HHFC#5: Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate, the first one said, "Oh my, it's getting late." The second one said, "But we don't care." The third one said, "I see witches in the air." The fourth one said, "Let's run, and run, and run." The fifth one said, "Get ready for some fun." Then whoosh went the wind, and out went the lights, and five little pumpkins rolled out of sight. Five Little Pumpkins Sitting On a Gate

The Nightmare before Halloween

It was a dark and stormy night, and Elizabeth Spencer was exhausted, so much so, in fact, that she wasn't sure she would be able to make it through trick or treat, but the last thing in the world that she wanted to do was disappoint her children. After all, they had enough disappointments in their life already.

Straightening back up from her kneeled position where she had been gathering the diaper bags she would have to load into her mini-van, the petite yet harried brunette sighed. Despite the fact that it had been months since she had last given birth, her body had not yet recovered from the trauma, and she was constantly sore and fatigued. In fact, she wondered if she'd ever go back to normal again, whatever that was. Between taking care of her kids and her husband and working more than her share of double shifts at the hospital, there was just no time for the proper recuperation her abused form required.

But the sheer exhaustion she constantly suffered from did little to ebb her joy when her eyes came in contact with the majority of her little angels. Five little pumpkins, all under the age of two, sat before her, perfectly dressed and waiting for their older brother, the farmer, to parade them around that night as they hammed up their costumes for candy they couldn't even eat yet. They, along with Cameron, were her pride and joys, and she would do anything for them.

"Lucky," the brunette mother called out, eager to get started with the evening's festivities. When he didn't answer her, though, she checked her babies one last time before moving towards the only bedroom in her family's small, rundown apartment where her husband was supposed to be getting ready to join her. He had promised her that he'd help with trick or treat, even going so far as to schedule a shift change in order to be there for her, but, when she crossed the small living room, impossibly crammed with cribs, car seats, and other necessary baby paraphernalia, the sight that awaited her caused tears of frustration and anger to well up in the young nurse's eyes.

Sound asleep and snoring softly, Lucky was passed out, stomach down, on her toddlers small, twin sized bed. She didn't have to approach any closer to know that her husband's slumber was not induced by a lack of sleep but, rather, he had come home that afternoon, from where she had no clue, smashed and disoriented once again. Though he had finally kicked his drug habit the year before when she found out she was pregnant – again – from one solitary night of comfort sex during the time in which Jake was missing after being kidnapped, the cop had, instead, turned to alcohol as his crutch of choice, numbing whatever it was that haunted him in the very same fashion he had ridiculed his own father for all these years.

But Lucky's drunken display wasn't the worst of it. What was was the fact that her oldest son was standing forlornly beside the only father he had ever known, trying futilely to wake the unconscious detective, for not only had Lucky promised her that he'd spend Halloween with his family, but he had also promised her little boy as well.

"Cam, honey," she called out to the quietly sobbing child, kneeling down and opening her arms for him to run to her for comfort. And that's exactly what the curly haired toddler did. Holding him tight and whispering reassuring words in his small little ear, Elizabeth consoled the disheartened little boy as much as she could, confidently telling him that they were going to have fun that night no matter what and that he had to be a big, strong man to help her take care of his brother and sisters. While she knew it was wrong to play on Cameron's seemingly instinctual need to take care of his siblings, she also knew it was the best and quickest way to quiet his sobs, and, right or wrong, she just couldn't take listening to him cry for one more night.

Finally pacified, the two of them, walking hand in hand, moved back into their home's main room, her and the costumed farmer beside her silently greeting the five little pumpkins sitting patiently waiting for them. Without prompting, her eldest son approached his younger brother, taking Jake by the hand as the two of them made their way towards the front door. There, Cameron held it open for her as she hefted two of the quad's car seats outside, hurrying in order to return to the second set of identical infant girls.

Strapping in Laura and Leslie and making sure that her boys had properly fastened their own buckles, Elizabeth, with as much energy as she could muster, turned back around and headed for her rundown flat once again. It was hard for her to remember a day when she enjoyed living in the one bedroom apartment, just as it was difficult for her to recall what it felt like to actually like her own life or to love her own husband. It seemed as if, in one single, solitary moment, she was debating whether or not to tell Jason that she was carrying his child and not Lucky's, and, then, in the very next, she was pregnant again and expecting quadruplets. Her second marriage to the eldest Spencer became real, there was no escaping her own messed up and wrong choices, and, a year later, the young nurse realized she still and always would be effectively trapped.

And there wasn't light on the horizon for them either. After being forced to sell her husband's family home in order to pay for the excess medical costs the babies' birth had brought upon them and all the supplies they would need to properly take care of them, they had moved back into the apartment the brunette had hoped to have left behind for good. She worked at least 60 if not more hours a week trying to make ends meet, and there were still the backed up rehab bills to worry about and future expenses to dread. Preschool, and braces, and she certainly didn't even want to think about college, but, like it or not, before she knew it, she would have to consider those very things. Money, as it always seemed to be when she was involved with and married to Lucky Spencer, was just another heavy, burdensome weight on her shoulders.

Bending to lift the second set of car seats into her grasp, Elizabeth glanced first to her left and to a sleeping Lulu and then right to a wide awake yet quiet and content Luka. She loved her children, equally and unconditionally, she really did, but she also found herself occasionally wondering what her life could be like if she had made some very different decisions.

Squaring her shoulders, she shook off those ideas. "Looking back, thinking about the what-if's, that won't help anything, Elizabeth," she chided herself, angry for the momentary weakness. "If nothing else, he, at least, taught you that."

But, really, he had given her so much more than one wise piece of advice, but, unfortunately, she was the only one who knew just how much of a role Jason Morgan had played in her life. He had saved her on a night when she felt as if her entire world was crashing down around her, twice, he had allowed her to save him as well, numerous times, and, most importantly, he had given her a son, her beautiful, intelligent, sweet little Jacob Martin, and she knew that, if he only was aware of the truth, if he only was aware of the fact that he was a father, she and her children would not be living one step above squalor.

"Come on, girls," she whispered affectionately to her brunette, brown eyed babies – Lucky's babies, trying to infuse as much enthusiasm into her words as possible. "It's time to go see Grandma Audrey, and then we're going to go trick or treating."

However, as she walked out her front door, pulling it shut with the toe of her worn and scuffed sneaker, the mother of six knew she had failed miserably. No one, not even two oblivious, six month old little girls would be able to believe she was excited about anything in her wretched life. In fact, if Elizabeth was honest with herself, she'd say that, really, it was as though she were trapped in a never ending nightmare.

!!

Jackhammering up out of a restless, terror inducing dream, Elizabeth Spencer, soon to be Webber again after her divorce from Lucky went through, tried, in vain, to quell her erratic breathing. If not for herself, she needed to get her body under control for the precious life she was carrying inside of her. But then the images from her nightmare came back to her, and she immediately tensed up once again.

Glancing around the dingy apartment she knew oh so well, the young mother was frantic. It just couldn't be; it was impossible. There was no way that she was remarried to Lucky, hiding the truth about her son with Jason from the enforcer, her best friend, and mother to four Spencer daughters, and, luckily, what she found in the flat reassured her that her fears were, indeed, mistaken, for there were no cribs in sight, there wasn't an overabundance of pink anywhere to be seen, and her soon-to-be ex was not snoring away, passed out in the home they had formerly shared together's sole bedroom.

She really had dreamt it all.

Collapsing back into the sofa's cushions, the brunette nurse finally took stock of her own appearance. Sweating profusely, despite the fact that she was only wearing a pair of short shorts and a tiny tank top even though it was already October 30th and the shortened days were rapidly cooling as they were prone to do in upstate New York, she realized that her pregnancy must have made her feel too warm again. And, with skin clammy and heart rate rocketing through her chest as if she had just finished running a marathon, Elizabeth realized what both her dream and her body were trying to tell her.

What she had just seen, though, in all likelihood a vast and gross exaggeration, was a warning as to what her life could and would be like if she continued to perpetuate the lie that Carly and then Sonny had started for her. By remaining silent and allowing Jason to believe his intrusive best friends, she was sentencing herself to a life she did not want – a life with Lucky, a life as a Spencer, and a life as a mother struggling to make ends meet. No matter what she told herself, if she did not confess the truth and tell the world, starting with Jason, that he was the father of her unborn child, then she would, inevitably, end up back with her drug addicted, unstable ex, and the thought of going back to Lucky, of making a child – let alone four – with him sent her already unsteady form into a tailspin.

Rushing into the flat's small, cramped bathroom, the single mother emptied her pregnancy weakened stomach into the refreshingly cool porcelain toilet, bonelessly lowering herself to the linoleum floor once she was finished. With legs sprawled out before her and arms spread to her side, she remained there, unmovable, while her eyes simply stared straight out ahead of her, sightlessly, seeing nothing but the course of action awaiting her. For the first time since she ran to Jason the night she found Lucky in bed with Maxie, the surgical nurse knew exactly what she had to do.

First of all, no matter what, her divorce would go through. If it was the last thing she did, Elizabeth was determined to stop making foolish, hasty decisions when it came to her personal life. Three times she had been married to two different men, and, if she ever consented to another walk down the aisle, she was resolute that, no matter what, it would be her last. She wouldn't allow her Grams or her friends or her coworkers to pressure her into doing what they thought was best for her, but, rather, she was finally going to stand up and do what she thought was best for her, everyone else, besides her son and unborn child, be damned.

Secondly, she had had enough of the lies and the secrets. If one person, and that was her, was going to know the truth about her baby's paternity, then the whole world, no matter what the consequences, was going to know that Jason Morgan, renowned hitman and enforcer extraordinaire, was its father. She didn't care what his friends thought, if his on again and off again girlfriend had a problem with the fact that he had conceived a child with another woman the night she hadslept with her mother's husband, and the young brunette didn't even care what her best friend thought of her decision to tell him about his impending fatherhood. No matter what, she knew that Jason deserved to know his child, and she was positive that, if anyone could be a wonderful dad, it was the stoic blonde who lived high atop the city of Port Charles in his bullet proof penthouse.

And, finally, the single mother was sick and tired of putting things off. She had waited years to tell Jason how she felt about him, years to finally be with him, and look what that had gotten her: pregnant after one night of sex, though she didn't regret the conception of her unborn baby, and less than favorable chances of repeating the most rewarding sexual experience of her life. She had put off telling Lucky about her pregnancy only for him to come to the conclusion that she was expecting his child and for him to put her baby, Jason's baby in danger not once but twice. And, finally, by putting off telling Jason the truth, she was also negatively affecting her own unborn child's health, causing her body to rebel and protest in the form of a graphic, harrowing nightmare that frightened her to the core.

Well, no more!

Standing up, she braced her weak and unsteady form against the bathroom's vanity. Quickly, she set to brushing her teeth, rinsing out her mouth, and washing her face, physically hoping to erase the signs of her former sickness even though her mind would not soon forget the pain and discomfort her own denial had recently brought her. Finished, the young mother fled the lavatory, moving out into the main room of the apartment to gather her things.

Slipping on her shoes, she ran a quick inventory. Her keys were in her purse, her car was parked just outside, her son was spending the night at his grandmothers, for Audrey had noticed, even if Elizabeth hadn't, just how exhausted the brunette nurse was, and Jason, she hoped, would be at his penthouse, retired away for the night, probably playing pool and working his way through a six pack of frostily cooled beer.

She didn't pause to change her clothes, not even to throw on a coat or a robe. Instead, she fled the stifling flat as if demons were nipping at her heels, and, maybe, they were. Determined, headstrong, and hopeful, Elizabeth had only one thought in mind: to tell Jason Morgan the truth about his impending fatherhood, for there was no way in hell she was going to allow her nightmare before Halloween to turn into a reality.