THE
RIPPLE
EFFECT

Chapter Five

"I canít believe it," Alan said for what seemed like the millionth time. He looked at his father who was lying in the hospital bed, his age painfully obvious. "I know that I should be doing something, but what? What could I do that would make a difference? What could I do that would bring AJ back?"

Tears falling from his eyes, Alan continued, though it was clear that Edward wasnít listening. Indeed, heíd fallen into a troubled, if drugged, sleep earlier. "I was never the sort of father that AJ needed. Right from the start, AJ was a bone of contention between Monica and me. For the longest time, I couldnít look at him without seeing Rick Webberís face. Even when I knew that AJ was my son, he still reminded me of Monicaís betrayal, and on some level, I hated him. My own flesh and blood, and I hated him because he was, somehow, proof of my own inadequacies as a man, at least in Monicaís eyes.

"Though, why her opinion of me should matter more than my own when I didnít even respect her as a woman. As a doctor, yes. As a womanóoh, I desired her. Madly." He gave a broken laugh. "Madly is the operative term, too. She was a fever in my blood, and even when I was involved with someone else, I still wanted Monica. I guess I always will, but AJ suffered for our sins. We made him what he was, and I guess we must both share the blame when it comes to how he turned out."

Alan shrugged, and continued his monologue as Edward slept. "Given what we were, itís no wonder that AJ turned to alcohol. How all of us could live in that house and not go a little mad is beyond me. Poor AJ. At least heís free of us and the misery we made of our lives. Who knows? Maybe heís better off than we are."

"No, Alan," said Ned who had entered the room. "AJ isnít better off. Heís having to answer for whatever heís done, and while I wonít presume to pass judgment on him, it is once again falling to the rest of us to clean up his mess."

Alan looked at the cold eyes of his nephew and immediately set aside any thought of taking AJís side. For his callousness and coldness in this instance, Ned was right. AJís actions had created an appalling situation that had already had a devastating impact on the rest of the family. "How is Mother?"

"Sheís holding on, but her condition is not improving. Is Grandfather going to be all right?"

"I think so. Heíll have to be careful, but we think that heíll survive to create more chaos in the family."

"God help us," Ned muttered, fervently. "Weíre going to need it."


Felicia opened the door to her home to see Reggie standing next to a trunk. "Mrs. Scorpio?"

"Call me Felicia, Reginald," she smiled. "What can I do for you? Oh, and I heard about AJ and the baby. Iím so sorry."

"Thank you, Mrs. Um, Felicia. Mrs. Quartermaine, that is Lila Quartermaine, ordered that this was to be brought to you immediately. She said that it was for you. I mean, that it was to be given to you."

"You must mean that Iím to use it in researching her biography."

"No," said Ned who was approaching the apartment. "Thanks, Reggie. Felicia, Lila instructed me to give this to you. She said something having done wrong and needing to make it right. I have no idea what sheís talking about, but you might learn something from the trunk."

"Thanks," Felicia said, eyeing the trunk with undisguised interest. "Iíll let you know what I learn. How is Lila, anyhow?"

"Not well," Ned answered honestly. "And she wants to see you right away."

Felicia cast one more look at the trunk and shrugged. "It can wait. She canít. Let me arrange for a baby-sitter..."

"Reggie is good with kids, and yours know him."

"Thanks," Felicia responded. "Letís go."


Clouds of aromatic smoke filled the room as the thin, dark-haired man watched the video one more time. It was all there. The woman with the gun, the man trying to stop her, the struggle for the gun, followed by the shot that had ended the struggle, a shot lost in the retort of the shot fired by yet another man. Then, the woman had run from the scene, never looking back.

He smiled, pleased that heíd had the foresight to have all the Spencers followed and videotaped. Hours of tape were rejected as worthless, but this one segment was worth a great deal. Heíd see to that. One did, after all, what one had to do to achieve oneís desired end.


Where was that man when she needed him? Bobbie wondered as she tried yet again to call Jerry Jacks. Unfortunately, he wasnít answering, even on his cellular phone. Not that she was overly surprised. He had a way of popping in and out of her life like some damned magician. Now you see him, now you donít. Only she couldnít conjure him up, herself. She had to wait until his schedule permitted him to call or come to see her. Would he help?

"Who are you trying to reach?" Luke asked as he walked up behind her in Kellyís. "Donít tell me Jerry Jacks, because I have it on the best authority that he was seen Ďleaviní on a jet plane, donít know when heíll be back again,í" her brother sang in a slightly drunken voice. "And, besides, given the people youíve offended lately, he might not be up to the job of bailing your a$$ out of trouble this time."

"Go away, Luke," Bobbie snapped. "And donít go preaching to me about things Iíve done wrong. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black."

"I heard all about the Q mess, Bobbie. I heard about AJ and Jason. And about how Monica read you the riot act in front of the nurseís station. I also know that your darliní husband stealing daughter is about to be returned to Ferncliff and that the now ex-husband she stole from you is out for revenge."

Luke took another sip of coffee, then quickly doctored it with another splash from his flask, and took one more drink. "And if I were you, Iíd be worried. Tony Jones has had a rough year. Granted, not as bad as the last couple have been for me, but then he doesnít have my experience dealing with serious messes. See, you screwed him over pretty well, and heís about to return the favor. And you know what? I donít blame him."

"Luke..."

"You helped steal his kid from him, Bobbie, and thatís enough to make a man majorly pissed off. We canít have children ourselves, or we wouldnít have nearly the number of disputes that we have with women. Some women see babies as leverage to be used against a man. You know, the Ďdo things my way or you wonít get to see your kidsí thing. Or, they lie to a man about who is his child and who isnít. You just donít get it, Bobbie. A kid is important to a man. You look into your kidsí eyes and you see the future. Your future. You see hope for tomorrow, a chance to make things better, and then some broad like you goes and screws him out of it by lying. Yeah, Iíd be really pissed."

"Luke, youíre drunk."

"Not as drunk as Iím going to be," he promised. "Somebody, maybe one of your ex-husbands, burned my club to the ground last night. My marriage is in the toilet, and I really didnít need anything more to ruin my day."

"You ruined your marriage all by yourself," Bobbie shot back, angrily. "I was trying to help my daughter. What was wrong with that? Tony and AJ were trying to take her baby from her."

"Understandable, since sheís not fit to raise a goldfish, let alone a child. Tony could have, hell, would have provided a good home for the kid. God knows that he has been hurting since he lost BJ, and your breakup wasnít the easiest, especially since..."

"Donít get started, Luke. I know what I did, and Iím not proud of it. But he wants to take Lucas from me."

"You mean, he wants to do to you what you did to him?"

Bobbie stared at Luke anger and pain in her voice. "Weíre family, Luke. Family. We stick together. Why are you turning on me?"

"Iím not turning on you, Barbara Jean. Iím just telling you how a man, how Tony Jones sees what youíve done. If I were you, Iíd seriously consider leaving town with Lucas ASAP."

Bobbie nodded thoughtfully. "Iíve been considering that, but Carly and the baby..."

"Forget them. Carly is a grown woman, even if she is a headcase, and the courts are going to give the baby to Tony. Jason already has. The best you can hope for is mercy from the man you shafted, and Iím not so sure how forgiving a man Tony is going to be." He finished his mug of coffee. "You know what you did to him. Are you ready to get it all back in return?"


Dr. Tony Jones paused at the door to Jasonís room, noting that there were no armed guards loitering nearby, recalling that heíd seen them leave with Sonny Corinthos. Entering, he asked, "Feeling any better?"

Jason looked at the man heíd wronged. Ever the professional, Tony entered the room.

"According to your charts and all tests weíve run, you are well on your way to recovery."

"And Michael?"

Tony paused, as renewed anger surged through him. "My son is doing quite well. In fact, heís why Iím here."

Jason sat mute, not knowing quite what to say, so Tony continued.

"Iíve been thinking about our situation, and Iíve decided that it is in his best interests if you donít see him again. You will understand."

"Yes." It hurt, but Jason understood the ramifications of his previous actions.

"But Iím not an unreasonable man, in spite of how Iíve been portrayed in the last year or so. Iíve done things that surprise even me."

"And?"

"And, assuming that you cooperate with me, I will not bring charges against you."

"Define cooperate."

"I want a sworn affidavit that Bobbie knew that I was the babyís father when she helped you."

"She did know the truth. I told Ms. Davis what happened. Bobbie just wanted to help her daughter get the chance to raise her own child."

"And she was angry with me for my relationship with Carly."

"That entered into her decision, yes," Jason nodded. "She was afraid that youíd refuse to let Carly or her be a part of the babyís life."

Tony motioned for a clerk to enter the room with a document. "Read this, Jason, and if it meets your understanding of the situation, sign it."

Jason carefully read the paper, nodding as he went along. "Thatís what happened, just like I told Ms. Davis." He accepted the pen and signed the document which was then notarized by the clerk who left the room.

Tony turned back to Jason and continued. "Youíre in trouble, Jason. Big trouble, from what Iíve heard. Sonny has turned his back on you. He may even have you taken out, just to safeguard his assets."

"Thatís my worry, Dr. Jones."

"Iím aware of that. But, like I said, Iím not an unreasonable man. Aside from keeping my son from me for the last year, and aside from exposing him to danger, youíve been good to him. Youíve loved him in so far as youíre capable of love. I think I understand how Carly manipulated youóbeen there, done that myself. So, in light of everything, Iím going to do you a favor."

"I donít need your help."

"I think you do. You didnít have to call me when my son was hurt. You could have called Bobbie and covered things up for a while longer, maybe forever. But, you chose to give him a chance at a normal life with me. For that, I owe you a chance at a normal life with someone you love, someone who, I believe, still loves you."

Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out an envelope. "This is a one-way ticket to Paris. Use it, Jason, and get your life back."

Their eyes met as Jason accepted the unexpected gift, hope where seconds before there had been nothing but pain. Maybe some good could be salvaged from the trainwreck his life had become. Odd that it should come from the man heíd wronged in so many ways.


"Where are my parents?" demanded the dark-haired woman who swept into General Hospital with an air of urgent disdain. She cast a disparaging look at Amy who was looking back in stunned disbelief.

"Tracy Quartermaine?"

"You were expecting, maybe, the Easter Bunny? Now, where are my parents?"

"Mother," began Ned who was having second and third thoughts about having called his maternal parent. "It was good, no, decent of you to come."

Tracy turned and looked at her oldest son, while Dylan, her youngest watched with interest.

"Ned. Would you mind telling me what the hell is going on? Where are Daddy and Mother and exactly what happened?"

Ned listened to her, noting the faint hint of concern in her voice. No matter how hard she tried to appear callous and disinterested, there was something in Tracy that had felt horribly abused and rejected by her parents, regardless of what sheíd done to earn their anger. Oddly, Ned understood to some degree. His family held for him the same fascination, the same sort of thing that made one drive by an accident slowly. He couldnít quite walk away, knowing that there was some good there, something salvageable. Either that, or he was just a glutton for punishment. Such as they were, such as Tracy was, the Quartermaines were family. He directed her to the nearby lounge.

"Grandmother and Grandfather are both having heart problems. I believe that Grandmotherís are the most serious, at this point. AJ, you may have heard, is dead, shot by persons unknown at this point, though suicide hasnít been ruled out."

"He wouldnít have killed himself," Tracy stated simply. "Heís a Quartermaine. We donít do things like that, at least not intentionally. I understand that he and Jason had been arguing over a child."

"Yes. Both had laid claim to Carlyís baby..."

"Ah, yes. I heard about that. Carly, who is really Caroline Benson, who is really Bobbieís illegitimate daughter, who was shacking up with Tony Jones."

She shrugged. "And somehow she got Jason to claim the child. Then Robin Scorpioódamn Scorpios, anyhowótold AJ that he was the father and everything degenerated from there. I know all that. What I want to know is what caused Mother and Daddy to react so badly?"

Ned stared at his mother, his mouth open in shock. "AJís death hit them hard, especially since it appears that he was trying to kill Jason at the time he was shot."

Tracy sighed deeply. "No great loss in either case. Jason will never be what he was, and AJ lacked whatever it is that makes a Quartermaine great. No, thatís redundant. He hasnít got what it takes to make a Quartermaine. Rather like his father." She looked down at Dylan who was nodding agreeably. "Still, it does clear the field a bit, doesnít it, darling?"


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