Something about you now
I can’t quite figure out
Everything she does is beautiful
Everything she does is right
‘Cause it’s you and me and all of the people with nothing to do, nothing to lose
And it’s you and me and all of the people
And I don’t know why I can’t keep my eyes off of you
– You and Me, Lifehouse
Friday, May 27, 2005
This was the part Elizabeth had been looking forward to and dreading. The speech. Nothing like a room filled with Emily and Nikolas’s family, friends, and business colleagues to give a woman stage fright. As she listened to Lucky talk about his relationship with Nikolas and history with Emily, she glanced up from her notes to her grandmother’s table.
When Elizabeth had spied the seating arrangements, Emily had sheepishly admitted that putting Jason somewhere had been almost impossible but she thought he might not mind sitting with Audrey and Steve, as well as Steve’s date and a nurse from the hospital. It was jarring to see her grandmother smiling at Jason and pointing at a photo Jason was holding. Though Jason was not one for photographs, he did carry one of Evie because inevitably, he ran into Bobbie, Monica or someone else he actually liked who asked about her.
And he was sharing it with her grandmother.
At that moment, Jason glanced up and their eyes met. Feeling her cheeks flushed, Elizabeth returned the smile and looked back down at her notes. Since Cameron’s party earlier that month, she had all but abandoned any delusion that she and Jason were not traversing the same road they had a few years earlier. The only question that remained was the length of that journey and its final destination. She could not bring herself to hope for a happy ending.
And she could not stop herself from doing so.
She glanced over to find Lucky winding down his speech and raising his glass. After they had toasted and Lucky sat, she rose to her feet, flashing Emily a bright smile before looking at the crowd.
“What can I say about Emily Bowen-Quartermaine Cassadine?” Elizabeth began, raising her champagne glass. “We’ve been friends since high school and…well…” She arched a brow at the trio seated at the head table with her. “I suppose you could say Lucky and I know where all the dead bodies are buried.”
Laughter rang out in the large room, but Emily just rolled her eyes because she knew Elizabeth was talking about the actual dead body of Ted Wilson. In the audience, Jason just lightly shook his head. Elizabeth shrugged and continued. “I’ve known Nikolas about the same time as Emily, but he and I did not see eye to eye when I moved here.” She grinned at Nikolas. “I think…I may have given you some decent reasons to view me as your girlfriend’s bratty little sister.”
Nikolas coughed lightly with a word that sounded suspiciously like condoms and Lucky choked on his champagne.
“But despite the first impressions, I grew to love you both…” Her voice tightened. “So…much. When we thought Lucky had died, I could not have survived those first few months without the two of you. There’s not a word for what’s between us. It’s not just friendship, and it’s not just family. You…” She hesitated. “You’re my people, and I can’t…really think of a better way to say it.”
Emily reached over and took Elizabeth’s free hand in her own. “That works,” she said softly.
“I watched you almost two years ago, when we thought we’d lose you, Em. Thank God you pulled through.” A tear slid down Elizabeth’s cheek. “And even though the road was filled with so many obstacles, it seemed almost impossible to keep going. Here the two of you sit, living the fairy tale. Watching the two of you exchange vows today…it gives me hope for myself. For the rest of us. That maybe if we don’t give up, we can have the happy ending, too.”
She raised her glass higher. “To Nikolas and Emily,” she toasted. “And their happiness.”
As she sat down, she caught Jason’s eye and smiled.
Later, after dinner had been served and the dancing had begun, Emily sighed from the circle of her new husband’s arms, causing him to frown.
“That was not a happy sigh,” he admonished and spun her slightly so he could follow the line of her eyes. Unsurprisingly, he spied Jason and Elizabeth standing near the edge of the dance floor, Elizabeth with a glass of wine in her hand and Jason with a pint of beer. “What now?”
“Nothing. I suppose I just wish I could get them to dance, but…” She lightly lifted one shoulder. “C’est la vie. I’ve done all that I can, I suppose.”
“Elizabeth’s toast leaves me to believe that she is quite open to the next step,” Nikolas said. Other men might be annoyed with Emily’s concentration on her brother and best friend on their wedding day, but he saw it for what it was—the overflow of her own happiness driving her to want it for those she loved best. Rather than perceiving it as a distraction from their day, it was an extension of it. “Emily—”
“I know, I know. Worry about the things I can control. I guess I can’t help but wish I could create one more opportunity for them.” She peered at him curiously. “How’s your aim?”
And because he knew her so well, he lifted his eyes to the high ceiling of the ball room. “Considering I was fencing in Greece when other boys were learning to throw a ball, unspectacular. I suppose you intend to engineer a bouquet and garter opportunity. Emily, even if you could, they’d both hate it. Having to put a garter on her in front—”
“Oh, no, no.” Emily shook her head. “He would loathe it, and she’d be mortified. No, I thought…giving them a choice of a dance. They can stand next to each other all night and talk, but a dance? A waltz in the arms of your perfect person?” Emily’s fingertips danced on his shoulder. “That could be the crowning opportunity of my career, you know. I could bow out gracefully from their lives then.”
Nikolas pursed his lips and looked back over at his old friend. Elizabeth was resting her arm on Jason’s forearm with a smirk on her face, and Jason’s expression was open amusement. Even he, who had once detested the concept of their relationship, could see the spark. The potential.
And he wanted Elizabeth to be happy. Not to mention his own wife.
He looked back at Emily. “I can’t guarantee anything, but I will do what I can.”
“You are ridiculously fantastic.” Emily broke their dance pose to lean up on her toes and kissed him fervently. The ballroom exploded in laughter and cheers.
Elizabeth wrinkled her nose as she recognized the martial light in her friend’s eyes as Emily headed towards them. “I think your sister is about to throw the bouquet.”
“Which would explain why she’s coming over here.” Jason nodded and took Elizabeth’s wine glass from her. “She’s just going to start dragging you to the others,” he said when she arched a brow. “I don’t want you to spill the wine.”
“Not like I’ll be wearing this again.” She smoothed a hand down the short chiffon gown. “But I take your point.” She pointed a finger at him. “If I have to do this, you have to do the garter toss. It’s only fair.”
“I don’t see how.” Jason shook his head, his mouth curved into that half smile she just wanted to press her lips against.
She sniffed. “It just is.”
“Elizabeth! Time for all the single ladies!” Emily chirped. She grabbed Elizabeth’s hand, and as Jason had predicted, did not wait for an answer.
“If you aim at me, Emily, I’m going to make Nikolas a widower,” Elizabeth threatened as Emily deposited her next to Bobbie, Georgie and Maxie.
“Oh, don’t be a spoil sport,” Maxie chirped, her lithe body clad in a short black satin confection. “Just stand there and don’t move. I’ll take care of this.”
“Shut up, Maxie,” Georgie elbowed her. “Liz is going to get married before you ever find anyone deluded enough.” She flashed Elizabeth a shy smile. “Maxie’s a brat.”
“Bite me, Georgie,” the blonde snipped, tossing her blonde hair out of her eyes. “Let the professionals handle this—”
“I seem to remember,” Bobbie began with a smile, “Mac and Felicia’s wedding.” She looked at Elizabeth. “Do you?”
“Oh, God…” Elizabeth laughed, pressing a hand to her mouth. “I ended up with most of the flowers in my hair, but yes, I do. Wow, that…seems like another life.”
“All right!” Emily clapped her hands from the front of the room. “Let’s get this going. Ladies, try not to murder each other.” She cast one more long look at the group assembled, and Elizabeth saw her narrow her eyes at Elizabeth’s position. Little brat.
As soon as Emily had turned her back, Elizabeth took one long step to the left to avoid Emily’s aim.
Though why she was surprised when Emily released the bouquet of roses and tulips with a decidedly crooked curve towards her, she couldn’t say.
Emily had always known her better than anyone else.
Leaving a pouting Maxie and laughing Georgie behind with their aunt Bobbie to commiserate, Elizabeth returned to Jason’s side, the bridal bouquet tucked in the crook of her elbow. “I could learn to hate your sister.” She sniffed. “In fact, I’m going to ask you not to go for the garter. It’s about time we turned the tables on her. I am not some trained little puppy she can push around.”
Jason frowned and shook his head. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Oh, please. Emily’s as transparent as the brain cells in Maxie Jones’ head.” Elizabeth huffed and glared at the bouquet in her arms. “How many times have we asked her to lay off? But does she? Nope. Just keeps pushing. We can’t let her keep having her way.”
“Okay,” he said, drawing out the word as if to indicate he had lost the thread of the conversation. And then he shifted his feet and his uncertain blue eyes met hers. “W-would it be so…bad?”
“Oh.” Elizabeth pressed her lips together. “No. No, that’s not—shoot.” Behind her, she saw Nikolas and Emily setting up for the garter toss, but she focused on the man in front of her, hoping she hadn’t, in her annoyance with Emily’s overbearing ways, derailed things between them. They had not really verbalized what was happening between them, but…she knew.
“No, I’m just…” She lifted the bouquet into the air slightly. “I don’t want you…to feel like you…” Her cheeks flushed and she looked away. “I mean, I just want it to…be our…choice.” Her tongue felt several sizes too big for her mouth and the mortification was rising from her cheeks to the top of her head. Christ, was this really the place for this conversation?
“It is,” Jason told her. He lifted his hand, perhaps to reach out for her and then a silky blue garter landed in his palm. They both stared down at it, and then turned towards the dance floor.
The group of single men had parted to give them a clear view of Nikolas throwing his triumphant fist in the air and Emily bouncing up and down like a five year old.
“We’ve been double-teamed!” Elizabeth gasped, indignantly.
Emily swanned her way over to them, her hands clasped behind her back, with an innocent smile. “So. That happened.”
“Emily Paige Bowen-Quartermaine,” Elizabeth began, “if you think I am sitting on the chair and letting Jason feel me up in front of a hundred people—”
“Wait, what?” Jason interrupted. “Em—”
“Relax.” Emily waved a dismissive hand. “I have the sense God gave a mule—”
“I’ve seen no indication of this—” Elizabeth shot back.
“I have decided to alter that particular tradition,” Emily sniffed. “Instead, I just ask that you join the rest of the world on the dance floor for one dance.”
“Em, can we talk for a minute—”
Emily cut her off with another wave of the hand. “Listen, I’ve decided to bow out of my position as opportunity creator for you guys since you don’t need me—”
“Opportunity creator?” Jason repeated at the same time.
But Emily ignored them both. “You don’t need to thank me, just…enjoy what I’ve given you.” She flashed a smile. “Now, it’s my wedding day, I’m the bride, and you do what I say. Dance.” She took the garter and bouquet from them. “I’ll make sure you get these back, but—”
Elizabeth narrowed her eyes, but rather than give into the desire to poke her best friend, she merely sniffed and turned to Jason. “If she’s really going to retire from constantly butting in—”
“—then we might as well do this.”
Jason sighed and looked at his sister. “Emily.”
She stared at him, blandly. “It’s my wedding day,” she repeated. She pointed at herself. “Bride.”
He held out a hand to Elizabeth. “She’s right.”
And Elizabeth had decided to stop protesting because she wanted to dance with Jason after all. They’d only danced once before and it barely qualified as she’d been pretending he was Lucky.
Used to be that I believed in something
Used to be that I believed in love
They stood in front of one another for a moment before Elizabeth raised her hands to his shoulders and he gingerly grasped her waist, the heat of his hands burning through the thin layers of chiffon to her skin.
Trying to ignore the fact that she knew people were staring at them, she pitched her voice low. “Jason, I just…don’t want you to feel forced into anything. Emily thinks she knows best, but she doesn’t—”
“Forget about Emily,” Jason responded, his voice low and almost raspy. “It’s just you and me here.”
“Right.” And just like that, Elizabeth did forget about the rest of world. She slid one hand closer to his neck, lacing her fingers through the short blond hair at his nap, the other hand resting just above his heart. “That’s usually the way it works best,” she murmured, her eyes catching his.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had that feeling
He exhaled slowly, and drew her closer. “Elizabeth—”
I could love someone
“No, I’m sorry.” She shook her head, not wanting to disrupt the status quo, realizing too late that this was why she had procrastinated in moving to the next step.
I could trust someone
Admitting they wanted more had been the stumbling block for years, tripping up their friendship and derailing any chance of that intangible something more. She wanted his friendship almost as much as she wanted more. And if they tried for that next step and failed again…
She just knew it would be the last time they would be in this place.
I said I’d never let nobody near my heart again darlin’
“We…have to talk,” Jason said, his thumb moving along the base of her spine. “There…are things I want to say to you. Things you deserve to hear.”
I said I’d never let nobody in
She bit her lip and dropped her eyes to look at the collar of his tuxedo. “I…want to hear them,” she confessed, her heart pounding so loudly that she could barely hear the strains of the ballad to which they danced. “I’m…just…I’m scared, Jason.”
But if you asked me to
“I know.” And though his voice was uncertain, his grip remained strong. He pressed lips together for a moment. “Let’s…do you know the garden? Is there some place…”
“Yeah.” Feeling as though her heart had climbed into her throat, she nodded and gestured towards the doors that opened onto the terrace. “Let’s…go…out there.”
Neither spoke as Elizabeth silently led him through the vast and elaborate English-styled gardens of Nikolas’s estate. She stopped in front of bench tucked into the shadows, away from the light and sounds of other guests in the gardens, the strains of music just barely audible from the house.
Was he ready to do this? To take that next step? It would be a major change, and to his chagrin, Jason couldn’t remember the last time he’d set out to do something with deliberation and thought.
I just might change my mind
For weeks now, he had weight the possibility of asking for more, asking her to stand by him but his troubles with Sonny and the pressures of his life choices had continued to hold him back.
And let you in my life forever
But tonight, he had seen the uncertainty in her beautiful eyes and he knew that the more he held back, the less sure she was of how he felt, and for the first time in years, he wanted to tell her what she meant to him.
To try to put into words her place in his life and the way she lit it up.
If you asked me to
“Elizabeth…” And then he faltered. Because one thing had remained the same despite the passage of nearly five years.
He still didn’t have the words.
She smiled hesitantly and turned slightly on the bench. Her shoulders shook, and belatedly he realized that her short strapless dress did not offer much protection against the chilly spring night of upstate New York. He drew off his tuxedo jacket and tucked it around her shoulders. “Is that better?”
“Thanks.” Twisting her fingers in her lap, she cleared her throat. “It’s…so hard to know what to say, isn’t it?” she confessed, her voice barely above a whisper.
I just might give my heart
“These last few months…” Jason hesitated again. “You…with Sonny and Evie…” He shook his head, frustrated, wishing for the first time in his life he was more like other people with charm and smooth words. She deserved those pretty words, deserved them from someone who meant them. “I don’t know where I’d be without you.”
“All I did was listen,” she murmured. Her eyes left her lap, but he couldn’t quite see them in the shadows.
“Not just that…” He looked away then, towards the garden path. “I don’t know how it’s going to work out…with Evie. With my job.”
He looked back at her. “And sometimes…it seems unfair to ask…to even think about asking you…with everything that’s going on.” Again, he shook his head. He used to be a man of few words, used to saying what he thought, going after what he wanted.
When had that changed?
And stay here in your arms forever
“Jason…” She leaned forward and covered his hand with her own, her cold fingers wrapping around his larger ones. “None of that matters to me. I mean, yes, it does in that sense that I hate that you have to go through it, but it would never be a reason I would step back.”
If you asked me to
“I know.” And he did—he knew the reasons he would hesitate to step forward would not matter to her, but for the first time, he wondered if she harbored any doubts, if the uncertainty he felt was his alone.
“Jason…” As if reading his mind, she squared her shoulders. “I know that our…that…I’m an issue for Sonny.” Her tongue swept across her top lip before she drew the bottom one to nibble it on. “If I…agitate Sonny, and I suppose Carly by extension…what does that mean when things…are different?”
If you asked me to
He shook his head. “I-I don’t know what you mean. And you don’t…agitate Sonny.” Jason hesitated. “It’s not even you. It’s just…he resents anyone in Evie’s life that isn’t him. He just…when he gets into one of those moods, when he’s not in control, when he wants to lash out at me, he uses you. Because he knows it’s…” He shifted. “It’s the best way to get a rise out of me.”
“I suppose that wouldn’t change even if we didn’t…” She looked down again. “Sonny and Carly have always been at the center of your life, Jason. And I would be lying if I didn’t wonder…if we were reconnecting because they’re not in your life the way they were.”
“I…don’t know the answer to that.” After a moment, he continued. “Would that matter? They’re…not in my life. We’re not close anymore.”
Somehow ever since I’ve been around you
“But you’ve been on the outs with Sonny before,” Elizabeth continued. “I don’t want to wake up one day and…” A tear slid down her cheek. “And be alone. Like I was every day in the penthouse. You chose Sonny’s stability before. I understand why,” she said quickly when he opened his mouth to protest. “It was a dangerous time, and I don’t…I want you to know that I understood. I even accept it. But…I can’t pretend I don’t worry about it happening again.”
Can’t go back to being on my own
He dipped his head, because he didn’t know what to tell her. He had deliberately chosen to lie to her in order to preserve Sonny’s sense of peace, in order to prove his loyalty.
Could he really promise he wouldn’t do that again?
Can’t help feeling darling since I’ve found you
“You won’t have to because I already chose you,” he said finally. She frowned and shook her head, and he knew he would have to admit just how damaged his relationship with Sonny was.
That I’ve found my home
“Sonny has made it clear during those bad moments that he believes I’m not loyal to him, that I would rather have you in my life than placate him.” He hesitated, because it felt unfair to his partner to paint in him that light. “But in his clearer moments, Elizabeth, when he’s the Sonny I remember, he doesn’t see it that way. He worried for your protection when he found out Johnny Zacchara was at your showing.”
That I’m finally home
“I know that something isn’t right with Sonny,” Elizabeth murmured. “And I know how difficult it must be for you, even for Carly and the boys, when he hasn’t been stable in months. I suppose…I just…” She sighed, her breath shaky, as she turned her eyes away and looked towards the garden path.
“I spent most of last year putting myself back together after several terrible years of bad choices and devastation,” Elizabeth said. “And while I won’t lie to you and tell you I didn’t love Ric…it wasn’t…” She pursed her lips. “He didn’t…it’s not like it is with you.” She slid closer. “You and I have been in each other’s lives so much longer than we’ve been friends. We have a history, Jason, and we’ve already…lost each other more than once. I’m afraid that if open myself up…I’ll just lose again. Like I always do.”
I said I’d never let nobody get too close to me darling
Jason opened his mouth, but then closed it because he didn’t know what to say. How could he promise her anything concrete when he didn’t know what would happen? He had also experienced a bad marriage, had buried a friend and his grandmother, watched two of his most important friendships crumble in front of his eyes.
Nothing was guaranteed.
“But,” Elizabeth continued, “I know that we would never be sitting in this moment if you didn’t…” Her fingers tightened around his. “Things have been difficult with Sonny for months, and even though it would be easier for you to step back, you didn’t. So I have to trust that. It’s just…it’s hard, Jason, to open that door when I can’t be sure what’s on the other side.”
“I know it is, and I can’t promise I won’t ever hurt you. I can try not to, but—”
“Life happens.” She was closer now, and though her eyes were wet with tears, they were shining. Her lips were curved into a small smile. “We can…we can promise to try.”
And he recognized the old words from the last time they had been in this moment.
I said I needed, needed to be free
“I can promise that,” he murmured, cupping her cheek gently.
“You know, we keep ending up in this moment,” she murmured, their lips mere inches apart. “If I believed in fate, I’d say it’s trying to tell us something.”
If you asked me to
“What do you think that is?” he asked, his thumb brushing her bottom lip.
Her smile broadened and in her eyes, something lit up.
I give you my world
“To stop talking,” she said, fisting her hand in his tuxedo shirt and closing the distance between their mouths.
Her lips were warm and sweet against his. Jason slid his hand into her loose curls, pressing her closer. His tongue traced the fullness of her lip before dipping inside to deepen the kiss and finally taste her the way he had wanted to for years.
If you asked me to
He drew back slightly after a long moment, her breath heavy against his lips. “I never thought we could be back here,” he murmured. “Thank you for coming home last year.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, nipping at his lower lip. “For giving me a ride home five years ago.”
Just ask me to