Oh we have stained these walls
With our mistakes and flaws
But even if we won’t admit it to ourselves
We’ll walk upon these streets and think of little else
I won’t show my face here anymore
I won’t show my face here anymore
– These Streets, Bastille
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Elizabeth propped her hand on her chin and smiled as Luke slid the Dr. Octopus figure across the table, pretending to let her son chase him with his Spiderman figurine. Luke Spencer might not be a good man, but he knew how to put on a great show.
This was the third lunch he’d met her for, the third time he’d insisted she bring Cameron with her because the kid was his family, too. He had promised her that if she took a chance on Lucky, he’d stand by her. And he was trying.
“Grampy,” Cameron said with a shake of his head, “That’s not how he runs!”
“Sorry, sorry, I’ll have to watch the movie the next time Aunt Bobbie is watching you and Morgan,” Luke promised. He handed the Doc Octopus back to Cameron and flashed a smile at his daughter-in-law. “He doesn’t mess around.”
“No, he takes Spiderman seriously,” Elizabeth told him. “Morgan’s having a great time teaching him about Star Wars. It’s been great having Morgan around him. I’m so glad Bobbie introduced them.”
“It does make Caroline crazy having to be nice to you because you’re the only parent who lets her kid go over her house.” Luke shrugged. “Anyone that drives my niece crazy is my favorite person.”
“I likes Aunt Carly,” Cameron said, furrowing his brow. “She gave me Doc Octopus for my birfday.” He set down his toys, then reached for the slider burger she’d ordered for his lunch. It still took a minute to watch her baby eating food that was so clearly grown up.
“It was a nice party,” Luke said. “Good for the Spencers to have new blood.” He hesitated, then slid his chair away from Cameron, angling his head as if asking Elizabeth to push down slightly so they could lower their voices. “How are you doing, kid?”
“We’re okay. Nothing’s happened,” Elizabeth said. She picked at her salad with a heavy sigh. “Lucky’s been sick a lot, actually. Throwing up. Upset to his stomach. I tried to get him to go to a doctor, but he refused. He goes to therapy, and he’s gone to anger management a few times. I…suggested marital counseling.”
“And from the look on your face, Cowboy wasn’t interested?”
“No, he’s tired of counseling. Between rehab and anger management…” Elizabeth bit her lip. “He’s trying, Luke. And it’s been good for him to have you around so much. Thank you. And Lulu’s trying. It’s helped take some of the pressure off.”
“I’m glad.” Luke hesitated. “But I asked how you were, darlin’. I didn’t ask about Lucky.” He tilted his head. “You wanted marital counseling.”
“It’s…I tried to tell myself it was like the brainwashing. I convinced myself then that it wasn’t Lucky doing those things. Saying those things. But maybe…” She shook her head. “Maybe we let him off the hook. Maybe we’re always letting him off the hook. I—”
“It’s only been two weeks. How’s anger management?”
“He won’t talk about it. He tried to get out of going, tried to put it off. I insisted. I told him it was the promise he made me.” Elizabeth swallowed hard. “I almost backed down. He—he looked angry when I asked, but—I didn’t. I told him no. He had to go. And…he’s going. But he won’t talk about it.”
Luke sighed, leaned back in his chair. “Well, kid, we’re doing all we can. I can’t ask you for more. When is he supposed to start the desk at the PCPD?”
“Another week or so. He’s able to get around better. Dr. Cook says he’ll always have some pain, but his mobility is better.”
“How long do you think you’ll manage to stay?” Luke asked, looking down at his bowl of chili. When she blinked at him, he shrugged. “Things aren’t getting better, are they? He won’t go to counseling, and I know you’re still fighting.”
“I know y’all argued the last time you were at my club. Bad enough that it sent you running.”
“You…” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “You do?”
“Jason was meeting me that night,” Luke offered apologetically. “He’d said he’d stop by, and your thing was a bit spur of the moment, so I’d forgotten. But Jason said he’d run into you outside. That there was a fight.”
Elizabeth looked down at her plate. “Not a fight so much as—” She sighed. “I don’t know.”
“I think you do know, Elizabeth. It’s okay. You didn’t promise me forever, and I didn’t ask for it. I wanted him to have space to adjust. You’re giving him that. But if he won’t work on the problems, Elizabeth, then nothing has really changed. It can’t.”
Tears burned in her eyes. “I didn’t think you’d understand—”
“Laura asked me once after the Cassadines hit Port Charles—when we started having all the problems—” Luke sighed heavily. “She wanted to deal with the crap. When I found out—when we thought Stefan was Nikolas’s father—she wanted to work it out. And I—I’m not as strong as she was. As you are. Even though she’d always looked past my flaws, forgiven me for things that no man deserves forgiveness, I couldn’t find it for her. I couldn’t bring myself to do what she needed.”
“Why?” Elizabeth asked softly. “I never understood it. I never really saw you guys in action, but the way Lucky always talked about the two of you, especially on the run—how could you deny her the chance to fix things?”
“I wish I had some eloquent explanation,” Luke admitted. “It took me a long time to understand why I just walked away. But I couldn’t make sense of it. If we went to counseling, Elizabeth, and we talked about her time on Cassadine Island, we’d have to talk about all the other stuff. The darkness.” He was quiet for a long time. “Laura never saw that night the way I did.”
She knew he was talking about the Campus Disco. They’d never really talked about it—the two of them. And Elizabeth wasn’t sure she wanted to bring that back. But…
“Lucky said that when he confronted her…she refused to say what it was.”
“That’s how she was able to live with me all those years,” Luke said gently. “How we were able to have that big, beautiful wedding, all those adventures, raise our kids—because she never admitted it to herself. And God help me, I knew it. Cowboy forced us to look at that night. To take it out and examine it. I still—I knew what I’d done. Laura eventually admitted it. But neither of us ever really figured out how to live with it.”
“And going to marriage counseling—”
“We might have. And I think I was better off pretending that we broke up because I’m a selfish asshole rather than the love of my life realized what a monster I am.” Luke swiped a hand over his mouth, cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. I don’t know how we got on that topic—”
“Thank you.” Elizabeth reached out, touched his arm. “I know this is hard for you. It was hard for all of you. But you still don’t give Laura enough credit. Maybe she didn’t admit to herself for all those years, but you know that she did finally. And she forgave you. And if you had even an ounce of her courage…”
“A lot of things might have been different. Well, you’re not wrong about that, kid. I’ve survived a lot of things, Elizabeth, but no one ever said survivors were always brave. I’m mostly a coward when it matters. Look at how I ran out on my family.”
“You came back, Luke. That’s not nothing. My family can’t even manage that half the time. And I hope, one day, when Lucky and I have sorted all this out, whatever happens to my marriage, I can still count on you.”
“Always,” Luke promised. “You know, the reason I even got my boy back in the first place—why we could be in the same room—you kept him from running away all those years ago. You gave him a place to stay. A person to hold close. And you helped lead him to Nikolas. And back to me and his mom. I—” He looked at Cameron, who had knocked over the ketchup bottle trying to reach it. He picked it up and dumped some onto his plate for some fries.
“You kids were magic back then. The way you loved each other, the honesty—the sincerity. Grown adults don’t know the kind of love the two of you had. You saved him, Elizabeth. And I’m selfish. I’ve been asking you to do the same miracle over and over again.”
“I didn’t save him,” Elizabeth said with a shake of her head. “But I’m trying—”
“You saved him,” Luke repeated, gently. “The man he is today—that’s not your fault. You’ve done what I’ve asked. Thank you.”
“I didn’t do it just for you.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “People tried to talk me out of it. And they almost—” She thought of Jason’s face, the look in his eyes when she’d begged him to ask her.
The bitterness when he’d reminded her of all the times she’d left him.
You forgot to tell me you loved Lucky.
“I stayed because of the magic. You’re not the only one who remembers it, Luke. Lucky and I remember it. And we almost destroyed each other the last time we tried to find it. I thought it was different this time.” She twisted her wedding ring, looking at the small stone. “It was different this time. For a little while,” she said softly. “But Lucky and I aren’t those kids anymore. He didn’t handle the injuries—and—he doesn’t love me, Luke.”
She looked at Cameron. Luke followed his gaze. “I have my son to worry about. He needs a family who loves him. And unfortunately, the only Spencer who doesn’t—”
“Is the one who matters most,” Luke said quietly. “I get it, Elizabeth.”
“I don’t know how long I’m staying,” she continued. “I just know it’s not much longer. Something has to change. I’m not happy, Luke.”
“I can see that—”
“And I think—I know I deserve to be.”
“So, we’ll just…” Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “See how things go once Lucky goes back to the PCPD. Maybe he’ll agree to more counseling. But as things are—I’m not sure I can make it more than a few more weeks. If that.”
“Then that’s all you can do. Thanks, Elizabeth. For everything you have done.”
Lucky & Elizabeth’s Apartment: Living Room
It had been more than a week since Lucky had run out of his second prescription of oxycontin and two weeks since he’d visited Courtland Street. He’d tried—he’d told himself that he was better. That he didn’t need the pills, the sweet relief of the heroin—he knew he didn’t.
He didn’t want them. He didn’t want to be a drug addict, and in his more lucid moments, he knew that’s exactly what he was.
Sometimes he made it ten minutes without thinking about the pills. But then he’d move slightly, his back would explode in pain, and there was no escape—all he could think about was the bliss, the emptiness in his head when he smoked the heroin—he’d only done the hard drug twice. Never shot it up, never used a needle—but God…he just wanted the pain to go away.
He wanted it all to go away. Every night he came back from sitting in a bar, nursing a beer, and lied to Elizabeth about anger management—he wanted an escape. He was failing her, failing his family—
Failing everyone still looking for the boy he’d been.
He’d tried anger management—tried to do what Elizabeth needed—but he’d failed at that, too. He’d knew if they went to marital counseling like she wanted, like that asshole Greg had wanted, she’d leave him.
She was going to leave him anyway. It just a matter of time.
So when Elizabeth had taken Cameron out for lunch, Lucky had finally made the call and begged Santiago to come to him.
He got to the door and pulled the other man in fast, almost before the knock had finished echoing in their dingy hallway. “You got the stuff?”
“Yeah, I got it.” Santiago raised his brows. “You got the cash?”
“Next week,” Lucky promised. “Disability isn’t kicking in as fast as I thought—” and wouldn’t be kicking in at all since Lucky was going back to work, but what the hell was Santiago Escobar going to do to him?
And once he got back to work, he wouldn’t need the escape. He’d have a purpose. He might even actually try counseling again—
But right now, he needed the high.
“You don’t pay next week, Spencer, my cousin ain’t gonna like it. He’s on me about it—” Santiago shoved him in the chest, setting Lucky back a step. “And he’s not gonna fuck around. You better pay.”
“Yeah, yeah. I will.” Lucky almost drooled as he saw what he’d asked for—the bottle of pills and enough of the heroin to hold him over until he went back to work. “Nice—”
“That’s five grand you owe me, Spencer.” Santiago grabbed Lucky’s shirt and dragged him towards him. “Where the fuck you gonna get that kind of money? Disability pays that much? Fuck that—”
“I’m a cop injured in the line of duty,” Lucky said desperately. Wasn’t he gonna give him the stuff? Why bother coming over here? “They’re gonna hold a benefit for me at the carnival. A raffle to help with expenses—”
“You’d better hope they come through. Don’t you got a rich brother?”
Lucky scowled, shoved Santiago back hard. “I don’t ask my brother for shit.” And Nikolas was still in Greece, still in deep mourning over the death of Courtney Matthews and the loss of the child he’d wanted to be his.
“You’d better make good. You got a week, Spencer. One week. And you’ll remember this once you’re back at work. I take care of you now, you take care of me then.”
Santiago scowled, but eventually left. Lucky sighed in relief as he clutched the bag to him. He had maybe an hour before Elizabeth got back. He hurried through Cameron’s bedroom into the bathroom ensuite. He closed the door and ran the shower at the hottest setting, knowing that the steam would help dissipate the smell.
And then he lit a match, waiting for the emptiness he was beginning to crave with a fury that would have terrified him—if he could think clearly enough to realize it.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Kelly’s: Dining Room
Jason breathed a sigh of relief when he realized that Elizabeth wasn’t on the premises. After their run in at Luke’s a few weeks earlier, he’d realized he’d need to be more proactive about not seeing her. He’d had Emily find out her work schedule, then avoided any of the places they might run into each other when she was off.
But Mike had asked to see both of them today, and Jason had taken a chance, knowing that Elizabeth wasn’t working the day shift this week. She’d switched to nights, Emily had said, for a few days, and Cameron was excited because he’d been spending the nights with Morgan.
Jason had managed to drop by Carly’s a few times when he’d known Cameron might be there. He’d promised to stay away from Elizabeth, but he hadn’t promised to stay away from Cameron. He’d seen the little boy the night before after his mother had dropped him off. Cameron had thanked him shyly for his birthday present, the Chuggin Charlie train that his mommy had told him was from Jason.
“But shhhh,” Cameron said in a whisper with gleaming eyes. “It’s a secret. Mommy said just you, me, Aunt Car, and her. Like Biderman.”
So Elizabeth knew and had told Cameron where the present came from. Had wanted Cameron to know it. Jason didn’t want that to matter, but it did.
Other than that brief moment at Luke’s, he hadn’t seen her in nearly a month. It wasn’t even the first time a month had passed without seeing her, but it hurt now in a way he hadn’t expected. He’d thought the pain would be less sharp after all these weeks—that he’d be able to stop thinking about her.
“She’s not here,” Sonny said simply, as Jason’s eyes swept the diner again. Jason looked at his partner with a frown. “I called before we came. Mike let me know she’d just left.”
Jason exhaled slowly. “I wasn’t—”
“I know. But he said it was important and I know you promised her. So let’s go see what he wants.” Sonny sighed as they headed for the kitchen. “Man, I hope this isn’t about another bookie.”
Mike grinned at them, wiping his hands on his apron as he came out of the pantry. “Thanks for coming, guys. Come into the alley. Let’s talk.”
Jason grimaced as he followed Sonny and his father behind the diner, letting the heavy steel door fall closed. “What’s up, Mike?” he asked.
“I caught a little weasel working my parking lot yesterday,” Mike told them, the grin fading from his face. “The Escobars.”
Sonny scowled. “Bullshit—they know they’re not supposed to leave Courtland Street—” He looked at Jason. “Did you know about this?”
“They’ve been getting bold,” Jason admitted. He fought back the urge to remind Sonny he’d warned him about the Escobars months earlier. Sonny had brushed him off then. “I heard some rumors, and I checked with Luke. His club is on the edge of the territory, and he said they’d been tried a few times. He’s always run them off, but they’ve been getting braver. I told you they didn’t want to be limited to that part of town,” Jason told him. “But Kelly’s is your territory, and your father runs it.”
“A couple of Mateo’s nephews are coming up,” Mike said. “They’re young.”
“And stupid,” Jason said. “Just Kelly’s? Anywhere else?” If they were only pushing at Kelly’s, it might be a dig at Sonny personally.
Mike hesitated. “Georgie Jones. She’s a senior at PCH this year and said that a couple of Escobar kids got arrested for dealing at the school. Felipe and Iker. Mateo’s sister’s kids. I asked,” he added. “And the little asshole in my parking lot was Santiago Escobar, their oldest brother. They’re dumb, Sonny, but not afraid. They think the deal you made with Mateo shows their uncle’s weakness. They’re out looking for respect.”
“God damn it,” Sonny muttered. “I’m not in the mood for this penny-ante shit.” He looked at Jason. “Get Mateo in the room with me. He needs to get his house in order. He gets his sliver of territory because I don’t have the energy to stomp him out. Make him understand I will find the time.”
“I’ll head over to the warehouse now and set it up.” Jason nodded to the two of them, and walked down the alley, out towards the parking lot.
Mike hesitated, then looked at Sonny. “You called me before you came over. Asking me about Elizabeth. If she was around.”
“Yeah, you told me she’d grabbed something to drink and left.”
“She did. She told me she was gonna sit on the pier and watch the ships come in a bit since her grandmother had the kid, and she had some free time to herself.” Mike grimaced, looking back where Jason had disappeared. “Does that matter?”
Sonny pursed his lips. “He’s supposed to stay away from her,” he murmured. “But you know what? What he doesn’t know, what she doesn’t know? Not their fault.”
“Uh-huh,” Mike said. “Just so you know, if this becomes a thing—”
“You had nothing to do with it,” Sonny promised, and hoped he wasn’t making a mistake.
General Hospital: Nurse’s Station
Sam stepped off the elevator and grimaced when she saw Epiphany Johnson standing like a guard behind the counter.
She’d just flown back to Port Charles the day before intending to pack up her meager belongings and go back to Miami, where she was closer to the action and the jobs. Since leaving Port Charles, she’d run a few real estate cons with Paulie and had started to put the moves on a new mark for the trophy wife. Her trip here was part of it—disappear for a few days early in the relationship, make him desperate for her.
She had a few things she’d left in storage here—and she felt like she had to make peace with Elizabeth before she could leave Port Charles behind.
Whatever Elizabeth and Jason had been up to, whatever their twisted relationship looked like now, Sam knew that the other woman had stayed with Lucky. And was probably still dealing with the vicious rumor mill that went along with this hospital.
So Sam just wanted to make good with the nurse because she shouldn’t have gone after Elizabeth that way. She should have just sliced off Jason’s balls since he was the one that had done the wrong.
Epiphany narrowed her eyes when she saw Sam. “No.”
“I just want to talk to her for a minute, Epiphany. Can you just tell me when she’s working—”
“I need to apologize—”
“I can say no in a couple of languages. Maybe you’d understand one of them,” Epiphany snapped.
“Okay, okay—” Sam held up her hands. “I just—I just felt bad, and I didn’t want to leave Port Charles without making good—”
“That girl don’t owe you anything, Sam. She never did. So, take your guilt and try someone else. You come near my nurse, I’ll have your ass removed by security.” Epiphany picked up the phone. “In fact, you don’t leave right now—”
“I’m going, I’m going,” Sam muttered. She’d track Elizabeth down somewhere else. She didn’t want to leave any unfinished business behind in Port Charles.
Except Alexis Davis because that shit was staying buried.
Elm Street Pier
Elizabeth had thought she’d be safe on the pier from running into Jason.
She’d been at Kelly’s, picking up an iced coffee to enjoy on the docks, the first truly warm day in an otherwise chilly spring. She had an entire hour free before she was supposed to meet her grandmother to go shopping and have dinner with Cameron before her night shift.
Mike had been on the phone while she sat at the counter. He’d looked at her meaningfully, then asked a question, clearly repeating the person on the other end. “Is Elizabeth Webber here?” She’d frowned at her name, then he’d continued. “Sonny, why does that matter? I just need to see you and Jason.”
She exhaled slowly, understanding. Sonny didn’t want her to run into Jason. She raised her coffee. “I’m going to sit on the docks for a bit,” she said to him softly, dropping money on the counter. “See ya, Mike.”
And then she’d left, feeling like she’d be okay. Jason and Sonny would meet with Mike, she’d be on the docks, enjoying her coffee, and keeping her promise to herself and Lucky. Jason was obviously keeping his promise to her to stay away.
Everyone doing what they said they would. Like mature adults.
Except when she heard the boots, her heartbeat picked up, and her stomach started fluttering. Not in dread. Not in annoyance.
Which was insane because Elizabeth had already promised herself she was done running to Jason, done using him. She’d made a mistake staying with Lucky, but it was her mistake to fix.
And just because she knew she was leaving Lucky in a few weeks, it didn’t mean Jason was going to be waiting for her. She’d already rejected him one too many times to hope for that.
He stopped at the top of the stairs as she got to her feet and looked at him. Jason met her eyes, then slowly walked down towards her. He stopped at the bottom and didn’t move.
Elizabeth licked her lips and offered a smile. “Hey. I—I’m just…drinking coffee.”
“I didn’t—” Jason looked around, but the dock was empty, and the only people they could see or hear were the workers just off on the pier and in the distance on the wharf. “I didn’t know you’d be here. I was just going to the warehouse.”
They stared at each other for another minute, and Elizabeth knew—she knew she should just let him go. But she couldn’t.
She didn’t want to.
“Thank you for the train,” she said softly. “Cameron wanted it so much, but it was sold out everywhere. Bobbie, Gram, I—We all looked.”
“How did you know—” Jason broke off, swallowed.
“Carly brought it. And even if she hadn’t told me, I’d know you would be the only person who could find something like that.” Elizabeth smiled, hoping it looked as casual as she wanted it to. “Cameron loves it. And he won’t say anything—”
“I—I saw him yesterday. At Carly’s. He said it was a secret. Like Spiderman.” A smile flitted on his lips as he took a step towards her. “I didn’t know if you’d let him keep it.”
“There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my son.” She stepped towards him. “Thank you.”
“He talked about it when I saw him at Carly’s.” Unsure, Jason looked out over the lake. “He asked me to come to his party. But I told him I couldn’t. I said I’d send something.”
“He—I’m glad he gets to see you at Carly’s. He loves it there so much. Morgan has a lot of toys, but he’s just surrounded by a lot of people who love him. It’s all I’ve ever wanted for him.”
“He’s a great kid.” He looked back at her, and Elizabeth looked down, a bit unnerved by how much she wished his eyes weren’t guarded. How much she missed the way he looked at her. She shouldn’t.
She was married. She’d decided to stay with her husband. Even if she knew she was leaving, Jason deserved better than this.
“Are you…” Jason shook his head. “Never mind. It’s none of my business. I should go—” He started past her, towards the dock stairs—then stopped. He turned back to face her, only a few inches away. “You were going to leave. Emily told me.”
“I was,” Elizabeth said softly. “I didn’t.” She should have. She wished like hell she hadn’t listened to anyone but her gut that day. Or that she’d listened to everyone except Luke Spencer.
He nodded, almost with a grimace as if he’d regretted saying anything. He exhaled a short sharp breath. “Okay, then.”
Jason started to walk away then, but she couldn’t let it go. Not like this. And she should have. This was just like before—only he’d been the one pushing for more than she wanted to give, and now—
Now she just couldn’t let him walk away. She couldn’t stand that he’d think—
“It’s not okay.”
He stopped but kept his back to her. “No, it’s not.” His words drifted back towards her. Then Jason slowly turned around. “I’m doing what you wanted. I’m staying away from you. But I—” He hesitated, his face pained. “I need to know something.”
Oh, God, was he going to ask? What if he did—what would she say?
If I have to ask, you’re not ready to offer it.
“You always choose him,” Jason said, his voice so soft, so quiet, it was almost lost in the air between them. “But you’re not really choosing him, are you?”
“Because it’s not about him or me.”
“No,” Elizabeth said. She squeezed her eyes shut. “Because that’s not a contest. It’s—” Her voice caught on the words because, God, they felt like a betrayal. They felt wrong.
They should feel wrong.
And maybe the fact that it didn’t feel wrong was the real crime. “It’s always you.”
Jason took that in, and some of the tension in his face eased. “Then, why?”
“I—” Her throat closed, and she shook her head. “I don’t know.”
“Yeah, you do.” Jason touched her face—for just a second—so quickly his fingers felt like a ghost against her cheek. “I just want you to be happy.”
He nodded, then stepped back. “If you need me,” Jason said after a long moment, “you know how to find me.”
She sighed as he walked away, and this time, she let him.