A/N: Well, here you have – the final chapter to this story that should have been finished months ago. :P Looking at the bright side, you didn't have to say goodbye to it as soon as you should have, right? Before we get to the chapter, I just want to thank everyone, not only for your patience with this fic but also for your kind words of encouragement and praise. Through every step of the way, your comments have been helping me to make this story a better one, and a writer can't ask for a better gift from her readers. Also, just to warn you, this final part is somewhat shorter than the others, but, as it ends, it also shows just how life will continue. We just won't be witnessing it anymore. You'll meet a new character, one that should be familiar to all of you, and you'll say goodbye to another whose death has been imminent since the very first post. As for name explanations, I'll add another note at the very end of the post, so make sure you check that out as well. I just didn't want to spoil anything before you got to read the update. Once again, thanks, everyone, and enjoy!
It had taken them seven months – seven months – to finally locate Jason and Elizabeth Morgan, but they had… and not a moment too soon either. For Bill Maloney, the day almost seemed fated. Back in Port Charles at that very hour, Sonny Corinthos' trial was starting, and, a continent away, he was finally closing in on his two most important witnesses. The trial had been stalled to get them to this point. However, he felt that such an action was the lesser of two evils. Sure, Corinthos had remained in power, free to reign down his own brand of justice and control for far longer than anyone would have liked, but, by waiting, by being patient, they were going to ensure the kingpin's conviction.
It had been an anonymous tip that had sent them to Caracas. After several wild goose chases, immediately, he had known that they were finally headed in the right direction. Once they arrived in the Venezuelan capital, Jason and Elizabeth had been easy to find. They were popular with their neighbors, a daily staple at the local market. Everyone described them as the cute, very much in love, expecting American couple, and, despite his hurt feelings towards the two, Bill could admit that the depiction fit.
So, here he was, a few hours after their plane had touched down in the South American city, walking into the home that the ex-enforcer and his wife had occupied for seven months. Despite protests, he had finally convinced the others, Houston and a few rookies, to remain outside, to let him handle the MIA couple. After all, convincing Jason and Elizabeth to go back to the states and testify would be no easy feat.
They had fled FBI custody because they didn't trust the government to keep them safe from their enemy, and, looking back, the agent realized their fears had been justified. Although he still believed that his plan all those months ago would have worked, Morgan had simply done what any husband and father would do: everything within his power to keep his family safe. Yes, Bill had taken some hits on his record, and he had received a harsh tongue lashing from his superiors, but facing the wrath of his bosses was nothing in comparison to running from an internationally known crime lord in order to remain alive.
In short, the whole situation had been undesirable, and all parties involved had simply done what they felt was necessary in order to receive the very best possible outcome.
Striding up the front walk, Bill approached the front door of the pink stucco villa. However, this time, unlike back in the states, he didn't knock. Whether he feared such a greeting would alert and scare away his intended witnesses or whether he just wanted an uncompromised view into Jason and Elizabeth's new lives, he wasn't sure. Such warring parts of his psyche – the sentimental and the professional – were not something he was used to.
He realized that the home was cool inside once he closed the front door behind him, dim yet not depressing or gloomy. The tall, uninhibited trees and shrubs that grew around the Caracas estate provided plenty of shade and kept the unforgiving South American sun from baking the small abode. Room by room, he wandered, observing his surroundings. Although everything was neat and perfectly orderly, there was no doubt in his mind that the house was very much lived in. Small touches here and there that told of the inhabitants personalities stuck out like sore thumbs from the otherwise traditional design and decoration.
Along the front entryway, there were at least ten different pairs of flip-flops, all in various hues, lined up against the east wall and, beside those sandals, stood one lone, proud pair of motorcycle boots. Keys to a Harley were tossed carelessly on a side table in the hall, a woman's helmet hanging on what was supposed to be a hat rack. In the living room, he found an open travel guide, carelessly set aside as if, just minutes ago, someone had been reading the book only to get up and leave the room. The dining room had fresh flowers on the table, obviously picked from the garden just steps away through a set of French doors, and the study was set up as a makeshift studio, several pieces of easily recognizable artwork leaned up against a creamy, eggshell white wall to dry, their bright splashes of color a startling contrast to the otherwise crisp and clean room. The kitchen had baby bottles and liners arranged on the countertop, evidently in preparation for the big day that was sure to come now at anytime, and the family room was completely filled with various infant paraphernalia – a bassinet, a swing, enough stuffed animals to fill a small car, and even a pacifier carelessly tossed on top of the fireplace mantel.
Traveling upstairs, Bill moved from one bedroom to another. First was the guest room, but, instead of a bed, he found a folded up futon and then some exercise equipment. A punching bag, a weight bench, and an inclined bench, three simple pieces but, apparently, the only things Jason Morgan needed to stay in shape. The second bedroom he came upon was dominated by an extremely large bed. Books were stacked up next to the gigantic piece of furniture, and the covers were still tossed back, telling him that the inhabitants didn't worry about such menial tasks as making the bed every morning. Despite the fact that it wasn't the master suite, he knew that the second bedroom was where the married couple slept together.
Finally, at the end of the hall after bypassing several bathrooms, he encountered the baby's nursery. It was bright and cheerful. A hand painted mural dominated an entire wall, and the room looked as though it was merely frozen in time, waiting patiently for its owner to come home for the first time and claim it. And, as he stood in the middle of the large room, he realized that such an event would never happen, that Jason and Elizabeth had made a home for themselves in Caracas only to leave the capital city at the very last minute. Whether the past seven months were merely a ruse to fool both him and their enemies, he wasn't sure, but he did know that they weren't coming back.
As he was slowly making his way back down the stairs, the pieces of the intricate puzzle started to come together for him. It was a trap, all of it, not meant for him but for Sonny. As soon as the thought ricocheted through his mind, he took off, sprinting for the front door. Just as he cleared it, he started yelling for his men, telling them to get off of the property, to seek cover at least fifty yards from the estate. Whether they listened or not, he wasn't sure; that was something he would have to determine afterwards. All he could do in that moment was warn them and run like hell.
His foot had just touched the asphalt of the paved road outside of the villa when he felt a surge of heat blow past him, knocking him to the ground and rendering him unconscious.
Sonny Corinthos was an arrogant man. He knew this, his employees knew this, and his enemies knew this as well, but, his arrogance, it was said, worked for him. It gave him an air, a sense of being untouchable, and, despite the fact that no one was untouchable in their business, he had managed to survive decades in the mob with little more than a scratch here and there.
So, that's why, as he walked up the steps of the Port Charles' courthouse, he felt invincible. It didn't matter that the FBI had a laundry list of crimes stacked against him. He knew that, without his former enforcer and the little waif he had taken in years before, the government had no case. And the FBI knew this, too. The entire trial was a sham, a demonstration for the public to prove to them that the nation's law enforcement did not take underworld crime lightly. They'd strut, and postulate, and, when the verdict came down that he, Michael Corinthos Jr. was a free man, they'd rail against the injustices of their own system and swear to fight the good battle again the next day, but, in the end, he'd be free and clear, and the Bureau would have egg in their faces once more.
He smiled then, the thought of his law-abiding enemies looking like fools bringing out his famous dimples, and, as soon as the snide grin spread across his face, flashbulbs erupted. Pausing to give the media the show they so desired, Sonny waited for the photographers to get their fill. He waved, he smirked, and he made a show of shaking his top associates' hands as though they were about to head into a lunch date and not a court trial. The reporters ate it up.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his lawyer shake her head in abject disapproval and annoyance. The woman was a good attorney, but she just didn't get the public aspect of his business. While, obviously, the people of Port Charles were never going to openly admit to liking him, there was a fine line that Sonny liked to straddle between being the lovable rogue and the evil kingpin. He liked to keep the public confused, on their toes, unsure of what to think about him. Was he a scourge upon their town or an archangel, forced to use underhanded tactics to defend his fellow man? Was he just a misunderstood businessman or a finely oiled, destructive killing machine? It was that very contrast which kept him on all the guest lists for all the best parties, and it was that disparity that kept all the women, both saintly and sinister, panting after him. Yes, he had Carly at home, but he was Sonny Corinthos, and one woman just wasn't enough for him.
Arriving at the top of the courthouse steps, he reached into his suit's lapel and removed a fine, top quality cigar, knowing, without a doubt, that someone nearby would light it for him. After all, in his position, he didn't need to worry about taking care of the mundane for himself; he had people who saw to those things for him. And, sure enough, his second in command, Johnny O'Brien, held a personalized, one a kind Zippo lighter to his cigar, catching the ends of the delicately rolled tobacco leafs ablaze when he puffed on the stogie. While his trial was set to start at any minute, he was determined that he would not operate under anyone else's timetable; they would all dance to his watch and his whims.
However, he never did get to relish that cigar. After just one inhalation, he felt himself being pushed to the ground as gunfire erupted around them. Listlessly, the imported luxury slipped from his fingers and rolled several feet away, eventually its ruby embers burning out.
He laughed then, realizing just how symbolic the inconsequential event was. No one else around him would remember or even notice the cigar, but, as he more or less sensed all of his top men perishing, their feeble attempt to fire back in retaliation useless against such a strong offensive, he chuckled at the obviousness of the moment. He was still laughing, in fact, when a man, his face shrouded with a dark sky mask, came to stand over top of him, his chest and body protected with bullet proof armor. The gunman fired a single round into his midsection, the metallic fire of the wound rocketing through the mob boss immediately.
"Mr. Morgan," the faceless, nameless attacker shared, leveling his semi-automatic handgun with Sonny's forehead, "sends his regards."
And, with that, a final shot was fired, ending Michael Corinthos, Jr.'s life.
From afar, Lorenzo watched the unsuspecting widow of his latest and most easily handled enemy.
Carly Corinthos was a beautiful woman. Already, he was stepping into the other mobster's life. He was taking over his business, his shipping routes, his home, and the Venezuelan arms dealer knew that, if he allowed himself, it would be easy for him to care about the pretty young blonde sitting before him.
He and his men had been watching Corinthos long enough to know that being married to Caroline Roberts was not a simple task. She was demanding, and moody, and probably certifiably insane, but she was also passionate, and fiery, and had a temper to match both of those traits. And, despite her faults, she was also a good mother. The daughter that she and Sonny shared together, a beautiful toddler named Adela Michelle, was bright and giving, full of life, and a perfect physical combination of both her parents, and it was obvious that Carly Corinthos had transferred all of her former love for her deceased son onto her daughter, showering the little girl with both attention and possessions.
But Lorenzo was too pragmatic to ever really entertain the idea of a family. From his own childhood, he knew that children and wives did not belong in his lifestyle, so, despite his attraction to the lovely blonde and despite the fact that he knew the new widow could easily shift her feelings for her former husband onto him, he dismissed the idea as quickly as it came to him. Rather, he had decided to approach the now single mother in the park in order to pass along a message to her, and, once his promise was fulfilled, he would slip back into the shadows, never to see the lovely Caroline again.
Rapidly walking towards her, Lorenzo smirked when he noticed the blonde's guards take several steps back. Without an oblivious Sonny's knowledge, he had infiltrated his organization months prior, weeding through the Cuban's men in order to determine those who could be swayed to join his mission and those who could not be. Carly and her young daughter's guards were just two of many men now seamlessly under his employ.
"Mrs. Corinthos," he greeted her, his tanned face spreading easily into an affable smile. "May I join you," Lorenzo asked, already taking a seat beside the mother without waiting for her permission or approval.
Slightly indignant yet, at the same time, not entirely rude, Carly Corinthos turned towards him, her light, fall jacket parting to reveal her swollen abdomen. "Who are you," she wanted to know.
"My identity, at this point, is immaterial," the weapons smuggler informed her breezily. "Soon, you and everyone else in this town will know who I am, but, for right now, that's not important." When she went to protest, he pushed on. "I have a message to pass on to you… from a Mr. Morgan."
He almost laughed when he saw the light explode within the blonde's gaze, for, apparently, Mrs. Corinthos was still very much obsessed with her deceased husband's ex-partner, not that she knew of Sonny's death. Yet.
"How do you know Jason? I thought he was…"
"Dead," the Venezuelan supplied, rolling his eyes. "Yes, I imagine that's what you were led to believe. Actually, up until this morning, Jason, his wife, and their unborn child were all very much still alive. However, I have it under good authority that this is no longer the case." He could see that the woman wanted to know more, that she had several questions for him, but, quite frankly, he wasn't in the mood to put up with some maudlin display of grief or a tempestuous, jealous diatribe. "I made his acquaintance quite some time ago, and he asked me, once he realized that I would eventually be relocating to Port Charles to let you know a few things."
Carly jumped upon his words, leaning forward to clasp his arm desperately. "What did he say?"
"He said to tell you that he will always love Michael even if your son is no longer alive, that he will always be grateful that you were once in his life, because you gave him a son, and that, if ever a situation came up where you needed help, where you found yourself alone, desperate, and about to do something crazy, to go to the Quartermaines."
The blonde immediately dismissed the idea, sitting back against the bench. "Jason wouldn't say that. He hates his family, and he knows… or knew that they would never help me. I don't know who you are, but I want you to leave."
"I am," Lorenzo assured her, already standing up. Tucking his hands into the pockets of his coat, he prepared to depart with one final word. "Just a little piece of advice from me to you, Mrs. Corinthos: don't be so proud. Things may not actually be as they seem, and you would be ill advised to dismiss what Mr. Morgan had to say." Turning around, he started walking away from the young mother, only pausing long enough to throw back over his shoulder, "oh, and, if you want to find out what happened to Mr. Morgan, I suggest you scurry home and catch the news." Glancing at his watch, he commented, "it should be hitting the major media markets in less than a half an hour."
Several minutes later, as he folded himself neatly into the back of his chauffeured limousine, he calmly, rationally instructed his driver who also doubled as his personal guard. "Take me to my new home, please, Francis." The man was another new recruit from Sonny's former organization. "I have a sudden urge to see Harbor View Towers."
Despite the fact that two of her favorite patients were leaving that morning, Nurse Nadine Crowell could not turn away from the television. Usually, she worked up on the maternity floor, but she was single and lonely, living in a new town far from where she grew up as a child, and she would pick up extra shifts around the hospital, filling in for anyone who might need a helping hand. On that particular day, she was working a half shift in the records department, but it was slow, and she had plenty of time to absorb the news being broadcast before her.
Halfheartedly, she handed the appropriate discharge papers to the husband of the new, young mother. Beside him, his wife was holding their infant daughter as she sat contentedly in a wheelchair, waiting to be released. "Sign here and here," she instructed the handsome man, although she was not quite sure her index finger actually pointed to the right signature lines. It didn't really matter, though, for anyone could figure it out for themselves. And, luckily, he didn't seem bothered at all by her apparent distraction, his own eyes occasionally straying to the television as well.
A breaking news report had interrupted her favorite morning talk show. Typically, Nadine would mute such annoying breaks in programming, but the Corinthos/Morgan/Webber story had been intriguing her for months. Before her, badly bruised and obviously weighed down by the weight of the world, an FBI agent was giving a quick briefing to the media. His arm was in a sling, he had a visible cut along his receding hairline, and his once average suit was now ripped and stained with dust and debris.
"In light of this morning's events, I feel it is safe to reveal that fugitives Jason and Elizabeth Morgan, as well as their unborn child, are presumed dead. Key witnesses in the Sonny Corinthos' racketeering case, they disappeared from FBI custody approximately seven months priors only to resurface on our radar a few days ago, here in Caracas. However, when we arrived at the location you see behind me, the villa exploded, and all those inside are currently in the process of being pronounced dead. Sadly, minutes before he himself was gunned down on the Port Charles' Court House steps, Michael Corinthos Jr. took three final lives. As soon as the necessary paperwork has been filed, this case will be closed. Thank you."
With that, Agent Bill Maloney stepped down off the hastily erected podium, disappearing from the numerous cameras' range. He never asked for questions, he never offered any more details, and, caught off guard by his abrupt statement, the various media officials instantly went back to the studios where the anchors began to reiterate what would surely prove to be the story of the day, maybe even the week. Pictures of the deceased, Jason Morgan and Elizabeth Webber-Morgan flashed up on the television screen, and Nadine hastily wiped a single, solitary tear away as she mourned for the loss of innocent lives. While she didn't know much about the ex-hitman, his wife and unborn child didn't deserve to die, and it saddened her that they were gone from this world.
Distracting her, Elise McQuade spoke up from behind the emotional nurse, causing the blonde to turn around. Immediately, she smiled at the petite brunette. The woman, though still recovering from the recent birth of her daughter, was glowing. Her short cropped, poker straight hair had, at one time, probably been a chestnut brown, but countless days spent in the sun had lightened it to almost a sandy blonde, and her eyes were a rich, delicious chocolate shade. Just the sight of them made Nadine hungry for a candy bar.
"You know, Jake," the young mother teased her husband. "That man on the TV, he kind of looked like you."
Swiveling her gaze towards the man in question, the maternity nurse observed the father closely. He had long, dark hair that fell to his chin which that he was constantly pushing back away from his face, light green eyes, and enough stubble on his face for her to guess that he was attempting to grow a beard. His clothes were simple – khaki shorts and a loose, button down top with sandals. In her opinion, he looked nothing like Jason Morgan. "Elise," she teased the soon-to-be-leaving patient. "I think that epidural still hasn't worn off yet."
The new mother giggled, shrugged, and then admitted, "yeah, maybe you're right, Nurse Crowell."
"None of that," she instantly chastised. "I told you to call me by my first name."
"Well, in that case, Nadine," the wife prompted, "I have a favor to ask of you?"
"Would you mind mailing these," the young mother asked, handing her several already addressed letters ready to be sent out. "I want them to go out today, but we really don't want to wait for the mailman. Plus, we're new in town, and we really don't know the area, so…"
"Don't say another word," the blonde easily ordered. "It'd be my pleasure." Eyeing the envelopes curiously, she asked, "what are they anyway?"
"Oh, just some birth announcements, telling a few old friends about little Aveline Rose here." With that, the proud young woman snuggled her tiny, sleeping daughter.
"We just told them the basics, you know," Jake filled in for his easily distracted wife, smiling in both his girls' direction. "That she weighed six pounds, fifteen ounces, that she was 20 ¼ inches long, that she has a lot of dark, curly hair, pale, blue eyes, and her mother's fair skin."
"And, of course," Nadine added, grinning in understanding, "that all three of you are doing well, perfectly healthy, and as happy as can be."
"Of course," Elise and her husband agreed at the same time.
"You know, it is weird though," the young nurse offered, chuckling. "That baby looks nothing like the two of you. Genetics, right," she joked, rolling her eyes. "They're so unpredictable."
With that, the new family said their goodbyes before leaving, and she watched them from her window as they moved away the hospital, Jake pushing his wife and child to their awaiting vehicle. Once they were out of sight, she sighed dreamily, hoping one day her life could be just as simple and yet beautiful as the McQuade's.
A/N2: Obviously, with Jason and Elizabeth's name, I kept their initials the same, just as I did with Jack and Ellis, simply so things would be easier for them. Personally speaking, it would be easier for me to adjust to a name change if my new one sounded at least somewhat familiar to my original name. So, that gives us Elise and Jake. Also, with Jake, I think we all know the correlation there. For their last name, just like with Morgan and Martin, it starts with the first letter 'M,' but it also as a 'Q' in it, reminiscent of the Quartermaines. For their daughter's name, Aveline is actually the root name for Evelyn, so, in their own way, Jason and Elizabeth named their little girl after one of the biddies from Dovetree. Her middle name Rose is a reference/reminder of Lila and her rose garden. Plus, I just liked how the two names worked and sounded together. I hope you did as well. :)