No one but me can save myself, but it’s too late
Now I can’t think, think why I should even try
Yesterday seems as though it never existed
Death greets me warm, now I will just say goodbye
– Fade to Black, Metallica
December 31, 2005
General Hospital: Waiting Room
“He took a curve too fast,” Robert Scorpio murmured softly to the Drake twins. “There was a car coming around the bend, he clipped right into them and sent both their cars flying. I haven’t seen any photos of the scene yet but I’m told it’s a miracle anyone got out.”
Patrick wrapped his arm around his sister and drew her close to his side. “Are they sure alcohol was involved?” he asked reluctantly, though in his heart he knew the answer.
“They were not able to administer any kind of tests on the scene,” Robert informed them, “and the blood tests aren’t back yet, but apparently there were some open containers in his car. From the speed he was traveling, it’s just an assumption at this point. Given your father’s history and previous charges…”
“I don’t doubt you, Commissioner,” Elizabeth said quietly. “You wouldn’t accuse him unless you were sure.”
“I’m sorry about this, Patrick, Ellie…” Robert shook his head. “I know you wanted to believe he was sober…we’re going to have to charge him.”
“I understand,” Elizabeth nodded. “Can you tell us if the people in the other car are all right?” she asked.
“I can’t give you any specifics but they’re alive. I understand they’re in surgery.” He patted her shoulder and shook Patrick’s free hand. “I’ll be in touch when I know more, kids.” He touched his daughter’s shoulder on the way out.
Emily and Robin came over to the pair immediately. “Let’s get you out of this dress,” Robin suggested.
“Yeah, we’ll get changed,” Emily said. They led Elizabeth towards the locker room.
Patrick was left in the waiting room with Jason. Lucky had offered to come along, but Patrick had refused. He’d wanted to be alone with his thoughts, with his misery. Instead, he was left with this stranger who wore his best friend’s face.
He stalked across the room and dropped into one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs. “This entire night has been a disaster,” he muttered.
Jason lowered himself into a chair across Patrick and was silent for a long moment. Finally, he cleared his throat. “I remember, I think I do anyway, sitting in this room when your mom died.”
Patrick snapped his head up and stared. “What?”
“I get flashes sometimes,” Jason admitted. “More now than I did before. They said I might get pieces back eventually but it was a long shot.”
“Frontal lobe injuries almost never heal completely,” Patrick murmured. “Most people never get more than a flash.”
“I don’t know about that but I get them sometimes, more when I’m sitting in the same place as when something else happened. Like your mom,” Jason shifted. “She came in because she couldn’t breathe, right? And I think…” he paused. “We left the room because your dad wanted to be alone with her.”
“Yeah,” Patrick said thickly. “Ellie was crying and you…you were comforting her. Robin was sitting here, next to me. My dad came out and…” he shook his head. “This is unreal.”
“I didn’t know that we were friends…before,” Jason said slowly. “I’m sorry. Elizabeth told me a few weeks ago. I guess it was hard for her.” He scratched the back of his neck. “I’m sorry about your dad, too. I seem to remember this from before, too. Not the first accident, but we bailed him out of jail once right?”
“Yeah, about six months after my mom died.” Patrick stood and crossed the window. It had been three years since he’d spoken to his best friend and to have Jason Morgan sitting in this room, remembering things that had happened to Jay, it was almost more than he could take. “It was like a week before your accident.” He laughed harshly. “Fucking car accidents.”
Jason wasn’t sure if he should say something else, even if he could have thought of something to add. Since he’d returned from his assignment, something in his brain had changed. Like a switch had been flipped. There were no memories, nothing to attach to certain sensations but he knew what Elizabeth had told him about Jay and Patrick’s friendship was true and he felt an obligation to stay here, to make sure Patrick was okay.
Robin stepped back into the waiting room. “Ellie’s in the cafeteria with Em,” she told him. “Could you give me a second with Patrick?”
“Sure.” Jason pushed himself to his feet. “Is she okay?”
“She’ll feel better when you’re there,” Robin replied. When he exited, she slowly approached her ex-boyfriend. “Patrick.”
“I think you’d be better off with Ellie,” he said roughly. “I’m not in the mood.”
“I’ll go in a minute,” she replied. “But I just…I know you’ve got a lot weighing on you right now and I think I can take a bit of it away.” She joined him at the window. “The conclusion you came to tonight…that I’m sick…it’s not entirely untrue but it’s not the whole truth.”
“Robin,” he shook his head.
“Please, I’ve made things so much worse by trying to protect you,” she said softly. “Let me finish. For once.” When he said nothing else, she continued, “I have HIV, though. Not AIDS. I was lucky, I ended up on a cocktail that works and as long as that holds true, the doctors don’t know why I shouldn’t live another fifty or sixty years. I didn’t come home to die, Patrick, I just came home.”
He was silent for a long time. “The things I said since you tried to tell me,” he said slowly. “I didn’t mean them. I just…I wanted to hurt you.”
“I know that,” she nodded. “And I knew they were partly my fault for not being honest, for not telling anyone.” She rubbed her hands up and down his arms. “I can forgive you if you can forgive me. I want to be friends again, Patrick. Please.”
“That’s the thing,” he raised his dark eyes to meet hers. “We were never just friends. Not since we were old enough to know the difference. I woke up one day and realized that you were a girl and since then, I could never be just friends with you.”
Robin sighed. “Why do you have to make everything so difficult?”
“I guess it’s my lot in life.” He braced a shoulder against the window. “But you want to be just friends. So, it’s okay. We can be friends. I wish I could say that if you wake up one day and change your mind, I’ll be there, but…” he pressed his lips together and looked away.
“No,” she shook her head. “You deserve better than that. I want you to move on and find someone, okay? Or at least just move on.”
He shrugged. “We’ll see. I have to figure out what I’m going to do about Ellie and my dad before I worry about my love life.” Patrick hesitated. “For what it’s worth, I am relieved that you’re, you know, okay. And I guess…if you were able to find something in someone else that made you happy, then I guess I’m glad about that.”
“You guess?” Robin said wryly.
“I’m not going to change overnight,” he replied with a weak smile.
The two turned to find Nadine Crowell standing awkwardly in the door. She had joined the entourage to the hospital after being paged to join the trauma team. The pretty blonde twisted her fingers together. “Your dad’s out of surgery. Dr. Jones sent me to get you and Ellie.”
“I think she’s still down in the cafeteria with Em and Jason.” Robin patted his shoulder. “I’ll go get her.” She smiled at Nadine and left the room.
Patrick scratched the back of his neck. “I’m, ah, sorry about tonight. I don’t know if I gave you the impression that it was, um—”
Nadine held up a hand. “Relax, not only did I know it was platonic but I think my boyfriend might have an issue with me going out with you as anything else.”
He frowned. “You have a boyfriend?”
“Sure. And I told him that if I wanted to get hired at GH rather than temping and stay in Port Charles, then I’d have to kiss up to the board of directors. So I kind of used you,” Nadine admitted. She gestured towards him. “But you used me to make Robin jealous so I guess that makes us even.”
“I, ah, guess so.” He cleared his throat. “So, my dad?”
General Hospital: Cafeteria
Elizabeth was sitting alone, nursing a cup of tea when Jason found her. She saw him enter and immediately stood to wrap her arms around him. “I’m so glad you’re here tonight.”
He put his arms around her shoulders and held on tight. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here when you found out about Robin. Sonny said you were upset.”
“It’s fine,” she said, her words muffled by his shirt. “I’m just glad I don’t have to lean on Sonny again.” She pulled away to look at him. “Not that he wasn’t absolutely wonderful. He was and you’ve picked a good man to work for. I just wanted him to be you.” Elizabeth shook her head. “Never mind, I’m just upset and I don’t mean to make you feel bad.”
But he did feel bad. They had only begun exploring what could happen between them and he’d disappeared on her. She didn’t deserve that and no matter how much Jason knew she’d hold herself together to be strong for him, she shouldn’t have to. He wasn’t going to tell her tonight, but he’d decided to tell Sonny that he wanted to go back to working in the warehouse. The respect and opportunity Sonny had offered him was tempting but it wasn’t worth the price.
“I know you’re upset about your dad,” Jason said. He rubbed her back in soothing circles. “Did you think he might be drinking again?”
“No,” Elizabeth said, her voice trembling. “No, I never—the smell wasn’t on him and Coleman never called for me to pick him up anymore. He said he was sober and I believed him.” She gripped the sides of his white shirt. “How could he do this to me again?” she whispered. “I can’t keep putting the pieces together if he’s just going to keep breaking them apart. I don’t—I can’t go through this again.”
“You didn’t talk about it a lot the first time around,” Jason said. “Other than the times you picked up your father, I almost didn’t know what was going on.”
“I didn’t want to bother you with my family problems,” she admitted. “You were dealing with your own stuff and I just…” she bit her lip. “I wanted something that wasn’t touched by my mother’s death, my father’s drinking and my brother. I wanted something separate. Your friendship was—it is—-so important to me. That’s still true even though we’re more now.”
“Things are different now,” Jason told her. “You’re not going to be on your own this time.” He smoothed his hands down her arms and took her hands in his. “Promise me you’ll lean on me.”
“You’ll get sick of me,” she warned with a watery smile.
“Not possible.” He leaned in and kissed her forehead. “It’s going to be okay. If your dad needs rehab, we’ll get him into rehab. If he won’t go, then we’ll deal with that. I know you’ve been alone since your mom died but it’s not going to be like that anymore.” When she didn’t answer, he frowned. “Promise me, Elizabeth.”
“I promise,” she whispered.
“Hey, you two,” Robin said with a tired smile. “What happened to Emily?”
“She got a phone call from her grandfather and had to take care of something with her family,” Elizabeth answered. She hesitated. “Are you and Patrick okay?”
“As okay as we’re going to be tonight. Noah’s out of surgery and Dr. Jones wants to meet with you and Patrick,” she told Elizabeth. She glanced at the clock and smiled weakly. “Midnight came and went.”
“What a way to bring in the New Year,” Elizabeth murmured. “Not at all how I planned it.”
January 1, 2006
Quartermaine Mansion: Parlor
Emily scrubbed at her eyes as she entered the room. “You wanted to talk to me?” she asked.
Edward stood and set aside the business section he’d been pretending to read. “Yes, my dear. How are Patrick and Elizabeth?”
“Holding up,” Emily folded her arms under her chest and yawned. “I’m kind of tired, Grandfather. What did you want to talk to me about?”
“Your mother is concerned,” he said. “She seems to think that I have done something to make you unhappy and wasn’t very subtle with her threats about what would happen if I didn’t fix it.” He paused. “The Cassadine boy came by the table and said a few things that led us to believe that you two had had a falling out.”
“I wanted to return his ring,” she said quietly. “He didn’t take the news well.”
“I hadn’t realized you’d decided to break off the engagement,” Edward replied. “I’m sorry it didn’t work out.”
Emily stared at him for a long moment, her eyes tired from more than just sitting in a party dress at a hospital. She was exhausted through and through. She was tired of playing this game with her family and with Nikolas. “I wish I could believe that you meant that. I wish I could believe that you put my happiness above your own personal feelings but we both know the truth, Grandfather. What you’re sorry about is that I’m unhappy. I didn’t get this way myself, you know. You made it clear that I could have my family or I could have Nikolas.” She tucked a piece of hair behind her hear. “I chose you.”
“I’m sure there are going to be moments when I feel like I made a mistake,” she continued slowly. “But I guess I know that it would have been a mistake to marry him if it meant losing my family. I would have resented him sooner or later and our love would have turned to hatred. I couldn’t do that to either of us, because what we had was too precious to tarnish that way.”
“I never meant for you…” Edward stopped because he couldn’t finish that. Of course he had meant for Emily to break it off with the boy. In his head, he’d been sure it was the right decision but seeing the very real unhappiness on his little girl’s face, he wondered if he’d been wrong.
“I’m going to go to bed now, Grandfather,” Emily said. She turned and disappeared back into the foyer.
“I never meant for you to be unhappy,” he murmured.
General Hospital: Noah Drake’s Room
Noah’s eyes flickered and then opened. A soft groan escaped his lips. “What’s going on?” he murmured.
“You’re in the hospital,” Patrick said roughly, coming out of the shadows of the room and resting his hand on the metal bar of the hospital bed. “You were in the car accident.”
“What?” Noah shook his head. “No. I—where’s Mattie?”
Patrick exhaled slowly. “It’s January 1, 2006, Dad. Mom’s been gone for three and a half years.”
“I don’t…” Noah licked his lips. “I don’t feel any pain.”
“Because you’re on some pain medication,” Patrick answered. “So you can’t feel the broken arm and the shattered leg. But you know what else is numbing that?” He didn’t wait for his father’s answer. “The alcohol in your blood, which was three times the legal limit. You were drinking and you got in a car.”
“I don’t understand…” Noah blinked. “I just…I had a drink but I promised Ellie I’d meet her. Where’s Mattie?” he asked again.
“There’s no use talking to you,” Patrick muttered. “I’ll be back in the morning, when you’re a bit clearer.”
“Patrick…” his father called after him but Patrick ignored him and left the room. He wasn’t the soft touch his sister was. Maybe Ellie could sit by and watch their dad drink himself to death, but he wasn’t about to sign up for another front row seat.
Harborview Towers: Penthouse 4
“I wasn’t expecting to see you here,” Sonny remarked, rising from his seat next to Brenda. “I saw on the news this morning that Elizabeth’s father was in an accident. I thought you’d be with her.”
Jason nodded. “I went to my room to shower and change but I’m on my way back there.”
He shuffled his feet. “I don’t know if you want to have this discussion with Brenda here but…”
The slim brunette smiled and stood. “I’ll just be in the kitchen, making some coffee.”
“Be careful with that machine,” Sonny warned, watching his wife enter his beloved kitchen and trying not to imagine the mischief she could create. “Is something wrong?”
“I don’t know.” Jason shoved his hands into his leather jacket pockets, nervous. “It depends on how you take this. I might be too late and I’ll understand if that’s true but if it’s not, I think I need to go back to just working in the warehouse.”
Sonny nodded slowly. “Is this something Elizabeth asked of you?” he asked, curiously.
“No and she doesn’t know I’m here.” Jason hesitated. “The job is tempting because I know I’d be good at it and I am honored that you would trust me with so little experience but being away these last few days made me understand that I can’t do it. Elizabeth needed me here and maybe it wasn’t really an emergency, but she’s spent enough time dealing with things on her own and I’m not going to let her do it anymore. She’s part of my life, Sonny and I have to put her first.”
“I had a feeling that you might come back and say this to me,” Sonny replied. “You’re right, it’s not that Elizabeth can’t handle it but that you don’t feel that she should have to and that’s true. It’s very noble of you to give up something you want for her well being but I’ve spoken a little with her about this and she would not agree with what you’re doing here.”
“Maybe,” Jason allowed, “but I would explain that it was my choice and that that wasn’t just doing it for her, that I was doing it for me. Elizabeth is important to me, Sonny. She might decide in six months or a year that she won’t put up with the limitations and that’s a risk I’m not prepared to take. This is your way of life, and I respect that, but it’s just a job to me and I can find another job.”
“Okay,” Sonny said after a moment. “I can accept that and I also respect it. You know I like Elizabeth, I always have. Whatever happens, I hope you know that we are friends first.”
“I’m glad.” Jason paused. “I have to go back to the hospital to be with Elizabeth. Sonny, if you need me, you can come to me. I just can’t do the jobs that will take me away from her without contact. Anything else is fine.”
“We can work around that and we can do it later. You go be with your girl and take care of her.”