A/N: With the introduction of this new story comes many things to tell you. First of all, it's an ensemble piece. I typically write very Liason centric. In fact, I've been known to put them in a bubble. However, this is quite the opposite. While, at first, it starts off with more scenes between characters other than Jason and Elizabeth, all the side stories eventually will fit into and will build into theirs. As the tale progresses, you'll see Jason and Elizabeth more. Some of the history has been altered, while other pieces remain intact. I've also played around with ages, too, but I ask that you just allow the fic to progress. As it does, I'll explain things in the text itself and, if that is not sufficient, then I will answer questions. For those of you interested in the projected length of this story, I have it mapped out as being thirty-five chapters, plus an epilogue, so that means that it's going to take a while. The good news is, though, that I'm working on a stockpile of chapters. Also, there are also those one shots that I mentioned. You'll be seeing the first one of those soon. Promise. Alright, I think that's it. At least, I hope so. If not, I'll sure you'll let me know. ;) Enjoy!



Chapter One

The fact that she couldn't recall her husband… soon to be ex-husband's attorney's name was proof enough to the young nurse that they were completely mismatched, that they never should have gotten married in the first place.

Oh, thank you, hindsight.

Names were a significant and important part of Nikolas's world. Not only did a man's – or a woman's – own name matter, but so did those of the people they associated with. After all, a person's name would not only detail their family ancestry, but it would also provide insight into their bank account, for someone who was worthy of associating with the Prince of the Cassadine family would not simply walk around town with a first, a middle, and a last name. Rather, their names would be long and regal, impressive and ostentatious, terribly difficult to remember.

Faces, she had no problem with. Despite the fact that she saw dozens of patients each and every day at the hospital and could remember Mrs. Jennings every year when she came in for her yearly check-up because of the scar she possessed right above her right eyebrow and Mr. Reynolds when he would stop briefly to exchange a few words with her outside of Kelly's because of the slight downward turn of his mouth due to a mild stroke many years before, her spouses' business associates and employees always drew blanks for the petite blonde. In her mind, they all looked the same, their faces bland and indistinct, a conservative, complacent product of their stifling, blue-blood environment.

Nadine, on the other hand, was just a little country bumpkin and unashamed of the fact. While she might have fallen in love with her husband for his gallantry and grace, his warmth and generosity of spirit, she had also, apparently, seen more in him than he did in himself. Plus, now, looking back, the young mother could admit that she had fallen for a man who no longer existed; the Nikolas she had loved was the Nikolas who had loved Emily, and, once he came to terms with his first wife's death and the loss of the family and life they were making together, he changed, either back into the man he was before the Quartermaine granddaughter entered his existence or into someone she, Emily, wouldn't recognize at all if she could see him again.

But Nadine didn't blame her soon-to-be ex for the problems in their marriage. She had gone into their union fully aware of the fact that the Cassadine prince had already loved greatly once before, but she had also been naïve enough to think it was possible for a man to love greatly more than once. Apparently, in Nikolas's case, she had been wrong. More than four years after their marriage, her husband was still as madly in love with Emily Bowen Quartermaine as the day she died, as the day she brought their only child, a son, into the world, and, as they together sat in front of the family lawyer, she knew that fact would never change.

Their relationship had been a whirlwind affair, for the blonde nurse had fallen hard for the wealthy gentleman and had fallen quickly. Looking back, she realized that Nikolas had just been on the rebound, that she was soft, and kind, and sweet towards both him and his infant son, and he had latched onto that compassion like a drowning man seeking a life preserver. She, as depressing as it sounded now, was convenient for the prince. Not only did she distract him from his wife's loss, but she also took care of his infant son when he didn't have the strength to take care of himself.

Less than six months after she met Nikolas Cassadine, new to the town of Port Charles and her job at General Hospital, Nadine Crowell had married the handsome, reclusive widower, immediately moving into his home on Spoon Island, effectively isolating herself from the rest of the world. Her day started to revolve around her men – both Spencer, named for Nikolas's deceased mother's late husband's family, and Nikolas. She scaled down her hours at the hospital, threw herself into the appropriate charity work for a woman of her new social standing, and attempted to become, in essence, a princess fit to be married to the Cassadine prince. Unfortunately, she was not cut out for the job.

Her body felt awkward in the rich, opulent dresses someone of her wealth and status should wear; she preferred her old, worn scrubs. As for the jewelry, the tiaras, the rings, the neck achingly heavy necklaces, Nadine just felt like a foolish little girl playing dress-up when she put them on, and she hadn't liked playing dress-up as a child, let alone as an adult. The other women who belonged to Nikolas's social set didn't approve of her marriage to the head of the Cassadine family, so they snubbed her, and, once their honeymoon had concluded, Nikolas simply ignored her. She was there to serve a purpose when she was needed, but, otherwise, he wanted her out of sight and out of mind.

However, Nadine hadn't been so quick to give up. Latching onto the idea of a child, she had pestered her husband until he relented enough to grant her permission to seek out adopting a little girl. In a not-so-kind manner, he already explained to her that he had an heir in his son with Emily, and he did not want another child that could, in the future, threaten to seek a part of his child's inheritance. The ever-optimistic blonde, though, believed her husband to be just jaded, and she was positively certain that, as soon as he held their daughter in his arms for the first time, he would fall in love with her, too.

He hadn't, and, now, more than four years later, here they were, meeting with the Cassadine family attorney, seeking a quick and painless solution to their marriage. While the man, whose name she still could not recall, rattled on and on about family properties and heirlooms which she would have no claim to considering she wasn't a Cassadine by birth, Nadine had zoned out of the arbitration meeting. Frankly, she just wanted out of her marriage as unscathed as possible. The material possessions mattered nothing to her.

"And, now, that brings us to the issue of alimony." She was just about to inform the graying, older man that such a matter was not necessary when he continued to speak, the words that came out of his mouth rendering her silent for several awkward, inept moments. "Mr. Cassadine is prepared to offer you, Mrs. Cassadine, thirty thousand dollars a month in alimony payment in order for you to remain living in the manner you have become accustomed to as his wife."

Swallowing thickly, Nadine barely managed to make her voice work, and, when she spoke, the sounds that were emitted from her mouth sounded more like weak squeaks than the words of an educated woman. "Can you run that number by me again, because I could have sworn that you said thirty thousand dollars, but that's just preposterous? I mean, that's just insane."

"No," the lawyer spoke without emotion, removing his frameless spectacles to peer across the table at her in a rather bored fashion. "You heard correctly, Madam."

Suddenly, she found herself desperate to remember the older man's name. Maybe, if she could actually address him properly, he would take her more seriously, but all she could think of were those adorable rabbits that used to hop around in the Cadbury bunny commercials during Easter time, and the man looked nothing like a soft, tame pet.

Petulantly, the soon-to-be single again nurse folded her casually attired arms across her chest, realizing, in that moment, what a contrast she made against her husband's always impeccable appearance. While she was in a pair of old, torn jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt, Nikolas was in a three piece, harsh, black suit. In fact, he was dressed very similarly to his attorney. He would be, she found herself snorting silently in her own mind.

"Look, this is ridiculous. I don't want alimony. I'm a nurse. I moved out of this house a month ago, and I've been supporting myself ever since without help or an allowance from my husband." Glaring at a sullen Nikolas, she pressed on. "I'm perfectly capable of providing for myself and my children without anyone's assistance. While I might not be able to drive a Jag or wear fancy clothes made by pompous designers with even more pompous names, my salary from General Hospital is sufficient enough, thank you very much."

Sighing, the attorney was just about to press the matter when the Cassadine prince interrupted him. "Please, just move forward, Mr. Elsberry. I'm sure Mrs. Cassadine and I will be able to come up with some form of compromise eventually on our own, and, when we do, I'll inform you of our new, agreed upon terms. After all," he finally addressed her, leveling a cool, calculated glare in her direction, "Nadine certainly doesn't want to drag this divorce out any longer than necessary."

"Oh, please, like you want to be married to me anymore than I want to be married to you," she snapped back, entirely too sick and tired of her soon-to-be ex's put-upon attitude. "In fact, if I remember correctly, you were the one who asked for this divorce. No, wait," Nadine corrected herself. "You didn't ask; you demanded."

Waving a trivializing hand, Nikolas argued, "details."

Settling back in her uncomfortable, no doubt priceless chair that had once belonged to Someone the Great or, more likely, Someone the Terrible, considering she was married to a Cassadine, the petite blonde waited for the next item of settlement that the attorney felt it was necessary for them to discuss. At least now she knew why she always craved chocolate in the man's presence. His name rhymed with the famed Easter candy brand.

"Now, that only leaves us with the matter of custody to discuss."

"There's nothing to discuss," her regrettable spouse interjected helpfully. Finally, Nadine could sigh in relief. At least, Nikolas was going to do the right thing by their children, even if he was incapable of doing right by her. Just like she had realized, because of his busy lifestyle and demanding business commitments, primary custody of both Spencer and Laura should go to her, and then he would be able to see their kids anytime he wanted or was capable of spending more than an hour or two in their presence.

"Spencer, of course, will remain with me, seeing as how Nadine is just his step-mother and rather meaningless in his life at this point, and Laura will go to live with her mother. She has no ties to me, no real, blood ones anyway, and I've never had much interest in the girl. Besides, what would I do with a daughter?"

She couldn't speak; she couldn't even breathe. If that was her husband's idea of an appropriate custody arrangement, he had another thing coming. While she had believed herself perfectly aware of all Nikolas Cassadine's flaws and defects of character, this – his apparent coldness and disinterest in his own children's best interest - made her queasy. How had she ever believed herself in love with such a man? Why did she think it was a good idea to adopt a child with him in the first place? She should have known better. Her Aunt Rayleen had raised her better.

Recapturing her attention, the attorney spoke. "Are these terms and conditions of custody satisfactory for you, Mrs. Cassadine?"

"They absolutely are not!"

"What," Nikolas demanded, showing for the first time that morning that his dignified feathers had been ruffled. "Why the hell not?"

Standing up abruptly, Nadine stated, "this meeting is over. I'll show myself out."

No one stopped her, no one demanded she explain herself, and she was quite glad for the temporary concession. While she wasn't sure what she was going to do, she was going to talk to her brother, get his opinion on what her next move could and should be. After all, she was just a nurse, a point that was, if not exactly plainly stated during the arbitration meeting, hammered home through innuendo and scathing derision. How in the hell was she supposed to fight a prince, let alone one that had no qualms about fighting dirty? She had no idea, but, hopefully, her brother would.

} ~ {

Her best friend was a four year old little girl.

The strangest aspect of this fact, for that's what it was, was that Maxie really didn't mind. She didn't cringe in embarrassment, nor did she shudder at the idea either. True, Cate was her charge, her niece, and her responsibility when her mother wasn't around, but she was also a pretty kickass kidlet… something she told the toddler quite often in confidence. After all, in her opinion, it was never too soon to start building up the little girl's ego. If she was going to survive in their family, with women such as Robin, her mother, and her other aunt, Georgie the Good, she would need to be both thick-skinned and slightly narcissistic.

It wasn't that Maxie didn't love her family, for she did, tremendously; the issue she had with them came from their sheer perfection. In their Uncle Mac's eyes, neither Robin nor Georgie could do wrong, while, on the other hand, Maxie was the perpetual screw-up, the disappointment. She had not gone to college, she didn't single handedly unite their hometown of Port Charles together to rally and raise holy hell against the evils of HIV and AIDS, and she, unlike her two counterparts, had a record.

For shoplifting… more than once.

For one inconsequential, silly, little mix-up that resulted in the charges of public drunkenness, underage drinking, and indecent exposure.

Oh, and then there was also that homemade sex film of her and one of her numerous high school boyfriends that had made it onto the internet. Not that said porn movie was her fault, and, in her opinion, upon looking back at it, it was rather tasteful… as far as amateur sex films went. She had been an unwilling participant… at least in the role of the unpaid, untrained Jenna Jameson. But her Uncle Mac had not seen things in the same light. He had been furious that she was having sex, let alone so promiscuously, and, ever since her slightly rowdy high school days, she had been labeled the trouble maker of the Scorpio-Jones family.

It didn't matter that she was now the responsible, trustworthy nanny of his beloved great-niece, that his precious Robin had trusted her enough to care for her one and only daughter. While her cousin had obviously forgiven and, more importantly, forgotten about her past escapades, the man who had raised her could not, and, as Cate's honorary aunt, she refused to allow the blonde haired, blue eyed future beauty to suffer the same unreasonable judgment. After all, the likelihood that she would someday do something to disappoint Mac was great, for no one was perfect… not even Robin's adopted daughter, but, when that happened, thanks to her amazing aunt Maxie and her tireless tutelage, she would be prepared to let the disillusionment simply roll off her toned, tanned, and graceful back.

The only problem was that she had yet to figure out such an attitude for herself. It seemed as if, no matter what she did, her pseudo-dad was never happy. He disapproved of the fact that she now lived in Paris with Robin, earning her room and board and a little spending money in exchange for watching Cate while Robin was at work, and he found her dream of one day becoming a famous, well sought after fashion designer to be pure fantasy. He couldn't see how talented for such a career she was.

While he would compliment her on the fresh, beautiful clothes she wore, he never believed her, not completely, that they were of her own design and making, and, whenever a new picture of Cate was sent home, one inevitably where she was wearing an MJ original, he always would praise Robin for her shopping skills. And then there were the few times where random strangers would stop her in the street to ask her about where she had found 'those amazing pair of shoes' or 'that envy-inspiring spring jacket,' and she would rush home breathlessly to phone and tell the man who had raised her about the chance admiration, but he never quite seemed to hear her, would always rush off, claiming she shouldn't waste Robin's money by making frivolous calls, and would inevitably close the hasty, unfulfilling conversation by beseeching her to go back to school, to study something worthwhile like medicine or law… just like Robin and Georgie, respectively.

But Cate was never dismissive, and she was always quite freely giving of her affections for her aunt cum glorified babysitter. She would sit and work beside Maxie for hours while the starry-eyed young woman sketched and drew to her cashmere covered heart's content, and she always lavished colorful and enthusiastic approval upon all of Maxie's self-designed outfits. She was sincerely appreciative of whenever her aunt made her a new, pretty dress, and she never failed to both thank her and tell anyone who would listen that she wore an MJ original. And, when all else failed, and neither of them could stay cooped up in the small yet comfortable apartment any longer, Cate was always up for another window shopping adventure, never once complaining about being tired or the fact that they only tried on the fancy, expensive clothes and never bought anything.

Quite frankly, sometimes Maxie wondered if she had somehow blocked out nine months of her own life, secretly gotten pregnant and gave birth to a little girl, and, then, later, turned right around and put her daughter up for adoption, somehow ending up with her own cousin as the infant's mother. She and Cate were that close. Plus, they kind of looked alike, too, and Robin could certainly not say the same about her four year old. Although their bone structures and the shape of their features were contrasting, their coloring was similar, and, often, while the two of them were out and about on the bustling streets of Paris, passerby's would often mistake them for a mother-daughter pair.

Surprisingly, the aspiring fashion designer never corrected them.

It wasn't that she wanted to be a mother. In fact, the truth was definitely the opposite. Her figure was her second priority, following closely behind her future career, and she would never risk it by squeezing a watermelon out of her cervix. Not only was such an idea disgusting to Maxie, but it was also unbelievably scary. Plus, in her opinion, she was far too selfish and self-concerned to ever be a full-time parent. While it was one thing to dedicatedly take care of someone else's kid, it was a whole different story to be the one listed on the birth certificate, and, frankly, she didn't want to find out first hand just how much.

"Emmy is going to be a big sister," Cate informed her, breaking through the comfortable silence that had shrouded the two blondes that afternoon while they designed and colored away. Emmy was the little neighbor girl her charge sometimes played with. The five year old native French girl lived two floors up in the same apartment building, and she and Cate got along famously, especially when they invited the older girl down to play dress up. "Will I ever be a big sister."

"Probably not."

She always answered her niece honestly, no matter what. It was the one thing she demanded from Robin when she took the job of Cate's nanny. While the situations were completely unrelated, because of her heart transplant when she was a mere child herself, Maxie knew how important honesty was to a kid, and she had refused being party to any lies, even if, for the time being, they were told under the premise of protecting Cate.

"Why not," the four year old petulantly asked. By her tone, Maxie could tell she was both pouting and curious.

"Well, let's put it this way." Pausing, she put down her pencil, sliding her sketch pad away from her relaxed, resting form. They were both on their stomachs, knees bent so that their legs were crossed and wavering slightly in the air behind them, their torsos propped up thanks to their elbows as they drew the hours away side by side. Glancing at her niece, she not only explained but also teased. "I think you're destined to be a spoiled, bratty, only child just like your mother but for completely different reasons. While Robin's parents ran off and played dead for more than a decade, your Mom, I think, will purposely choose to keep you sibling free."

While she knew that her charge couldn't understand half of the words she said, Maxie used them anyway. In her mind, while she was telling the four year old the truth, she was also confusing her enough so that she really wouldn't comprehend what she was being told and would save further, more complicated queries for the future, hopefully the distant future… say, perhaps, a day that her own mother was actually taking care of her instead of wasting her life away in a stifling, bland laboratory.

The silence returned, and she happily went back to sketching, but it didn't last for long, and, this time when Cate prepared to ask her question, she sat up, informing Maxie that her niece's query was about to become even more serious, that her second inquiry was even more important to her. So much for her bamboozle and distract tactic. "I was adopted, right? You told me that." When the older blonde nodded her head, assenting to the reminder, the four year old pressed on. "Well, what does that mean? Adopted?"

Oh, this she was prepared for, thankfully. "Do you remember that pet shop we went into a couple months ago, and they had those kittens for little boys and girls to adopt?"

"They were so cute." Frowning, Cate complained, "but mommy wouldn't allow we to get one."

"I know," Maxie waved off her niece's complaint, refusing to tell her that she was the one who had actually nixed the kitten idea with Robin behind her back. After all, cat fur on her one-of-a-kinds? Absolutely not! "Anyway," she got back to the point. "Just like with the kittens' momma cat, there was a kind, obviously beautiful lady because look how gorgeous you are who needed someone to look after you for her, and your mommy agreed." To make the little girl feel special, she added, "your mommy wanted you so much, she went out shopping for you, and I think we both know how much your mommy hates to go shopping."

Cate giggled. "She'd rather clean my room for me."

"And me," Maxie bragged, smiling crookedly in secret exploitation with her charge. They both often took advantage of Robin's lack of adoration towards exercising her credit cards. Where she lacked, though, they picked up the slack.

Getting back to the topic at hand, Cate wanted to know, "so, she really got me at a store?"

"The best store in the world."

With round, amazed eyes, the toddler asked, "at Bergdorf Goodman's?"

Oh, she had taught her charge well. "Maybe the second best," Maxie corrected, affectionately running her fingers through the four year old's tightly coiled, darling curls. As she stood up, quietly holding out her hand so that Cate would take it and follow her into their tiny, cramped kitchen, she waited for the next inevitable question.

"And did I have a daddy cat like the kittens, too? Did he want mommy to look after me as well?"

"He was just borrowed for a little while to make you," the older blonde stated, realizing how incorrect such a statement sounded but also knowing it was something Cate would accept without further questioning towards Robin. Adding clarification, she explained, "like the sewing machine I borrow sometimes to make my designs."

This seemed to excite her charge. "So, I'm like a one-of-a-kind MJ original?"

"Of course you are!"

And, with that, Cate seemed to settle down, her questions, at least for that day, satisfied, and the two of them went back to their regular routine - hanging out like best friends should.

} ~ {

He was a top level, highly trained bodyguard for the mob, but what he felt like was a damn babysitter, and Max Giambetti hated it. Though most people would prefer the safety of door duty – and, in fact, he had been counted in that group himself just six months prior, now, the burly Italian would have done just about anything to trade in his good manners and polished etiquette for an adrenaline pumping, take no prisoners gun battle down on the docks. Instead, he signed for packages, relayed messages to the other men, and intercepted guests. And that was on a good day. A bad day consisted of Max breaking up yet another argument between his temperamental boss and his temperamental boss' equally as neurotic girlfriend… wife… attorney with benefits? Really, he wasn't entirely sure what Alexis was to Sonny.

And, now, it was his responsibility to greet his boss' partner on his first day back into town after a five year absence and somehow smoothly both explain the changes that had taken place during that time and transition the organization's shadowy partner into accepting them without question or debate. So, really, when one thought about it, wishing for a gun, a bulletproof vest, and a pissed off target to aim towards in that moment wasn't that startling. Anything was better than attempting to placate Jason Morgan.

But his life simply wasn't that accommodating at that point, and he wasn't entirely surprised by the latest turn of events that made antacids his new best friend. And Jason wasn't a bad guy. In fact, outside of the organization and away from work, Max considered him a friend. After all, the enforcer was the one who trained him when he was first coming up through the ranks all those years before, and the man could hold his liquor and shoot a better game of pool than anyone else the Italian had ever met. However, he was also the deadliest man Max had ever come into contact with as well, and he had never wanted to be at the receiving end of the blonde's wrath… something that was probably inevitable considering the conversation he was prepared to have with him. And, knowing Jason, he wouldn't just be on time, preventing Max from having a few extra minutes to brace himself, but he would, in fact, be early. He was always early.

The soft, almost imperceptible peal of a bell, something a man could miss if he wasn't intentionally listening for the sound, announced the hitman's arrival just moments later, and the guard found himself standing up just a little bit straighter, rolling back his shoulders a little bit more, and bracing himself for the surge of unpleasantness he was about to collide with. Not that he could blame Jason any for his expected reaction. Nothing the blonde would be anticipating would either be there or would happen, and it was Max's duty to inform him of such and why.

The elevator doors chimed as they opened, and then the sound of a heavy tread made by well-worn, durable motorcycle boots filled the otherwise silent, marble floored hallway. Schooling his face, the security expert met the enforcer's steely gaze, never once blinking or glancing away, for he felt such actions would be viewed as backing down, as cowardly. Nodding deferentially, he greeted the other man, "Mr. Morgan."

But, instead of returning the socially accepted gesture, Jason simply demanded to know, "where's Johnny," rocking Max back mentally if not physically with his unexpected question.

He didn't take offense with the fact that the expert gunman didn't ask how he was or shake his hand. Such niceties, while viewed as convention to the rest of the world, simply didn't register on the blonde's radar. He was practical, almost to a fault, blunt, and to the point, but everyone knew that about Jason, so no one paid it any mind or even gave it a second thought. Besides, the bodyguard had bigger issues to worry about considering the fact that his boss, that Sonny, had not informed his partner of the fact that their third in command had taken an ordered dive off the Elm Street pier.

As succinctly as he could and without emotion, Max explained, "Johnny's dead… on Mr. Corinthos' orders. He, uh…" Finally showing some anxiety, the hefty Italian tugged nervously on his right earlobe with his right hand, lowering his gaze to the floor where his leather dress shoe encased feet shuffled uncertainly. Finally, after taking a deep breath, he resumed his clarification. "It was discovered that Johnny was working for the enemy."

"Johnny O'Brien," Jason queried, sounding decidedly doubtful, something he himself could commiserate with.

It had taken him months to wrap his own mind around the knowledge that his friend and fellow employee had turned sides against Sonny, and it had taken him even longer to come to some sort of understanding as to why the affable Irishman had felt the need to do such a thing. Johnny's decision had nothing to do with power, or greed, or a sense of revenge against someone he perceived to have wronged him; the other man had simply believed his actions to be justified. Apparently, there were a lot of things that Jason Morgan had been kept in the dark about, including the state of unrest currently plaguing the men in the Corinthos organization, but Max knew it was not his place to fill the enforcer in on all the sordid details. Even if Sonny had been downright negligent when it came to keeping his partner abreast of all the current information pertaining to their business, he was still the boss, and it was still his responsibility to talk to Jason.

So, with that in mind, the guard simply said, "Johnny disagreed with some of Mr. Corinthos' decisions and, apparently, felt that another mob boss was more suited to run Port Charles. Really, Mr. Morgan," Max beseeched his friend formally. "This is something you should talk to Mr. Corinthos about."

"Alright, I will." When the blonde made his way towards the door that the security expert was standing beside, Max did nothing to open the entrance or to announce Jason's presence, halting the other man's advancement. "Sonny's not home?" He nodded his head negatively, refraining from saying more. "When I got into town, I was told he wanted to see me, that it was important. Hell, the only reason I'm back here is because Sonny said he needed me to return for a job." Growing frustrated, the hitman's voice became slightly elevated. "What the hell is going on here, Max? Where's Sonny?"

"He's across the hall," Max informed the newly returned partner. Pointing towards Alexis' penthouse, he clarified, "at Miss Davis'." Jason had only managed to take three steps in the direction of the formidable yet completely insane lawyer's home before the Italian spoke up once again. "And I wouldn't do that if I were you."

Jason spun around to face him, appearing anything but calm but, at the same time, still in control. "Why not?"

"Just trust me when I say that it's best not to disturb them."

The enforcer tilted his head to the side, observing the bodyguard. "Is there something you're not telling me, Max, something about Sonny and Alexis?"

"Well, I'm sure that Mr. Corinthos has already informed you of…"

"Sonny hasn't told me anything other than the fact that I needed to get my ass back here immediately. It's been months since I've talked to him, I was under the impression that everything was running smoothly here, but, obviously, I was wrong."

And the fact that the blonde had said so much in such a short time span without pausing once to take a breath told Max that Jason wasn't too pleased with his former, inaccurate assumptions. Deciding, despite the fact that it wasn't his place, to be perfectly honest with the other man, the guard tersely stated, "Miss Davis is expecting."

"Expecting what?"

Rolling his eyes, the burly security expert practically moaned in frustration. After all, Jason wasn't the only one not enjoying his first day back to Port Charles. "A baby," he told his friend. "She and Mr. Corinthos are expecting a child together… and I take it by the look on your face right now that you didn't even know that they were… together."

The hitman's brow furrowed. "How together?"

"Uh, they're married… kind of," Max explained helpfully. Unfortunately, that only seemed to baffle Jason more.

"And they live together across the hall in Alexis' apartment? Why does she still go by the name Miss Davis?"

Preparing himself, the bodyguard took a quick yet sustaining gulp of fresh air before diving right into a short account of his boss' current personal life. "When Miss Davis found out she was pregnant, Sonny insisted upon marriage, upon her moving in with him, upon her quitting her job, and, of course, being Alexis, she balked. Eventually, they compromised, after months and months of fighting and several panic attacks on Miss Davis' part. Now, they live separately across the hall from each other, Sonny's allowed to see her whenever he wants between the hours of ten and eight, she still works for Corinthos & Morgan, but her case load has been scaled back and she's hired several paralegals to help out down at the office, and they're married, but Miss Davis refused to take Sonny's name."

Jason's response surprised Max, but, afterwards, he realized it shouldn't have. "What the fuck does this have to do with me? Why did Sonny call me back here, and it better not be to play referee between him and Alexis? I've done that once before, for him and Carly, and I refuse to do it again."

"Well, I'm not sure that I should say anything. I'm sure that Mr. Corinthos would like to explain this to you himself. After all, it was his decision, and I really don't know all the details, so you should just…"

As he watched the trained gunman's hands drift towards the back waistband of his faded jeans, the security expert's words trailed off. In contrast to his irate expression, though, when Jason spoke, his words were both quiet and composed. "Why am I here, Max?"

"Mr. Corinthos made a deal with Anthony Zacchara. Now, I'm not sure what the finer points of this deal were, but you're back here to train his son, Johnny, to get him ready to take over for his father in the next year or so."

Without a word, the blonde spun around on his heels and stalked over to the elevator, punching the button that would take him back down to where he came from just minutes before. Max knew his friend was pissed, that he was beyond livid, but, for some reason, he found that he couldn't shut up, that he just kept talking, no doubt inevitably making the situation worse.

"Do you want to leave with me a number or a place where Mr. Corinthos can get in touch with you once he's finished with Miss Davis? I'm sure he'll be disappointed that he missed your visit, and that way he can call you himself when he's free to meet later. Maybe the two of you could go out for some dinner tonight. You could discuss the deal, and he could tell you all about the changes that have been going on around here for the past five years since you've been gone."

But Jason never responded; hell, he didn't even spare Max a second glance, but the Italian knew the blonde's anger was not directed towards him but, instead, was aimed at Sonny. Still, though, he wished he knew or, at least, had an inkling of what the enforcer was planning on doing next, because, if Jason disappeared again for five years, he, Max, was going to be the one held responsible, and it wouldn't surprise him that, if such a thing occurred, he would join Johnny O'Brien at the bottom of the Port Charles harbor. And that was precisely why he fucking hated babysitting duty.