Epilogue

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the Mad World: At Christmas

Song: New’s Year Day (Taylor Swift)

 Epilogue

Monday, January 1, 2007

 Port Charles Hotel: Renaissance Room

 “5, 4, 3, 2, 1! Happy New Year!” The room exploded into cheers, confetti spilled from the ceiling—

There was almost nothing Jason hated more than crowded parties and lots of noises, and he did everything possible to avoid them.

But he’d married someone who loved them, and sometimes— Jason looked at his wife, her eyes sparkling, a headband with the numbers 2007 tucked in the curls of her chestnut hair, and a wide smile on her face. She blew into the noisemaker in her hand, then waved across the room at one of the dozens of people she knew.

She’d checked out of the hospital the day before after a successful procedure to eliminate a blood clot in her lungs, and all her doctors said she was as healthy as a woman in her second trimester could be—

“Dance with me?” Elizabeth asked, her beautiful eyes pleading, as the band struck up Auld Lang Syne. “Please?”

As if he’d say no.

He took her by the hand and led her onto the dance floor, littered with the remains of the confetti, some pieces still gently falling to the ground.

Sometimes parties weren’t so bad.

 There’s glitter on the floor after the party
Girls carrying their shoes down in the lobby

 Across the dance floor another woman was tapping her toe nervously against the hardwood, her brown eyes searching the room for any hint of problems. It was her event, after all, and no matter how many successful parties she threw, Carly would never be able to relax without expecting the world to crash down.

And tonight? Well, tonight, she was even more on edge. Weaving towards her, a glass of champagne in his hands, was her date for the evening.

It was their first date.

“Happy New Year,” AJ said. He tapped his glass of sparkling water against hers. She hadn’t even blinked when he’d offered to get them drinks. After three years of sobriety, she knew he wouldn’t break it tonight.

She trusted him. What a strange, lovely sensation. What a terrifying one.

“Happy New Year.” He clinked their glasses together.

Candle wax and Polaroids on the hardwood floor
You and me from the night before, but

Maxie limped to the side of the ballroom, a hand on Lulu’s shoulder. “Don’t even say it.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.”

“Because my ass looks amazing when I wear these things—”

“Not commenting on that.”

“But—” Maxie fell into a seat and finally slipped her poor, aching feet out of the blood red stilettos. “Why does something so beautiful have to hurt so much?”

Lulu looked across the room, watched Dante laughing and talking with Cruz, and Cruz’s boyfriend, Brad.

“I wish I knew.”

Don’t read the last page
But I stay when you’re lost, and I’m scared, and you’re turning away

“You sure you won’t change your mind?” Dillon asked, twirling Georgie into another spin. “Come out to LA—at least consider some of the grad schools there.”

“I wish I could.” Georgie smiled at him. “But it would be like asking you to come to Oxford with me. There’s an entertainment industry in England. You could write there.” When he made a face. “You’re writing for television, Dillon. You’re on the road to your dream. This is mine. It’s great when you come home every few months, but—” Georgie lifted one shoulder. “I think it’s time we both moved on.”

I want your midnights
But I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day

Bobbie lifted her champagne glass to her lips, sweeping over the ballroom to check in on her family. Lucas was with Felix — sometimes she worried he was settling down too fast, with the first real boyfriend he’d ever had. But what did she know about young love? She’d never been able to make it last at that age. Too much scheming. Too many lies.

“I know that face, Barbara Jean. What’s on your mind?”

“Just thinking about when we were kids.” Bobbie sighed. “If we could have imagined where we’d end up.”

“I thought I’d be in jail,” Luke said. “Then again, I probably should be.”

“Not going to argue with that,” Bobbie muttered. “I just worry Lucas and Felix are too young to be so settled. If they could do it legally, I think they’d be married already.”

Lucas tipped his head. “Interesting. You don’t think Elizabeth was too young, do you? She’s been with Morgan since she was about Lucas’s age. Or you know, Laura wasn’t much older than when she hooked up with me.” He frowned. “No, scratch that last example. Look, sometimes you just know. You raised a good boy, Barbara. Don’t go searching for something to worry about. Your kids are happy. All of them.” He gestured towards the dance floor where AJ had talked Carly into a dance, and Elizabeth was smiling up at Jason. “Take it as a good sign.”

You squeeze my hand three times in the back of the taxi
I can tell that it’s gonna be a long road

“I have the worst feeling,” Monica announced when Alan returned to their table, setting a glass down in front of her. “Don’t you?”

“I try not to feel anything after midnight.” He stifled a yawn. “We’re getting too old for this, Monica.”

“Later.” Monica peered to the dance floor, watching AJ laugh and trade conversation with Carly. A few feet away, Emily was dancing with Nikolas—and then Jason and Elizabeth. “They’re all out there, Alan. Happy. Maybe that’s why I have a bad feeling. Look at our babies.”

“Monica—”

“They’re happy. But what if something happens? What if Carly changes her mind about AJ? She’s done it before—what if one of them gets sick—Elizabeth’s health is good right now, but—”

“What if the sky turns green?” Alan said gently. He kissed his wife’s hand. “Relax. Enjoy the moment. Dance with me, and then we’ll go home. Leave these late nights to the kids.”

I’ll be there if you’re the toast of the town, babe
Or if you strike out and you’re crawling home

“Ma keeps looking over here,” Dante said, turning so that his back was to his mother. “How long do you think she’s gonna be worried about me?”

“Hopefully long enough so we can restock our freezer with her famous lasagna,” Cruz quipped, and Dante rolled his eyes. “Your mother only has one mode — worrying about you. We should all be so lucky.”

Dante frowned at him. Cruz so rarely spoke about his family—even after all these years. “You, uh, ever think of checking in with yours?”

“Mine?” Cruz looked at him, then stared into the bottom of his glass. “No. She’s not interested in me. She made it clear — I could burn in hell, or I could be her son. Solana Ruiz doesn’t make idle threats.”

“Ruiz?” Dante furrowed his brow. “Where did Rodriguez come from then?”

Cruz winced. “Look, forget I said anything—”

“If you want me to, I can do that. But you can tell me anything. You know that. It goes in the vault. I won’t even say anything to Lucky.”

Cruz sighed, looked over at the bar where Brad, Lucas, and Felix were getting another round of drinks. Then he focused on Dante. “I changed my name when I left home. Legally. Mami didn’t want to be associated with me, so I figured, why carry that with me? I was born Francisco Ruiz Rodriguez. Hispanic tradition, you carry both names. I just took my nickname growing up and dropped my father’s name. It’s not a big deal. I wouldn’t have said anything if I hadn’t—” He shook his head. “I’ve just been thinking about them a lot lately. And I shouldn’t drink so much.”

“You want it forgotten, it’s forgotten. Never happened.”

“Good. I’ll hold you to it.”

Don’t read the last page
But I stay when it’s hard, or it’s wrong, or we’re making mistakes

Carly stepped out onto the terrace, welcoming the bitter chill on her bare skin. The ballroom was too warm, still too full of people—too much.

“Hey. It’s freezing out here—” AJ stepped up behind her, dropped his suit jacket on her shoulders. “You okay?”

She closed her eyes, nodded. “Mmm-hmm. Yeah. I’m good. Just—it’s a lot in there.” Carly bit her lip, glanced over her shoulder. “Sometimes I miss who I used to be,” she admitted in a rush. “When I didn’t care what people thought.” She wrinkled her nose. “They’re all looking at us. Didn’t you feel it?”

“I don’t notice it. People have always stared and pointed at me. Happens when you’re the Quartermaine screw up. Two years of clean living doesn’t make up for the years that came before,” AJ added when she just sighed. “Why do you care if they’re looking?”

She bit her lip. “After the panic room,” she began slowly, “I tried very hard to go back to my old life. To who I was before. But I couldn’t. I didn’t know how to be that person anymore. Especially after…” After that night in December. After all those times Sonny had broken into the Brownstone— “I know people don’t know the worst of it. Most of it was sealed in the divorce. But they do know about what I did to you.” Carly looked at him. “I’m sorry. I can’t stop thinking about it. You said you forgave me, and I believe you. But I don’t forgive myself. And that’s what they’re all thinking. They’re wondering why you would ever give me a second chance.”

I want your midnights
But I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day

 Dante weaved through the crowd, two bottles of beer in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other. He bumped into someone — “Sorry—”

“No worries—” Scott turned. “Falconieri. Hey! Where you going in such a hurry?” The DA stood next to Bobbie — the two were never far from each other—and a blonde he didn’t recognize.

“Taking drinks to Lucky and Kelsey—” He nodded to the couple who’d joined their table. “But, hey, it’s good I ran into you. I had a question about the Cavallari case—”

“Oh, Dante, take a break! It’s the holidays.” Bobbie touched his arm. “Have you met Scott’s daughter?”

“Daughter?” Dante frowned. He’d only known about Karen, after the Oliver Joyce murder case. He looked at the blonde again. “No, I haven’t.”

Scott looked almost as if he was going to protest, but Bobbie was quicker. “Well, then, let me do the honors. Dante Falconieri, meet Serena Baldwin.”

 Hold on to the memories
They will hold on to you

 Elizabeth kissed Emily’s cheek, then hugged Nikolas. “I’ll see you at work in a few days,” she said.

“Go home. Take good care of my nephew. Both of them,” Emily added. She kissed her brother’s cheek. “Happy New Year.”

Jason tugged gently on Elizabeth’s elbow, knowing that she’d find someone else to say goodbye to if he didn’t steer her towards the exit. Normally, he’d let her do whatever she wanted, but—

“I know, I know.” Elizabeth sighed, then leaned into his embrace as they stopped by the coat check to retrieve their things. “Thank you for tonight. I know you’d rather be at home.”

“I’d rather be with you.” He helped her into her coat, dropped a kiss just behind her 2007 headband. “Always.”

Hold on to the memories
They will hold on to you

 “So they figured out whatever was going on with them,” Scott said, gesturing towards Lucky and Kelsey who’d returned to the dance floor. Kelsey threw back her head and laughed. Bobbie, who’d been humming to the band, frowned, looked at him. “Lucky and Kelsey. She was working a lot of late nights. He did something.”

“Scott.”

“Well, they had a fight then,” he grumbled, not willing to concede. “Spencers. They’re trouble. I tried to tell her—”

Bobbie lifted a brow. “Spencers, huh?”

“Spencer men,” Scott corrected hastily. “I just…I want her to be happy, is that so bad? She…her dad’s not around because of—well, not because of me. But Ollie was trying to look after my daughter. I want to do right by him.”

“Lucky and Kelsey have been solid and happy together since the moment they’ve met.” Bobbie squeezed his hand. “He’s been more himself these last few years than he has since he came home. I’ve never seen two people who bring out the best in each other the way that they do. And whatever rough patch, it seems they’ve smoothed it out. You don’t have to worry about her.”

“You gonna stop worrying about Lucas?” Scott asked, and she rolled her eyes. “Carly? Elizabeth? That’s what I thought. It’s my job to worry about Serena and Kelsey. That’s what I’m doing.” He stopped. “But you’re right. They’re doing just fine. I’m get itchy when things are going well.”

“Enjoy it,” Bobbie said dryly. “This is Port Charles. It never lasts long.”

Hold on to the memories
They will hold on to you

AJ glanced back into the terrace, as if actually considering who might be thinking about him and Carly, then he looked back at her. “You know, I had a conversation with my brother a few days back. And then we spent Christmas Eve in the same room. I bought gifts for his kid. For his wife. I’m helping him look after that dog he bought Cam.”

Carly frowned. “What?”

“I’m sure there are some people who look at Jason and wonder why he’d ever give me another chance. Sure, he lied about Michael. And then he had an affair with my wife—but I bashed his head on a rock and stole twenty-two years of his life. It’s not really that even when you think about it.”

“He’s not mad at you. He never—” Carly dipped her head, then looked back at him, her eyes damp. “He doesn’t hold it against you. And I think he’s happy with his life now. AJ—”

“People are going to think whatever they want to think. I know what I did. I know what you did. And I can’t make you forgive yourself, Carly. I just know that I like you. I want us to see if we can make this work.” He reached for the lapels of his jacket, used them to tug her closer. “If you don’t want that, Carly, I can live with it. But I think we’ve both done enough penance for the past. Maybe it’s corny, but it’s the new year. Why don’t we give each other a fresh start?”

She smiled tremulously. “You’re probably tired of having this argument with me. I’m sorry.”

“I’ll keep having it until you see yourself the way I see you.” When she tipped her head, her eyes questioning, he added, “Brave. Strong. Beautiful.” When she opened her mouth, likely to deny all three, he cut her off with a kiss, and she sighed, melting into his embrace.

And I will hold on to you

 Olivia spied Lois ducking into the ladies room and decided to follow her. She hummed the bridal march as she pulled open the door but was surprised to find her friend leaning over the sink, her hands flat against the counter. “You okay, babe?”

“Oh.” Lois blinked, turned to her. “Of course. Yes. I’m fine.” She smiled, but it was a bit wobbly. “Livvie, I’m all good. Go have fun.”

“Not on your life.” Olivia wrapped her arms around Lois’s shoulders, met her eyes in the mirror. “Talk to me, kid. You having second thoughts?”

“I just—I had a thought while I was dancing out there.” Lois bit her lip. “Why couldn’t Ned and I have reconnected a long time ago? Before—before.” She closed her eyes. “If we could’ve made it work, maybe Brook would still be here.”

“You’ll drive yourself crazy thinking of that, Lois. You and Ned reconnected because of what happened to your baby girl. And you know she wouldn’t want you to be blaming yourself.”

“Three years. Three and a half years since that day.” Lois exhaled slowly. “I’m all right, Liv. I just had that thought, and it took over. I’m gonna splash some water on my face and head back out there.”

“Hey. Listen. You and Ned, it’s special the way you’ve come back together after all this. Working together to make this a safer city. Don’t lose sight of everything you’ve done since we lost her. All you’ve fought hard for. Including Ned.”

“I won’t.” Lois leaned her head on Olivia’s shoulder. “Love you.”

“Love you right back.”

Please don’t ever become a stranger
Whose laugh I could recognize anywhere

 “Oh, sure, this time it’ll be different.” Maxie rolled her eyes. “This time you won’t get back together as soon as you’re in the same town together.”

Georgie scowled. “I’m serious, Maxie. We’re really breaking up this time. We were already broken up, but now it’ll be like a country and an ocean apart. We can’t keep doing this.”

“Blah, blah, blah—that’s all I ever hear.” Maxie elbowed Lulu, sitting next to her. “Lu, tell her. Tell her we don’t believe her.”

“What?” Lulu dragged her eyes from Dante and Serena chatting across the room. “What? Who? What?”

Maxie followed her eyes. “Oh, listen, he’s just talking to her. And she’s blonde, so even if he was into her, it’s only because he has a type. Focus. We’re making fun of Georgie now.”

Please don’t ever become a stranger
Whose laugh I could recognize anywhere

 Lucky laughed, then spun Emily into a circle, catching Kelsey and Cruz dancing over her shoulder. Then he looked back down at his friend. His first real one. “You ever think about how much trouble we used to get into?”

Emily rolled her eyes, grinning. “Don’t remember me. I’m just thinking about Spencer’s teen years. If he’s anything like us, we’re absolutely screwed. How many dead bodies did we find before we were legally old enough to drink?”

“Well, at least we’ll know all the tricks he’ll try,” Lucky said. “We’ll be one step ahead of them. And a Quartermaine/Cassadine offspring? We’re going to need all the help we can get.”

 There’s glitter on the floor after the party
Girls carrying their shoes down in the lobby

 Renee bounced up from the sofa as soon as Jason opened the door, ushering Elizabeth through the door first. Her brown hair, which she’d finally started to grow out again after a few years of wearing it short, swung over her shoulder. “Hey! Cam’s asleep. He went down so easy.”

“Thank you so much,” Elizabeth said, crossing the room to hug Renee. “Really, it was such a good night, and I could rest easy knowing he was safe with you.” She squeezed Renee’s hands. “Did he have fun?”

“Yeah. He showed me all the pictures of his new dog. And thank you, it was a lot of fun.” Renee smiled nervously at Jason who’d busied himself hanging up their coats. He knew Renee was still a little jumpy around men, and he was careful to keep his distance. “Any time.”

Elizabeth pressed some cash into her hand, and Renee tried to hand it back. “No, no, really, it was fun, and I owe you so much—”

“You owe me nothing.” Elizabeth shook her head, closed Renee’s hand around the money. “You were a lifesaver tonight. Will you stop by the group before you head back to school?”

“Yeah. I will. Thanks.”

“Milo will drive you home,” Jason said, waiting at the bottom of the stairs. “He’s in the lobby.” He paused. “Along with his sister.”

“Oh.” Renee smiled. “Thank you. Thank you for—thank you.” She slid into her coat and left.

Elizabeth looked at him. “I forgot about that—she’d never drive home with Milo on her own—”

“I listen when you talk.” He kissed her, then held her close. “I’m sorry that she’s still having trouble.”

“Some women never get over it,” Elizabeth murmured. She closed her eyes, leaned into his embrace. “But I was lucky. I hope she finds someone she feels safe with one day.”

“Me, too.”

Candle wax and Polaroids on the hardwood floor
You and me, forevermore

 Carly turned at the front door to the Brownstone, her key in hand. “Um, so as first dates go, other than my meltdown on the terrace, it wasn’t so bad.”

“I think it was good.” AJ kissed her again, and her lashes fluttered. “Want to do it again?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I do.” She opened her eyes, smiled at him. “Name the time and place, and I’ll be there.”

 Don’t read the last page
But I stay when it’s hard, or it’s wrong, or we’re making mistakes

 Elizabeth cracked Cameron’s door open just enough to see him sprawled out on his bed, face smushed into the pillow. On his night table sat his digital photo frame, currently flashing a photo of Cameron holding his puppy, now named Teddy as he’d told Santa, with Jason sitting on one side of him and Alan on the other.

Jason slid his arm around her waist, his hand resting warm against the curve of her belly. She covered his with her own and leaned back against his chest. “I just had this feeling,” she said softly. “It just…washed over me.”

“What?”

“It’s going to be okay. This baby. The pregnancy. This time. It’s going to be okay.” She exhaled slowly. “You probably think that’s silly—”

“No. I don’t.” He kissed the side of her neck, just below her ear. She closed her eyes. “If you say it, then I’ll believe it.”

I want your midnights
But I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day

 Lucky emerged from the bedroom, pulling at his tie, and found Kelsey standing by the tree. “Hey. I thought you were coming to bed.”

“I am.” She smiled at him over her shoulder and held up the ornament she’d wanted to throw away. Baby’s First Christmas, 2006. “I was thinking we should hang this. At least this year.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah.” She lifted it to a branch and slid the hook over the pine needles. “I know it was only a few weeks that we even knew about the baby, and it really wasn’t much more than a clump of cells and a heartbeat—”

“Kelse—”

“But it was real to us. For a little while. Long enough to dream. To hope. To plan. I don’t want to forget that.” She took a deep breath. “So we’ll hang it this year, and we’ll see how we feel next Christmas.”

Lucky kissed her knuckles. “Then that’s what we’ll do. I love you.”

“Love you, too.”

 Hold on to the memories
They will hold on to you

 “I don’t think I can do it,” Lulu said, following Maxie down the hallway to the hotel room they’d reserved the night, wanting to be able to drink as much as they pleased. Her heels clacked against each other as she carried them. “I can’t watch him date someone else, marry, and have babies—”

“Well, you’re gonna have to—” Maxie slid the key card in, pushed open the door. “Or you can come with me.”

“Come with you?” Lulu dumped her shoes on the chair as soon as they came in and sat on the edge of the bed. “Where?”

Maxie bounced onto the bed, her eyes sparkling. “New York. I was going to tell you tomorrow, but why the hell not now? I heard back from Couture.”

Lulu’s eyes widened. “Couture? Oh my God, oh my God! You got the internship?”

“I got the internship!” Maxie squealed.  They both leapt to their feet, squealing and shrieking. “I’m going to work with Kate Howard! Kate freaking Howard, one of America’s 100 Most Influential Women!”

“That is the most amazing thing ever!”

“And you’re going to come with me. We’re going to New York City, Lulu Spencer, and we’re going to have a damned good time. Are you in?”

Hold on to the memories
They will hold on to you

 The clock ticked towards three in the morning, and the house had once again fallen quiet. Alan and Monica had gone to bed, AJ had come home—

But Edward was still awake, his sleep troubled since he’d woken that summer morning to find his beloved Lila had passed in her sleep. He walked the halls of the house, hoping the insomnia would pass, and tonight he stood in the family room, with an aged whiskey in his hand, the fire still crackling, the lights of the tree flickering behind him.

“Ah, my darling,” he said, looking at photo of Lila, smiling back at him. “You were missed at every turn this year, but I hope I did you proud. I’ll do my best to love them as you did, with an open heart and endless grace.” He smiled faintly. “I can’t promise success, but I’ll try. And I know you’re smiling down, looking after us all.” He kissed the tip of his fingers, pressed them to the photo. “And if you have any sway up there, if you could put in a good word to for our newest great-grandson? And his mother? If you have anything to say about it, I know you’ll see it done. I love you.”

Hold on to the memories

Whether Elizabeth’s feeling that night had held true or Edward’s hope for a divine interference came to pass, a little four months later, Jason stood outside a hospital room, looking towards the elevators. Waiting.

Bobbie came around the corner, Cameron’s hand in hers. When Cameron caught sight of his father, he started to run, and Jason swept him up in his arms.

“Daddy, daddy! Grammy says we have baby.”

“Yeah. We have a baby.” Jason looked at Bobbie who was grinning broadly. “You ready to meet him?”

They will hold on to you

Inside the hospital room, Elizabeth sat up, her face pale, and eyes tired. Her hair was tied back, loose tendrils curling around the blue band stretched across her forehead. In her arms, she held a swaddled bundle with a little red face.

Bobbie pressed her hands over her cheeks. “Oh—”

“Cameron—” Elizabeth smiled as Jason lifted their son up. “Meet your little brother. Jacob Alan Morgan. Seven pounds, three ounces. And absolutely perfect.”

Cameron made a face. “Mommy, he don’ts got any arms.”

Elizabeth laughed, tears sliding down her face as Jason tried to explain swaddling to a three-year-old. Cameron didn’t quite understand, but he promised he’d love his little brother and hope he’d grow arms really soon.

Bobbie came around the side of the bed, pressed a kiss to her forehead. “He’s lovely, honey. How are you feeling?”

“Tired. Hungry. Sore,” Elizabeth admitted. She looked over to her husband and her son. “I feel great. Absolutely wonderful. This is everything I ever wanted.”   

And I will hold on to you

THE END


 

Thank you for joining me in another entry in this universe. I really love playing with these characters, and as you can see, I dropped some bread crumbs to give me some hooks for another series, if I decide to come back to it. There’s a lot of characters we didn’t check in with, but I already went way over word count for this (Supposed to be a quick little holiday story — and it ended up being 46K!) and we had to stop somewhere. I have some thoughts of where I’d take another series in this world, but let me you know what you think by leaving a comment or hitting the thumbs up button!


Comments

  • This was great! I loved finding out about everyone’s lives. Some of it was sad. I always enjoy Cam and now they have Jake. I look forward to your next story.

    According to arcoiris0502 on January 14, 2024
  • I am happy that Liz was ok and had a healthy baby. Aj and Carly made a mend with each other. Lucky and Kelsey are together. Georgie and Dillon broke up. Excellent ending.

    According to Shelly Samuel on January 14, 2024
  • What a great ending. I loved this story and the little look into how we everyone was doing. Thanks ❤️

    According to Golden Girl on January 14, 2024
  • Loved it! So much goodness here.

    But as much as I love this world, you have also started others I would like to see more of that feel less settled than this one.

    This, however, was the perfect holiday treat!

    According to Living Liason on January 14, 2024
  • Loved it.
    Little Jake is now in the house. Cam is a precious big brother.
    Maxie & Lulu heading to the Big Apple that should be wild.
    Dante & Serena that was a surprise.
    Cruz/Ruiz another blast from the past.
    Sad about Georgie and Dillon
    Happy abut Carly & AJ
    Most of all our favorite Couple together as it always should be.
    TY

    According to Pamela Hedstrom on January 14, 2024
  • I loved how everyone is getting on with their lives. I am so glad Elizabeth and Jake are both alright. I had to laugh at Cameron wondering where Jakes arms are. Thank you for giving this to us.

    According to Carla P on January 15, 2024