Dinner was tense to say the least. Robin knew it probably wasn't a good idea to invite Jason to dinner, but she just had to do it. Between work and spending time with her family, she's hardly seen or spoken to either Elizabeth or Jason.

She was glad, however, that while she hasn't spent much time with them, they've been spending time together. She could see the good that it has done to Elizabeth, having Jason devoting himself to her in every way that matters.

Mac was making the dinner really hard for Jason, not that she or Elizabeth were complaining, Maxie got a kick out of it as well, but Georgie did her best to keep the peace. She was always the one to get Mac to ease up when he gets that way.

"I can drop you home, if you want." Mac says to Elizabeth as they're saying their goodbyes.

"That's okay, Mac." she says softly. "I came here with Jason. He can drop me home."

"I don't mind, really." Mac insists, not happy with Jason being back in her life after all the pain he caused.

"Let her go, Uncle Mac." Robin says, appearing by his side. "Jason is more than capable of taking her home. You, however, need to help with clean up."

"Fine, fine." Mac relents, hugging Elizabeth once again. "You call me if you need anything, okay? Even if you want me to arrest him."

"I'll keep that in mind." she says softly, kissing his cheek. "Thanks for dinner, Mac."

"Anytime, sweetheart." Mac assures before watching her leave with Jason.

"She'll be fine, Uncle Mac." Robin says softly, closing the door before linking arms with him. "Come on...the girls could use our help."

They ride in silence as they leave Mac's house. Jason feels like he has pushed her enough for one day, promising himself to keep at it another day. He could see that it was damn near killing her, keeping what happened to her away from him, and he couldn't let it continue.

Never in his life did he regret anything more than he regrets pushing her away. He really believed it was the right thing to do, but now he feels like it was the worst decision he has ever made. Maybe, if he had stayed with her, none of this would have happened. She wouldn't be broken like she is. She wouldn't be in so much pain.

"Are you going to stay with me tonight?" Elizabeth questions as they near the turn to her studio.

"I won't if you don't want me to." he replies, hoping she'll let him, even after what happened.

"I want you to." she admits, staring out her window. "I'm just not sure you should."

"Why?"

"Because I don't want you to see me like that again." she says seriously, turning to look at him. "I almost broke down right in front of you and I never want you to see me like that again."

"Too bad." he replies, parking in the parking lot. "I plan on being the one to be there whenever it does happen."

"Jason..."

"You were right." he replies. "You and I...there's a lot of history between us. I want to tell you why I did what I did...why I pulled away from you...but you're not ready and I can see that. Its not going to stop me from being here for you, though, and there's nothing you can do to stop me."

"Where was this drive when you pushed me away?" she counters, staring at him.

"I hurt you, I know that." he says softly, gently caressing her cheek. "I'll regret that for as long as I live, but I'm here now...I'm going to do whatever it takes to help you get past this."

"I don't want to need you." she whispers, staring into her eyes. "I don't want to need you because I don't want to be hurt again...but I do...I need you, Jason."

"I'm never going to hurt you again." he promises, laying his forehead against hers. "Never again...I promise you that."

Without another word spoken, the two of them get out of his SUV and head up to her studio. She knows that she shouldn't let herself feel anything for him, but he's pushing her so hard that she just can't help it. Whenever she wakes up to him, she remembers the good times in their relationship and she's hit by the feelings she has long since buried.

She doesn't understand why he's so devoted to her now, having told her that he didn't love her, but she doesn't want it to end. Elizabeth knows that she'll end up telling him everything, he has that way about him, always pushing the right buttons until she caves...but she hopes he doesn't break when he finds out.

For now, though, she'll keep it hidden for as long as she can. She'll fight every instinct and she'll force herself to keep it away from him for as long as she can manage. No matter what happened, no matter what was said or done, he doesn't deserve to hurt. And, when he finds out, that's exactly what he'll do. He'll hurt.

"Goodnight." he whispers, wrapping his arms around her, holding her close.

"Goodnight." she replies, closing her eyes as she allows herself to feel safe, having only locked the door and checked it once for certainty. It was getting easier, but she wasn't there yet.

Jason noticed the subtle change, hoping that he can get her to feel safe enough to only lock it once and leave it be. For now, he'll accept the progress she has made and leave it be. Watching her sleep for a little while longer, Jason waits for her to fall into a deep slumber before he succumbs to his fatigue.

Elizabeth will wake up scared and frightened, like she has every morning so far, but he'll take it. He can and will handle whatever she has to dish out because, somehow he knows, this is his fault. Whatever she's going through, whatever happened to her, its because of him. That much he's sure of.

A/N: Thank you for the reviews!

Can't wait to hear what you think.

- ROCkER