Elizabeth looked up when she heard the door to the diner open. But she knew who it was just by the sound of his footsteps. Her stolen glance did not go unnoticed. But he said nothing and sat down in the far corner, the table farthest away from her.

She looked back down at the counter and contemplated her next move. She did not want to deal with him.

"Courtney?" She called into the kitchen. But to her disappointment, her friend (this term used loosely at the moment) was not yet there.

She slowly walked over to him, taking her time, and hoping her nerves would hold up.

"What would you like?" She asked, pulling out her pad and pen.

"Coffee. Black." He said, his eyes trying to catch hers for a brief moment. He was unsuccessful. She looked directly into her pad, wrote down his order, and walked back to the counter as if he was a stranger.

**'I'm going to treat you like I treat any other customer, like I don't know you. Because I don't.'**

He cringed at the memory.

She walked over with his coffee.

"Is that all you want?" She asked, her eyes focused on the wall.

"Do you have a minute?" He asked, motioning to the second chair at his table.

She looked around for an excuse but the morning had been extremely slow. He was the only customer in the diner. She hesitantly sat down.

"I want to apologize, Elizabeth. I gave you excuses and explanations, but I did not come right out and say that I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt you."

She looked up, this time their eyes met.

"I know you did not mean to, but that doesn't change the fact that you did." She answered, harshly.

"I told you that there were things I would never be able to give you. And honesty is one of those things when it comes to my job."

"Well, you don't have to protect my feelings, Jason. It obviously didn't matter to you then or now." She said, getting up from the table.

"It does matter to me, Elizabeth. You matter to me." He said, grabbing her arm with his hand to keep her there.

She pulled her arm away.

"I stayed up waiting for you Jason, every night. Every night I hoped to hear your key in the door and to see you arrive home safely. But you stayed out, did not call, did not even consider what I was going through. That is what hurt, Jason, not knowing. If you had told me it was work and let me know that you were safe, then this would not be an issue."

"No one is completely safe when you care about another person." He repeated her words.

She met his eyes.

"Jason, please, just stop, okay? I don't want to fight with you and I don't want what we had to end like this. We've been on this roller coaster of a relationship for so long, we've had ups and downs, but the bottom line is, I can't do this anymore. This has to stop. I have to get off the ride." She said before walking back to the counter.

He sighed and looked down at his coffee in defeat. He lifted it to his lips and drank it quickly, letting the coffee burn his throat on the way down. He glanced up at her only once, she was busy at something else but he could tell that she knew he was watching.

He pulled out some money and left it on the table. He got up to leave but he could not unless he made sure of something first. He walked up to the counter.

"You're upset because I purposely lied to you, and I understand that. I'm content with walking away if that is what you really want. I will never bother you or talk to you, but if you ever need me I will not turn you away." He stated, and then turned to exit.

She caught up with him and grabbed his jacket to stop him from leaving.

"I will not come." She said, looking him directly in the eyes.

He said nothing, removed her hand from his jacket, and left without another word spoken.

* * * Elizabeth sat at the counter, exhausted. It had been a long day but the steady flow of customers had reduced to a trickle. As the last customer left, she left the counter and started to wipe down the tables.

"I thought this shift would never end!" Courtney shared, throwing down her apron on the counter.

Elizabeth said nothing, her thoughts somewhere else.

Courtney instantly realized and started cleaning tables opposite of Elizabeth, watching her as she tried to avoid Courtney's eyes.

Eventually, Courtney could not keep silent.

"Elizabeth, I'm married. I love A.J., I'm not after Jason!"

Elizabeth looked up, she wanted to believe Courtney but she could not.

"I was in a committed relationship too, with Lucky, but I ran to Jason. And eventually I noticed that with every little problem I would run to Jason. Then I realized that I never wanted to leave Jason. I loved Lucky, for so long I had loved him, but Jason became more important."

"Jason loves you. You can tell by the way he looks at you. And when you to are together everyone can see that. Why can't the both of you?"

"Jason and I cannot work out. His life and my life are not compatible."

"You both say exactly the same thing." Courtney said, getting Elizabeth's attention, "And you're both wrong."

"Courtney, I can finish closing up." Elizabeth said, hoping she would get the hint.

She did.

Elizabeth saw Jason waiting outside when Courtney left. He did not come in or say anything to her; he just walked away with Courtney. She knew what she had said to him and that he was just obeying. But it hurt to see him walk away, but she knew it was for the best. She knew that they would never work out.

**'I'm not what you need, Elizabeth. We can't work out. My life is too dangerous. You hate my job, you think it's wrong.'

'I can deal.'

'No, see, one day you're going to look at me and see exactly what I am. And your face will change, you'll back away, and I can't deal with that.'**

Elizabeth looked down ashamed. Jason had warned her, told her about his life and the consequences of being with him, and she had just brushed them off. But every word he spoke was the truth. He had been honest with her and she had just chosen not to listen.

* * * Elizabeth closed the diner and began to walk home. The night was dark but she took no notice of her surroundings. Her mind was somewhere else. Her mind was with him, wondering what he was doing at the very moment, wondering if he was okay.

She almost considered ignoring all her rational thoughts and running to him, forgiving him, but she stopped herself. And the realization crept over her that she had lost someone important to her. Jason was more than a friend, a possible romance, he was more to her than anyone had ever been. And now, she had to pretend like it did not matter, what they had did not matter, and that she was content with walking away.

But she was not content.

She paused and sat on the bench on Pier 52, watching the ocean move gently and wishing her life was as gentle and calm as the water. But then the wind began to blow and the waves became fiercer and her hope for a simple and calm life dwindled with the breeze. When had life become so hard?

It was unlike her, but she started to cry. It was merely a momentary thing, and she brushed away the tears as if they were intruders on her complexion.

She would not allow herself to fall apart. But the tears came again and she could not stop herself from crying. It was a silent cry, like a prayer sent up to whomever might be listening. She let her head fall into her hands as if in defeat.

Jason was walking back from the warehouse construction site when he saw her crying. He turned to walk in the other direction but could not stand to walk away from her when she was in pain, despite what he was feeling.

She looked up a moment after, aware of his presence, with tear stained eyes. Their eyes met like so many times before and both noticed that between them nothing had changed.

"I didn't come to you, Jason."

"If you want me to leave, I can. But you should never have to hurt like this, Elizabeth."

"But I do, and it's not your problem anymore. Why can't you just walk away?"

"Because I need you, Elizabeth." He said, sincerely.

"If you need me then why do you push me away? Every time we get close you find some reason or some excuse to justify walking away." She said, brushing the tears away, in hopes that he had not seen her sign of weakness.

He walked closer and sat down on the edge of the bench.

"I was afraid of this, Elizabeth, needing you. I was afraid of needing you so completely that I would loose you and it would hurt like this. I told you that one-day you would look at me and see exactly what I am, and walk away. And now you've seen me."

"But that's not why I walked away. I've always seen you, Jason. When everybody else told me to stay away, that you were dangerous, I did not listen because I saw the man that you were. The other night, in your penthouse, we admitted to eachother how we really felt. But then you turned around and became the Jason everybody else sees. You kept me out of your life and it hurt because we had finally gotten to that place. But you did not think of me when you worked and how I might be worrying that I'd loose you before we could go to that new place together."

"I do not want you anywhere near that life, Elizabeth. I don't want to be that man when I am around you. I don't want you to look at me and see that man. I want to keep those lives separate."

"I'll never see you as that man, Jason. Everything you've done for me that other man could never do." She said, taking his hand.

"So, where do we go from here?" he asked.

"No where. We can't do this."

He looked down, stealing his hand away from hers.

She explained, "I don't want you to hurt, Jason. And I cannot hurt like this. If we tried then we just end up right where we are, but we would hate eachother, and I don't want that."

"What do you want?" He asked, looking at her directly.

"You know what I want, Jason. But you and I both know that it can never be."

Silence was her only answer. He got up and started to walk away. He turned and their eyes met, something was different, something had changed.

"Promise me that you'll be happy." He said.

"No one can promise that." She answered.

"Am I allowed to see you or is that off limits still?" He asked, stolid, but Elizabeth could sense the pain underneath.

"I don't fit into your life, Jason. When it is just you and me, it seems perfect. And if we could live like that there would be no problem. But you have a life and obligations and I just don't fit. And a few stolen moments in my studio, or your penthouse, does not change reality."

He left, leaving her there to compose herself. She sat there for the longest while, watching the waves and catching a glimpse of Spoon Island in the moonlight. She got up and walked to her studio in silence.