What if I told your lies
What if you cried with my eyes
Could anyone keep us down
What if you were me
What if I were you
What if your hand was my hand
Could we hold on and let go
What if your life was my life
Can we love what we don’t know
– What If, Five For Fighting
Tuesday, September 9, 2003
Quartermaine Estate: Garden
“Ugh. Why did I become a doctor again?” Emily demanded as she flopped down on the wicker loveseat next to Lila’s wheelchair and across from Elizabeth, seated in a wicker armchair. She’d just worked an overnight shift at General Hospital. “You know, Mom and Dad made this crap look easy—”
“I tried to remind you you’re not a morning person,” Elizabeth said with a half-smile as she accepted the lemonade Reginald handed her before he refilled Lila’s glass and poured one for Emily. “But you wanted to be a doctor.”
“You love to say I told you so,” Emily muttered as she sipped her drink. “Hi, Grandmother.”
“Hello, dear. It’s nice of you to join us,” Lila said with her usual gracious smile. “Despite how tired you are. It makes me happy to have my darling girl home.” She hesitated. “I only wish Brooke Lynn could be here.”
“I know,” Emily said. “Lucky doesn’t talk much about the investigation, but at least there haven’t been more attacks.” She looked at Elizabeth. “What did you want to talk about? It sounded serious on the phone earlier.”
Elizabeth paused, unsure if she wanted to get into it around Lila, not wanting to worry the elderly woman after everything she had been through this summer. But she had always appreciated the relationship Lila had with the rest of the Quartermaines, especially Jason and Emily. “I had my check up with Monica yesterday, and she told me something I wasn’t really expecting.” She bit her lip. “I’m pregnant.”
“Pregnant,” Emily repeated, her eyes widening. She traded a look with her grandmother who, to her credit, looked as apprehensive as Elizabeth felt. “That’s…is that safe? I mean…”
“Monica said it’s not her area,” Elizabeth said. “And she wants me to talk to someone to specializes in high-risk pregnancies because…”
“Forgive me, my dear,” Lila said gently. “Is there a precise health concern or is Monica worried you haven’t entirely recovered?”
Remembering that Lila had had her children in the 1940s and might not be familiar with the risks they knew about now, Elizabeth told her about the blood clots and risk factors of embolisms in pregnancy as well as the probability that faulty condoms from an ELQ company might be to blame for the surprise. “The thing this, Monica said this isn’t an area that’s been studied a lot.”
“Yeah, women’s health is, like, at the bottom of the list,” Emily said, grimacing. “Robin complains about it when we email each other. She wants to specialize in medical research, but she had trouble getting funding for anything that didn’t benefit men more.” She rolled her eyes. “And God forbid we study pregnancy — I mean, women only keep the species going—”
“Darling,” Lila said, bringing Emily back to the conversation. She looked back to Elizabeth. “So there isn’t a lot that Monica can tell you?”
“Beyond the fact that, having already suffered a pulmonary embolism accompanied with cardiac arrest and a mild heart attack—” Elizabeth took a deep breath, because she couldn’t understand how that was her life. How that was now her medical history. “Having had those conditions, my risk level is elevated. There’s some thought that it drops after a year, then further after five. But nothing right on point about percentages.”
“And I guess she doesn’t really feel qualified to tell you how pregnancy might raise that risk factor,” Emily offered. “I mean, it does, doesn’t it?”
“I don’t know. She thought so. I could have a blood clot tomorrow. Six months. Right after the birth. And I think she’s also worried about the stress on my heart and my lungs.” Elizabeth rubbed a restless hand against her chest. “Jason and I talked about having kids down the road, but this…this feels so soon.”
“What does Jason say, my dear?” Lila asked.
“All the right things,” Elizabeth said, shrugging one shoulder. “He’ll support me whatever I decide, but…he’s not telling me what he actually thinks. Maybe he’s afraid to sway me either way.”
“Maybe,” Emily admitted. “But you know he’s been…you guys have argued more than once about your health and recovery. He’s tried to step back from worrying too much.”
“I just…I don’t know what I want to do.” Elizabeth set her glass down on the little table in the middle before staring down at her lap, at her hands tightly clasped. “I want children. After the miscarriage, I knew it was something I really wanted. And Jason was such a good father to Michael. I know he wants children, too. But…”
“But at what cost?” Emily asked, tilting her head. “You’d be insane not to think about the alternatives, Elizabeth. There’s no law that says you have to have this baby because the Quartermaines are bad at making condoms.”
“I just…those last few hours before I collapsed — the chest pains, the struggle to breathe. I can remember that last phone call with Jason, trying to find the button to free Carly—and then everything just goes dark. I don’t even remember, not really, laying on the floor, talking to him. Waiting for the paramedics. And then when I woke up, it hurt to breathe. It took me almost a week before I could walk down the halls in the hospital. Two weeks before I could go home.”
“You came so close to dying.” Emily leaned forward. “I can still remember the fear in Bobbie’s voice when we talked on the phone, and I was terrified you might die before I could get home. Mom said it was that close. You almost died, Elizabeth. Don’t blame yourself for not wanting to do something that puts that back on the table.”
“But what if the way I feel is just that? It’s an emotion. I’m terrified, Emily,” Elizabeth admitted. “I don’t want to die…but I also don’t to turn away from something I know that I want because of how scared I am.”
She waited a long moment before continuing. “And I also…I’m also scared that if I were to—if I decided to terminate the pregnancy, I don’t know if that’s something Jason can live with.”
“I think,” Emily said, carefully, “that Jason would probably be okay. He’s always been logical about these kinds of things. If having kids right now is a risk to your life, can you honestly see Jason telling you he’d rather have the chance at a child than you?”
“No, but…” She bit her lip. “I don’t know. And I don’t even know how long I have to make up my mind.”
“I think you’re right,” Emily told her. “That right now, everything is an emotion. Mom even said this isn’t something she can really talk about with any expertise. She can talk about conditions to minimize another PE, but she doesn’t know if there are ways to do that with pregnancy. Make the appointment with the OB/GYN. Maybe what you’re worried about isn’t as bad as you think. Maybe it is. But at this point—”
“It’s all just worry and fears.” Elizabeth exhaled slowly. “Yeah. Yeah, I can live with that. Wait to talk to the doctor.”
“And, my darling,” Lila said, “whatever you decide in the end, this family will support you.” She offered her hand. Elizabeth grasped it, taking her first easy breath since her appointment the day before.
Warehouse: Sonny’s Office
Jason had planned to talk to Sonny about Elizabeth’s pregnancy when he got to work that morning, hoping that Sonny might have something…anything to offer him in the way of comfort or advice. He’d always been able to take his problems to Sonny in the beginning of their friendship, but Jason could see now he’d been doing that less and less over the last few years—
And Sonny had drifted away from him in a lot of ways, becoming less and less concerned with Jason’s life. When Carly had gone missing that summer, Jason’s entire life had become laser focused on getting her back. Elizabeth had been kidnapped the previous summer, and Sonny had offered little to no help at all.
It was frustrating to admit that Jason wasn’t sure exactly when their friendship had gone off the rails — maybe it was wrong to blame Sonny when Jason knew he’d stopped talking to Sonny in a lot of ways after that terrible December night when Carly had waltzed down the penthouse stairs, clad only in a badly buttoned dress shirt.
When Jason arrived at the office, however, Sonny was already complaining to Bernie and Johnny O’Brien, one of their guys in charge of security, about an argument he’d had with Carly.
When Jason appeared in the doorway, Sonny scowled and gestured at him, saying to Bernie and Johnny, “And look, here’s someone else who doesn’t seem to get it! That fucker has to die!”
Johnny glanced at Jason out of the corner of his eye, lifting his brows slightly as if to offer an apology.
“We’ve been over this,” Johnny said, patiently. “You don’t want to give the PCPD any reason to look at us while Bernie and Justus are still getting the paperwork in order. We had six months without a business manager and full-time attorney.”
“I’m tired of sitting around and waiting. You saw how the system worked against Elizabeth,” Sonny shot at Jason. “Taking you off her case, putting her under Ric’s control—”
“For less than a day,” Jason retorted. “But we got it back. And forget the heat the PCPD would put on us, I’m not convinced that going after Ric wouldn’t also put Trevor Lansing on us. We don’t know if he was involved in any of it—”
“Oh, I thought it wasn’t business,” Sonny drawled, raising his brows in a truly impressive display of sarcastic concern. “You told me it was personal—”
“Kidnapping Carly was,” Jason insisted. “If she’d been part of the plan, no way in hell she’s put in a panic room and kept there. But Ric came to town working with Faith Roscoe. Trevor called him to Crimson Point right at the beginning of all of this. Lansing might just need an excuse to give Zacchara to justify going after us. We don’t know that yet.”
He shook his head. “Right now, everything is quiet. No one is making any noises about Ric being free and alive. Business is moving along. Carly’s in her third trimester, and Elizabeth—”
Jason pressed his lips together. Was this even the time to tell Sonny that Elizabeth was pregnant? That she might end up in a high-risk pregnancy where stress needed to be avoided at all costs?
“I promised Elizabeth and Carly that I would do what they needed when it came to Ric,” Jason reminded Sonny. “I’m not breaking it.”
“Who the hell are you to promise my wife anything?” Sonny demanded.
Johnny and Bernie traded glances at each other that Sonny caught. He turned his attention back to them. “Oh, yeah, I get it. Jason’s the guy that found her so he gets to be in charge, right? Is that what you’re thinking?”
“I’m not thinking anything,” Johnny said quickly. “It’s not my job to think.”
“Damn right,” Sonny muttered. He looked at Jason. “Is that what this is? You want to be in charge? You don’t trust my judgement?”
How the hell had it gotten to this? Jason blinked, trying to understand exactly what Sonny’s problem was.
“When it comes to Ric, no,” he admitted. “You’re angry at yourself for not taking care of him in May. I’m angry at myself, too. We could have spared everyone a lot of grief. But you had your reasons then, and I agreed to let you deal with it. Because Ric was your brother. Your problem to fix.”
Jason shook his head. “But he didn’t just go after you. He went after Carly. Your wife. Twice. He went after your sister. But he nearly killed Elizabeth. Twice. He drugged her for months, Sonny, and then he assaulted her. All Elizabeth ever did was help us. She put her life on the line to bring Carly home. Because of me. Because of you. And because that’s who she is. The night Carly went missing—”
Sonny exhaled slowly closing her eyes. “She was barely able to stand on her feet, but she took our side. Refused to leave. Wanted to help.” He sank into the chair behind his desk. Behind Jason, Johnny and Bernie both left without another word.
“You think I don’t want Ric gone?” Jason asked, a bit more quietly. “I want him out of our lives, too. But that’s not going to make this over. Just having him killed isn’t going to end the nightmares for Carly or Elizabeth. They want their day in court. To face him. And then they want him to die in prison. That’s what they need. And after Elizabeth nearly died, after seeing the room Carly was held in, I have no issues letting them get what they need.”
Sonny didn’t say anything, so Jason continued. “Elizabeth found out yesterday that she’s pregnant.”
His partner’s head snapped up at that. “What? Now? It’s—” He shook his head. “It’s too soon, isn’t it?”
“It…wasn’t planned,” Jason said, not willing to go into the clusterfuck of ELQ and their faulty condoms. “With everything else that’s going on, after what happened with Brooke this summer, her sessions with Gail, the last thing I’m going to do is pressure her into doing something that makes my life easier. You can do whatever you want with Carly, but I’m not breaking my promise to Elizabeth. Not ever again.”
When Sonny had nothing else to say, Jason just left.
Manhattan: Courtney’s Apartment
Courtney stepped back to let her sister-in-law in, then hugged her nephew as Michael followed her, all bright smiles and happiness. She’d been surprised to hear from Carly—the first time since Courtney had moved from Port Charles to the city three weeks earlier but had agreed immediately to host Carly and Michael for a visit.
Sonny, Carly had informed her tersely, was not available.
After dinner with Michael, Courtney settled him in the guest room he would share with his mother before settling on the sofa with Carly in the living room. “So what brings you down to the city?”
Carly scowled. “I can’t visit my best friend? You moved. I missed you.”
Carly probably hadn’t thought much about her since Courtney had left the penthouse, but she let it slide. It wasn’t Carly’s fault, and one entered friendship with Carly realizing that she was relatively selfish. “Okay. Then tell me about the baby. How do you feel?”
“Like a parade float,” Carly muttered. She rubbed her eyes. “I’m sorry. You’re right. I needed to get away from Sonny. From my mother. From everyone. I feel like they’re all screaming I told you so and I am just…really not in the mood, you know?”
“Sonny still having issues?” Courtney asked quietly as she tucked one leg underneath her. “He was so angry after you came home. I mean, after the relief had passed. And I know he was pissed about what you and Liz wanted to do about Ric. Is that still an issue?”
“We don’t talk about it anymore,” Carly admitted. “He’s angry that I don’t seem to get how hard this was for him, and I guess—I guess I don’t get it. I don’t get how he thinks what he went through is so much more important than me. And if what happened to him—”
“The breakdown?” Courtney asked. “He hallucinated Lily, Carly. It was terrifying to see him like that. I honestly thought he’d be…”
“Committed?” Carly asked dryly. “Yeah, well…I used to think it was just…part of the marriage vows. For better or for worse. In sickness and health and all of that, but I guess…” She picked at the seam of the sofa. “I guess I took it for granted that the sickness part of that meant he would try to make himself better. Mama asked me why it was anyone else’s job but Sonny’s to give a damn about his mental health? Jason’s at the end of his rope—they’re arguing all the time.”
“Because Jason agrees with you,” Courtney said slowly, then sighed. “And because he probably promised Elizabeth he’d handle it her way.”
“Basically. And Sonny is just…so angry at all of us. Maybe I’m being selfish. If this bothers him so much—”
“Because Sonny’s a control freak,” Courtney said bluntly. “And that was clear this summer. Look, I made mistakes. And I—handled everything wrong. But Sonny fell apart. And that drives him insane. He couldn’t fix it. He’s not the one who brought you home. That was — that was Jason and Elizabeth. Your mother. Even Nikolas Cassadine who doesn’t even know you. All of them did more than Sonny. Demanding to deal with Ric, Carly? That’s Sonny trying to control everything again. And I’m sorry, but you’re not obligated to play into that.”
Carly bit her lip. “But—”
“I’m not denying that Sonny had a breakdown. That he was traumatized by the whole thing,” Courtney told her. “But you know what? It’s bullshit that he’s got you thinking you got to step back from something you need to make things better for him. When the hell is it your turn? You were kidnapped. Threatened with death. Locked in a room.” She shook her head. “Sonny should go see a therapist, figure out what’s wrong him, get on medicine, or whatever. But he needs to stop taking this out on you and Jason.”
Carly lifted her brows. “Where is this coming from?” she asked, shaking her head. “You and Sonny—”
“I don’t matter to Sonny,” Courtney told her. “Except as something he thinks he owns. I left Port Charles and you know what? He doesn’t call. He hasn’t bothered once. Bernie helped me sign the paperwork for this place, and my alimony from AJ is taking care of the bills for right now until I get a decent job. But my so-called brother only gave a damn about me when I was doing what he wanted.”
She took a deep breath. “Time and distance from Port Charles, even after three weeks, it’s put things into perspective. I didn’t like the person I was turning into there, Carly. Being around Sonny—having my life revolve around the rules necessary to be part of it—it was driving me out of my mind. I was going to marry a man who didn’t love me—who I knew didn’t love me—because it brought me closer to Sonny. I deserve better than that, you know? And so do you.”
She got up from the sofa and peered out the window. “You said Elizabeth agreed with you about wanting to testify, about wanting Ric to rot in prison.”
“Yes,” Carly said, her tone hesitant. She rubbed her belly absently. “So what?”
“Do you know if she had to talk Jason into it? Or did she explain herself and he said, yes. That’s it. You need this, so this is what we’ll do.” Courtney looked back at her sister-in-law. “Because he loves her. Because he loves you. He’s not just fighting with Sonny over a promise he made to Elizabeth, is he?”
“No,” Carly admitted quietly. “He promised me the same. And he told me that Elizabeth—that she said if I wanted Ric gone, it was up to me. She’d do whatever I need.” She shook her head. “Sanctimonious little martyr,” she muttered, but the words were without heat and almost an automatic defense. Carly didn’t bend easily.
“Everyone traumatized by this summer, Carly, is on your side. Jason and Elizabeth want what you need. Bobbie probably wants what you need. Everyone else who matters agrees with you. So why is it that you think you need to change for Sonny?”
Condo: Living Room
Elizabeth was frowning at a pot of sauce on the stove when Jason got home from work that night. One of the few recipes he’d taught her was a simple tomato sauce—because, as she’d said to him with a roll of her eyes—even an idiot could boil pasta.
“What’s wrong with the sauce?” he asked, after tossing his jacket over the back of the sofa. “You look like it’s burning.”
“I think I did something wrong,” she muttered. She held out a spoon for him to taste and his eyes nearly crossed at the amount of salt. “Yeah, see? I don’t know how that much salt got in there, but it’s there and it’s ruining—”
“Let’s just heat up the lasagna from the other night,” he suggested, kissing the top of her forehead. She turned off the burner, then switched the oven on for preheat. “Did you go to see Lila today?”
“Yeah, but it’s already starting to get too chilly to sit in the garden,” Elizabeth said, leaning against the counter. “At least for Lila. We’ll probably have to move inside in another week or so. Emily stopped by, too.” She bit her lip. “I told them about…” She looked away. “I told them,” she repeated.
“I told Sonny,” Jason admitted. He pulled the foil-wrapped lasagna from the refrigerator and set it on the counter, waiting for the oven to beep. “Not all of it. We were arguing about Ric again.”
“Still?” Elizabeth wrinkled her nose. “It feels like that should be settled. I mean—if Carly changes her mind, fine. But I don’t get—” She crossed her arms. “I mean, I guess I get why Sonny’s still mad, but what good does it do at this point?”
“Not much.” Jason glanced at her, then busied himself doing the few dishes left in the sink from breakfast. “What did Emily and Lila say?”
“I think when we talked about it yesterday,” Elizabeth said slowly, “part of you wanted to put an option on the table but you didn’t want to say it outright. When you said you’d support whatever decision I made, you meant…you meant I could have an abortion.”
The kitchen was quiet for a long moment as Jason thought carefully about his next words. He set the last plate in the dish rack, then dried his hands. “I—” He shook his head, turned back to face her. “Yeah. I guess I think it should be an option.”
“I think so, too,” Elizabeth said softly. “I was afraid to say it out loud. Because I know a baby is something we’ve both talked about wanting. At some point. And it feels like we got this surprise, and instead of being happy, we’ve both immediately—”
She shook her head and sat at the table. He joined her, sitting next to her. “We both immediately went to the risks. And I’m afraid that if we went through with the pregnancy, that’s what it would be. We wouldn’t be happy about the baby. We’d be scared all the time.”
He opened his mouth, then realized he didn’t really have anything to say to that. Because of course that was probably true. Hadn’t her health taken over everything since she’d left the hospital? The oxygen mask he still insisted on keeping ready on the side table despite not needing it for the last two weeks. The way he still took her pulse sometimes when she wasn’t paying attention.
Sometimes he woke with a start in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep until he was sure that her chest was rising and falling.
Keeping Elizabeth healthy had taken over almost all of his waking hours since she’d nearly died, and she was probably right—the next eight or nine months probably meant more of the same.
“And I have to admit, Jason—part of me is terrified that we’re right to worry. That…I could decide to take a risk and then maybe I get an embolism at five months or six months. And maybe I don’t get a miracle. Maybe this time that’s it.” Her voice broke. “And then you’re not just burying me, but the baby. And what if I get through labor, then have a clot? It happens then. Maybe the next clot will be an aneurysm in my brain.”
He squeezed his eyes shut. He’d once been so good at ignoring the what-ifs, preferring to focus on the here and now. You couldn’t control the future, couldn’t stop it, so why bother trying?
But every one of those scenarios had run through his mind since she’d told him the news and probably a thousand other possibilities.
“If you’re worried about what I’d think if you decided to have an abortion,” Jason said slowly, “I told you. I need you here. Alive. Healthy. Whatever we have to do is worth that to me. We could adopt. There are surrogates—”
She pressed her fingers to his lips to quiet him. “And once I admitted that part of my fear was if you’d leave me if I didn’t have this child, if maybe I decided I never wanted to risk—I realized how insane that was. We’ve been through too much for any of that.” She took his hands in hers. “I’m scared, Jason. Because I don’t want to die. I feel like I’ve finally figured out my life, and I’m exactly where I want to be, you know?”
“So, you’re not going—”
“I also don’t want to live my life in fear,” she continued, cutting him off with a shake of her head. “Right now, that’s all you and I have. The fear. We don’t know if there’s a way we can go forward and feel confident.” Tears slid down her cheeks. “I mean, part of me feels like I got a miracle when I lived through the cardiac arrest and everything Ric did to me. What if that’s it? What if that’s the only miracle I get?”
Jason tugged her off the chair and onto his lap so he could wrap his arms around her, holding her as the sobs silently shook her shoulders.
“I don’t think that’s how miracles work,” he murmured, his cheek pressed against hers. “Everything inside of me is screaming at you not to take this risk. That nothing is worth the chance I might lose you.”
She drew back slightly so that their noses were touching. She framed his face with her hands, delicately wiping away his tears with her thumbs. “I don’t want to live my life running away from everything that scares me. I ran away from you. Twice. I want to stop running, Jason.”
He nodded, understanding where she was going with this. “You’re saying we don’t have enough information to make this kind of decision.”
“Having a family is our dream, Jason. And yeah, you and me? That’s enough for me. Because I love you and I know that you love me. But we both want children. And the universe…I can’t believe the universe would be so cruel to give this to us when we weren’t expecting it. So…Monica called and told me that she’d arranged for an appointment with a doctor at the hospital later this week. She’s one of the best in the state. And we’ll…take it one step at a time.”
“Okay.” Jason nodded. “Okay.” Behind them, the oven beeped, and he sighed. “I’ll go put in dinner. We should both eat.”
She lifted herself off his lap and watched as he went back into the kitchen. “Jason, if we decide to keep the baby, promise me that we’ll try to be more excited than we are scared.”
“I—” He shook his head. “I don’t know if I can promise that.” Jason looked at her, feeling a bit helpless at her undaunted courage because he knew—even if she didn’t—that somewhere inside of her, she’d already made the choice. “But I will love you and the baby, and we’ll get through it together.”