A/N: I apologize for there not being individual responses to everyone's reviews this go around. As you can probably guess by the amount of time which has stretched between my last post and this one, I have been extremely busy... as are most people this time of year. As this story concludes, however, I do want to take a moment to sincerely thank everyone who has read and commented on this fic. It has amazed me just how warmly received this story has been, not because I personally don't like or appreciate it or the characters but because of everything which has happened to our couple on television... or perhaps it would be more accurate to say everything that has not happened to them recently. Anyway, I digress. You and your reviews have been so gratifying, and I hope this conclusion is what everyone wanted for this little tale. Enjoy!
Prompt #80: "A smile is nearly always inspired by another smile." ~ Anonymous
She was an aunt – not because Elizabeth, her one time best friend, now had a daughter, and not because Jason was acting as the baby's father, but because Jason, Elizabeth, and their little girl were a family, and no matter what happened between them, Emily knew that the couple would always consider her a part of their family. Right or wrong, estrangement or no estrangement, she was a part of them... just as they would always be a part of her. It didn't matter that the three of them had not shared a word with one another since their fight all those months before. Emily knew, if she really needed either her brother or his wife, Jason and Elizabeth would both be there for her. Now, she just needed to find a way to be there for them.
She wasn't angry anymore, and Emily realized that her anger had actually come from a place of hurt. For so long, she had been Elizabeth's best friend, her confidant, and her biggest source of support. With Jason, Emily had been the one family member besides their grandmother that he loved and trusted. In a way, she had been the most important person in both Elizabeth's and Jason's lives, and then, suddenly, she had been replaced, pushed aside as they started to fill that role for each other. They kept things from her and shared things that a mere best friend and sister could not even attempt to compete with. It had made Emily feel insignificant, and, in response, she had lashed out. While Emily knew her insecurities were the direct result of losing her mother at such a young age, it didn't excuse her actions, nor did it make her feelings of abandonment any less real or potent.
But she missed Elizabeth, she missed her brother, and she wanted to be a part of her niece's life. Calla – that's what Jason and Elizabeth had named their little girl. When Emily had heard the name whispered around the hospital corridors four months prior after Elizabeth had given birth, she had been surprised. Although she and her best friend had never shared their favorite baby names with each other, Calla was just so... soft, so pure for the daughter of two survivors, two fighters. Now, though, as Emily looked upon the little girl for the first time, she realized that the name fit baby girl Morgan. And that's exactly who Elizabeth's daughter was: a Morgan. Jason had been by Elizabeth's side for every single minute of the child's birth, his name was on the little girl's birth certificate, and he was her father – DNA be damned. Six months ago, that thought had frightened Emily, but now it just seemed right.
Even while she had been freaking out, Emily had known that Elizabeth would never do to Jason what Carly had done to him, but her reaction had been knee jerk – meant to protect her brother but never hurt her best friend. Too bad she had failed to do either. And, now, here she was on the outside looking in – watching as Jason and Elizabeth embraced in a shadowed corner of the gym, while Elizabeth's new best friend, Karen, doted upon their little girl, and she was just thankful that she had received an invitation to the party being held that evening, whereas, if it hadn't been for her fears, she would have been the one holding Calla and teasing the happily married couple; she would have been the one to throw the party for the Morgans instead.
Seemingly her replacement in their lives or not, Emily didn't harbor any animosity towards Karen. Elizabeth had been the first person to welcome her to Port Charles upon the doctor's return, Jagger and Jason were friends, and Karen understood both Jason and Elizabeth well. Just looking around at the simple congratulatory, grand opening celebration going on around her told Emily that. There were no decorations, no loud music or annoying entertainment that did anything but, and the food and drinks being offered were simple and straightforward, nothing fancy like what would be found at a Quartermaine party. The atmosphere in the renovated gym was relaxed and welcoming as evidenced by the fact that everyone there was enjoying themselves. And that was no easy feat due to the reopened gym's clientele.
Though Jason's old boxing buddies and those of Sonny's men who had escaped from both theclutches of the business and evaded a jail sentence still used the facility to work out, so, too, did many of the doctors and nurses from General Hospital thanks to Karen and Elizabeth's influence, and, because of Jagger, cops were flocking to the gym left and right as well. Everyone seemed to appreciate the family atmosphere of the place and the fact that the gym was just that and not a glorified day spa. Now that Elizabeth was back at work after her maternity leave, Jason would bring Calla with him to work, and Elizabeth had even painted a large mural that stretched around the entire building and covered all four of the main room's walls.
Just down the street, Ritchie – one of Jason's friends who used to work for Sonny – had opened up a coffee/juice bar to compliment the gym, serving products made from the newly renamed Corelli and O'Brien Coffee Trades. Plus, because the FBI had seized all of Sonny's properties and holdings, slowly selling them off to those they trusted to keep the businesses mob-free, the area surrounding the gym was suddenly far less suspect. Now, the streets were well lit, buildings were being renovated, and there was a resurgence of small business growth in downtown Port Charles centering around the waterfront. It was amazing what six months' time could do for a city. Then again, time was only relative when in a single night a lone gunshot had been able to take down the biggest crime ring on the east coast.
It had been all over the press. For weeks, all the local newspapers, television news reports, and blogs had reported on nothing else. In a fit of paranoid rage, Sonny Corinthos had gunned down his half brother and lawyer on the docks in full view of Special Agent Jagger Cates who had gone down to the waterfront to speak with Mr. Lansing about violating the restraining order his ex-wife had filed against him. The shot had been true, striking Lansing in the heart and killing him almost instantly, and Agent Cates had immediately read the mobster his rights, arresting him.
After that, it was like a domino effect. Evidence of tax evasion and racketeering surfaced, and Sonny's associates started to flee or jump ship. A week later, what was left of the once proud empire was seized by the FBI, and thanks to a new task force headed by the promoted Agent Cates, the mob had yet to gain a new foothold in Port Charles. It was the goal of the FBI to keep it that way. Ric Lansing was dead, the Corinthos crime ring had been destroyed, and the night before Sonny's trial was to start, expedited by the federal prosecutor who was brought in so that the city's district attorney couldn't blow yet another case against Corinthos, the mob boss hung himself with his bed sheet in his cell.
"You're not alone. I catch myself watching them all the time," Karen said softly as she came to stand beside Emily. Though the younger woman had not heard her approach, she wasn't surprised by Karen's sudden appearance. "They're just... beautiful together."
And Karen was right. Jason and Elizabeth just... belonged together. Why Emily had not seen it long before her brother and best friend met one snowy night outside of General Hospital, she wasn't sure, but it didn't matter now, because Jason and Elizabeth were together and married; they were a family, and it was clear to anyone who looked at them how happy they made each other. While her thoughts had previously been distracted by recent memories, she now took a moment to observe the couple standing wrapped around one another across the gym from her before she responded to Karen's statement. Jason was standing behind Elizabeth, his arms laced around her waist, his chin deposited contently upon her shoulder. While he didn't say much, merely listening as his wife seemingly rambled on about something Emily couldn't hear, his eyes – open, and warm, and actually smiling – told his sister all she needed to know.
When Emily did finally talk, even she was astonished by what came out of her mouth. "How did... do you know why they chose the name Calla?" At the sound of her name, the baby girl still wrapped up tightly in Karen's arms turned her head slightly to observe Emily. Her eyes were wide... as if she could understand every single thing happening around her, every single word being spoken. While the infant's eyes were the color of her mother's, she had Jason's stillness and perceptiveness. Nature versus nurture... as a doctor, Emily found it intriguing; as an aunt, shefound it to be powerful and awe-inspiring.
"Elizabeth was a week past her due date – uncomfortable, miserable, and on bed rest, and your brother was frantic to do whatever he could to make her as content as he possibly could. They ended up spending a lot of time in bed together, Elizabeth looking through her old art textbooks longingly because she missed painting." Karen paused momentarily in her story, her face scrunching up in a frown of uncertainty. "I'm not sure why, but, as Elizabeth explains it, she was telling the paintings to your brother like one does a story."
A corner of Emily's mouth quirked up in a bittersweet grin. Elizabethwould do that for her brother. "After Jason's accident, he couldn't really see images like drawings and paintings anymore. Photographs are okay, but..." Her words trailed off, and Karen resumed her narrative.
"Anyway, Elizabeth spent a lot of time telling him about her favorite artist..."
"Georgia O'Keefe," Emily supplied with a grin. This time her smile was wide, and a chuckle escaped past her spread lips. If she had a dollar for every time she had heard her best friend talk about the famous American artist... well, it'd be safe to say she would never need to use her trust fund.
"... and, as they talked, she seemed to keep coming back to a set of paintings. They were of calla lilies. I guess you could say, as it often happens for artists, inspiration struck."
As she had observed for herself earlier, Emily said with a gentle shrug of her shoulders, "it fits her."
"I think you should tell her why," Karen suddenly announced, catching Emily off guard when she transferred baby Calla into Emily's slightly awkward and unsure arms.
"Wait. What are you...? I mean, you can't... Jason and Elizabeth...?"
"Jason and Elizabeth would want Calla to get to know her aunt," Karen whispered in understanding, placing a soothingly hand upon one of Emily's arms. Then, her face transformed into one of cheeky mischief. "And, in the meantime, I'm going to hunt down my husband. I think it's way passed time for us to make a Calla of our own."
Before Emily could do anything – laugh, protest, or even react, the doctor was gone, and she was left standing alone with her brother's daughter, her best friend's daughter, her niece. "So, it's just you and me now, huh, kid?" Smirking, she confided, "oh, the stories I could tell you about your parents..."
And for the first time since Calla was born, Emily finally believed that she just might have the chance to do so.