A/N: Sorry, sorry, sorry, a million times sorry for this being SO late. I hope there are still some interested readers. To make a long story short, computer/internet issues. Had to run Quick Restore and lost what I had written for this entry (as well as my notes for everything to follow). Suffice it to say, this has changed from what it was. I think that the change was for the better crosses fingers. I've redirected where I was taking this story and it should be finished in a few more entries (maybe 3?). I hope you enjoy it. Thanks!
"No," She said, without realizing it, "You wouldn't…I don't believe it."
Despite that she knew what he did for a living and how volatile his relationship with AJ had been, she knew that he was not responsible. She knew that he would never be able to hurt AJ with a clear conscious because of his family.
She finally met his eyes and saw within their depths the truth of the matter, "You are confessing to protect someone else."
He was surprised by the way she said it. There was no question in her voice. She knew. She could still read him despite the distance between them. He nodded and confirmed the truth she already knew.
"There has to be another way—" She began.
He interrupted, "There isn't."
He was surprised that she had not asked him who. He figured that she felt as though it was not her place. That perhaps the distance between them had made her feel as though she should not be privy to such information.
He watched her wrack her brain for a solution. A shadow of a smile brushed his lips.
"Jason, you're not guilty…" She began, trying to think of a solution, but her voice trialed off.
It should have been you.
Ric doesn't hurt people for money….
Her words from long ago, the anger evident in her voice, drifted to the forefront of his thoughts. He closes his eyes, for a moment it is painful to look at her. The possibility of leaving things, as they were, between them, made him inwardly cringe. He has to stop himself for apologizing for all things in the past that he cannot undo. Every little hurt he has caused her he wants to erase at the mere thought of her words. All the things big and little he did to destroy their relationship add to the heavy weight on his shoulders.
"Aren't I?" He offered, surprising her.
Their eyes meet. She looks surprised more than anything but he can see something else within the depths of her eyes. She has accepted his silent apology.
"I never use to consider what I could have done differently," He paused, gathering his thoughts, "But I think that if I handled the situation with Carly and Michael better that this wouldn't have happened."
"Don't," She began, "You cannot go back and change things no matter how much you might want to. There is no use dwelling on things that you can't change."
After a slight pause, she continued, "You taught me that, Jason."
"Maybe I was wrong." He offered, seriously.
"Jason, if you had turned Carly away when she showed up that night she could have found herself in a whole lot of trouble. Sure, it wasn't an ideal situation. But you did the best you could. And despite all that has happened, Michael has two parents who love him very much. He's also got you. And Emily tells me that he has gone to visit with the Quartermaine's a few times. I'd say that he's a pretty lucky kid to have so many people in his life that love him."
"That's why I have to do this." He began, causing her to realize just who he was protecting.
"And you are sure that it was him?" She asked, in disbelief.
He nodded and offered, "Monica saw him."
Her eyes fell to her son who lay sleeping obliviously on her shoulder. She loved him so much, but could she ever make that kind of a sacrifice for him? Without realizing, tears began to well up in her eyes.
"You can't," She paused, her voice thick with emotion, "It would devastate your family, Emily, Michael and…"
I would miss you too much.
Her eyes rose to meet his as they both recalled the past. Caught up in the moment, neither spoke, as their eyes remained locked for a long while. But hadn't they essentially been living like that for months? Mere strangers in one another's lives? Elizabeth was the first to avert her gaze.
"Who's gonna clean up after Carly's messes?" She began, trying to avoid dealing with what had just transpired between them, "Or take care of Sam?"
At the mention of Sam his eyes fell. He hated the way he had dealt with her. He wished that he could have let her down easier. He let out a ragged sigh.
Elizabeth took notice of his change.
"D-did something happen with Sam?" She paused, "Did you tell her?"
He nodded and pinched the bridge of his nose out of habit.
"Ar-re you okay? Do you want to talk about it?" She asked.
He shook his head in refusal as she inwardly sighed in relief. She was not happy that something was bothering him but it was still a bit awkward talking to him about relationships. She found this ironic given that their relationship had begun due to their combined losses of loved ones. She had talked his ear off multiple times in regards to Lucky. He wasn't as prone to talking as she was and she found a bit of relief in that fact. She found herself a novice at relationships still, despite her experiences, and thus considered herself one that should not be allowed to give dating advice.
He broke the silence a little while later, "I already told Sam and Monica. I was going to tell Emily when Skye called her about coming down to the hospital," He paused, "I am a little relieved that she got called away."
"It's hard to say goodbye to someone you care about." Elizabeth offered, the words slipping out of her mouth casually.
Their eyes met again in silent understanding. She knew that he had chosen to follow her onto the elevator to say goodbye. Despite everything between them, he still believed that she deserved it. A shadow of a smile graced her lips.
"I appreciate you telling me," She paused as Cameron was roused from sleep, "I know that it wasn't easy..."
Jason watched her smile as Cameron woke and gurgled happily. One of his little hands reached up and touched his mother's face and stroked it playfully. She muttered a bit to him so low that Jason could barely hear. The little boy smiled, Elizabeth's smile, as his fist locked around a small handful of her hair.
Elizabeth stole a glance at Jason and saw that he was watching her with Cameron.
"I cannot believe he's a year old…" She said aloud to herself.
"A year?" Jason asked in disbelief.
She looked at him again for a longer moment, "Yeah…It feels like I just had him. As if I was released from that hospital in Napa just a week ago or something."
"Yeah," She paused, "After Ric and I separated, I couldn't stay in Port Charles." She paused, collecting her thoughts.
"Why Napa?" He asked, sensing that her separation with Ric might still be a sensitive subject, giving her a way out.
She smiled as if she sensed what he was doing, then continued, "A few years before I moved to Port Charles, my family stayed there in a cottage. It was the last time we were all together before my brother moved to DC. He had just graduated from medical school. My father was happy that he was following in his footsteps. And my mother was at least civil with him. My sister and I got along then; it was after he left for DC that everything fell apart…"
Elizabeth glanced up and caught the question in his eyes. She explained, "Steven was kinda the peace-maker of the family. My mother has always been very critical of him but he wasn't afraid to stand up to her; she was afraid that my father would leave her if she did."
To this, Jason rose an eyebrow. Elizabeth explained, "Steven is only my half-brother. He has always wanted to be a doctor like my father so in his eyes Steven can do no wrong. My mom has always been afraid to say the wrong thing to him and have my father take his side and leave her…"
"So he left…and then what?" Jason asked, curious.
She sighed, "Sarah couldn't do anything wrong. And why Steven didn't notice my father treating him different, he noticed the difference in the way my parents treated me versus the way they treated Sarah. He was my big defender. My parents listened to him. But when he left, no one really heard me anymore…"
While she spoke she seemed to zone out. She was still looking at him but it was as if she was looking through him, "I did dumb things to get their attention but it didn't work that well. It seemed that the worse that I got the more they found in Sarah to praise. And then, they got the opportunity to work abroad. So, of course, they make plans for Sarah to come to live with my grandmother…"
Finally their eyes met again, "And for me, I got left behind. Stayed with a few friends I had until I realized that I didn't really like them all that much. I had essentially befriended them to get attention from my parents. They were gone and I realized that I didn't much like the person I was when I was with them. So, I took off for Port Charles…and you know the rest."
He watched as the emotions played across her face. He could tell that she was recalling all that had happened since she had arrived in Port Charles. But just as quickly her eyes fell to her son and she sighed.
"If I'm pregnant, Lucky is gonna want to get married."
"Is that what you want?" Jason asked, sure of her answer already.
She shook her head, confirming his belief, "I love Lucky and I know that Lucky would be a great father, to this baby and Cameron…but I don't think that it is right just to get married because of a child. And even though Lucky might not do it consciously, he might treat Cameron different…and I've lived through that and I don't want that for my son."
She was looking at Cameron for along while before Jason interrupted her.
"What do you want?" He asked.
"I want more time with my son. I want Lucky to find someone that makes him happy. I want Emily to be honest with Nikolas so they can get back to being who they were before everything happened. I want Ric to be happy with his new family and new baby. I want to talk to my sister and my parents more than twice a year. I want Cameron to know my family in a way I never did. He's already lost so much without having Zander around…"
Jason could not understand her devotion to her family. In his eyes they had let her down in every way possible. By his assessment, they had essentially abandoned her at fifteen so that she could fend for herself. They had made no effort to assist her when she had been raped or even with her son.
He interrupted her, "Why do you want them in Cameron's life?"
She smiled slightly at his inquiry, "I turned out all right, so not everything they did was the wrong thing. And I know that I owe a lot to my grandmother, Lucky, and even you for that matter…but for the first fifteen years of my life, they took care of me the best they knew how," She paused, "The other day I was singing this song to Cameron and I couldn't remember when I had learned it. Later that day I remembered that my mom use to sing it to me. And the other day Bobbie was holding Cameron and he grabbed at her stethoscope and it reminded me of when my father lent me his so I could play doctor."
She paused for a moment to look down at her son and then she continued, "I let my own pride get in the way of having a real relationship with my parents and even my sister Sarah. I felt abandoned and I refused to let them inch their way back into my life. I couldn't get past it to even call my mother when I was raped or my parents to let them know that I was pregnant. But this year, with Cameron, has made me reorganize my priorities and see what is really important. I think I've grown a lot and its possible that my parents have as well."
She sighed and continued, "With Zander and his father gone, and no way to contact his mother, the only family Cameron has is mine. I don't want to cut his family out of his life. I want him to get to know them and when he is old enough let him decide for himself whether or not he wants them to be involved in his life. God forbid anything happened to me, my gram isn't that young anymore…"
"Don't think like—"
Suddenly, on the verge of tears, she interrupted,"I just want to give him everything, even though I know I can't…"
"Why do you think you can't give him everything?"
She sighed, "I'm so tired, Jason. I like being a nurse but I hate it at the same time. I want to paint; I want to see the light in Italy. And I know that its selfish but for so long I put my life on hold waiting for someone or something to come along. I thought I'd have more time. And I love Cameron, more than I thought I could love someone. I finally really understand that look in your eye when you talk about Michael. I'm so afraid that I'm gonna do this wrong…"
She cut him off, "I know you think that I'm being too hard on myself. You'll remind me that I have changed my life so much since I had Cameron and how much I've already done for him. But I don't think that I could ever do for him what you are doing for Michael."
"I want you to take the money, Elizabeth…"
"No." She replied, firmly.
"I just want you to be happy. It could help you and Cameron."
She brushed at her tears furiously, "I won't, Jason, please don't—"
His eyes fell. Why wouldn't she let him help her? Was it because of their strained relationship? Was it because of the way he made his money? He closed his eyes and suddenly he was in the past. He was standing in his penthouse facing her.
You are Sonny's enforcer. First. Last. Always. I hope it's enough.
He watched her through his minds' eye walk out of his life again. The word 'stop' hung on the tip of his tongue. This October, it would be three years. Three years since he had let her walk out without saying a word.
He opened his eyes and watched her with her son. Her son with another man. If he had said something then, would this be his family?
He mentally berated himself for being a coward then. Was he still a coward?
He watched as Cameron played with a button on her shirt as if it were the most interesting thing in the world. His thoughts drifted back to the days long ago when it had been just him and Michael.
She interrupted his thoughts, "Jason, maybe there is another way."
With his curiosity piqued, he listened.
"I could ask Ric…"
"No," he said, interrupting her briskly, "I don't trust—"
"Trust him," She finished for him, "I get it, Jason. But despite what he has done in the past he would not do anything to hurt Michael."
"He kidnapped his mother." He spit out, harshly, more so then he had intended.
"I know," She paused, taken back a bit by the harshness of his words, "But he has changed. He is not the same person he was…"
He could not believe that she was still so blind to Ric's true colors. Although, in hindsight, she had stayed with Lucky for so long…
"Elizabeth," He said, cutting her off, "I get that you are trying to help…"
"Jason," She said, cutting him off, "I am well aware of what he has done. I'm not blind to the man he is. But he has a good heart…"
"I don't doubt what you are saying, Elizabeth." Jason began, "I just cannot forgive as easily as you do…sometimes I wish I could."
Cameron started fussing a bit and Elizabeth attempted to console him. As he watched her try to calm down her son, his thoughts drifted to the life he had imagined for baby Lila. Inevitably, Sam came to mind. He wondered how she was holding up.
"Jason?" Elizabeth said, interrupting his thoughts "I can listen too…"
A silent minute passed awkwardly before Elizabeth asked, "She didn't take it well?"
He nodded in affirmation.
"I didn't tell her until after I made the decision."
She repeated his words from long ago, "When you love someone, their rules have to matter too."
A shadow of a smile graced his lips but quickly fell away. In his mind he replayed his last conversation with Sam.
"I care about Sam," He began, "I want her to be happy; but I'm not sure I ever really loved her."
His admission shocked Elizabeth and she froze for a moment. Her mind couldn't help but wander to her past loves, including the man in the elevator with her, and sighed. Her next words flooded from her lips before she even realized that she had said a word.
"It's hard sometimes…to know whether you are with someone out of desire or obligation. It's a thin line… it doesn't become clear sometimes until you take a step back." She paused, their eyes meeting, "Sometimes it happens too late or not at all…and it's hard to find closure."
She averted her gaze to the wall behind him, and then began to mumble just loud enough for him to hear, "Maybe that's why its years later and I'm still dealing with Lucky…"
Her words caused him to raise an eyebrow. She hesitated briefly before continuing.
"I guess I'm still waiting for the day when he remembers what we use to have," She admitted, feeling foolish, "Every time I see him there is this brief second before either of us say anything that I look into his eyes and hope to see what use to be there."
She paused for a moment and caught his eyes, "I know, its stupid…but even after all this time, I feel cheated of something. We had our lives planned…it should have been the beginning not the end…"
"It's not stupid to care for someone or to wish that something could have worked out." Jason added.
Elizabeth nodded in agreement, then continued, "I don't think that when you fall in love with someone that you ever completely fall out of love with them. You move on, bury it…but it is always there."
Her eyes ventured to meet his and their eyes locked. They remained that way until the emergency lights flickered. Soon the dim emergency lighting returned to the normal lighting. Elizabeth let out a sigh that she had not known she was holding. Her eyes drifted down to her son momentarily and then her eyes met his once again.
"I guess we'll be getting out of here soon." She said, feigning nonchalance.
"Yeah…" He added, with a hint of regret in his voice.
The unspoken words between them hung in the air all around them. They both shifted uncomfortably. When those elevator doors opened, it would be over. They both knew that when it was just the two of them that they worked. But when those doors opened they had to let the rest of the world in. Jason would have to deal with the decision that he had made. And Elizabeth would have to deal with the possibility of repeating history; of being pregnant with a child whose father was deceased.