I know I felt like this before
But now I’m feeling it even more
Because it came from you
Then I open up and see
The person falling here is me
A different way to be
– Dreams, The Cranberries
Saturday, January 1, 2000
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
She was hallucinating. It was the only explanation.
“Can you—” She stepped back from him, desperately needing a bit of space. Her head was spinning and she couldn’t make sense of anything. He hadn’t really—
She made a little circle with her finger. “Can you repeat that?”
“I talked to Alexis,” Jason said, “and she said that the best way to handle this was to make sure you couldn’t be forced to testify against me — and to damage Carly’s credibility in court.”
“Does she have any credibility to start with?” Elizabeth asked doubtfully. “Can’t I just refuse to say anything—”
“You could,” he said slowly, “but if Carly walks into the PCPD and says she knows I was shot, that she knows it happened the same night Moreno went missing, and that you were hiding me in the studio, Taggert is going to scrutinize every single detail. He’s going to be looking for leverage.”
“And the fact that I brought you pain medication is something you think Carly might remember.”
“Maybe. Elizabeth—If they charge you—”
“Are they going to do that on Carly’s word?” she said doubtfully. “Carly’s spent time in a mental institution—”
“And if she were making this statement against anyone else, I’d agree with you. But this is the PCPD—”
“And they hate you. They’ll use anything.” On a shaky sigh, she rubbed her forehead. Well, she’d asked Jason for all their options. “I guess we can’t really make Carly disappear because that would probably solve a few problems.” When he grimaced, she added, “That was a joke. Mostly.”
“I told you, Elizabeth, this wasn’t something I was even going to suggest. It asks too much—”
“Of both of us,” she cut in. “Don’t pretend like this isn’t something that would just be on me. A week ago, we were just friends. We were just figuring out what this is, and now—”
Now, they were putting gasoline on their relationship and lighting the match. It was like skipping a year of dating—
“If either of us leaves Port Charles,” she murmured, “it would be harder to come back. If I left, Carly would still be harassing you about leaving town with her.”
“That would be my problem—”
“But it wouldn’t solve anything. Carly could still throw me under the bus—and worse, she might go after Bobbie without me here. I can’t let that happen, Jason. I went to Bobbie and asked for help. I didn’t do a good enough job of hiding my tracks. I led Carly right to you.” She wrinkled her nose. “And Nikolas. And my grandmother. Everyone knows about you being there because of them.”
“I could have let Sonny help me. Or moved to a safe house after a day or two. You saved my life, Elizabeth. I’m not going to let you get in trouble for doing it—”
“And I made the choice to do it. I came back to the boxcar because I knew you weren’t going to let Sonny help. You hadn’t gone to him in the first place for a reason.” She folded her arms. “If one of us leaves, it doesn’t solve anything. Does…does getting—” Oh, God, if she couldn’t say the word, how was she supposed to actually go through with it— “Does getting married help you with Sorel?”
Jason rubbed the back of his neck. “We need to get you off his radar. There’d be a certain level of protection if you—I mean—” He hesitated. “It’s not a guarantee, and things are up in the air. He’s trying to take over for Moreno, but not everyone agrees he should be the next guy in charge.”
“Right, but it wouldn’t hurt.” She chewed on her bottom lip. “Do you see another way out of this, Jason?”
“We could wait to see if Carly is bluffing—”
“But you said Alexis wanted to damage her credibility,” Elizabeth pointed out. “If we do it before she goes to the PCPD, that’s what makes it look like she’s just, you know, jealous or whatever. Doing it later makes it look like a cover-up.”
“I know.” He looked away, then shook his head. “No. If the goal is minimize the danger to everyone from Carly and Sorel, then this might be the best choice.”
“Okay. Then that—” She swallowed hard. “That settles it, right? Um, we’ll get married and then see what happens.”
Had she really said that out loud? Was this really her life?
“Are you sure?” He reached for her hands, drew her closer to him.
“I think so. I guess—I mean, it’s not like a lot of things would change, right? We’ve been mostly living together for the last six weeks,” she reminded him. “I was gonna stay here anyway. The PCPD and Carly already hate me. My family hates you. I mean, honestly, the only thing that changes is that it’ll take more paperwork to…” To walk away from each other but she did not want to bring that up right now.
“Yeah, I guess when you put it that way—” Jason looked down at her hands. He turned one of her palms over and traced the lines with the tip of his finger. “It doesn’t change what we talked about last night, Elizabeth. It’s just paperwork. Nothing between us has to change.”
She had a feeling that even he didn’t believe that, but she nodded. “I know. So, um, what’s next?”
“What’s next is that I tell Sonny and Alexis. Better to get it done as soon as we can,” he said. “We could go to Vegas or something—”
“We could. Or, um, I think there’s only a twenty-four waiting period in New York. Emily told me that when she and Juan were separated last fall—”
“Yeah, she definitely thought if she and Juan got married, he’d get to stay in New York—she didn’t do it, but—” She cleared her throat. “We could get a license tomorrow. Has Carly asked you again about getting her out of town?”
“No.” He shook his head. “Why?”
“Because if she only asked you once, she’ll probably try one more time before she goes nuclear. We probably have a few days, I mean. And—and we don’t want this to look like a cover-up.”
“Right. That’s—” Jason nodded, a bit surprised. “That’s a good point.”
“So if we take a few days to do it here in Port Charles, it’ll give the PCPD one less thing to argue about.” Elizabeth smiled nervously at him. “You keep being surprised when I’m not an idiot. I don’t know whether to be insulted or—”
“No. It’s not that—I just—” Jason paused, clearly searching for the right words. “You understand all of this more than a lot of people who’ve been in this longer,” he said finally. “I know how smart you are, but your instincts for handling the cops, for last night—and this—I just didn’t expect it.”
“Oh.” Ridiculously pleased, her smile widened. “Well, I’m glad a lifetime of constantly getting into trouble has finally started to pay off.”
“I’m just happy to have you on my side.” He leaned down to brush his lips against hers. “I better go tell Sonny I’m staying in Port Charles.”
“Thank you,” she said as he drew back. “For trusting me enough to do this.”
Jason started towards the door, then turned back to her. “I didn’t want to go, Elizabeth. I just—I didn’t think I had a choice.”
She watched him leave, then sighed. No, maybe he hadn’t wanted to go but he’d certainly settled on that option easily. She’d talked him out of it, but she would have to remember that staying with her hadn’t been all that important to him either.
They might be signing some paperwork that made them a team, but Elizabeth wouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that it meant any more than that.
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
Sonny raised his brows when Jason strode in. “I thought you’d be spending tonight with Elizabeth,” he said. “Since you’re leaving in the morning—”
“It turns out,” Jason said, “there was another option.”
Quartermaine Mansion: Bathroom
Carly squeezed her eyes shut, avoiding the sight of the little plastic stick on the counter. It was going to be negative. It had to be negative.
There was no way in hell she’d be able to hide this from AJ. They hadn’t slept together in months, and while she was pretty sure she could seduce him, he’d be suspicious as hell if she popped up pregnant.
So she wasn’t pregnant. It was going to be negative.
She would just have to manifest it into reality. Negative, negative, negative—
Her watch beeped, and Carly opened her eyes to see the double lines.
Carly dragged her hands through her hair. Okay. Okay. She could handle this. She could do this. She’d make Jason get her out of town, and then she’d seduce him right away. As long as this kid came out looking like her and not Sonny Corinthos, she still had a prayer of this working.
She would just have to remind Jason just what was at stake. Clearly, he hadn’t taken her seriously so she’d have to make him.
If AJ found out she’d cheated, she’d lose everything.
Sunday, January 2, 2000
Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom
Unlike the previous morning, Elizabeth woke up on her own side of the bed, curled up on her side with Jason next to her.
In the studio, once he’d started to feel better, he’d rarely slept and had always seemed to be awake before her.
But this morning, he was still asleep—stretched out on his stomach, his arms partially hidden by the pillow.
Would she feel more comfortable with all of this if their relationship was more than four days old? Or would it be worse? If they’d been together for months, and then were suddenly married, would it feel like more pressure?
Maybe it would be easier if they were sleeping together. Wasn’t that some of the tension Elizabeth felt inside of her? Being around Jason, knowing he cared for her and wanted to be with her—it was making it hard to concentrate sometimes. Her stomach always felt like it was on a roller coaster with dips and dives and curves—it was difficult to breathe.
What if she never felt ready? What if she did try and the worst happened—what if he was on top of her and she was shoved back to that moment, of feeling the bitterly cold and hard dirt beneath her, the scrape of rock against her back and shoulders—
She swallowed a sob, turning over to bury her face in the pillow. God, would it ever go away? Would it ever fade into a dim memory?
Was she ever going to be able to be normal? Would this insanity with Jason be the only marriage she’d ever have? She’d never thought about kids but maybe she’d want to be a mother one day. What if she could never learn to like sex? Would she have to grit and bear it so she could have a family?
What if sex always hurt and she always felt like she was being ripped apart—
She heard the rustling of sheets behind her, but Elizabeth kept her face in the pillow. Her breathing was shallow and fast—she’d walked herself right into a panic attack.
“Hey—” Jason touched her shoulder lightly.
She jerked into a sitting position, her lungs starting to burn. Elizabeth twisted, sliding her legs off the bed. “I’m okay,” she choked out. “I just—sometimes—” She squeezed her eyes shut. Count to ten. Count to ten.
You’re not in the park. It’s not happening. It’s not real. You’re safe.
The pressure finally eased and Elizabeth could finally take a full breath. Her cheeks were flaming when she turned to look at Jason, his face creased in worry. “Sometimes,” she said softly, her voice hoarse, “I get panic attacks. From nothing.”
“From nothing?” he echoed.
She scrubbed her hands over her face. “No, I guess not. I start to think too loud, and my brain goes in directions I don’t want it to. I usually stop it, but, um, I can’t always.” She forced a smile. “Sorry.”
“You don’t have to apologize. What can I do? Do I leave you alone? Can I help?”
Her eyes stung with tears. “Not really. Um, it’s just—it’s me. I have a lot of anxiety. I didn’t used to,” she remembered with regret. “I mean, not like this. I hated a lot about my life, but I was always able to roll with the punches. Most of the time. It’s just—I think there’s a part of me that’s always—” She faltered. “It’s always going to be locked in that night. I’ll always be in the bushes and I can’t get out.”
“But you did.”
Elizabeth met his eyes. “I know. But I told you the other night. I don’t know what’s going to trigger it. It’ll be something that makes sense — bumping into someone — or it’ll be me just laying in bed here, thinking about something else, and bam—it’s happening again.” She sighed. “I wasn’t kidding when I said I was damaged.”
He didn’t argue with her, not like he had the last time she’d said it to him. “Is this because of last night? Because of what we talked about—”
“Yes. And no. I don’t know.” She got to her feet. “I don’t really want to talk about it. I’m not changing my mind, so it doesn’t matter.”
“It does,” Jason said, “but we don’t have to talk about it.”
“No, we have a lot to do if we’re getting married on Tuesday.” She managed to say it without stuttering over the words, but it still sounded insane to her ears.
Was she really marrying Jason Morgan in just a few days?