And how’s it going to be
When you don’t know me anymore
And how’s it going to be
Want to get myself back in again
The soft dive of oblivion
I want to taste the salt of your skin
The soft dive of oblivion, oblivion
– How’s It Going To Be, Third Eye Blind
Friday, January 14, 2000
Kelly’s: Parking Lot
Jason swung his leg over the bike, and started for the courtyard, his steps slowing when he saw Nikolas Cassadine scowling by the entrance to the diner.
He’d wanted to see Elizabeth, maybe to take her on a ride and tell her what he was thinking. Everything seemed easier, clearer when she was there. He didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to walk away, but Jason couldn’t think of any other way to create peace for himself.
Maybe he could go back to drinking in the bars and looking for a fight. His fists clenched at his side as he remembered the studio and the Christmas party, the way Nikolas had spoken to and about Elizabeth—
Maybe the Cassadine prince would give him a reason to beat him senseless.
Nikolas scowled when Jason entered the courtyard. “Oh, you’re just what the day needs,” he growled. “If you’re here for Elizabeth, don’t bother.”
Jason frowned, looked past him into the diner. He saw Penny and another waitress whose name he’d never learned moving through the tables, dealing with the lunch rush. Elizabeth was supposed to work — she always worked on Fridays —
“I told you—”
Jason looked back at the angry prince, irritated and impatient, but not really in the mood. If he just said one thing— But he was still Emily’s friend—and maybe he and Elizabeth had mended things, so he wouldn’t take the kid apart. Not until he had a reason—
He brushed past Nikolas, intent on returning to the parking lot. He’d look for Elizabeth in her studio, but the younger man grabbed Jason’s arm and shoved him. “Keep your hands off me,” Jason warned. “Last warning—”
“What are you going to do, huh?” Nikolas stepped up to him. “What else can you take from me?”
“I didn’t take anything—” Jason shoved him back. “I don’t know what the hell your problem is—”
“You’re not nearly as stupid as everyone says you are—” Nikolas’s face was flushed. “I don’t care what anyone says—that fire was set by your enemies! Lucky wasn’t enough? You need to get Elizabeth killed, too?”
Jason shook his head, angry at himself now for giving in and even having the conversation. “I’m not doing this with you—” He turned again, and then went flying as Nikolas charged him from behind. Jason hit the ground, his knees slamming into the concrete. He flipped himself over, his legs kicking Nikolas across the courtyard. The other man flew against the diner’s entrance, hitting the window hard enough that Jason heard the thud of his skull.
“What the—” Bobbie stormed out of the diner, white puffs of air escaping her mouth. “What you still doing here?” she asked Nikolas. “I told you to get out—” And she looked at Jason, her expression softening a little, but still irritated. “And you should know better—”
“I didn’t—” Jason closed his mouth, cutting off the protest. It didn’t matter. He’d wanted to feel something other than the despair choking at him, so he’d let the prince goad him into a fight, and now felt the shame of it. He got to his feet. “I’m sorry,” he said finally. He sent Nikolas another hard glare, then left the courtyard.
Spencer House: Living Room
Laura opened the door and her face lit up. “What a lovely surprise!” She ushered Elizabeth inside. “Come in, come in.” She took the coat Elizabeth shed and hung it up.
“I’m sorry to just…” Elizabeth bit her lip as Laura closed the door. “To drop in like this,” she continued. “Um, if you’re busy—”
“No, no. Just going over a few things for the hospital.” Laura gestured towards the sofa and the fireplace. Elizabeth avoided looking at the mantel, at the photographs of Lucky.
You claimed to love my brother, but I know you couldn’t let him touch you—but then Jason comes along—
It wasn’t true, not the way Nikolas had said it, but wasn’t there a kernel of something in that statement? She perched on the edge of the sofa. “I’m not even really sure why I’m here,” she admitted. Did she want Laura’s blessing or approval?
Laura sat next to her, tipped her head. “You look upset,” she realized. “What happened?”
Too much. Elizabeth tucked her hair behind her ears. “Earlier this week, um, we talked about Lucky. And Jason. I let you think what I know a lot of people think—that Jason and I are—that we’re together.” Just say it. “That we’re sleeping together.”
“Let me think,” Laura repeated. “Which means you’re not? You don’t owe me any explanations, sweetheart—”
“I know. I know that. It’s just—” Elizabeth rubbed her hands against the denim of her jeans. “I guess part of me is trying to understand. Because I’m not—but I—” Her cheeks were flaming and she looked away, focusing on the fire crackling a few feet away. “I want to,” she said finally. “And if there’s a chance, I’m going to. And I guess I’m trying to understand why it’s okay with Jason, but—Lucky—I couldn’t—” A tear slid down her cheek. “I loved him. And I regret all the things we didn’t get a chance to do—”
“Lucky died eight months ago,” Laura told her. She reached for Elizabeth’s hand. “Look at me, honey. Please.” Elizabeth did, relieved to see nothing but love and warmth in her eyes. “Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. And then others, it’s yesterday. But it was eight months ago. You didn’t die with him. You said that to me, remember?”
“You were so young, baby. That night, in the park—” Laura squeezed her hand. “You’d never been with anyone, had you?”
“No. That was my first—”
“It wasn’t. You haven’t had that yet,” Laura interrupted. “I know that you’ve heard that before. I’m sure Bobbie and Gail—they’ve both told you that.”
“You needed time for your heart and your body to heal. For your mind.” Laura touched her face. “You know that, don’t you? You’re not the girl you were that night two years ago. And you’re not the young woman who lost Lucky last year. You’re you.”
“I don’t really know who that is yet,” Elizabeth confessed.
“You’re never going to know yourself all the way because you’ll keep changing. You never quite finish growing up.” Laura’s hand fell away. “Tell me about Jason.”
“What do you want to know? I mean—”
“You’re here because you’re on the edge of moving on. Really moving on. And Jason is important enough that he’s the person you’ve chosen to trust. But you’re not happy. I just—What can I do? How can I help?”
“Jason…” Elizabeth considered the question. Considered how to answer. How to describe the last five months. “I wanted to make the emptiness, the nothing go away. I didn’t even know what I was looking for, not really, until he showed me. He made me feel safe again. Not just physically, but—” She pressed her hand against her heart. “I was drowning, in grief. In regrets. In this fog. I couldn’t see tomorrow because all I wanted to do was go back. And he listened to me. I didn’t have to be okay with him. And then I was. I don’t know when it changed, but it did. And now all I want to do is—” She exhaled slowly. “I want him to be safe, too,” she murmured.
“And he’s not?” Laura asked gently.
“No. He’s the one who’s drowning now. And I want to help. I want him to be okay.” Elizabeth looked at Laura. “I have to give him what he needs. It’s more important than what I want. He deserves that.”
“What does he need?”
Her conversation with Bobbie echoed in her head. “Time. And distance.” Real distance. Not just a matter of streets and miles, but states and counties. Worlds.
There was really only one thing left for her to do.
Nikolas heard the roar of the motorcycle as Jason drove away, and reluctantly turned back to face Bobbie. “I only came back to see if Elizabeth did—”
“I have never been so disappointed in you as I am right now,” Bobbie said, and he closed his mouth. “You had no right to say those things to Elizabeth this afternoon, and no right to pick a fight with Jason.” She folded her arms, shivering without a jacket. “You are angry at the world, Nikolas, and I understand that. Be angry at the world for taking Lucky from us the way it did. For unleashing Katherine on you—she lied and deceived you—and it was a tragedy—but you’re not taking it out on the world. You’ve focused all that anger on Elizabeth—”
“She’s forgetting Lucky—she has no right—”
“She has every right to move on with her life,” Bobbie cut in. “And you don’t get to decide when or with whom she gets to do that. She saw you as a friend, Nikolas. I’m sorry that wasn’t enough for you, but she did not owe you more than that.” Her expression eased for just a moment. “She’s a way for you to hold on to Lucky. As long as Elizabeth was grieving, it kept a little bit of Lucky alive.”
“But she has a right to happiness, Nikolas. And if you can’t accept that, if you truly can’t be happy for her, then you need to walk away and leave her alone. She did not die in that fire. If you come near her again, if you pick another fight the way you did today, if you ever speak to her or about her that way again, I will never forgive you. And I will make sure she doesn’t either.”
“She’s moving on with a man who got Lucky killed,” Nikolas said tightly. “How can any of you support that? I nearly died because of him, and my brother burned to death. And it’s okay that he’s going to get Elizabeth killed? Damn it, Bobbie, she was nearly blown up because of him!”
“If you can’t find a way to let go of this anger,” Bobbie pulled the door open, and looked at him. “You’re going to end up alone. And you’ll deserve it.”
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Roo
The moment Jason had told Lila he was thinking of leaving, something in him had settled. Saying the words out to her had been a test. If he’d said the, and it felt wrong—if she’d looked at him and found a way to talk him out of it, he’d have listened. But it had felt so damn good just to say the words. And the run-in with Nikolas had just cemented the thought in his mind. There was no where he could go where the past didn’t choke him.
He’d been slowly choked by this town since the moment he’d woken up in the hospital without memories, and no matter what he did, that wasn’t going to change. He’d made it work this long because of people. Because of Robin, then Sonny, then Michael—but for the last year, it had felt like the darkness was pulling at him, reminding him that he didn’t really have anything that was his—
And then that night in December, when the person he’d thought understood him best—when the man who’d called him best friend and brother—
Jason nodded at Max who knocked lightly on the door and pushed it open, as if Jason hadn’t pushed past the guard the day before and burst in like a crazy man. “Hey, Jase,” he said easily. “Boss is inside.”
“Yeah.” Jason braced himself and then went in. He wasn’t planning to stay long, but he owed Sonny at least this.
Sonny rose from the chair by the fireplace, his usual glass of bourbon in his hand. “You come to shove me around again?” he said sourly. He turned to look at the fire, the crackling of the flames echoing in the quiet room.
“No, I came to tell you I’m leaving.”
Sonny froze, then slowly turned to face him again. “What?”
“Tonight. Or tomorrow,” he added. Because he needed to tell Elizabeth, and he wasn’t sure how he was going to make that happen. What if she looked at him like yesterday or— “This isn’t working.”
“No, I guess it’s not, but—”
“I can’t stand the sight of you,” Jason continued bluntly, “and I don’t trust you. That’s not something that’s going away. I thought it would but—” He cleared his throat. “It’s not.”
Sonny exhaled slowly, then nodded. “All right. I didn’t—” He set the bourbon on the table, scrubbed a hand down his face. “Will you let me say one thing? Then I’ll never talk about it again.”
Since this was the last time Jason planned to be in the same room with Sonny, he figured it wouldn’t make things worse. “Fine.”
“I never planned it. It wasn’t cold or calculating.” He hesitated. “She came over, and she was upset. She asked about Elizabeth. She’d seen you dancing, and I wanted to needle her. I wanted to hurt her, Jason. For all the ways she’d hurt you.”
“It wasn’t your business—and this doesn’t change anything—”
“No, I know that. I know.” Sonny swallowed. “I thought—let me just see what she’d do. I didn’t think past the minute. And I sure as hell didn’t want you to know—”
“Fine.” Jason shrugged a shoulder. “Anything else?”
“There’s nothing to say about yesterday. You don’t get an apology from me. I gave it to Elizabeth, and—” She’d accepted it, hadn’t she? That made him pause. Or had she remembered about Michael and let it go? “It was just the last straw.”
“Okay—” Sonny paused. “But Sorel’s still out there,” he said. Jason scowled. “I’m not saying that to guilt you. We’ll leave a guard on Elizabeth, and with you out of the picture, he’ll probably let it go. But can I have a way to contact you in case—”
“I’ll call you,” Jason said shortly, because that was it. The only reason he’d ever want to talk to Sonny again. To be sure Elizabeth was safe. This would do it. Sorel wouldn’t need to use Elizabeth if Jason wasn’t part of it anymore. Still— “I’ll call,” Jason repeated. “Until we’re sure. You’ll—” He swallowed hard. He didn’t want to ask for anything, but— “You’ll look out for her? If she needs something?”
“Of course. Jason—”
There was a gentle knock on the door and Max leaned in. “Sorry, Mr. C.” He flicked his eyes to Jason. “Wally called up from the front desk. Miss Webber wanted to know if you were here. She, ah, said she didn’t want to come up if you weren’t. So, uh, are you here?”
Jason flinched at this reminder of what had happened the day before, but he needed to talk to her, and maybe it would be easier if he told her here. In his barren apartment where she’d never been and there were no memories of how things had been different—
“Yeah. Yeah, that’s fine.” Max closed the door, and Jason turned back to Sonny. “So that’s it—”
“Yesterday,” Sonny said, and Jason grimaced, “I was talking to her. I was trying to find out if you were okay. And maybe I was trying to encourage her not to give up on you—”
“I just wanted you to know—”
“It wasn’t your—I’m not doing this anymore. It doesn’t matter.” Jason pulled open the door and walked out.
Harborview Towers: Hallway
Even as the elevator climbed towards the fifteenth floor, Elizabeth was nervous. What if Max had been talking to Sonny? What if Jason wasn’t here? Well, she certainly wasn’t going into the penthouse. She’d just turn around and go right back downstairs—
But then the doors opened, and Jason was there, his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. She frowned, held the doors back. “I’m sorry—were you on your way out? This can—it’s not important—”
“No.” Jason tipped his head towards his side of the penthouse floor. “No, I was just across the hall. I haven’t been home yet.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth stepped off the elevator, flicking a worried glance towards Sonny’s. He’d been across the hall. Were things better? Worse? She couldn’t tell. Jason had that inscrutable look again, and she didn’t know how to get through that yet.
And maybe she never would.
“Do you have a few minutes?” Elizabeth asked. “I had something I wanted to say, but it can wait—”
“No, I was going to come looking for you.” Jason pulled out a key and slid it into the lock. Inside, the room was a large open space — similar to the size of Sonny’s, but it was empty. No carpets, bright colors on the wall, and a singular leather sofa in the middle of the room. To the right of the door, there was a wooden executive desk that looked as if it had seen better days.
There weren’t even any curtains or shades over the glass windows. Despite the darkness outside, she could still see the snowflakes gently falling outside.
This room was so empty. She hadn’t expected much since Jason was a simple guy, but there wasn’t anything here that said this was home, and there was something tragic about it.
But at the same time, it crystallized the decision for her. She waited for him to close the door. “Um, hey.”
“Hey.” He dropped his keys on the desk, then cleared his throat. “I was going to tell you—I mean the reason I was going to see you—was that I’m—I’m leaving.”
It slammed into her like a freight train, even though she’d come here to suggest the very same plan to him. It was one thing when she thought it was her idea, but to know he’d come to the same conclusion on his own—
This was going to happen. It wasn’t just an idea. It would a reality.
“I just—I can’t keep doing this. Not you, this has nothing to do with you,” Jason continued, with a wince. “It’s—”
“I know,” Elizabeth said, stepping closer to him. She took his hand, and he closed his mouth. “I was actually coming here to tell you that I think you need to go.”
His mouth opened slightly. “What?”
“Not because I want you to,” she said, and her voice faltered just for a moment. She swallowed hard. “I don’t, and this is going to suck without you. I’m going to miss you every day for a long time, and I wish it was different. I really do.”
“But you were so upset yesterday, and I’ve been blind to all the ways you’ve been like this for weeks—it’s not getting better, is it? It’s only getting worse, and I can’t stand it. I can’t stand to see you so unhappy.”
Jason brushed his knuckles across her cheek. “So you came here to tell me to leave,” he murmured. “Because you think it’s what I need.”
“I don’t know.” A tear slid down her cheek and he caught it with his thumb. “Maybe it’s selfish of me to hope you’ll go and miss me too much to stay away, but I just know that as much I want you to be with me, you’re right. It’s not about me. You need someone to put you first.”
He leaned down, brushed his mouth against hers. The sweetness of it nearly broke her, but it also strengthened her resolve. He’d looked so surprised, so stunned, when she’d agreed. And maybe there’d been a flash of hurt. It was so hard to open up, to admit how much she didn’t want him to go, but he needed to understand that she didn’t want it. It was the last thing she wanted.
“You’ve always put me first,” he murmured. He stroked her cheek, the rough skin of his hand sending shivers flooding through her. “You know that, don’t you? Even before you dragged me out of the snow.” He was still so close to her, their breaths mingling, drawing in the same air. “If I could stay, it would be for you.” Their eyes met and held. “I could try. A little longer. Maybe—” Then he broke off. “I want to. Don’t think I don’t. But I hurt you. Yesterday. Last week—”
“You didn’t. You couldn’t. I hurt without you. And this is going to kill me,” she breathed. “You need to know that. But that doesn’t change anything. It needs to be like this, Jason. You need to be okay. I need that for both of us. If you stay, even for a little while, even to give us time, this will happen again. You know it. She’ll never stop.”
“No, she won’t. And it’s not just her—”
“I know. She’ll keep using that beautiful little boy that you love more than anything in this world.” The tears were falling now, but she smiled. “You need to go to protect him. Just like last year. You walked away to give him his best chance at a family. If you stay—”
“I can’t let it happen again. Yesterday—I can’t be the reason he cries again. Nothing is going to change unless I go.”
“I know.” She stepped even closer, their bodies brushing. “But I need to ask you for something first. You can say no.”
“I need just one night.” She swallowed hard when his eyes flew back to hers. “Just one. We both deserve it. We can’t have tomorrows. So give me tonight.”