A series of scenes starting the first Christmas Eve/Morn after Jason's accident.
Okay there are dates for the years, but hey obviously there should technically be a few more of them because of the sorasing that would be way too much effort for me to figure out.
Life in a Night
"Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?"
-Alfred Lord Tennyson
They looked at each other for a moment.
In the snowy garden all they did was look.
For a moment it was okay.
For a moment it was normal.
"I can't do this," her voice whispered and cracked as she turned.
"Brenda," he frowned.
"No, Jason," her head shook and she refused to look at him, "I can't you're gone and you're-" her voice cracked again.
"You can see me."
"I don't want to dream about you anymore. I don't want to wake up and remember that you're gone and you hate me," her voice cracked and struggled to stay strong.
He turned her back to him, "I don't hate you," he pushed back the dark curls, "I could never hate you."
"You," her jaw trembled, "hate me," she cried.
"No," he shook his head, "you can see me," he whispered in amazement.
"Of course I can see you, this is my dream."
"No," Jason's head shook, "it's mine. Only I never dream anymore. I just stop. I- I just stopped."
She did her best not to blink, to not release the flood of tears welling up in her eyes. "I miss you."
"God I miss you too," his hand cupped her jaw.
"I wish you were real, I wish you were here. I would give anything for just-"
"I'm here Brenda," his other hand moved to the other side of her face, forcing her to remain gazing at him.
"No you aren't," her head gently shook in his hands.
"You feel me," his eyes filled with tears, a mixture of desperation and relief, "I feel you. You're the first thing I've been able to touch in so long."
"Why won't you come back?" Brenda finally blinked and the tears began their slow descent down her cheeks.
"I don't think I can. That isn't me anymore."
Her hands covered his, "Try harder."
"No you aren't. I feel you. You're here. Why would you do this to me?"
"I didn't do this, I don't know how-"
"It's Christmas," Brenda whispered as her hands fell.
He nodded slowly.
"You were here last year and this year-"
"I am here," Jason's hands dropped to his hers, to clasp them firmly within his own.
"All those times I wished for just another hour with you. I took you for granted Jason. I thought you'd always be there."
"I still am," he nodded at her. "I'm always with him. I have been watching you make a fool out of yourself all year," he smiled down at her.
"Do you like Jax?"
"He seems fine."
"He reminds me of you."
"An Australian raider?"
"He's good. He's just naturally good. I want to be good for him; I try to be good for him."
"Just be yourself," he smiled softly at her, "it's enough. It always is."
"I love you," she suddenly blurted out. "That's what I should have said more. I love you and you were the best person I ever met and I'm sorry I was always such a crappy friend."
"You weren't a crappy friend. I think you might have been one of my best ones."
"How can you say that I-"
"I'm here right now," his hands tightened around hers.
"I would have loved you eventually," her words so soft, he could have almost missed them.
"I would have loved you too."
"Not like I should have, not like I would have-" There were truths you started to notice once you were pulled out of the routine chaos of your everyday life.
"Keesha," Brenda interjected.
"It's different," he wanted to close his eyes, but he was too afraid to, afraid she would disappear. "That's why I'm here." He nodded harshly, "That's what I've needed to say for the past year. I screwed up, I'm sorry."
Her head tilted.
"Everything we would have had. I-" Jason paused, "hate Jax. I think he's a really great guy, but I-" his head shook, "and Sonny. It was supposed to be us. I didn't get that until…until it was too late."
"I cost us the life we were supposed to have."
"Tell me I would have figured out how to be the kind of woman that deserved you?"
"You always were," one hand separated from hers to move and brush her cheek.
"I don't want you to leave again," tears welled up in her eyes again.
"I wish we could have that life. I wish-"
Her hands moved to grab fistfuls of his shirt and her body curled inward as she leaned against his chest. "Don't go, please don't go."
"I would do anything to stay," he whispered against the top of her head.
She awoke on her couch, startled she shot up. She saw him immediately as he was adding a log to the fireplace. "Jason," her mind relaxed and her heart soared.
He turned with an easy smile.
"You're here," her head took on a gentle sway of amazement.
"I am," he smiled brightly.
"I," she frowned, "I forgot last year. How could I forget? I woke up happy and thinking about you, but-" Her head tilted.
"It's only a dream," he said walking towards her.
"You," she smiled standing, placing a hand on his chest, "you aren't a dream."
"I've been worried about you," Jason frowned easily recalling all he had seen her go through, all he had watched her suffer through. He had spent the year screaming at the man who inhabited his body to do more, to be more.
"I'm fine now," she smiled up. "Sonny and Jax aren't you. You would have never-" She frowned, "I don't want to talk about them. I have you. So what do I get you one night every year?"
"I don't know. Looking like that."
"One night to make up for the ass you've become?" She lifted up on her toes, his arms wrapped around her.
"He's trying," Jason pointed out. The other man didn't leave her to self-destruct, the other man worried.
Brenda grunted, but she was still smiling up at him.
"How does he kiss by the way?"
Brenda smirked, "If we want comparisons, I'd need a reminder."
"That I can do."
"Can you?" Brenda smirked some more. They had spent the majority of last Christmas Eve in Jason's old room at the Quartermaines, making love and talking about all the things they never got to talk about.
She was frowning sitting up in bed that looked similar to hers at the cottage. "Is this room bigger?"
"Dream," Jason said slowly kissing his way down her arm, "dream house."
"And this is totally the comforter I wanted, but I couldn't find it anywhere."
"I will take your word on that."
"How is this possible?"
"Our minds creating our perfect environment?"
"But I didn't even think-"
"Subconscious? Like this?" Jason lifted her hand, a glittering engagement ring and wedding band. He looked down at his own hand, sure enough there was a solid platinum band.
"Married," she smiled softly at her own hand, "we would have been married by now."
Jason heard the sorrow in her voice, he tried to tilt her head towards him, but she shook it slightly as she tried to control her emotions.
"Hmm," Brenda murmured and stood crossing the room to the picture frames on the dresser. She knew what was normally on her dresser, a picture of her and Robin and a picture of her and Brook. "Married in Lila's garden," Brenda lifted the frame.
He followed her across the room, "That makes sense," he took the frame.
"It looks nice," he nodded and picked up the family wedding shot.
"Look how happy we were," she leaned on his arm, "would have been."
"I'm scared for AJ," Jason whispered as he continued to study the picture.
"Carly's baby might be his-"
"Maybe that will keep him on track."
"No sad talk?" Brenda suggested.
"There's enough sadness the rest of the year," Jason was quick to agree. He didn't want to waste his one night on things he could do nothing about.
He crushed her to him.
She crushed him back.
"I thought I'd never see you again."
"I'm sorry, I-"
"You forget, I know." Every Christmas morning she forgot the night before. Forgot that he was still trapped with Jason. Seeing and hearing, but unable to reach out.
"I'm sorry," she said still wrapped in his arms. The arms she would never leave if given a choice.
"Where are you?"
"Right now? Brazil. I didn't want to be near anything…Clichéd."
"My mom tried to kill me, she didn't succeed."
"Does someone have you?" He would make Jason find her, he had no idea how, but he would.
"I'm with someone, but," her head tilted up to finally look at him, to confess her sin, "it's by choice."
"You and Jax were-"
"I can't live up to it Jason. He loves me so completely, but I…can't. I keep trying to be perfect for him Jason, but- It's a losing battle. I'm always going to end up hurting him."
"Come back and I'll come home."
Her head shook, "Then I don't want to talk about it. I have one night with you Jason. I don't want to spend it rehashing things that we can't ever change."
For the first time she was there before him. Walking in front of the Christmas tree at the cottage and holding a baby. A little girl in red velvet trimmed with white pajamas.
She turned, instinctively knowing that he was there. "A baby," her voice cracked, "we would have had a baby by now."
"She's beautiful," he said approaching her.
"Lila," Brenda nodded, "we would have had a little girl called Lila and I can feel her, but she's going to be gone in a few hours and we're-" Brenda's head shook.
"I'm sorry," Jason apologized, torn apart by the guilt as the little girl held onto his finger. She would never get to be because of a split second decision.
"She's so perfect Jason."
"We have tonight," Jason whispered as he held his family tight.
"I seriously do not think I can get up," Brenda said still sitting on the floor in front of the tree as Jason stood with Lila, who despite the fact that this was a dream was showing signs of tuckering out as a one year old would after an extended play time.
He smiled down at Brenda. The thick dark curls that framed her glowing face and the ample stomach just beneath that. Baby number 2. He laughed and set Lila back on the floor as he went to help Brenda up.
She groaned once on her feet.
"It's weird that I like this right?" Jason said holding her as close as he could. Feeling the swell of their child against him. For just a few hours he got to forget this was the life they would never have. That they would only have this one night a year and the other 364 would be spent without her as she was spending her days with another.
"No," she touched the side of her face with a soft smile. "I think about this. I think about what we could have been when I'm alone. I thought I saw you in Morocco months ago, I wanted to chase after you."
"That was you," he whispered.
Her head tilted.
"He got caught in the crowd, I thought I saw you. He spent an hour looking for you. Went back to the market every day for a week."
"Jason hates shopping."
"He doesn't hate you. I know you think he does. He left Port Charles."
"I'm here with you. No one else Jason. Us and Lila," Brenda looked down with a smile at the young child with a teddy bear in her mouth.
"So if I said I was tired?" Brenda asked walking into the room.
"I would smile tell you it's alright and hold you until we wake up and then see you again next year."
Brenda frowned, "Wake me up?" Brenda smiled.
"With pleasure," Jason grinned approaching her.
"How funny is it, you're the best Christmas gift I've ever received and I never remember it?"
Jason frowned as his eyes opened to the penthouse, trying to figure out what had happened as he looked around the bedroom he was sick of seeing. He realized he was alone though, that Jason Morgan was for once not with him.
"Brenda," he called out as he headed towards the door.
She was in her room, seated in a chair looking out the window.
He was about to say her name again, but instead he waited.
"I think I love him."
Jason frowned; she had long ago decided to not mention the other men in her life on their one night together.
"There is so much of you in him."
Her lips lifted in a bittersweet smile, "Jason," she whispered.
He swallowed hard.
She turned and faced him, "I-"
"You have these moments where you look at him how you look at me…" Jason nodded slowly. The rare moments when it felt as if she was seeing him, only it hadn't been him. It had been Jason Morgan.
"I love you," she promised and moved to place a hand on him.
"But I'm gone," he stepped away from her hand.
"You are NOT gone," her voice lifted and her hands once more found his body, "you are here with me and even if it's just for a night."
"So love him all the rest."
Her head shook, "It wouldn't be fair because I see him and miss you and he deserves more than that…I don't know how I'm supposed to keep doing this…"
"Do you want me to," he glanced over his shoulder, he could go. He could walk away from her if it was what she needed.
"No," she grabbed him, "this Jason is the only place I know what I'm doing, where I belong. I want to see our girls," she smiled up at him.
"You could still have them," his hand went to her cheek, "you could have Lila and Grace with him."
"You're their daddy Jason, you're the only one that could ever be their dad."
"I won't hate you if you love him," was the last thing he whispered as he fell asleep.
The problem was she would hate herself.
"Come home," Jason whispered down to the woman who had been out of his sight for nearly a year.
"Because you love him."
"Because this isn't fair to any of us Jason."
She was breathless, frozen and flush all at once after they had flung themselves into the snow for snow angels.
His hand pulled her up to him, "I'm the luckiest man in the world. One night with you is more than a lifetime with someone else."
The sound of their girls laughter and the warmth of him against her, she knew she agreed. They were blessed.
"I have one night and really this is what you're doing to me?" Jason asked as he was seated on the floor with the girls climbing all over him as they and Brenda cover him in makeup and hair products.
"You love every second of it and you know it," Brenda knowingly smirked at him.
He smiled at her,
"For real and it's…It's a disaster Jason."
"Come home." He didn't mention Liz, it wasn't his place.
She shook her head. "Just hold me Jason."
"They're lucky," Brenda said as Jason walked into the room. The girls were playing a game in front of the tree and Brenda was holding an infant. "I would have destroyed them if they were real."
Jason was laying on his back with little Alan in the air above him.
Brenda looked over as she was in the middle of painting Lila's nails. She opened her mouth to speak, but decided she didn't want to spoil the mood.
"Why haven't you come home?" Jason asked her as they were alone. He tried asking every year and every year she ignored the question.
"What home Jason? I don't have a home, I don't have a family outside of this."
"Of course you do."
"Alan dead because of a Jacks and an Alcazar, Georgie and Emily because of Diego. The choices I make, make those I love suffer."
"I love you, you are the only thing that has made my life mean anything."
He was sitting on the coffee table at the penthouse when she awoke.
She smiled slowly at him.
He didn't smile back. "You can't do this."
"Destroy yourself with Sonny."
"No, Brenda. This is it. This is too far."
"It was too far the moment I let you go. The moment I didn't fight for my baby. I let him die."
"That's not your fault."
"You weren't there you don't know whose fault it was."
"But I would have been there. If you had just picked up the phone once. He would have come. He would have taken care of Aleksander."
"I…" the words grew stuck in her throat, "I took care of him."
"Jason would fall in love with you Brenda, if you ever gave him half a chance, if you didn't turn into a shrill-"
"Exactly like that. I know you. That isn't you. When you let him see the real you-"
"I couldn't love you Jason. I won't love him. I won't have the life with him that I deprived you of. That I deprived my son of. I deserve what I get Jason and Jason deserves better than me. Just like you did, just like my baby did-"
"Mommy?" The little boy with tousled hair questioned walking into the room.
She turned her back to Jason and plastered a smile on her face, "Hi Al," she greeted him as she scooped him up into her arms.
"It's Christmas," he smiled.
"I know," she grinned back, "let's go get your sisters and see what's waiting for you."
She was back in Lila's rose garden, the place where it all began. She was alone, but that made sense due to the time difference. She frowned realizing that for once she didn't wish to go back in time. To a time when Jason was a breath away, waiting for her to be ready. For years all she had dreamed of was the chance to step back and do it over again. With Alec now…Alec changed it all, she couldn't dream of the children she would never have because they would mean she would have never had him.
She didn't turn when she heard him approaching too afraid of the tears that would fall. Too afraid this would be the last time she would see his face. She could feel the change and it petrified her.
"Brenda," he whispered.
"The Quartermaines?" She didn't look back.
"We would have always been here for Christmas, wouldn't we? The rest of it was just a dream."
"We don't know where we would have been, how we would have done," he turned her to face him.
"I was happy though," the tears streamed down her face.
"That night made it so I get through all the rest. Knowing that no matter what you still loved me." Not Jax, Sonny, Luis, Aleksander, or Murphy.
"I always will Jason."
He nodded, "I know."
"Tell me how to make this better," she cried desperately.
"I," he frowned, "you feel it too. The change?"
"Alec," Brenda frowned.
"I think it already has changed, is changing," Jason whispered.
With a weepy smile she nodded, "Let's just have Christmas."
Jason scooped up Alec, "Ready for presents?"
"I was always his dad," Jason spoke as they checked in on the sleeping child.
Brenda's heart caught in her throat.
"Every year he was with us."
"I didn't," she hadn't recalled her dreams until she was back in them.
"I know," he nodded, "when I saw him and then I saw Sonny with him, trying to be his father."
His head shook, "I'm going to come back to you. That's what this is, that's what this has to be. I am going to come back, I am going to be your husband, I am going to be his father and we are going to have Lila and Grace."
His voice was cracking as he spoke, she knew it was just a dream within a dream, but she couldn't help but nod back to him and comfort him.
"You're dead, you were supposed to be dead," Anna Devane frowned at Jason, lying strapped down to a hospital bed.
"What?" Robin shot a frown over at her mother.
"Robin?" Jason continued to look perplexed at the sight of Robin.
"Let me get you out of those-"
"Wait we don't know if that's actually Jason Morgan or not," Anna stopped her daughter.
Both women looked over.
"Jason Quartermanine, present and accounted for. Don't know what they did, but I like it."
"Jason," Robin smiled warily.
He smiled suddenly, "It's Christmas Eve," he let out an unexpected laugh.
"Your family will be so excited to see you."
"Yea," he smiled back, "she will."
"Time to get you both home," Robert said with a smile, "I'll get Jason to his flight and meet-"
"Where are you going?" Robin frowned.
"Rome," Jason answered with an easy smile.
Words caught in her throat, or maybe it was a sob. She nodded and finally forced out, "Bring her home?"
"We'll be back before New Year's, make plans, huge plans. We got our lives back Robin. No more wasting a second of it."
"Mmm," Brenda murmured as Jason slid into bed with her. "You're here."
"I was scared you were gone forever."
"I'm with you forever, you should know that by now."
"I forget," she murmured still waking up.
"Not anymore," Jason smiled realizing that his inclination to crawl into bed with the only woman he had ever known to be his wife was the right one, maybe it was only because she was half asleep, but her dreams were still with her, "I hope."
"Love me," she sleepily murmured, sliding against him, "show me."
"Please," a trace of desperation in her voice.
"Don't be dead," tears filled her eyes.
"I'm not," his hands slid along her, "I'm here, I won't leave you again."
She whimpered against him.
"Daddy?" Alec regarded him with a pensive frown.
Jason groaned as he stretched awake, but pulled his son into a hug before he could even form words, "I missed you," followed moments later.
"Joyeux Noël," Jason smiled holding his son.
"Perfect Christmas," Brenda said looking at them both.
"Go check out the tree, your mom and I will be out in a minute."
He debated telling her outright. Telling her how he had been awake and trapped for weeks. He didn't tell her about Robin. That would come soon. It would all come soon. He just wanted the morning without anything else.
That and it would be funny to watch as she figured it out.
Brenda frowned at the knock on the door and threw a glance over her shoulder to Alec walking on his hands as Jason held him up by his feet.
She plastered on a smile for her elderly neighbor bearing cookies and opened the door. Signora Costa had been worried about her and Alec spending Christmas alone and had invited them to join her family for the day.
Now though she cast a smile into the room as Jason and Alec called out their Christmas greetings, but didn't pause in their activity and after a few more words with Brenda said her goodbyes.
Brenda shut the door frowning. Only the kids had ever been in their dreams with them. The children they were supposed to have.
Jason kept one eye on her as he kept the other on his son.
She picked up her cell and dialed her sister; she was too confused to speak as Julia picked up. "Uh yea, I just wanted to call and say Merry Christmas, yea no you can call me back after you finish eating."
"What the hell is going on," Brenda was practically yelled as she hung up.
"Mom," Alec condemned her language choice as he was in the process of being lower to the floor by his father.
"I think Mom-"
"Oh god," the phone dropped out of her hand, "this is really just a dream. You aren't here. I'm dreaming and you're-"
His arms were around her as she shattered like her phone, he hadn't thought of this. He sat with her in his arms.
"You're gone and I'm never, we're never..."
"I am here. I am here for good. To be your husband, to raise my son. I am here Brenda."
"Mom just needs a minute buddy. Why don't you go get us a few cookies?"
"I never even told him you were dead because if I said it aloud, then you were going to be gone forever."
"I'm here. Robin's parents rescued me yesterday. I woke up in a hospital bed. I don't know what they did, what they were trying to do, but I woke up, not him."
Her head shook.
"Faison, the guy that we thought-"
"Killed Robin's parents."
"He wanted information about the organization. He must have taken Jason and I don't know what happened, but I woke up and not him."
"You woke up?"
"Scratchy sheets, harsh lights and no you."
"Am here with you."
"You're actually here."
He nodded again.
"That can't be," she sniffled, coming to terms yet again with the fact that he was dead. He gone. Lost to her forever. "I don't remember when I'm awake."
"Well I am awake. I don't know how or why any of this has ever happened."
Her head shook.
"This has never made any sense. Christmas miracle right?" He laughed. "You're my soul mate, you get that right? I was gone and I never left you. Our hearts know each other; they find each other across a globe. I'm yours completely. Our time has been real even if it wasn't. One night a year for over twenty years. You kept me going because of one night. My sanity, my faith."
"You can't be," her head shook.
"But I am. Our future, our lives, they were delayed for a while."
"I am here. I told you something was changing. I told you I'd come back."
"But you can't that's what you told me."
"I guess I was wrong."
"Unlike you, I can admit it."
"I love you. I think if I ever really knew the life we were supposed to have had, what it felt like to be loved by you. I think I would have died. I don't think I would have been able to get out of bed knowing you were gone."
"I told you I wasn't."
"You really saw it all?"
"Every horrible minute and a few good ones."
"Where is Jason now?"
"I don't know."
"Do you think he's trapped like you were?"
"I don't know."
"Other Jason if he has to deal with me for the next sixty years."
"He'll be fine. He owes me, trust me."
"I won't be a shrill."
"Yes you will."
"Alec fell into the cookie jar didn't he?"
"Probably going to be bouncing off the walls."
"Your family," she pushed against his chest.
He flinched slightly.
"Do they still think you're dead?"
"It's been twenty years, they can wait another day."
"After Edward and Jason?"
"Where are you going?" Jason frowned as Brenda stood.
"We need to be back in Port Charles."
"We can skype them."
"Do you want to give Monica a heart attack?"
"I am a surgeon, I think I can follow a simple recipe AJ. If you can manage to find the recipe," Monica firmly instructed her son.
"I'm telling you, Mom I don't even know what that was supposed to be."
"I can't believe that woman left us in our hour of need," Tracy dryly remarked.
"I can," Alice quickly responded.
"Alice they're bad enough, don't you start too. Now what did that woman have planned? It was something with fruit."
"Yea Mom goose and fruit still not narrowing the search."
"Why don't you try looking and see what type of fruit it is?" Jason said walking into the room nonchalantly.
"We should go out for Chinese before Cook rolls over in her grave," Brenda walked in behind him.
They all stared blankly at Jason until he smiled.
Jason's arms were around his brother before AJ could even finish his name. He hadn't really believed it, not until he saw him with his own two eyes. They told him as he was recovering, Anna and Robert told him after they rescued him, Brenda told him, but seeing his brother…
"I'm sorry," AJ cried against him, clutching his brother to him.
"I know," Jason nodded.
"If I could have-"
"I know. I forgave you the moment it happened. You need to forgive yourself."
No one would dare separate the men, who hadn't been together since they were boys. Not as they had tears in their eyes and held on for dear life, something that hadn't happened since they were children.
"We found the menu-" Ned said walking in triumphantly with Skye and Lila Rae.
"Oh my god-" Skye's eyes went wide.
The brothers separated.
"Hey Ned," Jason smiled.
"Jason," his mother's soft voice finally interrupted.
Jason moved to her for a hug.
"I have no idea what's going on," Ned honestly admitted a few moments later. Shell shocked and confused.
"Join the club," Brenda beamed and launched herself at him for a hug.
A few minutes later as Brenda was being hugged by AJ did Jason announce, "Okay we're Quartermaines we should be able to figure out Christmas dinner."
"I'm gonna go get the kid, if there's a mess he needs to be a part of it."
"How hard can this be?" Jason asked grabbing the menu from Ned.
Final Notes: You will see this kind of reaction from Jason to AJ regarding the accident in other stories. Jason was trying to save his brother from an illness. He did it because he loved his brother. Not to say in other stories there won't be anger and resentment, but in this story Jason still feels as if he's led a full life, better than most people's lives.