Chapter 14

This entry is part 14 of 37 in the Counting Stars

No I can’t forget tomorrow
When I think of all my sorrow
When I had you there but then I let you go
And now it’s only fair that I should let you know
What you should know
I can’t live
If living is without you

Without You, Mariah Carey

Saturday, April 15, 2000

Astoria, Oregon: Waterfront

Jason had made himself a cup of coffee at the inn’s breakfast buffet, wincing as the weak flavor slid down his throat. It was a far cry from the Corinthos-Morgan coffee he’d grown accustomed to since opening the business — or Kelly’s coffee, which he’d practically survived on since the accident.

But sipping a cup of coffee from a paper cup with a plastic top while standing on the docks, the sound of a working harbor filling his ears—it was as close to home as Jason was going to get.

He found a bench and sat down, looking out over the mouth of Columbia River, and to the distance where it fed into the Pacific Ocean. At the long stretch of bridge that spanned over the river to Washington state on the other side.

He’d made the connection the night before between this area of Astoria and Port Charles, and now Jason found his mind drifting back there — to the first job he’d worked after that short, unsuccessful stint parking cars for Luke. He’d worked at a warehouse for a while, and he and Robin used to meet at the loading docks. She’d bring him coffee and smile. And worry when he drove the motorcycle too fast.

He’d found a bag money on those docks, and Robin had sent him to Sonny to return the money. Sonny had given him a job, and Jason had met his wife, Lily. He didn’t know about Brenda, not then, and had enjoyed going to Sonny’s for dinner. Lily had been kind to him and had taught him how to dance.  And then she’d died.

Jason had sat on the left side of the bench, just as he always had at home. He turned to his right and almost expected to see Elizabeth, sipping her hot chocolate, telling him about her classes. Or a painting she was working on. And sometimes she’d been angry. She’d cried the night of her birthday, when she’d returned from a party on Spoon Island, after Nikolas had tried to kiss her. Jason didn’t like to think of that, and wondered if Elizabeth had forgiven the prince after the way he’d treated her.

But Elizabeth wasn’t with him. She was three thousand miles away, living her own life. It had been three weeks since he’d seen her, and Jason wondered if he’d made the right decision leaving so fast. Maybe if he’d insisted on staying a few days—going to see his grandmother or had stopped in New York to see Emily—

He’d left Port Charles to find some peace and quiet. To make everything stop. He just wished he knew what he was looking for, so he could go get it and then go home. He wanted to go home, sit on the bench, and wait for Elizabeth to find him there. To smile at him and ask to drive—

But until he was ready to go home for good, until he could be sure, this bench and the weak coffee was as close as Jason could get to being there.

Elm Street Pier

Around the same time Jason was enjoying the early Oregon morning on the Columbia River waterfront, Elizabeth sat on the bench on Elm Street Pier, picturing Jason next to her and practicing what she would say when she saw him next. Whenever they’d sat here and talked, she’d always walked away feeling better.

She didn’t think there were a lot of ways around the words I’m pregnant so it probably would just be her blurting it out. But what came after? Jason would come home immediately. The next flight. And if she went forward, if she kept the baby, he’d stay. That’s just who he was—

But she didn’t want him to do anything out of obligation. Her mother had done that, and Elizabeth had felt that resentment all her life. Not that Jason would be like that—he’d love the baby. But Elizabeth—maybe he’d end up hating her for trapping him.  But what if he didn’t want a baby? What if he just set up child support — or if he wanted her to get an abortion?

It was just too much rolling around her head, and she knew she was just creating worst case scenarios that were going to drive her insane. She didn’t even know she wanted, and that was just the end of the story. She couldn’t begin to worry about Jason until she knew her own mind. But it felt like she needed Jason to help her understand —

And Jason was gone.

So she left the bench, because whatever magic it had held during those fall talks with Jason, she’d find none of it without him.

She continued to her destination, walking the few blocks to Harborview Towers, and the penthouses on the fifteenth floor. Wally, the guard on the desk, sent her straight up, and Elizabeth didn’t even spare a glance for the penthouse across the hall where she knew Alexis now lived.

“Elizabeth—” Sonny smiled at her, stepping back so she could enter. “This is a surprise. How are you?”

“Okay. I guess.” She folded her arms, waited for him to close the door. “I was wondering if you’d heard from Jason lately.”

Sonny furrowed his brow, his smile fading. “No,” he said finally. “He called in March around the time your grandmother died. I think the day of the service,” he added, “and I told him. But nothing since.”

“Oh.” Well, that was alarming. “Can you contact him? I mean, I—” She stopped when Sonny shook his head. “It’s an emergency—”

“What’s wrong?” Sonny asked, concern lacing his tone. “Are you all right? Did Sorel talk to you? Francis didn’t say—”

“I didn’t realize I still had a guard—” Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “Okay, maybe emergency is the wrong word. Or not that kind of emergency. I just need to talk to him.”

“I wish I could.” Sonny paused. “He left me as much in the dark as you. He only called me twice. That’s it.”

“He—” Elizabeth swallowed hard. Oh, God. “You don’t know how to find him? There’s no contact information?”

“I could put out some feelers to track him down if you need it,” Sonny told her. “What’s wrong? Can I help?”

“I—” It was wrong to tell Sonny, especially after everything else that had happened before Jason left, but if Jason couldn’t be found—what if people found out about this? The wrong people? “Jason came to see me last month. After he talked to you. He came to Port Charles that Saturday.” She closed her eyes. “He only stayed one night, and left on Sunday. And I told him—I told him the postcards—they hurt too much. So they had to stop.”

“Jason was in Port Charles,” Sonny said. “I didn’t—he didn’t tell me.”

“I guess not. Um, the postcards could help track him down. I know he’ll be using mostly cash.”

“Yeah—” Sonny tipped his head. “Elizabeth, is there something Jason needs to know? About the night he came to see you?”

Oh, maybe Sonny would let her hint around about it and not have to say it out loud. It wasn’t quite the same as telling him, was it? “Yes. He—I need to tell him. As soon as possible. I need—I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“Okay. Okay.” Sonny nodded. “I’ll get some of my guys on it. The last time he took money out of his accounts—the postcards—where are they from?”

“The first was from Miami, then some place in Arizona—Kartchener Caverns—and the last one was from New Orleans. I think he said he’d been in Texas before he came to see me. That’s where he’d left his bike. He also said he wanted to go Mexico and California.”

“Okay.” Sonny went over to the desk, took out a pen. “I’ll have them start looking there. You, ah, you got everything you need?”

“I’m fine.” Health insurance was probably going to be an issue, she realized with a start.  She’d lost hers when she’d dropped out of school, and hadn’t really thought about it. Christ, how much did it cost on its own? There were so many questions— “I’ve got my gram’s house, so—”

“All right. Well, until we track him down, anything you need, let me know.” Sonny caught her eyes. “Promise me, Elizabeth.”

“I promise.” Elizabeth paused. “How—how long do you think it will take?”

“Uh, with some places to look? Maybe a few days. A week. Could be longer. The thing is—if Jason takes out a lot of cash and travels light, it’s hard to say,” Sonny admitted. “We won’t be able to track him if he doesn’t hit a bank.”


“He might call,” Sonny told her. “Especially with this weekend being what it is.”

That had flown straight out of her head, ironically, and Elizabeth nodded, even though she doubted it. “He might. I don’t know if he has my grandmother’s number, but the studio phone—he knows that.” She rubbed her arm. “Thanks, Sonny.”

Astoria, Oregon

Riverwalk Inn

Jason had thought he’d check out and head down the Pacific Coast Highway this morning, but then he’d woken up and looked out the window at the marina. It was so much like his view at the penthouse that he’d called to the lobby and extended his stay a few more days. He couldn’t really explain it — it wasn’t exactly the same. The penthouse had been fifteen stories off the ground, and his room at the inn was only on the second floor, and yet there was something…

And there’d be other places like this down the coast. There’d be other waterfronts, other docks, other marina views —

Jason had called Emily again that morning, but when he got the machine again he knew she must be away, likey in Port Charles. He could always call Sonny to find out. He could even call Reginald at the mansion and talk to his grandmother.  Or he could do what he really wanted and call Elizabeth.

He nearly had the night before, but he’d stopped himself. What if she answered? What was he going to say? What if it was the answering machine? That would be too close to the struggle he faced when writing postcards—even though he wasn’t sending them anymore, he still didn’t know what to write.

None of this made sense anymore. Moving from place to place, never staying anywhere more than a day or two—it hadn’t resolved this restlessness. Staying in one place wasn’t working either. Maybe he was homesick and staying here, with this view, was making it worse. Maybe he was thinking too much about Port Charles because Astoria was too familiar.

But he’d tried to go somewhere else. He’d gone to the Badlands which looked nothing like New York. He’d gone to the Rocky Mountains, to Texas, to Arizona, New Orleans—

He’d tried everything and almost everywhere, hadn’t he?

Jason looked over at the postcards he’d bought the day before. At the two he’d already discarded. Maybe they were still the problem. Not sending them was helping Elizabeth, or so he hoped. But buying them, planning what he’d say, it was keeping it in his head. And what was the point? She was never going to see them.

Jason sat at the table, picked up the pen, and stared at one of the remaining blank ones. They were for him, he realized. They always had been. And as long as he kept this up, Elizabeth would stay in his head.

If he couldn’t go back, then it was time to say goodbye. She’d been right, and it was time he listened.

He picked up the pen, flicked it.

I don’t want it to be like this. I don’t want to stop. If I let you go—

He exhaled slowly. What would happen if he let her go?  What was the tragedy in that? Why was he still hanging on?

But I have to. You deserve more than this. And maybe I do, too. I miss you. I will never stop missing you. But there’s nothing left to say. I can’t stay, and you can’t go. Nothing has changed in three months.

He clutched the pen more tightly, then shoved the postcard away. Because that was a lie, wasn’t it? Everything had changed since he’d left.  Jason reached for the last remaining blank card.

Port Charles is my home. I understand now why you couldn’t leave yet. Why you wanted a place to belong. I didn’t until I came here. It’s like Port Charles in some ways, but in the most important, it’s not. There’s no water that stretches forever, and every time I see a bench, I look for you to be there. You’re not. You’re thousands of miles away. I can’t come home. I want to, but I’m not ready yet. I want to ask you to wait until I am, but that’s too much to ask. I miss you.

Before he could talk himself out of it, Jason slapped a stamp on it from his bag, then went  downstairs to drop it in the mail. It was the closest he’d ever come to writing something that felt real., close to the truth. Maybe it wasn’t fair to send it to her after she’d asked him to stop, but he’d needed to say it. To write it. To acknowledge it to himself. And maybe she deserved to know where he stood, didn’t she?

He didn’t want to leave this small town that felt so much like Port Charles because he was homesick, and all the time away hadn’t changed anything. It was his home, and it was where he wanted to be.

He just wasn’t ready to go back to everything that would mean, but at least now—he knew now he was going home.

Some day.

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Elizabeth peered in the window to see if Emily had already arrived so they could grab lunch and head back to her grandmother’s.

Emily wasn’t in the diner, so Elizabeth decided to wait outside—and then Carly sauntered in from the parking lot about three minutes later. Just the sight of her—knowing that the last straw for Jason had been the stunt Carly had pulled with Michael—it set Elizabeth on edge. All of this was her fault.

Carly tossed her hair over her shoulder, smirking. “Well, well, I see that you’ve finally come crawling back. You hoping my mother will rehire you now that your little dinky career has failed?”

Elizabeth folded her arms, trying to ignore the fury crawling up her throat. How dare Carly walk around Port Charles like she was something special— “Don’t worry, Carly. I won’t write you down as a reference. Unless—” She gestured at the door. “You’re hoping that my job is still open. Did AJ finally cut your gold-digging ass off?”

“My marriage,” Carly said tightly, “is just fine.”

“Oh, well, better luck next time.”

“At least I have someone,” Carly shot back. “You’re all alone. I told you that he’d get bored with you—”

“I wonder what would happen if Michael saw a picture of Jason in front of AJ,” Elizabeth said. Carly shut her mouth suddenly. “Yeah, I know what you did, Carly, but the real question is—does AJ? Does he know you’ve been showing pictures of Jason to Michael and calling him Daddy?” She stepped closer to her. “Maybe I should come over some time. We could find out—”

“Stay away from my son—”

“I don’t know how you can sleep at night,” Elizabeth snapped. “Knowing what you did to Jason who never did anything but support you. He covered for you, over and over again. If he hadn’t stepped in with Michael, the Quartermaines would have had him years ago and you’d have had no leverage to worm your way into a wedding ring and bank account—”

“Shut up—” Carly’s hand flashed up, but Elizabeth snagged her wrist, shoved her back.

“I’m glad he finally saw you for who you were. You and I both know I never did a damn thing to you. You’re the one that married another man. You’re the one that slept with his best friend—”

“Shut up!” Carly hissed, looking around frantically. “You don’t know what you’re talking about—”

“And you’re the one that destroyed everything you could have had,” Elizabeth continued, her voice softer now. “I almost feel sorry for you. You’re your own worst enemy, and you don’t even know it. I never did anything to you, Carly, except be there when Jason needed someone.”

“You took advantage—”

“I found him nearly frozen to death,” Elizabeth said, and Carly closed her mouth. “He would have died. Because of you, Carly. Because of what you did to him. I saved his life, but you’re the reason he was there in the first place.”

“I wasn’t alone in that bed,” Carly managed, her eyes glittering with angry tears. “Does Sonny get the same treatment for you, or do you only slut-shame other women?”

“Sonny doesn’t get in my face and talk about how Jason left me. He didn’t leave me, Carly. He left you—” Elizabeth’s voice faltered, nearly broken and she had to swallow hard. “Because he couldn’t breathe in this town. Are you happy, Carly? You broke him. And now none of us get to have him.”

“I didn’t—” Carly closed her eyes. “I never wanted that. I didn’t think—”

“That’s your problem, Carly. You never think about tomorrow. About other people. About what they need. How many times did Jason tell you to leave him alone? Huh? How many times?” Elizabeth demanded, nearly growling.

Carly just shook her head. “He just had to forgive me. If he’d done that—”

“Is everything okay?” Emily stepped through the arch into the courtyard, her eyes darting back and forth between Elizabeth and Carly. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing. Let’s get our food and go.” Elizabeth yanked open the door and stormed inside, leaving Carly to stew in the mess she’d made.

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Alexis swept into the penthouse, paperwork in hand, ready to get to work, but stopped short when she saw Sonny on the phone.

“Hey—no, I appreciate it, Stan. I know it’s a lot of places—” Sonny exhaled. “Okay. Yeah, it makes sense to sit on the bank account. He’ll have to—Okay. As soon as you find something.” He hung up, turned to her and winced. “I’m sorry — I forgot we had a meeting—”

“It’s okay. It’s just some contracts for the property downtown.” Alexis set the papers on his desk. “Is that anything I should know about?”

Sonny made a face. “No. I mean, it’s not—” He walked over to the minibar and poured himself a drink. His third of the day, he realized. “I’m tracking Jason down.”

“Really? I thought you were okay with him checking in occasionally. You thought anything else would feel like pressure—”

“Yeah, well, that was before this morning—” Sonny looked at her. “There’s not much I can’t do, you know? I spent my whole life gathering power so that no one could ever tell me no again.”

“And now your guy is telling you he can’t find Jason?”

“I really thought—” Sonny stared at the phone. “I thought I’d make a call, and Stan would find him within the hour. And then I could—I don’t know. Maybe I thought I could redeem myself.” He sipped the bourbon. “But Jason hasn’t touched his bank account since last month. He bought a one way ticket from Port Charles to Dallas.”

Alexis frowned. “From—He was here? Last month? I don’t—”

“He came after I told him about Audrey Hardy. He came to see Elizabeth. The next day, he bought another one-way flight back to Dallas.”

“A one way ticket. Both times? He didn’t know how long he’d be staying,” Alexis murmured. “Maybe he thought he could come back.”

“Maybe.” Or, as Sonny remembered, Elizabeth had sent him away early when Jason had made it clear it wasn’t a permanent return. Why drag it out— “Before that, it’s a couple of scattered things. There was a plane ticket to Miami and storage for the bike when he left in January. Storage in Texas while he was in Port Charles. But he’s taken out cash most of the time.”

“Ah. And you can’t track him that way,” Alexis murmured.

“No. He’s under the radar. He flew back to Dallas, took out five thousand dollars in cash, and then fell off the earth.” Sonny finished his drink, nearly poured another, but thought better of it. He went over to the windows to stare at downtown Port Charles. “Until he runs out of money—”

“Well, five thousand won’t last him forever,” Alexis said. “He might already be running low. Gas, motels, food — things add up.”

“Yeah. Maybe.”

“Why now?”

He turned to look at her with sad eyes. “Elizabeth. She’s trying to find him. I don’t know if I should tell you. She didn’t even really tell me,” he admitted. “But I guess she felt like she didn’t have a choice.”

Alexis pursed her lips. “Sonny—”

“She’s only eighteen,” he murmured, looking back out the window. “How much more is the world going to throw at her? Do you know what she’s been through?”

“I do. Sonny—”

“She was only sixteen when it started. That’s how old I was the last time Deke went after me.” Sonny squeezed his eyes closed. “I don’t think I realized how young sixteen really was until I found out what had happened to her. It was in the papers. They didn’t publish her name, only that there was an outcry at the Baker trial. A young woman accused him of raping her.” He exhaled slowly. “And then Lucky. I was there that night. I watched her hold on to hope—” He looked at Alexis. “Taggert gave her this chain and she was still spinning dreams of how Lucky had dropped it on his way out—when he told her it had been found on the body, it was like the life went out of her.” He scrubbed his hands down his face. “I can’t stand it.”

Alexis said nothing, and finally Sonny spoke again. “She’s pregnant. It’s the only explanation for why she needs to see Jason. Why she didn’t want to say it out loud to me. I don’t deserve to know. I’m part of the reason he’s gone.”

“Pregnant,” Alexis repeated. “That’s—are you sure?”

“As sure as I can be.” Sonny went back to the minibar, but only to set down the empty tumbler. “And Jason’s in the wind. What if I can’t find him? What if it takes months?”

“It won’t—”

“He’ll never forgive himself for not being here for her. For the baby.”

“Jason is the one that chose to leave,” Alexis said, and he stared at her. “Whatever you and Carly—whatever role you played, Jason is a adult. He chose to leave without giving Elizabeth a direct contact. And she’s an adult who chose to be intimate with someone who wasn’t making her promises. None of this is your fault.”


“And it’s arrogant to think you have that much power over other people,” she continued, and he closed his mouth, stunned. “You’re not some manipulative puppet master. You’re just human, and you made whatever choices you made. But at the end of the day, that’s it. Now, you can sit here and feel sorry for yourself, or we can talk about other ways we can find Jason.”

Hardy House: Living Room

Elizabeth peered through the peephole, then made a face, pulling the door open. “Nikolas—”

“I, uh, was looking for Emily.” Nikolas shifted his weight from one foot to another. “She left a message she was going to be in town and staying—”

“She’s at the mansion for dinner.” Elizabeth tightened her fingers around the edge of the door. “I’ll let her know you stopped by—”

“Listen—wait—” He slapped a hand against the door to stop her from closing it. “Not this weekend,” he said quietly, and she stopped. Looked at him. “Not this weekend,” Nikolas repeated. “It’s too hard.”

“Nikolas—” She sighed. “I don’t want to fight with you. Not this weekend or any other. I just—”

“I know what you said last month was right,” Nikolas added. “Okay? I was jealous and I was lashing out. I don’t even know if I really had feelings for you or if it was the grief. Lucky and I—we wasted so much time being angry at each other. Letting our parents get in the way. I didn’t really get to have my brother until the last few months of his life. It’s not fair—”

“No, it’s not,” Elizabeth said gently. “But I’m glad you had each other. I am. I just—I’m worn out. And I can’t accept this apology the way I did all the others, and wait for the next time you get angry and take it out on me. You threw my rape in my face, Nikolas. And it wasn’t even the first time you’d done it.”

Nikolas closed his eyes. “I know. I know. I’ve been an asshole, and I don’t deserve your forgiveness. I know that. But I can’t stand knowing I’ve hurt you. Lucky would kick my ass, and instead of taking care of you—” He swallowed hard. “Maybe that’s why. I wanted to take care of you, to make up for Lucky not being here, and Jason was doing it instead, but that wasn’t my place. It wasn’t. I know that—”

“Okay, I—”

“We don’t have to be like before,” he added. He stepped back, putting his hands up. “I’m not asking for the friendship. I know I need to earn that. I’m just—I’m asking for us to be civil. To be in the same room together. You and Emily, you’re important to me. And I want us to be at my mother’s tomorrow together. We should be able to do that, at least.”

“We can do that,” Elizabeth said, finally relenting. It had been a decent, even genuine apology. And she did feel like she owed it to Laura to at least try for peace. For as long as it could be managed—what would happen when the world found out about this baby? What side of Nikolas would she see then? “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

“Okay. Thank you. For hearing me out. Thank you.”


  • I feel, at times, that Jason needs another crack on his head, damn he is stubborn and foolish.
    Sonny (a character I have never liked) is trying to win me over here. I like him and Alexis.
    I loved the tongue-lashing Elizabeth gave Carly she needed that and more.
    I’m not sure what Nic is up to –nothing I hope but he seems sneaky.
    I want him home or her there with him

    According to Pamela Hedstrom on December 14, 2022
  • Another great chapter! I loved when Elizabeth got in Carly’s face. I never did like her. I’m not sure about Nic.

    According to arcoiris0502 on January 5, 2023