Flash Fiction: Chain Reaction – Part 19

This entry is part 19 of 29 in the Flash Fiction: Chain Reaction

Written in 53 minutes.


Vista Point

It had been a nightmare from beginning to start, and not even the ride up to the observation deck with Elizabeth on the bike with him was able to clear his head this time.

He’d asked her to come with them. He’d spent the entire day thinking about Elizabeth and the incredible, out of left field news that their night together had created a baby, and what had Jason done the first time he’d had to choose between her safety and the insanity of his life?

He’d chosen Sonny. He’d looked directly at Elizabeth, at her quiet, shaken expression, and asked her to go with them, making it clear to anyone who had been there — including Mike, Courtney’s father — that Sonny’s accusations were based, at least somewhat, in fact.

He coasted the bike to a stop, then switched off the engine and waited for Elizabeth to climb off. She removed the helmet, shaking her hair free, running her fingers  through it with one hand, handing the helmet to him with the other.

Jason stowed it on the back of the bike, then stood there an extra minute, his hands curling into fists, his chest still tight, his head aching.

“I sort of told Emily.”

He frowned, then turned to look at her. “What?”

“This morning.” Elizabeth reached for his hand, and bewildered, Jason let her draw him up the short of flight stairs to the observation deck where the lake lay below them, the lights of Spoon Island winking in the distance. “I woke up, and I felt absolutely terrible.” She leaned over the guard rail, wrinkled her nose. “I thought it was the Doritos and Mountain Dew until I came back and listened to my answering machine. Dr. Meadows’ office wanted to a follow-up, and it all popped into my head. Something that should have happened and hadn’t—” Elizabeth turned back to face him, leaned against the railing. “I bought the test, took it, and went straight to Emily. I wasn’t going to say anything, but she sort of thought I looked happy.”

He moved next to her, also leaning against the railing, looked down at the ground. “What did she say?”

“I just told her that I’d suspected it and took a test, but that you needed to be the first person to hear the results. I don’t think she missed my point.” Elizabeth bit her lip, but she was smiling slightly. “It’s crazy, I know, but I didn’t even know I was happy, you know? And then she said it, and it was like a light bulb was on in my head — like, oh, right, that’s what this feeling is. It’s been so long since I really felt truly happy, I couldn’t recognize. Even before…when I was…” Her smile slipped. “Before. I had moments, but I wasn’t happy. I wanted to be. This is so not what I was planning when I woke up this morning. Any of it. But then again, I never did plan for you.”

The corner of his mouth twitched. “You think I planned for you? All I did was go to Jake’s and think about starting a fight. You’re the one that yelled at me.”

“Well, you should have told me you wanted a fight. I’d have helped you with it.” Their eyes met, and his smile was a bit bigger now. “It’s insane. The timing is so wrong. I had a minute where I thought — maybe I should hold on to this. You’re dealing with so much, and I didn’t want to give you one more thing—”

“This isn’t—”

“That’s what I thought. This wouldn’t be one more thing to you. You’d take it seriously. No, that’s not—” She made a face. “That’s not the word I want. I don’t know how to describe, but as soon as I thought it, I knew I was wrong. You’d never see a baby that way. You’d…you’d see it like you see Michael. And I just—I knew I had to tell you. I wasn’t planning on the alley, but it just fell out.” Elizabeth reached out, traced a pattern on chest with the tips of her fingers. “And you were so happy.”

“I told Bobbie,” Jason admitted,” and her eyes widened. “I didn’t mean to, but we were talking about Sonny, and she asked about the tension she saw with Courtney, and I just—I don’t know. I wanted to say it out loud. You’re right. This is terrible timing, but I just don’t care.”

“Me either.” She leaned up, brushed her mouth against his in all too brief kiss, but was already walking down towards the next level and the bench. He followed. “That being said, I was hoping you’d understand if I say we should keep it to ourselves for a little while. You and I might see this as the blessing it actually is, but…”

“Not everyone will.” He sat next to her, took her hand in his, liking the way her soft skin felt against his. “Yeah, I get that.”

“It was…the miscarriage was harder maybe than it had to be. People knew, and I had to say it over and over again. And there’s—I mean, that happened because I fell, but there’s always a risk,” Elizabeth admitted. “I just…I don’t want to go through that again.”

“I—” Jason exhaled slowly. “Yeah. I agree. Courtney…she had a miscarriage in August.” He grimaced. “I didn’t know she was pregnant until it was over,” he added when she just blinked at him. “She found out, and she didn’t tell me. Then she came to Venezuela, and—something—it went wrong. The doctors told her she wouldn’t be able to have kids.”

“Oh. Oh, I’m so sorry, Jason—”

“I feel guilty,” he admitted, “because…when she told me, I couldn’t—” He looked away, unable to face her as he continued. “I really don’t know. I didn’t feel the way I think I was supposed to. She was upset, and I understood that, but I don’t know. It was never real to me. And—since the accident,” he forced out, now looking at his own hands. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to connections to that kind of thing. It was over before I knew it existed, and I was sad for that. But I also—I didn’t grieve the way she was. And I think that bothered her.”

“I’m sorry. I know that must have weighed on you. People feel things differently. Of course you’d be sensitive to how this would feel for her.” Elizabeth reached his hand, but said nothing until he finally looked at her. “Did you think I would be upset that you wanted to keep this quiet for her sake?”

“I—no, but—”

“You’re a good man, Jason, who was in a difficult position, and I know you did the best you could—”

“Did I?” he muttered. “I took the easy way out — I stayed with her—”

“I stayed with Lucky, didn’t I? You never slammed the door in my face even when you should have. And I needed to know for sure. I needed to know that it wasn’t just the way I felt about you that was destroying that relationship. Lucky and I were broken before you came home, I just didn’t see it. I couldn’t. I don’t blame you for staying.”

“You should. I don’t know why you don’t. It’s different. I told you I loved you. We slept together. I told you I was leaving—”

“And I knew it would never be that simple. It couldn’t be. You went back, and only you know for sure if you tried. And maybe—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Maybe I knew that it wasn’t going to last. Even with you keeping your distance, I knew if Courtney felt secure, she wouldn’t have come in so often talking about the wedding. She wanted me to feel threatened, but all I did was feel sorry for her. Which would probably piss her off.”

“You’re a better person than me,” Jason said. “If we’d…if we’d been together, and you’d gone—”

“Lucky took a knife to your throat, Jason, and I accused you of assaulting him. I believed him. I don’t blame you for any of this, Jason. Even if I had a doubt, it’s all gone now.” Elizabeth touched his face, her fingers brushing against his jaw, pressing gently so that he’d look at her. “Because you don’t lie. Not with your eyes. And I saw the way you felt when you looked at me today. When I told you I was pregnant. I know you’re excited about being a father again, but I could see you were happy that we were doing this, and it let me feel free to feel that way, too. But we’re both aware of the circumstances that exist outside all of this. I have no need to rub any of this in Courtney’s face, and that’s all it would be if we told anyone now.”

He nodded, then brought her hand to his lips. “Thank you.”

“And give yourself a break for how you’re feeling about the baby she lost. You don’t give yourself enough credit for the way you’re rebuilt your life since the accident. For what you’ve been through.”

He exhaled slowly. “Maybe I would have deserved that once, but I don’t feel that way now. If it wasn’t for you — or Michael,” he admitted, “after a night like this — I might just get on my bike and keep going.”

Her brows drew together, and the corners of her mouth dipped. “I don’t want to be the reason you stay—something that holds you down—”

“No. No, that’s not what I mean—” He shifted, turning towards her, taking both her hands in his. “You make me remember why this is my home. Why running would just be the coward’s way out. To run away from the problems I created for myself. But I don’t want to do that again. To leave you. I talked to Bobbie, and she’s going to get some doctors that can give us some ideas what to do next. It’s…it’s not all the way fixed,” he admitted, “but I have hope. Even as bad as tonight was, you know? I think maybe I can finally see an ending.”

“I’m glad. And you know Bobbie is solid. She won’t give up.”

“I’m sorry,” Jason said after another moment. “We didn’t—I spent all day thinking about seeing you tonight. About what we’d talk about, what happens next. And that’s—we didn’t get to do that.”

“Sure we did. We decided we’re both deliriously happy about this,” Elizabeth said, and he smiled slightly. “We decided to keep it to yourselves for a lot of reasons. Maybe I’ll go to Mercy for my appointments just to be on the safe side. And you’re going to focus on getting Sonny better because you’ll feel better when he is. He looked so lost, Jason, when he came back to himself, and it broke my heart.”

“It’s hard to know,” Jason said slowly, “what’s Sonny and what’s not. Or if it’s all in there. He came to Kelly’s tonight because of what Courtney said. Did he mean to do that? Or was that whatever gets in his head? He accuses Carly of having an affair with Lorenzo Alcazar, you know that? Because after the panic room, she looked rested and healthy when we found her. Sunshine. Walking. Good food. He thought she was too happy.”

“Oh, oh, that’s awful—”

“He knows when he’s clear that it’s just his paranoia, his guilt over not finding her faster,” Jason admitted. “But he keeps forgetting. So did he do that tonight? Did he just come to talk to you, and forget? Did it start when we got back? I…I just don’t know.” He sighed, looked down at their hands. “I have to talk to Mike.”

“I figured. He’s always been so good to me, and I know you’re close to him, too. He’s Michael’s godfather, right?”

“He was…a good friend when Sonny was gone. I’ve always respected him. I just—I don’t want to lie to him—”

“Then don’t. Mike’s always struck me as a realist. He cares about you, Jason. Tell him the truth about what Sonny’s going through. And what…you and I are. Or about Courtney. You have my blessing to tell him whatever you need to. Even the baby. I hope he isn’t angry with you. Or me,” she admitted. “I’ve always liked him.”

“Thank you.” He sighed. “We should get back.”

“I know, but hey, you know—” Elizabeth followed him back towards the parking lot. “I’m not fragile. Maybe we can take the turns a little faster. You know it kills you to go slow.”

He grinned, handed her the helmet. “You sure?”

“I’ll let you know when I can’t handle it.” She fastened the strap beneath her chin, her eyes sparkling. “And hey, when we have that conversation about my studio I know you’re itching to get into, I promise to be reasonable.”

Jason laughed, got on the bike, waited for her slide on behind him, her arms sliding around his waist. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Studio: Hallway

Jason stopped Elizabeth as she fit her key into the lock, wrapping his hand around her wrist. “I know…I know you said we should take some time before…before we decided anything about us, but—”

“I think we’ve sort of skipped that step again,” Elizabeth said, smiling as she turned back, leaned against the door. “But I still want us to be careful. To be thoughtful about what comes next. I don’t want us to just crash into each other when things go wrong. You know?”

“I do, it’s just—” He rested his arm above her head. “When I’m with you, everything is in focus. I can see clearly, and I know what has to be done. I know I can do it. It’s hard to watch you go inside and not be with you.”

“I don’t love it either,” she admitted. “But I meant it. I don’t want to rush into this. We have months before we have to be parents. I want to get it right this time. That being said…not rushing doesn’t have to mean we don’t get to have our fun…” Elizabeth gripped his shirt, pulled him towards, and he sank into her embrace, drawing out the kiss until their breathing was shallow. “I’m just a phone call away,” she murmured, placing her hands on both his cheeks. “We’ll be okay. I’m not going anywhere.”

Comments

  • They’re so happy about the baby. I think it’s a good idea to not tell any more people except maybe Mike. I enjoyed their talk. Sonny definitely needs help.

    According to arcoiris0502 on June 6, 2024
  • Even with all the other craziness around them, when Liason are happy, all is right with the world. Em and Bobbie (and potentially Mike) being the only ones who know about the baby is good move. Better to keep that circle closed while dealing with a spiraling Sonny and the Bitter Bitch Exs.

    According to Beth on June 7, 2024
  • They are so happy about the baby. Great update.

    According to Shelly Samuel on June 7, 2024
  • I am so glad they are leaning on each other. I hope over time more people will support Jason and Elizabeth being together and having a baby.

    According to Carla P on June 8, 2024
  • great update loved the bike ride and the long talk.

    According to Pamela Hedstrom on June 9, 2024