Elizabeth flicked the light on in her room and stared at the bed. She hadn’t stayed much longer at Jason’s. She’d wanted to – but she was afraid she’d be depending on him too much and that was the very thing she was trying to avoid. She was telling Carly and AJ so that she wouldn’t just have Jason to run to. Unfortunately, even now that Carly knew, she still wanted Jason.
After leaving Jason’s apartment, she’d looked for AJ, but he’d taken Courtney and the kids to dinner. He seemed to be having a good day, so she’d just told she’d see him tomorrow. She’d taken her laptop and gone to Vista Point to start reediting her novel. After an hour of struggling, she’d given in to temptation and she’d started a new story. After three more hours, she’d had eight chapters written.
So, here she was. Late evening. When most people were either sleeping or getting ready to, Elizabeth was trying to come up with an excuse not to. She shook her head. The only way to get rid of these nightmares was to face them head on. She closed her door and headed to her dresser to get a tank top and shorts to sleep in. After changing, she slipped between the sheets and closed her eyes. She had every intention of sleeping through the night. The promise she’d made to Carly was still in the forefront of her mind and she didn’t want to have to fulfill it this soon.
She tossed and turned for an hour before finally succumbing to a restless sleep. And like always, the nightmares came.
“You’re no good, Lizzie. No one will ever love you.”
“I guess I’ll just have to remind you not to raise your voice.”
“You never learn, Lizzie.”
“You should let me end it. Because where you’re going? You’ll be dead anyway.”
“Your rich little boyfriend can’t help you.”
“He doesn’t even remember you.”
“Jeff Webber is coming home? Hasn’t he been living in Europe? Well, I suppose one can’t spend forever there.”
Elizabeth woke up, gasping. And for the first time since the nightmares had gotten worse, Elizabeth realized why.
She’d been walking back to the building when she’d stopped in Kelly’s for some coffee. Bobbie Spencer had been there and she’d been talking to her ex—husband, Tony Jones. Bobbie and Tony had been talking about Jeff. Elizabeth hadn’t really been listening – but she must have been. The nightmares had come back.
She lay back in the bed and stared at the ceiling. She willed herself to go back to sleep. She wouldn’t call Jason. He’d be sleeping. He wouldn’t want to be woken up.
“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 sighed. She’d promised Carly. And truly, part of her wanted to know if he’d been serious. She rolled onto her side and stared at the clock on her nightstand. 3:45 a.m. She smiled sadly. Nearly four in the morning. Her eyes darted to the phone next to the clock. Maybe she should just call him—maybe he’d say no and then she’d have a reason to stop running to him.
She sat up and stared at the phone for another few minutes. “Suck it up, Webber.” She reached out for the phone and dialed his cell number. She’d had it memorized from the second he’d written down at the warehouse.
“Morgan.” His voice was alert and awake. He was probably expecting Sonny, Elizabeth thought bitterly.
“Jason? It’s Elizabeth,” she said softly.
“Hey. You okay?”
She bit her lip. “Not really. I wasn’t gonna call, but-”
“I’m glad you did. Another nightmare?”
“You want to go for a ride?”
She pulled the phone away from her ear and stared at it. He had been serious. Moving it back to her ear, “It’s okay if you don’t want to. I just…I’m sorry if I woke you.”
“I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t want to. And you didn’t wake me. Someone called a few minutes ago – trying to sell me something…Do you want to go?”
“If it’s not too much trouble,” she said.
“Fifteen minutes, the parking garage?”
“Okay.” Elizabeth hung up. She sat few a few minutes more and then tossed the covers off. She changed into another shirt and a pair of jeans. She made sure to leave Emily a note in case she woke up before Elizabeth got back.
She stepped off the elevator, her hands shoved in her back pockets and an apprehensive expression written across her features. Jason was leaning against the wall next to the motorcycle. He straightened as she approached. “Hey.”
“Hi,” she said softly. “I’m sorry for bothering you.”
“Do I look annoyed?” he asked, tucking a stray curl behind her ear.
“No,” she said, her eyes surprised. “You don’t. Why?”
“I offered.” Jason shrugged.
She shook her head. How did he do that? How was everything so simple in his life?
“Do you want to talk about it?” Jason asked, mistaking her silence.
“Yeah. But not here.”
“Well, let’s go.” Jason handed her the helmet which she snapped on. He got on the bike, started and waited for her to get on. When he felt her arms wrap around him, he took off.
She half thought he’d take her back to the bridge, but he drove towards Vista Point. It was more than likely her favorite place in all of Port Charles other than the Quartermaine’s rose garden. Vista Point was the highest point in the city and you could see the whole town from there, from General Hospital to Spoon Island, Nikolas Cassadine’s family estate.
Jason brought the bike to a stop and turned it off. She got off and put the helmet away herself. She wandered towards the edge of the bluff and looked at the view. It was just after four in the morning on a Saturday night, so there were a few clubs still open. She wished she could be like normal twenty-year-olds sometime—going out and partying every weekend, but she supposed having been a born a Webber, she hadn’t been normal her whole life.
“It’s nice up here,” Jason said, coming up behind her.
“I come here sometimes to write,” Elizabeth confessed. “It feels like you’re apart from the rest of the world, like no one can touch you. I like that feeling.” She put her hands in her pockets and turned around. “I know why the nightmares started again.”
“Why?” Jason asked, hoping she wouldn’t say it was his arrival in town.
“I guess it really didn’t register consciously at the time. That day we fought in the hallway, I was at Kelly’s. Bobbie Spencer and Tony Jones were there and they said something about Jeff Webber coming home. I wasn’t really paying attention, but I guess I must have been because it was Bobbie’s voice I heard tonight in my dream.”
“He’s coming home?” Jason said, barely able to conceal the rage in his voice.
“Yeah. Kind of explains a lot,” Elizabeth replied. “I told myself that I was going to sleep through the night—that I wasn’t going to let him have this hold over me.” She chuckled bitterly. “It was only a few hours later that I woke up, just barely able to hold in a scream.” She looked at the ground. “It wasn’t even a normal one. Usually, it’s one specific incident, but tonight, it was just his words. The things he used to say over and over again. That I never learned, that no one would ever love me, that I wasn’t any good…” Elizabeth trailed off. “He had been telling me that since I was nine years old. I guess once it’s ingrained in your mind, it never leaves. Personally, I think the happiest day of his life was when he realized you had no memory of before. He knew you were the only one I’d told and now that you didn’t’ anymore, no one would know his secret. He hadn’t touched me since that day when you broke his nose. For almost a month—he seemed to be avoiding me. But when the accident happened, I guess he couldn’t restrain himself.” She sighed. “I wish I didn’t see his face when I closed my eyes at night. That I didn’t hear his voice all the time. When I first wake up after a nightmare, I can still feel the pain sometimes. Because…” Elizabeth stopped abruptly and turned to shield her falling tears. “Because sometimes the memory is too real and I feel like I’m back in that time, in that house, in that room and he’s hitting me. With the belt, his hands…anything he could find. It feels like I’ll never get out, that I’ll never let go.”
Jason pulled her to him, so that her back was against his chest. He wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his head on her chin. “He will never touch you again. He’ll never get the chance to be in a hundred feet of you. I can’t promise you much else, but I can promise you that.”
“Port Charles is much too small for that to be reality,” Elizabeth said softly. “I can’t avoid him—it would be impossible.”
“We’ll make it clear to the men who guard you and Sonny—any one who sees Jeff Webber within fifty feet of you, he’s to be removed. It can be done without them knowing details. That’s their job, after all.”
“They can protect me while I’m awake,” she said, leaning her head against him. “I trust them. But they can’t keep me from hearing his voice or feeling…” she broke off and closed her eyes. “I hate this. I hate that I’m weak. That I can’t depend on myself for support—that it feels like I’m always running to someone.”
“These past five years…who did you count on to keep you going?” Jason asked.
She paused. “I guess…myself.”
“That’s right. No one kept you going but you. You stayed alive, you got out of that house and you’ve made a new start for yourself. You’ve done it all by yourself—even while you were dealing with the memories. Don’t ever feel weak because you go to someone else for comfort. That’s what friends are for—to help when they’re needed.” He turned her around and lifted her chin to look into her eyes. “And I promise, Elizabeth. I’ll be there whenever you needed me.”
She gave him a weak smile. “I know it’s not worth much, but I’ll be there whenever you need me.” She wrapped her arms around him and leaned into his embrace. “Thank you.”
“I haven’t done anything,” he replied.
“That’s not true. If it weren’t for you, I’d be sitting in my bed, staring at the ceiling. Afraid to sleep. Instead, I’m here, in my favorite place in Port Charles with one of my best friends. And I’m not thinking about what’ll happen when I go back and try to close my eyes.”
He pulled away to look at her face closely. “How much sleep have you gotten these past few days?”
“Truthfully? Since that first nightmare, the only night that I’ve gotten any real sleep was that night I spent at your place,” she said quietly. “I’ve grabbed an hour here, two there but having the nightmare always drains me of whatever energy I might have had.”
He pulled away further and grabbed her hand. “Come on.”
“Where are we going?” she asked as he led her back to the bike.
“We’re going to my apartment, and you’re going to get some sleep. Tomorrow’s Sunday. Today, actually. You’re not due at Deception today and if Sonny needs either one of us, he’ll call. So, come on.”
“Jason, I can’t just curl up in a bed and sleep,” she argued, crossing her arms. “That’s not what made me sleep through the night.”
“Well, I still need some sleep,” Jason replied, smiling a little. “I suppose we could both catch up on sleep.” He straddled the bike and motioned with his head. “Come on.”
She flushed. Just the thought of spending the night with him again was enough to make her wide awake. How did she get lucky enough to have his support again? She smiled and got on behind him.
Emily rolled over and fell off her bed. “This is becoming a nasty habit,” she muttered. Nikolas leaned over the edge of the bed to look at her.
“You okay?” he asked, trying to hide a smile.
“Yeah,” Emily grumbled, unwinding herself from the sheets. “Stupid bed. I’ve never fallen out of it before.”
“Why did you say it was becoming a habit?” Nikolas swung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood. He held out a hand for Emily to pull herself up, which she did.
“Because I spent the night on Jason’s couch when AJ and Courtney stayed that first night and I woke up that way,” Emily explained. “You make the bed, I’ll make the coffee,” she called over her shoulder as she headed for the bedroom door. She walked down the hallway and was about to pass through the living room to go to the kitchen when a white sheet of paper on the table behind the couch caught her eye.
Had trouble sleeping. Jason took me for a ride. Didn’t want you to worry. I’ll be back later.
Emily squealed. It was too bad Elizabeth had trouble sleeping—but she’d called Jason…in the middle of the night and she was with Jason now. Emily flicked her eyes to the VCR clock. It was also ten-thirty. Which meant she’d had to have been with Jason for a few hours. This was good. Very good. Progress was being made.
Nikolas entered and smirked. “What has you so excited?”
Emily grinned. “Guess where Beth is?” she asked in a singsong voice.
“From the way you’re acting, with Jason, I assume.”
Emily nodded eagerly. “She had trouble sleeping and she called Jason who took her for a ride. I bet she spent the night at his place!”
Nikolas shook his head. “You’re nuts.”
She glared at him. “I didn’t mean in the biblical sense. Beth has trouble sleeping and the last time I saw her sleeping soundly was in Jason’s arms. I’ll bet you anything that they just slept in the same bed—which makes it better because he’s being so sweet.”
“You have a twisted logic,” Nikolas said. He shrugged. “Then again, my grandmother is Helena Cassadine so who’s arguing?”
“Not me,” Emily declared, happily. “Come on – let’s make something to eat. Suddenly I’m starving.”
Carly was sitting at the breakfast table, sipping some coffee. Sonny sat across from her, pushing some eggs around the plate. They’d been sitting in silence since they’d sat down an hour ago and neither one of them had eaten a thing.
Finally, Carly set her cup down. “I can’t believe I didn’t see it.”
Sonny put the fork down and looked up at her. He was half-grateful she’d brought it up. He hadn’t wanted to broach the subject—it was still a touchy thing for both of them.
“I know what you mean,” Sonny said. “She’s always been pale and there has always been circles under her eyes—but I just assumed she was up late studying. She doesn’t go out in the sun much, so she wouldn’t have a lot of color. It never occurred to me…”
“Two years, I’ve been like family with her and I never saw it. What kind of friend does that make me?” Carly asked, the tears shining in her eyes. She shook her head. “I’ll tell you. A self-absorbed-”
“Beating ourselves up is not going to help,” Sonny cut in. “We didn’t see it because it didn’t occur to us. She seemed happy, she was from a good family and she never said a word. We didn’t know and neither did Emily. She kept it from everyone. When you keep something a secret that long…you get good at hiding it.” He looked away. “You and I know that better than anyone.”
“We of all people should have known,” Carly argued. “I feel so horrible. All this time…she’s been struggling. I could have helped, I could have been there and I wasn’t. But I’ll tell you something Sonny, I don’t care. He is not going to get away with it. He can’t. I wasn’t in the position to take care of my own father, but I can take care of Jeff. I can make it so that she never has to see him on the streets or at parties or see his face in the paper. She deserves better—and I want to make it happen.”
“I wanted to do the same thing, but Jason stopped me. He said this wasn’t about his anger or mine and it’s not about yours. This wasn’t done to us—it happened to Elizabeth. And she has to deal with it. We have to take our cues from her.” Sonny met her eyes. “We suffered similar experiences…but when it comes down to it, this is not the same thing. If she walks through that door and tells me she wants Jeff gone, it’ll be done, but not until then. I want her to trust me.”
Carly nodded. “I know. But can we rough him up or something?” She sighed. “I just want to help her.”
“Me, too, baby.”
Elizabeth shifted and opened her eyes sleepily. She wasn’t in her room—that much was apparent. Flicking her eyes around, she realized exactly where she was.
Content with being in Jason’s arms, she closed her eyes again. She was too comfortable to move. She’d gotten more sleep in the last few hours than she had in nearly a week.
“I know you’re awake.”
She frowned and opened her eyes. She raised her head off his chest to glare at him. “How long have you been awake?”
Jason glanced at the clock on the nightstand, “About an hour.”
She sat up. “Why didn’t you wake me?” Elizabeth suddenly felt self-conscious and pulled the shirt she’d borrowed from Jason down so it reached her knees.
“You needed to sleep.” Jason propped himself up. “You didn’t even wake up once you’d fallen asleep.”
“Not even one nightmare?” Elizabeth asked surprised. “You’re sure?”
“Nothing I heard,” Jason replied. “Do you feel any better?”
“A lot more rested actually,” Elizabeth replied. She smiled at him. “Thanks. I know I’m annoying-”
“You’re not,” Jason interrupted. “I told you I’d take you the next time you couldn’t sleep. Did you think I didn’t mean it?”
She shifted uncomfortably on the bed. “I’d better go. Emily’s probably worried about me.” She swung her legs over the side.
Jason grabbed her arm. “I thought you trusted me.”
Elizabeth turned her body back the other way and tucked her legs underneath her. “It’s not that I don’t trust you,” she said softly. “I just wanted to prepare myself in case…”
“You couldn’t,” Jason finished with a sigh.
“I didn’t want to get my hopes up.” She chewed on her lip. “I’m sorry. It’s just…I guess I was looking for a reason to push you away. I told Carly and I’m going to tell AJ because I thought…if I had more people to support me…that I wouldn’t keep running to you. But it’s like I can’t stop. You’re becoming important to me—more than I’m comfortable with.” She looked away. “And the way I feel about you….” Elizabeth trailed off. “I’m sorry,” she repeated.
He shook his head. “Don’t be sorry.” He sat up more. “I knew I was pushing you but-”
“You’re not pushing me,” Elizabeth cut in forcefully. She scooted closer to him. “The way I feel…it’s my insecurities…my problems causing it. You’re just supporting me and you’re doing a good job because I just slept through the night without a single nightmare. I can’t remember a night that didn’t happen. Once I was asleep here, I didn’t even dream about him—at least not that I can remember.” She paused and searched his eyes. “You make feel safe, Jason. You make me feel like my father was wrong—that I’m better than what he told me I was. That someone does lo-” she stopped. “That someone does care about me. You’ve done more for me in the last week than I’ve done for myself in five years.”
He reached out and drew her hands into his. “You’re doing this yourself,” he said quietly. “Because you’re ready to believe that what he said wasn’t true. I’m just showing you how I feel; you’ve made the choice to believe me.” He locked eyes with her. “And that’s because you’re strong.”
“How do you always know what to say?” Elizabeth asked softly.
Jason shrugged. “I say what I think.”
She smiled. “Don’t ever stop, all right?” she asked.
“I won’t.” Jason glanced at the clock again. “What’re you doing today?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. Why?”
“My grandmother wanted to see you –she’s worried about you and she made me promise I’d bring you by.”
“Okay.” Elizabeth nodded. “I’ll just go to my apartment and change.”
“Yeah. I need a shower.”
Neither one of them moved. Elizabeth stared at their hands and smiled a little. Her hands fit so neatly in his. She shook her head. “I have to go.” She raised her eyes to meet his.
“Yeah,” he said, staring at her, still not letting go of her hands. He leaned forward to give her a chaste kiss on the lips. Before he could pull away properly, one of Elizabeth hand’s darted up to the back of his head and deepened the kiss.
After a few moments, they separated, locking eyes. “I’d really better go,” she said. She removed her hand from his hair and pulled her other one out of his hand. “I’ll meet you back here in an hour?”
He nodded. “See ya then” She got off the bed and closed the door behind her. Jason let his head fall back to the pillow and sighed. Yeah, a shower was definitely in order.
A nice, long, cold shower.