A/N: This is the last chapter. Thank you all for reading. I hope you liked it. Please review. Thank you!
Mac Scorpio stared at the crime scene photographs attempting to find something he had missed the first time around. After a few minutes, and no luck, he closed the folder and threw it towards the end of his desk. It went further than expected and the pictures fluttered to the floor. He stood up and starting collecting them when the door to his office opened.
Mac looked up, "What have ya got, Paul?"
"The gun that was used was not registered . . ."
Mac interrupted, "Big surprise. What else?"
"The guy who did this knew what he was doing. No fingerprints were recovered at the scene or on the body." He paused, "We did however pull some hair off the body that has been cross-checked by Ms. Roscoe's and is definitely not hers. The hair is definitely from a male."
"Anything else?" Mac asked, hopeful.
"She had a cell phone with her. The last call received was within half and hour of the predicted time of death, but was blocked. We contacted the company and they forwarded the number. We ran it through and got a match . . ." He paused to look down at his file, "A Mr. Richard Lansing."
"Have you sent uniforms to his address?" Mac asked, encouraged.
"Yes, but they found the place empty."
Mac ran a hand through his hair, "Contact every uniform that is out and tell them to keep a look out. I want some uniforms dispatched to talk to friends, acquaintances . . . his ex-wife." He paused, "And get some uniforms over to visit Corinthos, make sure he and Morgan have an alibi."
"Yes, sir." He said, and then turned to leave.
"Paul—"Mac yelled, getting his attention, "I'll talk with his wife."
"Morgan." Jason answered his cell phone.
Jason cut him off before he could get out another word, "What happened?"
"Nothing yet," He paused, looking through the lone window in Elizabeth's studio, "But Courtney just showed up."
Jason said nothing, his thoughts drawn to why Courtney had gone over to the studio.
"What do you want me to do?" Marco asked.
He sighed, "Keep an eye out, I'll be over there soon."
"Okay—wait a sec, is tha—"Macro started, but the phone went dead.
"Marco?" Jason yelled, "Dammit."
Sonny walked over to his wet bar and poured himself a drink. He paused for a moment before taking a sip and then downing the whole glass.
A knock interrupted him. Johnny opened the door, "Ric Lansing is here."
"Let him in," Sonny sighed, annoyed.
Ric walked in, his air of arrogance seemed to have disappeared. He seemed shaky, almost nervous. Sonny caught on to the change quickly.
"What do you want, Ric?" He offered, curiously.
"I want to apologize, big brother," He began, causing Sonny to study him in disbelief, "I blamed you for what happened to Elizabeth . . . but it was my fault."
Sonny could not believe what he was hearing and remained silent, waiting for Ric to continue.
"Elizabeth lost our baby because of an enemy I had made. I was too blinded by my hatred of you to really see that. Elizabeth defended you to me, saying that you and Carly had been though something similar, that she had comforted you after the loss of you baby, and she knew without a doubt that it could not have been you. But I was arrogant, and I refused to listen to her. I took her words as betrayal, seeing in her defense of you that she put you above me—just as our mother had—and it just made my hatred of you grow. It overpowered my better judgment . . ."
"Why are you telling me this, Ric?" Sonny paused, and then spit back bitterly, "Do you think that this justifies you kidnapping my pregnant wife? Holding her hostage in a panic room?"
Sonny interrupts, "Nothing you can say can justify what you did. If you have come for forgiveness, too bad."
"I thought that maybe I could appeal to you—that maybe I could make you understand. You've lost a child, Sonny. Can't you understand where I'm coming from?"
"No," Sonny yells back, "Get out."
Ric spits back, "Tonight I did you a favor, Sonny."
Before Sonny can fully comprehend his brother's statement, Ric was gone. Sonny pours himself another drink and takes a hearty sip. His thoughts are drawn to the red smear on Ric's shirt. He considered doing his civil duty and reporting it but could he turn in his own brother? If after everything that had transpired between them, could he in good conscious turn Ric over to the PCPD?
"I—"Elizabeth begins, turning away from Courtney, "I am very uncomfortable with this."
"Why?" Courtney asked.
"It's not a question that I get asked everyday . . ." Elizabeth begins, turning towards her, "How would you feel if I asked you if you still loved A.J.?"
She considered it and responded, "No, I don't. A part of me will always care about him, despite the lies he told me and I told myself during our relationship. But any love that I felt for him disappeared when I realized that he was so insecure that he felt the need to fake someone stalking me so that he could be my 'knight in shining armor'."
Elizabeth was silent as she turned away from Courtney again, her eyes catching on the edge of a canvas stuck in the corner. It was "The Wind".
"How can you just turn your love off for someone?" Elizabeth asked, intrigued, "Because I really wish I could do that."
Courtney looked at her with curiosity and asked with a hint of disgust, "Do you still love Ric?"
Elizabeth sat down on her couch. She turned away in embarrassment as she whispered, "Yes."
"How could you, after everything he has done?" Courtney implored.
"I still love the idea of him," She paused, "The life we imagined together. The dreams that we made. The man that I thought he was when I married him." She paused, choked up, "I thought that everything that was wrong in our relationship would fix itself. That our love for one another was strong enough to weather anything . . . I still love him because I still haven't completely given up on the idea that I have of him in my mind."
Courtney listened on, intrigued. Her thoughts drifted to A.J. Was she completely over him like she had expressed to Elizabeth? Or were there some feelings that still lingered somewhere inside of her? Were her dreams of the life she could have lead with A.J. still buried deep within her?
Tears welled up in Elizabeth's eyes as she turned to Courtney and so earnestly asked, "Please tell me how to stop loving him."
Courtney sat down beside her and sighed, "You've done it before, haven't you?" She paused, "How did you learn to stop loving Lucky?"
A few tears fell down her cheeks, but she brushed them away.
"I never did," She began, whole-heartedly, "I still love him. I will always wish for the life we planned out together. Every time I see him, for one split second, he is everything to me. We didn't willingly end things—we were forced by circumstances beyond our control . . . I guess that is why I can't let go. We didn't have a chance . . ."
"Do you feel the same about Jason?" Courtney asked, hopeful that Elizabeth would not avoid the question again.
Elizabeth said nothing, but nodded in agreement before turning away from Courtney. Courtney let out a sigh that she had not known she was holding. Elizabeth brushed the tears from underneath her eyes and turned to Courtney.
Elizabeth sighed, "There was never a good time with Jason. There was always something in the way: Lucky, Zander, or his business. We never had a chance to love each other right. The love was there, but circumstances were never right. I walked away because my heart couldn't take it anymore, not because I did not love him."
"Do you still love him?" Courtney inquired, her voice filled with understanding rather than jealously.
"I want Lucky happy. And I know in my heart of hearts, that no matter how much I love—loved him, that he and I were not meant to end up together. When he finds the person that he is meant to be with, I'm not going to be jealous because I will know that he will be loved that way that he deserves." She paused, "And I want the same for Jason . . ."
She made sure to meet Courtney's eyes, ". . . If you love him the way that he deserves to be loved, then you are what I wish for him."
Elizabeth laughs slightly, "I won't deny that I was jealous and hurt when you two got together. But I see that you make each other happy . . ."Courtney interrupted, "I'm sorry for the way we got together. I'm sorry that you got hurt. That was never our intention."
Elizabeth smiled, believing her without question. At that moment she saw the Courtney she knew before Jason had come between them. Courtney drew a similar conclusion.
Elizabeth let out a watery laugh, "I feel so stupid . . . I ran to Ric because I was hurting and I was blinded by my heartache to see what was really going on. And when I finally did, I thought that we could save each other. But I was wrong . . ."
Courtney drew from her own experience and attempted to reassure Elizabeth.
"Hey," Courtney started, getting her attention, "You weren't wrong to believe that you could change him."
Elizabeth turned to Courtney, "Are you trying to change Jason?"
Sonny shut the door to the bedroom that contained his sleeping wife and sighed. She had been asleep for a little while. The silence in the penthouse was slowly driving him insane. He repeatedly had gone up to glance at her sleeping form to make sure that she was still there. To make sure that he had not let her down again.
Johnny appeared at the bottom of the stairs, "Sonny?"
He glanced down and met the younger man's eyes, and for a split second saw concern within them.
"The PCPD is here."
He sighed and walked down the stairs to meet a generic uniformed police officer. He was surprised that Commissioner Scorpio had not come himself. But just as he was about to speak up, Mac entered the penthouse.
"What news do you have regarding the murder of Ms. Roscoe?" The uniform asked him.
He directed his answer towards Mac Scorpio, "Ric Lansing did it."
"And why should we take your word for it? Mac asked, unconvinced, "You are obviously biased."
Sonny sighed and poured himself a drink, "He did it because he found out that Faith was the one that pushed Elizabeth down the stairs. If you don't believe me, fine. But the longer you stand here, the more time you are giving him to get away."
"Do you have any idea where he might be hiding out?" Mac asked, realizing the truth in Sonny's statement.
Sonny hesitated only a moment, "With his ex-wife."
Mac turned and left without another word spoken between them.
Before Courtney can answer, Ric barges in the studio. Elizabeth jumps up from the couch and looks at him with a mixture of surprise and disgust.
"Ric, get out of here." She says, forcefully, without hesitation.
He notes Courtney's presence and says, "I guess you've told her?"
Elizabeth looks at Ric and then at Courtney with confusion, "Told me what?"
"Sweetheart . . ." He begins, approaching her, but she turns her attention to Courtney.
"What don't I know?" She demanded.
"Sweetie, listen . . ." Ric protests, but Elizabeth phases him out, and turns back to Courtney.
"I overheard Faith Roscoe talking to someone . . . she mentioned that she pushed you down the stairs."
Elizabeth stood frozen, not fully registering what had been said. Before she could fully comprehend it, Ric was by her side, "Don't worry, I-I've taken care of it, sweetheart."
Her frozen spell breaks and she turns to Ric in disgust and spits out bitterly, "You've 'taken care' of it, Ric? What does that mean? Did you kidnap her? Have you locked her in the panic room? Did you drug her? Did you rape her?"
He flinches at the tone in her voice and her accusations.
"I—"Ric begins to protest, but is forced to stop when someone reaches around him to take his hands to cuff them.
"Richard Lansing, you are under arrest for the murder of Faith Roscoe. You have the right to remain silent. If you waive this right, anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney . . ."
"Elizabeth, I did this for us . . ." Ric yells out.
She turns away from him as Mac takes him from the studio. When they leave, Courtney shuts the door and then stares apprehensively at Elizabeth's head.
"I'm so sorry, Elizabeth, "She paused, "I wanted to tell you. I came over here to do just that. But I couldn't do it."
She turns to Courtney with tears in her eyes, "I'm not mad. I understand." She pauses, choked up, "It doesn't bring her back . . ."
She sits down on the couch and Courtney joins her.
"I've been morning for so long because I really had no closure," She pauses, "I knew that I didn't trip. I knew that someone pushed me. And I guess that I just needed to know why."
She brushes her hair away from her face, "I wanted to confront who did it, but I guess I won't have the chance . . . and I already know the answer to my question."
"What would you have asked her?" Courtney asked, curious.
"Why?" She sighed, her voice sounding vacant.
Her demeanor quickly changes, "I know now that its better this way," She pauses, "She would have symbolized a love that is no longer existent. I wouldn't want that life for her. I grew up in a family like that. I knew then, and I especially know now, that there is something better out there. I told myself that if I ever had children, they would not grow up in an environment like that."
Without realizing it, Courtney wraps an arm around Elizabeth. The petite brunette does not seem to notice, lost in her own thoughts.
Courtney's thoughts drifted to her own loss. What if she had not miscarried? Would it have changed her relationship with Jason? Would she be able to play the role of mother while knowing full well the life that Jason led? Could she be as confident in her child's safety as Carly was? Was she strong enough?
"Courtney?" Elizabeth said, interrupting her thoughts.
Courtney turned towards Elizabeth.
"I don't mean to sound rude, but do you think you could leave?" She paused, "I think I just need some time to myself."
"Oh, sure." Courtney said, getting up, "It's not rude at all."
Courtney paused at the door, "Elizabeth," She called, getting her attention, "I'm sorry."
Elizabeth smiled slightly, "Having you here made it easier."
Courtney smiled back and then closed the door behind her.
"Marco, what happened?" Jason called out as soon as he was in sight of the guard.
"Oh, my cell battery went dead." He offered, candidly.
Jason pinched the bridge of his nose.
Marco filled him in, "Ric stopped by. He got Elizabeth upset, but didn't hurt her in any way. Mac Scorpio showed up and took him into custody."
Jason looked across the way into the window of Elizabeth's studio. He saw Courtney leaving. For a second he is conflicted as to who he should go to. He rushes out of the building and crosses the street. He heads inside the building and runs into Courtney.
"Jason?" Courtney calls, getting his attention.
He turns and meets her eyes.
"What are you doing here?" She asked, curious.
He doesn't answer her, his expression stonewalled. She doesn't attempt to get him to answer, assuming it is business.
"Can we talk?" She asked.
They sat down together, side by side on the stairs. She brushed some fallen hair behind her ear, took a long breath, and began.
"I love you, and I know that you love me. I know that you are angry and I now truly understand what I did to you. I'm sorry, Jason." She paused, choked up, "I'm so sorry."
He pulled her into his arms and against his chest, attempting to reassure her that not all was lost. They remained like that for a few minutes until Courtney pulls away.
"Jason . . ." She pauses to collect herself, "I thought I could handle this life that you lead. And I think that maybe I could if I never wanted to have children. But I do. And I am afraid that no matter how safe we think we might be, we are always in danger. And I don't want that life for my children. I don't want to have to pull them out of school and shuffle them between a safe house and the island."
"So, what are you saying?" Jason asked, upset.
"I'm saying that I love you," She paused, ". . . That despite how much I love you, we could never work. Elizabeth was smart; she could see before you two got involved that it would not work and she backed away . . . She ran to Ric because she thought he was safe, that he could give her the life she wanted. And she stayed with him because she thought that her love could change him . . . I think that is why I've stayed with you. I thought that my love could convince you to change your ways, but it can't. This is your life and it will be a lonely one. But it doesn't have to be. And it doesn't have to be my life."
Courtney kisses him once and then leaves him alone on the stairs to contemplate her words.
Elizabeth starts to clean up her studio in an attempt not to think about her recent discovery. She gathers up the garbage and starts down the stairs to throw the bag away in the dumpster. As she hurries down the stairs she catches sight of Jason and stops dead in her tracks. He turns upon hearing the noise of her heals on the stairs and their eyes meet.
She can tell that something has happened.
"Hey." He replies weakly.
She hesitates for a moment and sits down beside him, "I'm sorry for what I said to you before."
She waits until he meets her eyes before she continues, "In the past you have been a really good friend to me. I took you for granted, jerked you around, and put everyone first before you. I haven't been a good friend, especially as of late. But I'd really like to try again, to be the friend that you deserve."
"You've been a good friend." He offered, hallow sounding.
She shook her head, "Tell me what happened. Let me help if I can."
He offered, matter-of-factly, "Courtney and I aren't together anymore."
"I'm sorry." She offered, whole-heartedly.
His cell phone rang and he sent her an apologetic look before answering it.
"Jase, it's Sonny."
"Ric didn't put up a fight. He plead guilty."
Jason stole a glance at Elizabeth, who pointed at her garbage bag and then left him alone to talk to Sonny.
"Do you want me to—"
"No," Sonny started, "He did it, he'll do him time."
The next day, Elizabeth was finishing her shift at Kelly's when the bell above the door jingled. She looked up and saw Courtney there. She gave the blond a slight smile as she crossed the room towards her.
"Hey." Courtney begins.
"Hey," Elizabeth starts, "Do you want anything?"
Courtney shakes her head, "Do you have a minute?"
Elizabeth nods and they sit down at a vacant table.
"I ran into Jason," Elizabeth began, "He told me that you two broke up."
Courtney nodded, "I thought a lot about what you told me. Jason and I would never work."
"I'm sorry." Elizabeth said, whole-heartedly.
At that moment, the tension that had existed between them seemed to dissipate. They sat in silence for a moment, neither sure what to say. It was Coutney who broke the silence.
"Do you think that when your shift is over, that you'd like to go shopping or something?"
Elizabeth smiled, nodded, and then glanced at the clock.
"It's actually over now." She offered, getting up and removing her apron.
Courtney smiled and then waited while Elizabeth gathered her things. They walked out of Kelly's together, chatting about the good sale at the mall.
A/N: I ended this like I did for a reason. There are a lot of Liason and Journey fans of this fic. If I had chosen to keep one couple I would have been forced to upset half the readers. Thus, by leaving it open ended—in that it could eventually end up Liason or Journey (or neither)—I hoped to come to a conclusion that you might not all particularly enjoy, but one you could live with. And the main theme of this story was not that of a romantic relationship, but of a friendship. So, I'm sorry if this doesn't make you happy, but this is my choice. Thank you for reading.