HHFC#9: Double, double toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake… ~ Macbeth, Act One, Scene Four by William Shakespeare

Devious Apologies

There was something about the Quartermaine mansion that made Elizabeth Webber nervous. Despite the fact that she had not been to the regal estate in years, she could still remember cowering in front of it as a child, and, even though her outward appearance that afternoon did not speak of her inner lack of confidence, the apprehension was still very much there. It wasn't the size nor the grandeur of the mansion, and she certainly wasn't intimidated by the people who lived in the stately, white brick home, but, rather, the young artist believed that it was the culmination of history and never-ending vitality that the manor represented that unsettled her, and no one possessed more of that aura than the very woman she was hoping to visit with that afternoon.

Taking a cleansing breath, the petite brunette rang the doorbell, composing herself for when the front door was opened. Unfortunately, like any well maintained property, she didn't have to wait long, and, before she was quite ready to face the task awaiting her, a man, the butler she believed, someone she vaguely remembered from her childhood, was greeting her primly yet properly.

"Good afternoon, Miss…"

"Webber," she answered, her tone, despite her anxiety, reeking of posh and sophistication. "I'm here to see Mrs. Lila Quartermaine if she is available."

"She just returned from tending to her rose garden. Follow me."

With that, the servant allowed her inside, immediately moving towards the wide, graceful front staircase, leading Elizabeth towards the awaiting second floor.

"Thank you, Mr…"

"Reginald."

"Mr. Reginald," she finished.

But the older man chuckled. "No, it's just Reginald, no Mr. anything. The old man hates it, says that a member of his staff should be proper at all times, but he's just an old blowhard. As long as Mrs. Q doesn't mine my informality, then I'm safe."

With just a few humorously spoken words, the butler put her at ease, and she found herself chuckling along softly with his own deeper, more masculine laughter. "My family would disown me for admitting this, but we've never had any servants. However, if we ever did, I have a feeling they just might spice things up a little bit."

"You have no idea."

They moved along the upper corridor quickly, Elizabeth following behind the competent yet relaxed butler. By the time they reached their destination, though, she was surprised that he had not asked her for more information. The blue eyed artist had expected him to inquire for more details about who she was and what she wanted with the Quartermaine matriarch, but he never said a word, and, before she could ask him why he was acting so curiously, she was shown into a private parlor, and the woman she had come to see was sitting ready and waiting to talk with her.

"Elizabeth, dear," Lila beamed genuinely in her direction. "What a lovely surprise."

Smirking, the brunette found herself teasing, "why do I get the feeling, though, that it's not really so much of a surprise? Reginald didn't ask me anything about why I was here, and you recognized me instantly."

"What if I was to say that someone very special to me recently reminded me of you just a few days ago?"

Taking a seat beside the elderly woman, Elizabeth responded, "I would say that you spoke to your grandson."

Lila grinned. "And so I did. Jason came by this week, peculiarly asking me questions about someone from his childhood that he recently became reacquainted with. You. Forgive my forwardness, but are the two of you dating? My grandson doesn't exactly confide those things in me… or anyone else, for that matter." Despite the fact that she had not been eating nor had she had anything to drink within the past hour, the young brunette found herself choking at the matriarch's words, her face turning a bright, heated red as she battled to regain control of her breathing. "Oh, dear, I'm so sorry," the head of the Quartermaine family apologized. "Would you like something to drink? I could call Reginald…"

"No," she argued, waving off the older woman's offer. "I'm fine." When Lila gave her a rather dubious look, she pressed. "Really, I am. I promise." A silence settled between them, but, before it could become awkward, Elizabeth simply confronted the figurative elephant in the room. "And, no, Jason and I are not dating. In fact, we're not even friends."

"But, after all these years, the two of you are back in each other's lives, so that must mean something."

"All it means is that we have a score between us from the past that still needs to be settled," the painter answered.

"Oh, I was afraid it was something like that," Lila confessed, sounding unbelievably disappointed. "You don't know, do you?"

"Know what," Elizabeth inquired. When the elderly woman remained silent, she continued. "What is going on? Jason alluded to something that had to do with remembering things, and, when I asked my Grams, she was absolutely no help whatsoever. The only words I understood from her high pitched diatribe against your grandson were: hoodlum, criminal, degenerate, and get you killed. That's why I came to see you today," she explained, leaning forward in her seat as she came to the point of her visit. "Mrs. Quartermaine, I'm lost. Why does my grandmother hate Jason so much, and why does it still seem, after we've seen each other twice now, like your grandson doesn't know who I am?"

"You've been away from Port Charles for a long time, haven't you, dear?"

"Yes," the petite artist responded, drawling out the word, "but I don't see how that…"

Lila interrupted, her tone determined yet sympathetic. "A lot has changed since you two were children, Elizabeth. Jason Morgan is not the same man as that boy you remember. In fact, Jason Morgan doesn't even know who that boy is."

It was hours after she had left the Quartermaine estate, but, still, Elizabeth's head was spinning from the information she had learned from the Jason's grandmother. The fact that her childhood nemesis had absolutely no recognition of his own adolescence was a difficult concept for her to grasp. Add to that the fact that he had abandoned and disowned his family, something she was, if the brunette was completely honest with herself, slightly envious of, and now, instead of the Quartermaine golden child, he was one of the most recognizable and feared mafia enforcers in the world, and she was just downright flabbergasted.

If it wasn't for the fact that the hitman had retaliated against her, she would have felt bad for the trick she had pulled against him Halloween night, but the fact remained that he had sought vengeance upon her, choosing to continue their cycle of deceptions visited upon each other instead of realizing that she had been in the dark about his accident and subsequent amnesia. He had fooled her into going on a bike ride with him, left her in the middle of the nowhere, showing absolutely no mercy, and never once checked in with her to make sure that she had made it back to civilization alive. For all he knew, she could have been dead on the side of the road, all because of him.

Despite the fact that she was still very much alive and even more so pissed off, Elizabeth had come down with a severe cold thanks to her nightlong trek back into Port Charles from the outreaches of the waterside town, and armed with the knowledge that she had just gained from his grandmother, she was fully prepared to continue their little battle of wills and wit. If Jason Morgan wanted to play dirty, then that was exactly what he would get. She didn't care if he didn't remember her; he sure as hell knew who she was now, and thanks to Lila's information, she knew that he had been aware of her identity the night that he had ditched her in the woods to fend for herself.

So, that's why she had returned home, back to her studio, that afternoon with a plan already set in her mind. Deciding to use the old adage of luring more bees with honey, she had set about baking the enforcer a batch of her famous brownies. With her painting of the wind almost finished, a fact that she was going to make sure she mentioned and rubbed in when confronting her rival, she had time to devote to her slightly sinister plot, and, two hours later, she found herself en route to the little office behind the coffee shop that she had visited before under a much different set of circumstances.

This time, though, there was a guard at the door, and, after telling him who she was, the intimidatingly large man introduced her, only allowing her into the office once a bark of approval was voiced from within. Plastering a fake smile onto her face, she walked confidently into the darkly furnished room, her Tupperware container of brownies positioned purposely in front of her.

However, unlike she had planned, Jason was not alone, and she found her confidence disappearing at a much more rapid pace than usual. Fidgeting, the pretty brunette avoided eye contact with the Hispanic, dimpled man behind the desk. He obviously had an idea as to who she was, and she didn't need his humor with the present situation or the connection between her and his second in command to distract her. So, instead, she stared at the only blonde in the room, zeroing her gaze in on his stoic, unemotional face.

"Good evening, Jason."

"Elizabeth," he grunted his less than friendly greeting in return. A clearing of a throat behind the enforcer had him rolling his eyes before he stated, "Elizabeth, this is Sonny Corinthos; Sonny, this Elizabeth Webber."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Webber," the mob boss complimented, grinning widely.

"Likewise," she returned, still refusing to meet his dancing, black eyes. "Anyway," she pushed on, clearing her throat. "I won't keep you long. The two of you are obviously busy… doing something I really don't want to know about, and I need to get back to my studio. The painting I was working on before, it's almost finished now, and I think it's going to be the best of the whole collection." A shot of satisfaction rocketed through the brunette artist when she saw her archenemy's frown deepen even further at her words.

"You're an artist," the don asked, interrupting. "I'd love to see some of your work sometime. I'm a firm believer in supporting local talent, so, if you'd like to bring your portfolio by, either here or at my home, Jason could give you the address, I'd welcome the opportunity to…"

"Sonny," the younger man barked, silencing his boss. Turning back to the only woman in the room, he demanded, "what do you want?"

"Listen, I don't want to be here anymore than you want me here, but the fact of the matter is that I need to apologize to you." Apparently, the word apologize had caught the hitman's attention, for his sandy brows lifted in awareness. "When I… restrained you a few nights ago, I, obviously, had no idea that you did not remember me, that you medically had no way of recalling who I was or our history together, so, for my inconsideration, I apologize."

"Is that all?"

"You don't have to be so rude, Jason," Sonny chastised. "She's being gracious right now. Why don't you return the favor for once?"

The older man's advice, though, went unheeded. "Yes, there is one more thing," Elizabeth answered, handing over her container of homemade brownies. "Just a little something to express my sincere regret for my actions. I hope you like sweets, chocolate especially."

"Oh, I think he'll love your sweets," the Hispanic teased her, winking in the artist's direction. It took everything she could not to laugh at his audacity, the way he tormented his best friend, or how pissed off it made Jason.

"I didn't put any nuts in them, because I wasn't sure if you were allergic or not, and I forgot to ask your grandmother when I went to see her today."

The mob boss spoke up once again. "No, Jason prefers things without nuts. Maybe you know him better than you think, Elizabeth."

"Why did you go to see my grandmother," the enforcer demanded to know, for the umpteenth time ignoring his employer.

"Well, I needed to find out what was going on somehow, and my own grandmother was of absolutely no help. Relax," she teased, unable to help herself. "It's not like I hogtied Lila to a desk, too," and, immediately, the don sitting down before her erupted into a fit of laughter. In fact, she could even hear the guard outside the office chuckling as well. "Alright, I came here to say that I was sorry, to give you the brownies, and I did that, so, if you'll excuse me, I'll be on my way."

With that, she turned around on her heels and proceeded to walk the short distance to the closed door. However, before she could get the handle turned open, Jason's voice behind her stopped her in her tracks. "Um… thanks, I guess."

She grinned mischievously, not allowing the blonde to see her amused smirk. "You're welcome."

"And, if it's okay," the enforcer continued, stopping her from leaving once again. "I'd like to see that painting, the one you did of the wind from the back of my bike. You know, if you don't mind explaining it to me."

And, just like that, she almost felt guilty for the entire box of Ex-lax she had dumped into her traditional brownie batter, but then Elizabeth thought about how sick she had been for the past few days, about her favorite painting jeans that had been ruined on her walk back into town, and about how she very well could have died thanks to the man she had calculatingly drugged, and her remorse disappeared just as quickly as it had surfaced. "Yeah," she finally answered, biting her plush bottom lip to keep from giggling out loud. "That'd be nice. See you around, Jason."

And, this time, whenever he did pop back up in her life, she'd be ready for him… and his next round of retribution.