Cause standing still
When the world’s moving backwards
The world’s moving backwards
So get your fill
But please believe me
That the world’s moving backwards
The world’s moving backwards
– Moving Backwards, Ben Rector
Monday, July 21, 2003
PCPD: Conference Room
Taggert sighed when he saw Lucky and Cruz enter the room for their morning meeting. “Falconieri not coming in?”
“He’s spending the day with his mother and Lois, helping them with arrangements.” Cruz took a seat and frowned at him. “Did you think he’d be here? I spent half the weekend trying to convince him not to quit.”
“Yeah.” Taggert looked at Lucky who had sat down quietly. “Yeah, I get it. Look, we’re going to open up the case a bit. I don’t think that the attack in February was his first.”
Cruz exchanged a glance with Lucky. “What makes you think that?”
Taggert hesitated, then decided to not to mention the tip he’d received. “Looking over the statements that Esposito took—even in the detail they lack, there are enough common threads that make me think his MO was a little too developed in that first attack. What happened to Dana Watson is what happened to Brooke Lynn Ashton. Grabbed after leaving the movies, near a fountain, beaten, raped, handcuffed—”
“You should have seen an escalation,” Lucky muttered. “If Dana Watson is the first victim, he should be refining his technique, right?”
“Right. Making small adjustments—or improvements.” Taggert grimaced. “But the attacks are identical, even down to the type of injuries. They’re controlled. I’m not saying that it’s impossible, it just feels like he already had his attack down before the Watson case. If he didn’t hit Port Charles, then maybe another city.” He glanced down at his records. “Including Brooke Lynn Ashton, there are thirteen open rapes going back to 1995. Four of them are from this year and already at the lab. The other nine? Scattered between 1995 and 2000. Our older case records aren’t computerized yet—nothing past 2000.”
“You want us to pull all nine?” Lucky asked, leaning forward, his eyes on Taggert. “All of them?”
Neither of them said her name, but Taggert knew what the younger man was referring to. “Yeah. Look at all of them. Bring them up. Go through them. Make me a list of possible related cases. We’re sending all of the kits to the lab thanks to the funding the new ADA got us, but I want to read and be familiar with the files before we get any lab work back. Maybe we can close a few other cases even if they’re not linked. Let’s try to do some good.”
He got to his feet, then hesitated, looked back at them. “What happened to Brooke this weekend—what happened to her and the other women—that’s on the PCPD, but it’s not on you two. Or Falconieri. We’re trying to do better, but it’s not going to happen overnight.”
“Are we done throwing women under the bus?” Cruz muttered as he and Lucky stood. When Taggert just raised his brows at him, Cruz shrugged. “Brooke Lynn Ashton wasn’t the first woman to get screwed over by this department in the month I’ve worked here. I’m just not sure who we’re serving and protecting.”
“Everyone,” Taggert told him. “But yeah, it doesn’t always feel that way. We’re trying, Rodriguez. I’m trying. We need to work this case and bring him to justice before another woman gets attacked. Let’s focus on getting that much right.”
Quartermaine Estate: Patio
Dillon had set eyes on Georgie Jones on his first day in Port Charles and had fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker the minute she’d grabbed him at that pay phone, kissed him, and told him to play along for her sister.
For the last five months, they’d been dating, and he’d been happy. She, along with Maxie and Lucas, were really the first friends he’d ever made and kept for more than a few weeks and Dillon had been enjoying that. Until Brooke had shown up and reminded him how lonely he’d been once.
Georgie had come over to keep him company as his family got ready for Brooke’s memorial service, but so far, she’d just fretted over the treatment her stepfather was receiving in the newspapers and tabloids. And she was dancing around the real reason Mac was under fire that day—
“Just say it,” he told her after nearly twenty minutes of listening to her ramble and tell stories about what a good guy Mac was. “You didn’t come over here because you were worried about me. You came to say something.”
Georgie pressed her lips together, grimaced. “I just—I know your family is grieving, I guess, even though they barely knew Brooke, and I get Ned is devastated, but they’re taking it out on Mac and he’s going to end up fired—”
“They’re taking it out on him,” Dillon repeated, “because your stepfather fucked up royally and now my niece is dead. Four women have been brutally attacked and raped.” He snorted. “But yeah, Mac’s a great guy. He’s an idiot, Georgie—”
She lunged up from the patio chair. “He works so hard, Dillon. You have no right—”
“He didn’t notice a serial rapist was working in the park,” Dillon shot back. “And then when he did figure it out, he let the mayor get away with being a giant dick about tourism and didn’t tell anyone. Tell me, Georgie, why didn’t you and Maxie go with us in the park to look for Brooke? Did he warn you?”
Georgie paled, looked away, and swallowed hard. “He told us we shouldn’t go in the park after dark. But he’s always said that, Dillon. It wasn’t new.”
“Bullshit. He warned you without telling you. Brooke didn’t get that warning. And now she’s dead—” He waved a hand at her, dismissing her as he turned to go back in the house.
“She’s not dead because of my father!” Georgie snapped back. “She took a bunch of pills—” She stopped abruptly when Dillon spun back to confront her, his eyes wide. “I didn’t mean that, Dillon. I know she was hurting—”
“It took weeks for you to give her a chance.” He shook his head. “It took all of us weeks to give her a chance, and when she needed someone in her corner, where were we?”
“We tried—she kicked us out—”
“We shouldn’t have gone. I should have known better. I never had anyone growing up. I knew how lonely she was—” Dillon shook his head. “I’m not going to ask my brother and my family to let up on the PCPD. They’re morons and right now, your stepfather is their king. So, don’t come over here again defending him.”
“I won’t!” Georgie stomped down the steps of the patio, obviously opting to exit through the garden entrance to the estate, bypassing the house.
He couldn’t believe Georgie, of all people, would have come here less than two days after Brooke had died, trying to defend the man responsible. He didn’t care what kind of saint Mac Scorpio was. Brooke was dead, and it was, at least partially, his fault.
Quartermaine Estate: Front Room
“This is not the conversation I need to be having the day before I bury my daughter,” Ned said as he turned away from the window and looked back at his grandfather.
“I apologize for the timing,” Edward said gruffly, his usual fire and brimstone dimmed with grief and weariness. “But you want someone to pay for what happened at the PCPD, and if we can’t find someone to run against Floyd in November, it’ll have to be you.”
Ned scrubbed his hands over his face, trying to find the energy to explain to Edward why it was a terrible idea for him to run for mayor.
Why shouldn’t it be him?
It couldn’t have been him before Brooke…he would have been putting her in the spotlight, making a terrible situation even more horrific for his daughter. But she was gone.
And someone had to pay for that. Could Ned even believe that the PCPD would find the animal who had raped her, who had driven her to take so many pain pills that she had—
No. If Floyd stayed in office, he’d keep Mac as commissioner, and the two of them would just keep protecting one another, leaving the citizens of the city to rot. Throwing away women like his little girl so they could keep their power.
Who knew the damage they could do better than Ned? He’d watched them as they’d screwed up Carly Corinthos’ kidnapping, leaving her rescue up to the woman Ric had been drugging and abusing to the point poor Elizabeth had nearly died. He had a front row seat to the damage their political cover-ups had done to his family—
His daughter was never going to have a chance to grow up. To write her songs, to make the music she’d dreamed of for so long. She’d been broken, irreparably, by some piece of trash that the PCPD had let wreak havoc for months without once warning the public—
And it was because of Floyd. The poison started at the top. So maybe it was time to rip it out at the roots.
“Get me the paperwork,” Ned told Edward. “I’ll do it.”
Lucas sighed as he watched his cousin delicately adjusting the strap of her tank top to avoid tan lines on her shoulders. Maxie laid back on the lounger and peered over at him as he sat down and set a glass of lemonade next to her. “I told you I’d get it. I came over to cheer you up.”
That’s what she had announced a half hour ago when she’d shown up on his doorstep with her sunglasses and suntan lotion tucked in a tote bag slung over her shoulder. Then she’d arranged herself on the lounger in his backyard which reminded him that his house got better afternoon sun than hers.
He adored his silly and frivolous cousin, and she had, in her own way, brightened his day.
“It feels weird to be affected by any of this,” he said after a long moment. “Two weeks ago, Brooke was Dillon’s family, someone we were tolerating because we liked him. I mean, I had maybe a handful of conversations with her that were longer than five seconds. Do I even have a right to be upset about any of this?”
“Listen.” Maxie peered at him over the tips of her dark lenses. “Time is dumb. Who gets to decide how long you gotta know a person before you get to be sad about losing them? You liked Brooke. I know you did. And so did Dillon. And I bet she and I were gonna be friends, mostly because I think she really annoyed Georgie, and you know how that gets me going. We get to be sad about what’s never gonna happen just as much as we’re sad about what did.”
She sighed, then looked back up at the sky. “Plus, we’re not just feeling sad. We’re feeling guilty. If we had just stopped worrying about ourselves for five minutes, maybe we could found her faster. Or maybe—”
“Or maybe I could stop picking fights with your idiot boyfriend.”
Maxie raised a brow as if to say, well, duh. “But my idiot boyfriend could also not take the bait. He feels just as shitty as we do, Lucas.” She sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the seat. “I know you don’t like Kyle. And I get that he did something incredibly stupid and awful, but I’m not exactly innocent, you know? I’m not perfect. And I don’t get to demand perfection from anyone else. He’s a dumb jock who’s figured out he’s a dumb jock. He wants to do better. I’m happy with him. I’d like you to give him a chance.”
“Yeah. Well…” Lucas hesitated. “I need to tell you something, Maxie. I haven’t told you before because I didn’t know how you’d deal with it. And I wasn’t ready to tell my mom. But I told Brooke. And I told Mom. I’m done hiding.” He waited until Maxie slid the sunglasses to the top of her head. “I’m gay.”
His cousin stared at him for a long moment. “Okay.”
Lucas squinted. “I mean, gay, Maxie. Like I have a boyfriend. His name is Felix.”
“Okay.” She pursed her lips. “Can I meet him?”
A bit at sea over her nonplussed response, Lucas cleared his throat. “Uh, yeah. I guess. You know what gay is—”
“Oh, Oh, I’m not reacting right, am I?” Maxie squared her shoulders, tossed her hair back. “Okay, let’s do it again. I can be way more dramatic. From the top.”
He laughed, then switched to sit next to her. He slung an arm over her shoulder in a partial hug. “Thanks.”
“I’m glad Brooke was someone you could come out to,” Maxie told him. “I figured she was into girls because she totally checked out my ass a few times. I wish I could have known her longer.” She exhaled slowly. “Georgie’s fighting with Dillon because of the stuff Ned and his family are saying in the papers, you know.”
“Yeah, I read it. And I saw the news last night.” Lucas returned to his seat. “Georgie’s always been more sensitive about these things—”
“Georgie has a hard time seeing people for who they are,” Maxie said with a shake of her head. “She still thinks my dad is this awesome guy who’s sacrificing his own life to save lives. Sure, Frisco’s doing good work for someone out there, but he’s also a guy who finds adventure more interesting than being a father. Mac’s the only dad I really remember. And it sucks to find out he’s human.”
She reached for her lemonade. “He told me and Georgie to stay out of the park. He didn’t tell me why. I mean, damn it, Lucas, he’s supposed to protect people. Why didn’t he protect Brooke? Or those other girls in the paper? Can’t Georgie see that Mac screwed up?”
She twirled the straw in the glass with a heavy sigh. “How do I make those guys fit in my head? The dad I grew up with, who could do no wrong—how could he be the same kind of guy who just…abandoned the people he was supposed to protect?”
Port Charles Municipal Building: Scott Baldwin’s Office
Kelsey dropped some paperwork on the conference table as she took her seat across from Scott. “Taggert had the rookies in his division send over the rape kits from the nine open cases in cold storage.”
“Good, good. When does he expect the results back?”
“Well, we put a rush on the orders,” Kelsey told him as she tied her hair back in a ponytail. “The original three victims from this year were sent over last week, Brooke Ashton’s last Wednesday. We should have them back sometime in August. And then probably the last nine first week of September.”
Scott grimaced. “Science needs to move faster—” He looked at her. “How many cases did you say were in cold storage?” He started sifting through his notes, looking for a list he’d made after a meeting with Mac. “He sent me a list of open rapes before—”
“Nine in cold storage, four active, so thirteen…” Kelsey tilted her head. “What’s up?”
“I didn’t think about it at the time, but back when Taggert took over Major Crimes, he said he wanted to send over twelve kits. He had the three open, and nine from cold storage. That makes sense. Brooke makes thirteen.”
“So, when Floyd was yelling at me and Mac last week, Mac said fourteen—” Scott found the list of cases and counted them, sliding his fingers down the list. “There are only twelve on this list, too. This was made before Brooke.”
“Maybe Mac messed up the number. He hasn’t really been on top of the rape cases.” Kelsey tapped her pile of paperwork. “It’s not like we don’t have proof he’s not always great with the details.”
“Yeah, I guess. You said the rookies are working on the cold cases?”
“Yeah, Taggert sent them down to storage to pull everything that was open so he could go through them. Make sure this is the first time our guy has hit Port Charles. I agree with him — the style is too specific to be brand new. Unless he’s unique in some way. He also just wants to be familiar with them if the kits come back with a hit.” Kelsey leaned forward to peer at the paperwork in front of Scott. “The Lansing case?”
“Yeah.” Scott sighed. “Lansing is making noises about credibility of the witnesses. Liz and Carly are both seeing therapists — that’ll be easy to explain since he tried to kill them both and they’re traumatized. But he must know something about Sonny, because he warned me he’s putting together a subpoena on that.” He shook his head. “Liz has a hearing to renew the protection order on Friday.”
“I’ve seen the evidence, Scott. She should be a shoo-in—”
“Yeah, well, it’s before the same judge that slapped the injunction on Morgan for Liz’s power of attorney and dragged his feet about letting us arrest Ric for the kidnapping. I don’t trust the family court when it comes to Liz.” He grimaced as he continued to make notes. “Plus, he’s gonna use the fact that Liz is dating Morgan now as evidence of something. He’s an asshole and they always get away with bullshit like this.”
He set his pen down. “I’ve been thinking of maybe offering him some sort of deal.”
Kelsey lifted an eyebrow. “Really? Because this is a big case. And your handling of it has been basically the only thing the media likes. You got a lot of good ink when you got held in contempt—”
“Yeah, well…” Scott huffed. “That’s not why I did it. I’m looking at these subpoenas, and even though Ric can’t make Liz and Carly give him statements prior to trial, he’s defending himself. How can I put them through a trial and testimony? He nearly killed Elizabeth, and Carly’s still in therapy.”
“So, you’d offer him a plea?” Kelsey wrinkled her nose. “He’s on the hook to go away for life if the right judge gives him consecutive sentences. You think it would make them happier if he spent less time in prison?”
“The difference between parole in twenty-five years and no parole at all isn’t much. Liz and Carly might be okay with twenty-five years of a Ric-free existence. Look, I’m just thinking about it.”
“You’d talk to them first, right?” Kelsey bit her lip. “I mean, not just talk, Scott. You should ask them. They may want to testify. It might be something they’re looking forward to.”
“If I didn’t talk to them first, Bobbie would cut my head off, and believe me, she’s already not so happy with me these days.” He sighed. “Let’s talk about the other open cases. What’s on the docket this week?”
When Emily had suggested Jason and Elizabeth join her and Lucky for dinner at Kelly’s, Elizabeth had been hesitant, but Jason and Lucky seemed to be fine together. Apparently, Emily told her, they’d worked together while Elizabeth had been in her coma. Another sign that her ex-boyfriend was starting to feel comfortable in his own skin again.
They’d tried not to talk about what brought Emily back to Port Charles this time, but it was difficult to stay off the topic of Brooke. Lucky didn’t talk about the investigation, but it was on their minds. Afterwards, she and Jason said goodbye to his sister and Lucky, then took a drive on the cliff roads.
But Brooke was still in her head when they got back to her condo building and Elizabeth couldn’t shake the feeling that she could have done more to help the younger woman.
“I’m sorry,” she said as she put her key in her lock and glanced at Jason as he leaned against the wall. “I’m not great company tonight.”
He tipped his head to the side. “You want me to leave?”
“No.” She pushed her door open, feeling very sure about that. “No. I guess I’m just—I’m thinking about Brooke again. About these last few weeks since that letter from Baker…since I found out Ric was drugging me for so long…” She closed the door and tossed her keys on the coffee table.
She could still see the last vestiges of the sunset on the horizon as she crossed to her large window overlooking the harbor. “And I guess I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened to me back then. Did I tell you it was the same…the same place as Brooke? In the park?”
She glanced over her shoulder as he drew closer to her, his brow furrowed. “You said something that night, I think.”
“I couldn’t remember anything for weeks.” She managed a smile, her face reflected dimly in the glass in front of her. “I didn’t want to remember anything. It came back in fits and starts, you know? I remembered something he said to me. The way he smelled. But I still pushed away most of it. Until I started seeing Gail. God, it all came back so fast during one session, but still I couldn’t let myself remember all of it—”
She sighed and turned to face him, leaning against the window. “You remember when you came home that August?”
“I had cut my hair short.” Elizabeth touched the ends of hair. “Shorter than I had in years. Because I remembered the way he had touched it. He had wrapped his fingers in it. Smelled my hair. If I could have dyed it without explaining to anyone, I might have. I settled for chopping—” She hesitated, seeing the wince on his face. “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I’m talking about this—”
“It’s—” Jason shook his head, looked away. “I knew before that night at Jake’s—before you told me. I knew what you’d been through. Logically. Until these last weeks—until that letter from Baker—I don’t think I ever really understood it.”
“What you went through. What you still go through.” He turned away, then sat on the sofa, put his head in his hands. “I can’t make it go away. I can’t make it stop. And I keep thinking about that night—when I told you I had gone to see him—”
“Hey.” She perched on the coffee table in front of him, slid her fingers under his chin so he’d look at her. “Jason.”
“I listened to you, and I just—I remember that day at the docks. When I saw you and I saw that you had cut your hair.” His mouth twisted. “Do you know what I thought when I saw you?”
“No.” She tilted her head. “Tell me.”
He hesitated, but then shrugged. “I always liked your hair, I guess. I’d never really thought about it. But you were just—I liked it. I wanted to—” He shook his head. “It’s not—”
“When I saw you that day,” Elizabeth told him, “when I ran to you on the docks, and you hugged me—I was attracted to you. Is that what you don’t want to say? That a haircut I got made me more attractive to you?”
“It’s not the right time—”
“It is,” Elizabeth pressed. “Because if I let you back away from this—it’s like I need to be protected from the way you feel about me. The way I thought you felt.”
“It’s not like I wrote you before that day and said I remembered that my rapist did something disgusting with my hair, so I cut it as short as I could without people asking questions. You came home, you saw me, and you liked it. I’m glad. I mean, if we’re sharing embarrassing memories — when I used to change your bandage that winter you were shot—I used to fantasize about licking you.”
A startled laugh escaped his lips and he dipped his head. “Christ. It’s not the same—”
“No, but you know? I hated that haircut and it’s taken forever to grow out. Now? Knowing you thought I was hot with it—” Her smile felt wicked. “I kind of want to cut it again.”
He smiled again, but his eyes were still sad. “Elizabeth—” Jason shook his head, rose to his feet to walk to the window, then paced back to the sofa. “I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. To say. Are you okay? This isn’t even about me—”
She crossed to him, where he stood by the table, reaching out her fingers to twist in the soft tan fabric of his t-shirt. She could feel the muscles of his abdomen tense beneath the shirt. “I told Bobbie after it happened that I didn’t think I could ever be with someone again. Not the way I could have before then. She told me it would be okay someday, but I didn’t believe her.”
“But you found Lucky.”
“I did,” Elizabeth admitted. “But it was sweet. And light. Gentle. If he’d lived—the version of him that I loved so very much—if that Lucky hadn’t died, I don’t know what would have happened. But I put myself back into a box. Until you.”
Jason frowned slightly, shook his head. “I don’t—”
“The first time we were on your bike,” Elizabeth said, tipping her head up. “I climbed on behind you and wrapped my arms around you. I felt tingly all over. I didn’t even really understand what I was feeling. Not then. It was new. And it was good.”
“And when you were half naked for weeks in my studio?” Her cheeks were flaming. “You probably could have just crooked your finger at me, and I would have followed you anywhere. You gave me that back. That sense of being a woman. Of knowing that I could feel that way again.”
“I didn’t do—”
“No, you didn’t. It was just enough that you were there, that you were kind, and that you were my friend. I felt safe with you. Safe enough that if you hadn’t left. If things had been different—” She lifted a shoulder. “Things would have been different.”
“You weren’t ready,” he said, his voice low and gravelly. His hands drifted down her shoulders, his fingers warm through the cotton of her shirt. “It was better that way.”
“Maybe,” she allowed. “Jason, what I went through—I went through it. And I’m on the other side. Mostly. I’ll have bad moments. And they’re not going to be easy for either of us. I really don’t want it or anything else to be the reason you step away from me. Or this. Not when we’re finally on the same page at the same time.”
“I don’t want that either.”
Their eyes met and she wasn’t entirely sure who had moved first, but then he was kissing her. Not just with the sweetness and gentleness they’d shared for the last few weeks, but with something more. Or maybe he’d just stopped holding back.
She wrapped her fingers in his t-shirt as his hands dived into her hair, tilting her head back as Jason drew her closer.
“Jason—” she managed to say. “I don’t want to wait anymore.”
He hesitated again, his breath warm and quick against her lips. His eyes asked the question silently and she answered it with a rocking of her hips against him.
There had been enough waiting, enough talking, and she was done with it. Done with waiting for her life to start over. Waiting to take the next step. Waiting to give herself to this man that she had loved for so long.
Somehow, they were in the bedroom, but it wasn’t fast and quick. It was the dreamy slow motion she’d fantasized about so often. She stripped him of his shirt, and then he peeled hers over her head.
Their jeans hit the floor at some point, and then they were on the bed. The tingles she had told him about earlier were back, but they were like piercing needles as the tension built inside her. She wanted his hands everywhere at once, and if not, then maybe his mouth—everywhere he touched her felt like fire.
He slid inside her like she’d always been waiting for him, and she drew in a sharp breath, tears sliding down her cheeks.
“Elizabeth—” Jason’s movements stilled as his hands framed her face, his thumb catching on his tears. “Are you—”
“It’s just…so much more than I ever imagined,” she managed, her voice trembling. “Doesn’t it just…feel right?”
He leaned down, brushed her lips softly. “Yeah.” His hand slid down her bare torso, hooking her knee higher and she gasped at the sensation. How could anything that felt this good be legal?
When the end came, everything shattered inside her. Dimly she could her name was on his lips. And then it was quiet, the only sound in the room was that of their own shallow breathing.
Until she started to gasp for air, clutching at her chest as she frantically rolled away from him, reaching for the oxygen tank at the side of her bed.