The Silence of Hope
Jason knifed through the water quickly, his movements were economical no wasted motion, his stroke was strong, steady almost monotonous. His breathing, easy to control, and the swim itself was so mindless that it gave his mind plenty of time to wander. The direction it wandered was the place it always went, right to Elizabeth.
Tucking his body he flipped over when he reached the edge of the pool, his powerful legs kicking the wall propelling him through the water. Who was he kidding, Elizabeth was always on his mind whether he admitted it or not.
The past two months had flown by in comparison to the first two months. Since that afternoon that she had let him hold her, a sense of uneasy peace seemed to have descended on the house. She would smile at him now, and didn't leave the room when he walked into it anymore. The silence that was once so loud between them was more comfortable, most of the time anyway.
Her progress had been remarkable, as well, even Kate had commented that since her attitude had changed she was improving more rapidly. She could stand now, though she primarily kept her weight on her right leg. She could walk with the aid of a walker. So for a couple of hours a day Kate had her up and mobile, and he couldn't help but be thrilled about that.
But as happy as her progress made him, there were still several things that worried him. She still refused to speak, or to even try to speak. At her most recent checkup the doctor had said that there was no medical reason for her not to try speaking. The doctor had said that the damage to her vocal chords wasn't severe enough to paralyze them forever. To his knowledge though, she had never even tried. She adamantly refused to do the exercises Kate tried to make her do, and whenever he brought the subject up she got mad at him and retreated.
He took another quick breath of air before flipping and beginning his next lap. She also refused to read any of the letters from home. She had quite a stack of unopened letters on her desk that she refused to even look at it. Every time he tried to talk about Emily or Audrey she would leave the room.
But the most distressing thing was her art, or rather the lack of art. She had full control of her hands and fingers now, but other then that first night she hadn't sketched a thing. That worried him more then anything. Even at the height of her grief over losing Lucky she had drawn, painted, but now she was refusing to.
His lungs were beginning to burn, his arms were tiring slightly and he knew that he would have to stop soon, but he didn't want to. He would deny it to his dying breath but a part of him didn't want to leave the pool, he wanted to stay in here for as long as he could. Because he knew that once he did get out of the pool he would be facing the wrath of both of the women in the house.
Kate was breathing fire at him. She wanted him to push Elizabeth again. To try to force her to try to make her speak, or at least get to the bottom of why she was refusing to. Kate didn't beat around the bush, she ordered and if you weren't quick enough to follow the order, she was pretty quick with the snap of a dishtowel.
He slowed his pace to a leisurely crawl. He had never met anyone quite like Kate. She wasn't intimidated by him, or afraid of him. The look that he used to ice people out just made her laugh. And the glare she leveled at him made him agree to do things he didn't want to do.
Things like breaking the tentative truce he had going with Elizabeth. He sighed and turned over to float on his back, to let his breathing settle. He knew that Kate was right, that Elizabeth was still holding back. He had known that he would have to push her again, long before Kate had started in on him, yet he still hesitated.
He had been allowing himself to be selfish for a change. He enjoyed having her relax around him again, the small smiles that she gave him every once in awhile, made his days bearable. He didn't want to lose that, and once he started pressuring her, he knew he would.
A noise caught his attention and he tilted his head and saw Elizabeth slowly making her way down to the pool. He was getting used to the surge his heart seemed to make every time he saw her, and the thrill he still got every time he saw her on her feet. She looked better then she'd had in months, and he knew she would get even better. She looked over at him and smiled tentatively, before bowing her head to concentrate on walking again.
Seeing the perspiration on her face, and the familiar shake of her left leg, he began to move to the side of the pool. Her left leg was still giving her problems. The strength didn't seem to be coming back to it like it had to her right leg. The checkup that she'd had yesterday wasn't very encouraging either.
While every other part of her body had gotten stronger, during the two weeks between checkups, her left leg hadn't. The doctor had told them that there was a chance that it might never get any stronger then what it was at now. He had stressed that it was only a chance but it was still unsettling news.
Elizabeth had retreated to her room when they had gotten home, only coming out briefly to eat, before disappearing again. He had been afraid that she was going to withdraw again, but this morning she had beaten Kate into the gym. So he had been relieved until he walked into the gym and she smiled at him. It was the fake, plastic, 'I'm Okay, You're Okay' smile that had been on her face all the time during his last trip home to Port Charles. It meant she was hiding in plain sight again.
It meant trouble.
"Hello Elizabeth," he stayed in the water and rested his arms against the edge of the pool, watching her sink wearily into a chair by the table.
She nodded at him before shifting her walker to the side and leaning back against the chair. God she wanted to scream. It was so frustrating wanting to do more then she could. She bit her lip, no what was frustrating was, wanting more then you could ever have. A good illustration of that was watching her right now. Even with her eyes closed she could feel his eyes on her, they warmed her skin more then the sun did.
Elizabeth sighed, she was playing with fire with Jason, she knew that and yet she couldn't seem to stop herself. Since that awful night when she had hurt him so badly, she couldn't bring herself to hurt him again. He wouldn't fight with her anyway, but she had stopped trying to make him.
Realizing that he would never leave her while she was still recovering, she had decided to try to recover as quickly as she could. To do that she worked harder and longer to get well. The sooner she was well the sooner he would be gone. She felt slightly chilled at that thought and couldn't help but feel sad. She didn't want him to go but it would be the best thing for him.
But until he did leave, she had decided to let herself enjoy being around him, and soak up all the memories she could, to help her when he was gone. It would probably hurt her far worse when he did leave, but she couldn't stop herself. She stopped being angry or remote with him, and instead let herself remember the easier time that had existed between them. Times like the beginning of their friendship, when they could spend hours together on his bike, without saying a word.
His bike that memory caused her to frown. Not once in the four months that they had been here had he ridden a bike. She knew how much he loved to ride. How much it helped him sort things out, when everything was so loud in his head. Yet he wasn't riding. And why was that? Because of her. His freedom to ride was yet another thing she had taken away from him.
"You shouldn't frown so."
Jason's voice came from her right and startled her so much, that she jerked wildly, bumping the table and spilling his drink. She hadn't even heard him get out of the water and join her.
"Take it easy," Jason righted the glass and blotted at the liquid on the table. He had seen how hard she was concentrating, and judging from her reaction he wasn't sure he was going to like what she was thinking about.
Elizabeth pulled the napkins from his hand, and tried to clean up the mess herself, but she only made it worse. She must like making things worse, she seemed to do it often enough. Frowning at the thought she scrubbed harder at the table. Her movements tipped the glass over again and this time it rolled off the table and broke into pieces as it hit the floor.
Jason was out of his chair and by the broken glass almost before it finished breaking. "I'll get this."
No she wasn't going to rely on anyone cleaning up her messes anymore. She bent over in the chair and began to pick up the glass herself.
"Elizabeth I said I would do it," he took the glass from her hands. "It will only take a minute.
For some reason his actions infuriated her. She picked up a glass from the table and threw it to the ground a few feet away.
Jason turned his head at the sound, and looked from the glass to her angry face. He had gotten used to seeing her upset but this time it was more then that. The anger on her face was plain to see, but her eyes were wild, close to out of control. He knew then that she was aware of the little edge of tension that had been building in the house, aware of it and tired of it as well. It was time to push again. "Did that make you feel better?"
She made a face at him and then threw another glass. Sometimes that calm in control face of his really drove her insane.
"I guess not," Jason commented and gestured to the table. "You still have some left if you're not through with your temper tantrum."
Temper tantrum! The mere suggestion of that caused her to throw the rest of the glasses from the table. God he was the most infuriating man.
Jason shifted on his feet and watched her launch the glasses. She was aiming well away from him, so though she may be mad at him, he still wasn't her target. "Feel better?" he asked when she ran out of things to throw.
Incensed and embarrassed with herself for losing control like that, and feeling frustrated because he seemed so blasé about it all, she lurched to her feet and reached for her walker. She needed to get away from him before she lost all of her control. She was too close to the edge, if he knew that he might push, and she didn't know if she could handle that today.
Jason could see that she was on edge and he knew it was time to try to push her over it. He shifted so he was standing in front of her. "So what is the name of this game Elizabeth? The I can do anything I want, because I'm hurt, and get away with it game?"
She ignored the words and tried to shift around him, but he just shifted along with her. She put a hand on his chest to push him out of the way. Her hand came in contact with his hot, wet skin and she belatedly remembered that he was only wearing swim trunks that hung low on his hips. In spite of herself she let her eyes rove over his body. She wanted to store the image in her brain so she would be able to remember it for the rest of her life.
He saw the flash of desire in her eyes and kept quiet waiting for her to make the next move.
Her eyes instinctively went to the side of his bullet wound, the wound that she had helped treat. She had been so afraid that he was going to die on her that day she had found him in the snow. That fear and the fear of her not being good enough to help him consumed her for days and had lasted long after she knew he would recover.
The faint scar was barely a few inches long, a thin white ribbon on another wise smooth and tan chest. It wasn't the only scar on his body, she could see a scar from another bullet wound as well. But this was the one that was personal to her. Her finger traced the scar lightly, she had thought it would be bigger. It had come so close to killing him that it should look far worse then it did.
She hated to think it, but his getting shot, was, in some respects, good for her. Not that she ever wanted him to be hurt or in pain, and that she didn't wish it had never happened to him at all. But when she had to focus on him so entirely to help him, she'd had to let Lucky go. She knew she would always miss him, and a part of her would always love him, but she wasn't grieving for him anymore. She couldn't because she had other things to focus on, namely Jason.
Her hand moved lower on his chest, over his ribcage, to touch the other bullet scar. She hadn't known him when he had been shot then. Emily had told her about it, told her that he had come real close to dying. That thought chilled her to the bone. The idea that he could have died before she even met him, terrified her.
Christ she was fondling him. The realization of what she was doing hit her and she flushed dropping her hand and her eyes so she was looking at her feet. Her hands tightened on the walker and she shifted again trying to move around him.
He covered her hands on the walker. "We need to talk."
If it was possible her grip on the handles tightened even more and she vehemently shook her head.
"This time Elizabeth I'm going to insist," he really didn't want to force her. But things couldn't go on the way they had been. He had seen the desire and longing in her eyes when she had touched him, but more then that he had seen the love as well. At least until she had realized what she was doing and that damn wall of hers came crashing down again.
She tried to jerk free of his hold on her walker, but couldn't. Anger returned and she lifted her head to glare at him.
"Why don't you ask me to let you go?"
At his question she jerked hard on the walker but it refused to budge. She needed to get away from him
"How can you find out if you can speak if you never even try?" Jason pressed her. "Just open your mouth and try it," he coaxed her softly.
She shook her head and yanked hard freeing her hands from under his on the walker, the suddenness of her release caused her to stagger backwards. Jason caught her and steadied her before she could fall. As soon as she was steady she brushed his hands off of her and shoved him back a step. Anger had her doing things she wouldn't normally do.
The surprise of her move caught him off guard and he took a step back. The move also caused his temper to start on a slow burn. He was getting tired of this push/pull thing that they seemed to have going on.
Even in her anger she saw his eyes change and a glow of determination enter them, maybe she had finally pushed him too far. She let out a startled exclamation when he moved around the walker and picked her up, heading for the pool. She was too surprised to struggle until the first of the water hit her still sneaker-clad foot. Once that happened she started squirming and hitting his shoulders trying to get him to release her.
Jason ignored her struggles and kept moving until they were in the deeper end of the pool, then he let go of her legs so she could float in the water on her own. Her arms instinctively wrapped around his neck and he felt a momentary pang of guilt. He knew she hadn't been this deep in the water during her recovery. She normally stuck to the shallow end with Kate. It was probably a little scary to be out here, when she knew her legs weren't that strong.
Her clothes were plastered to her chest and she was plastered to Jason. She knew he wouldn't let her get hurt, but it felt strange being out here. She felt too free, too loose, she needed the ground to keep her in control.
"Elizabeth," his voice was soft to reassure her. "Nothing will happen to you, I won't let it," he reached up and unclasped her hands from his neck and drew back from her slightly but kept his hands on her arms. "You know I won't let anything happen to you, don't you?"
She nodded immediately. She had never been afraid of Jason, and she never would be. When he let go of her arms, she began to move them to keep herself afloat. She eyed him warily waiting to see what his next move was.
He saw the suspicion in her eyes, but so far she hadn't tried to get out of the pool so he took that as a good sign. "We need to talk, and the only way we can do that, is if you are in some place where you can't run away from me."
Shifting her eyes she looked at the stairs leading to the deck behind him. They were a good 15 feet away, and she didn't know if she would make it without help.
"I know this may seem mean, but you are frustrating me Elizabeth. We are getting along better then we have in months, yet you're still hiding from yourself, and me. That can't go on."
His words made her uneasy, and despite the hot midday sun she shivered.
"You won't speak, even though I know you love to talk. You won't even try. Elizabeth you could talk about everything and nothing at all for hours, and it was treat to listen to you think," he padded closer to her when her eyes whipped to the side of the pool and the ledge that was about 7 feet away.
"But now it's like your hiding in the silence. As long as you don't speak, you don't have to make things real." He watched her when she shifted and began to dog paddle her way over to the edge of the pool. He kept a close eye on her struggle, but other than it just being difficult for her because she was weak, she wasn't having any problems.
"Then there's your refusal to read any of your letters. I know you love the family you have, the one you made for yourself. Your Grandmother, Emily, Nikolas, they are important to you, and yet you shut them out. You let their letters pile up as if you're hoping that they will forget you. That you hope you will never have to deal with them again."
By now she had reached the ledge and put her toes on the thin ledge on the edge of the pool. Bracing her hands on the top, she tried to push her way up, but couldn't. Sinking back in the water, she tried again. But she was too weak. She was beginning to feel desperate, she couldn't be here with him, she couldn't hear his soft words. His words were making something happen inside of her. The walls that she had built were cracking and she didn't want that.
He shadowed her as she began to move along the edge towards the stairs at the shallow end of the pool. "Then there's your art. You need to draw the way some people need to breathe, and you refuse to. I thought you were just afraid you wouldn't be any good. But I saw that the sketch the first night," at those words she froze. "It was shaky, but it was good."
Her sketch of him, how could he have known what it was? She turned to look at him then.
"Kate told me," he answered the unspoken question in her eyes. "Although I could read the words myself. My Last Hope…Gone. What did you mean by that Elizabeth?"
Ignoring him she began to move towards the stairs, her feet were finally able to touch the ground again, and she moved from the tiny ledge inward slightly to use both of her feet.
"I thought you were pushing me away because you were afraid that you would be in the wheelchair. But you're fighting that, just like Emily is fighting her way back, she walking with a cane by the way. Do you feel that if she was in the wheelchair that she wouldn't deserve to be happy?"
She shook her head.
"I didn't think so. So that made me reconsider and I really thought about it a lot. Talking, spending time with your family, drawing, even spending time with me, were all things that you loved to do. Some of them were things you loved the most in your life. So I got to thinking that maybe if you started doing them again, that would mean you would have to start living again."
It was hard to push her way through the water, but it was harder to hear his reasoning. God he knew her so well. Her breathing was beginning to come in pants but it wasn't from the exertion.
"And you don't want to live again," he moved so he was behind her. "You don't want too, because you feel like you failed, you feel guilty because you're alive and they're dead."
She had reached the steps then but stopped before going up them.
Looking at her rigid back he kept talking. "You did everything in your power to help Lucky, and in the end it wasn't enough. He still died, he was still lost, and you hate that you failed him. You hate that him, Laura, and Luke are dead. While you're still alive. So you're punishing yourself by giving up the people and the things you loved the most. Sonny's like that, he punishes himself when things go wrong. He pushes people away because he thinks he doesn't deserve to be around them. He even tries to push me away. It never works though, I'll never abandon him, just like I will never abandon you Elizabeth. No matter how hard you try to push me out of your life."
Something was breaking inside of her, that wall of hers was shattering. She brought her hand to her face, and pulled it away in surprise when she felt the moisture there. She was crying, she hadn't cried since this had started.
He saw her shoulders slump and then begin to shake and moved closer so he was right behind her, he reached out and touched her arm. At his touch she jerked away and moved to the side of the pool and braced her hands on the edge, keeping her back to him.
"You did your best Elizabeth, you did more then most people would ever even think of doing. You shouldn't punish yourself for being alive," he changed tactics then. "Do you think Nikolas should punish himself? After all he's still alive, he failed, in fact he's the one who killed Lucky. Should he punish himself?"
She shook her head violently, dashing at the tears on her face but they wouldn't be stopped.
He couldn't keep hammering her like this, her shoulders were shaking so hard it was breaking his heart. He moved so he stood behind her, his hands resting on the ledge beside her. "Let it out Elizabeth, let yourself heal. You did nothing wrong."
But she was alive, she would never be completely healed, but she would live. She was alive and the Spencer's were dead. That wasn't right was it?
"The Lucky you loved would never want you to be sad for being alive," he whispered the words against her hair.
"Dreams of gold Elizabeth."
Lucky's words of long ago came back to her, and the dam finally broke. Resting her head on her hands she finally let the tears come. She had let him down, but she had tried not to. She had tried to make up for that by giving up what gave her pleasure. Self-denial and self-punishment were the only way she knew to deal with the disappointment, and they weren't right.
"Let it out," Jason whispered touching her back lightly trying to offer comfort. He was surprised when she turned around and wrapped her arms around his neck. "You're safe Elizabeth," he held her close and let her cry. He knew that with the tears, her mental healing had finally begun. So as much as it hurt him to see her cry he just held her while she did.
Elizabeth's tears finally subsided, leaving her feeling empty, drained, and tired, so very tired. But it wasn't the same tiredness that she had been feeling. This tiredness was more peaceful, she wasn't holding things back anymore. Sighing she shifted her head so it was resting on Jason's shoulder. Sometime while she was crying he had moved them, so he was leaning against the wall, she was still holding onto him, her legs floating free, his hand rubbing her back.
Jason was relieved to hear her sigh, she had cried for so long that he had been worried. She wasn't someone who bottled up her emotions, but that was what she had been doing for the past four months.
She drew back and he let her go reluctantly, keeping his hands on her waist. She placed her hands on his shoulders while she studied his face. He brought one hand up and brushed the remaining tears from her cheek. She smiled when he put more water on her face, then what he brushed off.
His heart warmed at the smile, it was one of the few genuine ones she had given him. A little too wide, but, lighting up her whole face. The smile and the softness in her eyes compelled him to move.
Cupping her face in his hands he drew her closer, and she didn't resist the pull. He paused when their faces were a few inches apart, his eyes searching hers. She sighed and he felt her warm breath against his lips an instant before he so gently, and so patiently, lowered his mouth to hers.
Her heart fluttered and the sensation of his mouth on hers was so sweet and pure, it woke a need in her that she didn't know she was capable of. He drew her closer and she seemed to float into him, her lips parting on a sigh.
Jason wanted to keep the pressure light, his hold on her gentle, so she could pull back if she wanted to. Her hands moved up his strong arms, lingering on the muscles in his biceps before linking behind his neck. This was what he wanted to do, to show her how much he cared, how tender he could be. He let himself slide into her slowly and gently, getting to know her mouth, her taste, until it was as familiar to him as his own.
They broke briefly for air, before she pulled his mouth back to hers. He was touching her, drawing her against him, but she didn't mind, she only wanted to be closer still. His body was so hard and firm, while hers was soft and trembling. The differences between them should have been jarring to her, but their differences complimented each other.
He was so big, so strong that if he wanted too he could break her in two. And yet…and yet his hands were stroking her so lightly, like she was so delicate, that if he pressed to hard she would break.
Her tongue slid over his lips and his mouth opened and she slipped inside learning his taste. Her tongue brushed his and he heard her moan in desire, it was enough to snap the restraint he was trying to hold onto. His arms tightened around her and his mouth worked under hers, his hand buried in her hair increasing the pressure.
Gentleness was replaced by desire, and she whimpered in response. His hand cupped her breast through her shirt, like it was the most natural thing in the world. His thumb traced the sensitive skin of her nipple, hardening it under his touch and she bucked against him.
His mouth drifted from hers to roam her face, and yet it was still hard for her to breathe. He was touching her, those big strong hands of his were gliding over her, and his mouth. His warm, wet mouth was molding her skin and it felt so deliciously good. Something that made her feel this good had to be wrong, but she didn't care.
All of those months of waiting, watching, and wanting seemed to drift away now that she was here in his arms. He could kiss her until the world spun off its axis and never tire of it. Driven by need, he captured her mouth again and devoured it, steeping himself in her. The shape of her mouth, the deep dip in her lip, drove him crazy. He crushed her mouth under his, traced it with his frantic tongue then dived inside to plunder.
His heart was thundering, his blood was racing, making his body throb in anticipation and want. She was everything, soft and small and sweet, everything he craved, everything he needed in his life.
His hand drifted under her shirt seeking her skin and she suddenly went rigid in his arms and tried to pull away. He was slow to react to her sudden resistance, it was so unexpected that he continued to kiss her. She twisted her head freeing her mouth and shoved hard at his chest, trying to free her body. Desire still had him by the throat and his body didn't let her go right away.
Desperation, it clogged her throat and grayed her vision. She needed to get away from him, she reacted to the tightening of his hold by slapping him, and stunning them both.
Jason let her go as soon as her hand made contact, his eyes registering the stunned surprise he felt. Elizabeth whimpered and moved towards the stairs, crawling up them and out of the water, and away from him. Stunned into immobility he could do nothing but watch her go.
Her breathing was ragged, and her lungs were burning, by the time she made it out of the pool. She got to her knees and tried to push her way to her feet. But her legs shook and wouldn't support her and she fell back on the deck.
Jason was out of the water and beside her as soon as she fell. He touched her back and she jerked away and tried to crawl away from him.
"Let me help you." His words were a plea.
She shook her head and tried to get to her feet, only to fall again.
"You're going to hurt yourself," Jason reached out. "Let me help."
Elizabeth caught his hands and shoved them back when he tried to touch her.
He bowed his head in frustration, it was like she was afraid of him. "Please Elizabeth."
She tried to crawl again and again her body failed her, defeated she curled into a ball on the hot cement of the deck.
"Jason, let me," Kate moved past him to. "Elizabeth honey," she whispered touching the girls shaking shoulders. "Let me help you," she eased Elizabeth into a sitting position and rocked her when the tears came.
Jason got to his feet, his eyes meeting Kate over Elizabeth's back. Kate glanced towards the house. He nodded and slowly turned away to head for the house, the sounds of her sobs dogging his every step. He shouldn't have lost control like that. She was finally letting go, he had finally reached her, and he had blown it. He must have scared her, and the mere idea of that was enough to kill him.
He stalked into the house and slammed the door behind him so hard the glass rattled. It was just, he had wanted to kiss her for so long, that when she finally let him, it was hard for him to stop. He wanted to hit something, preferably himself, he couldn't get the image of her crawling away from him out of his mind.
Maybe he should leave. It seemed like his presence here was hurting her. Maybe he should just go. Before he could pursue that thought any further, the phone rang shattering the silence of the kitchen. With a muttered oath he walked over and answered it. "Morgan."
"There we go," Kate said brightly after helping Elizabeth settle in a chair. "Here," she held out a towel.
Elizabeth buried her face in the towel and tried to make sense of what had happened. The only thing she could really think of was the fact that she had hit Jason. Nothing made sense to her anymore, because she had hit him. Why had she hit him? A part of her knew the answer to that, and that part wouldn't be silent anymore. She had slapped him because he was making her feel, he was making her feel alive again, and making her forget everything else, but him. When he was kissing her she felt like there was nothing she couldn't do, it was so much more then she'd ever dreamed it could be.
She was giving into him, giving up all her fears, and taking what he offered, and then she had shifted. She had shifted and her left leg had locked up on her, and the realization of who she was came crashing in on her again. That realization had caused her to pull away from him. She didn't deserve him, she could never have him. She remembered the flash of surprise and hurt in his eyes when she had slapped him. She had never wanted to hurt him again, and now it seemed she had caused him even more pain.
"I think its time for you and me to have a talk."
Kate's voice interrupted her trip down memory lane, and she shook her head no.
"For starters you can stop with the head shakes, I know you can speak."
Elizabeth looked over at her.
"My room is beside yours, I can hear you practicing. You can speak, at least a little, so why you won't is yet another mystery to me." Kate moved the walker out of the way when Elizabeth reached for it. "No I'm not like Jason, I'm not going to let you walk all over me the way you do him."
Elizabeth glared at her but couldn't help but feel guilty. She knew she treated Jason badly, and he hadn't called her on it, until today, and look at what she had done to him then.
"I asked you once if you were a selfish bitch, well I guess I finally got my answer," Kate tapped her fingers on the table. "You are a bitch. You are deliberately keeping him in hell, by making him worry about you all the time. Making him wonder why you won't talk, when you know damn well that you can."
Elizabeth crossed her arms over her chest and looked at the pool again. She could speak, but her throat hurt so badly when she did, that all she couldn't manage were a couple of words here and there. She didn't know why she didn't let Jason know. Talking makes it real. Maybe that was true, as long as she didn't have to speak the words, she could keep everything the same.
"You know I didn't want this to be the reason why you pushed him away. I searched and searched for some other reason to explain your actions, but I can't find any. Look at me," Kate snapped.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes in Kate's direction and sighed heavily.
"If you are pushing him away because you can't have kids, then you are one of the most selfish person I've ever met. And don't waste your time giving me that wounded look of yours," Kate warned her. "I'm not Jason those eyes of yours don't do a damn thing for me."
Elizabeth turned to look at the house then back at Kate.
"No he doesn't know," Kate answered the unspoken question. "I'm your nurse there is nothing about you that I don't know," she sighed and shook her head. "I was hoping I was wrong but apparently that is the reason you are being such a bitch to him."
Elizabeth's eyes couldn't but fill at Kate's harsh words. It was still hard for her to deal with the fact she wouldn't have kids. The more she thought about Kate dismissing what had happened to her, the more it began to make her mad.
Kate saw Elizabeth straighten up in her chair and the wounded look, disappear from her face and knew she was on the right track. "Does it suck that you can't have kids? Yes. Is it totally stupid to push Jason away because of that? Hell yes."
Hitting her legs Elizabeth glared at Kate. She was doing this to help Jason not hurt him. Why didn't Kate see that?
"You might convince yourself that you're being noble, but you're not. What you are being is selfish. You can't control your body, so you're trying to control his life."
Elizabeth shook her head and slammed her fist on the table.
"You're so sure that he'll stay with you out of pity," Kate's eyes narrowed and she went on craftily. "Or maybe you're afraid that he'll leave you if he knows. That's it isn't it?" she leaned back in her chair. "You're condemning him to do what you would do."
Elizabeth looked at her in confusion.
"If the situation were reversed, and you found out he was sterile, I bet you wouldn't even say goodbye to him before heading out the door."
Incensed Elizabeth shoved the table at Kate. She would never leave him because of that, leaving him because of something he couldn't control would be selfish. That realization made her pale, isn't that what she was doing to him?
"What's the matter little girl? Did I get a little too close to the truth?" Kate taunted getting to her feet. "You're so sure he would leave you, so that tells me that, that would be what you would do to him. Otherwise you wouldn't be so afraid to tell him, to trust him, to believe that he cares about you for you and not what he thinks you could give him."
Moving around the table Kate set the walker in front of Elizabeth. "That makes you sad and selfish Elizabeth. You don't know what is going to happen five minutes from now much less five months from now, yet you're trying to control it and him."
Kate paused on the steps. "I know you won't, because you like to keep him on a string, but if you ever cared for Jason. If you ever had any feelings at all for him, you would tell him what you really think about him and make a clean break. Don't keep torturing him, or giving him hope when all you're going to do in the end is hurt him."
Elizabeth stayed where she was after Kate left. She wasn't trying to control Jason, Kate was wrong. She was just trying to protect him, to make sure he had the best life he could have. She could never give him everything he deserved to have, kids, or someone he could travel and explore with, so it was only right that she let him go.
Kate was also wrong about something else, she would never leave Jason because he was sterile. She would still love him whether he could father children or not. So what was the difference? The question echoed in her head until she had to answer it. It was different because…because the lack was in her.
The tears started to form again, all her life people had a hard time loving her. If they couldn't love her when she was healthy and whole, how could they love her when she wasn't? She just wasn't a person someone could love forever.
"I love you Elizabeth," Jason took her hand and whispered in the dark of the hospital room. "That is never going to change, even if you never get out of that bed, or love me back. I will always love you, because for me to stop loving you, I would have to stop breathing."
Jason didn't lie, so those words had warmed her heart, but that was before she knew.
"You like to control him."
She wasn't trying to control him, she wasn't using the love he had for her to control him, the way Lucky had once used the memory of their love to control her. She wasn't doing that. Elizabeth shook her head, she was protecting him by doing what she had to do.
"I love you Elizabeth… that is never going to change."
Why did the thought of never seeing him again make it hard for her to breathe?
~Inside 2 hours later~
"Jason I don't think this is a good time," Kate addressed his back.
"Kate there will never be a good time," Jason brushed by her heading for the door. "Have you seen my keys?"
"They're on the hall table," Kate trailed him to the door.
Elizabeth moved quietly to the door to the kitchen and eavesdropped. Her eyes widened when she saw the way Jason was dressed. He was in his standard Port Charles clothes, jeans, boots, and a T-shirt. When he had been here, he had been in shorts or khakis all the time.
"Found them," Jason held up the keys and looked at his watch. "You know what to do Kate, I need to get to the airport."
Airport. The word reverberated in her head, and she staggered back from the door. She had finally done it, he was leaving. He was leaving her and he wasn't even going to say goodbye to her. Her heart seemed to shatter into pieces. Her blood was pumping so hard through her that she couldn't hear past its roar in her ears. He was leaving, she had finally won, he was leaving. She bit her lip hard trying to focus again.
Flight, Jason's words killed the last of the hope still inside of her and her insides seemed to freeze.
"I wish you would change your mind about this," Kate leaned against the doorjamb and watched him move to the jeep.
"It's time Kate," Jason called back and climbed in the jeep.
Kate sighed and turned around, bumping into Elizabeth. Her face was stark white, and her eyes seemed dead, instantly concerned she reached out to check her pulse. "Are you okay?"
Elizabeth pulled her hand away and moved past Kate onto the porch. She made it to the five steep steps leading to the drive when she heard the jeep start. Her frantic eyes locked on the jeep and she opened her mouth to speak.
"Let him go, it's for the best."
"Stop him. You need him, you love him."
Jason put the jeep into gear and started moving forward.
The scream caused him to slam on his brakes. That had sounded like Elizabeth. Looking in the rearview mirror he saw her gripping the railing trying to make it down the steep stairs.
"Jason don't go," her weak voice carried to the jeep.
It had been so long since he'd heard her voice that for a minute all he could do was sit there. Movement seemed to come slowly to him, when it did come it was more out of habit then control. He let his foot off the clutch and the jeep died. He automatically set the emergency brake then jumped out of the jeep. "What?" he held his breath, he wanted to hear her speak again.
She struggled down another step before looking at him. "Don't…leave…me." The words were hard to say. Not because she didn't want to say them, but because it hurt her physically to say them. Her right foot lowered to find the next step and hit the ground instead, the unexpectedness of that caused her to stagger.
Jason caught her before she could fall, then kept going so he was on the ground with her on his lap. "Say something else," he ordered his eyes sparkling with unshed tears.
She put her hand on his cheek, she wouldn't deny him no matter what. "I'm sorry I hurt you," she took a breath. "I was scared … so I pushed … I pushed you away," a tear of guilt slipped from her eye. "Please don't leave me. I'll do better, I won't fight with you anymore," the words were killing her throat, each one softer and raspier then the last, but she kept talking. "Please don't go, don't leave…"
His mouth cut off the rest of her plea. Her arms locked around his neck trying to pull him closer. Her fear over losing him, made her think that he would never be close enough for her.
He broke the kiss and rested his forehead against hers. "Don't cry," he brushed away the tears. "I wasn't leaving you Elizabeth. Don't you know by now that I'm not going anywhere?"
She drew back in confusion. "Airport?"
"Yes I was going to the airport," he admitted. "I was going to pick Emily up. She called from the plane. She got tired of waiting for you to say that she could come, so she decided to come here on her own. She got the information out of Sonny somehow."
"Emily," she couldn't help but smile in relief and the last of her fears melted away.
"Yeah, I was going to have her stay in the grounds keeper's cottage at the end of the drive until I prepared you for her," he brushed a kiss on her lips. "Elizabeth you need to know that I never seriously thought about leaving you," he took her hand and pressed it to his heart. "You take up to much space in here for me ever to walk away from you. I love you."
Say it back Elizabeth, say it back. Kate's nose was pressed so hard against the screen door that she knew she was going to have criss-crossed indention's on her face for days, but she didn't care. She kept her hand over her mouth, so she wouldn't scream at Elizabeth to say it back.
Elizabeth smiled through her tears and framed his face in her hands. "I love you too Jason. More then I thought I could love anyone," she drew him closer and kissed him again. Mentally cursing herself for wasting all this time with him. His arm tightened around her and the knot that had taken up permanent residence in his stomach finally relaxed in the comforting balm of her words.
Kate backed away from the door and rubbed at her nose. She deserved to be rewarded for such good work, she opened the freezer and took out the hidden pint of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream, after all this matchmaking business was hard work.
~8 months later~
Elizabeth stepped off the elevator and headed for the door, the lock on it gave easily and she stepped inside. "Francis, you can just put those in the kitchen," she turned around but he was already moving past her into the kitchen. Shaking her head she closed the door, before following him into the kitchen. As she figured he had already located the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream bars and was putting them in the freezer. "You know I think you love them as much as I do."
"Not true Mrs. Morgan," Francis countered. "You had three out of the last box, I only had two."
"Mrs. Morgan?" Elizabeth leaned her cane against the counter and began to unpack the bags. "I thought we agreed that at least when we were alone, that you would call me Elizabeth."
"I don't remember that," Francis took some cans from her and put them in a cabinet.
"I do. It was right before I gave you the last peanut butter bar," she reminded him.
"Don't you know that no one can be held to a promise they make while they are in the middle of a sweet tooth attack?"
"Welcher," she cried with a laugh.
"I am not."
"What did you welch on Francis?" Jason asked from the door.
"Nothing, your wife is mistaken," Francis shot her a warning glare and she stuck her tongue out at him. "I'll be outside," he said as he left.
"You've got him trained pretty good," Jason commented moving towards her.
"Do I have you trained too?" she leaned back against the counter and watched him move. It was such a pleasure to watch him move.
"Never," he caged her in against the counter.
"Then I better get busy," she whispered before bringing her mouth up to his. Every time he kissed her, it provoked the same response inside of her. Her knees went weak and the air seemed to crackle around them, she hoped that would never change.
He could never get enough of her mouth, it was always so warm and inviting, so…. "What?" he asked in confusion when she shoved him away.
"Quit trying to distract me, it's my night to cook."
Jason's face remained impassive, even as his insides lurched. "Are you sure its not take out night?"
"No," she moved away from him and pulled a recipe out of her bag. "I got it from Gram, she says its fool proof."
He rested his chin on her shoulder and frowned down at the recipe. "But is it Morgan proof?"
They had discovered early on that neither one of them could cook very well, yet both were too stubborn to admit it. So once a week one of them would try to cook. The rest of the evenings they ate out, ordered in, or went to Sonny's. In fact most of the nights one of them tried to cook, they normally still got take out. His hand dropped to the drawer that held the take out menus for every restaurant in town.
"Stop that Jason," she swatted his hand away. "This one will work."
He looked at her doubtfully.
"That's it, get out. I don't need this kind of negativity while I'm trying to create," she pushed on his chest to propel him to the door.
"I'm going," he dropped another kiss on her mouth before heading for the door. "I say we order from Mr. Fu's later," he told her then dodged the towel she threw at him.
Elizabeth turned back to the recipe with a smile on her face. Things were so perfect between them, it made her fears seem so stupid. They had been married for four months, and had been back in Port Charles for two months.
Being Jason's wife seemed to be something she was born to be, but being back home took some getting used to. The Quartermaine's had finally backed off again, once they knew she was his wife, Edward had tried to use her as a bridge to get through to Jason, but he was easy to ignore. The rest of the town seemed to be recovering from the shock of her return and her marriage.
Picking up her cane she moved to the refrigerator to get the milk. Having to use a cane wasn't as bad as she thought it would be. She knew that she would always use it, but it wasn't as debilitating as she had feared. They could still ride, and travel if they wanted to. Jason just said that now they would have more time to enjoy things instead of racing from spot to spot.
In her heart she knew he would react like that, but it was her head she'd had to convince. Still she had been relieved to hear him say that. She frowned slightly, she only wished she were as good as dealing with the prospect of never having kids. When she had finally told him why she had pushed him away, in typical Jason fashion he had been more concerned about her then himself. It had taken time and patience but he finally convinced her that it didn't matter to him, that she couldn't have kids. That if the time came and they decided that they wanted to have kids, that adoption would achieve that goal. Once he had finally won her over to that idea he had wasted no time in getting her to marry him.
But it was hard sometimes, she had to admit that. Normally it bothered her at night. The night seemed to be the time when all the doubts a person had, liked to come out and play. On those nights she would get up and sketch, normally until Jason came and took her back to bed. He never pressed her to talk about those nights, and for that she was grateful. By the morning she would have pushed the demons back, and everything was normal again, until the next time it happened.
Holding her hand up to the light she let it play on her wedding band. She hadn't wanted an engagement ring. The simple white gold wedding band was perfect for her, because he had the matching one on his finger. She had never been this happy, and she finally believed that she deserved to be this happy.
Jason heard the phone ring when he was pulling on his T-shirt, he crossed to the phone by the bed, but it stopped ringing before he could answer it. So he picked up the photograph by the bed instead. It was a photo of him and Elizabeth on their wedding day. He rubbed a finger over her face, she had looked so beautiful coming down that aisle with Audrey by her side.
He'd had to remind himself to breathe by the time she had reached him. One of the most vivid parts of the simple ceremony was when Audrey had taken his hand, and placed Elizabeth's in it. It was her way of blessing the wedding. Knowing that Audrey supported them, meant so much, because Audrey was the family of Elizabeth's heart.
Setting the photo down he hurried for the stairs. They had discovered that it was better for both of them to be in the kitchen when one of them tried to cook. That way someone was always available to use the fire extinguisher.
He grinned and shook his head, he could cook steaks, and Hamburgers, and she could cook brownies. Anything else, and they were asking for trouble. The grin slipped from his face when he saw Elizabeth standing immobile by the phone. "What's wrong?" he crossed to her swiftly when she didn't answer. "Elizabeth?"
She turned to look at him, a mixture of fear, hope, and tears in her eyes. "I'm pregnant."
~7 months later~
"There's your daughter Jason," Dr. Meadows said as the little girl's cries began to echo in the operating room.
"Is she okay?" Jason demanded, craning his neck to get a glimpse of her, but unwilling to leave Elizabeth's side.
"She's perfect," the doctor handed her off to a nurse and nodded at Monica Quartermaine. "Let's close her up. How's her pressure?"
"In normal range, her vitals are holding steady," the anesthesiologist replied after checking her gauges.
Monica was grateful for the mask that hid her relief. Her presence in the room was for a worst-case scenario, in case Elizabeth's heart failed during the cesarean. Ideally, being family, she shouldn't be the one to operate on Elizabeth anyway. But her other doctor had broken his hand, and Monica was the only other doctor familiar with Elizabeth's history.
"Did you hear that Elizabeth," Jason spoke to his wife even though he knew she was unconscious. "You did it, just like you said you would."
"We're moving her to recovery," Monica explained pulling off her mask and heading into the hall.
"How long before she wakes up?" Jason trailed her and began to remove his scrubs.
"The anesthesia should wear off in an hour," she nervously ran a hand over her blond hair.
"And how long after that, before it's considered a problem if she doesn't wake up?" Jason pressed keeping his focus on Monica, even after Sonny joined them.
"Jason," Monica hedged.
"Monica please, we both know how her organs responds to the anesthesia is the critical part," he rubbed at the back of his neck. "That the anesthesia could have caused her organs to shut down, maybe permanently. That was the whole reason you were in there with us."
"Two hours. No one has taken longer then that, without some sort of complication."
Jason held out his hand, for the watch, he had given Sonny to hold. "When can I see her?"
"It will take at least 15 minutes to get her settled, so I'll find you when she is," Monica headed down the hall. "Why don't you go see your daughter while you wait."
"A little girl?" Sonny asked and at Jason's nod a smile spread across his face. Jason and Elizabeth had known what the sex of the baby was but no one else did. "How much did she weigh?'
"5 lbs., 6 oz. 17 inches long."
"Damn Francis won the pool," Sonny smirked. "Are you sure he didn't have inside information?"
Jason shook his head and led the way to the nursery. He wasn't surprised to find Emily, Nikolas, and Audrey already there.
"Jason," Emily squealed when she caught sight of him. "She's beautiful."
Jason hugged her then moved to look at his daughter through the glass. Her tiny red face was screwed up into a cry.
"So how is Elizabeth?" Nikolas asked the question they all wanted to hear the answer to.
Jason glanced at him briefly before turning away. "She made it through the procedure fine, she's in recovery," he paused then forced himself to go on. "We'll know in an hour."
His words sobered the group and Audrey moved to stand beside him and put a hand on his back. "You more then anyone else, know how much fight there is in her."
Jason rested his forehead on the glass. "I know."
Audrey took his hand and looked straight ahead. "So what is my great-granddaughter's name?"
"It's Hope," he smiled. "Hope Elizabeth Morgan."
Jason tried not to watch the clock, he really did. Instead he focused on his wife and her rhythmic breathing. He tried not to be, but he was aware of every second that ticked off the clock. He never wanted to watch her sleep in a hospital again. He never wanted her in a hospital again. Brushing her hair from her eyes he took her hand. Unlike the last time that he had held vigil at her bedside, this time her skin was warm to the touch. The silence in the room caused his mind to wander and he let the memories wash over him.
~7 months earlier~
"She could die Sonny," Jason cried. "I just got her back, and now she wants to do something, that will probably kill her."
Sonny had never seen his friend this agitated. "Did you tell her how you feel?"
"Yes. We sat in the doctor's office while she laid out all the problems that could happen if Elizabeth tried to continue on with the pregnancy," Jason finally dropped in a chair. "Elizabeth listened and at the end the only thing she asked was how far along she was."
Sonny sat in another chair. "How far is she?'
"5 weeks," he scrubbed a hand over his face. "How can she even consider going through with the pregnancy? The doctor told her that her chance to survive a full term pregnancy is less then 20%."
Hearing that made his stomach drop, those odds weren't good no matter how you looked at them. Sonny made his way to the bar and poured he a drink. "So tell her she can't have the baby."
"What?" Jason shot to his feet. "You don't tell Elizabeth things."
Sonny turned around. "She would do it if you asked her too," he studied his friend. "I'm just voicing something you've already considered."
Jason shrugged but didn't deny it, he had considered that.
"You could do that, and she might very well listen to you, and end the pregnancy," Sonny sipped his scotch. "But what you have to ask yourself is, if she does do that, how long will it be before she hates you, and if you could live with her hate."
"So what am I supposed to do? Pretend it's okay with me that she is risking her life? That she is risking the life we've built together?" He needed advice and Sonny was the only one he would ever ask for it.
"If you can't change her mind then yes. You can't fight with her Jason, she doesn't need any more stress. You need to be there for her every step of the way. And when it gets to be too much, and you feel scared or frustrated then you need to come here and take it out on me."
"Sonny probably regretted ever giving me that advice. I sure took him up on it often enough," Jason focused on her face. "You have had me in a constant state of fear and frustration since the night you told me you wanted to keep the baby."
"You heard the doctor Elizabeth, there is more then an 80% chance that you will die if you try to go through with this pregnancy." He didn't know how many ways he could tell her that. She didn't seem to realize how serious this was.
"I know but that leaves almost a 20% chance that everything will be okay," she sat on the bed and pulled off her shoes.
"You sound like that's a lot, but it isn't," he couldn't keep still. Ever since she had told him she was pregnant he had been in a constant state of motion.
"Jason the chances that I would get pregnant at all were less then 10% so forgive me for being optimistic here."
"I knew I should have had that surgery, instead I waited," Jason muttered stripping off his shirt and throwing it in the hamper.
"Jason we agreed to wait. We wanted to see if I was going to need to have surgery on my kidneys, if I did, I would have had the procedure myself," her voice was reasonable as she unbuttoned her shirt. "We both agreed and the doctor said it made the most sense."
"Well look there it got us," he snapped. "I should have been more careful."
"Jason you were careful, we were careful, to quote the movie life found a way. That is what happened here."
"I still sho…"
"We both decided it would be better for me to have the surgery instead of you, that way if…" she trailed off and began to remove her jewelry.
Horrified he crossed over to her. "My god Elizabeth, after all of this time I can't believe that you still think I would leave you. I thought we had gotten past that, that you knew I would never leave you."
"I do know that."
"You don't think I'll leave," he went on slowly a sickening thought occurring to him. "You're afraid that you'll leave, that you'll die."
Elizabeth bit her lip and averted her eyes, and he knew that he was right. The realization of that sent him to his knees in front of her. "How can you think that if you die I would ever want to find someone else? That there could be someone else for me?"
"I just think its for the best, we already know that my health is precarious."
"So what? You wanted me to be able to father a child with someone else after you died?" It hurt him to say the words. But the anger he was feeling pulled them out of him.
"Jason how many times have you told me that there were no guarantees in life? That we couldn't control what happened to us after a certain point?" She touched his face and he jerked back from her and got to his feet. Right now it hurt too much for her to touch him.
"So was it all a lie?" he asked roughly. "Did you lie when you said you were okay with never having kids?"
"No it wasn't a lie," she got to her feet. "I had let go of that before I ever married you. I knew I would never give birth, and I had to let that dream go. I knew we would find another way to have kids, if we decided too, and that was okay with me."
"Then what's changed?"
She put her hand on her stomach. "A miracle happened and I found out I was pregnant. I can't give that up. I have to believe, to hope that it will all work out. I can't turn my back on a miracle."
"You said that once before and look at what happened." The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them.
"Low blow," she paled and sank back on the bed.
"I'm sorry," he crouched by her feet and looked up at her. "I'm scared Elizabeth. We've only known about the baby for a day and I'm already terrified. I don't want to lose you."
"Baby you're not going to lose me," she placed a hand on his heart. "You told me yourself that I'm always in your heart."
"That's not the same."
"Jason you filled my head, and my heart for months and months before I ever admitted it to myself. Our love was so strong, you were so strong, that you helped me believe in love again," her voice was soft but impossible to ignore. "I believe in you, and our love. And that love has brought us a baby," she put her hand on her still flat stomach. "This baby was created out of our love, and that can't be wrong."
"But…" she placed a finger over his lips stilling the words.
"Don't think, just feel, and be honest with me," her voice dropped to a whisper. "You want the baby don't you?"
"Not if it costs me you," he whispered back. "Not if I lost you."
"So you're going to wake up Elizabeth," he glanced at the clock on the wall an hour and a half had passed. "You're going to wake up and tell me how right you were to have the baby, to have hope that everything would work out. You promised me Elizabeth, you need to keep that promise. So wake up."
"When did you get so bossy?" Her words were slurred, but recognizable.
"Elizabeth," he looked in her face in relief.
She blinked heavily, trying to fight the fog her head felt like it was encased in. "The baby?"
"She's fine. Hope is fine," Jason pressed the call button for the nurse and took her hand.
"Really?" her eyes searched his for a lie. She had been hoping and praying that Hope would be okay, she wanted to believe him.
"Yes. You did it Elizabeth," he kissed her hand.
"No we did it," she corrected. "We did it together Jason."
"There's a little girl here who would like to see her mother," Bobbie Jones entered the room carrying a tiny little bundle.
Elizabeth straightened in the bed, her arms were aching to hold her daughter.
Procedure had Bobbie, checking Elizabeth's bracelet with the one on the little girl. They matched, like she knew they would, and Bobbie laid the tiny girl in her arms.
Elizabeth had never known it was possible to love at first sight. To fall so hard and so quick for a little face, that you would do anything for them. She had loved Hope since the moment she found out she was pregnant. But holding her now, she knew that love was only a whisper of the love that she felt now holding her baby.
It was worth it, all the fear of the last few months was worth it, Jason thought as he joined his family on the bed. The look on his wife's face meant more to him then anything in the world, he knew he would remember it forever. "See I told you she's perfect."
"Never perfect Jason." Elizabeth corrected not taking her eyes from the baby, whose eyes were open and looking at her as well. "Don't try to make her perfect, she's the best that you and me have to offer, but never perfect."
"She is the best," he agreed, touching her hand with his finger.
"She has your eyes," Elizabeth said.
"All babies have blue eyes," he corrected.
"No they're your eyes."
Hope chose that moment to begin to cry.
"Well she definitely has your mouth, listen to those lungs," Jason shot back.
Elizabeth nuzzled her baby girl. "Daddy's delusional, but we don't care."
"I love you."
"I love you too Jason, and our family."
~5 years later~
"Daddy," Hope's voice echoed up the stairs, drifting into his office. "We're going to be late to meet Mommy."
"I'm coming Hope." He entered the last number on the ledger and stood from his desk, stretching to remove the kinks. Crossing to the file cabinet, he took out a letter, hesitated then grabbed another one.
"It's about time." Five years old today, Hope Elizabeth Morgan did not like to be kept waiting. "Do you like it?" She turned around showing off her pretty new blue dress.
Jason whistled. "Who said you could grow up and wear things like that?"
"Daddy," Hope giggled and took his hand. "Aunt Carly got it for me."
Jason shook his head, he should have known. "I thought you said we were going to be late, get your coat."
Hope tore up the stairs for her coat. She seemed to have only one speed and that was fast. "What happened?" he asked noticing her skinned knee when she flew back down the stairs.
"Adam Jacks, pushed me off the swings." Hope jumped the last step and took his hand.
"Why did he do that?" Jason frowned down at her.
"Because he's a bully," she tugged on his hand to make him move.
"And what did you do in return?"
Hope dropped his hand and opened the door. "Daddy we're going to be late, right Francis?"
"Right," Francis agreed, pushing the down button on the elevator.
"Hope Elizabeth Morgan."
Hope made a face when she heard her whole name. That always meant she was in trouble. "Yes daddy?" She turned around putting a wide smile on her face, showing off the gap in her mouth where her teeth should have been.
"Have you been fighting again?"
Hope crossed her fingers behind her back.
"And show me those hands."
Hope huffed out a breath and looked up at her dad. "You see it was like this…"
"Mommy." Hope was out of the Durango as soon as Francis unhooked her car seat.
Jason jerked his head at Francis to go with her, while he followed them at a slower pace. He could hear his daughter's excited voice drifting towards him on the wind.
"And Miss Becky says my picture is the best one in the whole kindergarten class, and first grade too. She says I'm real talented and prec, precon, precog…"
"Precocious," Francis supplied for her.
"Right, and what else," Hope scratched her chin. "Auntie Em has a baby in her stomach. I asked her how the baby got there, but she told me to ask Daddy. But Daddy just said it was hard to explain and it was past my bedtime. Lulu thinks she's important because she has a training bra, but I don't think she is. Uncle Nikky says to hush about it, but I think it looks funny. And Aunt Alexis and Uncle Sonny are back, we're having a birthday party today," she got to her feet and twirled around. "Do you like my new dress? Aunt Carly got it for me, Miss Kate says it matches my eyes."
Jason sat down slowly on the bench half listening to his daughter's chatter.
~2 years earlier~
"Jason you're home early," Francis commented when he saw who got off the elevator.
"I know Elizabeth's going to try to cook tonight."
Francis patted him on the shoulder. "My condolences."
Jason shot him a glare.
"I haven't heard a peep out of them since we got back from the park about 2 hours ago," Francis opened the door.
"Thanks," Jason paused inside the door. "You might want to hang around for awhile, you might have to take us to emergency again."
Jason closed the door and went looking for his family, he wasn't surprised to find them in the studio on the main floor. He went to Hope first, who was asleep in her playpen. He pulled the cover up and ran a finger over her soft brown curly hair.
He turned to look for his wife, Elizabeth was lying on the couch, a sketchpad on the floor, her hand, over the edge, a pencil dangling limply from her fingers. At first he didn't think there was anything wrong. Until he moved closer and saw her fixed and opened eyed stare.
For a minute he was frozen, the next thing he knew, Hope was awake and screaming, Francis was charging in the room, and he was applying compressions to her chest, trying to revive her. "Get an ambulance," he screamed at Francis who picked up Hope from her playpen and hurried out of the room.
"Mommy!" Hope's wail echoed in the room.
"Breathe Elizabeth," he ordered in between compressions. He brought his mouth to her lips to blow in air, and her lips were cold and blue. He ignored that and kept up the compressions.
"I'm sorry Elizabeth, I had planned to do this at another time, when I was prepared, but I jumped the gun."
"Jason stop, your proposal was perfect, of course I'll marry you," she wrapped her arms around his neck and held on tight.
"I didn't even get you a ring yet," he buried his face into the softness of her hair.
"I don't want an engagement ring," she drew back her eyes serious. "I just want a wedding ring, something pure, simple and strong like you."
"Simple?" He raised an eyebrow.
"Okay not simple, but pure. I know I won't explain this right but a long time ago I heard that a wedding ring, is unbroken and round, because it shows that there is no beginning or ending to love," she took his hand. "I'm not sure when I fell in love with you, I just realized I was one day. So like a ring, I can't tell when it began, but also like a ring, it will never end. That's what I want, just a pure and simple band, that is unbroken."
"Breathe Elizabeth." She couldn't leave him, not now. Things were perfect. She couldn't leave her daughter, she couldn't leave him. "Damn you, you promised, now breathe."
"I love you Mr. Morgan," Elizabeth's hand danced over his naked and sweaty back.
"I love you Mrs. Morgan," he replied, and watched the smile bloom over her face.
"I like the sound of that," her hand drifted lower, and her nails scraped over his ass.
"I'm glad. Are you okay?" he braced most of his weight on his arms so he didn't crush her.
"Okay? Jason that doesn't even come close to describing how I feel. Right now I feel like I could fly, I'm glad we waited, this made it even more special," she sucked in her bottom lip. "Are you okay?"
"Yes. I have wanted to make love with you forever, but let me tell you I never dreamed it would be like this," he kissed her. "That I would feel like this," he began to place kisses on her jawline.
"You know, I think it could get better," she shifted her hips reminding him that they were still joined.
At her movement he began to grow hard inside of her again. "It's kind of hard to improve on perfection."
She clenched her muscles, tightening the velvet glove that encased him. "So you don't want to try?"
Why hadn't he noticed how dark and mysterious her eyes were? "I'd hate to disappoint my wife," his hand skimmed up her chest, stopping to tease her breasts with sweet caresses.
"No," she broke off with a gasp, when he lowered his head and took the now hard nipple in his mouth. "That wouldn't be a good way to start a marriage."
He caught her hands in his, and moved back up her body to kiss his mouth, thrusting his hips at the same time, causing her to moan. He wanted to be inside of her forever. "Open your eyes for me Elizabeth I want to see them when you go over."
She opened her eyes obediently, pulled her hands free and moved them to his waist, to increase the motion, as she tilted her hips to match his thrusts. "I love you."
"Breathe baby," tears were coming from his eyes now, sweat pouring off his face, but he couldn't stop.
"I want Kate to be the Godmother," Elizabeth said when he joined her in the bed.
"Kate," Jason wrinkled his nose. "What could she teach a baby except how to make her hair purple?"
"It was eggplant Jason," she poked him in the chest. "You know you like her, and without her help who knows where we would be today."
"Okay Kate," he brought his head down to Elizabeth's swollen stomach. "But don't let her near you with hair dye."
"Very cute." She shifted so she was leaning against his shoulder, his hand on her stomach.
"Sonny should be the Godfather, it's hard to believe that he's the Godfather of Port Charles, and he's not a Godfather yet," she shifted his hand on her stomach, to where the baby was kicking.
"Godfather? What do you mean?"
"Jason we have to work on your movie trivia."
The distant sound of sirens could be heard through the open window of the studio, so too could the sound of Hope's cries. But they all seemed to blend to him as he tried to make her breathe.
"So what are you going to do today?" Jason asked wiping the cereal from Hope's chin.
"Hope and I are going to the park, then I'm going to try to finish my preliminary sketches for that new piece I'm working on." She turned around from the sink and took the bowl from his hand. "I'm cooking tonight."
Jason frowned, "I'll be home early."
She poked him in the chest. "Gram says its fool proof."
"I'll still be home early," he stepped away only to jerk to a halt when she grabbed him by his belt loop.
"Aren't you forgetting something?" She looked up at him mischief dancing in her eyes.
"I am," he moved over to Hope and kissed her goodbye. "Be good for Mommy."
"Bye Daddy," Hope cried, banging her spoon on her tray.
"Bye," he headed for the door.
"Jason," she snapped.
"Oh," he turned around and pulled her into his arms. "I'm still not trained yet," he murmured before his mouth claimed hers.
"I love you Mr. Morgan," she said when he finally turned her loose.
"I love you Mrs. Morgan," he smiled at her, and brushed a thumb over her cheek, before heading out the door. "Goodbye."
"No Jason," she waited until he turned to look at her. "See you later."
"Breathe, Elizabeth," Jason begged.
"With this ring I thee wed."
"Please don't leave me."
"See you later."
"Jason stop," Sonny's voice was in his ear. "It's too late."
"See you later."
"No," Jason whispered brokenly. "She promised."
"See you later."
"I'm going to leave my picture here, so you can look at it Mommy," Hope's voice drew him out of the memories. "My party is at Uncle Nikky's house. I get to pet his horse, Sheba. Did you know Sheba was a boy?" She looked over at her daddy, when she saw his eyes were sad but were focused on her again she got to her feet. "I'm going to go pick some flowers, for Mommy."
Jason looked at the nearby field that had daisies in them. "Stay close to Francis."
"Okay, I'll be back Mommy," she cried before pulling on Francis' hand.
Jason watched her run away, and couldn't help but smile. "You would be real proud of her Elizabeth, she is the best. You got your wish, she's the tallest kid in her class, and in the 1st grade class too, so I guess she got my height after all. But her brown curly hair, and her smile are all you."
He sighed heavily then went on. "I don't miss you as much as I did once, I'm not as sad as I once was. It's impossible to be sad when you're around Hope. She won't let you feel that way. I think I'm doing a good job raising her, I try to hear your voice in my head when I get stuck. She's happy and loved, just like you wanted her to be."
Reaching in his pocket Jason pulled out one of the envelopes. "I found this about 3 months ago. It was the letter that helped start all of this. I never read it, I was more concerned with you," he swallowed hard. "I thought it was gone for good, but then I found it again. I think its time to read it." He glanced up at his daughter who was now dancing around Francis.
If you're reading this letter then something went terribly wrong and I'm either hurt, or dead.
He sucked in a breath and glanced at her headstone before going on.
That's an ominous beginning isn't it? I always thought lines like that were fairly cheesy, when I heard them on TV, but I couldn't think of anything else. By now you know that I was trying to free Lucky from Helena. I know you probably think I did this out of love for him, but I didn't, and you need to know that, so that's why I'm writing you this.
I lied to you that night in the park, when I said I wanted Lucky. I didn't, I wanted you. I had told him that I wanted more from you, and even though it hurt me to hurt him, I felt so free, that I knew I made the right choice. I went to the park to find you, not Lucky. And instead I saw Helena, she was watching Lucky attack you, and she was pleased. I knew in that moment that she still controlled him.
I had to help him, and to do that I had to turn you down. I always said I owed Lucky, at first it was because of his help after the rape. But like you told me, I saved myself then, he just gave me a safe place to heal. But Lucky did do something else. Something that made me want to help him. Before Lucky, no one ever listened or believed in me. No one took the time to hear me. He was the first, and for a while the only one who thought the things I said mattered. That was so important to me. He made me feel like I was worth something. No one had ever made me feel like that before.
So now he was drowning and I had to help him. I don't know if you can understand why I had to do it, in a sense Lucky was my Robin. I know things ended terribly between you. But she was the first person that looked at you and saw you, who heard what you were saying, and listened. She was the person who made you feel like you were worth something. And as bad as it ended with you two, I think that if she were ever in trouble, you would help her because of that. Not that you would forgive her, or love her again, but you would help her. Because once upon a time, she taught you what it meant to be special.
I can almost hear your words. Even in this situation I'm going on about Lucky. But not in the way you think. I'm not in love with him anymore, I haven't been since before he ever came back home. It just took me a long time to realize that.
You may not want to hear this, but I love you. I'm sorry for pushing you away all the time, for hurting you again and again, and lying to you. I don't really have an excuse to offer, only an apology and the truth. Whether this would have worked or not, I was leaving Port Charles. I was going to try to find the Elizabeth who was once your more then friend, and try to live again. Even if I never saw you again, I would always remember and love you.
I know you don't dream, but I do. In fact I was dreaming tonight, and that's what inspired this letter. Would it surprise you to know that I dream about you all the time? Because I do. But this dream was different.
We were sitting on a stone bench, in some place I've never been. It was a fall day, the sun was setting. I remember feeling so peaceful, like I had never felt before, the breeze was around us, moving through us, and it felt so perfect. Your face was sad, and I took your hand but you didn't look at me. You're attention was on a beautiful little girl, with brown curly hair, and a blue dress with a skinned knee. She was laughing and playing in front of us. I know it doesn't make sense, but she had your eyes Jason. Your bright beautiful eyes, were in the face of that little girl. It may be selfish of me, but I chose to believe that little girl represented my hope for the future with you. That if we managed to make it to that bench with her in front of us, everything would be worthwhile.
So thank you for my dream, thank you for caring about me. And please remember that I love you.
See you later,
Jason brushed at the tears on his face, before turning blindly to look at he space beside him, he almost expected to see her sitting there beside him. How could she have known? He wondered what else she had seen in her dream that she hadn't written down. "Elizabeth."
"Francis put me down please," Hope shifted on her perch on his shoulders.
"What's wrong?" Francis immediately lifted her free, and set her on the ground.
"Daddy's sad," Hope explained. "I need to go see him."
Francis looked past her to Jason who was still on the bench. To him he didn't look any different, but Hope was normally right.
"Daddy," Hope climbed up on his lap, waiting for the arm to come around her and draw her closer the way it always did. "See the flowers?"
Jason automatically smelled them when she put them under his nose. "Their pretty."
"Can you read my letter now?"
"Okay." He pulled out the other envelope. About three months after Elizabeth had died, Nikolas had brought over a box full of letters. Letters that were for Hope from Elizabeth. He had known she had written some letters for Hope, in case she died giving birth, but he hadn't known that she had kept writing them. There were letters for each of her birthdays up to 24, and for every other milestone. Her first date, her first kiss, graduation, wedding day, finding out she was pregnant, her first crush, her first love, her first time…, and so many more. At first it had hurt to look in that box, and know that Elizabeth was still preparing for the worst. But when he saw the joy on Hope's face every time she got a letter, he let it go.
He cleared his throat:
First, Happy Birthday. I want you to give your daddy an extra long hug, and know that when he hugs you back, that one is from me. That every time your daddy hugs you, I'm hugging you too.
Second, Birthday memory. When I was five, my Grandfather took me fishing. I hated those worms that we always used on the hook. But I loved the colorful lures he had, or flies I guess their called. He had a hat full of the most colorful ones I'd ever seen. I just knew one of them would catch a pretty fish. Because all the fish I had seen up until then were pretty ugly.
So one time when he wasn't looking, I hooked one of those lures, on my hook. And when he cast the line, his hat went sailing into the water too. When he reeled it in to get his hat back, there was a fish on one of those lures. Gram says that this story turned into a true fish story, because every time Grandpa told it, there was another fish on the hat. Your great-grandfather was a good man, who loved to laugh, and always smelled like the lemon drops he kept in his pocket.
Third, Birthday wish. I hope you take up some sort of sport this year. When I was five, I took up ice-skating and I loved it. You're daddy always promised to go ice-skating with me, but we never did. So I need you to make sure he takes you sometime. If you find out you don't like it, then don't do it, find something else that you do like, and do that.
I love you little one, always know that, your mommy and daddy loved each other so much, that we got you, to show for that love.
Hope was quiet while he put the letter away, she slipped from his lap and put the flowers on top of the picture she had brought for her mom. "Daddy, can we go fishing?"
"Yes," he smiled and got to his feet.
"Goodbye Mommy, I love you." Hope touched the tombstone, then giggled when the wind blew through her hair. "I'll see you tonight."
"Hope what did you mean you would see her tonight?" Jason asked as they headed for the Durango.
"She comes to me at night in my dreams." Hope explained absently her focus was on her jumping, she had to get better at hopping on one foot before the play day relay races. She bit her bottom lip while she concentrated.
Jason saw that move, and couldn't help but remember. "That's nice."
"She says I have your eyes," Hope jumped again. "She says its time for you to stop missing her so much, that you should let her go. She wants you to meet Miss Becky my new art teacher."
Jason came to a stop and so did Hope. "What?"
Hope peered up at him. "Doesn't she come see you?"
"No," he shook his head.
Hope sighed and thought about it. "I can tell her to go see you," she offered finally.
Jason squatted down in front of her. "Any time I want to see your mother all I have to do is look at you. You have her smile, you have her hair, and you even bite your lip like she did. No you keep your visits with your mom."
"Okay." Hope turned away only to turn around again. "Do you want to know what I do, when I really miss her?"
"I go outside, and feel the wind. Mommy is in the wind. Whenever I feel sad, or need a hug, the wind blows, and I know its mommy. Then I don't feel so sad anymore," she patted his hand. "So maybe when you get sad, you can look for mommy there."
"I'll do that," he managed to speak, and watched her run for Francis. Standing he felt a faint breeze brush his face. It was so light, almost like that of a lover's caress. Closing his eyes he let the feeling wash over him. To his surprise he did feel happier when it stopped blowing, he heard the car horn and moved on to the car.
"What are you doing?" He asked when he reached the driver's door.
"I want to drive." Hope said wrapping her hands around the wheel.
"No Hope," Jason shook his head and pointed to the backseat.
"What if I say it's the only thing I want for my birthday?" She saw him shake his head. "What about if I said, it made me feel free?"
"What if I said it made me feel free?
Then I would tell you to get your own bike."
The memory came out of nowhere and it caused him to smile instead of making him sad. "You're too young to drive, now move."
"But Francis let's me drive." Hope grumbled, climbing into the back seat.
Jason looked at Francis over the hood of the Durango. Francis dropped his eyes and ducked in the back door to tighten her seat belt. "Traitor," he hissed at her. But Hope just grinned at him and winked.
Jason spared him a mild glare before starting the engine and heading out of the cemetery.
"So Francis, how did Auntie Em get a baby in her tummy?" Hope's question caused Francis to turn red, and Jason to burst out laughing.
The sound of the laughter seemed to echo on the wind, as it moved around the car and back towards the stone bench. The picture was ripped free of the weight of the flowers, and began to skim along the ground, before a big gust of wind, caused it to rise up and get lost in the sun. The sound of the laughter as it did so, was decidedly feminine.
So that's it. Like I said some people consider this some of my best work. If you managed to make it through this long part and the story in general I would love to hear what you thought of it.