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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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,
either. 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.
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.