Brides Watch Over Thee

Chapter Twelve
CFFC#12: Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
~ Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

She was pretty sure that she had finally gotten Cameron to sleep.

Despite what he thought, her little boy had not been able to fool her. She knew exactly how tired he was at Robin's wedding, and that had been not at all. While Jake went down to bed easily, seemingly whenever she wanted him to, every night, Cameron fought her. Every single night. And it was only worse on the nights when he was excited about the next day. The day before Easter, the day before his birthday, the day before Halloween, and especially the day before Christmas were always major battles between her and her oldest son. It was something that he got from her, though, so she really couldn't fault him for his persistent nature.

She had been thankful for his ruse at the reception. However happy she was for her two friends and coworkers, Elizabeth couldn't help but feel bittersweet towards their nuptials. When Jason had proposed to her the April before, during those few, brief, precious moments when they were actually engaged, she had allowed herself to imagine what marrying the man she loved would be like. The weddings never varied in size or formality. They were always simple, intimate affairs, just she and Jason, the boys, and a few of their closest friends and family members.

She had pictured a summer wedding where the boys could play outside afterwards and she and Jason could go to Italy for their honeymoon just in time to see the Palio. She had imagined a fall wedding, something close to her birthday in order to make both the date she dreaded each year and Emily's senseless death a little less painful to remember. She had imagined a spring wedding, something fresh and elegant, something that would have represented the clean, new start they were making together as husband and wife. But her favorite fantasy had been a winter wedding.

The idea had been appealing to her for the sheer fact that, looking back, her favorite time spent with Jason had been the Christmas they had shared in her studio together all those years before. And she even pictured his face when he saw the church decorated in Charlie Brown Christmas trees and paper chains. Her entire dream wedding had been a celebration of their past and a promise to their future, something only the two of them would have been able to fully appreciate or understand.

But that hope, that dream, was gone now, and, instead, she had attended another winter wedding, one that was bigger, and more lavish, and less personal than the one she had wanted for herself and Jason, but, nonetheless, it had still made her feel slightly jealous and, in turn, that jealousy made her feel as though she wasn't a good friend.

So, she had been happy to leave the reception early, thankful for Cam's convenient excuse, but, when Robin had dangled a dance with Jason before her fingertips, there was absolutely no way she had the willpower to refuse such bait. And, while she had known it was dangerous, and reckless, and irresponsible, being in his arms again, even if it was for only a few minutes before a roomful of people, it had felt too right to deny or to condemn as being wrong.

However, the dance had ended, in her heart, mere seconds after it had begun, and she had the boys had retired to their home, alone and without Jason. Luckily, though, the kids had served as a good distraction for her melancholy mood. Just as they had planned together, they put out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. She had given them their baths and helped them into their pajamas before reading to them The Night Before Christmas. Jake had fallen asleep during the first story, so she had put him down in his crib, but Cameron, her every bubbly, never tired five year old, had proclaimed himself a big boy and hardly sleepy at all. So, she had proceeded to read him a second bedtime story, and then a third, and, then, finally, even a fourth, never once objecting, simply savoring the fact that he still wanted her to spend so much time with him. Both the boys were growing up so fast already, and the last thing she wanted to do was rush their childhood in anyway shape or form.

But, now, she believed Cameron to be asleep. At least, his eyes were closed, and he looked as though he was, in fact, down for the night, and she was faced with finishing her Christmas Eve chores alone. She had presents to wrap, stockings to stuff, and cookies and carrots to gobble down all in the effort to convince her two young boys that Santa Claus really did exist. The chores that lay before her that late evening were things that a mother should do with her children's father, things that a woman should do with her husband, the man she loved, but, for Elizabeth Webber, such a thing was not an option. And she would eventually accept that fact… just not this year.

Walking towards the kitchen, intent upon fixing herself a pot of coffee, for she would need the caffeine to stay awake, she was slightly startled when she heard a knock on her front door. After all, it was nearly midnight, she wasn't expecting anyone, and it was a holiday, so, really, there was no logical reason for someone to be there. Without meaning for it to happen, her heart instantly leapt in her chest, beating at a nervous, hopeful pace. She knew better than to think that it was him, knew that he wouldn't risk either her safety or her boys' to come see her on Christmas Eve, but that didn't stop Elizabeth from wishing for his presence anyway.

Turning around, she was left feeling disappointed once again. Despite knowing without a shadow of a doubt that it wasn't Jason knocking on her front door, seeing the fact with her own two eyes made her crumble inside just a little bit more, made her posture slip just a fraction of a degree lower.

Approaching the entrance to her home, she opened it for the delivery man, smiling at him with what could only be interpreted as an empty, hollow effort. "Are you Elizabeth Webber," the young man asked her. He was shivering, obviously freezing from the classic storybook winter weather they were experiencing that year, and she found herself reaching up to rub her own sweater covered arms in response to both his chill and the sudden swift breeze that assaulted her from the open front door.

"I am," she responded, immediately reaching on instinct for the envelope he had for her. "Isn't it a little late, though, to still be making deliveries?"

"It's my last run of the night," the kid, probably a college student, informed her. "Someone has to get all the last minute presents delivered."

Chuckling instinctively at his friendly comment, the single mother returned, "and here I thought that was Santa's job."

The currier just shrugged his shoulders before jogging down her front steps and towards his awaiting, still running vehicle. "Merry Christmas, Miss Webber," he offered his salutations, but, before she could say the same, he was pulling out of her driveway and she was realizing that she was still standing in the drafty opening.

Robotically, she moved towards her couch, sitting down once the front door was both shut and locked once again. Although she knew she really should be starting on her long list of chores that needed to be complete before the kids woke up bright and early the next morning, she couldn't resist opening up the letter. While it obviously wasn't a festively packaged bauble, it was still addressed to her, and Elizabeth Webber had never been able to deny her curiosity. Ripping open the manila envelope quickly, the torn scraps falling unnoticed to the floor, she hastily removed the handwritten letter contained within, regretfully wrinkling it in the process.

As soon as she saw the writing – concise, blocky, and oh so very masculine, she knew exactly who the note was from without even needing the signature to confirm her suspicions. After so many years, Jason Morgan was still the most original gift giver she had ever known. It wasn't a baseball bat, and it wasn't a postcard from Italy, but it was exactly what she needed to remind her that he loved and missed her just as much as she loved and missed him.

Needing the reassurance that the letter was real and not a figment of her imagination, she started reading it out loud to herself, settling comfortably back into the cushions of the couch, so she could relish each and every word of the holiday missive. "Elizabeth," it was addressed – simple, straightforward, and to the point, but, when she imagined him saying her name in that way that only he could, she knew there was no other greeting she would ever want to hear from him.

"There's so much I need to tell you that it's hard for me to even begin, so, if this sounds rushed or even harsh, just know that's not how I wanted it to come across. First, I guess you need to know that I'm not going to take the FBI's deal. Like I told you earlier, there are just too many holes, too many ways that you and the boys could still be hurt even with the government's help. With Sonny and the Zaccharas gone, there would still be the Russians to contend with, and there would always be a new enemy just waiting to attack me.

"But I am taking a deal; it's just with someone else, though. After the wedding tonight, I was paid a visit by the Scorpios, three of them, in fact – Robert, Anna, and Robin, and, after hearing them out, I've decided to work with them. As of 10:30 tonight, I became a secret operative for the WSB. Spinelli knows, obviously Robin knows, and, now, you know as well, but no one else can ever find out.

"While Robert is going to focus on cleaning out the Russians, Anna's going to slowly infiltrate Sonny's life. She's going to befriend him, get him to confide in her, and, eventually, use their connection to bring him down from the inside. Once everyone's out of the picture and I'm the only one left standing, we're going to make it seem as though I still control all the power here in Port Charles, except I'll secretly be completely legit and protected by the WSB. More importantly, you and the boys will secretly be protected by the WSB.

"For now, we still can't see each other. Until the present danger is taken care of, I just can't take that risk, but, at the same time, I know that I won't be able to stay away from you either. So, Spinelli thought of some ways that we can keep in contact with each other… that is, if you still want to be with me. If you don't, if you're afraid this plan won't work, I'll completely understand. You have to do what you believe to be right for you and our boys, and I'll respect any decision you make, but, if you do still want to be with me, if you do still want to marry me, then Spinelli will be coming over sometime this week to set up a webcam for you and to bring you an untraceable phone. We'll be able to talk both online and over the phone without anyone ever knowing. It's not perfect, far from it, but it's something. It's a start."

She paused then to wipe away the few tears that had managed to escape her dreamy, once again hopeful eyes and smiled to herself. "It's perfect enough," Elizabeth responded to Jason's words, recalling a similar exchange they had shared more than a year before at the Metro Court. Taking a deep breath, she refocused her attention upon the letter, intent upon finishing the entire thing before she started reading it over and over again in order to memorize her favorite parts.

"Anyway, Robert and Anna seem optimistic. They gave me an outline of six to nine months for them to have both the Russians and Sonny and the Zaccharas completely out of Port Charles, so, if they're right, by next year at this time, if you still want to be my wife, I want to marry you. We'll finally be able to be a family, and, maybe, you and the boys will be able to live a halfway normal life.

"For now, though, Merry Christmas, Elizabeth. Please, tell both Cameron and Jake that I'm thinking of them, that I miss them, and that I love them, even if you only want to tell them when they're still asleep so they don't get confused. I hope the three of you get everything that you want this year… even if I can't be the one to give it to you.

"Talk to you soon. Love, Jason."

"P.S. For what's about to happen, I'm so sorry."

Up until the very last line, Jason's note to her had been flawless, and, with it, despite what he thought, he had managed to, at least, give her everything that she wanted that Christmas. However, his closing remark left her puzzled, left her confused, and, as her face scrunched up in both thought and inquisitiveness, she found herself oddly enough surprised. If there was one thing the man she loved was not it was cryptic. Jason pretty much always said what he meant unless he simply couldn't tell her something at all.

However, before she truly had a chance to contemplate his words, there was a second late night knock on her front door. Slowly, she lifted herself from her sitting position and moved towards the locked entrance. Flipping the deadbolt, she twisted the handle at the same time and pulled the door open to reveal a shivering yet still grinning Robert Scorpio.

"Hello, there, Love," he greeted her, even going so far as to kiss her warmly, almost like a father would, on the cheek before purposely yet not impolitely pushing himself into her home. Making himself comfortable, he started to remove his scarf, coat, and gloves, watching her mystified motions out of the corner of his eye the entire time as she, once again, closed the door.

Waiting for an explanation, Elizabeth simply remained silent while her midnight guest busied himself. Once the agent was satisfied, his winter wear tossed over the back of one of her dining room table's chairs, he turned back to face her completely and clapped his hands together once before rubbing them together expectantly.

"So, I hear you have a spare room available that you could rent out to me."

She laughed, and then that laughter turned into a full-fledged, belly ache inducing fit of the giggles. Suddenly, Jason's enigmatic message made sense. Until he could be with her, until he could personally keep her and the boys safe, he had sent them for Christmas the next best thing: her own personal, legendary, one of a kind super spy.

*~*

Tiptoeing back to bed, Cameron Webber almost tripped on the runner that covered the upstairs hallway floor. His silly mommy had actually thought he had been asleep when he had really been faking the whole entire time. He had waited for her to go back downstairs before he had crawled out of bed and hid himself at the top of the steps. A little boy in his daycare class had told him that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, and he had been determined to find out the truth for himself.

He had watched as his mother received her letter, he had listened to her read it out loud, and, then, best of all, he had seen her let Doctor Robin's dad into their house.

Although his mom didn't know it, he had secretly asked Santa for a pet kitty for Christmas. Instead, though, Santa had sent him something much, much better, so there was no reason for him to stay up any later. His mommy was happy again, Santa was real, and he couldn't wait to tell that stupidhead at daycare that he was wrong.

And he knew this because, rather than a pet kitty, the tiger was moving in.