Chapter 38

This entry is part 38 of 41 in the Signs of Life

Today was gonna be the day, but they’ll never throw it back to you
And by now, you should’ve somehow realised what you’re not to do
I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now

And all the roads that lead you there were winding
And all the lights that light the way are blinding
There are many things that I would like to say to you, but I don’t know how

Wonderwall, Oasis

Thursday, February 3, 2000

PCPD: Squad Room

“Wait here,” Jason murmured to Elizabeth by the doors. “I’m just going to talk to Alexis, and then we’ll get out of here.”

“All right.” Elizabeth caught his hand as he started to walk away. “Hey.” He looked back at her. “None of this is your fault,” she told him. “It’s not.”

He squeezed her hand, then released it. She was wrong, of course, but he appreciated the attempt. If he’d told Sonny weeks ago, if he’d found a way to do it more quietly, he could have kept this from blowing up.

But instead, he’d waited. He’d been selfish, trying to protect himself and Michael, and not doing what was right. Now Sonny had been arrested for assault and trespassing, Carly was in the wind, and Michael’s life was going to be destroyed anyway. All Jason had done with his silence was delay the inevitable.

“Hey.” Alexis emerged from the interrogation room with a sigh. “Alan’s holding firm on the charges of trespassing, and right now, AJ’s not in the mood to deal.”

Jason scrubbed his hands down his face. “They’ll back down eventually,” he muttered. “To protect the name. The last thing they want is to be splashed over the papers with all of this.”

“You’re probably right. When Edward gets down here,” Alexis continued, “I suspect he’ll talk to Alan. AJ’s angry. Humiliated. Which he has a right to be, I guess—” She bit her lip. “I don’t think I can get Sonny out today. Maybe later tonight if I can get a quick arraignment, but—”

“That’s fine.” Jason glanced back at Elizabeth, then at Taggert who was glaring in her direction. “I need time to track Carly down and it’s easier if—”

“Why bother?” Alexis wanted to know. “What purpose—”

“I don’t care about her,” Jason interrupted. “But Carly’s angry. And panicking. She does her worst damage at this point. Shooting Tony, having me arrested for kidnapping—” He shook his head. “And she’s going to take it out on me. The last time she did that—”

“Right.” Alexis held up a finger. “Excuse me.” She stalked towards Taggert who had just stood. “Going somewhere?” she asked coolly. Taggert tore his eyes away from Elizabeth and looked at the attorney.

“I just thought I’d ask—”

“She’s represented by counsel and there’s an injunction against this department. You’re not allowed to breathe in her direction,” Alexis reminded him. “And we’re still reserving our right to sue—”

“I didn’t—” Taggert took a deep breath. “None of that is my fault—”

“No?” Alexis arched a brow, then tapped the shield he wore on a chain around his neck. “This makes it your fault. You were the lead officer on that search and you knew from prior encounters that Capelli was overly aggressive and angry with my client. You let him into that penthouse. You let him go upstairs to search her personal possessions. You let her go upstairs with him—”

“She went on her own—”

“Protect and serve,” Alexis cut in. “You stayed downstairs to harass Jason, and you let Capelli loose. Her wedding dress, by the way, couldn’t be repaired.”

Taggert grimaced, then looked over at Elizabeth again who just stared back at him. He returned his attention to Alexis. “You and I both know she’s protecting him. That she knows something about Moreno’s murder—”

“Prove it,” Alexis challenged. “Until then, stay away from my clients. Slapping a badge on your chest doesn’t make you a good man. You should know better than that.”

Jason waited for Alexis to back into the interrogation room before joining Elizabeth again. “Hey. Let’s get out of here.”


Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason dropped his keys on the desk and rubbed the back of his neck. “When do you have class?”

“In a few hours.” Elizabeth perched on the arm of the sofa. “I’d skip it, but I can only miss two classes all semester, and I’d rather save that for something that isn’t about Carly.” She paused. “Will you call me if you find her?”

“I don’t think—” His sigh was heavy. “I don’t think we will tonight.” He grimaced. “I’m sorry.”

She hated to see him looking so lost, so upset with himself. He’d waited too long to tell the truth, she knew that, but he’d only wanted to protect Michael. It wasn’t really that terrible when it came down to it. “I went back to the studio last night,” she told him.

Jason looked at her, his expression grateful for the change in topic. “Yeah?”

“I’ve been trying to repaint the Wind,” she continued. “You know, the way it was before. With the Ferris wheel, and Angelina’s yellow door. But I can’t make it come out right. Something always feels off.”

He grimaced. “I’m sorry—”

“No, it’s—it sucks,” Elizabeth admitted. “But you know, it happens. Art gets destroyed. I’m taking this class about the history of architecture this year, and we were comparing the ruins in Greece to what historians think they looked like. The Parthenon, do you know it?”

“I’ve seen pictures.” He tipped his head. “What does that have to do with your painting?”

“It’s beautiful now. Even ruined. It must have been incredible when it was all put together, but it’s still beautiful now. Because you look at it, and you think about the civilization that created it.” Elizabeth stood and reached for his hand, drawing him closer. “When I wanted to paint the wind, it wasn’t just the visual I wanted to put on the canvas. I was trying to find a way to express how it felt, you know? The way it blocks out everything else and makes the world go away.”

“Is this your way of asking for a ride?” he asked, a little suspiciously. “Because you’re not driving—”

Elizabeth laughed. “No, but pencil that in for later. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve gone out.” She took a deep breath. “I can’t fix the painting that was ruined. And maybe if I kept trying, I could make another one that looks exactly the same. Just like they could rebuild all those ruined places. I want to see them, you know. In Athens. And in Rome, and everywhere else. You can rebuild it, but it won’t ever be the same. It’s okay. Because I already put that feeling on the canvas. I don’t need to look at it to remember how it felt.”

“I still hate that it happened. That you went through it—”

“Yeah, it still sucks.” Elizabeth traced a finger down his thin sweater, circling one of the buttons at the collar. “But the feeling is what mattered. That night at Jake’s, I was drowning, and I thought that it would never get any better. I was sure of it, and you made me feel like you understood that it would never get any better. You didn’t tell me it would, you just sat there and listened.” She flicked her eyes up to him. “And then you took me on the bike, and it went away. And eventually, it stayed away. The grief, it’s part of me. It always will be. But it doesn’t surround me. It’s not what I think about when I wake up. Or go to sleep.”

“I’m glad.” He stroked her cheek with the back of his knuckles, and she sighed. She loved when he touched her. “You did that for me, you know that, don’t you? I wasn’t much better back then.”

“Today, I decided to start trying to paint a new feeling.” She licked her lips and his eyes darkened slightly. She absolutely loved that she could do that. “I wasn’t just the girl who lost Lucky when I met you. I was the girl who was frozen forever in that night, always doomed to be crawling out of the bushes, looking for the pieces of my world that couldn’t ever be put back together.”

He exhaled slowly, his breath a bit shaky. “Elizabeth—”

“Even with Lucky, I never thought I’d move past that. Maybe I could get through it for him, and I knew he’d be kind. But I could never, ever imagine wanting someone to touch me. To look at me. I just knew I’d always be locked in that night.”

He brushed her cheek again, and she realized a tear had escaped. “So that’s what I’m trying to paint now. What it felt like when you showed me I was wrong.”

“You showed yourself,” Jason corrected, with a swift shake of his head. “I was just in the room—”

“Don’t do that,” Elizabeth said, fisting her hands in his sweater. “Don’t make yourself less that way or pretend that who you are and the way you took care of me wasn’t important. Not every man would have your patience and understanding. And not just any man would have made me feel more than just comfortable, but—” She hesitated, unsure of the right word. “Powerful,” she said finally. “You gave me back my power, Jason. That was you.

He dipped his forehead down, rested against hers. “You trusted me. There aren’t words to tell you what it meant for you to do that.”

“No, there aren’t. So I’m trying to paint it instead, and when I do, I’ll be able to tell you about it.”

Quartermaine Mansion: Family Room

AJ stared at the minibar, at the decanter of vodka surrounded by other liquors. The glass tumblers by its side.

He’d thought Carly’s pregnancy was karma—the universe returning the favor and allowing AJ some revenge. He’d get to raise his brother’s child. He deserved that much, didn’t he?

But he’d been right that day with Carly — she was the punishment he deserved for what he’d done to his brother, what he’d done to his family. He’d been in this room with his parents, trying to block out the sound of their disappointment, the vision of their disgust—and Jason had been there, trying to make peace.

He’d give anything for that moment back, for just a chance not to leave the house. He’d go upstairs and sleep off the drunk, he’d wake up with a hangover but maybe then he’d go to rehab—

But there was no redemption. You couldn’t be forgiven for murder, and it didn’t matter if Jason hadn’t died. His brother, his beloved little brother, would never come home. It was worse, somehow, than death.

He deserved what Carly had done to him, and maybe he deserved even worse. He deserved to die himself, didn’t he? What kind of father could he ever be with his past, with his crimes?

As if in a trance, AJ reached for the vodka and poured himself a glass.


AJ turned and found Ned in the doorway, his hand up. “Don’t do it, AJ.”

“What’s the point?” AJ asked. He closed his eyes, wrapped both hands around the glass, letting the warmth of alcohol seep into his body, craving the burn as it slid down his throat. The way it would let him sink into nothing. All of this would go away. “Why bother staying sober?”

“For your son,” Ned said gently. He reached AJ and took the glass away. AJ didn’t fight. “Carly was a mistake. You did your best to give Michael a family, but that’s over now. She’s given you what you need to get her out your life for good. We’ll find her, AJ. You’ll serve her with papers, and it’ll finally be over.” Ned poured the vodka back into the decanter. “Carly’s not worth this.”

“I—” AJ swallowed hard. “I wanted it to work. I really tried.”

“I know you did.”

“I even asked Jason for permission,” he said. He met Ned’s eyes. “After you talked to me — I thought — I’ll get Jason’s blessing. And instead—”

“Instead, Jason decided to come forward. He must have been waiting. Maybe he thought it was your child. That there was a chance. Did you tell him there wasn’t?”

“Yeah.” AJ managed a laugh. “Yeah, I did. I tried to do the wrong thing in the right way. I guess I got what I deserved.” He exhaled slowly. “I won’t drink, Ned. Not tonight.”

“That’s enough then. We’ll take care of tomorrow when it comes.” Ned put his arm around AJ’s shoulders. “Let’s go upstairs. We’ll go see Michael, okay?”


Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Jason set the receiver down and put his head in his hands. Nothing. No sign of her. How the hell had Carly been able to disappear?

He glanced over when Elizabeth came through the door, her bag slung over her shoulder. “Hey. How was class?”

“Fine.” She dumped the bag on the sofa, then leaned against the side of the desk where he sat. “No luck?”

“No.” Jason leaned back, looking towards the ceiling. “She did this before. When Michael was born. She disappeared.”

“I remember.”

“There were decisions that had to be made about Michael. About his health. And he didn’t even have a name. I could have told the truth then.” He tilted his chin back down to look at her. “I didn’t.”


“Because I’d promised her,” Jason said. “And I knew what the Quartermaines would do. She’d never get the baby back. They’d use her leaving against them, and I just thought—she deserved a chance. But I should have told the truth.”

“You’re saying that now, two years later, because you have the advantage of knowing what she was capable of,” Elizabeth said gently. “Give yourself a break, Jason. You did the best you could at the time, and Michael’s better off for it. Maybe there were other times you could have told, but you’re only human. And you loved him. I know how much you still love him. He’ll always be a little bit yours.”

“I just—she’s out there,” Jason said slowly, “angry, scared, and panicking. And planning.”

“Jason, what can she do?” Elizabeth wanted to know. “I mean, to you? To Sonny? Or the Quartermaines? Realistically, what can she do now? What does she have left to hurt anyone with?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. He didn’t really have all that much to take, he thought. He had Lila and Emily. He had Elizabeth. He reached out for Elizabeth’s hands and drew her down to sit in his lap, holding her close. She tucked her head under his chin. He traced her wedding ring with the tip of his index finger.

“You’re doing the best you can, Jason. Carly, Sonny, and AJ are adults who can make their own mistakes.”

“Yeah. I’ll just feel better if she’s somewhere where she can be watched.” Jason exhaled slowly, then stroked Elizabeth’s back. “But there’s nothing else I can do until she makes a mistake and we find her.”

“Then I think—” Elizabeth shifted until she was straddling him, one knee on each side. “I think we should find something else to do.” She arched a brow. “I’m really tired of talking about Carly.”

“Me, too.” Jason grinned then, and swallowed her gasp with his mouth as he abruptly stood. He set her on the desk, and she parted her legs so he could get closer.

“You know, the desk is on that list of I made,” Elizabeth teased as she nipped his lips. “Right after the shower.”


  • Thank you for the update. As much as I hate to say it, I hope that Carly’s abortion is botched. She deserves whatever comes to her. Jason and Liz’s conservation is everything they need to interact with each other.

    According to Shelly on November 23, 2023
  • Thank you. Carly is being Carly. But will she go through the abortion? I like the way Liz is leading Jason to think about his motives for the things he does. I too would be upset about the way is is always protecting Carly no matter what.

    According to leasmom on November 23, 2023
  • three great chapters. Carly is just an awful person.
    Love Elizabeth and Jason’s talks.
    I almost feel sorry for AJ

    According to PAMELA HEDSTROM on November 23, 2023
  • I was so afraid AJ was going to take a drink. I love Jason and Elizabeth’s talks. I wonder if Carly will tell everyone she had an abortion but didn’t really get one.

    According to Carla P on November 24, 2023