Title: A Reason to Live
Disclaimer: I neither own the character presented in this story nor the show from which they originated. Unfortunately.
Summary: Broken and confused with no path to follow in life or an ambition to guide him, Jason Morgan spends one night after the other seeking out the best ways to destroy himself... until the night that he experiences the most exhilarating adrenaline rush yet. Immediately, he's addicted.
A/N: And, with this offering, I present to you the final possible one shot up for continuation. If you would like to vote, please do so. The more replies I receive, the better I'll know what you, as readers, want to see continued. Plus, I'm not against perhaps, in the future, continuing a second story as well... if there's enough interest in more than one. So, for the poll, go to my proboards site, entitled Delicious Infatuation. (Because links aren't allowed, just google the name, and it should bring up the board.) Oh, and for the record, she's not a vampire. Read and you'll see what I mean. ;-) Thanks and enjoy!
A Reason to Live
FNF#46: I Shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
There were few things in life that he liked.
Riding his motorcycle.
Getting into fights.
And, most of all, Jason Morgan liked sex.
Besides the fact that his head had been rammed into a tree less than a year before, causing him to lose his memory and be labeled 'brain damaged,' he was just like any other twenty-something guy. He worked hard so that he could play hard, and he made no apologies about the fact. It wasn't as though he enjoyed parking cars or unloading bags of coffee down at the warehouse. Rather, he did what he needed to do so that he could survive. If he didn't work, then he couldn't pay for his room above Jakes, buy gas for his bike, or afford the other various necessities his existence required: beer, books, and condoms.
To the outside observer, Jason knew that his life appeared shallow. There was no depth of emotion, but that's the way he preferred it. He didn't make friends, because he didn't want friends. He was already a disappointment to his so-called family. Why would he want to form attachments to strangers only to end up disappointing them as well? And he didn't date either for the same reason. Where he had absolutely no qualms about taking an attractive woman to his bed at night, she was gone before morning, and names were not exchanged. Names led to attachments, attachments led to feelings, and feelings led to complications he didn't need. In his opinion, he already felt too damn much.
That was why he liked Jake's. At the dockside bar, people didn't care that he kept to himself, that he refused to engage in conversation, and, best of all, the seedy dive provided plenty of opportunities for Jason to lose himself in the moment. Fights broke out consistently on a nightly basis. Whether he started them or he finished them, it didn't matter just as long as he got a piece of the action, and, if a fight wasn't enough to calm the swirling vortex of thoughts, feelings, and emotions choking him, then he'd pick up an easy lay or leave on his bike and find something else to do that would give him that surge of adrenaline he craved so much.
Adrenaline was the most powerful thing Jason had managed to discover since waking up from his coma. It was strong enough to wipe everything and anything else from his mind, clearing it so that he could finally take a deep breath without gagging on his rage, or his pain, or his sorrow. Despite the fact that he wanted nothing to do with the Quartermaines or his past life as one of them, their rejection still hurt. Although he didn't like even admitting the truth to himself, there was a part of Jason Morgan that wanted to know why he wasn't good enough. Sure, he no longer lived to please everyone else, but, if he was expected to find a way to learn to love them again, shouldn't the same be expected from them as well? Shouldn't they have to get to know the new him, learn to love the new him and not constantly compare him to the man he was before, the man he would never be again?
Apparently not, according to Monica, and Alan, and Edward, and all the other Q's. If they couldn't have Jason Quartermaine, then they didn't want anybody, and he sure as hell wasn't going to bend over backwards and kiss their asses simply to make a bunch of veritable strangers love him. Besides, it was that love that they supposedly felt for him that seemed to make them think they had the right to dictate to him how he should live his life, what he should do, who he should be, how he should dress, and where he should live and work, and he wanted nothing to do with that type of love.
That didn't mean, though, that he wasn't lonely; he simply chose to be lonely in order to avoid everything that went along with having friends, family, and lovers. Despite the fact that he knew healthy relationships did exist, for he saw them everyday between the men he worked with and their families, strangers that he saw at the store or at the laundry mat, Jason wasn't sure if he was capable of them. After all, not a day went by where someone didn't take the opportunity to remind him of his brain injury, to insist that he wasn't capable of taking care of himself or of living a normal, healthy, emotionally balanced life, and, even though he was determined to prove each and every single person wrong who doubted him, their derogatory words had a way of sneaking up on him, haunting him when he was alone or weakened by exhaustion.
So, that's why he drove his bike at dangerous speeds down the cliff road. That's why he train surfed. That's why he pushed his body and his mind to the breaking point, seeking that silent, still moment where everything else disappeared except for the rushing sensations of whatever thrill he was momentarily experiencing. If he got hurt, so be it. If he died, at least he went out on his own terms and having a damn good time while doing so. It wasn't a death wish as some people claimed he had; it was simply an inner knowledge of the fact that he wouldn't be missed, and there was nothing and no one he would miss, so why be cautious, why put off the inevitable?
Tilting his bottle back, his third for the evening, Jason observed the thin crowd at Jake's that evening while taking a nice, long, satisfying drag from his beer. There were a couple of guys playing pool, regulars he thought he recognized, three drunks lined up at the bar, and a young, oblivious couple on the tiny dance floor. His only hope of scrounging up a fight would have been to attempt to pick up the girl hanging all over her boyfriend, but the kid was scrawny, obviously not a fighter, and he knew the match would be uneven and entirely unsatisfying.
He hated Tuesday nights.
Tossing several bills down on the scarred and perpetually sticky tabletop, Jason stood and made his way towards the back of the bar where the exit to the alley was. As he walked, he chastised himself. He knew better than to go down to the bar on a Tuesday night, hoping for a little action. The place was always dead on Tuesdays. People were over their beginning of the work week blues but not yet ready to start celebrating the arrival of the weekend. Not even the allure of dollar drafts could entice a crowd; all the cheap booze did was bring in the lushes, and, though some could be hot tempered after they knocked a few cold ones back, they went down far too easily and quickly for his taste.
After pushing the back door open roughly, it slammed behind him, alerting anyone in the vicinity of his presence. Whether it was a reaction to the way the Quartermaines had treated him after he woke up – like he was invisible except when it came to their own wants and wishes – or as a statement of his presence, Jason was aware of the fact that, when he walked into a room, he made sure everyone knew it. Oh, sure, he could hide and disappear into a crowd if he wanted to, but, first, he made sure that all potential rivals and opponents knew that he wasn't a man to be messed with lightly. He did so by slamming doors, by walking with his head up and his shoulders rolled back, the stomps of his motorcycle boots on the floor louder than necessary, by making eye contact with each and every other person in a room. Even when he was seemingly alone, he still marked his territory.
Reaching into the right pocket of his leather jacket, he removed his keys, but, before he could throw a leg over his bike, a footstep sounded in the alley behind him, its normally soft tread as loud as a gunshot echoing in the dead of the night. His thoughts proved entirely too accurate when he heard the muted click of a pistol's hammer being cocked.
Maybe he was wrong; maybe he lied to himself when he pondered why he made it a point to announce his presence when walking into a room or out of a building. Perhaps the real reason Jason was so demanding was because he was seeking the attention such actions could bring him. If he had simply slipped into the alley behind Jakes' quietly, softly shutting the door behind him and walking so that the soles of his boots did not beat out a steady tattoo against the pavement, then the chances were that whoever was holding a gun to his head wouldn't have been aware of his sudden arrival. Perhaps his cocksure, arrogant manner was simply another way to find a rush, to put himself in a situation where he would have the chance to make his adrenaline skyrocket.
"Drop the keys," the stranger ordered behind him.
Jason didn't recognize the voice, but he did notice familiar aspects to the tone. The man lived a rough life – worked hard and played hard just like he did. He smoke, drank, refused to put down roots, and he existed day to day without ever a plan or a goal in sight. He feared nothing and no one except himself and the inner demons he had to battle on a nightly basis. In essence, he was Jason... just older, rougher, and even more jaded.
Doing as he was told, he opened his fist and allowed the keys to fall to the litter strewn ground. The clang they made as the metal pinged off the pavement set his teeth on edge. Though he knew better than to charge an opponent without first looking at the battleground before him, Jason also hated to take orders from anyone, especially someone holding a gun to his skull, but he forced himself to listen, to do what he was told, looking for a moment of weakness or opportunity that he could pounce on and turn the situation around to his advantage.
"Put your hands in the air where I can see them and then turn around."
He complied, but, as he pivoted, he also said, "look, if you want some money, my wallet's in my back pocket, but I don't have much, or, if it's something else you're..."
His words were silence by a hard left hook to the gut. The gun in the stranger's right hand never wavered. "Shut up." Taking a step closer to him, his opponent snickered. "Well, aren't you a green son of a bitch." As if he could see Jason bristle at the comment, the man admitted, "oh, you're tough, and you're a good shot, and you've yet to be beat in a fight, but you fight for all the wrong reasons. You fight for the fun of it, the thrill; you don't fight for survival."
"And you do," he questioned, narrowing his gaze at the older man standing opposite him. Without blinking, Jason challenged, "what the fuck are you trying to survive tonight? I didn't even know you were there."
"Exactly," the stranger agreed. "And the rumors have it that you're Sonny Corinthos' latest pet project, that he's about to offer you a real sweet deal. So, I'm thinking that, if I were to take you out, maybe Mr. Corinthos would see the error of his ways, and I would be the one getting the offer to join the mob boss' organization. After all these years on the streets, I've earned it. I know what it's like to kill, because it's always either you or the other guy. Can't say the same can you, Pretty B... AAAHHH!"
It happened so quickly, he didn't have time to think, simply to react. From somewhere in the shadows, someone... or something slid a hand out and twisted the gunman's hand so effortlessly, so fluidly that Jason could hear the bones crack as the weapon fell noisily to the ground. As he bent over to retrieve the pistol, he heard the sounds of a neck being snapped, and the stranger who had just been threatening his life moments before slumped to the concrete in a pile of lifeless, dead weight.
Glancing up, he watched as a petite woman manifested right out of the dark of the night, her form practically condensing out of the vapor. As she sauntered towards him, Jason had a hard time describing how she moved. It wasn't walking. It wasn't even gliding. It was like she could float, but such an idea was ridiculous. While he had been drinking that night, he hadn't drank that much.
Dusting her hands, she spoke casually as if she hadn't just saved his life by killing a man twice her size. "People like you really piss me off." Before he could wonder if that meant she was going to snap his neck next, too, the dark haired beauty continued, "here you are – alive, healthy, attractive, smart, and you're throwing your life away with both hands."
"I... I just..."
"I know," she interrupted him, holding up a slender, pale arm, her palm silencing him. Attempting to clear his vision, Jason blinked rapidly, because, if he didn't know any better, he would have said that her fingers actually glowed in the dim light of the crescent moon. "You just want it all to go away – the pain, the fear, the rage, the grief, the desperation. You're sick of feeling so much, so you go out and seek the easiest ways to make it stop, to numb or, at least, cover up your emotions."
When she shoved him against the chest with both hands, moving so quickly that he he nearly fell down from astonishment, and it took him several seconds of rocking on his feet to regain his balance and poise. "Hello, dumbass! Don't you get it? That's the whole point of being alive – feeling. Yeah, it hurts, and, yeah, sometimes it seems as if it's not worth it, but it is. Trust me. Take it from someone who can't feel anything, and stop trying to get yourself killed."
Looking at her closer, he asked, "what do you mean that you can't feel anything?"
She smirked. "It's pretty hard to feel when you're not alive, Morgan."
Ignoring the fact that she knew his name, and forgetting the fact that he had just seen her murder someone, albeit someone who was going to murder him, Jason reached out, splaying a wide, tan hand against her sweater covered chest. Despite the fact that such a gesture was quite forward, it wasn't the first time he had done something of the sort, but usually when he touched a pretty woman's chest, he was trying to feel her up, not looking for a heartbeat. He didn't find one.
"A girl, a woman, standing right before you – talking, making more sense than you ever have in your entire life? Yeah, well, watching humans waste every chance you wish you had at a real life kind of puts things into perspective for you, you know."
Amazed and feeling more alive in her presence than he ever had before, Jason asked, "what are you?"
She melted away then, leaving just as suddenly, just as mysteriously, as she arrived, but she wasn't gone entirely. For him, her presence still lingered. He could sense her nearby, feel her hovering as if she'd be there, always lurking, when he needed her. And he did. He needed her like he needed air or water. She was the best escape he had been able to find yet, and he wasn't ready to give her up, not after just a few paltry moments in her presence.
For some reason, what she said didn't bother him, and he knew she was telling the truth, because he had seen and felt the proof of her lack of a normal life for himself. If she had been a regular, young woman, she never would have been able to kill the man who had wanted to take his life to prove his own virility, and, if she was traditionally alive, then he would have been able to feel her heart beating under his palm when he touched her. Despite her inappropriate speed and grace and her unnatural existence, she intrigued him, and, suddenly, Jason felt as though he had a purpose.
He wanted to know everything there was to know about the strange woman – what she was, how she had become such a thing, and whether or not it was permanent. He wanted to study her, he wanted to help her, and he wanted to get to know her, not because he wanted what she had, but because she wanted what he didn't want – life. If what his attacker had said was true, then Sonny was about to offer him a position in the older man's business, but he knew then and there that he couldn't take it. While he appreciated everything that Sonny had done for him so far, and while he respected the mob boss, working for Sonny wouldn't get him the answers he craved. Maybe he'd see about helping with the organization's medical needs. Even though he didn't want to be a doctor at General Hospital like the Q's wanted him to be, he still remembered all his training. He could put it to good use, help Sonny and the other guys' out from time to time, earn a living, and, when he wasn't working which would be often, look for the mystery woman again.
It was funny, Jason had to admit to himself, as he picked his keys up off the ground, straddled his bike as he started the machine. He had found a reason to live, and that reason was dead. Pulling out of the corpse-free alley – what had happened to the dead man, he didn't know, Jason laughed for the first time in weeks, maybe even months. It felt good.