There’s nowhere to run
I have no place to go
Surrender my heart, body, and soul
How can it be
You’re asking me
To feel the things you never show
You are missing in my heart
Tell me why can’t I be there where you are?
– Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely, Backstreet Boys
Sunday, April 16, 2000
General Hospital: Conference Room
“I apologize for calling a meeting on Sunday,” Stefan said stiffly as Alexis spread out her paperwork. He adjusted his glasses over the bridge of his nose. “I thought the issue shouldn’t wait another day—”
“No, I agree.” She scanned the fine print of the contract he’d handed her. “It looks in order—”
“Have you spoken to Nikolas over the last few weeks?” Stefan interrupted, startling her. She set the paperwork back on the desk and peered at him.
“Nikolas hasn’t been much of a fan of mine since I began working for Sonny and Jason,” Alexis reminded him. “As I recall, that was a feeling you shared.”
“Yes, well—” Stefan bristled at this reminder how far their relationship had deteriorated.
“And no, I haven’t spoken to him. I do know what today is,” Alexis added. “But I’m sure he’ll be spending time with his mother, with Elizabeth. And I know Emily is in town—”
“I—” Stefan shook his head. “Since that scene at Christmas, I don’t know how close he’s been with Elizabeth Webber.”
“I’m worried about him,” Stefan said, his tone a bit lower. “He’s…he hasn’t been the same since Katherine’s death. I had hoped he would begin to recover, and I thought he’d grown close to Elizabeth. That it might—”
“Stefan—” Alexis sighed. “He’s had a difficult year. Everything with Katherine—from beginning to end—was a tragic farce. Losing Lucky when they’d only begun to grow close—he’ll come around. I also—I don’t think you should count on Elizabeth Webber—especially not that way.”
“No, I realized that on Christmas Eve,” Stefan said dryly. “When she left with Jason Morgan. I suppose I hope he doesn’t take after the other men in our family. We tend to…” He grimaced.
“Fixate,” Alexis offered. Her brother sent her a sour look. “Obsess? Yes, I’m familiar. You —and Stavros—with Laura. Nikolas isn’t you. Or our brother.”
Spencer House: Living Room
“All right, sweet heart. Just be home—yes—” Laura nodded, gesturing for Luke to wait as he came through the front door. “Yes, dinner is at five. Felicia will drop you off? Thank you.” She hung up. “Lu slept over at Maxie’s last night,” she told Luke. “She wanted to stay a bit longer.”
“Oh.” Luke shoved his hands in his pockets. “I wanted to spend a bit of time with her.”
“Sorry, I didn’t—”
“No, it’s—” he put up a hand. “It’s fine. I just showed up. Uh, dinner tonight—” He met her eyes. “Am I still invited? After…the other day—”
“Of course.” Laura busied herself fussing over pillows and throw blankets. “I’m sorry for that scene,” she said briskly. “It’s water under the bridge—”
“Angel—” Luke waited for her to stop, to look at him again. “Laura, it’s nothing I didn’t deserve. And it shames me that there’s even a kernel of truth in what you said.”
“There’s more than a kernel—”
“Not—” Luke bit off. “No, everything you said was the truth. But the part about me—” He paused. “What you said about how I treated you when Nikolas came here. When I found out. I didn’t think of it then, Laura. It wasn’t deliberate. But I suppose I had doubts because of how our story was written.” His voice was pained as he continued. “I can tell myself I was in love with you before—but I wasn’t. I was obsessed, and that’s different. I didn’t know you enough to be in love with you. That came later—”
“Luke—” Laura folded her arms, looked at her ex-husband. “Back then, the world was different. And I told myself that what happened was partially my fault. Because I was there alone with you. I wouldn’t leave you when you wanted me to. And I thought maybe I sent you signals—”
“And it took me a long time to understand that none of that was my fault. But because I blamed myself,” she said slowly, “it left room in my heart and my mind to trust you again. Because I couldn’t see it as rape.” Luke flinched at the word, but Laura continued. “By the time I accepted that had happened—what that night was—by the time I could come to terms with it—it had been twenty years.” She crossed to the mantel, picked up a photograph of herself with Luke and their children, just after Lulu had been born. “By that time, this was my reality. And it meant more than holding you responsible for what had happened a lifetime ago.”
She set the photo back on the mantel. “If I had had someone back then who could have told me that nothing was my fault, that all I had to do was say no and that should have been enough—it would have been different.” She smiled faintly, then looked at Luke. “What am I supposed to do? Throw away twenty years of memories because of one night? I can’t think of what might have happened—or what should have happened. That’s not my reality. I never saw you as my rapist, Luke. And because of that, I fell in love with you. I married you. We raised children together. Should I wish none of that had happened?”
“No, I suppose not.” Luke paused. “Do you—I mean, now—”
“Now, I acknowledge what happened that night was a part of the man I married. I acknowledge that I am a rape survivor. Not just from you,” she added. “But on that island. With Stavros.”
“I wish I had been a better man,” Luke told her. “That I had understood the gift—truly understood—I had when we were a family. I’m sorry.” He looked around the living room. “And today—I’m sorry that today exists on a calendar.”
“Our little boy—” The grief swelled again, not as dark or as deep as it had been a year ago, but sweeter. She picked up a photo Lucky and Elizabeth at his last Christmas party at the hospital. Audrey had given it to Laura not long after the funeral. “Our little boy lived such a rich life. I’m so grateful for the time we had with him. For the love he was given.”
“People live a lifetime and never know it,” Luke murmured, taking the frame from her. “We owe a lot to Elizabeth. For guiding Lucky through everything that last year. He would have been lost to us in other ways so much sooner.”
“Well, you’ll have your opportunity to show her tonight. She’s coming to dinner. I invited her and Emily—” Laura lifted her chin. “And Nikolas.”
Luke nodded. “That’s good. I’m glad that everyone who loved Lucky will be together tonight.”
Hardy House: Living Room
Elizabeth nearly yanked the door off its hinges in her rush to open it. “Sonny! Did you find him?”
“Ah—” Sonny winced, and her heart fell. “No. I wanted to tell you what I do know, and how we’re going to move forward. Do you have a minute?”
“Yeah. Um, yeah.” Elizabeth stepped back, looking up as Emily jogged down the steps. “Emily knows so you don’t have to—”
“Yeah, of course.” Sonny nodded in greeting before looking back at Elizabeth. “Well, we knew Jason is mostly using cash. We have his bank records. He’s only used his debit card a few times. Mostly plane tickets.”
“So you know where he’s been?” Elizabeth asked.
“Not every where. In January, he paid to ship his bike to Florida, and then flew to Miami. You said that’s where the first card came from?”
“Then we have an ATM withdrawal there. Nothing else for about two weeks until Utah, then another in Arizona.”
“More postcards,” Emily nodded at Elizabeth. “That tracks—”
“Then he bought a one way ticket to Port Charles in March and stored his bike.”
“It was a one-way—” Elizabeth took in that information, realizing that Jason really had planned to stay. What if she’d said yes? Oh, God, maybe that extra time could have convinced him—
“And then another one way back to Dallas on Sunday, March 26. He drew out five thousand dollars from a bank that Monday, and that’s the last record we have.”
Elizabeth stared at him, not processing what that statement meant at first. “Wait. You mean—”
“He hasn’t touched his bank account, debit or ATM, in three weeks. Now, that’s not a reason to be alarmed,” Sonny assured her. “He didn’t touch it for three weeks leading up to that plane ticket. He travels light—”
“Barely eats,” Elizabeth murmured, sitting on the sofa. If she hadn’t asked him to stop with the postcards—
“I actually—” Emily looked at Sonny, then back at Elizabeth. “I was hoping you had better information. I just checked my messages. He called me again last night. He knows I’m in Port Charles because of this weekend. Have you checked your messages at the studio? He might not know this number—”
Elizabeth frowned at her, then launched herself off the sofa, over to the desk where the phone sat. She hurriedly dialed into her machine, then squeezing her eyes shut. “Nothing,” she said flatly. And she couldn’t even be angry with him. Not truly. She’d told him not to contact her.
“But my phone records—” Emily got to her feet. “Maybe they might help. I mean, can Sonny get them? Or I could call and ask for them. To my dorm at Columbia,” she added. Sonny grabbed a pad of paper and pen from the desk, so she recited her number.
“You call and I’ll get my guy on it,” Sonny said. “Between the two of us, we should be able to get them within a few days.”
“By the time we get them, he could be gone,” Elizabeth said. Her throat tightened. “What if we just keep missing him?”
“If I have to go back to school and camp by my phone,” Emily said, “we won’t—he called me twice, Liz. Within forty-eight hours. He knows what today is. The only reason he didn’t call you—”
“I asked him not to.” She hated herself right now, but—
“You didn’t know you’d need him,” Sonny reminded her gently. “Listen, we’ve got the alert on the bank account now. If he uses it to buy a plane ticket, we’ll know before he even gets on the plane. Okay? We’ll do everything we can.”
“Okay. Okay.” Elizabeth sighed. She forced a smile at Emily. “We should get going over to Laura’s.”
“Yeah, I guess. I’ll let you know if I get the records,” Emily told Sonny. “Or if he calls again.”
Jason returned to his room after grabbing lunch, only intending to take a quick shower then head out for a few hours on his bike. He’d had decided to stay in Oregon a few more days, but he still wanted to see more of the area. The bridge that went from Astoria to Port Ellice, Washington was four miles across, and he wanted to be over the water on the bike—the way he’d been able to see the lake on the cliff roads back home—
The phone sat there on a nightstand next to the bed, and he stared at it, wondering if he should call the mansion. He had a number just for Reginald, and he’d tell him if Emily was in town. He just wanted to talk to his sister, to hear her voice.
To ask her about Elizabeth. Sonny wouldn’t know, and Jason didn’t really want to talk to him anyway, but Emily—
He gave into the temptation, picked up the receiver and dialed—but not Reginald. Instead, after a few rings—Elizabeth’s machine at the studio picked up, and Jason closed his eyes, letting her voice spill over him.
When the machine beeped, he froze. Nearly hung up. But somehow, he forced out the words.
“I’m—I’m sorry. I know you said it was too hard, and I shouldn’t have called. But—” Jason paused. “I sent a postcard. I’m just—I’m sorry I’m not there. Today. I should be. I almost did, but I can’t until I’m ready to stay, and I’m not. I’ve, uh, been in Oregon the last few days. You’d like it. The—it’s waterfront. It’s almost like home, but it’s not the same. I—I hope you’re okay.”
He hung up, grimacing at himself and shoving away from the nightstand. He snagged his keys and stalked out of the room. Everything he did was wrong, he thought, and he’d probably only made things worse.
Spencer House: Living Room
It was horribly awkward, Elizabeth realized, sitting in a room full of people who were only together because of death. She and Nikolas were civil, which she knew was a relief to Emily. Elizabeth smiled through gritted teeth as Lulu pulled out photo albums and talked about Lucky. It should have been sweet, but it felt forced. As if Lucky’s sister didn’t quite know what to do, and had to put on a show.
Luke was trying, as he sat with Bobbie, talking about their time in Canada. Bobbie and Nikolas were still frosty, something Laura had noticed and frowned about. Elizabeth had thought it would be comforting being in a room filled with Lucky’s family. Surrounded by memories, warmed by the love they’d all shared. Instead, it was stiff. Cold. Performative.
But as Lulu closed one album and reached for another, Elizabeth jumped to her feet. “Laura, can I help in the kitchen? Clean up?”
“Oh—” Laura blinked as she started to push together the dessert plates. “No, I think—” She must have seen the desperation in Elizabeth’s eyes. “Sure—”
“Do you want any help?” Bobbie asked, getting to her feet.
“No, I think Elizabeth and I have it.” Laura sent Bobbie a look that Elizabeth missed. She followed Lucky’s mother through the door that swung slightly and piled dishes in the sink.
“This isn’t turning out the way I pictured,” Laura admitted as she rinsed some plates and handed them to Elizabeth to stack in the dishwasher. “I thought we’d—I don’t know—”
“Find comfort in each other,” Elizabeth volunteered, and Laura nodded. “I know. I thought the same.”
Laura exhaled slowly. “But we’ve never been much of a family. Not in the last few years. I don’t know why I thought this would be different.” She smiled at Elizabeth. “But I appreciate you showing up. You and Emily. You both meant so much to him.”
“No, I mean it. Emily was his first friend in Port Charles,” Laura said. “His first friend his own age. And you—you made sure knew what it meant to love someone. To be loved.”
“Yeah.” Elizabeth stared at the plates in her hand, her stomach rolling. “Yeah, we definitely did that.” She gripped the plate tightly. “Laura—”
“The first six months, they were hard,” Laura continued. “But I feel like we’ve been doing better. You, me, Luke, even Lulu. We’ve all put ourselves back together. As much as you can when you lose a child—” Her voice hitched, and she took a deep breath. “I’m sorry.”
“I don’t want you to ever feel obligated,” Laura told her, switching off the sink. She took the plate from Elizabeth and set it on the counter. “I love you. Not just because of who you were to my son, but because of you. And I want you to still feel like you’re part of this family. But if you don’t want that—”
“I do—” Elizabeth faltered. “I do,” she repeated. “I just—there’s a lot going on, and I feel so guilty because I should be thinking about Lucky, and I am, but I’m also—”
“Thinking about the rest of your life. You have a right to that, honey. You didn’t die in that fire.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Is it Jason?” Laura asked gently, and Elizabeth’s eyes flew to meet hers, startled. “Is that who you’re thinking about? Have you heard from him?”
“No. I wish—” Elizabeth shook her head. “No.”
Laura tipped her head to the side. “Elizabeth, you know you can tell me anything. I want to be here for you.”
“Oh, God.” And she did. She wanted to tell someone who was all hers, but there was no one that belonged only to Elizabeth, was there? Not anymore.
But Laura—she was close enough. Nearly like a mother. Just not hers.
“Jason came to see me after my grandmother died,” Elizabeth said. Tears slid down her cheeks. “And I told him to stop sending postcards because it hurts too much, and now I’m pregnant and I can’t find him.”
Laura simply stared at her.
And a few feet away, Nikolas—who had only just begun to push the swinging door open—froze.