I gotta say something I’ve been thinking about
I can’t wait to lay around with you
And tell you all the secrets I’ve been keeping to myself
It’s been awhile since I’ve felt butterflies.
Do you feel the same way too?
If every single second could last that much longer
Would you hold me?
– Kiss Me Again, We Are in the Crowd
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Warehouse: Sonny’s Office
Jason stepped over the threshold, the first time he had been face to face with his partner since their confrontation the week before over Carly and Evie. He wanted to believe they could still pull this situation back from the fire.
It would hurt to sign custody of Evie away, he knew that. And he knew it wasn’t following the spirit of his promise to Sam, but if Sonny could get help—if he could really deal with his demons for the first time in his life, he might find himself again.
Be the man Jason had given his loyalty to all those years ago.
If there was any hope of drawing that man out again, finding him inside the darkness, Jason thought he could live with the pain of losing Evie. Because Sonny, at his best, was a good father. He would be good for Evie.
And Jason wanted to believe they could find that.
Sonny glanced up from the paperwork he was considering and leaned back in his chair, his dark eyes flat. “We didn’t have a meeting today.”
“No.” Jason lowered himself into the chair. “No, this isn’t…business. It’s personal.”
“Oh?” Sonny lifted his brows. “I didn’t think we had anything personal to discuss after your ultimatum last week.”
“It wasn’t—” Jason stopped and shook his head. “I’m sorry if you feel that way. I didn’t…I want this to be better, Sonny.”
“You think I like the state of affairs?” Sonny snapped. “You think I like walking on eggshells all the damn time?”
Jason exhaled slowly. “I want what’s best for all of us, but Evie comes first. I made a promise to Sam to look after her—”
“To keep her away from me.” Sonny pressed his lips together. “Did you help her take my daughter away?”
“What?” Jason demanded. “Are you accusing me of tricking you into signing those papers?” How did it always spiral like this? When had Jason lost control of the moment? He used to be able to keep Sonny calm, to keep him stable.
“I don’t know. You didn’t seem surprised when her lawyer showed up.” His lips curled back in a sneer. “It was a fait accompli according to Diane Miller. I had signed the termination papers, and she’d filed them in family court. You had legal guardianship, even though my damn name is on the birth certificate—”
“I didn’t know—I told you this then.” Jason clenched his fists. “But you didn’t want the details. You just wanted to keep everything the way it was. You and Carly were making your marriage work. Sam knew she’d be forgotten, that you would never tell Evie about her—”
“So you decided for me—”
“You decided,” Jason cut in, his teeth clenched. “I started this, but you finished it. I told you it didn’t have to be this way, but you—” He closed his eyes. “Sonny, I’m not trying to punish you, I just—you need help. You need to talk to someone—”
“I’d be fine if I weren’t surrounded by liars, by traitors,” Sonny hissed. “I used to believe in you, Jason. I used to think you had my back—”
“I told you I would always protect your family,” Jason said. He rose to his feet. “And I’m doing that. I tried to protect Michael and Morgan, but I failed. I’m protecting Evie—”
“What gives you the right to decide I’m not a fit father?” Sonny lunged to his feet, leaning over his desk with his hands flat on the surface. “What makes you the better man?”
“I don’t know that I am,” Jason replied honestly. “I know what Sam wanted. I’m doing right by her. She knew you’d never put Evie first. Never value her above Carly and the boys. And nothing you’ve done this last year has proved her wrong.” He stepped backwards toward the door. “I came here, Sonny, because I wanted to believe we could still find common ground. Because I’m—Elizabeth and I are engaged. And I wanted to tell you.”
Sonny straightened, and he swallowed hard. “You—you’re getting married. To Elizabeth.”
Jason nodded and looked away. “And this morning, when we talked about telling the people we loved, telling our family, I wanted to tell you. Because you’ve been my family longer than anyone else.” He looked back to Sonny. “You taught me about loyalty. About friendship. What I know about being a father, I learned from you.”
Sonny looked down. “You don’t feel that way now.”
“Because you’ve lost yourself to the darkness. You’re trying to hold back the crash, trying to control it, but you can’t. You need to deal with it. You need to make it stop, or you’ll never be that man again.”
“You calling me crazy?” Sonny demanded, but his voice had lost some of that heat. “You think I need a shrink?”
“I don’t know,” Jason responded. “I just know that Carly and I have been holding you together for years, but we can’t do it anymore. I’ve been trying to do it all year, but it’s not working anymore. We need to do something else.”
“And if I don’t agree with you, you’ll keep Evie from me,” Sonny said. “You think that’s not an ultimatum?”
“I want Evie to know her father,” Jason told him. “I want her to know you the way I do. But she’s just a little girl, Sonny. Sam asked me to protect her. You asked me to raise her. I’m doing the best I can.”
“I’ll take your concern under advisement, but it looks to me like you want me to say no. So you can adopt her. So maybe Elizabeth can, too. You’ll adopt her little bastard son and be one happy family,” Sonny drawled.
“Don’t—” Jason’s throat was tight. “Don’t talk about Cameron that way. Or Elizabeth. I would never let anyone talk that way about Carly or Michael. Cameron is going to be my son. The way Michael is yours—”
“And you’ve never forgiven me for that—”
“You’ve never forgiven yourself,” Jason cut in sharply. “That’s why you keep bringing it up. In your better moments, you see this as evening the score. A child for a child. Yeah, it hurt losing Michael, but once you adopted him, I knew he was somewhere safe. With someone who would love him.” He hesitated. “And he was never mine to keep.”
“Evie’s not yours either, Jason,” Sonny rounded the desk, stepping towards. “So when you’re planning your perfect life with Elizabeth, remember that. I’m her father. This situation exists because I allow it to. I could go to a judge tomorrow and get her back—”
“If that’s the way you want to handle it, that would be your prerogative.” His head throbbed and now he wished he had never walked through the door. Did he really think that he could walk in here and tell him about Elizabeth like it was the old days? Did he think Sonny would be happy for him?
“You do think you’re the better man, don’t you? Don’t you—don’t you walk away from me!”
But Jason was already walking towards the door and pulling it open.
He wouldn’t make that mistake again.
Hardy House: Living Room
Emily pulled the curtain back from the window only to have Steven slap her hand lightly. “Hey! I’m…I’m just looking!”
“You know she hates it when you spy on her,” Elizabeth’s brother said with a good-natured smile, drawing her away towards the small crowd gathered by the sofa. Audrey was passing out glasses of champagne—something she claimed she just had lying around—while Monica and Bobbie were laughing with Nikolas.
Elizabeth had called earlier that day and asked if Emily and Nikolas could join some other members of the family at her grandmother’s that evening—she and Jason had something they wanted to share.
Emily had managed—barely—not to squeal until her cell phone was back in her pocket. She had stood in the lounge at the hospital jumping up and down like a crazy banshee. Her resident in the surgical program had just eyed her suspiciously before almost running away.
And then she’d arrived to learn Jason had called Monica and Bobbie. Their mother had the hugest grin on her face as she and Bobbie chattered about hospital news. She was finally being included in Jason’s life, and Emily had every hope that if there was going to be a wedding—and of course there would be, because what else could this news be?—Jason would be inviting other members of the Quartermaines.
Reluctantly, she knew, but finally—the fractures were healing.
“They’ve been standing out there forever,” Emily huffed, taking a glass of champagne. “And if they walk in and catch us drinking this, Elizabeth is going to murder me.”
Audrey pursed her lips. “You’re right. I should have saved it for after they actually announced—” Her cheeks flushed. “I suppose I just…I got ahead of myself. It’s not as though we know for sure—”
“But what else can it be?” Bobbie asked, her eyes sparkling. “I can’t imagine them gathering us for any other reason except an engagement—” Her eyes widened. “Oh, what if she’s pregnant?”
“Oh, God. Don’t even…” Monica’s eyes misted. “Oh, that would be wonderful—”
“Whoa, whoa—” Steven said, making a timeout gesture with his hands. “Listen, crazy family of mine—let’s not have my sister pregnant and married before she walks through the door. It could be anything. Jason could be adopting Cameron, they could be moving into together.” He pointed at his grandmother. “You—put those glasses back in the kitchen.”
“Steven Lars Webber,” Audrey began.
“Why aren’t they coming in?” Emily interrupted, going back to the window. “Jason arrived almost five minutes ago. Get in here, you lousy bastards.”
“She’s just looking forward to taking the credit for this,” Nikolas told Steven. “Opportunity creator, don’t you know.”
Emily scowled at him. “You always say that like I’m crazy. You think I didn’t have a hand in this? I put Lucky and Leyla together.” She frowned at Steven. “You dating anyone?”
“Oh, hell, that is the last thing I need right now,” Steven said. “Where the hell is my sister?”
Hardy House: Outside
“I’m sorry it didn’t go so well,” Elizabeth murmured, shifting Cameron to her other hip. “I know…you were hoping…”
“It’s fine.” Jason shook his head. “I just…I think I made it worse.” He glanced back towards the house. “Emily’s peeking again.”
“Yeah, I know.” Elizabeth turned towards the window only to see the curtain fall back in place. “I’m pretty sure our engagement won’t come as a surprise to anyone. They’re probably already drinking champagne or something.”
“I wouldn’t put it past my sister,” he admitted. He nodded towards the front door. “Should we go ahead and get this over with?”
“So romantic,” she sighed, but laughed when he scowled. “I know what you mean, and I know this part drives you nuts.” Evie began to squirm in Jason’s embrace, so they started up the walk.
Elizabeth started to push the door open but Emily yanked it all the way. “Finally!” the other woman said with an exaggerated roll of her eyes. “Give me a kid—” She plucked Cameron from her grasp.
They stepped inside, and Elizabeth pursed her lips at the sight of her grandmother’s champagne glasses and the milling crowd. They couldn’t even wait for them to announce the news before they started to celebrate?
But these people loved them, and their acceptance and support meant the world to her—particularly when she knew Jason wished Sonny were here.
Monica stepped forward, nearly reaching for Evie before she stopped herself. The longing in her eyes was almost impossible to watch, but it had been Jason’s idea to include his mother and Bobbie, someone he had always been able to talk with. So Elizabeth tugged on his elbow discreetly, and Jason handed Evie to Monica.
“Oh, she’s getting so big.” Monica pressed her lips to Evie’s forehead. The seven-month-old giggled and reached for her necklace. “And her hair is darker.”
“She looks more like Sam all the time,” Elizabeth said brushing a kiss on Monica’s cheek before greeting Bobbie and her grandmother. She almost laughed at the way all their eyes were on her bare finger.
“Enough chatter!” Emily declared. “We’ve come here for a purpose—” She stopped when the weight of Jason’s glare settled on her. “And it’s your prerogative to do what you want,” she finished in a mumble, setting Cameron on his feet so he could walk unsteadily towards his great-grandmother.
Elizabeth reached for Jason’s hand, linked them. “Do you want to do it?” she asked with a grin.
Jason shrugged. “We’re getting married,” he said plainly.
The squeals from Emily nearly drowned out the rest of the room, but Bobbie and Monica were both stepping forward to hug them. Nikolas and Steven shook Jason’s hands before embracing Elizabeth—and the force of her grandmother’s hug almost lifted Elizabeth from her feet.
“Oh, my darlings!” Audrey said, her eyes bright. She released Elizabeth and stepped towards Jason, surprising him with a kiss on the cheek and a light hug. “We thought this might be the news, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up—”
“As it is, I’m not going to be able to peel my wife from the ceiling,” Nikolas said, but he was grinning with an arm around said wife. “Congratulations, both of you.”
“This…” Monica handed Evie to Bobbie and stepped towards Jason. “Thank you—for…letting me be part of this.”
“I…” Jason looked at Elizabeth briefly. “I want Cameron and Evie to have people in their lives who love them.” He leaned down to lift Cameron in his arms as the fourteen-month-old boy tugged at his jeans. “We’re…going to get the adoption papers started as soon as we can.”
“Another grandchild!” Monica beamed. “Oh…” She pressed a hand to her mouth. “Oh, your grandmother would be over the moon, Jason.” She looked at Elizabeth, and reached for her hand. “She always liked you, Elizabeth. I just know she would love this.”
“I’m just so glad Cameron and Evie are going to have so many people in their family.” Elizabeth squeezed Monica’s hand. “My parents aren’t…in my life. So I hope you’ll really consider Cameron part of yours.” She looked at Bobbie, this wonderful woman who had always stood behind her. “You, too, Bobbie. You’ve been so good to me—”
“Honey, you’d have to do something pretty terrible to get rid of me,” the redhead declared. She grinned. “Spencers are annoying like that.”
Jason frowned slightly, no doubt remembering how hard it had been for Elizabeth to eject a certain Spencer, but he just shook his head.
“Where’s the ring?” Emily demanded.
“I raised her better than this,” Monica said with a roll of her eyes. “Emily—”
“What?” Emily shrugged. “It’s a valid question—”
“We…” Elizabeth shrugged. “It was a spur of the moment decision last night. I don’t think Jason and I even knew it was on the table until there we were…engaged.” And her smile felt permanently affixed to her face. “There’s plenty of time for rings—”
“What about setting a date?” Bobbie asked. “Are you going to wait as long as these two?” She gestured towards Emily and Nikolas.
“I—” She looked at Jason who just lifted a shoulder. “We haven’t really thought about that either.”
“I think…” Steven said from across the room, with the bottle of champagne in his hands. “We should stop the interrogation and have a toast to my sister and her new fiancé.”
“That is a fantastic idea,” Audrey declared. “I already set out enough glasses—” She offered a sheepish grin as Steven began to pour. “We may have anticipated your news just a little.”
“I don’t think you can celebrate news like this too much,” Bobbie said. “Jason and Elizabeth know it’s only because we love them so much.”
“That’s what I’m told,” Jason dryly as Elizabeth elbowed him.
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
Later, after putting Cameron and Evie down for the night under Nora’s watchful eye, Elizabeth sat next to Jason on the sofa, her smile still stretched from ear to ear. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
“Not as bad getting shot, no,” Jason agreed, stretching his arm across the back of the sofa. But he was grinning at her. “You must really think I hate people for as often as you apologize for dragging me to crowded events.”
She tucked her legs underneath her, her knees pressing into his thigh. “I know you don’t even like the majority of people you actually know, much less strangers,” Elizabeth said. “So, yeah, I’m always kind of feeling bad when you do something you wouldn’t otherwise because I asked you to.”
“I liked the people in that room tonight.” Jason reached for her hand, lacing their fingers together. “Nikolas is good for my sister—she’s never been happier. I know how much your brother and grandmother mean to you—” He hesitated. “And I invited Monica and Bobbie, so how could I argue?”
“Monica looked so happy tonight,” Elizabeth mused, resting her head against the seat cushions. “I think she could have lit the entire town with that smile. She loves you so much.”
“I used…” Jason tilted his head back slightly. “I used to see her looking at me like that and I’d think…it’s not…about me. It’s for who I used to be. I didn’t think she saw me.”
“Do you still consider Jason Quartermaine to be a different person? Someone separate from you?” she asked. “I remember the way you used to talk about it…when we first met. Even though you’d use the first person, I still felt like you considered it separate.”
“I had to then.” His fingers rubbed over her skin, absently tracing patterns across her palm. “It was the only way to deal with the way people looked at me. The Quartermaines wanted me to be who I was. The doctors didn’t think I’d ever be able to live on my own.” His face tightened. “Tony Jones wanted them to take Michael from me. That I couldn’t be a fit parent because of the accident.”
“He was just angry Carly preferred you to him.” Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. “You were a better father to Michael then some men are to children that are actually theirs.”
“Robin helped a lot,” Jason admitted. “And mostly, I just…I read all the books that were out there. And it got easier. Because Michael—he was such a good baby…” He stopped and shook his head. “Anyway. I think Monica…she knows who I am now. And accepts my choices. Maybe she doesn’t like them, but she knows they’re mine to make.”
“Do you think you’d want to invite the rest of your family to the wedding?” she asked hesitantly. “Alan….Edward…Ned and Dillon?”
“There was a time,” Jason said slowly, “that I would have been so angry at the insinuation that they were my family—that I was part of them at all.” He looked away.
“And now,” Jason said, “I think I could deal with it. I used to think they lied and schemed and destroyed each other for fun. And they do that, particularly Tracy and Edward. But Ned…other than what happened to Kristina a few years ago…I’ve never had problem with him.” He frowned. “I’m not even sure I know Dillon all that well.” He looked at her. “Everyone asked for details. If we set the date, how big it was going to be—I don’t know what you want to do about that.”
“I don’t know,” she admitted. “Part of me just…” She lifted a shoulder. “I want to start our lives. To have a quiet and quick ceremony so we can just…be a family.”
“But the rest of you?” Jason asked, tilting his head. “Do you want something bigger?”
“Not huge,” Elizabeth admitted. “But I don’t know…I’d like to try something traditional for a change.” She sighed. “Maybe be engaged for a while, enjoying it. It’s the first time someone has proposed to me without being brainwashed or me being pregnant…I’d like to have that for a while.”
“As long as you’re with me, it’s not important to me,” Jason admitted. “I still want you and Cameron to move in. Here, to start with. We could start looking for something else.”
“We’ll start packing as soon as possible.” She leaned forward, brushed her lips over his. “As for the rest of it? I don’t want something like I had before. They were small ceremonies—just me…and…” She shrugged. “I’d like to wear a pretty dress, to have my brother walk me down the aisle…with Evie and Cameron. With Emily as my matron of honor.” Elizabeth sighed and looked down. “You’d hate every minute of it.”
And Sonny wouldn’t be his best man, so who would Jason have standing by him? Nikolas? A Quartermaine cousin he barely knew? It seemed preposterous to her to want a normal wedding when it might just remind him of everything he’d lost.
“Where’d you go?” he murmured, releasing her hand so he could tip her chin up. “Elizabeth? If that’s what you want—”
“I was thinking how your best man should be Sonny,” Elizabeth admitted. “How once he would have been so happy for us. He used to care about me, you know. He put guards on me when you weren’t here, and he kept me safe when I had to fake my death.” She closed her eyes. “He should be a part of all this.”
“I know.” He exhaled slowly. “I could…I could ask someone else. One of the guys who work with us. Cody. Or Francis. You know them—”
“But it’s not the same.” She shook her head. “Emily is part of my life, part of who I am. Jason, I love Evie, you know that, and my heart breaks that maybe we can’t…keep her. But I would rather Sonny raise her if it meant we had him back.” Her eyes burned and a tear slid down her cheek. “I didn’t even know how much I pictured him in our lives until I realized it wouldn’t happen—”
“Hey.” Jason tugged her towards him, wrapping his arms around her. “Hey. I’m sorry. I always forget you and Sonny were close once—”
“It’s not even that—I just didn’t let myself think about what you were losing.” She sniffled, tucking her head under his chin. “He’s your best friend, Jason. He’s part of your family. He was a brother to you—” Elizabeth lifted her head. “Can’t we just…kidnap him and force him to get help?”
“Don’t think I haven’t considered it.” Jason sighed. “I don’t know, Elizabeth. I thought the same thing earlier. I love Evie so much, I do. But he’s her father and he’d be a good one if he’d just…confront what’s inside him. I just don’t how to make it happen.”
“Maybe it’s time we start really thinking about it.” Elizabeth put her hands on his shoulders. “I want our wedding to be what’s right for both of us. And it would be right for you to have Sonny standing next to you.”
He was quiet for a moment before he rested his forehead against hers. “I don’t even know if that’s a possibility anymore.”
Well, if Jason couldn’t hold out hope for things to change, Elizabeth would have to believe enough for the both of them.