I hesitated to upload this; after all, I'm horrible about updates and I haven't added to Defying Gravity since 2009. I keep working on the next chapter, but it never feels right; many things have changed about my GH interests/likes since starting the fic (particularly, my love of NEm is no longer.) However, I have every intention of finishing it (eventually.)
In the mean time, I hope you'll enjoy this AU fic. The idea just came to me one day and I wrote it months ago, but, as I said, wasn't sure about publishing. I've tweaked it since then and tried to make the chapter longer, but the ending just felt right.
A deep sigh escaped from Anthony Zacchara's lips as he looked over the mahogany desk to his youngest daughter. He knew she had been miserable for weeks; hell, months maybe, ever since she learned of her ex's engagement. He hated seeing her like this. Normally, his Lizzie had the vibrant personality inherited from his late wife, but when his wife and daughter loved, they loved with their whole heart. And Elizabeth's heart was crushed; he hoped not beyond repair.
"Lizzie…" he started.
She shook her head and continued to stare at the gold-framed photo of her mother and her grandparents. Maria smiled brightly as her hand grasped her mother's, her other hand resting on her rounded stomach. Steve and Audrey Hardy looked directly at the camera, their gazes overflowing with love, neither aware that Maria would be lost to them only mere days later. Elizabeth swallowed hard, keeping the tears inside. She set the frame back down on the desk. A placental abruption, they called it; the doctors had been able to save her little brother, but Elizabeth didn't have the chance to say goodbye to the woman who was her whole world for six years.
"Lizzie," Anthony repeated.
She looked into his eyes and saw the ever-present worry. Anthony had once been called heartless, or so she heard; Grandmother Zacchara said that Maria had changed him for the better. Elizabeth believed her grandmother; her father was too loving for him to be as cold as people claimed.
"I'm okay, Daddy," the petite brunette assured him.
"Bee, you aren't okay. Do you want to –"
Elizabeth shook her head vehemently, knowing Anthony was about to ask, again, if she wanted to talk about it when her answer would be, yet again, that she didn't.
"No. Daddy, he's happy. That's good; I want him to be happy. He deserves to be."
"And what about you, Lizzie? You deserve to be happy, too. Hell, if anyone deserves that, you do. When are you going to stop punishing yourself?"
She lifted her pleading gaze back to Anthony and he let out another sigh.
"Very well. I'll let it go…for now."
Elizabeth granted him with a warm smile, so reminiscent of his wife's that it clutched at Anthony's heartstrings. He was used to that; losing his wife was something he knew for a fact that he would never get over. But he stayed strong, for his children.
He had never dreamed that his own child would feel that pain.
Dr. Robin Scorpio-Zacchara watched as her younger sister quietly left their father's study. Closing her medical textbook, she slipped out of the cozy armchair and hurried to Elizabeth. Since Robin's arrival at the mansion exactly 20 years ago, the two were practically inseparable. Maria Zacchara was a close friend of Robin's mother, Anna Scorpio, and when the Zaccharas were being threatened, Anna and husband Robert had personally taken on the case. The superspies were close to nailing the suspect when they were killed in a boat explosion; the official report was faulty wiring, but everyone knew better.
Maria had convinced Anthony to take Robin in and eventually adopt her. Her uncle, Mac Scorpio, wasn't pleased, but he wasn't ready to raise a child and he adored Maria. Everyone adored Maria. After Maria's death, Mac, now married with a baby on the way, had considered fighting for custody but Robin refused to leave Elizabeth's side.
Robin hated to see her friend in pain then and she hated to see her sister in pain now. If Robin hadn't taken an oath to save lives, she would have no problem ending his, friend or not. As it was, she had still offered and was disappointed when Elizabeth refused.
The artist held her hand up, stopping the other woman before she could ask. "No. Robin, I don't want to talk about it, not even with you, okay?"
Robin frowned. "Do you want me to call Emily?"
She shook her head. "No, Em's spending the day with Zander."
"Zander's your friend too."
"I know, but I want to give them some time alone."
"At least let me call Brenda."
"We both know that she and Sonny are having problems; don't make them worse."
Robin sighed and started to say something else when her phone rang. Grateful for the interruption, Elizabeth answered and smiled.
"Yeah, she's right here. Hold on."
Robin shook her head, refusing to take the phone, but Elizabeth insisted. Reluctantly, Robin gave in and couldn't help but smile when she heard his voice.
"Hi baby. No, not tonight, Elizabeth needs - "
Elizabeth glared and Robin sighed again.
"Never mind, she's being stubborn...yeah...okay, yeah, sounds good, I'll meet you there. Love you too."
"Go meet up with Dr. McHottie and don't give me another thought, alright?"
"C'mon Elizabeth, you know I can't just let this go."
"Please, Robin. The only thing keeping me from losing it is knowing that the people I love are happy."
"I still love him and I always will. I just want him happy, even if that means not being with me."
Robin frowned again, but nodded. "Okay. I'll go hang out with Patrick, but just for you."
"Oh please, you can't fool me. It's for you too," Elizabeth said with a wink.
Robin giggled. "Okay, okay, for me too. You gonna be okay, sweetheart?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine. I'm just gonna head to the studio, maybe paint something."
"Alright. I'll talk to you later."
The two hugged and Robin left, Elizabeth leaving shortly after.
He surveyed the damage: strewn canvases, dried paint sets, torn paintings. She was still in pain and he couldn't do a damn thing about it.
Elizabeth entered her studio and almost screamed at the shadow. Shadows always made her uneasy, reminding her of the Valentine's night when her world was torn apart. If it hadn't been for her family, Elizabeth didn't think she would've survived.
The brunette spun around and realized that she was brought back to that night. "Shh...sis, it's me."
She ran to him and pulled him close in a warm embrace. "John, you scared me."
Her twin gave a small smile and shook his head. "In my defense, I didn't know you would be here."
"What are you doing here? Daddy didn't expect you to come back to the country for at least another month."
Johnny Zacchara stiffened at the mention of their father. He blamed him for their mother's death and couldn't stand the sight of the man. Elizabeth loved both her twin brother and their father and still hoped that one day, they might work out their differences. She knew it was what their mother would want, but also knew better than to tell John that.
"Well that was the plan, but Robin called and - "
" - and told you I was miserable."
"You almost had me fooled, but when I heard what was really going on, I had to come back. You know my offer to kill him still stands."
"I don't want him dead; I just want everyone to stop treating me like I'm some fragile canvas."
"Doesn't mean I don't want him dead," Johnny growled.
"I know, I know. I promised. Remind me again why I promised you I wouldn't kill that bastard?"
"Because you love me and you want me happy," she smirked.
"I still don't see how him being alive makes you happy..."
Elizabeth quickly changed the subject, wishing the people of this town would find something else to talk about. This town was too small, that was the problem. If she didn't hate the idea of leaving the people she cared about, she would've moved to Florence years ago.
"I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to clean up."
"You know I could care less. I was hoping to see a new painting or two, though."
"I'm not feeling very artistic lately, but I did promise Grams a new mural in the children's wing."
"Not without a fight first, I bet."
She smirked. "You know me too well. But Grams pointed out how much the kids would love it and well..."
"She pulled the kid card and you had to give in."
Elizabeth nodded. "Exactly."
"So..." Johnny started, suddenly feeling awkward.
"So how is the Jones girl?"
Johnny tried to backtrack. "She's my little brother's best friend, why would I ask about her?"
"Because I know you too well," she smirked. "And she's fine."
"You realize she's too young for me?"
"Like that's ever stopped you before."
Johnny sighed, remembering his disastrous relationship with Sage Alcazar. Even before Luis Alcazar threatened him into oblivion if he were to continue to date his daughter, Johnny had realized that Sage was a great girl who just wasn't for him.
"That's cold, Liz."
"I'm nobody's little angel, remember?" she grinned. A prank war when the twins were seven had resulted in Elizabeth's victory and Johnny swearing up and down to anyone who listened how vicious his twin really was. Consequently, she had teasingly called herself "nobody's little angel" and the term had stuck.
"Still," he glared. "Anyway," he continued, "she's Robin's cousin."
"Oh you know Robin loves you just as much as I do."
"And she probably wouldn't if I went after her cousin."
"You'll never know unless you try it."
He sighed. "Liz, can't we drop it?"
Knowing that he only called her Liz when he was frustrated, Elizabeth pouted.
"Fine, but only for now."
"Then we'll drop the subject of the bastard's death...for now," he added with a smirk.
She glared, crossing her arms. "That's not - "
"It's totally fair," he interjected before she could finish.
"If you willingly get arrested because of me, I swear I'll kill you myself."
"Who said anything about jail time?" Johnny inquired with a cocky grin. "Clean shot, no one has to know."
"I'll know," she emphasized.
He shook his head. "Sometimes you're too much like Mom for your own good."
Hardly insulted but wanting to tease him, Elizabeth shrugged. "And sometimes you're Daddy's other half."
If looks could kill, she would be dead, that much she knew.
"That bastard - "
"John..." she warned.
He took a deep breath and tried to control the anger that the mere mention of Anthony brought him. "Don't ever compare me to that bastard again, Liz."
"Only if you swear to stop plotting Jason's death."
Completely give up on the idea of murdering his sister's ex or being compared to Anthony?
"Then you might as well call me Anthony Zacchara."
Someone needed to tell this woman to shut the hell up, he thought as the clock indicated it had been nothing but flower arrangements and wedding cakes for the last three hours. Jason Morgan couldn't stand it any longer.
He glanced at his fiancée, wondering when he had allowed his life to become this wrecked. Was it only last year when he and Elizabeth had planned their trip to the Mediterranean? He purchased a new yacht as an early birthday present for her and he could still hear the excitement in her voice when she saw it.
Jason shook his head. This wasn't supposed to happen - the what-ifs, the dwelling. He had never lingered in the past before, but then he had never been apart from Elizabeth before, either. Even while dating her sister, the two of them were friends.
The small brunette turned her head in his direction. "Jason?"
He blinked and tried to come back to the present. "Yeah?"
Sam McCall pointed at a five-tiered wedding cake, earmarking the page. "Well? Do you think this will work for the reception?"
Jason couldn't understand why anyone would want a cake with five layers. Elizabeth's brownies only had one. He sighed. He needed to stop thinking about her.
"If it's what you want," he shrugged.
Sam frowned. She knew that Jason wasn't into planning for the wedding, but it was more than that; sometimes, she wasn't even sure if he wanted to marry her.
He had started as an easy mark, distraught over some ex, but she had soon fallen for him. Sam knew without a doubt that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with this man, but she wanted him to feel the same.
As if on cue, Jason's phone rang and he hastily picked up.
Nodding at the person on the other end, Jason looked at Sam. "I have to go. Can you call Sarah or Lisa?"
Sam sighed, nodding. She gave him a quick kiss and watched him leave, her heart breaking a little at his distance. When they had first gotten together, he hadn't been like this.
Calling Sarah and Lisa, she still couldn't believe she was friends with someone like Sarah Webber. Growing up, she had detested do-gooders and Sarah was exactly that, at least to the public. Sarah was best friends with Lisa Niles, and when Sam and Sarah became close, Lisa just sort of joined in.
"He's distant again," she whined.
"Honey, he can't believe he's marrying someone as amazing as you, that's all it is," Lisa said. Looking over at Patrick Drake, she knew she needed to find some way to get Saint Robin out of the picture. The Patrick she had known in their younger years would cheat without a second thought, but the Patrick he was now was deeply in love with Robin Scorpio-Zacchara, pathetically so.
"What if he's seeing someone else?"
"Who the hell are you and what have you done with Sam McCall?" Sarah asked, examining her nails and deciding to make an appointment with her manicurist first thing in the morning.
"I just can't stand the thought of Jason with anyone else," she admitted. Sam hated showing weakness, and her feelings for Jason seemed to do just that.
"Last year, I would've said the only person he would ever want is my annoying cousin, but we all know that's long over."
"What if it's not? What if I'm marrying a man who still has the hots for Elizabeth Zacchara?"
"Samantha McCall, listen to me. You are way sexier than Elizabeth has ever been and any man would be a fool to want her over you," Lisa assured. She had hated Elizabeth ever since the younger girl had thwarted her first attempt to break up Patrick and Robin.
"Yeah, you're right, I know you're right."
"Of course I'm right. Now when do you want to get together to go over wedding plans?"
Giving her brother one last hug, Elizabeth escorted him to the door. Deciding to stop by Kelly's for one of Mike Corbin's famous chocolate chip cookies, she grabbed her purse and headed in that direction.
Stopping when she reached the docks, her breath caught. Of course he would be here. She knew she couldn't avoid him forever and she knew deep down that she didn't want to, but it didn't hurt any less seeing him.
Hearing someone behind him, Jason turned his head. "Elizabeth."
"How - how are you?"
"I'm great. How are you? I hear congratulations are in order."
She held up a hand, knowing what he was about to do. "You don't need to make excuses; you love her, you're marrying her, that's what people in love do. I hope she'll make you happy."
He hated this. It was never this awkward between them. All they needed was comfortable silence and they were content; now, they could barely be in the same space without the hurt invading.
Jason decided to stay on neutral ground. "How's, uh, how's Robin?"
Elizabeth smiled. "She's really good. She was gonna get together with Patrick tonight."
Jason nodded, glad that his ex-girlfriend and friend had found happiness. While he and Patrick didn't exactly get along, he knew that he made Robin happy and that was what mattered.
"Sonny was asking about you."
"Oh, I need to stop by and visit him. Have he and Brenda made up yet?"
Jason shook his head and Elizabeth sighed.
"Those two are too damn stubborn."
Jason didn't bother to point out that Sonny was better off without Brenda. He knew it would result in Elizabeth defending her friend and the last thing he wanted to do was fight with her.
"Is Carly still giving you hell about Sam?"
Jason nodded and Elizabeth smiled. "Well at least some things never change."
"Yeah," he softly agreed, staring at her.
"Yeah," she echoed, trying but failing not to stare back.
Rubbing his hand along the back of his neck, Jason looked off in the direction of the warehouses. "I, uh..."
She nodded. "Yeah, I was gonna go to Kelly's."
"Are you still working there?"
"No; I planned on it, but Mike said he had more than enough help with the Jones girls and Sage starting soon and what with my shifts at the hospital and my art..."
He smiled. "So you're painting again."
Painting wasn't the right word, she thought - wasting paper, breaking canvases; that was more accurate. "Yeah, Grams asked me to paint a new mural for the childrens' wing."
"Lions, tigers, and bears."
"Oh my," she giggled. "I was thinking more about wind and...and sails..."
He frowned. Their easy talk had turned into awkward silence once again. All he wanted to do was hold her, but he couldn't. He was with someone else and she...well, he had never deserved her. He always knew she could do better.
"Well...goodb - " she started.
"No," Jason firmly stated. "I'll see ya later."
She gave a small, teary smile but nodded. "I'll see ya later."