I’m not angry it’s never been enough
It gets inside and it tears you up
I’m not angry but I’ve never been above it
You see through me don’t you
–Angry, Matchbox 20
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Elizabeth & Patrick’s Apartment: Living Room
Elizabeth tapped her foot nervously and watched her brother read the morning newspaper. It was already five o’clock—Jason would be picking her up in an hour but her annoying brother didn’t seem to be making any movement to get ready for the party that night. She did not want Patrick to be here when Jason came to the door.
“So which nurse are you harassing tonight?” Elizabeth asked brightly.
Patrick didn’t even spare her a glance as he flipped to the sports pages. “I’m going solo. Easier to pick the ladies up that way.”
Elizabeth sighed and slumped back on the sofa. Shortly after Patrick moved out of the apartment that he had shared with her and Robin for four years, the lease had expired and their building had gone co-op. She’d been unable to buy it, hadn’t saved enough to swing the rent on another place and her father was useless at that point, so Patrick had offered her the guest room—more correctly, Elizabeth had pleaded, she remembered with some bitterness since he’d been trying to cut ties with anyone who mattered.
She had jumped at the chance to keep her brother in her life because she’d been worried that if she didn’t, he’d graduate from medical school, take a job in another state and she’d barely see him. For all his drawbacks and irritating habits, he was her brother and had been her best friend all her life.
“Have you reconsidered going with that thug?” Patrick asked idly. Elizabeth glared at him, and thought about annoying him further by telling him her dinner plans with Sonny Corinthos and his wife.
She cleared her throat. “Patrick, I don’t want to have this argument anymore.”
Her brother finally lowered the newspaper and glared at her. “I thought we agreed that you weren’t going to do that anymore. You know it drives us crazy—are you trying to put Dad in an early grave?”
“That’s funny…Dad used the same phrase just the other day,” Elizabeth said, irritated. Why did this have to be the one thing her father and brother bonded over? “You know, Jason might not have the same memories and a lot about him is different, but some of Jason Quartermaine’s best qualities are still there—”
“I don’t want to hear it,” Patrick muttered. He slapped the newspaper on the coffee table and flicked the television on, surfing through the channels restlessly. “I can’t believe you’re just ignoring our concerns—”
Elizabeth sighed impatiently and started to apply nail polish to her toes—at least she could try to be ready on time. “I’m not ignoring your concerns, but you’re not being fair. Jason and I just go for rides together or sometimes we get something to eat. Or he teaches me to play pool. It’s not like we hang out in the warehouse at night on the docks.”
“You’re just being stupid about it,” Patrick muttered, finally finding a basketball game to watch. “I hear the rumors, you know. Morgan’s a courier for Sonny Corinthos, and you know that’s just going to lead to worse things.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “If I believed everything I heard, I’d think you’d had private time in the every single supply closet with most of the nursing staff.”
Patrick arched an eyebrow. “And do you know I haven’t?” he asked smugly.
“Because half of the nursing staff went to college with you and remember Robin,” Elizabeth remarked primly. “Also…they have taste.” She blew gently on her left foot to speed along the drying. “Are you and Robin going to spend the rest of your lives sniping at each other?” she asked glad to have successfully changed the subject from her plans for the evening.
“If I have my way,” Patrick remarked, “we won’t speak it at all.” His eyes were focused on the game but she could tell his mind was elsewhere.
“That’s just stupid,” Elizabeth muttered, wishing she could throttle the both of them. They’d been friends longer than they’d been a couple. Why did things have to change so much? “Anyway, something’s up with her but I can’t figure out what.”
“Guilt,” Patrick muttered. “She actually had the nerve to apologize to me for not knowing about Dad’s drinking. Serves her right for walking out on me.”
Elizabeth set her nail polish down and reminded herself to count to ten before she said anything. She reminded herself that she wanted to keep things as they were—to not stir up problems. Bust for some reason, with culmination of the past few days, she just couldn’t keep quiet anymore. “You’re a real asshole, Patrick.” She glared at him. “A self-centered son of a bitch. What the hell did Robin have to stick around for?”
Startled, Patrick swung his gaze to his sister and took in her almost murderous expression. “Ellie—”
“I am sick of you badmouthing Robin like you were blameless,” Elizabeth seethed. “You drove her away, Patrick. Maybe she ended things, but you were the one that spent the six months that Mom was sick in a funk and then the three after she died not speaking to anyone. And the only time you bothered to talk to anyone was to bitch at them and be a bastard, so you know, what exactly should Robin have stuck around for?”
“My mother had just died,” Patrick snarled. “I expected her to give me some damn time—”
“She was my mother too!” Elizabeth surprised them both by crying. “I am so sick of you acting like you were the only one who lost her! You and Dad have been nothing but selfish bastards since the moment Mom died and you not only shut Robin out but you shut me out.” She lunged to her feet, all the bitterness and resentment finally pouring out her mouth, too fast for her to think, to pull back. “You moved out of the apartment and left me alone to pay for the rent—rent you knew I couldn’t afford and then I practically had to beg to use your guest room—beg, Patrick, you made me beg you to give me a helping hand! And then you make me feel bad for having someone in my life that doesn’t make me feel like shit—”
“Ellie, come on—” Patrick got to his feet but Elizabeth had finally let loose and nothing was going to stop her now.
“You and Dad walk around like you were the only ones affected by Mom’s death,” Elizabeth continued, tears streaming down her cheeks. “But I’m the one that lost everything. I lost my brother, my parents, my best friends—I lost my home! But I’ve snuck around and I’ve hidden my friendship with Jason from you and from Dad because I didn’t want to screw things up but I can’t do it anymore. I won’t lie and I won’t let you make me feel like I have to be ashamed.” She raised her chin and met her brother’s stunned eyes with determination. “I’ll be late for the party, I’m going to Sonny and Brenda’s for dinner with Jason.”
Whatever else had been in Patrick’s expression disappeared at that announcement—his eyes narrowed and he pressed his lips together. “Ellie, I swear to God—”
“Drop dead,” she muttered, pushing past him and slamming her bedroom door shut.
When she cracked the door open forty-five minutes later, the room was empty and Patrick’s car keys were gone from the table. She stepped into the living room and waited for the guilt to wash over her. After all, things had been going well for her family. Her brother and father were closer to being a family again, Patrick was starting to loosen up a bit and the last thing she had wanted to do was ruin that.
But the guilt never came and Elizabeth realized that she didn’t feel guilty, didn’t regret it. She had a right to her feelings and more importantly, she had a right to her own life. And she wanted her life to include Jason.
She checked her makeup in the mirror, tugged nervously at the top of her black strapless dress, wondering if she should wear something else—anything else. She was over thinking this, analyzing it. This was just dinner, just Jason doing her a favor.
Just as she had convinced herself to exchange the black dress for a more staid blue one, there was a knock on the door and she sighed. She pulled open the front door and all illusions of coherent thought disappeared as she got her first look at Jason Morgan in a tuxedo. Any ideas of pretending that the only feelings she had for him were those of friendship were laid to rest.
She dragged her gaze from his chest—he really filled out that shirt well—and met his eyes. “Ah, hey.”
“Hey—” Jason frowned and tilted her chin up. “You were crying.”
Elizabeth bit her lip and stepped back. “So much for makeup,” she sighed. “Patrick and I had a fight, it’s no big deal. We should go—”
“Are you sure?” Jason cut in. “I mean, we can just skip the dinner if you’re not up to it—”
“No,” Elizabeth shook her head and smiled faintly. “I’m not going to skip dinner. I’m just—there were some things that I said to Patrick that I should have a long time ago. I’m really fine, Jason.” She reached for her coat and purse. “Should we go?”
“Wait—” Jason took her coat from her and stepped around to help her slide her arms through the sleeves. “I’m not doing this right. I’m supposed to tell you how nice you look or something.”
Elizabeth was torn between being irritated and amused. Jason was never one to worry about doing something right—he’d make a decision and go with it, and to hell with anyone who disagreed with him. “Jason—”
Jason cleared his throat. “You do look nice, you know. I mean you always look nice but—” he dragged a hand through his hair. “You look pretty,” he finally blurted out. “Sonny said I should bring you flowers but I didn’t know why because you already have a bunch here but—”
“Thank you,” Elizabeth said, her cheeks flushing. “Flowers are not necessary, but it was nice of Sonny to suggest it.”
He stared at her for another long moment and she smiled nervously, breaking eye contact to glance past him. “We should probably go then.”
“Right,” Jason nodded. He stepped back and she stepped into the hallway, locking the apartment behind her.
Quartermaine Mansion: Foyer
Emily loved her adopted family. She had prepared herself, at first, to despise them. And she had for a long time. She had grown up in lower middle class suburbia and to suddenly be the granddaughter of one of the wealthiest families in the state—well, it had been an adjustment to say the least.
She had rebelled in every way that she could think of—she had refused to eat, she had refused to go to school, she had refused to come out of her room. She was sure they would send her away but they never had and gradually, they had grown on her, this bunch of eccentric people.
Her adopted parents, Alan and Monica, who were so busy with their careers that they often forgot to eat but they were never too busy to see her in a high school play or attend a graduation or help her study for medical school.
Her adopted brothers, AJ and Jason. Jason, who had cut off most of the family after his accident but who had found a place in his heart for his little sister anyway and no matter how drunk AJ was, he had never spoken to her in the cutting tone he’d used for the rest of the family.
Her cousins, Ned and Dillon, whom she loved as brothers. She looked out for Dillon, took care of him and had bailed him and Lulu Spencer out of trouble more than once. And Ned, the stereotypical overprotective older brother who had grilled all her boyfriends. And of course, her cousin Justus, who had teamed up with Ned more than once to talk her out of dating Zander Smith in high school.
Her aunt Tracy, who drove everyone else mad but Emily secretly admired because Tracy didn’t take bullshit from anyone. She was her own woman and she lived by her own rules and Emily wanted to be her when she grew up—albeit with a little more compassion.
Her grandmother, Lila—the sweetest woman that had ever lived. She had a heart that forgave all those who sinned and she had a smile that melted even the toughest of men. She was the heart, she was the soul of the Quartermaine family.
And then there was Edward.
Overbearing, overprotective, arrogant, irritating and a pain in the ass. Edward, who had actually had more time for Emily than anyone else in the family after he’d let Ned take over as CEO of the family investment firm, ELQ. Edward, who had been more than just her grandfather since she’d walked into the house. He was endlessly frustrating because he was always sure he knew how people should live their lives better than they did and what made it worse is that he had an infuriating tendency to be right.
He had told her bedtime stories when she’d moved in the house, and had shared milk and cookies with her in the kitchen when she’d stayed up late to study for exams. He was her favorite family member.
But tonight, Emily was sure she was going to murder him.
“You are being ridiculous,” she sighed, straightening her grandfather’s bow tie. “As always. If Grandmother heard you talking about AJ like that, she’d tell you stuff a sock in it.”
“Lila was always a soft touch,” Edward blustered. “Mark my words, young lady, he will never recover unless he is forced to.”
“I agree that he needs to go to rehab but no one—including you, Grandfather, is going to kidnap him and take him in there in the middle of the night. AJ has to want to get better or else it’ll never work.” Emily stepped back and admired her handy work. “You look presentable enough.”
“I’ll never understand why we go to this thing every year,” Edward muttered. He crossed to the stairs. “Will the rest of you get down here so we can get this over with?”
“We go to the Haunted Star on Christmas Eve because we throw the New Year’s Eve party at the hotel—” she threw up her hands. “I don’t know why I’m explaining something you already know. You just want to complain.”
The doorbell rang and Emily sighed in relief. “That must be Nikolas.”
Edward’s face flushed with anger. “You invited that scoundrel to my home?”
“It’s my house and my daughter can invite whoever she likes,” Monica Quartermaine retorted, gliding down the stairs in her pale green silk dress. She placed a hand on Emily’s shoulder in support.
“Well, I gave it to you,” her husband Alan snarked as he joined his father at the bottom the stairs in a matching tuxedo. “And I don’t want him here either.”
“For the love of God…” Emily muttered. The butler, Reginald, pulled the door open and Nikolas stepped in. “Thank God you’re here. They’re having the house argument again.”
“Ah, this would make the one thousandth, six hundred and seventy first time I’ve heard it then,” Nikolas said with a straight look on his face. He said it so seriously that Emily almost believed him—would have if not for the wink he sent her way.
“Nikolas and I are getting married whether any of you accepts it or not,” Emily declared. “So either get used to it or—”
“We’re having this discussion again?” Dillon sighed as he ambled down the stairs. He sank onto the bottom step and pulled his shoes on before standing to adjust his cuff links. “I’ve heard this spiel almost as many times as I’ve heard the house argument.”
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
Brenda Corinthos had once been a supermodel; her classic face sprawled across billboards nationally and even a few international spots. She’d sold lipstick, perfume, lingerie and on one memorable early photo shoot, a Ferrari. She’d been destined for a long career in the industry as she grew more ravishing as she aged.
But, instead, she’d shocked her friends and family when she’d retired at the age of twenty-seven—at the height of her fame. And when she announced that she’d done so to marry reputed mob kingpin Sonny Corinthos…well, there were rumors that her family still didn’t speak to her.
Brenda Barrett Corinthos was old gossip in Port Charles and Elizabeth had heard about her for years before she’d actually met her. Everyone always spoke of her beauty, of her generosity but they never mentioned her lighting quick wit or the fact that her husband was so completely gaga over her that Elizabeth forgot to be intimidated by Sonny Corinthos the first time he looked at his wife with puppy dog eyes and a dimpled grin.
“So, Elizabeth, you’ve grown up in Port Charles?” Brenda asked, accepting a glass of wine from her husband.
“All my life,” Elizabeth answered. “My parents, too. Kind of a family tradition to stick in one place.”
“The Drakes have been doctors at General Hospital almost longer than ELQ’s been around,” Sonny remarked.
“Well, my brother and my father are the doctors,” Elizabeth smiled. “My mother and I—well, she was a nurse. As sexist as it may be, the women tend to go into the nursing in my family and the men tend to be the doctors.”
Brenda wrinkled her nose. “You never wanted to be a doctor—or anything else?”
“I thought about doing other things,” Elizabeth admitted. “But all of my friends were going into medicine. My brother, my best friend Robin, Emily and Jason Quartermaine—” she shrugged. “I was the only nurse though. I wanted to be like my mother.”
Brenda didn’t miss the fact that she’d mentioned Jason Quartermaine and had been specific to point out that it had been his old self and not Jason Morgan that had wanted to be a doctor. She’d been present for some of the Quartermaine family arguments regarding Jason’s choice of employment and was definitely pleased that Elizabeth seemed to understand that Jason Morgan was another person entirely. “Well, as long as you enjoy what you do, I say go for it.” She paused. “You do like it, right?”
“I love it,” Elizabeth nodded. “And it’s great to be able to work with my friends and family.” She bit her lip. “Most days. Others…not so much.”
“Yeah, I have a sister too,” Brenda said. “We do not get along. But I guess it’s different with twins.”
“Patrick, though he is thoroughly annoying and overbearing, is my best friend in the world,” Elizabeth admitted. “I wouldn’t trade him for anything in the world.” She wrinkled her nose. “But some days…”
“It’s good that you value family,” Sonny said, nodding. “There’s nothing more important than your family.” He grinned. “No matter how annoying, right?”
“Right.” Elizabeth sipped her wine and glanced at Jason, who had been silent for most of the meal and definitely the after dinner conversation. She’d enjoyed herself with Brenda and Sonny, liked to think that she had made a good impression but she wondered if Jason didn’t want to be here—if he’d been instructed to come tonight and to bring a date. The thought that she’d been asked to dinner out of obligation rather than an actual desire for her to meet one of the most important people in the world to him depressed her and she took a long gulp of her wine.
Haunted Star: Outside Lower Deck
The December air gave Lulu goose bumps down her arms but she didn’t really care. What was a little freezing air compared to the fact that within a week, her parents would be grounding her for life? She might as well enjoy the outside air while she could.
She was never quite sure how she got herself involved in these messes. One moment, everything would be going fine and the next, she’d have dropped herself right in the middle of an explosive situation—or more correctly, herself and Dillon. He was her right hand man, after all. The Sonny to her Cher, the Jack to her Jen, and most importantly, the Wallace to her Veronica.
But this was a situation that she should never have tried to drop him into and she was already annoyed with herself—as she usually was with most of her plans five minutes after she set them into action. So she was going to have to stop depending on Dillon and start standing up for herself and she’d start by apologizing to him.
“I thought you were barred from attending tonight,” Emily remarked from behind her. Lulu turned and sighed.
“Yeah, as punishment for sneaking into the principal’s office to find my permanent record and erase a few details.” Lulu frowned. “I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those security cameras.”
Emily laughed and leaned against the rail. “Well, thank you for not giving up Dillon as your accomplice.”
Lulu shrugged. “I’m sure they know—I never do anything stupid without Dillon by my side. He’s usually the one trying to talk me out of it. But I see no reason why he needs to join me in my out of school suspension.”
“Mmm…” Emily rubbed her hands up and down her arms, pulling her jacket more tightly over her dress. “So did you sneak in tonight?”
“No, Lucky pointed out that I could get into a lot more trouble if they left me home alone,” Lulu replied. “I’m just out here to avoid talking myself into another disaster, what about you?”
“Oh…” Emily wrinkled her nose. “Stefan and Edward crossed paths and there was another round of family warfare so I ducked out for a while.” She studied Lulu for a long moment. “Will was looking for you.”
“He usually is,” Lulu grumbled. Couldn’t a boy just take I don’t want to see you again as a final answer? Most would—and had—but Lulu had been trying to shake William Drake for the last week and now more than ever, she needed to cut ties and move on. “I broke up with him last week but he’s not exactly comprehending.”
“It’s a shame,” Emily mused. “Will was such a great kid but he was always kind of the odd one out, you know? Patrick and Ellie are almost a decade older than him and you and Dillon were so tight. And now with his parents…”
“I know he’s having a bad time,” Lulu replied. She tapped her fingers restlessly on the metal railing. “Everyone knows. He went from quiet and clean cut to like—rebel without a clue. He’s always getting into fights at school and he’s just…” she shook her head. “I dunno. It was fun at first, I was looking for a little bit of rebellion but I can’t—Will just started to take it all so seriously.”
Emily frowned at her. “What do you mean?” she asked curiously. “Take the divorce seriously?”
“No, me and him. I mean, he told me he loved me,” Lulu said, her voice rising a little. “And how glad he was that we found each other and how much fun we’re going to have in college next year.”
“Ah…well that’ll scare any seventeen-year-old.” Emily smiled. “Aunt Tracy was always terrified that you and Dillon would end up together but you guys just aren’t like that.”
Dillon? As a romantic possibility? Lulu raised her eyebrows. That had never occurred to her. And now that it had…she touched a hand to her abdomen. “I feel nauseous,” she joked. “I was just standing here, thinking about how much I need him—because you know, he’s my other half. But, dude…” she drew her eyebrows together and shook her head. “I just don’t…we’re not like that.”
“I know you’re not now but don’t be surprised if things end up differently. I mean, when I was your age, I had a few certainties in my life,” Emily told her. “Lucky and Elizabeth, Patrick and Robin—they were going to last forever. I never dreamed that I would look at Nikolas one day…” she smiled. “That I would look him at him and I would see the rest of my life. Things change, Lu, and usually before you’re ready for them.”
“Yeah, you’re not kidding,” Lu said crossly. “Em, have you ever made a really big mistake that just kept getting worse and worse?”
“Oh, God…” Emily sighed. “What did you and Dillon do now? Is it worse than the time you guys ended up in Minnesota? Because I’m telling you, I can’t think of many things that could be worse than the albino, the bus and St. Paul in February—”
“I found out a few days ago that I’m pregnant,” Lulu confessed. Her shoulders slumped. “And I panicked—”
“Jesus, Lu—” Emily’s eyes widened. “Have you told your parents? Have you told Will?”
“No, I only told Dillon,” Lulu replied. “But what makes you think Will’s the father?”
Emily stared at her with an expression of combined horror and exasperation. “Lulu, don’t make me hurt you.”
“Okay, yes, he’s the father but he absolutely can never be told,” Lulu said sternly. “Never. He would just—he would blow it all out of proportion and his parents—” she hesitated. “His mom would just hit the roof—”
“Lulu, if you think you can justify cutting Will out, you’re going to need a better excuse than that.” Emily sighed. “Well, I suppose some things are worse than Minnesota in the winter.”
Lulu blinked rapidly and looked back over the water. “I’m scared,” she confessed. “I thought I was making a point to my parents—that I was just having some fun but now it’s all blown up in my face and worse, I tried to convince Dillon to say he was the father and I think it’s just going to get worse—”
Emily covered her eyes with her hands. “Oh, my God,” she moaned. “You two are going to be the death of me.”