A/N: This is my new Liason story. With it, you pretty much need to forget everything you know from the show, because Jason and Elizabeth are very different people than what we see on the screen. Although they are both introduced in this first chapter, you'll learn more details about them as the fic progresses. Just to let you know, there are eight chapters, so this is not a very long story. Thanks and enjoy! Charlynn
Reinventing a Quartermaine
Mullets, Catholics, and Power Bars, Oh My!
"Tell me something," the natural yet enhanced blonde asked as she breezed into the formal dining room that morning on her non-practical but in vogue stilettos, taking a seat across from him. That was it; there was no preamble to their first conversation of the day. As always, it was business as usual. There were no warm smiles, no pleasant greetings, not even a 'good morning,' and the scariest thing of all was that he expected nothing more. Recapturing his attention, his wife continued. "Is it a prerequisite for all mechanics to have a mullet?"
"What," he mumbled out, almost choking on his bite of scrambled eggs.
"It's a simple concept, Jason. Please follow along."
"I'm sorry," he hastily apologized, wiping the corners of his mouth with the linen napkin resting in his lap, the movement born from both impeccable manners and a well-honed ability to avoid his spouse if even for only a moment. Letting the napkin fall back in place, the thirty-four year old resumed their conversation. "It's just…since when did you start associating with mechanics?"
"Due to Reginald's insubordination, I was not able to procure his services in taking my car for its quarterly tune up. So…"
"You mean you weren't able to blackmail him into doing your dirty work," Jason surmised, laughing softly.
"Do not interrupt me again," his wife snapped, her glare silencing his amusement. "Besides," her ubiquitous fake smile was back in place, "blackmail is such an ugly word. I prefer to think of it as a mutually beneficial business arrangement."
Pausing in her story to gather some breakfast, the Quartermaine heir watched as the woman across from him only chose to eat fruit for her first meal of the day, forgoing the eggs, waffles, bacon, sausage, and toast which were also provided for the family to eat. "Aren't you going to have anything else," he asked her pointedly, scowling at her dietary choices.
"Do not start with me this morning. I'm not in the mood. Whenever you allow me to make your decisions for you, then we'll talk about your right to dictate what I do and do not eat. Is that clear?" He didn't respond, never said a word. After all, what purpose would an argument serve when the woman he was married to refused to fight back? "Anyway, as I was saying," she pressed on, "I was forced to take my own car yesterday for its oil change, and every man I saw working there had a mullet."
"I don't know what a mullet is."
"For crying out loud, Jason," his wife exclaimed harshly. "I can't do everything for you. Google it or something, but, for now, quit disrupting me." He waved his hand to insinuate she should continue which she did – animatedly. "I also ruined a new dress."
"Oh." Now this he cared even less about.
"They actually forced me to wait," she exploded, pushing her plate aside as if the fruit piled on it repulsed her or reminded her of the experience she had had at the garage. "I even asked them if they knew who I was, and the man waiting on me simply laughed in my face. So, there I was, surrounded by blue collared workers, grease, grime, and the stench of stale sweat, and I was forced to sit in a plastic chair."
"And how exactly did this ruin your dress?"
"Jason, please," the blonde shrieked, wrinkling her petite nose. "Do you have any idea what kind of people sat in that same chair before I did?"
"Hard working, honest men and women who are actually grateful that the garage provides them with something to sit on instead of whining about it."
She observed him coolly, disdainfully. "I should have known you would never be supportive of me."
"Listen," he sighed, rubbing his face in a futile attempt to ease some of the stress he could feel bubbling up inside of him. "The next time you need your oil changed, just come to me, and I'll do it for you."
"Like you know how to do that," his spouse dismissed, rolling her eyes.
"I do. I taught myself how a couple of years ago."
"Then why haven't you ever offered to change my oil before?"
The thirty-four year old shrugged as if his response was the most obvious one in the world. "You never asked."
"And I'm not going to, because you should not risk injury to your hands like that," she directed him as if he was a child who needed scolding.
"I'm a pediatrician, not a surgeon."
His wife pursed her lips, appraising him. "You could have been."
"Damn it," the doctor swore, throwing his napkin on the table and moving to stand up. "We are not having this conversation again!"
"Sit down, Jason." When he didn't comply, the perfectly groomed blonde lowered her voice and actually snapped her fingers at him. "I said sit back down. Your family will be in here at any moment, and I refuse to allow them to see you acting even more immaturely than your daughter."
"She's seven," he stated. "She's supposed to act childishly."
"Not if we want to get her into a good boarding school."
"That's just it though, sweetheart," the husband and father seethed, his words deceptively pleasant, "I don't want my daughter to go to a boarding school."
"Well, as her mother, I decide what's best for her. Besides," his wife pointed out, "you and I both attended boarding schools."
"Jason," she warned, tilting her head at him in a decidedly disapproving manner.
"Look, we are both her parents which means we have equal say in how our daughter is raised. You want her sent away so you don't have to worry about her any longer, and I want her as close to me as possible so that I won't miss more of her life than I already have. Apparently, we have ourselves a stalemate."
"We will discuss this later," the woman he married decreed, "when we have some more privacy. Now," before he could even blink her mood changed again, going from adversarial to supportive and loving, "I want to discuss your birthday party."
"What birthday party?"
"Jason, what kind of wife would I be if I allowed my husband's thirty-fifth birthday to go by uncelebrated?" Smiling radiantly at him, she explained. "It's going to be a black-tie affair, one of the most important social events of the year, and, if we play our cards right, it could really help you improve your position at the hospital."
Confused, he asked, "why would I need or even want to do that?"
"Your father is not going to be chief of staff forever, and you are the logical next choice for the position. However, because you chose such an… easily forgotten field of medicine, we're going to have to work extra hard to impress the board members. This will be a great opportunity to do just that."
"But I don't want to be chief of staff."
"Of course you do," she corrected him. "I want you to be chief of staff, so, therefore, that is what you want as well." She paused momentarily to take a sip of her tea before continuing. "Anyway, I wanted your opinion on an idea I've been considering. Instead of the guests bringing you a birthday present, I was thinking we would ask them to make a donation to a specific charity in your honor. What do you think?"
Genuine surprise transformed the thirty-four year old's face, making it appear less lined and almost content. "I think that's a wonderful idea."
"The only problem is that I can't decide on a charity."
"Just find one that benefits children," he suggested, grinning widely at the idea. "After all, that would make the most sense, seeing as how I'm a pediatrician. Plus, they're normally the charities I tend to work with most of the time anyway."
"Oh, we can't do that," the mother of his only child gasped in horror. "Children's charities are so not at the height of fashion of right now. We need to support something that aides the environment."
"Don't you think that would somewhat hypocritical seeing as how ELQ has a vested interest in many environmentally unsound businesses?"
"But you're not involved in the company."
"I'm on the board," he reasoned.
"It doesn't matter," she proclaimed. "Do you think I choose the charities I'm involved with based upon their merit?"
"I would think you would choose them because their cause actually meant something to you?"
"Jason, you need to stop living in that idyllic little world of yours; nothing is as cut and dry as you see it. I choose my charities not for what I can do for them but for what they can do for me, for you, for your career, and this party I'm throwing for you will not be any different."
"If you really didn't want my opinion," he questioned her, "why did you ask for it in the first place?"
"Maybe just this once, I was hoping that you could see things my way, but, obviously, that's impossible."
The doctor exhaled a harsh breath. "Just…why don't you ask Riegal about her current favorite animal, and go with a charity…"
"That is the most absurd name I've ever heard!"
"Now, Grandfather," his wife attempted to placate the older man, her tone patronizing. It was always patronizing, Jason realized. "You know why I named my daughter that. I wanted her to be a reminder to the rest of society that the Quartermaines are practically American royalty."
"Do you know, dear," the scheming curmudgeon queried as he sat down at the head of the dining room table, "that if you trace back our family's ancestry, my great, great, great, great grandfather on my father's side was a highly placed member of the British monarchy." Suddenly, his tone became gruff and bitter, "and, if that damn fool wouldn't have run away from home to come to America, I might be the ruler of that country!"
"Not this tired story again, Father," his Aunt Tracy bemoaned as she slid into her appointed seat at the table. "Like anyone in their right mind would allow you to govern an entire nation, especially when," she emphasized her words by pointing the fork poised in her right hand at the balding man, "since you couldn't even run ELQ competently?"
"Don't start with me," Edward warned, wagging a finger at his smirking daughter, "or I'll throw you out of this house!"
"It's my house," the thirty-four year old's mother corrected her father-in-law as she entered the room, "which means you will not decide who can and cannot live here."
Piping up just to get a word in edge wise, Alan added, "I gave it to her," and smiled smugly as his father glowered in his direction.
And, just like every morning, a fight erupted between his family members, and, before he could be unwillingly pulled into another argument with them, Jason slipped out and disappeared, no one even realizing his absence. While he made his way out of the house, gathering his suit coat, winter jacket, briefcase, and keys in the foyer, he couldn't help but think about the people he lived with – his wife, his daughter, his grandfather, his parents, his aunt, his siblings, his cousins. Although he loved them, the only one he knew why he felt that way towards them was his daughter. As for the rest, he assumed it was familial responsibility and duty that made him care. It made him feel suffocated and alone, trapped as if he was just itching to climb out of his own skin, but he knew, as a Quartermaine, nothing would ever change for him.
"Elle," the man she was meeting greeted her, a sour note entering his rich, cultivated voice, "why did you request this location? You're my accountant, not my hit-man."
"It's not Elle," she instructed him, meeting his gaze squarely. "I changed it again."
"Of course you did," he commented disapprovingly. "A new town, a new identity, a new apartment, a new life – every year. I should have known."
And if he didn't wipe the concerned, almost reproachful frown off his tan face, she was going to show him just how hard she could hit…and enjoy it immensely. So what if she didn't like to form roots anywhere? So what if she packed up and moved away from a town as soon as people started to expect things from her besides what she could offer them professionally? So what if she was, as Sonny often accused her, emotionally detached? It was her goddamned life, and she was going to live it however the hell she saw fit. Apparently though, the Cuban did not notice her annoyance.
"So, let's recap, shall we," he suggested rhetorically. "It was Liz in Seattle, Eli in Chicago, Beth in Los Angeles, Lizzie in Dallas, and Elle in Atlanta. What's it going to be now?"
"Going with the real name," the older man teased, quirking his left brow at her. "That's ballsy, Webber."
"Can we please just get to the point," she asked of him. Resting her hands on her shapely hips, she pressed. "I've had a long, stressful week, moving everything up here, and I really don't have the patience for your games. I'm tired, I'm hungry, and I'm about this close," she held two fingers up on her right hand to display the length of an inch, "to choking you with your own tie, so just give me what I'll need to go into work tomorrow."
"You still haven't answered my question though."
Without him having to repeat it, she answered. "I'm staying here, so it was convenient for me to meet you out back."
"You're staying here," Sonny questioned with a note of disbelief in his voice. "At Jake's? You do realize that this isn't the safest part of town, don't you?"
"And I'm no freaking girl scout, Corinthos," she snapped, glaring at her boss. "Besides, it's only temporary until I can find another place."
"What about the Port Charles Hotel?"
"There is no way I'm going to stay at a place that demands their employee's starch their underwear. As for the rest of the seedy dumps in this backwater town you like to consider home," she sighed, glancing around the alley they were standing in, "I think I'm safer here."
"Alright," the mafia boss agreed reluctantly, "but promise me you'll start looking for an apartment tomorrow." Instead of replying, she rolled her eyes. "On second though, I'll ask Lily to handle it."
"Oh, no you don't," Elizabeth contradicted him. "I know exactly what will happen if you do that. I'll end up living right across the hall from you, and, don't get me wrong, I adore your wife and kids, Sonny, but there's no way in hell I want to live next door to you. I'll find an apartment." He narrowed his gaze at her. "Soon," the twenty-eight year old brunette amended her previous statement. "Now, what do you have for me?"
"The usual," the Cuban answered, handing her an expensive, Italian briefcase, "the latest figures and receipts, plus keys to the new gallery."
When Elizabeth had first joined the Corinthos organization right after she had graduated from college with her bachelor's degree in accounting, her boss was using an import/export coffee business to launder his illegal earnings, but she had argued for a change. They needed something fresh, something new, something that the federal government would never expect a high school dropout from Bensonhurst to be involved in. Besides, she had pointed out to her employer, she had no taste for the coffee business both literally and figuratively.
Instead, she had suggested that they start a chain of high-end art galleries. After he had purchased the building, using a subsidiary company of a subsidiary company of a subsidiary company owned by someone other than Michael "Sonny" Corinthos, she would move in, develop the legal portion of the business, court new, upcoming artists, and, after a year, leave someone else in charge while she went off and started the process all over again. Not only had the idea been a good one for the organization, but it was also something she could be proud of, something she could take pleasure from. While she might have majored in accounting for practical reasons, she had always loved art and was herself an aspiring artist…not that her boss knew anything about that portion of her life. Her paintings were personal, private, and, most importantly, her retreat from the rest of the world.
"Good," she responded, taking the briefcase from him. "And I started scouting local talent while I was still in Atlanta, so I should hopefully have the gallery up and running in about three months' time."
"Sounds great, Elizabeth."
"Is there anything else then?"
"Actually, yes," the Cuban responded, grinning to show off his dimples. "Lily wanted me to talk to you about coming over for dinner one night."
"Sonny," the young woman grumbled. She knew she sounded like one of his children, but she didn't really care. "You know how much I hate things like that. You'll want me to wear a dress, and, because your kids will be there, I won't be able to swear."
"The sacrifices I ask you to make in the name of friendship," he gasped in mock horror. "We'll discuss this later," he stated leaving no room for argument. "As for now though, you're off the hook. If I don't leave immediately, I'll be late for Wednesday night mass. I'll see you tomorrow."
As her employer made his way to his black limo, she called after him, "say hi to the castrates for me!" Although he didn't say anything, the mob boss did look over his shoulder at her reproachfully before climbing into the car and disappearing into the night. "Damn Catholics," Elizabeth cursed, stomping her foot before heading towards the back entrance of the bar. "They do not have a sense of humor!"
It was the one difference she and her boss often butted heads about. He was a crime lord with a strong moral code – can he say oxymoron – and she was a brash, modern woman who flaunted many of society's tried and true tenets. She lived by her own rules, and, if anyone didn't like it, well, in her book, they could just fuck off. And she wasn't afraid of telling them that either.
Doctor, excuse me, but you do have a separate waiting room, one for, well you know, those of us who can afford to purchase our own health insurance instead of relying upon their boss to provide it for them?
Slamming his car door shut, Jason gunned the engine of his car – well as much as you could gun the engine of an Audi sedan chosen for its high safety standards – peeling out of the hospital parking lot.
What do you mean my little Cassandra has lice, Doctor Quartermaine? That's impossible! She goes to a private academy.
Swearing and ignoring the law, he passed an elderly woman driving in front of him. Even though she was following the suggested speed limit, he needed to go faster; he needed to forget the horrible day he had just had at work, and the only way he could think to do that was to drive so fast he could focus on nothing else but the lines down the middle of the road and the cold wind blowing into his face from his opened driver side window.
Do have another suggestion, Doctor, because my husband and I, we can't afford this medicine you've prescribed?
Still not satisfied, he pressed down on the accelerator and watched his car's speedometer as it rounded eighty and continued to climb higher and higher. However, driving recklessly was not giving him the rush of adrenaline and escape he craved.
You might as well go home, Doctor, because I had to send away the rest of your patients. They didn't have any medical insurance.
He understood that General Hospital was a business and that it had to operate as such so that it could make money and stay open, but he had gone into medicine thinking he could make a difference. With all the money he stood to inherit from his family, there was absolutely no reason for him to become a doctor for monetary reasons, and, because he enjoyed children, he had chosen pediatrics as his specialty, but the longer he worked in his field, the more he realized that those who needed his help the most, the poor, the uninsured, the oppressed, the very people his wife had mourned having to share a seat with, would never benefit from his medical training as long as he remained at the hospital his family partially owned and directed. It was frustrating and yet just something else that made him feel as if he didn't even recognize the man he had become over the years.
By the time he got home, it was time for dinner which meant another meal with the quarrelling Quartermaines. Slowly, precisely, he unbuttoned his winter coat, stripped off his leather gloves, and unwound his cashmere scarf, putting everything away in the closet instead of waiting for one of the help do it for him. Still not ready to face his family, he carried his briefcase up to the bedroom he did not share with his wife, put some papers away in his desk, and hung up both the suit jacket and the tie he had worn that day. He knew it was expected of him to dress formally for dinner, but he just didn't have the patience for it that night, and, dressed in an outfit deemed appropriate by his spouse, he felt as if he couldn't breathe, so he made himself as comfortable as he could given the situation. When he couldn't delay it any longer, he made his way towards the dining room where he found everyone talking at once and his daughter missing.
"I have no idea why you haven't fired Cook yet, Monica," Edward complained, punctuating his tirade by pounding a closed fist on top of the table. "I expressly ordered her to not make salmon again this month!"
"I know," his mother gloated gleefully, smiling at the older man while taking a dainty bite of her entrée. "And that's exactly why she's still employed here."
"Well, I cannot believe that the mayor's wife was elected president of the garden club that Mother founded," Tracy objected. Her eyes were sparking with anger, and Jason feared the crystal goblet in her hand would shatter with the force in which she was holding it. "She is unfit to hold that position."
Agreeing with the older woman, his wife added, "she's not even a blueblood. The only reason why some of the women voted for her was because of her husband."
"That incompetent fool," the old man muttered under his voice but no one paid any attention.
"A.J." Alan spoke up for the first time. "Don't you think you've had enough to drink?"
"Of course not," Edward sniped, glaring at his grandson. "Why shouldn't he go through a bottle of vodka every night at dinner?" Pointing an accusing finger at his son and daughter-in-law, the family patriarch continued. "If you two wouldn't have been such absent parents, only showing up to coddle him, maybe he wouldn't be a drunk today."
"Do not insult my parenting skills," Monica warned the older man. "I've heard too many stories from Alan and Lila to allow you to pretend you were any better than we were."
"Oh, balderdash, my children turned out fine."
"Your son was once addicted to pain pills, and…"
"Hey," Alan complained, glaring at his wife. "You're supposed to be on my side."
But his mother just ignored her husband. "And your daughter," she pressed, turning to face Tracy, "is the coldest, most manipulative woman I've ever met. No one likes her, not even her own family."
"What is the matter with you," the woman in questioned yelled, throwing up her hands in frustration. "I voted for you today at the garden club meeting."
"Did you think that would magically erase all the years of hatred between us," Monica questioned her sister-in-law. "You only voted for me because I was the lesser of two evils. If anything, you think that you should be president."
"Oh, here we go," Ned joined the melee, laughing at everyone around him. "Five hundred dollars says someone walks away from the table with a black eye."
"I'll take that action," A.J. agreed, sloshing some of his vodka out of his glass as he raised it to salute his cousin.
"Do you really think you're in the right condition to be gambling, Junior?"
"Why the hell not," Jason's brother shouted over both his mother's and his aunt's slinging barbs. "Besides, you're wrong, Ned. They're not going to throw punches; they'll go for the hair."
And just like that, he snapped. Raising his voice to a pitch louder than everyone else's and standing up from his seat, he asked calmly yet with force, "where is my daughter?"
And just like that morning, his wife scowled at him and spoke as if she was his mother and not the woman he had married, repeating her same words from earlier. "Sit down, Jason." He didn't listen. "She's having her first appointment with her physical trainer this evening."
"Well, if she refuses to take responsibility for herself, than I will have to do it for her. It's high time she lost her baby fat. How can you expect me to start entering her in beauty pageants if the other girls call her chubby behind her back?"
"Fighting childhood obesity at a young age is important, son," Alan added in, ever the doctor.
"She's just a little girl, and she's not chubby! As her doctor, I should know. In both height and weight, she measures average for her age group."
"But that's just it, Jason," his wife contended, her tone ripe with hostility. "I don't want just an average daughter; I want a better one."
He had no idea what to say to that, how to prove to her that their child was perfect as she was, and, without the strength to argue, he simply left. He strode out of the dining room despite the calls from his family to 'return immediately or else, young man,' found his keys off the sideboard table in the foyer, and walked out the front door, not even bothering to shut it. He couldn't be there with them, with his family. He needed to find a place where he could relax, where he could breathe, where he could just be. The only problem was, he had no idea where to find such an oasis, but he sure as hell was going to try.