Written in 53 minutes.
No past, no reasons why
He couldn’t look at his mother or sister, couldn’t comfort them in their grief or accept what they offered. He felt like a fraud. Like an impostor pretending he was one of them. He’d spent years pushing Alan away, shoving him out of the edges of his life until Alan had given up and accepted whatever pathetic crumbs Jason had doled out over the years—
How could Alan had laid there at the end and not been bitter? How could this man who had grieved and lost a son only to be confronted with a stranger wearing his face still have the strength as he lay dying to say he’d never stopped loving Jason or that he was sorry for giving up—
Jason stumbled out of the room, the numbness slipping and sliding through his veins until he felt somewhere else. Was he even really here? Had any of this happened—
He stopped, his hand on the wall glass, Monica still visible on the other side, holding Emily as she cried. As his sister sobbed like she was breaking apart—
Sam stood a few feet away, her eyes rimmed with red, a patch of soot staining her cheek, her dark hair tangled, the blouse she wore torn at the shoulder. “Jason,” she repeated. “I’m so sorry. Let me be there.”
He held up his hands, warding her off. He couldn’t. He didn’t have a right to feel this way. “I can’t.”
“Why—” She inhaled sharply, her dark eyes swimming with hurt, but her jaw clenched with anger. “Why are you pushing me away? I didn’t do anything wrong! You’re the one who lied—”
He couldn’t do this. Couldn’t listen. Couldn’t hear her voice. Couldn’t look at her. Couldn’t do anything. He just wanted the quiet. He wanted everything to go away. Why wouldn’t the world just stop so he could think—
Jason turned, walking away from Sam’s outstretched hands, heading for the elevators. He jabbed the button, but it opened almost immediately — and inside, he found the other Quartermaines. Edward. Tracy. Ned. Dillon—
Ned must have seen it in his face, because he put his hand on Edward’s shoulder. “We didn’t make it in time,” he breathed.
“No—no!” Edward barked, turning to his grandson, the fear in his eyes stark. “No! I can’t—it’s not—”
Jason couldn’t be here for this. Couldn’t face them either. He walked away from the elevator, turned the corner and shoved the door open to the stairwell.
Just you and me
Kelly was standing outside the closed curtain when Jason returned to the emergency room. She finished scribbling something on a clipboard, then met his eyes as he approached. “You’re just in time,” she said, her tone more gentle, more kind than it had been when she’d kicked him out of the treatment area. The news must have already hit the emergency room. “We’re moving her to a room for observation. She’s still asleep, but you can go with her.”
Jason just nodded, and then stepped aside. Kelly opened the curtain—Elizabeth lay on the bed, her face still pale, dark circles beneath her eyes. A pair of orderlys started to push, and Jason followed them down the hall and to the patient elevator.
When they’d settled her into the room, and Kelly had hooked up the monitors, including one for the fetal heartbeat, she started for the door. Then she turned back. “I’m sorry for your loss. Dr. Quartermaine was a great man and he’ll be missed.”
Jason exhaled slowly. “Thank you,” he managed because Kelly didn’t really know any better. She wouldn’t know that he had no right to the grief laying on his shoulders like a heavy weight.
She set Elizabeth’s chart in the door slot, then closed it as she left. It was finally quiet. A moment to breathe. Jason looked at the monitor, at the heartbeat of the baby that he’d always wanted to be his—
After the accident, Jason had built a brick wall around himself. Built out of anger, desperation, and a little bit of fear, he could admit now. He’d enclosed himself a little world where nothing could hurt him. Nothing could touch him. He wasn’t damaged inside there, and no one would treat him like he was stupid. He’d let people in over time — Sonny. Robin. Lily. Emily. Lila. Michael. Carly. Monica. Elizabeth.
But never Alan. And his father had tired of beating himself bloody against that wall and he’d given up. Jason hadn’t even noticed, hadn’t felt the difference. He didn’t need a father, he’d told himself over and over again. Even yesterday, Jason hadn’t felt the lack of a father. He’d had Sonny and Mike. And sometimes Luke. He’d had people who he could see now had filled that role.
But tonight, he’d walked Alan to the door and he’d felt that thin connection for the first time in his own living memory.
This is my father, he’d thought.
And his father was gone before Jason could understand, before he could ask himself why now after all this time—
But he wouldn’t have the same regrets on his death bed, he told himself. He wouldn’t give up on his child.
So he sat by Elizabeth’s bed, watching her sleep, watching the beat of her child as she protected it within herself, and promised himself that whatever it took, whatever he had to do, the people in his life would never doubt what they meant to him.
This is the last time I’m asking you this
Nikolas found his brother at the hotel, a radio in his hand, as he oversaw what was left of the triage area. Nikolas had been in the emergency room, the cut to his face being stitched, when he’d overheard the argument a few curtains away.
He had stayed out of it, not wanting to make anything worse, but then Lucky hadn’t come back. And the news of Alan’s death had spread like wildfire—he’d nearly sought out Emily but knew she was with her family.
So he’d looked for his brother, praying that this news wouldn’t send him down to that dark place, that Lucky wouldn’t surrender to the pain medication that had destroyed his marriage in the first place—
“Yeah, that’s the last of them,” Lucky said. “Over.” He clipped the radio to his belt as Nikolas approached. “They released you.”
“More important things to worry about.” Nikolas lightly touched the bandage on his cheek. “I’m sorry, Lucky. About the baby.”
“Great, everyone already knows,” Lucky bit out.
“Anyone within hearing range of the emergency room,” Nikolas said gently. “I’m sorry. That she lied. And that you got hurt.”
“It’s always been Jason,” Lucky said tightly. “I should have seen it. I’ve always been her second choice—”
“No. You were always the first choice,” Nikolas corrected. “You know better than that, Lucky. If she’d wanted Jason, she could have had him. She chose you—”
“Did she?” Lucky’s eyes burned into his. “Or did she feel too damn guilty and responsible for me? I found out she was pregnant and checked into rehab. Should she have told me the truth that day?”
“Or maybe when I got out and I was clean. She could have told me then, maybe. Or when I thought Maxie had miscarried the baby. Or when I found out it was all a lie—she had chances to tell me.” Lucky stared back at the hotel, standing strong despite the destruction of the lobby. “And she chose none of them. Because she knew what I’d do. What you think I’m going to do if you’re not holding my hand.”
Relieved that somehow Lucky had already at the same destination Nikolas had intended to help him find, Nikolas nodded. “We—I just want you to be okay.”
“It doesn’t make it right or okay. What she did. She should have told me she didn’t love me anymore.” His voice tightened and he swung his gaze back to his brother. “She should have told me that. I saw it. In her eyes. She didn’t want me in the ambulance. She was annoyed. She only told me tonight because she was too tired and dehydrated to remember the reasons she couldn’t. She wanted me to go away.”
“And how do I blame her?” He dragged his hands through his hair. “I did this. Maybe she always loved Jason somewhere, but she never would have acted on it. Never would have turned to him if I hadn’t shoved her out the door.”
“So you don’t have to worry about me. I’m seeing clearly. I don’t want to be someone she has to take care of. A burden. An obligation. I deserve more than that, damn it. I just—” Lucky closed his eyes. “I just wanted her to love me. I wanted us to have a fresh start. A life together. But I didn’t see it was too late until she kept asking for Jason.”
“I’m sorry,” Nikolas said. “I am. I need to go back to the hospital,” he continued, and Lucky frowned. “Alan died. Emily needs me. Will you go back with me?”
Put my name at the top of your list
Sam sat on a bench in the waiting room outside the ICU, sure that Jason would return. He’d walked away from her, from the grief. It had been a mistake to see his rejection in that moment as part of the lie. She’d hurt him, and made it about her.
She’d never be able to keep this all together if she didn’t find a way to get a handle on this anger. If she let him see how she felt, the anger, the resentment, the jealousy—she’d lose him. He’d push her away, and he’d go to Elizabeth. To the family that was just waiting.
It was better to swallow it. To put it a way, lock inside a box and put it on the highest shelf. Jason would feel guilty about her inability to have children and the way the secret had been revealed. And if she could keep him a little longer, if they could get past this, Sam knew that he’d remember how much he loved her.
But as she continued to wait, as she stared at the elevators, willing them to open and for him to step out—the voices in her head began to pick away at that conviction. Jason wasn’t here. He wasn’t with his sister. Wasn’t grieving the loss of the father he’d barely noticed.
And if he wasn’t here, he was with Elizabeth.
There was a fork in the road. One way led to a future with Jason, just how she’d planned for more than a year, and the other to a life without him.
Which path would she choose?