Lord knows I’ll fail you time and again
But you and me are alright, yeah
We won’t say our goodbyes
You know it’s better that way
We won’t break, we won’t die
It’s just a moment of change
-All We Are, OneRepublic
Saturday, July 26, 2003
Morgan Penthouse: Bedroom
Elizabeth knew it was early when she felt him shift at her side. It was always early when Jason slipped from the bed they had shared for the past month. He would move slowly to avoid waking her, press a kiss to her forehead, and then disappear into a guest room so he could dress.
She usually let him think that, because she didn’t want to see him looking guilty for having to disappear for most of the day. He was trying so hard this time, in so many ways. They spent nearly every night together and he tried to be at the penthouse for at least one meal, usually a quick dinner of takeout.
“Don’t go…” she murmured, only half aware. She tightened her arms at his shoulder, and felt him hesitate. “Just…a little longer.”
“I’m sorry,” Jason sighed. He looked down at her, and she could see that he really was sorry, that if he’d had the choice he’d spend the day with her, preferably in bed. “I just…” He closed his eyes and rested his forehead on her shoulder. “Elizabeth…”
“No, I’m sorry.” She slid her hand through his short dark blonde hair, trailing her fingers down his neck. “I know you have things to do. I just…” Don’t know how long this moment is going to last.
Because as wonderful as things were…Elizabeth knew these last few weeks had been a calm before the storm. That they wouldn’t see eye to eye forever.
“I’ll talk to Sonny,” Jason said. “Maybe…I can work something out.” He pressed a kiss to her bare shoulder. “Things are just…” He trailed off, but she knew what was going on even if he didn’t give her specifics. Shipments had gone missing from inside the warehouse, others weren’t on ships when they arrived in the harbor. The warehouse had been raided by the PCPD once.
“I’ll see you later.” Elizabeth leaned up and pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth. “Be careful.”
“I will.” He kissed her once more before sliding out of the bed.
She closed her eyes as the door quietly opened and then shut. Jason had clearly listened when she told him her reasons for leaving last fall. He’d never come home, he’d never called, he’d never spoken to her. He was changing all of that, and there were moments Elizabeth believed that this time….they were going to get it right.
But then she would remember that it was more than just the two of them in this situation. Her hand slid under the sheet and covered her belly, with its new roundness. They were still avoiding the future, still not talking about what this baby meant.
How much longer could she deny that while Jason cared for her, he was apparently finding it difficult to care for a child that was half Ric Lansing?
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
“I am going to start investing in board games,” Carly grumbled as she looked at her card. “Hit me.”
Elizabeth smirked and slapped another card on the coffee table. “I hear ya. I actually started watching soap operas this month. Do you know how much I want to hit myself?”
“Frick.” Carly squinted at her sixteen. “Hit me.” When Elizabeth slapped down a ten, she scowled. “Screw this. Put on Guiding Light. At least I can wallow in someone else’s misery for a while.”
Elizabeth laughed and started to slide the pack of cards back in the box. She knew that things were…uncertain. Not outright dangerous, but they didn’t seem to know where the threat was coming from, so for the time being, Sonny wanted all pregnant women cooped up. Michael, the lucky bastard, Carly had muttered, still got to go to his swimming lessons and summer camps, since kids were usually collateral damage rather than outright targets. No one wants the cops looking at them for murdering a kid, Carly had declared.
So when Carly had tired of her own four walls or hanging out upstairs when Sonny kicked her upstairs, she’d started coming across the hall. Elizabeth figured they’d never be close, but she was relieved they’d called a truce since she became pregnant and moved in.
“We could always put on one of those court shows,” Elizabeth offered. “The ones where girlfriends sue their exes because they tried to buy their love.”
Carly eyed her. “We need to get you out of the house, Muffin. Too much daytime television for you.” She leaned back and stared at her rapidly expanding belly, now deep into her sixth month and about to hit her final trimester. “Jason doesn’t think double guards are enough to let you out once in a while?”
Elizabeth pursed her lips. “I get to go to the hospital to meet my grandmother or Nadine for lunch mostly, because Jason likes the security Alan set up after that kid was kidnapped a few years ago. Plus, the hospital really took it on the chin when it turned out the Cassadines had built an elaborate laboratory right under their noses in the sub-basements, so it’s basically under lock and key.”
“Oh, you poor bastard.” Carly rolled her eyes. “Ugh. I love Sonny, so this is mostly worth it, but man…how am I supposed to sneak snacks if Sonny never lets me go out without him and the guards?”
Elizabeth arched an eyebrow. “How do you feel about some pistachio ice cream?”
Carly reached across to her, and clutched Elizabeth’s shoulder. “Don’t toy with my emotions, Muffin. I need sugar, and I need it now.”
There were moments Elizabeth actually enjoyed Carly’s company. The woman had a sharp sarcastic wit and a healthy dislike of idiots. If it hadn’t been for Jason all those years ago, maybe they wouldn’t spent four years loathing the sight of one another. She smirked. “Jason doesn’t care what I eat.”
“Oh, I take it back.” Carly slid off the couch and tugged Elizabeth with her. “You’re a lucky bitch. I had some delicious mint chocolate chip and that bastard switched it out for almond ice cream.” She wrinkled her nose as the two moved towards the kitchen. “It’s an insult to good and proper ice cream.”
“I even have chocolate syrup and whipped cream,” Elizabeth said as she crossed to the freezer. “Grab some bowls. I could use some, too.”
“Hmm…I’m suddenly seeing the benefits of having another pregnant woman within walking distance.” Carly took down the bowls and grabbed some spoons. “How come you get away with eating what you want?”
Elizabeth frowned. “Do you think Jason really cares? It’s all I can do to make sure he eats, he’s not really that worried about me. He assumes I want my baby to be healthy, so…” she shrugged.
“Yeah, that’s usually the argument Sonny gives me, and since I usually have my methods of getting what I want, it’s been all right.”
When Carly hesitated, Elizabeth looked at her. “What? You were going to say something.” She handed a bowl to Carly and then sat down at the folding table. It would be easier to hide the evidence in case Jason and Sonny came by if they stayed in the kitchen.
“It’s not my business,” Carly began, “which doesn’t generally stop me. That being said, I…guess I was wondering if maybe the reason you don’t have my issues with Sonny and food is because…you and Jason don’t…discuss things that directly…affect the baby.” She grimaced. “And again, it’s none of my business—”
Elizabeth let her spoon sit in her bowl for a long moment as Carly dug in to her impromptu sundae. “You would be…correct,” she admitted. “We don’t consciously avoid the topic, but it’s not one we bring up willingly either.” She cleared her throat. “Still, I don’t see Jason being a nutrition Nazi anyway.”
“This is true.” Carly licked her spoon. “Listen, as much as this is going to pain me, and I promised Sonny I’d stay out of it, it’s hard because I love Jason. He’s family. So…I know…” She jerked a shoulder. “I know you guys are…you know…” She wiggled her fingers. “Doing stuff.”
Even as Elizabeth felt her cheeks burn, she raised her eyebrows. “Doing stuff?” she repeated.
“Don’t make me repeat it,” the blonde said. “It’s clear that some things have changed, since you moved in, and particularly since you found out you were having a girl. You both are more relaxed and there’s just…” Her grimace deepened. “Christ, how is this my life? Look, when a guy hasn’t been getting laid regularly, he gets all tense. And then there’s a looseness to his stride when he is, so I figure it’s due to you. Can we stop making me explaining why I know you two are…doing dirty stuff and move on to the next part?”
“Carly, why are we discussing my sex life in the first place?” Elizabeth asked, torn between amusement and irritation. “I don’t ask you about Sonny—”
“Hey…I am trying to do something helpful.” Carly jabbed her spoon in her direction. “Do you think I want to discuss this? God…” She wiggled her shoulders and huffed. “Anyway, now that we’ve established this, I guess I just…wanted to know why you and Jason avoid talking about the baby.”
For a long moment, Elizabeth stared into her slowly melting ice cream, and thought about how to answer Jason’s best friend. If she were honest, there was a possibility it could make it back to Jason, and she wasn’t sure she was ready to have this conversation with him. Though she was trying hard to prepare for the future, there was a large part of her that wanted to live in this moment.
“The only reason I’m going to answer this is because I know you love Jason,” Elizabeth began, “and I know how uncharacteristically supportive you’ve been since this started. I know you never truly believed Jason was my child’s father, and even when it hurt Courtney, you still stood by Jason’s decision and even helped spread gossip to stop rumors. So, keeping that in mind, I do not discuss my daughter with Jason because…there are just some things I know we can’t talk about. Not if I want…” She hesitated. “Not if I want to keep things the way they are. Aren’t there things you don’t talk about Sonny with because they disturb the status quo?”
Carly licked some whipped cream off her thumb. “Absolutely. Brenda, Brenda, Brenda, and Brenda. In that order. So I get what you’re saying.” She paused. “But Brenda lives in Europe now. And your baby will be here in December. How long do you think you and Jason are going to avoid talking about this? You’re going to have to figure out how to make it work.”
“Are we?” Elizabeth asked softly, more to herself. “Carly, I just…I want this time with Jason. For all the times I walked away from him, the times he walked away from me, the time we’ve lost. I just want…these moments with him, for as long as I can.”
Carly opened her mouth as if to add something else, but closed it. “All right. I promised Sonny I wouldn’t help and Jason’s always telling me to butt out. Usually because I just make it worse. So listen, you and I are going to have learn to stick together. At least for now, okay? Security is going to be tight until Jason and Sonny deal with things, so we’re all we’ve got. So, I won’t bug you too much about Jason, you’ll be my junk food dealer.” She paused again. “But before I start with the butting out, here’s what I’m going to say.”
Elizabeth regarded her warily. “What?”
“Before you close the book on you and Jason, make sure you two have a frank discussion about this kid, and what it means. Do not just assume you know what’s going on in his head. People rarely do,” Carly said. “Because if you assume you know what he’s thinking, he’s doing the same thing, and you know the two of you are probably not thinking the same thing. I’m not saying you should talk about it today, or even next week. But…” She chewed her bottom lip. “Do not walk away from Jason before you talk to him. You’ll end up regretting it.”
“I usually do,” Elizabeth admitted.
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
Jason set a folder down on the desk next to the door and looked at his friend, the exhaustion of the last month etched into every line of his face. From the moment the empty shipment had shown up, it had been all they could do to stay one step ahead of whoever was screwing with them. Someone in their organization had turned, and so far Benny and Stan had no idea who. There were too many suspects, too many people that had been trusted.
“I think it’s Ric,” Sonny sighed, pressing the heels of his hands to his forehead. “I really do. Benny’s been looking into the other Families and there’s nothing from them. They’re suspicious because we’re not looking for Ric the way we were, so they’re not looking for him as hard as I hoped they would. This is…” He scowled. “We are fucked, Jason. And I can’t see an end to it.”
“It gets worse,” Jason said, hating to add more burdens to Sonny’s shoulders, because as much as Jason felt the weight of the organization on his shoulders, he knew it was ten times worse for Sonny. “We sent Tommy down to Puerto Rico because we needed Johnny here in the warehouse, running the investigation, but the problems are more than he can deal with.”
He saw his friend eye the mini bar, whether to drink it or flip it, Jason wasn’t sure. He felt the weariness down to his bones, the way he hadn’t in years. Not even last summer, when Alcazar had been looming over them. He’d thrown himself into work then, at first to stop thinking about taking Elizabeth up on her offers to meet in secret, and then later, to forget about her after she’d walked out of his life.
But there was something about this threat, this summer that felt more dangerous than Luis Alcazar ever had. And maybe because they all had so much more to lose now. Carly hadn’t been pregnant the year before, and Elizabeth was in his life in a way she never had been before. He couldn’t let anything happen to her, to Carly, to Michael. But there were moments he felt like he hanging on by a thread.
Sonny sighed, the sound weary and resigned. “Tell me. Don’t sugar coat it.”
“There was a fire in a casino,” Jason began, “which is why Tommy went down there, to oversee restoration. But he discovered money problems. It’s been disappearing for months, but the managers didn’t seem to notice. He thinks it’s from laziness more than anything else, because he can’t find the money in their accounts. I’d put Stan on it, but he’s dealing with so much up here, and Benny is barely keeping his head above water trying to find the traitor as well doing his regular work.”
Jason knew what the solution to this latest problem would entail, what something like this always had before. They needed people in Port Charles to deal with the problems here, so Johnny couldn’t go. Which meant it had to be Jason. There no was telling how long it would take to wrap this up, so he could be away for weeks.
Weeks away from Elizabeth, who was safest here in a secure penthouse and not traveling to an island during hurricane season during a pregnancy.
“Well, we need someone else to work the computers,” Sonny said finally. “I fucking hate computers and technology. Maybe they make some things easier, but they just give people more ways to screw with me. I’ll put Stan on it.” He hesitated. “I’ll go to Puerto Rico, Jase.”
Jason frowned. “Sonny, you need to be here—”
Sonny held up a hand. “Listen. I know it would normally be you, and under normal circumstances, I’d say you should pack Elizabeth up and head off. Sun and relaxation would be good for her, but not the way things are right now. If this is a distraction, who’s to say it’s not to get you away from Elizabeth? Hope that I won’t pay as much attention to her as I do my own family. Or a trick to get her down there, where our security isn’t as tight. I’d say send her to the island while you’re in Puerto Rico, but there’s not fair to her either. She needs to be with the doctors with her blood pressure.” His friend shook his head. “And honestly, I owe you this.”
“You don’t…” Jason shook his head. “You don’t owe me anything. This is my job. I know Elizabeth understands—”
“I’m not blind, man.” Sonny crossed to the bar and poured himself a glass of water. “I know the two of you are trying to work things out—”
“It’s not that…” Jason cleared his throat. “We are, Sonny, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t rather stay here with her. I would, but she knows I have responsibilities—”
“You’ve got enough problems to deal with without you disappearing for two weeks or more,” Sonny cut in. “Plus, I need you focused, and no matter how good you are what you do, Jase, you’re going to be thinking about her. Worrying. Because if you can’t see her, how do you know she’s safe? What if something happens while you’re gone and you’re stuck having to waste time getting back?” He shook his head. “I can’t ask you to go to Puerto Rico. We’re partners. I may be in charge out there—” Sonny gestured out the windows towards the city. “But we do this together, Jase.”
“This is my fault,” Sonny said. “All of it. You’ll never say it, she’ll never say it. But it’s my fault.” He sipped his water and looked away. “I was selfish last year. I didn’t get it. I didn’t see it. Instead of helping you do everything you could to find Elizabeth when she was in that crypt, I questioned your actions, made you feel like you had to justify yourself. You want to tell Elizabeth about faking my death, I can’t figure out why, because clearly, I’m an idiot. She walks out, upset. She’s vulnerable to my insane half-brother because of it, and here we are. Because I’m a selfish bastard.”
“Sonny…” Jason closed his eyes. He couldn’t disagree with Sonny’s word choice. He was a selfish bastard, but still… “It is selfish to think that you were the only problem Elizabeth and I were having. We were…we weren’t talking to each other. Weren’t saying the words that would have changed things. I could argued with you more, she could have listened more, let me explain. Yeah, you didn’t help, but you know…” He shook his head. “None of this matters now. We’ve got bigger problems. Elizabeth and I can’t make anything work if we don’t get rid of whoever is doing this.”
“Yeah…” Sonny exhaled slowly. “I get it. So I’m going to Puerto Rico. I would take Carly with me, but she’s almost in her third trimester and I don’t want her to end up being stuck down there, unable to fly until the baby is born. I know you’ll keep her safe.”
Because a part of Jason was relieved that he didn’t have to leave town and leave Elizabeth while things were so unresolved between them, he finally nodded. “All right. I can see you’re not going to change your mind. I’ll take care of Carly and Michael.”
“Good.” Sonny set his water glass down. “So, I’ll call Stan and tell him we need another computer person. I’ll break him in while we’re in Puerto Rico. We’ll send Tommy back up to help Johnny with security at the warehouse.” He rubbed his eyes. “I know it makes sense to delegate some things, Jason, and I’m glad we started doing it more, but man, it makes life complicated when one of them betrays you. These men you trusted to carry out the business, to protect your child, the woman you love, and for the most part, you can never be sure they’re not thinking of the best way to stab you in the back.”
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Jason nodded to Cody before opening the door to his penthouse to find Elizabeth curled up on the sofa, talking on the phone. The last month had been exhausting, but in other ways, Jason wouldn’t have traded it for anything. He would get home for dinner or lunch and find Elizabeth somewhere in his home, waiting for him, painting, reading and he wondered if it could have been this way last year. If he had just tried harder, shipped Zander to a safe house so he could be alone with her. If he had been clearer with his words, more obvious in his actions, would she have given him the benefit of the doubt and stayed?
“I would have told you earlier, Lucky,” she was saying as he set down a pile of ledgers and folders and grabbed the newspaper to join her on the sofa. “But you were so excited about going to see your mother, and you know…things were so up in the air. I didn’t even know what I’d say.” She grimaced at whatever her ex-fiancé was telling her, but she didn’t look upset, so Jason let it go. She’d let her hair dry into soft curls, and had put on some sort of strapless stretchy dress that clung to her. Her legs were tucked underneath her, but he wondered what color she’d painted her toenails today. She was bored enough, he’d noticed, to change the color every day.
“I don’t want you to choose sides, Lucky. You or Nikolas. Things with Emily…they’ll be fine eventually.” Elizabeth sighed and picked at the seam of the sofa back. “The reason things are what they are with Emily is because she got in the middle, so it won’t help matters—and I don’t care what you heard from Amy Vining when she visited your mother last month. I am absolutely fine, and I don’t think you flying back here to beat up Jason would be a good idea.”
Jason frowned and looked at her, but she just rolled her eyes. “Well, I do know you’d lose, you always did before and it’s not like Nikolas would fare much better. I’ve also seen them fight, which just tells me I’m friends with a bunch of meddling nitwits.” She mimed shooting herself in the head, but he could tell she was almost enjoying the conversation because it seemed like Lucky was giving her a hard time on her own behalf.
“And stop arguing with Nikolas about godfather rights. I can hear him in the background. You’re both out. What do you mean why? Seriously, Lucky. You think either one of you idiots are going to be the godfather to my child? Please. I talked to Sonny last week and we agreed it’s—oh, you are not even funny. No, that doesn’t mean Carly will be godmother. Honestly, how I ever thought I would marry you and not strangle you in a week is beyond me at this point.”
He shook his head and looked back at the newspaper. It was good to hear the smile in her voice, the brightness in her eyes. He had never forgotten that look in her eyes, that day when he’d found on her on the docks. He’d thought then that she’d really loved Ric, and that had been why she was so devastated, but she must have known by that point she was pregnant. She’d looked almost fragile, and he was relieved that the inner strength he’d always admired in her had reasserted itself over the last few months.
“Tell you what, Lucky, you concentrate on getting your mother well so she can come home and we’ll talk about whether you can be godfather to my imaginary second child.” She huffed. “I’m hanging up now because even though I think you’re happy for me, I can’t tell since you’re making fun of me now. Bye.” She clicked off button on the cordless and set it on the coffee table. “Ugh. Was he that annoying when I dated him and I was just blind?”
“I always thought Lucky was annoying,” Jason said absently, but then frowned because that wasn’t really true. He’d liked Lucky once, had hired him. Until that night in the garage. But that Lucky Spencer had died that night, and the boy who came home was as different from him as Jason was from Jason Quartermaine.
“Yeah, that’s true.” Elizabeth sighed, but then seemed to brighten. “Hey. You’re home. It’s not dark out or anything. And it’s hours before dinner…” She bit her bottom lip. “Is…everything okay?”
Jason gave up on the newspaper—he’d barely been concentrating anyway. He folded it, and set it on the coffee table. “Yeah. Sonny has to go to Puerto Rico for a couple of weeks.” He rubbed his temple. “I know I haven’t been around a lot—”
“No…” Elizabeth shook her head immediately. “No, I’m sorry about this morning.” His eyes widened as she moved towards him on the sofa, swinging one leg over his lap until her knees were resting on either side of him, as she straddled his middle. “Jason, I am so sorry. I was just…”
“It’s lonely,” Jason said, running his hands down the soft skin of her arms. “I know. I know Carly’s over here, that your friend Nadine stops by, and your grandmother is getting more comfortable dropping in, but all in all…you’d rather be out there.” He tipped his head to the side, indicating the windows. “You miss your job.”
“I do.” She brought her hands to his chest, her fingers spread over his blue t-shirt. “I guess…we just really started…” She looked at the ceiling and sighed. “We just started working on things, and I guess…I get nervous when…we don’t see each other. We’ve always been good in the moment.”
He exhaled slowly, because he knew exactly what she was talking about. “But not after the moment is over,” he said softly. “Elizabeth…I know…” His chest felt tight, because he didn’t want to have this conversation, but he knew they were going to have to at some point. “I know there’s still a lot to talk about.” Primarily the baby rounding her belly that grew a little more every day. “I just…”
“Have been enjoying the moment,” Elizabeth supplied when he didn’t go on. “I know. After all those months of not speaking, of not…thinking about each other, I didn’t want to complicate things.” She smiled wistfully. “I still don’t.”
Understanding that she, too, wanted to table certain conversations for another date, he nodded. “So, Sonny’s going to Puerto Rico for a few weeks,” he repeated. “And he and I…have done as much as we can do for today. And since he’ll be gone for a while, I’ll be home a bit more, because it’s just…necessary that I deal with certain things from the penthouse. Like Sonny would.” He hesitated. “Or I could do it at Sonny’s, and Carly could keep coming here—”
“No,” Elizabeth smiled and shook her head. “It’s my turn to go upstairs or nag Carly.” She tilted her head to the side and her lips curved into a smile he was quickly recognizing. “So…you don’t have any immediate plans? For this afternoon or tonight?”
His hand slid from her arms down to her thighs, and then up to her hips. “Well…maybe just one plan,” he murmured
She laughed and dipped her head down to kiss him. As he deepened the kiss, he wrapped his arms more tightly around her back, and twisted her to lower her on to the sofa.
He was going to hold on to every moment with her this time, for however long it lasted.