First, Last, Always


Staring blankly out the double doors, Jason does his best to sort through the situation they have found themselves in, certain that it was going to take all his strength to keep things afloat as they make their way through this chaotic situation. His duty, above all else, is to ensure that everyone he loves makes it out of this alive while keeping the casualties to a minimum. Like many times before, when faced with such a heavy burden, Monica Quartermaine's words echo through his mind, forcing him to truly rethink every step they were about to make.

When he first awoke from his coma and broke free of the Quartermaine clan, he couldn't give a damn about the innocent unsuspecting people, mostly because he just didn't have the sense to care. The more he learnt and grew as a person, Jason learnt to care about those innocent unsuspecting people, most recently when she became part of his life. Being with her isn't logical. Loving her isn't logical. Elizabeth Webber exudes the kind of goodness that he wishes he could portray and it made no sense at all for her to love him yet she does.

Its because of her and the light she brought to his life that Jason began to consider all the lessons that he had ignored and rebuffed. Its because of her that he learnt the true meaning of finding a purpose in life that you would not only die for, but live for as well. His place in Sonny's organization had given him a home, it had given him a place to start, and he would always be thankful for that.

Because of his acceptance, Sonny has earned his undying loyalty, something he's certain will live on till the day he dies. Elizabeth, however, had give his heart a home. She has given him a place where his soul can rest and for that she will always be his number one. Before Carly, before Sonny, before anyone and everyone. Of that much he's certain.

With the situation at hand, Jason understands where Sonny's coming from, but he doesn't accept that this is how things have to be. If Carly can know what they are planning, if Sonny can make the exception for the woman he loves, then why can't it be the same for him? Why must he keep the woman he loves in the dark while Sonny pulls the woman he loves into the thick of it with the organization? Carly's not only going to know about the plan, she is going to be sitting in on meetings with the five families. It's unfair for Sonny to bind his hands like this, but the man just won't see reason.

"Jason!" Sonny snaps, needing his partner to focus. "Did you hear me?"

"Elizabeth stays in the dark." Jason states plainly, turning to look at his friend. "Yeah. I heard you."

"Good! We don't have much time to finalize things." Sonny says seriously. "While I'm gone I want you to make sure that Courtney stays safe, as well. With the whole stalker thing, I just can't risk something happening to her because of this, you understand?"

"Yeah."

Having been over this a billion times already, Jason simply stares blankly at his friend as he reiterates everything they have already discussed. The plan was simple enough. Fake his death, locate the threat, take it out, and revive him from his proverbial grave. Of course, none of it would matter if he can't stay dead long enough to get through the funeral and Carly can't fake despair well enough to be believable. In his opinion, the person that should have been kept in the dark is Carly, needing her to convince people that Sonny is in fact dead, but that suggestion merely fell on deaf ears.

Leaving the penthouse, once Sonny believes they have gone over it enough times for the day, Jason straddles his bike and takes off as fast as his bike can take him, all the way back to their studio. Bounding his way up the stairs, he gets to the studio just as she's getting back with the art supplies she had spent the entire day picking out. As much as he wishes she'd just let him buy her whatever she needs instead of buying things according to her budget, he knows that she's just too independent for that, one of the many things he loves her for and yet still finds equally infuriating.

"Need help?" Jason questions as he gets to her.

"Door, please." she replies with a soft smile, meeting his eyes when he reaches over to push the door open for her. "Visiting or more?"

"More." he smiles slightly with an arched eyebrow. "Need me to stretch some canvases?"

"Wouldn't hurt." she laughs before walking into the studio and dropping her bags onto the table. "We both know how dangerous it is for me to do it myself."

"Right." he agrees as he shuts the door and walks over to take her hand into his, placing a soft kiss onto her finger tips. "Wouldn't want you to get another splinter."

"Exactly." she whispers, her heart starting to beat faster as he lifts his gaze to meet hers, that breathtaking look in his eyes. "I missed you last night."

"I know." he replies, reaching up his free hand to caress the side of her face. "I missed you, too."

"Did you find a solution to the problem yet?"

"Not so much a solution as a step towards one." Jason says, dropping his hand from her face to take hold of her other hand. "If we play our cards right, we could put an end to this with as few casualties as possible."

"Good." she takes a deep breath. "That's good."

Staring into her eyes, knowing everything he knows about her, he knows that what Sonny's wants from him isn't the right thing for him to do. He has told Elizabeth quite a few times that there would always be things that he can't discuss with her, times when she'd have to leave a room without any explanation, that she would just have to trust that he's protecting her and not ask things that he just can't answer. With his line of business, the less she knows the better off they'll both be and she's accepted that, having proved it quite a few times in the past.

In this moment, however, with what's hanging over them, he just can't bring himself to leave her in the dark, regardless of how Sonny feels about it. Though he can't exactly predict or imagine what would happen, he does know Elizabeth enough to know that she will take Sonny's death hard. Not because she's close to Sonny or anything like that, though, she will mourn his death as a friend, she will take it hard for him because that's just who she is. Elizabeth knows exactly how much Sonny means to him and she will feel that pain for him, something Jason just can't stomach seeing come to life, not if he can help it.

"This is the only way?" Elizabeth stares into his eyes, needing to see the truth, now more than ever. "There's no other way to do this?"

"Its the best option."

"How bad a situation must be for the best option to be faking someone's death." Elizabeth sighs, seeing that he was completely certain of the path set out before him. "I'm sorry, Jason."

"What do you have to be sorry for?" Jason questions, uncertain of the reason behind her apology.

"You." she says simply. "I know how much you hate to lie and now you have to carry the burden of this huge lie because of some unknown threat. I'm just sorry you have to carry that."

"A lie that you'll have to carry, too, because of me." Jason sighs. "Maybe I should have listened to Sonny..."

"No. You did the right thing." Elizabeth says seriously, lifting his gaze to meet hers. "You did the right thing, Jason."

"But now you have to carry the burden..."

"Taking care of you here while I lied to everyone I loved was a burden for me to carry, one I'd gladly carry over and over if it meant keeping you alive." Elizabeth says wholeheartedly. "This isn't that. This lie is your burden. I'm merely your moral support."

"Couldn't ask for a better one than you."

"Same here." she breathes him in as he places a soft kiss upon her lips, pulling away only when breathing becomes essential. "Now...about those canvases..."

Jason could tell that she was making light of the situation, something he finds that she can do quite easily, regardless of the severity of the situation, but he also knows that she grasps just how serious this is and that's enough for him. As long as she understands what they are facing, Jason can accept her way of looking at it, almost wishing that he too could put on those rosy glasses and see things the way she sees them. Snatching a few frames, he gets started on stretching some canvases for her, needing the busy work to keep his mind in the present with her. Sonny's 'death' isn't set to go down for a few more days, giving him just enough time to enjoy the peace and comfort that can only be found within that small studio apartment with the woman he loves. Until things are set into motion, Jason will take as much of this calmness as he can get for as long as it lasts.