Title: "Raising Cain"
Author: Mala
Fandom: "General Hospital"
Rating/Classification: SAC for one naughty word, Jason, general, angst.
Disclaimer: I don't own the character.
Summary: Just a contemplative Jason Morgan piece about the nature of family, of love, set around the summer/fall of 2002.

Sometimes, in the middle of the night when there's no sound, when everything is quiet and there's nobody asking him to do things, asking him questions, making so much noise he can't think...sometimes he remembers the way it used to be.

Not full memories. Never those. All those fancy head doctors told him he would never get that time back and they're right. But what he does get is flashes...pictures...Grandmother laughing at something Jennings said...Emily, pigtails in her hair, playing with Annabelle in the rose garden...AJ at seventeen, falling hard for some girl named Melissa...the smell of a wrist corsage at a high school prom...kissing the soft, full lips of a girl named Keesha.

If you ask him in the morning, he won't be able to tell you who Jennings was...or what breed of dog Annabelle was...or what Melissa looked like...or who he took to Prom...or what Keesha tasted like.

And he pretends the loss doesn't matter.

He's good at that. Saying nothing, acting like he *feels* nothing.

But sometimes he looks at his brother and remembers bottles clinking beneath the bed...remembers slapping an Anatomy textbook down on his desk and going down the hall to ask, "Are you okay?" at the door only to have some slurred response usher him in. A flash of a disapproving glare reflected in the mirror...his own voice, a little younger and higher, lecturing about the dangers of vodka when Mom and Dad were right downstairs.

He barely remembers, but AJ has been a drunk for *two* of his lifetimes. And he's been taking care of him all along. And that's when the act starts to unravel. That's when he's mad at everything, everyone, at forces he doesn't understand.

Michael was baptized Catholic...because Jason knew that was Sonny's faith, and that Carly would like it, too. He didn't know much about church or God or anything himself...just did it because that was what people did when they had kids...and he had a kid, for a short while. But he remembers standing in the back of the church, watching Emily fuss with the baby and flipping through the great big book in the vestibule. The Bible. He didn't get very far, but the pictures were nice. There was this one part...something about two brothers...always fighting, the one always jealous of the other. Cain and Abel.

The one killed the other, destroyed this kind, perfect, person in a fit of jealous rage. And when God asked where he was, Cain said something like, "Am I my brother's keeper?"

Even though he's not the one who did the killing, he feels like that, sometimes, in the middle of the night. *Am I my brother's keeper?* Even now. Knows he felt it then. Knows that was why he got into the sports car to try and stop AJ from driving drunk...to try and fix the mistakes, stop the destruction... knows that was why Jason Quartermaine died and made way for the person he is now. And he knows that is why he, Jason Morgan, sometimes disobeys direct orders from Sonny to keep AJ alive even when he deserves to pay for the damage he's done.

Because he IS his brother's keeper.

He will be...as long as he still cares.

If you ask him in the morning, he'll deny it.

But that doesn't make it any less true.

***

They tell him he used to be perfect. The perfect son. Just like they tell him now that he's the perfect killer.

Enforcer. Thug. Henchman. *Boy*.

There isn't anything he hasn't heard.

Except for "brother."

People forget that he's still a brother. That he loves his little sister. And Grandmother. And Monica. And Michael. And Sonny. And Carly even though she drives him crazy. That he loves at all.

It isn't one of the things *he* can forget. It'd be easier if he could.

His hands know efficient First Aid just as well as they know the smooth barrel of a revolver and gun powder residue . And his heart knows unspeakable feelings for Robin, for Elizabeth...compassion for Courtney...even exasperated, fucked-up, affection for the loose cannon that is Zander.

But, most important of all, there's AJ.

There's the man who he knows, in another life, told him stories to muffle the sound of Monica and Alan's yelling. The man who taught him how to tie a tie. The man who, in this life, still sees him as competition, as some kind of ideal he has to live up to. Shouldn't it be the *older* brother who's the role model? Shouldn't AJ still be teaching him how to be?

Maybe Jason Quartermaine isn't the only one who died all those years ago. Maybe the AJ that existed in his long ago childhood...that fair-haired, fair-minded boy...he's gone, too. Maybe they've both lost who they used to be...can only remember in patches and snapshots.

But he's still his brother's keeper.

Sometimes, in the middle of the night when there's no sound, when everything is quiet and there's nobody asking him to do things, asking him questions, making so much noise he can't think...sometimes he remembers the way it used to be.

But he doesn't miss it.

He doesn't wish for it back.

There's no point in trying to hold on to something that wasn't real in the first place.

And he pretends the loss doesn't matter.

He's good at that.

--end--
September 27th, 2002.



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