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Elizabeth was not 100% certain of what she should do with herself.  As a single mother of 3 boys, her free time was usually limited and often spent cleaning up after those same three boys – but 48 kid free hours had left her a bit stymied.

 

Jason & Sam had asked if they could take not just Jake, but all 3 boys, on a family trip to a dinosaur exhibit in Buffalo.  Her initial impulse had been to deny them, but she recognized that it would have been more spiteful and hurtful to her kids, so she relented with promises that they would check in once they arrived and several times during their stay.  She had finished cleaning the house – top to bottom – in record time.  No children underfoot, no arguments to mediate, no hungry mouths.  

“This might be great if I had a boyfriend.”  She grumbled to herself and then shook her said and said aloud “I don’t need a boyfriend –I’m a strong, smart, capable woman and I don’t need a man.”

 

She knew it was true in the most rational sense.  She had a good life, a job where she was respected and valued, good friends, food on the table, a roof over her head and a set of 3 wonderful boys that she loved more than anything.  But a companion – someone to share these quiet moments – would be nice.  

“Not NECESSARY.. but nice.”

 

Elizabeth had been in love before.  She’d had lovers and companions – even a husband.. or two.  Each relationship was rife with difficulties and challenges that she could easily identify from a distance, but she had come to believe that being IN the relationships colored her perception to an uncomfortable degree, allowing her to become part of the problems and sometimes THE problem herself.

 

The most recent escapade, and easily the one she felt most shameful about, was her latest relationship with the infamous mob enforcer,  Jason Morgan.  Liz and Jason had danced around a relationship for many years – an intense flirtation and friendship started in her 20s – but was interrupted by her marriages and his relationship with first his bosses sister, Courtney – and later his bosses mistress, Sam.  They’d both been in a dark place with their significant others and had a passionate one night stand that resulted in her pregnancy with her middle son, Jake – and later tried to make the love they shared into a full life.  It didn’t work.  He claimed that he needed to protect her and her children from a life that was far too dark for them – only to turn around and marry Sam and have a child with her.  She resented what she saw as a lie – he couldn’t make it work with HER, but gave Samantha Morgan everything she’d wanted to build with him.  She allowed that resentment to build and used it to drive a wedge between him and Sam while Sam was still pregnant.  She found that she wasn’t built for that particular lie.  She tried to explain the why’s – but Jason would only say that he could not re-open whatever it was that they had shared.  He ‘died’ shortly after that.  She felt a sense of disconnect – an incompleteness for the things that might have been and the explanations that had never been given.  It was one of those awful things that she felt she would always regret and always wonder about.

 

When she found out that Jason was actually alive – with a new face and no memories – she took the chance to create that life she’d always dreamed of for them.  No mob, no demands from his pushy best friend, no Sam & Danny.  She knew it was wrong, she understood exactly why it was wrong, but she did it anyway.  Ultimately, her deception was uncovered and Jason cut her off romantically.  He had told her that she was not who she thought she was and therefore he could not love her.  He had – of course – returned to Sam and this was where she found herself now – watching them be the family she’d always imagined she would be with him. 

 

And as depressing as it sounded when she rehashed it all like that in her mind – it didn’t make her keen and cry like she thought it ought to.  She had GENUINELY loved Jason.  She had given her entire heart and soul to him in every way that mattered.  She wanted to spend a lifetime loving him.  She STOLE her opportunity because of that, because she really loved him and knew that she could give him a wonderful life worth living – but even as she had it right in her hands and even as things seemed to be working exactly as she hoped, she wasn’t .. satisfied?   She cared for him, she even felt love for him, but it wasn’t that crazy passionate and heart wrenching belonging that she had felt before.  It was comfortable and nice and sweet – but not what she’d remembered.  She had been upset by the ending of it all.. but the overriding sentiment had been less of a sense of loss than it had been a sense of disappointment.  She was disappointed that she’d risked so much – and lost so much – for something that wasn’t nearly as incredible as she’d believed it would be.

 

Maybe the new face and new identity were the problem – but they weren’t for Sam.  She had heard her say that everything was exactly as it had been before Jason disappeared – when she closed her eyes it was still her Jason.  Elizabeth felt cheated.  Had she mis-remembered the feelings that she had all those years ago. Had nostalgia tainted the emotions, made them bigger and bolder than they actually had been? 

 

She shook her head – the questions had no place anymore.  Jason and Sam were reunited and happily married – expecting another child shortly.  She was no longer any part of his life outside of being a co-parent.  Whether or not she loved him or had loved him was irrelevant.  

She grabbed a bottle of wine and made herself some popcorn before settling in to watch some old movies.   The timelessness of the old Hollywood extravaganzas was sure to take her mind off of her loneliness – or whatever it was that was plaguing her.  

 

Perhaps Hitchcock had been ill thought for a woman alone in her home.  She heard the rustle in the shrubs outside of her windows as she finished her 3rd glass of Merlot.  She held still, pausing the film, and waited.  Nothing.  She must have imagined it.

 

She started the film again and this time heard a soft bang toward the back of her house where the kitchen was.  There was no mistake.  She kept the television on and crept across the room to the place where she knew Cam had left his baseball bat.  She might have been annoyed that he’d left it there or annoyed that she’d missed it during her cleaning spree – but she was too grateful for it’s weight in her hands to give it much thought. 

 

She thought about turning on the lights, but decided that the lighting gave her the advantage as the homeowner – the one familiar with the layout.  She crept slowly toward the mudroom at the back entrance by the kitchen.  The door opened and she swung the bat with all of her might at the shadowy figure that emerged. 

 

“OW!”  the cry of pain sounded mildly familiar.. though she couldn’t place it and she didn’t have time or inclination to allow it to register when she realized that the intruder had actually grabbed the bat from her.  She grabbed the closest thing she could put her hand son – a heavy ceramic bowl and threw it toward the figure before darting away toward the living room – hoping to reach the door.  She felt the hand lock around her wrist and she twisted, bringing her knee up and connecting it to the groin of the person holding her.  “ELIZABETH.. STOP!  It’s ME!”

 

She knew that voice.. that voice knew her.  She allowed her eyes to settle in the dim light cast by the television and felt her heart nearly stop just as the actress on the television screamed.

 

“It can’t be.”

 

“I know.. just .. take a breath.. “

 

“No.. it can’t be… what is this?  Who are you?”

 

She looked at the bottle of wine on her end table and rubbed her eyes.  Had it been that long since she’d drank that much wine?  Could she be hallucinating?  Was she dreaming.

 

“Elizabeth.” 

 

She closed her eyes and shook her head and looked back into the crystal eyes of Jason Morgan – HER Jason Morgan.

 

She suddenly didn’t care if it was a dream or a mirage or even if it was an imposter.  She had missed him for so long.  She threw herself into his arms and clung to him.

 

“Careful.. “  He chuckled, wrapping his arms around her in return.  “I think this fierce little woman may have broken one of my ribs.”

 

“Oh my God.. “  she wept now, the familiar scent of him filling her nose.  She didn’t know how it was possible, but this was the man she’d fallen in love with all those years ago.  This was the Jason Morgan that had fallen into the harbor.  THIS was her Jason.  The difference in the feelings he instinctually evoked in her were so different from what she’d felt for .. the OTHER Jason Morgan?  Confusion returned and she pulled back, staring at his dear face and trying to reconcile what was happening.

 

“You have questions.”  He nodded.  “I know.  I’m going to explain.”

 

“Jason.. you are.. there is .. “  she shot a glance at a framed picture of Jake and Jason from last year.

 

“Yes.  It is me.  And no.. that is NOT me.”  He nodded toward the picture.  “That is one of Helena’s .. friends.”

 

“Oh my God!  The BOYS!”  Elizabeth’s hand flew to her chest and her eyes widened.  “He has all of my boys!”

 

“It’s fine.  Please.. Elizabeth.. I promise I would NEVER let anything happen to our son – to your boys.”

 

“But.. who.. “

 

Jason explained how Helena had held him captive, how he’d come to Port Charles and had been hit by a car after he’d escaped Crichton Clark.  Her plans had been deeper and more nefarious than simply holding him hostage just to let him go. She’d planted his memories in the head of another man, she’d set up an accident and brought him to PC to assume Jason’s life.  She’d let him see all that was happening, how easily someone else had slipped into his life.  She’d kept him drugged just enough to incapacitate him – while still torturing him with visions of another man having the life he had fought to build.

 

“But.. WHY?”  Liz was confused.

 

“I’m not sure there really was a good reason.”  Jason shook his head.  “Playing with the Spencer’s through you was one thing.  Playing with Sam & Alexis.  She’s just… twisted.”

 

“But how is it playing if you nobody knows?”

 

“I’m guessing that’s why I was let go.  Why I was finally undrugged long enough to escape.  Another twist in her God game.”

 

“Jason.. “  Elizabeth’s eyes filled with tears.  “I’m so sorry.”

 

“You didn’t know.”  Jason grasped her hands.  “How could you know?”

 

“But.. I .. “  she hung her head shamefully.  “When I thought it was you.. “

 

“I know.”  He acknowledged.  “It wasn’t easy to hear about.”

 

“I just.. I thought.. “  She shrugged, her eyes brimming with tears.  “Maybe it could be our time.”

 

“I .. there’s so many things..”

 

“I learned my lesson though.”  Elizabeth breathed a heavy sigh.  “I know that I was wrong.  I shouldn’t have tried to claim you when you weren’t mine.  And I won’t try now.  I can call Sam back to PC right now.”  She fished her phone out of her pocket.

 

“No!”  Jason put his hand on hers to still her fingers.  “Not now..  I need .. I want to talk to you.  I came to you first for a reason.”

 

Elizabeth gave him a quizzical look and he gestured to the sofa.  She sat and waited.

 

“It’s been almost 5 years.  That’s a long time to think.  It’s a long time to reflect.” He began, pulling her hands into his own.  “I was .. I was unfair to you.”

 

“Jason.. “  she leaned closer, denying the allegation.

 

“No.. I need to say this.”  He hushed her.  “I loved you Elizabeth.  I loved you more than anything.  I remember the night Jake was conceived, the night you told me he was mine.. the night he was born.  I remember every second.  Those memories.. they kept me going even when I was at my lowest.  They sustained me. “

 

Elizabeth’s heart wrenched in her chest.  The idea that he had loved her was painful.. it did not help at all.

 

“I kept thinking about that night.. it was before I was shot.  I told you that I couldn’t re-open whatever we had.  I never explained.”

 

Liz froze, for a moment certain that this was a manifestation of her own mind. Hadn’t she JUST thought that same thing?

 

“Sam.. she accepted me.  She allowed me to be who I was and to make choices without .. without real consequence.  She was safe for me.”

 

“I never thought anyone would describe Sam McCall as a safer choice than me..”

 

“Safe in that I didn’t have to question myself, I didn’t have to feel guilt or anxiety over anything.  Safer in that I could just live life and not worry.”

 

“But.. you chose to have a child with her.  You can’t stay that self focused when you have a child Jason – you KNOW that!”

 

“She wanted a child.  After Jake.. I wanted .. I guess I assumed I could keep him safe.  I could try again.  And then you were telling me that you still loved me and we could be together but I knew.. I knew we couldn’t.  Even if the baby was not mine, even if I wasn’t with SAM.. I couldn’t risk feeling what I felt when I was with you.  It was too much, too much pain, too uncomfortable.  I didn’t stop loving you Elizabeth, I never stopped LOVING you.. I just couldn’t allow myself to feel that much – it’s too dangerous.”

 

“So basically you left me because you loved me too much.”  Elizabeth’s arched her brow and tossed him a look of patented disbelief. 

 

Jason laughed.  He couldn’t help himself.  Liz’s ‘bitchface’ was too precious, too familiar.

 

“I don’t see the humor.  Really.  I don’t.”  Liz rolled her eyes slightly and then cracked a smile that she could not help.  “I don’t even care that this is probably all a dream – I’m so happy to have you here.. even if just for a moment.”

 

“I’m not a dream.  I’m real, I’m here.” 

 

“For how long though?  Is Helena going to try to grab you again?’  Elizabeth’s eyes went wide.  “We need to hide you – we can go to the safehouse.  I can get you some clothes.. a disguise.”

 

“Elizabeth!”  Jason grabbed her hands and pulled her back down.  “It’s fine.  I am back.  I’m not going anywhere.  I wanted to talk to you.  I wanted to see you. Tomorrow we can discuss how to explain everything to the rest of the world, but tonight.. I just needed to see you.”

 

“But why me?”  Liz asked.  “I know you said you wanted to explain things but Jason.. you are married and your mother, your friends.. “

 

“You were my priority.  You should have always been – but you always will be from now on.”

 

“What.. what are you saying?”

 

“I love you.  I never stopped, I never will and I want a life with you.  It’s all I’ve ever really needed.”

 

“But.. Sam.. “

 

“Sam has moved on.  She seems happy and in love with Randall..”

 

“Randall?”

“Ah. Yes.”  Jason nodded.  “Thomas Randall is my .. not exactly doppelganger.. what would you call it when someone shares your memories?”

 

“You know him.. he’s not dangerous?”

 

Jason explained that part of his torture was that he had to watch as Thomas Randall was given his memories, force fed them and then intentionally hit by a car to replace him in Port Charles.  He had been chosen because he was the right height and because he’d developed a crush on Elizabeth based on a picture he’d seen.  “He volunteered for the job.  He did a series of video interviews during the memory transfers – he said that he would make different choices than I had, better choices.”

 

“Ironic.”  Elizabeth’s mouth twisted into a sad smile.

 

“I know it’s a lot to take in and you look so tired..”

 

“I feel like this has been the longest dream.”  She rubbed her head and squeezed her eyes shut.  “But I’m afraid.. I don’t want to go to sleep because when I wake up you will be gone.”

 

“I won’t be.”  He pulled her toward him, allowing her to nestle her head on his chest.  She was asleep before she could hear him say “I promise”

 

 

1 year.  It had been one year since Jason – HER Jason – had returned.  One year and her life had gone from loneliness and regret to crazy adventures, love and nothing short of pure bliss.

 

There had been pockets of discontent.  Shock rippled throughout the town as people tried to once again gain their bearings on who was who and why.  Sam was enraged when it was revealed that she had gotten pregnant by a man that was NOT Jason Morgan.  Thomas Randall – upon being deprogrammed had developed a bit of an obsession with Elizabeth – the woman he’d been so enamored of through a picture that he agreed to take over another man’s life.  A kidnapping, a baby switch, a near fatal shootout.   But at the end of that very long year – she was here and she was safe and happy. 

 

She felt Jason drop onto the bed.  “Boys are down – finally.  Aidan needed three stories, Jake had to use the bathroom twice and Cam begged for just one more minute on his game.. 7 times.”

 

“You are a sucker Mr. Morgan.”  Liz smiled. 

 

“We can’t all be badass”  He chuckled dropping a kiss on her nose.  She wound her arms around his neck and pulled him closer – but their kiss was interrupted by a small wail.

 

“You got the boys, I’ll get the girl.”  Liz started to rise.

 

“Nope.. no.. I got her.”  Jason hopped out of bed and strode across the room, picking up his youngest child.  Autumn Monica Webber-Morgan quieted the moment her father lifted her from the cradle, cooing as though she hadn’t a care in the world.  

 

“She  certainly has you wrapped around her pinky, doesn’t she?”  Liz marveled at the sight of her handsome husband and their sweet faced newborn.

 

“Like mother, like daughter.”  He grinned.

 

“Well, she’s going to need a feeding and a change.. and you have to get up early tomorrow.  We have to be at the airport early.”

 

“I will feed her, I will change her, I will put her back down and I will wake up on time tomorrow to get all of us to the airport in time to get Danny off the plane.”

 

“I’m excited.”  Liz propped her chin up on her knees.  “Danny will love it here.  I’m so glad he is spending the whole summer.  Aidan has missed him something fierce.”

 

“Me too.”  Jason smiled.  “It will be amazing to have my entire family together for 12 whole weeks in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  I’m glad you were able to talk some sense into Sam about letting Danny stay for more than a few days.”

 

“You give me too much credit.”  Liz laughed.  “I think she needed a little space of her own.  I offered to take Jamison too.. but apparently Kristina and her wife have him for the summer – they want to see if they can handle being parents before actually trying for one of their own.”

 

“I’m glad she’s moving on.  I actually think us moving here was good for her too.”

 

“So you don’t regret it?”

“Regret what?  Moving to Italy?  Retiring to a gorgeous winery where my lovely bride has endless hours to paint and where I can cook and drink wine daily?  It sounds like a nightmare.. but I’m adjusting.”

 

“But our families.. “

 

“Visit often.. maybe too often.  Sometimes I think we should have chosen Siberia or maybe a desert where they wouldn’t want to spend so much time.”

 

“You love it”  Liz laughed. 

 

 

“I do.”  He said, suddenly startled by that simple truth.  He’d spent years running from his identity, he spent a long time lost to who he was and he spent the last year trying to regain himself, and at the end of it all he had discovered the truth of who he was.  The man who was part Quartermaine, part Morgan, part stone cold, part loving and 100% Jason.  He might not wish his personal journey on anyone else – but despite every trial and tribulation – he had come through it and become exactly the man he needed to be.  He was blessed and he was aware of those blessings.

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