Some clanging from the first floor woke him the next morning and he wasn’t altogether sure if the clanging was actually downstairs or inside his head.
Jason sat up and rubbed his head. He recognized the guest room at once and then he got a whiff of the alcohol from both his body and his clothes folded on a nearby chair.
The events of the previous night were starting to come back to him. He remembered watching Elizabeth drive off with some guy, he remembered a trip to a liquor store where he’d stocked up and returned to the house to await her return.
It was fuzzy from then on but he distinctly remembered her crying and telling him to let her go–but he’d…he’d kissed her instead. He groaned and put his head in his hands. Could he been any more of an ass last night?
He stood and decided to get a shower and then go apologize to her. He’d come back to Port Charles intent on putting out feelers. Was she open to a reconciliation? Would it work? Was it worth the effort?
And yet, he’d screwed it up the first night out. Good for him.
Elizabeth heard the shower running and started the pot of coffee. She took the aspirin out of the cabinet and put it next to the place she’d set for him on the table. Despite her resolution to just go to the hospital and leave him on his own, she’d woken up, checked on him, got a shower, checked on him again, got dressed, checked on him, went downstairs to make him breakfast.
She was a schmuck. Plain and simple. But she still knew her ex and after a night of drinking, he’d want clean clothes to change into. So she’d dug up some things he’d left here and put them in the bathroom.
Ten minutes later, he entered the kitchen to find a plate of scrambled eggs, toast and bacon waiting next to a steaming cup of black coffee with two aspirin at its side.
“Sit and eat,” Elizabeth said simply putting the frying pan in the sink and rinsing it. She stuck it in the dishwasher and moved to make her tea.
“Visiting hours begin in forty-five minutes. Eat. I want to get a good parking spot,” Elizabeth interrupted again.
“It’s going to get cold,” she said without looking at him. She dunked a tea bag in the mug and let it soak for a few seconds. She heard the chair scrape against the linoleum floor and then his knife and fork as he cut up the eggs.
When she finished her tea, she took the seat adjacent to him and pulled out her collection of bills and the checkbook. He ate, she paid bills–all in silence. Someone might think this was the normal way of business in the Morgan household.
He finished the food and pushed the plate aside a little. “I’m sorry. I was an asshole last night and you didn’t deserve it.”
“It’s fine. We all have our bad moments,” Elizabeth said absently. She frowned a little at her phone bill but wrote out the check for the specified amount. “You said something about a divorce, so I can understand you getting drunk to block that out.”
“That’s not why I sat on your porch getting smashed,” Jason protested.
“It doesn’t really matter–”
“Will you stop brushing me off like I’m stupid teenager?” Jason demanded.
Elizabeth sighed and looked up. “Okay. Fine. Why did you choose last night to get drunk on my porch?”
“Because you had a date and he didn’t look like me,” he replied immediately. “And I thought you were moving on and I really didn’t think that was very fair.”
She snorted. “Coming from the man who remarried two years after the divorce, that’s almost amusing.”
“She looks like you,” Jason said, without embarrassment. He was pretty sure he’d told her this last night–that he’d even showed her a picture. And besides, it was time to be honest. He’d never get anywhere protecting himself. Apparently, she’d been taking care of that for him.
Elizabeth hesitated. “We both have brown hair and light skin,” she allowed.
“She has blue eyes, she’s tiny and she talks a lot with her hands,” Jason continued. “She likes art galleries, going to the opera and she got sun poisoning in Egypt.”
Elizabeth pursed her lips and looked away. “I don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish–”
“When she got the sun poisoning, she refused to leave the hotel or even return there again. And the whole time she was complaining about it, all I could think about you. How you argued with me to go to the pyramids anyway. You wanted me to go and I refused to leave you alone. You went.”
Elizabeth sighed. “Jason–”
“The first time I saw Elise, we were in Spain and I saw her from the back and I thought for a second it was you,” Jason admitted.
She stared at him for a moment. “Are you trying to tell me that the reason you were attracted to her at all was because she looked like me?”
Jason nodded. “I know it’s a horrible thing and I’m not proud of it. But I missed you and she was sort of like you and I didn’t think I could get you back.”
“So you settled for the next best thing,” Elizabeth remarked. “When you tell Olivia this story, you should probably leave that part out.”
“Elise divorced me. She had the papers drawn up six months after we got married,” Jason told her. “Because Olivia was upset because you’d been crying at the airport and without really thinking about it, I was telling her all these ways to get you to smile.” He shook his head and stared down at the table. “I think she knew then that I was still in love with you.”
Her breath caught in her throat. “I–”
“She didn’t want to admit it to herself and we both let each other lie to ourselves. It’s so much simpler when you don’t admit the truth, you know?” He exhaled slowly. “But she thought me wanting to move here was about more than just Olivia and I don’t know, maybe she’s right. Because as much as it hurt not to be with you, it was more painful not see you.”
Elizabeth stood abruptly. “We should go to the hospital. Olivia will be expecting me–”
“Of course since you don’t trust me, it doesn’t really matter how I feel does it?” Jason asked, rising to his feet. “We could get back together right now and I wouldn’t know if you were keeping something from me in some misguided attempt to protect me.”
She frowned. “And I wouldn’t know if this was just a temporary stop on your itinerary. If you weren’t planning on staying for a few weeks and then heading off God knows where. So, it really wouldn’t work now would it?”
“And that goes back to you not trusting me,” Jason challenged. “Because if you trusted me, you’d believe me when I say that I want to be around Olivia more. That I don’t want to have to her see her upset because I missed some school play. But you don’t trust me and I’m beginning to wonder if you ever did.”
“That’s not fair,” she argued. “Of course I trusted you. I followed you like some puppy dog for nearly three years. You wanted to go out, we went out, you wanted to stay in, we stayed in. I was the docile wife you wanted but I wanted more–I wanted a real family in a real home and you didn’t. So you know what? Maybe Elise and I really are alike. Neither of us were willing to settle for what you were willing to give.” She grabbed his breakfast plate and coffee cup and stalked to the dishwasher where she shoved them inside and then clicked the button to start.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Jason scoffed. “Like you were an unwilling participant in our marriage. All you had to do was say the word and we’d have stayed in one place. And we did. You wanted Port Charles, I gave it to you.”
She narrowed her eyes. “With the condition that I’d never see you.” She shook her head. “We’re not going over the same ground again. I don’t even know why we’re talking about what would happen if we got back together because it’s not going to happen.” She turned the coffee pot off and unplugged it.
“Why not?” he demanded. “Why do you get to just decide that?”
“Because we’re over!” she shot back. “You don’t still love me and even if you did, you don’t know me any more. I’m not that girl who made a martini and let you kiss her on a balcony in Spain and that’s who you want.”
“Don’t tell me what I want or how I feel!” He grabbed her wrist to keep her from walking away. “You are still that girl but you’re more than that. You’re the mother of my child and I will always love you.”
“Let me go,” she hissed, trying to jerk her wrist from his grip. “You don’t own me, Jason. Not anymore.”
Surprised, he let her go and stepped back. “Own you?” he sputtered. “I never tried to own you.”
“Oh, don’t be obtuse,” she cried, frustrated. “You controlled my entire life–who I knew, what I wore, where I went, you paid for it all and we did everything you wanted to do!”
He swallowed hard. “I…I didn’t…that’s never what I meant to do. I just…I thought we were happy. You…you never said anything.”
“Because it wasn’t until I was on my own that I realized it. I had no opinions of my own, no hobbies, nothing that was mine. I was just an extension of you. I was Jason Morgan’s wife. The wife of an investment whiz kid. The mother of Jason Morgan’s child.” Her eyes narrowed into slits. “You know why Olivia is my whole life? Because I don’t have anything else.”
“I…” Clearly unprepared for this line of attack, he fumbled for something to say. Some defense. But she had a point. She’d been wealthy in her own right–her father a wealthy lawyer who made his fortune representing clients all over the world. But she’d always been listed as “Jason Morgan’s wife” in newspaper mentions. Not Elizabeth Webber-Morgan, former debutante or Elizabeth Webber-Morgan, daughter of Chris Webber. Just Jason’s Morgan’s wife.
And their trips had been dictated by his business. They’d gone where he had a client. Sure, he’d taken her other places. Famous museums for art but those times had been far and in between. They’d gone out to dinners with his clients and his friends. They’d been invited to operas and parties by those same people. Her clothes had been picked out by a nameless secretary who traveled with them. That dress from Paris had been one of the few things Elizabeth had picked out herself.
She’d even had some trouble doing her art because some hotels were unhappy with her setting up her supplies and her easels on expensive carpets and rugs. One of the few things she’d truly loved and because of him, she hadn’t had the opportunity to really explore her talent because he’d held her back.
Stricken, Jason sat back down, his face pale, his eyes distant. “I’m sorry,” he managed to say faintly.
She instantly felt a sharp sting of guilt and kneeled in front of him. “No, I’m sorry. None of that was your fault, Jason. God, I didn’t mean it.”
“No, you’re right. Your life revolved around my schedule,” Jason replied. He shook his head. “I never meant it that way–I tried to…take you other places. To museums and I thought…I thought we were happy. I thought you were.”
Her eyes filled with tears. “I’m sorry, Jason. I just…you know how I am. When I open my mouth and I get angry, things just come spewing out you know? I didn’t…I loved being your wife. I did. I was so proud of you, Jason and I really didn’t mind being called your wife. None of that really mattered to me. The clothes, the parties, none of that mattered.” She forced him to unclench his fists and she slipped her hands in his, lacing her tiny fingers through his larger ones. “I just wanted to be with you.”
“What about your art?” Jason asked pointedly. “You were never able to work on it like you deserved to. Because I kept moving you around. Your supplies got lost a lot and then that fire that destroyed half the ones you had in storage–”
“None of that was your fault,” Elizabeth cut in. “Painting was just an escape for me and I really didn’t need it while we were married. I painted before I met you because I wanted a reason to ignore my parents and I painted after the divorce because I was lonely but I never needed an escape from you.”
“I never wanted to control you, Elizabeth,” he told her again. “I just…I–”
The phone’s shrill ring interrupted him and Elizabeth took a deep breath. “I should get that. It might be Olivia.”
“Right,” Jason agreed. She stood and crossed to the wall phone near the doorway.
“Hello?” Her face paled and she bit her lip. “How long? What–Yes…no, of course not–We’ll be right there.” She slammed the phone back onto the receiver and turned to him, her face stark white and her eyes huge on her face. “That was the hospital,” she whispered.
He lunged out of the seat and was in front of her in two seconds. “What’s wrong?” he demanded.
“Olivia,” Elizabeth choked out. She closed her eyes. “She…one of the meds…she had an allergic reaction–a bad one and she’s…oh, God, Jason, she’s back in a coma.”
He reached out and gripped her arms to keep her upright. “Deep breaths, baby, deep breaths, okay?”
“Oh, God, Jason, I can’t…we have to get to the hospital. I need…I need to be there…we need to be there.”
“Okay, I need to find my keys. They weren’t in my pockets–”
Elizabeth pulled away and crossed the kitchen to one of the drawers. She pulled out his wallet and keys. “I f-found them on the porch last night.”
He took both from her and put an arm around her firmly guiding her to the front of the house.
“I knew I s-shouldn’t have gone out–I should have been in the hospital last night–she needed me–”
“It’s okay,” he said, pulling the front door open with his free hand. “It’ll be okay.”
She stopped abruptly and threw her arms around his neck, burying her head in his chest. “I’m scared,” Elizabeth sobbed. “I don’t know what I’ll do if I lose her.”
He wrapped his arms around her waist and felt her body trembling violently. “We’ll get through this. Olivia’s going to be okay.” He pressed his lips to her soft brown hair. “We’ll get through this.”
Olivia was hooked up to more machines this time and her skin was paler than before. An allergic reaction, the doctor had said. One of the interns gave her the wrong dosage of the wrong pain medications and it had interfered badly with not only her system but the medication she’d already had in her body.
Later Jason would remember the doctor apologizing to them and letting him know that they were expecting a lawsuit and the intern in question had already been fired.
But the only thing that registered in his mind was the look on his ex-wife’s face when she was told there was a chance their little girl would never wake up.
And if she did, brain damage was nearly certain. There was no telling how much or how it would effect her but she would never be the same.
Because one intern got her mixed up with another patient.
Elizabeth curled up next to her daughter and the doctors let her. It wasn’t the first time they’d seen a grieving mother. Jason sat on the chair next to the bed and kept Elizabeth’s hand tightly in hers.
“I should have been here,” Elizabeth said dully. “I could have told the intern that it wasn’t right–that it was the wrong patient. But I spent five hours with some jackass who never shut up about himself.”
“It happened this morning,” Jason told her. “Around 4 AM. You wouldn’t have been here anyway.”
“All she ever wanted was her family together,” Elizabeth whispered. She feathered her fingers over Olivia’s delicate skin. “I swear, baby, if you wake up, I’ll find a way to make it happen.”
“Dr. Jones is bringing in some medicine from California. They think it will counteract what’s wrong and bring her out of it,” Jason said softly. He rubbed his calloused thumb over her soft knuckles. “He’s got a lot of hope for this, baby.”
“I spent this morning arguing with you and I can barely remember why.” Tears were falling from her eyes but she could barely feel them. “I would give anything to take those five seconds back. To take be able to turn off the car and take the keys in with me. I’d sell my soul if it meant my baby could go on.”
“This isn’t your fault,” Jason told her intently. “She was fine. She was recovering and in therapy. Someone else made a mistake–”
“She wouldn’t have been here if it weren’t for me,” Elizabeth whispered. She kissed Olivia’s forehead gently and sat up to rub her eyes. “I’m numb inside,” she murmured. “Nothing’s moving. I can’t…I can’t feel anything.” She slid her legs off the bed and stared at him intently. “When she wakes up–a-and they’re right about…the damage…I won’t hire someone to take care of her.”
He took her hands in his and pulled her towards him. She slid off the bed and into his lap. She pulled her legs up and tucked them under the chin.” He pushed her hair out of her pale, worn face. “We’ll take care of her together,” he promised.
Elizabeth leaned her head back until it rested in the crook of his shoulder and let her eyes drift close. He smoothed his hand up and down her spine, the rhythm eventually lulling her into a dreamless sleep.
He kissed her forehead gently and tightened his arms around her. They’d get through this somehow.