A/N: Well, here we are. Finally. I know that many of you didn't want to see this story end, that you felt there was still much to tell, and I guess there is except that I didn't want to tell it. For me, this story was all about getting Elizabeth and Jason to the place they will be in by the end of this chapter; whatever happens afterwards wasn't meant to be told. I'm sure everyone will have their own visions of Elizabeth and Jason's future in their minds, but, honestly, I don't personally have one myself. I admit that this sounds odd, but it's also the truth. I hope this ending isn't too ambiguous, that you feel as though you've been given, at least, some closure. If nothing else, though, you'll at least know for sure who the mystery woman was. That is finally revealed. Thank you all so very much for sticking with me for this story. It was started so many months ago, but, then, I went MIA. When I returned, you were still there with me, and, for that, more than anything else, I am sincerely grateful. Also, as this story developed, your comments made me think, and that's always productive for a writer, and I loved the fact that sometimes this little tale of mine would spark some debate. That was fun. So, thank you for reading, thank you for reviewing, and thank you for putting up with these two blockheads. ;) I know; they've certainly tried your patience, haven't they? And, oh yeah, there will be a new story started soon (I'm already working on it), and I have another collection of one shots coming, too. Ciao!
Safe… No More
FNF#34: Dream as if you'll live forever; live as if you'll die tomorrow. ~ James Dean
Her name was Faith Roscoe, and, just as Jason had promised her, she was dead.
Two weeks after she and Jason had said their awkward, uncertain goodbyes, she had heard rumblings at work of a mob war. Tension in the little city of Port Charles had skyrocketed. Others blamed the violence on greed, on the instability of the criminal element, but Elizabeth knew the truth. This time, this war, it was personal. The town's most powerful mobster was avenging her little boy's death, and he was doing so swiftly and efficiently, just as she had known he would.
A month after Cameron was buried, Faith Roscoe's body had also been lowered into a premature though deserved grave. She had been burnt beyond recognition. In fact, dental records had to be used in order to identify the remains, but, later, a suicide note had been found, left by the blonde barracuda, and, in the missive, the deceased clearly took blame for Elizabeth's only child's murder, claiming her guilt had gotten the best of her so she took her own life. Everyone knew it was lie; they knew that Jason Morgan had sought revenge for a little four year old boy that most people had just ignored in life, but, for the first time in his career, no one really cared why he had committed murder. Rather, they were just thankful that Ms. Roscoe could no longer reign down her own brand of destruction and bloodshed on their community.
As for Elizabeth, Faith's death had finally allowed her to truly start to grieve, and, two months later, that's where she was still was, rightfully so. Every day was a struggle – a struggle to get up, a struggle to take care of herself, to eat, and shower, and brush out her hair, and a struggle to maintain her emotions long enough while she was in public so that she could cry herself to sleep at night when she was alone. But she did fight. She fought for Cam, wanting her toddler to be proud of his mother even in death, and she fought for Jason, too.
He had kept his other promise as well. Since the day they had talked at her son's gravesite, she hadn't seen the kingpin once. The only news she received of him was relayed through the newspapers or through idle town gossip, neither of which she trusted as the truth. And the guards were gone as well. Once, she had seen Adam, her very first bodyguard who had only lasted a day, running errands, but, as soon as he saw her, he turned in the opposite direction and practically ran away, obviously on strict orders to avoid her at any cost, and, surprisingly, she didn't resent the mob boss for his highhanded decree.
While she didn't necessarily agree with it, she understood Jason's decision. He believed his former actions to have been selfish, he blamed himself for Cam's death, and, now, he was determined to make sure that she didn't get killed as well thanks to his involvement in her life. The only problem was that she missed him. Whether he was physically with her or not, the blonde was a constant presence in her mind, in her heart. Three months time away from him had managed to give her some perspective on their relationship.
There was no arguing with the fact that the crime lord could make her angrier quicker than anyone else she had ever known, including her self-important family, but Elizabeth found herself wondering if maybe Jason was capable of goading her temper so well simply because he knew her better than anyone else. He knew exactly what buttons to push to get the reaction he desired, and he would push those buttons until she erupted. She wasn't naïve either. While she had only technically been in one adult relationship, it had been sexual, obviously, for she ended up giving birth to that man's child, and she knew that the passion of rage could seamlessly mold into the passion of desire, and she and Jason had experienced that spark several times together.
But there was more to her connection with Jason than just harsh words and a handful of toe curling kisses. Unlike anyone else, he believed in her. No matter what his faults, he had sent her back to school, insisting that she better herself for both her own welfare and that of her child's. He had believed that she had enough talent, enough skill, and enough intelligence to make something of herself, and that was another reason why she was still fighting against her own sorrow, pushing on day after day even when she didn't want to get out of bed.
Jason could also be sweet and almost sensitive when one really wasn't looking and when he didn't realize what he was doing. He would think of others before himself, and she should have seen that months before as she witnessed his interaction with her little boy. But she hadn't. It had taken Cameron's death and a new outlook on life to give her the clarity to understand her former roommate. He had sent Max out for strawberries for her, using magnanimous gestures as well as words to apologize simply for getting drunk, and he had held her for two days straight after her four year old's murder, refusing to work, refusing to grieve himself as she either cried brokenly on his chest or rested fitfully in his arms.
And there were so many other things about Jason that she admired – his strength, his tenacity, his loyalty to his men, and his preference for the simple things in life. Looking back, she could even admit that he was slightly funny… even if he didn't realize it himself. He was good with children, selfless enough to put someone else's needs ahead of his own, and, if someone allowed him to, he would listen like no one else in the world could. Plus, he found her beautiful, before and now, and it had been so long since Elizabeth had felt like anything but a failure as a woman, barely held together and unattractive.
Most importantly, though, he had shown her the wind, giving her the freedom to experience such a life altering moment but holding on tight enough so that she wasn't alone while doing so.
Yes, she missed Jason, but she took those emotions and she put them into her art. Without Cameron, without a friend to lean on, painting was the only thing keeping the soon-to-be twenty-three year old sane. The summer had almost completely past, and there was already a slight chill in the air as autumn rushed into upstate New York. But she was glad for the seasonal change. The warmth of summer would never be as beautiful to her as it once was, and Elizabeth welcomed the harsher weather of the latter months of the year. The cold wind would be bracing, the snow would be refreshing, and the transformation her world would soon undertake would allow her to at least not see the colors and sounds she had last experienced with her son.
September had brought along other changes to her life as well. She officially had a new job, her ninety days of probation having past, and she was waiting tables at a little diner on the docks full time in the afternoons and evenings. Though it wasn't The PC Grill, the petite brunette found that she earned more at the little family establishment than she ever had working for Edward Quartermaine, and she enjoyed her clientele so much more. It was hard sometimes, seeing all the young families together – happy, laughing, loving each other, but, in turn, she also needed that kind of atmosphere. It was healing in its own excruciating way, for it showed the former mother that life does, in fact, go on.
She had also changed her major. Without Cameron to guide and inspire her, teaching no longer appealed. There was no reason why she would need a schedule to match her son's when she no longer had a little boy to go home to, and there was no reason to want the summer months off when all they did was remind her of the last few blissful days she had spent with her four year old before he died. So, now, she was studying simply to be an artist, painting constantly, both to complete her assignments and to purge herself of all the suffocating, overwhelming feelings she was drowning in.
And she had a new place to live, too, an old, drafty, tiny studio that was just large enough for her, a couch, and an obscene amount of art supplies but small enough to keep her from feeling too lonely. While it wasn't the safest building, that word no longer held a meaning for the waitress. Three months ago, she and her only child had been under the protection of one of the most influential mobsters on the east coast, and, still, her son had been murdered. Although Jason had effectively pushed her out of his life, presenting to the world an uncaring mask when it came to her welfare, Elizabeth knew that safety – both physical and emotional - was just an illusion.
Her dump of an apartment was only a five minute walk from Kelly's, but, as she closed the door to the diner behind her that early evening, the brunette knew that she wasn't ready to go home yet. It had been a rough day. While no day was perfect, far from it, some days were worse than others. Some days, she felt Cameron's loss a little more smartly, and, some days, she missed Jason a little more desperately. All she wanted to do was wonder aimlessly for a while, clearing her head, before she went back to her empty, much too quiet home for the night. But, unfortunately, as seemed to be her lot in life, things didn't quite work out the way she had envisioned them.
Five minutes into her walk, and, as she was passing the front of a toy store display window, Elizabeth was struck dead in her place by the sight before her. Legos. Pile after pile, bucket after bucket, the tiny, colorful blocks were spilling over themselves in the bright, visually appealing exhibit. She almost fell to her knees as soon as she realized what she was looking at.
"Drop the legos, Cam," the single mother ordered her little boy, finally prying the toys from his grasp. "You can't take them with you. We don't have time to clean up this mess."
Not until that moment did she realize just how large of a role the blocks had played in her life. Not only were they, at one point, her son's favorite toys, but Legos had been the reason why they had been delayed in leaving the safe house all those many months before, why Jason had managed to stumble upon them, how he had managed to so swiftly enter their life and turn it completely upside down. Just a few tiny, colorful blocks, and, now, everything was different.
Stumbling away from the window, Elizabeth pressed a trembling hand over her mouth, hoping the gesture would be enough to stifle her sobs. While she allowed the fresh tears to course down her pale cheeks, knowing full well there would be nothing she could do to stop them, she didn't want to mourn too publicly; she didn't want the pity stares or the sympathetic frowns, and, so, rushing towards something, anything else, she walked on.
Lost in thought, simply moving forward on autopilot, the twenty-two year old didn't even sense her surroundings until she heard a far-away yet all together unmistakable rumbling in the distance. It had been months since she had heard that particular sound, and it wasn't until she was studying it, leaning into it, straining to hear it more clearly that she realized just how much she had missed riding on the back of Jason's bike, even if she had only been a passenger a few times.
In realization, Elizabeth sighed merrily. "Oh," and, picking her son up, she agreed, "I can do that." Settling him on her left hip so that her right hand would be free to point things out, she started to do just what her three year old requested. "Did you know that Jason once took Mommy on a motorcycle ride?"
At Cam's wide eyed surprise, she laughed out loud. "I guess not. Anyway, I loved it."
"It was fun?"
"Oh, baby," she gushed, smiling just from the memory, "it was the most fun I've ever had. Anyway," she refocused them, "this is what riding on the back of his bike looked like."
But, when the motorcycle sped past, she realized that it wasn't Jason driving it, and disappointment swamped her immediately. With anyone else, on any other bike, it just wouldn't be special anymore. Elizabeth knew that she could only see the wind with her onetime roommate, and she also knew that no one else would drive as wildly, as satisfyingly as the blonde.
Unable to go further, she searched for a place to sit and found an empty patio table outside of a fancy ice cream parlor. By the time she realized her mistake, it was already too late, and the waitress was forced to sit there as she watched two parents, a young mother and her slightly older husband emerge from the shop with their child held securely held between them. The father carried the toddler on his hip while the child got his chocolate ice cream all our his precious, cherubic face, and the wife had her free arm, the arm that wasn't carrying their lone shopping bag, wrapped tightly around her husband's waist. They were the picture of familial bliss, and a hot, violent, enraged bolt of jealousy snapped through the brunette, momentarily leaving her breathless.
"Mommy, mommy, mommy," Cameron called out, running through the house. As soon as the three year old burst into the living room, Jason and Elizabeth separated, retreating to their own corners so to speak. Neither of them wanted the child to be affected by their anger.
"I got ice cream," the toddler exclaimed, though the evidence was quite apparent on his chubby face. "Chocolate," he declared, happily lifting a dish of the same sweet concoction towards his mother. "I got you some, too."
"Why, thank you, sweetie," the little boy's mother beamed towards her son, bending down to kiss his sticky face. "That was very nice of you."
Cameron shrugged, obviously pleased with both himself and his treat. "Jason said to."
Decision made, she pushed back her chair and practically sprinted down the sidewalk, returning in the same direction that she had just come from. Past the store with the Legos, past Kelly's, and down to the docks where her studio was located, she ran, never once pausing to consider her actions. Instinctively, she just followed her heart until the point where she was emerging from her dilapidated apartment building, one long duffel bag packed with the bare essentials clasped firmly in left hand. With her right, she hailed a cab and, once seated, gave out directions she knew she wasn't supposed to even know.
Ten minutes later, she was deposited in front of the new, soaring high rise which had replaced the old Harbor View Towers, her time in the yellow car both the slowest and the fastest of her life. As she strolled into the lobby, guards seemed to recognize her, but they remained clear of her path, obviously intrigued by what she was doing there. But Elizabeth never even noticed them. Instead, she just purposely strode to the elevators, boarded the first available lift, and pressed the button for the penthouse floor just a single, resolute time.
Before she knew what was happening, she was standing in front of Jason's door, hoping, praying, silently threatening the man she was seeking out into actually being home. And he was. Revealing himself as he opened the threshold to his brand new, still unfurnished apartment, the mobster wore a curious, almost pained expression on his handsome face as he simply waited for her to tell him why she was there.
And that's exactly what Elizabeth did. Moving closer to the blonde, she stood directly before him, mere inches separating their rapidly rising and falling chests, her gaze riveted to his own as she whispered, "I don't want to be safe anymore, Jason." Before he could react, there was one more thing she needed to confess, so she rushed to get the words out before he could stop her. "And, before you say anything, I just need to tell you that I'm in love with you, too, have been for probably months but I didn't realize it until just…"
That's as far as she got before his mouth came crashing down upon hers and the door was kicked shut behind them as he pulled her both into his arms and into the place that she just knew they would make into a home together. Although she was kind of irritated that he didn't let her finish, she just went with the moment, fully aware that she would be able to yell at him for the rest of her life… no matter how long or short it would be. It wasn't everything, she still missed her son desperately, but, for the moment he - Jason - was enough. The rest… well, they would figure the rest out together… much, much later.