knew what this weekend was—what Sunday would be—and he wished he were with her. To just sit and help her deal with this anniversary any way he could. That night had haunted him for months, the worry that he and Sonny had been responsible for that fire—that his kindness to Lucky had been the reason for all that grief—
Jason started back to his hotel room, and his eye—as always—caught a rack of postcards in a souvenir shop on the wharf. He didn’t even argue with himself this time. He bought a few, then returned to the hotel.
He dumped the cards on the table, then went to the phone. He dialed, then waited for the line to connect. He wanted her to answer, Jason thought, but then—
“Hey, it’s Emily. You know the drill!”
Jason closed his eyes. “Hey, Emily, it’s Jason. I’m sorry I missed you. I’ll, uh, try again later. Or tomorrow. Maybe you’re in Port Charles,” he realized as he spoke. Where else would she be on the anniversary? “I’ll talk to you later.” He hung up, stared at the phone, then went over to the table where he reached for one of the hotel’s pens, a postcard with the waterfront pictured, and tried to write something that would make up for him not being there.
Hardy House: Bathroom
Elizabeth set the white stick on the counter, then sat on the edge of the toilet to stare at it. She was going to feel like a real idiot when it came back negative. She was a week late, nothing to sneeze at. And, yeah, maybe she’d felt queasy and hadn’t really been sleeping and just generally completely off for the last ten days—
Elizabeth closed her eyes, dipped her head, and forced herself to take a deep breath. Too early to be freakin out.
“We should find something else to do,” Emily said from the doorway. “You’ve the set the timer. We’ll go clean out a closet or something.”
Emily sighed, leaned against the frame. “Elizabeth—”
“I’m only eighteen,” she murmured, staring at the stick. “I don’t even know what I want to do with my life. I have a job that could go away tomorrow, I have a house only because my grandmother died, and the father could be anywhere in the world, and there’s no way to know—”
“Okay. We’re going to breathe, and we’re going to walk away from this bathroom.” Emily pulled Elizabeth to her feet and into the hallway. She closed the door, and somehow, with the pregnancy test out of sight, Elizabeth could actually take a full breath.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know why I’m freaking out. It’s going to be negative—”
“Maybe.” Emily rubbed her shoulders. “Maybe not. It’s early,” she reminded Elizabeth. “Jason came after your grandmother died. You’re finding out insanely early — in fact, it might be too soon to show up on a test,” Emily added. “We might be doing again in a week or two. Even so—” She paused. “There’s no law that says if it’s positive, then you have to keep it.”
Elizabeth stared her, then swallowed hard. “Em—”
“Yeah, I know. He’s my brother and maybe I should be saying let’s wait to find out what Jason thinks, but that’s not how this works.” Emily stepped back. “He chose to have sex with you, then go no contact—”
“We used protection,” Elizabeth protested. “And it was my choice for no contact—”
“Which he agreed to.” Emily wrinkled her nose. “Okay, maybe he doesn’t get the hit on this. I don’t know. I just—you’re right. You’re eighteen, and Jason is who knows where. If you don’t want to be a mother, then you don’t want to be a mother. End of story.”
Elizabeth folded her arms. “I never—I mean, I thought about it. Lucky and I sort of talked about it, and Jason and I did once, too—but not in the context of—” She grimaced. “This is an insane conversation to be having right now, and—”
“You also don’t have to have any of the answers right now,” Emily cut in, her tone gentle. “Not a single one, Liz. Whatever happens in the next few minutes stays between us until my dying breath.”
Her throat tightened. “Thank you. I mean it. I don’t—I’m just—this was not on the menu for today, okay? I didn’t—” Elizabeth looked towards the closed door, and herself wonder for just a minute. What would she do if it was positive?
“No. And anything you choose to do to handle what comes next is okay by me. This is your life. And you get to make the choices. Jason, by the way, would support you. Okay? He would.”
Elizabeth exhaled. “I guess.” Jason also talked about being a father — did he want children—
Emily’s watch buzzed, cutting sharply into Elizabeth’s thoughts. “It’s time.”
“Yeah, I figured—um—” Elizabeth scrubbed her hands through her hair, took a deep breath. “Okay. Um, can you just—can you go look for me? The box is on the counter. I just—I can’t. I really can’t.”
Elizabeth kept her back to the bathroom, listening as Emily opened the door, and then there was some rustling as she likely unfolded the instructions. And then silence.
“Let’s take another one.”
Elizabeth turned as Emily went into the bag to find the other three brands they’d bought because Elizabeth had been paralyzed by choice. “Emily,” she said again, and her friend looked at her. Straightened.
Elizabeth’s breath rushed out in a whoosh and her head felt dizzy for just a moment. She put a hand on the wall of the hallway.
“Liz, you okay?”
“I’m—” Elizabeth counted to ten in her head silently, absorbed the information, and just tried to get herself together. “How often are these things giving false positives?”
“Um, not super often. The box says 99% accurate—and it’s regulated by the FDA, so that should probably count—” Emily set the box down. “Let’s take the others, okay? And then—”
“Em.” Elizabeth reached for the test, then looked at the results—studied the box. Confirmed Emily’s reading. “Positive,” she murmured.
“Let’s take the rest of them,” Elizabeth said slowly. “Just to be sort of sure, and then—” And then what?
“You don’t have to know what you want to do—”
“And then tomorrow, I’ll go see Sonny.” Elizabeth put the stick in the box. “He’ll know how to get in touch with Jason. He told him my grandmother died, so he must know. Whatever happens next, he should be part of that decision.”
“Okay, if you’re sure.”
“I’m sure. And when we’re done taking the tests, we’re going the movies, because I am definitely going to need a distraction.”