I’m finding my way back to sanity again
Though I don’t really know what
I’m going to do when I get there
Take a breath and hold on tight
Spin around one more time
– Breathing, Lifehouse
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Jason pushed open the door and signaled for Elizabeth to go inside. He turned to Francis. “No one gets past you. No interruptions. I don’t care what Sonny or anyone else says.” He hesitated and glanced at Elizabeth, who was doing her best to keep her face expressionless when all she wanted to do was dissolve into a puddle of nothing. “And it goes without saying that you heard nothing on the docks that you didn’t already know to be the truth. That’s why you were assigned last week, got it?”
“Message received.” Francis nodded and took up his station at the door.
As soon as Jason closed the door, Elizabeth felt her composure leave her. She sank onto the sofa, his words were ringing in her head. I don’t lie. It’s my baby.
“Elizabeth,” Jason began, putting his hands at his waist, but he said nothing else, and she knew exactly how he felt. How the hell had they gotten into this mess and how were they going to get out?
“It’s not that I don’t…” Elizabeth twisted her fingers together. God, she couldn’t look at him. “I appreciate you stepping in because I wasn’t sure…” Restless, she got to her feet and started to pace.
“I know this…this is a mess,” Jason said. She turned and just stared at him.
“You don’t think that’s a bit of an understatement?” Her arms wrapped around her torso, her fingers tapping her on arm. She wanted to jump out of her skin. “Let’s…let’s go back here a minute. You told Sonny’s half-brother that you…” She couldn’t even say the words. “Oh my God, Jason. What are we going to do?” Her eyes widened. “You have to get Sonny and Carly…and Courtney right now and tell them the truth. He’s going to head straight for Courtney or Carly, you just know it.”
“No.” Jason shook his head, pained. “No, we can’t tell them.”
“I…” Her hands slid to her sides, as if boneless. “What do you mean we can’t tell them?” Her voice had climbed almost to a squeak, and she struggled to take a deep breath. “Of course we have to tell them. Ric is going to tell everyone he sees what just happened!”
“Maybe…maybe not.” But Elizabeth could see Jason didn’t believe a word of that. “Maybe he’ll get out of town. I made it clear that he goes after you again, I’m not gonna care what Sonny said.”
“And if he were a normal and logical person, that might have worked,” Elizabeth retorted. She dragged her hands her hair and turned towards the windows. “We can tell them it’s a lie, that it’s not…that you’re not…” She swallowed hard and turned back. “I’ll tell them it’s Lucky’s. I can call him, he’s on his way to London, but I bet he’d help—”
“We can’t bring anyone else into this.” Jason strode forward and took her by the shoulders. “Elizabeth, I know you’re upset and you’re scared, but we need…” He paused and slid his hands down her shoulders to take her hands. “We need to focus. No one but the two of us can know the truth. Even Francis doesn’t really know what he heard isn’t the truth.”
“Jason, we cannot lie to our family, to the people who love us.” She hated how shaky her voice was and the tears were sliding down her cheeks. “We can’t. Do you know what people will think?”
“I…” He nodded. “Yeah. They’re going to think we cheated on the people we were seeing.” He squeezed her hands. “But we need to keep you and your child safe.”
Right. That was paramount, and Elizabeth could understand that somewhere inside, but in this moment, she could only see the problems. The damage. “Jason, you cannot let Courtney believe you did this to her.” She closed her eyes. “You have to tell her the truth, she’s going to be so hurt—”
“I know she is.” His hands fell from hers, and already she was aching the loss of his strength. “But I learned the hard way that things like this…they work when no one else knows.” His eyes darkened and Jason looked away, clearing his throat. “I told Robin about Michael being AJ’s son because I didn’t want her to think I had slept with Carly while we were together. I didn’t want to hurt her.”
“And she told AJ,” Elizabeth said. She sighed and rubbed her eyebrow. “Okay. Okay. But that was different, right? Courtney hates Ric, too. For what he did to Carly. She’ll understand that no one can know. We’ll just…” She stopped when he shook his head.
“We can’t take that chance.” He leaned against the pool table. “I know I’m asking you for a lot—”
“Are you insane?” Elizabeth cut in. “You’re the one who stands to lose in this, Jason.” Her heart was racing, and her skin was clammy. “I get why this works for me, but you’re the one who’s going to lie to his family. Jason, I can’t ask you to do this. It’s insanity. There has to be another way—”
“You heard Ric on those docks.” Jason shook his head and looked at her. God, he was so upset, and she knew it was because she wasn’t agreeing to this plan. There was no way she could, because he wasn’t seeing how it was going to end. How it was going to kill them both. “He has to believe this isn’t his child, or he’ll come back for it or you. And when he doesn’t need you anymore…” He pressed his lips together and clenched his fists. “You can’t ask me not to do whatever I can to keep you safe.”
She had a troubling premonition that he wasn’t going to let her talk him out of this. “Jason, what if Ric doesn’t go away?” she asked softly. “I know you can’t really talk about it, but I know he’s in trouble with the other Families, that they’re looking for him.” Elizabeth tilted her head. “You’re counting on this not being a long-term solution, and it might just be for a little while.”
“If the Families know what’s good for them,” Jason began, but stopped. He wouldn’t say it to her, she knew it. “Ric shouldn’t be a problem for long. And after that, we can tell the truth.”
“So how long are we supposed to let the world think we’re having a child together?” Elizabeth pressed. “Weeks? You think that’s going to make it any better?” Her eyes burned. “You think Courtney’s going to forgive you for not trusting her with something like this? That’s what you’re doing. You’re telling her you don’t trust her to keep a short-term secret. You think that’s not going to hurt her? That Carly is just going to let it go? And Sonny…” Fresh tears burned as they slid down her face. “He’s your best friend, but he’s Courtney’s brother. Jason—”
“I wanted to tell you about Sonny,” Jason said, almost muttering the words, and she blinked.
“That’s what you’re talking about.” Jason looked towards the doorway, as if remembering the night he’d come in and stumbled over her suitcase. “Me not trusting you with a short-term secret. You were so angry that I didn’t tell you—”
“It’s not about that, Jason.” She could not have this conversation now, not six months after it would have made a difference. If he’d just said those words that night instead of telling her it had nothing to do with her, oh God…
“I asked Sonny to tell you, I told him we could trust you, that you were…” He shook his head. “But he just wanted Carly to know. He said it was safer that way.”
Her hands were shaking, so she hid them behind her back. Why was he telling her this now? “Okay. Okay. But that’s…that’s not what this is about right now, okay. We’ve just…” She gestured out the window, as if the docks were just in the next room. “We just told a ticking time bomb that we had, at the very least, a one night stand, and created a child. What do we do if Ric disappears and goes underground?”
“We’ll find him,” Jason said. “He’s not going to hurt you again.”
She pressed her hand to her stomach, fighting the nausea. “Jason…”
“I know this isn’t a perfect solution,” Jason said. He straightened and crossed to her, stopping short of touching her, which she did not think she could handle right now. “We don’t have all the answers right now, but trust me…” He tilted her chin up so their eyes met. “You know I’m right, that no one can know. No one else matters but your child, and it’s safer if it’s just us.”
God, she couldn’t ignore that argument. She just couldn’t. He had trusted Robin once, and she’d blown his world apart. He’d known Robin as long as he could remember anything, and if Robin had done that to him…why wouldn’t Jason wonder if Courtney might as well. If he was willing to do this for her child, then how could she really argue?
“Okay,” she said softly, finding it difficult to look away from him. “I trust you. We won’t tell anyone.”
Relieved, he leaned down so his forehead brushed hers and if she weren’t already exhausted from tears, she would have wept for this moment. This one beautiful moment where they were totally in sync. Like they had been once.
He stepped away from her after a moment. “I want Francis to stay on you during the day, and I’ll put a guard on your studio door for the evening. I don’t want Ric to think for a moment you’re not being protected.” Jason took a deep breath. “We’ll just take everything else one day at time.”
“Okay.” She licked her lips. “Okay.” They stood there in awkward silence before she stepped forward. “I’m tired. Is it all right if I go home and rest now?”
“Yeah, yeah.” Jason scrubbed hand down his face. “You…you’ve been to a doctor? You’re okay, I mean?”
“Yeah.” Elizabeth hesitated. “I’m about five weeks along,” she said. “In case…in case we need to figure out…a story.”
“Okay.” Jason started for the door and turned back. “I promise you, Elizabeth, he’s not going to hurt you again,” he told her.
He sounded so determined, so convinced, that she could almost believe him.
Kelly’s Diner: Dining Room
“Hey.” Carly Corinthos smiled, spying her sister-in-law seated a table, picking at some fries. “I didn’t think you’d be here today.” She sat across from her.
“I had lunch with Emily.” Courtney shrugged. “But she had to run. She’s worried about Elizabeth.”
Carly frowned. “Why?” She hesitated. “Did Sonny tell her about Ric yet? Because I told him he should tell her, and repeat it several times so she listens this time.” Irritated, she snatched one of Courtney’s fries. “She can be thick-headed when she wants to be—”
“I don’t know but Elizabeth told Emily she was going to break up with him, and I guess Emily doesn’t know what a psycho he is.” Courtney shuddered. “So she encouraged Ric not to take no for an answer.”
Carly rolled her eyes. “And people say I butt in when I should stay out. What a sanctimonious little brat. I wish Elizabeth could have overheard exactly what Ric said at Kelly’s. I’m sure Sonny paraphrased to me to make it less…disgusting, but even his glossing over would make her nauseous. But if she doesn’t know, and was just breaking up with him…” Carly sighed. “I hope she doesn’t let his oily charm change her mind.”
“Well I just hope she doesn’t go back to Jason for help,” Courtney muttered. “He loves me now, but I don’t…he has a super hero complex, you know that.”
“Which is how you snagged him,” Carly reminded her, cross at the criticism of her best friend. Jason was a good guy who liked to help when he could. It didn’t mean he only fell in love when he was rescuing someone.
“I know she doesn’t mean anything to him anymore,” Courtney continued. “She drove him crazy when she wouldn’t listen to him about Ric—”
Carly sighed. “I think you should just let it go. I mean, Jason is not the type to cheat on anyone—”
Courtney bit her lip. “Well, I don’t know about that.” She glanced away. “I know we were attracted to each other while he was helping me last fall, when he stayed with me at my apartment, and you know Elizabeth was staying with him at that point. I think they were technically dating, but it didn’t…feel like they were.” She shrugged. “I know Jason told me he never loved her—”
At that Carly, raised her eyebrows. Not in love with her? Carly couldn’t stand Elizabeth Webber, but she remembered how frantic Jason had been to find her last summer, even going to Taggart, Edward and AJ. She’d seen Jason under pressure, looking for other people, but there’d been something in his demeanor, in the look in his eyes that told the world that if anything happened to Elizabeth on his account…
“Courtney, I—” She opened her mouth to defend Jason, because of course he hadn’t let himself be attracted to Courtney before things were over with Elizabeth. He wasn’t that kind of man. Except, how else to explain how quickly he’d moved on? Troubled, she closed her mouth.
The door to the restaurant flew open, and Ric stalked in. He drew up when he saw them, and Carly saw him narrow his eyes in malicious glee. “Oh, crap.” Carly reached for her purse, intent on making a hasty getaway.
“I am so relieved to find the two of you here.” Ric stood in front of them, his arms folded across his chest, bouncing on his heels like a five-year-old who just couldn’t want to tell his sister he’d hidden a frog in her bed. Carly saw Rocco in the courtyard, peeking in the window, but she didn’t give him the sign to come in. It was a public place, what could Ric do?
“Ric, why don’t you just…” Carly shrugged. “I don’t care what you do, as long as you don’t do it in my face—”
“Don’t worry,” Ric snarled. “I’m out of here, but I thought you ladies might like to be the first to know the reason why.”
“I cannot imagine why I’d be interested,” Courtney retorted. “Where’s Rocco?” She twisted in her seat towards the door.
“You should be asking…where’s Jason?” At the hiss in Ric’s voice, Carly felt the skin on her arms begin to rise, a chill down her spine. “Or even better, who’s he with?”
Courtney hesitated and glanced at Carly. Should she give in? Carly rolled her eyes. “All right, Ricky, we’ll play it your way.” She smirked. “Where’s Jason? Who’s he with?”
“Oh, the mother of his child,” Ric declared, his voice loud, and carrying. Even those who’d been trying to pretend not to be listening to the spectacle abandoned the pretense. Carly felt all eyes on them, and watched the blood drain from Courtney’s face. “That’s right,” Ric continued, enjoying himself. “I found out Elizabeth was pregnant, went to go see her, to figure out what to do next, and guess who came across us?”
“This isn’t…” Courtney’s voice faltered and she looked at Carly, fear and revulsion in her expression. She licked her lips. “This isn’t true.”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t have thought so if I hadn’t been there to hear it. Oh, you would have loved it, Carly. All the drama you so enjoy. Jason couldn’t wait to have me out of the picture. Elizabeth didn’t even have the decency to tell me herself—I had to hear it from him.”
Carly opened her mouth and closed it again. This didn’t…this didn’t make sense. She didn’t understand what was happening. Why would…why would Ric tell them—the whole world—something so easily disproved?
“Jason wouldn’t do that to me,” Courtney said, finding her voice finally. “He—”
“Oh, save it, sister. You know better.” Ric shrugged. “So I’ll just go upstairs and pack. I’m sure you have somewhere else to be.” He sent them one last malicious smile before disappearing into the back.
Carly looked at her sister-in-law, and then around the diner. “We should…” She cleared her throat. “We should go.” She felt disengaged from the moment, like an out of body situation, as if she was floating overhead and watching Ric spew these lies. Surely that would explain why she couldn’t scream back a denial, go after this piece of scum for lying about her best friend, for putting Courtney through it.
But somehow, she just couldn’t find a source of denial. She had no doubt Jason had claimed to be the father of Elizabeth’s child. The only question for Carly…
Was it true?
Jason’s Penthouse: Living Room
Something inside Jason knew, the moment Elizabeth walked out of the penthouse, that she was right. That this was a disaster that was completely out of their hands now, and maybe he’d been hasty, claiming paternity.
But watching Ric tower over her, the tension in Elizabeth’s posture, the fear in her eyes—he just wanted Ric out of her life and he was under orders from Sonny not do anything against him for the sake of their mother.
The words had just tumbled from his lips without thinking, and Jason wasn’t sure he’d take them back. If it got Ric out of Port Charles and away from the people he loved…it would be worth it.
When Courtney shoved his door open, her face ravaged by tears and anger, he knew…he knew he was about to pay the price he had told Elizabeth he was prepared to.
He set his pool cue on the table and started towards her. “What happened—”
“What happened?” Courtney cried. “That’s what you say to me?”
Behind her, Carly entered, and he was surprised to see that while Courtney was acting the way he thought she might…Carly looked subdued, sad even. She quietly set her bag on his desk, and turned to him, bracing a hand on her back. “Jase…Ric came by our table at Kelly’s.”
Jason closed his eyes, and he supposed Courtney took that action as an admission of guilt. He felt her purse slap against his chest and opened his eyes to see Carly holding Courtney’s arm, to keep the blonde from rushing across the room.
“Courtney,” Carly said. “Why don’t you let him explain—”
“Explain?” Courtney cried, her voice rising to almost a shrill shriek. “What is there to explain?” She yanked her arm away from Carly and stalked towards him. “I told you,” she growled, “I told you that if you loved Elizabeth, then you should go be with her. Didn’t I?”
His chest felt tight, but he realized it was sorrow at hurting her, not necessarily for what was coming next. What should have come months ago.
The end of something that never should have started.
“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. Because he was. Elizabeth had been right about Ric intent on causing damage—and he felt stupid, because he should have found a way to mitigate the fallout. “I didn’t mean to hurt—”
“Go to hell.” Courtney pressed her hands flat against his chest and pushed. “I told you I didn’t want to be your goddamned rebound, and you made me it anyway. If you wanted her all along, you son of a bitch, then why did you ever come to me?” Her chest heaving, her voice thick with tears. “Why did you leave her all alone here and come to me, and make me think I mattered?”
“I…” Jason’s voice faltered. Because that’s not the way it had happened. He frowned. Was it?
“As if it’s not abundantly clear,” Courtney snarled. “We are done. I hope you, your whore and your bastard are happy—”
“Don’t…” Jason bit off the automatic defense, but Courtney’s eyes bulged, because everyone in the room knew what he’d been about to say and Carly rolled her eyes. “Maybe you should…”
“And you have the nerve to tell me to leave when I’m breaking up with you.” Courtney’s laugh was rusty and bitter. “I don’t know what the hell I saw in you in the first place. You always want what you can’t have. I hope Elizabeth’s happy knowing she’s with a man who can’t ever be satisfied with what he has.” She raised her fist, as if to shove him again, but lowered it to her side. “I hope you both rot in hell.”
She stalked past Carly and slammed the door. Jason sighed, and sat on the arm of the sofa, waiting for Carly to unleash her own fury.
Instead, he heard her footsteps come closer and her fingers on his shoulder. He opened his eyes confused. “Carly…”
“I’m disappointed that you hurt Courtney like this,” Carly said after a moment. “That you didn’t have the decency to warn her, and let Ric stomp around with…this.” She pursed her lips. “After you told Ric the baby was yours, you should have made a beeline for the people in your life that would take this badly, especially Courtney.” She paused. “But maybe you thought Ric would just leave town, and it wouldn’t need to go further than that.”
“Carly,” Jason said slowly, because he could not have Carly a part of this lie. Carly was Courtney’s friend, and she might promise to keep the secret, but she also might eventually tell Courtney to spare her feelings. “I did not lie to Ric.”
“No, I know.” Carly patted his shoulder again. “It’s good…” She paused, as if trying to find the words. “It’s good that he’s not going to think he’s a father. You know…he’s obsessive about family, and if he thought Elizabeth was trying to keep him from his child, there’s no telling what he might to do to her.” She swallowed hard. “So you know, it’s good he doesn’t think he’s going to be a father.”
Jason stared at her, but Carly just stared back, almost blandly as if she didn’t mean anything except exactly what she said. “That’s right,” he agreed. “Ric is dangerous, and I’m glad he’s going to be out of Elizabeth’s life. Out of all our lives.”
“I am, too.” She paused. “You should tell Sonny if Courtney doesn’t get to him first. He’ll be happy to know he has a niece or nephew on the way.” At Jason’s sharp look, she continued, “Because you’re a part of our family, so any child of yours is part of ours.” She hesitated. “But maybe you should warn Elizabeth that Ric announced her happy news in a crowded diner, with Courtney in tow.”
Jason closed his eyes, and felt dread in the pit of his stomach. Elizabeth hadn’t had much choice in this debacle—she’d been forced to follow his lead in front of Ric, because what choice had he left her? And now, people would look at her and think… He nodded. “I will.”