I feel the fear of
Uncertainty stinging clear
And I, can’t help but ask myself how much I’ll let the fear
Take the wheel and steer
It’s driven me before and seems to have a vague
Haunting mass appeal
But lately I’m beginning to find that I
Should be the one behind the wheel
– Drive, Incubus
Saturday, April 22, 2000
Riverwalk Inn: Elizabeth’s Room
Elizabeth opened the door to find Laura on the other side. “Come on in. I’m almost ready—” She backed up, gesturing at the room where the contents of her carry on were scattered across the bed. “Do you want do the same diner for breakfast?”
“That’s fine.” Laura scanned the room. “Where’s Jason?”
“He went to fill up the gas tank on the bike. He drove straight here last night and it was basically on empty.” Elizabeth sank onto the bed. “We talked a little this morning. I’m keeping the baby.”
“Well, that’s progress.” Laura sat next to her, squeezed her hand. “Is he going to come back to Port Charles?”
“That’s where we’re still figuring things out,” Elizabeth admitted. “He’s not ready to come back. He said he would for the baby, but—” She paused. “I’m going to stay out here for a little while. I think Jason and I just need time. It’s not fair to expect him to have all of the answers when he’s had less time to think than I have. I don’t think it’ll be easier in Port Charles, so it’s better if I stay out here.”
“I think that’s a good idea. And it’ll be good for you both to reconnect. To remember how much you care about one another,” Laura added.
“Thank you. For coming all this way. I definitely—I could have done it by myself but I’m glad I didn’t have to.”
“That’s the good part about being a family.” Laura hugged her with one arm. “Luke and I will clear out after breakfast. It’ll be easier for you when it’s just the two of you.”
“It always is,” Elizabeth said on a wistful smile. Her stomach rumbled. “On that note, I definitely need to eat something.”
Riverwalk Inn: Parking Lot
Jason switched off the engine and frowned at the sight of Luke in front of Elizabeth’s motel room. “Is everything okay?” He swung his leg over the bike. What if Elizabeth was sick or needed—
“She’s all right. Laura just went in talk to her before we headed out for breakfast.” Luke cleared his throat. “You doing all right with all of this? I know it’s probably the last thing you were expecting.”
“I’m fine, Luke,” Jason said stiffly, uninterested in a heart to heart with the older man.
“Uh huh.” Luke shrugged. “All right. Well, let me say that we’ve kept it quiet back home. She just found out, and it’s just us, Emily, Sonny, and Alexis who know. Far as I’m concerned, that’s probably for the best until you’ve made some decisions.”
Jason grunted, but Luke wasn’t wrong. If he wasn’t back in Port Charles to handle the situation, he wasn’t wild about Elizabeth’s pregnancy being public knowledge—
Pregnancy. His mind stumbled over that word and sent the rest of his thoughts scattering. She was pregnant. Wanted to keep the baby. He was going to be a father again. Was it excitement or terror bubbling inside? A combination maybe—
“I don’t know all the ins and outs on why you’re not there,” Luke continued, “and it’s not my business. Except where Elizabeth is concerned. She doesn’t have family of her own to look out for her. Me and Laura are doing what we can, but it’s not the same as having her own people.”
Jason stared at him, wanting to say something but unsure how to articulate it. Elizabeth did have someone to look out for her — but he hadn’t been there. “I know.” But it would be different now. Wouldn’t it? He’d be Elizabeth’s family, and they’d have a baby. She wouldn’t be on her own anymore.
Luke opened his mouth to say something else, but mercifully, the door opened and Laura and Elizabeth emerged. “You ready for something to eat?” Luke asked, forcing cheer into his voice.
“Definitely,” Laura said. “And Luke, you and I are heading back to the airport just as soon as we finish. We can be back in Port Charles by early afternoon if we’re lucky.” She put an arm around Elizabeth’s shoulders as Luke just raised his brows. “Elizabeth’s going to stick around the west coast for a while.”
“Uh, sounds like a plan.” Luke gestured towards the rental car parked next to Jason. “You wanna head out?”
“Why don’t you ride with Jason?” Laura suggested. “You can get us a table. Luke and I will pack up and join you shortly. No need to waste time coming back here.”
Elizabeth smiled gratefully at Laura before looking at Jason who reached for her hand. “I’ll see you down there. It’s the diner on the next block, right?”
“You got it.”
Luke came to stand next to Laura as Jason handed Elizabeth a helmet, and the duo took off on the bike. “In a hurry to leave, darlin’?”
“We came here to make sure she found him, Luke. Not to hold her hand. She’s okay.” Laura took a deep breath. “She’s okay. If she needs me, she’ll call. For now, the best thing we can do is get out of their way and let them sort things out on their own.”
Nikolas ambled towards the entrance, then ducked away quickly when the door opened and Bobbie stepped out, a cell phone pressed against her ear. He was still irritated over the treatment the day before and was in no mood to have another run-in—
“Luke? The connection is terrible—already? Really? You thought it would take longer, but—” Bobbie paused, listening to the person on the other end. “No, it was a good thing he called Emily. Do I get to know what’s going on yet or—yeah, I guess it would be better coming from Elizabeth. All right. What time do you want me to get you from the airport?”
Bobbie’s voice faded as she went back into the diner. Nikolas stepped back out from behind the wall and considered the pieces of the conversation. He’d known Laura had gone with Elizabeth, but he hadn’t realized Luke had also accompanied them. They’d definitely gone after Jason—
Which meant Emily known. She’d covered for them. She had lied to him
Nikolas pressed lips together. What was wrong with Elizabeth? Chasing a man who had left her? Why couldn’t she appreciate the friends and family she had right here? She was just like his mother—Laura had always chosen Luke over everyone else. What would Elizabeth do if her precious Jason didn’t come through for her? Nikolas hoped he wouldn’t. It would serve Elizabeth right for being so cold and callous to the people who had stuck around. For choosing a man who would only get her killed—
He scowled, and stalked back to the parking lot. He’d lost his appetite.
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
“That shouldn’t be a problem. Yeah, I’ll file the flight plan, and you should be good to go—” Sonny waved Alexis to come in as he finished his phone call. “Uh, let Jason know if there’s anything he needs from me—I mean, if he’s coming back—yeah, okay. I get it. Nothing’s been decided. Okay. By the time you get to Portland, the flight should be set. Call if you need anything.”
“They’re flying back already?” Alexis wanted to know. She went over to the table, picked up the newspaper. “Is that good or bad?”
“Hard to tell,” Sonny admitted. “Luke was light on the details. Maybe because he doesn’t know a lot. They caught a break last night — Emily heard from Jason and was able to tell him Elizabeth was in Astoria, so they were able to make contact.”
“That is a stroke of good luck.” She folded her arms. “But Jason’s not coming with them?”
“Neither is Elizabeth,” Sonny added. He picked up the phone and called his guy at the airport to set up the return flight. When he was done, he turned his attention back to Alexis. “She’s sticking around for a few weeks, I guess, for them to have more time to figure things out. No reason for Luke and Laura to play third wheel.”
“Probably a bit awkward. Like traveling with your parents.” Alexis poured herself a cup of coffee. “That’s good, though. You were worried it would take a lot longer to get them in a room together, and you and Luke managed it in a week.”
“Would have happened without us,” Sonny muttered. “She got a postcard that put him in Astoria and he called Emily—”
“He’s not coming back. If he were, he would have just jumped on a plane.” Sonny stalked over to the windows to glare out over the downtown. “Instead, Liz is staying out there.”
“Are we back to this being your fault?”
“Maybe if I apologized again—”
“Sonny—” Alexis shook her head. “If Jason needs you, he knows where to find you, doesn’t he?”
“Yeah.” Sonny exhaled slowly. “I just want everything to be like it used to be,” he murmured. “But it’s never going to happen. I don’t know why I have to keep realizing that.”
Oregon Coast Highway
Luke and Laura, true to their word, headed to Portland after the diner, leaving Elizabeth and Jason with a decision on their hands. He’d offered to stay in Astoria another day, but Elizabeth thought it might be better to get on the road.
If they were driving, they didn’t have to talk, and maybe—just maybe, the drive would make her feel like they were connecting. Right now, it just felt strange and awkward. Outside that moment the night before when she’d run to him—
How could they begin to understand this situation if she didn’t feel like they were on the same page? And Jason seemed to agree — within an hour, they’d checked out and were going south on Route 101 — or the Oregon Coast Highway.
She could understand now why he’d felt at home on these roads — most of what they’d seen were roads that twisted and turned out of the hills, lined with trees — the water just dimly visible on the right side—
The wind rushed past, drowning out all her thoughts—and when he took one of the turns just a little too fast, she squealed—her heart pounding—then she laughed. They flew around another corner, and all of a sudden the trees dropped out of sight, and the ocean stretched out next to them, the water a gorgeous shade of blue. There was a small overlook point that Jason initially passed, but then doubled back.
He parked the bike, and Elizabeth stumbled off the bike, swaying slightly as she tugged off the helmet. He caught her at the hips to steady. “You okay?” Jason winced. “Maybe I shouldn’t have gone that fast—”
“No, no—” Breathless, she handed him the helmet and went to the overlook, taking in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, and the quiet — there weren’t a lot of cars this time of day. “No, it was perfect.” She pressed a hand to her abdomen. “It’s actually the best I’ve felt in a few days.” She slid him a look under her lashes as he stepped up next to her. “Clearly, the baby likes it.” Then she laughed again. “Not that there’s much there yet. I think the book said it’s like a grain of rice.”
Jason leaned against the guardrail. “Yeah?” he wanted to know. “What else? I don’t—” He squinted. “Did you bring the book?”
“Oh. No. I wasn’t—I don’t know. I didn’t think I’d stay, I guess. We can always get another one,” she offered. “I went to the bookstore after the clinic and there were like a thousand choices.”
“Yeah, I want to do that. I know stuff,” he added. “But it’s not the same.”
“No, you’re good at the stuff after the baby’s born. I’m glad one of us is going to know what they’re doing.” Elizabeth bit her lip, realizing she’d made an assumption that he’d be there, but he didn’t seem fazed so she smiled at him. “Honestly, other than a little nausea in the morning and some sleeping problems, I feel fine. And the sleep was probably from worrying.”
“I’m sorry.” Jason reached for her hand. “For not being there when you found out.”
“It’s okay. It really is. Emily was great. We should call her at the next stop.” Elizabeth looked back over the ocean. “It’s so beautiful. It’s my favorite part of being in Port Charles, being able to sit on the docks and watch the water. I get why Oregon felt like home.”
“Not enough, but better than other places.” He tipped his head. “You ready to get back on the road?”
“Yeah, thanks for stopping. The scenery is amazing when we’re flying past it, but it’s nice to be able to see it in more detail.” They got back on the bike, and roared back onto the highway, and she felt a little better for the conversation.
Ocean Inn: Oceanfront Suite
The tension returned as they checked in for the night, and climbed the stairs to their room. Elizabeth dumped her duffel bag on the bed, smiling faintly when she saw Jason stow a nearly identical black one by the closet. “I guess I have a lot to learn about traveling light.”
Jason drew his brows together, frowned. “What?”
“I had a suitcase with me, so Luke switched with me.” She tapped the bag. “It looks like yours.”
“Oh. Yeah. Hard to put a suitcase on bike.”
The silence fell again, and Elizabeth folded her arms, wishing there was a way to bring back the ease they’d once enjoyed. She’d say something silly, and he’d smile at her, or tease her back. But now they were both so horribly uncomfortable, and she hated it.
For a while, on the bike, at the outlook, it had felt like old times, and she’d foolishly hoped they could get it back without much work. But there was too much lying between them now—too much at stake, and maybe they were both feeling it.
And she was suddenly very aware that she didn’t have a lot of life experience. She’d only had one real relationship. She and Lucky had never argued, never had an uncomfortable silence. How did she bridge the distance?
She felt like a silly girl, out of her depth, unsure how to swim in these deeper waters. And she wanted to be a mother?
Elizabeth sank onto the bed, staring at her hands. Why didn’t he say anything? Why was he just standing there?
“Are you hungry?” Jason asked finally.
“No—” She looked at the phone, then back at him. “I promised Emily I’d call her, but I haven’t yet. Do—do you want to talk to her, too?”
Relief flooded his eyes and he nodded. “Yeah. Okay. Let’s call Emily.”
Ridiculously grateful, she picked up the phone and dialed. “Em? It’s me. And Jason.” Tears stung her eyes and she looked away from Jason, hoping he hadn’t seen them. “Yeah. We’re together.” Whatever that meant. “Jason found me.” She looked over, met his eyes as he sat next to her, and something passed between them that made her feel just a bit better. “He always does.”