Please note that the final scene has a trigger warning. See Content Notes for more information.
And all the people say
You can’t wake up, this is not a dream
You’re part of a machine, you are not a human being
With your face all made up, living on a screen
Low on self-esteem, so you run on gasoline
– Gasoline, Halsey
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Corinthos-Morgan Warehouse: Sonny’s Office
Sonny grimaced at the bright morning light filtering through his windows. He was a night owl and preferred working late into the evening, but…
His sister was a morning person so if Sonny remained in the penthouse, he had to deal with Courtney, and there was not enough coffee in the world to make that work for him.
It was just shy of eight when Jason stopped in the open doorway, and Sonny sighed. His partner looked as if he hadn’t yet slept and since he knew that he had not sent Jason on any task that required being out until the small hours of the morning—
“You went to see Baker last night, didn’t you?”
Jason hesitated, then came into the office proper. He slumped onto the sofa. “You were right. I should have sent someone else.”
“A lot of good it does me now,” Sonny muttered. He rose, crossed to the doorway, and peered out at the clerk who sat outside his office. “Can you get Jason a cup of black coffee? Thanks.”
He turned back to the exhausted and guilt-ridden younger man in his office. The clerk pressed the mug into Sonny’s hands, then Sonny closed the door. He handed the coffee to Jason. “Did you just get back or—”
“I couldn’t sleep after I left.” Jason sipped the coffee, then set it on the table next to the sofa. “I—” He shook his head. “Do I keep things to myself?”
Sonny squinted, not sure where the conversation was going. “You’ve always been a private kind of guy, but yeah, I guess you’ve been a bit more…closed off these last few years. I don’t blame you for it. You used to talk to me more, but I know—it’s been rough for a while.” He sat next to Jason at the other end of the sofa, stretched his arm out over the back. “I imagine you’re asking for a reason.”
“I had a fight with Elizabeth,” he muttered. “She said it feels like she has to force me to talk to her. That it’s always her starting it.” He scrubbed his hands over his face. “That’s not…is it true?”
Sonny waited a long moment, considering the question. “When you and I met, you had a way of just saying what you felt. You didn’t volunteer a lot, but you never ducked a direct question. You were honest, even when it hurt.” He exhaled slowly. “Yeah, I’d agree that part of your personality has changed. It’s not a bad thing. You just…learned how to protect yourself. Putting yourself out there got you hurt, too.”
“She knows something is bothering me,” Jason muttered. “She can always tell. And she asked me directly last night. I didn’t…I didn’t lie to her, but I’m not sure she’ll see it that way.”
He pushed himself to his feet. “I should have left it alone. I didn’t. I went to see him, and he said he didn’t do it.”
Sonny closed his eyes, shook his head. Damn it. “He’s lying. You know that, right?”
“I don’t know. I—when the trial happened, I stayed away. I didn’t want to make things worse for Emily. I didn’t even see Baker until I left town. And by then—” Jason paced the office. “He seemed weak to me. But I thought he’d been in prison for more than a year and was probably scared. I let it go. Elizabeth said he’d confessed.”
He pulled out the crumpled letter. It had been flattened, then folded a few times. “I read it.”
“Hell.” Sonny stood, pressing his hand to his chest, rubbing his heart. “Jase—”
“He wrote the same thing he told me last night. That she’d said something that made him realize she’d been raped, and he ran with it to control her. To get her into the dark room with Emily.” Jason stared down at the letter. “And you know what? That made sense to me. Because the guy who panicked and shoved my sister and Elizabeth into a dark room, who blackmailed a Quartermaine—nothing about that crime was violent.”
“Doesn’t mean anything, Jason. It doesn’t,” he repeated when Jason shook his head. “You said it yourself. He says. He confessed. He’s trying to back pedal—”
“What if he didn’t do it—”
“It’s awful to think about that,” Sonny said. “I don’t like the idea of the fucker who hurt her still being out there in the world. But she doesn’t know it, Jase.”
“No. But she should.” Jason turned back to his partner. “Last year, I wanted to tell Elizabeth about the plan, and you said no.”
“I was wrong—”
“And I listened to you. I let you talk me into keeping her in the dark even when I knew how much she hated being lied to.” Jason crossed to the window, stared out over the docks. “I told myself it wouldn’t be for long, that I would try not to lie to her face. But it didn’t change how hurt she was.”
“No, it didn’t. This is different, Jason. If you don’t tell her, it’s not like someone will come back from the dead and challenge it. She doesn’t know there’s anything to know. If you tell her now, if you do the exact thing she asked you not to do and put this all into her head again—it’s just gonna hurt her. Right now, she thinks it’s over. She has closure. You tell her the truth, it makes it now again.” Sonny lifted his brows. “Do you want to hurt her so you feel better? You don’t even know if he’s telling the truth.”
Jason exhaled slowly. “I don’t want to hurt her at all, but if she found out I did this and didn’t tell her—wouldn’t that be worse than a lie? After everything—” He shook his head. “We promised each other honesty. Even when it hurt.”
“People say that all the damn time. They always want honesty until they get it. I can’t make this choice for you,” Sonny said after a long moment. “I told you not to go. You went. And now you think you know this thing. But only we know. I’m not going to tell her—”
“I just—I wanted to make it go away,” Jason muttered. “But I can’t. I can’t ever make her rape go away. If I tell her because I feel guilty, you’re right. It’ll hurt her. And I don’t want to do that. Not right now, while she’s still figuring things out. Monica didn’t want a lot of stress—” He lifted a shoulder. “So I’ll just…put it away for now.”
“I know it’s hard, Jase, but you gotta do what’s right for her.” Sonny got to his feet. “I wish there was something else I could say.”
“Yeah, well, there’s not.” Jason shook his head, as if to clear it. He picked up his coffee cup and winced as he noticed the clock on the wall. “I’m late to meet Elizabeth for breakfast.”
“Go, I’ll see you when you get back.”
Quartermaine Estate: Family Room
Tracy, Edward, and Ned had left for the office before Monica or Alan had come down for breakfast that morning, and Alan had a meeting at the hospital. So it was just Monica and the teenagers sitting down to eat together.
Brooke was talking a mile a minute about one of the customers she’d had the day before and the fact that she didn’t expect much of a first paycheck. “I think I’ve broken every dish in the building,” she said with a laugh. “Tammy says I’m hopeless. I might be the worst waitress ever.”
“You did bring me a tuna fish sandwich on Sunday,” Dillon agreed, “which is basically a war crime. I hate tuna fish.”
“You’re settling in at Kelly’s all right, then?” Monica forced herself to ask. Having read Brooke the riot act two weeks earlier, she felt somewhat responsible for the girl’s well-being.
It wasn’t as if Ned knew how to take an active role. Monica may not have been the mother of the year, but she’d attempted to be there for her kids growing up which is more than one could say for Ned.
“It’s okay. Better than I thought, especially since Dillon talked the others into giving me a second chance.” The brunette offered her uncle a shy smile. “Thanks for that by the way. I hope it’s okay Lucas invited me to the movies tonight.”
“Lucas Jones?” Monica asked with a raise of her brow. “He’s a good kid. Bobbie and Tony think he’s going to be a great doctor.”
“How can you tell after one year in college?” Dillon asked. To Brooke, he said, “Nah, it’s fine. It’s an old movie festival, but I’m not sure Maxie knows that means it’s in black and white so it should be entertaining.” He hesitated. “Lucas and Kyle hate each other, you know that, right?”
“Yeah, he’s the only one I haven’t met. Should I expect a lot of fighting?”
“Hard to tell. As long as Kyle doesn’t give Lucas an opening, but he’s an agitator. So what I’m saying, Aunt Monica, is that you should probably be ready with bail.”
“You expect to throw a punch?” Monica asked with surprise.
“No,” Dillon sighed, “but the last time Kyle and Lucas went at it, Maxie tried to wade in, and then I was pulling her off and somehow I’m the one Sergeant Beaudry says was committing assault. It’s like being in school, you know? The kid who gets caught talking is always the second one telling the first one to shut their mouth.”
“Life’s just not fair,” Brooke offered with a smirk. Dillon scowled and lobbed a piece of melon at her.
“Better to learn that now.” Monica got to her feet. “I’m leaving for the hospital. If you need a lawyer, Dillon, Alexis is on retainer.”
“Good to know. Because, man, the last time, that jerk cop wouldn’t even give me my phone call. He’s, like, don’t believe everything you read in the movies. I mean, seriously, right?” Dillon shoved a piece of bacon into his mouth. “Violating my constitutional rights, would you believe it?”
“Welcome to Port Charles,” Monica said, dryly. “Where truth, justice, and the American Way is just a slogan.”
“Dude, you read Superman? I knew you were my favorite Quartermaine.”
Port Charles Municipal Building: Kelsey Joyce’s Office
When the point on Kelsey’s pencil snapped, she scowled and launched it across the room. It flew past a smirking Lucky, poised to knock on her open door. At the sight of him, she smiled, immediately lifted. “Hey. What brings you by?”
“I have warrant requests,” he said, holding up a few files. He sauntered into the office, pulling the door partially closed behind him, then set them down in front of her. He leaned in to kiss her.
She slid her hand up his neck, twining her fingers into the hair at the nape of his neck, holding him down so she could linger just a moment longer. “Hey,” she repeated, a bit more softly. “How’d you know I needed to see your face today?”
“I wanted to see yours.” He drew back and sat on the edge of her desk. “I had a good time on Saturday, and Beaudry needed these dropped off. I thought this was a great excuse to flirt in the daylight.”
Kelsey laughed and leaned back in her chair. “I definitely agree.” Her smile faded slightly as she looked back at the memo she’d been handed shortly before he’d arrived. “I guess you guys got a copy of this at the PCPD.” She held it out to him.
Lucky scanned it, grimacing as he did. “Yeah, Taggert hit the roof. I mean, Mac told him not to get his hopes up. Floyd was never going to allow the public to know there’s a serial rapist in the park. Not during the summer in an election year.” He shook his head. “We’re still waiting to hear from the city council about overtime and lab work requests.”
“Yeah, I saw the dinosaur policy. No processing rape kits without a suspect?” Kelsey snorted. “Maybe that made financial sense ten years ago, but the CODIS database is extensive now. I’ll talk to Scott. Maybe he can find the money in our budget.” She wrinkled her nose. “But what took Taggert so long to make the request?”
“He just made the link yesterday—” Lucky frowned. “Didn’t he? He took the cases from Vinnie—”
“I talked to Vinnie Esposito in June. Just after I took over. I brought up the Watson and Norton case.” Kelsey scowled. “You’re telling me he didn’t make the link official? Not even after Morris on the second?”
“No, I guess not. I didn’t know about Watson until yesterday.” Lucky leaned back, out of her way, as Kelsey shoved herself out of her seat.
She stalked the length of the office, then whirled to stab a finger at Lucky. “This is bullshit. The DA’s office made this link two weeks ago. We could already have security in place—I told Scott about this after the Morris case came in.” She shook her head, closing her eyes. “It’s my fault. It’s my division. I should have kept the pressure on Vinnie, followed up—”
“Hey—” Lucky crossed to her, taking her by the shoulders. “Hey. You’ve been here for a month, Kelsey. And you’ve already cleared half the cases in the office. It’s not your job to make sure the PCPD does theirs. We should be able to trust each other—”
“It’s just—” Kelsey took a deep breath. “I might be in over my head here, you know? I—I just got my license, and I’m it—I’m the only lawyer. It’s not even a real division. I’m doing everything—” She let her head fall forward into his chest. “I don’t know if I can do this.”
He tugged her closer, resting his chin on the top of her head. “Maybe then you can understand how something like this can slip through the cracks. Up until Taggert transferred and took over the division, Vinnie was the only investigating officer in Major Crimes. Beaudry isn’t much more than a glorified patrol cop. Even the best cop would miss something, and I think we can both admit Vinnie’s not much of a cop.”
“No, he’s definitely not.” She let herself stay in his arms for another minute before drawing back. “Whining about it doesn’t change anything,” she told him. “I can’t magically convince more people to transfer or join the DA’s office. I did clear a lot of those pending cases, so I can be on top of this case now. And I’ll talk to Scott. We’ll get more resources.”
“Listen.” Lucky ran his hands down her arms, from the shoulders to the elbows, then back again. “Taggert put me on this case officially today. He wants it to be the only thing I work on. We’ll do it together, okay?” He nodded back towards her desk, where the memo from the mayor’s office lay. “If there’s another attack, the PCPD might try to blame someone. They might go after you. The mayor might go after you. So, save that memo. Write down everything.”
“I just don’t know if I could live with myself if something happened to another woman because I didn’t do enough,” Kelsey admitted. She squared her shoulders. “But I can’t let that hold me back. I’ll use it as a motivation.”
“Good.” He cupped her chin in one hand and kissed her again. “I’m on call tonight at the station, but tomorrow, I’ll be at the club. Come by. Bring the files. We’ll go over it while I work.”
“Okay.” She kissed him again. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Old Stone Bridge
When Jason pulled the bike to a stop that evening, Elizabeth climbed off and wordlessly handed him the helmet to stow on the back of the bike.
Things had been awkward between them all day long, since Jason had been almost a half hour late for breakfast, and then when he’d returned after work for another awkward dinner.
He didn’t know how to fix this silence between them without telling her what was bothering him, and Sonny was right. Telling her would only create more problems. He’d done something stupid and it was his burden to bear.
Elizabeth didn’t want Tom Baker in her head, and it wasn’t up to Jason to change that.
She leaned over the edge of the bridge, her elbows resting on the cream-colored stone. “It’s been a while since we came here.”
“Yeah, I guess we’ve just gone to Vista Point a lot lately. I thought—” Jason leaned his back against the bridge, looking down at the roughened surface of the ground. “I’m sorry.”
“For what?” Elizabeth twisted halfway so she was looking at him.
“You’re right. I don’t…really talk about what’s in my head unless someone…I guess force is the best word.”
“Jason, I don’t expect you to tell me everything,” she said after a moment. “But—”
“When something is bothering me,” Jason said slowly, “you want to make it stop. And if I don’t tell you, you can’t fix it.”
She smiled then, a bit of the warmth he’d missed all day seeping back into her expression. “Yeah, something like that. Not that I think I could fix things, but—”
Jason didn’t want to tell her about his visit with Baker. What the man had said. He couldn’t do that to her, but maybe there was a middle ground. A way to at least…broach the subject and see if she really didn’t want to know. “The day you moved out of the house, you got a letter.”
Elizabeth’s eyes shuttered and all emotion disappeared. She looked away, out over the gorge. “Yeah.”
“You crumpled it up and threw it. When I got the box off the ground…I took the letter,” Jason admitted.
She was quiet for a long moment, squeezing her eyes shut. “Okay.” She opened her eyes, took a deep breath, but still didn’t look at him. “Okay. Did you read it?”
“I don’t want to know,” she said immediately. She looked at him now. “I don’t ever want to know. I don’t care if he’s getting out on parole. Okay? I don’t want to know. I just want to forget about the letter. I don’t care what he wrote.” Her words came so fast, they were nearly tumbling over each other. “He has to stay gone.”
“I mean it, Jason.” She tugged on his arm so he was facing her. “This isn’t something you can fix. You can’t make it so it never happened. I need you to promise me you’ll destroy it. That you’ll forget.”
“I don’t know if I can,” Jason admitted, his words low and tense. “I’m sorry. I can’t lie to you.”
Her fingers tightened on his arm, her nails almost digging into his skin. “Why? No, don’t answer that. Don’t—” She shook her head. “Okay, so you’ve been feeling guilty about not telling me you read the letter. Okay.” Elizabeth drew in a sharp breath. “Okay. Thank you. It’s done now.” She started back towards the bike.
“Tom Baker raped me before we ever met,” she said as she spun on her heel to look back at him. “It has nothing to do with you. It’s over. I made it over a long time ago, and you’re not going to make me think about it again.”
“Okay,” Jason said after a long moment. He dragged one of his hands through his hair. “I’m sorry.”
She nodded sharply. “Okay. I mean, I get it. You—” Elizabeth’s breath was shaky. “And maybe it’s wrong to not know. Not read it. But I think I’m the one who gets to decide what I can’t handle.”
He waited a moment. “I know. I’m sorry.”
“I have enough to deal with right now, okay? I almost died two weeks ago. I married a psychopath who fed me drugs and nearly killed me, and I lost a baby. I just—I can’t let Baker in my head again. I can’t. I put him away a long time ago, and I don’t care what he’s saying now.”
She wrapped her arms around her torso, and all he wanted to do was take her in his arms. Make it go away.
Make her feel safe.
But he’d done this. He’d brought this out in her. Just like Sonny had said—wanting to be honest with her had hurt her. There was no way in hell Jason would tell her now that he’d gone to see Baker. Or what he’d said. Not unless he had proof.
“Let’s just go, okay?” she asked. “Can we go? And…take the cliff roads? I really don’t want to think anymore.”
“Yeah.” He approached her, stopped in front of her. “I’m sorry—”
“No, I badgered you until you told me.” Elizabeth peered up at him. “I’m not…I’m not mad at you. Not really. I wish you hadn’t done it, but—” She leaned into him, sliding her arms around his waist. Jason took his first easy breath of the night and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, resting his chin on top of her head. They stood there, like that, for a while.
“I’m sorry,” he repeated. “I just didn’t want to lie to you.”
“I know. That matters, Jason.” She drew back and with a slightly forced smile, said, “Let’s go nowhere. Fast.”
“You got it.”
Harwin Theater: Sidewalk Entrance
Brooke had had high hopes for this night. She thought she’d made a good attempt making peace between herself and Dillon’s group of friends, as well as maybe even beginning a friendship with Lucas and Georgie.
Halfway through the double feature of Bette Davis movies, the night had collapsed in catastrophe. Not that it had gotten off to a great start. Maxie had decided not to tell Kyle that they were joining everyone else for the movies, and her boyfriend had been pretty steamed when they arrived.
Lucas had said something sarcastic that Brooke hadn’t really paid attention to, possibly insulting the size of Kyle’s penis which Kyle had taken exception to.
Somehow, Dillon had created peace between the two of them and the group had gone inside to buy tickets and concessions. They’d put Kyle and Lucas on opposite sides of the group as they had taken up half a row on their own.
But then as Jezebel got going, Maxie started to complain about the black and white film, just as Dillon had predicted. Lucas overheard and told Maxie she had shitty taste in movies and men. Kyle hadn’t liked the insult to him or his girlfriend and lunged to his feet.
Which sent his soda flying all over Maxie, who screeched, and the customer in the front row who had stood, turned, and clocked Kyle in the mouth.
Dillon had started to laugh; Georgie had yelled at him. Lucas had yelled at Georgie—
And before Brooke knew it, their feuding group had been sent outside.
“You’re just an asshole who likes to ruin things for everyone else!” Georgie told Kyle with a stomp of her foot.
“Oh, really? It was your boyfriend’s dumb idea to come to this stupid movie,” Maxie shot back, her cheeks flushed with anger. “We have color for a reason! It’s called progress.”
“It’s called culture,” Dillon snarled, because no one attacked Bette Davis.
“You’re a fucking asshole for ruining this,” Lucas shot at Kyle, who took a swing.
Brooke sighed, checked her watch, and eyed the park across the street. If she remembered right, on the other side of the park there was a bus stop that would take her past the Quartermaine mansion. She could cut through in ten minutes and be home before any of these idiots realized she was gone.
She slid away from the arguing teenagers and crossed the street diagonally, heading for the north entrance to the park. It had been a long time since she’d walked through the park—but she knew it was faster than going around.
And she smelled like soda and popcorn, thanks to the goddamn food fight.
Brooke ambled down the stone paths, past a fountain, as she neared the center of the park. She wished now she had packed her iPod in her purse, but Dillon had convinced her to leave her safety net behind. She didn’t know why she listened to him—the fact that she was out here was mostly his fault.
It was clear that Kyle and Lucas hated each other, that nearly everyone had a poor opinion of Maxie’s boyfriend, so why did anyone bother?
Brooke passed the center of the park about ten minutes into the walk, smirking at the thought of the others. Had they noticed she was gone yet? Or maybe they wouldn’t notice at all. Maybe she was such a new addition, they wouldn’t even realize she’d left.
They barely knew she’d been there in the first place.
“Son of—” Brooke muttered as her shoelace, apparently having become untied, became trapped under her shoe, causing her to stumble and fly forward.
Her knee hit a sharp stone, and she glanced up at the fountain in front of her. Wincing as she climbed to her feet, she limped over to the bench and studied it. How many fountains were in this damn park? Had she gotten turned around?
Brooke examined the broken skin on her knee and the blood slowly oozing from the scrape, visible through the carefully torn jeans. “Well, this is definitely your life,” she muttered. “When you think things can’t get worse, they usually do.” It was going to hurt like hell to walk the rest of the way to the bus stop. Maybe she could call her father at a payphone or stop at the Port Charles Hotel. Her family owned it and it was just a few blocks down from the bus stop on Central Avenue.
She never had the chance to make that decision.
A hand clamped around her mouth, and Brooke jumped, shoved herself forward, but whoever had grabbed her had already snaked an arm around her waist, yanking her backward.
She was being lifted in the air—she tried to scream, tried to force sound through the fingers pressed against her mouth. She kicked, she dug with her hands at the weight behind her. And then bit down hard on the fingers—
She heard a growl, and then her back hit the ground with a thud. “Bitch!” a voice snarled, and then her head snapped back as his hand slapped her. He gripped her hair, then slammed her head against the ground.
Dizzy, with her ears ringing, Brooke felt herself being shoved onto her stomach, then cold, metal snapped around her wrists. In her fear, in her terror, she thought—was she being arrested?
No. No, now he flipped her back and she tried to look up, tried to focus on the man on top of her. Her heart was beating so fast she couldn’t breathe. “Help!”
She only managed one yelp before he slapped her again and something sticky was pressed against her mouth. Oh, God, Oh, God make it stop.
Brooke continued to struggle, tried to fight back—
He slammed her head against the ground once more, and everything tilted. Oh, it hurt so much—she heard the pull of a zipper—her jeans being pulled down—
She kicked out wildly, knew she’d connected when she heard an oomph. She rolled over, trying to crawl away—but he yanked her back by her hair until her head was next to his. “Not a word,” he murmured in her ear.
He threw her back to the ground, curled his hand into a fist again and punched her. Her vision exploded into a field of red—
And then he was on top of her and she couldn’t move. His heavy weight, his labored breathing, and the smell of soap permeated Brooke’s senses as she tried buck away—his fingers curled into her thigh, bare now that he had managed to drag her jeans off her. She screamed beneath the gag.
Oh, God. No, no—make it stop. Daddy. Someone. Someone…