Flash Fiction: Warning Shots – Part 18

This entry is part 18 of 26 in the Flash Fiction: Warning Shots

Written in 59 minutes.


May 2000

“Before you go roaring off into the night—” Sonny laid a hand over the ignition, stopping Jason from twisting the key. “Maybe I need an update as to why you’re still throwing punches over this girl.”

“I didn’t punch him,” Jason said, then grimaced when he heard the sullen note in his tone. He dragged a hand down his face. “I wanted to. But I didn’t.”

“And I’m sure Luke’s grateful not to have the dental bill. So, Elizabeth—that’s the one you like as person and Emily’s friend.” When Jason just glared at him, Sonny lifted his brows. “That was the company line back in February the first time we had this conversation. Then you wanted me to fire Marco down on the island because he wasn’t nice to her—”

“That’s not what he did—”

“You shoved him against a wall, and I think Manuel mentioned you’d put Armando’s kid against a wall, too.”

“And you would have done the same if you—” Jason stopped, took a deep breath. “Do you have a point?”

“It’s not like I’m a gossip columnist, Jason. You’re the one that pointed out that Lucky talking crap about you and this girl could get into the ears of the wrong people. Which we definitely don’t want if Moreno’s starting to get antsy. That scene you just caused? People are gonna wonder why you’re putting your hands on Luke’s kid. And they’re going to remember the rumors from a few months ago. You keep this up, you’re just making sure everyone knows this girl matters—”

“Elizabeth.”

“What?”

“Her name is Elizabeth. Not ‘this girl’.” Irritated with himself, Jason scowled. “Never mind. Can I go?”

“No. Because you’re still not answering the question. You don’t want anyone to know about her, you’ve got a funny way of showing it—”

“There’s nothing to know, Sonny.”

“Would you like there to be something to know?” When Jason didn’t answer, his friend just sighed. “Fine. There’s nothing to know. Then act like it. Stop shoving people around when they disrespect her. People who don’t matter don’t require a response.”

“I never said she didn’t—” Jason closed his mouth, hating that Sonny had trapped him. “I never said she didn’t matter,” he said.

“Then step up and do something about it, and we’ll handle it. You can have a life, Jase. No one ever said you couldn’t.”

“I can’t do that, so just drop it—”

“Why can’t you do it? She matters enough to punch people but not enough to be with her? I’m sure she loves that—”

“Why go through it all again when it’ll just end like everything else?” Jason cut in.

“You can’t know that—”

“Yeah. Yeah, I can. Because I’ve watched it happen over and over. You’d do it all again?” he demanded of Sonny. “You’d go through it again? Lily, Brenda, Hannah?”

“Hannah was a fed, so that one—” Sonny scratched his chin. “Look, I’m not the example you want, Jase. Look at your grandmother. She loves that dumbass she married. Go be someone’s dumbass. Maybe this girl—sorry, Elizabeth,” he said, when Jason just shot him another look. “Maybe Elizabeth has a thing for idiots who can’t get out of their own way.”

“Sometimes it lasts, sure. But not in this world, Sonny. You know that. And not for me. She’s—” He hesitated, looked straight head, past the parking lot, to the lights of the waterfront. “She’s an artist. Her work is going to be on the walls of galleries in New York. I’m not doing anything that messes that up for her. Or messes her up. So just drop it.”

“Fine. But this halfway shit, where you’re a ticking time bomb if someone so much as says a word against her, that can’t keep happening. You know that. If she’s better off without you, then make that choice. And stick with it. ”

Elizabeth wrinkled her nose, held up a pair of shorts. “Did I really wear these in public?”

“You absolutely did, and I hated you for having the guts and the legs to pull it off.”

She glanced over, grinned at Emily standing in the doorway. “Hey. What’s up? Did I know you were coming over?” She looked over at the clock on her night stand. “It’s almost nine.”

“Yeah, sorry. I knew you were going to be up packing for the move, and I just—I got a call from a friend, and I knew I had to tell you about it. I can’t keep putting off this conversation.”

“Uh oh,” Elizabeth tossed aside the tiny shorts, sat on the edge of her bed. “What’s wrong?”

“I wanted to talk to you weeks ago, but there was never a right moment, and you didn’t bring it up either, so I figured maybe I should just stay out of it. But then I got in a fight with Jason this week and the call I got? Logan Duncan was at Luke’s tonight, and Jason practically threw Lucky into the wall. And people are remembering that Lucky was saying you’d—”

“That I’d cheated on him with Jason. Yeah, I remember.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “I’m sure Lucky said something awful. I don’t need to know what—”

“Logan didn’t hear that part. He just thought I should know. That you should know. That all died down really fast last winter, but it could get stirred up again. But I knew I was out of time to tell you about the fight I had with Jason when I picked up my car the other day.”

“Em, maybe we don’t—”

“I saw you. That night. On the island,” Emily said. She pulled out the desk chair, sat down. “When I flipped on the light, and you guys were on the terrace. You had your hand on his chest—”

“Oh my god—” Elizabeth pressed her hands to her face, feeling the heat rising in her cheeks. “Em—”

“And Jason’s hand was on yours and he was going to kiss you—”

“He was not, okay—”

“Elizabeth. I know what it looks like when a guy’s leaning in. But it was too late. I no sooner took in the whole thing and you were springing apart like you’d been slapped. I kept thinking you’d say thing, but you didn’t. So I didn’t bring it up. But then I yelled at him today, and I sort of told him I saw it.”

“Oh, I think I want to die.” Elizabeth leaned over, burying her face in her hands. “I might actually expire right here in this spot.”

“I was just so mad at him, but I was trying not to be. I thought, well, he’s going to explain things to me if I set it up. I started dropping hints that you were upset about the whole art show thing—”

“You did not—” Elizabeth jerked back up, horrified. “Emily!”

“I was like, no, we didn’t ask you to help us move because Liz thought you were bothering us, and he was not happy about you thinking that—”

“No, this is the part where I die because if I don’t, I’m going to murder you—”

“But he just refused to bite, and I kept like pushing at him, until I lost my patience because he’s just wrapped himself up tight in that stupid garage like he’s buried alive, and I can’t stand, Liz. I just can’t. He didn’t come to your art show, and that’s like, not Jason. Not just because I think he wants to jump your bones—”

“Could you not—”

“But Jason—he shows up when people matter. And do not tell me you don’t matter. Because you do. He shows up. He went all the way to the dorm to talk to you about Lucky, didn’t he? And you said he was amazing about that. He could have done the bare minimum. But he took the time to make sure you were okay.”

“Yeah, I know—”

“And the island, okay, I know you guys spent time together that I don’t know about—”

“Nothing happened—”

“Liz. I watched you watch the door all night, and how hurt you were when he didn’t show up. So I got mad, and then I got worried. I’m telling you that Jason not coming that night, that sent off alarm bells. And I started to think about how he never goes anywhere anymore. He barely comes to Kelly’s—”

“Especially not since we got home,” Elizabeth murmured. She looked at Emily. “I thought maybe I was just missing him because I was working on the show, but you’re always there, too. And he hasn’t come in since I picked up more hours.”

“He’s avoiding you. But he’s avoiding me unless I specifically go to him for help. And I bet if I asked Luke or Sonny, they barely see him either. Don’t you think it’s weird that every time you went to the garage, he was there? It’s like he’s sealed himself up like a mummy.”

“Em, I think you’re reading too much into this. He didn’t come to my art show and he’s avoiding me. I’m the common denominator. Whatever you think you saw, it’s not real. It’s not—”

“No, it was. Losing Robin the way he did, and then Michael—back to back—it’s like it messed with him. And Carly—that shrew is always around reminding him why he has no one else in his life.”

Elizabeth sighed. “She was there that day. When I invited him. She saw the ticket, and she—” Her mouth tightened, and she looked down at her hands, picked at the chipped nail polish. “She laughed. She saw right through me, which I hate. She called me a child, accused me of flirting with him. And he didn’t even say anything, so maybe that’s all he sees—”

“Oh, he’s such an asshole,” Emily muttered. “Look, you don’t know the dynamic between Jason and Carly, and man, I wish I didn’t. But he’s never going to cut her off because of Michael. The thing is—”

“The thing is that it doesn’t matter, Em. It doesn’t.”

“If Jason had stuck up for you, if he’d given Carly the slightest hint that you were anything but my friend, she’d have gone for blood. She’s like a dog with a bone.”

“What exactly do you want me to do with this, Em? Do you want me to admit that I have feelings for your brother? Sure. Why pretend I don’t? But even if he did have feelings for me, which I’m not convinced—he’s clearly decided how he wants to handle them. And that means avoiding me. I’m not chasing him.”

“No, I didn’t think that you should. I guess—” Emily hesitated. “We’re coming at this from different places, different goals—I love my brother. We worked really hard to get to this point where we’re family. It was hard for him after the accident. He was nothing but impulse and feeling, and he had to relearn how to control his temper. To control himself. And sometimes I think he learned too well. He shuts down now when things are too much, and he’s doing that now, and I can see him doing it, and I hate it because he’s so amazing and he deserves the world, and that bitch broke him—” She faltered, plucked out the tissues when Elizabeth handed her the box.

“I could see him doing it almost as soon as he let Michael go, so I tried to stop it. You know, I asked him to help us move in to the dorms, and then he helped us with Juan that day, and I was really happy when I saw him reaching out to you, because it was something, you know? And then we were on the island, and the night we went to dinner, and you guys were talking and laughing, and I just—I got a little invested because who better to bring out the amazing sweet and funny guy Jason really is than my amazing funny and sweet best friend—”

“Em—”

“And that’s not fair to you, I know that. You’re right. You’re so right. You shouldn’t have to wait around while Jason gets his head together. I just—I think he’s going to regret to not taking this chance, and I hate that. And I’m sorry, I never should have brought you into that fight with him. I just couldn’t stand it anymore.”

“It’s okay. It is.” Elizabeth hesitated. “I’m not going to tell you what he’s said specifically, but I know that what happened with Michael weighs on him.” She thought about that night on the beach, the sadness wrapped in his words about loving someone to point of losing yourself. Loving someone without boundaries. “But if you love him, you’ll give him the space to handle this in his own way. Maybe he is isolating himself so that nothing else can hurt him that way. I know what that’s like. Getting angry at him because he can’t heal on your schedule isn’t really fair, either.”

Emily crumpled up the tissue, tossed it in the trash. “I know. And I’ll apologize to him. You’re right. Which is another reason I’m rooting for you guys. Because that’s exactly the kind of advice Jason gives.”

“Em—”

“What if I do it quietly and promise not to meddle?” Emily asked hopefully. “You know, just cheer you on from the sidelines?”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Whatever you want, Em—now, are you going to help me finish cleaning out this closet or not?”

——

Jason should have just gone straight home after leaving Sonny in the parking lot at Luke’s, but he’d taken a ride out on the cliff road which didn’t really clear his mind since he just remembered taking Elizabeth up there.

And he hadn’t wanted to head back to the penthouse, with the empty rooms and the sound echoing off the walls because he’d barely furnished it. So he went to the garage because there was always something to do there.

He switched off the light in the office, thinking maybe he should go through paperwork and invoices and run the numbers. That kind of thing usually distracted him.

But of course, the first pile of papers he moved were the ones sitting on top of the ticket he’d shoved out of sight weeks ago. Port Charles University Annual Art Exhibition. Admit One.

He’d stayed away, telling himself that he needed to put distance between himself and Elizabeth, which was true. Like Sonny said, he had to make a choice and stick with it. Going wouldn’t have helped that cause.

But Emily wasn’t wrong either. This had been important to Elizabeth. He could still remember the way she’d smiled that day in Kelly’s, practically shoving the assignment feedback from her professor in Jason’s face, her eyes sparkling with happiness because she’d finally unlocked whatever that professor had wanted. He’d hated the way that light had gone out when Lucky had arrived, had wanted to shove the little bastard through a window for making her sad.

So what was Jason going to do to himself knowing he’d done the same? He turned the little strip of blue paper in his hands, flipped it back to look at the text again. He should have gone. Distance could have waited until afterward. And she hadn’t done a damned thing to earn the disappearing act. He owed her, at the very least, an explanation.

He was just afraid if he saw her again, if he tried to explain it the way he had to Sonny, he wouldn’t find the words. He’d do something stupid like touch her mouth or her hand, and he’d be right back where he started.

Jason slid the ticket in the drawer and went back to the invoices because at least two plus two always equaled four, a certainty the rest of his life  seemed to lack these days.

Comments

  • I love that Emily is fully Team Liason. Elizabeth is so compassionate. She’s exactly what Jason needs.

    According to LilaB on June 18, 2024
  • It’s hard to get back in the game when you think ill of your self. Janson doesn’t think he has anything but trouble to offer Liz

    According to leasmom on June 19, 2024
  • I swear, these two self-sacrificing idiots are gonna be the end of me. Thank goodness Emily is in their corner otherwise Jason and Elizabeth would just dance around each other until the world implodes. I’m sure Elizabeth has a very important painting she wants to give to Jason. At the very least, these two dumb-dumbs need to just TALK.

    According to Beth on June 19, 2024
  • Go be someone’s Dumbass. Sometimes Sonny is A-OK.

    According to Michelle on June 19, 2024
  • Jason needs a swift kick in his butt to get out of the funk and have a life.

    According to Shelly Samuel on June 19, 2024
  • I didn’t know Sonny had a sense of humor. I really liked his talk with Jason. I’m glad Emily told Elizabeth what she told Jason. I like that Emily is rooting for Jason and Elizabeth.

    According to Carla P on June 19, 2024
  • Emily being Team Liason is adorable. Sonny’s whole attitude cracks me up and Jason realizing that he walked right into the man’s trap was great. As for Jason…Sigh. Poor guy. He’s going to have to decide if it’s better to be miserable and alone or happy and terrified. I mean, those aren’t his only options really, but it’s where he’s at.

    According to Mariah on June 19, 2024