Chapter 21

This entry is part 21 of 37 in the Counting Stars

Do you remember not long ago?
When we used to live for the night time
Cherish each moment
Now we don’t live we exist
We just run through our lives
So alone
That’s why you’ve got to hold me

Hold Me, Savage Garden

Sunday, April 23, 2000

Manzanita, Oregon: Ocean Inn

Jason woke just as the rays of the sun began to peek around the curtains pulled over the windows, creating streaks of light in their hotel room. He was laying on his stomach, his head turned away from the window, towards Elizabeth still sleeping deeply beside him. She’d curled up on her side, one hand tucked beneath the pillow, the other lying next to him.

He wasn’t sure how long he lay there, memorizing every inch of her face, listening to her slow and even breathing. It had been so strange the night before. After the phone call with Emily, they’d gone out to get something to eat, and the conversation had been stilted as she picked at her pizza, and he wondered if he should have found a place with a better menu. Shouldn’t she be eating fresh food? More fruits? Or something. He hadn’t really been around anyone who was pregnant.

They’d never had trouble talking to one another—from the moment he’d shoved that jerk away from her in Jake’s and she’d lit into him about stepping in when she hadn’t asked for help, there had never been an uncomfortable moment. Or a tense silence.

She was still in Oregon because they needed time to figure things out. To let the reality sink in. Just a few weeks ago, she’d told him she couldn’t go—and he’d been almost as sure that he couldn’t stay. And now—

Now he didn’t know where either of them stood or if he could be certain she wasn’t staying because of the baby. Because she felt obligated to him after all their conversations about Michael. And he had to admit to himself she wasn’t wrong to wonder—would he return to Port Charles because he felt the pressure to do what was right, what was expected?

Elizabeth’s breathing changed, grew a bit shorter, more shallow, and she shifted, burrowing her face into the pillow as she shifted through the layers of waking. “Too much sun,” she muttered, rolling away from the window, onto her belly. She sighed, then twisted her head to face him, her eyes little more than slits of blue. “Hey,” she mumbled. “What time…”

“Almost seven,” he said. He rolled onto his side, propped himself up on his elbow. “Do you want something to drink? Water?”

“Ugh.” Elizabeth ground the heels of her hands into her eyes, then slowly sat up, her hair tangled and mussed. “No. I—” She stifled a yawn. “No. Wait.” She cleared her throat. “Yes. Actually, I’m starving.” Her cheeks flushed and she looked at him. “I’m never hungry in the morning.”

Jason’s smile was small as he sat up as well. “I remember. But maybe…”

“Maybe because I’m…” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I’m eating for two,” she said slowly. “That feels so strange to say,” she murmured. She rested a hand on her belly which, to his eyes, didn’t look any different than it had when he’d seen her last. “But I am.”

“I’ll go get something to eat,” he offered. “What do you want?”

“I—” She furrowed her brow. “Sausage. And bacon. Waffles. Or maybe pancakes. I don’t know. Everything.”

He didn’t really know how to fill that request—he’d been thinking about grabbing something at the fast food place he’d seen as they’d checked in the night before. “I don’t think Burger King has waffles.”

“No, probably not.” Elizabeth swung her legs over the side. “But wasn’t there a diner or something we passed?”


“They’ll have breakfast.” She yawned again and padded over to the bathroom. “I’ll get a shower, unless you want to get one first. You’re faster.”

“No, you go ahead.”

She didn’t protest again, only grabbed a few things from the duffel she’d left next to the bathroom and closed the door behind her. Jason found himself grinning at her sudden urge to eat everything—and then it faded slightly. She was really pregnant. They were really having a child together.

He was going to be a father again. No, he corrected himself. He was already a father — he wasn’t going to sit back and let Elizabeth go through any of this alone. After they went to the diner, he’d find a bookstore and buy one of the books she mentioned.

He wanted—needed—to know everything.

Spencer House: Living Room

Laura smiled when she saw Bobbie on the other side of the door. “Well, this is a nice surprise. You just missed Lulu—Luke picked her up to spend the weekend with him—”

“Oh.” Bobbie blinked. “That’s…I don’t know why that surprises me,” she said after a moment. “He always spent so much time with Lucky, but I guess I thought he’d be more unsure what to do with a daughter one-on-one.”

“Well, he’s trying to figure out. And I appreciate him doing it.” Laura closed the door. “Thanks so much for keeping her while we were gone. And—” She paused. “And for not asking a lot of questions, I guess.”

“I know it has something to do with Elizabeth and that she didn’t want a lot of people to know.” Bobbie sat on the sofa. “I’m not going to pry. I just want to know if she’s all right.”

“She is. She’s going to tell you what’s going on,” Laura told her. “As soon as she can. I don’t even think she meant to tell me, except she blurted it out and I happened to be there—”

“She’s been a bit distant with me since Jason left,” Bobbie said with a sigh. “I think because of Carly. She’s angry with Carly for some stunts she pulled, and if she comes around me, Carly usually pops up.”

“I’m sure that’s not it—”

“Well, if it is—I can understand it. I trust that Elizabeth knows where to find me if she needs me—the other thing I wanted to tell you,” Bobbie said, “is that Nikolas stopped by while you were out of town. I’m not sure why since he and I are a bit tense with each other these days.”

“Seems to be a common theme these days.” Laura sat next to Bobbie. “I know he and Elizabeth are in the same boat—”

“It’s different for them,” Bobbie said. “To the best of my knowledge, Elizabeth has cut ties. She’s trying to be civil because of you and Emily—”

“About Christmas? I thought Nikolas planned to apologize—”

“You weren’t there,” Bobbie reminded her. “He made a huge scene and announced to the entire party—which meant most of the town, too—that Jason was sleeping with Elizabeth. It wasn’t true, but even if it was, it wasn’t his business. Even worse, he started a fist fight with Jason—” Bobbie made a face. “She’d hate me for telling you this, but it was even worse. He tried to apologize, but Elizabeth wasn’t feeling forgiving, and Nikolas said some cruel things. He blames Jason for Lucky, Laura. And it’s part of the reason he’s so angry.”

Laura sighed and got to her feet, wandering towards the mantel, feeling restless. “I’ve told him over and over again that Jason and Sonny had nothing to do with it. But he needs someone to blame. That’s the Cassadine in him, I suppose. You said he came by while we were gone?”

“He’d clearly found out that you and Elizabeth had left — and he was looking for information. I told him what you told me—about going to see Emily. I called her last night — Nikolas checked up on the story. Emily covered, but—”

“But,” Laura said with a nod. “I’m sure it doesn’t matter, but I can tell you that Luke and I flew to Oregon because Elizabeth needed to see Jason. We only went to be sure she found him — we didn’t have a firm destination. That’s where she is — with him.”

“Oh.” Bobbie pressed her lips together, absorbed that information. “All right. I assume I’ll hear from her—”

She stopped when they heard the knock at the door, and before Laura could cross the room to open it, Nikolas entered, his smile falling when he saw Bobbie there. “Mother,” he said tightly, closing the door. “I was hoping to see Lulu.”

“She’s with her father,” Laura said. “I’m sorry, I would have told you if you’d called. Saved you a trip—”

“Can’t I see you?” he asked, kissing her cheek, flashing another cool look at Bobbie, who just arched a brow. “How was your trip? You didn’t stay long.”

“Oh, I just wanted to get Elizabeth settled in the city.” Laura took a seat. “And do some shopping. Elizabeth is staying with Emily for a while. Getting a change of scenery.”

“And Luke helped?” Nikolas said pleasantly. A shiver slid down Laura’s spine. “I noticed he wasn’t around.”

“I couldn’t tell you where Luke was. The divorce is nearly final,” Laura replied, her voice steady. “We’re not in each other’s pockets. I’m sorry for the short notice, I suppose Elizabeth felt a bit lonely and wanted to see Emily.”

“I’m sure that’s all it is.” Nikolas finally looked at Bobbie. “I’ve spoken with my father. Apparently, you’re concerned for me.” His tone suggested her worry was unwelcome.

“I’ve don’t like the behavior I’ve seen the last few months—”

“You mean you don’t like that I’m the only one with the courage to take Elizabeth to task for what she’s done,” Nikolas snapped out. He got to his feet. “Jason nearly got her killed on New Year’s—you were there—it wasn’t enough that his life took my brother, it has to put Elizabeth in the grave, too?”

“Elizabeth is an adult, capable of making her own decisions.” Bobbie rose. “And Lucky’s death was a tragic accident. Shame on you for using it this way, for doing this in front of your mother—”

“Shame on you for encouraging Elizabeth,” Nikolas retorted. “For making her think what she’s done is right. Will she have to end up like me before you see the danger? Choking on her own blood in a parking lot?”

Laura stepped between them. “Please don’t—”

“No. No!” Nikolas repeated when his mother took his arm. “I won’t pretend. I won’t be like everyone else with their head in the sand. He’s a killer, Mother. He took advantage of Elizabeth, and you’re just letting it happen—”

“It’s not that simple—”

“I should have known you wouldn’t take my side.” He stalked the door. “You’re still choosing everyone over me—”

Nikolas slammed the door, the glass pane rattling in his wake. Bobbie exhaled slowly and looked at her sister-in-law. “He’s just trying to make you feel guilty—”

“It worked,” Laura said, sinking back onto the sofa, her expression troubled. “He’s not wrong, Bobbie—”


“About Lucky, yes. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wish Elizabeth had chosen anyone else. I’ve had a lifetime living on the fringes of this life.” Laura sighed. “I’ll respect her choice. I’ll support it. Haven’t I already? But it’s hard to be angry at Nikolas when he’s only speaking the truth. He nearly died because of Jason. And that bomb—”

“It’s not our choice to make. Or our risk to take,” Bobbie said. She sat down, took Laura’s hand. “All we can do is love her.”

“If I have to bury one more—if either of us have to bury another child that we love,” Laura told her, thinking of BJ, “I don’t know if I can handle it.”

“I’m not sure either,” Bobbie replied. “But you said it best. We’ll support her. We’ll love her, and we’ll hope the universe swings in our favor. For once.”

Manzanita, Oregon

Ocean Inn: Deck

Breakfast had gone well, Elizabeth decided, and she’d almost felt hopeful again, as she had the day before when they’d pulled over on the highway, and they’d talked for a few minutes about the baby and had seemed to be on the same page. Maybe the awkwardness had only been because they were in a room with a bed, and neither really knew what to do with that.

She nearly convinced herself that it was just that — lingering tension over the uncertain nature of their relationship. Jason had gone again, wanting to take a ride through some of the surrounding hills. She’d almost joined him, but she’d felt a bit queasy, so instead, she’d grabbed a sketch pad, her box of colored pencils and curled up on one of the chairs on the deck overlooking the ocean.

The sun was high over the sky when Jason appeared at the terrace door. Elizabeth glanced over her shoulder. “Hey. How was the ride?”

“Good.” He sat on the other chair. “Are you feeling better?”

“Yeah. I think maybe I overdid it on the waffles at breakfast. I felt better after some lunch.” She drew her legs up onto the chair, folding them and perching the sketchbook on her lap. “There’s a grocery store a few blocks away that had some soup and sandwiches. I grabbed some for you.”

“Soup?” he echoed with a lift of his lips into a half smile. “What kind?”

Elizabeth smirked. “I nearly grabbed cream of broccoli, but I figured you’d prefer minestrone.” She tipped her head as he reached into a bag and pulled out a book. “You went shopping?”

“I passed a bookstore on my way back in.” He held up the cover which showed a woman with her arms wrapped around a pregnant belly. “I told you I wanted to get one.”

“You did,” Elizabeth murmured, her stomach fluttering. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting. “I’ve never really been around anyone who was pregnant,” she said. “You, um, you knew Carly, though, right?”

“Sort of. But I didn’t really get involved until a few weeks before Michael was born.” Jason flipped through the book, and she was relieved when his tone stayed even. As if they weren’t talking about the reason he’d left Port Charles in the first place. “She was only staying with me a few days before she went into labor. Not really enough time to think about it.” He looked up, their eyes meeting. “Besides, it’s different. I—I want to be here. To know what’s going on.”

“Me, too. I’m lucky, I guess. I found out really early. Like, almost as soon as you can,” Elizabeth continued. “I’m just about four weeks along.”

Jason thumbed through until he found that page. “In week 4,” he read, “the placenta and amniotic sac is starting to form. The fetus is 1 millimeter long — about the size of a poppy seed.”

“A poppy seed?” she repeated. She put her sketch pad aside and went into the room, to the kitchenette where she’d stored the other half of her sandwich. She returned to the deck, her hand outstretched, a small black poppy seed in her palm. “That’s crazy.”

Jason took the seed carefully from her, almost if it as actually the baby itself and stared at it for a long moment. “It almost doesn’t seem possible,” he admitted, “that a baby grows from something this small.” He set it down on the small table next to the chair and looked back at the book. “It says you should make sure you’re getting a lot of vitamin D. Sunlight, milk, egg yolk, and orange juice.”  He paused. “And healthy fats from fish.”

Elizabeth wrinkled her noise. “Ugh, I hate fish. Isn’t there something else I can do? Anything else?”

“There are vitamins. We can find some—” He hesitated, then looked at her. “It says this is a good time to make an appointment. For the first ultrasound.”

“Oh, well, I went to Planned Parenthood to get a confirmation last week. Just to be sure I didn’t get a false positive since it was so early—” Elizabeth picked up her sketch pad. “I still have a few weeks, and it’s not like I have to worry about a waiting list. Bobbie can get me in, I think.”  When she realized Jason hadn’t said anything, she looked at him again. “What?”

“We can go back,” Jason told her. “I know you said you wanted some more time, but—” He looked back down at the book. “There’s this list of food to avoid, and if we’re always eating out, it’ll be harder—”

“I do want more time. More than just twenty-four hours. Jason, we just got here.” Her chest tightened. “I thought we both agreed—”

“We did. It’s just—” Jason closed the book, set it aside, then dragged a hand through his hair. “I don’t know what’s going to change in a few more days or weeks, and you should be close to a doctor—”

Elizabeth bristled. “Do you think I’m not taking care of myself? I know prenatal care is important—”

“I didn’t say that—”

“I’m not stopping you from going back to Port Charles,” Elizabeth said flatly, and he closed his mouth. “I never was. It wasn’t even just my idea for you to go in the first place, and you know that—you were already going to leave—”

He grimaced, and she saw the muscles in his face shift, his jaw clenching. “But you were the one who told me not to stay a month ago,” he reminded her. “I wanted to—”

“I was scared—” Her throat closed, and Elizabeth looked away, out over the ocean as she tried to pull herself back together. “I was scared you’d stay for a while, and then you’d leave again, and it would all be worse. But you also wrote me a week ago you weren’t ready to come home.”

Jason dipped his head. “I know. And I meant it.”

“I’m not stopping you from going back,” she repeated. “You want to go back? We’ll go right now. Portland’s, what, two hours from here? Let’s go right now—” She shoved herself to her feet, and Jason rose as well. “Let’s go—”

“Why are you so mad at me?” he demanded as he followed her inside, watching as she stalked over to the phone. “If you’re not stopping me, then what is this? You’re angry because I want to go back—”

“I’m not angry—” Elizabeth closed her hand around the cell phone, not even sure who she’d call or how to book a flight from a phone anyway. She turned around to look at him, his expression as miserable as she felt. “I’m not angry,” she said again. “I just…you didn’t want to go home a week ago. You meant it. You still do. You weren’t ready.”

“But it’s my choice, isn’t it?” Jason said, his tone stiff. “My mistake to make—”

“It’s not just you anymore,” she shot back. “You’re going back because I’m pregnant—you’re changing your whole life because—” Elizabeth stopped abruptly as Jason stalked across the room, towards the door. “Where are you going?” she asked, hating how her voice sounded. How the words shook, and she wanted to crawl inside herself, despising how she’d picked a fight when he’d been so excited talking about the baby. “Jason—”

“I’m just—” He turned back at the door. “I’m taking a walk,” he told her gently. “I get it. I told you I couldn’t come home. I don’t know how to make this okay. I just—I need to think, okay? I don’t want to argue.”

“I don’t either—”

“So I’m going for a walk. I’ll be back.”

He didn’t slam the door as he left, but he might as well have. Tears stung her eyes and slid down her cheeks. She’d ruined everything. Just like she always did.

Manzanita Beach

Jason left his boots just outside the door and crossed the few yards until he was on the beach. He missed the water — not just in Port Charles, but the private beaches on the island where he could sit and listen to the surf for hours without running into a single person.

The sand here was hard, and his feet didn’t sink down the way they did on the island, but it was as good as it was going to get. He walked until he’d nearly reached the water, then started to walk along the shoreline.

He didn’t know how they’d started fighting or why it was such a crime to suggest that the mother of his child should be safe at home, in the city where she’d insisted that she needed to be. Close to doctors and with a kitchen to cook healthy food. He shoved his hands into his pockets, angry at himself for thinking it would be simple. He’d seen that stupid book and thought if they could just talk about the baby, it would be the bridge back to how things used to be.

It had always been so easy to talk to Elizabeth before. Effortless. From the moment they’d connected in Jake’s, he’d talked to her about Michael, how losing the little boy had ripped him apart, and how hard it was to see him. And he’d talked about Robin—something he hadn’t really been able to do for months. It had never been difficult to open his mouth, to say what he needed to, to just be open and honest with her.

Even after he’d been shot, after Christmas, after the bomb, it had been hard to have some of those conversations, but he’d still managed it. And it hadn’t felt awkward. It hadn’t felt wrong. But now talking to Elizabeth felt like talking to Robin in those final days, like being around Sonny. His skin felt too tight, like it was stretched too thin, and he was fighting to burst out—

Jason paused and turned back towards the ocean, focusing on the horizon, where the Pacific disappeared into the sky. Listening to the waves as they crashed against each other, the steady way the water hit the land, then receded as another wave took its place. Over and over again, one wave would hit, then draw the water back out—it was reliable. Consistent.

He’d once felt that way. Even when the world around him had been strange and chaotic, he’d always had a piece of himself inside that felt certain. No matter what emotion had roiled through him the four years since the accident, Jason had always felt sure of himself. He said what he wanted, did what he wanted, and acted on his instincts, trusting that they would steer him well. They’d brought him a relationship with Robin, a job with Sonny—two pieces of his life that had defined him—and those instincts had agreed to Carly’s lie, to bring Michael into his life.

But they’d also led him to sleep with Carly and hurt Robin, to take Sonny’s orders literally and hurt Brenda on his behalf—to let Carly in his life so he could keep Michael—

He’d lost that certainty, that confidence that he could handle himself—that no matter what life threw at him, he knew who he was, and that was all that mattered. Had it been when he’d stood back as his relationship with Robin deteriorated, when he’d swallowed Carly’s excuses for running to AJ—when he’d walked into the penthouse, pain searing his side, and watched Carly saunter down the stairs, wearing nothing but Sonny’s shirt, buttons barely holding it closed—

Jason dragged his hands over his face. His instincts had taken a nosedive since the moment he’d fallen in love with Michael. Since he’d decided being a father was more important than anything else in his life. More important than Robin’s dignity, than their love, than Jason’s own self-respect as he’d let Carly manipulate him into waiting out her marriage—

And now, he was doing it again. The fear of not being a good father, not being enough was making him push Elizabeth further and faster than she was ready for. She’d wanted time for both of them to settle with all of this, and he was demanding they throw that plan out less than a day after they’d started. Because he believed the best place for Elizabeth was at home, in Port Charles, surrounded her family, near doctors she trusted. But Elizabeth didn’t want to do it that way. She didn’t want him to come back.

He didn’t know how to wrap his mind around that truth. Around that fact that he’d walked away from Elizabeth twice, had told her repeatedly he couldn’t function in Port Charles, and now he had to face the consequences of that choice. She didn’t trust him to stay. Or maybe, he finally admitted to himself, she didn’t want him to.

Jason dragged himself back to the motel, his steps slowing when he saw a familiar figure sitting on one of the benches that edged the area where the road curved away from the beach and towards the town. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Elizabeth slid down—towards the left side and he sat on the right side. Just like at home. She’d put on a sweater—the sun was dipping towards the horizon, he realized. He must have been walking longer than he thought. “I’m sorry,” she began.

“No, I am.” Jason looked at her, hoping she’d turn her face towards him, to meet his eyes. She did finally, though her expression was guarded. “You asked for time. And I didn’t give it. I just…I want to do this right. I want to take care of you. Of both of you.”

“I know that.” Her eyes softened. “I know. I never doubted that.”

He cleared his throat, broke the gaze to look back at the ocean, thinking again of those waves. Relentlessly crashing against the sand. Over and over again, like a machine that couldn’t be a broken. “But you’re not wrong. I don’t know if I’m ready go home. I don’t even know what it would feel like to be ready,” he admitted. “I want to do the right thing. But I don’t know what that is anymore. Or if I ever did. I used to think—” He exhaled slowly, considering his words. “I used to think that all I had to do was tell the truth. To always say what I was thinking. To be honest, even if it could be seen as brutal or cruel. I didn’t want to be a liar, to use people. The Quartermaines did that, that’s who they were, and I didn’t want that for my life.”

Jason rubbed the heel of his hand against his heart, feeling the tightness there easing. “I used to think Jason Quartermaine—who I used to be—I used to think he was an idiot. Or weak for putting up with all of that. For twisting himself around to be what they wanted. For getting into a car with a drunk because he thought he could save him.” He forced himself to continue even over the lump in his throat. “I thought I was so much better than him because I was living my own life, and no one was going to tell me what to do. To use me.”

He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, clasping his hands, as he stared hard at the sand beneath his bare feet. “But I’m still that same man. I destroyed my life to keep the chance of having Michael again. I told myself it was worth it, and maybe it was. I don’t know. But I forgot, I think, what it meant that he wasn’t mine. Not by blood, which was all that mattered. I let Carly use me, push me around because I wanted him back.” Tears burned his eyes. “I wanted my son back. And that dream didn’t die until I saw her come down those stairs in his shirt. Not because I loved her. I didn’t. I lied to myself. I told myself whatever I had to because I needed to believe I could have him back again. But that night, I realized she would always have all the power. She was no better than the Quartermaines, and I was still the weak idiot who’d ruined his own life.”

And there was the truth of the matter. Going home to Port Charles meant finally confronting the reality of not being Michael’s father, not ever again, and Jason wasn’t ready for that.

“I don’t know what a few more weeks is going to change,” Elizabeth said finally, and he looked at her. “I just…if this baby didn’t exist, we’d both be right where we were a month ago. You couldn’t stay, and I didn’t think I could go. I think maybe we’re both closer to changing that than we were. But it feels true for both of us. You can’t come home,” she said, and he nodded, his mouth tightening. “And I still…” She bit her lip. “I still think it’s where I want to be. I don’t want us to make choices because I’m pregnant.”

“But the baby is a reality,” Jason pressed. He sat back, his arm stretched out over the back of the bench. “And there are some decisions we can’t push away forever.”

“I know.” She slid down until their bodies were brushed against her and she leaned her head against his shoulder. He curled his arm around her, pressing his lips to her head. “But maybe just for a little while longer.”


  • I really hope they can hash out what needs to be done and still be true to themselves. I hope Nik starts to let up on Elizabeth.

    According to Carla P on December 26, 2022