A/N: This isn't the first FNF one shot I had pushed back in storage, but it is the first one of my reserves I'm going to post. That's because JULES wanted it posted first, because JULES whined when I said I wanted to go in order, because JULES is spoiled. :-P So, if you're like me and you prefer things to be neat and orderly, blame JULES. Anyway, this is an alternative take on both Elizabeth's life and Jason's accident. Although it does deal with a rather icky occurrence, there are extenuating circumstances, and I hope that you all, dear readers, can just go with the flow for me. Oh, and, if you don't like it, that can be JULES' fault, too... just to keep things uniformed. ;-D On one last note, I know some of you are looking forward to Heartbeats updates. I am working on the story, and you'll be seeing a new chapter of the ensemble fic within a week or so. Thanks, everyone, and enjoy!

~Charlynn~

Brotherly Affection

A One Shot
FNF#41:
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." ~ Maya Angelou

Christmas with the Quartermaines was nothing like what Elizabeth had always celebrated with her mother, but thinking like that, thinking about Paige and the life they had before her mother's death, would get her nowhere. She was a Quartermaine now; they had adopted her, so there was no turning back, no escaping.

If nothing else could be said about her new family, they were certainly entertaining, and she was fond of them… most of them. While they couldn't replace her mother, they did offer her comfort and security. As their new daughter, she wouldn't have to worry about scrimping and saving the rest of her life to finish paying off her mother's hospital bills. Edward – grandfather – had taken care of that as soon as he first gave her a hug.

The patriarch of the Quartermaine family was a complex man. He was loyal to his family to a fault, would protect anyone he was related to with his last dying breath, but, at the same time, he didn't allow those he loved to see just how much he cared for them. Instead, he badgered, he berated, and he bullied. Elizabeth was starting to wonder what his own upbringing had resembled, for it was certainly Lila, his wife, who tempered the elderly gentleman.

Speaking of Lila – grandmother, she was the eighteen year old's second favorite new family member. To the white haired matriarch, she had always been a part of their family. They had tea together in the afternoons, she would read to the elderly woman at night before she went to bed, and Lila allowed only her and Reginald to help in her beloved rose garden. And Elizabeth loved being outside, despite the fact that it was now December and bitter cold. Life in upstate New York was nothing like it had been in Arizona with her mom, but she liked the contrasting weather. The differences helped to remind her that her old life was a part of the past, and life with the Quartermaines was her present and, most probably, her future. Monica was determined to see to that.

Her adopted mother was a kind woman, strong but gentle at the same time. The young brunette believed that the surgeon's divergent personality traits were a direct result of her profession in the medical field. While Monica needed compassion as a doctor, she also needed a stubborn streak a mile thick so that, when she lost a patient, she wouldn't break down and lose heart. Plus, there was also her relationship with Alan. While no one seemed interested in explaining to her the ins and outs of her new parents' marriage, quite a bit of information was documented at the library in the old newspaper clippings, and Elizabeth had read about the Quartermaines until her eyes were crossed and blurry. With a marriage as tumultuous as Alan and Monica's had been, it was no wonder her adopted mother could rage fiercer than Edward himself and yet, at the same time, hold her until she fell asleep at night after a particularly painful dream about her mother.

Alan had a similar complimentary personality, but he didn't seem as formidable to Elizabeth as his wife was. She had no doubt that he was a competent doctor. After all, one didn't become the chief of staff of a hospital without knowing a thing or two about medicine, but, at the same time, he didn't seem as quick to enter into the family arguments, and, in her eyes, he was nothing more than a giant teddy bear. And, unlike Monica, her new adopted father could make her laugh, and, right now in her life, laughter, she thought, was the best possible medicine. For a moment when she would be laughing at Alan's Sydney the Bear impersonations, she could forget the fact that her mother had died of breast cancer, she could forget the fact that she had been forced to leave behind her whole life – her school, her friends, her old room – and come to live with people who were nothing more, really, than a bunch of crazy strangers. And crazy they certainly were… including their staff.

Cook was by far the most neurotic, volatile, capricious woman Elizabeth had ever met. She was known to take offense at the slightest remark towards her cooking, and, when she did so, no one would eat for days unless they sought sustenance outside of the Quartermaine home. Well, that was no one but herself, for, for some reason beyond her own knowledge, Cook seemed to have a soft spot for her. There was always some secret treat in her lunches every afternoon when she unpacked them at school, and, when she got home for the day, there was an inevitable piece of double chocolate layer cake waiting for her consumption. The only other person who seemed to have a way with the highly strung woman was Ned, her new cousin, but the eighteen year old firmly believed it was because the oldest Quartermaine grandson could charm the pants off of any woman between the ages of sixteen and one hundred and six.

And she had read about him, too. According the papers, her cousin and her adopted mother had once had an affair together. Although she didn't put such a notion past either Ned or Monica, it still shocked her a little bit. Plus, Ned Ashton was also the illustrious Eddie Maine, a rock star by night, board room executive by day. It was all rather fascinating… and scandalous. The Quartermaines were like the naughtier version of the Ewings. She just hoped that didn't mean that she was now Lucy. But her cousin was a nice guy, he seemed to like her, and, in return, she helped him tease their grandfather sometimes, just for fun.

The one person in the family that she was leery of the most was AJ. Although he could be nice when he wanted to be, her eldest adopted brother quite obviously had a drinking problem. When he was drunk, he was mean and belligerent, and, oftentimes, she just avoided him to be safe, for, even when he wasn't drinking, Elizabeth got the distinct impression that he was just looking for an angle, some way that he could use her new status in the family to one up everyone else, especially his younger brother, and there was no way she would ever be party to anyone hurting Jason.

He was, by far, her favorite… but not for reasons that were anywhere near being appropriate. When she saw the blonde haired, blue eyed college student, she didn't see a new brother. Rather, the pretty brunette saw her first, real crush. Sure, there had been other boys back in Arizona, boys that she had kissed at parties and danced with at prom, but none of them compared to Jason.

He was… sweet to her. He didn't treat her like a burden, like someone he had to be nice to because she was the poor, orphaned, little girl like AJ did, and he certainly didn't pity her like everyone else. He would talk to her just like a friend. He told her about his plans for the future, about his friends and his girlfriend Keisha, and he gave her all sorts of secrets that could be used when appropriate to win a legendary Quartermaine family brawl. He was her best friend, but he was also so much more than that as well.

There was no debating the fact that he was gorgeous. In fact, she believed him to be the most handsome man she had ever seen before in her life, but he was also funny, and smart, and he had the greatest sense of family devotion that she had ever witnessed. Jason Quartermaine was beautiful on both the outside and the inside, and, though she shuddered at how clichéd such a trite statement sounded, it was also the truth.

However, he had no idea that she saw him that way, and she was determined that he would never find out. Not only would other people both not understand and disapprove of her feelings, but they would also undoubtedly make Jason uncomfortable around her. So, she just kept her crush a secret, hoping that it would eventually pass. It wasn't her fault that she was eighteen and that her new brother was just a couple years older than she herself was. Maybe someday she'd meet someone else. Then, she would tell Jason about her feelings, and they could laugh about them together, but, for now, she would treasure them in private, because, wrong or not, sometimes they were the only thing that helped her get through the bad days. And today was certainly one of those… thanks, as always, to AJ.

He was drunk - again, ranting and raving, fighting with everyone, and it angered Elizabeth so much. It was Christmas time, and she missed her mother terribly. Paige would have understood her daughter's feelings for the Quartermaine Golden Boy, and she would have known exactly what to say to help her only child. But Paige was gone, and Elizabeth was alone, and that realization was never more prevalent than when her new family was tearing at each others' throats. Their screaming made her wince, and the ugly words they flung at each other made her chest ache. How could they be so blind; how could they take each other for granted, especially when she was in the room, and she was living proof that your entire life could change with just a single, routine doctor's appointment?

Glancing around the room, she saw the entire family gathered, at least, the members who lived in Port Charles, the ones that she had met so far, and she realized that they had all completely forgotten her presence there with them. Well, that wasn't entirely true. Jason was still aware that she was there, and, whenever she recoiled, he seemed to cringe with her until, finally, he stepped forward and attempted the handle the situation himself.

She couldn't help it; she beamed with pride and gratitude. Jason hated the fighting just as much as she did, but, at the same time, he entered into the foray, the veritable lion's den, for her; he wanted to make her feel better. Even if he failed, even if the Quartermaines continued to fight all night and all of the holiday season, the eighteen year old wouldn't care, because she now knew exactly how much she meant to Jason, and his love – even if it was only as her brother – meant everything to her.

She was still basking in the glow of his warmth when the mood in the entire room shifted. AJ ran off to leave – with his car keys, and Jason followed, intent upon stopping him. But he shouldn't have! AJ was drunk, as always, and the roads were bad because it was winter in upstate New York. Ice, snow drifts, poor visibility, Elizabeth heard the words nightly during the weather update on the local news, and she shivered as if she herself was outside running after AJ.

Everything that happened seemed to take only seconds, but, when the haze of uncertainty lifted, one fact and one fact alone was clear: Jason had been injured, badly, and she had no one to blame but herself.

No, Elizabeth realized as she watched the ambulance take Jason to the hospital, that was untrue. She wasn't the one to blame. Yes, Jason had tried to intervene in order to offer her a little comfort, a little peace, but his interference wouldn't have been necessary if AJ wasn't a selfish lush. It was AJ's fault that Jason's head had been rammed into a tree, and, if Jason died, his blood would be on his brother's hands, not hers. With a passion, in that moment, she realized that she hated AJ Quartermaine and always would.

***

One after another, every member of the Quartermaine family went into the hospital room, Jason's hospital room, and they came back out disappointed, haunted, and crying. It was almost a month since the accident, but Jason had finally woken up. The doctors said that he had no memory of names, of faces, of dates, of his own personal history, but he still retained all his scholarly knowledge, and he was aware of his feelings. Despite everyone around him being a stranger, Jason could still recall how everyone he knew in the past had made him feel before the accident, only, now, he wasn't afraid of and definitely not restrained enough to hide his emotions.

Alan and Monica had gone in first, but they had quickly fled, both of them crying as they wondered what they had ever done to their precious son to make him feel pressured and as though he was under a microscope. Elizabeth could have told them, she could have explained that they pinned all their hopes on Jason's shoulders without leaving room for failure or even mediocrity, and their son had felt as though success was a condition of their love not an aspiration, but she refrained from saying a word. Instead, she simply remained hidden in her tiny, obscure corner, withdrawn as though, if she folded into herself enough, she could literally disappear.

Edward made Jason yell and rage in anger. Apparently, the old man had remarked upon exiting his grandson's room, there was some deep seeded animosity there. Despite herself, the pretty brunette had almost laughed at the amazed wonder in the old man's voice. How he could not have been aware that his entire family resented the way he placed ELQ above his relatives, she had no idea, but, apparently, Jason had read him the riot act, and he had not responded well accordingly.

Because of her health, Lila had been unable to come to the hospital, but Elizabeth was sure Jason would have responded positively towards his grandmother. How could he not? Lila Quartermaine was perfect, and she knew for a fact that the matriarch's grandson loved her dearly. Instead, Jason had been visited by Ned who seemed to make the injured man somewhat more comfortable than everyone else, but it had been a distant comfort, an unattached one. AJ had sent him into a temper, similar to the one he had displayed with Edward but even more frantically livid, and Keisha had been rewarded with absolutely no response at all. Evidently, Jason felt nothing for his now former girlfriend. That little revelation had selfishly made Elizabeth smile on the inside.

Now, though, everyone else had gone home, forgetting in their own pain and grief that she was even there with them, and it was her turn to go into Jason's room. Figuring he had been exhausted by the day's emotional experiments, she was unprepared to see him sitting straight up in bed and peering at her closely when she pushed the door open. Despite being startled and somewhat uneasy by his alertness, the eighteen year old refused to back down, for she didn't want her rejection to hurt Jason. So, instead, she pushed aside her own discomfort and walked resolutely to the chair that was placed beside the blonde's bed, sitting down before such an invitation was offered to her.

Jason smirked, looked her up and down, and she could feel the blush as it spread its way across her otherwise porcelain face. "Do I make you uncomfortable," he asked her.

Shaking her head no, Elizabeth responded, "it's not that."

"Then what it is?"

Not sure how to answer him without giving away her secret, she met his intense gaze and requested, "if it's alright with you, I'd rather not say."

And Jason just shrugged, already seemingly moving on to something else. "Who are you then?"

That was simple enough. "I'm Elizabeth."

He chuckled, and, though the sound was familiar, it was also alien as well, deeper, harsher, more masculine than what she remembered. "I meant to me. Who are you to me?" Surprising her further, he lifted the hand that was free of IV's and palmed her face, his long, lean digits reaching into her hair as his thumb rubbed itself over her plump bottom lip. "We can't be related, because we look nothing alike," Jason mused, and she was about to correct him, to tell them they were related by adoption when he added, "and I'm glad."

She couldn't help herself; she gasped. "You are?"

"You're blushing again, Elizabeth," he teased her, his thumb traveling down to tip her chin up as he played with the small dimple there. "You know, you're even prettier when you blush."

With that compliment, she was sure that her face reddened even more, and the slight smirk offered to her from Jason was the only answer she needed that her summation had been correct. Stumbling over her words, she finally managed to squeak out, "thank you."

"If you really want to thank me, you could give me a kiss."

She thought he was joking. Surely, he was just joking, right? But, when she met his icy blue gaze, Elizabeth knew that her adopted brother was entirely serious. Despite knowing it was wrong, despite knowing that she should tell him that, technically - legally, she was his sister, she didn't stop him when the gentle pressure he applied to her face drew her lips closer and closer, and, when their mouths touched, his tongue quickly slithering out to whisper against the seam of her lips, she melted into his touch, forgetting everything but the fact that Jason was awake, and the memories of his previous emotions towards her had led him to want to kiss her now.

When their embrace finally broke, there was a cocky, self-assured grin on the blonde's face, and she couldn't help but return the smile with a smaller, more whimsical one of her own. "So," he finally spoke, breaking the comfortable silence between them, "I take it I'm your boyfriend, Elizabeth?"

And that's when the freezing water came crashing down upon her. "Actually, no," she corrected him, frowning. "You're my adopted brother."

As she saw the bewildered astonishment register on Jason's face, she sat back, stunned and dismayed with her own actions. It was official, though: The Ewings… or any other dysfunctional, fictional family had nothing on the Quartermaines, and she was now, she felt, officially one of them.

What in the hell was she – were they – going to do now?