A/N: After a fantasy one shot, a collection of angsty drabbles, and an equally angsty alternative history piece, I decided to reward everyone with a little fluff. If you're rigid in regards to the setting as I know some readers are, think of this story as being three years in the future, giving Jason and Elizabeth plenty of time to sort out their problems and get things back on track without me actually having to figure out how to wade through all the ridiculous malarkey keeping them apart. Also, as stated when I posted my first Christmas challenge piece, I will be putting up one shots and chapters of Heartbeats that I had previously written and just hanging about collecting dust. Once those are all posted, who knows what will happen. Just like last year, the holiday challenge seemed to refuel my interest in writing for this pairing. The only problem is... I just don't know how long that interest will last. On one final note, I know I've said this before, but you guys have been absolutely amazing to me these past couple of weeks. I've so enjoyed reading your enthusiasm for my Christmas stories. :) Your responses have made participating in this challenge entirely worth it!


Six Days, Seven Weeks
A Liason Holiday One Shot

CFFC09#4: What are You Doing for New Year's Eve?

"So, uh, Mr. Morgan, what are you doing for New Year's Eve this year?"

Glancing up from the paperwork he was finishing, paperwork that the new kid in front of him was supposed to take to the courthouse and have filed or Diane would stab the both of them with a letter opener, protecting her precious heels in the process, Jason narrowed his gaze. While he knew the rookie was simply trying to kill time and make the atmosphere around them less tense, he hated small talk. Always had, always would, for he found it pointless. Besides, it wasn't as if he and the kid were friends. Dustin was a recent recruit, and, for now, he simply ran errands and detailed cars, but, someday, if he stayed alert and kept his nose out of places it didn't belong, he'd have the chance to move up in the organization. However, none of that would happen, though, if he didn't do as he was told and keep his mouth shut.

"Here," Jason finally responded, shoving the completed documents into the younger man's gloveless hands. It was freezing outside, near zero, but, yet, the kid wore nothing but a light, unbuttoned jacket to protect him from the elements, further proof that he probably wouldn't make it under his employ for more than six months. "Don't lose them, don't take forever, and, whatever you do, make sure they get filed correctly this time."

The gopher scrambled off without complaint, without repeating his question, and Jason was glad for the reprieve. Usually, he tried to be more understanding with his men. After years of working under Sonny, he had learned both what to do and what not to do in regards to the business, and, now, without blind loyalty clouding his judgment, he knew that his former boss and best friend had not always handled those underneath him the right way. They weren't just minions there to take his orders and shield his body from bullets; they were men who risked their lives for their bosses on an everyday basis, and that kind of dedication deserved recognition and kindness in return.

However, sitting in his office that afternoon, he was unable to salvage a single compassionate bone in his body. He was exhausted, and frustrated, and Dustin's comments had only thrown fuel onto the raging, discontent fire burning inside of him. Somehow, probably due to the sheer amount of stress he had been living under for the past two months, Jason had forgotten the date, but with just a single question, everything came rushing back to him in full on, unrelenting clarity.

He hadn't had sex in six days and seven weeks, and, hour by hour, he was pretty sure it was killing him.

! ^ !

"What's the muffin got you roped into doing this year for New Year's Eve? Is she dragging you to church, making you spend it with Audrey Hardy, going to go out and slut it up at Jake's with all her nursing friends and leave you at home with the kids?"

He knew it had been a bad idea to leave his office. He should have just called out to the front and asked one of the baristas to bring him a coffee, but Jason didn't like to do that, despite his employees insisting it was no hassle. He just felt that, in doing so, he was taking advantage of his staff, and, if there was one thing he always tried to be, it was fair to everyone. Unfortunately, though, by ignoring the baristas' repeated suggestions, he had left himself open to one of Carly's anti-Elizabeth attacks. They had been friends for more than a decade, together for years, and they were married with three children, but Carly's wrath against his wife had only seemed to worsen over the years instead of improving as it should have.

Before he could wince, or grimace, or glare, or glower, or even curse in his friend's direction, though, Carly was already changing directions, her questions an obvious segue to what she really wanted to talk about: herself. "Well, Jax is taking me to Montreal. You know it's an important place for us. Of course, he's using the excuse that there are problems in our hotel there and that we're flying into the city for the night in order to check them out, but I know he has something planned. He always has something planned."

And Jax did always have something planned, too, but that only served to remind Jason of the fact that he didn't have anything planned for his wife, and, if anybody deserved a special night, it was Elizabeth. She had been so exhausted since giving birth at the beginning of November. Not only was the labor longer and more harsh on her body than when she had Cameron, but, when she returned from the hospital with their newborn daughter, ready to recuperate, she had two rambunctious little boys to contend with as well. He helped as much as he could, took off time from work, but, eventually, things could not be pushed aside any longer, and Jason had been forced to return to the daily grind of running his territory. When he had calmly and rationally suggested to Elizabeth that they hire some help, even if only part time, she had adamantly refused his idea, claiming that no one else was going to take care of her family. He knew her position on the issue was due in part to how her own family had raised she and her siblings, but the other half of her refusal was pure willful stubbornness.

It only made Jason love her even more.

Shaking aside his thoughts, he refocused his attention upon Carly only to find her completely ignorant of the fact that he had been ignoring her as she rambled on and on and on about how this New Year's Eve was going to be the best ever. Carly said that every year, though, and the slightly petty part of Jason who resented her for her treatment of his wife and his marriage found a sudden desire to crush her spirits and decimate her plans.

Reaching for his cup of coffee, he waited for his friend to take a much needed breath before asking, "what about your kids, though, Carly?"

It was obvious by her expression that consideration for her children had yet to enter her mind. She started and stopped several times, searching for a response before finally dismissing his concerns. "That's what we have Mercedes for."

He nodded, making her think that he was agreeing with her, as he took a large gulp of his steaming, black coffee, both uncaring and unnoticing of the fact that it slightly scalded his tongue. "Yeah, but what if she already has plans?"

"That's not how it works, Jason," Carly huffed, forgetting her own drink order to turn and face him with her hands petulantly positioned upon her hips. "The point of having a nanny is knowing that, when I can't be there, she can. When I call Mercedes and tell her I need her, she comes to work. It's as simple as that."

"She has her own life, too, though," he pointed out. "Friends, family, a child, and she's young. She'd probably like to spend her New Year's Eve somewhere other than with at your house with your children."

Finally grabbing the latte waiting patiently for her on the counter, Carly purposely refused to pay for her drink as she countered, huffing and puffing in obvious annoyance, "just because Elizabeth is too pigheaded to allow you to hire a nanny doesn't mean that you have to take your bad mood out on me." She was right, but, at the same time, he stood by everything he had said to her as well. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go pack."

With a twirl of expensive designer clothes and too much strong perfume, Carly disappeared, leaving in her wake an even deeper seeded desperation clenching inside of him. If he didn't spend some alone time with Elizabeth soon, Jason knew he was going to explode. It wasn't so much that he missed the actual physicality of sex, though he did, but, more than that, he missed the closeness he felt with his wife afterwards, the release, the temporary respite of tension that only she could grant him.

It was only by pure luck that they had had sex the morning Elizabeth had given birth. Throughout her entire pregnancy, their sex life had been sporadic, running hot and cold without warning or reason. In fact, Jason had no idea why his wife had woken him up the morning of November fifth, eager to make love. Despite his exhaustion and the ridiculous hour – three in the morning, he had readily agreed, taking advantage of her willingness before she had a chance to change her mind. Part of him wondered if she had sensed the impending birth of their daughter so she had given him one last hurrah before the forced inactivity that always followed labor and delivery, but, whatever her reasoning, if it hadn't been for that day, his dry spell would have been much, much longer, and six days and seven weeks was plenty long for Jason.

Usually, doctors recommended that women wait six weeks after giving birth to have sex again, but Doctor Lee had stressed to Elizabeth just how taxing her pregnancy had been on her body, and she had made his wife promise that they'd abstain for an extended eight weeks. He had insisted, too, after hearing of the physician's warnings, for, no matter what, Elizabeth's health and wellbeing came first for him, and, if it was necessary, he'd grit his teeth and wait an extra fourteen days before being intimate with his wife again. But his nobility was far more taxing than he could have ever predicted. Maybe it was just the fact that he was used to a loving, generous sex life, or it could have simply been the stress of the holiday season with three little ones at home, but, whatever the reason behind his desperation, he was just glad that their eight weeks would soon be up.

Now, he just had to hope that Elizabeth was excited about having sex again, too.

! ^ !

They were on their way to Spinelli's, for the kid had something he desperately needed Jason's assistance with. What he was supposed to do for the computer hacker, Jason wasn't quite sure, but Spinelli had helped him out of more than one bind, and he was glad to do whatever he could. Well, not whatever he could... there would certainly be a line drawn somewhere, but he figured he was having girl issues or maybe he couldn't decide between two different tech gadgets that looked identical to Jason so he would just point to one and adamantly swear it was the better of the two to shut Spinelli up. Besides, with a whistling Milo sitting shotgun beside him, Jason could use a distraction.

Why the younger Giambetti brother was so happy, so obviously pleased with himself, Jason didn't know, and, for that matter, he didn't care. It was probably something as equally ludicrous as Spinelli's problem, and he only had the strength and patience to deal with one idealistic young man that afternoon. At least with Milo, he knew that the kid could turn to his brother for help whereas Spinelli had no one besides him and Elizabeth, and he did not want his wife bothered by the hacker's latest inane crisis. She had enough to deal with already.

They were just pulling into the underground parking garage of Harbor View Towers, Spinelli now residing in his former penthouse alone, when Milo turned to him curiously and asked, "what are you doing for New Years Eve, Jason," causing him to slam on the SUV's brakes so hard that he fishtailed in the slush at the end of the ramp leading into the building.

"What," Milo asked, immediately reaching for his gun. "What happened? What's going on? Did you see something?"

It took Jason several deep, cleansing breaths and several seconds of pinching the bridge of his nose before he had his notorious control restored. Twisting in his seat to confront the guard, he questioned, "why does everybody keep asking me that?"

"Uh, because New Year's Eve is tomorrow," Milo told him, his eyes ricocheting back and forth, up and down as if he were searching for some clue behind his boss' strange behavior. "Are you okay, Ja...?"

Cutting off the younger man's concern, he barked, "while I go up to see Spinelli, you stay in the car."

As he finally touched the gas, allowing the SUV to lurch forward roughly, maneuvering the vehicle into the parking space closest to the elevators, he heard his employee protest. "Are you sure? Max has always told me that I'm supposed to go wherever you go, and, even though I don't think Spinelli's tough enough to smack a fly let alone hurt you, someone could break into the building or..."

"If that would happen, wouldn't it make more sense for you to be down here where you could catch them before they have a chance to come after me," Jason posed, already moving to step out of the vehicle. Before Milo could respond, he slammed the door and marched towards the lift, jabbing the controls with more force than was either necessary or advisable.

He felt even worse about dismissing Milo so coldly, because, unlike Dustin, he had known Milo for years. He was the younger brother of Jason's most trusted employee and, in a way, a friend, but he was sick of people asking him about his non-existent plans. Not that Milo knew that he and Elizabeth hadn't been together since their daughter was born, and there was no way for the guard to be aware of the fact that Jason was about ready to crawl out of his skin with need for his wife, but, still, a little consideration would have been appreciated. After all, everyone knew that he and Elizabeth had three small children. Plans for New Year's Eve and other pointless holidays simply weren't as feasible for them as they were for others.

However, now that he knew that New Year's Eve just so happened to be the very same day he and Elizabeth were cleared to have sex, he was determined to somehow find a way to make those ever elusive plans. Although he could care less about the traditions of December 31st, he knew that Elizabeth did, so he was determined to make both of them happy. He'd do something romantic for his wife, and he'd get to have sex, so, in a way, Spinelli calling for his help had worked to his advantage, because, now, he'd have the perfect opportunity to ask the hacker to babysit. With more enthusiasm in his step than had been present in weeks, Jason climbed off the elevator and strolled towards his old front door.

! ^ !

"Stone Cold," Spinelli announced loudly as he pulled the door to the penthouse open before Jason could even knock. "What took you so long? Here, The Jackal paced, distressed over what could possibly be his most epic fail ever, and you took your sweet, unhurried time!"

Glancing around his formerly immaculate home, Jason couldn't help but gape at the disarray present. The furniture had all been moved, bumped into crooked positions. There were couch cushions and pillows littering the floor, wayward clothing strewn haphazardly up the stairs, and dishes stacked practically a foot on top his beloved pool table. Though he and Elizabeth had purchased their own for their home, Jason would always place a sentimental value upon his old one that still resided in its former hallowed spot in what was now Spinelli's penthouse. Despite the younger man's protests, he had insisted the table remain after he left. It was his one stipulation in signing over the apartment's deed to the hacker.

As if realizing his pure horror at the sight of his former residence, Spinelli immediately started to apologize. "Forgive me, Stone Cold, but, in my distraction, I simply did not have the chance to complete my cleaning duties."

"You mean you've already started?" Disbelief and disgust colored his words.

"Of course," his friend readily chirped. Yes, chirped. There was no other way to describe how the kid talked other than to compare him to a baby bird. "The Jackal has already filled the dishwasher once and washed, dried, and pressed several loads of laundry."

Narrowing his gaze, Jason argued, "you did not press your own clothes."

"So, perhaps, I stretched the limitations of my homemaking abilities slightly, but the intention was there, I assure you." He highly doubted it, considering the fact that Jason was pretty sure Spinelli thought wrinkles were a fashion statement. Elizabeth, who found the trait adorably exasperating, had convinced him of that. "However, after realizing that I was regrettably out of clean underwear..."

"Just... just stop," he warned his friend. He had accidentally walked in on Spinelli having sex, he had been horrified to learn that the kid used a loofah, and he might have known through no fault of his own that Spinelli had a birthmark in a place no other man should know about let alone actually see, but he did not need to hear about the younger man's underwear. Sighing, Jason asked, "what did you need, Spinelli?"

"Oh!" Brightening cheerfully, he watched as the hacker crossed over to the pool table and removed several pieces of fabric from its pockets. Upon closer inspection, Jason realized they were ties. "I could not decide what to wear tomorrow night..."

"You keep your ties in the pockets of my pool table?"

"I do believe, Stone Cold," the younger man corrected him, "that it is my pool table now to do with as I please, and it's a handy place for me to keep my ties, because, if I'm running late for an important meeting, there they are. I don't have to exhaust myself by running up the stairs to retrieve one."

"It's one flight."

Ignoring him, the kid said, "so, anyway, back to my moment of need, I sought out your opinion in choosing my New Year's Eve wardrobe. Although it could not be said that you are a particularly suave or debonair man, that Stone Cold charm did manage to land itself one fine, hot mamacita when you finally entered into the sacred institution of marriage with the Lovely Mrs. Now, I'm fervently hoping that you'll..."

"Hey, I'm not the one who mixes plaids and checks," Jason defended, somehow disturbed that he was having that particular conversation with Spinelli and that he knew plaids and checks should not be warn together. Why did he always end up feeling ridiculous whenever he spent any time with the hacker?

"Colts and glocks may blow off my block, Stone Cold, but your words will never hurt me."

Growling, he went to take a menacing step towards his friend before realizing how incredibly immature it was on his part to engage Spinelli in such bickering. So, after gritting his teeth together and narrowing his gaze in irritation, he finally ordered, "just show me your damn ties already."

For what felt like an eternity, the kid stood before him and pretended to display the ties like he was Vanna White. Though Jason didn't admit the piece of information too often, he enjoyed watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy every night with his family. It was one of their family routines. Elizabeth liked to try to beat him at the games, though she never did unless he let her after which she would figure out his deception and both pout and playfully punch his shoulders for the rest of the night whenever he was slightly distracted. Cameron liked to giggle whenever the contestants on Jeopardy answered in the form of a question, picking up the habit himself for the next thirty minutes or so after the show aired, and Jake liked to watch the colors blend and bleed together when someone would spin the wheel on Wheel of Fortune. Not even six yet, and Jason already knew he'd be an artist like his mother.

Interrupting his recollections, he found Spinelli waving his pale, pasty hands in a distracting manner just inches from his nose. "Stone Cold, are you ignoring...?"

"The blue," Jason grunted.

"Really." his friend questioned, but he was already moving away to put the said blue tie on. "I must apologize, for I had believed you to be neglecting The Jackal in his time of need, but, rather, you were just focused upon making your decision. I appreciate your dedication to your humble grasshopper."

"Uh, yeah, whatever," he stammered, tugging on his ear apprehensively. The last thing he needed was for Spinelli to realize that he had been thinking about game shows or about how the blue of the tie the kid was currently tying around his neck, not tight enough for his taste, had reminded him of his wife's eyes and that's why he had sentimentally picked it. Even without such revealing information, the hacker was like a dog with an unbreakable bone; he didn't need to give him any more ammunition.

He was just about ready to slip out the door, realizing that his friend wouldn't be able to babysit for he and Elizabeth like he had hoped because he obvious had plans of his own, when he caught the sound of Spinelli singing to himself in front of the mirror. "Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought...," but he couldn't pass up the chance to mock the younger man.

"I didn't know you wrote songs." Chuckling to himself, Jason sat down on the couch, making himself comfortable.

Stopping instantaneously, Spinelli whirled around to face him. "That was an attempt on Stone Cold's part at humor, yes?" When he didn't say anything, his friend exploded, "Auld Lang Syne is a classic poem by Robert Burns set to music and sung traditionally when the ball drops at midnight on New Year's Eve."

Though he didn't doubt his friend, the lyrics of the song simply sounded too much like the way Spinelli spoke for Jason to not persist in his line of questioning. "Are you related to the guy somehow?"

That time, the kid gasped. "Do you not know anything about Scotland?"

Jason shrugged. "I know that it has a yearly annual rainfall of..."

Frustrated, the hacker interrupted him. "I am not talking about the useless pieces of trivia you garner from reading your beloved travel guides. What I'm referring to is the tangible, relevant mementos of legacy passed down to all by a few brave, insightful, intelligent Scotsmen." Taking a seat across him Jason, the kid pressed on. "While, understandably, society considers The Jackal to be slightly eccentric, you, my friend, are right queer."

Springing up in his own defense, he shouted, "what the hell are you talking about, Spinelli? I have a wife and three kids. I am not gay!"

Sighing, the younger man stood as well. "You misunderstood your loyal grasshopper, Stone Cold, for I would never dare to question your manhood."

Grumbling under his breath, Jason hissed, "if only you didn't feel the need to call it that either."

"For any tender feelings my comment may have provoked within you, I sincerely apologize," the hacker continued on, undaunted. "However, if you will excuse me, I must go and exfoliate. After all, tomorrow is that last most important day of this year."

With that, the geek practically sprinted for the stairs, barely bypassing Jason's reach and doing so intentionally. Stomping across the penthouse, he went to leave, unbelieving of the fact that the younger man had possessed the nerve to call him queer and then, moments later, turn around and say he had to exfoliate. Jason didn't even know what the hell exfoliating was!

To express his irritation with his friend, he slammed the door shut as he exited, the action so violent he could feel the tremors of the vibrating door as he stood momentarily before it. Considering the past ten minutes he had spent in his former home, it was no wonder that he was on edge, that he was tense, and it also suddenly made sense to Jason why eight weeks had seemingly gone so slowly but, at the same time, he had also managed to lose track of the date. With people like Spinelli, and Milo, and Carly in his life, he was lucky he had made it as long as he did without being with his wife.

But no more!

Determined to spend New Year's Eve with Elizabeth, Jason pushed off from the penthouse's doorway, intent upon finding a babysitter for the next evening – the whole evening. Nothing else mattered but securing a single night with his wife - not work, not his infuriating friends needing him, not even the knowledge that, to find a babysitter, he was going to have to inconvenience someone else. Gone were his usual standards of fairness. In their place resided an unwavering determination most only witnessed when faced with the barrel of his favorite gun.

Jason Morgan was a man on a mission.

! ^ !

"Jason," Monica called out enthusiastically, standing to greet him as he slithered surreptitiously into the Quartermaine den. The sheer joy that washed across her face as she saw him almost made him feel guilty for visiting only because he wanted something from her. Almost. "It's so good to see you."

Despite the fact that becoming a father and a husband had somewhat dulled his uneasiness around his mother, he was still somewhat uncomfortable with the amount of emotion Monica displayed, and he still hated going to the mansion. He didn't think it would ever matter how close the two of them became or how much he learned to tolerate Edward, the home would always remind him of a time he preferred to forget. Plus, there was just something about how perfect everything was there that made him nervous, made him feel clumsy and awkward, afraid that, if he moved or even breathed the wrong way, he'd break something. It always amazed him how at ease Elizabeth and the kids were when they went to visit his mother, but, then again, his family always seemed relaxed no matter where they were.

Abandoning his thoughts, Jason lifted an index finger to rub against his right brow, using both the movement and the dipping of his head to avoid Monica's gaze. "I, uh, yeah. You, too."

Eagerly, his mother fussed about him, making sure he sat down and was comfortable before she herself reclaimed her seat. It wasn't two seconds later, though, that she was standing again, making her way towards the ever-present bar. "Can I get you something, something to eat, or drink, or..."

"I'm fine," he reassured her. Despite himself, Jason couldn't help but grin slightly. No matter what he claimed, it was now nice to have Monica worry about him instead of for him.

"Did you stop by to drop off the pictures of the kids opening their presents Christmas Day? Elizabeth said she took probably two hundred, and she was going to have some developed for me."

They had taken a lot of pictures, perhaps even closer to three hundred, and his wife did have some of the photos developed for his mother, but he had forgotten to grab them, but, in his defense, there were other, more pressing matters on his mind. "Actually, no," he answered, making sure to avoid confessing his lapse in memory. "I came by to see what you are doing for New Year's Eve."

Monica smiled brightly, obviously touched by his gesture. "Are you and Elizabeth having a small get together or something?"

Despite the fact that he hadn't even broached the topic of her babysitting for them, Jason had a feeling their conversation wasn't progressing the way he had hoped it would. "Actually, we're not sure yet what we're doing." And he wasn't, so it wasn't a lie.

"Ah, I see," his mother replied. "Elizabeth wanted you to check and make sure that I had plans before the two of you made your own. Well, tell her thank you for me, or maybe I should just call her myself and..."

"No, don't do that," Jason practically yelled, shocking Monica by interrupting her so forcefully. Regaining his control, he explained, "she, uh, she's been pretty exhausted lately, busy with the kids."

"Of course she has been, so she shouldn't have been worrying about me anyway. Besides, I go to the cemetery on New Year's Eve every year." Laughing softly to herself, Monica said, "for all those years that Alan and I were married, we rarely got to spend a New Year's Eve together, but, now that I'm alone and he's gone, I never miss a one." Shrugging her shoulders casually, she admitted, "it's sort of become my new tradition.

As her words sunk in, he started to feel terrible. The only reason he had stopped by to see her was to ask a favor. Selfishly, he had forgotten just how painful the holidays were for his mother. With the losses she had suffered in the last few years, of course she would want to spend New Year's Eve visiting those she had loved and had to say goodbye to long before she should have. Even if it meant that he and Elizabeth didn't get to spend the night together, he still couldn't ask Monica to watch the kids. While visiting the cemetery wasn't much, it was all she had.

"If you need anything," he told her, allowing his words to fall away as he reached across the space between them and held her hand tenderly for several seconds.

"I know," Monica responded, standing when he did as well. "And thank you, Jason."

As he slipped out the patio doors, he turned back around momentarily to tell her, "and I'll drop those pictures off next week."

Before she could comment or thank him again, he left. For a moment, he considered looking for Edward to ask him for help with the kids the next evening, but the idea was fleeting, and he shrugged it off the way he would an uncomfortable, chilling piece of ice that fell between the collar of his jacket. No matter what, he wasn't that desperate.

! ^ !

He found Patrick Drake chatting up the nurses – where else? - as he stepped off the elevator and onto General Hospital's tenth floor. Though he and the neurosurgeon were not friends, because of the women in their lives, they had learned to tolerate each other. When Elizabeth and Robin got together, they could make small talk about the weather, or sports, or even swap stories about their kids, but they didn't hang out, and they certainly weren't close enough to go to each other for help or favors.

Apparently, until now...

When Patrick spotted him there, he chuckled, smirked. "Are you lost, Morgan, or have you just forgotten that your wife's still on maternity leave?"

"Actually, I was looking for you."

Without waiting for him to say more, the doctor warned, "don't even ask, because the answer's no."

Already becoming irritated, Jason growled, "you don't even know what I was going to say."

"You were going to say that you and Elizabeth need a night alone together, that you want to do something special for her tomorrow night. You were going to say that the two of you have watched Emma for Robin and I numerous times, and you would be right. And you were then going to ask me if Robin and I would, in return, watch your kids for you on New Year's Eve, and, like I already told you, absolutely not."

"But Elizabeth...," he started to protest only to be rudely dismissed once again.

"Just gave birth, and she needs a break, but I'm sorry, Jason," Patrick told him, "I'm not the guy you're looking for. Do you know how hard it is for two surgeons to get the same night off, let alone a holiday? Well, this year, Robin and I somehow managed to both be off the schedule for New Year's Eve, and we're taking advantage of it, and not you, or Maxie who we roped into babysitting, or anyone else is going to make us feel guilty about it."

His hands clenched in annoyance, but Jason bit his tongue, realizing that insisting would only further alienate the doctor and make himself look like a fool. So, instead, he turned around on the heels of his motorcycle boots and prepared to walk off, only to be stopped by Patrick's voice from behind him. "And don't even think about going to my wife and asking her, because the answer's still going to be no, Morgan."

Well, he'd just see about that himself.

! ^ !

As the front door swung open at the Scorpio-Drake residence, Robin's smiling face and teasing voice greeted him. "I thought I might see you this afternoon."

And, with her words, Jason watched as his chances to persuade her into babysitting, into guilting her evaporated. Of course her husband would have called her, warned her that Jason needed her help, and, knowing the neurosurgeon, he probably challenged Robin into saying no, playing on her unbelievably neurotic sense of competition in order to sway her into actually doing what he wanted in the first place, leaving Jason with his fourth failed attempt to find a sitter for the next night. "Patrick called."

Robin laughed, waving her hand to usher him in, but, still, he stayed firmly rooted on her doorstep. "I just got off the phone with him a few minutes ago," she revealed.

Sighing in aggravation, he went to turn around, glad that he had left his SUV running that time. Unfortunately, he had yet been able to shake Milo, so the kid still sat in the passenger side, happily munching away on the fries and eggnog flavored milkshake he insisted Jason stop and pick up for him from Kelly's. He should have just forced Milo into babysitting, but he knew better, especially after the last time when he had gotten Cam and Jake to go to bed early by giving them warm toddies... with alcohol, claiming his father had done it all the time for him and Max when they were kids. If nothing else, though, that gem of a confession had explained so many things for Jason.

Before he had made it half way down the sidewalk, though, Robin called out behind him. "Jason, wait," she asked, chasing after him in her slippers. He should have felt bad as he watched her shiver, but he didn't. After all, what made her and her arrogant husband more entitled to an evening alone than he and Elizabeth? "What about New Year's Day instead," she suggested kindly. "Patrick has to work, but I don't go in until six, so I could watch the kids for you and Elizabeth then."

Finally relenting somewhat, he schooled his features so they didn't appear so angry. "No, but thanks, Robin."

She watched him leave, standing there on the sidewalk with a light dusting of snow beneath her feet. As he pulled out of her driveway, Jason mentally went through who still remained on his potential list of babysitters. At least Robin had been more gracious and more willing to help him than her pompous ass of a husband, but even he knew that New Year's Day didn't have the same romantic meaning attached to it as New Year's Eve. Unfortunately, though, her refusal meant he had to drive back to the hospital and face perhaps the scariest person he had ever met.

! ^ !

He didn't find Epiphany; Epiphany found him. As he searched the third floor for her, where he had been told she could be found, Jason had been so focused upon the task at hand that he never heard the head nurse sneak up upon him, an embarrassing thing for him to admit even if only to himself. By the time he turned around to face her after she cleared her throat expectantly, he could tell that she was annoyed. Already, he was off to a bad start.

"You're not shot and bleeding, none of your men have been brought in recently, and we both know your wife's not here, so tell me, Mr. Morgan, just why are you sniffing around my nurses' station?"

Tugging on his right ear, he admitted, "I, uh, was looking for you."

"Really now," Epiphany mocked him, pretending to sound surprised. "Like I couldn't figure that out for myself after the fifth nurse I saw came up and told me you were here to see me." Taking a step closer to him and narrowing her already lethal gaze, she demanded to know, "what do you want. I don't have time for these games. I have patients who need to be tended to, nurses who need to be yelled at, and doctors who need to be coddled, so spit it out already or turn around and get off my floor. You're tracking snow all over my clean tile."

Rolling back his shoulders and refusing to be intimidated by the woman before him, Jason answered, "I was wondering what you were doing tomorrow night."

"Why," Epiphany challenged, laughing heartily. "You here to ask me out on a date?"

"Uh, no."

"Of course not," she snapped testily. "Just because I'm old enough to be your mother, though, thank god that I'm not, that does not mean that I don't have a life, Mr. Morgan, that I don't have plans and would be sitting at home just waiting for you to come along and offer to let me watch your kids for you."

"How did you...," he went to question, but she held up a hand, silencing him.

"And don't try to play innocent with me. Doctor Drake already told me you were looking for a babysitter. Well, sorry, but this woman is not fool enough to give up her New Year's Eve, no matter how much you tell me Elizabeth needs a night off. You wanted three children, so you can deal with the consequences. Now, if you'll excuse me, I don't have time for this nonsense."

And, just like that, just like she always did, Epiphany Johnson dismissed him.

! ^ !

It scared Jason to realize that he was standing on the doorstep of his attorney's apartment, a box of expensive, designer shoes in hand as a way to convince the lawyer to help him, contemplating the idea of asking Diane to babysit his kids. It wasn't so much that he feared her traumatizing them or even not being responsible enough to handle three children. Rather, after what she had to deal with due to her job, staying with Cam, Jake, and Cara for an evening would probably be relaxing for her in comparison. He was just afraid that he and Elizabeth would come home to find Cameron speaking in the hypothetical, Jake defending himself against censure by using the word allegedly every time he was accused of doing something wrong, and his daughter, his newborn, precious, still completely innocent daughter, already obsessed with shoes. If that were to happen, any of it, he'd probably have to fire Diane, and he really didn't want to have to look for a new attorney.

However, he feared not having sex on New Year's Eve more than he did the idea of Diane watching his children, so, with a deep, bracing breath, Jason raised his fist to his lawyer's door and knocked, making sure to keep the gesture light and unobtrusive. When she didn't answer, though, he knocked harder and longer, knowing that she was home. Her car was parked in the garage, she wasn't working, and the girl at the MetroCourt boutique had claimed she hadn't been shopping in a week.

Maybe she was sick?

Suddenly worried for the infuriating woman, Jason bypassed common procedure and tried the door to see if it was unlocked. When he found that it was, he rushed in, shoes clutched under one arm while his other reached around his back for the gun he always kept tucked into the waistband of his jeans. Only his hand froze mid motion, and it was his stomach that felt sick as though it might heave, because, before him, in partially undressed costumes, lounged his attorney and his top guard having sex

To make matters worse, he had managed, regretfully, to see a riding whip before he turned around and marched out the door.

If only he would have knocked louder. If only he would have yelled for Diane instead of letting himself in. If only he would have called and told her he was on his way over to her apartment before he left the hospital. If only they would have a newborn baby so that they couldn't have sex at all hours of the day. Okay, so maybe he didn't want Diane and Max to EVER have children together, but couldn't they, at least, show a little bit of self-restraint? No matter what, though, he knew it would be a long while before he'd be able to burn away the image ingrained in his mind that afternoon, and, until then, he'd have a hard time looking at either the lawyer or the bodyguard without thinking of jockeys. Horse racing was now officially ruined for him.

"At least leave the shoes, Jason," he heard Diane yell down the hallway moments later, but he was too intent upon rushing away to even consider her words. By the time he made it back to the car, Milo was already smirking in his direction, for obviously Max had texted him about what had just happened, so he chucked the shoes in the kids direction, the box cutting his forehead slightly. It was only the sight of that tiny trickle of blood that calmed Jason enough for him to pull out of the building's garage and head to his next destination.

At least he knew Bernie wouldn't be having sex when he got to the accountant's office.

! ^ !

Although he could move quietly, in fact, he was known for his ability to be stealth amongst other things, Jason didn't take such precautions as he approached his accountant's door. There was simply no reason to, and, even if he desired to be less obvious about his presence, his mood wouldn't have allowed him to be. His pulse beat with the same angry tempo as the vein which routinely bulged in the side of his forehead, his harsh, potent steps matching its fiery cadence, and his breathing was slightly labored, not because he was out of shape but because it was just one more way to attempt – and fail – to alleviate some of the tension weighing him down.

So, by the time he stepped into Bernie's office, he expected the older man to be ready for him, to be looking up from his desk with his almost always present gentle eagerness. But he wasn't. Rather, his head was bent over his ledger, a pen poised in his hand but still stationary, either absolutely absorbed in his task, asleep, or dead.

Lacking his usual patience, Jason snapped, "Bernie," causing the organization's number cruncher to sip up straight with a start and clutch his chest.

"Oh, uh, Mr. Morgan, I didn't see you there."

Narrowing his gaze, Jason questioned, "were you sleeping?"

"No, sir, no," the accountant was quick to assure him. "I was just... sometimes, I get a little distracted." The last part was said with a sideways grin full of self-deprecation.

There was no way that he could watch the kids. Cameron was too rambunctious, always wanting to build things, or set up train tracks, or ride his bike through the house despite the fact that both he and Elizabeth told him not to, and Jake, though quieter than his older brother, was no less enthusiastic when it came to playtime. However, he did like to hide and then jump out and startle people. Elizabeth said he got the trait from his father, and, in turn, he teased her that it definitely wasn't from her, because she could never be quiet long enough to hide from anybody. Between the two boys, though, Bernie wouldn't survive the night without severe heart complications.

"Is there something I can do for you? I assume that's why you're here."

Pointing a commanding finger in the older man's directions, Jason replied, "you're getting a full time guard when you're at work, no arguments."

"Oh, okay," Bernie stuttered. "Is something happening? Is there some new threat I wasn't aware of? Is someone trying to..."

Turning around, Jason marched out of the accountant's office, uncaring of what he was being asked and too focused on the impossible task at hand to actually answer.

! ^ !

"Why, Mr. Morgan," Alice greeted him as she opened the Quartermaine front door. Although he could see she was curious as to why he had actually used the front door instead of sneaking in like he usually did, she was too good at her job to actually ask. "It's always a pleasure to see you," she flirted. Though at one point, the forward maid had made him feel uncomfortable, he was now used to her brazen ways. "Please, come in," she offered, holding the door open even wider, "but I'm afraid Doctor Quartermaine just left for the hospital."

Not sharing with her that he had already stopped by to see his mother earlier, Jason revealed, "actually, I came to see you." The burly woman blushed profusely. Continuing on, he admitted, "I was curious as to whether or not you were going to be busy tomorrow night. You see, I'm having a hard time finding someone to watch the kids, but I really wanted to do something special for Elizabeth."

"Oh, a man after my own heart," the maid gushed. "I just think it's so sexy when a guy does special things for the woman he loves, but, unfortunately..." As her words trailed off and she moved closer so as to whisper in his ear, Jason tensed, unsure of just how close Alice was prepared to stand next to him. "Don't say anything to Mr. Q, because he gets really mad when he hears me talking about my personal life while at work, but I have a match tomorrow night."

Of course, her damn wrestling. For once in Jason's life, he found himself agreeing with his grandfather and hating something the old man despised.

"Alice, get back to work," Edward barked, slowly making his way down the stairs. "If you can't tell me when my grandson comes here, then, at least, make yourself useful somehow else. And, you, young man, what do you think you're doing, intimidating my staff?"

"Oh, he wasn't doing anything like that," Alice defended him, despite the fact that Jason was perfectly capable of defending himself. "He just stopped by to see if I could watch the kids tomorrow night so he and Mrs. Morgan can go out for New Year's Eve."

"Hmph," the old man grumbled under his breath, his heavy chin wagging in disapproval with the sound. He waited until the maid scurried off before he said anything else. "If you would listen to me and hire that wife of yours some help instead of trying to encroach upon mine, you wouldn't find yourself in this pickle, twenty-four hours shy of the holiday and still without a babysitter."

Jason was about to walk away, about to walk out the door he had just entered minutes before, only to realize that he was now desperate enough to ask Edward for help. No matter how much he hated the idea of the old man spending so much alone time with his children, he knew he could, at least, trust him to keep Cam, Jake, and Cara safe from physical harm. Now, on the other hand, emotional and mental harm were a completely different story.

As if reading his mind, though, Edward spoke up before Jason could even ask. If nothing else, he was grateful for the reprieve. "Now, I'd love to have those great-grandchild of mine over to spend the night, but, unfortunately, I have a board meeting tomorrow evening and then ELQ's annual New Year's Eve party to attend, so, unless you'd be willing to allow me to take the children along..."

"Forget it, old man," Jason snapped, stopped him from saying anything more. "That's never going to happen."

As he turned around and left, he could hear Edward's laughter trailing after him. Apparently, his grandfather had anticipated his answer and had asked anyway, whether out of hope or simply to taunt him, he wasn't sure. His persistence, though, was nothing astonishing, but the fact that he so easily accepted Jason's answer was exactly why Edward was allowed to spend time with Jason's kids. Although he couldn't say that the two of them now shared a healthy relationship, too, they had certainly made progress, no matter how small the strides were.

! ^ !

Over the years, much had changed in Jason's life. Though some things remained constant – his love for his bike and going fast, his ability to read people, and his contempt for the PCPD to name just a few, there were also many things that surprised him about his life, none so much so as his relationship with Sonny. Whereas there had once been a time where he had been unable to see the older man's faults, Jason was now well aware that his former boss and mentor was just as flawed or maybe even more so than any other man. He liked to think of the realization as just another example of how, since his accident, he had managed to grow up.

Seeing Sonny for who he really was, though, hindered his friendship with the Cuban. Not only did Jason lose some of his respect for Sonny over the years, but Sonny didn't like that Jason didn't blindly listen to and follow his orders anymore. The student had now surpassed the teacher, and, whether stated or not, Sonny intensely disliked the fact that he was now the inferior one in their relationship. While he had been forced to retire from the business, Jason excelled, and, whereas he was still alone, struggling to make love work, Jason had a healthy, functioning, happy marriage with Elizabeth. Plus, he didn't have to share custody of his children or confront the fact that, slowly but surely, his children were beginning to hate him.

There was also tension between them because, not only did Sonny resent Jason's success in life and in business, but he was also jealous. At first, both men had been able to ignore the growing distance between them, put on a brave face and pretend that they were still as close as they once were, but then Sonny started to lash out. His actions were never overt, and his comments were usually vague, just hinting at their true meaning, but Jason wasn't stupid, and he had quickly caught on to the Cuban's insinuations.

The tension had come to a boiling point one night when Jason and his family had joined Sonny for dinner. Although said in a good natured, joking way, his former boss had teased that, if he didn't know better, he would have thought that Cameron was his son and not Jason's because of their dimples. Not only did the barb sting because Sonny knew Jason regretted the fact that he wasn't Cameron's biological father, never treating the child differently but wishing, for Cameron's sake, that all of his children had been conceived out of the love he and Elizabeth shared, but the comment had also been a direct jeer as well. Though he was positive beyond a shadow of a doubt that Elizabeth had never even once thought about Sonny in that way, Sonny's comment told Jason that the same couldn't be said for the older man. He was obviously attracted to Elizabeth and, at point or another, had considered what it would be like to be with her.

His onetime best friend's words had not been hanging in the air between them defiantly for five seconds before Jason pulled back and punched him. Needless to say, their dinner plans had been canceled, and it had taken the two men months to speak to each other again. Though they were once more on better terms, Jason had to yet forgive Sonny for his remarks, and he always hesitated when allowing the Cuban to spend time around Elizabeth or the kids. It wasn't that Jason thought he would attempt anything inappropriate; he just didn't want his boys to ever treat a woman the way Sonny did, and he never wanted them to know how the former mob boss felt in regards to their mother.

So, when Sonny answered his door that early evening after Jason rang the bell, smiling his trademark, wide, dimpled grin, he knew that he couldn't ask the older man to babysit his children. Despite the fact that Sonny was his last option, he would have rather gone another eight weeks without sex than worry all New Year's Eve about Cameron becoming confused by Sonny's innuendos, or Jake, who seemed to be firmly planted in a mimicking stage of his development, copying any of the Cuban's mannerisms or actions, or Cara, no matter how young she was, being treated as if she wasn't as important just because she was a girl.

"Hey, man," Sonny greeted warmly. "What's...?"

Before he finished, Jason cut him off. "Nothing, just forget it." Turning his back on his former mentor, he left without saying anything else.

! ^ !

Despite his foul mood, Jason was glad to be home that evening. It didn't matter how stressful or overwhelming taking care of a household and three kids could be, for him, it was always better than being away from his family... even when he was mad at himself. He should have been paying closer attention to the date, he should have made plans well in advance so that he wouldn't have to confront the fact that it simply wasn't possible to find a babysitter the day before New Year's Eve, and he should have, over the years, found a way to make some better friends.

Dour mood or not, he couldn't help but grin softly as he looked around his living room. Shrugging off his leather jacket and hanging it up in the closet, Jason took in the sight before him. While not messy exactly, the space was littered here and there with toys. Jake's coloring books and crayons were strewn out across to span the entire length of the coffee table, and Cam had a lengthy train track set up to meander aimlessly around the couch, chair, and underneath the large, dining room table. And, in the middle of the boys' toys, their sister's playpen was set up, both so that she could be around her brothers and so they could keep an eye on her while Elizabeth either made dinner or cleaned in another room. Unlike the missing boys, though, Cara was before him, sound asleep and snoring softly. Where she got that trait from, he and Elizabeth were still playfully bickering back and forth.

Dinner was obviously ready; he could smell the welcoming aroma of chili and corn bread muffins. It was one of his favorite meals that his wife made. What had started as Kelly's famous recipe, in the years since they'd been married, Elizabeth had tweaked it, made it better, knowing just how much he enjoyed the hearty, winter meal, and, on a freezing cold, late December night, nothing sounded better to him. Unfortunately, though, as he peeked into the kitchen, eager to catch a glimpse of his wife, she wasn't there.

Moving quietly, he retraced his steps, checking on his daughter again as he made his way towards the stairs. Before he continued on his way, though, he remembered his boots, quickly untying them and putting them away before jogging up the steps in his socks. The only sounds coming from the second floor floated through the closed door of the boys' bedroom, but, just as his hand brushed against the knob, he felt two small hands grab hold of the back of his t-shirt and pull him towards his own room. The force wasn't necessary, though, for he went quite willingly.

Smiling to himself, Jason allowed his wife to toss him around their bedroom to the best of her ability. She pushed him through the doorway, silently shut and locked the door behind them, and then eased him back towards the bed without ever stopping in her efforts to unbuckle his belt and remove his pants. By the time his back hit the mattress, she had his jeans stripped off and tossed aside, her own pants nowhere in sight. All she wore was a thick, terrycloth robe, and, without even having to ask, Jason knew she was naked underneath.

Climbing up to straddle his lap, Elizabeth leaned forward and kissed him, the force of her mouth on his bruising. It completely obliterated all his previous concerns, rendering him into putty in her very capable hands. As her tongue slid against his, tangled, teased, he felt her nails rake down through the material of his shirt, enticing him further. Though he would have enjoyed being completely naked, skin to skin with his wife, he knew neither of them had the patience to wait that long... even if the kids would give them more than fifteen minutes total for a quickie.

It was as he felt her slipping a condom on his steel hard length that Jason was finally able to remember why it had been so long since he had felt his wife's intimate touch. It took him several tries, though, to capture her fingers against his, and, as he struggled to prevent her from taking them any further, he finally realized that he didn't even notice her removing his boxer-briefs and her robe. "Elizabeth, wait," he begged, surprised by how breathless his words sounded. "You can't... we can't... eight weeks!"

Fairly growling, Elizabeth snapped, "it's been six days and seven weeks, Jason, I think we've waited long enough."

That was all the convincing he needed.

Minutes later, the tremors of his orgasm still coursing through his veins, Jason remained in bed, his legs dangling off the sides, Elizabeth still firmly planted on top of him, her quivering body still encasing his, and he pulled her down so that her bare chest rested against his t-shirt clad one. As always, she seemed to settle her face against his shoulder, nuzzling her cheek into his neck in that one place where only she fit him in just the right way. While they were both recovering from their respectful climaxes, their heart rate and respirations heavy and irregular, it was still that moment of peace they had both been craving for nearly two whole months.

"Mmm," Elizabeth moaned, whispering her lips against his pulse point in a delicate kiss. "That felt so good. I've missed being this close to you, touching you, holding you, but, most of all, I missed that blissful moment of release. It doesn't matter how bad of a day I've had, that one moment can wipe the entire slate clean in seconds flat."

Despite the fact that he had expressed similar sentiments to himself earlier that day, Jason still bristled slightly underneath his wife. After all, he, at least, had never said such a thing out loud to her. But she didn't seem to mind his irritation, actually going so far as to laugh out loud at him.

Sitting up, she leaned an elbow against his chest, situating her chin against her palm as she gazed down upon him. As he looked up at her, Jason couldn't help but lift his hands and run his fingers lazily through her messy, chocolate curls. "So, I called in a favor today with Matt, made him promise me that, no matter what, he'd be here tomorrow night."

Suddenly, all his attention, some of which had been previously occupied into figuring out he and Elizabeth could manage to go another round before the kids demanded their attention once again, was focused upon his wife and what she was saying. After everything he had been through, after every person he had tried and failed to secure in watching the kids, she managed to find a sitter from home on her very first try.

He loved his wife so much.

"What do you have...?"

Giggling, Elizabeth leaned over and quickly pecked his lips. Wigging her eyebrows, she teased, "so, Jason, what are you doing for New Year's Eve?"