Lending Him Shelter
A One Shot
FNF#43: "Poverty often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue; it is hard for an empty bag to stand upright." ~ Benjamin Franklin
He had to get out of there.
If he didn't leave, escape, run away soon, Jason knew that he'd suffocate, maybe not literally, for his lungs were perfectly functional and the hospital had plenty of fresh air, but figuratively. Everything was pressing down upon him, choking him, and he knew that he wouldn't survive another night.
Maybe if there had been one ray of hope available to him, he wouldn't have been determined to resort to such drastic measures, but there wasn't. Although he had the mind and body of a fully functioning adult male, he couldn't remember his life which led him to that point. Oh, sure, he had been told about who he was, but that didn't make it any more real to him. In fact, the only reason that he agreed to go by the name Jason was because he didn't have a better option in mind.
The hospital staff, though only his caregivers, were full of opinions about what he should do. They told him to listen to his family, to follow their advice, to obey the rules, but what he wanted to know was who the hell gave them the right, the authority to tell him what to do? Yes, they might have been responsible for saving his life, but that didn't mean they could live it for him.
And then there was that family that the doctors and nurses perpetually pushed down his throat. The Quartermaines. He had met them all except for Lila, his grandmother, and he hated them all. They were pushy, and rude, and way too damn loud. When they came to visit (more like lecture), it took every ounce of his strength and resolve to not bodily toss them out of his hospital room. Whether through the door or even out his tenth floor window, he wouldn't have particularly cared... just as long as they left him alone.
For people who claimed to want and know what was best for him, Jason personally felt as though the Quartermaine family did what they felt was best for themselves. They were desperate for him to remember his past, to remember them. It was almost as though their very lives depended upon his memory gratifying them, making them worthwhile. At the same time, though, he could sense that they believed he owed them the recollections. Because they had loved him, favored him, pampered him for so many years, he damn well better remember who they were.
They had money. That much he knew for a fact, not only because of the specialists they flew in and threw at him but because of how many mentions their name received on the news. Not only were his family in charge of the hospital, but they also ran a large, diverse company and owned and operated the only upscale hotel in the entire city. They had ties to every single influential person in Port Charles. Their money lined the pockets of the mayor, judges, and even a few senators, and Jason knew they weren't above using their influence to make him toe the line.
That was something, though, that he absolutely refused to do. They wanted him to get better and move back home to their mansion, to take up his previous hobbies and dreams, to be the man they all pinned their hopes and dreams upon, but he had no interest in shouldering their burdensome ambitions, of becoming a doctor, and he sure as hell was not going to live under their roof and thumb. Unfortunately, his body was physically healthy, and, though the doctors insisted that he needed more occupational therapy and daily sessions with their top shrink, he would soon be released from his sterile hospital prison. Hell, for all he knew, the Q's could arrange for him to receive his walking papers the very next day.
And, so, that was why he was getting as far away from General Hospital that evening as possible. He had been staying there long enough to know that the staff was lighter at night. There weren't as many doctors scurrying through the halls, attempting to appear as busy and as important as their inflated egos proclaimed them to be, and the nurses, without as many supervisors, pretty much stuck to the hub, filling out paperwork and leaving the sleeping patients alone. The janitors were around, but they cared more about remaining unseen than about reporting a wayward patient, and security paid more attention to those who entered the building than to those who left.
In order to remain off that staff's radar, he had turned his lights out early, made it seem as though he had gone to sleep, only to actually lay there and plot his escape. When the ever-present noise in a hospital reached its nightly minimum, Jason stirred quietly, shoving aside his scratchy sheets and blankets to stand and survey his room. Luckily, not one for material possessions, he wasn't concerned about packing or taking anything with him. However, he did hope that his clothes from the night of the accident were stored somewhere close by.
Quickly but silently, he examined the closet, the bathroom, even the drawers of his bedside table, but all he found were some extra bedding supplies, some funny looking diaper things that no one had better not made him wear while he was still unconscious, and a bible. He sure as hell didn't need anything like that. Irked that he hadn't found any clothes but still determined to leave, Jason glanced down at his appearance and scowled.
As was the rule, he had nothing on but the hospital gown all patients were forced to wear. It was thin, lacked appropriate coverage, and looked ridiculous, but he didn't care. Sliding on the slippers lying discarded by his bed, he grabbed the robe from a nearby chair and slithered out of his room, making sure that the door made absolutely no sound both when he opened it and when it closed behind him.
Although it was spring, Port Charles was also located in upstate New York. He recalled enough about weather patterns to know the night air was going to be cold, especially given that the weather that year had been unseasonably frosty. Hell, he even knew the ten day forecast by heart – how much precipitation was expected, the highs and lows, the fronts coming in. Of all the channels the hospital TV's offered, one of the only ones that did not annoy Jason had been the weather channel. It had limited commercials and absolutely no nonsense, fictional programming, only truth. After dealing with the Quartermaines for weeks, a lack of lies and pretensions were welcome. Combine that with his knowledge of the human body, and he knew he'd have to seek shelter eventually somewhere, probably sooner rather than later. However, said task was going to be easier said than done. After all, few brain trauma patients were given allowances or provided with their wallets while still considered patients.
So, as he left the hospital, using the fire exits to sneak off the premises, Jason confronted the fact that he lacked any way of procuring for himself legal lodgings. Without cash or a credit card, he couldn't check into a hotel, and there was absolutely no way he was going to return to the Quartermaine residence or ask them for help. Even if he had to sleep in a ditch and cover his nearly naked body with leaves in order to survive, he would do so before becoming anyone's charity case. Maybe if there was someone out there that he considered a friend, he would have gone to them, but he hated the staff, and everybody who had stopped by his hospital room, proclaiming to be an acquaintance from before, he had turned away, ashamed by his former self and annoyed.
Luckily, though, as he walked through the quiet, nearly deserted town, Jason realized that his body didn't particularly feel the cold. Though he knew the temperatures were low enough to require pants, sweaters, coats, and boots, he wasn't uncomfortable as he trudged past the melting piles of plowed snow left over from the winter months. Faster than he expected and without any destination in mind, he made his way through the business district of Port Charles, past the shops, and the banks, and the restaurants until finally he found himself on the outskirts of the city and walking through a somewhat cleared woods.
Although the woods were too close to town to be considered a part of the country, he could still hear and see signs of the wildlife that lived there. Deer tracks, warbling birds and hotting owls, and an occasional scared rabbit would burst out from the underbrush near his feet and run towards safety on the other side of the cleared foot path. Though he had never been in such a place before, at least he didn't have memory of one, Jason felt more relaxed, more at peace in the woods than he ever had at GH.
Eventually, the path led to a clearing, and, when he stumbled into the open space, he realized he wasn't as alone as he had believed himself to be. Up ahead, there was an abandoned boxcar, its lone door pushed completely open and, sitting on the ledge of the car, was a young girl. Without her being even aware of his presence, he watched her, observed her, studied her.
She was small, much shorter and less muscular than he was. With one jean clad leg dangling off the side of the car and the other propped up at an angle before her, she seemed relaxed, comfortable in both her surroundings and her own skin. Speaking of her skin, she was attractive. That much he could tell simply by glancing at her in the dim light of the half moon above. She had long, dark hair which, even from far away, he could see was curly, fine, delicate features, and lips that were plump and as red as the cherry Jello the hospital had shoved down his throat for months. When she pursed them around the cigarette she was smoking, he smirked, imagining them wrapped around other... similarly shaped yet larger things.
Lust rocketed through him. Though he couldn't remember his former life, Jason recognized the feeling. It was deep, and primal, almost instinctive, and he had to clench his fists together tight enough to cut off his circulation to his fingers in order to prevent himself from stomping over the girl and doing something to satisfy those sensations. Somehow, he knew, though, just by looking at her that, despite her appearance, she was innocent. In fact, narrowing his gaze, he also realized that she was quiet young, perhaps even just a teenager.
At that point, he should have just turned around and walked away, but the stranger intrigued him, and he found himself worried that she might be alone and without a place to stay as well. After all, why would someone her age be out so late at night without supervision, without any obvious intentions to leave anytime soon? It was the first time he had ever concerned himself about someone else's welfare, and, though the sensation was foreign, it wasn't entirely unwelcome either.
So, despite what his mind told him to do, despite knowing that approaching the young girl could be disastrous, Jason followed his instincts and stepped further into the clearing, making sure his footsteps were loud enough to attract her attention. Sure enough, after only a few feet, the girl glanced up, her dark, heavily made-up eyes zeroing in on his figure almost immediately. For a moment, neither of them spoke, simply appraised each other, until, finally, it was her who snapped the silence in two by laughing heartily.
"Oh, you've got to be kidding me." Hopping down off the edge of the cart, she sauntered towards him, ran her narrowed gaze from the tips of his slippers to the top of his messy, short hair. "This, this is rich. What, you a sleep walker or something, buddy? You lost, because, if you're looking for a girl scout, you've come to the wrong boxcar."
He didn't answer her, wasn't sure what to make of her harsh, flippant comments. Instead, he simply watched as she continued to approach him, quickly eating up the distance that separated them while he stood stock still. Once she was only a few feet away, she stopped, stunned in her tracks, and gaped at him. "Oh shit."
This time, he didn't remain quiet. "What's wrong?"
Lifting an accusing finger, one that he noticed had a nail painted red to match her lips, the young woman said, "you're not some psycho nut job wandering around in his slippers and bathrobe."
"And that's a bad thing because...?"
"Because you're a psycho nut job wandering around in his slippers and freaking hospital gown." By the time she finished, her voice possessed a high pitched, nervous quality to it. "What are you, some schizo, some whacked out, paranoid killer, some guy named Bob who thinks he's Larry, Chuck, Raul, and the Queen of England?"
"No, my name's Jason."
She giggled then, a carefree, warm, delicious sound that he wanted to wrap himself in and never stop hearing. "Oh, you're quite the literal one, aren't you?"
"I'm not sure," she answered, suddenly sober and thoughtful. "Sometimes, I think that I'm pretty blunt, outspoken, honest, but, then, at the same time, nobody understands me. They all think what I say, what I do has some ulterior meaning, some hidden, rebellious message underneath it." Shrugging, she finished, "I don't know."
"And you're out here alone, late at night because...?"
"It's quiet, it's peaceful, and there's no one here to tell me what to do, or what to say, or how to act." Her words were succinct and entirely too familiar for Jason. For a moment, he found himself wondering if she knew the Quartermaine's, too, if they believed they had some right to control her as well. Bringing him back to the moment, she added, "family can be such big pains in the ass."
Cutting to the chase, he told her, "that's why I'm here."
"You're running away?"
Insightfully, she said, "and, judging by your fashion choices, you're not running away from home either. Let me guess, you don't have a place to stay, right, so you're just... walking."
"I recently woke up from a coma." Why he was telling her about himself, he didn't know. "I have no memory of my past, but I know enough to realize that I don't want to go back to the type of life I had before."
"Fuck, you're Jason Quartermaine!"
Wearily, he took a step back. "You know... knew him?"
"Nah," the girl waved off his concerns. "I think my grandmother might have, because she works at he hospital and is friends with the family, but I don't know any of the Q's. Besides, I'm not exactly the Quartermaine's style, right?" Before he could answer, she shoved a hand through her wavy, wild hair and sighed, blowing the breath out harshly. "Oh, man, I'm probably really going to regret this. I mean, Lizzie might have some hair-brained, crazy ideas some times, but this...!"
"Keep up," she ordered him, but the directive didn't make him tense. Rather, Jason got the impression she was teasing him. "Lizzie's me; I'm Lizzie, and I'm about to do something really stupid."
"And that would be...?"
"Do you snore?"
He shrugged. "I have no idea."
"Well, if you do, I'll just smack you in the head with my pillow a few times, and you should stop." Although he had an idea where her questions were leading, he didn't say anything. "What about food preferences? Do you mind warmed up leftovers?"
"All I can remember eating is hospital food."
"Oh, then the microwave will seem like a gourmet invention to you," she assured him. "What about skills? Have any? Can you climb a tree to sneak in a window, fold laundry, make a bed?"
"Yes," he answered simply. Scratching his right eyebrow, he admitted, "I can also speak a few foreign languages, I understand advanced chemistry and biology, and I'm really good with numbers."
"What's the square root of 2,209?"
Without blinking, he responded, "47."
"Man, I don't know if that's right or not, but you're so going to come in handy with my homework." Walking off in the opposite direction that he had come from, she motioned for him to follow. "Hop along, Jason. You're about to become my new roommate."
Without second guessing her offer or his inclination to accept it, Jason fell into step beside the beautiful teenager.