Chapter 16

This entry is part 16 of 37 in the Counting Stars

And everyone keeps asking, “What’s it all about?”
I used to be so certain and I can’t figure out
What is this attraction?
I only feel the pain
There’s nothing left to reason and only you to blame
Will it ever change?

Barely Breathing, Duncan Sheik

Sunday, April 16, 2000

Spencer House: Living Room

Nikolas stepped back, away from the door, letting it swing shut, his mind racing. He turned away, towards the living room where Bobbie and Emily were on the sofa with Lulu, and Luke watched with suspicious eyes.

“Everything all right?” Luke asked, taking a step towards him. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“No, I mean—” Nikolas cleared his throat. “I’m fine,” he corrected. “I just—I was going to tell Mother I have to leave before the launch closes for the night, but she and Elizabeth looked like they were in the middle of something.”


“I didn’t hear,” Nikolas lied. “They just looked serious. Will you—will you tell her? I don’t want to get stuck in town. I promised my father.”

At the mention of Stefan, Luke’s face pinched, and Nikolas knew he’d succeeded in distracting him. “All right. I’ll tell her.”

Nikolas said his goodbyes to the others, grabbed his coat, then left, his mind still swirling with what he’d overheard, and wondering what he was going to do about it.

Spencer House: Kitchen

Elizabeth’s final words hung in the air for a long moment as Laura gathered her scattered thoughts.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have blurted it out—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I’m sorry—”

“No, no.” Laura took Elizabeth by the upper arm and steered her towards the kitchen table, pulling out a chair. “Sit down, sweetheart. You said it like that because you had to. Let’s just take a minute, and we’ll talk about it.”

“Oh, God—” Elizabeth sat, and put her head in her hands. “I don’t know what I’m doing. And I keep telling myself that if I can just talk to Jason, it’ll be okay, because he always makes it okay, but that’s so stupid. He’s been gone for months, and I don’t need him to tell me how to think—”

Laura filled a glass with water and put it in front of Elizabeth before taking a seat herself. “Take a deep breath, drink some water, and let’s start from the top, all right?”

Elizabeth sat back, exhaled slowly, then sipped.

“You’re not looking for him to tell you how to think, Elizabeth. I think you know that.”

“I do.” Elizabeth paused. “He gives me perspective,” she corrected softly. “We used to sit on the bench on the pier, and I’d tell him whatever insanely petty thing was driving me crazy that day, and then he’d say like two words, and it would just make sense.” She swiped at her tears. “I shouldn’t need him for that.”

“Is that why you needed him? To give you perspective?” Laura pressed. “Was it the two words Jason contributed, or was it the comfort of knowing you could say anything and not be judged?” Elizabeth met her eyes, surprised. “Real friends let you be yourself with no shame. So go ahead. Talk to me, and I’ll see if I can find some words to help.” She squeezed Elizabeth’s hands. “You’re pregnant.”

“I took three tests,” Elizabeth murmured. “On Friday. And they were all positive. That’s too many for a false positive—” She pressed a hand to her face. “I made an appointment at Planned Parenthood anyway, and they asked me if I wanted to talk to a counselor. It’s not required, they said, but it can help.” She sipped her water. “They recommend a counselor before you schedule an abortion, and it threw me because I went to them for a confirmation because I don’t have insurance right now. Emily and I talked about it, I guess, but I was—was there something in my tone that made them say it?”

“I’ve done some work at Planned Parenthood,” Laura told her gently. “You know that I’m trained as a social worker, and I’ve volunteered there. Not lately, of course. It’s just part of the script. We recommend it for all mothers, married or not. Does that make you feel better? Or—”

“It does. Because part of me feels so guilty that I’m even having this conversation with someone who isn’t Jason. I know it’s my body, my choice,” Elizabeth continued, “but he doesn’t even know. Doesn’t he deserve to be part of it?”

Laura made a face. “That’s a tricky question, I suppose. Because, no. He doesn’t. You’re the one who ultimately has to live with this decision. Pregnancy is hard on the body. It changes you forever. But on the other hand, it can be a relationship decision. I think if you don’t or can’t have the conversation with your partner, it usually indicates there’s a deeper problem.”

“A problem like not being able to find the partner?” Elizabeth said dryly. She stared into the glass. “Are you sorry you went through with it? Um, any of the times.”

“I was scared when I learned about Nikolas,” Laura admitted. “And I was prepared to resent the child because of how he was conceived. The world I was in. And I thought being pregnant meant I would never, ever leave.” She paused. “But there’s a moment—in the first few months, you feel the baby quicken. And it changed everything for me. I’m not sorry I had my babies, Elizabeth. All three of them are precious to me in their own ways. But that—” Laura reached for her hand. “That is my story. Not yours. And you don’t have to be a mother if you’re not ready.”

“I keep thinking about my mother. She didn’t want me,” Elizabeth murmured. “I came along and ruined everything.”

“Oh, sweetheart—”

“I was an accident. She had to give up a fellowship in Russia because of me,” Elizabeth told Laura. “And I knew she didn’t think it was worth it. I set back her entire career. And—you might notice—” She gestured. “It’s not like she’s in my life now.”

“That’s her loss.”

“Yeah, I keep hearing that. I just—I’m just starting my life. I don’t have any guarantees with anything. No health insurance. Barely any savings. I’ll have my inheritance in a few months, but that won’t last forever.” Elizabeth twisted the ring on her finger. “Maybe it would be stupid to have a baby right now.”

“It would be a bit of a struggle if you were on your own. You’re not, though.” Laura waited for Elizabeth to look at her. “You’re not. You have me, you have Bobbie. We’ll probably argue about who gets to babysit and be in the delivery room. And even if Jason doesn’t show up for you—which I doubt—you’ll have to beat the Quartermaines back with a stick.”

“Oh, God, the Quartermaines—” Elizabeth laughed nervously. “I don’t even want to think about that yet.” She waited a moment. “It would be stupid to have a baby right now,” she repeated, “because materially, financially, I’m not where I should be. But—I had all of that growing up. I had my own room. Clothes. Plenty of food. I went to the doctor’s when I was sick. But my mother didn’t love me. And my father sort of—he didn’t understand me, but I think he had some affection for me. Still—” Elizabeth looked at Laura. “Love is what matters. The rest of it — it helps. It smooths the way, but it’s not what a child remembers. Not if you do it right. Lucky spent his childhood on the run without a place to call home, but you’d never know it. Because you both loved him so much.”

“Love is what matters, Elizabeth. If you tell me that you want to make this work, with or without Jason, then we will make a plan to get you there. But if you tell me you’re not ready, we’ll make a different plan.”

“I—” Elizabeth managed a half smile. “I still don’t really know. I just—I really want to talk to Jason.”

“Then that’s where we’ll start. Did you tell Sonny? Can he—”

“He’s tracking Jason through bank and Emily’s phone records, but it might take some time. Um, Jason didn’t leave any contact information, and Sonny said he’s traveling with cash.”

“Ah. Well, then you need someone who knows how to travel light and under the radar. You need Luke. Can I tell him?”

“I—” Elizabeth nodded. “Yes, okay.” She glanced towards the door, wincing. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to take you away from everything.”

“Even if I didn’t love you as my own,” Laura told her, “Lucky would be very disappointed if I spent tonight grieving him instead of supporting you.” She squeezed Elizabeth’s hand again. “We’ll get this figured out. Just have a little patience and faith.”

Hardy House: Living Room

“Well, of course Laura took it well,” Emily said, hanging up her coat. “That’s just who she is. Did you think she’d be mad?”

“I don’t know,” Elizabeth admitted. She sat on the sofa, chewed on her bottom lip. “I suppose I thought maybe—with it being the anniversary—”

“No one ever expected you to grieve for the rest of your life,” Emily told her. She went over to pick up the phone. “I’m going to check my messages in New York. Maybe Jason called. You should try the studio—”

“Yeah, I guess.” Elizabeth didn’t hold out a lot of hope that Jason would have contacted her, but she needed to believe it a little bit. “I guess it was the way my grandmother reacted. And what Nikolas said—”

“Even though it was a pile of crap—and the only reason your grandmother brought Lucky up is she knew it would work. I liked her, but man, she could guilt trip someone as good as my grandfather.” Emily’s face wrinkled. “Nothing from Jason. He must have figured I was here and not bothered again.” She pressed the reset button on the base to hang up while holding out the receiver to Elizabeth. “I can do it if you want—”

“No, it’s—” Elizabeth got to her feet. “I’m not afraid. I know he didn’t, but—” She dialed into her machine, pressing the buttons to bypass her greeting and get into the messages—one new message.

“I’m—I’m sorry.”

Her breath caught, and she turned to stare at Emily who immediately jumped off the sofa.

“I know you said it was too hard, and I shouldn’t have called. But—”

Elizabeth tilted the phone that Emily could listen, too, and she let Jason’s voice sink in, the words floating past her. He’d called. He’d reached out—

“I sent a postcard. I’m just—I’m sorry I’m not here. 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.”

Emily slapped Elizabeth in the arm as if she was dumb enough to miss that Jason had just given them a major lead, and Elizabeth whacked her back.

“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.”

Then the message stopped. Elizabeth hurriedly pressed the button to save the message—she wanted to listen to it. He’d called her. He knew what today was, and he’d even sent a postcard—

“A postcard,” Elizabeth breathed, clutching the receiver, not even noticing when the dial tone echoed. “He said he’s been there a few days. Maybe he’ll stay. He said it was like home—”

“That doesn’t really help. Oregon’s got a huge coast, but I guess it’s better than we’ve had—”

“But his postcards. He always buys them at places he’s been. If he stays—when did he send it. If he put it in the mail in the last few days—”

They could know where he was in a week. Her hope deflated. He might be gone by then.

“Oregon,” Emily murmured. She pursed her lips. “You know, he used to talk about the Pacific Coast Highway. Maybe if we miss him there, we could take the highway and catch up or something.”

“Maybe.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I need to tell Sonny. And Laura so she can tell Luke where to start.” The hope began to build again. Because this was something. No, it was better. It was a sign that he was still thinking about her, and he was staying in this place because it reminded him of Port Charles—no, it had reminded him of home. He’d called Port Charles home.

Spencer House: Living Room

Laura stepped off the bottom step, and Luke stood from the sofa. “She’s in bed. Thanks for hanging around until everyone else was gone.”

“I had a feeling when you and Elizabeth came back from that long talk in the kitchen.” Luke slid his hands in his pockets. “She all right?”

“It’s hard to say,” Laura said. “She’s pregnant.”

“Preg—” Luke trailed off, then narrowed his eyes. “I’ll kill that bastard—Christ, she must be more than four months—and he hasn’t bothered to come back—”

“He did come back,” Laura interrupted. “That’s how she got pregnant. Luke—are you really going to stand there and talk about a man abandoning his family?”

He swallowed hard, took the hit. “All right. It’s different, I guess. She’s just a baby—”

“She’s a grown woman. Not much older than I was when we met,” Laura told her. “And Jason doesn’t know. She only just found out, and naturally, she’s worried. He didn’t leave a contact number—”

“Now we’re back to bastard—”

“Luke,” Laura cut in, more sharply, more angrily this time. “I didn’t tell you so you could moralize and attack Jason. He’s done nothing wrong. He couldn’t stay here. His reasons are his own, but Elizabeth needs to find him and tell him. She’s already contacted Sonny, but he’s never had to travel under the radar. Jason’s only using cash.”

“Which sounds like a job for me—I’m sorry. You’re right. It’s not my place—I’ve just—” Luke hesitated. “I’ve seen her take on too much, Laura. And she’s tried so hard not to collapse under the weight of it. The—the rape. The trial. Losing Lucky. That crap with Nikolas at Christmas—” He cleared his throat. “She deserves better than the world’s given her. That’s all. Okay? That’s all I meant. And, okay, Jason’s not a bad guy. I just—I want her to be okay.”

“So do I. And it starts with getting her into a room with Jason—” Laura stopped as the phone rang. She picked it up. “Hello? Elizabeth—oh. Oh, that’s great. That’s a good lead. And I’m so glad for you. I’m telling Luke now—okay. I’ll let him know. Get some sleep, honey. We’ll check in tomorrow.” She set down the phone, looked at Luke. “Jason left a message on her machine.”

“And I’m guessing there wasn’t a contact number,” Luke said.

“No. But he said he sent a postcard—he’s not supposed to do that anymore,” Laura said. “She  told him not to. But he did it anyway. And he mentioned he was in Oregon, in a place where the waterfront reminded him of home.”

Luke squinted, flipping through his mental files. He hadn’t had to spend much time in Oregon—he was more familiar with Washington. “The waterfront? Most of Oregon’s coast is ocean. That wouldn’t really be like here.”

“Does Oregon have a lot of lakes?”

“Yeah, uh—” He scratched his temple. “Mostly in the west, on the other side of the Cascades. None that really put me in the mind of Ontario—maybe Goose Lake. I haven’t been out that way in a good fifteen years. I’ll make some calls. He might not mean the water itself,” Luke mused as he went to the phone, dialed in a number. “But the docks. Jason spent a lot of time there after he left home. Maybe he means a place with an actual waterfront—yeah,  Jimmy. It’s Spencer. Don’t—listen, I need you to get me some information. Oregon waterfront. Any place with docks that might make you think of Port Charles. Okay. Okay.” He hung up. “Might take a few days—”

“But it’s something. We need to make this happen, Luke. I couldn’t—there wasn’t a lot we could do for Lucky. He wouldn’t let us. But this—we can do this.” Laura folded her arms, almost hugging herself. “Elizabeth’s already told Sonny,” she reminded him. “I want you to talk to him. You should work together—”

Luke winced. “We haven’t—”

“He didn’t set that fire, Luke, and we’ve both frozen him out too long,” Laura told him. “It was an accident. A terrible, tragic accident. And the girl who might have been our daughter-in-law needs us. This is more important. Will you do it?”

Astoria, Oregon

Riverwalk Inn: Lobby

Jason dropped his key on the desk, and waited impatiently for the clerk to give him a final bill so that he could pay and get out of here.

Staying longer had been a mistake—he’d let himself dwell on memories of Port Charles, and he’d broken his promise to Elizabeth. She’d only asked him for one thing — just one. Don’t contact her. No postcards, and that definitely extended to messages on machines on the anniversary of one of the worst days of her life—

Had he made today worse for her? Brought it all back—what if she had finally started to move past everything that had happened between them and—

“I hope you enjoyed your stay, Mr. Morgan,” the clerk chirped. She slid over the bill. “Will that be cash or credit?”

“Cash.” Jason skimmed the invoice, then slapped down some bills, making a note to stop at a bank in the next few days. He was starting to run low. The clerk returned his change and he left. Something about the air in this town had made him want something he wasn’t ready for, and he wasn’t going to break any more promises.


  • I can’t wait for the two of them to be together again. I love their story so much.

    According to Carolyn Grandchamp on December 12, 2022
  • Oooo Luke’s on the case! I’m so happy I found this site and I LOVE this fic.

    According to Brittany on December 16, 2022