Ephemeral Pictures

A One Shot
FNF#9: "I tried to paint you a picture, but the colors were all wrong, black and white didn't fit you, you were shaded with patience, your strokes of everything that I need to make it." – All We Are, One Republic

He always came to her at night. She wasn't sure if it was because he simply couldn't be there during the day, that he was too busy, or if there was something about himself that he was attempting to keep from her, some reason as to why he was embarrassed to face her under the harsh, unforgiving glare of the sun. Not that she could easily believe that the man who had been so many varying yet always important things to her over the years had anything to be ashamed of. He was beautiful and kind, tender and yet strong, and, when she was with him at night, she finally felt free. Relaxed. Capable of being the woman she knew she could and wanted to be.

At first, he had just been her friend. Always there, always protective, as a young child who didn't know any better, he was just the man who watched out for her, held her if she had a nightmare. And, when she couldn't sleep, he would quietly read to her or, occasionally, when she would smile at him just right and bat her thick, pretty lashes, he would even play with her. Often times, they would color, but there had even been evenings when she had convinced the ageless, gorgeous man to play dolls with her, and, though he was much better at coloring or telling her stories of the world, he never complained.

And then, when she grew older, their relationship changed, and Elizabeth had always been unsure of how to categorize him. In the back of her mind, she knew that it was weird that a grown man spent every evening with her, that her family seemed completely oblivious to his presence in her life, but, at the same time, she knew that she didn't want to be without him. He was the very first thing she could remember about her life as a toddler, and, as she progressed from a child into an adolescent, blossoming into a woman as she became a teenager, she secretly hoped that he would be the last thing in life that she remembered, too.

Not that, while she was growing up, anything untoward occurred between them. Sometimes, when he just seemed to appear almost as if out of the shadows, they would simply talk. About school. About her art. About the various places in the world both of them someday wanted to see. He would help her with her schoolwork, seemingly impossible to stump when it came to either math or history, and, in return, she kept him knee deep in a constant supply of travel books. After all, her family had money, so, in her mind, why shouldn't be able to spend it on him? Her parents never noticed what her expenditures went towards, and, as long as she didn't exceed her brother's or her sister's monthly credit card bills which would have been fairly impossible for the youngest of the Webber children to actually do, they paid her no attention.

Maybe that was why he was so important to her. While she was just a passing figure to everyone else in her family – Little Lizzie, the artist, the embarrassment, the one who it was 

common knowledge had been unwanted, she knew that, just as he was the most significant aspect of her life, she was the same for him. They were more than just friends, too. They were each others' confidants, their defenders, and, all her life, Elizabeth knew that there was an unbreakable bond of love between them. Slowly, though, as time marched on across their lives, the love she felt for the older man changed practically overnight. One evening she went to sleep feeling safe and content in his presence, and, the next morning, she woke up, realizing just how wonderful, just how striking he really was.

She noticed that his eyes were an incomparable shade of blue. Nothing else in the world could be that bright, that captivating, that stunning. And he was so strong, strong enough to hold her in his arms when everything else around her appeared to be falling apart and make her feel absolutely safe, as if nothing and no one would ever be able to hurt her again, but, at the same time, he was gentle, treating her as the most revered, cherished, delicate thing in the world. As she left childhood behind and entered the confusing yet exhilarating world of womanhood at fifteen, she realized that there was nothing she didn't love about Jason.

She loved his laugh, even when it was directed teasingly towards her. She loved his scent – utterly unique to him and entirely too appealing, his quirky, often crooked smiles, and the feeling of his hand encasing hers. She loved his quiet, thoughtful nature, for he always knew when she just wanted to simply be with him in silence, but, when she was in the mood to talk, to work through her problems by discussing them, he would listen attentively, almost as if he couldn't stop listening to her even if he tried, and he always knew just what to say in order to make her feel better… even if it was just a word or two. And she loved how absolutely cut and dry he saw the world. Sometimes it amused her, something it infuriated her, and sometimes it nearly drove her to distraction when he couldn't understand where she was coming from, but, no matter what, she never stopped appreciating his black and white nature.

Unfortunately, though, her best friend didn't return her sentiments, or, at least, he said he couldn't. He claimed that she was too young, and, oddly enough, at the time, he had expressed to her that they simply weren't ready yet, that it wasn't the right moment for them. Years before, she had believed him to be letting her down easy, and she had tried to dismiss her feelings as just a silly infatuation, a crush, but, even as she tried to date other men, well, compared to him, really, they were boys, her feelings continued to grow and spiral out of control.

Even if she wanted to move on, it would have been nearly impossible, for, when she went on her dates, she could feel him there with her. He was never conspicuous, always respectful, but, just as he always had at night, he was there to protect her. Most of the time, the shelter of his arms, of his presence, wasn't needed, but there had been a few occasions – the party sophomore year where her date had gotten drunk and refused to give her money for a cab, her junior prom when her date ditched her at the dance for her older, more perfect sister, and, then, there was the parking session senior year when the boy she was out with had gotten a little too adamant with his affections.



But, after high school and her graduation, everything had changed. Her brother, already in college, went on to medical school, leaving upstate New York and Port Charles far behind, and her sister went to the West Coast for her undergraduate study. Not wanting to be left in medical Siberia without their golden children, her parents had fled home as well, preferring to help the sick and underprivileged in third world, war ravaged countries instead of staying with her. They left her with an emergency contact number in case she desperately needed to get in touch with them and a monthly stipend to maintain their estate, and, without a second glance behind them, left for parts unknown.

Not that Elizabeth truly minded. With her family gone, she was left with no rules and no one to look down upon her. She spent her days painting and her nights with her best friend, completely content and oblivious to the world outside of her family home. She flourished, found her element, and, just as she started to blossom with physical maturity, her artwork became more impressive, good enough to be sold in the local art galleries. And, really, with professional success, there was only one thing missing from her life, and that was the man she had loved in one capacity or another for as long as she had been alive.

Jason.

Determined on her nineteenth birthday, she had approached him, never once giving him a chance to think rationally or to push her away. She had kissed him, luxuriously, decadently, but, at the same time, timidly, cupping his face in her hands as she held him close to her. At first, he had been hesitant. She had been able to feel how rigid his stance and body was, how he held himself completely still, but, after the first kiss, his lashes had whispered closed and she had heard him sigh just once, lightly, pleasurably. After the second, his arms had come up to circle around her waist, and, when she thought he was going to push her away, use his strength and might to put distance between them, she had been pleasantly shocked when he, instead, pulled them together, their chests flush and heaving against one another. And, after the third kiss, she knew that he was just as lost, just has hopelessly frantic to be with her as she was with him.

From that point on, they had been even more inseparable. He came to her as soon as the sun went down and stayed with her the entire night, lounging in bed beside her as she slept even if he didn't rest himself. But there was always a restraint to their actions; they always seemed to hold back. Although they were intimate with each other, they had yet to make love, but he seemed in no rush, and Elizabeth simply followed his lead, taking her cues from the man she trusted with her very innocence. They kissed, and touched, and held each other, and they had come close to taking that final step, that final leap of faith with each other often enough, especially during the past few months, but, together, they had decided to wait until it was right, until it was perfect, until they both knew that it was time.

And, finally, that day was upon them. It was the night before her twenty-first birthday, the last benchmark event she would have to face to be considered an adult woman in every sense of the word. All day she had been fairly trembling with anticipation - thinking about Jason, dreaming about Jason, simply wanting to be him. Surprising herself, she wasn't even really worried about her own needs and desires either. Somehow, she just knew that, since 

the moment she had been born, he hadn't been with anyone else. After all, as far as she knew, she was the only one who could see him, but, in the same light, it had always seemed as if he only had eyes for her in return, and she wanted to make sure that the man she loved more than life itself received everything he had been waiting for.

She shouldn't have been worried, though. As he snuck up upon her that evening, dressed as he always was in a simple pair of jeans and a plain t-shirt, she looked up into her vanity mirror and saw him standing in her bathroom's doorway, leaning against the jam with his corded, tanned arms folded studiously across his chest. As their gazes met in the reflective glass, he watched her, and she watched him in return until there seemed to be a band of will that snapped inside of him, and he was at her side before she could even blink, taking her in his arms, carrying her out to the bedroom, not even giving her a chance to finish getting ready.

The dress she had spent hours that afternoon picking out just for him never left its hanger. Her hair, after washing it, was left to dry curly and untamed, and her makeup sat open and forgotten on the vanity counter. The long, sapphire, silk robe she had been wearing after her soaking bubble bath slithered to the floor as Jason removed it with impossible speed and dexterity, and that was the last coherent, rational thought she entertained for the entire evening.

They made love with complete and total abandon, lost themselves in each other, only to find their release and begin again. It was like there was twenty-one years of pent-up passion and devotion between them, and neither of them wanted to be without the other ever again. The night seemed to last forever but, in the very same breath, fly by without any concern for the young lovers. It was beautiful, it was magical, and, as they would both find out the next morning as the sun rose, it would be the only night they would ever truly spend together.

Elizabeth was frustrated.

For her son's fifth birthday, she wanted to give him a portrait of his father. She had no photos of Jason, nothing to visually show her little boy what his Daddy looked like, and it made her feel as if she was failing him as his mother. But, then again, there had been no way for her to take Jason's photograph all those years that they had been together, and, for some reason, it had never seemed important enough to sketch him at night when they were with each other, for there was always tomorrow, or the next day, and, when they were alone, there were always other, seemingly better things that they could do.

But, now, she regretted never capturing the face of the man she loved for so long and always would. Her one and only child needed to know where he came from, not just for his own sake, but she felt that it was only fair to Jason. She knew that, wherever he was now, he loved their little boy just as much as she did, and she wanted to give to the miracle they had created together as much of his Daddy as she could.



They were together in her studio, Jake was playing with his toy cars and motorcycles at her feet as she worked at her easel, the innocent, quiet motor noises he was making practically music to her ears. There was nothing about her blonde haired, blue eyed baby that she didn't love. He had been the one thing after Jason disappeared from her life that kept her held together, that gave her hope, that gave her a reason and purpose to continue on. And, now, she couldn't even give him a simple portrait of his father.

Without realizing it, her son had managed to climb up the rungs of her stool only to plop himself contentedly down in her lap. He often sat there with her as she worked, engrossed by the colors and the brushstrokes, so, in and of itself, his actions did not surprise the young mother of twenty-six. However, when her son pointed to one of the various shades of blue she had mixed and then moved his finger towards the canvas where the unfinished image sat awaiting completion, she almost gasped in astonishment.

"Jason," Jake announced, smiling brightly up at her, evidently pleased with his recognition of his work.

"You… you know him, sweetie?"

The four, almost five, year old shrugged, moving his finger, once again, and, this time, settling it in the direction of what appeared to Elizabeth to be just empty air. But, instantly, she knew. Even though she could no longer see the man she loved, her little boy could, and all her fears had been for nothing. Not only did Jake know what his Daddy looked like, he spent every single night with him, safe in his protective presence and loving attention.

Choking back a sob, she hugged her little boy, kissing his crown. "So, what do you say, sweetie," she prompted him, nodding towards the partially completed canvas. "Do you want to help Mommy finish her picture?"

Jake agreed, enthusiastically, and, as they set to work, her only child correcting the mistakes her failing memory made, she told him about how his friend Jason had been her friend, too, how that friendship had led them to fall in love with each other, and how, together, during one very special night, they had made him. In her own way, through her little boy's vision and her own artist talent, she finally introduced her son to his father.