Flash Fiction: Warning Shots – Part 17

This entry is part 17 of 26 in the Flash Fiction: Warning Shots

Written in 59 minutes.


May 2000

Jason dropped Emily’s keys in her hand. “You know, one day, you’re going to remember to get the oil changed without me reminding you.”

Emily rolled her eyes, tossed her purse through the open window of the car her brother had finished. “Please. You love nagging me to be responsible. If you didn’t worry about me, who would you even talk to?”

Jason rolled his eyes, headed for the sink to wash up.

“That’s a serious question, by the way. I gave you a year to get over Robin, but now we’re six months past that—” She leaned against the counter. “We need to get you back into the dating world.”

“No, we do not,” Jason said. He switched off the water, reached for the towel. “When are you moving out of the dorm? I’ll make sure I’m available.”

“Jase, it’s May 25. I moved out of the dorm two weeks ago. Don’t worry, you don’t have to move us back in, either because Mom and Dad are finishing up the pool house this month, and Liz and I will be studying in luxury next year.”

“You—you moved out already?” Jason looked over at the calendar hanging on the wall, winced when he realized it was still April. The days had started to run together. “Why didn’t you say something?”

“Well, Liz thought we’d been bothering you a lot this year, and I thought maybe she had a small point after you bailed us out of jail over break and ruined your business trip.” Emily shrugged. “We asked Nikolas and Juan, and got it all handled. See? Sometimes I can take care of myself without you,” she teased.

“She—she said you were bothering me too much?” Jason asked, laying the towel back along the counter, thinking of the ticket that was still sitting beneath a pile of papers he never moved. Had she been hurt he hadn’t shown up? Was that why she hadn’t asked him to help them move out? He exhaled slowly. “You—you’re never bothering me, Em, you know that.”

“I know, but I also know you’ve got a life of your own, and you can’t be running to my rescue or taking care of me forever.”

“I like taking care of you,” Jason muttered, heading for his office, still unsettled by Elizabeth thinking she’d been bothering him. “You’re my sister.” The only person left in Port Charles he even gave a damn about other than Sonny, though that was a stark realization he didn’t particularly like much. It was no one’s fault but his own. One by one, the small group of friends Jason had built up had gone away. Lily had died, Robin was gone. He barely ever spoke to Luke or Mike these days. He’d made sure to push Carly away. The only person who’d come into his life since he’d lost Michael had been Elizabeth.

And she was gone now, too. Which was what he wanted, wasn’t it? No one in his life the world could hurt. Only Emily, whose last name kept her protected.

“I wish you’d let me take care of you sometimes, not that I really know how to. You won’t even come out when I invite you anymore. The last time I got you to go anywhere was dinner on the island.” Emily folded her arms. “I just—I worry about you. You think I don’t know how hard things have been since you gave up visitation rights?”

“I don’t want you to worry about that—”

Emily threw up her hands. “Oh my God, you’re so frustrating sometimes! Elizabeth was right — you love running to other people’s rescue, but God forbid you let them do the same.”

“Wait, what are you talking about? What did Elizabeth say?” Jason demanded. Emily stopped at her car, squinting at him. “I don’t need to be rescued—”

“You think because the house isn’t burning down or someone isn’t firing a gun around you, you don’t need help? You’ve closed yourself up like a clam this last year, Jase. You don’t go out, you don’t go to Luke’s, you don’t even go talk to Sonny unless you have to. You sit in this garage and the only time you step out of it is when I ask you for something.” She pressed her lips together. “Why weren’t you at Elizabeth’s show?”

“What?” Jason blinked, confused by the change in topic. “What do you mean?”

“Don’t do that. Don’t pretend she didn’t invite you. I know she had four free tickets. And she didn’t give one to Juan or Bobbie. She gave the last one to you, didn’t she?”

“Em—”

“It was amazing, by the way. She was mobbed by people all night, and the owner of the best gallery in town and one of the best in New York wants to show her pieces this summer. You used to show up for people who mattered, Jason. You went to the Nurse’s Ball for Robin even though you’d rather gnawed your foot off. You went to parties when Sonny and Brenda asked you, too. You used to show up, and now the only way I can get you out of this place is to ask for your help.”

She opened her car door, gripped the top of it. “You think I’m stupid or blind, don’t you? I’m just the stupid little idiot who got addicted to drugs and tried to fly off a roof.”

“No—” Startled, Jason came forward, not entirely sure how this conversation had twisted into an argument or why his sister had tears in her eyes. “No, Em—”

“She’d kill me for saying this, but she watched for you all night. And I saw the way you looked at her on the island. I switched on the light, Jason. Do you think I didn’t see how close the two of you were standing?” Emily demanded. “I pretended not to because it was too late to go back inside. But I’m not an idiot.”

Jason just stared at her, took a deep breath. “Em—”

“But maybe it scared you. Maybe you can’t let anyone in after what happened with Robin and Michael. But one day, you’re going to wake up, and you’re really going to be alone, and it’ll be your fault.”

“You’ll be glad to get your sewing room back,” Elizabeth told her grandmother, unpinning the last of the posters from the wall, rolling it up.

“I admit, I was looking forward to having you home this summer.” Audrey came forward, slid an arm around Elizabeth’s shoulder. “But I also can’t blame you girls for taking Alan and Monica up on their offer.”

“I thought about refusing it,” Elizabeth admitted, sitting on the edge of the bed. “You know, it was one thing to look the other way when Mr. Quartermaine got me into Emily’s dorm because she’d already paid for her housing, but—”

“They were going to do this for Emily anyway. And now you won’t have the extra burden of moving in and out of that dorm every year.” Audrey sat next to her. “I have to admit, darling, now that your first year is behind you, with all that’s happened — I’m a little grateful you didn’t go to New York. I know you had your heart set on it.”

“I did. And it felt like the end of the world. God, I cried for days, you know?” She went to her closet, removed the old poster she’d designed last year — The Lucky and Elizabeth Life Plan.   She ran her fingers down the red-heart, some of the glitter coming loose. “Now, I think — thank God. Because I’d probably still be dating Lucky. I know that’s not what you mean—”

“It’s precisely what I meant. Going off and making all your dreams tied to him — well, I couldn’t say it then, Elizabeth, but I worried that you were settling for him because he was the first boy you’d ever loved. And that you didn’t trust yourself to explore and find out if there could be anything else. I wanted you to have a little life experience. I think of the traveling I did as a stewardess, and of course, in Vietnam as a nurse—I would have supported you, darling. But I’m glad you came to this realization on your own.”

“I didn’t even realize it was settling, you know? I didn’t—I didn’t realize that you could be with someone so much, love them as much as I loved Lucky, and that you could still not know them. Or—” Elizabeth set the poster down. “I look at that now, and I think how close I came to accepting what Lucky called love. But he didn’t love me, not all the way. Not all the pieces of me. He didn’t even like me very much before the rape.”

“Oh, honey.”

“No, it’s…it’s time to really face that. He liked feeling important. He liked that I depended on him. That I couldn’t sleep without him. That I needed him to feel safe. And I thought hat meant he loved me. But he liked being a hero.” Elizabeth looked away, towards the window, in the direction of the waterfront and the garage. She certainly had a type, she thought. “And he didn’t like me very much once I didn’t need him anymore.”

“I know it hurt very much to lose him, my darling—” Audrey took Elizabeth’s hand. “But you stood up and demanded respect. I’m sorry he hurt you, but I’m proud of how you handled it. You’re so strong. I wish you hadn’t needed to be, but—that’s life.”

“I really felt like it was the end of the world, but you know, after a few weeks, I realized how much lighter I felt. I didn’t feel guilty about not calling him, not checking in, not making time for him. Because every time I did, it was just so he could explain how I was doing something wrong. I was helping Emily too much, I was spending too much time at work. I was smiling at Jason the wrong way. “But sometimes, sometimes, Gram, I miss being in love. Just a little bit. Not the way it was at the end, but at the beginning. When I really felt happy. When I believed he loved me. Sometimes I think—” Her eyes stung and she stared down at her hands. “Sometimes I still think no one ever really will. Not that way. No one will want to stay.”

“Love will find you, my darling, as long as you keep being brave and putting yourself into the world to receive it. It’s hard to do that, to be open to it. Sometimes, I think your grandfather had to pry the door open after I’d been hurt so badly.” Audrey smiled at her. “But don’t give up. You’ll have your heart broken and mended many times over before it’s said and done.”

“Many times, Gram?” Elizabeth joked, swiping at her tears, trying to smile. “How many boyfriends do you think I’m gonna have?”

“Your grandfather and I broke each other’s hearts many times before we were finally able to to stick the landing. That’ll happen, too. The very person who shatters you might have the glue you need to piece it back together, given a little time and understanding.” Audrey paused. “But if you love me, dear, please don’t let Lucky Spencer anywhere near the crafts table.”

Elizabeth laughed, then leaned her head against her grandmother’s shoulder. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

The argument with his sister still lingered with Jason days later and he didn’t like the way they’d left it. He didn’t like the way she’d talked about his life, like it was empty and devoid of meaning just because he kept to himself. And she was wrong — he still went places. He still showed up.

And determined to prove that to her—and himself—the next time Sonny suggested Jason come with him to meet with Luke about Moreno, Jason surprised them both by agreeing even though it was at the bar after the dinner rush.

Jason slid on the stool, ordered a beer and settled in to wait for Sonny and Luke. It was quiet — the middle of the week without a musical act meant it was just for the regulars. This wasn’t so bad, he thought. He’d spent a lot time here over the years, hadn’t he? His first job parking cars, and then doing errands when Sonny did most of work out of this place.

That was less true these days, he admitted, taking a long pull from the bottle. But maybe he should go out more. A beer at Luke’s. A game of pool at Jake’s. No harm in any of that—

“I thought they picked up the trash this morning.”

Jason’s shoulders tensed and he twisted to see Lucky behind him, smirking. He’d been able to avoid the little bastard since that day at Kelly’s when he’d wanted to shove him in the lake, and had hoped to keep that streak going. Behind him, Sonny and Luke had come in and were shedding their coats at the entrance.

“Well, look at what the cat dragged in,” Luke said, with a warmer smile than his son’s. He sent the son in question a quick look. “When Sonny said you were joining us tonight, I thought about breaking out the good crystal. To what do we owe the pleasure?”

Jason almost hunched his shoulders. Okay, maybe he had stayed in a little too much the last year. “Sonny said you needed to talk. I’m here.”

Lucky sauntered around the bar, poured himself a glass of water, then smirked. “No date? That’s right. PCU is out for the semester. You’ll have to go pick up the next one at Jake’s. Though, you know, I bet Lizzie has an ID if you’re not already too tired of her bullshit—”

Jason’s beer went rolling when he reached across the bar, grabbed Lucky by the shirt, dragged him up so that their faces were close. Lucky’s blue eyes were wide open, and his breathing started in little pants. Good. He was scared. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Sonny just sigh and Luke wince. The noise in the rest of the bar went low, almost quiet.

“Say it again,” Jason said, in a low tone he only reserved for men whose faces he was about to rearrange. “Go ahead.”

“She likes it when you come to her rescue,” Lucky managed. “But the second she doesn’t need you, you’re trash. If you don’t already know that, you will. You’ll be her roadkill, just like me.”

Jason’s fist tightened in Lucky’s shirt, and his other curled at his side. It took everything he had not to let it fly. He shoved Lucky back, releasing him at the last second so that the younger man went flying into the back of the bar.

“The only reason you’re not unconscious is because I respect your father too much to leave blood on the floor. You talk to me again like that, you talk about Elizabeth that way to anyone and I find out, they’ll be the last words you say.”

Jason stalked out of the bar, not sparing Luke or Sonny another glance.

“Well—” Luke scratched his temple. “Can’t say I didn’t see that coming—”

“Shut up—” Shaken, Lucky climbed to his feet. “He’s just pissed because he knows I’m right—”

“You got a death wish or something?” Sonny wanted to know. “You’re still running your mouth? Luke. Man. You gotta talk to him.”

“Yeah, yeah. We’ll reschedule this. It can hold. Sorry.” When Sonny headed for the door, Luke turned back to his son. “I don’t get this. I really don’t. This is Elizabeth we’re talking about. Elizabeth. Everything you’ve been through. She adored you. You worshiped her. I don’t get how you go from that—”

“Everything I thought she was just a lie,” Lucky bit out. “She used me to make herself feel better, and now she’s back to her old self. And if Jason knows what’s good for him, he’ll run as fast as he can in the other direction.”

Comments

  • This is exactly the realization that I wish Elizabeth had had on the show 15 or 17 or 23 years ago. So much time wasted on a man that never really loved the real her. I also wish the lingering LnL2 fans would get a clue…

    According to LilaB on June 18, 2024
  • Lucky is such an ass that someone should take him out for talking about Liz like that. I love the conservation between Audrey and Liz, and Jason and Emily about love and loneliness.

    According to Shelly Samuel on June 18, 2024
  • I hope Luke really paid attention to what Lucky just said.”now she’s back to her old self” aka she back to who she was BEFORE HER RAPE that Lucky prefer Liz to be a broken rape victim then someone who made it to the other side of it.

    According to Jamie Lee Ann Byrd on June 18, 2024
  • I’ll get to the rest in a second but HOLY HELL LUCKY!!! I hope Elizabeth rearranges his face with a bat!! It’s time for Lizzie to come out and play and take no prisoners! Now on to the rest of the chapter. I’m so disappointed in Jason for not showing up for Elizabeth. Good on Emily for holding Jason’s butt to the fire and calling him out for isolating himself and pushing Elizabeth away. I’m so glad her and Gram and in Elizabeth’s corner.

    According to Beth on June 18, 2024
  • Lucky is an asshat. I enjoyed that conversation between Audrey and Elizabet as well Em and Jason. It is a shame that Jason didn’t go to Elizabeth’s showing. Great update.

    According to nanci on June 18, 2024
  • I was hoping Jason was on his bike waiting for Elizabeth after her showing. I’m glad Em went off on Jason. Wow Lucky is cruising for a bruising. I am so glad Elizabeth has Audrey in her corner.

    According to Carla P on June 19, 2024
  • Happy Em is Team LIASON! Love Aubrey talk with Liz, and I hoped Jason had decked Lucky!

    According to Tammy on June 20, 2024