Never Let Me Go


I stand with a blank expression now

“I can’t do this.”

Emily shakes her head firmly and starts to retreat from the doorway. Lucky catches her elbow and draws her back to him. “Em–”

“I cannot go in there!” Emily says. “You don’t understand, Lucky. I have been perfectly hateful to her for three months. I befriended the woman she hates just to spite her. There is no way in the world I can face her!”

“You made a mistake,” Lucky tells her. “You know you did. You know now that your friendship means more to you. All you have to do is tell her so.”

“I can’t,” Emily repeats. “Because I shut her out, I didn’t see what was going on. Because I’ve been wallowing in my own problems, I didn’t see that she was hurting. Because I have been so damn blind, I didn’t see that the best friend I love more than anything else in the world was thinking of throwing herself off a bridge!”

“Even if you were still close, it doesn’t mean you would have seen it coming!” Lucky argues. “I’ve spent most of the last month with her…I didn’t see it! And I know Elizabeth pretty well, Emily, almost better than anyone else.”

Emily just shakes her head starts for the elevator again. “I can’t do this,” she says again. “I won’t be any good to her. I’m screwed up, I’ve got problems, how can I be expected to help her?”

Lucky frowns and grips her shoulders holding her in place. “You’ve been hiding something since you came home. Don’t think I don’t know.”

“Lucky–”

“Tell me what’s going on, Emily.” His eyes soften and his grip loosens. “You’re my oldest friend in the world. We’ve been there for each other through thick and thin. I can do it again. All you have to do is trust me.”

Emily bites her lip and looks down. “I’m scared, Lucky.”

“I know,” Lucky says. He takes a step towards her and pulls her into a tight hug. “But you can trust me, Emily. You know you can.”

“I think that’s what scares me most of all,” Emily murmurs, her face buried in his shoulder.

And I can’t believe myself

She looks so small, curled up in a tiny ball on the couch. Her hair is wet, hanging in curly clumps around her pale face. She’s swimming in a pair of his sweatpants and an old blue shirt that had been shrunk in the wash months ago.

He sets the hot chocolate on the coffee table in front of her and perches himself on the edge of the table next to it.

“She’s not coming, is she?” Elizabeth asks, not raising her eyes to him. She’d been quiet most of the morning. She’d woken early, but not before him. He’d given her a change of clothing, she’d taken a shower and now she sat here on the couch.

And her question about Emily was the first time she’d spoken.

“She didn’t mention what time,” Jason tries to assure her, but part of him wondered if his sister would show up after all.

“She hates me,” Elizabeth murmurs.

“She doesn’t hate you,” Jason tells her. “I know that for a fact.” He picks up the hot chocolate and holds it out to her.

“I should go,” she says instead. He sighs and sets the mug back down. “I shouldn’t be here. There’s no room in your life to do this anymore.”

“To do what?” Jason asks. He sits back a little as Elizabeth suddenly rises to her feet. She tugs at the waistband of the pants, holding them up slightly. The collar of her shirt is listing the side and is clearly too big for her despite being too small for him.

“To take care of me,” she replies. She bites her lip and looks around. “Where are my shoes?”

“Upstairs,” Jason answers. He stands and shoves his hands in the pockets of his jeans. She’s not leaving. She doesn’t know it yet, but he’s not about to let her walk out of this penthouse. Not like this. Not again. “And I’m not taking care of you.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Elizabeth answers. She tugs at her pants again and shoves her hair out of her face. “You convinced me to get off that ledge. You brought me…” she stopped, realizing she was about to say that he brought her home, but obviously that wasn’t true. He’d brought her to his home, the home he’d shared with first Brenda and later Courtney.

Courtney. There was a thought to latch onto.

“I should go,” Elizabeth says again.

“You’re not going anywhere,” Jason says firmly.

Will someone tell me how
Did I get here

Emily eases away from Lucky slowly. “I don’t know where to start,” she tells him softly.

“Why don’t we talk to Elizabeth and then go somewhere to talk?” Lucky suggests. “She probably thinks we’re not coming.”

Emily nods and steps towards the door. Before she can raise her fist to knock, something crashes against the door. “What the–”

“Watch it, you almost hit me!”

Emily frowns. “That was Jason.”

Lucky smirks. “Sounds like Elizabeth is unleashing some anger,” he says. “Wonder what he did this time.”

Emily throws him a dirty look. “That is my brother you’re talking about.”

“Who in the hell do you think you are?”

“And that would be Elizabeth,” Lucky replies. “Come on. Let’s get a burger or something and come back when they’re a little less violent.”

Emily is about to refuse when she hears Jason’s raised voice again. “I’m just trying to help, Elizabeth–”

“You don’t get to order me around! I’m not your girlfriend anymore!”

Emily nods. “I think that’d be a good idea.”

I am walking

He wasn’t sure what had set her off, but as soon as the words had left his mouth, her face had lit up in anger and she’d picked up a lamp on the table and hurled at him. He is able to duck in time as the lamp flies over his head and crashes against the door.

“Watch it, you almost hit me!”

He straightens and stares at her in disbelief. “What is wrong with you?”

“Who in the hell do you think you are?” Elizabeth rages.

She’s gone from meek to furious in three point five seconds, making his head spin a little. “I’m just trying to help, Elizabeth–” he tries.

“You don’t get to order me around!” Elizabeth yells. She heads for the stairs. “I’m not your girlfriend anymore!”

“Elizabeth, that’s not what I’m trying to do–” He stops and shakes his head. He should have seen this coming. “It’s not going to work, Elizabeth.”

She turns on the steps and stares at him. “What are you talking about?”

“You’re pushing me away.”

“You’re being ridiculous,” Elizabeth murmurs. She folds her arms across her chest and looks away. “I just don’t appreciate being told what to do.”

“I’m sorry if that’s what if felt like, but I really only want to help.”

Elizabeth hesitates. Her eyes glance around the penthouse, taking in the surroundings. “This place looks different.”

Jason rubs the back of his neck. “Courtney redecorated.”

“Oh.” She looks at the couch, takes in the candles everywhere, the rugs, the hutch by the pool table and frowned. “It still doesn’t look like you live here.”

“Yeah, well…” Jason sighs. “Elizabeth, you don’t have the studio anymore. The supervisor at your building let you out of your lease.”

She stares at him. “I know that. I asked him to do it.”

“You were…you were really going to do it, weren’t you?” Jason asks softly.

She sinks to the steps, as if sudden boneless and unable to hold herself up. She stares at the bitten down nails on her fingers. “Possibly,” she admits.

Jason lowers himself to the step next to her. “Why?” he asks.

Elizabeth shrugs, tugs at a strand of her dark damp hair. “I just…I was tired, Jason. I felt lost. Like…” she hesitates, searching for the right words. “I had nowhere to stand. When Emily told me she hated me and started talking to Courtney, it was like the ground dropped out from beneath me.”

Changing slowly

Emily and Lucky enter Kelly’s. As soon as they are inside, Zander stands up from his chair. “I’ve been looking for you guys all morning.”

Emily sighs, not ready to go another round with him. “What is it, Zander?”

He holds up a letter with words scrawled on it. Lucky winces. Elizabeth must have mailed her remaining letters.

“This letter from Elizabeth was waiting for me.” His eyes are dark and worried. “Where is she?”

“She’s fine,” Emily answers. “She was thinking of leaving town and I guess she mailed the letters to the people she couldn’t find.”

“But Jason found her before she got on the bus,” Lucky chimes in. “And she’s staying.”

“Jason convinced her to stay?” Zander asks skeptically. “Jason?”

Their conversation has garnered the interest of the blonde waitress and she approaches them. “What about Jason?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Lucky snarls, in no mood to deal with Jason’s hateful girlfriend.

“Lucky,” Emily says, touching his arm. She looks to Courtney. “Jason found Elizabeth.”

The blonde’s eyes narrow. After a conversation with Carly the previous night, Courtney had no doubts about what Elizabeth had been about to do. “Where is she now?” she asks.

“With Jason,” Lucky is unable to resist telling her. He watches the cold fury wash over her face and regrets it. Elizabeth does not need Courtney storming in and being an idiot.

“But she’s okay?” Zander asks, quickly. “I mean, this letter… I thought…”

“Yeah, we thought so, too,” Emily says quietly. “But we were wrong and she’s fine.”

Zander doesn’t believe their story, but he gets the general gist. Elizabeth was in a bad place the day before. She’d been planning on doing something potentially bad and Jason had stopped her.

“Okay,” Zander replies. “If you see her, tell her to call me.” His eyes find Emily’s. “I’ve been holding something against her, something we worked out between us a long time ago. It was between us, and we never meant to hurt anyone.” He takes a deep breath. “I’m sorry that it did, but we can’t change it. She is my friend and I had no right to do what I did.”

Emily nods. “You’re right. What happened had nothing to do with me and I shouldn’t have taken it personally. I should have realized that Elizabeth is my best friend and wouldn’t do anything to hurt me.”

The cryptic conversation has irritated Courtney and she has returned to her shift.

But she keeps her mind firmly on the fact that Jason found Elizabeth and that she is with him right now.

And that is completely unacceptable.

I am chasing

After a few moments of silence, Elizabeth sighs. “You don’t understand.”

“I do understand,” Jason argues. “Elizabeth…” He hesitates and looks away. His eyes catch one of the various pieces of artwork Courtney had hung on the walls of the penthouse. He’d hated having them up, had done everything he could to avoid looking at them. Every time he saw one, it reminded him of Elizabeth and how he used to watch her paint.

“Do you remember that morning you found me in the snow?” Jason asks.

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget it,” Elizabeth says softly. “I was so scared.”

“You never asked why I went to the box car,” Jason tells her.

She shrugs. “I figured if you’d want me to know…you know, you’d tell me.”

“The night I was shot…it was the same night that Carly and Sonny slept together.” There’s no emotion in the sentence, none of the shock and pain that Jason held felt all those years ago is evident.

But Elizabeth knows better. And she finds herself taking his hand and holding it in hers. He glanced up at her to find her eyes concerned and full of sorrow. It was so typical of her…to be so concerned with someone else even while she was hurting.

“I went into the penthouse to tell him…and she came downstairs in one of his shirts,” Jason continues. “I left.” He met her eyes again. “I probably would have died if you hadn’t found me.”

She bites her lip and looks away. “I don’t like to think about that.”

“I know how you feel Elizabeth,” Jason tells her. “I know it feels like to have nothing. But you should know better than anyone else…that it goes away.”

“It never goes away,” Elizabeth replies softly. “It hides…you forget about it.” She met his eyes. “But it never goes away.”

Climbing closer

Emily sighs and takes a seat at a corner table. “I wish you hadn’t said that.”

“Said what?” Lucky asks. He glances at Courtney out of the corner of his eye. The blonde looks severely agitated and he can not resist a small grin. “Serves her right.”

“But now she’s going to go right over to the penthouse after her shift,” Emily replies. “Elizabeth doesn’t need her paranoia.”

Is it paranoia?” Lucky inquires. He shrugs. “I don’t know sometimes. Courtney’s not the brightest person in the world, but even she sees what the rest of us ignore.”

“What are you talking about?” Emily asks, grateful to have the spotlight off of her and her own problems.

“That no matter how many times they say it, Jason and Elizabeth are not over one another.” Lucky scratches his chin. “Y’know, Elizabeth blamed herself for the way things ended with Jason. And she decided that she wasn’t going to run from her feelings anymore. She was going to fight. She was dating Ric when she made that decision and she threw her entire life into making it work.”

“I know my brother,” Emily says. “He’s not innocent. He didn’t tell her how he felt either. I’ve managed to pry that much out of him.”

“So, I’m saying is that Courtney gets that. She gets that because there is so much unresolved between them…they’re not over.” Lucky frowns. “But we’re not here to talk about your brother and Elizabeth.”

“Lucky–”

“Emily, no more stalling.”

Emily looks down at her hands. “That box I said was for my grandmother…”

“It wasn’t artifacts was it?” Lucky asks.

“No.” Emily is careful to avoid his eyes. “It was…well…I suppose medication would be the best way to describe it.”

Lucky let the word roll around in his head for few moments before speaking. “Medication,” he repeats. “Emily–”

“It’s not like before,” she’s quick to assure him. “It’s just that…I was diagnosed…with….” She trails off, unable to continue past the lump in her throat.

His heart clenches at the word diagnosed and his eyes widen in fear. Had Jason saved one friend just as they were both about to lose another?

I know that I’ll never be alone

Jason hasn’t spoken in a few moments and Elizabeth is sure that he won’t. But instead he does. He takes a deep breath.

“If you believe that, then you’re not the same person I always thought you were.”

The disappointment is clear and true in his voice and it stings her more than anything else ever has. She clears her throat and looks away, blinking back the tears.

“That’s the problem,” she tells him. “I’m not the same person anymore. I am not that girl that you gave a ride home once. I’m not the same girl who found you in the snow. I’m not the same girl who ran to meet you on the docks. I’m not the girl who was torn between you and Lucky and Jason, I’m not even the same person who walked out your penthouse.” She stands. “And that’s why I can’t stay here.”

He grabs her hand and stops her ascent. “Wait, Elizabeth–”

“For what?” she asks softly. “So you can tell me again that you’re disappointed in me? That attempting suicide wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done? You don’t have to tell me these things, Jason.” Her eyes are dry when they meet his. “I already know.”

She tugs her hand from his grasp. “I have to go.”

Jason stands and overtakes her quickly, blocking her way. “Where are you going to go?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Elizabeth replies. “Because whether or not I stay here, it doesn’t change a damn thing. You will still be dating Courtney and refuse to see that I left this penthouse for reasons you still don’t understand. Reasons you didn’t want to see. And I will still be the same idiot who dated a rapist and thought she’d finally made the right choice.”

“You are not an idiot,” Jason tells her firmly and quietly. “Maybe I don’t understand why you left here. I probably have no idea. But what has been between us, what will always between us…is the fact I do love you, Elizabeth.” Her startled eyes flew to meet his. “You won’t change that about me even if you walk out. Again.”

Elizabeth wets her lip and struggles to speak. “I–” She falls silent, not knowing how to say what she’s feeling.

Finally, she shifts and looks at her feet. “All right,” she whispers.

His brow furrows as he stares at her. “All right what?” he asks, feeling that he was won some sort of strange victory.

“I’ll stay.” She nervously stuck a piece of hair behind her ear. “I won’t walk away again. Just…”

“Just what?” he asks when she doesn’t continue.

“Promise me something.”

“Anything,” he says immediately.

Her eyes flick away nervously before meeting his. “Promise me you won’t walk away first.”

It hangs between them – the times he walked when it mattered. The first time, when it nearly destroyed her world. And the second time after Elizabeth had been too afraid to give up on her promises and obligations. Elizabeth wasn’t the only person good at walking away. Jason, himself, was a master. And somewhere along the line, he’d taught her how to do it.

“I won’t walk away.”

She searches his eyes, as if looking for some sight of false promise. It pains him when she seems so skeptical, knowing that he was the one that made her doubt it. He’d once been the only honest person in her life and he’d changed that with one lie. Until that second, he didn’t realize how much he’d depended on her faith in him.

“I promise, Elizabeth,” he says. “I won’t walk away.”

This time, something in his voice clears the doubt from her eyes. She bites her lip. “I’m sort of tired. I’m going to take a nap.”

Jason nods and lets her pass, feeling like maybe they’d both made a small victory.

You will never let me go

Lucky stares at Emily, horrified at the implication that something is medically wrong. “Diagnosed,” he repeats again. Each time he says the word, the coil in his stomach winds tighter.

“I–” Emily sucks in a deep breath. “Yeah. With…uh…cancer.”

“Cancer.” Another word in his mind to turn over and analyze until it would drive him crazy. “What…what kind?”

Emily blinks away tears and looks down. “It’s…it’s breast cancer. Like my mother.”

Lucky exhales slowly. “Are you…getting treatment?” he asks, forcing himself to keep his voice even and calm.

Emily bites her lip. “I did a round of chemo before starting on this new medication. It’s experimental and all.”

“Experimental?” Lucky asks. “What do you mean experimental? Like you don’t know if it’s going to work?”

“Lucky, this cancer runs in my family,” Emily tells him gently. “My mother died of it. The chemo didn’t work. And the medication, well…”

The coil in his stomach suddenly snaps, flooding fear throughout his body. “What about the medication?”

“It’s not working either,” Emily admits softly. “Lucky, the doctors say…that the tumor has spread. It’s…not good.”

You are my anchor

She looks at peace when she’s sleeping. Whatever demons chase her during the waking hours seem at bay now.

Jason steps away from the door way and closes the door softly, not wanting to wake her. She’s safe now, that’s all that matters. He knows she’s safely esconced in her old room and not out on some bridge contemplating suicide.

It still stuns him how far she’d gone into this dark abysmal place where she felt that no one cared about her. It stuns him that no one saw it happening. And it eats away at him that he didn’t. Jason, who had once known exactly what Elizabeth was thinking by just glancing in her deep dark blue eyes…had no idea how isolated and lonely she’d become.

He sinks down on the leather couch, holding his head in his hands. He has to stop this rift between them, he needs to end it. He needs to stop it from widening. They are as far apart as ever, but he recognizes that their bond, their connection is still there. Beneath the hurt, the lies, the anger, the fighting, what had made them come together is still there. He just needs to make her remember that.

The sound of the door cracking open causes him to lunge out of his seat. He stares at Courtney in shock. Her face is flushed, her eyes dilated with fury.

“I want her out of here.”

“Courtney–”

“Right now.” Her voice is firm and clear and he recognizes that she expects him to comply. She expects him to heed her wishes and do so immediately.

“No.”

She glares at him, and shakes a few strands of blonde hair out of her eyes. “You must be insane if you think I’m okay with you shacking up with that little tramp–”

“Stop it. Right now,” Jason snaps. “You forget Courtney, that I don’t have to run my every decision by you. This is my apartment, not yours. You made the decision to move out, not me. And Elizabeth is staying.”

“The hell she is,” Courtney snarls. “Relationships are about compromise, Jason. Give and take.”

Jason blinks and stares at her for a moment. He can almost imagine Robin standing there, spewing the same words. Robin, who was never content with Jason’s life. Never content with allowing Jason to live his own life, make his own decisions.

He’d once known why he and Robin had broken up. He’d known why it hadn’t worked and one of the reasons he and Elizabeth had connected so quickly and so deeply was that Elizabeth never wanted anyone but Jason Morgan, the leather jacket wearing motorcycle riding guy who’d listened to her once upon a time at Jake’s.

Carly had wanted Jason to be more than what he was, and she’d found exactly what she’d wanted in Sonny. Robin had wanted Jason to be anything but he who was and it hadn’t worked. Courtney apparently wanted Jason to be the type of guy she could order around and who’d adhere to her every whim.

Jason suddenly wonders how he managed to find himself with a combination of his two past mistakes with women in the blonde standing in front of him.

“This relationship is not about you telling me what you want me to do and expecting me to listen,” Jason says quietly, his voice clear and true. “If that’s what you want, you’d be better off turning around and walking away. Now.”

Hold my hand

“What does not good mean?” Lucky asks, his voice rising with panic and fear. “What does that mean, Emily?”

“It means that unless I get a miracle treatment….” She trails off again. She doesn’t need to finish. The implication is clear. Lucky stares at her stunned.

“Were you ever going to tell me?” Lucky asks sharply. “Or anyone? Does your family know? Jason? Zander?”

“No one knows,” Emily replies quietly. “I thought it would make more sense just to live the rest of my life day by day. If I told my mother, she’d be angry because I put off getting the tests done. Because I didn’t do monthly exams. My father would be devastated. Grandfather would run around trying to find a miracle cure, AJ would probably start drinking again, this would probably kill my grandmother and Jason….”

“You have to tell them,” Lucky says. “You can’t just let them think everything is wonderful, then have you up and die on them without warning!”

His voice is rising the longer he speaks and her eyes fill with tears. “Please, Lucky, keep your voice down. I was going to tell them. As soon as I started getting worse. It’s just…I just wanted things to be normal! Is that so hard to understand?”

Lucky shakes his head slowly. Because as horrible as he feels right now, as betrayed and lost…this isn’t happening to him. This is happening to her. And he will do what she wants.

“Okay,” he replies. “Okay. We’ll handle this your way.”

Emily nods and tries to smile at her. She fails and looks down. “Maybe we should call Jason. See how’s it going there. If they’re still alive or not.”

Lucky nods and Emily pulled out her cell phone. She dialed Jason’s number and waited a few minutes. “Jason?”

“Hey, Em.” Jason’s voice is tight as Courtney glares at him. “Are you still coming over?”

“We were there earlier and we heard the two of you yelling so we left. Is everything okay?” Emily asks. She eyes Lucky. “You sound upset. Is Elizabeth okay?”

“Elizabeth is fine,” Jason replies.

Emily frowns. “Then what’s…” she stops and looks around the diner, noting the absence of the blonde waitress. “Courtney’s there isn’t she?”

“Yeah.” Jason rubs the back of his neck. “Emily, are you coming over?”

“Tell Courtney to leave. Elizabeth doesn’t need this right now,” Emily directs. “Tell her if she’s got a problem with it, to go to hell.”

“I thought you were friends,” Jason says mystified.

“Because Elizabeth hated her,” Emily replies, a bit sheepishly.

“Okay. You coming over?” Jason asks again. “It would mean a lot to Elizabeth if you came.” He ignores Courtney growl of anger and concentrates on his baby sister’s voice.

“We’ll be right over.” Emily hangs up and looks at Lucky. “Courtney’s over there and it didn’t sound pretty. We need to go there now.”

While I’m sinking in the sand

Jason hangs up the phone. “Courtney, there’s no reason for you to be here right now,” he says quietly. He avoids looking at her. “It’s not helping things.”

“Look, I know the little twit tried to commit suicide, but don’t you see what she’s trying to do?” Courtney asks, suddenly changing her voice. She smiles at him. “She realizes what a mistake she made when she walked out on you and now she wants you back. She’s just trying to get your–”

“If you say what I think you are, just stop right now,” Jason cuts in. “Don’t make this worse than it has to be.”

“Make what worse?” Courtney asks softly. Her eyes fill with tears and her lower lip trembles. “Jason, what’s going on?”

He holds a hand up and sighs. “Courtney, just stop now. I can’t deal with this–”

“Deal with what?” Courtney demands angrily, her voice switching back instantly. “Our relationship? The fact that you’re leaving me for Elizabeth?”

He stares at her incredulously. “What?”

“That’s what this is about, isn’t it?” she replies. “You’ve decided you don’t love me anymore, that you’ve loved her along, right?”

“Courtney, I never said anything–”

“You didn’t have to,” Courtney snaps. “I’m not an idiot. Fine, have it your away. But when she walks out again, do not come to me!” She whirls around and slams her way back out of the penthouse.

Jason stares at the door for a second. He waits for the empty feeling to enter his body again, like it did the night Elizabeth walked out.

He waits.

And then he realizes why he doesn’t feel it again. He never lost that feeling. It hadn’t gone away.

He was still empty inside.

Soft footsteps tear his thoughts away from the realization and he turns to see Elizabeth on the steps. “I thought you were asleep.”

“I was,” she says. “But the door woke me up.” She bites her lip. “I’m sorry…I should have left–”

“I don’t want you to leave,” Jason cuts in swiftly. “I thought we settled that.”

She studies him for a second before speaking again. “I don’t need to be saved, Jason. So if you’re looking for someone else that needs a hero, you’d be better off chasing after Courtney.”

“I know you don’t need to be saved,” Jason replies. “You never needed me to do that. You were always able to take care of yourself.”

“I didn’t need you to save me and I still don’t,” she says. “But I needed you to be there, Jason. I needed you–” She stops suddenly and looks away.

“Finish.” Jason swallows hard. “Finish.”

She stares at him a moment and folds her arms tightly across her chest. “I needed you to love me as much as I loved you.”

Her words stun him into silence and before Jason can find his voice, the penthouse door opens and Emily strides in, Lucky hot on her heels.

“I just saw Courtney leave,” she snarls. “Did she talk to Elizabeth? Is Elizabeth okay?”

No one else could understand

Elizabeth gapes at Emily and her words. “Emily.”

Emily’s head snaps to the stairs. Elizabeth’s eyes filled with tears at the sudden and intense look of relief that appears on her estranged friend’s face.

“Jesus Christ,” Emily murmurs. She darts up the stars and pulls the other woman into a tight hug. “You scared me so bad, Elizabeth.”

Lucky hangs back while the two embraced. He shoves his hands in his pockets. “Hey, Jason.”

“Lucky,” Jason replies affably.

“Elizabeth, I am so sorry for everything,” Emily tells Elizabeth pulling back. “You mean so much to me, and you’re my best friend in the whole world, but I was jealous and I was upset and I wasn’t thinking straight and I am so sorry!”

She begins to cry again and pulls Elizabeth into another hug. “I’m sorry!”

“I’m sorry, too,” Elizabeth murmurs. “You don’t even know how sorry I am. God, Emily–”

“There’s so much we need to talk about,” Emily tells her. She turns to look at her brother and Lucky. “Do you mind if we ditch you two and go talk upstairs?” Emily asks.

Lucky shrugs. “Sure. But I got dibs on her later, k?” He flashes his old girlfriend a smile. “Lizzie, you got some explaining to do.”

She manages a tired smile before leading Emily upstairs to the guest room.

Lucky eyes Jason, his gaze suddenly fierce. “I want to know your intentions and I want to know them now.”

You are my anchor

Elizabeth closes the door behind her and watches Emily look around the room. “What is it?”

“Something about this room…it just feels like it doesn’t belong with Jason’s penthouse,” Emily replies. “I know Courtney redid the downstairs, but…”

“This is the room I was staying in last fall,” Elizabeth says. “I guess Courtney didn’t do anything to it.” Her fingers trailed over the dresser where a hairbrush she’d left still lay on the smooth brown surface. “I’m surprised Jason didn’t throw out the things I left.”

“I didn’t know you stayed here.” Emily watches Elizabeth wander around the room. “Was that when you were dating Jason?”

Elizabeth turns and sighs. “I don’t know if you can believe this, but Jason and I never dated.”

“But you called me…” Emily frowns. “In September.”

“I called right after…” Elizabeth shrug. “I called when I thought it was going to work. Emily, Jason and I…we’re not right for each other.”

“I don’t know about that…” Emily trails off and sighs. “Elizabeth, you and Jason always had this connection–”

Had,” Elizabeth cuts in sharply. “I killed it.” She meets the brown eyes of her best friend wearily. “The second Jason opened that door and saw Zander at my studio…I killed what was between us.”

Emily looks down. “Tell me about it.” The statement comes out hushed and soft, almost as if Emily was hoping her friend wouldn’t hear her. “I want to know,” she says in a firmer voice. “I want to know about it. Tell me about that night with Zander, about afterwards with Jason. I want you to talk to me Elizabeth. Tell me what’s going on.”

“I…” Elizabeth inhales sharply. “I was kidnapped this summer…”

It seems that I lost track of time

“My intentions?” Jason repeats. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You screwed with her mind really bad the last time,” Lucky replies. “I just want to make sure you don’t do it again.”

Irritated with being called on his behavior, Jason snaps back. “Like you’ve never hurt her.”

Lucky shrugs and looks away. “I know what I’ve done. I know I was wrong about a lot of things. I shouldn’t have tried to control her. I should have trusted her more. I should never have touched Sarah. But Elizabeth knows my faults and she knows that I love her and care about her. I’ve been a rotten friend these last couple of years. I’m just trying to make it right.”

He leans against the leather couch, his mind drifting already to the situation with Emily and the events of the previous day. “I don’t know what I’d do if you hadn’t found her yesterday. I mean….I can’t imagine my life without Elizabeth in it. I don’t want to either.”

He looks down at the floor. “What kind of friend am I? I’m the only person near her right now, the only person she talked to…and I didn’t see it. I didn’t understand.”

“You can’t blame yourself,” Jason says, feeling strangely out of place as he tries to assure Elizabeth’s ex-fiancé. “Elizabeth’s…she’s always been good at pretending.”

“Yeah…” Lucky sighs. “Yeah. I know. And it sucks. I can’t believe after everything we’ve been through…that she can pretend with me.”

“Sometimes you think you’ve got it figured out,” Jason replies, more to himself than to Lucky. “You think you know someone inside and out and they still…they still surprise you. Still make you look at them and wonder what they’re thinking.”

“Elizabeth’s always been like that. She’s like a chameleon. Always changing who she is and how she acts,” Lucky replies. “But the trick is to know why. What triggers the change.”

“Ric did,” Jason says, the venom in his voice clearly indicating his feelings for Ric Lansing. “Ric shook her trust in herself all over again, didn’t he?”

“Yeah…” Lucky sighs and shakes his head. “Ric did a number on her. Made her think he loved her, made her trust him, and all the while…”

“He wanted to get to me and Sonny,” Jason replies quietly. His eyes flash. “She’ll never have to worry about him again.”

“Good.” Lucky shrugs. “Because if you hadn’t made sure of that, I would. No one messes with Elizabeth.” He studies Jason again. “Which brings me back to my original question.”

“What’s that?” Jason asks.

“What are you intentions and how badly do you want to be beaten should you hurt her again?” Lucky asks.

And I can’t believe my mind

“I was locked in this dark crypt for days,” Elizabeth says softly. “I was going out of my mind until they threw Zander in with me. He kept me sane, Em, and you know what? I finally saw the side of him you wanted us too. He is a good guy and I hope you give him another chance.”

“Zander is good in a crisis,” Emily agrees. She shifts on the bed and watches Elizabeth avoid her eyes. “Keep going Elizabeth.”

“After Jason got us out…” Elizabeth sighs. “I was so scared all the time. I’d have panic attacks. And one night, I was locked in the stairwell.” She closes her eyes and stares out the window that overlooks the harbor. “I was so scared. Zander got me out and when we went back to my studio, he kissed me. And I kissed him back.” She turns back to her best friend. “I wanted to feel anything but the fear so I kept kissing him. And I told myself that Zander understood me. That it was okay.”

“Oh, Elizabeth,” Emily murmurs.

“I found out later that Jason saw us,” Elizabeth continues quietly. “He saw me kissing Zander and he walked away and I don’t think our friendship ever really recovered from that night.”

Emily stands and joins her friend next to the window. “I shouldn’t have held it against you. Or Zander. I had my own reasons for using it as a reason to push you away.”

Elizabeth peers at her curiously. “Oh?”

Emily manages a weak smile. “We’ll get into that later.” Her eyes soften. “Why, Elizabeth? Why would you try…”

“I feel like I’m running a race,” Elizabeth replies quietly. “I feel like I’ve been running it my entire life. But no matter how hard I try or how much effort I put into it, I keep falling behind. I keep losing. I keep tripping up and getting side tracked.” She leans her head against the cool glass. “Em, I’m just so tired of running.”

Would you save me if
I reached out to you

“My intentions?” Jason repeats. He eyes the other man and frowns. “Why should I tell you?”

“Because if you don’t intend on following through on rebuilding your friendship with her, you’re setting her up to fail. Again.” Lucky is not about to be deterred from his mission. “Because all of this–bringing her here, giving her place to stay, someone to listen to–she will think you care–”

“I do care,” Jason interrupts.

“Then you do plan on continuing what you’ve already started?” Lucky asks.

“Not that it’s any of your business, but Elizabeth matters to me. She has always mattered to me, and I don’t see that changing in the future.” Jason exhales slowly. “I care about her and I want us to be friends again.” He glares at the younger man. “Satisfied?”

“Immensely,” Lucky says. “Got another question for ya.”

“I’m sure you do.”

“Emily told me that Carly got a letter, too. I know Zander did and I’m sure Elizabeth wrote a lot of people. I want to know what we should tell people.”

“I think it’s up to Elizabeth.”

“I think it’s something she doesn’t need to worry about,” Lucky argues. “You talked her off the bridge, all I’m saying is I’m not in any hurry to remind her she planned to do it in the first place.”

“And I’m saying that it’s her decision if she wants them to know the truth or not.”

“Fine.” Lucky shrugs. He looks away. “Do you think she would have done it?”

Jason sighs heavily, looks towards the balcony doors. “I know she planned to. I know that when I showed up, she was standing on the bridge, her arms out at her sides as if she were going to let herself fall.”

“She was going to do it.” Lucky leans against the desk and shakes his head. “I thought maybe…she’d leave or something and let us think she did. I don’t know…I just…I didn’t think…”

“None of us did,” Jason says.

“I think that’s what makes it so bad,” Lucky responds. “Here we are, the people who are her friends, who have seen her through the worst times of her life…and we didn’t see it coming.”

I’m waiting, watching, standing

“We’re all running that race,” Emily assures Elizabeth. “And we all trip up and lag behind. But you have to keep running, Elizabeth. Because if you stop, it’s just…it’s cruel to the people who don’t have a choice.” Her tone is hard and angry.

Elizabeth frowns and studies her friend closely. “Emily, what’s going on?”

“Because some of us would give everything to have a chance to keep going, to keep running that race that you’re so tired of and we can’t!” Emily cries. “We’re not given the same choice!”

Elizabeth is stunned. She reaches for her friend, but Emily backs off. “I swear to God, Elizabeth, if you throw this away–if you throw your life away just because life has been shitty for a few years–then you are not the person I thought you were!”

“You don’t understand–”

“You picked yourself up after the rape!” Emily shoots back. “You put your life back together after Lucky died, after your failed wedding. Jesus, Elizabeth, you are not someone who gives up! You are a fighter!”

“I’m tired of having to claw my way through life! I am so sick of having to fight–”

“If it comes too easy, it’s not worth it. Elizabeth, you are not meant to jump off a bridge. You were meant for other things. To finish college, get married, have a family, be an artist. You were meant to survive!”

“And what about you?” Elizabeth accuses. “What are you meant to do?”

“I’m meant to live my life to the fullest for as long as I can!” Emily is crying now. “You have to fight, Elizabeth. Because one of us needs to make it.”

I am reaching

“They’ve been up there for an awful long time,” Lucky says quietly. He glances at the stairs. “Do you think they’re okay?”

“They had a lot to talk about,” Jason replies. He shifts uncomfortably. “I’m going to ask Elizabeth to stay here for a while.”

“That’s good,” Lucky replies. “She needs a place to feel safe and for some reason, she’s always felt that way with you.”

“I will always protect her.” Jason looks away. “I should have warned her about Ric.”

“She wouldn’t have listened to you,” Lucky tells him. “She likes to believe the best about people. You remember when everyone told her that you were bad, and she shouldn’t be around you.”

“She didn’t listen to them either. Even though she was probably better off.”

“Don’t let Elizabeth hear you say that or she’ll launch into her usual defense.” Lucky studies him for a minute. “She still defends you, you know. To everyone.”

Jason isn’t sure how to respond to that, so he stays silent.

Climbing closer

“What does that mean?” Elizabeth asks softly. “One of us has to?”

“It means that I don’t get to make the same choices you do,” Emily replies. She shifts and looks away. “It means that when I stop running that race you speak of, it won’t be by choice.”

“Emily, please!” Elizabeth’s eyes tear up. “What is going on?”

“I’m dying!” Emily cries. “Dying, Elizabeth!”

The word shocks Elizabeth into silence and she blinks. “D-dying?”

“I have breast cancer and nothing is working,” Emily tells her brokenly. “Not chemo, not alternative treatment.”

“What about surgery?” Elizabeth asks desperately.

“Don’t you think I’ve asked about all of that? Thought of all the solutions?” Emily says sharply. “Don’t be naïve, Elizabeth. You should know better than anyone that not everyone gets their happy ending.”

“Does Jason know?” Elizabeth asks.

“No one else but you and Lucky knows,” Emily answers. “I don’t want you to tell him, either.”

“So what happens after?” Elizabeth asks. “Are you never going to tell him?”

“I haven’t decided yet.”

“Emily, you have to tell him–”

“I don’t have to do anything!” Emily retorts.

Elizabeth stares at her for a moment. “You’re right. You don’t.” She slips past her and leaves the room.

Emily lets out a low breath and collapses onto the bed. She hadn’t realized how angry she was at Elizabeth for choosing to give up what was being ripped from her.

And she wonders if there was any way to bridge the gap.

I know that I’ll never be alone

Elizabeth pads down the steps and sits down on the third step from the bottom. “Go ahead,” she says softly.

Lucky frowns. “What?”

“Yell at me.” Elizabeth shrugs one shoulder and rubs the back of her neck. “Seems to be the running theme.”

Lucky shrugs and squats in front of her. “You know I love you right?”

“Yeah.”

“And that no other woman in my life has ever measured up to you, right?”

Jason frowns behind him, but Elizabeth just smiles. “And no one’s ever…matched you.”

“Okay, now that we’ve reaffirmed that, I just want you to know that I would be destroyed if I lost you.”

“You don’t have to worry anymore,” Elizabeth tells him. “I’ve gotten it out of my system.”

Lucky lowers his voice. “Why didn’t you say something?”

“What was I supposed to tell you?” Elizabeth asks softly. “That I hate waking up in the morning? That all I want to do is curl up in a little ball and never look at anyone?”

“Yeah,” Lucky replies. “Because I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s going on.”

“Maybe I didn’t want help.”

“You wouldn’t have left that letter for me if you didn’t,” Lucky tells her.

“I didn’t think you’d get that letter until today,” Elizabeth whispers.

“You could have mailed all those letters, why did you give some of them to Max?” Lucky tries again. “You had to know he’d give them to Jason or Carly or whatever as soon as he saw them.”

“I didn’t think they’d care,” she breathes.

You will never let me go

Jason inhales sharply. “What?”

Elizabeth looks at him, surprised. She’d forgotten he was in the room. “Jason…”

“You think I’d get a letter like that and I wouldn’t care?” Jason asks, stunned.

Lucky straightens. “I’m going to, ah, check on Emily.” He disappears up the stairs, leaving them alone.

Jason stares at her and shakes his head. “I can’t believe how far apart we are,” he mutters. He drops next to her on the stairs. “How did we get here, Elizabeth?”

“I don’t know,” she replies. “One second, we were more than friends and the next…we were nothing.”

“I don’t want to be this way with you.” He stares at his hands. “I don’t want all the anger and the hurt to stay between us.”

“I made a mistake,” Elizabeth says quietly. “I walked out and I never told you why.”

“I let you walk out and I never told you much I needed you,” Jason responds.

“I tried to so hard to be what you needed. I tried not to ask questions, I tried to just…be there for you. But I guess…in the end…” she trails off and sighs. “I wasn’t enough.”

“That is not true,” Jason argues. “I shouldn’t have lied. I should have found a way to tell you the truth–”

“It wasn’t the lie.” She looks at him. “It was you. You made me feel like I wasn’t good enough.”

You are my anchor

Lucky finds Emily sitting alone, staring at the wall. “Em?”

“I’m angry with her,” Emily says softly. He leans against the doorjamb and just listens. “I’m angry because she was so willing to throw her life and I’m going to lose mine. She has the chance to live, and she was going to throw it away.”

Lucky nods. “I can see where that might have made you mad.”

“She’s my best friend in the whole world, and I used the Zander excuse to push her and him away. I used it against her so she wouldn’t see me get sick. I was so busy protecting myself that I missed what was going on with her. And I think that I’m even more furious with myself.”

“Did you tell her?” Lucky asks.

“I was so mad…I just screamed it at her.” Emily twists and looks at him. “And after she asked me about treatment and all that…do you know what she said?”

“What?”

“She asked me if I’d told Jason.” Emily shakes her head. “As always, her first concern is him.”

“That’s how people in love act,” Lucky replies. “They worry about each other, they think of each other first. She’s loved Jason for a long time, Em.”

“I know that. I didn’t always want to know it, but I did.” She sighs. “Do you remember that last night…before the fire?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s so vivid in my mind. You and Elizabeth, me and Nikolas. Best friends. Sisters. Brothers. We were…we were as close to perfect as possible. Everything was going well.” She shakes her head. “Do you ever wish you can go back there?”

“Some times,” Lucky admits. “When I remember how in love Elizabeth and I used to be, and how new my relationship with Nikolas was and how close we all were. It was a good time, Em. But we grew up.”

“Yeah…”

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing.” Lucky sat next to her. “You need to grow, you need to change. I had to…go away…so Elizabeth could learn to be strong on her own. You had to meet Juan so that you understood just how special what you and Zander have together. And Elizabeth and I had to change…and break up…so that she was able to be her own person and fall in love again.”

“Do you think it ever gets any easier?” Emily asks.

Lucky shrugs. “Probably not. But how much fun would life be if it were?”

“Lucky?” Emily whispers.

“Yeah?”

“I’m scared to die,” she whispers.

He clears his throat and blinks at the tears that spring to his eyes. “And I’m scared to let you go.”

Hold my hand
While I’m sinking in the sand

“It’s ironic,” Jason says finally. “Because I always thought I wasn’t good enough for you.”

She licks her lip nervously and stares at her feet. “What did you mean when you said you love me?” she asked softly.

“I meant that I love you,” Jason repeats. “That’s never changed, Elizabeth. I tried to change it, I tried to forget it. But I keep coming back to that.”

“Why does it always have to be so hard?” she whispers. “Why can’t it just be enough to say the words and to mean them?”

“It would have been once.” He stares ahead. “If I’d told you months ago.”

“I wish that things could be different.” Elizabeth hesitates. “I wish that I hadn’t found out like this.”

“I couldn’t tell you.” He chuckles a little. “It seems stupid now, but I thought you wouldn’t feel the same so I couldn’t tell you. I told myself that if you said it first…then…then I would say it.”

“Ric said it to me.” Elizabeth laughs bitterly. “I ate it up. I had this charming guy who treated me like I mattered, who told me I was beautiful, who turned his phone off when we were together…who I thought was honest with me.”

“It’s not wrong to want to believe the best in people, Elizabeth,” Jason tells her. “That’s…that’s something you’ve always done. Believed in people. You believed in me when everyone told you not to.”

“They didn’t know you like I did,” Elizabeth says stubbornly.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t the type of man you deserved,” Jason says. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you, that I didn’t let you know how much I cared.”

“You did, in your own way,” Elizabeth admits. “I just…I always look for the catch, for the bad news. And if I can’t find it, I’ll insist something is wrong anyway because that’s just the way my life is.” She meets his eyes. “You said it in every way possible except for saying the words.”

“And I should have said them,” Jason insists. “Because I should have realized how much you needed to hear it.”

“I get sick of being sorry for things I did wrong,” Elizabeth murmurs. “I wish I could stop looking in the past and just…concentrate on getting through the day.”

“Will you please…stay a little while?” he asks. “Here…in the penthouse?”

“I’ll stay,” Elizabeth agrees. She smiles weakly. “Until I figure out how to fix my life.”

“Maybe it doesn’t need to be fixed,” Jason tells her. “Maybe…you shouldn’t worry about fixing things or making things right for people.” He brushes her hair out of her face. “Maybe you should just decide what you want from your life and do it.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” she responds. “Jason?”

“Yeah?”

“Are we…” she hesitates and looks away. “Are we okay?”

“Yeah.” Jason nods and leans forward to kiss her forehead. “Yeah, we’re okay.”

No one else could understand

Emily and Lucky stand on the landing and clear their throats to get Jason and Elizabeth’s attentions.

“We’re going to go,” Emily says softly. “I need…I need to be alone for a little while.”

Jason and Elizabeth stand and move off the stairs. Elizabeth crosses her arms and looks away as Emily passes her.

At the door, Emily stops Lucky and turns back to Elizabeth. “I’m glad you’re okay. And I…I’ll think about what you said.”

Elizabeth nods and closes her eyes at the sound of the door softly clicking shut. “She hates me.”

“She doesn’t hate you,” Jason argues quickly. “She’s upset.”

She just nods and they fall into silence. After a moment, Elizabeth exhales slowly. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now.”

“I guess you’d better clear out your studio,” Jason says. “You can use the other guest room for the art supplies if you want.”

“Jason–”

“You promised me you’d stay for a while, remember?” Jason asks. “I’ll find some guys to help you and I’ll get the furniture put into storage.”

“I can’t hide here forever,” Elizabeth says hesitantly. “Eventually…I’ll have to leave.”

“Yeah.” Jason sighs. “Yeah, I know that.” His thumb brushes over her cheek. “Just because you never needed me to save you…it never stopped me from wanting to.”

“Jason…thank you.” She hesitates. “I’m glad you showed up last night when you did.”

“I didn’t do–”

“Yes, you did,” Elizabeth cuts in. “As usual, you never give yourself any credit. I was going to jump last night, I know that about myself. And you managed to show me at the last minute…that no matter how much I isolate myself, there are people who still care about me. People who…” she pauses. “People who need me to be strong when they can’t. I’ve tried to so hard not to let them down–”

“You can’t decide to live for them, you have to live for yourself,” Jason argues.

“I know that. But I’ve got to start somewhere.” She runs a hand through her hair. “I’m gonna go take a nap.”

You are my anchor yeah
Anchor yeah
Anchor yeah

The first time she smiles is after a midnight bike ride. He takes the cliff roads and is relieved when he hears her screaming into the wind.

He takes her to Vista Point and she’s smiling when she climbs off the bike. Her hair is tousled and there’s a hint of sparkle in her eyes.

“I forgot how much I liked those turns,” she tells him shyly as she stares out over the lights of Port Charles.

“It’s been a while since we just took a ride for fun,” Jason tells her. “I didn’t realize how much I missed it.”

“Carly came over while you were at the warehouse,” Elizabeth tells him. “She wanted to give me back the letter for Sonny.”

“She didn’t tell him about it,” Jason says. “He didn’t come home until after I brought you to the penthouse, so she didn’t see the need.”

“She thanked me for writing what I did…” Elizabeth sighs. “And she apologized for always being so nasty to me.”

“Well, that’s good isn’t it?” Jason asks.

Elizabeth shrugs. “I didn’t want her pity. And it feels like…it feels like everyone is whispering behind my back, like they all know.”

“You didn’t have to tell them the truth,” Jason reminds her. “You could have just said you were going to leave town.”

“I could have…but then I would be lying. And I didn’t want to do that.”

“Carly doesn’t pity you,” Jason says firmly. “She’s not that kind of a person. If she apologized, she meant it.” He hesitates and reaches into the pocket of his leather jacket, withdrawing the worn envelope with his name scrawled in her handwriting. “I wanted to give this back.”

She takes it and frowns. “You never opened it.”

I am walking
Changing slowly

“I couldn’t,” Jason replies. He rubs the back of his neck. “When Carly got her letter and I read that…I just had to find you. And once I did…I didn’t feel right reading it.”

“Why not?” Elizabeth asks softly.

“Because what you wrote in that letter was meant to be read when you were…after you were…” He hesitates. “After you were gone.”

She studies him for a moment before handing it back to him. “I want you to read it anyway.”

“Elizabeth–”

“You don’t have to do it now,” Elizabeth says. “But…you deserve to know how I feel about you.”

He looks down at the envelope and looks back up at her. “Then why don’t you tell me?”

She reaches for the letter again and opens the envelope. She unfolds the paper and takes a deep breath, looking up to meet his eyes before she starts reading it.

Dear Jason,” she begins. “I think out of all the letters I’ve written in the last few hours, this one is the most difficult. I’ve always had trouble using words to tell you exactly how I feel about you because honestly, there aren’t any words.” She pauses. “I know you probably won’t understand why I’m doing this or why I gave up, but I wanted you to know that this isn’t because of anything you did. It’s not because we’re not friends anymore or because we broke up.

She pauses again and closes her eyes, having memorized the contents of this letter. “I wanted you to know that I have cherished every moment of our friendship and there isn’t one second that I would take back or change. I think that we are who we are because of the choices we made. You chose to leave town that first time and I chose to believe what was best for Lucky was best for me. Right or wrong, those choices shaped me, they changed me.

You have always shown me that the only way to live life is on my terms and I wish I’d listened to you long ago. I’m sorry that I couldn’t say goodbye in person, but I don’t think I could have done it. No matter how much I practiced it in front of a mirror, I could never do it. Goodbye isn’t a word that we’ve said to each other and I don’t see why we should start now.

I don’t know if we’ll see each other again, but I wanted you to know that I’ve always loved you. I think part of me fell in love with you after that first ride at Jake’s and I hope that I was half the friend to you that you were to me. I’ll see you later.

I am chasing
Climbing closer

She folds the letter up and hands it to him. He takes it wordlessly and puts it back in his pocket.

“You were,” he says quietly.

She frowns. “What?”

“You said that you hoped you were half the friend that I was to you.” Jason meets her eyes and doesn’t look away. “You were, Elizabeth. You were the best friend that I could have asked for.”

“Are you disappointed in me?” She bites her lip, waiting for his answer.

He frowns. “Disappointed?”

“Because of what I tried to do.”

He exhales slowly and turns his eyes back to the view of the city. “I’m disappointed in myself,” he says quietly. “I’m disappointed that I let things get so bad between us and that I didn’t see…”

“Jason, you hadn’t seen me in over a month. How were you supposed to know?”

“Anyway, the answer is no,” Jason says, shrugging off her answer. “I’m not disappointed in you.”

“Really?” she asks hopefully. She searches for the lights of Harborview Towers and concentrate on them. She can even see the corner of his penthouse from here if she squints.

“I don’t always understand your choices,” Jason says. “I don’t always agree with them either. But they’re not my choices to make and they’re not my choices to be disappointed in. The only person who gets to decide that is you.”

“I’ll let you know if I ever figure that out,” she murmurs.

“You want to get back?” Jason asks, tilting his head in the direction of the parking lot.

“Not really, but I suppose we have to.”

I know that I’ll never be alone
You will never let me go

“Here you are,” Emily says, leaning against the balcony door. Jason sips his coffee and smiles at his little sister.

“Hey, I didn’t know you were coming over.”

She shrugs and joins him on the balcony. “I guess summer’s really here,” she says, peering over the harbor, seeing the boats in the river and some swimmers.

“Well, it’s almost July,” Jason answers. He can tell something is on her mind, but he’s going to wait until she’s ready to come to him.

“How’s this last month been?” Emily asks. “With Elizabeth, I mean.”

“Different,” Jason admits. “I think we’ve made real progress–she smiles more, she’s not so guarded with her answers around me.”

“How is she?” Emily asks. “Is she…better?”

“I think so,” he responds. “She’s spending more time in the studio.”

Emily smiles. “She told me about that–how you surprised–or ambushed her, as she puts it–with the guest room completely redone to be a studio.”

“She needed somewhere to paint,” Jason says simply. “She’d been filling up her sketchbooks.”

“You don’t want her to leave, do you?”

Jason shrugs and looks away. “It doesn’t really matter. She’s looking for a job now–it’s only a matter of time.”

“I’m not asking if it’s possible, I’m asking if that’s what you want,” Emily says patiently.

“No,” Jason tells her. “I don’t want her to leave. I want her to live here. With me.”

“She needs to be on her own for a while,” Emily says softly. “She really shouldn’t jump into any kind of relationship.”

“I know that,” Jason replies. He stares into his coffee cup. “But you asked.”

“Yeah. I did.” Emily scratches her neck. “Have you seen Courtney?”

“Here and there,” Jason replies. “She’s not talking to me, which makes it easier, I guess. I’m sorry I had to hurt her…but we’re both better off.”

Emily nods in agreement. After a moment, she clears her throat. “The day that I talked to Elizabeth…I told her something. I told her something that up until this point I have only told her and Lucky.”

Jason studies his sister for a moment. “What’s going on, Em?”

“She told me that I should tell you….so please don’t hold it against her for not telling you–”

“I wouldn’t,” Jason says. “Emily…”

“I–I have breast cancer.”

You are my anchor

Elizabeth pushes open the penthouse door, setting her purse on the table. Another day of useless interviews–at this rate, she is never going to leave this penthouse.

She glances at her watch and decides Jason must be at the warehouse by now. She’s on her way towards the stairs to paint in her studio when she spies him sitting on the balcony.

He’s sitting on the ground, his back against the railing, his elbows on his knees. She frowns and crosses the room.

“Jason?”

He looks up at her, his eyes are rimmed with red. “Emily came over.”

“Oh,” she breathes. She sits on the ground next to him. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t really know,” he admits. “My sister just told me she’s dying. I suppose I should feel something.”

Elizabeth sighs and leans against the railing. “It’s all I’ve been thinking about this last month.”

“She deserves better than this,” Jason says softly. “She deserves more.”

“I know.”

He doesn’t say anything else and neither does she. After a moment, she leans her head against his shoulder and he puts his arm around her. For now, they can find comfort in each other.

Hold my hand

“I didn’t get the job,” she says after nearly an hour of sitting in silence.

“Which one?” he asks.

“Any of them,” she replies. She sighs. “I’m too under qualified for just about everything. No one wants to hire an art major/college drop out.”

“Maybe you should just go back to school,” Jason suggests.

“I can’t afford it,” Elizabeth replies. “Besides, there’s no job waiting for a graduated art major.”

“I could use a secretary at the warehouse.”

“You’re just saying that,” Elizabeth replies. “And I can’t live off your generosity forever.”

“You could if you wanted to,” Jason reminds her.

“You know I can’t do that.”

“I know.”

“Do you…do you really need a secretary?” Elizabeth asks hesitantly.

“Sure,” Jason replies. “You interested?”

She smiles weakly and looks at him. “I think you’re just looking for an excuse to keep me around.”

“Do I need an excuse?”

While I’m sinking in the sand

“No,” she replies softly. “No, you don’t need an excuse.”

He smiles at her then, and tilts his head towards her a little more. He searches her eyes for a sign.

She angles her head up and closes her eyes. The kiss is soft and gentle and lasts only for a few moments.

She pulls away and looks down. “I want this, Jason…but…”

“It’s not the right time,” Jason finishes. “I know.”

“We never do seem to get it right, do we?” she murmurs. “You’d think we’d buy a clue.”

“This time it’s different,” Jason argues. “I know you need time–”

“I need a lot of time,” Elizabeth tells him. “I don’t know how long. But I–I need to be able to trust myself before I go into any kind of relationship.”

“I understand,” Jason replies. “And I’m willing to wait as long as you need me to.”

“Okay,” she says finally. “Okay.”

No one else could understand

Emily knocks on Lucky’s door lightly. She hugs herself tightly, waiting for him to answer. When he pulls the door open, he takes one look at her and knows instantly.

“You told him, huh?”

She nods and he pulls her into his arms, hugging her tightly.

“Are you okay?” he asks.

She shakes her head. “No. I’m not. I–I could see how much this hurt him, but I didn’t stay. I left as soon as I explained that surgery and chemo weren’t options anymore.”

“He’ll be okay,” Lucky assures her. “He’s got Elizabeth.”

“It’s not fair,” she whispers. Her eyes tear up. “It’s not.”

“You gonna tell Zander?” Lucky asks, pushing the door shut and leading her to the bed. She sinks down and sighs.

“Probably. Eventually, I guess.”

“You want me there?” Lucky wants to know. He sits next to her.

“No. It’ll be hard enough when I do it.” She runs her fingers through her hair. “I still have to tell my family. And I have to talk to Elizabeth.”

“She wasn’t there?”

“She was out on an interview. I managed to talk to Jason about her before we got down to the bad news.”

“You probably got more out of him than I did,” Lucky mutters. “He always was a softie when it came to you.”

“I need to tell her how much I love her,” Emily whispers. “And that I’m sorry about how I treated her and that I want her in my life…no matter how long it lasts.”

“I think Elizabeth knows all of that,” Lucky says.

“I know she probably does,” Emily replies. “But I still want to tell her.” She meets his eyes. “Sometimes, people need the words. Even if they know it, they need to hear it. And I have wasted too much time pretending that I didn’t love her.”

“You have. But you’ve got a second chance,” Lucky replies. “And you never know…you might get a third.”

“I suppose anything is possible.”

You are my anchor yeah
Anchor yeah
Anchor yeah

“You know what?” Elizabeth says after another long silence. “I think I figured it out.”

“What?” Jason asks.

“You remember that night we went to Vista Point, and I asked you if you were disappointed in me and you told me that the only person who could be disappointed was me?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m not. Disappointed that is.” Elizabeth hesitated. “Because getting to that point–it made me realize that my choices have led me to isolate myself, and let me forget about the people in my life that I really love.” She paused. “I know it sounds strange, but I think I needed to hit rock bottom to realize how much I was going to be giving up.”

“Well, maybe you did,” Jason says. “But could you do me a favor?”

“Sure.”

“The next time you feel like you’re slipping towards the place again…tell me. Tell someone,” he says. “I don’t want to do this again.”

Can you hear me
Hear me

She sighs and leans into his embrace a little bit more. “I don’t either. I just want to move on from here. I want to take my life back, be friends with Emily and Zander again…I want to be happy, Jason.”

“I think you will be,” Jason replies. “I think this time…it might work.”

“I think so, too.” She looks up at him. “You know…I thought it was too late for us. Too late for our friendship, for what could have been. But it’s never too late. As long as you’re breathing, as long as you wake up in the morning, it’s never too late to fix a mistake.”

“I guess we’ve both learned something from this…situation.” He reached up with his free hand and stroked her cheek. “How much we mean to each other.”

“I don’t want to forget that again,” Elizabeth tells him. “I never want to forget how much I love the people in my life and how much I need them.”

Can you hear me

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