I think I’m dyin’ nursing patience
It can wait one night
I’d give it all away if you give me one last try
We’ll live happily ever trapped if you just save my life
Run and tell the angels that everything’s alright
– Learn to Fly, Foo Fighters
Monday, December 27, 1999
Jason had planned to put more distance between himself and Elizabeth after he’d left the studio the day before. In fact, he’d planned to go back to way it had been before she’d found him that morning in the snow — two people who occasionally ran into each other and were friendly.
He wasn’t sure what made him think that was a possibility after the last four weeks, but he knew once he’d listened to his sister’s angry voice mail that day at the warehouse, there was no point in pretending.
The whole world knew Elizabeth Webber was important to him, even if they had no idea what they were talking about.
He pulled over at the Vista Point observation deck, and Elizabeth hopped off the bike, pulling the helmet over her head, her hair cascading down over the leather jacket he’d given her for Christmas.
“That was just what I needed,” Elizabeth told him with bright eyes and a wide smile. He returned the smile, and stowed the helmet on the back of the bike. “Where are we?”
“You’ve never been up here?” Jason asked as he led her from the parking lot over to the observation deck where benches had been installed.
“No—” Elizabeth leaned over the guard rail, looking over the cliffs encircling Lake Ontario. “I bet there’s a good view of Spoon Island when the sky is clear,” she said.
“Probably. I’ve never been up here during the day.” He leaned against the railing, watched for a minute. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Elizabeth wrinkled her nose, looking at him. “No.” She huffed. “I was going to tell Emily the truth,” she muttered. “But she showed up at the end of my shift after I’d already dealt with customers smirking at me, Carly, and my grandmother. And—” Elizabeth eyed him. “Obviously, I can’t tell my grandmother why she found you at the studio.”
Jason accepted that with a nod. Audrey Hardy would not appreciate knowing that her granddaughter had been taking care of a gunshot victim and hiding him from the police. “No, that would not be a good idea.” He winced. “Carly?”
“I can take Carly,” Elizabeth assured him. “In fact, if my grandmother hadn’t shown up—” She sighed. “Never mind. I’ll talk to Emily tomorrow. She was just annoying me. Like I’d committed some horrible crime by not telling her we knew each other.”
Jason furrowed his brow. “She knows that. You asked for me help when she was trying to sneak off to Puerto Rico.”
“But she thinks there’s more now. She has a nasty habit of always taking Nikolas’s side,” Elizabeth admitted. “It’s always been that way. She assumed what he said at the party was true, and didn’t even stop to think there might be anything else going on.” She lifted herself up to sit on the railing. “I’m sorry. I was just trying to help you, and literally everyone in my life made it worse.”
“I don’t care about any of that,” Jason told her. “I’m sorry it made trouble for you—”
“Only with the people who don’t think I can make my own decisions.” Elizabeth hesitated. “I’ll talk to Emily,” she repeated, “but I’m not talking to Nikolas right now after what he pulled, and he’d be harder to explain things to. He can’t be trusted with the truth.” She sighed, looked away. “He couldn’t even be trusted with a lie.”
“I’m sorry,” Jason repeated.
“It’ll be something people talk about for a minute, and then it’ll go away,” Elizabeth assured him. “Someone will do something insane at New Year’s, and it’ll be old news.” She met his eyes, searched them for a long moment. “Unless you think there’s another way to handle it.”
Jason hesitated. Until the call from Emily, Jason’s plan had been to avoid Elizabeth entirely. If they weren’t seen together, no one would take the fight at the party seriously — but — “You said customers were talking about it?”
“Yeah, I had a packed section,” Elizabeth said, rolling her eyes. “And would you believe half of them didn’t even bother to tip? Cheap bitches,” she muttered. She stared at her hands. “Just a few snickers. I overheard a couple of people saying some things—”
When she stopped talking, Jason’s stomach tightened and he stepped closer. “Saying what?” he demanded in a low voice. Damn it, Bobbie was right — he should have left long ago. He could have managed on his own after the first week. “Elizabeth—”
“Nothing worth repeating,” Elizabeth said. “Don’t worry about it. Really—”
“Who was it?” he pressed. “Was it college kids or—”
“Some workers from the docks,” Elizabeth admitted. She hopped off the railing and walked a few steps in the opposite direction. “Um, a few of them I think I recognized from the warehouse. I got your meds from Sonny there once. And then a few of the others—I think—” She turned to look at him finally. “There was a table of guys I know work for Moreno.”
Jason hissed, looking away. “Moreno,” he muttered. He hadn’t been seen since the shootout, and Jason thought he was probably dead. He couldn’t be sure, but— “What did they say?”
His tone had shifted, become harder and flatter and she flinched. He dragged a hand through his hair. “I’m sorry, I—”
“One of the guys told me when I got bored with you, I should look him up—” Elizabeth slid her hands in her pockets. “And I—” Her cheeks flushed, and she stared at the ground. “That’s really all that table said.”
That table. “What about Sonny’s guys?” Jason bit out. How were they treating a woman that was clearly linked to him?
“Jason, it’s really not a big deal—”
She looked up and when she met his eyes this time, he could see the confusion in her expression. “Jason, it’s not like we’re dating. It doesn’t matter what they say—”
“They don’t know that,” Jason retorted. “So it matters. What did they say?”
“Just that I didn’t seem like your type,” Elizabeth said finally. “Apparently, they think you got the good girl out of your system when you broke up with Robin, and I didn’t even have her ass to make up for my lack of—Can we drop it now?” she demanded. “Or do you also want to talk about the women who came in and decided I wasn’t built enough to—” She clenched her jaw, turned around, and started towards the parking lot.
Jason winced, then went after her, his longer legs overtaking hers just as she reached the parking lot and the bike. “Elizabeth—”
“I told you,” Elizabeth said, tossing her hair back. “I didn’t want to talk about it. So can you just take me home?”
Jason exhaled slowly, then handed her the helmet. “I’m sorry,” he said awkwardly. “They shouldn’t be talking about you that way—”
“They’re guys,” she said, pulling the helmet, and fastening the strap. “That’s what they do—”
“No, I mean—” He cleared his throat, unsure what to do with any of this. He could see that the way her customers had talked about her had hurt her feelings—and worse—he could see in the flush of her cheeks and the look in her eyes that she agreed with what they said.
And he didn’t know if either of them would be better off if Jason liked the way her body just the way it was, so he remained silent and started the bike. He waited for her to climb behind him, then took her home.
He’d been insane to think that just by leaving the studio he could put their friendship back the way it had been.
Nothing was going to be the way it had been before the night he’d been shot and the morning she’d dragged him back to the world of the living.
Tuesday, December 28, 1999
Elm Street Pier
Elizabeth’s second day back at work after the party didn’t go much better than the first, though she noted that no one from the Corinthos-Morgan coffee warehouse sat in her section and the few guys that did come into the diner studiously avoided looking at her.
She wasn’t really sure how to take that—wondering how Jason had made that happen and what’d he had to say to them. He’d been so angry at the idea that people were talking about her, but Elizabeth didn’t know what good it did either of them for her to spell out the reasons in great detail why no one understood why he’d look twice at her.
And it was worse because Elizabeth knew that he wouldn’t, so she really didn’t need to have those reasons in her head or have to say them out loud to Jason.
But thankfully, Emily and her grandmother stayed away—Elizabeth wasn’t looking forward to setting Emily straight since she was still annoyed, and she didn’t feel like going through another round of her grandmother’s disapproval. The only problems Elizabeth had were Moreno’s guys returning to ogle her and more women who came to smirk at the silly girl with no boobs trying to get their hooks into an older man who couldn’t possibly be satisfied—
And she still got screwed on tips.
She left work and decided to have an early night at the studio, curled up on her sofa with the secondhand television that she’d given herself for Christmas—with her door locked and the ringer on her phone turned off.
But a quiet night at home wasn’t going to happen. At least not before Elizabeth ran one more gauntlet.
Waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs on the pier were Detectives Marcus Taggert and Andy Capelli. She hissed, drew up in front of them, and wrinkled her nose. She should have taken the long way round to the studio.
“Are you going to move,” Elizabeth began, “or are you standing there for a reason?”
“We have a couple of questions,” Taggert began with a smooth smile that she recognized, “if you have a minute.”
“What if I said I didn’t?” Elizabeth said. She shoved her hands into the pockets of her leather jacket, irritated with herself for leaving her gloves behind at Kelly’s in her haste to leave the diner.
“Then we’d arrange to talk at the station with an attorney,” Capelli said. “What’s it gonna be?”
So he was going to be the bad cop. Fantastic. Elizabeth pursed her lips. “What’s the question?”
“November 30,” Taggert said, meeting her eyes. “You happen to see Jason Morgan that night?”
November 30. The night she’d received that terrible art grade and danced with Jason at Kelly’s.
The night Jason had been shot. They were asking her if she could alibi Jason on a night she knew he’d been out committing crimes.
Elizabeth lifted her chin. “Yes,” she said simply. When she said nothing else, Taggert’s smile turned into a scowl.
“Is that all you want to say?” he demanded. “Just yes?”
“I see we’re abandoning good cop already. You asked me a question, Detective. I answered it—”
“I see Morgan’s trained you well,” Taggert snapped as Elizabeth attempted to walk past them. “Fine. Where did you see him? What time did you see him? And for how long did you see him?”
Elizabeth stared at him for a long time. “That’s three questions. You said you had a couple. I’ve answered one of them. You get one more. I’ll be nice. I’ll even let you choose.”
“Fine,” Capelli interrupted as Taggert opened his mouth. “How long did you spend screwing Morgan before he went off to kill Anthony Moreno?”
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
Jason braced himself as Johnny O’Brien pushed the door open and he went into the penthouse for the first time since the night he’d been shot. Since the night Carly had waltzed down the stairs in nothing more than Sonny’s shirt. The shirt Sonny had been wearing before Jason had taken the meeting that nearly killed him.
He stayed near the doorway, watching Sonny carefully as his boss poured himself a tumbler of bourbon. “You wanted me to come by?” he said evenly.
“Yeah.” Sonny sipped the liquor. “We got a call from our guy in the PCPD. Anthony Moreno’s body was pulled from the harbor over Christmas. Shot twice. Once in the chest, and once in the head. Took a few days to identify him.”
Jason nodded, taking in the information. “I thought Sorel would do a better job at making him disappear,” he said, “but that tracks. I got off a shot as I left—that’s probably the chest wound. No way I managed a head shot.” Not in that condition. “Sorel probably finished the job.”
“That’s what I figure.”
“What’s the problem?” Jason said. “You said there was—”
“Apparently, Nikolas Cassadine tried to file assault charges,” Sonny continued, “for the Christmas party. He was laughed out of the station, but not before Taggert got the details.”
Jason stared at Sonny for a long moment, then drew his brow together. “I don’t—What—”
“Nikolas told the entire party—essentially the entire town that you and Elizabeth were sleeping together,” Sonny reminded him. “And Nikolas, in the report at the PCPD, stated that he knew that was true because he’d found you at her studio in December. You disappeared for most of the month, around the time Moreno did. And now Taggert knows exactly where you were for some of that time.”
Jason growled, pulled out his cell phone as he yanked open the door, already dialing Alexis Davis’s number. “Jason—” Sonny said, following him into the hallway. “Listen—”
“He’s going to ask Elizabeth for my alibi,” Jason cut in. “And—” God, Elizabeth would probably do it. She’d be insane enough to give him an alibi. It would go into an official report that she’d been with him that night for everyone to see and speculate about.
“It’s not the worst idea,” Sonny began, but Jason whirled around at the elevator. “She’s solid as a rock—”
“She doesn’t need to be in the middle of this.” He muttered a swear when he only got Alexis’s voice mail.
“She’s already there—”
“Moreno’s guys are going to Kelly’s,” Jason told him Sonny bluntly. “Making comments. They already know who she is. And you think it’s a good idea for her to alibi me for an entire night? Damn it—”
He jabbed the elevator button. “I need to get to her. To tell her not to talk to the PCPD without a lawyer—”
But Jason was done talking to him, and the doors closed on Sonny’s face.
Elm Street Pier
Elizabeth could see from Taggert’s murderous expression that Capelli’s question had not been the plan. He glared at his partner. “That’s not what I wanted to ask—”
“That’s too bad,” Elizabeth said coolly. “You’re interested in my sex life, Detective Capelli?”
“Damn it,” Taggert muttered. He dragged his hands over his face. “Elizabeth—”
“I mean, that’s the question,” Elizabeth said, widening her eyes. “You wanted to know how long Jason and I were having sex before he left that night. What—like how many times or—”
“That’s not—” Capelli threw his hands up. “You’re deliberately misunderstanding me—”
“No,” Elizabeth said slowly, “I am merely clarifying your question. You asked me how long I spent screwing Jason before he left to go kill someone. The second part of that isn’t a question. It was a statement. So it sounds like you’re interested in my sex life. You’ll have to take a number, Detective.”
She turned and walked in the opposite direction. She’d take the long way around Bannister’s Wharf.
“Elizabeth—damn it!” Taggert rushed after her, grabbed her arm. “Wait a second. Just—”
“Don’t put your hands on me—” She backed up a few steps, and the detective grimaced. “You don’t get to be pissed with me because your partner didn’t follow the script.”
“You should be. Because I have no intention of answering any questions from either of you or anyone else at the PCPD about the details of my personal life. Not without a lawyer or a judge telling me I have to. Am I under arrest?”
Taggert pressed his lips together. “No.”
“Then get out of my way and let me go home.”