White Knights: A Jason/Carly short story

White Knights


“You had a real chance with Jason,but you blew it,” Liz’s gaze ran scornfully across Carly’s face. “First chance you got, you crawled into bed with his best friend.”

Carly leaned forward abruptly, her face gone cold and still. “You better watch that mouth of yours,” she warned, her eyes narrowing. “It may take your skinny little butt,” she paused, briefly, staring into Elizabeth’s eyes, “places you can’t get out of.” Carly’s eyes locked on Elizabeth’s, and she slowly reached across the counter, tapping the other woman’s cheek lightly with her fingertips, the exact opposite of a caress. Elizabeth jerked her head away, sharply, and Carly’s lips curved into a smile. She held the other girl’s eyes, waiting with relish for the moment Elizabeth’s gaze flickered away from hers, then slowly slid off the stool in triumph. “I may have lost my chance with Jason, little girl, but at least,” her smile widened, “at least I knew what it was to have one. To have him. And that -- that just kills you, doesn’t it?” She held her gaze a moment longer, then turned around, grabbing her jacket off the nearby stool, and ran smack into Jason, standing like a brick wall, behind her.

“Jase!” Carly bit her bottom lip, looking up at him. “I didn’t know you were here.”

“Yeah, I got that.” Jason’s eyes were cold, looking down at her; she could feel him doing it, shutting her out the way he did. He gripped her shoulders, then looked above her head to Elizabeth. He shook his head once in Carly’s direction. “I’m sorry,” Jason said, quietly, grimly. “It won’t happen again.”

Elizabeth smiled tremulously, understandingly. “It’s okay, Jason,” she said, unable to stop herself from enjoying how much she knew Carly hated this. “I understand. And, I’m fine; Carly’s words can’t hurt me.”

Carly twisted in Jason’s grip, looking at Elizabeth. “Can’t they?” she asked. “Can’t they, little girl?” Elizabeth’s soft smile didn’t so much fall as harden on her face, her jaw clenching, under Carly’s taunting gaze.

“That’s enough, Carly! You don’t talk to Elizabeth like that,” Jason growled, and slid his arm to her elbow, dragging her towards the door with him.

Numbed with shock and a kind of white-hot anger, Carly allowed herself to be manipulated outside the door, then jerked her arm out of Jason’s grasp, whirling to face him. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she practically spit, her eyes narrowed to slits. “What right do you have to step in, to apologize for me, you bastard?? I’m not your child, or your dog, or your wife, and we all know I’m not your girlfriend, Jason!” She took a step closer to him, her eyes blazing. “What did you think you were doing?”

“Doing?” Jason exploded. “I was doing what I always do, Carly -- stopping you from making a stupid mistake, going too far. Saving you from yourself!” He ran his hand through his hair, staring at her. “That’s what I do.”

“Bullshit,” she said, flatly, not giving an inch. “That had nothing to do with me, Jason. Nothing to do with ‘saving’ me. It was all about your precious little Elizabeth; you were protecting her from big, bad Carly. You were defending her; you weren’t trying to save me. Lie to yourself all you want, Jason, but don’t lie to me. Not about this, man.” Carly shook her head, tears unshed and bright in her eyes. “I’ve been there, I’ve done this before. This is what you do, Jase. Defend all the fragile, perfect little angels out there.”

He was silent a moment, his arms folded across his chest. “Maybe Elizabeth needed defending,” Jason said, finally.

Carly let out a sharp, bitter laugh. “Right. Sure she did. What about me, Jason? Do I ever need ‘defending’?”

“You can take care of yourself, Carly,” Jason retorted quickly. “You’re strong; you’re a fighter.”

“Yeah,” she said softly, “I can. And, I am. But, just once, it would be nice,” Carly’s voice was wistful, “to have someone defend me. Just for a change. I used to think you did that,” she looked at him, long and hard. “And, maybe you did, for a while. But, never,” her head cocked slightly, and her voice became weary, “never quite the same way you stood up for your fragile, perfect, holier-than-thou saints. No, I wasn’t good enough, or breakable enough, or teeny enough for that kind of treatment.”

Jason made an exasperated sound, air hissing through his teeth. “What do you want from me, Carly?” he demanded.

“I want -- I want you to tell me the truth, Jason,” her fingers fiddled with her hair, as she looked up into his blue, so blue, eyes. “I want you to tell me what you want from me, who I am to you. I want to know -- I want to know what you meant. When you said that it’s hard letting go of something you didn’t know you were hoping for.” Carly moved towards him, started to reach up to brush her knuckles against his face and then -- didn’t. “What were you hoping for, Jason? For our little pseudo-family to be real? For Michael? For -- for me? God, Jason, just once, look me in the eye and tell me what you want.”

The silence between them grew thick with things unsaid, things that had never been said and needed to be, before they both broke with the weight of them. Carly, finally, made a small, desperate noise, and started to turn. Jason caught her arm. “I never used to dream, before. When I lived here. Or, I never remembered what I dreamed when I woke up. It was just -- I closed my eyes, and then I was awake. Nothing in between.” His hand slid up from her arm, to her shoulder, to her hair, caressing it softly. “And then I left. And, every night when I closed my eyes, I’d see your face and Michael’s. Hear your voice. The way you laugh. The way you fight. Carly, I don’t know what I want. I know,” he drew her face up to his, “I know that I love you,” Jason’s voice was a whisper. “But--” He broke off, letting his hands fall away from her.

“But what?” Carly stepped back, her eyes fiery. “C’mon, Jason, say it,” she demanded, challenging him. He simply stood, quietly watching her, and Carly shook her head, her face suddenly -- older. “It’s okay; you don’t have to,” she whispered. “I know. You love me, but you don’t -- you don’t want to.” She smiled, a smile that could tear your heart out. “Story of my life. No one ever just -- wants me.”

“Carly,” he started, but she lifted a hand to stop him.

“Don’t deny it, Jase. I know you,” Carly lifted her head to him, a single tear falling down her cheek. “I know you better than I know anyone. The idea of loving me, it terrifies you, doesn’t it? Because if you actually let yourself love Hurricane Carly, you’d have to open your heart to uncertainty, to risk, to -- chancing your heart.” She shook her head, almost scornfully. “Everyone thinks of you as this, you know, crazy guy, who’ll take a million chances, just for the rush. And, you will, you’ll take that chance ninety-nine times. But, that one time -- that time when the risk you’re taking is with your heart,” she looked at him, full in the eyes, “you can’t do it. Robin and Elizabeth, they must have seemed so safe for you. Perfect little angels, never gonna make a wrong move, a misstep. Love isn’t safe, Jason.” Carly wiped at her cheeks angrily with the heels of her palms. “Whoever taught you that one screwed you every damn time.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Jason looked at her, his tone frustrated. “You think I haven’t figured that one out by now? When has love ever been safe for me, Carly? With Robin? With you? Hell, with Sonny? What was safe about loving any of you, huh?” He pushed back the wrought iron chair he was gripping, and stepped back, his eyes dark. “I’m not scared to risk my heart, Carly. I’m scared to risk it on you!”

The words hung in the air, almost visible. “Well. So that’s it then,” Carly whispered, finally. Jason started to reach a hand out towards her, and she stopped him with one word. “Don’t. At least -- at least you said it. At least we know, now.” She looked at him, her eyes surprisingly -- clear. “I had dreams too, Jason. Same dreams every little girl has, I guess. Of a white knight, coming to save you. And, for a long, long time, he was you. You were my white knight, the guy who picked me up, dusted me off, made everything right. You saved me,” memories drifted through Carly’s eyes, “a thousand different times. A thousand different ways.”

“You saved me too, Carly.” This time, when Jason reached for her hands, she slid them into his. “That night in the rain -- you gave me a life. Not Michael’s, but mine. And you taught me -- you showed me how to enjoy it. Drove me crazy,” he grinned, slightly. “But, maybe I even enjoyed that, too.”

Carly laughed, and it was as if a cool ran slid down on them, washing away all the bitterness. “You know the thing about white knights, Jase?” she asked him. “In the fairy-tales, they always end up with the fairy-tale princesses, in the end. And, I was never that. I don’t -- I don’t think I want to be that. Not even for you,” her hand slid up to his cheek and rested there. “I want to be someone’s partner, someone’s -- choice. I want someone who isn’t always trying to fix what I do wrong, save me from myself. Maybe that could have been you, once, but now?” Carly shook her head. “That one’s my fault. I set up that pattern a long time ago, and you -- you never tried to break it.” A soft, sad smile crosses her face. “Humans are complicated, you know?”

~This used to be my playground
This used to be my childhood dream
This used to be the place I ran to
Whenever I was in need
Of a friend
Why did it have to end
And why do they always say~

Jason’s hands lifted, cupping her face gently. Carly closed her eyes, as if to close off the rush of memories his touch brought -- would always bring. /”Do you think you could stand any closer?” “I don’t like games.” “Then let’s not play any.” “My room’s upstairs.” “Good.” “Let’s go.”/ He ran his thumbs over her cheekbones, his fingers tangling in her hair. Jason stood a moment, just looking -- looking at her face. The face that haunted his dreams, that made him smile just -- just looking at the way she laughed, the way she smiled like the world was hers, and she was ready and waiting for him to acknowledge it. “I love you, Carly,” Jason whispered.

~Don't look back
Keep your head held high
Don't ask them why
Because life is short
And before you know
You're feeling old
And your heart is breaking
Don't hold on to the past
Well that's too much to ask~

She opened her eyes, looking into his. God, his eyes -- no matter how old she got, or how far from him she moved in her life, there was a part of her that would always feel his eyes blazing into hers. Carly half-laughed, remembering the way they’d looked that night -- the night she’d come to him, asking for the world. The night he’d given it to her. /”I told Tony, and I guess I'll have to tell AJ, that the baby's not his.” “That oughtta shut 'em up.” “Told him it was yours.”. . . .”And anything else I can do for you, I will.” “God. If I didn't have you, I'd hate to think...Thank you. I will try not to be in the way.” “It'll be nice. The company.”/ That had been it, she knew now, looking back. The moment when she’d fallen in love with him, the moment when she’d known, or thought she’d known, that this man would always keep her safe. If only... Carly shook her head. “No regrets, Jason,” she whispered, her words a promise to him and herself. “I love you, too.”

~This used to be my playground
This used to be my childhood dream
This used to be the place I ran to
Whenever I was in need
Of a friend
Why did it have to end
And why do they always say~

/"You know, when you showed up that night, it was raining. You were so scared. You needed me. You asked me to take care of Michael, and that's…that's when my life started. A life I thought I could never have, more than anything I could ever imagine. It was all because of you. It's true, Carly, you are a lot of trouble. You make things more complicated than they are, but… you showed me new things. You gave me a year and a half that no one can take away. Nothing will change that."/ It had been true then; it was true now. Nothing would ever change what this woman had brought to his life. And, it wasn’t just Michael, it wasn’t just loving her son. It was Carly; it was the way she’d turned his life upside-down, and backwards, and made it so he couldn’t recognize it anymore. And, made it better. More. He knew that now. He’d known it then, but he hadn’t been able to recognize it or tell her, and so he’d lost her. And, Jason, the man who didn’t look back, didn’t feel remorse, didn’t waste time with ‘what might have beens’, would regret that until the day he died. Jason bent his head, pressing his lips against her forehead, then her eyelids, one after another. He lifted his head, just long enough to meet her eyes, just long enough to make sure that she knew what this meant, and then lowered his lips to hers, brushing them lightly across hers, once, twice, so sweetly, as gentle as their time together had never been.

~No regrets
But I wish that you
Were here with me
Well then there's hope yet
I can see your face
In our secret place
You're not just a memory
Say goodbye to yesterday
Those are words I'll never say~

Carly closed her eyes, leaning into him, allowing herself to just -- be. Lost in their past, lost in what they could have been to one another. Slowly, slowly she pulled away, opening her eyes, to see him. Really see him. She slid her fingertips across his cheeks, wiping away the wetness she found there, tracing the lines of his face, memorizing it with her fingertips the way she’d memorized it in her heart long ago. Finally, after a long moment, Carly let her hands fall, and she stepped away, out of the circle of his arms. “Say it, Jason,” she whispered, needing him to put into words what they both knew he’d meant when he kissed her. Needing, this time, for him to just say it. To make it real. “Please.”

Jason blinked hard, just watching her. Wanting to hold this image of her, hair blown back by the summer breeze, chin high and steady, her eyes full of him, in his mind forever. There was so much she had wanted from him he hadn’t been able or willing to give, but this one thing, this one last thing, this thing that maybe, he’d come back to Port Charles for, this he could give her. No matter how much it hurt him. “Goodbye, Carly,” he said, his voice steady. He knew it wasn’t Carly he was saying goodbye to, but the Carly who lived in his dreams, the dreams he still held onto, the dreams he’d done everything he could to sabotage while still holding them tight with one fist. Jason watched Carly’s face, seeing pain, farewells, nostalgia, and, finally, relief cross her face, in quick succession, and he knew she was doing the same thing. Putting him, putting them, once and for all, to rest.

Carly smiled softly, the way you smile at a memory, the way you smile at your past. Jason would always be in her life, she knew that. But he wouldn’t be her life anymore; he wouldn’t be at the center of it. He would be, instead, what maybe he’d always been meant to be, before they’d both screwed it up with sex and a baby and what passed for love. Her best friend. She reached up, tucking a stray strand of her hair behind her ear. “Would you do one last thing for me?” Carly asked. “Would you just -- let me walk away first? I think I need to do that, for once.” Jason nodded, and Carly let out a long, shuddering breath. “Okay,” she whispered, under her breath, “okay.” She looked at him a long moment, then suddenly, her smile widened and she lifted her fingertips to her lips. Kissing them lightly, Carly blew a kiss to Jason, then pressed her fingertips to her lips, smiled one last time, and turned quickly walking away. Knowing because she’d seen it in his eyes, felt it in her heart, that both of them were finally, with each other, at peace. And it was right. And it was good.

~This used to be our playground
This used to be our childhood dream
This used to be the place we ran to
The best things in life are always free
Wishing you were here with me~