John Cates was separated from his siblings Michael and Gina after they were orphaned as children. John assumed the edgier name of Jagger, and fell in with a rough crowd. But Jagger's heart was still good—all it took to bring that out of him was some tender loving care from young Karen Wexler. In 1992, thugs broke into Kelly's Diner and roughed up owner Ruby Anderson and attempted to rob the place. One of them, a homeless hooligan named Jagger Cates, was shot trying to protect Ruby. Ruby not only forgave him, she gave him a job and a place to live.
Wealthy teen Jason Quartermaine started working on Dr. Tom Hardy's new volunteer "Teen Hot Line." Along with freshman Robin Scorpio and fellow junior Karen Wexler, Jason had a place on the crisis line to help teens in trouble. Karen and Jason grew close, but before long Karen got involved with Jagger Cates, a drop-out with a sweet disposition.
After a storm, Jason, Jagger and Karen were stranded on an island. On the island, they encountered Cal Atkins and his convict brother, Joseph Atkins, who had broken out of jail. Cal dragged Karen to the top of a cliff and tried to rape her. Jagger saved her. Jason got there in time to see Cal plummet to the shore below! Convinced that Cal was dead, the teens made a pact to keep what had happened a secret. Cal was actually alive and well with his brother. Back home, a shoot-out occurred. Jagger suffered a minor wound. Cal was arrested. Atkins escaped and sought out Bobbie, who had befriended him in letters to his jail cell. The escaped convict took her hostage and tried to rape her. Atkins was caught when he tried to escape in a police helicopter flown by Mac Scorpio.
Teenager Brenda Barrett turned up on her big sister Julia's doorstep. Julia persuaded Brenda to move in with her and enroll in Port Charles High. Jagger Cates also enrolled at PC High. Brenda was instantly attracted to him. She could tell he liked Karen, who Brenda instantly disliked. Neither Jagger nor Brenda liked school. But Jagger liked Brenda's style and they fell into each other's arms and made love. For good reason, Brenda Barrett was insecure about her relationship with Jagger Cates. Jagger and Karen had fallen in love. Karen began having disturbing flashbacks. An old boyfriend of Karen's mother, Rhonda, came to stay with her and Karen. Soon after seeing her mother's old boyfriend Ray Conway, long repressed memories flooded back to Karen because he had abused her when she was a child!
Jagger located his sister, Gina, and hired Felicia Jones and Mac Scorpio to find his 16-year-old brother. At a wild party, someone slipped "ecstasy" into Karen's drink. A kid named Stone came to her aid. He turned out to be Jagger's brother, Mike. Karen felt unworthy of Jagger, who had started to box with Marco Dane as his manager. She broke up with Jagger who was comforted by Brenda Barrett. A troubled Karen went to work as a stripper at the Paradise Lounge, run by Sonny Corinthos. Stone lived in Sonny's apartment above the club. Soon, Karen was addicted to stripping, Sonny, and pills! Karen kept her new life a secret while she worked at Kelly's and the hospital and went to class at Port Charles University. Jagger and "Stone" were reunited.
After Jagger and Stone argued over Stone's going back to school, Jagger followed Stone to the Paradise Lounge. He saw Karen stripping! Later, a stunned Jagger found Karen in bed with Sonny and beat Sonny up. Sonny put a hit out on Jagger. Marco promised Sonny a piece of Jagger's boxing action in exchange for Jagger's life. Sonny liked the idea of "owning" Jagger and agreed. Slipping into the strip joint, Brenda's eyes popped when she saw a drugged-out Karen taking her clothes off. Brenda saw it all, and told everyone. Karen's friends and family rallied around her during her recovery. In his next fight, Jagger refused to follow Sonny's orders to take a dive. Jagger and Karen ran away and finally made love.
By 1994, Stone and Jagger finally rekindled the warm relationship they'd had as kids. Jagger stopped boxing and decided to become a cop. He and Karen, who had received a scholarship to study medicine at Northwestern University, got engaged. Before Jagger and Karen's wedding day, a suicidal patient at the hospital almost plunged out a window with Karen! A new orderly, Miguel Morez, saved them both. Miguel saw how Jagger felt about Karen and had a pang. He had once been in love like that with a girl named Lily.
Jagger stopped his brother Stone from driving the getaway van that would carry Frank Smith out of jail. Tragedy struck when the bike Jagger was riding crashed and he was knocked out! Jagger recuperated from his motorcycle spill in time to marry Karen in a touching wedding ceremony. It was a day filled with love—and surprises. Karen's mother revealed to Karen that Scott Baldwin was her father. Karen, overjoyed by the news, happily hopped on the back of her new husband's motorcycle and sped off to a new life in San Francisco, where Karen would attend medical school to become a doctor and Jagger would become a police officer.
In 1995, Stone Cates had come down with the flu. As his girlfriend Robin Scorpio nursed him with chicken soup, he convinced her she should go to Yale. Stone assured Robin he'd been tested and was HIV negative. They made love for the first time. Mac was furious when he found out, but he came to realize he had to let Robin grow up. When Stone could not shake the flu, tests revealed the worst possible news. Stone was HIV positive. Stone could not bring himself to reveal the deeply tragic news to Robin.
Jagger returned to Port Charles to visit with Stone, luckily getting the chance to spend a little time with his brother before Stone died later that year.
Karen returned to Port Charles in 1997 as a young doctor in General Hospital's intern program, where she discovered she was going to be working closely with Dr. Joe Scanlon. Karen and Joe had been childhood friends in Port Charles. Although Karen was now married to Jagger Cates, a police officer stationed in San Francisco, she was still attracted to Joe, and Joe was attracted to Karen.
Karen's marriage to Jagger was on shaky ground but she wanted to make it work. Although they constantly found themselves in close situations, Karen and Joe resisted their impulses as Karen tried to stay faithful to her husband. Afraid of her feelings for Joe and needing to see Jagger, Karen went to San Francisco. While there, Karen learned that Jagger had been having an affair and that their marriage was truly over. Karen returned to Port Charles and her friendship with Joe grew deeper and the two began dating.
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