Chapter 25

This entry is part 25 of 37 in the Counting Stars

If it makes you happy
It can’t be that bad
If it makes you happy
Then why the hell are you so sad?
If it makes you happy
It can’t be that bad
If it makes you happy
Then why the hell are you so sad?

If It Makes You Happy, Sheryl Crow

Friday, May 5, 2000

New Imperial Hotel: Balcony

Early the next morning, with the sun still rising in the horizon, Jason stepped out onto the small balcony their adjoining rooms shared. He sipped his black coffee and scanned the area around them, including downtown Portland and the Willamette River in the background.

It was the largest city he’d stayed a few days in since Dallas. If there had been a better view of the water, it might have reminded him of the view from the penthouse.

“It’s a great city.”

Jason glanced to his left, finding Sonny stepping through the sliding door, his own cup of coffee in hand. “Haven’t really spent any time here,” he said.

“I did. That year I was gone. I went a lot of places,” Sonny continued. “Stayed on the move for that first six months, and up here—seemed like a good place. Not a lot of organized crime. I spent—” He squinted. “Maybe a week here.” He took a seat in one of the chairs, continued drinking his coffee. “Elizabeth still asleep?”

“Yeah.” Jason glanced over his shoulder. He could just make out the slender pale arm dangling over the edge of the bed. “Alexis call you back?”

“Yeah, I had a message after we got back from dinner.” Sonny shifted. “She was at the mansion to see Ned. Carly and AJ were arguing—she’s not too happy.”

Jason made a face, looked back out over the city. “I really don’t care.”

“No, I guess not. But maybe it’s not the worst that she has time to deal with it before you come back.” He waited, but Jason didn’t say anything. “Is that still the, uh, plan?”

“Eventually.” Jason exhaled slowly, stared down into his coffee. “You decided I was better off without Carly, and you made sure it happened.”

“I didn’t plan it, Jase. It just—” Sonny considered his words. “She was angry—hurt—at the thought you might be moving on with someone else, and it just—I was angry with her. She’d created this situation, hadn’t she? She married AJ to keep Michael, but she wanted to keep you hanging around—” His mouth was pinched. “I didn’t like it.”

“It wasn’t—”

“No, it wasn’t my place to like it. Not my place to do anything about it.” Sonny nodded. “All of that’s true, Jason. But in the moment, I was too angry to think of it. Too self-destructive. She was never going to stop hurting you. And I thought—if she saw you with someone else—I wanted that for you. I liked Elizabeth. I wanted her happy, too. So—” he got to his feet. “She made me angry at a moment when I was feeling low and angry with myself. I can tell you I’m sorry, and I am. But at the same time—” Sonny looked through the glass door, and Jason followed his gaze. Elizabeth had turned over, and now her face was visible. “That night doesn’t happen, Jase, maybe Elizabeth isn’t in that room. Maybe there’s no baby. Maybe you’re still in Port Charles, hanging on for a glimmer of hope to get Michael back.”

He took a deep breath. “I didn’t want Carly to be the reason you don’t come back, so a few weeks ago, I dug up her prenuptial agreement, got security photos of her at the Towers that night. From the camera at my door. If you come home and she makes trouble, they get sent directly to AJ.”

“Her prenuptial—” Jason shook his head. “I don’t understand—”

“Infidelity clause. She’s caught cheating, she walks away without a cent. And AJ gets custody of Michael. She might be able to fight that part in court, but she’d need money.” Sonny stared down at his coffee. “Can’t say she won’t take the risk, but I just—I don’t know. I wanted to do something.”

Jason clenched his jaw. He wasn’t sure how to feel about the fact that Sonny was still trying to manipulate things, to control Jason’s life, even if there was a slight relief that Carly might not make a lot of trouble. But it wasn’t Sonny’s job to do any of it—

“I need to be able to make my own decisions,” Jason said tightly. “And yeah—my own mistakes. Robin didn’t respect that, either. She still saw me as someone who needed to be taught a lesson. I thought you saw me as an equal—”

“I did. I do. But I also saw you as my family.” Sonny finished his coffee. “You always had my back. Always let me make the choices, even when you didn’t agree. Brenda—you hated everything I made you do. Jilting her, making her think I didn’t want her—” Sonny squeezed his eyes closed. “She died thinking it.”

“It was your relationship. None of my business—” Jason exhaled slowly. “But you’re right. If I don’t end up in the snow—if Elizabeth doesn’t save my life—” He opened the door to step back inside. “I’m not where I am today.”

“Will we be okay?” Sonny asked when Jason said nothing else.

“I don’t know.” Jason left him out on the balcony and went to the electric tea kettle to start the water. By the time Elizabeth stirred and sat up, grimacing as the morning sickness hit, he had tea and crackers waiting, with a glass of ginger ale.

Cassadine Estate: Conservatory

Stefan peered over the top of the newspaper he wasn’t actually reading and considered the sullen young man sitting across from him, glaring at a bowl of oatmeal as if it had committed a crime. Laura’s brief visit to the stables hadn’t improved matters at all, and Stefan was honestly at a loss to reach his son.

He cleared his throat, then folded the Herald and set it aside. “I’ve been thinking that you might benefit from a change of a scenery.”

Nikolas looked up, frowned. “What?”

“It’s difficult for you here,” Stefan said. “Surrounded by unhappy memories.” From the shooting and the difficult recovery that had followed, to the loss of his brother, and all the trauma that Katherine had caused— “It’s no wonder that you’ve been unable to move past—”

“No one understands,” Nikolas muttered. His gaze drifted away, out the window that looked over the garden. “My brother was murdered, and the men responsible are going on, living their lives like nothing happened. And no one seems to be angry that another innocent life is going to be at risk—”

Stefan dabbed a napkin at his lips. “No matter how many times you shake your fists at the sky, no one is listening,” he told Nikolas gently. “And it’s only causing you more grief. You feel as the very people who ought to be guarding Lucky’s memory and looking for justice are betraying him.”

“Yes!” Nikolas tossed down his spoon. “Yes! My mother is so desperate to cling to any piece of Lucky that she’s going to let Elizabeth do whatever she wants.” Disgusted, he shook his head. “And she keeps talking about proof! I don’t need any more proof — my brother was alive until he went to sleep in that garage. He was safe until Sonny Corinthos came back. They refuse to see it—”

“You’ve done all you can do,” Stefan said, and Nikolas fell silent. “Perhaps you should consider spending a few weeks in Greece. Gain some perspective on how best to approach this problem.”

Nikolas exhaled slowly. “If I could just find a way to break this hold Jason Morgan has over Elizabeth,” he muttered to himself. “To prove that he’ll cause her nothing but pain—then we can turn our attention to making him pay.” He looked at Stefan. “You’re right. I can do nothing else in Port Charles.”

Stefan hesitated. That wasn’t precisely the view that he’d hoped Nikolas would reach, but if the result was useful — Nikolas taking some time to rest away from Port Charles— then perhaps, it was satisfactory. “Yes. You can think of the next step when your mind is clear of these distractions. If you like, I’ll call the estate and have them prepare for your arrival in the next week or so—”

“Why wait?” Nikolas got to his feet, threw down his napkin. “I’ll go now.”

New Imperial Hotel: Bedroom

Elizabeth left the bathroom, towel drying her hair. “I feel human again,” she declared. “Three days in a row of this,” she continued. “When does morning sickness end?”

“Uh—” Jason reached across the bed for the book on the nightstand. She grinned at that—he’d taken her question seriously and was researching the answer. Pretty soon, he’d have memorized the book. “It should get better after—” he winced.

“What? Never? It’s never, isn’t it?” she sat next to him, peering over his shoulder.

“By the end of the first trimester.”

“Ugh. I still have like six weeks to go.” She flopped back on the bed, feeling sorry for herself for just a moment. But maybe it would be okay. Jason always got up earlier than she did, and he’d had those crackers ready. That had helped—

Elizabeth propped herself up on her elbows. “I heard you out on the balcony earlier. Were you talking to Sonny?”


He didn’t say anything else, and she considered whether to prod or push him for more. She sat upright, curling her legs beneath her. “Okay. I was thinking of where to go while Sonny’s here—”

“He apologized again for December,” Jason said and she fell silent. “But he doesn’t get it. He’s still—” He rubbed the side of his face. “He’s trying to fix things. He threatened Carly to stay away from me when we go back—he found something to use against her in her prenup—”

“Oh.” Elizabeth drew her brows together because that didn’t sound so terrible, but then again it wasn’t her life that was being meddled with.

“He still doesn’t trust me to deal with Carly,” Jason said, and Elizabeth sighed. “Does he think I’m stupid? That I can’t do anything—” He shook his head, looked away.

“I think,” Elizabeth said carefully, “that he’s feeling guilty. And he misses you.” Jason met her eyes. “That doesn’t mean you have to forgive him. Or go back to work for him. You don’t owe him anything because he came here.”

“He pointed out that if…” Jason hesitated. “That if that night didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have ended up at the boxcar. At the studio. With you.” He jerked a shoulder. “He’s right.”

Her eyes narrowed. “And I guess that means without all of that, we’re not here right now. And I’m not pregnant.” Asshole, she thought, then sighed. “He doesn’t get the credit for any of that, Jason. Because I made choices, too, didn’t I?” She slid over the bed until she was tucked up against his side. “You tried to tell me to go away, that everything was under control. But I didn’t listen. I went to get Bobbie, and I came back. And you made choices. You didn’t have to come with me. Or stay.”

Jason picked up her hand and traced the lines of her palm. “You could have kicked me out when your grandmother wanted you to.”

“And you could have stayed when Bobbie told you it was time to go.” Jason met her eyes again. “Bobbie told me about it. Everything seemed fine, and then I came back, and you were packing.”

“I told her what Nikolas said at the Christmas party wasn’t true. I told Emily that, too,” Jason admitted. “Because it wasn’t. Except that I—I knew things were changing. And I didn’t know—” He paused. “I could have stayed. I wanted to.”

“Bobbie said she could see how we felt about each other, but that it was like we were in a bubble. A safe, little world we’d created just for ourselves.” She rested her head against his shoulder. “Just like right now. When it’s just you and me, I feel like we can do anything. It’s everyone else that’s the problem.” She paused. “Sonny isn’t the reason we’re here. He made a choice—he and Carly made their choices. And then you and I made ours. You don’t owe him for that or for anything else Forgive him and go home because it’s what you want to do. When you’re ready for it. That’s all you owe anyone.”

Saturday, May 6, 2000

General Hospital: Nurse’s Station

Bobbie sighed when she saw Carly step off the elevator and head straight for the nurse’s station. She’d been waiting for this visit, but that didn’t mean she was looking forward to it.

“Mama, you didn’t call me back—” Carly began. Bobbie stepped out of the nurse’s station and took her daughter by the elbow to steer her over to the waiting area. “I called you three times—”

“I was busy—”

“Did you know?” Carly demanded, yanking her arm out of Bobbie’s grasp. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“No, I didn’t know,” Bobbie said, “but even if I had, I wouldn’t told you. You and that stunt you pulled with Michael in January are the reason Jason left town in the first place—”

“There’s no way that it’s true,” Carly shot back. “I just saw that little twit a few weeks ago, and she looks just like a damn twig — Jason left months ago!”

“This is none of my business and it’s not yours, either. You made your bed, Carly. Don’t be angry when the world expects you to lie in it—” Bobbie folded her arms. “He’s moved on. You’re the only one still hung up—”

Carly closed her eyes. “If I had known, I could have done better yesterday. I just—it was a surprise, and it was upsetting, and now AJ—he’s mad at me.”


“Mama—” Carly’s lip trembled. “Why are you like this—”

“Because it’s been a year. Longer,” Bobbie said, gentling her tone. “And AJ has every right to be angry that you made a scene at Kelly’s. What Nikolas did was bad enough. You have a husband who is determined to put up with you, though you’ve given him no reason to—and you have a beautiful little boy who loves his father—”


“Jason is not his father. You’re not doing Michael any favors, either. Jason is having a family of his own. He deserves that, Carly. He was a good father to Michael when you needed him. But you have to let him go. For all our sakes.”

Pioneer Courthouse Square

Sonny narrowed his eyes as he sipped the coffee, then peered at the cup suspiciously. “It’s not better than mine,” he declared, setting it on the table. “Alexis thinks we won’t be able to compete,” he continued to Jason. “But I think she’s wrong.”

Curious now, Jason lifted his own coffee to his lips. “Did they open in Port Charles since I’ve been gone?”

“No, but they’re already in the state. It won’t be—” Sonny paused when Elizabeth stifled a giggle then ducked her head down, suddenly very absorbed in the sandwich she’d bought from one of the food carts. “Are you laughing at me?”

“It’s just—” Elizabeth looked up to see them both looking at her. “That’s the third Starbucks you’ve dragged us to since you got here,” she told him. “No one listening to this conversation would ever believe what people say about you back home.”

Sonny scowled. “I take my coffee seriously. You’re not going to tell me you like this—” He flicked his elegant fingers at the white cardboard cup with its green logo, “better than mine.”

“I wouldn’t know. I don’t like coffee, but their hot chocolate is pretty good—”

“Doesn’t like coffee,” Sonny muttered. He shook his head and looked at Jason. “Who doesn’t like coffee?”

“Jason drinks enough for the both of us. I think it runs through his veins—” She checked her watch. “It’s almost noon. I’m gonna go over there for a better view—” She got to her feet, picking up her drink.

“We’ll all move—” Jason offered, but she shook her head.

“It’s only for a few minutes. Be right back.”

They watched her cross the square to a tall, thin sculpture made from bronze. “She’s leaving us alone every chance she gets,” Sonny observed, and Jason looked back at him.

“She’s…” Jason hesitated. “She’s worried that I’ll decide to go home for her. For the baby. Not because I’m ready.” Sonny said nothing, only picked up his coffee. “She wants to have the baby in Port Charles. With Laura, Emily, and Bobbie. They’re her family. I need to make that happen—”

“I don’t hear you saying you’re ready to come back,” Sonny said. “If you were—”

“What does it mean to be ready?” Jason broke in. “How do I even know—” He shook his head. Looked over at Elizabeth, a few dozen yards away, her hands clasped in front of her with a grin on her face. They could hear the trumpets playing, kicking off the two-minute presentation in which the daily weather was reported. “I did a lot of stupid things to be a good father to Michael,” he said. “I always knew he wasn’t mine. I just didn’t care.” He looked back at Sonny. “I’m going to do what’s right for me. And that’s making sure Elizabeth has the life she deserves—”

“It seems like Elizabeth wants the same for you. She told me months ago that you needed to leave. The fact that you’re not already back in Port Charles means she hasn’t changed her mind.”

“That’s why you’re here. So I can prove to her that I’m fine.”

“You’re fine here. Three thousand miles away from Port Charles,” Sonny said, and Jason closed his mouth. “What if you come back, and you can’t do the job? Before you left, you couldn’t take orders from me. You didn’t trust me anymore. You can be out, if that’s what you want. But then you can’t come back to the city.”

Jason grimaced. “I know. But—” He exhaled slowly. “A few months ago, I couldn’t even look at you.” He met Sonny’s eyes. “I’ll make it work—”

“I don’t want you back if you’re not all the way there,” Sonny broke in. “There’s no place for you in the organization if you don’t trust me. Can you honestly tell me that’s changed?”

Jason shook his head. “No,” he admitted. “I can’t. But—”

“You’re not ready to come back,” Sonny told him. “And that’s fine. I deserve that. But don’t tell Elizabeth you can give her something you can’t. Otherwise, in a few months, we’ll find ourselves right back where we were in January. And you won’t be able to run away.”


  • I’m glad Nikolas is going back to Greece, but it still sounds like he plans to hurt Jason. I’m glad Jason and Elizabeth are doing better. Carly will never change.

    According to Carla P on January 2, 2023