Should I give up
Or should I just keep chasing pavements?
Even if it leads nowhere
Or would it be a waste?
Even If I knew my place should I leave it there?
Should I give up
Or should I just keep chasing pavements?
Even if it leads nowhere
– Chasing Pavements, Adele
Nikolas stepped out of the shadows of the alley when he saw the doctor exit the diner, calling out a goodbye to some inside. “Dr. Maddox.”
Andre Maddox stopped and slowly turned to face him, the corners of his mouth tightening, his jaw clenching. “I’m sorry, do I know you?” he asked. Nikolas nearly smiled — from the expression on the bastard’s face, Andre knew precisely who he was.
“We’ve never been introduced but I know you.” Nikolas stepped closer to him. “You worked for my grandmother.”
Andre swallowed and shook his head. “You have me confused with someone else—” He started for the parking lot.
“If you think you’re free because she’s dead, you’re mistaken.” The other man stopped, but didn’t turn around. “That’s not how Cassadines operate. You should know that.”
“Is she really dead?” Andre asked in a low, tight voice. He faced Nikolas again. “Or is it like the last time?”
“I killed her myself,” Nikolas said flatly. “And then I watched as they fed her body to the flames. Would you like to see the ashes?”
Andre cleared his throat. “Perhaps we should deal with this somewhere else—”
“Here is fine. It’s freezing and nearly closing time.” Nikolas stepped closer. “Whatever my grandmother had planned for Jake, it’s done now. Whatever you were supposed to do—”
“Not me,” Andre managed. “I—I want this to be over. It’s—” He grimaced. “Valentin. Valentin Cassadine.”
Ah. He’d wondered if his bastard uncle had been part of any of this. “What is he planning?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t heard anything since I left for Port Charles. I just want to be out of this—”
“You put something in my nephew’s head,” Nikolas bit out. “You don’t get to make that choice anymore. You might not know exactly what my grandmother or Valentin was planning, but you sure as hell know what you did for them. Tell me.”
“I—you know it—”
“You were part of kidnapping Jason Morgan, weren’t you? The memories and amnesia—that was you. Don’t lie to me again,” Nikolas warned when the doctor opened his mouth.
“Okay. Okay. I don’t know the final plan, I just know some of the pieces.” Andre scrubbed a hand over the top of his head. “I don’t know what Valentin is planning for Jason Morgan. The last I heard, he’s somewhere in Russia in a coma—”
“Wait—” Nikolas held up a hand, blinking at the doctor. “Valentin is in a coma?”
“No—” Andre furrowed his brow. “Jason Morgan.” When Nikolas just stared at him, Andre grimaced. “You didn’t know that, did you?”
Nikolas swore and muttered something under his breath. “Okay. Okay. Let’s take this conversation to Spoon Island and you can tell me everything. From the beginning. You want to be out of this, Maddox? Then let’s end this for good.”
Thursday, December 28, 2017
Spencer House: Living Room
Laura set the old law book on the table and sighed. “Well, here it is,” she told Jason, Elizabeth, and Spinelli. “For whatever it’s worth. I’ve looked over that book a thousand times—”
“That’s why I’m here,” Spinelli said cheerfully. He reached for the book and took out something silver, long and flat from his bag.
“What’s that?” Elizabeth wanted to know, leaning over to check it.
“Electronic signal detector,” the tech replied. He shrugged. “If she hid anything in this book, I’ll find it. Laura, if I have to take it apart—”
“I only saved it in case it became relevant,” Laura said. “I don’t need it.”
“I appreciate you doing this,” Jason told her. “But I’m still not sure why Anna thought it might be important. Robin tried to explain it—”
“I’m not sure either,” Laura admitted. “I checked with Scott. This book was used when he was in law school, but this isn’t his personal copy or anything. Helena left me a key to a box in the Wyndemere attic, and it was supposed to lead me to something I loved and lost.”
“And it led you to a book that your ex-husband used forty years ago?” Elizabeth asked dubiously. “I mean, I know you ended up at the Campus Disco, but even for Helena, it doesn’t feel right.”
“Kevin and I always meant to get back to it,” Laura said, watching as Spinelli took out a thin knife and sliced the binding open. “But then, Nikolas died. We had Spencer and Valentin to deal with, Lulu and Charlotte—something always got in the way, and I decided that Helena had taken enough of my time.”
“But why would Helena have sent you anything that might help?” Jason pressed.
“You’d have to know Helena to understand,” Laura said. “If she did hide something in that book,” she continued, nodding at Spinelli, “it still won’t give us the answers. Not all of them, but I can see her hedging her bets. Valentin isn’t someone you screw with,” she said to Jason. “You don’t know him that well yet. Helena had no allies by the time she died. To protect Nikolas or maybe give herself some leverage in the event Valentin killed her—she would have done something.”
Spinelli flicked open a compartment in the spine of the book and slid out a slim metal object. “And indeed, the Evil Queen did send you a message.”
He booted up his computer and injected the drive, waiting for the laptop to read it and open the folder.
Jason got up to stand behind him, restlessness seeping into his bones. He’d been home for two months and he still didn’t know anything really about who had taken him. All he had were more and more questions—he just wanted one answer. Just one.
There were hundreds, maybe thousands of files—documents, pictures, all kinds of file formats that Jason didn’t recognize. Spinelli muttered under his breath, then just opened a random one. He scowled when the file demanded a password.
“Of course.” Elizabeth folded her arms. “They’re encrypted. Just like Andre’s—”
“Yes, but Andre put a deep encryption on his. He didn’t want anyone to see them—” Spinelli furrowed his brow. “Helena sent this to you,” he said to Laura. “Because this would lead you to something you’d loved and lost. She’d want you to open it, so the password would be easy. What did she say the key would lead you to? Something you loved and lost?”
“The only thing I’ve truly loved and lost in the last few years was Nikolas,” Laura said. “And she wouldn’t know about that—”
“Death isn’t the only way to lose someone,” Elizabeth said softly, meeting Laura’s eyes. “All those secrets he was keeping? He sent Lucky to Greece—it was Nikolas who gave Lucky the tip that sent him to find Jake. Nikolas had to have known he was alive.”
“No—” Laura shook her head as Jason’s jaw clenched. “No, he wouldn’t have done that to you, Elizabeth. Of course not—”
“Try Nikolas,” Elizabeth suggested to Spinelli, ignoring Laura. “Because if Nikolas was part of it—even if Helena just thought he was—”
Spinelli typed in the name—all lower case.
And then the file opened.
Laura got to her feet. “That doesn’t prove anything—”
“What’s the file?” Jason demanded.
“It’s—” Spinelli leaned forward, squinting. “It’s some sort of report. From—” He scowled. “It’s medical—Stone Cold, sometimes you can do this. Or Fair Elizabeth?”
“It’s a brain scan report,” Elizabeth said, tilting the screen back. “I did a lot of these when I was working on Patrick’s OR team. It’s dated April 2012. Subject has a tumor of the frontal lobe—there are the measurements—”
“Why would Helena have this? It doesn’t have anything to do with Drew or me—or Jake—”
“Well, these are her files for everything,” Elizabeth reminded him. “We’ll have to go through them one by one.”
“What’s the last file she created?” Jason demanded. “That has to be important—”
Spinelli obediently sorted by last created, then clicked on the file — a video format. Laura instinctively recoiled as Helena’s face filled the screen, gaunt and wan, but her eyes filled with all the evil and malice that Jason had remembered even in his brief run ins with her. Elizabeth put a hand on Laura’s shoulder.
“Ah, my dear Laura. I see you’ve found my little secret. I do wonder how long it will take your simple faculties to locate it, but you were always smarter than your husband. Women generally are, darling.” Helena tipped her head. “And if you’re watching this, then you know that you have loved and lost Nikolas. Is he with you? Wouldn’t that be delicious?”
“Hateful, evil—” Laura muttered.
“If he’s with you, you should take great pleasure in knowing that I never forgave him for betraying me. He thinks I don’t know.” Helena’s smile was gleeful. “He thinks that I don’t know he’s plotting against me. He thinks he is going to outsmart me and win. But I am always one step ahead. Even in death.”
Her lips curved into an even deeper smile. “Ask him about dear little Jake and how helpful he was in in my plans for him. I do hope you enjoy the boy for as long as possible. Perhaps Elizabeth will think again before she takes on the Cassadines. ”
Jason’s fists clenched at his side and he looked at Elizabeth, her face still and pale as death itself, Laura’s expression quietly shattered. Helena’s implication was clear — Nikolas had been part of Chimera. He’d known their son was alive and had said nothing. Was Helena lying? Had Nikolas know about the time bomb ticking in Jake’s head?
“My grandson is a disappointment to the bloodline.” She paused. “But I suppose even a disappointment would be better than the animal I unleashed on the world. I am sending you these files, Laura, in hopes that you will ensure Nikolas keeps his inheritance. That whatever Valentin has done can be undone. Without me here to stop him, I fear the worst. I am not a woman of many regrets, but in my desire for revenge, in my desire to bring pain, I turned to the wrong ally.”
For a moment, the malicious smirk disappeared and she was simply an old, fearful woman. Then it was gone, and the cruel smile was firmly fixed in its place.
“You and I, Laura Spencer—we’re not quite finished with one another, and I have many enemies that cannot be left unpunished. Until we meet again.”
The video stopped, frozen on Helena’s face as Elizabeth exhaled slowly and looked at Jason. “Other than her claims about Nikolas, I’m not sure if this gives us anything—”
“I’m not so sure about that.” She and Jason turned to Spinelli who was frowning at the screen. “She taunted you, Laura at the beginning and the end, but she wanted to warn us about Valentin.”
“And tell us about Nikolas’s part in whatever they planned for Jake.” Laura paused. “But she threatened Elizabeth.”
“What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked. “She—”
“‘Perhaps Elizabeth will think again before she takes on the Cassadines‘,” Spinelli quoted. He twisted in his seat. “We’ve been wracking our brains to find out why the Cassadines went after the brothers Stone Cold, but—”
“We forgot what links me to the Cassadines,” Jason said as Elizabeth’s eyes widened. He met her eyes. “You.”
“But—why—” She looked at Laura who nodded. “No, that doesn’t make sense.”
“She blamed you for Endgame,” Laura reminded her. “If Nikolas had killed you when she ordered—if he’d poisoned you — it would have been proof that Nikolas was a Cassadine. But you helped us come up with that plan. You faked your death, and you broke the brainwashing that kept Lucky tethered to her.”
“And your relationship with Nikolas ended badly,” Jason said, with a bit of regret as Elizabeth looked down. “If she’s spent all this time trying to turn Nikolas dark—well, without you, without Emily and Lucky—that would do it.”
“So she saw her chance when Jake got hurt—” Laura paused. “She faked his death, then made sure to torment you with it. Elizabeth, according to Andre, she made sure you were delirious with fever and brought you to the lab—she knew no one would believe you. She didn’t go after Lucky or Luke with that. Or even me. We’re the Spencers. She brought you there.”
“And then she kidnapped Stone Cold,” Spinelli said. “She sent home a false one to torment you and a Trojan Horse in Jake—”
“But I don’t matter—” Elizabeth shook her head. “No—this can’t be because of me. She didn’t do all of this because of me—” Her voice turned desperate. “This isn’t my fault—”
“Hey—” Jason took her by the shoulders, waiting for her to meet his eyes. “No one is saying this is your fault. Of course it’s not. Helena was insane. You know that.”
“But—” Elizabeth closed her eyes, dipped her head down so her chin touched her chest. “We’ve been looking for the motivation. The reason. We still don’t know anything about Valentin, but oh, God, I think you’re right. I think we know why Helena turned Victor your way. She wanted his resources for her experiments and she must have given him the patients he needed. Jake. You, Drew. Who else? Who else did she hurt?”
“We won’t know everything until we go through these files,” Spinelli said, grimly turning his eyes back to his computer screen. “There are more than five thousand. We need to do them one by one.”
“One step forward, five thousand back,” Laura said softly. “Until we meet again,” she continued. “Does anyone else wonder if perhaps Helena’s plan for her death included her own set of memories in a new body?”
“Oh, God,” Elizabeth said, pressing a hand to mouth as the horror of that set in.
“Maybe that’s what Valentin is searching for — whoever Helena picked out to take over her life,” Spinelli suggested.
Greystone Manor: Living Room
Carly stopped just as she removed an ornament from the tree, spying Michael in the doorway, his hands in the pockets of his dress pants. “Michael.”
“Hey, Mom.” He ambled across the room, but his shoulders were hunched. “You taking down the tree already?”
“Oh. No. I just—” She held it out to him. “It’s Morgan’s Christmas ball. Courtney bought it for him for his first Christmas.” Carly looked down at it, with the year inscribed. “I couldn’t really be with him that first year. I was barely out of the hospital. Do you—” She paused. “Do you remember that?”
“A little. It was right before you and Dad divorced for the second time, I think. Or started to divorce,” Michael answered. “When I, uh, told the judge I wanted to live with Aunt Courtney and Uncle Jason.”
“Yeah. And they were getting a divorce, too, so, man, that told me what a bad job I was doing.” Carly put the ornament back on the tree, watching as it bounced softly on the branch. “About Christmas Eve—”
They both spoke at the same time, but then Michael gestured for her to wait, to let him finish. “I got reminded yesterday that losing Morgan—it was harder than it needed to be. It was bad enough,” he added, “but Nelle made it worse.”
Carly’s mouth tightened, but she said nothing. Just stared at the ornament, so Michael continued. “I’ve been thinking that she made a mistake, that she came to town like you did once. Wanting revenge for something that wasn’t really a crime, trying to hurt people to make a point. And you refusing to forgive her—it’s like—” He paused. “It’s like you refusing to forgive AJ for the things he did. For not giving him another chance.”
“I did give AJ another chance,” Carly said softly. “You know I did. Before Connie, before he lost ELQ—I was there. I know how much you loved him.” Her chest was heavy. “But then Connie happened. I knew he could be capable of darkness. I didn’t know he was innocent, Michael. I just knew what he’d done to Alan all those years ago—and he helped Faith kidnap you, your brother, Kristina—he pretended you were dead—”
“He wasn’t always a good man, Mom. But he was the man you made him.”
Accepting that, Carly sighed. “I’ll take credit for my part. But Monica and Alan, Edward and Lila—they get to take their share, Michael. AJ had little self-esteem or resilience long before I showed up. But yes, I took a damaged, weak man, and I helped shove him over the edge. He didn’t fight too hard, but there wasn’t much fight left in him. And then Sonny ended any chance AJ ever had of truly turning it around.”
“The thing is, Mom, I didn’t even know how angry I still was about AJ until you dug a line in the sand about Nelle,” Michael told her. Carly drew her brows together, confused. “I thought it was proof you hadn’t learned anything. That you hadn’t changed. But I didn’t—I really didn’t see it.”
“Every time you look at Nelle, every time you think about the reasons you don’t like her—” Michael paused. “It brings back Morgan. Because Nelle didn’t try to hurt you by trying to take away Dad. She used Morgan.”
Tears stung her eyes as Carly stared blindly into the tree. “I can’t ever really seem to get away from it,” she murmured. “I’ll go an entire day, and I’ll be able to breathe, but then it’s like a sinking weight I can’t drag myself out from under.”
“I’m sorry, Mom.”
A tear slid down her cheek as Carly looked at her son. “You said someone reminded you. I didn’t think Sonny or Jason—” When Michael hesitated, she stopped. “Don’t tell me it was Nelle.”
“No, it was Elizabeth. I’ve never seen her be that angry at me,” he admitted as Carly just stared at him. “She said something about when I got shot all those years ago — that it kind of broke everyone. That no one really got past it. I know how it messed me up to wake up a year later. But I never really thought about how you lost me for a year, then lost Morgan for good. Because of Dad and Jason. Because of this life.”
“She said all that, huh?” Carly murmured, a bit uncomfortable. “Well, I guess that’s true. But it wasn’t just Sonny and Jason’s life, Michael. It was mine. I chose it. Elizabeth—I don’t know if Jason ever really gave her chance to choose. Maybe after what happened to you—” She stopped. “No, I know it. After you, he was never going to put her in that position to watch her cry over those boys.” She closed her eyes. “Their boys,” she murmured.
“And then she did it anyway,” Michael told her. “Mom—”
“But I chose this life. And I chose to stay last year when Morgan died even though the car bomb was part of Sonny’s world. Because to leave after all these years would be to pretend that I didn’t know what I was doing. I did. And sometimes I think I’m being punished for coming back.”
Carly perched on the edge of the arm chair. “The thing is,” she said slowly, “that part of you is right about Nelle. I did come to Port Charles to make my mother pay for putting me up for adoption, even though Bobbie could never have known what would happen to me. And the sentence? Destroying her marriage, stealing her husband—well, it didn’t really fit the crime.”
Carly stared at her hands. “Nelle used the circumstances of Morgan’s death to make it harder. Because she knew she could. So, no, Michael, I don’t see us ever having much to do with each other. I’m sorry. I wish I could promise you more. But Elizabeth is right. When I look at Nelle, I will always see the little boy I lost. I’m not interested in being the better person and putting it behind me.”
“I wasn’t going to ask you to,” Michael said. “But I want you to understand that’s not how I see Nelle. I know she’s not perfect. I know she lies and attacks and manipulates. I even know when she’s doing it to me.”
Carly pressed her lips together. “And you don’t care.”
“No, I do. But I also think maybe you might understand if you think about Jason.”
“You had Jason holding you up, pushing you to be better,” Michael told her. “It didn’t always work—and, yeah, I think sometimes he should have let you fall. But he didn’t. Nelle never had a Jason, Mom. She never had anyone give a damn about her. She does deserve a second chance. From me. I just don’t expect it from you.”
“You want to be Nelle’s Jason,” Carly said slowly. “Well, that’s—” She got to her feet. “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”
Michael rolled his eyes. “Not the same way, Mom. I love Nelle. I see something in her—I see the person she’s trying to protect. I’m not ready to give up on that. That’s all I’m saying.”
“Fine,” Carly said. She looked at Michael. “As long as you’re dating Nelle, don’t bring her to the restaurant. Don’t bring her to the house. She’s not invited. She’s not part of this family, Michael. She isn’t worth it. But you’re not ready to see that.”
“What if someone had said that about you?” Michael pushed. “That you weren’t worth it?”
“I guess we’re done pretending that you’re not asking me to give her a second chance,” Carly said, her temper rising. “Nelle manipulates you with lies, and she uses your family to do it—she used me, she used Sonny—”
“I don’t plan to bring her around, Mom. I’m just not letting her go.”
“Then make your mistakes,” Carly snapped. “All the things you hate about me, Michael? All the things you want me to change and do better? They’re the exact same things you’re using as an excuse to stay with Nelle. Congratulations. You’re dating a woman is exactly like me. I hope you live to regret it.”
Devane Manor: Living Room
“How many files?” Anna demanded as Drew handed over the copy of the thumb drive Spinelli had left for him at Aurora. “Does it ever end?” she demanded of Robert who just sighed.
“Laura, Spinelli, and Jason and Elizabeth split the drive into thirds,” Drew told them. “So they’re going through it. I’m going to help Spinelli with his so he can concentrate on Andre’s encryption. This is not the only copy,” he warned them.
“Why is that something we need to be told?” Robert said, narrowing his eyes. “We’ve been trying to help you—”
“Yeah, and you got a lot to show for it, huh?” Curtis asked, with a raise of a brow, lowering himself into the chair across from Anna. “All Anna got was some bruised ribs and a bunch of crap you can’t read. We didn’t even have to turn over a copy of what Spinelli and Jason found, but we want something from you in return.”
Robert bristled. “Anna brought that bloody lead to you, you ungrateful—who are you to be demanding anything?”
“Robert—” Anna put a hand out, then studied Curtis and Drew. “What do you need from us?”
“We’re not going after Valentin right now because we don’t know what we don’t know,” Drew said. “Seeing what happened to Jake—knowing more about what the Cassadines are capable of now—it make sense to know what we’re dealing with before we take action. Part of understanding what happened meant starting at the beginning. When Jason and I were separated. Curtis has been over the files for my mother’s murder.”
“Your mother—” Robert paused. “Susan,” he said. “Of course. But why—I would have told you—”
“It was a long time ago,” Curtis reminded him. “I wanted to just see the reports. Get a fresh why. Drew and me, we’ve been stuck on how this happened. Motivation matters. So we know that Helena pointed Victor at Jason, Drew, and Jake because of Elizabeth and the Spencers. What we don’t know is how Victor knew that Jason had a twin brother to kidnap in the first place.”
“We think at some point, Susan knew I existed and kept it to herself,” Drew continued. “But I was dumped at the group home a month after she was murdered, and based on your own investigation, Robert, you never had Crane Tolliver dead to rights. No evidence. No confession.”
“No, but it was generally—” Robert narrowed his eyes. “You think Susan sold the information about you to someone—”
“No, I don’t think it’s that simple.” Drew paused. “Elizabeth talked to Scott Baldwin about this since he was married to Susan at the time and a suspect.”
“He wasn’t a serious one,” Robert told him. “Scott was a bastard, but what he did with the trust fund was legal. He had no reason to kill Susan other than irritation. Why do you think Susan knew about you?”
“Her will talks about descendants in the plural,” Curtis said, “and it’s too much of a coincidence that Drew was left at the group home a month after she was killed.”
Anna furrowed her brow. “This was before my time, Robert. I don’t know the details or the players.”
“I think Susan found out I was still alive—maybe Heather was holding me for her own payday, or Betsy wouldn’t give her back,” Drew said. “I don’t know. And I doubt Heather or Betsy will ever tell us. But if Susan was looking for another trust fund, if she produced another Quartermaine son—”
“That would put the entire Quartermaine family back into the suspect pool,” Robert said. “But they’re all gone, Drew. Maybe I can see killing Susan in a heat of passion, but Susan being gone solved the problem. They got custody of Jason and spent most of his life pretending Susan never existed. Alan would have just fetched you from Betsy and raised you as he raised Jason. He was a good man—serial cheater and terrible husband,” Robert allowed, “but the Quartermaines valued family in their own way.”
“When Elizabeth talked to Scott,” Drew said with a grimace, “he mentioned something between Alan and Monica. That Alan nearly lost custody of Jason to the state because of Monica.”
Anna stared at him, then looked at Robert. “Wait—”
“Uh, that is—well, that’s true,” Robert said slowly. “Word got around about the custody thing. It was pretty well known at the time that Alan and Monica were hanging on by a thread. If another child had turned up, Monica would have taken Alan for everything he had. But that doesn’t—” He stopped. “Drew.”
“The woman I know now is a good one,” Drew said. “A good doctor. A good mother and an excellent grandmother. But I also know that it was a long time ago, and that maybe there’s a reason Monica felt so guilty all of Jason’s life and tried so hard after the accident.”
“Someone deliberately tried to make Drew disappear.” Curtis took out a folder, retrieved a certificate. “We got a court order to open up Drew’s records from the group home. The State of New York turned this over yesterday.”
Anna reached for it. “It’s a surrender order,” she murmured. “Signed by Susan Moore on March 25, surrendering custody of Andrew Moore to the state of New York. He wasn’t just left at the home—” She focused on Drew. “You were legally surrendered.”
“March 25,” Robert repeated, staring at the date over Anna’s shoulder. “Susan was dead by then for nearly six weeks.”
“Someone knew who I was and deliberately put me into the system. Curtis has other paperwork — the same person requested a name change from Moore to Cain to bury my connection to Susan and to Port Charles.”
“This kind of paper trail—” Anna reached for the other papers. “Victor was always a detail man. If Helena wanted him to target Jason—he would have been meticulous. He would have looked into his past, looking for anything he could use no matter how small. It was how we were trained at DVX. You never knew what might be leverage.”
“He would have found Susan’s murder file—is it possible he might have been able to find this?” Robert asked. “Isn’t this a bit of a leap?”
“No, not if Victor found the original birth certificate,” Anna said. She pointed. “Look — it states that Jason was a twin. It matches Drew’s certificate.”
“It was refiled here in Port Charles,” Drew said. “When Jason was renamed as Jason Quartermaine and Monica legally adopted him. I doubt Alan ever pulled the original.”
“If he had — it was there for anyone to see,” Anna said. “But no one ever looked at the original record. They always looked at Jason Quartermaine’s records. Victor would have known there was an original certificate. If he pulled the first one, he would have looked for the brother—”
“And if you find Andrew Moore — you might keep looking until you find Andrew Cain. And it’s not like Victor cared about the law or confidentiality. He would have ignored the red tape and taken the information.”
Uncomfortable, Robert looked at Drew. “If this is how Victor found out about you, then there’s no long-standing grand conspiracy. He located this information and then found you. We can—we can leave it here, Drew. With the past in the past.”
Drew stared down at the paperwork, then exhaled slowly. Did he want to know who had killed his mother and buried him in the system, keeping him away from his family his whole life?
Did he want to know if it had been Monica, the mother he’d grown to love over the last two years? Or if it was Alan or Edward, the men he’d never known? Or even someone else? What was he looking for?
“Drew?” Curtis asked.
“I think I have to know,” Drew said finally. “Even if I don’t like the answers. Someone threw me away. I deserve to know where I came from.”
Webber House: Living Room
The house was quiet when Jason and Elizabeth returned later that day, armed with their own thumb drive and one third of the files that Spinelli had split between himself, Jason and Elizabeth, and Laura. He planned to give a copy of the whole drive to Robert and Anna, but Spinelli still wasn’t ready to trust the WSB.
“I’m sorry,” Jason said as he took Elizabeth’s coat and hung it up. “I shouldn’t have said it—about my link to the Cassadines being you—”
“Don’t—I’m fine now. It was just—” Elizabeth retrieved her laptop from the desk behind the sofa and brought it over to the coffee table. “I think I’m just—letting it settle in. We’ve been asking ourselves for weeks why Helena went after you. Spinelli’s right. It had to be be me.”
Jason sat next to her, their knees brushing slightly as she opened the laptop lid and he handed her the thumb drive.
“It was easier when I thought Jake was part of the feud. It made me angry,” Elizabeth admitted, “but I could live with it. This—knowing that Jake went through all of that—that you and Drew were targeted, God, even Robin’s part in this—” She paused. “It’s not my fault,” she repeated, “but I’m not sure how I feel about Helena using the people I love to hurt me.” She met his eyes. “Is this how you felt every time I was in danger because of your job? If I had never let Helena know how much you meant to me, she wouldn’t have gone after you.”
“Yeah.” Jason exhaled slowly. “Yeah. That’s exactly how it was. But you didn’t know she was out there, planning any of this, Elizabeth. You never knew I was in danger—that Jake would be part of it that way—”
“What if you’d known?” Elizabeth asked. She looked away. “What if you knew that being in a relationship with me made you a target? That Helena would try to kill you, that she would play with your brain, lock you in your own body—”
“You mean would I have chosen you anyway?” Jason asked. “The way you wanted to choose me?”
“Hey—” Jason stopped her as Elizabeth put the computer aside. “No, it’s a valid question. I made the choice for you, and I never listened to the way you felt. Especially after Michael got shot. I thought maybe, a few months later—but the Russians—it just felt like everyone kept coming, and then Jake almost died. I decided it was better to be alone than to watch you or the boys get hurt. Because I knew the next time we might not be so lucky.”
“But you didn’t decide to be alone for long,” Elizabeth said, and he shook his head. “I mean, I didn’t either. But I never promised I would, Jason. You told me that you wanted a life with us. With me, Jake, and Cam. And then you gave that life to Sam—”
“I don’t think I did,” Jason admitted. “Elizabeth—”
She rolled her eyes and shoved herself to her feet, pacing over by tree. “Never mind. It’s not worth it now. It was almost ten years ago—”
“But we never talked about it, and I’m not sure I ever understood until I came home and found out Danny was my son.”
Elizabeth frowned at him. “What do you mean? What does Danny have to do with it?”
“The reason Sam is asking me to walk away from Danny is because of what happened when she was pregnant. You know that. I didn’t know if I could be a part of a child’s life. Any child,” he added. “Sam chose to think it was about Franco, and I think maybe I thought it was, too. But now I realize—I didn’t deserve to be anyone’s father. Not after I hadn’t been there for Jake.”
Elizabeth exhaled slowly, then nodded. “I wondered,” she murmured. “But I was afraid if I asked you—if I made it sound like that, it would be like I blamed you—”
“Don’t you? Didn’t you?” Jason pushed. “If I had stayed, would Jake have had the accident? Everything you went through with Lucky and Nikolas—”
“I made that mess on my own,” Elizabeth said. “And I was the one who wasn’t watching Jake, not you—”
“But I should have been there. And I wasn’t. And if I couldn’t have Jake, Elizabeth, I didn’t want any kids. I know I told Sam to get the surgery, but I never—” His mouth tightened. “I didn’t think it would work.”
“And I know how it makes me sound,” Jason went on, “but I told you this was how I felt before I got shot. When we almost—”
“You said we’d made sacrifices for Jake,” Elizabeth remembered. “And that you didn’t think it was fair to him—” Her eyes burned. “Jason—”
“When you told me Sam’s son was alive, I knew he wasn’t mine. I knew that,” Jason continued, “but I thought—I couldn’t ever bring Jake back to you—but I could try to bring Danny home for Sam. I could do one thing right. And then maybe, I’d be okay with—I don’t know. Maybe I would finally feel forgiven.”
Tears slid down her cheeks. “Forgiven by who?” she asked softly. “Me? The world? God? Yourself? Jason—that’s not how any of this works.”
“I thought it was,” he said roughly. “But then I got shot before I figured out what I was going to do with the rest of my life—if Sam could ever forgive me, if I could even forgive myself—or if you could. Because I know you blamed me. You had to.”
“Maybe sometimes. But not nearly as much as I blamed myself.”
“I came home and Joss just said it in the middle of the conversation—oh, hey, Danny’s yours. The blood tests were wrong.” Jason looked at her, his eyes rimmed with red, his voice tinged with self-disgust. “When the test said that Danny was Franco’s son, it felt like I was still being punished for Jake. For not protecting Sam. But it’s not. It never was. It was just—I don’t know how it happened.”
“No one’s sure,” Elizabeth said faintly. “Jason—”
“The tests were wrong, Joss told me. Danny’s your son. And it should have meant something to me. It did,” Jason said, quickly. “But I don’t know what it means. I remember holding him, bringing him back to Sam. I saw him on Halloween. And he’s—I don’t know what I’m supposed to think. How I’m supposed to feel. Because I told myself I didn’t deserve him. Sam thought it meant I didn’t want him—but that’s not true—”
He turned away, and Elizabeth went after him, putting a hand on his shoulder, drawing him back to face her. “When we lost Jake,” Elizabeth said, softly, “we both went a little crazy, I think, and getting him back didn’t fix it. It didn’t erase the guilt, the shame, fear—the complete belief that something we did took our little boy away from us. You know what I did. I went completely insane. Even without the trip Helena took me on—and you did what you always do. You took the weight of the world and you made it your own. Of course you deserved to be a father after losing Jake, Jason.”
“When I found out I was pregnant with Aiden, and I thought he was Nikolas’s son,” Elizabeth said, “I nearly jumped off the roof of General Hospital because I knew that Lucky would never forgive me.”
Jason stared at her, stunned. “What—”
“I nearly killed myself and took my sweet baby with me. My Aiden, the boy who insists I have a home-baked cake every year for my birthday. I nearly gave him up. I nearly left Cameron and Jake completely alone. Because of my own misery.” Elizabeth reached up, wiped a stray tear from his cheek. “Did I deserve to keep being a mother?”
“Of course—” Jason closed his eyes. “Of course you did. You’re the best mother I know.”
“And maybe you haven’t been able to show Jake or Danny how much you love them,” Elizabeth said. “But that doesn’t mean you won’t ever. I know you better than that, Jason. Look at what you’ve done these last few weeks with Jake. You’ll get that chance with Danny. And maybe it won’t look the way it might have five years ago, but you are a good father.”
She framed his face in her hands, forcing him to look at her. “We lost our son. The boy who came home isn’t the boy he would have been if he hadn’t been stolen from us. He’s not the boy he would have been if we’d been stronger and stayed together. But Jake is a miracle. He’s our miracle. I didn’t jump off that building, and I got a second chance to be a better mother. You didn’t die that night on the pier. Take this chance, Jason, and forgive yourself. You’re only human, and no one needs to remember that more than you do.”
Nina scowled as Valentin paced his study. “You’re not even listening to me,” she complained as her husband turned and stalked towards the window that overlooked the gardens. “I want to do something for our anniversary—”
Valentin forced himself to turn around with a smile pasted on his face. “Of course, darling. Plan whatever you want. Sky’s the limit.”
“I’ve had just about enough of you skulking around and ignoring me.” Nina folded her arms. “You’ve barely listened to me—is this about what I told you last month? To go find out what Helena did? You don’t talk to me anymore!” she complained.
“Nina—” Valentin hissed as his phone rang. “We’ll talk later—give me a second—” He looked at the identification. “You’d better have some damn news for me.”
“I do, Mr. Cassadine,” Joseph Klein said confidently. “I told you that we had put a trace into one of the last files we gave Mrs. Cassadine. As soon as it was opened—we’d be able to tell you where it was found.”
“Don’t congratulate yourself—just tell me—”
“It was opened this afternoon,” Klein continued, “on Royal Street where Laura Spencer lives. The men you have watching her reported that she went to her bank this morning and opened her safety deposit box. She took out a book.”
Valentin’s lips curved into a thin, humorless smile. “So she has the files.” He had a suspicion he knew exactly which book Laura had taken from the bank.
“Valentin,” Nina hissed. “What files?” He waved her off.
“She does, sir, but that’s not all. There’s still another trigger on the file that hasn’t gone off. That means the file was duplicated. Helena Cassadine sent a second copy of those files somewhere else.”
“Somewhere else—” Valentin narrowed his eyes, trying to focus. If Helena had sent one set of files to Laura Spencer through a bequest in the will— “I know where I need to look. It’s here in Port Charles. I’ll take care of it.”
“And one last thing. We’ve found one of the Cassadines you were looking for. We expect to wake him within the week.”