Friday, 23 May 2014
Webber Home: Living Room
Elizabeth stepped back, her pale skin losing what little color remained as her hand, braced on the edge of the door slid limply to her side. “Jason?” she repeated, her voice husky, her eyes wide with shock.
Jason cleared his throat and nodded. “Yeah, I—” He hesitated, because just looking at her, knowing she was dressed in that black dress because she’d buried a friend that morning…his prepared words slid from his brain.
She looked the same, though maybe a bit older in the eyes, her hair a bit darker and worn much shorter than he was used to.
But she was still Elizabeth.
She stepped back again, and Jason took the opportunity to step over the threshold and close the door behind him, not wanting to broadcast his presence. “I know this—this is the last thing you expected today—”
“That’s….” Elizabeth pressed her lips together and took a deep breath. “That’s putting it mildly.” She turned away, stepped off the landing and paced the length the room, stopping just before the exit to the kitchen. “You’d think, as often as people come back from the dead in this town, I’d have seen this coming.” She pressed a trembling hand to her forehead. “But I guess—” She blinked at him. “Why are you here?”
And now her voice was flat, the shock had slid from her tone and something changed in her eyes. She was, of course, relatively accustomed to people returning from the dead in this town. Lucky. Robin. Sonny. Even Carly had had her turn a long time ago.
Elizabeth was a woman used to shouldering surprise and looking past it.
And of course, knowing what she believed, she’d wonder why Sam’s husband and Danny’s father was standing in front of her rather than with his other family.
How could he even begin to explain the horror of what Victor Cassadine had done to any of them?
“Jason?” Elizabeth arched a brow, folding her arms tightly across her chest. “Where have you been for two years? Why did you come here?” She looked to the table under the window where Jason could see a collection of photos. From this distance, he could only surmise they were of her family and her friends.
Of the boys.
“Jake isn’t here,” she said. But if her voice had been devoid of emotion before, her eyes were positively glacial. “He’s with Monica and Michael.”
“I’m not—” Jason took a deep breath. “I don’t know where to start, Elizabeth, except to try to do it from the beginning.” He wanted to step forward, to touch her, even just her shoulder. To be close to her.
But this was not the woman he’d last seen lying in a hospital bed.
“I don’t—” Elizabeth closed her eyes. “I’m glad you’re okay, Jason. For Monica’s sake. And now this ridiculous estate stuff can go away, but I just—” She opened her eyes, and they were sparkling now with tears. “I can’t do this anymore. You can’t come back into Jake’s life, into mine after everything—”
“The last time I saw you, it was February 2009,” Jason interrupted. She closed her mouth, then just stared at him. “You were in the hospital, and it was the bio-toxin scare. I—I came to see you, but Lucky was in the room. I left, thinking I’d come back later. I went downstairs to check on something else, I don’t remember now. And that’s the last thing I remember.”
“I—” Elizabeth’s arms slid to her side. “What? What are you saying to me?” She shook her head. “That’s impossible—”
“I woke up in a room in Greece,” Jason continued. “Robin told me I had been in an induced coma for five years.”
“Robin?” she repeated. “No, she’s in Africa—” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Of course she didn’t go there. She told me if she knew what she was doing, I would be so happy—” She took a step towards him. “I don’t understand, Jason. If—” She stopped. “If you were there—”
“According to Robin, Victor Cassadine orchestrated it,” Jason continued. She believed him. Thank God. “I don’t—I don’t really understand, but Heather Webber—she said there were twins when I was born—”
“So she wasn’t lying about that,” Elizabeth murmured. “She told Sam it was Franco, but I think that was just to twist—” She stopped. “Oh, God. Sam.”
“I didn’t—” Jason swallowed hard. “I wouldn’t—I would never have gone back to Sam. Not after what I told you that last December. I don’t know everything that happened, but I know that whoever it was—I know he married her. That there’s a kid, but Robin wasn’t really clear on any of that.”
“She was gone for some of it—” Elizabeth turned and drifted towards the mantel and the sofa. “Victor Cassadine,” she repeated. “Why would he do this?” She turned back to him. “And how did we miss it? I don’t—” She closed her eyes. “No. It’s not true. None of this is happening. I’m having a dream. You’ve been on my mind a lot because of this hell with your estate and Sam taking me to court. I’m already asleep—”
“Elizabeth—” Jason rounded the sofa and touched her elbow. She wrenched away, and his chest tightened. “You have to believe me—”
“No, no.” She shook her head. “It makes it too easy, don’t you understand?” The tears slid down her cheeks now, her hands fisted at her side. “The last five years—they make the first ten look like a walk in the park—”
“I read some newspapers…” But Jason trailed off as she shook her head again.
“No, you don’t get it. You say you haven’t been here since February 2009.” She stabbed her finger at him. “Then you didn’t run off to Mexico with Sam after working with her to resolve the bio-toxin scare. And you didn’t let Brenda move in with you, let Maxie run all over your penthouse while claiming it wasn’t safe enough for Jake—”
“And you didn’t tell me to let our little boy die,” she finished. “This isn’t happening—” She slashed her hand through the air, dismissing it all. “I’ve finally snapped. That’s all. I’m hallucinating. It’s been really bad lately—Sabrina died, and Patrick is devastated with a baby in the NICU without Robin here, and Sam’s taking me to court because you cut her out of the will and left everything to me and the boys—Tracy is breathing down my neck to help her secure ELQ shares and Ric is back, Nikolas ripped me to shreds in front of everyone—I’ve lost it. And I’m having a hallucination.” She turned away, wrapping her arms around herself.
He just stared at her, hating himself for being part of this stress. He remembered the last will he had signed in December 2008, the one that left almost everything to Elizabeth and the boys. At least the bastard posing as him hadn’t messed with that.
“I have to be!” She whirled around. “Because I’ve been feeling guilty for hating you since the day you went back to Sam and her son while denying Jake!” Her eyes were wild now, her entire body trembling. “And you’re standing in front of me, telling me the last conversation you had with me was five years ago—” She shook her head. “No, no. It’s not true—”
He strode forward, dragged her up on her elbows and kissed her. He kissed her the way he’d wanted to for years before finally having the courage and the necessary amount of tequila. After a moment, with a hitch of her breath, she kissed him back.
“I’m not a hallucination.” He drew back. “I know some of what’s happened, Elizabeth, and I’m sorry. I’d do anything to take away your pain, but I love you. I never said it enough. If I had, if I had been honest with you, if I’d had more courage to find a way for us to be together, that son of a bitch never would been able to fool you.”
She backed away from him, pressing her fingers to her lips. “How did he?” she murmured. “I don’t understand—”
“Robin talked to him. He’s calling himself Preston now, but I doubt that’s his real name.” Jason took a deep breath. “And he told her that he was never going to be able to maintain a relationship with you. Not at that point. He didn’t know enough. You and I—”
“We were always off the grid,” Elizabeth murmured. She blinked, then focused on him. “And you always had a way of sitting back and letting other people talk. It would have been easy for him to fill in the pieces with most people, but—”
“He had to alienate you, so he went back to Sam and refused to acknowledge Jake.” Jason fisted his hands. “But he could only do those things because I was a coward—”
Tears were still streaming down her cheeks. “You didn’t want me to take Jake off the machines.” She closed her eyes. “Oh, God. It wasn’t you. Of course it wasn’t you. You never would have—not until every doctor in the world—”
“I read about Jake being in a car accident…” He drew her down the sofa, relatively confident now that she had truly accepted him. “He’s okay? What happened? Victor didn’t—he either didn’t give me all the coverage or—”
“There wasn’t much…” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “It was three years ago, now. He was only four—” She pressed her lips together. “I guess you know about Aidan. And—” Her cheeks flushed. “About Nikolas.”
“I read about it.” Jason clenched his jaw. “Victor included the gossip columns because he’s a sadistic asshole. I don’t care about any of that, you know that, right? I had walked away from you. And I know the timing of it all—and that bastard Preston was probably pushing Sam in your face—”
“I needed a paternity test,” Elizabeth cut in. “I was—I was opening the results, and I didn’t notice the door hadn’t closed.” She looked down, where he had taken her hands in his. “Oh, God, it was awful. Patrick and Robin were so somber. He had operated, and Jake had a serious head injury. There was swelling, and he just didn’t know if he would get through it.” She hesitated. “Carly’s daughter was ill and needed a kidney transplant. She wanted Jake’s if it came to that. I remember being so angry with her, but I get it now. I would have begged anyone to save Jake. Lucky promised her if we took Jake off the machines, and he wanted to discuss a plan—” She swiped at her eyes. “I went to you—” She hesitated. “To Preston, I guess. And I wanted him to help me. To make the paternity public, to help me file a court injunction—”
“But he wanted you to take Jake off the machines if Patrick suggested it.” Elizabeth nodded.
Victor, the son of a bitch, had correct: It was for the best Jason hadn’t come face to face with this bastard. He would have snapped his neck on principle, but to know now that he had deliberately advocated for the death of Jason’s son, that he had preyed on Elizabeth in that state—
“It never came to it, though.” She sighed. “Jake started to recover and he’s as good as new.” She looked at him. “It wasn’t you.”
“I never would—” Jason couldn’t articulate the words. “I love Jake. I never would—”
“I started to hate you then,” she said, almost idly. “And then you—he—married Sam.” She looked at him. “And if you think he put me through hell, he was cruel to her.”
Jason frowned. “How do you figure? She got what she wanted—”
“Jason—there was this—this artist—his name was Robert Frank, but everyone called him Franco. And he was a sadistic psychopath who was obsessed with you. He kidnapped Aidan and tried to give him to his mother—” Elizabeth paused. “But the second time he came around—Sam was in Hawaii on her honeymoon. And he raped her.”
He inhaled sharply. Though his feelings toward Sam had turned relatively hostile after Jake’s kidnapping and the men she’d set on Elizabeth and the boys, not to mention the role she’d played in the Russian mobsters kidnapping Jake a second time—
“You—” Elizabeth paused. “Preston told me.” Her mouth twisted. “It was a double whammy that time. He wanted me to help her because of what I’d gone through, and he wanted to make sure I knew it was definitely not a good time to deal with Jake’s paternity, which he’d promised to do after the wedding.” She sighed. “And Sam got pregnant. Initial DNA tests stated it was Franco’s baby, and you—Preston—all but abandoned her. He said he was having trouble dealing with the thought of raising Franco’s son—”
“God damn it.” Jason lowered his head.
“Then Sam thought her baby died, and she blamed him for it.” Elizabeth sighed. “And he came back into my life. Saying after what Sam had gone through, he was thinking about Jake, and how it might be time. I was—” She pursed her lips. “I let myself believe him. That he regretted it, that the death of the baby had shaken him, and I thought if he and Sam were over, maybe I could love him again.” She looked at him, her face ashen. “I didn’t—it never went far. I was just—there was this water poisoning crisis and he saved my life, and it was like he was you. Or maybe he had been you for so long, I’d forgotten—” She closed her eyes. “Then he said no, Sam’s baby might be alive, and he was going back to her.”
“And that’s where it was when he went off the pier, according to the papers.” Jason took a deep breath. “Right after that reconciliation—”
“And I grieved,” she murmured, “but part of me was relieved to finally be free.”
His head snapped up at that. “What?”
“I’ve never been able to put you out of my head,” she admitted. She rose to her feet. “As long as you were in this town, because of Jake, because of who you were to me, you were always there. And I hated myself for the way I couldn’t move on when you’d so clearly closed the door. I started to think, especially last summer, that it was all in my head.” She closed her eyes, twisting her fingers in front of her, her eyes pained. “You have to understand, Jason, that those last three years were the worst of it, and I didn’t know it wasn’t you—”
He slowly rose to his feet. He had apparently underestimated the anguish Preston had put her through. He would warn her about Victor, but he couldn’t keep putting her through this. Even if he wanted to resent her for letting that bastard fool her, he’d fooled everyone—people he saw every day. Sonny. Carly. Spinelli. Sam.
He’d set the stage for Preston St. James to drag Elizabeth through the mud—he couldn’t resent the results.
“I get it—” Jason exhaled slowly. “I came here because I had—I had to tell you the truth. You deserved to know—”
“Wait—” She put a hand out. “I’m just—it’s a lot to take in, Jason. It just—” She stepped closer. “Because it wasn’t you. I can see that now.” She touched her lips. “I kissed him, you know, and I told Monica that it felt wrong. That it was like you had disappeared. It wasn’t you. It was never you.”
His breath caught in his throat. “Elizabeth—”
“I’m looking into your eyes,” she told him, locking their gazes. “And there you are, and I hate myself for not seeing how much he wasn’t you. He looked like you, he could mimic your voice, your movements. But he was dead in his eyes.” Her breath was shaky. “How did we miss it?” She waited a beat. “How can you stand there and not hate me?”
“Because he was a con artist,” Jason told her, unsurprised she had flipped the moment and was now taking in the guilt. “Patrick operated on him, Robin treated him medically. Robin’s known me longer than anyone else. If she didn’t see it, and Sonny and Carly didn’t, if Spinelli didn’t—after all the times I pushed you away, how could I expect you to know differently? And after he went to jail for Michael, who would question it?”
“If I had had just one hint that the Cassadines were behind this,” Elizabeth told him, a martial light beginning to gleam in her eyes. “I would have found Luke, I would have gone to Nikolas. I would have hunted them down, and I would have come after you. I never would—”
He kissed her again, no longer able resist it. All these weeks preparing for this moment, promising himself he wouldn’t pressure her—he couldn’t do it. He wanted to drown in her, this incredible woman whose generous heart always seemed to make room for more.
She fisted her hands in the thin fabric of his t-shirt, raising herself up on her toes to deepen the kiss. He slid his arms to her waist, anchoring her against him.
If she was indeed giving him a second chance, he was going to hold on it, and never let her regret it.
Webber Home: Bedroom
Her fingertips were light against his chest as she curled up next to him, their breathing the only sound in her darkened bed room.
“Are you asleep?” he asked her softly.
“No. My mind is racing.” She raised herself up on her elbow. “Victor Cassadine engineered all of this. He made Robin leave her family to bring you back. And he’s sent you here.”
“And you’re asking why.” When she nodded, he sighed and sat up. She leaned over and flipped on the bedside lamp. “He won’t tell me beyond giving me my basic instructions.”
She frowned. “Which are what? And what happens if you don’t—” Elizabeth hesitated. “I mean, if you can tell me,” she finished, looking away, no doubt remembering all the times he couldn’t.
Not this time, and maybe never again. He was stronger when she was behind him. “He wanted me to tell you exactly what happened,” he admitted. “He told me I had to come back to Port Charles, to wait until Sonny is arrested for AJ’s murder, then make my grand entrance at his preliminary hearing. And then he wants me to take over the organization.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes and flopped back down. “Of course. Even when it’s about the Cassadines, it still comes back to Sonny and the mob. I’m not surprised.”
She blinked at him, then sat up. “So you know about AJ? That he wasn’t dead, but that he came home.” She bit her lip. “Would now be a good time to mention we dated for a bit?”
He scowled, not angry with her but annoyed all the same. “I saw the pictures from the Nurse’s Ball. Yeah. Victor gave me a stack of newspapers. They varied, but he included everything from Connie Falconeri’s murder to AJ’s.” He frowned. “When did Kate start using that name again?”
“That’s…” Elizabeth pursed her lips. “That’s more complicated.” She hesitated. “Wait, Victor wanted you tell me? That doesn’t—I don’t understand. He went to the trouble of having someone pose as you. Why would he want you to tell anyone the truth, much less me?” She rose from the bed, pulling a robe around her body. “Jason, this doesn’t make sense.”
“He seemed to think he was doing me a favor.” Jason hesitated. “He knew what Preston did to you. What he tried to do to Jake. He knew if you didn’t know the truth, you’d be less likely to want to deal with me. And you’re his insurance policy. You and the boys.”
She sat the edge of the bed. “Insurance policy,” she repeated.
“He knows there’s no point in threatening my life to get me to do what he wants,” Jason said after a moment. “But if I don’t do what he says, he’ll go after you and the boys. He knows I won’t compromise your safety. So I have to play along for now.”
“I hate the damned Cassadines,” she muttered. “And what about Robin? Can she come home now?”
“She’s still reviving Helena and Stavros,” Jason admitted. “And he won’t let her come home until he’s satisfied I’m cooperating.”
“God.” Elizabeth tilted her head back. “Helena and Stavros. Fantastic.”
“I didn’t expect—” Jason stopped. “I never expected you to—”
“It’s not exactly how I planned to spend the evening,” Elizabeth cut in. “I still have some—hesitations about it all. And part of me is…” She wiggled her fingers. “Still kind of trying to process it all, but I love you. And if I had had more courage and told you from the beginning about Jake, so many things could have been different.”
She looked at him. “We’ve spent more than a decade making mistakes and letting each other walk away. I’m not doing it again. Whatever comes next, we’re in this together.” She scowled at him. “And no more deciding what I can and can’t know. You’ve told me Victor Cassadine has my boys in his crosshairs. He’s going to pay for threatening then, for taking you away from all of us, for taking Robin.”
“I plan to do that,” Jason told her. “When I can do it safely. But first I have to play along.”
“Right.” Elizabeth nodded. “Well, according to Michael—” She stopped. “Oh, my God, he woke up after you were gone. You haven’t met him—”
“I read about it, and Robin said he was okay—” Jason couldn’t wrap his mind around the recovery of the little boy he’d once raised as his own. “That he’d even grown close to AJ.”
“He loved AJ by the end,” Elizabeth murmured. “AJ’s murder has been so horrible for Monica and Michael.” She looked at him again. “I brought Jake to Monica when Preston went off that pier. I did it partially out spite, but mostly because Monica deserved it. And she wanted to go public with him. That’s where the boys are. Monica is watching them at the mansion with Michael and his girlfriend, Starr.”
“I’m glad,” Jason told her. “After every one Monica has lost, I know how that must have helped.” He leaned forward. “Elizabeth, I know I walked away from Jake, but I don’t plan to keep doing it. I wanted to keep him safe. To keep you safe. But I was wrong about how to do it.”
“We are always safer when we’re with you,” she told him. She slid back down the bed until she was curled up next to him again. “But we have to take this slowly. I was saying that Michael has been in touch with Anna—the police commissioner—daily about AJ’s case. She wouldn’t commit to details, but an arrest is imminent. I would be surprised if we had to wait more than a few days.”
“I need to find a place to stay where I can be below the radar,” Jason told her. “I need to figure out what’s going on in the organization, get myself caught up so I can play along with the three years people think I was here.”
“I think I know where we can put you,” Elizabeth replied. She peered up at him. “The intel, though? That sounds like a job for the Jackal.” When Jason hesitated, she continued. “Spinelli loved you. Unreservedly. When he thought it was you who went off the pier, he spent days diving in the lake, hoping to find you. And if he’d known something horrible happened, he would have been the first to try to rescue you. He needs to be brought in, and I think you should tell him the truth.”
“I don’t know—”
“The only way we’re going to get our lives back and bring down Victor Cassadine,” Elizabeth interrupted, “is if we use all our resources. There’s no better resource than Damien Spinelli.”
“You’re right,” Jason said finally. “I’ll bring him in. I can’t afford any mistakes.” He looked at her again. “I love you.”
Her cheeks flushed. “Jason—”
“I never said it enough, and I took too long to say it at all. I’m not going to have regrets. I love you and I can’t believe we’re in this moment, that you’re giving me this chance.”
“If I were to judge you by the actions of the bastard who posed as you, he would win,” Elizabeth said. “He wanted to break the bonds between us. He wanted me to hate you, he was okay with Jake dying because it was good for his own objectives.” She arched a brow. “But you should know by now, there are some things that just don’t go away. I love you. And I should have said it more often, and I should have said it sooner. I don’t want regrets either.”