February 21, 2021

I told you guys I wanted to play a bit with some of the projects on my drawing board to see if I felt drawn to any of them, particularly the ones that I haven’t touched at all or in years. These Small Hours was actually a project I started back in 2008. It was originally a Johnny/Nadine story with some Liason flavor, but in the last 13 years, the Nohnny fanbase (which was tiny to begin with) has, uh, drifted and I might be the sole survivor. So it has to be refashioned into a Liason story with Nohnny flavor. You can read the original version in the Fiction Graveyard.

This is kind of the opening for Burn in Heaven, the sequel to A Few Words Too Many, a story I wrote in 2014. I think one of the reasons I never got around to the sequel in 7 years was that because I was writing about Liz’s first pregnancy, it meant that Cameron didn’t exist. Cam is legit my favorite Webber boy, so it felt weird. I decided to fit him in anyway, lol. This is set in 2007, four years after A Few Words ended.  I also want to play a bit with Kismet, Mad World, Broken Girl, and Malice as well as some of the AU stories before I make a final decision, and maybe do another poll once you guys have more to work with. I wrote this just this morning, so I haven’t reread or anything. It’s like extended flash fic over two hours, lol.

I hope you enjoy! I’ll be back tonight with Flash Fiction.


August 2007

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

When Jason Morgan had been dragged into work that morning, he’d left chaos behind in his wake. He hadn’t wanted to go to work—it was a Sunday and it was supposed to be his day off. He’d told his best friend and business partner that Sundays were off limits except for emergencies, and Sonny Corinthos mostly listened to that.

So when Sonny had claimed an emergency that morning, Jason had looked at his exhausted wife and reluctantly left her and their three small children behind to head down to the warehouse. An emergency in his business meant life or death, and that had to come first. Elizabeth had smiled wanly at him, assured him she understood, and sent him on her way. She could handle the kids.

Jason had been livid when he arrived at Sonny’s office to learn that the emergency was just some contracts that needed to be filed the next day, and Sonny needed Jason to witness his signature right now because he was heading to Rome that afternoon with Kate Howard, the new woman in Sonny’s life.

“This isn’t an emergency,” Jason had told him tightly, but Sonny just shrugged. It was an hour out of Jason’s life, what was the big deal? Elizabeth could deal with the kids for an hour.

By the time Jason got home, it was closer to three hours since he’d left Elizabeth alone. The contracts had taken longer than Sonny thought they would, and there had been a crisis on the floor that Jason needed to deal with—

He didn’t know what he expected when he came home later that morning, but it wasn’t the sight of potato chips crumbled all over the sofa and a glass of juice tipped over the coffee table so that the red liquid pooled over glass top and trickled to the carpet.

Jason frowned, then went into the kitchen where Cadence, who would turn four that December, was carefully putting a handful of Fruity Pebbles in her younger brother’s palm. “It has fruit,” she told two-year-old Cameron seriously. “That means it’s good for you. It’s on the box.”

“I don’t think that’s how it works,” Jason said, leaning against the doorway, charmed despite himself.

Cady gasped, her dark brown eyes widening with joy. “Daddy! Daddy! You’re home!” She dropped the box and ran at him. He lifted her into his arms, hugging her tightly as if they’d been separated for days rather than hours. “I took care of Cam.”

“I can see that—” Jason glanced down, feeling Cameron attach himself to his jeans. He took in the kitchen—it didn’t look much better than the living room and hadn’t been cleaned up from breakfast. His heart began to pound just a bit faster, and his fingers tightened around Cady. “Where’s Mom? And Jake?”

“She took Jake upstairs to clean up,” Cady said. She pressed a finger to her lips. “But shhhh. I think she’s sleeping. She’s laying on the bed and her eyes are closed.”

“Okay.” He forced himself to stay calm—he didn’t want the kids to be upset. They’d been through enough three months earlier when Elizabeth had given birth to Jake and nearly died. Jason had been at the hospital for days with her, and Cady and Cameron had been bounced around relatives.

“I’m going to go upstairs and check on her, okay? Can you finish feeding your brother?”

“I can,” Cady told him proudly. “I’m all grown up. I’m gonna be four. That’s this many.” She held up four fingers. “Aunt Emmie said I can run the world.”

“I know you can.” He kissed her cheek, then set her back on the ground. “I’ll be right back.”

“‘Kay, Daddy. Cam, come eat your cereal—”

Jason walked as quickly as he could back through the living room, and took the steps two at a time. She’d probably laid down for just a minute—she was fine, she was okay—

Their bedroom was dark and quiet, the blackout curtains pulled so that Jake could nap when he needed to throughout the day.

Elizabeth was curled up on her side and Jake was laying next to her. She’d arranged pillows around the three-month-old infant so that he couldn’t roll too far away from her and his eyes were closed but his chest was rising—he was just sleeping.

And Cady was right. Her mother was sound asleep, one hand tucked under her cheek, the other stretched out to cover Jake’s stomach. The muscles in his chest relaxed and he exhaled slowly, scrubbing his hands over his face. For Elizabeth to fall asleep like this while Cady and Cameron were both downstairs, alone—

She was so tired and worn out. He never should have left.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured. He leaned down to kiss her forehead, then left the room.

He returned to the kitchen and found actual food for the kids to have for lunch, careful to keep the monitor close. If Jake stirred, Jason didn’t want him to wake Elizabeth until she was ready to be awake.

While Cady and Cam were eating, he cleaned up the kitchen and the living room, then returned to sit next to them at the table. “Hey, do you guys want to go over Aunt Carly’s tonight?”

Cady squinted her eyes. “Mommy didn’t have another baby, did she? I always go to Aunt Carly’s when there’s a new baby.” She glared at Cameron who frowned at her, a spoonful of Spaghettios in his hand. “No more babies.”

“No more babies. Just for fun.”

“Not a baby,” Cameron informed his sister, offended. He help up two fingers. “I’m this many now. Mommy said that made me a big boy. Not baby. Jake is a baby.”

Cady rolled her eyes, looking like such a perfect miniature version of her mother that it made Jason smile. She looked at her father. “Okay. Aunt Carly. But if I come home and there’s a new baby—”

“No new babies,” Jason repeated. “Finish eating and I’ll pack for you.”

Jake stirred while Jason was putting together their overnight bags, and Jason was able to grab his son before Elizabeth could hear him crying—and that worried him, too. She’d always been the first to get up with Cady and Cameron. She’d had a sixth sense with them, but since she’d come home from the hospital—

“She’s tired,” Carly told Jason when she got to the penthouse to pick up the kids. She folded her arms. “Three kids in four years is insane. I told you both that when the stick turned blue with this one.” She nodded at Jake in Jason’s arms. “What are you, rabbits?”

Jason scowled. “It’s not just my fault—”

“No, she’s definitely a moron, too.” Carly arched a brow. “Get a nanny and get a snip.” She frowned. “Wait. You said Sonny called you in today. It’s Sunday.”

“Carly—”

“Sundays are supposed to be for emergencies—” She stabbed a finger at him. “You see, this is why I divorced him—”

“He divorced you because you lied about Kristina being his daughter,” Jason reminded her.

“Look, Alexis and I thought we were going to die!” Carly threw up her hands. “It was a deathbed confession!”

“I didn’t say I didn’t understand—look, Carly—don’t start. Can you just take Cady and Cam? Jake’s too young—”

“Hire a nanny. Don’t let her talk you out of this again. She’s basically a single mother when you go off to work—”

“She is not—” Jason closed his mouth. “Things are quiet—”

“Which is why the schedule Sonny has you working is insane. You’re supposed to be partners,” Carly said flatly. “He’s a father, too. Not that he remembers. Where did he need to go this time?”

Jason paused. “Rome.”

“Rome,” Carly repeated. She nodded. “He has time to follow Kate to Rome, and he had lots of time to take Amelia and Jordan to the island, and he took that whore Sam on a freakin’ cruise with that yacht she wanted—”

“Carly—”

“When was the last time you got to take a damn vacation? When has Elizabeth left the country?”

He scrubbed a hand over his face. “I know, Carly—”

“Your first anniversary. More than two years ago. I’m surprised you found the time to make an extra kid—” She wrinkled her nose. “I don’t want to think about that.”

“Then don’t—”

“I love you, Jason. You know that.” Carly sighed. “I just—you’re letting him take you for granted. He’s taking Elizabeth for granted. It’s what he did to me. After everything we went through to be together—I thought he respected me. I thought he loved me. But I was never my own person with him. He might have moved out, but you know I’m the one that filed the papers.”

“I know that—”

“And I’m still not wild you forced her into my life, but now she’s here. I got stuck with her in the divorce—”

Jason squinted. “That’s not even remotely true—”

“And I’m telling you that she’s at the end of her rope. If she’s falling asleep for this long with the kids down stairs making a mess and on their own—”

“I know things have to change—”

“Then make a change. Do it today.” She paused. “You know I’m happy to take the kids. I love them like they were my own, and I’m glad to be able to finally be here for you the way you’ve always been there for me. But four years ago, you refused to listen to me and she nearly walked away.”

His chest tightened. “I know that.”

“Don’t think because she loves you and you keep breeding like bunnies that she’s going to stick around. She’s got options. Places to go.”

“Wait—” Jason stared at her, his arms tightening reflexively around his son. “She’s not—”

“No,” Carly said. “She’s an idiot and loves you. But there are people in her life who are telling her she should.” She pressed her lips together. “You didn’t hear that from me and I’m not saying another word.” Her eyes softened. “I love you. And for some reason, I don’t hate her. Don’t let Sonny screw up your family the way he screwed up ours.”

“I won’t. I promise.”

“Okay.” Satisfied, Carly held out her hands. “Now give me that baby so I can get my cuddles in. I need to imprint on him just like the others so I’ll always be the favorite aunt.”

Jason rolled his eyes, then went to get Cady and Cameron from the kitchen. Carly might have grown up in a lot of ways, but in others, she would always be the same.

“Remember, Daddy,” Cady told him seriously as she slung her sparkly unicorn backpack over her shoulder. “I better not come home to no more babies. I’m tired. They cry.”

Carly snorted and handed Jake back to his father. “Even your kid knows. Snip, snip, Jase.”

Jason scowled, kissed the kids goodbye, and closed the door behind his best friend. “Let’s go upstairs and check on Mommy,” he told Jake who just shoved his fist into his mouth. “Right.”

Elizabeth slept for maybe another half hour, then rolled over onto her back to find Jason sitting next to her, his back against the head back, his legs stretched out with Jake dozing on his chest. “Hey.” She smiled lazily. “How long—”

She jackknifed into a sitting position, looking around wildly. “What time is it? I fell sleep—where are Cam and Cady—”

“At Carly’s for the night.”

“What—” Elizabeth pressed her hands to her face. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry—”

“Hey—” Jason slid off the bed and settled Jake into his bassinet before coming back to the bed and gathering her in his arms just as she started to cry. “Why are you sorry? I’m the one that left—”

“But you had an emergency—I told you I could handle it—”

“And you have,” Jason said, more sharply than he meant to, but he couldn’t stand that she thought she’d disappointed him. No one could have handled his life better than she did. Than she had for the last four years. He dropped his face in her neck, tightening his hold on you. “I’m the one that let you down—”

“But I fell asleep and anything could have happened—”

“Look at me.” He drew back, smoothing her hair out of her face, waited for her to meet his eyes, then pressed his forehead against hers. “You’re only human. And Kelly only cleared you medically three weeks ago. That doesn’t mean you’re one hundred percent yet.”

“But—”

“Sonny’s out of town for the week,” Jason told her. “He’s in Rome—which means he can’t call or bother me. I told Bernie and Tommy to take care of anything that comes up. I’m here. For the week. And when Sonny comes back, things are going to change.” He paused. “I promise.”

“Okay, but—” Elizabeth chewed on her bottom lip. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep. I just—Jake was taking a while to go down, and I just—I thought he’d sleep if I closed my eyes—”

“And he did. He was still sleeping when I got home. Cady came up, saw you were asleep, and went downstairs to take care of Cameron. She was feeding him when I got him.”

“Feeding him.” Elizabeth managed a smile. “I can only imagine.”

“Fruity Pebbles. But only after she’d tried juice and potato chips which he decorated the living room. My point is—” He sighed, then moved back to sit against the headboard, tucking her under his arm. “Cady made me promise if she went to Aunt Carly’s, there wouldn’t be new babies when she came home.”

“Oh, God. She didn’t. She’s too young to remember Cam—”

“Apparently not. Or people talk when she’s around.” Neither of their boys had been planned in the slightest, and Cameron had been a genuine surprise, conceived on their honeymoon in Venice. He wouldn’t trade either of them for the world, but— “She’s right. I love all three of them, but we need to be more careful.”

“I know.” Elizabeth sighed. “Kelly told me when I got pregnant last year with Jake she was worried I wasn’t taking enough time between them, but in our defense—” She tilted her back to look at him. “He’s only here because of the Quartermaines, and Emily had Cady and Cam that night.”

Jason scowled at the reminder of the failure of the Enduro condoms that ELQ manufactured, then sighed. “Yeah, well, the blackout didn’t help.”

“No, you looked really sexy in the candlelight.” She grinned and he laughed, relieved to see her happier. “I love you, Jason. And I know you love the kids. I—” She hesitated. “We don’t talk about it much, but I want you know how much it means to me that you love Cady the way you do.”

Jason didn’t ask what she meant. Their oldest daughter was not his biological child, a fact that had become clear to most people as she’d gotten older. Her facial features were all Elizabeth, but she shared her biological father’s coloring, from the dark eyes to the dark hair. Jason’s mother had carefully broached the topic a few years ago, worried that maybe Jason didn’t know.

“She’s been mine since the day I found out you were pregnant,” Jason told her. “I don’t even think about it.”

“I know. And that’s what I mean. I just—there are enough people in this town who do remember…him. And one day, we’re going to have to tell her because she deserves to know the truth about who she is. And where she comes from.” Elizabeth paused. “When did you know? About Monica, I mean? And Susan? Or I mean, do you know when you found out before the accident?”

“I—I don’t know. I don’t really remember. I think Monica told me because she was trying to explain how blood didn’t matter. I don’t think I cared before the accident. We should ask her at some point. I know we have to tell Cady when she’s older because if we don’t, someone else will. And I’d rather it came from us.”

“That’s one thing you can depend on in Port Charles,” Elizabeth said. She snuggled into Jason’s embrace. “If you don’t tell the truth, someone will tell it for you.”

“But we don’t have to worry about that for a long time. Everyone who knows the truth loves Cady. They’re not going to do anything to hurt her. Or us.”

“No. She’s safe. We made sure of it.”

Crimson Pointe, New York

Zacchara Estate: Study

Anthony Zacchara leaned back in his chair and lifted the cigar to his mouth, studying the woman in front of him. “Your proposal intrigues me,” he admitted. “And I do enjoy the idea of torturing Corinthos and Morgan until they bleed, but, uh, what do I get from this?”

Faith Roscoe’s lips curved into a smile as she examined her nails, flicking at a chip in the blood red polish. “Haven’t you ever pulled wings from a fly just to see what would happen?”  She shrugged one shoulder elegantly. “I’ll get my revenge, and you’ll get to take over Port Charles. Send one of those kids of yours to run the place if you want.”

“You don’t want the power?” Anthony lifted his brow. “I find that hard to believe.”

“Breaking Sonny Corinthos and Jason Morgan is all the power I need.” Faith lifted a perfectly arched brow. “Are you in or out?”

February 20, 2021

Hey. Checking in real quick before I go to make sure my car is cleaned up before my vaccination appointment in about an hour. I didn’t get a chance to do a flash fic earlier, so either I might not get to it when I get back or it will be late tonight. We’ll see.

The, uh, reason I didn’t do a flash fiction earlier is that I got distracted by playing with These Small Hours, mostly because I thought I’d try to play with a lot of different ideas and see if anything caught my fancy. So to make up for a possible lack of flash fic, here’s the snippet of These Small Hours I wrote today, beginning after Kate’s shooting back in September 2008.


September 29, 2008

Downtown Port Charles

The traffic light at the next intersection flipped from yellow to red, and the three cars in front of Elizabeth Webber’s Honda Civic slowed to a stop. She made a face, then picked up the phone she had tossed on the passenger side. She had a missed call from her best friend, Patrick Drake, and another from her ex-husband.

But none from the man who had stood her up at the airport, leaving her standing by the gate watching as the flight to Venice had boarded and pulled away from the runway.

Jason hadn’t called until the plane was in the air.

She’d been so sure that he was simply running late—she’d nearly boarded the plane, convinced that he’d make it before the plane took off, but something had kept her from making that leap of faith.

Maybe it was the dim memory as a teenager of watching Brenda Barrett waltz down the aisle in a wedding dress, convinced Sonny Corinthos would keep his promise to marry her, and the humiliation that had followed.

Now the only thing headed to Italy was her luggage.

She’d listened to his hurried apology and explanation—Kate Howard had been shot at her wedding just while Jason was on his way to the airport. He’d had to turn around and hastily get to St. Timothy’s Church to stop Sonny from doing whatever he was going to do.

Elizabeth had accepted the apology, assured him she understood, and had headed to the parking garage where she’d paid in advance for the week. She didn’t even blink when the parking attendant told her it was nonrefundable.

Of course it was.

Elizabeth leaned back in her seat, staring at the traffic light, waiting for it to turn green. She was going to General Hospital, going to work, because it was all she could do to keep her mind off what she knew would happen next.

It had taken every ounce of energy, of faith, of love to keep fighting for Jason to trust that she knew what she was doing, that she was willing to step into his world. He’d finally come around—they had finally been so close to the dream he’d claimed he wanted back in April—

And now Kate Howard had been shot trying to marry the man who had only recently given up the business Jason now ran.

Are we really doing this?

Unless you back out.

Not gonna happen.

“Liar,” she murmured.  She was never going to be allowed to have more than moments, more than a brief glimpse of what life with Jason could be like. And Jake was never going to have his father. She couldn’t believe that after what happened to Kate that Jason would ever give them that chance.  No, not when it had barely been six months since Michael had been shot in the head.

The light turned green, and Elizabeth eased her foot off the brake as the cars in front of her moved. Soon, she’d be back at work, and she’d have the blessed distraction of paperwork to numb her thoughts.

Her phone rang just as Elizabeth was halfway across the intersection, and she reached out with one hand, blindly trying to find it—

She heard the blaring of a horn just a second before the world in front of her spun—a horrifying slam and screech—her car spun, turning it back into oncoming traffic—Elizabeth saw a car heading straight for her—

She screamed and then her car was flying through the air, flipping twice in front of horrified onlookers. Her head was aching, her vision was spotty—and she could hear people shouting—but—

Elizabeth closed her eyes, listening to the sound of her phone still ringing, and everything disappeared.

St. Timothy’s Church: Parking Lot

Jason Morgan grimaced as his second phone call to Elizabeth’s phone went to voice mail. He hoped she wasn’t answering because she was driving and not because she was angry—

Not that she didn’t have every right to be angry, he decided as he turned and scanned the front of the church, waiting for the Port Charles Police Department to release the scene so that Jason could get a look at what the hell had happened.

He’d waited too long to call her, but there hadn’t been time to explain to her that he’d really been hoping that whatever was happening with Kate was something he could delegate even for a few days in Italy. By the time he’d realized how terrible it was—

He’d broken too many promises her to her this last year, and he knew she wasn’t going to wait around much longer.

“They took Sonny to the PCPD.”

Jason turned with a scowl as Cody Paul, his second in command approached. “When? How long ago?”

“Maybe twenty minutes. They just let Max go—” Cody nodded to the man who was coming up behind him with an exhausted air. Max Giambetti had chosen to stay with Sonny as his personal guard when Sonny had turned over the business a few months ago. “We couldn’t find out sooner—”

“What happened inside?” Jason demanded. “They wouldn’t let us near the place—”

“Miss Kate—” Max swallowed hard. “Looked like an angel. Shot right through the back just as she reached the end of the aisle. She’s at GH, and Sonny—he’s not doing good. He’s convinced Johnny Zacchara did this.”

“Johnny?” Jason repeated, blinking. “But he was at the wedding. He brought Lulu, didn’t he?” He scrubbed a hand over his mouth. “Damn it. Where is he? Where’s Spinelli? He’s not answering my calls either—”

“Lulu went crazy at the sounds of the shot,” Max said grimly. “Zacchara and Spinelli took her to GH, hoping they could get her calmed down, but looks like she’s headed right back to Shadybrooke after this. Shame. She looked a lot better.”

Jason exhaled on an irritated huff. “You said Sonny’s at the PCPD?”

“Yeah—”

“Good. That means he’s not on his way to GH to go after Johnny. We got Anthony and Claudia to back down after the last dumbass thing he did—” Sonny had locked Johnny in abandoned mental institution for weeks, convinced he’d taken Michael. Jason closed his eyes at the memory of his nephew, the little boy who would always feel like his own son.

Michael had gone missing for a few weeks earlier that year, but he’d been hiding after accidentally shooting Kate. Then he’d ended up in a coma, the victim of a bullet meant for Sonny.

If Sonny went after Johnny Zacchara again, his psychotic family wouldn’t be so easy to back down, and they’d be out for blood—

His phone rang and Jason looked down at the device in his hand, frowning when he saw Patrick Drake’s name on the screen. Why would—

“Patrick?”

“Jason, I just got a message from dispatch that Elizabeth was in a car accident—”

Jason’s breath caught as he forced himself to ask, “Is she okay?”

“I don’t know. It just—it just happened. They only know it’s her because a paramedic recognized her. It’s—Christ, it’s bad. I’m sure you’re busy but—”

“I’ll be right there.” Jason snapped his phone shut.

“Jason?” Max asked as Cody furrowed his brows.

“Elizabeth—” He took a deep breath. Elizabeth in a car accident just after Kate was shot? What if someone knew about them? What if it hadn’t been an accident—

“Jase?”

Jason snapped to attention when Cody said his name. “Car accident,” he said. “I need you to call the guards on Audrey Hardy’s house. The boys are with her today because—” He couldn’t remember why. They were supposed to be with Lucky— “Call them. Double them.”

“Is Miss Webber okay?”

“I don’t know. I need—I need to—”

“I got this handled, Jason,” Cody told him. “Sonny’s at the PCPD, I’ll get men there to keep him from Zacchara.”

“Yeah. Yeah. Okay.” Jason yanked open his car door and it wasn’t until he was halfway to the hospital before he even had time to wonder how Patrick had known to call him.

General Hospital: Emergency Room

Patrick emerged from a cubicle just as Jason rushed through the doors. He called the enforcer’s name, stopping Jason from going to the nurse’s desk.

“Where is she? Is she okay? What happened?” Jason demanded.

“She’s being taken down to X-Ray,” Patrick said, stripping off his gloves and tossing them in a nearby medical waste bin. “Her car was broadsided by some asshole running a red light. Her car got shoved into oncoming traffic. The car flipped a few times. Thank God—” He dragged a hand through his shaggy dark hair. “Thank God for seat belts and airbags or she’d be dead. And if she’d been even six inches more through that intersection, that car would have hit her and not her fucking front end—”

He pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes, cleared his throat. “Sorry. Sorry. The paramedics just—she’s alive. She’s banged up, pretty bruised. I’m worried about some cracked ribs, but she’s alive.”

The relief on the other man’s face was so stark, so palpable that it made Patrick feel irrationally angry. “Why wasn’t she on the goddamn plane? She was supposed to be somewhere over Canada—”

Jason frowned, then glanced around them and now Patrick really wanted to punch him. The knowledge that his hands were more important and that Jason could probably crack him in two without blinking kept him from throwing the punch.

But he really wanted to.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Are you worried someone might see that you give a damn? Sorry to interrupt whatever was more important. She’s alive. You can go back to ignoring her—”

“What the hell—”

Patrick didn’t even bother waiting for him to finish his statement. He whirled around and started for the main desk to find another chart, to search out another patient so he could get his mind off Elizabeth and the worry about her ribs—

“I wasn’t ignoring her. I would never—”

“Except that you do.” Patrick took a deep breath. “She told me she was going to Italy with you because she wanted someone to know where she was since she couldn’t tell her grandmother, and Lucky is, on his best day, a giant fucking piece of shit. She was excited, you know that, don’t you? She’s talked about going to Italy for as long as I’ve known her—”

“I know that—” Jason started.

“When I heard about the accident on the dispatch, I thought—I thought she was on her way to the airport. I called you because I thought you’d be waiting for her.” Patrick’s eyes burned into Jason’s. “But then I rechecked the flight info. She was coming home. And she was only on that road at the minute because you didn’t show up at the airport.”

“I—” Jason’s mouth tightened, and he dipped his head. “I know.”

“She’s my best friend. My family,” Patrick said, gritting his teeth. “You and I both know she can do better than you.”

“I do—”

“But she’s picked you. Either end it for good, Morgan, or man up, and stop wasting time. After what’s happened this last year, you’d think you of all people would remember that life is too damn short to waste time.”

General Hospital: Hospital Room

Everything hurt.

Elizabeth forced her eyes open and tried to breathe through the pain. Her wrist felt heavy and sore—more sore than the rest of her body, but man, it was actually hard to figure out which part of her hurt the most.

The room was dark—the only light peeked through the bottom of the closed door—and gradually, she realized she was in a hospital room.

A few other things started to come back to her—the airport, the call from Jason—the crunch of metal—

“Elizabeth?”

She cleared her throat, then licked her lips, and turned towards the voice. “J-Jason?”  She could dimly make out the shape of his torso,  the movement of his head as he leaned towards her. “What…what happened…”

“You were in a car accident.” He picked up her hand—the one that didn’t feel heavy and sore— “You’re okay. I mean, you bruised your ribs and broke your wrist—there’s a concussion—”

“That explains the pain.” She closed her eyes. “A car accident.”

“On the way home from the airport.”

“Right.” The airport. The trip to Italy that she was never going to take. “My bags. They’re on the plane.”

“I’ll call the airline and get them back. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay. Kate was shot. Sonny tends to go insane when you’re not looking.” Elizabeth stared at the ceiling. “Gram has the boys?”

“She does—it’s not okay.”

“Jason.” She took a deep breath. “I remember what happened earlier this year. I know you have things to do. You can—you can go. I’m okay—”

“I’m not going anywhere—”

“Someone might see you—”

“People have already seen me,” Jason interrupted. “You’ve been unconscious for six hours, and I haven’t left this room. I didn’t know when you’d wake up, and I didn’t want you to be alone.”

“Six—” Elizabeth turned her head towards him, wincing at the movement. The room was still dark. “But things—you need to be doing things.”

“I’ve got it handled.” Jason hesitated. “I mean, eventually, I have to do a few things, but they can wait. You come first.”

Her lip trembled. “That’s—but Kate was shot. I thought you’d—”

“All year,” he said slowly, “you told me that you understood the risks, and that it was your choice to make.”

She felt his lips, soft and gentle against her forehead. “We don’t need to do this tonight. You’re tired, and Patrick says you can go home tomorrow. Why don’t you get some rest? We can talk in the morning.”

“You’ll be here?”

“I’m not leaving you. I promise.”

December 8, 2020

The first scene is the opening scene of Fool Me Twice, Chapter One and is set in 2010. The last three scenes are set in October 2017 and from Chapter Two. Enjoy!


August 2010 in Bern, Switzerland

Church of St. Peter and Paul

Victor Cassadine smiled as he walked towards the altar of the church, finding great amusement in the sight of the woman dressed from head to toe in unrelieved black with a lace veil covering her face.

“I’m always surprised that you can step foot in a place like this,” he drawled. The woman turned away from the altar where she had been lighting candles. “I thought it might be you asking for this meeting when I received the message.” He glanced around the empty chapel, then lifted a brow at her. “You always had a flair for the dramatic.”

She lit the last candle, then stepped down to meet Victor at the front row of the pews. “And you came anyway?”

“It’s never boring,” Victor told her. He sat in the front pew, stretching his arm across the back of the wooden bench. “Why a Catholic church, darling? We’re Orthodox.”

“We’re practical,” she murmured. “I’ve always believed in covering all my bases.” She sat next to him, then lifted the veil on her hat. “You’ve heard the good news?”

“Of course. You’re a great-grandmother again. A little boy born to Nikolas.” Victor narrowed his eyes as the woman’s lips curved. “For someone who has been cast out of his life more than once, I don’t see why you’re so happy.”

“I had a thought, my dear Victor,” she said, “that Mikkos would be disappointed in the children he sired. None of them have taken up the reins the way they ought to.” She tilted her head at him. “What about Liesl’s brats? Wasn’t one of them yours?”

“Possibly,” Victor said with a light shrug. “They might also be Cesar’s. With Liesl, one never knows. You shouldn’t look for the Cassadine line to continue through me. No, Nikolas and his boys — they’re your best bet.”

“Perhaps,” she purred. “If only there were two of them.”

Victor felt the corner of his mouth tug up. “Darling, what are you up to?”

“Reviving the Cassadine line,” she replied with a sigh. She straightened the cuffs of her long black sleeves. “It’s not always in the blood, but in the breeding. I have a plan, Victor, but I’m afraid I cannot do it alone.”

“And what can I do for you?”

“You have some old friends that I might want to speak with. And now that you’re at the WSB—” Her smile deepened. “You have so many resources. I thought we might find it amusing to revive some old experiments.”

“You’ll have to be more specific, dear.” Victor shifted. “What experiments?”

“Controlling the mind, manipulating memory—” she sighed, dreamily. “I came close with my beloved Lucky. So close to finally cracking it all and getting my revenge on Luke and Laura but I was stopped.”

“And you can’t abide while a Spencer lives?”

“Luke and Laura are on the list. So are their children, but no. I think it’s time that I take my revenge on the people who stopped me. My grandson who lied to me—” Her lips trembled before she pressed them together as the fury in her eyes grew. “He deceived me, led me to believe he had finally come to my side—and he might have. But she always stopped him.”

“She?”

“Elizabeth Webber. The mother of Nikolas’s new son.” She laughed then, a dark chilling laugh. “So many fathers for her children, what’s one more lie for her to live?”

“My dear—”

“If Nikolas had killed Elizabeth Webber when he was supposed to, I would have the power I deserve. She made him weak. And she keeps him tied to the good. With the death that insipid girl—” She took a deep breath. “When I have broken Elizabeth, I can take my grandson back.”

“And the experiments,” Victor said, slowly. “They’ll help you do that?”

“Oh, I couldn’t destroy her without them. This little lie about Aiden—” She examined her nails. “It’s just the first of the tortures I have planned. And when she’s gone, when Nikolas has fallen — then it will be time to finish Luke and Laura—”

“Then how are you going to revive the Cassadines?” Victor asked, as the woman rose to her feet and reset her veil. “Without Nikolas, there’s just the one boy—”

“The Cassadine line is weak. Nikolas proves that. His son will be as useless as him. Will you help?”

Victor mused on this for a long moment, then nodded. “I have been thinking about getting into that line of research,” he admitted. “And, interestingly enough, I have some research going on in the labs now that might be useful.” He stood as well. “Did Mikkos have another bastard son, or—”

“No, it’s time to look to a new branch.” Helena Cassadine lifted her face into the light for a brief moment and her smile would have sent chills down a lesser man’s spine. “Mine.”

October 2017

Greystone Manor: Living Room

Carly folded her arms and made a face. “Stop it with the silent treatment. I just said what we were all thinking.”

“I’m not—” Sonny broke off and shook his head. He sipped his water. “I’m not giving you the silent treatment, Carly. I just don’t know why everything with Jason has to be a fight—”

“Well, why am I the only one who sees that this is insane?” she demanded. She stalked over to the terrace doors and stared out gloomily over the grounds. “Jason. Going into the corporate life. He would have gnawed his arm off rather than go into business.”

“He always liked doing the paperwork at the warehouse,” Sonny mused, and she shot him a nasty look over her shoulder.

“He liked doing the books,” she corrected. “The numbers. They—” Carly closed her eyes, hating the way tears stung her eyes. “He said they were predictable. Comforting. They never changed. He used to do the books at Kelly’s for Mama when she was managing the place.”

“I know. He did them for Mike, too. Carly—” Sonny paused. “You’re not the only one who thinks this is strange. You heard Jason. Elizabeth agrees with you.”

“Yeah, well, she’s stalked him for decades,” Carly muttered. “She’d know—”

“Carly—don’t start—”

“Uh, am I interrupting something?”

They both turned at the new voice in the room as Michael came in, his brow arched. He jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “Max said I should just come in—is everything okay?”

“It’s fine.” Carly swiped at her eyes and forced a smile. “I didn’t know you were coming back from Morocco today.” She looked around, then though clenched teeth asked, “Where’s Nelle?”

“Not that you care,” Michael said slowly, “but I dropped her home. We were both pretty jet legged and she needs to be back at work tomorrow. What’s wrong?”

“Your mother is a bit upset,” Sonny said. “Jason asked me to buy him out of the warehouse. He’s buying Julian Jerome’s media company.”

Michael laughed, a nervous burst of sound falling from his mouth as he looked skeptically from his mother to his father. “No, really. What’s going on?”

“See?” Carly said, gesturing at Michael. “The three people who know Jason best know this is bullshit—”

“Let’s mark this moment because I think you just said something nice about Elizabeth,” Sonny said dryly. “And hey, Carly, I never said this wasn’t weird, I just said—”

“Wait, this is really happening?” Michael said, puting up a hand, his brows deepening into a frown. “Jason is buying a media company. My uncle? With the leather jacket and refusal to wear a helmet?”

“He barely even uses the bike anymore,” Carly muttered. “Helena Cassadine must have fried his brains just like she did to Lucky and Jake, and it’s taken us years to figure it out—”

“He wants a safer life for his family,” Sonny said. “After Jason got shot in August—”

“Because Sam got involved like she always did—” Carly huffed and sat down. “You know, the one good thing I can say about Elizabeth is she let him do his damn job.”

“I was only gone for two weeks,” Michael said to Sonny, a bit helplessly. “Mom’s on Elizabeth’s side, Jason’s quitting the business—which I didn’t know was an option—and he’s buying a media company? Like—with offices? And suits?”

“I’m gonna call Uncle Luke,” Carly decided. “He’d be able to come to town and look at Jason and see if Helena put the whammy on him or something—”

Sonny rolled his eyes and pulled his vibrating phone from his pocket. “People are allowed to change their minds—” He frowned at the message. Breach at the Queen’s Point house.

 

“Dad?” Michael asked. “What’s going on?”

“There’s—” He paused, met his son’s eyes. “Back when Elizabeth moved out to Queen’s Point,” he began slowly, “Jason wanted a safe house in that neighborhood, close to theirs so they’d have a quick escape route where we could extract them if we needed. I knew he was worried about Jake. About all of them—” He ignored Carly’s snort. “So we bought the place, but only Jason and I ever knew about it. And Spinelli. He bought the house and buried the deed. No one ever knew it was connected to us.”

“Sonny?” Carly asked, focusing. “What is it?”

“We never used it,” Sonny continued. “I forgot—I forgot about it. But this—” He held up his phone. “Spinelli sent me a text from Portland. Someone just disengaged the security.”

“Someone knows about one of the safe houses?”  Carly rubbed a hand up her arm. “Why would anyone care? Elizabeth doesn’t even live in that neighborhood anymore—”

“I know,” Sonny murmured.  “I’m gonna go check it out—”

“Oh—” Carly winced as her husband walked past her. “Don’t go alone—”

“I’ll take Max. Don’t worry. It’s probably nothing.” He kissed her cheek. “Rant with Michael about Jason. If I run late, I’ll just meet you at the hotel.”

Carly scowled after him, then turned her attention to her son as Sonny left the house. “I don’t like the sound of this.”

“Well, then take your own advice,” Michael suggested, “and stay out of it. Just like Sam should have in August. If he had, then he wouldn’t—” He made a face. “Is he really buying am media company?”

“Apparently, and I’m supposed to just be happy about it,” Carly muttered, flopping on the sofa. “Jason and Sonny know better than to expect me to suck it up and hide how I feel.”

“Yeah, I don’t know why anyone expects civility and manners from you. Don’t they know who they’re talking to?”

Carly slid a glare at him out of the corner of her eye. “I used to wipe your ass, kid.”

Michael sat next to his mother and offered her a grin. “So did Robin. You guys have a lot in common. It’s a shame you’re not friends.”

“The whole world is against me,” she moaned.

Webber House: Living Room

Elizabeth slid her phone into her pocket and walked into the living room where Cameron was trying very hard not to beat Aiden at a video game, but judging from the growling of her youngest son, he wasn’t doing a good job.

“Hey, Franco said he’s spending the night at his studio, so Cam, you’re keeping the the boys alive. Trina should be able to help with that. Is she still coming?” she asked, leaning a hip against the sofa.

“Yeah.” Cameron frowned at the screen. “Her mom might call yours to double check on the creeper situation.”

Elizabeth furrowed her brow. “Excuse me?”

“Dr. Rob does not like your current mistake,” Cameron continued, not looking at her. “So Trina can’t come over if he’s here.”

“You—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “You didn’t tell me that.”

“Didn’t come up before now. Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll be in college in another year—”

“Two,” Elizabeth muttered, not liking how close her baby was to being eighteen and graduating. “Cameron—”

“Joey’s mom doesn’t let him over here either,” Aiden volunteered. “Ever since Joey told her that Franco moved in before the Nurse’s Ball.” He shrugged. “Joey doesn’t have any brothers, so we never gotta fight for the video games.”

Why hadn’t she known that Franco’s presencen in her life caused problems for her boys? And Cameron—he’d called him the creeper. How—when—

“I’m sorry, Mom—” Cameron said. “I didn’t mean—” He scowled when his car went off the track. “I wasn’t paying attention. I shouldn’t have called him that in front of you.” He shifted, turned towards her on the sofa. “It’s not a big deal—”

“It—is that something you say when I’m not around?” Elizabeth asked. “I mean—” She hesitated when Jake stepped off the stairs, his arms clutched around one of Elizabeth’s photo albums from her room. “Jake, are your friends allowed to come over?”

“Not when Franco’s the only adult,” Jake said easily. He set the album on the table and opened it. “Mom, I don’t care what you and Dr. Maddox said. I don’t think the guy just looked like Dad did. I think he looked exactly like him—”

“Jake—” She could only handle so many crises at a time. She exhaled on a low breath. She’d deal with Franco and the boys later. “I told you—”

“See—I knew it—” He handed her a photograph. “I knew we had a picture of Dad in a hat.”

“Really? Jason in a hat?” Cameron leaned over. “He does not look comfortable—hey, Aunt Em looks really young!”

Elizabeth sighed. Jake had grabbed an album from nearly two decades ago—she and Lucky had gone to the Canadian border looking for Emily when she’d been kidnapped by Zander. Jason had rescued her, and they’d returned to Port Charles. She remembered Emily and Jason saying goodbye at Kelly’s, and Emily finding a hat in Jason’s bag as he’d packed the bike up in the pakring lot. He’d bought it at a store at the border to blend in.

She’d insisted he put it on for her, and Elizabeth had snapped a picture of them. She’d given one copy to Emily—and kept the other for herself.

What a different man he’d been once.

“Jake—” Elizabeth looked at her middle, miracle boy. “I believe you. I just—I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it. People can look alike.”

“But—”

“I told you I’d make some calls and see if Spinelli could look into this. But it’s not going to do any good to keep worrying about it.” She kissed Jake’s head and handed the photo back to him. “I’m going upstairs to get ready for the party. Try not to kill each other.”

Safe House: Porch

The house, six blocks away from the empty lot on Lexington Avenue where Elizabeth and the boys had lived until a year earlier, looked like it had the last time Sonny had seen it—almost a decade earlier when he’d visited it.

He’d understood Jason’s worries about Elizabeth and the boys living in what had been a new development—so far from the center of town, from Towers where Jason was. It would take Jason almost a half hour to get to her if anything went wrong—he’d wanted something closer if she needed to run.

Now, Sonny realized he didn’t know if Elizabeth had ever known about the house. They’d never spoken about it.

He punched in the security code, noting that it had been armed when he’d arrived. Maybe it was a vagrant—maybe the security code had failed after all these years—

And maybe it had been a technical glitch on Spinelli’s end.

But the hairs on the back of Sonny’s neck lifted as he slid the door open and he found the the light on by the sofa, a duffel bag next to the table.

Someone was here. Someone who knew about this house and how to get in.

Something that only three people should known.

Sonny closed the door behind him, then walked over to the kitchen. It was dark—empty. He turned back at the creak of steps on the stairs. He slid the gun from the holster in inside his jacket and held it low.

“Who’s there?” he demanded.

Then a man turned the corner of the stairwell and came down to the first landing where it wrapped around to meet the first floor. As he came into the light of the living room, Sonny stared into the eyes of a ghost.

June 24, 2020

This is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Mad World, and it’s basically spoiler free. Enjoy some sweet fluff from Liason on their honeymoon. This is has not been checked for spelling or typos.


Elizabeth set down a pair of books on the sofa, then lowered herself down next to Jason. “Okay, if everything goes to plan, in about a month, we’ll have a baby.”

Jason frowned at her, put aside his travel book. “Uh, yeah, that is the plan—”

“This baby will need a name.” She picked up a book, Names Through the Ages. “We can start here. I brought the books, you go find some paper and something to write with. I’ll tell you all the names I like, and then we can narrow it down there from there.”

Jason grinned, reached over to tug down the edge of the book. “We’re not seriously going to go through every page of this, are we?”

“Listen, it’s the middle of winter in upstate New York, we can’t go a lot of places, and I can only manage sex once a day,” Elizabeth told him with mock seriousness. “We can talk about baby names or you can have sex. But choose wisely.”

“Well—” He made a show of looking at the clock on the wall. “It’s only about nine in the morning. Seems a little early if I only get to have sex once.”

“That’s what I thought.” Sheopened the book again. “Now, the reason I made Emily get this book is because it had all kinds old names—”

“Elizabeth—”

“This is the name our kid is going to have the rest of his life—” She pretended to glare at him. “If you tell me names don’t matter, we’re gonna have our first fight.”

“Well, I know how much you like your middle name,” Jason said, reaching for the other book. “We’re naming our first daughter after you. Imogen Morgan.”

“Don’t even joke about that—” Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “My parents just wanted to make sure Great-Grandma Imogen Martin wouldn’t leave them out of the will. They tried to suck up at the end.”

“Did it work?”

“Nope. Which does, in hindsight, make me happy. But don’t distract me. We’re not doing daughters yet.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “Boys.”

“These are all fine—”

“Jason Morgan—”

“I mean, what’s the difference between Brian and Mark?” Jason asked. “Is there one?”

“Brian was in a kid in my first grade class who tripped me. That’s why I have that scar on my knee.”

Jason nodded sagely. “Of course. That makes sense. Mark?”

“Sarah had a ridiculous crush on Marky Mark and I’d never be able to look our kid without thinking about it.” She snickered when Jason just stared at her with confusion. “Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch? Oh man, you know, you’re lucky. Anyway. Brian and Mark are out. So are…” She ran her fingers down a list. “Michael, Jeffrey, Alan, Edward—”

“Yeah, we only need one Edward,” Jason agreed.

“And it has to sound right with the rest of his name, okay? Because I have a middle name picked out.” She flipped a page. “Ooh, Scottish names.”

“What about…” He frowned. “Kevin—no. He was my doctor after the accident. And Carly’s.”

“See, that’s what I mean—”

“You did this to me,” he told her. “I never would have thought about it—”

“Right, until the day, we had baby Kevin in the park and ran into Kevin or something, and then he’d be like, whoa, weird, you named your kid after me—” Elizabeth shook her head. “Nope. I am not setting my son up for failure.”

“This seems more complicated than it needs to be.” Jason sighed, but now looked more closely at the book in front of him.

Elizabeth grinned at him, pleased. “This is why I love you.”

Jason looked at her, arching a brow. “Because I let you talk me into being ridiculous?”

“Yes.” She nodded. “Because you don’t mind when I talk circles around you, and drag you into my silliness—”

“I just like seeing you like this,” he said. He leaned forward and kissed her. “Happy.”

“Me, too.” She sighed against his lips and let the book fall to the ground. Jason wrapped his arm around her waist and lowered her onto her back. “You know, today is a good day,” she murmured. “Maybe we can manage it twice.”

“Well…” Jason raised his head to meet her eyes, still dancing with laughter. “You could just lay back and let me do all the work.”

“You have the best ideas.”

July 30, 2019

So here is your sample first chapter of Fool Me Twice, a rewrite of Jason’s return in 2017. It picks up after that day in the police station where Andre returns from Cuba and Spinelli finds Drew’s military fingerprints. Some of the details may be off — it’s been a while since I watched those scenes, and I would probably rewatch more of his return stuff if I ended up writing this one next.

Everything on the show is pretty much as it happened on the show except the teen stuff. Oscar is not looking for his father, and Cam has already been aged to William Lipton’s version.


Chapter One

I walk this empty street
On the boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I’m the only one, and I walk alone
My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
Till then I walk alone
Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Green Day


Friday, December 2, 2017

Greystone: Living Room

This was not a visit Elizabeth Webber was looking forward to making, but—as the mirror and the lines around her eyes reminded her every morning—she was an adult and procrastinating wouldn’t change the fact that her life, as she knew it, had irrevocably changed over the last three weeks. Just the day before, Dr. Andre Maddox — the lying snake weasel — had confirmed the identities of Andrew Cain and Jason Morgan, and now Elizabeth wanted to do what was right.

It was important to her that she do what was right. For all the times she’d hadn’t been fair to Jason or done right by him when it came to the miraculous son they shared, Elizabeth wasn’t going to waste another minute.

But she didn’t know where Jason was staying and she certainly didn’t have his number anymore, so she squared her shoulders, drove out to Shoreline Road and asked the security guards for admittance to the sprawling estate where Sonny Corinthis lived with his wife, Carly.

Whoever had agreed to see her knew who she was, and man, she hoped it was Sonny. While Sonny and Carly had both been furious at her for keeping the secret about Jake Doe’s supposed identity, Sonny had been a bit quicker to let the ire fade. Carly, however, had never liked her, and this had only served to make their rivalry worse.

Of course it was Carly sitting in the living room, lounging in the arm chair with one brow raised and smirk tugging at the corner of her mouth. Max Giambetti, Sonny’s loyal bodyguard offered Elizabeth a look of sympathy as he left the women in the living room alone and returned to his place in entry way.

“Well, it’s been about twelve hours since you found out Jason’s really home, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to see you sniffing after him.” Carly tilted her head. “He’s not here. Probably out reconciling with Sam.”

“You know, I used to wonder how you could be such a fan of Jason and Sam considering how they met and fell in love that first time. You know, when Jason was planning to raise Sam’s daughter with Sonny.” Elizabeth set her purse on the desk next to door and arched her own brow. “But then I realized how very smart it was for you to make sure your husband’s mistress was too busy to seduce him again.”

“Not pulling any punches, I see.” Carly rose to her feet, folded her arms. “Jason’s not here.”

“I know. I asked down at the guard house.” Elizabeth hesitated. “I’m here about Jake. Nothing else. I’ve tried to keep the boys from the news reports, but you’ve got a teenager. You know hard it is.” She shrugged. “I didn’t want to deal with telling Jake anything until we knew for sure. He’s been through a lot, and he’s so close to—to Drew,” she added, stumbling over the unfamilar name. “But Jason’s missed so much of his life—”

“And whose fault is that?” Carly demanded, planting her fists on her hips. “Who lied to him—”

“The first year of Jake’s life—that’s on me, Carly. The next two are on Jason. And none of that is your business,” Elizabeth cut in, flatly.       “Either way, the entire world knows that Jason is his biological father, including Jake. So whether you or Jason like it or not, that has to be dealt with. I’m not asking you for his number—”

“I wouldn’t give it to you even if you were,” Carly snapped. “Don’t get you tired of chasing after a man that doesn’t want you?”

“I’m not—” Elizabeth bit off her response, picked up her purse. “You know, I get why you’re not my biggest fan, but honestly, I would have thought you of all people would have understood what I did.”

“Lying to everyone about who Jake Doe really was?” Carly demanded. “You think that goes away because he’s not Jason? You didn’t know that—”

“Telling a desperate lie to be happy,” Elizabeth interrupted, softly. Carly pressed her lips together. “And then telling a new lie everyday to everyone, including yourself, because you’ve convinced yourself it’s worth the price. I knew when Jake found out he was Jason, he’d leave me. Because Jason always leaves. I told that lie to keep Jake, not Jason. Not that anyone cares. Or that it even matters anymore.”

She rubbed her temple. “I told a selfish lie on a bad night when I felt like my world was crumbling around me. I would have thought you, more than anyone else, could have understood how a desperate lie can turn so self-destructive and destroy everything.”

Carly stared at her for a long moment. “I won’t tell you where Jason is or how to reach him. He’s been through enough, Elizabeth. Tell me, if Jason wants a relationship with Jake, do you plan to stand in his way?”

“No.  Jason grieved Jake when we thought he was gone, and you’re right. He’s been through enough. Lost enough time.” Elizabeth’s eyes burned as she sucked in a deep breath. “How anyone can steal five more years from a man who already lost the first two decades is a cruelty I can’t understand. If Jason wants to be a father to Jake, if it will in any way, get him through this next part, that’s what I want. So if you could just tell him that.”

“What Jason’s been through since that night on the pier—his life stolen from him—yeah, the horror of that is something we can agree about.” Carly sniffed. “I’ll tell Jason. Do me a favor, keep Franco away from him? That’s something else he doesn’t need.”

“Yeah, I know.” Elizabeth pulled open the door to entry and stopped as she saw Sonny handing a dark coat to Max. “Sonny.”

“Elizabeth.” Sonny’s eyes flicked from her to the open doorway where Carly could still be seen. “Everything all right?”

“Elizabeth wanted us to pass a message to Jason,” Carly said coolly as she joined them. “To talk about Jake. And how they want to handle things.”

“I’m glad.” Sonny waited a long moment. “He was truly happy to find out Jake was alive. I’m glad you’re giving him a chance to be in Jake’s life.”

“He deserves it.” Elizabeth glanced back at Carly before smiling thinly at Sonny. “Thank you.” She hurried out the door, leaving Sonny to follow his oddly quiet wife into the living room.

“I’m glad to see she’s willing to—”

“Well, she’s just trying to get the drop on Sam,” Carly said with a roll of her eyes. She poured herself a glass of water. “Because now her precious Jake isn’t Jason’s only son. And Jason will have Danny—”

Sonny opened his mouth, then closed it with a shake of his head. “I don’t know. Sam—at the station yesterday—Sam came and left with Drew. And hasn’t really seemed interested in finding out anything about what Jason’s been through.”

“She’s just in denial. She’ll come around.” Carly folded her arms. “Besides, it’s not like Drew has any money. Not anymore.”

Sonny furrowed his brow. “I thought you and Sam had buried the hatchet a long time ago—”

“Yeah, well, accepting someone isn’t the same thing as pretending you don’t know them. Sam follows the money. She always has. You’ll see.” Carly sipped her water. “I guess that’s the one thing I could say about Elizabeth. She’s obsessed with the man, not the bank account.”

“I’m meeting Jason at the restaurant in a little while. You want to come, have some dinner?”

“No,” Carly sighed. “Joss is having her study group over and I want to keep my eye on the new boyfriend, Oscar.”

Penthouse: Living Room

Sam Morgan paused over some paperwork, the nib of her pen held just above the line where she was supposed to sign her name. She’d been Sam Morgan since 2011, a name she’d craved for six years. Sam Morgan was the wife of Jason Morgan, the man that had seen her for who she really was and loved her anyway. Who knew the darkness in her soul and depravity she was capable of—and loved her anyway.

She’d once lost all hope of having that name, of surrendering the name her worthless, criminal, and abusive parents had given her. She’d watched as someone stole Jason’s child from his mother, kept quiet as the world desperately searched for the newborn. She’d hired men to threaten that child and his mother with guns and violence.

But Jason had forgiven her. He’d seen past the cruelty and seen the pain. He’d loved her again, had married her, and proved it by giving her his names. Names didn’t matter to him, she knew that. For Jason, Morgan had just been a convenience. A strike of independence to the Quartermaines who wanted to control him.

For her, Morgan had been salvation. The proof that someone in this world loved her.

But now, six years after she’d married that day in the summer, nearly a year after she’d thought she’d married him again—

She paused as she started to sign her name.

Was it her name?

She set the pen down, leaving the form blank. She looked across the room where her husband was sitting with their children. Their daughter, Scout, cuddled in her father’s arms. Their son, Danny, tucked under his father’s arm.

The man who held them did not share blood with Danny, whose name was not Jason Morgan. It was not Jake Doe.

It was Andrew Cain. The man she had married was not the same man she’d believed him to be. Did she still have a right to Sam Morgan? Was she supposed to be Sam Cain?

She’d done this before—she’d thought she’d done this before. In love with one man when the love of her life returned to the plane of existence. She’d made her choices then, walked away from Patrick Drake, set him free to go back to his soulmate so she could have hers.

She’d sought out the man on her sofa, pushing him to reject the life he’d built as Jake Doe, relieved when they’d discovered the lie that tethered him to another woman. But if Elizabeth hadn’t lied, hadn’t betrayed this man—

Would he have come to Sam at all? Had Sam been a consolation prize, something to build a life around after the first one had crumbled? Had she lied to herself and to him that they’d fallen in love again?

Was she supposed to stay with Andrew Cain because of that? Because she’d stolen him away, was she now obligated to keep him? Did she want him?

Sam’s stomach swirled as she got to her feet, pasted a smile on her face, then went to her family on the sofa, taking a seat in the chair nearby. Listening the tenor of Drew’s voice as he read to their children. He was a good man who loved her. Who had stood by her—who had picked her instead of picking up the pieces and forgiving Elizabeth. She’d conceived a child with him, given him her son.

Danny didn’t know that the other man. The one that hadn’t wanted him. Jason had wanted her to kill Danny before he’d died, had abandoned her during her pregnancy. Strange how she could remember that now—she’d wanted Jason back so desperately in the months before he’d disappeared. Had thought they were going to be together again. Jason had seemed to accept Danny in those final days. Had risked his life to bring him home.

But Danny didn’t know him.

“She’s sleep,” Sam murmured as Drew closed the book and looked at her. “I’ll go put her down for a nap—”

“I’ve got it,” Drew said, his voice a bit dull, losing some its sweetness, its softness as he spoke to her. Since the moment Jason Morgan had crashed through the ceiling a month earlier, the man in front of her had shrunk. Had turned into himself, filled with anger, loss, and bitterness.

Today was the first day he knew the truth—that the memories inside his mind had been shoved in there, his own stolen from him. He didn’t know where he stood in the world. He’d lost two sons, lost his wealth, his place in the world.

He needed her. And oh, God, how lovely it was to be needed. No one, not even her children really, had ever needed her.

Sam squared her shoulders and smiled up at the man who was her husband. “I was signing some paperwork for Aurora,” she told him. “And it occurs to me that we should call my mother and make it legal. You’re Andrew Cain, and you own Aurora—”

Drew’s face grimaced as he got to his feet, Scout in his arms, Danny sitting on the sofa, looking at the pictures in the book they’d just finished. “I didn’t buy it—”

“But it’s my money, too,” Sam reminded him. “And it’s my dream, too. So we should make it legal. I can make Aurora my divorce settlement. This penthouse—it can still be ours, Drew. And then we’ll build Aurora just like you said. And we’ll give it all back to Jason so it’ll really be ours.”

Drew studied her for a long moment. “Sam—”

“So we should call my mother.” Sam lifted her chin. “And make sure that when people think of Aurora, they think of Andrew and Samantha Cain. We’ll get Scout’s name changed—and—” She hesitated. “And Danny’s.”

“That’s—” Drew shook his head. “Danny’s not—”

“He’s yours in every way that matters,” Sam told him fervently. “You’ve raised him. You loved him. Names don’t matter to Jason. But they matter to me. And I want Danny to be ours.”

“We’ll see,” Drew said, looking away. “We’ll see. But I appreciate what you’re saying.” He looked down at Scout, at her sleeping face resting against his shoulder. “But she’s mine. I believe that. For today, I can let that be enough.”

“I’m yours, too,” Sam insisted. But Drew just smiled at her, the emotion not reaching his eyes.

“I’ll put Scout down for a nap,” he told her, then climbed the stairs.

“Is Daddy okay?” Danny asked. “He looks sad.”

“We just have to give him lots of hugs,” Sam told her son, sitting down next to him and drawing her miracle baby into her arms. “And tell him how much we love him.”

Port Charles Police Department: Lockup

Detective Nathan West unlocked the door that lead to the holding cells but didn’t open it right away. He looked back at Elizabeth. “Are you sure? I don’t know if there are any answers you could really trust from him.”

“I know.” Elizabeth sighed, looked past him to the cell where her son’s psychiatrist was being held, at the man sitting on a bench, his head in his hands. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t ask the questions.”

“Fair enough. Jordan said you could have five minutes.” He pushed open the door. “I’ll be right here to let you out.”

“Thanks.” Elizabeth stepped into the hallway, the sound of her work sneakers quiet as she walked towards Andre Maddox. The man in question slowly sat at up as she approached the cell. Gone was smooth and urbane man who had so seamlessly won their trust and even their affection. He wore an orange jumpsuit, his eyes tired, his face lined with exhaustation and possibly regret.

She was counting on the regret she’d seen yesterday. The quiet desperate he must have felt to do something so reprehensible. She knew the story of his wife, understood his motives, but she could never bring herself to forgive him.

She’d brought her damaged child to him in hopes Andre could give Jake peace and secutrity. To give Jake back his mind and his sense of self after the damage Helena Cassadine had wrought. And Andre had used Jake, had been part of the scheme that stole his father away from them.

“I wasn’t expecting to see you again.” Andre rose to his feet. “I want to apologize—”

“You destroyed the lives of two men,” Elizabeth cut in. She folded her arms across her chest. “You may not have arranged their kidnappings, but you knew that the man who came home to us three years ago was not Jason Morgan. You stood by and let Drew build a life here. You used my son to hide your secret—” She shook her head. “But I’m not here to rage at you. Or to listen to your excuses.”

“Elizabeth—”

“You came to Port Charles around the time the so-called truth about Jake Doe was revealed, yes. And not long after you arrived, he started to remember his past. Was that you? Did you implant the memories then?”

“I—” Andre swallowed hard. “No. The man Robin Scorpio woke in that clinic—that was Andrew Cain. I never saw Jason Morgan again after I performed the procedure. Andrew Cain woke up from the cryo-freeze believing already he was Jason Morgan. The accident, the amnesia was real. Helena allowed it continue because it served her purposes for a time. Until it didn’t. And then I was sent here to—” He looked away. “To kickstart the experiment.”

“You also arrived here only months after Helena released my son from captivity.” Elizabeth lifted her chin. “Is that how you were able to treat Jake? Because you were the one that destroyed his mind in the first place? You were the one who brainwashed him—”

“No—” Andre pressed his lips together. “But I knew Jake. He—” He looked at Elizabeth. “The first lab, where I performed the procedure—it was on Spoon Island. And Jake was there. Elizabeth—”

Elizabeth let her arms drop to her side. “I had terrible hallucinations after I nearly drowned a few years ago. They found me on Spoon Island, and I’m told in the hospital, I was convinced my son was alive.”

Andre shook his head. “I—” He frowned. “When was that?”

“November 2011.” Her eyes burned. “They told me I was wrong. That it was the fever. But I knew my son was alive. I felt it, I knew I’d seen him.”

“I—” Andre looked away. “I can’t get into it, Elizabeth.”

Oh, God. She’d seen Jake. Se’hd seen him, and he’d been alive, and she’d let everyone talk her out of it. She’d thought she was crazy.

“How could you do this to us?” she whispered. “Before—okay, you didn’t know us. We weren’t real people. But you knew Jake. You knew Drew. And you knew that Dew and Jason were desperate to prove their identities—”

“I left—” Andre bit off an irritated response. Shook his head. “Elizabeth. I left those answers. I didn’t understand when Jordan and Curtis tracked me down why anyone was still—I left those answers with Franco. He was my last patient, and he already knew Drew existed. He—”

“Wait—” Elizabeth held up both her hands, gaped at him. “You’re telling me that when you fled town all those weeks ago, that Franco knew which brother was actually Jason—No. That’s not possible.” She shook her head. “No. If he’d known, he would have—”

Even as she said the words out loud, she heard the lie in them. Oh, God.

“I have to go—”

She turned and hurried away, back to the main hallway where Nathan West was waiting, his expression so sympathetic she knew he’d overheard the majority of the conversation.

“Did you get what you needed?” he asked as he led her back to the squad room.

“You were right,” she said, her head spinning as she opened the door for her. “He can’t be trusted.”

Pozzulo’s Restaurant: Back Office

“You sure you’re not hungry?” Sonny asked Jason as he mixed himself a drink. “Something to drink?”

Jason shook his head as he took a seat in front of Sonny’s desk and waited for his partner to return to his seat, the bourbon in his hand. “No. I’m good.” He grimaced. “Spinelli’s been working on the funding for the clinic, but he’s hit a lot of brick walls and Klein isn’t talking.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. “He thinks he can crack it some more time.”

“I’m sure he will.” Sonny pursed his lips. “We’re gonna find out who did this to you, and to Drew. But it might take time. Until we have a solid lead, you might want to think about what your life looks like here. Now that the truth is out.”

“I—” Jason shook his head, looked away. “I don’t know.” He looked down at his hands. “I figured I’d come back to work with you, but—”

“There’s not a lot to do,” Sonny admitted, finishing Jason’s thought. “That shouldn’t surprise you. The game was already changing even before you went off that pier. We still get the occasional shipments, and there’s always going to be gambling income. But, honestly, I really am mostly a coffee importer these days. You’re welcome to take over any of the businesses—you’re still a minority owner—but that’s not what I meant.”

Jason finally met Sonny’s eyes. “Yeah. No, I know what you meant. You’re talking about the rest of my life.”

“Your family,” Sonny said with a nod. “You didn’t know it when you got kidnapped, but you have two sons. I—I can’t speak for what Sam might be thinking. Things have been complicated there for a while. But Elizabeth came by the house today. She wants to talk to you about Jake.”

“Jake.” The son he’d believed was dead. Lost to him forever. “I—he doesn’t know me.” He knew the man who’d taken over his life. The brother he’d never known existed. “What about—what about Drew?”

“Drew and Jake are close,” Sonny admitted. “The kid’s been through a lot since he came home. I’m not gonna get into that,” he added. “That’s not my story to tell. But Carly seemed to think Elizabeth was prepared to figure out something that works for everyone. Of course, Carly thinks that’s because Elizabeth wants to worm her way into you and Drew’s life, but I know better.”

Sonny waited a moment. “How much do you know about Drew’s time here in Port Charles?”

“I—I know some of it. Elizabeth came to see me when I was still in lock up for the assault.” Jason grimaced at the memory, at the thought of Elizabeth living with Franco, the psycho that had tortured them all. He knew there was supposed to be a brain tumor, but—

He couldn’t stomach the idea of her with him, of his son being in that house. He knew Elizabeth’s generosity and love had no limits, but to think that she’d managed to not only forgive Franco but fall in love with him…

“She said she’d lied about who he was. That she’d known he was supposed to be me, and lied.” Jason shook his head. “I didn’t really understand it. You said he lost his memory—”

“Elizabeth was his nurse at the hospital,” Sonny told Jason. “And I guess he had your memories, or at least some of them. Because he took the name Jake and he connected with Elizabeth right away. With Carly and Michael.” Sonny smirked. “He hated me, and he and Sam were like oil and vinegar. But Elizabeth fell in love with him. Before she ever knew the truth of who he was supposed to be. But at some point, she learned the truth and never told anyone.”

“Yeah.” Jason exhaled slowly. “She said as much—”

“That was two years ago, and I think there’s a lot of people in this town that never forgave her. It doesn’t surprise me that she’s trying to make it right for you now. To give you back Jake. To find a way to keep Drew in Jake’s life. I’d like to think Sam will try to find that balance as well, but right now, Elizabeth is reaching out. And I think it’ll be good for you to be with Jake. You’ve never been able to before.”

“He might—” Jason shook his head. “He might not want me. And…there’s…Franco.”

“Yeah, believe me. I know. I can’t understand why anyone in this town thinks he’s changed, but he’s poison. He’s a con man who knows how to suck women in when they’re at their lowest. Carly was going through a lot, and God knows, Elizabeth was, too.” Sonny shook his head. “You and Elizabeth can figure that out, but if you want my advice—I’d at least see what Elizabeth is offering.”

Jason leaned back in his chair. “I don’t know what comes next,” he said. “I knew—I knew when I got to Port Charles that five years had passed. But I don’t think I understood what that would mean. The life I had was gone, Sonny. And—” He shook his head. “After the accident, it was like this. Only this is worse. Because I didn’t have anything back then. Not even the memory of what it used to be like. I tried to go home, and the penthouse wasn’t home anymore. My job—something I thought I could always count on—that’s not here either.”

He exhaled slowly. “Sam and I were getting back together when I went off that pier, but she’s moved on. And I can’t ask her to step back. To come back to the life we planned. It’s not fair to her. I remember—I remember when Lucky Spencer came back. How hard it was for Elizabeth. I can’t put Sam through that.”

“I’d forgotten that,” Sonny murmured. “I don’t know how to make it better, Jason. But whatever you need to build the next part of your life, I’ll be here. Carly and me, Michael. We’ll all be here for you. I can’t say the same for Sam or Danny. But if you’ve got a chance with one of your boys, I think it’d be a good place to start.”

General Hospital: Art Therapy Room

Even as Elizabeth shoved open the door to the conference room that been converted into a studio for Franco’s art therapy, she knew what Andre had told her was the truth.

She’d tried to lie to herself on the drive to work, told herself Franco was a different man as she clocked in and stowed her things in her purse. Reminded herself that she loved him.

But if he’d done this, if he’d kept this truth—

How much had he really changed? The violence might have been controlled by the removal of the tumor, but maybe that’s all that had been fixed.  Maybe Franco was still the man obsessed with Jason Morgan, seeking to destroy his life.

And once that had occurred to her, everything else seemed to sink into place. Franco hadn’t given her an iota of attention until Jake had come home. Until Jason’s son had returned. And she’d been lonely, sinking into depression over the destructive lies she’d told and the certainty that she’d been right—he’d been there. And she’d been desperate to believe people could be change.

That she could change.

So somewhere between starting her shift and her first break, Elizabeth became convinced that the last year of her life had been a tragic mistake, that she’d been manipulated, and used—

And that Franco Baldwin was still a dangerous, pathological liar.

She shoved open the door to his studio to find him staring at that stupid painting again—the one he’d made of himself with Drew.

She hated that painting.

“Elizabeth!” Franco grinned, reached for a rag to wipe his hands. He started towards her as if to embrace her, kiss her, but then he stopped. And his face changed. His eyes narrowed. “What’s wrong?”

“You knew which twin was Jason Morgan,” Elizabeth said. She didn’t ask it. She didn’t hint. She said it as if it were a statement of fact.

And she saw now—as something in his eyes shuttered, as he looked away and carefully started to clean his brushes—she saw that it was a fact. It was a truth.

“Andre told you the day he left town, and you said nothing. For weeks—”

“Why am I not surprised that you’re here about Jason,” Franco said coolly. He glanced at her, his lips pressed into an unhappy thin line. “Because, hey, how there’s one for each of you. You planning to wait to see which one Sam picks, so you can have the leftovers? Just like always?”

She’d been shocked and numb leaving the jail, upset and almost in tears in her cars, livid as she’d stalked in here. But now, watching his face, listening to her words, a calm settled over her.

Because it was so clear now. Franco had been her ultimate act of punishment. Everyone hated her anyway, so what did it matter if she gave them all one more reason? He didn’t love her. He couldn’t love her and say those things to her.

Lucky had taught her that lesson long ago.

“Jason is Jake’s father,” Elizabeth said quietly. “And my little boy has been through enough without wondering who his father was. I have to explain to him that the man he’s loved for the last years isn’t his father, a fact I could have started to deal with weeks ago. If you’d have the decency to tell the truth. But you were telling me something about yourself yesterday when I made you drop the charges. You believed I would leave you for Jason.”

Franco snorted. “Oh, okay. So this is about Jake. Sure—” He scoffed, threw the brushes to the table. “You keep telling yourself that, sweetheart. Think about all the lies you’ve told to keep Jason. He doesn’t want you, Elizabeth. He never did.”

“You should stay with your father,” Elizabeth said. “I’ll have your things packed and sent to his house.”

“You’ll be back,” Franco taunted as Elizabeth turned to leave. “When Jason throws you away, when Drew doesn’t want you—you’ll be back. You’ll see that I’m the one that loves you—”

“If this is love,” Elizabeth told him, the tears burning in her throat now. “I don’t want it.”

She returned from her break, weary and exhausted from everything she’d done that day. She called a locksmith to change her locks, called the security company to assign a new passcode, and then sent Cameron a text with the new information so he could let himself and his brothers inside.

By the time her shift ended at almost eleven that night, Elizabeth was tired down to the marrow of her bones and gratefully accepted Felix DuBois’s escort to her car. Felix had never liked Franco much anyway and didn’t want her to walk in the parking garage alone.

“You’re better off,” Felix said as they stopped off the elevator on the level where Elizabeth kept her Miata. “You and me, girl. We should be alone together.”

“Yeah, I definitely think I’m doomed,” Elizabeth muttered as she rummaged in her purse for her keys. “But I’m changing the locks, the security code is already done, and I’m pretty sure Cameron was happier than I’d seen him in months when he called at dinner time.” She wrinkled her nose. “I don’t think Cam liked him either.”

“I knew Cam was my favorite Webber boy,” Felix said. He raised his brows as they turned a corner and saw Jason Morgan leaning against the side of Elizabeth’s dark blue car. “Well, well, I’m sure that pretty man is not here for me.”

“No, I guess he’s not.” Elizabeth licked her lips. “Jason.”

“Elizabeth.” Jason nodded, then looked at Felix. He frowned. “I’ve met you.”

“Right before you tried to pound Franco’s head into the linoleum a few weeks ago,” Felix said. He offered a hand. “Which makes you my hero. Felix DuBois.”

“Nice to meet you.” Jason flicked his eyes to Elizabeth. “Sonny said you wanted to talk to me.”

“I—” She looked at Felix who just grinned at her. “Yeah. I wasn’t expecting to see you today though—”

“I’ll leave you all to your business.” He kissed Elizabeth’s cheek. “Let me know if you need anything, babe.”

“I will.” Elizabeth waited until Felix had sauntered out of earshot. “Have you been waiting long?”

“No, I called Epiphany. She told me when you were done.” Jason shifted. “Is that okay?”

“Yeah.” She cleared her throat. “Yeah. I just—it’s been a long day. I just—” She took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I just wasn’t expecting to see you tonight. I wanted to talk to you about Jake. Because I want you to be part of his life. We—” Her throat was thick. “I got a second chance with him two years ago, when he came home. And I want you to have one, too.”

Jason stared at her for a long moment, before taking a careful breath, his eyes dark with his own emotion. “I want that, too. But I know Drew—”

She swiped at her eyes. “I haven’t talked to Drew yet. He’s—We just kind of started being friends again after everything that happened. And I don’t know what he’s going to want to do. But I remember—” She hesitated. “I remember how generous you were with Michael. How important it was for you to do the right thing for him. I want you to be Jake’s father, Jason. But I also hope you can allow Drew to stay in his life as his uncle.”

“Of course.” Jason reached out, touched her elbow. “Are you okay? You looked upset when you came over—”

“It’s been a long day,” Elizabeth repeated. “And you won’t have to worry about Franco. He won’t be at the house. And he’s not in the picture. Not after today.”

“You—” Jason blinked. “You broke up with him?”

“Yeah. I guess that’s what I did. I—that’s another long story, and one you should probably hear. I went to the jail to talk to Andre—I just had a lot of questions about Jake, and I don’t how much of what he told me was the truth, but he told me Franco knew which one of you was—Franco knew. And he said nothing.” Elizabeth sighed, dug out her keys. “And when I confronted him, he was just—that’s not important. What matters is that he’s out of my life, so it’s not something you need to worry about.”

“But you said he lives with you. Did you—”

“I already changed the security code, I’m changing the locks, and he’s not there now.” Elizabeth sighed. “It’ll be fine for tonight. I think it’s best if I talk to Jake on my own, and then see if he’s open to seeing you. He might be resistant.”

“I’ll do whatever Jake needs,” Jason told her. He reached into his pocket and held out a scrap of paper. “I’m staying at the Metro Court right now and this is my new cell phone number. Call me.” He offered a half smile. “So you don’t have to run into Carly when you need me.”

“I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m glad you came by, Jason.” She smiled. “And I’m glad Jake is going to get to have you in his life. Drew—he had your memories. But it wasn’t the same.”

She extended her hand, as if to touch his arm, but then let it fall to her side. “I better get home to the boys. I’ll call you.”

October 1, 2018

For the Broken Girl is set in 2006. The prologue begins in September, and then Chapter One jumps back to April. It’s mostly a rewrite of the Lucky drug story because while I mostly liked it, I think there are things that could have been done differently.

It picks the show up at the end of March and pretty much everything that happened on the show until then has happened with a few differences.

Lucky’s story after the train crash is being rewritten, so just forget everything you know about that. The first chapter sets up most the big differences and the rest will be filled in at some other point.

I can’t remember exactly when Manny started at the hospital as a janitor–if it was before or after the virus, but in this story it’s after.

Sonny and Emily’s relationship has only just been discovered.


Prologue

September 2006

Port Charles Police Department: Squad Room

Dawn was breaking over the streets of Port Charles as a weary Alexis Davis weaved past the sparsely populated desks towards the small, narrow hallway that led to the administrative offices. There were few officers on duty this early, and those present were somber, quiet.

No names had been released to the press or through dispatch, but bad news had a way of spreading in Port Charles, and this…this had hit some of them really hard.

Alexis stifled a yawn as she pushed open the door to Mac Scorpio’s office, finding the commissioner seated at his conference table, staring down at a white mug of coffee. In front of him sat a tape recorder.

Alexis set her briefcase on the table across from him and took a seat. “I’m sorry it took so long to come in. The girls have a cold. Krissy brought it home from daycare.” She gestured at the recorder. “You have the tape, then?”

“Yeah.” Mac dragged a hand over his face. Stubble lined his cheeks, and his eyes were rimmed with red, lines of exhaustion etched into his features. His day had begun at five o’clock the previous morning and he was unsure if he would even be able to sleep if he laid his head down on the pillow.

“How—” She cleared her throat. “How bad is it?”

“I’m not sure it gets any worse than this,” Mac admitted. “I’ve been in this business a long time, and I—” He gently touched the recorder. “I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything like this.”

“Okay.” Alexis managed a deep breath. “Let’s hear it.”

“911, what’s your emergency?”

Chapter One

 If you forget the way to go
And lose where you came from
If no one is standing beside you
Be still and know I am
Be still and know that I’m with you
Be Still, The Fray


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Elm Street Pier

 Elizabeth Spencer hesitated at the top of the stairs when she found Jason Morgan seated at one of the benches that looked out over the harbor. When they had first become friends seven years earlier, they had met often on this pier, but it had been more than a year since she and Jason had shared even a casual conversation.

She was unsurprised to find her old friend sitting in quiet thought. It was a chilly night, and the icy wind blowing in from the lake dropped the temperature in the air another ten degrees down near the water. She wrapped the edges of her cardigan more tightly around her torso and started down the steps.

Jason turned slightly at the sound of her footfalls and got to his feet. “Elizabeth.”

“Hey.” She stopped in front of him and offered a half smile. “I bet your day was pretty awful.”

He exhaled slowly and looked away, out over the dark waters of Lake Ontario. His hair was longer than she’d seen it in a while, still brushed into those spikes that seemed as much a part of him as his leather jacket and jeans. His hands were shoved into the pockets of that jacket now.

“You saw the papers.”

“I didn’t, actually,” Elizabeth said. The Port Charles Sun was out of her budget at the moment—she pinched every penny to keep her two-year-old son in daycare. “Emily called me crying this morning about the press, Sonny, and how awful you were being.” She sighed.

“Yeah.” He pressed his lips together in a thin line. “Did you know?”

“Did I know?” she repeated. “That Sonny and Emily were having an affair and checking into hotels under assumed names?” Elizabeth considered this question. “I knew Em had some feelings for him, but I don’t think I would have guessed Sonny felt even a little bit the same way.” She chewed on her bottom lip. “I knew something was going on with Em, but—no, I didn’t know exactly what.”

Jason said nothing to his ramble, so Elizabeth continued, “Emily said you were really angry. That you…told her she had to stop seeing Sonny.”

“I did.” Jason met her eyes, and she blinked at the defiant anger in them—as if he expected her to argue, to defend Emily or Sonny.

Elizabeth sighed and sat on the bench, unwinding the strap of her oversize canvas bag and setting it in her lap. “See, that’s when I knew something was wrong.”

He frowned at her, sat down. “What do you mean?”

“That’s not like you—telling people what to do. Making ultimatums. You hated Lucky all those years ago—and he gave you a reason to—but I don’t think you never came out and told me to leave him.”

“I should have,” he muttered. “I know it all worked out and you…” He squinted at her. “You’re happy, aren’t you?”

“Happy is an interesting word.” Elizabeth pursed her lips. She didn’t want to talk about her marriage and how her life with Lucky Spencer was not exactly what she’d had in mind. “For you to tell Emily she had to stop—I knew you had your reasons. I told Emily that, too.”

Some of the tension left his shoulders, and he visibly relaxed. “I thought you’d take her side.”

“I don’t know if there are sides to be taken.” She chewed on her bottom lip. “Is it…the danger? Like you used to tell me? I know you…you’ve changed your mind since then. I mean, Courtney and Sam—” She stared down at her hands, her short nails bitten almost to the quick. “But maybe since it’s Em—”

“I was wrong back then,” he said simply, but neither of them looked at one another now. “I took your choice from you. Lied to you. I tried to do better later. It’s not the danger. Emily’s not an idiot. She knows what we do. It’s—” He hesitated. “Sonny is my best friend, but I’m not blind to who he is. How he treats women.”

“Ah. I thought—” Elizabeth nodded. “I thought it might be something like that. Well, you’re the one Sonny sent to tell Brenda when he stood her up at the altar, and God knows, you’ve been there for Carly and Sam. I guess you know what you’re talking about.”

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw his face turn towards her, but she kept her eyes straight ahead, finding the lights of Wyndemere in the night. “You…agree with me.”

“Let’s just say that I see both sides. You know who Sonny is better than anyone in the world. I believe that. I also—”

She waited a moment, trying to gather the courage to say the next part—to try and explain Emily’s point of view without giving away too much. The way Emily had spoken this morning, the way Jason had been surprised at her support—was anyone listening to Jason? Was Carly or Sam?

“I know what it’s like to love someone that the entire world sees as a threat to you. As someone who will hurt you, who isn’t good enough for you.” She glanced at him and saw that he understood what she meant. “It was like hearing my own life played back for me this morning when Emily called. No one understands Sonny like she does. I don’t know how he is when they’re together—”

“So, you think I’m wrong.”

“No, I don’t.” Elizabeth hesitated. “The thing is, Jason, she’s right, too. She probably does know a side of Sonny that you don’t. And I don’t think that giving her ultimatums is what’s going to work.” She managed a half smile. “There’s a reason Emily and I are friends, you know. When someone tells us we can’t have something, we usually just double down.”

“Yeah, I remember.” He was quiet for a minute. “So, are you going to tell me to let it run its course? Let Sonny get bored and move on?”

“Is that what everyone else says?” Elizabeth asked. “Carly?”

“And Sam,” he admitted.

And outside of Emily, those were the most important women in Jason’s life, so it must be hard for him to feel alone in this.

“I honestly don’t know what you should do,” Elizabeth told him. “Because even though I agree that Emily is right, that doesn’t mean you’re not. And letting it play out—it just means Emily is going to get hurt later rather than now. Either way, she gets hurt. I don’t think we can stop that from happening. Because I’ll be honest—I’ve known Sonny for a long time, and I don’t think Emily—I don’t think it’s soul mate territory. She’s not Carly or Brenda. I don’t know what drew them together, but I doubt it’s lasting.”

“You do think I should stop fighting it.”

She thought about her answer for a long time, thought about just taking his side so that he didn’t stand alone. She hated the idea of him being on his own in this—against everyone he loved. But she owed him the truth.

“I think that ultimatums aren’t going to work,” she said finally. “Because I know what those are like.” She met his eyes. “When I resisted and pushed back, it meant cutting people out. And when I tried to give in, I made myself miserable.”

“Do you—” His voice was a bit lower now, a bit rougher. They both knew exactly what she was talking about even if she wasn’t being specific. “Are you sorry?”

“Not for a minute.” She smiled at him. “Even though I hate how it ended—that it never really went anywhere—I know that the decision to end it wasn’t someone else’s. It was mine. I might wish…things had been different. But I made my choices. And that matters. I’m sorry, Jason. I wish—I wish like hell I could tell you that you’re right. That demanding it end now is the right decision—”

“But you don’t think it is.”

“I don’t think telling her or him to stop it is going to work, but I do agree that it would be better for everyone if it were over sooner rather than later. Emily’s looking for someone who can love her, and as much I like Sonny, it’s not him. Not the way she needs.”

Her cell phone rang, and she dug it out of her bag. She stared down at the caller ID with a grimace. “It’s Lucky. I’m late getting home.”

“He must be worried.” Jason stood, and she followed suit, hitting ignore on the call and shoving it back into her bag.

More like it was Cameron’s bed time and Lucky was tired of watching her son. He probably wanted to go to bed so he could get up early for his next rehab session. She wasn’t interested in having that argument with Jason looking on.

“I should get going.” She slid the bag’s strap back over her shoulder. “Emily knows you love her, Jason. You’ve done what you can.”

“Thanks for…” He trailed off. “Thanks,” he repeated.

Friday, March 31, 2006

General Hospital: Locker Room

Elizabeth stifled a yawn as she shoved her bag into her locker and sat on the bench to unlace her sneakers. Once she had arrived home the night before, Lucky had yelled at her for twenty minutes before storming out. She had then discovered exactly why he’d been so anxious for her to get home.

Cameron had a stomach virus and spent most of the night either throwing up or—making Elizabeth wish she hadn’t potty trained him so well because diapers meant she might have managed more sleep. As it was, Lucky had had to reschedule his rehab session for this morning because Cameron couldn’t go to daycare, and they couldn’t afford to lose Elizabeth’s pay for the day. She’d already used all her sick days caring for Lucky at the beginning of the year.

Rescheduling physical therapy meant it would be even longer before Lucky could return to active duty at the PCPD. He hadn’t been on the job, not really, since the train crash earlier that November.

Elizabeth was sure that as soon as Lucky was back on full duty and full pay, he would be…better. He’d stop resenting her, her son—he’d be less angry. They had had such a bright future, such shining optimism once, and she was desperate to cling to that dream. To give that life to her son.

The door to the locker room slammed open, the heavy wooden door crashing against the plaster wall with a THUD. Elizabeth closed her eyes. She had a sixth sense for when her day was about to get worse, and all those senses were tingling now.

“You know, there are times I really don’t understand my brother,” Emily Bowen-Quartermaine declared as she dropped her bag on the bench next to Elizabeth. “He is literally the worst right now.”

“I don’t think that’s fair,” Elizabeth said wearily.

“Oh, God, can we go back to when you hated Jason? Because I don’t think I can take you being his cheerleader right now.” Emily yanked open her locker. “I stopped by his place this morning hoping he had calmed down.”

Elizabeth grimaced. “What happened?”

“Oh, he started by being nice to me. Saying he understood that I cared about Sonny, and that he wasn’t trying to make choices for me, but then he starts telling me Sonny is just going to hurt me, and Sam was trying to make him just see that it’s none of his business.”

Which meant Jason had been ganged up on by his sister and fiancée. Fantastic. That had probably made everything better.

“How’d you leave it?” Elizabeth asked when Emily didn’t continue. “You’re pissed, so something must have happened.”

“I—” Emily bit her lip, looked at Elizabeth with guilty eyes. “I told him that he has to find something better to do with his life than constantly being up Sonny’s ass. It was one thing to screw his ex-girlfriend, but—”

“Emily.”

“What? It’s like Jason is obsessed with Sonny, and I just don’t get it. I mean, they’ve basically all been with the same women or related to them—except for you.” Emily grimaced. “I might have…also not used the word girlfriend.”

“I bet you’re really popular with Sam now.”

“Well, I don’t really like her so that’s not a loss, but yeah, Jason wasn’t thrilled when I called his fiancée a whore.”

Elizabeth squeezed her eyes shut, prayed for strength. Clearly, Jason had tried to take her advice, but Emily wasn’t interested in even giving Jason a slight break. “Em, Jason isn’t obsessed with Sonny. They’re best friends—”

“Please. How do you explain all the crossover?”

“It’s…” She pursed her lips. “Weird, I know. But Jason already knew Robin, and Courtney—well, he was helping her. And he was helping Sam. Carly—Carly doesn’t make any sense. And you know that Brenda and Jason knew each other—”

“Great, you’re Jason’s cheerleader. I thought you were my best friend.” Emily scowled, yanked off her sweater and reached for her scrub top. “Can’t you just pick a side and stick with it, or are you still obsessed with my brother?”

Elizabeth exhaled softly. “You know, Cameron’s sick.”

“What?” Emily blinked at her.

“I found your brother sitting on the pier last night, and I spent ten minutes talking to him about this. I told him to stop giving you ultimatums because it wouldn’t make it better. And then I went home where Lucky screamed at me for being late and stormed out, leaving me to take care of Cameron who was up all night with a stomach virus. I’ve slept maybe an hour at best, and now I have to pull a double shift because Lucky’s on half pay.”

“Elizabeth—”

“But you don’t ask about me. You don’t care about anyone but yourself. You stormed over to your brother’s apartment, screaming at him, calling the woman he loves a whore, and you somehow think you’re the victim here?”

Elizabeth tugged her scrub top over her head and got to her feet. “You knew he’d be upset about Sonny, and you lied to everyone for weeks about sleeping with him. You saw Brenda crumble into a nervous breakdown after Sonny was done with her. Carly had a nervous breakdown and went crazy trying to stab you—and you think Jason’s crazy for thinking maybe Sonny is not the best romantic bet?”

Emily’s mouth opened then closed.

“So, if what you really want to know is if I agree with Jason about Sonny being a really bad road for you travel—then, yeah, I do. I think you know it, too. But you’re going to do whatever the hell you want. You always do.”

She slammed her locker shut and stormed towards the door. She yanked it open and then stopped dead in her tracks. She just stared at the man calmly squeezing the excess water out of his mop across the hall and slammed the door shut, ducking back into the room.

Emily stared at her. “What’s wrong?”

“M-Manny Ruiz.” Elizabeth swallowed hard, pressed her hand to her chest, a closed fist over her heart. “Across the hall. Mopping.”

“Are you kidding me? There’s no way he got hired here.” Emily reached for her phone and then stared at it. “You’re going to have to call Jason.”

Elizabeth frowned at her. “Why don’t you call Sonny?”

“I—” Emily tilted her head. “I don’t know. Jason—he just always handles these things, I guess. But he’s not going to pick up if it’s me. He’ll answer you—”

“I got a new phone number last year, I don’t think he has it. And you know he doesn’t answer calls from people he doesn’t know—” Elizabeth fished her phone out anyway. “But I’m not leaving this room until I know what’s going on.” She hesitated. “I don’t have Jason’s new number either.”

“Oh, God, the two of you.” Emily rolled her eyes and read the number out to her as Elizabeth dialed. “Don’t tell him where you got it. He’ll just have another reason to yell at me.”

Elizabeth ignored her as the phone rang. Her heart was pounding so hard she could hear it thudding in her ears.

“Hello?” Jason’s voice was cautious, unsure.

“It’s Elizabeth. Um, this is my new number. Emily gave me yours—Ow—” Elizabeth shoved Emily in the shoulder after her best friend kicked in her the shins. “What are you, five?”

“You didn’t have to tell him—”

“Elizabeth, is everything okay?”

“Manny Ruiz is here. At the hospital. Mopping like he’s some sort of janitor. I don’t know if they hired him or what, but I just— I saw him and I kind of panicked.” She bit her nails, wincing as her teeth hit skin.

“Okay.” There was something on his side of the phone—she could hear Sam’s voice demanding if it was Emily, and if it was, then Jason needed to hang up and take her side of things. “Wait a second—are you somewhere safe?”

“We’re in the locker room.”

“Okay. Sam—stop it!” There was more muttering, then she heard a door closing. “I’m on my way there now. I’ll find out what’s going on. Stay there. If you can.”

“Thanks.” She hung up the phone and sat back on the bench. “What if the hospital actually hired him, Em?”

“What if Alexis and Ric are wrong about the tumor?” Their fight forgotten, the friends exchanged uneasy glances and waited to hear from Jason.

Counting Stars is set in January 2000, a version of what might have happened on the show after Jason left but if Lucky hadn’t come back.

For the most part, everything that happened up until Jason left that year has happened except Carly did not become pregnant with Sonny’s kid. It’s just a complication I have no use for in this story. I don’t particularly remember exactly what Luke and Laura were up to this at this point, but they’re still separated.

These are the first two scenes in the first chapter — I wasn’t able to finish the full four scenes I had planned in time but this gives you the gist of where the story is sort of going.


Friday, January 21, 2000

Harborview Towers: Jason’s Penthouse

Jason Morgan had never really moved into the apartment across the hall from Sonny Corinthos—it had been vacant after their lawyer Justus Ward had abruptly resigned earlier that year and moved to Philadelphia, and Jason had wanted out of the cottage he had shared with Michael and Robin.

The only furniture in the house was what Justus had left behind—a sofa, some desks, and a bed in the master bedroom.

There was very little of Jason in this penthouse, and that would make it easier for him to leave it behind when he left Port Charles later today.

But first…he had to do something else.

He zipped the last of the clothes he planned to take with him into a duffel bag and set it on the carpeted floor next to the closet, then turned back to the bed.

Nestled beneath the snowy white sheets and dark comforter lay a sleeping woman. She was sleeping on her side, one hand tucked underneath the pillow, chestnut curls spilling over her bare shoulder.

He didn’t want to leave her. Not after the last few weeks, not after last night. Carly had left him no choice. The longer he stayed in Port Charles, the more she’d try to use him. And anyone else he cared about.

Elizabeth Webber murmured something and then turned over to her other side, the comforter sliding down slightly, revealing her bare back.

“Oh, man,” Jason muttered, scrubbing his hands over his face. He could understand why some people just left a note and took off.

But Elizabeth trusted him—and he would never hurt her like that. He didn’t want to hurt her at all, but…

Jason sat on the edge of the bed, tucked her hair behind her ears, letting his fingertips slide down her cheek. She smiled, her eyes still closed. “Hey.”

“Hey.”

Elizabeth opened her eyes, still blurry from sleep. But then her gaze sharpened, those dark blue eyes trained on him.  She sat up, clutching the sheets to her chest, blinking. “You—you’re dressed—” Biting her lip, she sat back against the headboard. “Do you have to leave?”

“I—” Jason dipped his head. “Yeah.”

“Sonny is sending—”

“My plans haven’t—” He swallowed the lump in his throat. “I told you yesterday—”

“No, no. You—” She licked her lips, readjusted the sheet as a bright red flush crawled down from her cheeks to her shoulders. She met his eyes. “You changed your mind. Didn’t you?” She looked around the room. “I mean—”

“I’m sorry. I wish things could be different—”

“Don’t—” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “Don’t say that. Don’t pretend. If you wanted things to be different, they would be.”

He dipped his head, looked away. “I—”

“I need to get dressed. Can you please—” She gestured at the door. “I’m not—I’m not doing this when you’re dressed and I’m not. It’s just—I’m not doing it.”

“Okay.” He pushed himself to his feet and stopped by the door to lift his duffel bag. “Elizabeth—”

“Please just go.”

Downstairs, he set the bag down on the sofa and exhaled slowly. He never should have let last night happen. He knew he had to leave, but she’d been upset yesterday and he hadn’t wanted to leave her that way. He’d taken her on one last ride—

He wasn’t sure how he waited for her. Her footsteps on the carpeted stairs were soft, and he nearly missed them. Jason turned to see her, dressed again in the jeans and sweater she’d been wearing the night before, her curls pulled away from her face which had been washed.

Elizabeth stopped at the bottom of the stairs, her face pale as she spoke. “I spent the last ten minutes trying to remember exactly what made me think I had changed your mind about leaving, and I realize now there was nothing. Beyond the fact that you kissed me. You brought me here. And you had sex with me.”

Jason swallowed hard. “It wasn’t—” He bit back the protest that it hadn’t been the way she made it sound. “It wasn’t just sex-”

“Clearly it was—” She shook her head. “I’m tired. You obviously feel you need to go and I’m not enough to make you stay—”

“It’s not you,” he cut in, his voice rough. “If I could—if it were just you and me, I’d never—” He shook his head.

“Can you call me a cab or something?” she asked. She crossed to the desk where her jacket had been tossed over the back of the tall leather chair.

“I’ll take you—”

“You need to go, right?” She pulled her hair out from the collar of the jacket. “I don’t want to hold you up.”

“Elizabeth—I don’t want it to be like this—” He stepped towards her, but she shook her head, sharply.

“You decided it had to be like this. You could have left me yesterday. You could just left. But you—” Her voice broke. “Do you know what it took for me to trust you like that? To be with you—you knew I’d never been with—not since—” She bit her lip. “So I don’t know what you expected when you woke up and packed your bags while I was still—”

His skin felt like it was stretched too tightly over his bones. “I can get someone to drive you home. I just—I need to go. It’s not you—”

“Stop—just stop. Don’t explain yourself. You will never be able to explain how you could sleep with me and leave the next morning without making it worse. If I ever meant even a little to you, then you will just stop.”

“You know—” Jason didn’t go on because he could see how hard she was fighting to keep the tears at bay, and he’d done enough. “I’ll get someone to drive you home.”

He started for the door, then stopped. Without turning back to face her, Jason spoke quietly. “I was being selfish last night because I knew when I was gone, you’d find someone who deserved you. I don’t.”

“Jason—”

He closed the door behind him and pulled out his cell phone to call one of the guys in the parking garage to give Elizabeth a ride.

Wednesday, April 5, 2000

 

Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room

Max Giambetti knocked lightly on the door, then pushed it open. “Hey, Mr. C, you got a minute?”

Sonny Corinthos, standing at the window looking out over the city, turned with a mug of coffee in his hand. “Yeah, sure. What’s up?”

“Elizabeth Webber wants to talk to you.” Max opened the door all the way so that the petite brunette could enter the penthouse. “Always nice to see you.”

“You, too.” Elizabeth waited until the guard closed the door before turning a guarded expression to Sonny. “I’m sorry to just show up.”

“It’s not a problem.” Sonny studied her for a long moment. He hadn’t seen her much in the two months or so since Jason had left Port Charles. He felt partially responsible for his hasty exit and had avoided Kelly’s, but he’d sent flowers when Audrey Hardy had unexpectedly passed away in her sleep in February. “How have you been?”

“Okay. I guess. Um, I meant to call you. Thank you for the tulips.” She swallowed hard. “It was nice of you.”

“I told you,” Sonny said, pressing his free hand to his chest. “Anything you ever need.”

“Well…” She chewed on her bottom lip. “Have you…is Jason in touch with you?”

“Uh…” he squinted at her. “To a certain extent. He—he hasn’t contacted you since he left?”

“Sort of.” She reached into the large canvas tote she had over her arm. “He’s sent me a few postcards, but there’s never a return address.” She held up. “Or anything at all really. We, um, didn’t leave things on good terms.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Do you need something from him? He calls in every once in a while—twice since he left, but I never really know when—”

“Yeah, I—” Elizabeth sighed. “God, this is so hard. Why couldn’t he be normal and just have a damn cell phone or a way to—” She shoved the postcards back in her bag. “The next time he calls in, just tell him I need to talk to him—”

“Hey, wait a minute—” Sonny held out a hand to stop her from leaving. “Just wait. Can I help with something?  I can track him down if you need—”

When Elizabeth just shook her head, folded her arms, he sighed. “Elizabeth, please. I feel like it’s my fault he’s gone. If you need help—”

“Look, it’s just—don’t go chasing after him. I don’t want him to come back because—” She paused. “I just wanted to tell him that I’m…I’m pregnant.”

Sonny stared at her for a long moment, his mouth slightly open. He had known Elizabeth for a little over a year, considered her someone he cared about—but that—that he hadn’t seen coming.

“Pregnant,” Sonny repeated. “Are—um—okay. So—” He exhaled in a rush of breath. “I didn’t realize—not that it’s any of my business—”

Elizabeth stared down at the ground. “It was just—it was a mistake. He left anyway. I don’t want him to come back because—I mean, I know that sound stupid because of course he’ll come back once I tell him, but I guess…I was hoping he’d come back without knowing.” She managed a half smile. “But it’s been about, oh, eleven weeks, and I’m pretty sure I can’t keep this secret forever.”

“Yeah, yeah—” Eleven weeks. Almost three months. Christ. “No, I get it. Um, so you don’t want me to run him down but—”

“Just ask him to actually call me the next time you talked to him, I guess.” She cleared her throat. “Thanks—”

“Do you need anything? Um, are you still in that studio?”

“Oh. No, no. I couldn’t—” She offered him a smile. “I found out for sure that I was—well—when I knew for sure, I knew I had to move. I promise. It’s much better. I’ve got everything I need. I got some money from my grandmother and I’m looking for a job with better hours.”

Sonny didn’t want to let her walk out the door, but she was already halfway there and he didn’t know what else he could do.

“Thanks, Sonny. I’ll—I’ll keep in touch, if you want.” She opened the door, then turned back to him. “Don’t—don’t say anything to anyone else. I haven’t really figured out what…I’m telling people yet.”

“Yeah, yeah, sure. You tell me if you need anything, okay?” Sonny followed into the hallway and watched as she stepped onto the elevator. When the doors had closed, he let out a rush of breath. “Do me a favor, Max. Can you get our best guy to look after her?”

“Sure, Mr. C. Everything okay with her?”

“That depends on your definition of okay.”

July 10, 2018

While this scene is kind of a massive spoiler, believe it or not, it’s hugely relevant to the rest of the story. It’s mostly a scene in which I wrap up old business so everyone can move on.  It’s set a few days after Carly gets kidnapped. It has not been cleared by the beta 😛

Mad World takes place in June 2003 and rewrites the Carly gets kidnapped and locked in the panic room storyline. Ric and Elizabeth married in May, she lost the baby. I’ve reset most of 2003, so ignore pretty much everything you remember.


Faith Roscoe’s Apartment

When Faith Roscoe turned on the light in her living room that night, she was tickled pink at the sight of Jason Morgan casually sitting in her plush white armchair. “Well, well, I have to admit, I’ve always wondered what it would be like between us,” she purred.

Jason’s face didn’t change. “You’ve been working with Ric Lansing and Ned Ashton since last fall.”

Faith wrinkled her nose. “Someone’s been talking out of turn.” She wagged her finger. “Ned is a very naughty man.” She sashayed over to her wine cabinet and selected an excellent white vintage. “I haven’t had time to take care of him, but he’s on my list.”

“Is Elizabeth Webber on that list, too?”

Faith nearly bobbled the cork at the thought of that insipid little mouse. “My, my, does the dear girl have another champion? I must ask her how she does it—”

She never heard him move. One second she was smirking, pouring her wine—and then the next she was shoved back against the wall, Jason’s hand tight around her throat.

“I never thought you were into games,” Faith said breathlessly, trying to find the amusement. She was a woman, so Jason was trying to scare her. Well, mission accomplished. Time to give him what he wanted so he’d go away. “You’re here about Carly. You want to find her.”

“Did you help Ric take her? Are you hiding her?”

“I have no interest in Sonny’s wife,” Faith managed, as Jason’s grip relaxed enough for her to draw in a full breath. “And Ric has been a very disappointing boy. No, I did not help him. And I do not know where she is, buuuut….” She drew out in a sing-sing voice, careful to keep her eyes locked on his. “I know he was quite desperate to find a house for his little China doll. Just the right house. The house was all he could talk about.”

Jason narrowed his eyes. “He was looking for that house or a particular kind of house?”

“I don’t know, and I didn’t ask. I’m not interested in helping Ric start the perfect life with that—” Faith broke off whatever insult she was about to launch. Keep the eye on the prize. “There’s something about the house that made his plan complete. They moved in a week before Carly went missing.”

Jason nodded. Released her neck and started across the room. Faith rolled her shoulders, irritated. “If I knew where Carly was, I would have already found a way to make Ric pay for it. He’s become very boring, don’t you know?”

“Mmm…” Jason squinted at her. “You pushed her down the stairs, didn’t you?”

And the way he said it told Faith she’d already been convicted of the crime. Sentenced. Her palms began to sweat. How had she forgotten the whole reason they’d targeted the tedious little bitch? She was Jason Morgan’s ex-girlfriend—though maybe the ex was something he’d like to change.

“I did you a favor,” Faith said, spreading her hands at her sides. “Now you don’t have to take on Lansing’s bastard when you toss in him the harbor and take her back—and really—you’d be so much nicer to her, and he’s been just awful—” Her voice stopped abruptly when Jason drew his gun from where it had been tucked behind his back.

Faith swallowed. “I shouldn’t have done it, of course. I was angry, and I wanted to make Ric hurt. I didn’t even think about her. I should have. I should think more about other people. I will. I’ll enter a convent—” Her voice became more rapid as she watched Jason screw a silencer into the barrel. “I can help you,” she said desperately. “I can make Ric tell me—”

“Even if that were true,” Jason said slowly, meeting her eyes again. “It still wouldn’t save you.”

“Hey, you’re supposed to be the good one,” Faith retorted. “I’m a woman—isn’t there a code—”

“You don’t get to play in this world, Faith, and expect special treatment,” Jason said. “And this isn’t business. This isn’t about Sonny. This…this is personal.” He lifted a shoulder and looked at her without an expression in his eyes. “You knew who she was when you went after her. And as long as Ric wants her, she’s not safe.”

“Listen, that’s just not true—”

But she was dead before she could finish the sentence, the bullet hitting her just between the eyes. A nice, neat bullet hole between those wide blue eyes, still open—her mouth still forming a word.

She hit the floor, her black sundress pooling around her. Blood starting to soak into the carpet.

Jason stared down at her, then pulled out his cell phone. “Hey, Francis. Yeah, I got a cleanup for you to handle.”

June 15, 2018

Set in Summer 2003. Jason is marrying Courtney, Elizabeth is married to Ric and they’ve just moved into the house. Emily never came home in March with cancer. Most everything else is set up here.


Chapter One

It’s on your face; is it on your mind?
Would you care to build a house of your own?
How much longer, how long can you wait?
It’s like you wanted to go and give yourself away
Heaven forbid you end up alone and don’t know why
Hold on tight, wait for tomorrow, you’ll be alright
– Heaven Forbid, The Fray

Friday, June 19, 2003

Kelly’s: Courtyard

 Elizabeth Webber pasted a smile on her face as Georgie Jones set a plate of French toast and sausage in front of her, and then an omelet and wheat toast in front of her best friend, Emily Bowen-Quartermaine.

This was a happy day, Elizabeth reminded herself. Her best friend in the entire world was in town for a weekend, and Elizabeth desperately needed her cheerful and bright-eyed nature.

Except that Emily was rolling her eyes about the wedding she had come to town for and her idiot brother’s ridiculous choice of a second wife. Like he hadn’t made a terrible choice the first time, right?

Elizabeth managed a weak smile as she sipped her orange juice.

“Oh, ugh, I’m tired of talking about Jason being an idiot.” Emily cut up her omelet and waved her fork at Elizabeth. “You need to tell me everything you haven’t been saying over the phone.” Her best friend’s dark eyes peered at her. “Tell me about the new husband—and what is with this town and quickie marriages lately? Both my brothers got married and divorced before I could even find out where they were registered, and you’re married to a guy I’ve never met—”

“Oh.” Elizabeth smiled. “Ric is…he’s good. He’s a lawyer, you know. Um, criminal law. He was working for Sonny and Jason for a little while, but it didn’t work out.”

“Yeah, I bet.” Emily hesitated. “Listen, Mom—she called to tell me that you’d had a miscarriage. She was…she thought you might not tell me.”

Elizabeth sighed, put down her fork. “Yeah. I—I was pregnant. For about…” A brief shining moment. “I was about two months along, but I—I fell. And yeah.” She dropped her hands into her lap. “I’m okay.”

“Uh huh.” Emily pushed her egg around her plate with her fork. “You don’t have to talk to me, Elizabeth. No, cancel that.” She leaned forward, lowered her voice. “Look, I wanted to…I wanted to try and pretend for you. I know you want that. You want to stick your head in the sand—”

“Emily—”

“You think because I haven’t been home for two years that I’m an idiot?” Emily rolled her eyes. “A year ago, my brother married someone. Now, she’s marrying Jason and AJ is off in New Orleans trying to put his life back together. Plus, I distinctly remember my mother calling me last fall to tell me you were living with Jason—”

“Emily—”

“I didn’t press you for details then. I figured you want to talk about it, you’ll tell me. I didn’t want to butt in. God knows I did that too much with Lucky when he came home.” Emily pursed her lips. “So, I let it go. And I let you say nothing in phone calls. And say nothing in your letters and emails. When you bothered to send them—”

“Emily—”

“I come home, and you’ve lost weight. You look like you haven’t slept in weeks. You look miserable, Elizabeth. I know you just had a terrible tragedy, and I just—you don’t have to pretend for me.”

Elizabeth closed her eyes when Emily finally lapsed into silence. What could she say to her best friend? Why had Emily chosen this moment to finally…look at Elizabeth and see her?

“I am…struggling,” Elizabeth said finally. “I—I—” She hesitated. “I’m not going to talk about what happened with Jason. Or Courtney. I can’t.”

“Okay, but—”

“Ric is…” Elizabeth paused, searching for the right words. She didn’t want Emily to worry about her. Maybe if Emily weren’t going back to her summer program at UCLA in two days…maybe Elizabeth could feel free to say more.

But Emily wouldn’t be here.

And there were still some things Elizabeth didn’t want to think about.

“Ric is a choice made when I thought—when there was a baby involved. But I made it, and I can live with it.”

“You can live with it,” Emily murmured. “That’s not marriage, Elizabeth. You deserve more.”

“I deserve what I have for a lot of reasons. Don’t worry about me, Em. You’re here for a happy reason. You know, Jason is getting married, and—” Elizabeth stopped.

There were some things she couldn’t fake.

“Yeah, my brother is marrying his brother’s ex-wife.” Emily raised her glass in a mock toast. “Awesome sauce. Let’s drink to that.”

“Emily—” Elizabeth shook her head. “It was…complicated.”

“I don’t know how complicated it has to be since the ink on their divorce is barely dry,” Emily muttered. She stabbed a fork towards Elizabeth. “If I find out they were cheating on you and AJ—”

“Emily—it’s not…” Elizabeth shook her head. “It’s over now. That’s—it’s complicated.”

“Oh, my God. That’s what happened. Are you freaking serious? What the hell—”

“Emily, it wasn’t—like that. Not exactly.” Damn it. “Okay, listen. I don’t—yes, I was at the penthouse for a while, but it wasn’t about…I mean, Jason and I were—we weren’t really together. We…talked about it. But it just…it got derailed by other stuff. And I don’t know what was going on with Courtney. I don’t know. Maybe she was—” Elizabeth sighed. “It wasn’t that simple. Please, please, don’t bring this up to either of them. I already—I embarrassed myself enough when—”

Her eyes burned at the memory of confronting Courtney in Kelly’s. Going after her. The way Jason had defended Courtney had stopped Elizabeth from ever asking when it had actually started.

Wasn’t it obvious?

“Please.”

Emily sat back and huffed. “Fine. It’s not my thing to get pissed about, I guess. I’m just—ugh. I should have come back to PCU instead of transferring to UCLA—”

“And I missed you so much, Em. I can’t wait until you come back home in August.” Elizabeth reached across to take her hand. “And I love how much you love me. But Jason is your brother. And his choices matter. He…obviously loves Courtney. It’s—” It was the only explanation. “So please, tonight, be his sister. Not my friend.”

“Yeah, okay. But I’m still gonna be AJ’s sister, so I can’t promise anything.”

Elizabeth asked her a question about California and was able distract Emily for almost twenty minutes. She pushed her food around her plate and listened to Emily talk about college and how hard she was working.

“Oh.” Emily straightened. “Jason! Hey!”

Elizabeth closed her eyes as Emily got to her feet and rushed around Elizabeth—likely to hug her brother who had obviously come up behind them at some point.

Thank God it hadn’t been earlier.

She took a deep breath, gathered herself. She could do this.

She was good at this.

Elizabeth took her wallet out of her purse and tossed a ten on the table to cover her breakfast before standing and turning to flash a bright smile at Emily’s brother.

Jason Morgan stood there, looking much as he had the year before in a pair of blue jeans and a dark T-shirt. His arm was loose around his sister’s waist and he was smiling a little.

“Hey.” Elizabeth tucked her hair behind her ears as she slid the strap of her purse over her shoulder. “Congratulations.”

Jason’s smile dimmed slightly as he tipped his head. “Elizabeth. Hey. Um, thanks.”

“We were just eating breakfast—” Emily scowled. “Liz, why did you put down money—”

“Oh, I have to get going. I’m done anyway.” Elizabeth smiled again. “And I know you guys must want to catch up before things get crazy later today.”

“Yeah, but—”

Elizabeth managed to keep the smile on her face as she looked at Jason again, but their eyes met. Held for a moment. “I—I wish you happiness, Jason.”

“You don’t have to go,” Jason said, stepping forward, his arm falling from his sister’s waist. “You haven’t seen Emily either—”

“I know, and I’ve missed her, but—” Elizabeth looked at Emily. “You’ll be back in two months for good a-and you know, I’ve waited this long. I really do have to go. We just—” She swallowed. “We moved last week, and I haven’t really unpacked.”

And then the interest slid from Jason’s eyes at that reminder. She’d married Ric. A man Jason hated more than anything in the world.

“Congratulations and good luck tonight.”  And then Elizabeth hurried from the courtyard, not looking back.

Emily stared after her before looking back at the table. “She didn’t eat anything.”

“What?” Jason asked, frowning. “What—”

“We’ve been here for almost a half hour.” Emily gestured at their breakfast plates. Her own plate was halfway gone, but all Elizabeth had really done was cut her French toast into pieces. “She’s lost weight, did you notice?”

“I—” Jason nodded. “Yeah, I saw. She…she lost a baby a few weeks ago, Em. She’s probably not doing well.”

“Probably?” Emily arched her eyebrows. “I thought you were guys were friends.”

“Emily—”

“By the way, not that I’m gonna rain on your parade or anything, but you should know my loyalties are divided about this wedding.”

Jason closed his eyes. “About Elizabeth? Listen…”

“Who said anything about Elizabeth?” Emily asked, innocently. “I was talking about the fact you’re marrying AJ’s ex-wife. And hey, how solid are you that the divorce is legal? You know us Quartermaines.” She batted her eye lashes. “We lie.”

Port Charles Police Department: Locker Room

It was his first day as a police officer.

If anyone had told Lucky Spencer as a teenager that he would have worked his ass of in the academy to get to this point, well—he would have smirked and flipped that person off.

But he was here. Starting the next chapter of his life.

Lucky grinned when he saw the dark-haired New York native who had the locker next to him. “Hey! I didn’t know you were gonna end up here.”

His roommate from the academy, Dante Falconieri, flashed a returning smile as he buttoned the crisp blue uniform shirt. “Yeah, well, I was waiting on a few places. I wasn’t wild about going back to Bensonhurst and trying to pretend I had some authority. Most of my family would laugh in my face.”

“Cruz is starting today, too,” Lucky said, with a nod. He tugged his t-shirt over his head and tossed it in the locker. “I got assigned to Major Crimes with your cousin.”

“My cousin Vinnie?” Dante said with a wicked grin. “Good luck. He’s an asshole. I’m on patrol with some guy who looks like he ate his weight in donuts.” He frowned slightly.  “Where is Cruz? He better not be late on his first day—”

“Oh, he’s got a later shift” Lucky shrugged. “Jason Morgan is getting married tonight, so I guess they’re…I don’t know, worried about it.” He snorted. “Glad I don’t have that detail.”

And hoped he wouldn’t be asked to work any case with people he’d known once. The whole point of this job was a new start. A new life.

“Yeah, I do not hear good things about the Organized Crime Unit.” Dante laced his shoes. “But, hell, no one stays at the PCPD for their entire career. You put some time in the streets, get some experience and then go somewhere where the senior officers aren’t a bunch of idiots.”

Lucky unpinned the badge he’d been issued the week before after his orientation and then clipped it to his breast pocket.  “I mean, if Taggert, Capelli, and your cousin can do it—” He shrugged. “Hey, how hard can this be?”

District Attorney Wing, Municipal Building: Scott Baldwin’s Office

 

Over a cup of coffee, Scott Baldwin perused the list of new recruits Commissioner Mac Scorpio had sent him earlier that day. A grant from the state had allowed them to hire three new police officers, but they’d had to be pulled from the ranks of the local police academy.

Scott’s eyes fell on one name. Lucas Lorenzo Spencer, Jr. Assigned to Major Crimes under the supervision of Detective Vincent Esposito.

“So, he really did it,” Scott murmured. “I’ll be damned.”

“Mr. Baldwin?”

He glanced up to find his secretary standing at his door, an expectant look on her face. “What is it, Barb? Did I forget an appointment?”

“Your 9 AM meeting with Kelsey Joyce for the Major Crimes division—”

“Right, right.” Scott turned away from his computer monitor and the email and rose from his desk. “Bring her in.”

“He’ll see you now,” Barb said as she turned back to someone outside. She stepped aside, and a young brunette entered, dressed in a slim black pencil skirt with a black blazer over a cotton candy pink skirt.

“Mr. Baldwin,” Kelsey Joyce said, flashing a bright smile. “It’s nice to see you again.”

“Kelsey,” Scott said, extending a hand. “I don’t think I’ve seen you since you graduated high school, though that wasn’t so long ago, huh?” He gestured for her take a seat at the small conference table. “How’s your mother?”

“She’s good.” Kelsey sighed. “Still misses Dad. And she said thanks for taking me on here—with Lee and Gail so nearby, she won’t worry about me as much.”

“Gail is always looking for someone to worry about, so she’ll be happy to add you.” Scott sighed. “I wish I hadn’t lost touch with your father. He was a good man. Always encouraged me to follow my conscience. I usually ignored him, but sometimes, you know I still hear him in the back of my head.” He smiled at her. “He’d have been proud of you. Graduating high school at sixteen, passing the bar at twenty-three. His brilliant daughter.”

“Well, I hope I can live up to him.” Kelsey folded her hands in her lap. “Your secretary said I’d been assigned to Major Crimes—”

“Yeah, yeah. We had, um, a meeting with the mayor last month—the commissioner and I are old friends and we work closely together. It seems the mayor’s office is unhappy with the lack of priority Major Crimes gets—”

“Well, it’s Port Charles. You share a water border with Canada.” Kelsey shrugged. “I understand that organized crime would take precedence—”

“And we’re not taking our focus off that, but we’ve been having trouble keeping officers at the PCPD. Frustration over those priorities. Feeling neglected. We need to do more for the rest of Port Charles. I promised I would do more when I got elected.”

“Okay. So, is that where I’ll be working?”

“I’m going to assign you to work as liaison with the PCPD. Just to get your feet wet. Get to know the players. Let me know what resources we need. We only have one another attorney assigned to Major Crimes—Danielle Simmons—but she’s on maternity leave.”

Kelsey blinked. “Wait. Does that mean I’m basically—”

“For the moment, yeah, you’re basically running Major Crimes.” He sighed. “I told you. We’re crap at priorities in Port Charles.”

Kelly’s: Dining Room

Ned Ashton leaned back in his chair, then shifted uncomfortably. “Brooke, I know you’re not happy—”

His nineteen-year-old daughter rolled her eyes and huffed. “Oh, yeah? What gave it away?”

“This is going well,” his younger brother, Dillon, said to him brightly. “I’m glad I canceled my plans to be snarked for an hour, but you know I got a busy day ahead of me to be yelled at by anyone else—”

“Who invited you anyway?” Brooke Lynn retorted. “Nothing is gonna make me okay with being stuck here in this back water with a bunch of hicks when I could be at home—”

“Where you were failing out of Columbia?” Ned asked. “Getting arrested?”

“Oh, God. It wasn’t that bad. I was just with some friends—”

“Who were shoplifting.”

“One bottle of wine.”

“Your mother and I decided you needed a change in scenery—”

“Do you need me for this?” Dillon asked, leaning forward. “Because, seriously, I could go.”

Ned glared at his brother. He’d brought the idiot along because Dillon was only a year older than Brooke. He was supposed to be the mediator. He was supposed to speak Brooke’s language.

But no one spoke Brooke’s language clearly, and Ned was obviously being punished for not being as hands on with his daughter as he would have liked.

“Brooke—”

“You and Ma sicced Grandma on me,” Brooke interrupted, her dark eyes flashing with irritation. “You know what she’s like. How am I supposed to tell her no? But I’m nineteen, Dad. You don’t get to run my life. You couldn’t even do that when you were supposed to.”

“Fair point,” Dillon said to her. “I got one of those, too. I met him once. When I was, like, ten. I think. Maybe I was nine—”

“Dillon,” Ned said, flatly. “Go away.”

“Gone.” Dillon jumped up and moved to the counter where his girlfriend, Georgie, was serving Maxie and Lucas Jones.

“I can make my own friends, you know.”

Ned sighed and reached for his cup of coffee. It had seemed like a good idea at the time to bring Brooke to Port Charles for the summer, to give her time to settle in and make some friends before transferring to PCU for her sophomore year.

But the little girl he remembered had transformed into a sulky young woman who wore too much eye makeup, too much jewelry, and too little clothing. He didn’t know this girl.

He didn’t know how to know this girl.

And he hated himself for letting Lois take the lead on raising her, and Lois for leaving him for no reason at all.

But Brooke was his daughter. And he had to make the effort.

“Alexis wanted to have us over for dinner this weekend. To celebrate finishing her therapy and getting custody of Kristina back.” Ned eyed Brooke. “Can you at least join me for that?”

“Yeah, I guess.” Brooke shrugged. “What else am I supposed to do? Go to the movies?” She rolled her eyes. “God, I miss New York.”

Ned rubbed the back of his neck and felt very guilty when his phone vibrated. He flipped it open. “Yeah?”

“We need to talk. Immediately.”

Ned grimaced at the sound of Faith Roscoe’s voice. This, he did not need. “I’m busy—”

“We need to discuss a few things. We’ve got a problem. You know where to find me.”

“Yeah, okay.” Ned closed his phone and slid into the pocket of his trousers. He dropped a twenty on the table. “I have a meeting—”

“Well, that took five seconds.” Brooke got to her feet. “Are you gonna take me back to the gatehouse or am I stuck here?”

“Dillon,” Ned said, twisting towards the counter. “Can you drop Brooke at the house—”

“I need a car. This is never gonna work—”

“Oh, yeah,” Dillon said with a sigh. “That sounds like a great time. Let me just stop my life and take care of yours.”

“Great. Thanks. You’re the best brother.”

Queen of Angels: Chapel

Carly Corinthos grimaced at the floral arrangements alongside the pews down the aisle. “I thought these were supposed to be yellow?” she said to the wedding planner.

“They were,” the woman said with a harassed smile and clenched teeth. “But the bride called last week to change them to pink. Said money was no obstacle.”

“Oh.” Carly frowned and looked back at the tulips. “We didn’t—All right, it’s not my wedding, I guess.” She signed the last piece of paperwork from her. “All right. I guess that’s everything until later tonight.”

She dismissed the wedding planner from her mind and went to find Jason, so he could take her back to the penthouse where she’d arranged several hours of massages, hair dressing, and makeup before the ceremony at seven that evening.

She found Jason in the anteroom going over the final security arrangements with Father Coates. She hung back until Jason had shaken the priest’s hand.

“You ready to go?” Jason asked.

“Yeah, everything is fine here.” Carly smiled at the priest who had performed her wedding the year before and then followed Jason into the courtyard.

She wound her arm through his as they made their way to the parking lot, bouncing a little on her feet. “I can’t believe you’re getting married tonight, Jase! It feels like you just got engaged.”

“Yeah, it does.”

Carly slid a look at him under her lashes as they approached the SUV Jason had driven them in. “You know, I know you’re stoic and everything, but it’s okay to be excited. You’re getting married.”

“I know.”

She put out a hand to stop him from opening the passenger door for her and looked at him.

He looked like he always did. Spiky brownish-blond hair, average height, clad in his usual jeans, a t-shirt stretched over a muscled chest.

But there was nothing in his eyes. No excitement, no interest. Just…nothing.

Jason had never been a man prone to much expression, but if you wanted to know how he really felt about something, you looked him in the eyes.

“Jase…” Carly bit her lip. “Listen, I know—” She turned to face him, and he just sighed. “I know maybe it was possibly my idea for you to propose—”

“Carly—”

“And maybe I encouraged you to ask Courtney out, but that was just because I didn’t want you to get back together with Elizabeth, and you know she doesn’t get you anyway. I mean, God, she married Ric after everything we told her about him. If that doesn’t—”

“Emily is here for the wedding,” Jason interrupted. “And she doesn’t like Courtney. I met her for coffee this morning, so—”

“Oh.” Carly closed her mouth. “I guess that makes sense. I mean, she’s probably the last person in the world that likes AJ, so I guess you marrying his ex-wife…” She shrugged. “Are…are you sure that’s it? I mean, look—if you’re having second thoughts—”

“I’m not.” Jason brushed her hand away from the door and opened it. “I asked Courtney to marry me. You’re right. She’s Sonny’s sister. She understands what I do. I knew what I was doing when I asked her. And that’s it.”

“And you love her,” Carly said with a smile she didn’t feel at all. “So, okay. Let’s go back to the penthouses so we can get ready.” She leaned up to kiss his cheek. “In five hours, you’ll be a married man!”

This time, Jason did smile at her.

But it didn’t change the expression in his eyes.

She climbed into the passenger side, and he closed the door after her. She’d done what she could—she’d given him an opening to tell her if anything was wrong, and he hadn’t taken it.

So, she’d do exactly what Jason had always asked her to do, and butt the hell out of it.

Lansing House: Living Room

When she had left breakfast earlier that morning, she had not gone home to unpack. Instead, Elizabeth had gone to her studio, turned on the small television she had always kept there and wasted her day watching day time television and sleeping.

She couldn’t sleep at home, spent hours awake at night next to Ric. Next to her husband.

Wondering what happened to her life.

How she had ended up married to a man she didn’t love any more than the one she had left at the altar.

So, she spent her days at her old studio, pretending to get ready for a one woman show that Ric had arranged at a local gallery. Elizabeth kept pushing off the date, kept saying she wasn’t ready.

Since she hadn’t picked up a pencil or brush in nearly two months, it was unlikely she would be ready any time soon.

But she couldn’t keep ignoring her life. Couldn’t keep running away from her choices. Everyone else had moved on with their lives.

Emily was pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor, Nikolas was staying in London as Laura recovered from her nervous breakdown, Lucky had started a new career as a police officer, Zander had moved to New York for a job with ELQ, and Jason…

Jason was getting married.

Like she had.

It was over. It never really existed.

So, Elizabeth made a promise to herself. She would go home, and she would try to live the fresh start Ric wanted to give them. He had gone and bought a beautiful home for their new future.

He wanted to be with her. He wanted to be a better person.

So, at six o’clock that evening, Elizabeth opened the front door and accepted Ric’s kiss and the offer of champagne to celebrate their first week in their new home.

Set in April 2006. This starts after the virus storyline. A couple of things to remember about this time period: Elizabeth and Lucky are married. He was injured in the train crash in November 2005. In my version, Lucky remained off active duty. He’s not addicted to painkillers, but definitely relying on them. In February, during the virus, he was kidnapped and injected with the virus. He was later rescued by Jason and Carly, but it all held up his recovery and in early April, Lucky is still not on active duty yet.

Elizabeth is working at the hospital; Emily is a four-year medical student who was just discovered to be dating Sonny. Jason and Sam are engaged, but Sam just lost her brother to the virus and found out Alexis is her mother. I think that’s all the background needed for this opening scene.


Early April 2006

General Hospital: Nurse’s Station

Elizabeth Spencer all but jumped out of her skin as her best friend dropped a pile of hard, plastic charts on the surface of the nurse’s station next to her. She sighed, put her pen down, and rubbed her eyes.

Another day. Another round.

“He’s gone too far this time, Elizabeth. It’s like he doesn’t even listen to me.”

Emily Quartermaine scowled as she jerked the first chart open and almost stabbed a hole in the paper with her pen nib. “He’s out of control. I want to know where the hell my brother went and what kind of bastard stole his life—”

“Hey.” Elizabeth slapped a hand over Emily’s chart. “Stop it.”

Emily blinked, looked at her. “Elizabeth—”

“I’m sorry, I just can’t listen to this again today, Emily. I just can’t.” Elizabeth sighed. “It’s the same argument every day. I don’t know—I can’t possibly imagine what your brother could have done this time, but I’m tired.”

“I’m sorry to bring my problems to you,” Emily snapped. “Since I thought you were my best friend—”

“I am—” Elizabeth closed her eyes. Took a deep breath. Dial it back, girl. “Look. I’m having a bad day. I didn’t sleep all that much, Cameron is sick, and Lucky—We had a fight before I left for work. So I’m sorry if Jason is having a tough time dealing with your relationship with Sonny. I really am. I know how much you love each other. But you know what—maybe it’d be nice if you asked how my day was going before you just started in again, okay? Because there’s nothing that’s going to change right now. You already know where I stand.”

Emily pressed her lips in a thin line and nodded. “You agree with my brother.”

“Not with the same amount of energy, but yeah, if I think if Jason is warning you off—something that is incredibly out of character for him—then maybe you should listen.” Elizabeth turned back to her chart. “He’s not going to change his mind, Em.”

“He could,” Emily said, but her tone had dulled. “What’s wrong with Cam? Is he okay?”

“Yeah.” Elizabeth shrugged one shoulder. “It’s a stomach virus, and Lucky—he stayed at home with him because he couldn’t go to daycare.”

“And probably had to reschedule a rehab session for his back.” Emily picked her pen back up and the two returned to the charts. “I’m sorry. I really—I haven’t been thinking about you or Lucky. Or God, even Nikolas. I know he’s struggling.”

“I don’t blame you for that, Em.”

“You should. I’ve been selfish—”

“Your life turned upside down last weekend, I get that. You and Sonny were keeping this all secret, and then some stupid tabloid just blows everything up.” Elizabeth looked at her friend. “It must be hell having that out there like this. I know it’s been rough with your family.”

“I just—” Emily sighed. “I thought my brother would get it. That he’d be the one person I could count on. I knew you’d probably be against it—you’re not really Sonny’s fan—”

“I just—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “When Jason and I talked about it, I could just—I could see how he felt about it. And he convinced me. Have you listened to him?”

“He just talks about things that are ancient history and have nothing to do with me. Yeah, Sonny made mistakes. He wasn’t good to Brenda or Carly. I’ve got my own problems, too. You know what I did to Zander.” Emily’s eyes pleaded with her. “Jason is the only one who doesn’t see it my way. I mean, even Sam thinks he needs to lay off. Let us live our life.”

Elizabeth just wanted to be done with this conversation—there was nothing Jason could say to Emily to change her mind, nothing that Elizabeth could say.

And she knew Jason was standing alone in this. He’d hinted as much when they’d run into each other at Elm Street Pier a few days earlier. They’d sat on the bench and talked like they once had, and she’d been the one to bring it up.

Because she had been concerned that Jason was stepping in, trying to control Emily’s life. It was so the opposite of the man she’d once been friends with that she just—she wanted to understand it.

“I know you don’t really support me, Elizabeth, but you get that it’s my decision to make—”

“I get that you’re Jason’s sister, and it’s hard for him to look away from that. You know he’d cut off his hand to make you happy—”

“He doesn’t need to do anything that drastic,” Emily said with a roll of her eyes. “He just needs to accept I am old enough to live my life and let me do it. You know he’s always listened to you. If you run into him again—”

And be someone else who didn’t support him? Elizabeth silently rejected that notion. Jason had said something about Sam thinking he was overreacting, that even Carly thought they should just let it burn out—that Sonny always moved on eventually.

There was no one on Jason’s side, and she couldn’t stand that. They were no longer the close friends they’d been only a few years earlier, but something in her wouldn’t let him be alone in this, to be the only one against it.

Maybe it was her heart trying to remind her of all the times she hadn’t stood by him, hadn’t believed in him.

“I can’t make any promises,” Elizabeth murmured.

Emily opened her mouth but then closed it immediately. Her lower lip quivered, her cheeks drained of color. “What the hell—”

Elizabeth turned to face the elevators and froze.

Pushing a yellow bucket across the linoleum as water sloshed inside, Manny Ruiz ambled towards them with a mop in his hand.

“Miss Webber. Miss Quartermaine.”

The psycho murderer returned to his chore as if nothing was out of the ordinary.

“W-What—” Emily breathed, but Elizabeth couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t move.

Everything was cold. Her skin prickled. The man who had kidnapped her—who had forced her to escape from him—who had threatened to kill Patrick Drake and Jason Morgan in an operating theater—

Who had orchestrated the train crash that had devastated Elizabeth’s husband and killed several people—

Was mopping the floors of General Hospital as if nothing had happened.

“Who would hire him?” Emily said, the words leaving her mouth barely audible. “Who would hire him here? Where he—” She swallowed, her hands shaking.

“I knew that Alexis and Ric got him off on the charges, but why—” Elizabeth shook her head. “Why didn’t he leave? Why is he still here?”

“That’s a damn good question,” Epiphany Johnson, the charge nurse for the surgical ICU, snapped as she stepped up into the hub at the nurse’s station. “Hasn’t he terrorized us enough? Has anyone talked to Drake Junior about this hire?”

“He’s going to wish he’d stayed in New York.” Emily rubbed her hands up and down her arms, shivering. The three women watched as Manny worked his way down the hallway, methodically sweeping the mop back and forth.

“I thought he’d go back to Miami,” Elizabeth said. “But I guess with his father and brother gone—” She swallowed. Looked at her watch and swore. “I have to go. I promised Lucky I’d be home on time so he could go in for a shift.”

“He still on desk duty?” Epiphany asked as Elizabeth hurriedly organized her paperwork.

“Yeah, and he hates being late—he already had to switch his rehab and second shift so he could stay with Cameron so I have to be home by two so he can make the third—”

Elizabeth didn’t even bother to complete her sentence as she rushed out of the nurse’s station.

“I worry about that girl,” Epiphany murmured, her dark eyes following the nurse.

“It’ll be okay once Lucky gets back into the field,” Emily said with a confidence she didn’t quite feel. She might have spent the last few weeks sort of oblivious to the people in her life, but she knew Lucky and Elizabeth had been struggling.

Lucky had been on desk duty since his back injury during the train crash, and he’d been short-tempered and cranky since. He hated his rehab, hated being out of the action—and being kidnapped during the virus insanity and nearly dying had only set his recovery back.

But Lucky would be okay soon. And Elizabeth wouldn’t have to work so hard. The shadows would clear. And both her best friends would be happy again.

“And maybe Jason will jump for joy about me dating Sonny,” Emily muttered. So long as she was hoping for things that would never happen.