I wrote this a while ago and wanted to post this here. It's in the first person, from Elizabeth's point of view. It takes place a while after she was rescued from Manny by Jason. Hope you like this.

I nibble on another peanut as I say with desperate confliction, " This shouldn't be so easy."

He leans forward, his elbows are pressed into the table and his concentration is solely on me. I forget what that is like. To have his undivided attention makes me feel improper and so I blush so terribly I can practically hear my skin sizzle.

" Elizabeth."

" Jason." I give him a look, he knows what it means. I pop another salty peanut in my mouth and suck all the salt out before I start chewing. " You know I'm right."

His stare doesn't back down, but he whispers matter of factly, " You were scared, what were you suppose to do."

I am already shaking my head at him. I diont have any right to do this to him. " I should have gone for a walk or I dunno, maybe called my husband." My eyes travel around the room, anywhere but him.

" Aren't Lucky and you separated?"

" That's not the point Jason."

" Then what is?"

" I just… I could have called anyone…should have called anyone." My eyes hesitate to look at him and when they do my voice carries a reluctance in it. "Anything but call you."

" Why?"

I laugh bitterly at the genuine innocence at his question. Just because I was scared didn't give me the right to step over a line I was crossing all the time. Every time it got easier and that scared me most. I close my eyes hard, hold my face in my palm, giving myself a diligent mental beating.

I think he senses it. He always seems to know. " What were the dreams about this time?"

" The same. There always the same. I'm in the water, trying to breathe and…" I gulp for air, pressing my anxiety down with the hard edge of my voice. " He's there."

I look at Jason and his eyes blacken. " Manny...He just emerges from the water and his eyes, Oh my god, Jason, they have so much evil in them. I feel like I'm paralyzed. I want to move so bad and I cant. He just keeps coming closer until he grabs me and takes me under the water with him. He smiles while he drags me down and I don't do anything. Nothing."

I'm trembling so badly by the time I've finished the table rattles from my knee shaking. Jason slowly moves his chair closer. His eyes are fixed on my body and the way I am affected by my fear. I feel so small in his presence. " I'm such a coward."

" Don't ever say that."

He's so close.

" Its true," My head is toward him, but I'm looking away. " I cant handle a dream. A dream. What's next?"

He doesn't say anything and for some reason I pick that moment to look up. His eyes are warm and steady as his hand finds mine underneath the table. His thumb swishes against my knuckles and my body remembers that feeling. I react with such a burn I gasp inside.

" You okay?"

His voice oozes sincerity and my body begins to pull toward him. I immediately stand and correct myself. I'm still wearing my scrubs from work. " Jakes hasn't changed much."

He smile fades but his knowing eyes remain brighter that the glint of his beer bottle.

" I know. I'm a bad liar… and an even worse conversation changer." My bangs fall over my eyes as I look to the floor.

He just shakes his head slowly and looks down and I take that as my cue. I start to walk away, but he stops me and turns me around. His fingers encompasses my arm like a warm band of steel. I wait for him to let go, my brain playing catch up with his words.

" What Manny did to you was real. He kidnapped and threatened to kill you. That-"

" Jason that was three months ago."

" There's no time limit." His eyes catch mine and hold me in place. " Stop being so hard on yourself."

I gulp down everything he is giving me with that stare, " How can I be with you around."

His thumb is making circles near my elbow now. " Because…I care about you. I wont let you do that to yourself."

" Stop it!" My eyes close. " Stop it…I cant. Jason I cant do this anymore." I yank my arm from his hand and run out the front door of Jakes. I'm hoping he doesn't follow. My feet are sluggish with emotion my body cant handle all at once. Right now I feel the weight of my life hitting me from every angle.

I reach the brick wall far from the opening, where the shadows of the trees cover me. I don't even feel fear I'm too foggy. I bend over a bit and hope I'm not hearing his footsteps behind me. His shadow merges with mine and I presume he doesn't get what I'm battling within me.

I turn and don't filter what I'm saying. " I cant do this anymore. I cant pretend we are just …what we are. Meeting like this…you helping me as usual. I cant run to you every time something goes wrong in my life. Its not right." I take a breath and my chest tightens. " You're so generous with me Jason. You are always there when I need you and you give…you give everything to me when I'm with you. You listen and you tell me the truth even when I don't want to hear it. I ..I don't know how to make it up…I don't know how to make any of this right." I swallow as my tears cascade down in drips.

He moves closer and that's the last thing I want him to do. I cant read his face my eyes are too blurry. " You do the same for me." He finally says after a minute. His breathing is heavy and I sense that it took a lot for him to tell me that.

I lean against the wall to give me distance. " You know what I'm talking about Jason. Don't pretend-"

" I don't. I don't know how." His voice strains. " Not with you."

I wipe both my cheeks at the same time and press my fingertips into them. Funny how hot they still are.
" What am I to you?"

His head jolts back . He wasn't predicting I'd go there.

" Tell me I'm just you're friend and Ill believe you. Tell me that what we are doing here…what we do and feel when we are together is just some friendly vibe between us and Ill believe you. I'll believe you if you tell me."

Instead of backing away like I thought he would he moves closer. So close. Too close…I can count the speckles of green pulsing in his two eyes. They seem on fire as they stare back at me. I'm trapped under his stare. He swallows the same time I do and brings his hand up to touch my forehead.

His finger skims down my hair, deathly slow.

" Jason," I hear my self say.

He doesn't appear to hear me. His eyes are watching his own movements. Awed he moves closer and finally stares into my eyes. His chest rises and falls so quick, battling hard from something unseen. He looks as drugged as my body is experiencing under his spell.

His eyes drop down to my lips and he licks his own slowly in response.

" Elizabeth, I…" He doesn't breath as he says, " You are my friend. You always will be."

I shake my head, suddenly confused by his answer to a question I don't remember.

He backs away completely now and I tense from the sudden loss. " Elizabeth, please. Just let this be."

I don't recall hating the word friend as much I do hearing it from his mouth. I suddenly look there. His mouth is parted, his bottom lip drooped with emotion. His eyes cut through mine and I silence my heart.

" Friends." I shake my head.

He looks at me hard and his eyes are strained with tears, but I don't get a chance to react because he is gone before I can make use of my unreliable limbs.

I started this after all. I had to stick to it. Jason was my friend. I was his…maybe somewhere long ago we were more than that but so much has shifted and moved to bury that little blurb of time. I barely would know that me and him ever existed if it weren't for my heart and body constantly reminding me.

I don't think I am strong enough to handle all of this, but I know that hurting Lucky and Sam isn't an option. If we are just friends then we can walk away from this without anyone severely getting hurt.

He did it to me once, walked away and never looked back.

Im betting the second time will be a lot easier.

" I need to see you," he whispers, not in my ear but it whispers against there.

I shiver and grip the pen tighter. "Jason, I cant.. Im working." My profile stays stone straight against his penetrating stare.

Sam and him must be fighting about Alexis again or maybe…

He leans into the desk.

I inhale him. I question if the reaction was involuntarily or not and my gut tightens when I don't contemplate the answer. His fingers press close to the paper Im suppose to be revising. My vision scatters and I bite my lip with the full intention of turning around and walking away.

" I cant. Not tonight. I'm working late and Lucky is watching Cameron for me. I asked him last minute…" I trail off, my mind grasping to think of excuses.

I sense his withdrawal. The loss of his shading presence over me makes my flesh scream in protest and I pinch the inside of my wrist.

He continues to stand and stare, hurt edging his pupils. The sound of my scribbling on paper bounces between us.

He nods. "Ok." He sounds anything but satisfied with my answer.

I know he wants me to leave with him. I know he wants to go to the woods and talk, sit on the docks and look at the stars. Go to Jakes and…

I try so hard not to notice his pain. Its not my place after all. He has someone waiting for him at home, waiting to be that shoulder to cry on.

I flip through the chart in front of me. The typed name a blur to my preoccupied eyes. My thoughts are too busy. Not with work not with life, my family. My soul is drowning in someone else.

He's my friend. Friends take up time. But how much time is too much? What crosses the line? One day a week? One minute a day I hadn't meant to let it go like this. I had to end this, that would make it all go away.

What if I never saw him but this presence was still inside me? Walking around in me like a shadow…attached to me like a part of my nerve endings. Would I be safe then? Would my feelings for him be proper then because I was denying myself?

Another file is slapped down in front of me and I continue to stare down, bewildered.

" You're cloudy."

I know its Emily so I don't pretend to smile and turn. The tense grip around my body doesn't lock in place automatically. " Im tired, that's all."

" Cam not sleeping again?" Her head bends forward and she tries to look concerned without any alterative motive. " I know that's been happening a lot lately."

I look to the side and toward her. Hes farther from me now but I feel him. I look away from him and his gaping eyes numbed with pain. I know what he wants, I know the look better than the lines surfacing my palms or the scars around my battered heart. Right now I feel too battered to breath. When did everything get so upside down?

" Cam is fine. I just, its been tense with the Lucky situation, he's out of work, I am working extra shifts. I'm just exhausted. I'm sorry." I itch the back of my neck. I scarp my nails so hard against my skin I know I'm red there now. I need to leave.

Emily nods. I know she's pretending to agree and I don't stop her. " Maybe," she touches her chin with her index finger, clearly decisive in what she wants to say just not how to say it, " Maybe its my brother that's adding to it too."

The aggravation inside me bubbles and I make no attempt to block it. My eyes squint and I lean my hip against the desk. " He's my friend Emily. He needs me."

" And you need him?"

"Yes." I swallow the answer softly.

" What about Sam and Lucky?"

I lean closer, my hand touching my heart. " We're not doing anything wrong."

" If you were just friends it wouldn't have to be this hard and intense. Lucky hates it, you know that clearly. Sam and Jason are always getting into fights about your so called platonic relationship…if this is all so innocent why cant you stop seeing each other? Cool off for everybody's else's' sake."

" Because this isn't about anybody else, Em." I wearily point out. She has her point, but technically she's wrong. Jason and I haven't crossed over any line of indecency. In fact, our relationship is as untainted as holy water. Still, the sinking feeling inside tells me I'm wrong about so much. Denial comes swift and without notice, doesn't it? I suddenly erupt with justification. " Jason and I have a long convoluted history that has survived all these years. Through other lovers and what not…we have been through hell and back for each other. If anyone should respect and know what I'm talking about it should be you. I cant just walk away."

Em looks at me, resolution brimming through. She whispers, she must know hes there too. " Cant or wont. You know you two talk about each other as if no one else exists. Friends don't act this way. Friends aren't this…everything…"

I don't wait for her to continue. I'm already broken and deserted inside my mind. She's right. " I have to get back to work."

She doesn't argue. In fact she leaves before I can finish the sentence.

I close my eyes and they burn underneath my achy lids. My skin feels stretched and tight. The drumming in my ears roars and his eyes flash before me. In so many different moments those eyes have been my lifesaver. One more minute…the indulgence of his blue soft stare…I gulp, forgetting to breath.

He's my friend. He sees me only as a friend. It has been nothing more for years. It should remain like that…it must.

" Girl, whets' wrong with you?" Nurse Epiphany's swishing pants give her away. " Look like you've been eating raw brussel sprouts or something.

I laugh despite myself. I only notice the tear once it hits my cheek. Its quickly forgotten with a nonchalant swipe of my shaky hand. " Yeah, I just need to get out of here."

" Yeah…" Epiphany looks between me and something in the distance. She smiles in a knowing sort of way that frustrates me further. My transparence is equally obvious to friends and strangers. "Yeah, you sure do. Maybe its time you let yourself have a break, sweetie. Nothing should be this hard."

" I don't know what you're talking about."

" I think you do. Stop fighting yourself." She turned and left her papers on the desk and I remained lost and conquered. I wasn't fighting anymore. I was giving up.

Lucky is there when I get home. He is acting as if he still lives with us in ever way that matters in a marriage.

I act as comfortable as I can without him noticing anything funny. He rambles on about going back to work and really making a difference with the police department. I nod and give him a blank stare as my response.

He brings up the future and talks about it in a 'together' sort of sense. He thinks everything is going to just disappear once he gets back on his feet. The fights, even the small bickering, will fade once we all adjust to this new life. My heart aches as his delusion takes on delirious heights.

Doesn't he see me anymore? Doesn't he see how we don't fit together?

" Liz, sweetie?" His arms are on my shoulder, his breath is kissing my neck.

" Hmm?" I jump, not hiding being startled.

" Sweetie, didn't you hear me? I was just saying how I'm thinking about joining the force again." His face brightens and I know he's looking for my approval.

I push away the buzz of my rambling state of mind and listen to what he has said. " I thought you settled this Lucky. You said you wanted out…"

He quickly turns, not waiting for me to finish. I hate when he does that. " You're not happy? This is what we wanted. I've been struggling for months with low paying jobs…I need to go back."

I hear myself agreeing with him. I don't think I even care anymore. " If it makes you happy, then I'm glad Lucky. I know being a cop is always what you wanted to do."

He immediately recovers from his mood and I'm instantly annoyed. Classic Lucky, sulk and complain until he gets his way.

I turn my back to the counter to start dinner and he encircles me with a huge hug. His teeth nips my ear then says, " How about we celebrate this. Dinner and," his kiss is so gentle and I nudge my heart to react,
" maybe later when Cameron's sleeping…a little dessert for Daddy." I panic and quickly shrug out of his embrace.

" Elizabeth?"

He follows me into the living room and waits for me to explain my odd behavior. Instead I stand so silent I'm hoping I disappear completely. Forever. He deserves so much more than me, but I cant mutter up the words for a simple explanation.

" Okay, you're officially freakin me out sweetie. What's going on?" He draws closer to me, his arms spread open from his sides. " You're acting as if you don't want me to touch you. I'm your husband."

Patting the loose fabric of my scrubs I halt his questions with a curt answer. " Its not…Lucky we agreed to separate. Remember?."

" I know, but, come on. We belong together. Look, once I get my job back everything will go back to normal, the way it should be."

" Lucky," I lift my eyes to his, " I love you."

Lucky takes a step forward and I stop him by putting my hand up.

" But its over. And I think that you know it."

I don't move. The nausea in my stomach has positioned me straight, but my head it rocking back and forth so hard with a storm cracking through me. His stare sums me up, calculating the piece of the puzzle he knows is missing. His voice trails off and I know his thoughts trail off as well. I know where they are traveling and by the shade his eyes darken I know he has found the truth he wants to believe.

" It's Jason isn't it? This is about Jason."

" This is about us Lucky and what's happening between us."

" Everything was fine until he dropped back into our lives." His voice grows so loud so fast I have to catch my breath for a second.

" You know that's not true."

Lucky reddens, his one track mind is running away with itself. " He never liked me. He always wants what he cant have, don't you get that yet?"

I sputter and then look him dead in the eye. " It's not like that with us. He doesn't see me that way."

" I see the way he looks at you. If that's not wanting someone-"

" You see what you want to see because you are jealous of something you don't understand. Lucky, look me straight in the eye and tell me that you are in love with me. Not just love…in love. Can you honestly say that you are in love with me? That I am the one that you see the rest of your life with?"

He hesitates and starts walking backward. " We've been together for so long I cant think of anyone else."

I shake my head in agreement. " I know, but we cant just be together because its convenient or easy. Love isn't suppose to be easy or safe. Its anything but."

" Don't you give me that bullshit. Ever since you and Jason started being friends again you've changed. He's fuckin brainwashed you again."

" Excuse me, Lucky, Jason never…"

" Shutup. I don't want to hear it. You probably already sleeping with him, aren't you?"

My back stiffens and pricks.

Then he grabs me and tears spring from my eyes. I don't know why I'm crying. " You slept with him, didn't you?"

" Lucky, you're hurting me," I sob.

He throws me at the door and my whole body shakes at the hard impact.

" I need to get the hell out of here."

He leaves me on the floor and walks away so easily. No more demands for explanations, no tirades, nothing but the empty space and hollow insides. I remember this scene all to well. It stirs up something fierce in me and I don't attempt to maintain it.

I finally do something without thinking about it. My mind is usually three steps ahead of myself, but I don't wait to hear what I have to say. All I know is that for the first time in my life I'm taking a leap of faith and not looking back.

Kellys isn't a place where I want to start my life over. In fact it feels like falling back in reverse. Except now there is a baby instead of Lucky and I no longer have to waitress for my rent money.

This town gets smaller by the day and my dreams get more and more impossible by the minute.

Port Charles was never a place I wanted to be home until I was raped. Then it became the safest place in the world. Now it just feels like a closet I got stuck in and cant seem to find a way out.

I hate being here. I don't want this to be the place I end. I don't want to be a stereotype, but somehow I have fallen into that category unwillingly. Single mother, working her ass off just to get by, living in a shithole because that's all I can afford.

" Elizabeth. Coffee…it always works."

I don't look up. I just squeeze the ends of forehead tighter with my fingers. " If that was true I'd be fixed for life Georgie," I reply unfiltered, the dryness of my tone semi-startles the young waitress.

Georgie attempts to speak and I give her a look with a dare inside me, almost begging her to say something that will make it better. Make the tightness inside me release and scurry away. She opens her mouth a couple of times before she gives up and just squeezes my hand. She walks away and I am more bitter than ever. She can walk away and be okay. I cant. I cant walk from myself. Or from him.

I check my watch automatically as I down the last drop of lukewarm coffee. An hour before Cam gets picked up from daycare. I should unpack more of my stuff but I have no willpower to do anything but be a bitch.

" Huh," I smirk sourly to my only audience- Me. " I really suck don't I."

Georgie reappears. A pile full of trays wobbles about where her head would be. Ah, the glory days of waitressing. Thank God for small favors. When the trays are settled somewhere near the end of the counter Georgie's face is remarkably pert. Almost irritatingly so.

I sigh heavily, slapping my inner voice to retract and desist. Georgie is a nice kid.

" Elizabeth?"

I pretend I am looking for something in my purse. I am a mother and therefore it is intrinsic that I always be busy. " Yeah?"

" I really, I think…I mean…I know…"

My purse falls to my elbow. Its so fucking heavy. I don't know why I bought the damn thing in the first place. It is like searching for a needle in a haystack just to find the damn keys. " Georgie," I say out of breath from thinking too much. " I…just say it."

Clearly she senses my annoyance which I am limply trying to veil. " Nothing." Her cheeks blossom red than fade pink.

I am a bitch.

I want Jason, but being selfish and a bitch, I want all of him. Not just friends. Fuck friends, I want him as my lover, my confidante, my rock…but I cant have that and taking it out Georgie or any unsuspecting citizen of Port Charles isn't going to dull the rage thrashing inside me.

I lean against the counter and place my un-manicured hand over her pretty pink polished nails. " Its okay. Tell me."

" I admire you," she spits it out as if this had been building inside her for years. " I do." She tucks her honey blonde hair behind her ear and keeps going like a runaway freight train. " I think you are one of the bravest people I know. The way you live your life. I mean you wont settle for anything short of what you want. Look at you and Lucky. Everyone thought you two would be together forever and it must have been so hard for you to realize that it wasn't meant to be…"

" Georgie."

" I look at you and I think to myself that this is who I want to be." She holds her hand to her heart and her eyes flood with a naïve admiration that I find myself giving a double take to it. " Georgie."

" You are independent, doing what you want. Taking care of your child and raising it on your own. Working double shifts just to get by…I mean I don't even know how you'll ever find someone. Especially with someone always coming up to you and reminding you of Lucky or what you don have…I mean-"

" Georgie!" I try to make it a whispering shout. I hold up my hand, try to smile it off because I know she means well. Better than well…I know she's telling the truth. I just wish that truth would have penetrated somewhere in me.

She stops and bites her lip. I used to do that…maybe I'm not even conscience of it and I still do. " You're sweet, but you don't have to say this."

For the first time today her puppy dog eyes droop in sadness. " I know I don't have to." Her voice is laced with hurt. " I wanted to. I guess I always wanted to tell you that but you are always so busy and I didn't want to get in your way…kind of like I am doing right now. " Her voice fades away with her last words and I want to stab at my cold dead heart.

Beat, damn you.

I squeeze her fingertips with mine and make my self smile. I am getting so good at this. " I-thank you."

" Listen…I didn't mean"

" I know. I know you meant what you said. But don't look up to me. I sure as hell don't deserve it and I am not someone you want to follow the footsteps of. I've made a lot of mistakes and the regrets, well, " I push a strand of hair away from vision, " they would overflow the kitchen, ok?"

Georgia smirks remorsefully at me and suddenly I feel like the naïve teenager. " You don't get it do you?"

My hand slips away from hers but for the first time today I latch on to what she says next.

" You have a son that loves you more than life itself. You have survived so much… hurt, people and yet you work and love like you were just born into this world, like …like your hearts never been broken. When you love it becomes all of you and you never give without giving all of yourself."

" Georgia," I choke on a tear

" Until now."

I shoot her down with my stare. " Excuse me but.."

" That's what I admire most I guess. You never let anything stop you from living and love…what happened that changed? I cant see anything being that big that you cant overcome it Elizabeth. I cant because you've lived it all and you're still standing. What happened?"


I fell in love with him when I wasn't looking. When my life was suppose to be happy and complete. He didn't fit into my plans of happy ever after.

Fell is the word I cling to. The falling part is the worst. And it never stops until you break or something shatters you to pieces.

I cant really see Georgia anymore. Now that my heart's engine has roared to life I wish it would sputter and stall again. That's me in nutshell. Cold as ice or as giving as an overeager fiver year old. Balance was never my strong suit.

I sniffle and whip away the drip under my nose. " Thank…thank you." Her eyes hesitate and I hold her in place with all the sincerity I have left. " I mean that. Thanks."

She smiles wide and picks up her washcloth, skipping away like I just told her she had one a million dollars in the lotto. One day that girl was going to get crushed…but she would survive too. Her undominantable spirit was impenetrable. She just hoped it withstood the test of time.

The familiar ringing clang passes over my senses completely. I wipe away mascara mixed with tears from under my eyes. Sam's voice cuts through the jumbled up fog that is my present state of mind and I still in what I am doing. I wait for his voice and when I find it my shoulder blades knife out as if someone has just shot me in the back.

He's with her.

I turn ever so slightly and realize they haven't seen my yet. They are arguing again and I take the short moment to loop my bag over my shoulder and whip into the shadows of the stairway.

I cant help myself. I don't move. I don't want to know about them.

I just want…one look at him. I wonder if he looks as destroyed as I am. I wonder if he misses us, our brushes of candid talk, the looks that we shared and never spoke of. The times our skins accidentally touched and lingered…where things stirred but we were both too cowardly to name.

" Alexis is being such a shrew. I cant believe she hassled you just because you was early. I mean it doesn't matter to me whether you come now or five o'clock in the morning. You are my boyfriend. I don't care what she says. Jason? Hello? Are you even listening to me?"

He pinches the bridge of his nose then reaches over the counter for the coffee pot not bothering to wait for a waitress. " Just drop it okay."

" No." She pulls on her sequence halter top. " I wont drop it Jason. This is ridiculous. I am not going to let her control my life. Or us. I mean if she insists on being a part of my life she is going to have accept the fact that we are together. Forever." She is out of breath by the time she finishes her mini tirade. Her arms must hurt as well from all the flailing they do.

Jason doesn't mind her. His cup hold his interest and he looks determined to stay rooted on it. " Do you like spending time with her?"

Sam still sounds of a breath when she speaks. I'm guessing he likes that about her. " Its okay I guess." She plucks a napkin out of the silver dispenser and blots her lipstick. " But I don't think I want to stay over there again. Rica kept giving me these sick looks."

That gets his attention. His back goes ramrod straight instead of staying hunched over the counter. The crystal texture of his eyes morphs into something so dark and lethal I shiver through my skin though its undirected at me.

He leans toward her and grabs her hand when her eyes roam around the room. " Did he touch you?"

" No, Jason, please. It was nothing like that."

" Then what? What did he do? Tell me." He bangs the counter and the saucer under his cup catches half of his blow, rattling like the introduction to an earthquake.

The brain inside my head tips to one side and I bite my tongue to give Sam some credit. She knows Jason's Achilles heel and she just stroked it nice and deep.

I look away for him and dig my nails into the handle of my purse. It really doesn't matter…the connection we shared. In the end something always came in the way to deter us from ever being more. I was always so afraid to love him because I knew if I did I would fall in love with him forever and that ache inside me would just grow along with loving him.

Now, twenty-four, and I am still running. Still afraid. Everything has changed and nothing has changed.

Suffocated I run up the stairs in quiet frenzy just as I catch his last words.

" I would never let anything happen to you."

Being friends with Jason Morgan sucked.

It wasn't enough and it never would be.

I want it all but because I can't have that I would rather have nothing.

I sit on the stool and wait for Coleman to give me a straight answer.

He fingers the hair above his nonexistent lip while he pours himself another shot of whiskey. His handlebar mustache peeks up and does a lopsided seasaw. I'm guessing this was his personal version of amusement.

" I need the room. Just for a couple of nights Coleman." My fingerprints stick to the crumbs on the counter. I lean closer, trying to catch his gaze. I want him to take me as seriously as I am.

I suddenly feel like I am eighteen again, trying my hardest to act adult and get away with something I know is wrong.

Coleman clears his throat but it doesn't relieve the froggy content of his voice. " Mrs. Spenser…I don't think this a good idea."

" It's Elizabeth and all I want is a room." My left eyebrow arches defiantly. " Please."

Coleman keeps pouring a drink for himself. He pretends he isn't listening even though I know he wants to. Something is stopping him and Im betting its not his gentlemanly nature or friendly concern. " Coleman."

He looks up finally. " Im practically a regular here. You've seen me before…there shouldn't be any problem."

" Jason Morgan comes to mind."

Lightning immediately strikes through my spine at the mention of his name. I breathe out hard and try to control the unsteadiness of my voice. " He has nothing to do with this."

Coleman downs his shot, his mouth puckering hard . " He lets me own this place, lets me. Jakes is part of Jason's territory and I know for a fact that he wouldn't want you in here right now. Forget about taking up a room."

My voice raises unconsciously. " I come here all the time with the girls."

" And Jason." He smoothes that last part in like a drip of honey-laced poison. " Not alone. Never alone. "

I breathe out my frustration with a long groan. " There's a first time for everything."

" Yeah?"

" Come on Coleman, don't be such a shit. Lend me the room." I fold my knees and lean them against the bar.

" You know you want to. When did you all of sudden start following Jason's orders. He barks a lot but his bite is pretty tame."

Coleman eyes the glass than glares at me like a petulant child. " That the liquor talking or experience?"

I down the shot and I don't think it even splashes against the walls of my throat. Just goes straight down like a waterfall into my stomach. " Little bit of both I guess." I tap the bottom of my glass against the wood.

" I'm waiting."

He sashays closer, sick with amusement. I use the urge to drive the top of the tequila bottle up his nostril as my fuel. I was never good at being forcefully pushy. The drum of my fingers against the surface in front of me continues between us. " Sorry sweet thing. No can do."

" Why not?" I lean back in my stool and cross my arms over my black tank top.

" Listen short stuff Jason would have my head. You are under his protection…if he knew I let you stay here unprotected he'd have my balls in a jar by morning."

I huff out a ridiculous amount of air as my eyes roll up his body in disgust. " Jar? Try a shot glass."

Another road block and they all seem to be named the same thing. Jason Morgan.

I hit the bottom of my glass against the bar. A crack bursts at the bottom and I squeeze the open top to stop my frustration. " I need a room. I'm sure Jason doesn't come here every night inspecting the goddamn registry to see who checks in and out of this dive. Listen," I lean on the bar to stand, " This is the only place I know I wont run into some people I 'd rather not see. I'm getting a divorce and I just…I need some space from everything. Jakes has always been that place for me."

He doesn't seem convinced and I am not going to let my heart bleed all over the table just for charity.

" I thought you had a son?"

My heart instantly warms and saddens at the same time. " Yeah,…he's going to be staying at my grandmothers until this is cleared…until I can clear my head…I …you know what, this is none of your business. If I wanted twenty one questions I would have stayed with my husband."

He scratches the side of his rough cheek. The contemplation on his face looks like covered up bullshit. I sigh. " I can recommend a place by the docks that's pretty clean and low rent." He shakes the hair out his eyes and drawls further. " If you want I can call you a cab."

" Don't bother," I clip out with a harsh sneer. I down another shot quickly and the automatic slosh in my stomach pauses my thoughts for a moment. Coleman cheeks perk up. His smile is so alarmingly sleazy but unthreatening.

" You know, Coleman, you're a real disappointment. You know that." I flip the shot glass over my shoulder and don't wait to see if he catches it. I don't hear any glass.

I trip a bit knowing my buzz is about to start. This is where its suppose to get good. I don't want it to fade. Not tonight. I trip a little more maybe on purpose because leaving here would mean I would be lost. My head leans against the doorframe of the entrance and the weight of my body presses in with it. " Where should I go." I whisper to myself.

I taste my tears. I taste the bitterness of them. The hurt mixed with sadness. I wipe my mouth with the back of my hand and bite into my knuckle to stop from crying. I wont cry. Not here, not now. " Where do I go?"

My eyes search in front of me and a tear trickles down my hand past my wrist.

I hear Coleman's soft chuckle before he speaks into the air. " I said I'll call you a cab short stuff. That's the best that I can-"

I exhale a shaky breath and look halfway toward the bar. He looks frozen in place on something distant but not to far that you cant see it . I hang my head and go back to hating my life.

Then he begins to whistle. I know the song. it's the song that everyone seems to use when they whistle. I just cant think of the name. His whistling fades and the door to the kitchen opens and closes.

Someone breathes far behind me. Feet shuffle and the back of my neck prickles but I am so far gone from caring I don't react to it. I tell myself it could be anyone, a mugger, a lowlife motorcyclist looking for some company. I tell myself these things because I don't want to believe its him. I spent far too much time in my past believing nonsense like that and it never got me anywhere but heartache.

Go, my will, my heart, screams so loud. I don't want you here. I don't want to feel things that don't lead anywhere, that stay lodged in every part of me and have no place to go but make me sick later.

This is friends, right?

I lean closer to the entrance.

" Don't."

My fingers close around my throat and block the lump there. My breathing battles hard and I press the flat of my hand deeper into my chest to make my heart stop galloping. " Don't what?"

I think he's left because it takes so long for him to answer, but when he does he sounds ruined , like someone has taken his insides and squeezed them till they burst. His breathing is so deep and lethargic I cant help but close my eyes. I hate it when he does that. It means pain, pain he thinks he can handle but cant. What could he have pain over?

It must be Sam. Maybe they had another fight and -

" Don't leave."

I wipe the tears from my eyes quickly from my face then I wipe my palms on the jeans. I have to prepare myself for seeing him. Pathetic but true. I sniffle a couple of times, violently swipe the hair from my face. By the time I turn around he is a lot closer than I hoped.

His fingers glide over a chair, clutch the back as if for some sort of support. I cant tell what he is feeling. His shadowed brow covers the reflection of his eyes. They lift slowly and his eyes scream at me and realize I don't want to look at him. It makes it all too hard then.

I pushed him away. I said we were just friends.

I don't know why I expected him to push back a little.

" Why-what are you doing here?"

His stare crawls up my body and I know instantly when its found my face. The side of my face greets him with a short laugh. " Why does anyone come here Jason. To drink."

He comes even closer. I move further away to send the not- so- subtle hint that I don't want him anywhere near me. I play with the strap of my bag and look in the direction of the kitchen.

" I was just leaving, actually." That wasn't an invitation. I nod my head and hope he understands that where I am going I don't want him to follow.

He shoves the chair hard into the bar. " Stop doing that!"

I shoot him a quick look hoping its full of contempt and not as much fear as I sense in me. " Don't, what? Excuse me Jason but I -"

He doesn't yell this time but his growl is angry and low. " Stop backing away from me."

Coleman pops his head and Jason must sense it because he whips his head for a second and points his index finger toward the kitchen. Coleman immediately retracts back to where he was and I wish for just a minute I could follow.

" I'm leaving," I shakily declare. " I, uh, hope everything is okay." That was a lie. He knew it was too because his glare grows lethal and dark and he stalks toward me, relentless.

" No, everything's not okay." He whispers harshly. His comes up to grab my arm but for the first time since I met him I am faster then him.

I point my finger at him this time but it doesn't have the affect I want. " Don't touch me."

" Why?' he barks out. I jump a little and he immediately swears under his breath, jerking his leather jacket off. He tosses without looking and it lands on the pool table. I realize my arms are encircling my body now, wrapped tight around my waist. " Why are you doing this?"

There is so much accusation in his question I finally remember that not twenty minutes ago I wanted to claw his eyes out. Hoping, wishing and praying he was suffering just a little more than I was. He looked so protective over Sam at Kellys…like she was the only thing in the world that mattered.

I wonder how far down on the list I was bumped after we broke up all those years ago. I wonder if our latest bout of renewed companionship has upped my chances for top five on his priority list.

Something possesses me. The combination of anger and fear and wanting to hate but cant drives me away from the wall and closer to him. All six feet of him solidifies as I walk in front of him. His hair is a dry and mess, his shirt and jeans wrinkled. His eyes are strained and I want to laugh in his face. I want my nails to run over his skin causing just the right amount of pain.

" You son of a bitch."

That doesn't jar any reaction until I move closer. Then he looks around the room, at me. I don't know if he wants to escape or doesn't trust himself this alone with me. Pleasure courses through me at that thought. Jason Morgan scared. Ha.

" I think the question is what are you doing here Jason? Isn't this a little pass Sam's bedtime. Or did you check with the Misses before you take a step off the ladder of humanity and came to mingle with us common folk?"

He stills with anger and I am proud that I am making him angrier still. " What the fuck are you talking about?"

" Don't," My nostrils flare and my head cranes up to meet his gaze fully. " Don't you talk to me like that."

" Like what?" He leans into me and I smell his aftershave, the scent of his skin.

I look away, momentarily blocked. Fuck him.

" Like what?" He questions more gently this time. I'm young and vulnerable again when he talks like that to me. I don't want to be. I'm a woman. I woman who has been through too much to weaken at such silliness.

My shoulders square like a solider just catching his commanding officer in the room. Indignation rolls off of me in waves. It all derives from the same place. The anger in me. I keep forgetting why I am so angry at him but when I do remember it doesn't fit.

" Why are you avoiding me?"

I lick my dry lips. The alcohol has seeped whatever moisture was there. I lick them again and the salt tastes good on my tongue. " Because I cant do this anymore."

That was easier then I thought.

" Do what?" He asks slowly. His voice rises a bit and he sounds hurt. " Be my friend?"

My jaw clenches and I squeeze my eyes shut as if that will stop a spasm of pain from entering through me.

" I really, really hate that word."

His brown creases and I know I've confused him. His hands come up and he appears empty all around.

" What's wrong with friends?"

I throw my purse against the bar. Everything in it scatters across the floor and behind where I cant see.

" It's a cover. Don't you get that. It's a fucking cover so we can be friends and safe and not have to worry about people thinking its more. Mostly ourselves."

I don't know what he's thinking but something registers behind his eyes and it takes precedence. Awareness kicks in and I can see him fighting to control it and push it down, but not even the Borg inside him can emerge from this.

Power radiates through me but I cant relish in it. Its futile and doesn't give me any sense of peace. I at least want peace since I cant have him. There was no sense of satisfaction in any thing I was saying or was about to.

" We were never just friends Jason. Not back when I was eighteen and certainly not now."

" Elizabeth…"

" What? What excuse are you going to use now? Dangers already been done about a million times. Your job isn't really an issue because you and Sonny aren't even friends anymore. Lucky and I are finished. My grandmother knows I'm a woman now and I cant see her really barging in on anything that I would want to do with you. I know how to lock a door now."

Jason blushes.

I smile small. Hard edges and statuesque as a mountain and the man looks hot when he blushes. It makes me want to make him blush again.

He takes a step back this time. " That part of our life is over. You know that. I mean…I thought we got passed all that."

" You thought. There was your first mistake." He winces and I pull back a little but not too much. The acid of my words couples instantly with my rage. Rage of unfinished business. " You know when we became friends again it was like nothing changed. I could lean on you and you could lean on me and there was no awkward barrier there. Even though I was married and you were engaged. I expected it. I wanted it in fact because it didn't make sense that after the way we ended…"

" Elizabeth…just, don't."

There was a primitive warning clear as day in his voice.

" Don't what? Tell the truth. Dig up this thing that has been between us for so long I cant breathe without it choking me. Don't what Jason? Why are you so fucking afraid of me?"

His blues eyes dance sorrowfully between mine. " I'm not. I'm not afraid of you."

" Then tell me why you let me walk away from you that day?"

He shakes his head and scratches the back of his neck with his long fingers. " Tell me now. Tell me everything you felt when you just let me walk away and if I believe you Ill do…Ill walk away now and just leave you alone. I promise."

He mouth twists unpleasantly as if I just told him he swallowed a slug.

I'm teetering on the edge of a mountain I have pushed myself to. I cant save myself without knowing what I am going back to. Why I lived these four years without him only to have him be my friend and want nothing more. I gasp inside, the source of my anger identifies itself. This anger is four years coming. Old and stale but brutal.

" You left me and I let you. It doesn't matter why or how now Elizabeth."

I cut him off. " Its matter to me." I point at my chest. " Its matter to me. I hated you for so long and then the hate turned to indifference and then pity. Then nothing. You weren't even a part of my daily thoughts anymore and I was relieved by it. And even when we started talking again I convinced myself to believe that times had changed for us both. That we could be just friends and selectively forget what we did to each other all those years ago."

He didn't take his eyes from me. His eyes didn't even move. They were so vivid with emotion, beating hard into me. It felt like I was reading his mind.

" I was wrong. I was wrong about it all. I told myself that looking forward to seeing, watching you smile when I made a stupid joke wasn't anything to be alarmed about. It didn't mean anything. It was just…something leftover from when we were," I breathe out, frustrated. " When we were.."

" Together." His voice baritone from emotion.

" Together?" I sweep a hair from my face and pull it behind my hair. He concentrates on me doing this and then looks away as if I did it wrong or something. " Were we ever really together? We didn't even sleep together."

His gaze pins mine and what I see stops the air in my lungs from moving anywhere. His jaw strains and shifts under his skin. Revelation blows apart all over him. His fingers fist and curl uncontrollably. His breathing is shaky, but his eyes are what give him away. Hard, unforgivable regret stomps through every flex of blue, every change of color rainbowing around his orbs.

I'm blocked from thought but I cant stand still and watch him look at me like that. " I mean…well its probably better off anyway. Just more messier in the end right." I hear him take another shakier breath this time and it sounds tortured. I ignore it. " There are things about you that don't escape me. That don't ever leave me when you do. I walked away from you that day because I was mad and hurt not because I didn't care. When you let me leave that told me nothing, but when you didn't try after that it said everything I needed to know.

" Stop."

" Stop what? No Jason, I wont. You moved away so quickly and with it you took my heart and I want it back. I want it back so I can move on. You never told me to my face so I want to hear it now so I can be rid of this and you and whatever else. I want you to tell me to my face why you left so I can know and finally get away from this."

I step closer and the shadow of his face warms me for some odd reason. We are sharing space that is so small in such a big room. I want to move but I cant stop myself from going closer to him. I want his answer to be so clear and direct that I cant misinterpret a damn thing. He licks his bottom and drags his teeth over the flesh.

He doesn't break eye contact with me. It feels like he's been looking at me forever and I don't want him to stop. Not ever. The effect is so blatant on my skin, making it dance with goose bumps. I die a little each time he looks away and then we he settles back on me it has all the strength of the first breath of life.

I know Ill never be immuned to him and that is why I want this to end as soon as possible. " Tell me and Ill be out of your way Jason. Less complication for you and Sam…and… all this. You wont have to bother." I rake my hands through my hair hoping he takes the signal to let me out of my misery quick.

" Bother?" His chest heaves and he peers at me insulted. " You were never a bother. How could you say something like that to me? Don't you know me at all?" He is stung by words but he still hasn't answered anything I have asked.

" Jason, would you just please-

" Sam and I over."

I pretend I am not affected and nod my head with fake sympathy. " I'm sorry."

" No you're not."

My eyes bulge and anger takes control again. " Excuse me? I may not have been Sam's favorite person but I didn't want her hurt. I am sorry. You can believe me or not. In fact you can shove the apology I just gave you. I don't need this-"

I spring to move around but he grabs my arm and yanks me against him. " Its your fault. Its your fault so don't stand there and apologize when you could care less what happens to me."

" How dare…not care? I just poured my heart out you piece of shit," I try twisting out of his hold but his hands are cement claws shackled to me. " I care too much. That's my problem. My fault? You have some goddamn nerve…I never had anything to do with your relationship."

" Shutup."

" Don't tell me to -"

He brings me closer and our noses bump. The tip of his nose bends against mine. His breathing is labored and restless. It scatters across my face blowing against my eyelids, sending them fluttering up.

" Shutup for once," he demands now through gritted teeth.

" Why don't you take the commands of yours and go back to Sam. Where its easy and convenient to be such a macho jerk. I'm not nor will I ever listen to you when you tell me-"

He lets go then. So quickly I almost fall back. He is on the other side of the room. The pool balls run in different directions when he pushes one. He grabs the pool cue as if it was a pencil and snaps it in two. He throws the pieces in different directions and then he turns back to me as if he wants to do the same.

" You. You're the reason I left Sam." He pushes off the pool table and looks me dead in the eye. " You're the reason."

I open my mouth but there is no words to say, no questions to ask. Everything has already been emptied from inside me. Except for one thing.

" I cant sleep. I cant eat. I cant look at her without thinking about you. I'm fucking miserable. I wake up at night and I look at her next to me and I want it to be you. I want it be you!"

" Jason-"

" No. I'm talking now." His silencing words are deadly low.

" I don't …I cant tell you how hard it is not loving you. I've made a fucking career out of it. Convincing myself that it was better this way. That it was easier on my heart not to give into the need to be with you. Every second, every time I gave into myself I felt dead inside. I felt like I did when I woke from my accident. Empty and hollow. So fucking lost I didn't know where I was suppose to go from you."

He slowly moves closer. His nostrils breathe out air rapidly but it might as well be fire from a dragon. " You want to know why I left you, why I moved on with Courtney and Sam. Because it was easier. It was easier leaving you then being with you. It was easier loving them then loving you. I didn't question myself. I didn't feel that ache I got whenever I was around you. They didn't make me so crazy that I wanted to -"

" I get it!" I cry. " I get alright. I'm sorry I was such a plague in your life." I go to retrieve what is left of my purse not caring what has fallen by the wayside. I just want out of here and now. My tears are out of control and the sob inside me has so much strength I cant control it when it bubbles out.

" You think it was easy to love you? Lucky was suppose to be my soul mate. I was suppose to be set with him. Being connected to you has brought me nothing but grief. Its like I was always tripping over you and what I felt…it was like I was always I dunno..

" Falling."

He's right behind me. His chest inches from my back. God. He's tender again. I hate it when he changes like that. It unnerves me. It makes my insides unwrap and dissolve. My voice is clogged. How can he read my mind so easily? " Yeah," I admit dryly. " Like falling."

I slowly turn. " Its always like that with you. I feel like I never quite hit the ground. Sometimes I don't want to. Other times like this… I just want to run."

His hand comes ups, fingers a strand of hair at my temple and then lets go. He is burning me up with that stare. " I didn't run because you did it for me. All I had to do was stand still and watch you go and not do anything. It was," he jaw bites down hard, " the hardest thing I ever had to do."

" Why? Why did you-"

" Because." Jason cups my face, his thumb runs across my lips and presses into the part of my mouth. He lets go quickly. " Loving you scared me. With everyone else, they always came to me, they always wanted me back. Carly begged to be with me. Courtney accepted me for I am. Sam was content with whatever I did or didn't do. You were the only person I never felt sure of. When they loved me it felt like a privilege for them. It wasn't even love it was some stupid hero worshipping shit and I let them because it was safer on my heart. You were the only girl who ever made me doubt myself. I never felt that before. I wanted to be worthy of you but I wasn't sure how."

" Because I chose Lucky…Zander."

" Yes." He whispers. " And no. That was part of it I guess. When I said I wanted to be with you it was the first time I let my guard down with you. It felt nothing but right. I never felt so content for the first time in my life. You were there, beautiful and open, wanting all of me and I never felt so lucky. I wanted it to last. I wanted you to prove me wrong that it wasn't going to end. But it did. And part of me resented you for it because you did exactly what I thought you would. You didn't trust me…you couldn't accept all of me."

" Jason," I shake my head, staring at his profile. " I walked away because you shut me out. Yeah, you lied and I hated that but that wasn't the reason I walked away. You knew even before you lied to me what I was going to do and what did you do about it? You shut down. You never came home. You didn't have faith in me or us that maybe I would understand if you gave me the chance. How can I fight for us when you had already given up? When you had already signed the death certificate to our relationship. You put Courtney, your job, Sonny and his family before me and you used them as a blockade. As an excuse because you already thought the worse of me and this just made it so much more easier to hate you. To push me away."

He shakes his head. The bottom of his mouth shifts to the side. He clears his throat and breathes deeply from the pit of his stomach. A tear trickles past his nose. " Is it always going to be like this between us? Scared, running...falling over each but never together or in sync about anything?"

" We're here now. Together." I cant believe I am saying this. Its wrong. More importantly its over. I always fall back into this trap when he's around me. " I'm sorry. I ..this cant be. I doesn't matter anymore."

" No!" He brings me toward him. A tinge of desperation colors his features and eases out of the clutch of built anger. " No. I'm not letting you go again." His hands barricade around my face and I keep shaking my head no but he's not listening to me. " Not ever. You hear me?" He shakes my head and drags it closer to his face. " Never."

" Jason," I lean against his forehead hoping some of his strength will seep through me. " Jason we have been here before. Making promises. It doesn't work for us. We cant even be simple friends without

arguing -"

" I don't plan on being friends with you. I don't want your friendship."

" What do you want?" I scream into his face. My blood boils, erupts and his stare immobilizes my senses.

" You. You and me."

" Together?"

He shakes his head against mine. Another tear spills from him and it hits my lip. I drink it up and swallow my cries but nothing is working. Everything inside me stampedes for control, for freedom. " I thought…you were scared. I drive you crazy. I don't, I cant make you happy the way.."

His index fingers shields my words from exit. My lips part and I'm exhausted from thought. My mouth almost opens so wide I could swallow that finger. I cant control anything anymore. I am falling again.

" I'm more scared of not having you. You drive me crazy, you make nuts sometimes, but you make me happier than anyone in my life. I miss-"

Were both crying so hard now neither of us can talk coherently. " I miss your laugh. Your spirit. I miss you challenging me, making me want more out of life. I'd rather try and be scared with you than live life safe and without you."

I bring my head up from his. My nose is indented in his cheek. " You want to try…together?"

" If we fall, well fall together." His voice is velvet and his eyes are on my mouth.

" Together." I whisper against his mouth. I lean in and he stops me with his thumb.

" Upstairs."

My brow curves in a question and he answers it with his eyes still in my mouth.

" Upstairs. With me. Please"

My heart beats again. I think it was silent for thirty minutes straight. Its erratic beat is infectious and it consumes me inside and out. My teeth play with the bottom of my lip and realize I still do that. His eyes darken and widen and now I remember why I do it. Because it drives him crazy.

" Are you always going to be so bossy?"

His smile is sly as he wraps his arm around me puts me over his shoulder. " Maybe." He slings me over like a five year old and I cant believe I am giggling. After everything. God, we are nuts. " Is that going to be problem?" He chides playfully.

We are making our way up the stairs and I squeeze his back with all the love I have inside me. " No. Not at all. But there are other ways you can make it up. Like…letting me steer."

He snorts and I instantly chuckle. " I'm serious. This caveman routine might work in the bedroom but if …"

Our voices trail off and what happens next can be described as nothing short of magic. We fall. We fall together.

I'm sure Coleman is downstairs. Back to cleaning his glasses. If I know him and his predictable smugness he's probably laughing right now and saying something along the lines of

" Its about damn time."

I couldn't agree more