A New Days Dawns - (Squeal to Homecoming) Part I 3 Months Later

Cairo, Egypt

Emily shivered.  Still damp from being dumped in the river, she sat with her knees drawn up to her chest and rocked herself.  Hoping against hope that the friction would give her some much needed warmth. "This is all Lucky's fault," she grumbled.  He was the one who changed the rules and by doing so put her off her game, and that was how they ended up in this dungeon that served as a prison.

His cocky smile was plastered on his face.  It wouldn't do to let them think that the light beating they'd just given him affected him at all.  There was too much at stake, to be sidetracked by a few bruised ribs.  Lucky was grateful that he was at least able to get out an SOS message before he was taken into custody.  But he couldn't stop his grin from faltering when he saw Emily.  Her short hair was plastered to her head, and her pale face stood out in the dingy room.

The old metal door squealed when they opened the cell and two brown eyes glared up at him angrily.  He could sense her annoyance and frustration but if she was fearful at all it didn't show and that made him feel better.  The guards shoved him in and the door clanged shut behind him.

Silently he hurried over to her.  Lucky knew she was going to rail at him, and probably push him away but she surprised him by moving closer.  "You okay," he asked his voice barely above a whisper.

Emily nodded tersely and angled herself closer to him seeking his warmth.  She felt him wince, and her eyes lost their anger.  "Are you okay?" She asked in concern.

 "It's nothing," he assured her.  She didn't believe him, he could see it in her eyes, but thankfully she didn't press him.

"How long?"  She pushed past the concern and focused on the most important thing.

"No more than 48 hours you know that."  He ran his hands through her wet hair.  The sound of her to her breathing and heartbeat calmed him.  She was all right and that was all that mattered to him. 

Falling in love with Emily had been so simple almost impossible to avoid, but worrying about her safety was wearing him down.  He knew she was a trained agent but his first instinct always was to protect her.  And that was why she'd ended up in the Nile.  Kissing her temple he continued to count the seconds … backup would be there soon.

~*~

Penthouse 2

"Jason," Elizabeth called out as she waddled out of their bedroom.  Another pain tore through her abdomen, startled she hunched over trying to ride it out.  Forcing herself to breathe she fell heavily against the wall.  "Where are you?" she cried out softly.

Downstairs Jason put the water on for Elizabeth's tea.  The doctor had informed them that twins were normally born early.  So from the seventh month on she had been very careful, and he rarely left her side.  With about a month to go he felt confident that everything would be fine.

Doubling over tears began to slip from Elizabeth's eyes.  Random thoughts began to scream through her head … Please be okay.  Let everything be okay.  Come on Jason … find me.

Hearing a crash from above made his heart stop.  He raced up the steps and stopped, in surprise when he saw her on the floor.  "Elizabeth," her name slipped out and she moved her head at the sound, that movement broke his paralysis and he was by her side in a second.

"Jason," her voice was raspy.  She reached for his hand and once she felt his warm fingers wrap around hers she felt better.  "It hurts."

His free hand was cupping her face, his thumb rubbing cheek.  "It will be okay," he promised.

~*~

Jacks' Industries International

"Skye you've gone too far this time," Jax growled when he reviewed the morning standings.  Overnight over fifty of his Southeast Asian holdings were either bought out or severely damaged.  Not to mention some minor holdings in Europe and Africa.  "You want  to play hardball then that's what you'll get," he muttered.

Twenty minutes and three phone calls later ELQ's South American assets were his.  It was a move that he'd reserved, but he'd be damned if he'd let AJ and Edward get the better of him.  One more phone call was all he needed to seal their fate.  He thought of his wife briefly then decided to continue on, she'd brought this on herself.

"What?" a craggy voice answered.

"Don't tell me you're still asleep Ashton," Jax teased good-naturedly.

Ned groaned, "What do you want?"

"Your help.  How would you like to have ELQ back … and all yours," he dangled the bait that he knew would make his friend's heart rate double.

"What are you babbling about," Ned demanded his interest was piqued.

"Just a little trade.  I need inside info, and for your minimal effort I'll hand ELQ back over to you once I have it in my possession."

His mind now sharp, Ned calculated the pros and cons swiftly.  "I want it in writing."

"I can have the papers drawn up today," Jax said.  "How about a late business dinner tonight?"

"Works for me.  But no place too public," Ned warned.

"Mystique closes at midnight," Jax thought it was somehow poetic that the fall of the Q's would happen in the club he owned with Carly.

"I'll be there a quarter after."  Ned climbed from his bed with a new sense of purpose.  He was finally going back where he belonged.

~*~

Spencer Residence

"I'm going to kill you Donnelly!  I swear the moment I see you … I'm gonna wrap my hands around that extremely pompous throat of yours and strangle the life out of you!  I mean it!  What the hell were you thinking recruiting my kid?"

"I thought that he'd be a damn fine agent," Sean answered.  He was worried about Lucky and Emily, but he couldn't help but grin at Luke's reaction.  It was just so typical.

"Don't try and sweet talk … what the … no Laura I'll … damn it woman don't try and …"

"Sean?  Sean can you hear me," Laura's voice came over the telephone.

"Loud and clear."

"Good.  Now would you please explain to me what's going on," she asked as she kept Luke at bay.  She'd be damned if she let him steal the phone from her before she got the gist of the story.

"Lucky and Emily …"

"Quartermaine?"

"Yes.  Well um," Sean began to sweat.  Handling Luke was one thing but to get on the bad side of a mother was dangerous.  "They work for me at the WSB."

"I figured that out already," Laura elbowed Luke when he pressed her, causing him to groan.  "Just tell me what's wrong?"

"They were picked up in Egypt, Cairo to be exact, but we can't get them out because it would alert the target.  He can't know that the WSB is closing in or he'll bolt.  It's taken us seven years to find him and I'm afraid we can't risk losing him again," Sean sighed, these were the moments he dreaded.  "We can't send in an extraction team."

"So you're going to leave them to rot?" she asked pointedly.

"Of course not," Sean defended himself, and looked around cautiously at the people walking by, and pulled the payphone closer.  "That's why I called you and Luke."

"Oh I see.  You put my son in harm's way and then decide to leave him hanging is that it?"

"It's not like that," Sean protested.  Couldn't she see that he was risking everything by alerting her to the fact that Lucky was captured?

"The hell it isn't," she snapped and slammed the phone down.

"Angel?" Luke eyed her carefully.

"I'll pick up Lulu and take her to the cottage to stay with Nikolas and Gia.  I'll also swing by the hospital and let Bobbie and my mother know what's going on.  You get whatever we need … passports, clothes, money, weapons if need be.  I want to be on the first flight to Cairo.  Better yet I'll get Nikolas to lend us the Cassadine jet, no arguments," she warned waving a finger in his face.  "Are we clear?"

Luke grinned.  He loved watching her work.  "Like fine crystal."

"Good then let's get moving." She grabbed her coat from the chair and headed for the door with a purposeful stride.

~*~

General Hospital

Jason ran in stride with the EMT personnel.  His hand still firmly clasped in Elizabeth's.  Her blue eyes were glazed with pain.  He'd do anything to make it stop, but he was helpless in this situation and he hated it.

Right behind him was Sonny.  Alexis had wanted to come but she couldn't leave Stone alone.  It was probably better that she wasn't here.  Jason didn't want everyone hanging around.  Jason dealt with things better when there were fewer people.  Sonny stopped in the waiting area his dark eyes following the gurney into room three.  A few moments later Dr. Meadows rushed in.

Sighing Sonny knew there were a few people that had to be contacted.  Elizabeth would want Audrey to know, and Emily had to be reached.  Figuring that Audrey would be in the hospital he went over to the nurses station.  He was relieved when Bobbie took over for Amy.  The last thing he wanted was for this to become the talk of the hospital.  "Bobbie?"

Looking up from her chart Bobbie met her ex-son-in-law's dark, brooding eyes.  Things had remained pleasant between them even after the divorce.  Carly hadn't allowed the adoption but she had insisted on Michael being able to see both Sonny and Jason as much as he wanted.  AJ had hated it, but her daughter had put her foot down.  Michael's needs came first and cutting people that he loved out of his life was not an option.  AJ finally came around to her way of thinking and there had been a tense peace ever since.  "Hey Sonny.  Is something wrong?"

He nodded, "Is Audrey here today?"

"Yes, but why … oh," Bobbie sighed, her face contorting with worry.  "Did something happen to Elizabeth?"

Knowing he could trust Bobbie, Sonny filled her in.  "She was experiencing pain in her abdomen.  I think she fell as well, but I'm not really sure.  I saw Dr. Meadows go into her room …" he paused, that was all he knew, the rest was only uneasy speculation.  "I know she'd want Audrey but," he glanced over at Amy, "I'm sure both Elizabeth and Jason would prefer not to have it be the talk of the hospital."

Bobbie nodded knowingly.  "I understand.  Audrey's meeting with the new nursing class, I'll go get her."  In a quick motion she checked off the chart and put it in the out bin.  "I'm sure everything will be okay," she tried to reassure him.

Sonny smiled at her, hoping she was right and went back to his post in the waiting room.

~*~

Dr. Meadows had dealt with stubborn people before, but none of them measured up to the likes of Jason Morgan.  He refused to leave; he refused to let go of his wife's hand.  She would have called security to force him out, but he moved out of her way every time she needed him to, most times even before she asked.  His gaze was focused on Elizabeth who seemed to gain comfort from it.  So for now she would let him stay.

"Mr. Morgan I understand you want to be with your wife, but we're taking her into surgery soon.  You can stay with her until then but if you try to follow us I will have you restrained."  She waited a beat, but got no reaction.  "Do you hear me?"

She finally got a response.  He nodded slightly.  At least she thought he did.  It was a little victory and she was more then willing to claim it.

~*~

"Where is she?" Laura searched the emergency room.  She had been told Bobbie was on duty down here.  It occurred to her that she could be with a patient.  Not having the time to wait and see if her sister-in-law showed up she decided to do a room-by-room search.    She spied Sonny out of the corner of her eye, and quickly headed for him  "Sonny?"

"Laura," he greeted her with a smile, grateful for the distraction.  His thoughts were going to a dark place, a place that he didn't want to go too.  "Is something wrong?"

"On the home front no, not really.  But I do need to find Bobbie," she told him.  "Have you seen her?"

"She went to get Audrey."

"Do you know how long she'll be?" Laura inquired.  Time was wasting and she had to get to her son.

"No.  It's been a few minutes already I think."

Laura bit her lip and glanced at her watch.  The need to get to her son, warred with her need to make Bobbie aware of the situation.  Finally she looked at Sonny again trying to size him up.  At one time she had trusted Sonny, they had even been friends, but that had all changed after the fire.  The gap between them never healed and she and Luke rarely associated with him.  But she knew that he was an honorable man, and he'd keep his word.  "Listen I don't have a lot of time.  Luke and I have to go out of town.  Can you just tell her that?  And that Lulu is going to stay with Nikolas and Gia?"

"Sure," Sonny answered, but he could tell something was going on.  Laura emanated nervous energy.  "Is there anything else I can do to help you?"

"Thanks but no.  Luke and I can handle it," she assured him before she rushed off. 

Sonny didn't have the time to wonder about what had happened to set her off, because Jason stepped out of the room.  "What's going on?"

Jason's face was calm, Sonny couldn't read anything in his face, at least not until he saw Jason's eyes.  They were filled with worry and a hint of fear. 

"It's her appendix.  They have to do a c-section and then remove it." Jason's voice was as icy as his expression.

"What's going on," Audrey called out as she and Bobbie raced into the emergency room.  Her face was pale and taunt.  Again, Jason explained what was going on.  This time however his voice cracked.

"Jason I think we should get some fresh air," Sonny was desperate for a distraction to help his friend out.

Jason nodded.  When he headed out Audrey stopped him.  She gave him a quick hug and whispered something to him.  Again he nodded; he was incapable of saying anything at the moment. 

"Bobbie?"  Sonny turned away from the pair giving them privacy.

"Yes?"  Bobbie asked.

"Laura stopped by looking for you.  She and Luke had to leave town and Lulu …"

"Wait!  Why," she interrupted him.

"I don't know," he said watching Jason.  He had to hurry.  He didn't want Jason to blow up alone.  "She just asked me to tell you that they were leaving and that Lulu would be with Nikolas.  I wish I could tell you more but I can't."

Bobbie nodded mutely as Sonny hurried after Jason.  Seeing Audrey's distress she slipped an arm around her waist and tried to reassure her.  "Elizabeth is going to be okay, she's strong."

~*~

ELQ

"How could you let this happen?" Edward all but snarled the words.  He flung the report at AJ and Skye who sat side by side at the long table in the meeting room.  "All our South American holdings are gone!  How did that Aussie shark do it?  Better yet how could you let him?  You," he pointed a finger at Skye, "were supposed to be watching him."

"I have been," Skye replied acidly.  She was none to thrilled with either her husband or her grandfather at the moment.  "I didn't know he was cooking that up."

"Nobody would have thought he'd make such a drastic move," AJ sided with his sister.   Even though he thought she'd been watching Jax's business interests half-heartedly, and watching Jax himself whole-heartedly.

"Ned would have," Edward stated.

"Oh please," Skye snapped.  "Would you quit throwing the fair haired Ned in our faces?  You chased him away, not us.  And may I remind you that AJ and I have been doing a fine job of running ELQ."

"Only because I've been watching your backs."

"Really?" AJ snorted in disbelief.  "Grandfather you've barely been involved," AJ pointed out, trying to hold his temper.  It was difficult because the old man was hitting all his old sore spots.  The fact that he knew his grandfather was doing it deliberately didn't make it any less effective.

"We can handle this Grandfather," Skye hoped to ward off any more family complaints.  "Jax won't get any more of ELQ," she assured him.

"Don't make promised you can't keep," Edward warned her.

"Trust me Grandfather we can keep it," AJ swore.

"Well than why are you two dilly dallying?  Get to work," he ordered gruffly hiding the pride he felt at the determination he heard in his grandchildren's promises. 

~*~

Five Hours Later

General Hospital

"The twins are fine," Dr. Meadows reported happily to Jason and Audrey.  "Elizabeth is doing well.  She in post-op right now, but we'll be moving her to a private room in an hour or so.  You can see her then.  As for the babies, they're up in the nursery by now if you want to go see them."

Smiling Sonny patted Jason's back.  "Congratulations Dad."  The relief that flooded him was almost enough to knock him off his feet.  Elizabeth was okay, and so were their children.  Sonny was happy that his family was safe and sound. 

"Audrey I'm so happy for you," Bobbie hugged her.

Audrey returned the embrace and then turned to Jason.  "Shall we," she asked holding out her hand.

Jason smiled at her.  She hadn't approved when he and Elizabeth became friends all those years ago, but when she saw how much they loved each other Audrey had come around.  Eventually she had become one of their biggest supporters, and surprisingly a comfort to him.  "Let's," he took her hand.  They began to walk away leaving Bobbie and Sonny standing there.  Jason stopped and turned back to them.  "Are you guys coming or what?"

~*~

Two Days Later

Cairo, Egypt

The first explosion rocked them from their sleep.  They could hear the confusion as men came running, their voices loud and scared as people scattered in the chaos.  The grinding noise from the outside wall of their cell had them up and in the corner on the opposite side of the room moments later.

"What the hell is going on," Emily yelled so she could be heard over the noise.

"Damned if I know," Lucky shouted back as grime and dirt from the old walls filled the room.  "Cover your face."

"Well duh," Emily grumbled and did as he said.  It wasn't like it was necessary since he was using himself as her human shield.  She muttered an oath, she wasn't a delicate desert flower, he didn't have to protect her.

Five minutes later they were covered in a heavy layer of muck.  The grinding stopped and moonlight flowed through the massive hole in their cell.

"Cowboy?"

"Dad," Lucky croaked the word out in surprise.

When Luke and Laura stepped through the hole their faces were equally grimy and the dust particles glowed in the moonlight.  As entrances went it ranked quite high.  "You two have some explaining to do," Luke said pointedly eyeing them.

"We'll talk later.  We're leaving now," Laura ordered.

"That's the best idea I've heard in days," Emily said moving out from behind Lucky.  "Move it Spencer," she elbowed him out of his shock and into action.

~*~

Penthouse 4

"Well your new cousins, and I say that they're your cousins because we're basically family," Alexis cooed to her son, "are adorable.  Of course not as cute as you were," she hurried on when Stone began to squirm.  "No baby could possibly measure up to you.  But you're going to meet them today.  Aren't you excited?"

"I hope you're not expecting him to answer," Sonny commented dryly.

"No of course not," Alexis said exasperated with her husband.  He had been teasing her about asking Stone questions.  She knew he couldn't reply, but how else was she supposed to talk to him.  He was a person after all, and she refused to do baby talk.  "Did you call ahead?'"

"Yeah.  Jason and Elizabeth are expecting us in about twenty minutes," he informed her.

"Then what are we waiting for?" she asked picking up Stone's jacket. 

Sonny watched on in amusement as Alexis bundled him up.  Way up.  And she thought he'd be the overprotective one.

~*~

Cassadine Jet

"Start talking.  Now," Luke demanded. 

"Dad …"

"You're father's right Lucky," Laura said cutting off his protest.  "We deserve an explanation."

"I shouldn't have to explain my choices," Lucky griped.  He looked over to Emily for support.

"What?" she asked.  "Don't think I'm gonna help you out on this one Spencer, especially considering the last time you helped me it was straight into the Nile."

"Oh don't think you're getting off easy darlin," Luke informed her, turning his penetrating stare onto her.  "You've got some explaining to do yourself."

"Me?" Emily yelped.  "He's the one that dragged me into this insanity in the first place."

Luke and Laura's gaze fell back on Lucky.  "Thanks a lot Quartermaine."  Lucky glared at her.

"Quit sniping and start talking," Laura commanded.

"Fine," Lucky muttered dragging a hand through his muted brown hair.  "It's been what two years …"

"Three," Emily corrected.

"Right," he said.  "Time kind of flies when you're battling the bad guys."  Luke snorted.  "Anyways," Lucky continued.  "I was recruited into the WSB by Frisco …"

"Jones," Luke bellowed.

"The one and only," Lucky assured his father.

"First him then Donnelly," he threaten rubbing his hands together.  "They're so gonna pay for this!"

~*~

Jake's

"Hey there hubby-to-be," Courtney called cheerfully as she entered Zander's favorite hangout.  He was playing pool by himself.  It was early for him to be at Jake's, which meant he was mulling something over.

Zander's shifted his eyes and smiled up at her.  She was so lovely he thought.  One of the best people he'd ever met.  He loved her with a passion he didn't think was possible after the way things ended with Emily.  Courtney had made love plausible again when he hadn't thought it possible.  Still it was a hard, and constant battle for him, because he was in love with two people.  He was committed to Courtney, but his heart still longed for Emily.  "Hey baby," he set the pool cue aside and opened his arms.  Smiling at him, she entered his embrace.

The feel of her … the warmth and giving that was Courtney calmed his unsettled heart.  Here was a lasting love.  One worth living and fighting for, he couldn't throw that away.  He wouldn't.  "Four days till the big day."

"Are you anxious?" she asked leaning back some so that she could look into his eyes.

"About loving you?  No.  The monkey suit on the other hand … well that's debatable."

"You're horrible, you know that," she said teasingly.  Courtney was glad to see the light back in his eyes.  Whatever had been troubling seemed to have faded away.  In the back of her mind she worried that he was having second thoughts, but how could that be when he looked at her with so much love in his eyes?  "So why are you hiding out here?"

"Carly," he admitted.  "She's trying to get me to cut my hair before the wedding.  She keeps reminding me that our children and grandchildren will be looking at the pictures one day."

"But I like it the way it is," Courtney pouted.  "Just a bit too long and shaggy.  All rebel like."

Zander laughed, "At least somebody does."

"Well you'll just have to inform her that there will be hell to pay if she changes a single hair on your head."

~*~

The Next Day WSB United States Headquarters

After an hour in the shower Emily finally felt clean enough to get dressed.  She slid into the soft clothing, and pulled her cell phone from her locker and wincing as she lifted her arm.  It figured she'd made it out of Egypt without a scratch and then got hurt trying to keep Luke from killing Frisco.  Though the black eye Lucky got stopping Luke from attacking Sean made her feel better.

"You have three new messages," the electronic voice informed her.  Absently she hit 1-1 to retrieve them.

"Emily," Sonny's strained voice filled her ear.  "There's been a complication."  Emily paled.  "Elizabeth has to have her appendix removed, but they're going to have to perform a c-section first.  If we don't hear from you soon I'll call you when we know anything thing."

"Come on, come on," Emily grumbled as she waited for the next message.

"Emily," Jason's voice reached her ears.  She sighed in relief.  She could hear the happiness in his voice and knew everything was okay.  "Elizabeth is fine, and so are the twins.  We expect to see you soon so don't keep us waiting long."

Short, simple and to the point.  Emily grinned, that was one of Jason's traits that she loved.  Tapping her foot she waited for the last message.  Already compiling a list of things she had to buy before she left.

"Where are you Emily?" Ned's aggravated voice made her cringe.  "Listen I just wanted to know if you were interested in some family payback?  Nothing too horrible I promise.  I'll be in Port Charles later tonight.  Give me a call on my cell when you get this and I'll fill you in."

What are you up to Ned? She deleted the message and a few minutes later she had him on the phone. 

"Does it always take you three days to answer your messages?"

"There was an emergency," she grumbled.  "Now do you want to fill me in or lecture me?"

"Both actually, but I'll get straight to the point."

"Thank you," Emily muttered under her breath.

"What was that," Ned asked.

"Nothing," she assured him.

"Yeah right," he snorted skeptically but decided to let it slide.  "Guess who's in the middle of a corporate take over?'

"I don't know.  You?"

"Kind of, though I'm not getting my hands dirty.  Jax is …"

"Let me guess.  ELQ?"

"Ding, ding.  Would the lady like to know what she won?" Ned inquired.

"Sure why not," Emily said amused by his reaction.

"Well I have this lovely signed contract, stating that I get ELQ once Jax is done.  So how about a job switch?"

"From PR to?"

"My personal assistant," Ned informed her.

"Ned, tell me you haven't turned into Grandfather, please.  I don't want to be groomed for anything."

Ned laughed, "No.  It'd only be temporary … a year or two granted, but temporary.  I'll need someone, a family member, I can trust.  And there aren't too many Quartermaine's that inspire me to trust them, pretty much only you and Lila.  Well, Jason, too but he'd be mad if I called him a Quartermaine."

"I don't know …"

"Look you're coming home now, to see the twins right?"

"Yeah."

"So just think about it while you're here.  You'll have the time, that's all I ask."

"Okay," Emily conceded.  "I'll call you once I'm in town."  She closed the phone and put it back in her locker.

"Emily?" Lucky called out as he entered the locker room.  He knew he could get in trouble for coming into the female domain but he had to talk to her.

"Over here," she called.

He grinned as he strode up to her.  "Did you enjoy the show?"

Despite herself a smile crossed her lips.  "I'm not amused Lucky.  The only reason we ended up in that mess was because you weren't thinking clearly.  Neither of us were," she admitted.

"But I was," Lucky dropped down on the bench.  "I was thinking that the woman I loved was in danger and I had get her out of it."

"Lucky I'm a spy.  I'll always be in danger.  You can't come in like the Calvary to save me.  First it annoys the hell out of me.  Second it will only get us into more trouble.  And third it leads to danger as we just found out."

Lucky sighed, "I know you're right."  He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close.  "I just don't want to lose you."

"You're not going to," she promised laying her on his shoulder.  "I'm a well trained agent.  I can take care of myself.  I don't need a babysitter, I need a partner."

"Even the best of us make mistakes.  Look at Frisco … he nearly died last year.  Hell it was touch and go for a while.  I love fighting the bad guys and saving the world, but not at the expense of losing you."

"That's sweet Lucky," Emily said taking his hand in hers, "but it's not your choice."

"I know," he replied softly.  "Listen, how about we sneak out on my parents and Donnelly and hit a B&B for some relaxation?"

"Tempting, but I have to go to Port Charles," she told him sitting up.  "The twins were born."

"Congratulations Auntie Em," Lucky said in his horrible impersonation of the Wicked Witch of the West.  He cupped her face, and placed a gentle loving kiss on her lips.

Part 2

Later that Evening

General Hospital

"They're so tiny," Elizabeth, was in awe as she nestled one of her children in each of her arms. Jason sat behind her on the hospital bed.  One arm was curved around her waist; his free hand gently stroked the babies learning every detail of them.

"Michael was born early … I don't remember him this little though," Jason told his wife. His intense blue eyes were drawn to his daughter and son. They were so beautiful, held in Elizabeth's arms sleeping.

"Names! Oh, no Jason," she let out a cry of distress. "We never decided on any names! We're horrible parents. People are going to go around calling them Baby Girl and Boy Morgan all there lives."

"Elizabeth," Jason said calmly, "we did decide on names."

"We did," she asked confused. "I know we discussed names, but I didn't know that we decided. I mean, is it okay with you if we call them Steve Webber and Lila Audrey. Because all I remember was musing on the names and you nodding slightly. Slight nods aren't a definite yes after all and…"

"Breathe Elizabeth," Emily instructed her friend as she entered the room.

"Don't tell me to breath Em … Emily," Elizabeth's oath trailed off at the sight of her best friend. "It's about time you got here!"

"It's a really long story, all I can say is sorry and hang on a sec." Emily ducked back out of the room.

"How rude! You just don't pop in and out like that," Elizabeth cried loudly hoping that Emily could hear her.

All the noise and movement woke the twins up. Their little faces scrunched up. That took all the energy they had, so instead of crying they fell back asleep. "Here," Jason said sliding up from behind her. "If you're going to lecture Emily I'll take the twins back to the nursery."

"You will not," Emily ordered re-entering the room loaded down with packages. "I haven't fawned yet."

"I suppose," Elizabeth drawled her eyes on the packages, "that those will make up for your tardiness."

"Why thank you Madame," Emily mocked her with a little curtsey and set the packages down to give her brother a hug. "I'm sorry for taking so long."

"I was just glad to hear you got out of that Egyptian prison," Jason said softly.

"Me too," Emily seconded.

"So what am I?   Chopped liver?" Elizabeth asked. Their hushed voices had her interest piqued. Grinning brother and sister pulled apart and she figured it was family thing. For an instant Elizabeth's heart panged, she never had that with her family. Her children would, she promised herself as Jason took the twins so she could hug her friend.

"So," Emily said eyeing the twins greedily, "hand over those babies and start opening."

It took a moment for her to get settled in the chair.  Jason placed the twins in her arms and introduced them by name. Enchanted by them Emily only half paid attention to Elizabeth and Jason as they opened all the gifts she had brought. This is what she wanted, a family of her own. And just like that, a decision that had been haunting her for weeks was made. "I have good news," she declared once all the presents were open.

"So tell it to us already," Elizabeth demanded.

"I got a job offer here in Port Charles …"

"You're taking it right?"

"Yep!"

While Elizabeth went on about how great that was, Jason studied his sister carefully. The silent question filled his eyes, are you sure? Emily smiled and nodded.

~*~

The Cottage

"Lucky," Nikolas opened the door, surprised to see his brother there. His dark hair was messed up and his shirt was buttoned crookedly.

"Am I interrupting?" Lucky asked amused by his brother's appearance.

Nikolas blushed. Three months ago Gia had thought she was pregnant. At first he had been terrified, but after the test at the hospital came back negative they decided that they were indeed ready to have a family. They spent every extra minute they had working towards their goal, and damned if it wasn't the most fun he'd ever had. "Well … um …"

"Yes," Gia called out from the couch. Her head popped up and Lucky could tell that she was straightening herself out. "And if it wasn't for the fact that you've been gone for three months with only like two or three phone calls I would kick your butt to the curb. Since you have been though," she got up from the couch. "I suppose you can come in." When she turned, she looked practically perfect. Her makeup, which was slightly smudged, was the only notable imperfection. "I might even you offer you something to drink."

"That's mighty fine of you sis," Lucky stepped into the cottage.

Nikolas frowned, he was happy to see his brother, but he'd rather have the night alone with his wife. "So little brother what brings you home?"

"Well after Luke beat up my section boss and then attacked the head of operations I was told to take a break so I wouldn't be fired for the way he chose to express his displeasure."

"What?!" Luke was well Luke, but Nikolas couldn't picture him ruining Lucky's career by going off on his boss.

"Lucky you're kidding right," Gia asked. "I mean why would Luke attack your boss?"

"Because he warned them what would happen if they ever recruited me into the WSB," Lucky informed her.

"The what," Gia asked.

"You're working for them," Nikolas roared. His race flushed with anger. "Whether you believe it or not Spencers do not make good spies. This whole James Bond fantasy is just that – a fantasy."

"Spy," Gia whispered agape.

"The WSB isn't really spy work, it's law enforcement," Lucky explained to her, ignoring his irate brother.

"Of the most dangerous kind," Nikolas growled. "What the hell are you thinking Lucky? Do you have a death wish?"

"Geesh, I didn't expect to get a lecture from you too," Lucky groaned.

"Will you stop," Gia ordered. "I want to know what the WSB is!"

"The World Security Bureau. They are part spy," Nikolas emphasized the word, "and part law enforcement."

"And you're doing this," Gia asked Lucky thinking he was out of his mind.

"Yes I do. I'm out defending the freedom of the world, while Nikky here is making business maneuvers. Big brother is just jealous because I'm having all the fun."

"Like hell," Nikolas muttered. Gia nodded in agreement. "Lucky why? It puts your life in danger – der'mo! It doesn't leave you time for a life."

"That's not true," Lucky said defensively wishing he had brushed up on his Russian. Just because he was thinking of leaving the WSB didn't mean that he didn't like his job.

"Please.  When was the last time you had a girlfriend, or even a date," Nikolas asked sure that he was about to prove his point.

"Hate to break this to you Princy, but I am involved," Lucky informed his brother with a smirk. "She is smart, funny, gorgeous, spunky …"

"And non-existent obviously," Gia cut him off. "Because I don't see her. Do you Nikolas?" Nikolas shook his head.

"Oh yee of little faith," Lucky chuckled. "My girl is here in Port Charles as we speak, visiting her family."

"Really? And who would she be," Nikolas inquired.

"Your old friend, and mine. Emily." Lucky grinned as he watched Nikolas' jaw drop. All in all this was turning out better than he thought it would.

~*~

Two Days Later

Bridal Shop

"I don't see why she has to be in the wedding," Skye grumbled twisting to zip up her dress.

Courtney smiled, she could see herself reflected in the mirror beside Skye and on the other side of the room she saw the back of Alexis as she examined herself in the mirror. "She's my sister-in-law, and I happen to like her."

"Why is what I don't understand," Skye remarked.

"So," Alexis asked turning to face Courtney. She was trying to block out the fact that she and Skye were dressed the same. To be like Skye in anyway was a frightening thought.

"You look lovely," Courtney's blue eyes were bright with excitement. Two days and she'd be a married woman. She couldn't wait.

"She looks horrible in silver. It washes her out," Skye muttered under her breath.

"Skye," Courtney scolded, elbowing her. "Just because Jax married her first doesn't mean you have to be nasty."

"He did divorce her."

"It was mutual," Alexis announced. "The acoustics in here are great," she informed a shocked Skye with an overly sweet smile. "And I like you too Courtney. Though I have to wonder about your choice in friends."

"Its rude to eavesdrop," Skye stated. That was the only comeback she could think up. She hated the fact that she was so rattled.

"So is talking about someone behind their backs, but you're a Quartermaine. Good manners and politeness is reserved for Lila, Ned and Emily."

"Don't forget my mob boss half-brother Jason."

"He's a Morgan," Alexis pointed out. Remembering that the day was about Courtney and not her petty battles with Skye, she changed the topic. "It's your turn Courtney. Lets see that wedding dress."

Skye scowled. "Yeah Court," she rubbed her friend's shoulder, "lets see the dress again."

~*~

The Park

Emily hadn't been paying attention. Her shoe had come untied for the zillionth time that morning and aggravated didn't even begin to describe how she felt. Kneeling down, Emily retied her tennis shoe. This was the reason why she preferred the Velcro straps of her youth.  Standing quickly she stepped forward, right into the path of someone. Startled and off balance she began to fall, but the person she'd hit caught her "Sorry…" her voice trailed off when she recognized the touch of the person holding her, by the way she felt.

"You should watch were you're going."

Emily's head shot up confirming the correctness of her memory.  Her dark eyes connected with Zander's lighter ones. His grip on her tightened automatically. "I don't need a lecture," she informed him.

"Just better eyes," Zander joked.

"I can stand on my own."  He had made no move to let her go and she could feel his warmth, and smell the musky cologne he wore. She had to put some space between so she could think clearly.

Zander nodded and let her go. "Sorry."

"That's okay … thanks for catching me," Emily said shyly. The situation had turned awkward and she didn't know what to do or say. Standing before her was a man she loved, but across town was another man she loved as well. The nervous flutter in her stomach worsened. Her brows furled, loving two people was certainly easier when the other was not present.

"Em is something wrong," Zander asked.

"What? Um, yeah," she shook her head. "It's just …" she trailed off. Looking at him she was very tempted to jump into his embrace and never let him go. Loving him was such a part of herself. But as tempting as that dream was, it was just that a dream. A dream that she had put aside the first time that Lucky's love-filled blue eyes caught hers.

She was quiet as the realization came to her, while she stared in the face of her once all consuming love.  Loving Lucky came so easily. He had always been in her life so it was natural to turn to him. The easy manner of their friendship had the elevation of their relationship – to romance, seem destined. Before Nikolas, Sarah and Elizabeth came along there had been the two of them, she had thought it would be that way for life. Life liked to throw curves balls at people.  But in the end, there they were.  The love she felt for Zander was still there, it was still as strong as it had been the day she realized how much she loved him. It was just as strong and passionate.

But so was her love for Lucky.  And in a lot of ways, it was even more consuming for her.  The confusion she had been feeling gradually began to clear. A life with Zander wasn't possible.  She knew that.  She just hadn't known how to let go of that dream until now.  Lucky's image came to her again, and the memory of those bright, sly eyes of his made her realize that she liked where she was and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

She became aware of the silence and realized that she had been staring at him while she had her epiphany.  "Sorry," she said with a smile. Her racing thoughts were a jumble and she couldn't quite remember what he asked.

"Is something wrong?"

"No," Emily replied nervously clenching and unclenching her hands.

"Sure," Zander said though he felt uncertain. He loved seeing her, especially when she looked happy. The sadness that had been in her eyes the last time was gone. He was grateful for that. "So … ah …" he muttered trying to think of something to say so that they could have a few more minutes together. "You've been by to see the twins?"

"Yep," Emily grinned at the thought of her niece and nephew. "They're so tiny and perfect."

Zander nodded in agreement. "I heard that they're letting Elizabeth out tomorrow."

"That they are. I was planning on having a little party for them tomorrow night if you and Courtney are interested," Emily offered.

"Ah I wish we could come … but we have the rehearsal dinner to go to."

"Oh right," Emily said looking away from him. It stung still, Zander marrying someone else.  Even though she knew they were over, she couldn't help but feel a little jealous over the fact that he had moved on.

Tugging a hand through his hair Zander cursed himself. He hadn't meant to bring up the wedding. It was there, obviously, but he felt like he had thrown it in her face.

"Listen Zander …"

"Just wait a sec Em. Please?" Emily looked up at him; his soulful eyes had her nodding in agreement. "Good," he said with a smile. "Its just that you know about me, and well I don't know about you. And I want too. I wanna know how you are."

"I'm good," she stated. "My old job required a lot of travel, so I got to see a lot of the world, which was great."

"Old job?"

"Yeah. I've decided to take an offer from a local business man," Emily said. "So I'll be in town again."

"Emily that's great," Zander exclaimed. He liked the idea of beginning able to see her, and maybe one day of them being friends.

"I think so. Its just …" Emily trailed off realizing that she didn't want to talk to Zander about her love life.

"What? Come on Em tell me," he insisted when she shook her head.

Emily bit her lip. "It's … well I've been seeing someone," she admitted.

"Oh," Zander said softly. His heart dropped even though his head told him that it was a good thing. Emily was too good a person to go through her life alone. "Is it serious?"

"It could be. I want it to be," she informed him. "But like me he travels a lot. I don't know how'd he feel about being stationary."

"Well, if he is smart, he'll plop himself down and refuse to budge," Zander declared trying to he supportive even when it hurt.

Emily laughed, "Thanks."

He smiled at her, but it was strained. It was selfish of him to be jealous about her being able to find happiness with someone else, especially since he had.  She was the person who taught him what it meant to love; she was entitled to feel it herself, so much more than he was. "I really do want you to be happy Em. I always have."

"I want the same for you too Zander."  Church bells began to toll the hour. Emily frowned. "I do have to get going."

"Then get moving," Zander told her.

"It was good to see you. Hopefully we'll run into each other again," Emily said. She did want him to be in her life in some way.

"Me too."

~*~

Luke's

"What kind of question is that," Luke grumbled as he looked over the books. His office was in its normal disarray. The clutter spilled over everything and the room smelled of the Cubans and fine scotch.

"A serious one," Lucky was frustrated with his father's evasion. He was trying to be serious and Luke kept veering off the subject.  Could his father ever be serious?

Luke looked up from the books, "Do I look like a settled man?"

"Look Dad," Lucky flung himself down in the nearest chair, "I know you go on an adventure once and a while, but for the most part you are settled. You have a home, a business, a family…that's settled."

"If you say so Cowboy," Luke remarked hiding a grin. He decided to make the conversation hard on him, since the boy had snucked behind his back and joined the WSB.

"Can you just answer the question?" Lucky groaned. Rubbing his stiff neck he waited for his father's next move. Would he dodge the question again or worse, answer it in his elusive riddle-like style?

"Sure. What was it again?" Luke grinned wickedly when Lucky scowled. Hot damn this is fun he thought. "These numbers get me a bit befuddled you know."

Lucky gritted his teeth. "Is it a hard transition, going from on the move and fighting the bad guys to a settled life?"

"Your mother and I ended up divorced. What do you think," Luke asked throwing out the worst possibility so Lucky would know how difficult it could be on a relationship.

"But you worked everything out again," Lucky pointed out. "You got remarried and all."

"That's because we were and always will be in love," Luke remarked sentimentally. "I'll give you a hint though. I wasn't ready to be settled as you put it. That's what caused a good deal of the problems. I wanted to be out in the world when your mother didn't. Now if you're serious about settling down, then you better hope Emily is too. It will make things a lot easier."

"Did I say anything about Em?" Lucky asked. He'd asked Nikolas not to say anything since he had yet to reveal the full extent of his relationship with Emily to his parents.

"Cowboy it's written all over your face. You're silly in love with her, and I think she might just feel the same way."

~*~

That Evening

Quartermaine Mansion

"Why is this Aussie punk calling a meeting in my house," Edward bellowed as he paced around the den. The audacity that Jax showed fed his worry and anger. He could almost feel his beloved company slipping through his fingers.

"My mother's house," AJ reminded him.

"Only cause Dad gave it to her," Skye pointed out.

"Can we please stop the family squabbling?" Jax asked. He was dressed for the kill. He wore his dark charcoal gray suit with a crisp light gray shirt. Steel against steel. His blonde hair was lightly gelled back, and his face was impassive. For his wife's sake he'd try not to gloat.

"But you're a part of this family now," Skye pointed out to her husband. Her hazel eyes were shooting daggers at him. Whatever this about she knew it couldn't be good.

"Can we just get on with this?" Edward ordered testily. "Lila is waiting for me," he said throwing out his wife's name. They all loved her and he hoped to soften them up. Just the thought of her could work magic, he had learned over the years.

"Yes, by all means, Jax fill us in," AJ said with a slight bow.

Grinning Jax strode over to the patio doors. He wanted Ned to know when to make his grand entrance. "As of the beginning of the business today tomorrow, ELQ belongs to me."

"Preposterous," Edward yelled.

"That's impossible," Skye argued. AJ remained silent watching Jax. He sensed that there was one more ace to be played. "How?" she demanded sure that his claim was false.

Jax leaned back and opened the patio door. "I had some inside help."

"No one at ELQ would help you," Edward stated. He thought about pulling an episode with his heart, but decided all those present would either see through it or not care. His best card was useless and that only served to make him furious. How dare Jax try to knock them off their game like this!

"No one at ELQ did Grandfather," Ned announced as he entered the room. "I did."

"Ingrate," Edward roared. He knew as Ned strode confidently across the room that it was true. His own grandson turned against him. "You'd actually sell your family out to this cocky Aussie? Ned I thought you'd know better than that," he tried to look utterly disappointed even though he appreciated the underhanded maneuvering that Ned must have performed.

"He didn't Grandfather," AJ, said seeing the whole picture. If he wasn't on the losing end and actually liked his cousin, he might congratulate Ned on his achievement. "Did you cousin?"

"I'm glad to see that you're learning Junior," Ned commented. He never truly cared for AJ, but since he was family, he was glad to see him improving.

"Will one of you tell me what the hell is going on?" Edward blustered.

"Its quite simple Edward," Jax said. "Ned is the new owner of ELQ."

"What?" Skye screeched. She could handle Jax getting control of ELQ, but to give to Ned, the bane of her existence. Oh, he was going to pay for that.

"Ned?" Edward asked pointedly. His cheeks were flushed and his eyes were shooting daggers. Again he wondered about faking chest pains. It would serve his family right to worry about him.

"It's true Grandfather. Here let me give you a little preview. I'll be the new CEO, with Emily as my assistant …"

"Our Emily," the three Quartermaines asked skeptically. She had never had any interest in the family business before and they couldn't figure out why she'd team up with Ned.

"Yes our," he stressed the word, "Emily. As for the three of you," Ned continued with a smirk on his face. "Well you're all fired."

~*~

The Next Day

Mystique

"How could you," Carly yelled as she continued to blast Jax. The tables were already set and she was giving serious consideration to picking up one of the vases and hurling it at him. "We're partners … family."

"Ned's family too," Jax pointed out as he watched her carefully. You could never tell with Carly. The murderous glint in her dark eyes had him on full alert.

"That's beside the point! You sold out my husband," she said angrily. "How do I know you won't do the same to me?"

"Because I actually like you and we have a very successful partnership," Jax replied. Her face began to turn red and he started to put space between them.

"I'm gonna…"

"Smile and say hello to your husband," AJ said entering the club. "Jax," he nodded in greeting.

"AJ." He was relieved to see the younger man since it took Carly's focus off him.

"Don't be pleasant to him," Carly snapped at AJ.

"It's okay Carly," AJ assured his wife approaching her cautiously. He knew that her anger could easily shift to him.

"The hell it is! He stole ELQ from you and gave it to Ned! Ned of all people," she scoffed.

"Jax do you mind if I have a private moment with my wife?"

"Of course not," Jax said grateful that he was escaping the confrontation with Carly before it turned ugly. He knew he was only buying time, but he'd take what he could get.

"This isn't over by a long shot," she promised as he left. "Why'd you stop me," Carly demanded once he was gone. "I had him right where I wanted him."

"Don't pout Carly. It really is going to be okay."

"But …"

"But what? We still have each other, Michael and plenty of money. Besides I've gotten five calls already this morning, all of them were companies offering jobs."

"Baby that's great," Carly squealed throwing her arms around his neck.

"I wasn't planning on making a decision until I get back though," he said kissing her neck.

Carly leaned back so she could look at him. "Get back," she questioned.

A smile spread across AJ's face. "I was hoping my lovely wife would join me on a trip for two to Paris for a week."

"Really?"  They had traveled a lot together, but they'd never gone to Paris. She kept dropping hints, but he never seemed to pick them up.

"All we have to do is pack."

"God I love you," Carly said before crushing his lips to hers in a passionate kiss.

~*~

Kelly's

"Sorry I'm late," Lucky hurried over to Emily's table. "Lulu was insistent that we finish our game of Monopoly."

"Did she kick your butt again?" Emily asked.

"Only because I let her." Lucky's eyes told the truth though; his sister had crushed him while had had struggled to stay alive.

"If you say so Spencer," she laughed. Lucky frowned at her, causing Emily to laugh more. "You're cute when your pride is wounded."

"My pride is fine thank you very much," Lucky grumbled.

"You like spending time with Lulu," Emily half asked, half stated turning the moment serious and away from a potential disagreement.

"Very much," Lucky replied his blue eyes filled with the love he felt for his imp of a sister. Seeing his opening he noted, "Port Charles seems to work well for you."

"Yeah," Emily agreed brushing some hair from her face. "It's so great being here. Being close to Jason and Elizabeth, the twins, Lila, Michael, Stone … the list keeps growing. Heck its even nice seeing Grandfather from time to time."

He shot her a skeptical look at the mention of her grandfather, but decided to let it go. Edward was a pain, but a pain the Quartermaines all seemed to love for some reason – well they at least put up with him. "I know what you mean," he agreed. "I'd forgotten how much I like helping dad out with the club. And intruding on Nikolas and Gia at inopportune moments."

"Only you Spencer," Emily giggled.

Lucky grinned and shifted closed to her. "Was that compliment Quartermaine?"

"In the name of friendship I'll let you interpret it anyway you chose." Emily smiled weakly at him and then broke eye contact.

"Em," Lucky said reaching across the table and taking her hands. He could tell she was holding something back. Her dark eyes seemed unsure as she broke eye contact. "Do you wanna tell me what's wrong?"

"Well I kinda … actually I did," she said meeting his eyes again. "I made a life changing decision without even talking to you, and I'm sorry about that Lucky. It just kind of struck me while I was holding the twins."

Lucky couldn't hold the life changing decision against her. He had made one himself. He wanted to stay in Port Charles. Granted if she still wanted to work for the WSB, he'd go with her. He just hoped she didn't. "What struck you?"

"That I want a family. That I want to be in Port Charles close to my family and friends. That I want to stop and just be still, not constantly moving all the time." There was more, but Emily stopped herself. "Please don't be mad." Lucky's grin confused her. "Well you seem awfully happy about my decision."

"More like ecstatic Em. I was afraid you wouldn't want that stuff," Lucky informed her.

"Why?"

"Because I want that too," he said looking directly into his eyes so she'd know he meant it with every fiber in his being.

A small smile began to travel over Emily's face. It turned into an enormous grin. She didn't know whether she wanted to laugh or cry. She just knew that she was sublimely happy. "You don't know how glad I am to hear that," she cried jumping up from her chair.

Lucky opened his arms to her and pulled her close. They sat there, outside Kelly's people entering and exiting the restaurant staring at them, noticing nothing but the feel of each of other. Even their heartbeats were in sync.

~*~

Later that Evening

Penthouse 2

The party was small. Sonny and Alexis, Steve and Lila's godparents, and Stone were there. Sonny had wanted to be in charge of the food, but since he had to be at the rehearsal it was up to Emily and Audrey to handle it. All in all, he thought, they did a good job.

The twins were still in their car seats and the adults fawned over them. Alexis held Stone in her arms so that he too could marvel over the twins. Michael stood on his own gazing down at his new cousins. The happy buzz of chatter filled the penthouse. It was a gathering of family and friends celebrating the newest additions to the family they had made together.

"I'm so happy for you, darling," Audrey hugged her granddaughter tightly.

Across the room Emily and Jason were talking quietly by the window. She had filled him in about her relationship with Lucky, which he hadn't known about. Considering he seemed to know everything else it surprised that he wasn't aware of their relationship. "Are you two planning on moving in together?"

"We haven't really talked about it yet. First thing we have to do is handle Sean and Frisco, everything else should be easy sailing compare to that."

Jason's reply was cut off by Sonny bringing in the champagne and a glass of sparkling pear juice for Michael from the kitchen. "I hate to cut the party short, but the twins looked wiped and we have an important day tomorrow," he went around the room handing everyone a flute.

"Before you make your toast Sonny," Emily said, "Carly insisted that I wish Jason happiness with your family. Sorry, Elizabeth but you were an afterthought."

"I think I can live with that," Elizabeth remarked as she snuggled next to Jason.

"Everyone set then," Sonny asked. Everyone nodded; raising his glass he started his toast. "Within these walls we have something very special. We have family, friendship and love. Those are three things I never thought I would be blessed with, and am grateful every day to have them. To some," he said looking around the room, "we are an odd mix. But they don't see what we do. We are a family of the heart. Built not from blood, but from the friendship we were willing to give. A few days go our family grew by two … Steve Webber and Lila Audrey who we welcome home today. May their lives be sweet."

Touched everyone raised their glasses. The sound of them clinking together filled the room followed by everyone's voices. "To Steve and Lila."

~*~

The Next Day

He examined the creamy envelope slowly.  Zander was almost weary of reading whatever advice Carly had for him considering she did not quite approve of his marriage.  It wasn't that she didn't like Courtney; the two always got along.  Besides that they had lots of people in common.  Sonny, Jax, himself…whenever they ran into each other it was always pleasant.  But, he conceded, they never went in search of each other.  Carly was his friend.

Sighing he ran the smooth, silky envelope through his hands.  Knowing that he didn't have time to procrastinate, Zander pulled one side of the envelope straight down.  Slowly he pulled out the rough, faded paper that Carly preferred for personal use.

Hey Buddy,

Happy wedding day!  I expect you'll be shocked to hear that from me, but I figured that I owe you considering I skipped town right before the big day.  You know how much I love you Zander, and this is by no means a form of protest.  By not being there I'm not trying to emphasize what a mistake I think this is, in fact this has nothing to do with me at all.

Well not really.

Zander smiled.  It was so like Carly.  Completely unpredictable, yet at the same time it was her unknowable mood shifts, which could change with the wind, that was stability.

My focus is on the man I love.  I know that though he hides it well, AJ is hurting.  He was never good at losing, especially to Ned.  The inner workings of the Quartermaines will probably never change.  AJ will always be the screw up who has to live down to everyone's expectations.

Screw expectations!  Who needs them?

I don't that's for sure, he thought rolling his shoulders.  The first rays of sunlight touched his window and Zander got up from the couch.  In nothing but a ragged blue t-shirt and his boxers he strolled across his boxed up living room.  He would miss his tiny, cramped apartment.

Dropping the letter to his side he took in the beauty of the sunrise.  He preferred the sharper colors of sunset – the deep purple and blues that blended with the orangey pinks and fading gold of the sun.  He and Emily had enjoyed taking a few minutes to watch them while they were on the run.

Chiding himself, Zander pushed away from the window.  Today wasn't a day for thinking about an old, he stressed by saying it out loud, old love.

Standing in the middle of his apartment he went back to Carly's letter.

It occurs to me that I have expected something from you that I have no right too.  A part of me feels guilty.  I love the man that ruined your life Zander.  You're my best friend, and I fell in love with one of the people who hurt you most.  I've always wanted to make that up to you.  I thought three months ago that I would.  That's why I tricked you and Emily onto the yacht.  Foolishly I thought I give you back to each other.

It was a lovely gesture Carly, but you can't give back something that you can't give.  I gave my love to Emily, just as I gave my love to Courtney.  I'd never wanted it back from either of them.  It is still theirs.  It will always be theirs.

I see now though, that you've pledged yourself to another and in many ways your heart is attached to Courtney.  Speaking from the wisdom of someone who has been there, nothing is more painful or frustrating than loving two people at the same time.  It rips you apart and leaves you aching and feeling empty.

God I wished I felt empty, Zander thought.  True loving both Courtney and Emily was tearing him up, but his love grew for them.  It filled him up him so much.  He could never be empty with all the emotion he felt for them, and all the love he received in return.

I don't know how it will turn out for you Zander, my friend.  I know this though – I want you to be happy.  If you can find happiness with Courtney so be it.  If not, don't be afraid to go after what does make you happy.

Then again happiness can be found in the least expected places, I have discovered that out for myself.

However the day turns out, may it be one free of doubts and regrets.

All my love,

Carly Q.

"I have no doubts about marrying Courtney," he said aloud even though she wasn't in the room.  "I have no doubt that I love her or that I will be happy."  Folding the letter back up Zander admitted, "I do have one regret though.  The what if," he said with a wistful look in his eyes.  "But I saw my mother make herself miserable playing that game and I won't make the same mistake," he vowed.

~*~

A Few Hours Later

St. Vincent's Church

"I Zander David Smith take thee Courtney Amanda Matthews Corinthos to be my lawfully wedded wife. For better or worse, in sickness and in health, for as long as we both shall live," Zander said gazing lovingly at his bride.

Courtney smiled up at him and her heart filled with joy as he slipped the ring onto her finger.

"Now by the power invested in me I pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride," the priest declared.

Their lips met in a soft, but passion filled kiss for the first time as man and wife.

~*~

Later at the Reception

The Port Charles Grill buzzed with wedding party noise. Waiters scurried around refilling glasses, while the sound of silver against china was barely covered by the soft music of the string quartet. The peaceful ambiance of the room would be broken when the DJ arrived, but while the dinner was being served it was a sedate atmosphere. The soft classical music moved few couples to dance already.

"I'm surprised you let me get this close to you," Jax teased as he swept his wife around the dance floor.

"You and me both," she retorted, even though she loved the feel of his arms around her. Skye was still annoyed with him but she wouldn't let that get in the way of enjoying the day.

"You know," he said brushing some of her silky red hair out of her face, "Jacks Industries could use someone like you."

"Was that a job offer?" Skye asked looking up at him.

"Yes it was."

"Too late. I've already accepted an offer from Chandler Enterprises. The northeast division is being moved here. Adam is probably doing it to bug Edward, but he's asked to me to be at the helm."

"And you've agreed?" Jax asked though he already knew the answer.

"On the dotted line. You should know that business can change on a dime."

"Smart ass," he growled under his breath.

Skye's eyes flashed but she decide the night would be more interesting if they made up. Payback could always come later after all. "I will concede one thing though," she informed him.

"And that would be?"

"You did a hell of a job taking ELQ," she said and planted a passionate kiss on his lips.

On the other side of the dance Sonny and Alexis swayed to the music. Sonny ran his hand down Alexis' long hair. "I've never been happier," he whispered into her ear.

"Me either," she agreed snuggling closer to him.

"Alexis," he said a moment later.

"Hum," she sighed contented.

"Our anniversary is next month …"

"I know."

"I'd like to renew our vows," Sonny told her.

Alexis stopped dancing and looked up at her husband. A huge smile spread across her face. "Really?"

"I wouldn't have said it if I didn't mean it," he said. Delighted she agreed. Sonny kissed her temple. The two then continued to dance.

~*~

Penthouse 1

The soft, quick breaths of the twins filled the room. Sitting on the loveseat in the nursery Jason held Elizabeth in his arms as they watched the twins sleep. "Jason," Elizabeth said softly so she wouldn't disturb the sleeping babies.

"Yeah?"

"I was wondering," she said turning her face up, "how'd you feel about moving out of the penthouse?"

Jason stopped running his hand up and down her arm. "To where?"

"Not far. Just a house with a real backyard … where the kids could play and maybe have a jungle gym," Elizabeth said. "I know it might be difficult considering," she paused. She knew the kind of business he was in, but she rarely mentioned it.

"But you'd like it," Jason finished for her. "There would considerations to made. Security systems, guards …"

"But we could do it?" Elizabeth asked hopefully.

Jason smiled down at her. "Yes we could. In fact Audrey mentioned that there was a house on the market on her street."

"We could be near Gram," she squealed excitedly. Elizabeth bit her lip and checked to see if she disturbed the twins.

"If the house works for you."

"Are you sure Jason?" Her questioning blue eyes met his.

"I want what's best for my family. No place is safer then the penthouse, but its not a real home and I want for us. So yes," Jason assured her.

THE END