Now it’s like I lied
When I said I didn’t need you
Alright if you’d left I’d never be
Tonight can we just get it right
Somehow, for now
– For Now, P!nk
Sunday, June 29, 2003
General Hospital: ICU
Elizabeth drifted in and out of sleep for another two or three hours, waking only long enough to drink some water and have her vitals checked.
Around six, the door open, and Elizabeth opened her eyes, blinking blearily. “Who—” She fumbled for the controls of her bed, allowing it rise slowly.
“It took forever to get here,” Emily declared as she stepped up to the side of the bed. She had a smile on her face, but Elizabeth could see it was false. “I couldn’t get a flight yesterday; my professor gave me real shit about taking time off from the program,and then there were storms.” She huffed. “The universe was conspiring against me.”
Elizabeth managed a smile as Emily dragged a chair towards the bed. “But you came.”
“Wild horses couldn’t have kept me away. God, Liz, I should have dragged you with me—”
“Don’t—” Elizabeth coughed and reached blindly for the pitcher of water on the hospital tray on the side of the bed. Emily got back to her feet, dragged the tray so that it came closer to her and poured a glass. “Thanks.”
“Have…have they talked to you about everything that happened?” Emily asked. She sat back down, her eyes dark with concern. “Nikolas kept me in the loop the best he could, but, um, Mom said they hadn’t really talked to you since you woke up.”
“They seem to think I’m not ready for it.” Elizabeth sighed, the fatigue dragging her eyes closed again. “Maybe they’re right. I know I almost died from blood clots, but I don’t understand how that happened—”
“Birth control pills,” Emily said bluntly. “In the ice cubes you drank. It was almost the first thing Carly said when they rescued her. He put birth control in them. Even if you didn’t eat anything or—”
“So, it wasn’t withdrawal…” Elizabeth forced her heavy lids open. “Why…did he bother with birth control…I wasn’t even…”
“But if you hadn’t believed, hadn’t avoided him,” Emily said softly. “He couldn’t take any chances you’d get pregnant and not want Carly’s baby.”
Elizabeth exhaled slowly, looked at the ceiling. “I don’t know anything about…what did Monica call it?”
“Pulmonary embolism. Basically, it means that the blood clot burst and blocked your oxygen in your lungs. That’s why you passed out. Another blood clot went to your heart, so you arrested,” Emily said flatly. “It’s the same thing as an aneurysm in the brain.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth swallowed hard. “He nearly killed me again.”
“Yeah. And somehow, he ended up out on bail and filed some sort of case that gave him temporary control of your health—”
“What—” Elizabeth winced as she sat up. “Damn it.” She fell back, gasping for air. “But Jason said—”
“He found himself a conservative asshole. Ric put a stop on any treatment Jason had authorized and had him removed from your room. Jason had to go to court this morning over it.” Emily managed a smile. “And Scott Baldwin got himself arrested for contempt when he flipped out on the judge. Apparently, Baldwin even gave a good character reference for my brother.”
“I—” Elizabeth took another sip of water, trying to control her breathing. “They didn’t tell me—”
“Well, I’m probably not supposed to either, but it’s your health. Anyway, Ric got arrested again today, and he’s in jail again.” Emily bit her lip. “Are you okay—”
“I just—Jason told me hadn’t been able to see Carly since she got rescued, and I feel so awful about it—he was stuck here—”
“Well, if the judge wouldn’t accept a power of attorney drawn up a year ago with a new signature yesterday, Nikolas and Alexis were going to petition for the hospital to appoint a guardian. You just made it easier. No one was going to let Ric have control over your care.” Emily tipped her head.
Elizabeth stifled a yawn. “I’m sorry, Em—”
“No, no…it’s okay.” Emily got to her feet. “I’ll let you rest.” She kissed Elizabeth’s forehead. “Stop scaring me.”
“Everyone keeps saying that,” she murmured and stopped fighting the sweet darkness of sleep.
Emily sat by her side for a few minutes before spying her brother stepping off the elevator through the clear glass of Elizabeth’s room. She got up and met him outside by the hub.
“Hey.” Jason embraced her. “When did you get in?”
“About an hour ago—Mom picked me up and brought me straight here.” Emily squeezed her brother tightly. “She said you were grabbing some sleep for the first time in probably days.”
“I slept a little on Friday night,” Jason told her. “But yeah, it’s—” He shook his head. “It’s been a lot. Have you been in to see her?” He looked at Elizabeth’s room. “She’s been drifting in and out since she woke up.”
“Yeah, Mom said she’d do that for a while. We talked a bit. You didn’t tell her about Ric trying to kill her and forcing you into court,” Emily accused.
Jason grimaced. “Did you? I was—” He shook his head. “I don’t know. I guess I was waiting until she was stronger.”
“Well, I told her. And she’s okay with it. She’s not delicate, Jase—”
“You wouldn’t say that if you’d been in the ambulance, watching her die,” Jason retorted, then scrubbed his hands over his face, wincing. “I’m sorry—”
“No, I guess it’s easier for me because I wasn’t here.” Emily took his arm and they went towards the waiting room. “I’m so glad you guys found Carly. I guess Liz wasn’t wrong to stay even though—” She bit her lip. “Even though she kept putting herself in danger.”
“Ice cubes,” Jason muttered. “We had most of the house under surveillance. She kept drinking water to avoid eating—and kept putting ice in them—I don’t even want to think about how much she took in—” He sat down. “We found her. She’s awake, and Monica said, barring another clot, she’s out of the woods.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Emily bit her lip. “Is it too early to ask you what’s going on? I mean, I knew you were helping when I left. I knew you were worried about her. But…” She dipped her head, trying to force him to meet her eyes. “It’s not just because she put herself in harm’s way for Carly.”
“No, it’s not. I broke up with Courtney,” he offered. He shook his head. “I don’t know.”
“I think you do know.” Emily looped her arms around his upper arm, practically hugging it. “Jase. Look, the thing is that you used to be really good at just putting things out there. You felt a thing, you said it. You wanted something, you took it. And you didn’t lie. You never saw the point.”
“As someone who hasn’t been around for the last two years, Jase…I can see that’s not true anymore. I mean…I came home last week to watch you marry a woman you dated for five months—a woman whose divorce to our brother isn’t even that old.” Emily watched as he grimaced again. “I know AJ hurt her, I’m not happy with that idiot either. But I—”
She hesitated. “I’m about to break the cardinal rule of best friends and tell you something Elizabeth…hinted at with me. She thinks…whatever it is with Courtney…started before Elizabeth moved out. And that’s why you didn’t…really try to work things out with her.”
Jason exhaled slowly. “I thought…I thought she knew I was with Brenda—but I guess—” He pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes. “I guess she would believe that. She was angry when she found out. I didn’t—she left me, Emily.”
“She did. Because you let her believe Sonny was dead. You lied to her. You don’t think she deserved to know the truth?” Emily arched a brow. “Because let me tell you, a lot of people who don’t even like Sonny were pissed at you over that. Mom called me, and she was literally off the chain—but Elizabeth always counted Sonny as a friend.”
“I get that—”
“Elizabeth has to put her entire life back together,” Emily told him. “She’s going to have a long recovery in her future—and I don’t need to tell you, but near-death experiences have a way of screwing with your head.”
“I know that—”
“And I want you to be happy, Jason, but you’re still lying to yourself. I don’t get it.” Emily sighed, got to her feet. “I get lying to other people—we all do it—but if you can’t even tell yourself the truth, what’s the point—”
“She left me,” Jason said in a quiet voice. “And she told me I had ruined everything. I knew how angry she was. How hurt she was. I tried…to talk to her, but I couldn’t find the right words. I couldn’t make her stop being angry. So, I stopped trying.”
“Okay.” Emily sat back down.
“She told me I was all about Sonny, and that’s not true. I know why she thought it, and maybe—I could have tried harder to explain myself, but every time I opened my mouth, I couldn’t seem to make it right. And Brenda was threatening to make trouble. I just wanted to stop thinking about Elizabeth. I married Brenda, so I could protect her when she was sick.”
“What about Courtney?”
Her brother squeezed his eyes shut. “She was there. And she wasn’t angry at me. I was…lonely, I guess. I don’t know. It seemed to kind of happen out of nowhere. And for a while, it helped. For a while, I wasn’t thinking about Elizabeth. Except…I didn’t want anyone else to know. I didn’t want Sonny—”
“But people found out.”
“Sonny ordered me to break up with her, and I couldn’t—” Jason shook his head. “I couldn’t believe he’d do that. It wasn’t any of his business. He hadn’t really given a damn about Courtney until then. He didn’t have any right to tell me that, and he was the reason I lied to Elizabeth. Even if I didn’t want to be with Courtney, if I walked away—”
“Then it’d be like Elizabeth was right. That it was all about Sonny.” Emily sighed. “Do you…feel better saying it out loud?”
“I never meant to hurt Courtney. I know I didn’t do any of this right. I shouldn’t have asked her to marry me. I didn’t really care, and Carly said she wanted to get married. I put Elizabeth out of my head. I didn’t even know her grandmother died.” Jason looked at his sister. “I couldn’t let myself think about her. But after…after Carly went missing, I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t put her away anymore.”
‘Okay.” Emily rubbed his shoulder. “So, you broke up with Courtney. Good. Jason, you deserve someone who loves you, yeah. But you should really love them, too. It won’t work otherwise.”
“I know that.” Jason shoved himself to his feet. “I just…every time Elizabeth and I are in this position—one of us does something to make the other angry and walk away. I don’t want to do that anymore. Cardiac arrest. Twice. Emily, they had to shock her heart back into rhythm two times.”
“That must have been so hard to watch. It kills me to think of her going through it. I wish I could have been here,” she murmured, pressing her cheek into the sleeve of her brother’s short-sleeved blue shirt.
“For thirty seconds in that ambulance, Emily, she was dead. They almost didn’t get her back. They had to shock her four times—” His voice faltered. “For thirty seconds, I thought—I didn’t know what I was gonna do. I thought it was enough she was here, somewhere. Happy with someone else. But it’s not enough for me.”
Tears pricked her eyes as she tried to speak past the lump in her throat. “Jason—”
“So, if Elizabeth will give this another chance, then…” Jason looked down at her, his eyes shimmering with tears she so rarely saw from him. “Then…that’s where I want to be.”
Monday, June 30, 2003
Quartermaine Estate: Family Room
Monica sipped her orange juice and closed her eyes, listening to the beautiful silence. The mansion was so rarely quiet these days—Edward was always raging at someone, and Tracy was back, trying to wrest control of the company again.
And God knew, Tracy fought with everyone, so Monica treasured these moments when no one else was around.
Behind her, the terrace doors opened, and Ned came in, followed by his sullen daughter. “I don’t know what the problem is,” Brooke snapped as she sat at the breakfast table and poured her own glass of orange juice. “I just want a car.”
“And I said we’d talk about it when your attitude improved.” Ned smiled at her, but even Monica could see the teeth her nephew-in-law was trying not to bear in response. “It’s actually gotten worse.”
A sound emerged from Brooke’s mouth that was half growl, a quarter shriek, and a quarter of a whine. Monica winced to listen to it. She did not miss having a teenager—she and Alan had barely survived their trio of hellions.
Dillon strode in from the foyer, saw Brooke and Ned, stopped, spun around, and started right back out the door.
Ned, desperate for any port in the storm, lunged to his feet. “Dillon! My baby brother! I’ve missed you!”
“I saw you at dinner,” Dillon muttered, but he was too nice not to give in to the desperation, and reluctantly joined the three of them. “Good morning. I think. Are we sure?”
“Your mother hasn’t joined us yet,” Monica said dryly, “so I suppose—” She grimaced as she heard Tracy and Edward arguing on the stairs. “There it is.”
“Aren’t you going to the hospital today?” Ned asked, ignoring his daughter’s glare. He sliced open a croissant. “Usually you’re already gone.”
“I’m taking a few extra hours,” Monica said. “It was a long…” she shook her head. “A long weekend.”
“Yeah, I bet. But Emily said Elizabeth is going to be okay now, right?” Dillon asked. He eyed Brooke warily before asking, “Can I have the jam?”
Brooke shoved the jar towards him, but like everything else—she did it angrily, and it tipped over, hitting the porcelain plate with a smash—and the plate cracked. She glared at it.
“Well, that’ll teach me,” Dillon said with a sigh.
“Brooke,” Ned hissed. “You can be angry with me, but they’ve done nothing to you—”
“They’re the reason Ma left you, so what the hell do I care?” Brooke demanded. She lunged to her feet. “I hate it here, and I hate all of you. I’m nineteen, I can do what I want.”
“So, go do what you want,” Monica snapped impatiently, as she watched Dillon quietly clean up the plate and wince when he nicked himself. “Who’s stopping you?”
Brooke hesitated. “He is—”
“You’re nineteen,” Monica retorted. “Go get a goddamn job and stop blaming everyone else. You’re here because you’re failing out of school. No one at this table is the reason your mother left this house—” She heard Edward screaming at Tracy. “I repeat—at this table—but that was years ago. Stop blaming us. Go get a job. Buy your own car. Get your own place.”
Brooke stared at her, eyes wide. “I—I don’t even know what I’m good at except singing,” she admitted in a quiet voice. She sat down with a thud, her eyes on the table cloth. “Ma said I wasn’t gonna get anywhere with my voice.”
Ned exhaled slowly. “She said you wouldn’t go far if you only relied on your voice. We wanted you to take some business classes. We won’t always be here to protect you. If you’re intent on a career, I want you to understand your contracts, so no one can cheat you.”
Brooke studied him. “You’re not trying to make me into you?”
“No. I don’t even want to be me half the time.”
She bit her lip. “Okay.” She looked at Dillon, who had shoved his nicked fingertip in his mouth. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to break—”
“Could have happened to anyone.” Dillon waved it off. “But, ah, I think I’ll get breakfast at Kelly’s—”
“I’ll go with you,” Brooke said, missing Dillon’s grimace. “The last time I was there, they said they were hiring, and I—I need something to do.”
Dillon sighed, but didn’t argue as she followed him out of the room.
“How did you do that?” Ned demanded. “You fixed her.”
“There’s no fixing teenagers,” Monica muttered as she carefully tossed the plate into a trash can. “You just know what’s bothering her today. Something else will come up tomorrow.”
“Fair point.” Ned shifted in his seat, wincing as his mother and grandfather’s argument appeared to be coming closer to them. “Before they come in and really ruin our appetites…Dillon asked you if Elizabeth was doing all right.”
“She is,” Monica said, with a squint of her eyes. “Why do you care?”
“Oh…I—I did some business with Ric, and I feel…I don’t know—I feel like I was partially responsible. It’s silly.” Ned rubbed the back of his neck. “Jason came to ask me about it when he was looking for Carly. So, I guess—”
“She came out of it, but it’s a miracle.” Monica sighed, and winced as Tracy and Edward stormed into the room.
“I want you out of my house!” Edward thundered at his daughter. Tracy hissed, flung an arm in Monica’s direction.
“It’s not your house. It’s her house!”
“And I gave it to her,” Alan said mildly as he joined them all. “Isn’t it a little early in the morning for this—”
Monica groaned and let her head fall into her hands. Some days, this goddamn family—she knew exactly why Jason had fled this house.
General Hospital: ICU
Nikolas grimaced as he walked through Elizabeth’s open door. “How much longer are you going to be stuck in here?” he asked, taking a seat at her bedside.
“Another day or so.” Elizabeth picked at a piece of loose thread from the pajama top that Emily had brought her. “Monica said she’d feel better if I had seventy-two hours without any more clots. And then I’ll be out of here sometime next week.”
“Out of the hospital?” Nikolas raised his brows. “Is that enough time? I guess she’d know.” He hesitated. “We haven’t…really spoken in almost a year, have we?”
“No, I guess not. Thank you for coming home. I know you did it because Bobbie asked—”
“I came because she asked, but she asked because she knew I cared about you. The only way to get you out of that house was to find Carly, so that made it my fight.” Nikolas hesitated. “For all the times I didn’t stand by you. For the times I took Lucky’s side—”
“I didn’t think of it that way—”
“But that’s what it was. I took his side. I took Gia’s side. I took anyone’s side but yours, and I can’t ever go back and do it over.”
“We all made mistakes, Nikolas. I don’t hold them against you. I mean, how can I? Emily…she told me you and Jason worked all night on Saturday to get ready for that hearing. You worked with Jason because of me.” Elizabeth met his eyes with a wry grin. “Nothing else proves to me that you’re on my side.”
“My issues with Jason…were never about him,” he admitted. “It was…he got swept up in a lot of complicated guilt and just…anger that my brother never really came home. And I kept blaming Jason even though he was…well, he’s not innocent by any stretch—but of that particular crime—yeah.”
“How’s Laura?” Elizabeth asked after a moment. “I know you’ve been in London with her—I hate to think you’ve left her on my account—”
“Luke showed up about…I guess it’s two weeks ago now,” Nikolas told her. “And I don’t know where he’s been the last six months—he got into a drunken fight with Lucky when he found out Lucky was going into the academy—”
“I hate that they haven’t been able to put things back together,” Elizabeth murmured. “They were so close before…before I got attacked. Before the fire, they were getting there again. Luke was the kind of father I wanted mine to be.”
“Well, Luke was closer to that man in London than he’s been in a very long time,” Nikolas told her. “So I let him stay. Because I know my mother loves him, and he’s proved that he loves her. She’s…” He managed a weak laugh. “She started to respond to therapy.”
“Oh…” Elizabeth’s eyes watered, and she pressed her hands to her mouth. “Oh. I’m so happy—I’ve missed her so much. Do they think she’ll make a full recovery—”
“She should. The doctors think it was just a lifetime of traumatic experiences—my uncle told me she had some moments when they were on the island when she would retreat into herself. I can’t blame her for that,” he murmured.
“Do you need to be back with her?” Elizabeth asked. “You should go—”
“I am going to go back in a few days, but I wanted to make sure you were out of the woods—that Jason—” Nikolas hesitated. “Sonny was very occupied with Carly—and that makes sense. But I knew that Jason needed someone. Once it got rolling—we kept working together, and it seemed stupid to stop just because Carly was found. But Emily is here, and Carly will be released possibly tomorrow, from what I’ve heard.”
“I hope you’ve seen what a good man Jason is,” Elizabeth said softly. “He’s human—we made mistakes—but—”
“I’m not saying we’re best friends, but there’s a respect now that I don’t think was there before. We both love you, Elizabeth. It’s easy to work together when you have such a good cause.” He flashed her a smile. “So, talk to me about what comes next. What happens when you’re released.”
General Hospital: Carly’s Room
Carly smiled when her best friend strode in the room and gasped with joy. “You’re out of bed!” Courtney said, her eyes bright.
Carly held her hands out, tapping the seat cushion next to her on the small sofa. “I am. I just came back from my first session with Dr. Collins.”
“Sonny said that was today.” Courtney sat down. “Are—you look so good. So—you. He didn’t fix you in a session—”
“No, but acute stress disorder is apparently very treatable—the symptoms if they’re managed right—they can disappear in a matter of weeks. We just really talked about…” Carly hesitated. “He had me talk about the panic room, and then he talked me through a panic attack.”
“I can’t imagine how it must have been locked in that room,” Courtney murmured. “Jason kept insisting—and I guess Elizabeth did, too, but to everyone else—it just seemed impossible.”
“I know.” Carly scratched her temple, restless. “Thank you—Sonny said you took Michael to the island and stayed with him and Leticia since it happened. It means a lot to me.”
“Well, he was so upset, but Bobbie suggested he talk to a child psychologist—and we did that last week before we left. It helped, and it gave me some things to try when he got scared.” Courtney rubbed her hands against the thighs of her denim jeans. “Sonny said there were…cameras. So, you could see what was happening.”
“Yeah…all the rooms. It helped because I could see Jason looking for me, but it was awful at the same time.”
“You saw Jason on the cameras…with Elizabeth.” Courtney’s eyes flitted back and forth. “I feel awful asking you this—”
“You’re asking me if they were having an affair where I could see it?” Carly asked with a sigh. How did she answer this question? Because until Saturday—that last day—she could honestly say there’d been no physical evidence of anything between her best friend and the woman Carly had disliked for long.
But that would be ignoring everything Carly had seen—the way they’d searched together—how well they had communicated, sometimes without even moving their lips. And then…there had been that last day—before Jason had left—when they’d argued—and she’d seen them kiss.
It didn’t look like the first time, but somehow…Carly didn’t feel comfortable sharing any of that. It had been private and not meant for anyone else.
And Elizabeth had nearly given her life trying to free Carly from her nightmare. How did she turn around and aim Courtney’s wrath at her?
Uncomfortable, Carly shifted. “Not the way you mean it no, but—” Give her a different target, she told herself. “To be honest, Courtney, if I hadn’t been kidnapped—I was thinking of ways to stop your wedding.”
Courtney’s eyes bulged. “What—” She shook her head. “What are you talking about? You—we got ready together—”
“We did,” Carly agreed. “But that doesn’t change the fact that I could…” She hesitated. “I could see it was a mistake. I stopped looking at you, and I started looking at Jason.” She gestured to Courtney’s hand. “I can’t help but notice the ring is gone.”
“He broke up with me,” Courtney muttered. “For her. But it won’t last. It never does. I messed up, Carly. I—I was scared, and I wanted to help, so I called the police that night—and I let them search the penthouses—”
Carly stared at her. “You…you called the police and let them…” She pressed a hand to her abdomen as the baby rolled and kicked. “You cooperated with the police and let them into Jason’s home.”
“I was scared, and I knew they wouldn’t find anything—”
“You let them into my home—” Carly winced. “I’m surprised either of them are talking to you or that it took Jason a week to take back the ring.”
“I—” Courtney lifted her chin. “I was scared.”
“Yeah, I know what that’s like. I spent a lot of time nearly getting both of them arrested because I was scared and trying to help. I thought you would have learned from my bad example.”
“I find it funny,” Courtney said, her teeth clenched as she shot to her feet. “That in the space of a week, my own family and fiancé have decided I’m a complete idiot. You would have thought you’d give me more credit than that.”
“I also would have thought you wouldn’t call the police when Sonny and Jason already knew who took me,” Carly shot back.
“Fine. Be like everyone else. Elizabeth Webber is better than me, I get it. I have to go.” She stalked out, but Carly only scowled.
“You know I was the one who was kidnapped!” she called after her, remembering now why she’d once found her sister-in-law incredibly irritating.
General Hospital: ICU
“I don’t know,” Elizabeth murmured, twisting her fingers in the white blanket of her hospital issued bed linen. She lifted her eyes to Bobbie’s concerned gaze. “Do you really think I need to start therapy again?”
“I admit that I’ve been making that recommendation to nearly everyone involved,” Bobbie said with a half-smile. “I talked Carly into letting Kevin evaluate her. I arranged for Michael to see a psychologist, and I think I’ll be suggesting the same for Sonny.”
Elizabeth snorted at that thought. “Well, why not—he’s already the Godfather, why not also be Tony Soprano while he’s at it—” But she remembered now that Sonny had broken down and thought he’d seen Lily. “It might do him some good if he can figure out how to present his case without getting himself arrested.”
“I have thoughts about that, but I guess what I’m mostly—I just think you’ve been through a lot this last year—these last few years,” Bobbie told her. “It might do you some good.”
“I just think I need some time,” Elizabeth said, but her voice didn’t sound that convincing. “I mean…I can talk to you—”
“I love you,” Bobbie told her softly. “Which means I am eminently biased. I’m so glad you’ve already taken steps—that you’re going to let Nikolas find you an apartment—”
“With my trust fund from Gramps and inheritance from Gram,” Elizabeth added quickly. “He’s not paying—”
“But the fact of the matter is that you were drugged by someone who you trusted, who you married. I worry that you’re just going to shove that down. I know that it’s tempting to just try to pick up and move on—I’ve done it. And every time I didn’t deal with my pain, I threw myself into the next thing. Which is why I’ve been divorced nearly as many times as Elizabeth Taylor.”
“I—” Elizabeth let her head sink back against the pillow. “I guess…it wouldn’t hurt—to just see Gail once. Talk it all through once. I can do that.”
“Good.” Bobbie smiled, patted her arm. “Good. That makes me very happy. I think of you as one of my own, you know that. You have always meant the world to me, and you nearly killed yourself giving me back my daughter. You did that for me and for Jason. I just want to be there for you—”
“You have been. You would have been.” Her eyes watered. “I should have called you after Gram—when I was struggling and unsure about everything. You would have been someone to talk to. I just—I couldn’t reach out. I don’t know why—” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “But that’s why you want me to talk to Gail. To see why I can’t seem to grab onto anyone else when I’m drowning—so I guess…I’ll talk to her and see what happens.”