Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn – Part 9

Written in 57 minutes.


Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Elizabeth exhaled slowly, watching as Jason processed the news. “I think I should get another attorney,” she began, and Jason focused on her. “If this is going to come back to criminal charges, you’re the one with more exposure and you need Diane to be concentrating on you—”

“He’s threatening you, too,” Jason pointed out. “And Diane just said we can do a waiver of conflict—”

Elizabeth just shook her head. “I don’t think this—” Her voice faltered, and she took a deep, bracing breath. “It’s almost time for Cam to take a nap. I’ll put him down and you can talk about it with Diane—”

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Jason began, but stopped as she lifted Cameron into his arms. He’d argue with her later. First he wanted to know exactly what was going on. He waited for Elizabeth to disappear around the corner before looking back at Diane. “Talk.”

Diane pursed her lips, set her briefcase on the desk, and opened it. She removed a legal document, handed it to him. “A preview of the response to the paternity suit—”

“We didn’t file that yet—”

“No, but our claims were going to be pretty standard. Lincoln Frazier was very careful today to make this sound like a preview of his case rather than the threat it was. The only want to avoid this being filed in family court is to not challenge Lucky’s petition for joint custody of both boys.”

Jason grimaced as he flipped through it. “Lucky can’t think this is going to work?”

“If we pull a judge who takes this seriously, he’s honor bound to report evidence of a crime to the criminal court.” Diane studied Jason carefully. “Right now, I represent both of you, so anything you say to me is confidential. Is there any truth to what Lucky is saying?”

“He’s making it sound—” Jason set the paperwork on the desk. “It all happened fast. Manny shot me, and we were fighting on the roof. Lucky took a shot, and Manny went over the edge. When I got downstairs, Manny was dead. But there was no gunshot.”

“How was that missed?” Diane wanted to know. “There was a medal ceremony—”

“I was in surgery for most of the aftermath,” Jason reminded Diane. “I barely survived. There was no cover-up, Diane. Elizabeth wasn’t even involved other than being at the hospital and being on my case. By the time I woke up, Lucky was already being celebrated. Later, I knew the autopsy report didn’t agree with the press, but I figured Alexis didn’t care. Manny was dead.”

“Okay.” Diane touched her throat. “Here’s the part where I give you legal advice. I should tell you to drop the paternity suit. Let this go. Let Elizabeth get her divorce, and settle joint custody—”

“Diane—”

“Later, down the road, you two can get married, and you’ll have your son part of the time—”

Jason just shook his head. “That’s not—”

“I should tell you that,” Diane continued, “but—” She bit her lip. “I’m not going to. I need to talk to Alexis. Find out what the hell is going on. And if there’s still an autopsy report that backs up Lucky Spencer.”

“Diane—”

“Elizabeth has a point. Right now, when it’s just about custody, you two have united interests—” Diane closed her briefcase. “But in a criminal case, if you end up on trial again for this, Elizabeth will be offered a deal to testify against you—”

“There’s nothing to testify—”

“I can’t represent the both of you because it would be in her best interest to take that deal—”

“Which I would never do.”

They turned to look at Elizabeth as she stood on the landing. “We still have a common interest,” she continued. “I would never take a deal to testify against Jason. Even if I knew something—which I don’t. Nothing I could testify to. Lucky knew last year he hadn’t made the shot. It made him crazy and upset. He’s the one that told me. Not Jason. Spousal privilege would protect that in criminal court. I could never testify to it.”

“You two never spoke about this?” Diane asked. “I’m supposed to believe that?”

“It doesn’t matter if we talked about it later. My knowledge doesn’t come from Jason. And Jason wasn’t conscious for most of it. God, Diane, they were planning the medal ceremony almost before he woke up! He almost died! And even if he did shove Manny over the roof, it was self-defense—Manny just kept coming after him—he was never going to stop—”

Diane held up a hand. “All right. All right. If you’re determined, then we’ll sign another waiver. I just wanted you both to think through the possibilities.” She nodded at the paperwork Jason had left on the desk. “As to the paternity suit, do we go forward?”

“What do you want to do?” Jason asked Elizabeth.

“Me? I’m not the one risking everything. You’re the one who the PCPD would go after—”

“They’d go after you, too,” he said roughly, already hating the idea of her being dragged in for questioning, charged as an accomplice.

“I don’t—I don’t care about that. I’m the one who did this, okay? If anyone deserves what’s happening, it’s me—”

“No—”

“I didn’t tell the truth. I deserve it—”

“It sounds like neither one of you want to back down,” Diane broke in, drawing their attention back to her. “You can argue about guilt and blame later. All I want to know is do I tell Lincoln Frazier and his client to go to hell and file the paternity suit?”

“Yes,” Jason said. “File it. If Lucky wants to bring up Manny Ruiz to make us look like unfit parents, I’ve got some stories I can tell, too. He nearly shot her last fall, high on drugs, while trying to kill me.”

Diane blinked. “Well, that does give me something to work with.” She lifted the briefcase. “I’ll be in touch.”

Jason opened the door to let her out, then turned back to Elizabeth. “It’s going to be okay.”

“It just never stops,” she murmured. “There never seems to be a moment where I can just breathe. I’m going to be paying for this lie for the rest of my life. Lucky will make sure of it.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “This is my fault, and I hate that you’re putting your freedom on the line—you just got it back—”

Jason went to her, put his hands on her shoulders to turn her towards him. “If the PCPD wanted me for Manny, they’d have done it. Alexis buried that report because I’d saved Sam’s life and Manny was a threat. You’ll have the official report against the word of an admitted drug addict—”

“I’d give anything to take it back.” She scrubbed her hands down her face. “I’d give anything to just live that moment one more time and not be scared. Not be weak. This never would have happened if I hadn’t lied. If I hadn’t asked you to keep lying.”

“We can’t keep going over this,” Jason said. “Yeah, you asked, but I said yes. This is on me—”

“No, no. Don’t pretend that I didn’t hurt you, okay? I can’t stand when you let me off the hook. You always do.” Elizabeth shrugged, his hands falling away. “I say and do terrible things. I hurt you, I know I did. A thousand times, and you just keep forgiving me. Why don’t you ever get mad at me?” she demanded.

Jason exhaled slowly. “Because I could never hate you. And you’re angry enough for the both of us.” But he could tell that answer hadn’t made her happy. He never knew how to make her happy. “What do you want me to do? Yell at you? Scream? Blame you? I’m not Lucky.”

“No, you’re not.” Elizabeth leaned against the arm of the sofa. “I don’t know. I just—I don’t understand why you’re not more angry. You shouldn’t have to fight this hard for your own son, and I’m the reason you have to—and I hate it—I hate myself—”

“You’re not the one threatening to accuse me of murder. That’s Lucky. He had a choice, Elizabeth. He could have accepted the truth and walked away. He’s the one making this hard for everyone, including himself. Even if I got investigated for Manny’s death, it doesn’t have anything to do with me being a parent. He wants to scare us into backing down. I’m not going to. So be mad at him. Not me.”

“I’m not mad—” Elizabeth frowned at him. “I’m not mad at you.”

“You sure about that? Are you mad that I said yes? Because that’s what it sounds like. You wanted me to fight you, to refuse to let Lucky raise Jake. Maybe a part of you is angry with because I said yes. Maybe you think I don’t love Jake enough—”

“No—No—” Elizabeth shook her head. “No, I didn’t—” She dug her fingers into her scalp, took a deep breath. “No. That’s not what I wanted,” she said softly. “I knew you loved him. I knew you wanted him. I never doubted that.”

“Then what? What should I have done differently? I gave you what you wanted—”

“I never wanted it,” Elizabeth said, then closed her mouth, her eyes widened as if she hadn’t meant to say it. But then she took a deep breath. “I never wanted it,” she repeated. “But I was scared.”

“Scared of what? My job? You keep telling me that it doesn’t bother you—”

“Scared that you’d give my dream to her,” Elizabeth said, her voice so soft that he almost didn’t hear it. She swallowed hard. “I wanted it, and I knew I couldn’t have it.”

Jason tipped his head, stepped closer to her. “Wanted what?”

“The dream.” She closed her eyes. “New Year’s, when I had the accident. I had these dreams. Dreams of telling you and you were so angry at me. And then these other—I dreamed that you knew. That we were sitting here.” She turned, looked at the sofa, with a nearly blank expression on her face. “I was pregnant. And we were a family. You were reading to Cameron. And I wanted that so much.”

Jason’s voice tightened. “I asked you to marry me.”

“I wanted to say yes,” she said, still not looking at him. Still looking at the sofa as if the ghosts of the dream she’d described could still be seen. “I had to bite my tongue to stop.”

“Why?” he demanded roughly. “Why didn’t you?”

“Because you didn’t love me.” Elizabeth finally turned, met his eyes as tears slid down her cheeks. “That’s it. That’s my confession. I asked you to give up Jake because I knew if I told the truth, I’d be alone, and you’d give my dream to Sam. She’d get to have that family, and I would have nothing.” She sucked in a deep breath. “That’s the truth, Jason. I’m not mad at you for letting me keep lying. I’m mad because you didn’t love me. And because of that, I’ve ruined all our lives.”

Kelly’s: Courtyard

Spinelli checked his watch, wondering if he should head back to the penthouse or give Stone Cold and the Fair Elizabeth more time alone. He didn’t fancy himself a matchmaker, per se, but he figured if they were alone together with the boys, then surely they’d work things out.

“Got a hot date later?” Georgie wanted to know, setting down his burger and fries. “You keep checking your watch.”

“Oh.” He flushed. “No, no. The Jackal just wonders how long he should stay away from home.”

“You know, I think you’ve already done a lot to help Jason with the kids.” Georgie sat down to take her break. “It’s really up to him and Elizabeth now.” She tugged her phone out, frowning at the missed calls that had racked up while she was working. “Someone keeps calling me on a blocked number,” she said with a frown. “And no voicemail.”

Spinelli narrowed his eyes, and she sighed. “Don’t start. It’s not like the flowers—”

“No, it’s worse,” he muttered. “Georgie—”

When he slid past nicknames and used government ones, Georgie knew his concern was real. “Fine. I promise, I’ll tell Mac about the calls.”

“And the flowers.”

“And the flowers.” She patted his arm. “Eat your dinner, then take another ten minutes and head home. That should be enough time.”

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

She wanted to disappear, to melt into the floor—anything to make this moment over and never speak of it again. But of course this was reality, and Jason was just staring at her like she’d sprouted an extra head—

She might as well have — what made her think this was a good time to drag all of that up? Elizabeth folded her arms nervously. “I should check on the boys.”

“Wait, wait—” Jason caught her arm as she started past him. “We need to talk about this—”

“Talk about what? What an insane person I am? The terrible things I did because I was scared and selfish?” She pulled away. “None of that is news to me—”

“I should have told you,” Jason cut in and she closed her mouth, drawing her brows together in confusion. “A thousand times, I should have told you. I wanted to. But it all got complicated, and I didn’t know if it was even fair—”

“Wait. Told me what?” Elizabeth stepped closer to him, her heart pounding wildly because surely he wasn’t—

“I love you.”

His words hung between them for a long moment — he had nothing else to offer, and she couldn’t force any words over the lump in her throat. Because she wanted so desperately to believe him, but it was too good to be true—she didn’t deserve to hear those words, for them to be true, not after everything she had done—after all the hurt and pain, she wasn’t supposed to get what she wanted—

“Elizabeth—”

“I—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “You wouldn’t just say that if you didn’t mean it,” she said softly, more to herself than to him, wanting to reassure herself.

Jason grasped her elbow, drew her closer. “No, I wouldn’t. I didn’t know how to tell you before. It didn’t seem fair,” he admitted. “And I was engaged to another woman. Someone I didn’t want to hurt. And I thought you wanted Lucky. So I tried to give you what you wanted.”

“You—back then—you’re—” She couldn’t make sense of any of this. Couldn’t make the world stop spinning for just a moment— “I—”

“For years,” Jason continued, framing her face with his hands, his thumbs brushing tears from her cheeks, “I put what I felt for you in a box, and I buried it. Because I couldn’t have what I wanted. But last year, that night, I let it all out, and I didn’t know how to put it back. I didn’t want to.”

Her lip trembled. “I told myself so many times that it was just comfort, just friendship, but I put you away, too. Then you looked at me, and it was like none of that had happened. Like we were just starting all over again. I messed it  up—”

“No,” he murmured. “We’re not doing that anymore. Okay? It happened. It’s over. And now we’re standing here. Tell me,” his breath warm against her mouth. “Give me the words so I can give them back.”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.” And then he kissed her, and the world went away.

Comments

  • Loved this chapter and them putting their feelings into words. I’m sure that Lucky will twist things and drag them out as long as he can, as long as he doesn’t win in the end I’m good.

    According to nanci on August 25, 2022
  • I hope Lucky losses his Medal of Honor and his job. Thanks for the update. Finally, Jason and Liz spoke to each other about their love.

    According to Shelly Samuel on August 25, 2022
  • Finally, they have told each other how they really feel. I don’t want them to give into Lucky’s demand because Jason deserves to be a father to Jake.

    According to Becca on August 25, 2022
  • I am so happy that they will fight Lucky. He is an ass. I am over the moon with them finally admitting they love each other. I cant wait for more.

    According to Carolyn Grandchamp on August 25, 2022
  • Swoon! Yay to the I love you’d!

    According to Liketoread on August 25, 2022
  • Finally, Jason and Elizabeth on the same page. I am so happy Diane is going to talk to Alexis and hopefully they can back Lucky off. I want Jason and Elizabeth to have all the dreams their hearts desires.

    According to Carla P on August 25, 2022
  • Holy Guacamole!! They actually used the Love word! I didn’t think they would yet. I am so glad they are starting to open up to each other. They need to be open and honest and be a united front. God I hate this Lucky!

    According to Golden Girl on August 25, 2022
  • Yay! They finally said I love you to each other. I’m so happy. I can’t wait for Lucky to lose everything. Jason will be a great dad. This chapter was wonderful!

    According to arcoiris0502 on August 25, 2022
  • Thats what happened is real life when people won’t talk to each other. They make up stories .

    According to leasmom on August 25, 2022
  • Love this story. Can’t wait for more.

    According to Anonymous on August 26, 2022
  • Seriously, when these two just come together and admit their feelings it’s like the choirs of angels sing.

    According to Xenares1 on August 26, 2022
  • Oh good they’re not being dumb. God this show – when I still watched but especially around this time – drove me absolutely insane. The two of them were so irritating. Glad I’m your version they’re not. 🙂

    According to Julie on August 26, 2022
  • Isn’t it ridiculous how much time our couple lost to “wanting the other to be happy” and, therefore, refusing to say the obvious? I don’t know which was more maddening, this or the danger speech. As usual, you’ve written them in a way that is sooo very consistent with the characters we saw on screen and yet soo much better than anything the GH writers ever put on screen.

    According to Livingliason on August 27, 2022