A wounded heart you gave
My soul you took away
Good intentions you had many
I know you did
I come from a place that hurts
And God knows how I’ve cried
And I never want to return
Never fall again
– Again, Janet Jackson
Friday, April 21, 2000
Riverwalk Inn: Parking Lot
Jason didn’t want to put Elizabeth down, didn’t want to let her go—didn’t know how much he’d needed to see her until he’d turned and she’d been running towards him, her hair flying like a streamer behind her—
But he’d driven for three hours, his mind swirling with an uncomfortable mixture of panic and relief. Why had she come all this way—why were Luke and Laura with her—
Finally, Jason set her down but didn’t let her get that far. He cupped her cheeks, his thumbs gently wiping away her tears. “Hey,” he managed, his own voice a bit rough. A bit hoarse.
“Hey.” Elizabeth smiled, wrapped her hands around his. They just stared at each other for a long moment, but then she cleared her throat, stepped back. Their hands fell to their sides. “Um, you probably have some questions.”
“A few,” he acknowledged. He looked around, then frowned. “Emily said the Spencers were with you—”
“Oh—” She wiped at her face again. “That was just in case you weren’t still in Astoria. They were going to help track you down. Which sounds crazy, I guess.” She folded her arms. “This—I’ve been thinking about this for days, and now you’re front of me, and I can’t seem to get my mind moving.” She pressed her hands to her face. “I don’t know how to start this.”
“Are you sick?” Emily hadn’t denied it. What if— “Is that why you—”
“Oh, no. No.” Elizabeth stepped forward, her eyes searching his. “No. It’s—no one’s dying. I promise.” She bit her lip, then closed her eyes. “What I wouldn’t give to be back at home, on the bench at the docks. Or in the studio. You know. I’m insane—”
“You’re not.” He understood exactly what she meant. Whatever she’d traveled all the way here to say—it didn’t feel right to do it in a parking lot. “There’s—there’s a marina on the other side of the motel. Some benches. It’s not exactly Elm Street—”
“But you said it reminded you of it. Okay. Okay. Let’s go talk there.”
He took her hand and silently, they walked down past the small strip of buildings that adjoined motel and towards the marina, the asphalt changing into weathered boards beneath their feet. The marina here was small, and there was just the one bench. It was more cramped than back home, but as soon as he sat next to her —
It felt like home. He turned slightly so that their bodies were facing, and braced himself for whatever had brought her across the country.
Elizabeth slid a piece of hair behind her ear, listening as the water gently lapped against the docks, the sound of the boats bobbing—The view might not be the same as back home, but the sounds—
And listening to it next to Jason — it gave her the courage to start the conversation even though she had no idea where it would go.
“I’ve been looking for you for a week,” Elizabeth told him. “Well, not me. I didn’t really know how to start. Sonny and Luke helped. And then the postcard came this morning—”
“I’m sorry about it—” Jason winced. “Did you come all this way because of that? To tell me again to stop—I won’t do it—”
“No—” Elizabeth slid closer. “No. Thank God you contacted me. That you called Emily. I don’t know if I could have made it another week without—Jason, I’m pregnant.”
He stared at her, his eyes widening. “What—I don’t—you’re pregnant?” he repeated.
“I found out last Friday. I did a test—and then the clinic confirmed it yesterday. And I hope I don’t have to tell you that you’re—”
“No, of course not.” Jason scrubbed his hands over his face. “I don’t know what I expected you to say,” he admitted. “But it definitely wasn’t that.”
“No, I guess not.” She bit her lip. It was out there now, but neither of them seem to know what to say. For a long moment, it was just the sounds of the docks again, water lapping gently against the wood. Was he waiting for her? Was it her situation to take charge of? Probably, she thought. She was the one who had to carry the baby. But—
“Whatever you need or want from me,” Jason said suddenly, breaking into her thoughts. She looked at him, their eyes meeting. “You’ve got it.”
Whatever you need or want—she let the words roll around in her head. Trying to make sense of them. So if Elizabeth wanted him to come home, he’d do it? If she needed money for doctors — it was the exact right thing to say, except—
Except it didn’t tell her anything about him. And what he needed or wanted. She swallowed hard. “I don’t know anything yet. Except—” She laced her fingers together in her lap, looked away from him, towards the water. The land in the distance. “I don’t want you to feel obligated.”
“You told me, you wrote me—” She took a deep breath. “That you’re not ready to come home. And I want to respect that, Jason. I want you to be happy.”
“That was before—”
“Before you knew. I know.” Elizabeth forced a smile. “I know. And it’s okay. I told—I told you about my mother. She had that fellowship and she had to turn it down because of me. She spent the next fourteen years resenting me for taking that opportunity. For making her unhappy—”
“That was never your fault—”
“I know that—” She stopped. Took a deep breath. “I know that. But a child doesn’t understand. I know I didn’t then. I don’t blame me for being born. I blame my father for marrying someone who didn’t want children and convincing her to have them anyway. I blame my mother for not standing up for what she really wanted back then. For waiting. She finally went after it. With Doctors Without Borders, and she’s out there changing the world now. She’s doing really important work, and I don’t blame her for not loving me.”
“You think I wouldn’t—”
“I know you would,” Elizabeth cut in quickly. “You would. You’re an amazing father, and I know—but you’d come home, and it would be like last month or back in January. Like you were choking—”
“Don’t tell me how I’ll feel—” Jason bit out, anger lacing his tone, and she closed her mouth. He winced. “I’m sorry—”
“I’m messing this up. I knew I would.” She dragged her hands through her hair. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize. Don’t—” Jason stopped abruptly, and she looked at him. “You’re not wrong,” he said finally. “About going home. I didn’t feel ready when I wrote that card, and I don’t know if I feel ready right now. But you just told me and I don’t even know if you want to keep the baby—”
“Oh.” She bit her lip. “I don’t—I’ve thought about it, I guess. I just don’t know what to do. Which makes it worse that I’m telling you what to do.”
“You’re not.” Jason got to his feet, held out a hand and pulled her up. “Emily said you’ve been traveling all day—”
“And you just drove for three hours,” she added.
“Yeah. Maybe we both need some sleep.” Jason looked over towards the mote. “You said Luke checked in? Maybe I can sleep on his floor—”
“That’s silly,” she murmured, and he frowned at her. “We’ve shared a bed, Jason. And even if you don’t want that, I have a sofa. Okay? We don’t have to hide from each other. Unless you don’t want to—”
“No, that’s fine.” He squeezed her hand, his gaze softening. “Hey. We’ll figure this out, okay?”
“Okay.” She didn’t feel that confident personally, but at least one them did.
Riverwalk Inn: Parking Lot
Laura was standing by the bike when they approached the motel. “I was hoping this belonged to you,” she said to Jason with a smile as they approached. “I see Elizabeth found you.”
“She did. Uh, thanks for coming out here. To help find me.” Jason shifted, a bit uncomfortable, and Elizabeth reminded that Laura hadn’t been around Jason since the fire the year before.
“I’d do anything for her,” Laura said. “Well, since I’m not needed—”
“I’m in Room 113,” Elizabeth said, handing Jason the key. “You can get your things. Um, I wanted to talk to Laura about something.”
“Sure.” Jason retrieved his things, then disappeared up the stairs. Elizabeth waited until he was out of earshot before looking at Laura. “I messed it up.”
“I’m sure it wasn’t so bad—” Laura began, but Elizabeth shook her head.
“No, I did exactly what we talked about not doing. I started in on how I didn’t want the baby to be an obligation, and I know I hurt him—”
“Honey—” Laura put her hands on Elizabeth’s shoulders. “Slow down.”
“I don’t know why I did that. I didn’t mean to. It’s just—he wasn’t saying anything, and then when he did, it was about doing what I needed, and it just sort of broke my brain, and then I was off—” She closed her eyes. “I don’t know why I do that. Why I had to start giving him escape plans when he didn’t even ask for one.”
“You’re scared of being hurt.” Laura smoothed Elizabeth’s hair. “I’m sure he is, as well. Where did you leave it?”
“Um.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “We agreed to stop talking because it wasn’t going anywhere and get some sleep. So—”
“So that makes sense. I’ll go let Luke know you met up with Jason, and I’ll see you in the morning.” She kissed Elizabeth’s cheek, and they started towards the stairs, and their rooms.
Elizabeth’s Room: Bathroom
Jason splashed water on his face, then leaned over the sink, staring down at the porcelain. Elizabeth was pregnant.
She was pregnant.
And he’d sent her a postcard, babbling about he didn’t want to go home. He scowled at his own reflection, yanking a thin towel from the rack on the wall to dry his face. If he hadn’t sent that card, would she have started talking about obligations—
And what if she was right? What if he went home, and nothing had changed? What if he felt like Port Charles was still suffocating him? Christ, what terrible thing would Carly do when she found out?
Could Jason go back without going to work for Sonny again? Did he want to work for Sonny—
There were too many thoughts running around—not surprising since his world had shifted on it axis. Nothing had really changed about how Jason felt in his head, but all his reasons for leaving seemed small in comparison to what had just happened.
Elizabeth was pregnant with his child, and she seemed like she was leaning towards keeping it. And she lived in Port Charles. She’d made that clear. If he wanted to be with his child all the time—and he did—then he needed to go back.
But she wasn’t wrong to worry about what that meant. He just didn’t have the answers.
He heard the door to the room open, and he switched off the bathroom light, going into the larger room. Elizabeth stood at the window overlooking the marina.
“Hey,” he said. She turned to look at him, her eyes hard to see in the dim light. “I’m sorry. I don’t want us to fight.”
“Is that what we were doing?” Elizabeth asked, but she was smiling now. She came towards him, then gestured at the bed. “You were right. I’m exhausted, and you’re probably tired, too. We’ll get some sleep, and maybe it’ll feel clearer in the morning.”
Manhattan, New York
Columbia University: Hartley Hall
Emily dumped her books on the desk and checked her answering machine, hoping for some news. Nothing from her brother or Elizabeth, but her father had called—and so had Nikolas.
She sat on her bed, kicking off her shoes, and dialed Nikolas’s number, feeling a bit guilty that she hoped he wouldn’t pick up. She felt bad that he and Elizabeth were at such odds, and she was carrying this huge secret — but Elizabeth was her best friend, and now she’d be family, no matter how things turned out.
“Hey, Nikolas! Sorry I missed your call. What’s up?” She crossed her legs on her bed. “How’s Port Charles?”
“Good. Good. I was just calling to see how things were. Finals are coming up, aren’t they?”
“Yeah, I have a few tough exams this. Organic chemistry is going to kick my butt, but I’m managing.” Emily bit her lip. “Is something wrong? You’re not really one for chatting.”
His voice was a bit tense when he spoke again. “I can’t call to check on you?”
“You can. You just usually don’t. I guess I was just worried. Is everything okay?”
“It’s fine. I was just worried about you. Going into finals, having to deal with guests.”
A fishing expedition. She should have known. Emily hadn’t expected to need the cover story, but she wasn’t going to let Elizabeth down. “Laura and Liz are staying at hotel and doing some sight-seeing. I guess she just needed to get away from things. It’s been a lot these last few months. I’m actually going to call them for dinner in a bit.” She paused. “I thought you were going to be civil. That you were trying to make things better.”
“So did I,” Nikolas said, his tone clipped. “But she’s been resistant. I’ll call you later.”
“Sure.” Emily put the phone back on the receiver and considered the call for a long moment before putting it out of her head and starting her homework.
Saturday, April 23, 2000
Kelly’s: Dining Room
Sonny sipped his coffee, then perused the newspaper. He’d hoped that Bobbie would stop by the diner this morning, knowing that she might have heard from Luke or Laura. He didn’t think he’d be getting any updates.
He’d been a means to an end — locate Jason. Not that he even knew if they’d found Jason. Damn it. He hated not knowing things—
“I hope someone pissed in your coffee,” Carly muttered as she sat next to him and snatched up a menu. “You deserve it.”
Sonny rolled his eyes, ignored her. If Benny could come through for him, he’d get his hands on Carly’s prenuptial agreement with AJ. He had a feeling the Quartermaines might have put something in there about infidelity—
He needed some leverage to keep Carly from screwing Jason’s life up if and when he returned to Port Charles. But until he had the information in his hands, he had to keep his cool.
“I don’t suppose you’ve heard from Jason,” Carly said, attempting to act casual. He lifted his coffee, sipped it. She narrowed her eyes. “You have, haven’t he?”
“Hey, Penny.” Sonny folded the paper, leaned forward. “How about an order of pancakes? Side of sausage. I’m feeling hungry.”
“Sure thing, Mr. C,” the waitress chirped. She disappeared into the kitchen.
“I don’t know what games you’re playing,” Carly said, with a huff, “but it’s not working.”
Sonny reached for another section of the paper and tossed it towards her. “You need this more than I do.”
“What—” Carly grabbed it, then hissed at him. “Is this a joke?”
“Nope. Because if you keep harassing me or the people I care about,” Sonny twisted on the stool to look at her. “You can find the strip clubs in the adult category. Should match your skill set.”
“I loathe you.” Carly shoved off the stool, and stalked out. Sonny shrugged, went back to his paper. After breakfast, he’d go back to his penthouse and wait for word.
Riverwalk Inn: Elizabeth’s Room
Elizabeth emerged from the bathroom, tugging at the cuffs of her sleeves. “It’s still so cold here,” she said as she joined Jason at the window. “Back home, it’s been almost been in the sixties.”
“Yeah, I think it has something do with the currents off the ocean —” Jason offered.
“I’m keeping the baby,” Elizabeth blurted out, cutting him off. She cleared her throat as he stared at her. “I didn’t even know for sure until last night but I know how. I thought about not—because—well, you know all the reasons.” She folded her arms. “But I think I can do this. I want to do this. I just—I didn’t want you to think that choice was on the table. Because it was, but it’s not anymore.”
Jason nodded slowly. “All right.”
“Okay.” She bit her lip. “And I’m sorry—”
“You had a good point last night. About what it would be like if I just went home and I wasn’t ready,” Jason said slowly. “I got angry because I hate that something like that would or could mess up a future for us. For the baby.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes. “I didn’t mean to upset you—”
“But you wanted to be realistic. And I could stand here and promise it would never affect the way I treated you or the baby, but it would be a lie. Because it already did. That day at Sonny’s, when I accused you—” Jason looked back out over the water. “I hurt you, and it was the last thing I wanted. I don’t want you to feel that way again. I don’t want to do it.” He paused. “I just don’t know where that leaves us.”
“I finished my freelance contract,” Elizabeth said. He focused on her. “So I’ve got some time. I mean, I know I said I couldn’t go with you, but I meant permanently. I think we need more time to figure this out. Away from Port Charles.”
Jason tilted his head. “You’d stay here? With me?”
“A few weeks maybe, I don’t know. We both might need to let this sit for a while. I’ve really only been thinking about whether I wanted to keep the baby and how to tell you. Now—I don’t really know.” She licked her lips, nervous. “Unless you don’t want me to—”
“No, I want it.” He took her hand in his. Their eyes met, and he smiled slightly. “But you’re not driving.”
She laughed, rolled her eyes. “Okay, sure. We’ll see.”