A/N: For those of you who are my R/M readers, I don't know when the next post will be up. I'm feeling a bit frustrated right now and totally uninspired. We'll see what happens. However, I'm not having a problem writing for Liason, and this one shot has been screaming at me to write it for days now, so here it is. There are very slight spumers included in this piece. Enjoy! Charlynn
Not Too Late
Looking out the door I see the rain fall upon the funeral mourners
Parading in a wake of sad relations as their shoes fill up with water
And maybe I'm too young to keep good love from going wrong
But tonight you're on my mind so you never know
Numbness would have been a blessing. Instead though, the only thing he could feel was anger. Hell, at that point, he would have taken pain and sorrow over the never ending resentment that welled up inside of him without an outlet, without a will to find an outlet. His fire wasn't gone, not by a long shot, but it had been reallocated, shifted, focused somewhere else, and he could no longer be the man he once was, the man so many people were depending upon him to be. And the worst part was that he was furious with them for expecting him to be someone he no longer was.
It wasn't their fault that he had changed. After all, they had done everything in their power to make sure that he always remained the man they needed him to be – dependable, loyal, unfaltering. He wasn't supposed to have doubts. He wasn't supposed to question what they said. He wasn't supposed to want more than what they were offering him, but he was, and that was maddening in and of itself, because he saw no way to stop the pull of others expectations on him and the push of his own desires, no way to synchronize the two forces. Nor did he want to.
He liked that he was questioning the foundations that his life were built upon. To him, it felt like growth and maturity; it felt as if he was leaving behind the childlike innocence of uncertainty that had shadowed him since his reinvention for an even more vague and ambiguous existence as an adult. And he liked the fact that he thought about how his actions would affect those he cared for the most before he thought about how they would even affect him or the business. Sure, for years, it had been his job to put those he worked for ahead of his own wishes and needs, but that selflessness had been born out of necessity; what he did now was because of devotion.
It was because he was a father, a father who loved his son and was in love with his son's mother.
Still dressed in his formal clothes, he looked out at the rain soaked town through the French doors of his penthouse, his anger barely simmering under control. Everything was dark. The streets were dark as if those who lived in the small city knew they shouldn't tempt either the weather or fate by going outside. His house was dark, but that was because of his own choice. And his mind was dark, his bitterness and hatred coursing through it like a winding, suffocating, dangerous serpent.
When I'm broken down and hungry for your love with no way to feed it
Where are you tonight, child you know how much I need it
Too young to hold on and too old to just break free and run
There was nothing left to keep her busy. All day long she had distanced herself from the events surrounding her, focusing all her energy on helping those whom she was allowed to comfort while all the while trying to forget the one person who needed her help, her comfort the most. It had worked to an extent. Although his haunted, enraged blue eyes never left her mind for a moment, their brilliancy was dimmed while she prepared food, served it, and took care of her two small children, all the while attempting to avoid the landmines surrounding her. However, avoiding the quick, irrational, hypocritical tempers of the Spencer family and their relations was easier said than done.
But now she was home. Her boys were in bed, her house was as clean as it was ever going to get, and there was nothing to distract her thoughts from wandering to the only place it ever seemed to want to go. So, curled up in front of her fireplace, its warm glow the only illumination in the room, she sipped her hot chocolate and let her mind do what it wanted; she worried about him.
She hoped that he wasn't out riding, relieving his tension and rage on the open roads. She knew the wind and the speed helped him to feel nothing, but it was not a night to be testing the elements. The rain had been falling at a steady, taunting pace all day, from sunup to way past sundown. Roads were washed out, there was major flooding out of town on the old back roads he often traveled, and the November wind had the ability to chill to the bone, both because of its low temperatures and its ominous nature. At any moment, she knew the downpour could turn into sheets of ice, and she wouldn't be able to sleep that night if she thought the man she loved was out on his motorcycle risking his life, no matter how much going nowhere fast could sometimes help him.
She hoped that he wasn't drinking, attempting to mask his frustration with the numbing effect of alcohol, because drinking could lead to obliteration and obliteration could lead to him hurting himself. She had saved him too many times and loved him for too long to not fear his own self-destructive behavior, and, when she saw him next, when they accidentally on purpose ran into each other at Kelly's, or the coffeehouse, or the hospital, or in the park, she did not want to see a healing cut on his forehead or bruised knuckles on his strong, dependable, calloused hands.
And she didn't want him playing pool, but that was just selfish. Why should he have to play alone when she would do almost anything to spend an evening with him in his penthouse as they talked comfortably together and he gave her another lesson on the game of skill he enjoyed so much?
And she didn't want him staring out the window all night, thinking about things he couldn't change and couldn't prevent. He had always attempted to do too much, to take too much upon his own shoulders, forgetting that he was just one man and not superhuman. There was no way he could save the world or everyone he loved without someone else's help, and it infuriated her that those who claimed to be his friends, those who claimed to want what was best for him expected him to do just that. She hoped he wasn't spending the evening with them, for they would only make him feel worse. Instead, she hoped that he was with his young friend who idolized him, who respected him, but who still realized that he was just as fallible as the next man. Although she wasn't sure what the two of them would talk about, the enforcer and the computer hacker, she knew that, if she couldn't be with him, his roommate was the person for the job. Nothing though could stop her from worrying.
Sometimes a man gets carried away, when he feels like he should be having his fun
And much too blind to see the damage he's done
Sometimes a man must awake to find that really, he has no-one
Two more lives had been officially lost in their latest war, two more unnecessary deaths, too more families forever tainted by the darkness that was the business, that was his existence. And he was angry about that.
Milo's death, while it made more sense because he was a guard, enraged him because the boy had been so young, so full of life, so likeable. He had come to work for them because his older brother did, because it was good money, because the position was supposed give him admiration and value.
What a load of crock.
All his job gave him was an early death wish. Sure, Sonny would give the bodyguard's mother a generous monetary compensation, but, as a parent himself, he knew that no amount of money would ever relieve the pain Mrs. Giambetti was experiencing. Her son's death would haunt her for the rest of her life. She would question every decision she had made for her youngest child, she would resent her oldest son because he had led his brother down the path that ended with Milo working for the organization, and she would constantly wonder if there was anything else that could have been done to prevent the young man's death.
And Max, someone he had known, worked with, and considered a friend for years, well, his life was ruined as well. The cheerful and always willing to help guard blamed himself for his brother's death. Although he hadn't quit yet, how would he be able to continue working for the man who had, through bad judgment, narcissism, and personal involvement in a business decision, gotten his sibling murdered, and, if he did quit, who the hell else would hire him? He was tainted now – a hired gun, a mercenary, an unwanted link to the world of crime. But still, he wanted Max to quit anyway. Unemployment was preferable over death, and, if nothing else, he would pull some strings to get him a job far away from Port Charles, and Sonny and Carly, and the memories, far away from the ghosts that would torture him if he remained there.
However, there shouldn't be any ghosts, and the fact that there was made him even angrier.
And, yet, it rained on, almost as if the skies were trying to sympathize with him, letting him know that they were just as furious as he was. The dark, threatening clouds were his thoughts, the heavy, continuous downpour was his resentment coursing through his tense and on edge form, and the deafening drumming of the rain was the steady, hypnotizing rhythm of his heart pounding, reminding him that while two other people were dead he was still very much alive.
So I'll wait for you... and I'll burn
Will I ever see your sweet return
Oh will I ever learn
Her hot chocolate was gone, and the ginger and scarlet flames of the fire before her were dancing and frolicking around the maple logs they were consuming, attempting to warm her chilled body, but nothing seemed to work. Just as the cold remained, so did the worry. It was after ten now meaning she had been home for more than three hours and the boys had been in bed for almost one, but she wasn't ready to retire upstairs herself. She couldn't unwind, she couldn't forget the faces of the mourners she had seen that day, and she couldn't stifle her gratitude to whomever was responsible for the fact that it was Milo who had been taken by the impartial bullets and not the man she loved. Was it wrong to place more importance upon one person's life than another's? She didn't know, and, at the same time, she didn't care. Humans were innately selfish, and she, if nothing else, was human, prone to mistakes, and blunders, and imperfections.
And her gratefulness was well founded, too. It very easily could have been the father of her youngest son who had been buried that day. Although he would never tell her how close to death he had come, she had heard through others that the two men, one older and more experienced and one fresh with the vitality and naïveté of youth, had been standing side by side discussing guard assignments when the shots had rang out, and, somehow, despite the fact that the enforcer had tried to shield his employee with his own body, the gun's aim had found Milo instead of the man she loved, and the boy who had always been so kind to her, so understanding, so willing to lend a helping hand when she and her boys went into the coffee shop together was now in his final resting place, a muddy, dreary plot in the Queen of Angel's cemetery.
After everyone else had left the funeral, she had gone back to offer one last thank you to the fallen bodyguard. While the boys had stayed in the car with her Grandmother who thought she was going back to the cemetery to say a goodbye to the other person who had been buried that afternoon, she, instead, had expressed her gratitude to the deceased, younger Giambetti for taking his boss' place and allowing the man she loved and the father of her youngest child to live, and, although the gesture did not make her feel any less self-seeking, it did make her feel a little bit more appreciative.
However, at the same time, it made her question some of her own decisions pertaining to how she lived her life. Loss did that to you, made you reexamine what was important, what was necessary and what wasn't. Unfortunately, loss did not provide you with the answers to those questions as well; instead, it just inspired even more. At the end of day, after the calling hours were ended, the funeral mourners had left the church, and the wake was broken up, she was left with her old doubts and some new ones to help add to her confusion, and, though the doubts could be pushed away and delayed until another day, another lonely night, the worry wouldn't leave; it wasn't as easily deterred.
So, she sat, the now empty and cool coffee mug clenched tightly in her pale and icy hands, listening to the rain as it beat out its never ending symphony with the land it was trying to punish for all its inhabitants sins, concerned for the brooding and angry man across town whom she feared needed her the most now that she wasn't and couldn't be there.
Oh lover, you should've come over
'Cause it's not too late
Bobbie Spencer was dead, too. They didn't know if it was a message to Sonny, going through his ex-wife's mother, or to Luke who had come back to town to help with the mob war, or a combination of both of them. But did it really matter? The mother, grandmother, aunt, sister was still dead, and determining why she was would not bring her back to life. It might help those who loved her place the blame somewhere, but it wouldn't ease their grief or pain, and it certainly wouldn't end the violence. The only thing it would do was make him even more resentful.
Her death had been unnecessary, and, while he was mad at Zacharra for targeting innocents, he was furious with Sonny for making their latest power struggle personal. His partner's judgment was skewed by history; his partner's feelings and need for revenge were clouding his ability to think rationally and with a level head, two things one in power must always be capable of doing. Sonny wanted Trevor Lansing dead for what the older man had done to his mother and for what he had done to Sonny's latest infatuation Kate. Sonny wanted their newest rival to be eliminated not so he could protect the territory or make things relatively safe, once again, for those he loved but out of revenge for killing his sons' nanny and for targeting him in the first place. And Sonny wanted Johnny dead simply because of the kid's last name, not realizing how hypocritical that was for he demanded that his own children not be targets despite their connection to him. Perhaps belatedly, he had realized that his friend and former mentor's need for control and sheer devotion on the parts of his family and employers was more important than his responsibilities to his family or his honor.
He was also livid because he had pointed these things and so many other issues out to his business partner, but the older man had refused to listen and, instead, decided to question his loyalty and his principles. Apparently, for Sonny, friendship did not mean that two people could discuss things rationally like adults or point out the other's flaws; it meant blind allegiance which was something he was learning quickly he just couldn't give the mob boss any longer. It didn't help matters that Sonny had decided to stop taking his medication and was drinking heavily again. Hadn't the older man learned anything from his past mistakes? Didn't he realize that when he didn't follow his doctor's orders it was others that got hurt and not him, that he became a bigger liability to his family's safety than Zacharra ever could be?
And, finally, he was angry at his partner for ever dragging him into the life he led in the first place. He knew it was unreasonable, even downright irrational, because no one person could make another do something they really didn't want to do, but Sonny had offered him an existence without explaining what that existence would mean, and now he felt trapped, trapped fighting a battle that wasn't really his, trapped in relationships he was starting to question whether or not he wanted, and trapped in a life of violence, loneliness, and fear for those he loved.
The rain only seemed to remind him of his newfound yet slowly building rage towards the man he had, at one time, believed he owed everything to. Its darkness reflected the world Sonny had introduced him to, and its constant, unforgiving disposition only served to make him feel even more confined and out of control, two things he had never liked or tolerated.
Lonely is the room, the bed is made, the open window lets the rain in
Burning in the corner is the only one who dreams he had you with him
My body turns and yearns for a sleep that will never come
As she made her way into her empty and still bedroom some time later, the fire downstairs nothing more than dying embers, she couldn't stop her thoughts from wandering to the second person they buried that afternoon, a person who had played a large and instrumental role in her own life, and she wondered how the man she loved was coping with his anger towards the fact that another innocent had been murdered because of the war his boss was engaged in. Her concern for him should not have been at the forefront of her mind; she should have been mourning the loss of life both she and those close to her had lost that day, but, yet again, it was hard for her to truly grieve when those she cherished the most were still alive and well.
In fact, she could hear two of them at that moment, their soft breathing on the baby monitors positioned on her bedside table battling for supremacy over the ongoing assault of rain outside. Its pitter patter against her eaves was louder for she had her bedroom window open, and, despite the fact that with the rain came the chill of an oncoming winter and dampness, she couldn't bring herself to shut the casement. Without the downpour's noise, her world would be too silent, and that was something she couldn't handle that night. Besides, it wasn't as if she was going to be able to sleep anyway, not with her mind and heart miles away in a place she could no longer visit.
Unzipping her black funeral dress so she could get undressed for the night, she allowed herself to remember just how her friend and sometimes confidant had been murdered. Bobbie had been on the elevator at the hospital, traveling between floors while she was working, when a stranger, someone who was posing as a visitor, had joined her on the lift, slit her throat, and managed to get out undetected before the nurse's cold, lifeless body could be found. Not only did the event reinforce her fears, but it also made her realize the precautions she and the man she loved had taken to keep her and her children safe could very well be futile. After all, you couldn't fool or hide from the mob.
So, worried and now confused as well, she slipped beneath the many layers of soft, relaxing blankets piled high on her lonely, queen sized bed for a night of unspoken contemplation and apprehension. She knew that the only way she would be able to rest was if she set her mind at ease and spoke to the man she loved, made sure he was alright, and then gave herself the chance to take care of him, but she wasn't sure if she was ready to take that risk or not. It wasn't a risk of her heart or even a risk of her own life but one of her children's security and his sanity, two of the things she treasured most.
But the rain seemed to taunt her, and, as she listened to its continual cadence, it seemed to tell her one thing over and over and over again – to call him.
It's never over, my kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder
It's never over, all my riches for her smiles when I slept so soft against her
It's never over, all my blood for the sweetness of her laughter
It's never over, she's the tear that hangs inside my soul forever
It really was sad when he thought about it, but the only part of his life that he wasn't annoyed with at the moment was a secret. Hell, even Spinilli pissed him off, because the kid was free to be with anyone he wanted and he could show that person how he felt and, yet, the teen was still hung up on a girl who would never return his feelings while another stood by his side and supported him faithfully. He would give anything for that, for the freedom to allow the woman who loved him to show her affection to the world, to claim him, but, in order to keep her and her children safe, they both had to deny their feelings except for when they were both alone.
That, his ability to love Elizabeth, Cameron, and Jake when he was in private, was the only thing keeping him going while everything else around him fell apart. So, with the cloak of the rain swirling around in the dark outside to shield and hide him, he let his mind wander. He thought about the times they had shared when she was grieving years ago for a boy who really wasn't dead. He thought about their motorcycle rides, about their long conversations on the docks or at the counter of Kelly's, and about the Christmas they spent together while he was healing carefully concealed away in her studio. He thought about the moments they had experienced together when she was confused about her feelings and torn between both him and a love from her past. He thought about the pool lessons, about boxing on the old bridge, and about all those instances where he had almost kissed her. Then he thought about the two times they had kissed before they started dating, and he thought about what it had been like knowing that when he went home at night she would be waiting there for him. He thought about the one night they had spent together as more than friends, as lovers, the night when they had created their son. He thought about the time he had gotten to spend with her and oldest child, about all the times he had gotten to hold his little boy in his arms, and about the last two times he had kissed the woman he loved. And, in a moment of weakness, he thought about what it would really be like to be with the family he craved so much but couldn't have.
But the rain wouldn't listen. It just continued to seduce him, to tempt him, to entice him, its incessant pounding whispering to him that he should throw caution to the wind and follow his heart, that Elizabeth would welcome him with open arms, that her children didn't need him to stay away, that, instead, they needed him to be a part of their lives. Unfortunately, while the rain wouldn't listen to him, he couldn't listen to the rain.
Well maybe I'm just too young
To keep good love from going wrong
It was reckless, it was dangerous, and it was downright irresponsible, but, as she listened to the faint chimes of the clock downstairs on her fireplace mantle chant out the stroke of midnight, she just didn't care any longer.
Sitting up in bed, she blindly let her feet feel for the slippers she had casually discarded earlier, slipping her bare toes into the warm confines of the house shoes. Determined, she made her way through her home, keeping the lights off so as not to risk waking up her boys. First, she turned the outside light on knowing it would be a beacon of greeting and longing in the cold, harsh night. Then she unlocked the door, hid a key underneath the welcome mat, and then relocked the entrance before finally going back upstairs to dial the first number programmed onto her cell phone.
It rang once, twice, and then a third time, and she hoped he was somewhere he would be able to hear the peal of an incoming call, for, if he didn't answer, she had no idea what she would do next. No matter what though, she needed to make sure he was alright.
Oh... lover, you should've come over
'Cause it's not too late
The last thing he had been expecting to break through the monotony of his melancholy and anger was a phone call. Apathetically, he answered it, not even bothering to check the caller id. Undoubtedly, it was just another person needing him to do something for them – an order would be barked, a plea begged, or an ultimatum given with no concern for what he might need or want in that moment. But what waited for him on the other line was the exact opposite of what he had been prepared for, and it was everything he had been wanting and needing.
"I know I shouldn't be doing this, that we agreed not to, but it's midnight, the boys are asleep, and all I can think about is whether or not you're okay."
"I'm okay," he tried to reassure her, infusing more sincerity into his words than he actually felt. For the first time that day, hell that month, he had to stifle his laughter when she didn't hear his response and simply kept talking.
"Today couldn't have been easy for you. I mean, it wasn't easy for me, and I barely knew Milo and Bobbie and I haven't been nearly as close since… Anyway, obviously you're not riding because I'm talking to you right now, and, though I'm thankful for that because it means you're not endangering yourself, that also means that you're at home in the penthouse probably feeling trapped, and I know how much you hate that. Spinelli is probably upstairs slaying some virtual dragon on his computer while you're downstairs staring out at the rain through the French doors, and that's not going to help, that's not going to ease…whatever it is you're feeling right now – guilt, pain, sadness, anger."
He smiled at her rambling, the quickly spoken words giving him a sense of normalcy and contentment he hadn't felt since the last time they were together.
"So," she let out a harsh breath, a sigh that told him she was nervous, "that's why I think you should come over here tonight."
That he had not been expecting. "What?"
"I know what we decided, and I'm not sure what this means, but I don't want you to be alone tonight, Jason." Her voice dropped to a soft murmur as she confessed, "I don't want to be alone tonight."
"I'll be right there," he said immediately while nodding his head at the same time.
"Just…let yourself in. I put your key underneath the welcome mat by the front door."
"Your key…to keep." He was already walking out of his penthouse and moving to disconnect his phone when she tentatively spoke up once again. "Oh, and Jason?"
"I'll be upstairs in bed when you get here."
Surprised by her words, he realized he was still listening to the dial tone by the time he stepped off the elevator and into the parking garage. Suddenly, his anger was the last thing on his mind.
Well I feel too young to hold on
And I'm much too old to break free and run
Too deaf, dumb, and blind to see the damage I've done
Sweet lover, you should've come over
Oh, love well I'm waiting for you
He kicked off his muddy shoes and stripped off his suit jacket, oxford shirt, dress pants, and socks before lifting the simple covers of her bed and sliding in between the layers to pull her silk nightgown clad form into his arms. Despite the coolness of his skin, he felt her relax into his embrace immediately, heard her breathing slow and become tranquil, and saw her sigh in contentment. She was already falling asleep, and he couldn't wait to watch her.
"Don't get too comfortable, Daddy," she teased him, turning her head to delicately kiss his bare shoulder. "Jake gets up around two every morning for a bottle, and, since you're here, I'm taking advantage of the situation and going to make you get up to feed him."
He grinned, thrilled by the idea and knowing Elizabeth's causally spoken words disguised her knowledge of his deeply rooted desire to be a father to their son. "I can do that," he reassured her, returning her gesture by dropping his own kiss between her bare shoulder blades.
She yawned, and, for a moment, they were both silent. "You can stay for breakfast, can't you?"
"I can stay for as long as you want me to."
"Good," she returned before nodding off.
Finally, Jason was home with his family.
And the rain stopped.
Lover, you should've come over
'Cause it's not too late
A/N2: The song is Jeff Buckley's "Lover, You Should've Cover Over."