Written in 62 minutes. Took a few minutes to get going, but hey, we have a cliffhanger, so there’s that.
Jason wanted to get Elizabeth out of the penthouse while the place was cleaned up and the furniture replaced, and her face lit up when he suggested they take the bike out. It was the first time in days when he’d felt like himself, leaning into corners, the wind roaring past his ears, Elizabeth’s arms tightening when he took the turns just a little too fast.
He parked the bike at the observation deck parking lot, and Elizabeth stumbled off, pulling the helmet over her head. Her cheeks bright red, eyes sparkling, and hair tumbling around her face—
This was how he liked her best, smiling and laughing, even shivering a bit from the cold and the wind. Not silently crying or explaining with that air of somberness that she wasn’t scared of his life.
Unable to resist the temptation, Jason reached for her, sliding his fingers into the pockets of the leather jacket he’d given her for Christmas, then taking her mouth, swallowing that smile and laughter as if he could take it into himself, tasting the wind on her lips—they were chapped and cold but he didn’t care—
The helmet clattered to the ground, and Elizabeth’s hands were on his face, leaning into him, nearly crawling into his lap as he still sat on the bike.
She pulled back. “I like when you do that.”
“Smile.” Her thumb brushed over his bottom lip, sweeping across it. “You don’t do it enough.” Elizabeth paused, her smile fading slightly. “But that’s good, you know. You don’t smile or laugh when you don’t feel like it. I always know it’s real.”
Not like the smiles she’d pasted on for months, he knew. The way they’d never reached her eyes and no one had noticed or cared. “You never have to pretend with me,” he reminded her. “And I’ll never lie to you.”
“I know.” She kissed him again, then rested her forehead against his. “I want to paint the wind again. It’ll be even better this time. You can help, you know.”
Jason squinted. “You’re not driving.”
“Oh, come on, you let me before.” Elizabeth pouted, planting her fists at her hips.
“Weak moment,” he argued. “You closed your eyes!”
“Because I knew you were right behind me—” Elizabeth wrapped her fingers around the edges of his jacket, her expression determined. “Please.”
Jason made a face, then sighed. “All right.”
“Yeah, but you have to promise to keep your eyes open,” he reminded her. He slid back on the seat, and Elizabeth beamed. She scooped the helmet off the ground, shoved it back on her head and climbed in front of him. He reminded her where the controls were, even though he knew he’d be steering the entire time. They wouldn’t be able to take the turns nearly as fast, but it was worth it to see her smile.
Corinthos Penthouse: Living Room
The next morning, Sonny was surprised to see Jason arriving just after eight. “Where’s Elizabeth?”
“She had to go back to work this morning,” Jason said. He disappeared into the kitchen to make himself a mug of coffee, then joined Sonny at the table. “She had the opening shift.”
Sonny grimaced, sipped his own coffee. “It’s a nightmare to secure that diner,” he muttered. “Are sure we can’t talk her into taking a break? Sorel’s been warned, but he’s a moron.”
Jason didn’t much like it either, but he’d promised Elizabeth. “She has to pay for tuition,” he muttered. And she’d left the envelope of financial stuff he’d given her on the desk, her face screwed up with irritation when he’d given it to that morning. He’d added her to the bank accounts and credit cards, so he’d had a checkbook and some cards for her to use.
“Well, if she were the type to take all the money you offered, then we probably wouldn’t be here.” Sonny shrugged it off. “We’ll make it work. The deal with Sorel will hold for a few weeks, maybe a month. He’ll wait until he think the others aren’t looking.”
“I know it.”
“But we bought ourselves some breathing room, and hey, we got a break—turns out Carly’s threat wasn’t that serious.” Sonny shrugged. “She’s neutralized—”
Jason hesitated, then shook his head. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to just write her off that way. Maybe she can’t put me in jail right now, but—”
“But the threat to Elizabeth and Bobbie isn’t there anymore, either. Legally, Carly can’t do anything. She might still try to torment you or go after Elizabeth, but what damage can she really do?”
That was a stupid question to ask, Jason knew, but Sonny hadn’t really paid attention to Carly before the last few months. And it was strange how the feelings of betrayal had faded when only a few weeks earlier, it had sent Jason spiraling, led him to collapse in the snow with nothing to live for.
Instead, he had Elizabeth. He hated what Sonny had done and still had no desire to revisit that night, but in the long run—
Maybe it had been a favor.
“We’ll keep an eye on her,” Sonny was saying, “but I think you and Elizabeth should be fine to do the paperwork in maybe six months—”
“Paperwork—” Jason frowned at him. “What paperwork?”
“Divorce,” Sonny said, tipping his head to the side. “I know we were thinking this would be long-term, but Alexis said that Moreno’s case is dead in the water. The cops harassed Elizabeth one too many times. Without her corroborating or denying an alibi, it’s Carly’s word against yours. And they have zero evidence against you to back her up.” He picked up his coffee. “Capelli screwed them.”
“I don’t—” Jason couldn’t wrap his mind around any of this. The ring on his finger still heavy and strange, still new off to feel out of place, and Sonny was already talking about ending it— “I know it kills Carly as evidence—”
“They didn’t have much to go on before,” Sonny reminded Jason. “Elizabeth was it. They know she was with you that night, but she never confirmed or elaborated on the times. Now, after that search warrant bullshit, they can’t even pull her in for questioning. Our guy at the PCPD said the plan was to do the warrants at the penthouse and studio, use Nikolas Cassadine as a backup for you being at the studio. He corroborates Carly on that, at least. Maybe Audrey or Bobbie get dragged in for that—”
“Alexis said we might still be in danger of a physical search warrant for you,” Sonny continued. “To look you over for bullet wounds—”
Jason reflexively reached for the scar on his abdomen, the skin still shiny and stretched out, pink from healing. “Then—”
“But they can’t tie it to that night. All the PCPD has is that you ducked out of the sight around the time Moreno did. You and Elizabeth are married now which backs up the crap Nikolas spewed at the hospital party,” Sonny said. “The DA won’t touch this case. Not with Carly as the only witness that says you were injured during this time period. I told you — Caplli disrupted everything by going too hard at Elizabeth. They might have been able to drag an alibi out of her with a subpoena, but not anymore.”
It should relieve him that Elizabeth was out of danger from the PCPD — and it did. He’d called Carly’s bluff, and she’d gone nuclear. She didn’t have anything left to hurt him with—
“Alexis said it would be a year or more,” Jason said slowly. “And there’s Sorel—”
“Sorel isn’t going to last.” Sonny sneered. “Tagliatti and Vega are already eying his territory, and he’s pissed them off one too many times. A few months, he’s out of it. And they don’t care if you get divorced—” He paused, then focused on Jason. “I didn’t say you had to file tomorrow, Jason. Only that it wasn’t going to take as long as we thought. That’s good news.”
Was it? A few days ago, Jason had almost been dragged into this plan by Elizabeth’s determination and his desire to stay in Port Charles with her. They’d only been married two days. Nearly three.
“You don’t have to do anything with that information,” Sonny continued. “And it is good that Elizabeth isn’t in danger. That’s the biggest reason we did this, remember? To keep her safe from Sorel and the cops. You’ve done that now.”
“Yeah, yeah. It’s just—”
“I didn’t expect Carly to go this hard this fast, to be honest. Or that the PCPD would screw it all up, but maybe we should have. We’re not dealing with Einstein here. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. You still wanna wait at least six months, or, hey, leave the paperwork where it is until you guys break up. It’ll be easier that way, and Elizabeth will probably be glad we forced her into the prenup.” He got to his feet and went into the kitchen to make another cup of coffee, Jason staring after him with confusion and worry.
Kelly’s: Dining Room
The biggest change from being Jason Morgan’s secret mistress to his wife was that people left her alone and left better tips, Elizabeth decided halfway through her shift as she counted the cash left from the breakfast rush. Warehouse workers who wanted to make good with the office and others who didn’t want to piss her off, thinking she’d take it to Jason. She’d made twice as much as usual.
“People are really dumb,” she said, joining Tammy behind the counter. “Do they really think I’m gonna complain to Jason because they screwed me on my tip?”
“Hey, you might as well enjoy the fruits of their stupidity,” the blonde pointed out. She scooped grounds into the machine. “So, how long do I get to keep you?”
“Hmm?” Elizabeth frowned, pausing in her count. “I opened at five, so I’m here until one—”
“No, I mean, are you giving me your two weeks or—”
“I’m not quitting.” Elizabeth scowled. “This is my job, and I still have tuition. I’m on the installment plan for this semester—” Tammy peered at her curiously. “I’m not giving Jason my bills to pay. I can support myself—”
“I didn’t say—” Tammy paused. “Okay, let me rephrase this.” She folded her arms. “You’re a good waitress. Not the best, but solid and reliable.” Elizabeth wrinkled her nose, but it was a fair description. “But this isn’t where your heart is. You’re an artist. I’ve seen your work,” she added when Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “And between this job, your classes, and your personal life, you don’t get much time to paint.”
“That’s true,” Elizabeth acknowledged. “But—”
“You’re married to someone who can afford to help you out on this,” Tammy continued. “Now I didn’t say drop out of school. That’s insane. Get an education. I wish like hell I’d done better by myself in that area. But why waste your time here when you could be in your studio, painting until you drop and maybe getting some pieces together to sell? You could be making that your job, not this.”
She hadn’t thought about it that way. She worked full-time at the diner and had since she’d graduated high school. She liked the extra money and paying her own way, but she’d cut back painting to almost nothing. And classes had taken even that time—
Elizabeth bit her lip. “You make a good point,” she admitted. “I just—Jason just said I didn’t need to work, and I guess my brain sort of exploded.”
“He’s a nice kid, and probably meant well.” Tammy handed Elizabeth a carafe of coffee. “He wants to take care of you. That’s marriage. He supports your art, yeah?”
“Yeah, he does.” Even if he didn’t always understand it.
“Not everyone gets a chance to pursue their dream job, Elizabeth. Independence is important, and don’t lose that. But don’t let it cloud everything. Don’t be so stubborn. I’ll miss the hell out of you, but you should think about giving it a go.” Tammy frowned, and turned to look at the door as it jingled. “At least then you’d never have to see people you hate.”
Elizabeth followed Tammy’s eyes, then clenched her jaw as Carly sauntered into the diner and slid onto a stool at the counter.