Please note that the final scene has a trigger warning. See Content Notes for more information.
She wants to go home
But nobody’s home
That’s where she lies
With no place to go
No place to go to
To dry her eyes
– Nobody’s Home, Avril Lavigne
Thursday, July 17, 2003
General Hospital: Brooke’s Room
That morning, Brooke’s doctor had agreed to move her out of the ICU with its clear, transparent walls, and into her own room. She’d begged to be released, begged to go home, but then her parents had just argued again about whether Brooke would go home to the gatehouse or to Bensonhurst—and though Olivia had managed to quiet them both—Brooke stopped asking to leave.
She was tired of her parents arguing. It was the dominant memory of her childhood and had been the reason she had never believed or even hoped her parents would get back together. She had no memory of them being together and couldn’t imagine them ever being in love enough to create a child.
She refused all visitors, refused to talk to the police. This just needed to be over. She wanted to close her eyes, go to sleep, and just never wake up. Every time she was conscious, there was pain. Her head. Her arms.
And inside. Sometimes she woke gasping for air, the stabbing pain of being held down while someone forced himself inside her—
Brooke couldn’t even curl up, couldn’t even disappear into dreamless sleep. Her ribs pained her, her dreams haunted her—
Every second of her life was a waking nightmare, and sleep provided only minimal escape.
Her father lightly tapped on the door and pushed it open. “Brooke, I know you said you didn’t want to see anyone—”
“And that’s still true,” Brooke muttered, but she couldn’t force any anger or heat into her words. All of that took too much energy.
“I just—I thought you might want to talk to someone—”
“I already told you, I’m not talking to a shrink—” Brooke turned her head to face the door, then blinked because the woman standing next to her father wasn’t a shrink. She’d seen the woman’s face all over the newspapers for the last few weeks. “What—”
“I can go, Brooke,” Elizabeth Webber said. “The last thing you need is someone forcing you to talk to anyone. I—I know what that’s like.”
Brooke fumbled for the remote on the left side of her bed slightly. “How?” she asked with suspicion. She furrowed her brow. Why would her father bring this woman to see her?
“Because when it happened to me, I spent the next three days in bed, and then a few more weeks pretending it had never happened,” Elizabeth said, meeting her eyes. “And when I finally told people, it felt like it was all they ever saw when they looked at me.”
Brooke looked at her father, but Ned’s face remained expressionless. She knew her father hated being powerless, of not being able to fix this for her. So clearly, he’d gone out to find a way to fix it.
He was trying, and Brooke so desperately wanted to believe this was something that her father could make go away.
“You can come in, I guess. Just you,” she said quickly. Elizabeth turned, flashed a half smile at Ned, then let the dark wooden door fall shut behind her. “I’m not going to talk about it.”
“Okay.” Elizabeth looked around the room, exhaling slowly. “It wasn’t so long ago I was stuck in a room like this,” she murmured. “I hated the ICU, too. Hated the way people seemed to stop and stare at me. I mean, maybe it was in my head, but it just felt like I was some sort of circus show.”
She sat in the chair near Brooke’s bed and folded her hands in her lap. “Do…do you want to ask me anything?”
“I—” Brooke bit her lip. “When did it happen to you?”
“I was sixteen,” Elizabeth said. “Valentine’s Day, 1998.” She rubbed her hands together, staring down at the chipped nails. “It’s been five years.”
Brooke leaned her had back against the pillow. “Did you—did they get the guy?”
“Eventually. Not for what happened to me. They couldn’t prove it by then. I did—” Elizabeth shook her head. “I guess people would say I did everything wrong, you know? I took a shower. I waited to report. And by the time I did, there was nowhere to look. I mean, I did a rape kit right after and gave them the dress I had been wearing, but I still didn’t officially file a report.”
“Is that why you’re here? To tell me to talk to the cops?” Brooke demanded with a scowl. “I’m not going to. Some asshole already told everyone about me, and I just—maybe if the world didn’t know—but—” The pressure building behind her eyes released and tears slid down her cheek. “I can’t. I can’t say it out loud.”
“I get that,” Elizabeth said softly. “I’ve never really—I locked it away for a long time. At first, I could only—I could only give some details. I couldn’t face it. Even when I did face it—I still only did it halfway. There’s no right way to handle something this big, Brooke. You have to do what’s right for you, you know? I can wish I did things differently. Hindsight gives me that ability to see everything I could have done to make it easier for me, but that’s me.”
She bit her lip. “I was in a survivor’s group for a while as part of my therapy, and God, the stories broke my heart. I started to tell myself I’d been lucky to be attacked by a stranger. At least it wasn’t my boyfriend. Or my father, or my brother.” Her fist clenched in her lap. “But that was me trying to make it less awful, trying to minimize what happened to me.”
Brooke closed her eyes. “I don’t want to say it out loud,” she managed. “I don’t want it to be true, and I don’t want anyone to know. But I guess…I guess that ship has sailed on that. I belong to a prominent family, so I guess I don’t have a choice—”
“You always have a choice, Brooke. He didn’t take that from you.” Elizabeth hesitated. “When it happened, I had never been with anyone. I hadn’t even really been in love. I couldn’t imagine ever letting someone touch me because then—then they might see how broken and dirty I was.”
Brooke choked as a sob pushed its way up her throat. “I don’t like boys. I never ever wanted—” The tears came fast now. “I knew someone whose guy friend found out she was gay, and he—he forced her to prove she really wanted boys. And I was always scared—and now—” She managed a deep breath. “Does it ever stop being the worst thing that ever happened to you? How do you sleep and not think about it? How do you stop?”
“Time. Nothing but time,” Elizabeth admitted. “And sometimes…sometimes, the dreams come again. I wish—I wish I could give you sunshine and rainbows, Brooke, and promise you there will be a turning point where it stops being something that you think about. For years, I thought of myself as the girl who got raped, and while I don’t give myself that label anymore, there will never be a time when I don’t see that day as…”
Elizabeth hesitated. “It’s like this giant thing in the middle of my life. There will always be a before and an after for me. A time before I got raped, and everything that happened after.”
Her chest ached as Brooke tried to take another deep breath, tried to stop crying. “B-but it got better.”
“It did. I started to let people in. I didn’t have a choice about Lucky Spencer. He found me that night and took me back to his house where his father and his aunt took care of me. Bobbie became someone I could say anything to. I eventually told my grandmother and my sister. And others in my life if it became relevant. I fell in love—with Lucky, and then Jason. For a long time, I thought of myself as two people. Lizzie came before, and I used to blame her. That wild child who lied, broke the rules, and stayed out late. I did everything I could to drown Lizzie’s voice out.”
Brooke sniffled and took the tissue Elizabeth offered. “You don’t anymore?”
“No. Lizzie wasn’t to blame. I wasn’t to blame. I walked through the park one night and I sat on a bench, and that was something I had the right to do. It didn’t matter what I wore, where I was, or how late it was. Someone came in and tried to steal that from me, and eventually, it became easier to blame him and not myself.”
Brooke blinked at her. Bench. Park. “Y-you said they caught him. H-how did you know?”
“He admitted it. It’s—complicated.” Elizabeth shook her head. “He denied it later, and they couldn’t make a case against him.”
“There are other girls. That’s what the papers say.” Brooke met Elizabeth’s eyes. “Maybe…talking to the police…that could help them, right?”
“I should—I should try to help so that it doesn’t happen to anyone else. I—I can do that. I guess. Tell them what happened. Once,” she added quickly. “If I just say it once, then maybe it won’t hurt so much.”
“Maybe,” Elizabeth said softly. “But don’t expect miracles, Brooke. This—this isn’t going to go away tomorrow or if you wish really hard. This is something that’s going to stay with you. Expecting to put it in a box in your head and lock it away—I’ve tried that.”
“Can—if I wanted to talk about it again, could I talk to you?” Brooke asked hesitantly.
“I’ll leave you my number,” Elizabeth said, looking at the table for a pen and paper. “You call me any hour of the day or night. I will be here for you if you need it.” She scribbled something and handed it to Brooke. “That’s my land line and my cell phone.”
“Thanks. Um, I guess I should tell my dad to call the police and tell them—”
“There’s no rush,” Elizabeth said, getting to her feet. “Brooke—”
“If I don’t do it now, I might never do it.’
General Hospital: Conference Room
Taggert could see, even before Ned took a seat across from him at the table, that Brooke’s father was boiling with rage—that it lay simmering beneath the surface, threatening to bubble over given even the slightest opportunity. His ex-wife, Lois, didn’t bother to sit, though the woman who had traveled with Lois—Olivia Falconieri—gingerly took a seat next to Ned. Taggert was a bit mystified to see Lois throwing angry looks in her friend’s direction.
“I appreciate you meeting with me,” Taggert began.
Before he could continue, Ned leaned forward and pointed a finger at the table, all but stabbing it. “Let’s get one thing straight. The only reason I am in this room with you and not with Alexis preparing a gigantic lawsuit is because my daughter has decided to make a statement and Elizabeth Webber said you could be trusted.”
Taggert exhaled slowly. He had shown Elizabeth some kindness all of those years ago, and now he was benefiting from it. After the way the department had screwed her over, he hadn’t expected that. “Ned—”
“Are the papers right?” Lois demanded, her face mottled with red, her dark eyes molten with fury. “Is my daughter a victim of a serial rapist?”
“Yes,” Taggert said.
“How long have you known?” Olivia asked quietly. Lois threw her another dirty look, but Olivia ignored her. “My son is thinking about quitting. You know that, don’t you?”
“I started to suspect about two weeks ago when I transferred to Major Crimes,” Taggert told the trio. “I took a look at the open case files. The officer assigned had reasons to doubt it, but there were too many similarities. The DA’s office is on board with linking the cases. We were held back from issuing a public alert.”
“By who? The mayor?” Ned demanded. “Why?”
“A few reasons that don’t matter,” Taggert offered with a shake of his head. “But more likely because it’s an election year.”
Olivia raised a thin brow. “Should you be telling us that?”
“Why the hell are you even here?” Lois exploded, and Olivia looked at her now, mystified. “Brooke is my daughter, not yours—”
“Because I asked her to be,” Ned snapped at his ex-wife. “Because we’re both too angry and upset, and I wanted someone else Brooke trusted to listen to an investigation update. Her son works for the PCPD, Lois. You asked her to come here to Port Charles. Let her help.”
“I’ll go.” Olivia got to her feet. “I don’t want to make things worse—”
Lois scrubbed her hands over her face, digging her heels into her eyes. “No. No. Ned is right. I’m sorry.”
“There isn’t much Floyd can do to me,” Taggert said, answering Olivia’s question as if the intervening argument hadn’t happened. “Scott Baldwin has assigned an ADA to this case full-time, and Kelsey Joyce is already getting us the extra funding we need to test all the rape kits we have as a backlog. We should have those results back in a few weeks.”
“My daughter’s life has been destroyed,” Ned said. “And you don’t have a single lead?”
“We have leads,” Taggert said, a bit defensively. “But, no, we don’t have any suspects. But based on the types of women this asshole targets and the way he targets them, we have places to look. I’m putting the entire unit on this, and I’ll be in charge—”
“Why should that make me feel better?” Lois jabbed a finger at him. “Did you find Carly Corinthos? She was locked behind a damn wall in the house of the man her son told you kidnapped her, and you still couldn’t find her. His wife had to nearly die in order to make that happen.”
“I—” Taggert shook his head. “I’m sorry. I wish I had more to give you—”
“You tell Mac and the mayor that I don’t care what asshole I have to pick up off the streets,” Ned began as he shoved himself to his feet. “I am putting the full force of the Quartermaines behind who ever runs against that son of the bitch in the fall. He sacrificed my daughter for his fucking election. You and the rest of the PCPD—”
He sliced his hand through the air. “I am through accepting the bullshit this town has for police protection. You couldn’t protect my daughter, my fiancée last year—and you have no problems throwing innocent women to the wolves to cover your own asses—it has to stop.”
He stormed out of the room, Lois and Olivia on his heels.
Brownstone: Living Room
Lulu dropped her bags on the chair and scowled at the police officer in the foyer. “Why are you here bothering my cousin?” she demanded.
Dante Falconieri rolled his eyes at his friend’s younger sister. Apparently, according to Lucky, Lulu had taken the first flight home when she found out Brooke had been hurt and was now acting like a guard dog for Lucas Jones. “We just have a few follow-ups—”
“Because the only thing you assholes definitely know is that Lucas, Dillon, and Kyle didn’t do it.” Lulu lifted her chin. “So, go find the piece of shit who did—”
Dante held up his hands. “Hey. Knock off the attitude. Your brother is one of us, remember? And I just started this job a month ago.”
None of the fire was extinguished from Lulu’s angry dark eyes. “Oh, yeah? You think I’m not pissed at my brother either? That could have happened to any of us—Brooke walked through the park like I’ve done a thousand times—” Her voice wavered slightly. “She never would have done that if we’d known—”
“Brooke’s my friend, too,” Dante returned, more gently. “We grew up together in Bensonhurst—”
Lulu perched on the arm of the chair and sighed. “Right. Shit. I’m sorry. I forgot—” She chewed on her bottom lip. “If I hadn’t been in London, I probably would have been with them that night. We do a movie night every month, and it was Dillon’s turn to pick the movie.” She folded her arms. “Last month, we invited Kyle for the first time, and it was a major drama because Lucas is like a five-year-old who can’t keep his mouth shut.”
Dante tilted his head. “Why does everyone hate Kyle Radcliffe?”
“Oh, we have legitimate reasons. He seduced Maxie in the spring and then broadcast their first time on a webcam. Complete asshole.” She tossed her hair over her shoulder. “But like Maxie tells us, that’s her shit to forgive, not ours. Whatever. Anyway, if I had been there, I could have done something. Maybe I would have seen her leave. I could have stopped her. Or I could have—” She shook her head again. “Lucas isn’t here. He’s at Kelly’s. Trying to keep his mind off of things.”
“Okay. Thanks.” Dante hesitated. “Did Brooke go last month? Was she part of the group then? I know she moved here early in June—”
“No, she was still having a temper tantrum. And I don’t even know her that well. She only visited a few times when we were kids, and sometimes Ned had me and Maxie and Georgie to come play with her. We weren’t that close. And we didn’t even go to the Harwin, if you’re wondering if maybe the group was targeted. That’s why you’re asking, right?”
“Yeah.” Dante lifted his brows. “How did you know?”
“That’s how this works. These are the questions. Was Brooke targeted? How did the asshole find her? Was she random?” She shrugged. “So, no, that was the first time at the Harwin for the group at large. That’s Dillon’s favorite theater. It shows all the old movies. We usually hit the Loewe’s or AMC out at the mall. We went to AMC last month.” Lulu hesitated. “Hey, is my brother okay with all of this?”
“Lucky?” Dante asked. “Yeah. I guess, why?”
“Oh. I just worried it might bring back bad memories.” Dante’s mystified look must have read on his face because Lulu continued. “When he was sixteen, he found Elizabeth in the park after she’d been raped. I was just worried about him, that’s all. Can you tell him to return my phone calls when you see him?”
General Hospital: Administration Suite
Alexis shifted uncomfortably in her chair and watched as Ned paced the small office she occupied as the hospital’s attorney. Her ex-fiancé had been on the phone for the last twenty minutes trying to find someone willing to run against Garrett Floyd before the deadline at the end of the month.
Ned tossed his flip phone onto the glass conference table with a grimace. “The Barringtons have already promised their support to Floyd.”
Alexis pursed her lips. “They weren’t swayed by the recent reports?”
“They think it’s too soon to assign blame.” Ned rolled his shoulders. “I’m doing this all wrong, aren’t I?”
She shook her head. “Uh uh. Don’t ask me. I’ve been a mother for less than a year and I’m pretty sure I’m messing it up.”
He scrubbed his hands over his face. “I can’t fix this, Alexis. I wouldn’t let her have a car. I took away her phone—”
“You were disciplining her—and you never would have done that if you’d known there was a serial rapist targeting young brunettes.” Alexis leaned back in her chair. “You could always file suit against the city—”
Ned hesitated. “Maybe, but…the whole world already knows this happened to her. Elizabeth told me Brooke is struggling with that. She wants to make a statement to the police and move on with her life.” He grimaced. It burned at him, though, that such callous decisions had been made without even an of ounce concern for all the damage that could be done.
Someone had to pay.
“It’s good that she’s ready to make a statement, and I’m glad Elizabeth could be there to help her.” Alexis hesitated. “Ned, it doesn’t matter what happens with the investigation, with the election—this is always going to have happened. Don’t be so hard on yourself for not having all the answers yet.”
“I’ve never been able to be there for my daughter,” Ned murmured. “I’ve never been a good father. I just wanted to be better this time.”
“Maybe you haven’t been the world’s best father.” Alexis rose from her chair and rounded the desk to step in front of him. She put her hands on his cheek, framing his face. “But you’re a good man, and you’re going to do the best you can. That’s all you can ask of yourself. Be there for Brooke, listen to what she needs. Everything else can—and should—wait.”
Elizabeth’s Condo: Living Room
Elizabeth managed a tired smile when Jason came over that night. She brushed her lips against his. “Hey. I hope you don’t mind Kelly’s again.” She gestured towards the counter in her kitchen where takeout containers sat. “I went by the hospital today and I wasn’t really up to anything else.”
“No, no, that’s—” He swallowed, slid his fingers through his hair. “I forgot you were talking to Brooke today. I should have called.”
She opened a drawer to pull out some utensils. “It’s so different for her,” Elizabeth murmured. “No one knew about me. No one I didn’t want to know, anyway. But someone leaked her name, and she had to go to the hospital—it’s been a circus.” She sighed. “Kind of like this summer when I was in the ICU and all the papers, you know? I felt like I was on display.”
“Why would they leak her name? Because of the Quartermaines?” Jason took the food from her and set it on the table. They both sat down but neither started eating. “To sell papers?”
“Bobbie told me it was two separate leaks. Brooke’s name and the serial rapist—” Elizabeth pushed her chili around in the plastic bowl. “Justus called from Philly—he thinks we should go after the PCPD after all because of the negligence—and I just—I don’t know. I can’t do it.”
“They put you in danger. They didn’t warn people about the park,” Jason said. “Do you think that’s something they should get away with?”
“No.” She sighed. “But I just keep thinking about that poor girl, looking at me and asking me if it gets better. If it would all go away.” Her throat thickened and she swallowed hard. “I should have lied to her. I should have told yes, of course. It gets better. It goes away, and you’ll never have to think about it again.” She turned to look out the window. “It gets better, but it never ever goes away. And you never know what will trigger the memory.”
She looked back at him, at the untouched dinners in front of them, and sighed. “I’m sorry. I’m a mess. I feel like every time we see each other, I’m crying again, or—” Elizabeth shook her head and shoved away from the table, crossing to the sofa. She folded herself up into the corner. “I don’t know why you bother.”
Behind her, she heard him sigh and get up. He sat next to her on the sofa, at the other end with space between them. “I bother,” he said, stressing the word, “because I love you. I’m sorry about what Brooke’s going through. What it’s brought back for you—”
“I told you—it was already in my head.” Elizabeth leaned back against the sofa, tilting her head up to the ceiling. “That last day with Ric, when he was coming after me—I’m not even sure if I had time to realize that the fear I felt—that it was familiar. That it was something I had lived with for months after I was raped. It took me years to walk through that park alone without breaking into a sweat or a panic attack. And then when I started to think about being drugged—” She bit her lip. “And of course, that letter.” She looked at him. “Did you get rid of it?”
Jason hesitated. And there was something in his eyes, in the way the muscles in his cheeks twitched slightly. Her heart started to pound. “Jason.”
“No, I didn’t throw it away,” he said finally. He reached into his back pocket and took out the letter which had been folded several times over, then looked at her. “I told you that I read it.”
“What else did you do?” she asked. She shoved herself to her feet, her heart pounding. Because she knew—she knew what he was going to say next. Her mouth dry, her head screaming, she swallowed hard. “Did you go to see him?”
He winced, closed his eyes, and everything inside her just exploded.
“I shouldn’t have,” Jason acknowledged. “I wish I hadn’t. But I couldn’t get it out of my head. I told myself I would go and keep whatever he told me to myself. If you ever wanted to know, I could…I could tell you then.” He stood. “I had a friend in the prison let me in to see Baker a few days ago. I wanted to warn him to stay away from you. But then he said something—so I read the letter. After Brooke, I realized if what he said was true—”
“Stop! Don’t say another—” She broke off abruptly, her mouth dry, her heart racing so fast—the room started to spin. Elizabeth moved hastily around the back of the sofa. Wanting something between them. Needing something between them. She couldn’t…she couldn’t breathe. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to make it all go away—but instead—
Don’t say another…
Despite the artificial cold of the air conditioning unit hanging in one of her windows, the air felt more bitter than that. That was all it took—just the mention of his name, the closing of her eyes, and she could still summon the sensation of bitter February winter, the wetness of the snow after he’d stripped her of her warm wool coat. It had seeped into her dress, drenching her skin.
Not a word.
Even taking hot showers every day for more than a month hadn’t been able to banish that feeling from her mind.
Jason’s voice came from somewhere far away—as Lucky’s had that night. She’d heard Lucky calling her name, then the vanishing of the weight from above her. The bright burst of pain as he’d taken a hunk of her hair and slammed it one more time against the frozen dirt—
Something touched her shoulder, and Elizabeth’s eyes flew open. She stumbled back, her hands flying out to push against whatever was next to her—she could sense that weight more than see it.
And then she was back in the present. In July 2003, not February 1998. Inside her small living room, with the warm yellow light filtering through the lamp shades and the humming of her air conditioner.
Not outside. Not on the ground. Not in the snow.
She looked at Jason. He stood a few feet from her, his hands up in surrender, a scratch on his forearm already beginning to drip with blood. She looked down at her hands, at the blood underneath one of her fingernails before looking back at him. His eyes were bright with worry, with sorrow.
He’d done this to her. He’d brought this feeling back. Hadn’t she told him not to do it? To leave it alone?
“I just wanted it to stay locked up,” Elizabeth murmured. She looked at the letter sitting on her table as it weren’t a ticking time bomb. “I wanted it to stay away.”
“I know. I’m sorry—”
“I asked you to not to do anything.” A tear slid down her cheek. “I—I already have nightmares. I see the panic room every night. I see Carly and I can’t get to her, and he comes home, and he stops me. He puts me in there with her—”
Jason said nothing, only swallowed hard, but now his eyes were damp. What right did he have to cry? This was his fault.
“I had nightmares last year. Of the dark. Of never getting back out of it. Bad things come in the dark. They happen in the dark, when you can’t see to stop them. They grab you—” She choked off the words, pressed her hands to her mouth. “I can’t…I can’t…I have them, too. I’m locked in the dark, and I can hear Carly screaming. And now I’m going to think about the snow. About lying on that ground and not being able to stop him. How I felt like I was being torn in two—”
Jason took a single step towards her, and Elizabeth backed up until she hit the wall and then slid to the ground. She couldn’t do this again. She couldn’t be that girl. She wasn’t even put together yet, and he was breaking her again.
“I thought it would be different,” she managed. She raised her eyes to look at him as he stood across the room, holding one hand against the scratch—probably to stop the blood from dripping. “I thought you could be someone I could trust.”
“That’s why I had to tell you. I didn’t want to lie to you.”
“I guess your epiphany came too late,” she retorted. “I asked you to not to do anything. Because I can’t—I don’t want to know what he said. I need you to go. I can’t…I can’t have people I don’t trust in my life. Not ever again.”
He exhaled slowly. “I’ll go because you’re asking me to, and I’ve done enough to hurt you. I know that, but Elizabeth…I know it was wrong to go when you’d told me not to do anything. That was your decision to make, not mine.”
“Too little, too late.” Elizabeth forced herself to rise but remained against the wall. “I want you to go.” When he still didn’t move, she screamed it this time. “Go! Get out!”
He went, taking the letter with him. She should have been angry about that, but she didn’t want it in her house. Didn’t want to have to look at it. Touch it.
When the door closed behind him, she slid back onto the ground, wrapping her arms around her legs, tucking her head down.
Outside her door, Jason made a call and then waited until the elevator at the end of the hall opened and his mother stepped out. She carried a black bag and hurried towards him.
Monica frowned at him. “Why—”
“She threw me out.” Jason shook his head. “I can’t—I can’t talk about it. The door’s open. Please. Just make sure she’s all right. That it was just—Please.”
“I have to go.”
He left then, afraid if he waited until Monica was done, he might not be able to go at all.
And she wanted him gone.