This story begins Late February/Early March, 2003. It was a combination of several ideas I'd been having. What if Elizabeth killed someone? How would those around her, particularly Jason who seemed to think that she was a fragile flower who couldn't handle his life, react? And what would have happened, if GH hadn't screwed up the PTSD storyline I was certain they were heading for when Elizabeth slept with Zander? Again, how would those around her react to the news? So, viola, this story was born.
Officer Nathan Hunt hated the night shift, almost as much as he hated Lt. Marcus Taggart. Taggart acted so superior and smug, in spite of being an incompetent cop. He was hung up on bringing Sonny Corinthos down, that he seemed to overlook the other criminals in Port Charles, the criminals he actually had a chance of bringing down. Officer Hunt's partner was dead because when they'd requested backup on a holdup at a liquor store Taggart hadn't responded, because despite being the closest man in blue he was off chasing down a dead end on Sonny Corinthos.
That had lead to Hunt being very disgruntled and placed on administrative leave after he'd picked a fight with the man he held responsible for his friend's death. One night after he'd tied a few on at a dive down by the docks, Jason Morgan approached him about being an inside track for Mr. Corinthos. He'd nearly called it off the next morning when the booze faded away, but he was nothing if not a man of his word. Plus the thousand dollars and the promise of more, along with having an edge over Taggart even if the other man never knew, did much to quell the pangs of his conscience.
So had started a very profitable cooperation between him and the Corinthos organization. He tipped them off about raids or investigations, and they paid him handsomely for his efforts, as well as allowing him to get some arrests against their enemies. It ran smoothly until several months ago, when he fell on a patch of ice and tore up his knee while he was chasing a perp. After being out on medical leave during the whole Alcazar trial, and thus unable to assist Morgan and Corinthos, he was now on desk duty at night.
He knew there were other snitches in the department, and he was anxious to prove that he was still valuable. So when Lt. Taggart and Detective Capelli walked in with her he saw this as his opportunity. She was once a woman that had held particular interest to the mobsters, and he figured it wasn't his place to decide if the scuttlebutt around town meant they no longer felt that way. He hung around long enough to get the details and then he told the duty officer he was going to make a coffee run. He couldn't drink the squad room swill any longer and he needed to stretch his knee before it locked up on him from sitting too long.
Or so he said. In reality he ducked into a deserted alley a couple of blocks from the station and pulled out a cell phone that couldn't be traced back to him. Hunt dialed, and then waited for the mob boss to answer. The conversation was quick, and five minutes later he headed off to the coffee shop with his instructions, which included calling back with as much information as he could get by the end of his shift.
Sonny Corinthos liked to think himself an observant man. At least where his wife was concerned. The whole recent mess with Jason and Courtney had completely blindsided him. He never understood why Elizabeth Webber walked out, why Brenda had married Jason, or why his sister lied to him regarding her involvement with his enforcer. And he knew he was no closer to learning the truth because ever since telling Jason to end things with Courtney they barely spoke.
Faith Roscoe taking Courtney, Jason going after her and Sonny misinterpreting the entire thing hadn't helped the situation. He was beginning to think that Ric's innocent slip to Elizabeth about Jason riding off after Courtney hadn't been innocent after all. Ric seemed too good to be true. Too eager, too perfect, too helpful. And lately something seemed to be up between him and Carly.
Ever since the opening of Carly's club, when she'd disappeared halfway through and never told him where she'd been, something had been off about her. She was nervous, quiet, anxious, and avoiding him. Classic Carly behavior when she was scheming something. But yet there was something different this time. She seemed withdrawn from everyone, but especially from him, and Ric. She looked nervous around him and Sonny had interrupted more than one meeting about the club where his wife had rushed off shortly after saying he should listen to the lawyer.
Now they were sitting on the couch because she said she needed to talk to him. She pulled on her sleeves and couldn't quite look him in the eye. "Sonny."
"Carly," he said, placing a hand over hers, stilling them. "Whatever it is, just say it."
"The night of the club opening, when I left." She stopped when the phone on his desk rang. "Sonny, please ignore it. Please."
She seemed almost desperate, but he couldn't ignore the phone. Not with all the problems Faith and Ned were causing. "I'm sorry. I have to get it."
There was an odd flash of disappointment and relief across her face, and then she got up and went to the drink cart. He stalked across the room and growled into the receiver. "Yeah."
A police snitch. He'd been interrupted by a police snitch. His anger gave way to shock as the words Officer Hunt was speaking sunk in.
"Are you certain?" he asked. "How does she seem?"
He listened and then said, "No, you were right to call. When does your shift end? Alright, find out everything you can and call me then. And...and if you can keep an eye on her, I'd appreciate it."
He hung up the phone and rubbed his left hand over his face. He couldn't believe it. It just wasn't possible. But Officer Hunt had never lied to him, always had good information, so he had to believe the man. He looked at the door and took a deep breath. He knew what he had to do, but that it wasn't going to be easy. But first...
"Carly," he said apologetically as he turned.
"You have to go," she stated flatly.
"'Kay," she shrugged. "I'm going to bed."
"We'll talk tomorrow," he promised her.
"Whatever," she said, not looking at him as she went up the stairs.
He stood there with his hand on the knob until he heard the door to their bedroom close quietly. Something was definitely wrong. Normal behavior would have been to huff and fight him over leaving and then slamming the door to their bedroom. Tomorrow, he promised himself. Then he sighed and stepped out into the hallway.
Jason lined up the stick behind the cue ball and hit it, watching the nine ball roll across the felt and drop into the side pocket. The echo of the clack filled the penthouse and Jason shook his head and tossed the cue onto the table. It was too quiet. Normally he liked the quiet. But not now. Now the quiet was his enemy.
Without the angry prattle of Brenda, or the constant chatter of Courtney he simply had too much time to think. Riding his bike didn't help. Reading didn't help. Pool obviously didn't help either. He was ready to pick a bar fight, but somehow he didn't even think that would do it. Nothing was going to fill the void in his life.
These past few weeks since his break-up with Courtney had been hard. He'd believed himself in love with her, but he knew it wasn't true. He'd liked having someone around, someone who had made his life less miserable since that day in October when Elizabeth walked out. He was only missing the ease of Courtney's company, not actually missing her. It wasn't like how he missed Elizabeth, still, after all this time.
There was a knock on the door and he looked up. Even knowing that it would probably just be Sonny he looked forward to the interruption. A fight with Sonny would at least distract him.
"Yeah?" he said as he opened the door.
"Jason," Sonny said, looking a little uncomfortable. "I need to talk to you."
"About what?" he asked. So help him, if Sonny brought up Courtney again or how this was all for the best he was going to blow.
"Nathan Hunt called me tonight," Sonny explained. "There was an arrest made, and he thought we'd want to know about it."
"One of our guys?" Jason asked. The leader of the unloading crew hadn't mentioned anything going wrong with the shipment, so he wondered what was going on.
"No," Sonny sighed, and shifted. "Nothing with business. Unless you count the fact that the victim worked for us occasionally."
"Ric Lansing was killed tonight," Sonny said, hooking a hand behind his neck. "And Taggart arrested Elizabeth for it."
Her skin felt two sizes too small for her body. There was an odd buzzing noise, which made everything sound like she was at the bottom of the well. There were voices and words; she just couldn't make out what they actually meant. Nothing would focus right now, and she tried to remember. Remember the words Gail would use to calm her, remember the breathing exercises she was supposed to do, but they weren't coming.
The one thing she did know, and all she could focus on, was she was trapped. Just like she'd been earlier tonight…and just like she had been before. The light was wrong now. Too bright, instead of too dark. And the noise. The noise just wouldn't go away. She raised her hands up to cover her ears, and was surprised when her wrists caught on something metallic. Staring down at her hands she realized they were handcuffs.
Handcuffs? Taggart and Capelli floated before her mind's eye, along with blood. That's when she realized the paint on her hands was actually blood. Ric's blood.
"You know, Elizabeth."
Her eyes snapped shut, as if by not seeing the blood she wouldn't hear his voice. But she didn't know. Didn't know why she was sitting there with dried blood on her hands. It was there; somewhere in her mind and what she needed was Gail to help coax it out of her. But she couldn't do that, because Gail was out there. And she was trapped in here. And the buzzing in her ears just wouldn't go away.
He stepped into the squad room; uncertain of why he was there. He hadn't believed the news when it came on, and somehow he'd ended up at the police station. Elizabeth had been arrested. Ric Lansing was found dead in her studio. There had been a call made to 911, but they didn't know who had made it. But he was concerned about her, and he wouldn't have been able to sleep if he hadn't come down to check on her.
"Lieutenant Taggart," he said, catching the man by the sleeve.
"I," he stopped and shrugged. "I came to see Elizabeth. Is she alright?"
"She's in the interrogation room. We're going to process her soon."
"She's being processed?" he asked in shock. There was a part of him that refused to believe any of this was true. "Can I see her?"
He didn't think Taggart would let him, but in the end the cop led him through the door and told him he had three minutes. She looked up when he walked in, and the first thing he noticed was the wild look in her eyes. It was a look he'd seen one summer night when he got her out of the stairway.
"Elizabeth?" he said softly as he took a seat. "How are you doing?"
"It's too loud in here," she said, then she blinked and shook her head. "I'm fine."
"Do you need anything?" Stupid question. She needed a lot of things. Chief among them for this not to have happened. "Is there anything I can do?"
"What? You mean they haven't let you have your phone call yet, or did you use it to call a lawyer?" Or Jason. They may not be talking, but a time like this Zander would bet she could call Jason and he would come charging down with a dozen lawyers.
"No," she said. "I haven't made a phone call. I told them I needed a lawyer and they said they'd get me one."
A public defender? On this case? No way. There was no way he'd let a public defender handle this case, he'd pawn every possession he owned, if need be, but he'd get her a lawyer. He wondered if Alexis would help out. But still the question remained, "Who's Gail?"
"Time's up," Taggart said as he opened the door. "We're taking you to processing, Elizabeth."
She stood up and Zander sprang from his seat stepping in between her and the cop. "She wants her phone call."
Taggart paused and looked over Zander's shoulder at Elizabeth. "You do?"
"Zander," she said as she stepped around him and towards the lieutenant, "please call her. I'm saving my phone call for the morning."
Then Taggart led her away, and Zander walked out into the squad room. What was going with Elizabeth? Why did she want him to call. He had no idea who Gail was. And he knew Taggart wouldn't let him see her again to ask. It was a long shot, but there might be someone who did know who she was.
Gia looked up from her coffee and stared at Zander who'd taken a seat across from her. "What?"
"I went to see Elizabeth at the police station. Your brother let me in, and when I asked if there was anything she needed she told me to call Gail. I don't know who she means."
"I don't either," Gia said as she leaned back in her chair. "That's all she said? How was she doing?"
"She said it was too loud in the interrogation room. Which was odd, 'cause it was actually a lot quieter than the main room. And she's getting a public defender."
"Well, the one person who might have helped her is dead. Most likely her doing, so who else is going to help her?"
Gia looked up from Zander to Courtney who stood beside their table with a coffeepot in her hand.
"Eavesdrop much?" Zander asked scathingly.
"I came to pour you some coffee and I heard you talking about Elizabeth."
"If I'd wanted some coffee, I would have asked for some coffee. But since you're here pour it and go. And in the future, try to stay out of conversations that don't concern you," Zander bit out.
The waitress shrugged, but filled the cup and left. Gia just looked at him, wondering what that had been all about. She figured it had very little to deal with Elizabeth's arrest, and more to deal with Elizabeth and the growing animosity with Courtney over Jason.
"Sorry," he said as he looked up from the table top he'd been staring at since the blonde had left. "She annoys me, and don't think for one minute she's concerned about Elizabeth."
"Okay," Gia said, steering the conversation away from that area. "Did Elizabeth say anything else?"
"No," Zander sighed. "I tried to ask her who Gail was, but your brother came in to take her to processing. All she asked me to do was call Gail. She said it calmly, but there was a certain uneasiness in her eyes. I have no idea what to do."
"Her grandmother would probably know," she started, then stopped, not sure what else to say.
"Yeah. But that won't help."
"Think Bobbie would know?"
He shrugged, then ran a hand through his hair. "They don't strike me as being real close lately. Think Lucky would know? Or maybe Nikolas?"
Nikolas might, but Gia would suggest him as a last resort. Especially since Lucky and Elizabeth were friends again. "Lucky might. They're friends again, they've known each other for a long time."
"Any idea where he is?"
"Nope," she shook her head. "Maybe at Luke's?"
"Good as place as any to start," he said. "And if he's not there, maybe Luke would have an idea."
He started to stand then sat back down. "Do you think Alexis would take her case? I can't even think of a public defender on this case, especially since you know Baldwin will be grandstanding."
Gia sighed. "I don't know. Alexis seems to have a lot going on right now. Ned's giving her grief over Kristina and I see her with your fa- with Doctor Lewis a lot."
Zander's face darkened briefly and then he stood and said. "Thanks. I'll see if I can find Lucky."
"I'll ask Alexis," was all she could say, then watched him walk out of the diner. She looked up and saw Courtney watching her. Well, the place was going to close soon and she agreed with Zander, the girl annoyed her. It was time to get out of here before the waitress came over and said something and she was tempted for forget she had vowed to turn over a new leaf and stop being so rude to others.
Jason was a man accustomed to waiting. Moving in for the perfect kill against an enemy sometimes meant having patience for just the right moment. He once spent two days in a rat infested house because it was the best place to observe one of Moreno's men. But Jason was finding it hard to be patient now. Since this was personal and not business.
Sonny had stayed with him for a little bit, both men speculating on what had happened with Elizabeth. Sonny turned on the news and it appeared the media was already working itself into a frenzy over this. Ric had already been linked back to Sonny and Jason, and they were throwing around innuendo and speculation about Elizabeth as well.
Jason knew that if he could just have a few minutes alone with Elizabeth she could tell him what happened. He also knew he would do anything to help her out. But would she even talk to him? Probably not. Things had been strained at best between them for so long that he didn't know how to fix them. Every time he saw her she looked so pained, and he hated himself for being the reason she hurt.
He heard a knock on his door and wondered if it was Sonny again. His boss was worried about Carly, and Jason had to admit he was as well. Something was definitely wrong with her. Jason stood up and crossed over to the door.
The younger man held up his hands. "Look, man, I know I'm probably the last person you want to see, but can I talk to you? It's about Elizabeth."
Jason nodded and let the man come in. Zander ran a nervous hand through his hair while he took a deep breath. "I went down to the station to see how Elizabeth was. Wait, you know she's in jail right?"
"Yeah," Jason said without elaborating. "How is she?"
"Not good, man. I'm worried about her. She tried to act like everything was fine, but," he stopped and looked down. "She looks frightened. But it's more than that. The night I found her trapped in the stairs in her building, she had this wild, panicked look. That's how she looks now."
Jason swallowed past the lump in his throat. The night Zander found her was the night he slept with her. At least Zander didn't say that.
"She asked me to call someone for her," Zander went on. "She said to call Gail. I don't know who that is. I asked Gia and she doesn't know either. I looked for Lucky, but can't find him. And since I'm not really on Nikolas's good side right now, I figured I'd try you first to see if you knew."
He didn't. Had no clue. "No, I don't."
The younger man shoved his hand through his hair again, this time in frustration. "I was hoping, you know. You've known her for a while, I just wondered if she'd ever mentioned her."
"I wish I knew," Jason said, his helplessness evident in his confession. "I wish I could help her."
Zander looked at him, then quickly said. "Maybe you can. She's going to have a public defender. If Scott goes full bore on this prosecution, as you know he tends to do, she's going to need someone better than an overworked public defender who doesn't know her and doesn't care. I asked Gia if she thought Alexis might take the case, but who knows what's going on with her right now."
Zander was right. Elizabeth needed a lawyer, and a good one. Sonny had somehow convinced Dara Jensen to work on his and Brenda's case; maybe she would take Elizabeth's. He would certainly pay whatever fee she charged. "I'll make some calls."
"I still don't like you," Zander told him. "You hurt Elizabeth, and I don't think you're good enough for her. But you can help her and I won't let her go to jail."
"I won't let it happen either," he promised. She may refuse, or try to fight him, but there was no way he would let her go to prison. And if he had to break her out of jail and whisk her out of the country he would do that too. He would do anything for her, but he wouldn't leave her alone. Not this time.
"Okay," Zander said. "I'll talk to you later then."
"Yeah," he replied as his temporary ally walked out the door. Then he flipped the locks and killed the light as he headed up the stairs for what he knew would be a night of little sleep, if any.
Officer Hunt walked down the darkened hallways toward the holding cells, trying not to look like a man who should be anywhere but where he currently was. It was one in the morning and the place was quiet. Taggart and Capelli had gone home, not being able to question Miss Webber until the morning when her public defender would arrive. They had left talking about how they couldn't believe she would do something like this. They had both been so sure she was out of danger now that she was no longer involved with Jason Morgan. Apparently Taggart had forgotten what happened to her one snowy night before she ever met the alleged mobster. It had shocked and sickened him to read her file and discover that little piece of information.
He walked up to the tired looking officer sitting at the desk and leaned against the cinderblock wall. "Hey, Mark."
"Hey. What's going on?"
"Whole lotta nothing. Just up stretching my leg."
"How's the knee doing?" Mark asked, stretching back in his chair.
Nathan shrugged one shoulder. "Gets a little stiff sometimes. Doc says it's doing better all the time, though."
"That's good. Soon you'll be back out there," he said before he yawned and rubbed a hand over his face. "Man, I hate the night shift. Nothing's going on lately."
"New guest being quiet?"
"She was crying earlier, but seems to have calmed down. What I could use is a smoke, you know?" he said looking up at Nathan.
He couldn't have asked for anything better. The other officer didn't care about the shift, he wasn't overly concerned about Miss Webber, and he was clearly fishing for a temporary cover. Nathan had figured he'd try and get the guy to go upstairs and get some coffee and not arouse suspicion. Now he was just a guy helping out a pal. "Sure. Go ahead. I got you covered."
"Thanks, I owe you," Mark said as he stood.
"My pleasure." And it was. Because Sonny Corinthos would pay him handsomely for this case if the older man's tone of voice was any indication of his interest in Miss Webber.
He waited until he heard the door at the top of the stairs close, and then he moved into the cell area. Elizabeth Webber was in the second cell, and he was surprised to discover she wasn't asleep. Sitting on her cot, her knees drawn up to her chest with her arms around them, tears were silently streaming down her face. She was pale, her eyes were unfocused and she was shaking uncontrollably. He knew it was cold down here sometimes, but he didn't think that was the reason she was visibly shaking.
"Miss Webber?" he questioned, but she said nothing. "Miss Webber?"
She looked up, blinking, but still not really seeing him. "Please, you gotta help me. You gotta get me out of here."
He debated if he should tell her he'd called Sonny and so chances were good she wouldn't spend another night in jail. But there was something in her behavior that was more than a young woman unaccustomed to such places, frightened about being in jail. This reminded him of some of his Army training.
Casting a glance at the doorway to make sure Mark hadn't come back yet, he looked back at her and said. "Miss Webber? Elizabeth? Elizabeth? Can you hear me?"
She hugged her knees tighter and pleaded with him. "Please help me. You've got to get me out of here."
He stepped away as she just kept repeating her pleas over and over. He probably had a few minutes still. Pulling his phone out of his pocket he quickly dialed. As expected, it didn't take long for the other man to answer. "It's me. We have a problem."
When he walked into the back entrance of the PCPD and was met by Officer Hunt, Jason had no idea what was going on. The officer had always been a good source of information, and hadn't been found out he worked for him and Sonny because he used the utmost discretion when contacting them. So for Hunt to call him and tell him to come down to the station, even if Mac and Taggart were gone, there must be something seriously wrong.
"Don't worry about being seen. The guard on the holding cells has taken a long walk."
Jason silently nodded and followed behind. When they reached the darkened cell areas, he paused and waited for the doors to open. Hunt let him into Elizabeth's cell and then stepped into the hallway to watch for others and to give them some space.
Jason looked at the young woman who always held a special place in his life and simply stared. She was pale, her hair clinging to her sweat covered face and neck, and she was cowered in a corner hugging her knees to her chest. His stomach clenched in worry. Hunt was right. Something was wrong.
"Elizabeth?" he said, as he slowly walked towards her. He felt like he was approaching a wild animal. Cowering now, but with the potential to strike out and do serious damage if not handled properly.
"Please get me out of here," she was repeating over and over, very faintly.
"Elizabeth," he said stronger as he crouched down beside her. "Elizabeth, it's Jason."
She whipped her head up and looked at him wide-eyed and desperate. "Jason?"
A bit relieved, he nodded and dropped one knee to the concrete floor. "Yes, it's me. I'm here to help you."
He was thrown off balance and ended up sitting, when she suddenly hugged him fiercely, and clung to him. Even through his jacket he could feel her trembling, and as he brought his arms up around her, he could feel her racing heart and the shallowness of her breathing. "Thank you, Jason. I-I'm so glad you're here."
"It's alright, Elizabeth," he said gently, trying to calm her. "I'm here, and I'll get you out of here."
"I know. I trust you, Jason. You said you'd be back, and here you are."
He looked down at her, and even though she was looking at him, he was beginning to feel that she wasn't really seeing him.
"I told my Gram I would be alright," she went on slightly breathless. "Because you told me you would come back. And you've never broken a promise to me."
Jason swallowed hard. Whatever she was talking about, she wasn't talking about any recent events. Audrey Hardy had died in horrible car crash two weeks ago as she was driving to the hospital for her shift, so there was no way Elizabeth could have spoken to her. Whatever event the woman in front of him was talking about was purely in her mind, and the knot of dread in Jason's stomach grew even bigger.
"And when the lights went out and I got trapped here in the stairway I knew I'd be okay because you were coming. You'd find me just like you did when I was in the crypt. I told you I have faith in you."
He was glad to realize that her trembling had nearly stopped as she continued to cling to him, but he couldn't find much other relief. She thought it was July and it was the night she got trapped in the stairway. The night that she slept with Zander. The night she called a mistake. Zander's voice from earlier that evening came back to him. The night I found her trapped in the stairs in her building, she had this wild, panicked look. That's how she looks now. Uneasiness settled over him as he wondered just how far back her problems went.
Her voice startled him and he looked down at him. She was calmer, but she looked exhausted, her eyes red from lack of sleep. "Yes?"
"Can we go now?" she asked. "I'm so tired. I-I...every time...nevermind."
She finished with a small shake of her head and he quietly asked. "What is it, Elizabeth?"
"Remember when you brought me home from the hospital? You asked if I would be okay?"
"I...I lied. Please don't leave me alone tonight. P-please. I just want to sleep. And I can't. W-will you stay tonight?"
"O-of course," he said, caught off guard. "Let, let me go make a phone call."
He was lying to her. He knew he was, and he hated it. Yet he was so worried for her, wanted to keep her calm, so he said the words he knew would do that. When had he started willingly lying to her? Not enough time to even think about that.
"Y-you'll come back, right?" she said, gripping onto his jacket when he tried to stand. The panic was back. "Promise me you'll be back."
"I promise." And this one definitely wasn't a lie.
He stepped out of the cell and over to the door that led out of the cellblock. Nathan was there in an instant. Already Elizabeth was hugging her knees to her chest and he could hear her breathing shallow.
"You know what it is, don't you?" Officer Hunt asked him.
Jason sighed and nodded slowly. "Yeah."
"How do we want to work this?"
"Call the paramedics," Jason instructed. "I'll stay with her 'til they get here. Just tell them the truth about how you found her."
The officer nodded and picked up the phone while Jason walked back towards the cell.
Where was he? She thought Jason had been there in the stairway with her. She was cold and tired and she hurt from sitting so long on the concrete. All she wanted to do was sleep. Sleep without dreams of being trapped. He had been there, promised to take her home and stay with her, and now he was gone. He'd been there. Right?
Footsteps echoed on the concrete and she looked up and saw him. Jason was there. He came back. Just like he told her. A relieved sigh escaped her and she ran her shaking hands through her hair.
"You came back."
"I said I would," he said, his voice low and calm. She loved that tone.
"I know," she said, trying to smile. "You said that last night when Carly called, and I just kept believing that all the time I was stuck in here."
"I know. I'm sorry I didn't get here sooner."
"It's okay. You're here now."
There was a tapping, the sound of something striking metal and Jason looked up. Elizabeth did as well, but she couldn't see anything over Jason's shoulder. He nodded then looked back to her. "Elizabeth, I called someone to take you to the hospital."
"Hospital?" No, she was fine. She didn't need to go back to the hospital. "Why?"
"I just want to make sure you're okay."
"But I am," she pleaded. "Please. All I need is for you to stay with me. I'll be fine."
"It'll be okay, Elizabeth," he said calmly, smoothing the hair from her face. "I'll come see you there."
"No bailing, right?"
He looked down, then back up at her. "Yeah, no bailing. I just want someone to make sure you're all right. Listen, Elizabeth, you need to do me a favor. You can't tell anyone I was here."
"You can't tell anyone, Elizabeth. You can't tell them about me."
"No," she whimpered. Why was Ric here? Jason had just been there with her. Wasn't she just on the stairs, how did she get back in her studio? She brought up her hands up to rub at her pounding head.
"Elizabeth?" Hands reached for hers and she jerked away, pushing herself back into the wall.
"Go. G-go away. Leave m-me alone. Don't t-touch m-me."
"I-I promise. I w-won't tell anyone."
"Elizabeth?" The voice was hallow and far away. Different from Jason's. Where was he? Wasn't he just there? Why couldn't Ric just leave her alone? She didn't know anything. She brought her hands up and pushed angrily at his chest, but she didn't have much strength and he didn't move.
"I-I said I won't s-say anything, Ric. I promise. P-please just leave. I won't say a-anything."
A second voice joined the first, but she couldn't make out the words. It was just buzzing in her ears, which made her head throb worse. They kept reaching for her and she kept pushing them away. She wanted to stand and run, she wanted to leave, but they were too close. She kept trying to push them away and take a deep breath. If they would just stop crowding her.
Suddenly her arm was pulled taught and strong hands prevented her from jerking it away. She felt a pinch on the inside of her elbow and the hands relaxed their hold. She was crying now, she could hear herself, but she couldn't make the tears stop. She just wanted them all to go away, so she could just be alone.
"Please help me," she whispered hoarsely. "Gail, please help me."
"Gail?" a new voice asked. It was floating at the edge of her mind. Her body felt calm, relaxed, slightly detached, and her mind was slowing down.
"Gail Baldwin. She's my doctor." She was so tired. Maybe when she woke up from the sleep that was blissfully calling to her the voices would be gone and she would be back in her studio. She certainly hoped so.
Jason stepped out of his hiding place and went up the back stairs, stumbling out into the alleyway behind the station. He quickly made his way to where his bike was parked, careful to avoid running in to anyone.
It had absolutely killed him to watch the paramedics sedate Elizabeth before they took her out. But she was struggling so hard that they had to do something. She wouldn't let them touch her and she was going to end up hurting one of them, or herself.
She was fighting against an unseen demon, but at least he knew the demon's name. Ric. What he didn't know was why she was so frightened of the man, why she pleaded with him to leave her alone, promising she wouldn't say anything. He thought she got along with Ric, had been out with him several times. It drove Jason absolutely crazy, because he knew there was something underneath the surface to Ric, and Jason didn't want Elizabeth to get hurt because of it. Is that what happened last night? Is that why the man was dead? Because if Elizabeth did kill him, something must have pushed her to it. She must have been frightened and defending herself.
He started up his bike and headed towards Elizabeth's studio. He wanted answers. And since he knew whatever answers Elizabeth might hold were going to be locked away for a while, he needed to search for other clues.
Tomorrow he would go to the hospital to visit Elizabeth. There was no way he'd be able to get in to her room tonight, besides which she was drugged. And, he realized with a heavy heart, since she had named Gail Baldwin as her doctor she might end up in psychiatric evaluation like the paramedics had talked about as they wheeled her away.
"Where is she?"
Bobbie Spencer looked up from her paperwork and into the eyes of a very upset Scott Baldwin. Marcus Taggart and Mac Scorpio stood behind him, Mac looking very uneasy.
"Where is who?"
"Don't play games with me," Scott said, slicing his hand through the air. "What room is Elizabeth Webber in?"
Bobbie looked at him in surprise. She could understand Scott going so forcefully after her brother and Sonny, Scott had hated them for years. She didn't like it, but she at least figured it was due to his intense hatred of the men. She had thought that Scott would at least have a little more restraint and compassion with other people, but the way he'd gone after Alexis Davis when she was a suspect in Luis Alcazar's murder had proved her wrong. Well, there was no way that Bobbie was going to let Scott go after Elizabeth with the same ferocity.
She had checked on Elizabeth when she first came on duty early that morning. Amy Vining couldn't wait to fill her in on the gossip of how Elizabeth had been arrested for murder last night, and then been brought in from the jail sedated and in restraints. She said that Gail Baldwin herself came down in the middle of the night to treat Elizabeth instead of just passing her off to another doctor on duty.
When Bobbie looked in on Elizabeth she was shocked to find the younger woman pale, and oh so very thin as if her face had been pulled tight across her bones. Bobbie wondered how she'd been this way. And how could Bobbie have been so blind, so wrapped up in other things that she'd overlooked her employee, and a young woman she'd known for so many years, looking this sick? Elizabeth had been asleep, probably from the sedative, and Gail had ordered her not to be disturbed. By anyone.
"You can't see her, Scott," she answered the D.A.
"Of course I can see her," Scott bellowed. "I'm the District Attorney and she's a murder suspect."
"She's a patient of this hospital," Bobbie said, feeling her patience wear thin. "She is under her doctor's care, and has instructions not to be disturbed."
"Ahhggg," he growled in frustration and jerked his hand through the air. Taggart and Mac shook their heads. "I want to see her and I want to see her now. So you get whatever two bit quack it is that gave those instructions on the phone right now and tell them the D.A. wants to speak with him immediately."
"Scott Baldwin, this is a hospital. So keep your voice down."
Scott turned to see Gail looking at him sternly and Bobbie allowed herself a little smile. Someone else could deal with the overgrown windbag.
"Scott," she said sweetly, "the doctor treating Elizabeth. Gail, the D.A. wants to speak to you about questioning your patient."
Scott's shoulders dropped. Gail fixed a pointed glare on her son and said, "Absolutely not. Elizabeth Webber is my patient. She is under sedation, and even is she wasn't, there is no way I'd let you speak to her right now. She has suffered a serious trauma and needs to be treated, not harangued."
"Treated," the man scoffed, even as Gail grabbed his arm and pulled him aside. "She murdered a man and you want to coddle her."
Bobbie sighed in relief now that Scott was gone. She could get back to work. Well, as best she could worried about Elizabeth as she was. She wondered if she should try and contact Elizabeth's family. Then she sighed and shook her head. Jeff and Cynthia Webber didn't come back from Africa for Audrey's funeral, telling Elizabeth there was an epidemic in one of the villages and they couldn't leave. Steven and Sarah couldn't get away either, busy with their medical careers as they were. No, Bobbie knew sadly that no one would come for Elizabeth.
She was pulled out of her musings to see Zander standing there. "Zander."
"I came to see Emily before her rehab, and I heard Scott Baldwin. Elizabeth is here? I saw her last night at the jail. What happened?"
"She had an episode," Bobbie told him. Technically she shouldn't say anything, but Zander was Elizabeth's friend and she knew since no family would show up the younger woman should at least have a friend. "Doctor Baldwin is treating her and thinks it was a PTSD episode. They had to bring her in from the jail last night under sedation."
"What?" the younger man started to ask, but Bobbie had to cut him off. A nurse call light had gone off and she needed to go tend to a patient.
"I'm sorry, Zander. I need to go check on a patient. I'll be right back."
Zander raised his hand to knock, and then paused. Running a hand through his hair he wondered what he was doing there. He should just turn and go back and wait for Bobbie. But more patients were beginning to buzz for nurses and he didn't feel like waiting. So here he stood outside his father's office, trying to screw up the courage to go inside. Finally, he lowered his hand and knocked on the door.
He opened the door and poked his head in, before he stepped inside. His father looked up in surprise and stood. "Alexander."
"Did I come at a bad time?" he asked, feeling like he'd stepped into the den back home and was about to be scolded.
"No, no. I was just surprised to see you. Did you need something?"
"Actually, yeah," he replied as he took a breath. "I needed to ask you a question. A friend of mine is in the hospital. Elizabeth Webber. She was brought in last night."
"Elizabeth Webber?" his father interrupted. "I read about her in the paper this morning."
"Yeah," Zander said, emptily. He'd read the article too. Not very flattering. "Bobbie Spencer said she's being treated by Doctor Baldwin and she thinks it's PTSD."
The older man raised his eyebrows. "Gail Baldwin is a very good psychiatrist. She's also good at working with trauma victims from what I understand. If your friend does have PTSD, then she has a very good doctor to help her out."
Zander walked forward and collapsed into a visitor's chair. "What exactly is it? I mean, I only ever heard about PTSD with war vets."
"It can occur after any traumatic event, not just war," his father explained, obviously trying hard to make him understand without making him feel like he was five years old. "What the disorder basically is, is the victim relives the traumatic event, feels like they're right back in the situation. Reliving the event over and over, along with the stress and sometimes depression that accompanies it, makes it hard for them to function in their daily lives. Every case is different though, some more mild or severe. Without actually being your friend's doctor, it's hard to say."
Zander slumped back in his chair. Reliving a traumatic event. Well, Elizabeth certainly had had her share, more probably, of such events. She'd been under a lot of stress. Working with Courtney and having her and Carly snap at her every chance they got was wearing her down. Not to mention her grandmother's death just mere weeks ago and all the funeral arrangements had taken their toll. And depression? Ever since she walked out on Jason after Sonny's "death", learning of his involvement with Courtney, and then Audrey's death certainly hadn't made her life full of ease and sunshine.
"So what can they do?" he asked in a tired voice.
"There have been good results with some medications, anti-depressants and some sedatives. Therapy usually has very good results."
Therapy. Zander sat up a little straighter and thought back to what Elizabeth had told him. Call Gail. Her father said Dr. Baldwin's name was Gail. Had she been seeing someone already? Was this a recent thing, or had this been going on for some time? And if so, for how long?
"Thank you," he said as he stood. He felt slightly better knowing a little about what was happening. His father seemed confident in Dr. Baldwin and that helped too. Of course, he was still worried and would be for a while he was sure. But at least he wasn't completely in dark. But was knowing what he knew now really better?
The older man came around the desk and up to him. Awkwardly he patted him on the shoulder. "I'm sorry I couldn't help you more. I might be able to talk to Doctor Baldwin, but not being Elizabeth's doctor she probably can't tell me much."
Zander blinked in surprise. His father was offering to help, see what he could find out. It had been so long since they spoke civilly to each other that it caught him off guard. Recovering, he nodded his head. "Thank you."
"I can see that it's important to you."
"It is," he agree, then opened the door and headed to the elevator. He had another hour before Emily would be done with her rehab session. He was sure she wouldn't be too upset with him taking care of this errand and then coming back.
A short time later he stepped off the elevator at Harborview Towers. He ignored the look of Max who stood by Sonny's door and turned towards Jason's. This was the second time he'd been there in less than twelve hours, and it made him slightly uneasy. They'd come to a slight agreement, and he hated to admit it, but Jason was probably able to help Elizabeth better than he could.
"Yeah?" Jason said when he answered the door. Seeing that it was him, Jason stepped aside and let the younger man in.
Zander took a moment to study the enforcer and he judged by the untucked shirt, the red eyes, the disheveled hair that Jason probably already knew about Elizabeth and had spent a sleepless night over it. Either that or...
"Did I come at a bad time? Interrupt something?"
Jason's freezing glare over the rim of his coffee mug set him straight. Good. He wanted to be sure that Jason was serious about this and wasn't going to be off dallying with Courtney. He wanted to make sure that this break-up was for real, and that Jason wasn't going to decide in the middle of everything going on with Elizabeth that he wanted to be with the blonde again. Because he wouldn't hesitate to tell Jason to shove off if he was going to hurt Elizabeth again like that. He was just glad he didn't have to, because he really didn't want his jaw broken.
"I'm not going to ask how, but you know Elizabeth is in the hospital."
"Yeah," Jason said in response to his statement. Then his eyes softened. "Have you seen her?"
Zander shook his head. "I was just showing up to see Emily at rehab when I heard Scott Baldwin ranting about not being able to see her. I figured out who Gail is, by the way. Doctor Gail Baldwin, a psychiatrist. She told Scott he couldn't see Elizabeth because she was still sedated."
He paused when Jason's eyes darkened at the last word. He was curious, but he also knew he wouldn't get any answers. "Bobbie told me it was most likely posttraumatic stress disorder."
Jason's shoulders dropped and he lowered his coffee. "I was afraid that's what it was when I saw her last night."
He said nothing further, and Zander was surprised Jason had even said that much. Shrugging he said, "Well, I just wanted you to know. Guess I should have figured you already did. I'm going to go back to the hospital. I'll see if I can visit her, but who knows."
He started for the door, but Jason stopped him. "Thank you for coming to tell me. You didn't have to."
"You said you'd help Elizabeth. I may not like how you treated her, or how you hurt her, and I certainly think she could do better than somebody like you," he paused and held up a hand to ward off the older man. "But I believe you were sincere when you said you'd help. So I figured you had a right to know."
The other man shifted and brought his hand up to rub the back of his neck. "Alright. You didn't have to tell me. So I'll tell you that I'm going to call Dara Jensen to see if she'll help Elizabeth."
"Good," Zander nodded. "Because Baldwin's not going to let up just because she's in the hospital."
"I know," Jason said in aggravation. Zander felt the same way.
"Alright, I gotta get back before Emily's rehab is over."
Jason stepped aside and the younger man stepped out into the hallway. As he was waiting for the elevator he heard Sonny open the door and tell Max to have the car brought around. Luckily the elevator arrived before he forced to spend time waiting with either him or Carly. He didn't feel up to dealing with their lack of concern about Elizabeth.
She opened her eyes and the first thought in Elizabeth's mind was that she wasn't in her studio. The ceiling was too close, and the bed was too comfortable. She blinked and shook her head, trying to clear the cotton away she seemed to be wrapped in. Sounds were coming in muffled and she desperately searched her memory for what happened. Stopping when her gaze landed to her left, she saw an IV stand and plastic tubing leading down toward the bed. She was obviously in the hospital.
Trying to remember, she had flashes of being trapped and Jason finding her. With a sigh she settled back into the bed. She had been trapped in the crypt and Jason had found her, just like she knew he would. He had obviously saved her life, though he would claim it was nothing.
She started to raise her hand to brush the hair out of her face, but frowned when her wrist only moved a little bit. She looked down and was puzzled to see brown padded restraints around her wrists. What was going on? Panic began to set in as she tugged her arms, trying to free her hands. The fear of being trapped began to set in once again.
"Help," she called in a weak voice, tears rolling down her face. "Someone, please help. Jason!"
Jason stepped off the elevator and moved towards the nurses' station, his eyes shifting around the area as he took in the antiseptic smell and tried not to grimace. Bobbie looked up at his approach, and smiled in relief.
"Jason, I'm glad you're here. I'm sure you know about Elizabeth don't you?"
Jason nodded wearily. "Yeah. How is she?"
Bobbie frowned, and he felt his gut clench immediately with worry. "She woke up, but was highly agitated. She was asking for you, and very upset by the restraints. Doctor Baldwin had to give her a mild sedative, but she's still awake. It was just enough to calm her down so Gail could talk to her."
He forced himself to unclench his fists and take a deep breath. He felt helpless when hearing about her being sedated. He remembered the time Carly had faked being crazy after she shot Tony Jones. He knew she wasn't crazy, and that she wasn't really taking the medication the doctors prescribed to her. But Elizabeth wasn't faking. The terror he'd seen last night was too real. She clearly didn't know where she was, and he hated watching as they'd drugged her and restrained her before they transported her to the hospital.
Hearing that Elizabeth was still being drugged bothered him. He felt that somehow he should be able to do something for her. Any other time she'd been in trouble, he'd been able to help. But this wasn't like having a bomb in her studio, or having an unwanted admirer in a bar, this wasn't something he could take hold of physically and wrestle out of her life. He had money; he could fly in any doctor in the world to treat her. But that was something Jax would do. Throw money at a problem. That wasn't Jason's style. He liked to tackle things head on, and he didn't like that there was something he knew nothing about and couldn't do anything to fix.
Well, he had done one thing. He'd called Dara and she agreed to meet him at the hospital. She said she wanted to talk to Elizabeth first to see if the younger woman wanted her help, but if Elizabeth had no objections she would definitely take the case.
"Do you think I could see her?" he asked, not really caring if Bobbie heard the slight tremble in his voice.
"I don't know," she answered. "Gail is in charge of approving visitors. She doesn't want Elizabeth having any unnecessary stress. But I'll talk to Gail. Since Elizabeth was asking for you, maybe she'll let you see her."
"Thank you," Jason said as he watched Bobbie walk away. He hoped Dara got there soon. He hated hospitals, and having someone to talk to would make things more bearable.
"I knew it."
Jason sighed and turned around to see Carly and Sonny standing behind him. Carly's arms were folded across her chest and her eyes were narrowed bitterly. "Carly, don't start."
"Why are you talking to Mama about Elizabeth? What, the little twit came up with some half-baked attempt to try and get you back? She is so pathetic. She just couldn't stand that instead of pining after her when she walked out on you, you found happiness and love with Courtney. And now that you and Sonny are being Neanderthals, trying to control her and keep her away from you, Elizabeth figured she'd swoop in and try and worm her way back into her your life. Well I won't allow it. And if you two would stop being so pig-headed you could just get back together with Courtney and little Miss Priss will maybe finally get a clue."
"Carly," Jason ground out. "Stop it right now."
"Jase, come on," she pleaded with her overly bright smile. "You know I'm right."
"No, you're not. As usual you have no clue about me or my life."
"Oh please," she said, shaking off Sonny's hand on her arm. "I know you better than you know yourself."
"No, you don't," he said, his teeth clenched hard. "Do you know why I was with Courtney?"
"Because she's the right woman for you," Carly smiled. "Elizabeth Webber is a little girl who couldn't handle you."
Jason cast an apologetic look toward Sonny, then looked at Carly. "No, I was with Courtney because Elizabeth walked out, and I was hurt. But instead of trying to figure out why, I ran from everything. I tried so hard to make things work with Courtney to prove that Elizabeth was wrong when she said I gave up my whole life for you and Sonny. But no matter what I did it didn't make me happy. Courtney wasn't Elizabeth, and that's why I ended things with her. It wasn't fair to her, or to me."
"Jase," she said, nearly pleading with him. "You just need to give her a chance. I know she could make you happy."
"No, she makes you happy, because I'm still there to take care of you and your problems. I am through giving up the things that matter the most to me just because you think that's how it should be. You either accept my choices and the people in my life or you get out." He knew he was going too far, that he shouldn't make definitive statements when he was this tired and this worried, but he wouldn't take the words back. "I don't want to lose you in my life, but I will not let you run anyone off ever again just because you don't like them or you feel threatened. Elizabeth is in my life, and she needs my help. Get used to it."
"I-I don't think I've ever heard you say so much," she said with a forced laugh, but her eyes were moist and she quickly excused herself to go sit down.
Jason pinched the bridge of his nose and cast a cautious glance at Sonny. "I'm sorry."
"Don't," Sonny shook his head. "I know you didn't do things to deliberately hurt Courtney. I don't like it, but now is not the time to get into it. Carly's just overly emotional right now. The club's only been open a couple of weeks, and she's still a little overwhelmed from that. Plus, Doctor Meadows just confirmed she's pregnant."
"Hey, that's great," Jason said, having wondered why Carly and Sonny were at the hospital. "How is she?"
"She's fine. I wanted to get her checked out, get it confirmed. She's been feeling a little off ever since the club opened, but the doctor said it's normal. Don't worry, she'll be fine," Sonny said, then stepped away from the nurse's station when another nurse came to check on some patient charts. "How's Elizabeth? I heard she was moved here last night."
"Not good," Jason said, massaging his temple with his thumb. "She didn't know where she was last night. She thought she was in the stairs of her building, and then suddenly she thought I was Ric. She was frightened, trying to get away, and saying she wouldn't tell anyone as long as he left her alone. Whatever happened last night set her off. Her studio was a mess. Something definitely wrong went on between her and Ric."
There was a gasp and they looked over at Carly who was sitting on the couch behind them. She was pale and her hands trembled slightly. He followed Sonny over and sat down beside her. "What-what are you two talking about? What happened?"
"Ric Lansing died last night," Sonny told her, and Jason saw an odd look cross her face. "Elizabeth was arrested for it."
"He was at her studio. Something happened, and he fell and hit her artist's table. Probably broke his neck. But there was a lot of blood too, looked like there was quite a fight," Jason said, filling in both her and Sonny.
"She killed him? Why?" Carly said, her voice just above a whisper.
Her demeanor was making Jason suspicious. Carly had been acting a bit off and had been for several weeks. He didn't know what it was, but he didn't think it was just being pregnant. Before he could ask her about it, Sonny continued on. "We don't know. But she had a panic attack at the jail last night and they brought her to GH."
"No," Jason said, looking around. Sonny had obviously not thought about talking in front of Carly, but they were still in a hospital, and he wanted to make sure no one would know that he'd been at the jail the night before, or that he'd gone to the crime scene. "They think it's PTSD. Gail Baldwin is treating her. Elizabeth was asking for her last night when they brought her in."
"Yeah. He was here earlier trying to get in to see her. Zander saw him when he came to see Emily at her rehab session. Apparently Gail kept him out; saying Elizabeth couldn't be disturbed. I called Dara Jensen to see if she would take the case."
Sonny nodded in approval. "That's good. She probably will. Didn't she prosecute the case against Tom Baker?"
Jason nodded once. He had left Baker alone because Emily asked him to, but he knew that when the ex-photographer got out of prison there would no place the other man could hide. He had a score to settle on behalf of Emily and Elizabeth. He knew Sonny knew about Tom Baker and what the man had done to the two teenagers, but he wasn't going to elaborate about it in front of Carly. The information about Ric Lansing's death would probably be on the news, but there was no way he would talk to her about past history, especially something so private.
"Then she'll help," Sonny said firmly. Jason really hoped that was true.
He looked up and saw Dara standing there, holding a briefcase. He stood from the couch and told her, "Thank you for coming."
"I got here as soon as I could. I'd like to talk to Elizabeth if that's possible."
"Dara? What are you doing here?" Gail Baldwin said as she joined the group. "Bobbie just said Jason wanted to see Elizabeth."
"Jason asked me to represent Elizabeth. I wanted to talk to her before I agreed to it, if that's alright."
"Well, I think I can let you speak to her briefly," she said. Then motioned for Dara and Jason to join her. "But I need to tell you two a few things before I let you in to see her."
Jason glanced briefly at Sonny and Carly, then followed silently behind the two women and listened as Gail explained Elizabeth's state of mind.
Elizabeth tugged at her restraints, tears running down her cheeks as she fought to take a breath. What was going on? Oh, please let this be an actual hospital and not someplace the kidnappers brought her to. Jason wouldn't think to look for her in a hospital. Would he? She had to keep holding onto the hope that Jason was coming for her. It was the only thing that kept her going.
The door started to open, and Elizabeth fought trying to take a breath, and simply held it. A kind looking woman walked in and it took her a second to realize it was Bobbie standing in the doorway. She had to be in the hospital, it couldn't be an elaborate ruse if Bobbie was there.
"Where am I?" she pleaded.
"You're in General Hospital," Bobbie answered, a shadow passing over her face.
"Why am I here? Why these?" she asked, tugging her wrists.
"They brought you in last night. They had to put on the restraints because you were agitated and they were afraid you were going to hurt yourself."
She was lying. Something in Elizabeth screamed that Bobbie was lying. She shouldn't need restraints after being found in the crypt. "They got you too. Didn't they? Does Sonny know you're gone?"
"Elizabeth, honey, you're at General Hospital," Bobbie said as stepped forward. "Nobody has you."
Elizabeth watched as Bobbie pressed a button, then sat down the silver tray she was holding and picked up a hypodermic needle. All the while she was trying to calm Elizabeth, but the younger woman wasn't going to fall for it. Something was wrong. The door opened again and another lady stepped inside.
"Elizabeth, how are you feeling?"
"Get away from me," she whispered hoarsely as Bobbie handed the older woman the needle that was now filled with a clear liquid.
"Elizabeth," she said gently as she sat down. "My name is Gail Baldwin. I'm your doctor and you're in General Hospital. What's the last thing you remember before being here?"
"I-I was in a crypt."
"Elizabeth, that was over seven months ago," Dr. Baldwin explained to her.
Elizabeth looked at her puzzled. Seven months? No. She'd just been there. Wait. The crypt. Stairs. Her studio. Jason. Ric. Places and people jumbled together, and her head throbbed. Her eyes darted around the room, avoiding Bobbie and Dr. Baldwin. Why couldn't she remember? Why did nothing make sense?
"Bobbie, please give us a minute," Dr. Baldwin said as she stood. Gail took hold of Elizabeth's arm and slipped the needle into her arm and depressed the plunger. "This isn't as strong as they gave you last night, but it will help you calm down."
The doctor sat there, calmly talking to her, while waiting for the medication to take effect. Elizabeth didn't register the words, but slowly the jumbled thoughts slowed, sorted and filtered into place. The panic subsided and Elizabeth looked over and recognized Gail and the words she was saying.
"Gail?" Her voice shook slightly, but was stronger than it had been before.
"Hello, Elizabeth. How are you feeling?"
"Tired," she answered, slumping back against the bed. "Confused. I-I thought..."
"That this was after the crypt. Last night you thought you were trapped in the stairway." Gail paused and then continued. "Do you remember anything about last night?"
Elizabeth closed her eyes and tried to think. It was hard to figure out what was true, and what she only thought was. She remembered her studio, painting, a knock on the door, and...Ric. She furrowed her brow. "Ric came to my studio."
"Good," Gail said softly, "just let it come. Don't force it or fight it."
"I told him to leave," Elizabeth said, her voice flat as she recited the events she saw in her mind's eye. "I don't remember why, but I didn't want him there. He was saying something...it didn't make sense."
"What did he say?" the older woman prompted.
"You can't tell anyone, Elizabeth."
"He said I couldn't tell anyone."
"Tell them what?"
"I don't know. But he kept insisting and wouldn't leave me alone."
He took a step towards her and she countered his move, her back hitting the artist's table.
Her breath caught in her throat and she choked out, "I-I told him to g-go."
"It's okay, Elizabeth," Gail soothed. "You're here with me. It's just us. He's not here."
Elizabeth took a deep breath, and focused on what Gail was telling her. She wasn't in her studio, she was safe. "We fought. He fell. There-there was red everywhere."
Flashes of red streaked through her mind. She knew Gail was right, nobody could hurt her here. And Gail would help her sort through this, just as she had been. The door opened, and they looked up as Bobbie stepped back into the room.
"Gail, Jason Morgan is here. He wanted to see Elizabeth."
"Thank you. Would you stay with her?" Turning to Elizabeth she said. "I'll be back in a minute."
Gail left the room and Bobbie checked the chart at the end of the bed, making a notation. Elizabeth studied her, even as she tried to figure out why Jason would be here to see her. There may be times she couldn't remember where or when she was, but right now she was all too painfully aware that Jason wasn't speaking to her. That he was with Courtney. That he had been for months.
"Why is he here?" she asked Bobbie, before she could censor her mouth.
"He came to see you," Bobbie told her, putting the chart down and coming to sit down in the chair Gail had vacated. "Zander came by this morning too, but it was before you woke up."
Zander. She had a memory of talking to Zander. Was it last night? But where was she? Someplace cold and hard. The crypt? Maybe she was just confusing her memories again. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she realized that must be it. Because she also had a memory of talking to Jason, and that couldn't be.
"Because they're worried about you, sweetie."
Zander maybe. That she could believe. He had remained a pretty good friend, even though he had a lot of things going on in his life. But why would Jason be worried? He hadn't cared in months. She studied the nurse and figured there must be more that she wasn't saying.
"Bobbie, why am I here? If the crypt was months ago, then why am I here now?" she asked, pinning the redhead with her gaze. Then she gave a tug on her wrists. "And why these?"
The door opened again, and Bobbie looked at in relief. That just made Elizabeth even more determined to find out what was going on. Gail stepped inside, followed by Dara Jensen and Jason. All right, she was definitely confused, and at this point it didn't take much to do that.
Everyone was silent as they regarded each other. Dara and Jason looked uneasy, and Gail, Gail had her doctor's face on.
"Alright," she snapped, tired of feeling like some sideshow freak. Come see the crazy lady. Watch out, don't step too close. Even though she's tied up she's still dangerous. "I want answers and I want them now. Why am I here?" Then fixing her gaze on Jason she asked, "And why are you here?"
"Why are you here?"
The coldness and disbelief in Elizabeth's voice hurt Jason, even though he was expecting it. For months she had lashed out at him, wanting to inflict him with as much pain as she probably felt. He had tried to ignore it, pretend she really did hate him, that she'd walked out because she couldn't take his life. But he'd just told Carly that wasn't true. She was hurting, and he could no longer ignore it, or ignore how it affected him.
He'd had a lot of time to think, and he found himself reliving their conversations. Particularly the day in Kelly's. He had ignored her for so long, never really tried to find out how she was feeling. If he had, if he had listened to her, tried to understand, would he have seen something was wrong? Would he be able to help her without feeling like a heel for having turned a blind eye to her?
"I-I'm here because you need help."
Her eyes darkened and her face shut down. He had a feeling he'd just said something wrong. "Right. Why else? You're always there to help when someone's in trouble."
Then she shifted her gaze, icily dismissing him. Looking at Dara, she asked, "How come you're here?"
"Jason asked me to take your case. I wanted to talk to you first though, to see if you were okay with that."
Elizabeth looked back to him briefly, surprise passing quickly over her face. She started to move her right arm, but the restraint prevented her from raising it. She frowned at it, and Jason's stomach twisted. It was a reminder of where she really was, what was really happening, and he didn't like seeing her tied to the bed.
"Doctor Baldwin," he said, causing everyone to look at him. "Are the restraints still necessary?"
She gave him a gentle smile and shook her head. "No, I think she's calmed down enough now. I was going to take them off earlier. You feeling better now, Elizabeth?"
"Yes," she nodded.
Dr. Baldwin removed them, and Elizabeth rubbed at her wrists. She pushed her hair out of her face and pulled the blanket up around her more. "Thank you," she said to Gail and then looked quickly at Jason, giving a look of gratitude.
"Elizabeth," Dara said as she took a step towards the bed, "I'd like to talk to you about what happened, and if you want me to take your case."
Jason watched Bobbie quietly leave the room, and then turned back Elizabeth. She was looking at Dara, her eyes darting wildly between the attorney and some spot on the wall. "My case? I don't understand. I-I don't really remember what happened. Gail was trying to help me remember earlier."
"Do you know why you're here?"
Elizabeth looked at her, then at Dr. Baldwin. In a soft voice she said, "I h-had an episode last night. I was upset."
"Okay," Dara said, shifting her attaché case in her hands. "Maybe I should have asked, do you know why I'm here?"
She looked at Jason, then back to Dara. "Jason asked you to come?"
"Do you know why?"
She clutched the blanket tighter, her eyes darting around as she stared at the three of them. Jason glanced over at Dr. Baldwin, realizing that Elizabeth didn't know. Just how bad were things with her? Letting out a shaky, shallow breath she shook her head no.
Dara sighed and looked to Dr. Baldwin for advice. Gail sat down on the chair beside the bed and leaned forward. "Elizabeth, Ric Lansing died last night."
Elizabeth paled, and wrapped her arms tightly around herself. "He's dead?"
"Yes," Gail nodded.
Jason watched her closely, his hands clenching into fists as she pushed herself back into the bed, fright evident in her body language. What happened with her and Ric? He wanted a few minutes alone with her, to ask her about last night. But she would probably not want to talk to him, and he didn't want to push her. She looked so shaky, like she was barely holding onto reality by a thread.
"So if he's dead..."
Dr. Baldwin took a breath and looked at Dara, then back to Elizabeth. "The police arrested you."
"M-me?" she squeaked. "I-I killed him?"
"We don't know," Dara said. "But he was found in your studio."
She stilled, her breath hitched, and he watched as it looked like something inside her clicked, opened and she nodded her head. "He was there. I - We fought. I told him to go, but I-I don't know what happened after that."
"It's alright, Elizabeth," Gail said gently. "We'll figure it out. But you should know that Scott was here earlier. He does seem determined to charge you."
"If you'd like me to, I'll take your case," Dara told her. "You apparently mentioned to Zander Smith that you were going to get a public defender?"
"I can't pay you," Elizabeth protested.
"I told her I'd pay," Jason said, finally breaking his silence.
"Why?" she asked as she looked at him suddenly. Then her face shut down and she shook her head. "No, no. I don't need your money. I don't want your money."
"Then we'll work something out," Dara told her. "I'll even take the case pro bono."
"Pity," Elizabeth scoffed. "No. I'll-"
"Elizabeth, it's not pity," the lawyer cut in. "I believe you. I want to help you. So we'll figure out payment later."
Jason stood next to the door, watching the exchange and feeling helpless. The first time he speaks and he evokes an emotion in her other than fright or confusion. Anger. It was a common emotion directed at him, but he still wasn't used to it. She refused to look at him, talk to him, or accept his help. He seemed to be causing more problems by being there. He knew he would tell Dara he'd make up the difference in her fee, but he certainly wasn't going to say that to Elizabeth.
"Alright," Elizabeth finally said after a little more protesting. "We'll work something out."
"I'd like to talk to you and Doctor Baldwin about what happened, and about your treatment." Looking back at him she said, "I'm afraid you'll need to go, Jason."
"Right," he said. Attorney, client and doctor. If he were there none of the conversation would be privileged. "Could I just speak to Elizabeth for a minute?"
Dara and Gail moved toward the door to quietly talk, and Jason said down in the chair beside the bed. Elizabeth refused to meet his eye and he clasped his hands in his lap because he knew she wouldn't want him to touch her. "Elizabeth?"
"Why? I just - just can't figure out why you're here. I don't want your pity."
"I don't pity you. I just want to help. But I can't - I won't force you. So if you don't want me here," he paused and steeled himself. It would kill him, he knew it, but he didn't want to upset her anymore than she was. "If you don't want me here, I'll stay away. Zander's concerned about you, you can talk to him."
"Are you and Zander talking?"
"He came by asking for my help. I guess there's an agreement between us."
That finally brought her eyes up to meet his. "So what I say to him will reach you?"
"Only if you want," he assured her. The distrust, the disbelief he sensed from her hurt. They always used to trust each other, and he regretted how far they'd fallen.
"I-I just don't know," she said.
"You don't have to decide now. I'll go so you can talk to Dara and Doctor Baldwin. I'd like to stop back though, if that's okay?"
She just shrugged and he merely nodded. She didn't say no, so that had to be a start. He got up and walked to the door, giving one last glance back at her. She barely met his gaze, and then quickly looked down at her lap. She appeared so broken and he gripped the door hard and pulled it open.
Walking down the hall, he felt the pressure building inside him. Her mind, her spirit seemed so fragile, and that was so unlike her. He'd seen her confused, torn between him and her loyalty to Lucky, but this went beyond that. Heading towards the elevator he had to get outside, get away from the confines of the hospital. He was almost there when someone touched his arm. "Jason?"
He stopped and looked up at his sister with Zander, Gia, Nikolas and Lucky behind her. "Emily?"
Zander stepped up beside Emily and looked at Jason. "How is she?"
Jason looked down at the floor, his lips pinched into a tight line. Zander swallowed and ran a hand through his hair. Very few things got to Jason, but this was definitely one. The younger man had seen both sides of him, from the calculating, efficient enforcer who had beaten him up on the docks, to the concerned, willing to do anything man worried when Elizabeth was kidnapped. He definitely wasn't cool and calculating right now.
Jason looked and finally said on a heavy sigh, "Not good. She's...upset, confused. They had to sedate her again when she first woke up. Doctor Baldwin said she thought it was right after she'd been in the crypt."
"But that was months ago," Lucky said, stepping into the conversation. The tone of disbelief echoed Zander's feeling, and by the look of Jason, his as well.
"Yeah," the older man replied.
"So it really is PTSD?" Emily asked. She reached out for Zander's hand and gave it a squeeze.
When Zander showed up at rehab he wasn't sure what to say to her. Emily and Elizabeth had talked while she was in California and since she'd been home, but it hadn't been the same relationship as it had been before. It was strained ever since Emily found out what happened between him and Elizabeth. She said she believed them that it was a mistake, but she wasn't real warm towards Elizabeth. It was one of the reasons he hadn't gone to Emily last night, something she'd given him an earful about when she finally found out what happened to her friend. Apparently bygones were bygones now that Elizabeth was in trouble.
"That's what Doctor Baldwin said," Jason told her. "I don't know much more."
"Dara Jensen is taking her case though?" Gia asked. "Zander said you were going to talk to her."
Jason nodded stiffly. "She talked to Elizabeth and agreed to represent her."
Zander looked Emily and then back to Jason. He could see the tension building in the other man, and apparently she could see it as well. "Thank you. I know you don't like us very much-"
Jason shook it off. "You're her friends. It's okay."
Emily released Zander's hand and stepped forward to her brother. She slipped her arm through his and said, "Can we go somewhere and talk?"
Jason looked at her hesitantly, then back down the hallway. "I wanted to see her again when Dara was done."
"We won't go far," Emily promised him, and steered him towards the elevators.
Zander watched them go, feeling a bit relieved. Jason was edgy, and Emily would be able to calm him down. Let him talk, something he wouldn't do with everyone else around. Turning around to where the other three stood, Zander put his hands in his pockets and shrugged. Nikolas hadn't said anything while Jason was there, but Zander knew he was worried. They all were. And they all felt helpless, not being able to do anything but sit around and wait for information.
Emily and Jason walked out of the hospital and across the street to the small park situated between two doctor's buildings. School wasn't out yet so there were no children playing and everybody else were most likely staying away because of the snow and cold. It was the perfect place for her to talk to her brother; outside of the hospital and yet still close. Plus, they were alone, which would help as well.
They reached a bench and sat down, saying nothing. She sat there for a few minutes, giving him to some time to relax and let the tension out. Finally she turned and looked at him, asking, "Do you want to talk about it?"
He looked at her, but said nothing.
"Alright," she said. "I see I'm going to have to drag this out of you. I've been gone for a little while, but I still remember how to do this. What's bothering you about Elizabeth?"
"She's in the hospital. Isn't that enough?"
"Yes, it is," she said. "But there's something more to this, Jason. You look like a spring wound too tight. So I'm going to ask again, what's bothering you?"
Jason scrubbed his hands over his face, and stretched out his legs with a sigh. "She's so confused. Last night...she didn't know where she was. She thought she was in her building, trapped in the stairs."
"The stairs? Wasn't that," she paused and swallowed. "Wasn't that the night Zander found her? The night they..."
She trailed off. No need to go there. Zander and Elizabeth had both told her it was a mistake when they slept together. Elizabeth said she'd been frightened after being trapped. Emily thought Elizabeth had been holding something back when she told her, it was one of the reason she'd held on to her animosity toward her estranged friend. She thought Elizabeth was only sorry because she got caught, but she now realized that it was something else.
"Yeah," Jason said, breaking the silence. "Before I saw her, Zander came by to tell me she'd been arrested and had asked him to call Gail. He wondered if I knew who that was."
Jason paused and then said; "He told me she looked frightened. Like the night he found her. When I saw her, she thought she was there, that I'd come back like I promised I would and was going to get her out."
Emily put her elbow on the back of the bench and rested her head on her hand. Zander had told her what his father said about PTSD, the person relives the stressful over again. "And she thought she'd just been in the crypt?"
"Yeah," her brother said, letting out a shaky breath. "Doctor Baldwin said when she first woke up she thought she was still kidnapped, that Bobbie had been kidnapped as well. Finally she remembered."
Emily wiped quickly at her eyes. Something was definitely wrong, and she was frightened for her friend. "So what happened last night?"
"I don't know. Her studio is a mess; like there was a huge fight. She said they did, that they argued, she told him to go, but she didn't remember he was dead."
"Do you think she killed him?" Emily asked in a quiet voice. She recalled the day Tom Baker had locked them in the darkroom, and how Elizabeth had later held a gun on him, threatening to shoot him. In the end she hadn't done it, but Emily would never forget the look of Elizabeth holding the gun. Had her friend been pushed past her limits this time?
Jason shrugged. "I really don't know. Something happened, I just don't know what. Last night...at the police station, she thought I was him, and she was frightened. I've never seen her like that. She kept promising she wouldn't tell anyone, if he would just leave her alone."
Emily sat back, watching as Jason's face hardened while he talked. He was concerned about Elizabeth, she knew that was true, but she also knew her brother well enough to know when he didn't like someone. And he did not like Ric. "So why didn't you like him?"
Jason cast her a glance as if he could ignore the question. She knew his evasive techniques and wasn't going to let it go. "Obviously something about Ric bothered you. The couple of times Elizabeth and I talked about him she seemed to think he was a pretty nice guy. I've heard her version and now I want yours."
He sighed and she kept him pinned with her gaze. Finally he said, "He seemed too perfect. Came into town knowing everything about Sonny and his business, had a proposal all prepared. Seemed too eager, too insistent on working for Sonny. It was all too convenient, his answers too practiced. And when he couldn't get in with Sonny, he tried with Carly."
"I see," she said, said slowly. "I suppose that would seem suspicious. But is that all?"
Jason arched his brow at her. "Emily, why don't you just ask what you really want to know."
She gave a little laugh. Jason wasn't like the rest of her family, she didn't have to draw things out, hide her true intent by coming in from a different angle. She just wasn't sure if she really wanted to ask the question. Jason had claimed he was happy with Courtney, and though they were no longer together Jason still insisted that he and Elizabeth were over, that they never would have worked out. But watching him talk about Ric she wondered if her brother's animosity just had to do with business.
"So did you not like him just because he was trying to worm his way into Sonny's business, or because he was also in Elizabeth's life?" Just as he was starting to shift uncomfortably, she pressed ahead, "And how do you really feel about Elizabeth?"
If he never saw hospital coffee again, he wouldn't mind it at all. They had all been sitting there for over an hour, and there was only so much time he could spend staring at institutional white walls without going crazy. He had the path to the vending machine memorized, and soon he was going to have the one to the bathroom down pat as well. Leaning back in the chair he stretched his legs out in front of him and tried to find some position that was semi-comfortable.
"I'm going for some soda, anyone want anything?" Lucky asked as he stood. Zander and Nikolas looked at each other and shook their heads with a grimace.
"Okay," he said with a shrug.
Zander shifted and tried to keep his legs from falling asleep. Why did waiting room chairs have to be so uncomfortable? Sitting here in silence with Lucky would have been okay, but Nikolas just made him uneasy. Gia would have at least been able to help ease the situation but she had an exam and they all told her to go, promising that they would let her know when they found out anything.
"Your father really thinks Gail Baldwin is a good doctor?" Nikolas asked. Apparently the silence was getting to him as well.
Zander shrugged. "I guess. I mean, wouldn't you know? Your family owns the hospital."
"Yeah, but I've never really had contact with her." He stopped and got a distant look. "I do remember she saw Elizabeth once before. It was back after…the…"
"Elizabeth's rape," Zander said quietly. Emily had told him about it that morning, frightened and worried for Elizabeth, she was glad her friend was seeing Gail. Zander didn't know any of the details; just that Elizabeth was raped several years ago. And that was all he needed to know right now.
"Yeah," Nikolas nodded. "Elizabeth saw her and attended a counseling group."
"Do you think that's why she went to Gail?" Zander asked. Now that the silence had been broken he didn't want to lapse into it again. "Or, oh man, you don't think she's been seeing her ever since then, do you?"
Nikolas paused and considered it. "I don't know. Elizabeth has always been pretty private about it. It looks like she's been seeing Doctor Baldwin for who knows how long and none of us knew."
"You're right," Zander sighed. None of them knew or would have known. In all the time he'd seen her recently he never would have suspected she was having problems. Sometimes Elizabeth hid things too well.
Lucky came back and plopped down in a chair and shook his head. "I can't drink anything more, and the candy in the machine predates the president. You know, for a hospital this place is decidedly unhealthy."
He pointed a finger at Nikolas. "You should fix that."
The older man sighed and shook his head. "I'll get right on it."
"Good," Lucky said. "Use your power and influence for something good."
Zander shook his head at the two brothers and walked over to the window. How long could Dara and Dr. Baldwin talk to Elizabeth? They were all tense, worried and wanting to find out something. Anything. Looking out the window he wondered where Emily took Jason. It may be cowardly, or maybe selfish, but he didn't want to have to sit in a waiting room with Jason. The calm exterior was cracking, and Zander didn't want to be anywhere near him when the pressure became too much.
Footsteps echoed in the hallway and he anxiously turned from the window. The hospital wing was pretty empty so he figured it was either Dara or Gail. As it turned out, it was both of them. They looked around and Dara asked, "Where's Jason? I was hoping to talk to him."
"He and Emily went outside to talk. Let me call her," Zander said.
"Doctor Baldwin, how's Elizabeth?" Nikolas asked.
"Is there any way we could see her?" Lucky added.
"Wait," Zander called out as he hit the end button on the phone. "Jason and Emily will be here in a minute. No sense to repeat what you know they're going to ask as well."
She had to admit her brother was doing an amazing impression of a deer in the headlights. One would think she'd asked him how many men he'd killed, or what Benny did to doctor the books. But Emily figured she'd done the personal equivalent. Jason didn't like to share his private thoughts, and Elizabeth had always been a subject he kept close to the vest.
"Emily," he said, the tone of his voice clearly conveying how uncomfortable he was.
"I'm trying to understand," she said. "You ended, you were with Courtney, but right now you sound like you'd kill Ric if he wasn't already dead."
"Yeah, I would," he said honestly. "He did something that hurt her."
"But it's not just that," she persisted.
"What do you want me to say?" he asked in frustration. "That I thought about her all the time I was with Courtney?"
"I was trying to forget Elizabeth by finding something to distract me. I thought I could convince myself that Elizabeth and I would never work out and I could be happy without her."
"You shouldn't have to convince yourself you do or don't have feelings for someone," Emily murmured softly.
She understood that. Juan and Zander had confused her, causing conflicting and swirling emotions in her. And when she was in rehab she tried to convince herself that she was better off not dragging Zander down with her troubles, and that it would be the right thing for them not to be together. She had never been able to fully get him out of her mind or heart though.
She realized in that time she had never been very fair to Elizabeth during all the problems with Lucky and Jason. Elizabeth had moved on with her life when they thought Lucky was dead, and Emily hadn't been supportive of her friendship or feelings for Jason because she wanted to believe in the magical love Elizabeth and Lucky had before the fire. Elizabeth had sacrificed her happiness because everyone expected her to be there for Lucky and help him through the brainwashing mess, but Emily realized now that she had overlooked how truly unhappy Elizabeth was. She had been so wrapped up in Juan and then Zander that she wasn't there for her friend. She never listened, truly listened, without projecting her own hopes into the conversation.
"Yeah," Jason said. "Because it doesn't work. I didn't want to think about her walking out, or that she might have been right."
"Oh, geez," Emily groaned. "You two are so screwed up. So expert at hiding what you really feel or want and try to do what's right or expected."
Her eyes misted up as she stiffened. "That was wrong to say. To call her screwed up when she's in the hospital psych wing. I-I'm so scared for her, Jason."
He shifted towards her and enveloped her in a hug. Normally she took strength from him, knowing that somehow he'd fix the problem and make her feel better because he always did. But now she could tell he felt just as confused and unsure as she did. This time she wasn't sure her big brother could make things better and she felt lost and scared.
Her cell phone rang and she pulled back and wiped her eyes, and watched as Jason pressed his thumb and forefinger into his own eyes. She took her phone out of her purse and flipped it open. "Hello?"
"Emily, it's Zander."
"Zander?" she asked, and Jason raised his head.
"Dara and Doctor Baldwin came out of Elizabeth's room. They want to talk to us."
"We'll be right there," she said in a rush and flipped the phone shut as she stood. "Dara and Doctor Baldwin want to talk to us."
He was halfway across the park before he stopped, apparently realizing he'd left her. She ran to join him when he looked back at her, his impatience clear.
It was late when Jason pulled into the garage and turned off his motorcycle. Hours of riding after leaving the hospital had done nothing to ease his tension. He hadn't been able to see Elizabeth, Dr. Baldwin said she was still upset and confused and the older woman had wanted to let her calm down before they talked to her more. She couldn't divulge much about Elizabeth's condition, since none of them were family.
He thought about going and tracking down Elizabeth's parents; whether to drag them back or pummel them he wasn't sure. Audrey had been Elizabeth's power of attorney, and she hadn't signed a new form since her grandmother's death. Not surprising since it was only a couple of weeks ago, but Dara said it put them in a bit of a tough spot. Scott Baldwin could argue that PTSD put her in a frame of mind unable to make any such binding decisions.
Dara told them that this would be just the kind of grandstanding stunt Baldwin would pull. He was already pushing to interview Elizabeth, despite the fact that she was in the hospital and undergoing treatment. Of course, Scott had continued on with Jason and Brenda's trial when Brenda was in the hospital. Baldwin cared about nothing, except posturing and preening. Jason vowed that he wouldn't allow Elizabeth to be harassed that way. But with only Dara and Dr. Baldwin being able to make limited decisions, the prospects weren't good.
After Lucky and Nikolas left he, Emily and Zander talked with Dara about what they could do. Zander and Emily offered to be her power of attorney and wondered if they could get the court to appoint them. All the discussion had made Jason's head hurt and he just sat there as his sister and the attorney went through it.
He knew he couldn't see Elizabeth until possibly the next day, and even then there were no guarantees that she would talk to him. She was more likely to talk to Nikolas or Gia than him. The ride hadn't relaxed him very much because he couldn't outrun the worries in his head. The only thing he'd been able to work out was a deal to pay Dara without Elizabeth knowing. He knew she would have taken the case for a dollar, but he insisted. It was the only thing he could do, and maybe she sensed his need to feel that he was being useful.
Slowly he climbed off the motorcycle and headed for the elevators. When he reached the penthouse level he stepped off and nodded briefly at Johnny who was standing by Sonny's door and then turned towards his own.
He stopped and turned back to Johnny who met him. "Yeah."
"I've heard the news about Miss Webber. The media have really jumped all over it, and are in a frenzy since she's in the hospital."
Jason growled in the back of his throat. He hadn't read or listened to the news since last night. He could only imagine what they were saying now based on the wild speculation that they were doing then.
"Have you seen her?"
"Briefly," Jason said. "She pretty confused...wondered why I was there."
Johnny blew out a long breath and then tipped his head to the side. "If you don't mind me asking, do you think she killed him?"
Sighing, Jason leaned one shoulder against the wall. He felt like he was swimming through mud, and it was because he just didn't know anything. He was blind, and he didn't like it. "I don't know. She doesn't know what happened. She didn't remember he was dead."
"Oh man," the guard said softly.
Jason watched him and wondered about all the questions from Johnny. "Alright. Why the questions?"
Johnny looked slightly sheepish. "She made me brownies once. I guarded her a couple of times; Francis was her primary guard when Sorel came after her when you left the town the first time. We looked out for her."
"We'd never go against you and Sonny," he was quick to assure. "When you guys dropped her off your radar, we just tried to keep an eye on her. It wasn't easy, because if we showed too much interest when Carly or Courtney was around it could get…ugly."
"Yeah." He imagined it did. It just seemed so much easier to pretend Elizabeth didn't exist. He never thought about warning her when he had suspicions regarding Ric. He had let her get involved with someone who put her danger and she'd been pushed past the edge. He'd left her in the path of a predator because he was hiding and trying to avoid scenes with Elizabeth.
"Jason? You okay?" Johnny asked.
Jason shook his head no. "She has PTSD. I didn't see it. I didn't know she needed help. I knew Ric was trouble, and I let her hang around him."
"You think she would have listened to you?"
"No," he said, remembering the cold shoulder she gave him at the hospital. "She wouldn't have."
"Miss Webber is a bit headstrong. This isn't your fault."
"It is because I should have known something was wrong with her. I ignored her."
Johnny leaned his shoulder against the wall, mirroring Jason's stance. "So, what are you going to do?"
"I'm going to help her," Jason declared.
"Even if she doesn't want your help?"
"I can't leave her alone."
"Why? Because she's Elizabeth and she was once your friend, or because you feel guilty? You don't doubt yourself, Jason, but you are now. So because you weren't there before, you're going to make up for it now?"
"I don't want your pity."
He rubbed his hand tiredly over his face and shook his head. "I don't know. I just...I can't let her go through this. She's in trouble. I can't turn away from her again."
"Are you prepared to do anything?"
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"If things look like they're going against Elizabeth, the trial or whatever, what are you going to do? Don't just react, Jason, because you don't know and you're feeling in the dark. You better start planning ahead so that you can be there for her, however she needs you and will let you in. You plan. It's what you do. Do it now, think about things. Because with Baldwin around, I wouldn't count on anything going easy on her."
"Yeah," Jason said as he let out a breath. He knew Johnny was trying to help, but he just felt that the mud was being piled on.
"I'm sorry. I don't mean...I just want to help. You and Miss Webber. So if you need anything, you know you can ask, don't you?"
"I do," he nodded. "Thanks."
"Any time. Look, get some rest. You've got to. Because if you try and talk to her, you have to be on top of your game."
Pinching his lips together, he nodded and turned towards his door. "Thanks, Johnny."
Shutting the door behind him, he dropped his jacket over the chair and tossed his keys on the desk. He headed into the kitchen, grabbed a beer and headed back to the leather sofa. He tugged his cell phone out of his pocket and then sat down and took a long pull from the beer bottle. Dialing in a number, he waited and listened to it ring.
"It's Morgan. I may need your services, so be ready to go at a moment's notice. Two people, we may need a doctor. So it needs to be somewhere stable, but where no one can find us."
Elizabeth stood by the window and pulled her blue terry-cloth robe tighter around herself. Since they didn't know how long she was going to be in the hospital, Emily had gone to her studio and gathered some of her things so she'd be more comfortable. It was nice having her own toothbrush, and a robe to cover the thin indecent gowns that were standard hospital attire.
In the four days since she'd arrived at the hospital she and Emily had repaired their relationship over the Zander incident. Emily vowed to be there for her, support her just as Elizabeth had done with her phone calls and letters during rehab. The only thing they didn't talk about was Elizabeth's PTSD and the incident, as Gail had taken to calling it, at the studio. Apparently Gail had told them not to discuss it with her.
So while she had nice visits with Lucky, Nikolas and even Gia, they were strained. She hadn't spent much time with them recently, so mostly she just sat and listened to them talk about school, family or the latest gossip. Emily and Zander's visits were a little better, but they - like the others - were slightly uncomfortable trying to avoid what they most wanted to ask: how long had she had PTSD and what caused it?
Sighing, she tucked her hair behind her ears and leaned against the wall, resting her head on the window. It was about time for Jason's afternoon visit. If she wore a watch she could have set it by his visits. He would come in the morning at the start of visiting hours, and stay for an hour before she had a session with Gail. Then she'd have lunch, visits with the others, and another session of therapy. Right after it was over Jason would visit again until they served dinner. Dara would come by and then she had her evening medication delivered. She had never seen so much of Jason in all the months since she left his penthouse.
If he had shown this much effort before, things might have been different. Or if she had just told him what was really going on, would it have changed their outcome? She didn't know, and she'd tried not to think about it, but now that she was on the third day of intensive therapy she couldn't keep from playing the what-if game.
When she ran into Gail in the hospital one late July morning while looking for her grandmother, she had no idea how her life was going to turn upside down. She was upset after another rejection by Jason because of the Zander mess, and when Gail just casually asked how she was she burst into tears. The doctor had ushered them into her office where Elizabeth spilled the entire story.
She talked about being kidnapped and locked in the crypt, then the night she got trapped in the stairs and slept with Zander. She spoke of the nightmares, the fright she felt if she had to go into the walk-in freezer at work, and the panic that welled up in her that morning when the elevator lurched and she thought it was going to stop between floors. It was then that Gail made her initial diagnosis.
It was a couple of sessions later that Elizabeth laid out her whole history with Jason. The problems that had been caused during her relationship with Lucky after his return, how she'd messed up with Zander, and how Jason now refused to even talk to her. Gail had encouraged her to tell Jason about the PTSD, but Elizabeth never did. She didn't want that to figure into his decision to get back together with her or continue to push her away. She had made a mess of things and wanted to get back together with Jason without him knowing she was damaged.
She'd planned to tell him after that night they seemed to sort through all the issues of the summer. It wasn't that she was going to do it the very next day, but she figured the time had come for him to know, along with why she hadn't told him before. She never got the chance, though. He disappeared in the perpetration of Sonny's great death charade, she always saw him around Courtney, and her fear turned into paranoia and then a mild episode.
If she had only gone to Gail when she started to feel it coming on. The penthouse was turning into a tomb, and her worry for Jason's safety was morphing into panic for her life and she just couldn't get a handle on it. She hadn't wanted to go see Gail, though, because she was afraid Jason would discover where she'd been from the guards and she didn't want him to find out that way. Instead, she'd gone back to work hoping it would help, but it didn't. Once again, she'd made the wrong decision.
The door opened and she could tell by the boots and the creak of his leather jacket, that it was Jason. She didn't look at him, she never knew what to say, and today that was even more true.
"Hi," he said. "I'm sorry I'm late. There was a problem with the coffee shipment."
"That's okay," she told him as she turned. "I hadn't realized it."
His forehead furrowed in instant concern and he took two steps toward her then stopped when she started to back up. "Elizabeth, what's wrong?"
"What?" Could Super Jason now read her thoughts? There was a time she used to think he could.
"Why are you crying? Did-did something happen in therapy this afternoon?"
"Crying?" she echoed in disbelief. "I'm not crying."
Even as she said it she brought her hands to her cheeks and discovered they were wet. Looking down she saw dark splotches on her robe where the tears had fallen. How could she be crying and not know it? What was happening to her?
"I-I didn't realize I w-was crying," she hiccuped. It was like discovering she was bleeding and suddenly the wound she didn't know she had began to hurt. The realization that she had been crying caused great wracking sobs to course through her.
"Hey, hey, hey, it's okay," Jason said as he gently steered her to a chair and knelt down in front of her. "Do-do you want me to get Gail?"
She shook her head no and clung to his hand. The sobs slowly turned into sniffles and then nervous laughter. "I'm sorry. It's like I don't have any control lately. I think it's the medication."
"They still have you on medication?"
"Some kind of antidepressant," she said. "It's to help keep me calm until Doctor Baldwin can help me sort through this. I've never liked being on meds and have always tried to just do therapy."
Jason took a shaky breath, then looked into her eyes. "I know I shouldn't ask, but-"
"How long?" she finished. It felt so good to have someone finally buck against Gail's rules and ask her, let her talk. Even if it was Jason.
When he nodded, she looked away and whispered, "July."
Jason stood abruptly and walked over to the window. His legs felt like lead, and his hands shook as he rested them on the narrow sill. July. She had been diagnosed in July, and she never said anything to him. Why? Why?
"The crypt," he said softly. "Then the stairs, right?"
He looked over his shoulder at her, and his heart sank when he saw her curled up in the chair, hugging her knees, her head buried in them as she started to cry again. He wasn't supposed to get her upset. No matter how many questions he had, he never should have asked. He was very possibly jeopardizing her recovery.
"I'm sorry, Elizabeth," he said as he turned towards her. "Doctor Baldwin told us not to ask."
"It's alright," she said as she raised her head. "I should have told you a long time ago. Gail told me back then that I should tell you. I just...just couldn't."
He crouched down before her again. "Why?"
"You hated me, what I'd done with Zander. How was I supposed to tell you that...that I was damaged?" she said in a whisper.
"You're not damaged," he told her softly but fiercely.
She pulled her hand away that he'd grasped and refused to look at him. "Yes, I am. Look at me."
"Elizabeth, it's not your fault."
"Yes, it is. I was so scared after the crypt and I couldn't tell you that. You would think I couldn't handle things," she hugged her knees tighter and her blue eyes swam with tears. "Maybe you were right. I sure ended up making a mess of things."
Jason stood and pulled the other chair over in front of her. Sitting down he reached out and took one of her hands. "Elizabeth. Elizabeth, please look at me." When she looked up he locked his gaze into hers. "It is not your fault what happened. Do you understand me?"
She smiled sadly at him; "It is my fault. I didn't listen to you."
Shaking his head he said, "No. I should have put guards on you so you couldn't be grabbed. I should have come back instead of staying with Carly."
She pulled her hand out from between his and placed one finger on his lips. "You don't look back, Jason. You are always so sure of your decisions. Don't start now because you feel guilty. You couldn't have changed what happened to me."
How could she say that? He could have done so many things different. He should have. He couldn't stand seeing her like this. This fragile shell of who she was. She wasn't fighting him, she wasn't angry with him; she was just so quiet and lost inside her mind. He wanted her to fight, to scream, to do something other than sit in front of him and cry silent tears that stripped away layers of his heart.
He thought about her behavior over the past three days, the way she quietly sat there as he talked or read to her was her way of protecting herself. Acting like she didn't care in hopes he would just go away. Now he realized it was probably the medication. Her movements were slow and unhurried, her speech careful and precise; it was not the normal buzz of energy and babbling she normally possessed.
He had been bracing himself for the fights, for her to tell him to leave and never come back, that he'd overlooked the true reason for her behavior. She wasn't fighting him because the medication was dimming her light. It was taking her essence and slowly killing it. No wonder she never wanted to take it; others would have noticed the change in her behavior and called her on it.
"Elizabeth, I don't blame you for what happened. I never did. When you and Zander-"
"You shut down. You were so hurt and so angry," she said, her eyes a never ending fountain of tears. "I didn't know why I slept with him except I'd been so scared. I didn't talk to Gail until later, and then I couldn't explain it to you."
"That's when she said it was PTSD?"
She nodded shakily. "I couldn't tell you. It couldn't be the reason you forgave me, or pushed me away further."
All that time. All that time he was telling her to leave town with Zander, to not follow him, all the time she was begging to stay and for him to listen to her. What had he done?
"I wouldn't have held it against you," he said.
"You say that, but I think you knew. You realized there was something wrong with me. Courtney told me that I made it all up in my mind. I just imagined everything between us, and I realized she was right."
"No, she wasn't," Jason cut in. "I never told her that."
She kept talking like she didn't hear him. "You didn't fight for me. You just gave up. But you fought to be with her. You went against Sonny for her. You jeopardized your trial to be with her. You never told her it was too dangerous to be with you. You got her a secret place."
She gave a stifled sob and said, "You did everything I ever wanted you to do for us, but you did it for her. So I realized she was right. I thought the episode I had at your penthouse started when you left to fake Sonny's death and I always saw you with Courtney, but it had to have started before then. Because I read more into the night you said would try than you really meant."
"Don't-don't say that," Jason pleaded with her. His gut was in knots from her tears and the blank recitation of everything he'd done for Courtney but never for Elizabeth. "You weren't wrong."
Another sad smile flittered across her face. "I was. You never used to lie to me, Jason. So I must have misunderstood or imagined it to be what I wanted. You never wanted to be with me, and you never loved me."
He felt like he had been punched in the gut. He had wanted to be with her, and Heaven help him, he still did. He hadn't lied to her, she hadn't imagined it. But she thought she had, because she had an...wait a minute. "You had an episode at the penthouse? The PTSD?"
She nodded stiffly. "I was all alone. Sure Zander was there, but he was no help, plus I was keeping my distance because of what happened before. You were never around; I-I started to feel trapped. I was locked up, only it was more spacious than the crypt. I thought if I went back to work it would help. That night I...I yelled at you, when I said those awful things I wish I could take back-"
"You were in an episode," Jason realized. "I-I never wanted to believe those words. That why I went to see you at Kelly's. But you said-"
"I'm sorry," she choked out. "I wanted to say it was all a lie. But when I saw you, suddenly it all came flooding back and I couldn't get a grip on it. I said those things, said I didn't know you and yet part of my brain was screaming at me to shut up. But I couldn't stop."
He should have gone back again, should have tried harder to make her understand, but his heart wouldn't let him. He closed off, refused to feel the hurt of her anger and rejection. If he had, if he'd given it another attempt, another try would it have made a difference? Would he have kissed Courtney or married Brenda thinking he had no reason not to? He'd thought Elizabeth was gone forever and that he was right in doing everything he did. Now, he was stuck in questioning if onlys…and he didn't know how to stop doing it. He never second-guessed, but now he was caught in an endless loop.
"I'm sorry, Elizabeth," he said. And he was. He so desperately was. "I wish you would have told me."
"So you could have stayed with me out of pity or guilt?" She shook her head. "No. What happened between us happened for a reason. You found Courtney and you're happy with her. You deserve that. You don't deserve to be saddled with me."
"I wouldn't be," he tried to assure her. "I'm happy with you."
She sniffled and sighed. "Please don't say that. I can't make you happy. Courtney can."
"No," he said. "She can't. She doesn't."
She put her fingers on his lips to silence him. "I got what I deserved."
"What?" he mumbled around her hand.
Her tears increased and her shoulders shook with a sob. "I got Ric."
She stood, forcing him to lean back, and walked over to her bed. Climbing in she pulled the covers over her and looked over her shoulder, but not directly at him. "I'm tired. Could you turn the light out?"
He nodded, even though she couldn't see and walked toward the door. Looking at her, his heart pounding wildly in his chest at her words and her defeated body curled up like a wounded child, he turned the lights off and stepped into the hallway. How could she say she deserved Ric? She was petrified the night at the police station when she thought Ric was there. He would never believe she deserved that, nobody did. Especially not her.
Taking a deep breath, he turned for the elevator. He had some questions after talking to Elizabeth, and there was somebody he felt had some answers.
It wasn't until the next morning that Jason was able to talk to Carly. Michael had gone to school and Sonny was in a supply meeting at the warehouse. It was a time that he could talk to her alone without any interruptions and he knew that would be best. Ever since the night of her club opening Carly had been acting skittish, bothered by something that he couldn't figure out. Ever since the day in the hospital, her reaction to Ric's death was sitting at the edge of his brain, whispering that something wasn't right. And then last night after hearing Elizabeth's declaration that she got what she deserved with Ric, he knew it was time to press his friend.
When she opened the door, she looked more relaxed than she had been at the hospital, but still a little wary. "Sonny's at the warehouse."
"I know," he said as he followed her to the couch. "I came to talk to you."
She looked down at her lap. "About what?"
"Your reaction to Ric's death." When she didn't say anything Jason sighed. "Okay,let me tell you what I've seen. Ric came into town, all anxious to work for Sonny. But when Sonny didn't trust him he became friendly with you, helped you out with the club. You encouraged Sonny to hire him and for me to make him my lawyer during the trial."
"He seemed smart and I didn't want you to go to jail."
"I know. But after your club opening you never seemed to want to be around him, but you still kept trying to get Sonny to hire him. When you heard he was dead you looked relieved. He had something over you, didn't he?"
Carly looked away, a mixture of emotions on her face. "Jason, please, let this go. He's dead now."
"I know, Carly, and if it was just you involved I'd respect your wishes. But he did something to Elizabeth, and I think you might be able to help."
"How? I mean, I don't see-"
"She was terrified of me in the jail because she thought I was him. She promised she wouldn't tell anyone if he would just leave her alone. She's in the middle of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and she can't remember what happened. She knows they fought, but nothing after that."
He suddenly stood and shoved his hands in his pockets. He could hear his voice rising with frustration and a little desperation. "She told me she got what she deserved, she got Ric."
Carly couldn't suppress her gasp and he spun around to face her. "What happened, Carly? What did he do to you? If he hurt you, maybe he did the same thing to Elizabeth."
Tears crested in her eyes and slid down her cheeks. "You can't tell Sonny," she pleaded. "I'm going to tell him. I've been trying to tell him, but..."
He sat down beside her and put his arm around her shoulder. "I'll help you. Whatever it is I'll help you. Just please help me help Elizabeth."
"The night The Cellar opened, I saw Sonny kiss Brenda. I thought he was going to leave me for her. I went to Jake's and I had one drink, maybe two, then I can't remember what happened after that." She looked down in her lap and gave a shudder of a cry. "But in the morning I woke up, naked...next to Ric. He claimed we slept together, that I came onto him and wouldn't take no for an answer."
Looking up, her chocolate brown eyes swam with tears. "I don't remember anything, but he kept threatening to tell Sonny."
No wonder with Ric dead she was relieved. The threat was gone, and she had breathed a little easier. He knew her, knew she figured she would never have to tell anybody what happened. Yet she had told him because he pleaded with her for Elizabeth's sake, but how could this tie into Elizabeth?
"Thank you, Carly," he said, his voice deep as he hugged her softly. "I'm sorry he did this. Why didn't you come to me?"
"I didn't want anyone to know. What if he's right? You know me; I lash out and do stupid things when I'm scared. I slept with Sonny because I thought Elizabeth was what you wanted. Why wouldn't I sleep with Ric if I thought Sonny was leaving me?"
"Because you've changed," he told her. "And you love Sonny more than you thought you loved me."
"I was drunk," she protested. "I drank myself into a stupor. I have no memory of what happened."
"You only remember one drink?" he asked. Something was bothering him about her tale. No memory after one drink, it sounded like she had been drugged. When Zander drugged Emily at the rave she only remembered having one drink and then waking up next to the dead cop.
"Yeah," she said, calming down and looking at him questioningly. "Jase, what's wrong?"
"Did you see him when you got to Jake's?"
"I don't remember," she said. "I wasn't really paying attention. What does it matter though?"
"Because I think you were drugged," he told her. Her eyes widened in shock and he went on. "You only had one drink, you can't remember anything until the next morning. The same thing happened to Emily a couple of years ago and she was drugged."
"He drugged me?"
"I don't know. I think someone did."
A flush rose up on her cheeks. "He drugged me. He took advantage of me and tried to make me think it was my fault."
"I'm sorry, Carly," he told her. "I'm going to go over there and talk with Coleman."
"Why didn't I see this?" she questioned, more to herself. "I did this to A.J., and I fell for it when he told me what happened. Why did I believe him?"
"Carly," he said gently. "It's not your fault. Don't get upset about it. I'm going to talk to Coleman. Maybe this ties into Elizabeth somehow, I don't know. But it's all I've got. Are you going to be okay?"
She nodded, and he went to stand up. "I'm going to go."
She grabbed his arm and stood as well. "Thank you, Jason. For believing in me and not automatically thinking it was my fault."
"It wasn't," he assured her.
"I'm starting to realize that," she said. She paused and then added. "I'm sorry about earlier, what I said about Elizabeth. What Ric did to me, she didn't deserve to be with him."
"I know," she said. And thinking about Elizabeth's rape, he feared what they'd fought about and why she was so afraid of him.
"I'm gonna go. If you need me, call me," he told her. "Sonny will believe you too, Carly. He loves you."
She hugged him and whispered, "Thank you."
Nodding, he left, intent on going to Jake's. He finally got a lead to investigate and he wasn't going to sit around wasting any more time. The sooner he got answers, the sooner he could get back to the hospital.
Elizabeth sat in the chair to the side of her bed and arranged the bathrobe on her lap, pulling the ends closer together. Gail sat beside her, not talking but Elizabeth was glad for her presence. Because on the other side of the door Scott Baldwin was meeting with Dara. Her lawyer had explained last night that they really couldn't put the district attorney off any longer. The police had a right to question her, and they agreed to Gail's conditions that she had to be present and could stop the questioning at any time.
She was nervous about the questions. Somehow she just didn't think Scott was going to be as easy to talk to as Gail or Dara. Add that to the unease she had felt ever since talking with Jason last night. She had never meant to tell him all those things, but it just came tumbling out.
She closed her eyes as she felt a prick of tears. He hadn't shown up this morning, and she had been surprised by the disappointment she felt. Four days and she had already come to look forward to his visits. At least now she knew. She had been right when she said he'd run. He probably headed right off to Courtney, so grateful not to be tied to a disappointing freak like Elizabeth. If he ever came back to visit, she was going to show him a frozen block of concrete.
The door opened and she startled, then covered it by closing her robe over her legs once more. Dara and Scott entered along with Taggart. They pulled chairs closer, Dara next to her and Scott and Taggart across from them.
"Good morning, Elizabeth," the D.A. said and Elizabeth merely nodded.
Taggart pulled out a tape recorder, nodded at Dara and gave an introduction into the tape. When he was done Scott looked up from his notes and she knew it was time for the inquisition.
"Alright, Elizabeth, I'm sure you know why we're here. I have just a few general questions to start with. When were you first diagnosed with the PTSD you claim to have?"
Dara sighed and spoke up. "D.A. Baldwin, this isn't a bogus claim and we resent your implications otherwise. Secondly, why does it matter?"
"If you're going to claim this murder was part of her alleged mental condition, then we have the right to know when it happened."
"July," Dara said. "She was diagnosed in July of last year."
"What caused it?"
The lieutenant spoke up. "She was kidnapped and locked in a crypt by one of Sonny Corinthos and Jason Morgan's enemies. Isn't that right, Elizabeth?"
She looked away, not answering. Leave it to Taggart to find a way to turn this into Sonny and Jason's fault. "I was in a crypt. And then I got trapped in the stairwell of my building. I was diagnosed after that."
"How many episodes have you had since then?" Scott asked.
"I'm not sure. One or two."
She tuned out the medical and legal bickering Gail and Scott engaged in. Gail said she'd talk about the treatments later, but to just get on with the questioning. She was giving them a limited amount of time, less if they upset Elizabeth.
"Fine," Scott huffed. "The night in question, what do you remember?"
Elizabeth took a deep breath and remembered Dara's instructions to give the facts and not get overly emotional or volunteer information. "I was in my studio painting."
She closed her eyes and shrugged. "I don't know. It was evening, but I don't know how late. I was concentrating on painting."
"Okay," Scott sighed. "What next?"
"There was a knock, I answered and it was Ric. I didn't want him there, but he wouldn't leave."
"Why didn't you want him there?" Taggart asked, beating Scott to the question.
"I-I don't know," she said. "I just didn't want him there. We fought when I told him to go."
"Physically?" Scott asked, looking at her as if checking for bruises.
She shook her head. "No, we just yelled. He wanted to talk to me, but I just wanted him gone."
Her voice, angry and yet desperate, echoed in her mind. "Why? Why - how could you?"
"Elizabeth?" Gail asked. "Elizabeth, are you alright?"
"Did you remember something?" Scott asked anxiously.
"I asked him why, but I don't know..." she shook her head. "I don't remember. I just wanted him to leave. I don't know what happened."
"Come on, Elizabeth," Scott half-growled, half-demanded. "You have to remember more than that."
She shrank back in her chair, startled by his tone. Gail put a hand on her arm. "Scott, she is telling you what she remembers. You will not yell at her."
"Sorry," he mumbled, but Elizabeth didn't believe him. "So you remember painting, Ric Lansing showing up, you wanted him to go, you yelled at him. Do you remember picking up a baseball bat? Do you remember whackin' him with it?"
"What?" she whispered, her eyes wide.
"Okay, that's it," Dara said forcefully.
"We're done," Gail ordered. She pointed at the tape recorder in Taggart's hand. "Turn that off."
The din grew as Gail and Dara stood and got the two men out of the room. Elizabeth dropped her head into her hands, pressing at her temples trying to relieve the pain that was forming. A baseball bat. Cool, smooth wood. Strong, dangerous. She flexed her hands, she could feel it.
"Congratulations, you just knocked out your first bad guy."
She pressed her hands tighter against her head. Flashes were assaulting her, snippets of conversation, the memory of a recent time she held the bat.
"Why are you here?" she demanded from him.
Ric took a step towards her and instead of the anger and disgust she'd just felt, it bled away instantly into fear. The look in his eyes wasn't warm or gentle, it was hard and dangerous and it left her cold. She hadn't wanted to believe it, didn't want to think he was dangerous, but the truth was staring her in the face.
He stood between her and the door, blocking any chance of escape. She had to get out of there, had to get away from him.
"W-why are you doing this?"
He looked at her pleading. "Just give me a chance to explain. It isn't what you think."
"You have no idea what I think," she bit out. "I want you to leave."
"So you can run off and tell them?" he asked, his tone changing on a dime. He shook his head. "No, I don't think so. I won't let you."
"I won't tell anyone," she said, even as her eyes darted around the room and settled on the baseball bat in the corner. Could she get to it? She didn't know, but she was going to give it her best shot.
Gail stood in the hallway, glaring at the back of her stepson as he walked away. She just couldn't believe it. She had seen the newspaper articles, the debates during the campaign against Alexis Davis, the press conferences during Brenda and Jason Morgan's trial, and she always knew Scott was a driven man. He would do whatever he could to defeat Sonny Corinthos and his associates for what happened to Karen. But she thought when it came down to it he'd step up and do the right thing for the citizens of Port Charles.
Yes, Elizabeth Webber may know Jason and Sonny, but this had nothing to do with them. She had a medical condition and too much stress could set her back. Gail had explained that to Scott, yet he had ignored her. He sat in that room and pushed Elizabeth to answer questions when she clearly didn't know the answers.
Gail looked over at Dara, seeing her exasperation mirrored on the lawyer's face. Dara had threatened lawsuits against the police, the D.A.'s office and the city for the stunt Scott pulled. Being married to a lawyer she knew what was bluster and what wasn't. And the other woman wasn't blustering.
Feeling calm, she turned to go back in when she heard a crash from inside the room. She and Dara rushed inside, and stopped short.
"Oh my word," Dara breathed out.
The table by the bed was overturned, the lamp on the floor. The chair Elizabeth had been sitting in was on its side and Elizabeth herself was cowered in the corner, her arms wrapped tightly around her slender form and trembling like a leaf. Holding out a hand, Gail stopped the lawyer by the door.
"Elizabeth?" she said softly as she approached the young woman.
Elizabeth pushed herself up and held her arms out stiff. "Don't - get away."
"Elizabeth," she tried again.
"No!" her patient screamed. "Don't touch me. Don't ever touch me again."
Gail pressed the nurse call button and told the nurse she needed a sedative brought to the room. A few minutes later the door opened and a nurse walked in followed by an orderly. Gail took the syringe, filled it with the clear liquid and approached Elizabeth again.
"Elizabeth, it's Gail. It's alright, nobody's going to hurt you."
The young woman struck out, knocking the needle to the ground. The orderly came forward and grabbed her, holding her from behind. Elizabeth's scream echoed through the room.
"NO! Don't touch me!" she yelled as she kicked and fought to get out of the man's hold. "No, please, please, please not again. Not again."
Gail hurried and injected the needle into Elizabeth's arm, and as soon as she started to calm down, Gail ordered Dennis to release her and get out of the room. Gail grabbed her and eased them both to the floor, cushioning Elizabeth's collapse.
Soon the young woman was breathing deep and relaxed and Gail knew she was asleep. She raised her eyes to Dara and saw the lawyer shaken and with tears on her cheeks.
"She said not again and she didn't want anyone to touch her," Dara said as she crouched down near them. "Do - is it possible that she was raped?"
Gail shook her head. "I had them run a rape kit on her when she was admitted. She wasn't raped." She shifted the young woman in her arms and smoothed a hand over her hair. Swallowing hard she looked back to Dara. "But that doesn't mean he didn't try."
Emily sat on the couch in the lounge, silent and stunned. Zander sat beside her, his hand covering hers as it rested on the scratchy material between them. She was glad he was there, but was thankful he didn't want to talk. At this moment she wasn't sure she could say anything. Although she knew she would soon have to.
Heavy footsteps echoed through the quiet hallway and slowly she raised her head. Jason stopped in front of her, his concerned look deepening as he saw her obviously tear streaked face. Kneeling down, he placed a hand on her leg, "Emily, what's wrong?"
She let out a shuddery breath; "It's Elizabeth."
He shot a look at Zander then back to her, "What happened?"
"It-it was awful," she whispered as she dissolved into tears again.
"What happened?" Jason demanded.
"Maybe we should go somewhere and talk," Zander suggested. Emily looked up and realized that the nurses and the visitors in the area were unabashedly staring at them.
"Mom's office," she said. "We can go to Mom's office."
Silently they went to Monica's office. Emily opened the door and saw that her mother had apparently stepped out for a moment, but she knew Monica would let them use the room. Jason stepped inside, looking slightly uneasy. Zander put his hand on her arm and stopped her before they followed.
"I think you should talk to Jason alone. I'm going to go to the cafeteria, okay?"
"You don't have to," she told him.
"Yeah," he nodded. "What we heard...you two know Elizabeth better. You should be alone. I'll just go get some coffee."
She watched him walk down the hallway and then stepped back into the room closing the door and leaning her head against the wood veneer. Turning around she met Jason's worried gaze.
"What happened?" he pleaded. "Emily, you've got to tell me."
"Zander and I came by to see her," she began, leaning against the door for support. "As we approached the room we could hear Elizabeth screaming. She was saying 'don't touch me' and, Jason, she sounded so frightened. I-I've never heard her sound like that."
Jason looked like he'd been physically hit the way he swayed on his feet and leaned heavily against the desk. He gripped the edge tightly, his fingers paling. Emily felt her knees begin to buckle and she slid down the door to the ground.
"A nurse and an orderly came running in, the nurse...she had a needle with her," she said, then stopped and looked up from the carpeting to her brother's blue eyes that had tears. "She screamed again for them not to touch her, and...and then she cried out 'please not again.'"
Jason sank to the ground, his back against the desk, his knees bent. He mirrored her position and she ran a shaky hand through her hair. Jason let out a ragged breath and finally spoke. "D-did they sedate her again?"
Emily nodded tearfully. "It got quiet, and after that the nurse left with the medicine tray. Dara and Gail stayed in there a while and when they came out Dara was telling Doctor Baldwin that if Elizabeth thought Ric was going to rape her they could argue that it was self-defense. When she saw Zander and I sitting in the hallway she stopped talking."
"Rape?" Jason said, his voice a mixture of shock and burning rage. "Did he rape her?"
"No," she said with a shake of her head. "I pleaded with Gail, I begged her to tell me. I know what Tom Baker did to her. I-I mean I sat in that darkroom while he taunted her, told her he'd do it again. When Lucky and Nikolas got us out of there she held a gun on him, and I really thought she was going to shoot him. So I begged Gail, I made her tell me."
"He didn't?" her brother asked again for confirmation, as a few tears finally escaped.
"No," she repeated. "But they're afraid he might have tried, or she felt he was going to."
"Oh man," he sighed, as he rubbed his hands over his face.
Emily dropped her head and let out a broken sob. Why? Why did this happen to her friend? Hadn't Elizabeth been through enough, why couldn't she just find someone that made her happy? She thought it was Ric, but it wasn't.
She'd killed him. Emily hadn't wanted to believe that her best friend had killed someone, she wanted to think that Elizabeth would be able to explain it all away. But that wasn't going to happen. If Elizabeth ever remembered what happened, Emily knew now in her heart that she would confirm she killed Ric Lansing.
Wiping her eyes, she looked up at Jason. Her brother was shaken, angry and lost, just like she was. She crawled across the floor and wrapped her arms around his neck; tears flowing again as Jason let his own tears flow briefly. Then he pulled back and wiped his eyes. Emily looked at him and noticed the change in his face. The strong, able to take care of anything person was emerging.
"I promise you, Em, I'll help her. She will get better," he told her with conviction.
She believed with all her heart that he meant what he said and would do anything to fulfil his promise. But how could he? "Jason, how? Scott Baldwin won't give up; he was here earlier questioning her. Dara said it's probably what set her off, because he kept pushing."
"I won't let Scott near her again."
"None of us are going to get near her again," Emily cried, feeling that Jason didn't understand. "After her outburst Doctor Baldwin is considering putting her in the psych ward. She said it may be the only way to keep Scott from questioning her again, but we wouldn't be able to see her either."
Jason shifted, getting to his feet and crouching down by her. He put his hands on her shoulders and looked at her solemnly. "Emily, I promise you. I will help Elizabeth and I will not let her get locked up in a psychiatric ward."
Then he stood, straightened his jacket and strode out of Monica's office. Emily watched him go and prayed that for Elizabeth's sake Jason was right.
Zander looked up in surprise when Jason sat down in the chair across from him in the cafeteria. The older man looked tired and haunted. He could only imagine how Jason felt after Emily told him what they'd heard. He knew that the memories of Elizabeth's screams would be with him for some time. The pure terror in her voice chilled him to the bone.
Zander set his coffee down next to the slice of pie he bought but couldn't eat. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Are you okay?"
Jason shook his head. "No. I just - it's hard."
He was surprised by Jason's honesty, by the sight of the unflappable man visibly shaken. He understood though, because he didn't feel okay. "I - her voice...I am never going to forget her voice. I feel like I should do something, anything besides sit around drinking bad hospital coffee."
"Go see Emily," Jason told him. "She needs you. I have some things I need to do, but tell her I'll call her tonight."
He nodded slowly, then leaned forward and rested his elbows on the table. "Whatever you're planning, I want to help."
Jason looked at him blankly and Zander continued. "She hates small spaces. The feeling of being trapped. The crypt, the stairs, your penthouse...whatever happened in her studio. Now they've got her in a hospital room and they may move her to the psych ward where she'll be locked up. It can't be helping her, and you know it."
He dropped his head and shook it. "All the time I've been sitting down here I've thought about ways to get her out of here. Lucky and his dad would do anything for her, Nikolas would too. And then I figured, I don't need to go to them, because you've already thought of something. So whatever it is, I want to help."
"Zander-" Jason began.
"No," he cut the older man off. "You don't like me, you don't trust me, I get that. But this is for Elizabeth and I owe her. I will help in any way. Stay here and lie through my teeth to the police, whatever. You just have to let me help."
Jason squinted his eye and asked, "Why?"
Zander looked away briefly. "Because I think I know when her PTSD started. I was angry at you when you came back last summer. You returned and Sonny no longer had any use for me. I know I did stupid things, and I know I'm lucky to be alive because Sonny ordered you to kill me.
"Elizabeth helped me, and I read more into it than what it was, what it ever should have been. A friend helping a friend." He stopped and swallowed hard; his guilt rising so fast it nearly choked him. "I took her concern and I pushed for more as a way to get back at you. I threw things in your face, cheering when I'd see you flinch. That night she got trapped...I knew she didn't want me. She wanted you, she always wanted you.
"But I took advantage of the situation." His voice broke on a husky note. "I realize now I took advantage of her. She-she had to be in an episode, she wasn't thinking clearly. I knew that night she'd probably regret it, and she did. But I did it anyway. I screwed everything up for the two of you."
He stopped; looking down at his tightly clenched hands. "I-I also realize now that I am no better than the man who attacked her years ago. I used her to hurt you. I will never forgive myself, and I don't expect her to...or you. But I will do anything I can to make it up to her, to make sure that she gets better."
Jason regarded him for a moment, and then slowly nodded his head. "I'll let you know." Then he stood to leave.
"Thank you," Zander said, feeling only slightly better for having said all he did. He couldn't believe what he'd done. It absolutely sickened him.
He pushed his tray away as he calmed himself down. He needed to be strong for Emily and not lay his guilt on her. When he stood and turned around he came face to face with Emily, her brown eyes swimming with tears.
"Zander," she whispered, "you are nothing, nothing like the man who attacked her."
He shook his head, not letting himself be comforted this time. "I used her. I may not have known about the PTSD or her rape back then, but I knew she wanted Jason and I did everything I could to hurt him and ruin them."
She took a step towards him, but he sidestepped and kept space between them. "I think I should take you home. I just - I just need to be alone right now."
Jason sat in his penthouse, gray afternoon light filtering in the balcony doors as a storm came in over the harbor. His open, yet untouched, beer sat on the coffee table, as he sat on the leather sofa. Emily and Zader's words ran though his head and he tried to sort out his feelings.
He also tried to piece through what he knew, and see if he could figure out what happened with Elizabeth. He had talked to Coleman, and even though the man was slime and a total waste of space, he knew enough to be honest with Jason. Carly came into the bar, but Ric didn't show up until later. The bar owner did see them leave together, and Carly did seem pretty drunk and unsteady but he didn't think anything was wrong because Ric was in a suit and said he was her lawyer.
Ric hadn't taken Carly home though like he told Coleman he would. She had woken up naked in a hotel room while Ric claimed they slept together. Jason was sure his friend had been drugged, but Coleman didn't see anybody near her before Ric, and by then she was already acting extremely drunk. So how did the drug get into her drink?
And how did this tie to Elizabeth? If Ric had forced himself on Carly while she was drugged, had he tried to force himself on Elizabeth? From Emily and Zander's description it sounded possible. It made Jason sick to think that she would have to experience that terror again, afraid that another man might violate her.
He closed his eyes and ran a hand over his face. Zander's conversation haunted him. The younger man was a hot-head, never thought things through and caused more problems than he was worth, but his attitude was different now. The self-loathing and remorse the other man felt were evident. No, Jason couldn't let himself think about that too deeply. Not right now. Maybe later, but not now.
Zander was offering to help, and as much as it left a bitter taste in his mouth, Jason realized he may need him. The younger man was right in saying Elizabeth trapped in a hospital room wasn't going to help her. Jason had to do something, he couldn't let her stay in the hospital dying slowly day after day. He was going to get her out of there and take her someplace where she could get help and heal.
He thought about the time he offered to take her to Italy and walk away if that's what she wanted. He wanted her free then, and he wanted her free now. After she was better, after she worked though this past episode and the situation with Ric, he would walk away if she told him to. He wouldn't leave her side though until she listened to him apologize and explain what had happened since October. If after all that she still wanted him out of her life he would respect her choice.
He felt a brief pang of guilt as he realized he hadn't thought about Sonny in his plans. His boss and friend wasn't giving him any business to handle except the coffee warehouse, and he didn't say anything when Jason left to go see Elizabeth. Maybe he was happy that Jason was no longer with Courtney, or maybe he finally understood how important Elizabeth was to Jason and how he needed to make her a priority now. Whatever it was he was glad for it.
He knew he was going to have to tell Sonny he was planning to leave and he'd never be able to come back. No matter how much time Elizabeth's recovery took or if she told him to leave, he knew he'd never be able to return to Port Charles or probably even the United States. But he'd gladly live with a fugitive status for the rest of his life as long as Elizabeth got better.
Letting out a deep sigh, he picked up the beer and absently took a sip of the lukewarm liquid. He reached for his cell phone and dialed.
"It's Morgan. I'm calling about the status of the arrangement." He listened, nodding in silent agreement as the man listed off the things he had come up with. The man was the best, and that was why Jason trusted him with Elizabeth's life.
"Good, it all sounds good," he said. "There are a few things. The doctor must be female, able to deal with traumatic events. And the security guards must keep their distance. I'll have a man with me that they will deal with. They do not come to the house."
"I understand. It will be as you say, Señor Morgan."
"Thank you. The timeline will be moving fast, so it needs to be in place soon. No more than a week, double payment for less than that."
Turning off the phone he stretched out on the couch and closed his eyes. He was just too drained to even make it up the stairs.
A/N: I wrote this chapter several weeks ago, before the whole Ric/Elizabeth was it spousal rape? thing. It was one of the things that I actually dreaded in tackling this story, because I like Zander. Never liked him with Elizabeth, but I like Zander. And the last thing I ever wanted to do was turn him into a rapist, or imply it too heavily - even though he was a drug dealer who dealt in the date rape drug. But if she was in the middle of an episode, it could technically be construed that way. I doubt she'd ever view it like that, but it was still an issue I felt needed to be addressed. I probably won't be delving too heavily into that, because this is Liason and I have enough on my hands trying to sort through Jason and Elizabeth, but I felt that I had to stay true to the maturation that Zander was exhibiting, and have him question his behavior. This was a very had section for me to write, and I hope that I've done it justice, without doing too much damge.