And Ride

You are everything I wanted
The scars of all I'll ever know

What he was doing was crazy. It was on a much obsessed about whim; it was rash and impetuous, but, no matter how much he attempted to talk himself out of it, here he was - lurking in the dark on the docks, waiting, watching, willing for her to come down .

He wasn't even supposed to be in town. A little less than a month ago, he had left Port Charles, packed a single bag, and rode away on his motorcycleIt was a move designed to help him clear his head and get his life back in order. There were jobs to be taken care of for Sonny, and, when he wasn't working, he took advantage of the freedom and traveled, explored new places he had never been before. It wasn't the first time he had slipped out of town practically unnoticed, and he knew it wouldn't he the last, but, unlike the other times he had disappeared from his life without word, Jason found that he had some regrets... well, one regret.

Her.

Elizabeth.

When he had no one left to trust, no one left to care about him, she had been there, and all he gave her in return was a kiss on the forehead and some empty platitudes. She had wanted him to stay, to remain by her side as her friend and her confidant, but, for one of the first times in his life, Jason had been selfish. It hurt too much to stay in Port Charles, to be constantly reminded of everything he had given up or had taken from him, but he had also not been selfish enough to go after what he really wanted. If he had been, Elizabeth would be traveling with him. She would have been riding on the back of his motorcycle every day, pouring over a map every afternoon when they stopped for lunch, determining their course and destination, and she would have been there by his side when he saw Mount Rushmore and the Redwoods of California.

But she wasn't there. Instead, he was alone and finding himself wanting to talk to her. In the past, he had been content with seeing things for himself, but, after knowing Elizabeth and knowing what it was like to have her tell him a picture, he wanted to listen to her descriptions of everything... even things he could see perfectly fine for himself. And he missed talking to her, too - seeing her eyes light up when she got excited about a topic or listening to her laugh with him or even at him. After living with her for a month, being on his own was too quiet, too lonely.

Before, he had always considered himself a loner. He needed no one and nothing in his life to remain content. But then Michael had entered his world, completely turning it upside down, and, when he had left his life, Jason had assumed things would go back to normal with him needing and wanting no one and nothing, but he had been wrong. Instead, he had met Elizabeth, and, somehow, the young, beautiful, intelligent brunette had filled the hole in his life that Michael's absence had created, and he found himself needing and wanting her with him as much as he, at one time, needed and wanted his son.

So, here he was, ignoring his orders, throwing his entire schedule off, and potentially ruining his cover by coming back to the place just a month before he had sworn he wouldn't see for at least a year. But the enforcer was back in Port Charles for more than just his own personal, selfish reasons. He was also there for Elizabeth, not just to see her and spend some time with her for his own peace of mind, but because he had a feeling, on that particular night, she needed him, too. It was her first Valentine's Day without Lucky, and, though he really didn't see the point behind holidays, Jason knew the fourteenth of February went way beyond chocolates and red roses for his friend; it was a day she remembered all the bad things that ever happened to her and not the sweet, innocent memories most girls her age recalled on the holiday.

So, here he was, ignoring orders, throwing his entire schedule off, and potentially ruining his cover just so he could give Elizabeth a Valentine's Day present and take her for a ride. It wasn't everything that he wanted, and he knew it wasn't everything that she needed, but, at the moment, it was all he could offer and, he suspected, all she was capable of accepting from him. The gift wasn't wrapped. There was no ridiculously festive, colorful paper around it or foolish bow on top - just the gift by itself, sitting alone on the bench they had sat on together more times than he could recall.

Sometimes they had talked about their past, about Lucky and Michael, when on the docks together. Other times, they had discussed her paintings, or her classes, or his complicated relationships with the various people in his life. And there were also times when neither of them had said a thing, where they had simply relaxed together and no words were necessary. He wasn't sure what kind of night they would share that evening, and he didn't care. The only thing that mattered was seeing and being with Elizabeth, in whatever shape or form he could get her.

With that thought in mind, he remained hidden in the shadows, watching for her to approach, knowing she would cut across the docks on her way home from Kelly's, preparing to remind her that the docks were dangerous at night despite being silently thankful that she ignored his advice so he could surprise her, and waiting, slightly impatiently, for the opportunity to show her just how much he had missed her while he was gone.

If I told you you were right
would you take my hand tonight?
If I told you the reasons why
Would you leave your life and ride?
And ride

Her hair was down, long, curly, and blowing haphazardly in her faceHe liked it like that. Dressed sensibly for the weather, she had on a pair of jeans, a sweater, boots high enough Jason could not quite figure out how she managed to not trip herself while wearing them, and the leather jacket he had given her for Christmas. There was just one thing missing, but, luckily for her, he had already taken care of it. It was her Valentine's Day present.

As the eighteen year old artist crested the top of the stairs, she paused, immediately becoming alert. Before he could step out of the shadows to announce his presence and even before she saw the gift waiting for her below on the bench, she smiled, a bright, effervescent, radiant smile. Without thought, he returned the gesture. While his grin might not have been as wide or as effortless, it was, nevertheless, just as genuine.

"Jason," Elizabeth called out, running down the stairs as she searched for him to no avail. "Where are you? I know you're here."

Shaking his head in amusement, the enforcer left the darkened alley and approached her, his arms already open wide for her to run into them. She didn't disappoint. "How?"

"How what," the college student asked, breathless from excitement while, all the while, stealing the very oxygen from his lungs by holding on so tightly to him. But Jason didn't mind.

"How did you know that I was here?"

Finally, he released her, and she took a step back, already fidgeting. Lifting her hands to her face, she brushed back the hair which had been in her eyes, putting it behind her ears and alerting him to the fact that she was nervous. However, he knew it was a good kind of nervousness, because there was no fear in her eyes, only exhilaration and joy. Before replying, she started biting her bottom lip, a becoming stain of red brightening her already wind blown cheeks. "I guess I can just tell when you're around me. I mean, we lived together for almost an entire month, spent countless hours together in my studio which, you have to admit, has some pretty cramped quarters. Plus, ever since...," she trailed off, and he knew she was talking about the rape. "I've had a sense of when someone was watching me, and, with everyone else but you, I get nervous. It's because I don't that I know you're near by." As she finished talking, she rolledher eyes. "That sounded really weird, didn't it?"

Jason shook his head, saving his words for when they were important and not obvious.

"So," Elizabeth changed the topic, practically bouncing on the toes of her feet. "What are you doing here?"

Honestly and without embarrassment, he confessed, "I'm here to see you."

"Well, I know you are right now, but what are you doing back in Port Charles? Did Sonny call you? Is everything okay? Oh wait," she stopped him, holding up a hand to ward off any response he might have been prepared to offer. "I'm sorry. I know better than to ask questions about your job. It's just... I'm surprised. When you left, I got the feeling from you that you wouldn't be back for a while, and, though it has felt like forever since I've seen you last, I know that, realistically, it hasn't been that long."

"Elizabeth," he stopped her, hiding a smirk. She was the same girl he had left behind before, always talking, always filled with energy, always rambling when she was confused or on edge or shy, and he found her consistency comforting, like he could go away again, and, when he returned, she would still be there, his same Elizabeth, waiting for him to take her on a bike ride or to tell him about his travels. In that moment, he realized that it wasn't the painting of The Wind that she made for him that he had to go home to; it was Elizabeth.

As quickly as the thought struck him, though, so did the knowledge that they had been standing there staring at each other for several moments in silence. Clearing his throat, he admitted, "I'm not back for work. I haven't even seen Sonny, and I'm not going to. Like I said, I came back for you... to see you." Rubbing the side of his face and averting his gaze, the enforcer knew that he was displaying some of his own telltale signs of self-consciousness. The petite, unforgettable brunette before him had a really bad habit of stripping him of all his defenses, and he wasn't even sure how she did it, but, surprisingly, he didn't mind. He liked being honest with her, being forthright with his thoughts and feeling, and, even though it was a new experience for him, something he wasn't used to, it also wasn't a bad one.

"Plus," he continued, moving towards the bench, knowing she would follow him. "I thought of something that you needed."

Parroting his words in confusion, the waitress asked, "I needed?"

"Yeah, for when we go riding," Jason answered, picking up the gloves and handing them to her. "In the summer and even the fall, it didn't matter that you didn't have any gloves, because it's wasn't cold enough for your hands to freeze without them, but you can't go riding in the winter without gloves, and, now that you have a leather coat, you neededa pair of leather gloves to match."

Taking a deep breath, the enforcer watched the eighteen year old youthful woman before him for a response. He was well aware of the fact that he just pretty much rambled, that her bad habit was contagious, but, if she wasn't going to tease him about it, then he sure as hell wasn't going to bring it up, especially since he had already said plenty that evening.

Blandly and without emotion, Elizabeth stated, "thank you," but, a second later, the eyes that were always in his mind filled with tears, the eyes that could be the deepest color of blue that he had ever seen when she was truly happy, the eyes that would flash almost green when she was upset or angry, or, when you looked closely at just the right time of day when the setting sun would catch her upturned face and made her countenance appear to glow, the eyes that seemed almost purple became flooded with so many emotions - fear, loneliness, nostalgia, grief, delight, and even a touch of anger - that he felt the very breath in his body suspended and held hostage. "But you're not here anymore, Jason," the brunette confessed her unhappiness on a barely audible whisper, never once meeting his downward gaze. "And you're the only person I want to go riding with, the only person who knows how to show me the wind. So, while I appreciate your present, I really don't have any use for them."

"But I'm here now," he argued, taking another step closer to her and narrowing the distance both physically and emotionally between them. With his softly spoken words, the artist glanced up, and their expressions locked. Holding out a hand, the blonde waited for her to place her own fingers into his. "Will you go for a ride with me?"

It was almost as if she didn't want to hope. "Really?"

"That's one of the reasons I came home," Jason replied, making her grin almost demurely. "Not only did I want to see you, want to talk to you, but I also miss seeing the wind with you, too. Plus," he admitted, surprising even himself when he lifted his free, unsuspended hand to grasp unto her chin so he could tip it up towards him. "I thought that you might have needed me tonight."

"I did," the college student agreed, finally taking his waiting hand. "Can we go nowhere, Jason?"

"Of course, whatever you want."

And, with that, he went to leave, to take her to his parked bike, but she stopped him, using her grip on his much longer fingers to pull him back to her. Wordlessly, she faced him, stood up on her toes, and wrapped her arms around his neck, effectively joining them together from shoulder to hip. It wasn't the first hug they had shared, and it certainly wouldn't be the last, but, to the enforcer, it felt different than all the other hugs they had shared in the past. It felt freer, more relaxed; it felt like exactly what they were to each other - more than friends. Further shocking him, the blonde felt the tiny woman in his arms brush a delicate kiss against the side of his face. Her lips didn't touch his cheek, and they didn't whisper across his jaw, but, instead he felt them glide over the corner of his lips.

Immediately, his closed eyes, eyes that had been shut to savor the moment, flew open in both shock and pleasure. While innocent, the kiss was still more erotic and more sensual than any entire night he had spent at Jake's with Carly or at the cottage with Robin. It was unexpected, and it didn't make much sense, but, as he felt Elizabeth finally pull away from him, heard her giggle, and then felt her pull him towards his awaiting bike, he realized that maybe it was became it was unexpected and because it didn't make sense that it was so right.

But he couldn't think about the kiss then. He had to keep his mind on the bike, he had to keep a constant eye on their surroundings, and he had to make sure that Elizabeth was always safe. There would be days, weeks ahead of him with nothing but the monotony of his work for him to think about the kiss, but, in that moment, for that night, they were just going to ride.

You saw all my pieces broken
This darkness that I could never show

They had just parked in the same spot as his bike had been resting earlier that evening hours before, and the petite brunette behind him was already hopping off, pulling her helmet from her head, and gushing about the ride to nowhere they had just shared.

"Was it just me, or was that even better than before? I think we went faster."

"No," Jason argued, shaking his head in accordance with his words. "I went the same speed as I always did when we used to ride together."

"Well then the stars must be brighter in the winter," Elizabeth suggested, "or the wind more pronounced."

"Colder," the enforcer suggested, tilting his face to the side in thought. "The wind is definitely colder in the winter."

"Jason," Elizabeth whined, glaring at him. "You know what I mean. Everything just seemed..."

"Better," he finished for her. "Yeah," he agreed, "I know."

"It must be that whole absence makes the heart grow fonder thing," the artist suggested. "I never really believed in it before, because it just sounded like something some unlovable troll who worked for a greeting card company made up to guilt children into buying a card for their parents who they hadn't seen in months and avoided when they called or for friends who said that they would keep in touch when they moved to separate coasts after college but never really kept their promise. But, maybe, that troll was on to something."

"Troll?"

"Yeah, you know, freakish looking, hunchbacked people," the eighteen year old college student explained, gesturing vaguely, her hands flying all around her in a distracted manner"who live under bridges and scare children."

Smirking at her, Jason remarked, "you're making this up."

Elizabeth's shining eyes became wide with feigned indignation. "I am not!"

"Well, I've been under a lot of bridges, and I've never met someone who looked like that."

"They're sneaky and really quick despite their bad posture." He could tell she was teasing him, but he played along, enjoying the sensation. "Not even the illustrious Jason Morgan is fast enough to catch a troll."

"So, they're like leprechauns?"

The waitress laughed, a rich, deep, belly laugh that made him want to pull her into his arms for another hug, but he didn't. Instead, he just listened to what she had to say. "I can't believe you know what a leprechaun is."

"Robin liked that cereal... what's it called," he asked, pausing momentarily to recall the processed breakfast food, "Lucky Charms. She was always eating the stuff, and I asked her what kind of guy it was on the cover of the box. She told me it was a leprechaun, and, because I'd never heard of one before, I did some reading."

"I see."

Falling the silent, the two stood side by side, watching each other, waiting for the other to approach the inevitable conversation they both knew they had to have but neither wanted. Finally, it was Elizabeth who broached the topic, never once meeting his eyes and scuffing the toe of her boot against the wooden planks of the docks the entire time. "So, when do you have to leave?"

"Tonight," Jason whispered, unable to not tell her the truth but also not wanting to see the hurt and pained reaction his response brought to her.

"Oh." Swallowing thickly, the brunette inquired, "and when will you be back again? Was this just a one time visit, or are you going to make a habit of it? Will I have every holiday to look forward to seeing you?"

"I don't know."

Rambling on, she either didn't hear him or didn't want to. "Because you know, President's Day is next week, and I have the day off from school and work. We could take he bike out all morning and afternoon, go exploring, and, then, on St. Patrick's Day, you have to come home, because Jake's is going to serve green beer, and I'm not old enough to buy it, but you could get some for me. You know, I've always wanted to try green beer. I really don't like the taste of beer, and green beer looks even worse, but it's something everyone has to have at least once in their life, right, and when's a better time to try it than next month? Get it while you still can, right? And then there's the first day of spring," Elizabeth continued on, already out of breath but unwilling to stop. "I've never been on your bike during the spring, so it's important for me to take a ride on the first day of the next season, because I need to know what the wind feels like on the day that the world starts fresh, growing itself new all over again. And then there's Easter, and Mother's Day, and Memorial Day, and Father's Day, and the first day of Summer, and then July 4th. After July 4th, there aren't too many holidays until September, but Port Charles is wonderful in the summer, so you should just come home on July 4th and stay for the next two months... at least."

Quirking his brow at her, the enforcer teased, "I always thoughtthis town smelled like rotten, dead fish during the summer months because of the heat and the lake."

"Jason," his younger friend snapped, stomping her foot. "That's not the point, and you know it. The point is that you can't just come back into my life and disappear again. I need you; I need my more than friend."

He knew he could have taunted her about really needing his motorcycle or about how cute she was when she got all fired up, but he didn't want to ruin the moment with humor. Her admission meant too much, and he wanted to return it, to give the same feeling of belonging back to her. "I need you in my life, too."

"So, see, you have to come back."

"And I will, sometimes," the blonde agreed, holding up his hand when she went to protest. "But if I come back as often as you want me to, I'll never get anything done that I'm supposed to. And what about your classes?"

Elizabeth shrugged her shoulders, pouting at the sensibleness of his question. "School's... school."

"I have an idea." With the excited upturn of her face, he pressed on. "Colleges always take a week long break during March, don't they?"

"Yeah," the artist quickly responded, reassuring him that he was right. "Spring break."

"Well, why don't you arrange things with Bobbie so that you can get the week off from work, and, if you want to, I'll take you with me for a week."

"Where?"

By her clasped hands, smiling face, and almost palpable energy, he knew she liked the idea, that she was agreeing to it. "It'll be a surprise."

"Jason, you can't do that," the brunette complained, pouting good naturedly. "I need a clue, or, otherwise, I'll go insane with curiosity, and, then, in a month, you'll be stuck going on a road trip with a crazy lady. Plus, if you don't tell me where we're going, I won't know what to pack."

"Pack light," he instructed her, "because we'll be on the bike. And warm."

"Thank you, but can I please have one teeny-tiny little clue? Pretty please?"

He had never been able to say no to her, and, apparently, that had not changed. "Ditat Deus."

"I have no idea what that means."

His only response was a shrug.

"Fine then, if you want to be like that..." Her words trailed off as she straightened her coat and gloves and prepared to leave. "Thanks for the gift and the ride, Jason. They were both wonderful - exactly what I needed today to forget... well, everything, but, then, you always know how to do that, to do whatever I need you to do to make things better, but I have to get going."

"To where?"

"To the library," she supplied as answer. "PCU keeps their library open 24 hours a day."

"Do you have a test tomorrow? I'm sorry. I should have asked to make sure that you didn't have plans before I just showed up with my bike and asked you to go with me."

"Don't apologize," she admonished him. "I don't have a test, and, even if I did, I don't really study. I know that I should, and that it would probably help me get better grades, but I just can't do it. I hate studying; it's boring, and why do I need to know how to conjugate in Spanish or how to identify the gall bladder of a frog if I'm going to be an artist? As long as I get decent grades in my art courses, that's really all I care about."

Creasing his brow, he asked, "then why are you going to the library?"

"I have research to do," the waitress answered, tossing her reply back over her shoulder as she ran up the stairs of the docks. "I have to figure out where we're going, and, to do that, I need to figure out what that really obscure clue was that you gave me."

Just as she reached the top of the steps, he called out, stopping her, the helmet she always wore when on the back of his bike extended out in front of him in invitation. "Elizabeth?" It only took her a second to turn around, and he already knew what her answer would be to his question, but he asked anyway.

"Do you want a ride?"

If I told you you were right
would you take my hand tonight?
If I told you the reasons why
would you leave your life and ride?
And ride