Sonny sat in his office long after Elizabeth left – long after sun had gone down. He hadn’t turned on the lights. He preferred sitting in the dark – matched his mood.
Two years, his sister had suffered in silence. Battled the nightmares, the memories and the demons. His fists clenched as he remembered her tears. He should have known – should have seen it. Hadn’t he recognized it in Carly? How had he missed the signs? The circles under her eyes, the pale skin – the jumpiness. Elizabeth had been there for him every step of the way since she found out they were siblings and Sonny couldn’t even comfort her now.
His blood boiled as he thought of the son of a bitch who passed himself as off as her father. What kind of weak man preys on a young girl? A small child who couldn’t defend herself—didn’t have the courage to tell anyone, had no one to turn to. He may not have taken care of his own stepfather, but he could make Webber pay.
It was nearly midnight when Jason entered the office. Carly had been worried sick that Sonny hadn’t come home and that he hadn’t called. A quick call to Elizabeth saying she’d seen Sonny at the warehouse and that she’d told him truth told Jason what he needed to know.
Jason flipped the lights on. “You should have called Carly.”
Sonny didn’t look up. “She told me what happened, Jason.”
Jason sighed and closed the door. “You okay?”
“No. She was crying, saying sometimes she wished he had pushed her out the window.” Sonny stood up and drove his fingers through his hair. “Why didn’t I see it, Jason? How did I miss it?”
“Elizabeth is very good at hiding things,” Jason explained. “She hid from Emily and AJ as a kid and she would have probably hid it forever had I not come back.”
“It doesn’t matter. I should have known,” Sonny argued. “Christ, I went through it. Carly went through it. And now that I know … I realize I should have seen it.” Sonny slammed his fist into the wall. “It makes me angry. She is the last person that deserved this. She should have had a happy childhood – she shouldn’t have had to live in fear.”
“Yeah, I know that,” Jason said. “And the second I found out, I wanted to head right to the house and beat his face.”
Sonny headed for the door. “I’ll drive.”
“You can’t take care of this for her,” Jason called as Sonny opened the door.
“No. But I can make sure she never has to see his face on the streets,” Sonny replied.
“You think I didn’t want to do the same thing?” Jason asked. “Do you know horrible I felt when I realized that I’m the one that turned his back on her when she needed me? She told me that I was the only reason she got through it and when I think of how I treated her after the accident, I want to throw myself off a cliff. But this isn’t about me. This isn’t about my anger, and it’s not about you or your anger either. This is about Elizabeth and her feelings.”
Sonny shut the door. “You’re right.” He took a deep breath. “So how do I handle this?”
“I have no idea,” Jason said. “I’m still working that out for myself. She has a lot of bad memories that seem to keep coming back and the most I can do is comfort her when she wakes up from a nightmare—but I can’t do that like I did before the accident. She’s two floors down. I can take her for rides when she can’t sleep but when we come back, those memories are waiting for her. I don’t know how to help her.”
Sonny swore. “I still hate closets,” he muttered. “I’m thirty-three and I still can’t stand closets. It’s been years since it stopped and it still haunts me. She’s been out of that house for two years. There’s something inside of her that is still broken and still pleading with her father to stop. And I don’t know how to deal with this. Carly – her problems are like mine. A few nightmares here and there, a little bit of jumpiness. But her experience has faded. Elizabeth’s terror will continue. So how do I help her?”
“I guess just be there for her. Listen when she needs it, comfort her.” Jason shook his head. “I don’t know what else there is to do.”
“Thanks,” Sonny said. “For being there for her when I couldn’t. That night in the hospital – before the accident. I know you don’t remember it, but she does. And that’s all that matters.”
Jason shrugged uncomfortably. “Not much else I could do. She’s important to me and I want to help. But I guess she has to go through this on her own.”
“You think I could ask her if we could take care of Webber?” Sonny asked hopefully.
“She wouldn’t let you,” Jason replied. “She’d want to do it herself.”
Sonny studied Jason who shifted under the gaze. “You know her very well.”
“Well, she’s kind of like me,” Jason said. “She doesn’t like asking for help—especially if she thinks she doesn’t need it.”
Sonny sighed. “I just wish I’d known earlier that she was my sister. I would have taken her out of that house and treated her like a princess.”
“She got out by herself and somehow … I think that matters more,” Jason said. “She only depended on me and then I was gone. She made herself strong and she got out without anyone’s help. I think that’s better somehow.”
“I know. But that doesn’t change how guilty I feel,” Sonny muttered. He breathed deeply. “I’d better get home before Carly goes insane.”
Jason smiled weakly. “Too late. Who you do you think sent me?”
Carly set some ground rules the second Sonny walked in the door that night. Any later than seven, he had to call her. And she demanded to know what was going on. Sonny agreed to the new rule and asked if he could beg off explanations until the morning.
By the time Carly woke up, Sonny had already left the apartment. Irritated, she knew he was avoiding her. It was Saturday – and he almost never went to the warehouse on Saturday. Well, when he got home, she was just going to lock him in the penthouse until he told her what the hell was up with everyone. Elizabeth was pulling away, Jason was spending a lot of time with her (not that Carly complained – that was the plan after all), but Emily wasn’t talking to her either. She could even sort of understand that – AJ was back in town. But hell, everyone was leaving her out!
And Caroline Benson Corinthos did not like being left out.
It was nearly lunch time when Johnny announced Elizabeth. Carly stood and crossed her arms, glaring at her sister-in-law. “Oh, have you got some explaining to do,” she snapped the second Johnny had closed the door. She was about to continue when she realized how pale she looked. “Are you okay? Are you hungry? Do you need to sit down?”
Elizabeth smiled weakly and lowered herself onto the couch. “I’m fine. We need to talk.”
Carly sat down. She knew this was going to be one of those conversations that you really didn’t want to have but couldn’t possibly avoid. “Lizzie, what’s wrong?” she asked quietly.
Elizabeth hugged herself. “I’m making the rounds today, telling the people that are left what’s going on. It’s basically just you and AJ,” she said. “I can’t hide the truth anymore. I’ve done nothing but try, but it quite apparent it’s not going to work anymore. I told Sonny yesterday, so if he’s acting weird, that might be it.”
Carly begin to feel a little more than worried. Something was off in Elizabeth’s tone of voice. There was an element that usually wasn’t there and the fact that she recognized it scared the shit out of her. Elizabeth Webber, one of the funniest, wittiest, intelligent, beautiful and strongest people she knew … sounded broken.
“Looking back, I should have trusted you a long time ago with this.” Elizabeth stared at her hands. Her voice was soft, “Because you trusted me. But I guess I wasn’t ready to let someone help me. And that’s what you would have done. You, my brother, Emily – you all would have wanted to help. And I wasn’t ready to accept that help. I did once and it worked out very badly.”
“Elizabeth, whatever it is … we can get through this together. You know you’re more than just Sonny’s sister. You are my sister, my best friend…please, sweetheart, just tell me.”
“Every time I’ve told it, I’ve done it differently. I have Em the bare backbones…I just told Sonny a few things and I told Jason almost everything. But I don’t know how to tell you.”
Carly reached out and pulled Elizabeth’s hands into her own. “Honey, you’re scaring me.”
“Do you remember when you told me what your father had done?” Elizabeth asked softly. “You just said it outright, didn’t try to sugarcoat it, didn’t try to spare my feelings. Do you remember how worried and upset I was?”
Carly’s stomach lurched. Oh, please, no. This was not happening. Not Elizabeth. Not her sweet friend. Jesus. “Oh, god, Lizzie-”
“My father was … he used to…” Elizabeth stopped. She raised her eyes to Carly. Her watery blue eyes said more than Carly ever wanted to know. “He beat me.”
Carly’s arms were around her in an instant. She did it to comfort Elizabeth, but more selfishly – she didn’t want Elizabeth to see her crying. She knew what it was like – and this was all the more reason why this shouldn’t be happening to her friend. Elizabeth had been raised in a family that had money, respectability. Every Port Charles resident knew the Webber name and respected it. Things like this shouldn’t happen to people like Elizabeth.
Carly pulled away and wiped her eyes. “Oh, Lizzie-”
“I keep thinking it should get easier as I tell it but it’s not,” Elizabeth whispered. “Telling Emily was difficult, telling Sonny and you was a terrifying prospect because you would know exactly what I went through, you’d understand. But … the only thing that was easy about this was telling Jason.”
“You finally let him in,” Carly smiled through her tears. “He wanted to help so badly but you were only giving him pieces. He loves you, you know.”
Elizabeth stared at her, the idea of Jason being in love with her shoved everything else out. “What?”
“Oh, I don’t think he’s realized it,” Carly said quietly. “And you’re in love with him, too. You don’t see it either. But it’s there. And its not wishful thinking. I’m glad you let him in.”
“Don’t push him away either,” Carly warned. “It won’t work. I let Sonny in and then I tried to keep him out. Jason’s like Sonny. Once they’re in, they’re in.”
Elizabeth nodded. “Yeah, I know.”
“I’m not going to ask for details because more than anyone, I know that giving those … it just drags up things you’d rather forget. And I’m not going to pry,” Carly said. “Because whatever you’re feeling, that’s your right. Unless you volunteer, I’ll never ask a single question.”
“I thought I was getting past it,” Elizabeth said softly. “I was starting to sleep at night, my life was going my way. But something happened this week … I don’t know what … something made me tell Emily. And then I had the nightmare. And I haven’t stopped having them. The only night I slept soundly was a few days ago when I spent the night at Jason’s.” She bit her lip. “I’m scared to sleep, Carly. I know he can’t touch me. I know that I’ve never been more protected in my life than living here – but I’ve never been so scared to sleep. I know that he’s waiting for me – in my dreams. He tells me that no one loves me – that everyone leaves.” Elizabeth wrapped her arms around her waist and closed her eyes. “He tells me that Jason only feels sorry for me, that he’ll leave me again. It’s never been like this, Carly.”
Carly swore under her breath and drew Elizabeth back in her arms. “Son of bitch. Just say the word and you know Sonny and Jason will take care of him.” She smiled a little. “I know. That doesn’t help. But it sure as hell would help the people who love you.”
Elizabeth started to cry. “Sometimes I wish I could be that vindictive.” She clung to her. “How do I make his voice stop?”
Carly stroked Elizabeth’s hair. “It’s not easy and it doesn’t always work. But the next time he’s telling you that Jason will leave you, try and let your faith in Jason win.” She pulled away. “And honey, the next time you wake up with a nightmare that you can’t deal with, call someone. Jason, me, Sonny, Emily-I don’t care. Please don’t do this on your own. Because it never works. You just … you have to accept help. I know something happened with Jason a long time ago – but you can’t let that rule your life. And you know what? He’s still here. A little late, but he’s here. And it’s not because he feels sorry for you.”
Elizabeth took a deep breath and pulled away. “The other night, I was at Jason’s penthouse. We were having a major conversation – I was telling him everything. Something happened between us…we made this connection or maybe the connection woke up, I don’t know. But I kissed him. Or he kissed me. It doesn’t matter.”
“You kissed?” Carly asked. Her plan was going better than they hoped. And they hadn’t done anything yet!
Elizabeth nodded. “And you know what, Carly? I wish my life weren’t so crazy right now. If things had been just a little more normal, I probably would have gone further. But Jason stopped it – said he didn’t know who I thought he was, Jason Quartermaine or Jason Morgan. I don’t blame him – I would wonder too. But even after all that … as I was leaving, he wanted to know if I was going to be all right sleeping and when I told him probably not – he asked me to stay.”
“Jason’s like that,” Carly agreed. “So what happened?”
Elizabeth tucked her hair behind her ears. “We slept in the same bed and I think I only had one nightmare. But I never woke up from it. And when I did wake up the next morning, I was curled up against him and Carly…I’d never felt better in my life. It’s the only night in the last week that I didn’t wake up, a scream ready to burst out.”
“Oh, Liz. As much I’d like to tell you to just move in with Jason, that’s not a solution.”
Elizabeth nodded. “Yeah, I know. So how I do fix this, Carly? How do I make the voices stop without running to Jason?”
“The voices never stop,” Carly said gently. “They fade and it gets really hard to hear them and if you’re lucky, you become immune to them. But it’s always there waiting just on the edge.” She sighed. “I know I’m being depressing but I refuse to tell you what people told me. That time heals all wounds, that the pain will go away. There are some wounds that never close and being abused is one of them. Because we learned at a fundamental age that we couldn’t trust the people who were supposed to love us. And getting past that….there’s nothing more difficult. But you, me and Sonny, we’re the lucky ones. We had people who loved us enough to keep pushing.”
“Thanks.” Elizabeth gave a little smile. “You know…I tell it a different way every time – and each person gets a different part of the story. You all should get together sometime—you might get the whole story.”
“Do me a favor,” Carly said. “Tonight, if you should wake up again…call Jason. I know he offered to take you for a ride the next time you couldn’t sleep. And when he accepts, you’ll know he’s not just feeling sorry for you.”
Elizabeth hesitated. “I won’t be a burden,” she said.
Carly smiled weakly. “And he would never see you that way. He wants to help – and right now all he can do is listen and take you for rides. There’s nothing wrong with letting people help when they want to.”
Elizabeth bit her lip. “I think I’m falling in love with him,” she said quietly.
“I told you, Liz, I already knew that,” Carly replied. “Have you said anything to him regarding your feelings?”
She nodded. “We’ve agreed to take it slowly. Get to know each other again.”
“That sounds like a plan,” Carly agreed. “Are you okay with how you feel?”
“Sometimes. But I’m afraid I’ll let myself depend on him too much and that he’ll leave,” she said quietly.
“Jason isn’t leaving. He’s given Sonny’s his word, I know he’s promised you and he’s told me. The only way Jason leaving town is if Sonny sends him and he won’t if he knows what’s good for him,” Carly replied. “And some advice … if being around Jason helps, go to him. It’s never wrong to stick to what works.”
“And at the same time, your little plan succeeds,” Elizabeth remarked wryly.
“Yeah, ah, well,” Carly shrugged.
“You want to know a secret?” Elizabeth asked. “I hope it does.”
Carly hugged her gently, all the while thinking of the irony of Jason and Elizabeth both approving the scheme to get them together.
Jason decided it wasn’t fair that his favorite person in the world lived in a house full of the only people in Port Charles he’d rather not see. He hated that their visits were always short and restricted to the rose garden.
He entered the estate from the back of the property and walked through the garden to meet Lila on the terrace. He stopped short when he saw a decapitated statue. Frowning, he wondered if it was the same one Elizabeth and Emily always referred to. Shrugging he continued to the terrace.
Lila’s face lit up at the sight of her youngest grandson. He leaned down to kiss her cheek. “Oh, Jason, it’s so wonderful to see you!”
“It’s good to see you, too, Grandmother,” Jason said, taking a seat across from him. “How is everyone?”
Lila sighed. “Tense. Alan and Monica are fighting again and Edward isn’t joining in. You know that’s never a good sign if Edward isn’t butting into other people’s business.” Lila touched Jason’s hand. “We miss you all around here.”
“I’m not ready to reconcile,” Jason admitted. “I’m still angry with the way they treated AJ, and myself after the accident. I don’t know if that will go away.”
Lila nodded. “Well, how are you, my dear? I’ve heard some things about Elizabeth whenever AJ or Emily speaks of you.”
Jason smiled. “You don’t have to hide, Grandmother. I know you’re in on it, too.”
Lila returned the smile. “Well, how are things progressing?”
Jason looked away, “Slowly. And I think that’s for the best. She’s going through a difficult time and the last thing she needs is for me to push her.”
Lila studied him. “Has she told you anything about this difficult time?”
Jason looked up to meet Lila’s eyes. “You know, don’t you?”
Lila nodded. “You came to me when you were helping her before. You had promised not to tell AJ or Emily, but you needed someone to vent to.”
Jason slowly exhaled. “How did I help then?” he asked. “Because I can’t remember and all I want to do is help.”
“You always asked me how to help her. That all you wanted to do was make her smile and help her to sleep. You wanted to take all her demons away. But you were only one boy and you’re still only one man. You can’t rid her of the demons, but you can do what you did then.”
“What would that be?” Jason asked.
“You just listened,” Lila replied. “You’d let her in the room at night and listen to her. Held her when she had nightmares. Kept her company – you made her feel safe.”
“That’s it?” Jason asked doubtfully. “She makes it sound as though I saved her life.”
“To Elizabeth, you did. There was no one else who could help then. She only confided in you – she didn’t and still doesn’t know that I knew.” Lila looked troubled. “I often worried about her the last years she spent in the house. She spent more time here than ever. Always so withdrawn and pale. I tried to offer her an ear, hoping she’d confide but she wasn’t interested.”
“I wish I could be been there,” Jason said quietly. “I wish I could go and kill him. He’d better hope that I never see him face to face because I think might not be able to control myself.”
“Oh, darling, don’t worry. The Webber family spends most of the year in Europe and we no longer socialize with them. I doubt you’d see him,” Lila assured him. “And that’s a good thing, because Elizabeth needs you here. How is she?”
“The nightmares are back and they’re bad. I’m glad she told Emily – she’ll need someone with her when she wakes up. She told Sonny yesterday – and he’s just disgusted with himself. I don’t blame him. I don’t think very much of myself either.”
“Anyone who wasn’t looking would never know. Elizabeth is very good at hiding the way she feels,” Lila said. “You really do care about her.”
“Yeah,” Jason admitted. “I hope she doesn’t shut me out.”
“She won’t,” Lila said. “Oh, she’ll try of course, of that I have no doubt, but I don’t think she’ll be able to. You’ve always meant so much to her.”
“That’s what I’m worried about,” Jason said. “She told me that she’s not using me a substitute for Jason Quartermaine-”
“And she’s not. I’m talking about after the accident,” Lila said. “We used to have tea once a week and she’d ask about you. How you were doing, where you were. She tried so very hard to hate you, Jason, but it wasn’t possible. She knew you weren’t the same person and she knew you were going through a tough time afterwards. She’d wanted to be there for you – but the two of you kept butting heads.”
“She asked about me?” Jason said, surprised.
“I never had much to tell her but it didn’t stop her from asking. Jason, you must bring her by. She hasn’t been here to see me in almost two weeks and I’m worried about her. I need to see her for myself,” Lila said.
“I’ll bring her,” Jason promised.
Elizabeth left Carly’s and headed for the elevator. She reached for the button but the doors opened before she could. She came face to face with Jason. A smile spread on her face.
“Well, this is a case of déjà vu,” she said.
Jason exited the elevator and held it open. “Hey, did you want to go down?”
Elizabeth hesitated. “Actually, can we talk?”
“Sure.” Jason let go of the elevator and dug his keys out of his pocket. He headed for the penthouse. “You okay? You look like you’ve been crying.”
She shrugged as he opened the door and let her in. When they were both inside, she sighed. “I told Carly.”
Jason tossed the keys on the desk. “How did she take it?”
Elizabeth looked down. “She was upset for me. I think it’s strange. Every time I tell someone, I tell them something different. Emily got the backbones, you got details…” she trailed off.
Jason leaned against the desk. “Sonny told me what you said about wishing he’d pushed you out the window.”
She hugged herself. “Sometimes that’s true,” she said quietly. “I don’t know why I told him that.”
“Is that true?” Jason asked quietly.
She hesitated but finally nodded, “Yeah. Sometimes when the nightmares are bad and I’m lying in the bed scared to sleep, I wish he had.” She looked at the ceiling trying not to cry. It seemed that she’d cried enough to fill the oceans seven times over.
Jason straightened and pulled her into a hug. “So what did you tell Carly?” he asked, rubbing her back in slow circles.
“That I couldn’t make his voice stop,” Elizabeth whispered, closing her eyes. “It’s always there, no matter what. Telling me that no one cares, that everyone leaves…that I’m a whore, that you’ll leave me-” she broke off. “I just want it to go away.”
“I’m not leaving you and neither is anyone else,” Jason promised. “And he’s a bastard for ever calling you a whore. You’re not and there’s no way that can be true. Ever.”
“Why is it whenever someone else tells me that, I don’t believe them, but the second you say it, I do?” Elizabeth asked quietly.
“I don’t know,” Jason replied, resting his chin on her head. “But as long as you believe it.”