Family Ties Ch. 18

Firelight and Shadows

ding ding ding... From the kitchen, the microwave set off a persistent

chiming. The sound shocked both of them back into awareness. Eliana jerked

back her hands away from Jason as though they'd been burned. They looked at

each other with startled confusion. What almost happened here? The question

was plain on both of their faces.

I'm sor... Jason began, but before he could finish the word, Eliana leaned

forward and pressed her fingers against his lips.

Dont apologize. She shook her head. This wasnt your fault. It wasnt anybodys.

Thats our hot chocolate. Jason said, gesturing with his head towards the

kitchen. He was all too aware of how inadequate his words sounded, but

couldnt think of anything to say that would make the situation right. But it

served to diffuse the situation.

Hot chocolate? A bubble of laughter escaped her before she could think about

it. It was the first time Jason remember her really hearing her laugh since

shed come home from the hospital. Youre kidding!

No, Im not. is hot chocolate a bad idea?

No, Jason, its absolutely perfect. Thank you. she said.

Jason went into the kitchen. He took down two cups out of the cupboard, then

stopped. He leaned his hands against the counter top, staring down at the

cups, but not really seeing them. It had been hard to walk away from her just

now. The urge to take her into his arms, to kiss all of her pain away had

been almost irresistible. Irresistible, but confusing. Where the hell were

these feelings coming from? He blamed himself; it wasnt fair to use Eliana

this way that almost kiss was just a reaction from Elizabeths rejection. A

mistake. Wasnt it?

As the kitchen door closed behind him, Eliana let out a long exhale of relief

as she dropped the mask. She looked down at her hands; they were shaking. Her

heart pounded as she struggled to control herself. She wasnt sure what was

triggering her reactions; if it was from fear or anticipation. How, in the

middle of everything that was happening, could she suddenly want Jason? Was

that what she was feeling? Then why had she suddenly felt the need to pull

away from him like that? One moment she felt desire, the next, irrational

fear. The confusion infuriated her. Eliana tightened her hands into fists,

willing herself under control. She looked at the door again. This was Jason,

he would never hurt her. But what had almost happened here?

Whatever it was, she blamed herself. Jason was only feeling sorry for her.

And stupid her, she was ready to make this situation more awkward than it

already was. Right now, her emotions werent under control. She didnt know

what she was feeling, or why. It wasnt fair to Jason to use his friendship

this way. That almost kiss had to be a mistake. Wasnt it?

She dropped her gaze as he came back into the living room. Neither knowing

what to say; Eliana curled up on the couch, Jason sat on the floor beside

her. They sipped their cups of hot chocolate in an awkward silence, each

alone in their own thoughts. The only sounds were the crackling dance of the

flames in the fireplace.

Eliana? his voice woke her from her reverie. Is there anything else I can do

for you? I hate seeing you go through this.

Youve done so much for me already, Jason. I dont know what else you can do.

Maybe you need to get it out of your system. You havent talked to anybody,

have you? Maybe thats why your mind cant let it go. He paused. I know you

think that youre being strong, holding everything inside. But Ive learned

that its a weakness not to let the people who care about you in You can talk

to me.

Eliana stared into the flames, watching them curl and dance against the dark.

She felt safe and comfortable; like all everything that going on, it all was

locked away, locked outside the door. Tonight, at least, shes safe and sound

and protected. This time, the dark is like a warm comforter, shutting off all

sense of the past, leaving only the now.

Maybe he was right. It was easier to talk in the in the semi-darkness cast by

the flames. But not about what had almost happened just now. That was a

mistake, another foolish mistake made in a moment of weakness and she wasnt

going to let it happen again.

Jason didnt want to push her into anything she wasnt ready for, but hed

already learned, through hard lessons, that keeping everything bottled up

inside only made the pain fester and in the end, grow worse. But it was up to

her. He stayed silent, allowing her the choice.

Eliana thought about what hed said. Maybe he was right. It was easier to talk

in the in the semi-darkness cast by the flames. But not about what had almost

happened just now. That was a mistake, another foolish mistake made in a

moment of weakness and she wasnt going to let it happen again.

She exhaled slowly, then began to speak. Theres a part of me thats trying to

move on with my life. Someone who sets the alarm every night, who gets up and

goes to work, and smiles and talks, takes care of business and does

everything shes supposed to do. But theres another part of me that cant

forget the feel of Sorels hands on me, or the stink of him in my nostrils.

She felt a shudder go through her as she spoke, and forced it away. She kept


I find myself getting so angry at myself sometimes. Like there was something

I should have been able to do. Like if I had fought harder, I could have

stopped him.

It was a surprise to Jason to realize that he knew exactly what she meant. He

remembered what his feelings had been when hed awakened from his coma and

found himself Jason Morgan, when everyone insisted he was really Jason

Quartermaine. This was something that he had never been able to feel that he

could share with anyone before, thinking that there was no one who could

really, truly understand. And now, here was his friend, putting into words,

so much of what hed been feeling.

I used to get angry at myself too. Why couldnt I be who all these people

wanted me to be? They made me question myself. If I could try harder, if I

would try harder, then I would be Jason Quartermaine for them, for me. And

when I couldnt, a part of me began hating myself.

The concern and empathy in her eyes and voice reached out and found an

answering chord in him.

You start hating yourself for something you couldnt control. And then you

hate yourself more because you didnt have the control. I cant stand it,

living my life this way. Eliana nodded slowly. Some days, its like Im

watching a whole other person just going through the motions. She says all

the right things, does all the right things, but its not really me. And I

dont know sometimes, who Im supposed to be. Its like I have to learn how to

be me all over again. And I dont know who that is any more.

I think I know what thats like. Jason said just as slowly, as he tried to put

his own feelings into words. Sometimes words were such clumsy and inadequate

things. When I woke up after the car accident, I wasnt Jason Quartermaine

anymore. Everyone around me wanted me to be him. But I wasnt. What was harder

was that I didnt know who I was either. All around me, people were going on

with their lives. But not me.

Youre not who you were. He continued Thats what youre going to have to come

to accept. Youre still Eliana, but youre not that Eliana. Not anymore. It was

different for me, I dont remember who the other Jason was, but basically,

theres something thats the same. Something outside of my control changed who

I was forever. Something you couldnt control has changed you too. And thats

forever. But I learned to accept who I am. I can still be happy. You can too.

Youre strong that way.

Its not an easy truth. He turned around to look at her. And its a lonely

place to be.

Their eyes met and held. In the silence, a crystalline thread of shared

understanding spun out and joined them.

But I understand. He said after a while. Im there with you. Talk to me,

Eliana. Tell me what youre feeling.

With them still looking into each other's eyes, Eliana began to talk,

finally, about the rape itself. When Sorel attacked me at first there was a

part of me that just couldnt accept what was happening. It was so unrealmy

mind kept telling me that it wasnt happening, it couldnt be happeningI tried

to fight himI tried so hard her voice shook, but she paused only long enough

to steady herself, then went on. I cant help but to keep thinking that if

only I had tried harder.

You couldnt have stopped him, Eliana. Jasons voice was very gentle now.

I know. Eliana waited a long long moment before she continued. The fact that

I knew him only made it worse, I thinkthey say that rape is not about the

sex; its about the power. The fact was driven home to me that night. He

wanted to hurt Sonny, not me. I could see it in his eyes. It wasnt about me

at all.

My mind knows that it was just my body Sorel violated. But when that

happens, she gestured upstairs, and I close my eyes, its happening all over

again every time. Like I'm watching a bad movie or Im in one. I can't get

those images out of my head. Sometimes its more than images. I can feel his

hands on me...I can smell him. Do you have any idea at all what that is like?

But I cant let what happened destroy me. It cant keep controlling me like it

does. I cant let him win.

Jason tried to digest what she told him. It was almost impossible, he

realized. No man could understand the totality of the violation a woman

suffered. Or appreciate what strength it took to even put the experience into

words. Or to get up and face the next day, and the nextand the next.

What do you need to make you feel safe? Jason asked.

Eliana thought for a moment. I need my life back, Jason.

How? What do you need to do to get it back?

I don't know. Go to work, and get through the day without jumping at the

littlest sound, without wanting to burst into tears for little or nothing at

all. To just go out for a beer and a game of pool, like we used to do

sometimes. Not you taking care of mesomething anything -- normal that I used

to do before all of this. I just want to have a normal day. Where everyone is

not walking around on eggshells, watching what they do or say around me.

You dont want to be treated like a victim. The poor you syndrome. Jason said.

He could definitely relate to that. It was one of the things that had driven

him out of the Quartermaines after the accident. Everything he did,

everything he said, they measured against the Jason Q they knew then, and

invalidated everything he was now.

Exactly. Eliana said.

Are you sure you're ready for that? Jason asked.

No. Eliana admitted. Youre right. Ill never be the same Eliana I was before.

But its a start to learning to live with this new me. I can't stay here


Why not? The thought entered into his head, unbidden and unexpected.

Talking had lifted an enormous burden from her mind. That, combined with her

earlier experience has exhausted her. The weariness seeped deep into her

body, down into the very marrow of her bones. Eliana sighed, letting her body

relax into the couch cushions while she stared drowsily into the fire. She

didnt want to think anymore. She just wanted to rest now, knowing that she

was safe and protected with Jason by her side.

Im so safe here, she murmured; not realizing shed said the words aloud as she

slid into sleep. with you

Hearing her breathing deepen and slow, Jason glanced over at Eliana, seeing

her eyes flutter shut. He didnt want to disturb her, so he left her on the

couch, only moving to tuck the covers around her softly. He shifted, thinking

about going to sit in one of the other chairs, but seeing the peacefulness

creeping into Elianas face, changed his mind and settled back onto the floor.

Jason wasnt used to feeling protective very often. Sonny, Emily, Carly,

little Michael. Robin, a long time ago. That was his family. With Elizabeth

Webber, he had thought hed felt that, hed wanted to feel that and a little

more, but now that Lucky was back in her life, she had all but cut him from


It felt good to be needed again.

In the dancing light of the fireplace, he studied this womans face,

remembering the first time they had met.





fifteen months earlier



For Jason, it had started with a phone call from Sonny. Friction between

Sonny and Sorrel was escalating once again; this time the discord was

starting to concern the other members of the Council. Accordingly, they made

their concern evident by sending in a courier.

Benny filled him in as the car carried them to the airport. The courier is

coming in on the five forty flight from New York City. The name is Salazar.

Hotel reservations are already set up at the Port Charles. Were to settle

them in, make sure they got everything they need.

How will I know who the courier is?

Not to worry, they know who you are. Of course. The courier would have

extensive dossiers on all of them. He already didnt like it. He didnt like

people who knew more about him than he knew about them. Call it predatory


Benny, stayed with the car. Jason went inside to the gate number theyd been

told of. He scanned the crowds disembarking from the plane.

He was not prepared for the person who walked up to him. Dark haired and dark

eyed, she walked up to him in the airport lobby, briefcase in one hand,

carry-on garment bag in the other.

Mr. Morgan?

Jason looked down at her. A suit, he remembered thinking. A female suit.

And she couldnt be any older than he was. They entrusted a situation like

this to her? Something in him reacted intuitively. And not in a good way.


She nodded. Eliana Salazar, Mr. Morgan.

You have any bags we need to get taken care of? Probably a trunkful.

Her amused gaze said she read him very well, not something that people were

able to do very often. Just the one Im carrying. We can get going now.

Jason wasnt much for conversation, but Benny talked enough for both of them

on the way back, wanting to make a good impression.

After she was settled into her hotel suite, Benny left. Or better yet, she

dismissed him.

Is there anything I can get you? Jason couldnt wait to get out of there.

He wasnt prepared for her next words.

Is there anywhere around here I can get a decent beer?


As Sonnys second in command, Jason was present at the meetings between him

and Sorel. And grudgingly, hed been forced to revise his first opinions of

her. She was very good at what she did. She kept the meetings focused,

tempers even and facts straight.

As usual, the crux of the conflict was Sorel wanting to use Sonnys conduits

to move drugs in and out of Port Charles and the surrounding territories.

There is nothing to discuss. I dont move narcotics. Sonny had said. When I

took over this territory, I made it clear. No drugs. Not in my territory.


No amount of inducement by Sorel had been enough to sway him. He tried

offering ever increasing percentages of his proposed profits, but Sonny was

adamant. The meetings went on for three weeks.

Eliana Salazar had flown back and forth to New York three times to present

both sides of the case. In the end, the Council had upheld Sonnys right to

refuse Sorels offer and upheld his autonomy in his territory. Eliana Salazar

brought the news of their decision and delivered it to both men. Sorel hadnt

gotten what he wanted.

Jason remembered seeing the Salazar woman give Sonny a long, considering

glance before she left the room.


After the verdict, he was surprised to learn that she had flown back in a few

weeks later. Hed stepped onto the private elevator leading to the penthouse

levels and was surprised to see her there. Jason was instantly suspicious.

Suspicions are what kept him alive.

She smiled.

He didnt. Is Mr. Corinthos expecting you?

Of course, shed replied. Jason wasnt taking any chances. When they arrived at

the penthouse level and stepped out, Jason took her purse and the gift bag

she carried and handed them to Johnny with instructions to search them.

I told you, Im expected. she said. Johnny confirmed it.

Doesnt matter. Nobody gets in to see Sonny without being checked out.

Johnny looked at the bottle carefully. Youre thinking maybe its a bomb? He

shook it gently. Very gently. It feels real.

If it wasnt, after the way you just shook that wine bottle, the three of us

wouldnt be standing here. She looked at Johnny amusedly, then turned to

Jason. I suppose next youll want me to assume the position so you can search


Jason gestured towards the wall.

Youre kidding, she was incredulous.

He wasnt.

It was her turn not to smile.

Only when Jason was satisfied, he nodded to Johnny. He, in turn, knocked on

the door and announced her.

Sonny came to the door. When he saw Jason, he invited him in. Jason was

surprised to smell cooking coming from the kitchen. Sonny didnt cook for just

anybody. And Sonny was totally at ease, as was Eliana. She walked into the

living room, tossing her purse on the desk as she went. Johnny closed the

door from outside.

Is there something Im missing here? Jason asked Sonny.

Sonny laughed. Eliana just smiled again.

Im sorry man, I guess I should have told you. I couldnt earlier, and then I

just kind of forgot to. I know Eliana. She and I grew up in the same

neighborhood back in Brooklyn. Weve been out of touch for a while, but after

the meetings with Sorrel, we thought wed get together when she wasnt working.

Hey, Im just making a little veal piccata. Join us.

Jason suddenly felt like odd man outman being the operative word, and


Its not that kind of partywere friends. Sonny said.

Me and this old man? Eliana said with a laugh.

The two of them then insisted that he stay; neither would let up until Jason

relented and agreed to join them for dinner.

It turned into an enjoyable evening. Sonny and Eliana kept up a bantering

flow of conversation, catching up on news about old acquaintances and gossip.

Jason was forced to reevaluate his opinion of her. Sonny didnt give his

friendship lightly and it was obvious that the two of them were very much

comfortable with each other.

He remembered thinking he couldnt remember when hed seen Sonny this relaxed.

When Eliana excused herself to use the restroom, he told Sonny so.

The truth is, its been more than a year since Ive seen her. Well, we go back

a long way, me and her. Im glad to see that shes doing well. Sonny said.

Youll be seeing a lot more of meas least every now and then. Eliana said as

she came back down the stairs. Im opening an art gallery here. Itll be my

second one.

Sonny congratulated her. From there, the conversation went to art and design

concepts. Given the amount of art that Sonny had collected over the years,

some of it from her, as Jason learned, the two of them talked about the

subject easily. It was obviously a debate theyd had many times before. But

shed easily included Jason in on the conversation, even though he wouldnt

have thought he would have anything to contribute. Art was a passion of hers,

it was easy to tell. She spoke of form and light and the use of warm and cold

colors to project depth and negative spaces as though they were living

entities. And amazingly, she made him see them. After dinner, they took their

coffee into the living room and talked some more until Eliana finally glanced

at her watch. It was past midnight.

Ive got to get going. Sonny got her coat for her and arranged for one of his

drivers to see her home.

Jason decided to leave too. He walked Eliana out to the elevator.

Without thinking, he apologized, something he didnt do very often or very


She accepted it. Graciously. Everything about her said style.



**end flashback**



Somehow, in spite of their inauspicious beginning, theyd managed to establish

a friendship of their own, but his job and her job had kept their meetings

few and far between. Now she was part of Sonnys family. Hed protect her like

he would Sonny or Carly or Michael.

Jason turned his head to watch her sleep. His eyes traveled over her face, to

the long lashes brushing her cheeks and down to her softly curved mouth. Hed

almost kissed her just now. And admit it, not just because of Elizabeth,

He asked himself for the first time, could there more between them?

Or was he a just complication in her life that she didnt need right now?

Eliana shifted in her sleep. One arm fell over the side of the couch. Jason

moved to put it back, but as he took her hand, unexpectedly, her fingers

curled around his, then tightened unconsciously. Carefully, he shifted to

make himself more comfortable. But he didnt let go.

His eyes went back to her face, and he found himself hoping she would sleep

till morning this time. It was one more thing Sorel had stolen from her.

Jason couldnt wait to pay Sorel back.

In spades.


Alexis returned to Harborview Towers the next morning in a foul mood. Shed

spent the night in a stuck elevator. She entered her apartment building to

discover that a secondary generator had kept the security lights and

mechanisms, and elevators running. Maybe she ought to have Sonny buy her

office building, she thought to herself grumpily.

She walked off the elevator, hoping there was hot water. All she wanted now

was a good, long hot soak in the tub. Alexis walked into her apartment and

stopped just inside the doorway in shock. The place was a shambles. As she

walked around her living room, taking in the mess, Alexis stumbled over an

object on the floor. She bent down and picked it up. It was Zanders ankle

monitor. Oh, no. she whispered.

At the same time, Zander woke up, having spent most of the night

uncomfortably bound to a chair. Hed finally fallen asleep from sheer

exhaustion. Now he awoke as he felt the blindfold being untied. He looked up.