After a sleepless night spent on separate sides of the bed, Jason and Elizabeth went through their morning routine silently. Jason grabbed a quick shower and headed downstairs to fix coffee. Elizabeth took her time brushing her hair and applying some light make-up. She wasn't primping, merely hoping Jason left before she finished.
He didn't. In fact, he met her at the bottom of the stairs with a steaming mug. She gave him a small smile in thanks.
Jason sighed. "We need to talk."
Elizabeth took a long drink. "About?"
Jason quickly lost his patience. With everything else that was going on, the last thing he needed was for Elizabeth to pull away. Sonny had betrayed him and Sam had taken his son. These things hurt her, too, and that thought helped him keep a steady voice. "Sam."
Elizabeth carefully placed her cup on the desk. She didn't want to do this. "What about Sam?"
Jason clenched his jaw. "I'll find her."
Elizabeth combed her fingers through her curls, fighting back tears. "And then what? You bring Cameron home and we live happily ever after?"
He heard the sarcasm in her voice but didn't understand it. "Isn't that what you want?"
Elizabeth closed her eyes. Of course that was what she wanted. "It's not that easy and you know it."
Jason knew then. She would take Cameron and leave. Even now she was distancing herself. If she thought he would just let her go, let their family go, she was wrong. "Nothing has changed. This, this is what we want and we can make it work."
Elizabeth rounded on him. "No! Everything has changed! My son is gone thanks to your enemies and, even if you bring him home, we can't just pretend it never happened! You can find him but he'll remember, I'll remember, this god-awful nightmare!"
Jason slowly approached her. "You're wrong. Cameron's young. We'll give him so much love and attention that the memory will fade. And we'll be even more careful about his safety." He wrapped his arms around her. "Elizabeth, I can't let you go. I love you."
Elizabeth dropped her head to his chest and allowed him to hold her. As much as she loved hearing his words, she was still so scared. "We've let go before."
Jason placed his forefinger under her chin and tilted her face up to his. "We've made a helluva lot of mistakes in the past. This time, we're different and we're not giving up."
Elizabeth saw the devotion in his eyes. She also saw that he was afraid, too. He was feeling the same things she was and that helped her realize that he was right. They needed to face their fears and work through them. "You're really determined, aren't you?" she asked with a slight grin.
Jason sensed his victory and nodded but said nothing.
Elizabeth straightened. "In that case, I have one more thing to say."
Jason waited while she nibbled her bottom lip.
Lucky had spent the night drunk and high. Maxie had left after he struck her across the cheek. It was just as well. In his condition, sexual performance was impossible.
With the dawn of a new day, Lucky's head began to stop spinning. He needed his job back, but on his own terms. He needed to make them all see just what a good man he was.
He reached for his pill bottle and knocked a picture off the end table. As he picked it up, he couldn't help smiling at Cam's laughing face. His way back on the force and in Elizabeth's arms was staring at him. If he found Sam and Cameron, everyone would see. Everything would be okay.
Popping two pills, he rushed into the shower.
Jason leaned toward her. "You're pregnant?"
It was Elizabeth's turn to nod.
He didn't speak and she grew concerned that he might be angry she hadn't told him sooner. "I've only known a little while. I mean, I suspected but I didn't take the test until last week. And then I was so excited that I wanted it to be special when I told you so I asked Gram..."
At the thought of her grandmother and the events of the past week, Elizabeth's ramble faltered. Jason pulled her back into his arms. "And then Cameron was gone and now Audrey's, I mean, I, I understand."
Elizabeth wiped the tears away before she soaked his t-shirt. "There's more."
Jason stiffened. "Is there something wrong with the baby?"
She shook her head. "With all the stress, I was concerned. I saw Kelly a couple of days ago and she says we're both fine." Elizabeth stepped back and once again began gnawing at her lip. "Jason, I love you. You're such a wonderful father. Cameron is lucky to have you."
Jason frowned, not liking the tone of her voice. "Thank you. I love being his dad."
Elizabeth closed her eyes. "But if you weren't in his life, he wouldn't have been taken."
Jason's own guilt had been screaming at him since the moment he heard about the abduction. To have Elizabeth also blame him was nearly crippling. "I know," he admitted softly.
She opened her eyes and held his gaze, despite wanting to crawl into a hole and hide. "I have considered raising my children alone."
Jason stepped back, the emotional blow having a physical effect. He felt like he couldn't breath and his heart was pounding. Memories of losing Michael assaulted him, still devastating after all these years. Now he was losing another little boy and, worst still, his own child. He tried to tell himself that both children would be safer but the sentiment rang false. "You can't do that. I mean, I'll do a better job. I'll be more careful, have more guards, whatever it takes. Just, just don't take my children away."
Elizabeth felt the pain radiating from him. "Jason, please stop."
He didn't hear her. "You can't leave me!"
Elizabeth's eyes widened. He never spoke to her like that. Part of her understood his anger. Another, louder part of her reacted like a spoiled brat. "You can't tell me what to do!"
They stood, both breathing heavily and unwilling to give any ground. After several minutes, Elizabeth laughed. "Oh, my god! What are we, five?" Jason looked confused so she took pity on him. "I'm sorry. This is not how I wanted this moment to be."
He grunted. "You planned how things would go when you told me you wanted out?"
"No!" Elizabeth shouted, then paused to regain her composure. "I meant, I wanted us to celebrate this baby. Jason, our love gave this child life. This should be a happy time."
Jason drew his eyebrows together. "But Cameron's not home and your grandmother is dead. So you can't be happy about this baby."
She shook her head again. "No, I mean, yes, I wish Cam were here and I'll never stop missing Gram, but I hate that we're fighting. Even with all the horrible things that have happened this week, I want to be close to you and I want to find some joy in this baby with you."
Jason ran a hand through his hair in frustration. "Are you leaving me or not?"
He reached for her hand. "Then let me hold you." Relief washed over him as she came into his arms. "So, we're happy about this baby, right?" he asked jokingly.
Elizabeth couldn't help but giggle. "Oh, yeah, we're happy."
Jason watched Elizabeth walk slowly up the penthouse stairs, her long black skirt trailing behind her. Audrey's funeral had been brutal, especially as their last words had been so harsh. Elizabeth had cried so much in the long days since they found the body and yet had not shed any tears during the service. She said the hurt was too deep for more tears.
His own pain had a different source. Of course, he was sad that Audrey was gone but he was anguished over the details of her death. To all appearances, Sam had killed the older woman.
Jason thought he knew Sam, had believed he loved her and that she loved him. He still could not reconcile the laughing brunette from that beach in Hawaii with the sick kidnapper and now murderess. If he was as wrong about her as it seemed, what else was he wrong about?
Sonny. Jason tossed his suit coat and tie across the back of the arm chair. He was also wrong about his best friend and business partner. Sonny had kept vital information about Cameron's kidnapping from Jason in order to further his own personal vendetta against Alcazar.
Jason dug out a bottle of scotch and quickly drowned two fingers worth. Last year, Sonny and Sam had been the most important, most influential people in his life. He had loved and trusted them without reservation. And they weren't worth it.
His instincts were what kept him alive this long in a business where one mistake was all it took to end your life. If he could no longer count on those instincts, could he still do his job? Could he find Cameron?
He was pouring himself another drink when the doorbell rang. Setting aside the liquor, he crossed the room and threw open the door. A startled young woman stammered out his name questioningly. Jason nodded and she handed him an envelop.
It was probably yet another attempt on the D.A.'s part to indict him for Cam's abduction. Ric really didn't care if he hurt Elizabeth; he just wanted to take down Jason. Jason tossed the envelop on his desk and returned to his scotch.
"Who was that?" Elizabeth asked from the landing. She had changed into a soft blue sweater and khaki pants.
"I just got served."
Elizabeth frowned. "This isn't about Cam, is it? Surely Ric knows that you had nothing to do with that."
Jason drained his glass and poured another. "Ric doesn't care about the facts."
She descended to the living room and picked up the envelop. "Aren't you going to open it?"
Jason sighed. "Some beat cop will be here soon enough to arrest me."
Elizabeth tucked the package under her arm and plucked his now empty glass from his hand. "Then we need to call Diane." At his shrug, she finally lost her temper. "Jason, you may not care right now what happens to you but I do! I need you and Cameron needs you so get over whatever this is!"
He wanted to shut out her words but couldn't. She was right. There would be time later to rethink his life, time after their son was home. "I'm sorry."
She reached up to caress his cheek. "It's okay. Believe me, all I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry. But I can't. Cameron needs me to keep looking, keep hoping. This baby needs me to take care of myself."
Jason leaned over and kissed her forehead. He took the summons from her and pulled out his cellphone. As he dialed Diane's number, he tore open the envelop and began reading the legal form. He dropped his phone before completing the call.
"Jason? What is it?" Elizabeth tried to see the pages. "Ric's not trying to pin Gram's death on you, is he?"
Jason read the words a second time. Final decree of adoption. Cameron was legally his son now.
Elizabeth gave up trying to read upside down and grabbed the papers from his hand. As understanding dawned, her hand flew to her mouth and the pages fell to the floor. "Oh."
They remained motionless for several heartbeats, neither sure what to say or what not to say. Finally Elizabeth spoke with a wobbly voice. "Cameron will be so excited. He loves you so much, Jason."
Tears Jason did not know he possessed dropped down his cheeks. They reached for each other and held on tightly.
Lucky had always known he was a better man than Jason Morgan. The proof was entering her motel room just across the parking lot. Sam McCall led Cameron by one hand and tugged a suitcase with the other.
Lucky waited until she closed the door behind them before crossing the lot. He reached into his pocket and popped a couple of pills to calm his nerves. He was so close. He would arrest Sam, rescue Cameron, and win Elizabeth back. Of course, he couldn't legally arrest Sam since he had been suspended but that detail seemed unimportant right now.
He knocked on the door and heard Sam hush the little boy. He began bouncing on the balls of his feet in excitement. He was going to win this time. Jason would lose. It was perfect. His hand hugged the bottle in his pocket. Without thinking he pulled it out and took several more pills. This was going to be great.
Sam opened the door a fraction and peeked out. "Lucky! What are you doing here?"
"It's over, Sam" he replied as he forced the door open wider and shoved past her into the room. "I'm taking you in and Cam home."
Cameron ran towards Lucky, arms outstretched. Sam jerked his arm, trying to get him to face her. Lucky lost his balance and knocked Cam into the wall. His former son's crying was the last thing he heard as he lost consciousness.
Spinelli burst into the penthouse that evening with news of Lucky's location. Jason had asked the computer genius to keep track of the former cop knowing that Lucky would not give up so easily.
"Stone Cold! As always, you were right. The Angry Addict did indeed track down Sinister Sam and Engineer Cam."
Jason sighed. "Just tell me where they are."
Spinelli handed his hero a print-out map of a small town just across the Canadian border. "The Disgraced Detective used his credit card here this morning. The Jackal was able to ascertain that Sinister Sam checked into a motel there as well." Shooting a wide grin to Elizabeth, he continued. "We can have the Taken Tot home by bedtime!"
Elizabeth's eyes lit up. "Jason, do you think so?"
Jason fought against his own rising hope. "Maybe."
Spinelli crowed with delight. "Then what are we waiting for? Let's go!"
Remembering the gruesome scene awaiting them at the last motel room, Jason ordered Elizabeth to remain in the SUV while he checked out the room. A sickening sense of deja vu was flooding his entire being.
He cautiously approached the room, wincing at the partially open door. He knew now that Sam was not here. Jason paused and fought against the disappointment. Glancing over his shoulder at Elizabeth in the vehicle, he drew his gun and nudged the door open further.
Lucky was lying in a puddle of vomit. There was no one else in the room. Jason bent over and checked Lucky's pulse. It was weak and erratic. Swearing, he whipped out his cell and dialed for help.
Elizabeth sat at Lucky's hospital bedside, unsure what she felt. That was not quite right. It was more like she felt too many emotions. Anger that Lucky's addiction had once more caused so much damage. Fear that Lucky's recklessness would send Sam running so far and so fast that Jason might not catch up with her and Cameron. Relief that the boy she had loved was still alive, lost in this comatose body somewhere.
Elizabeth had flown with Lucky back to Port Charles, leaving Jason and Spinelli to track Sam. Patrick had run several tests and confirmed that Lucky's overdose had led to brain damage, the extent of which would not be known until Lucky woke up. If he woke up.
She could hear Lulu's muffled sobs from the hallway and Nikolas' attempts to calm her down. Tracy was also out there, her eyes watching Luke through the small window in the door. Luke was standing on the other side of the bed, silently watching his son. Once before, he had given up on this young man. That time Lucky had fought his way back to them, to her. This time was different.
Elizabeth traced his eyebrow, his jaw. She leaned over and placed a firm kiss on his forehead. She had lost Lucky in the past, to a fire, brainwashing, her sister, drugs. This time she was leaving him. It was time to say goodbye and it didn't hurt nearly as much as she thought it would.
Jason watched as Sam led Cameron into the remote cabin she had rented. His son appeared to be okay. The nightmare was ending.
Spinelli fiddled with the strap to his laptop case. "Stone Cold, should we not make our move?"
Jason's jaw clenched, relaxed and then clenched again. He couldn't afford to make a mistake here. Elizabeth and Cameron were counting on him. "I want you to wait outside."
Spinelli opened his mouth to argue but quickly closed it when Jason pointed at him and glared. "Yes, sir, Stone Cold, the Jackal will humbly do as you bid."
Jason once again surveyed the surroundings. The cottage was nestled in the tall Canadian woods with a small lake to the left. No neighbors, no witnesses. With a nod to the younger man, he got out of the SUV. As he crossed the clearing, he pulled on his black leather gloves. Spinelli gulped, his imagination running wild.
Jason didn't bother knocking on the door. He shouldered it open, breaking the lock. Sam stared wide-eyed but Cameron ran squealing into his arms.
"Daddy! I missed you!"
Jason lifted his son and buried his face in Cam's curls. He caressed Cameron's back. "I missed you, too, buddy."
Cam raised questioning eyes to Jason's. "Mommy missed me, too, didn't she?"
Jason shot a venomous look to his former lover. "Of course she did. Your mom loves you more than anything."
Cameron smiled and hugged him tightly. "I knew it."
Sam remain speechless across the room, arms folded against her chest, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Jason felt nothing for her. He placed Cameron back on the floor. "Hey, buddy, Spinelli's waiting outside for you. I'll be right there."
Cameron looked from his father to his kidnapper. He shuddered and raced outside to his friend.
Sam licked her lips. "Jason, you have to hear me out."
Jason shook his head. "There's nothing you can say. You betrayed me to my enemies. You stole my son. You killed Audrey."
"No!" Sam protested. "I, I didn't kill her. It was an accident. She fell and hit her head."
"I found her on the bed."
Sam wrung her hands, breathing heavily. "I didn't want to scare Cameron. I wanted him to think that she was just asleep. I was protecting him, Jason!"
Jason stood, silent and ominous.
Sam took a step towards him, stopping when he raised a hand. "Please, Jason, listen to me. How many times did you tell me that your life was dangerous? Too dangerous for kids? And then you cast me aside and take up with Elizabeth! You bring that innocent little boy into your home, into the life you threw me out of. I was devastated, Jason. I couldn't think straight. I wanted to hurt you."
"So you took my son?"
"No! I mean, yes. I rescued him from Lorenzo." Sam took another step in Jason's direction. "Jason, I love that little boy. I have taken good care of him, better than Elizabeth, who put him in danger in the first place."
"You put him in danger! You're the reason Alcazar had him in the first place!" Jason's anger was building with each word she spoke. "I thought I knew you, Sam. I thought I loved you."
She threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck but he remained motionless. "You do love me! I know you do." She tried to pull his head down to hers, tried to make him feel their connection. "We can be happy again. We can take Cameron and be a family. Jason, it will be wonderful."
He wrenched her arms from his neck. "No."
Sam put her hands on her cheeks, wiping at her tears. "Jason, please, please think about this. Think about what's best for that little boy."
Jason pulled a revolver from the small of his back. "What's best for my son is to be home with his mother." He took out a cloth and carefully wiped all his previous fingerprints from the weapon. "What's best for my son is to never see you again."
Sam could not take her eyes from the gun. "You can't kill me," she whispered.
Jason chuckled humorlessly. "Oh, yes, I could." He placed the revolver on a nearby table. "But I'm not going to. I'm going out to my son and I'm going to call the police. I'm going to wait until they arrive and watch as they arrest you." Jason turned and walked to the door. "I'm going to be there when you get the death sentence for kidnapping and murder."
Sam's voice was soft and broken. "I told you I didn't kill Audrey."
"I believe you," he told her. "But no one else will. Alexis won't be able to save you. I'm not sure she'll even try."
Jason closed the door behind him. He had not even made it to his SUV before the shot rang out.
Elizabeth paced the living room. Surely Jason had a lead on Sam by now. She kept glancing at the phone, willing him to call. When she heard his keys in the door, her heart plummeted.
Bracing herself for yet more bad news, she watched the door open and then found herself with an armful of small boy.
"Mommy! I missed you! I told Sam you wanted me!"
It took a handful of heartbeats before Elizabeth realized what was happening. Her son was home. "Oh, Cam, baby, Mommy missed you so, so much! I love you!"
Jason watched as mother and son hugged and kissed. Elizabeth was gently touching Cam's face, arms, belly. She was obviously reassuring herself that he was here and he was okay. Jason understood. He had done the same thing once he had left the cabin.
Elizabeth met his gaze and mouthed thank you.
Jason smiled, crossed the room, and embraced his family. He had no idea where his friendship with Sonny stood, no clue what to do with his professional life. It didn't matter. Right now, all that mattered was what he had in this room.
5 years later...
Elizabeth sat on the deck watching Cameron push little Audrey on the swing. She cherished the moments when brother and sister played together. Most days, all they did was fight. As frustrating as that was, she understood that it was normal sibling behavior and tried not to get too upset. Although spending her days as a referee didn't seem like anyone's idea of happily ever after, it was hers. After all, they had almost lost Cameron once.
The French door opened and two-year-old Jake flew by her with a cookie in his hand. Jason approached more slowly, kissing the top of her head before joining her on the steps.
Elizabeth laid her head on his shoulder. "I take it he made it in time."
Jason nodded. "Yeah, he's finally getting the hang of this potty training."
She laughed. "Boys take a little longer. You got off easy with Audrey."
Jason took her hand. "You've met our daughter, right? Nothing's easy with her."
Elizabeth had to agree. While Jake inherited his father's calm persona, Audrey was definitely Lizzie Webber's daughter. The little girl could throw a tantrum that sent both her brothers running for cover. When tantrums didn't work, Audrey Morgan was not above sneakiness. The cookie jar was kept under lock and key.
Cameron knew by the cookie that his little brother's trip inside had been successful. He high-fived the younger boy, causing Jake's smile to grow even bigger. Cameron might spend most of his time around his sister arguing, but his patience with Jake was endless. The two boys were thick as thieves, which contributed to Audrey's tantrums. She idealized Cameron and was somewhat jealous of Jacob.
Elizabeth sighed. "Is this really what you wanted all those years ago when you chased after me?"
Jason feigned indignation. "I didn't chase you. You came running back to me." It was an old joke, who came after whom. The truth was that they came for each other. He tucked a stray curl behind her ear. "And, yes, Mrs. Morgan, it's exactly what I wanted."
Jason Morgan was still not a saint but he was far from a sinner. He ran a legitimate business and carried sippy cups instead of guns. He still jaywalked, when the kids weren't with him.
Elizabeth Morgan was not quite a sinner but also not as saintly as she once had been. She regularly entertained the town mob boss and PTA mothers, though never at the same time.
In a place between sinner and saint, they found each other and built a life. One night had changed everything.