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Hold onto your seats, this story is anything but cheerful. It's dark, it's more than a bit dreary, and it deals with some tough issues (which I'm not going to say what so as to not spoil the story), suffice it to say, it's dark. But it was one of those stories that I knew had to be written, or at least attempted to be written, because the idea came up, grabbed ahold and wouldn't let go. I've had a nightmare simply from writing're duly forwarned to have Kleenex on hand. Despite the dire intro here, I hope you do find something you like in this story, I have.

Chapter 1

Monday - November 22, 2004

Jason stepped off the elevator and hoped that he wouldn't find Sam here today. After Adella's memorial service she would spend hours at the hospital nursery staring at the babies in their bassinettes. It had become a distraction to the staff and the parents had begun to complain, so finally the hospital had said something to him. It had taken a lot of persuasion on his and Sonny's parts, but they finally convinced her to talk to someone about her grief over the death of her daughter.

She had begun to see a doctor at the hospital, and there was hope that he was starting to help her. Sam didn't always go to the nursery after her appointments now, and if she did go she didn't always walk away crying. It appeared she was dealing with the loss better, not blaming everyone for her daughter's death as she had in those first days. It had killed a part of Jason when she screamed and cried, even though his talk with Elizabeth had helped prepare them for the possibility. He knew that if Elizabeth hadn't said something to him when she did, he would have been caught even further off guard when Sam started screaming at him and hitting him before turning and shutting him out.

As he rounded the corner to the nursery, his heavy steps lightened when he saw Sam wasn't standing at the glass staring in. Today must have been a good day for her and her therapy must have gone well. He paused for a moment, looking in the window at all the babies. There was one baby with a snug blue hat that seemed to be trying to capture his fist with his mouth, and Jason watched him until he realized what he was doing and turned to go.


He stopped and looked over at Elizabeth, a white top peeking out of her pink scrubs. "Hey," he said softly.

"How are you?" she asked with a small smile as she walked towards him. "How is Sam doing?"

"I think she's starting to feel a little better," he told her. Elizabeth had quietly been there for both he and Sam since Adella's death three weeks ago. She had been someone he could talk to when Sonny was focused on Kristina and Carly was focused on her impending divorce and trying to make Michael understand the new situation. She had also been a person Sam could talk to, understanding her grief and loss because of Elizabeth's own miscarriage which she had shared with Sam.

"That's good," she smiled. "I hadn't seen her the past couple of days so I wondered."

"Thank you," he said. "For talking with her...and with me."

Her smile grew easily. "You're welcome. I'm just glad I could be there. Sometimes it just helps to have someone listen. You did that for me so many times, I'm glad I could return the favor."

She looked down at her watch, then glanced back up at him with an apologetic smile, yet he could see a slight trace of nervousness that he wondered about. "I'm sorry, I've gotta go."

"Oh, right," he nodded. "I should let you get back to work."

"No," she shook her head, taking a step back. "I'm done actually; I just want to get Cameron from the nursery and head home. It's bath night tonight; he loves his bath."

His smile tightened slightly as he nodded again. "Alright. Have a good night then."

"You too, Jason. I'll see you later."

She headed off and he watched her round the corner, envying her just the smallest bit that she could pick up her son and go home. He now understood her nervousness. She had always been very careful about what she said about Cameron, especially around Sam, because she didn't want to add to their loss by talking about her healthy son. With a sigh and a fleeting glance at the nursery he headed back towards the elevators. At least he hadn't had to carry Sam sobbing onto them today.


He paused in the chart he was making notes in, clenching the pen so tight he felt the plastic tremble under his fingers, threatening to crack. Looking up at the woman who had given birth to him, he fought to keep his face from automatically twisting into a scowl. "What do you want?"

"Now, Steven," Heather chided, "is that anyways to talk to your mother?"

"You aren't my mother," he snarled. "And I'll talk to you any way I choose. Now what do you want?"

"Can't a mother want to spend some time with her son?"

"Why the sudden interest in my life?" he wondered. Then his face twisted into a smirk and he snapped his fingers. "Oh, I know. Edward Quartermaine saw you for the opportunistic, gold-digging witch that you are and kicked you out of his life. You lost the easy mark you were playing, so you figure you'll come play the concerned mother. Maybe even squeeze a few dollars out of me if you can make me feel sorry enough for you. Well, Heather, I will never give you so much as a dime, so why don't you get lost?"

"Steven," she gasped, stepping back under the venom of his words. She raised a hand to her chest and he knew that she'd try to call up tears to make him feel guilty for what he said. Well, he didn't feel guilty and he never would after all the things she had done to him in his life.

"Save it for someone else," he said tersely. "I mean it, Heather, you are nothing to me so leave me alone."

"Steven, please," she pleaded. "I-I know that I made mistakes I the past, but please can't we start over? I was sick before, but I'm better now. I'd like to be a real mother to you."

"I have a real mother, and she isn't you. So go away or I will call Hospital Security."

He picked up his chart and turned to step off the nurse's station when he paused, seeing two security officers hurry out of a corridor and down another as a hospital page called for more to report to their floor. Curious, and anxious for an excuse to get away from Heather, he started after them. Perhaps it was a patient who had injured themselves, or any other situation he could offer support in.

Turning the corner he bumped into Jason Morgan and the two stepped back. "Sorry."

"No problem," his sister's friend replied.

"Did you see which way the security officers went?" he went, faced with an empty hallway.

"Right, I think," Morgan answered blandly.

"Right..." Left went towards the nursery, right went towards, "The daycare."

Steven started off again, hoping it wasn't a custody battle turned ugly. Elizabeth said that one of the nurses whose daughter was in the daycare was going through a divorce and was worried her almost-ex would take their daughter one day. He didn't know what he'd find when he rounded the corner, so he slowed - not wanting to make a possible tense situation worse. Instead, he stumbled to a stop, causing Heather who had been following right behind him to bump into him, when he saw his sister surrounded by the officers, her face quite pale.

Elizabeth's smile grew as she neared the daycare's door. Her grandmother was going to be home tonight, and Elizabeth was looking forward to sharing a meal with someone over the age of five months. Her gram had been working nights recently, filling in on a shift left short-staffed, but that was done tonight.

Excited to get her son and head home to spend time with family, she pushed open the door and stepped inside. "Hi, Cindy."

The willowy blonde looked up and her smile from admiring a toddler's macaroni necklace turned into confusion at the sight of Elizabeth. "Hey, did you forget something?"

"Forget something?" Elizabeth laughed. "I'm here to pick up Cameron."

Cindy's confusion morphed into a look of panic and Elizabeth could feel it immediately creeping into her. "What do you mean you're here to pick him up? You got him two hours ago. Didn't you?"

"No," Elizabeth violently shook her head. "I just got off my shift. Are you...he's not here?"

"But I saw you," Cindy protested. "I was over at the craft table and you came in, got Cameron, signed him out and left. I had glue all over my hands, Marissa was in the bathroom cleaning up after a sick baby and Mel was changing a baby's diaper. You waved at me."

"It wasn't me!" she shrieked, startling the children around her as terror filled her like lead. "I haven't been up here since lunch."

"Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no." Cindy shook her head and rushed over to the phone calling Hospital Security.

Elizabeth spun around, trying to quell the panic threatening to grip her, but fighting a losing battle. She looked at each baby, desperately hoping Cindy was wrong and Cameron was there. She looked in each crib, every space that Cameron could be asleep on the ground, but her son was nowhere in the room. Her baby had been taken. As soon as she gave life to that thought tears crested and began spilling down her cheeks in scalding rivulets.

"I'm so sorry, Elizabeth," Cindy's voice floated on the edge of her brain and dimly she was aware of a hand on her arm, guiding her across the room.

"Miss Webber?"

She looked up, not registering right away, so Cindy led her outside where two security officers were standing. Elizabeth's legs felt like they were tingling as she tried to stand there, knowing she needed to answer their questions.

"Miss Webber?" the taller of the guards said to her. "Miss Webber, we've called the police, but we need to ask you some questions about what happened. Your son is missing?"

She nodded shakily, glancing over at Cindy. "I came to pick him up after my shift and Cindy said he was gone, that I'd already picked him up. But I didn't. I saw him on my lunch break, but that was the last time I saw him."

"Alright. We'll need to get your statement ma'am," he said to Cindy and she nodded, her hands shaking in fright. He looked back at Elizabeth and said, "Do you have a picture of him? That will help us start our search of the hospital, and then when the police arrive."

"A picture? I...I think I have one in my purse." She tried to take it off her shoulder, and it slipped out of her stiff, thick fingers and slapped on the floor.

She blinked in surprise when Steven was there reaching for it as she bent to retrieve it. Handing it to her, his eyes crinkled with confusion he asked, "Elizabeth, what's going on?"

Her voice was small and shaky as she said, "Cameron's gone."

Her brother's head snapped up and he looked around. "What? What do you mean?"

"Someone took him. He's not in the daycare. I...I need to give them a picture. I've got a picture; I've just got to get it out."

He nodded and opened her purse, extracting her wallet and flipping through it until he found the picture of Cameron. Pulling it out of the vinyl covering he thrust it at the nearest security officer. "Here. Go. Go find him."

Elizabeth looked up at her brother, pinpricks covering her body, her eyes pleading with him to have the answers she needed. "Steven?"

His face drew into a deeper frown as he turned back to her. "Elizabeth? Hey, hey, come on, breathe, Elizabeth. You're going to hyperventilate if you don't take a deep breath. Step back and give her some room."

Strong hands braced her when she swayed and she sensed she was being lowered into a chair, her head being forced between her knees. Steven held her hand, and by concentrating on his voice as he talked to her, Elizabeth head finally cleared and the roar in her ears lessened. She blinked, the gray and white floor coming into view, then raised her head and saw Steven knelt down before her. She turned her head to the side, and was surprised when she saw Jason there as well.

"Are you okay?" Steven asked quietly.

She nodded, pushing her hair out of her face only to have it fall forward again. "Yeah. I'm better."

"Good," he nodded. "You got a little gray on us there. Understandable, but I was worried.

Looking around she saw the tall security guard she'd spoken to earlier with Cindy, writing things down. The shorter guard that Steven had handed the picture to was gone. She paused and frowned in her scan of the area when she saw Heather standing against the wall. "What's she doing here?"

Steven looked back over his shoulder and scowled. "Don't worry. I'll get rid of her."

He stood and stalked over to her, grabbing her arm and dragging her out of sight around the corner. Everything felt numb and as she turned to look at Jason, she felt like her brain was five seconds behind the movement. Jason stepped forward and crouched beside her. "Jason? What...what are you doing here?"

"I was on my way to the elevators when I saw the security guards and then your brother come rushing around a corner." He shrugged, "I just followed. What happened, Elizabeth?"

All she could do was shake her head. "I don't know. Someone took Cameron from daycare. Cindy thought it was me."

"So it was a woman?"

"I guess. I just...I don't understand who would take him or why. Why would someone grab him? He's just a little boy, Jason."

"I don't know, Elizabeth," he said softly, resting his hand on her arm. "I don't know."


She looked up as Lucky and another detective walked towards her, professional urgency in their steps. Her friend dropped to his knee and looked at her with only a quick glance at Jason. "Elizabeth? How are you doing?"

She couldn't speak, could only shake her head as her ever-present tears spiked in intensity. "Okay," he said. "Okay. We'll talk to the teacher and the security guard and get their statements as well as the video tapes from the hospital. I just need to ask you a few questions."

Nodding, she clasped her hands together. Jason's hand was still on her arm and he squeezed gently in reassurance. Lucky cleared his throat gently and asked, "Have you received any phone calls, or threats, or anything like that?"

She shook her head, feeling tremors begin in her feet and legs.

"Have you seen anyone unusual recently? At home, or here at the hospital, the park or anywhere you go? Have you seen anyone watching you or Cameron?"

Again she shook her head, finally getting her voice to work rustily. "No."

"Can you think of anyone who would take him?" Lucky paused, and then asked, "Has Ric said anything to you about him?"

"No," she said again, her tears continuing to fall unchecked. "I don't have any idea who would do this."

Steven came back, appearing at her side and putting his hand on her shoulder. "She's gone. Have you thought of anything to tell the police?"

She paused and looked up at him, an odd feeling dancing across her. "Why was she here?"

"Giving me some crap about wanting to be a mother and be there for me. Don't worry, Elizabeth," he shook his head. "She's not a bother to me."

She shook her head at him, a strange idea pricking at her brain as memories shook loose. "When did she show up?"

"Shortly before I followed the security guards here. Elizabeth, really, it's nothing you need to worry about." Suddenly the smile he'd given her to try and reassure her slipped and he tipped his head, as if he caught a glimmer of what she was thinking. "Elizabeth?"

"Cindy said it was a woman, looked like me, but she didn't speak or show her face..."

"Elizabeth?" Lucky asked. "What are you thinking about here?"

"Heather Webber kidnapped Steven when he was a baby. Blackmailed our father. She was here, watching me until Steven made her leave just before you came."

"Okay," Lucky said, "we'll look into her. We'll dust the room, see if we get anything. you need a ride home?"

"I'll take her," Steven immediately said. He looked at her, "Just give me a minute to get my things."

"I'll stay with her," Jason said, reminding her of his quietly strong presence beside her.

As Steven walked off and Lucky joined his partner Elizabeth leaned forward, putting her head in her hands. Jason rested his hand lightly on her shoulder and squeezed gently. He didn't say anything, didn't promise her it would be okay or anything else. He just her know she wasn't alone and it was okay to cry. When Steven came back, Jason helped him get her on her feet and walked with him, letting her lean on him until Steven got her in his car and drove the two of them to their grandmother's house.

Chapter 2

Friday November 26, 2004


She blinked slowly and looked up; dragging her gaze away from the baby blanket she was holding in her lap. It was Cameron's favorite blanket and he always went to sleep with it tucked around him. She hoped he had a blanket; that wherever he was he wasn't cold. She held his blanket, loosely curled on her legs, because it smelled like him and she wanted to have some piece of her little boy with her.

"Elizabeth? you want to be alone?"

She shook her head, unable to speak around the apple-sized lump currently in her throat. Jason sighed and stepped into the room, walking quietly among her son's belongings.

"Your grandmother let me in," he said softly, tucking his hands into his pockets as he stood near the changing table. "Maybe I should have called first."

Again she shook her head, but this time forced her vocal chords to work. "No, that's okay. Thank you for stopping by."

"I just wanted to see how you were doing, if there was anything I could do for you."

Tears crested and spilled silently down her cheeks as she shook her head. There was nothing he or anyone else could do unless they could bring back her son. It had been four days since he was taken from the hospital's daycare. It was the afternoon after Thanksgiving, but she didn't feel very grateful this year. Neither did her gram or Steven. They didn't cook the turkey they'd purchased the week before, just had heated up leftovers from the multitude of casseroles that had been dropped off since the news broke.

Each day that passed, the more she died inside. The director of the nursing program had told her to take some time off, and all she did was sit in Cameron's room holding his blanket. She knew it wasn't healthy to keep sitting there day after day, but she wasn't moving until someone forced her.

"Sam...she wanted me to tell you she's very sorry about Cameron," Jason said quietly, whispering in the oppressive silence of the room. "She wanted to visit you herself...but it's hard for her."

"I understand," she whispered back. She didn't want the grieving mother to hurt more than she already was by being exposed to Elizabeth's raw pain. "Tell her thank you."

"I will," he nodded. "She's...she's in Hawaii right now. All the talk on the news was getting to her so she went to see her brother out there."

"That's good," she nodded numbly. "That will probably help her."

Jason crouched down in front of her and reached out to cover her knee. "Can I...can I do anything, Elizabeth?"

"Thank you, Jason," she said shaking her head. "But there's nothing anyone can do. Lucky says...they can't find any leads. The woman's face was never seen on any of the videotapes. They don't know if she was wearing a wig or not. They don't even know if she was wearing my coat from my locker or one that looked just like it."

She'd handed over her coat to the forensic people, and even if she got it back, she was never wearing it again. Not when someone had studied her so long as to know what kind of coat she was wearing that day so that they'd look even more like her. "It's been days, Jason," she said looking up at him, "And the case is growing colder by the minute."

She buried her face in Cameron's blanket, breathing in his soft, powdery scent as it captured her tears. She wasn't dumb. She knew, despite Lucky, Nikolas and Emily telling her not to give up hope, that the chances of ever getting Cameron back - let alone getting him back alive - were getting smaller each day. The first forty-eight hours were crucial, and they were now approaching twice that amount.

She felt Jason tug her forward, pulling her into a hug as she once again dissolved into wracking sobs. She couldn't hold them back and they came faster and harder until her chest hurt with their sheer intensity.

"Try to take a deep breath, Elizabeth," Jason said softly as he rubbed her back. "Come on, you need to take a breath."

"Jason, I've got her." Steven's voice floated in from the doorway and Jason pulled back, allowing her brother to step in.

"Come on, Elizabeth. You're exhausted and you need to get some sleep."

She shook her head, not wanting to lie down where she would only be plagued with dreams of running down a long hallway, desperately searching for her son. She would hear him crying, but every door was locked and she couldn't find anyone to help her. That dream had started right after the disappearance; she couldn't sleep without having it play endlessly through her mind. Elizabeth wasn't going to voluntarily subject herself to that.

"Elizabeth," Steven insisted, "you've got to rest."

Still crying she shook her head, though it was hard to know what were voluntary shakes and involuntary ones. Steven stood and pulled her to her feet, and with his arm wrapped around her waist led her down the hall towards her bedroom.

"I'm sorry, Elizabeth, but you need to sleep."

Steven closed the door to Elizabeth's room and ran his hand over his face and then through his hair. He hated these moments when Elizabeth's fatigue and depression overwhelmed her and he was forced to sedate his own sister. Walking down the hall the hall he paused by Cameron's nursery, surprised to see Jason still inside. He was holding Cameron's blanket that had fallen off Elizabeth's lap, the fabric now folded neatly.

"I should probably take that into Elizabeth," he said, walking into the nursery. "She doesn't let that thing far from her sight."

"How is she?"

"Exhausted," he sighed. "She's barely sleeping because she has these nightmares. Sometimes I have to help her out so she can get some rest without the dreams."

"You sedate her?"

He crossed his arms at the accusation in the question. "Do you think I like doing it? She hates it, I hate it, but it's either that or let her cry so hard she makes herself sick and lies on the floor."

"I...I understand," Jason said, his tone softening into regret. "I'm sorry. I'm just concerned about her. What...what are the police saying?"

"Nothing," Steven shook his head. "They asked Heather Webber-"

"Your mother?"

"She gave birth to me, but she's not my mother. Elizabeth's mother raised me, she's the one I call Mom."

Jason nodded slowly. "I understand."

"Heather kidnapped me when I was a baby," he explained, "and she was mad Elizabeth told Felicia Jones about that during the whole thing with your grandmother's will. Elizabeth was trying to protect Edward Quartermaine from Heather. But the police investigated her and couldn't find anything linking her to Cameron."

He sank down into the rocker Elizabeth spent most of her days in and propped his elbow on the arm. Resting his cheek against his fist he sighed heavily. "They've talked to Heather, looked into someone named Faith Roscoe who apparently hates Elizabeth from when she was married to Ric but it appears she's not in town anymore, and a couple of other people. They're checking into black market baby rings, unscrupulous adoption agencies, everything they can think of. Of course, officially, they're still investigating, they haven't exhausted their options...but I see their faces. They don't have hope; they don't believe they'll find him."

Morgan leaned against the wall and tucked his hands into his pockets. "So they're just giving up?"

"They don't know where to look," Steven shook his head. "It's like Cameron got sucked down the rabbit's hole."


"Alice in Wonderland," he explained. "She went down a rabbit's hole to an alternate universe."

He closed his eyes, wearily shaking his head. "The worst thing is Elizabeth sees it on their faces that they don't really believe the things they're telling her. There's no ransom demand, there's no clue. She's really afraid she'll never see her son again.

"I just don't know what to do," he admitted, not really focusing too much on how weird it was to open up to a man he didn't like because of what he did and who Steven worked for. He just needed to talk to somebody about this because he couldn't with Elizabeth or their grandmother and it was starting to eat at him.

"I even," he stopped and looked over at the door. "Don't tell Elizabeth this, but I went to Heather and I offered her all the money I could get my hands on if she had Cameron and would give him back."

"She doesn't have him? Do you really believe her?" Jason pressed anxiously.

"As much as I hate to say it, yeah, I don't think she has him," he admitted. "Heather doesn't do anything unless she can profit from it, it's why she went after your grandfather. With the amount of money I offered her, she would have given him back. She doesn't have a reason to keep hurting Elizabeth. Revenge isn't as important to her as money."

"You said she was mad because Elizabeth told Felicia about her past," Jason pointed out.

It was a valid point, but the other man hadn't seen Heather. She'd practically salivated at the amount of money he'd offered her, and her eyes were deeply regretful when she swore she didn't have his nephew. "She doesn't have him," Steven shook his head. "I looked into her eyes. I know she would have handed him over immediately."

"Okay," Jason said slowly, as if accepting it. "Then I won't focus on her as much, but you'll understand if I check her out myself."

Steven sat up straighter in his chair and looked at the mob enforcer. "What?"

"I am not going to accept people giving up on finding Elizabeth's son. If that means I have to look for him myself, then I'll do it." He looked at the door and then back at Steven. "But don't tell Elizabeth that."

Steven just nodded his head mutely and watched as his sister's friend walked determinedly out the door in search of her son.

Jason walked out of the Hardy house, his face set in hard resolve as he stalked to his bike. Pulling out his phone he turned it on and paid no attention to the messages waiting for him as he called Meyer and instructed the researcher to meet him at his penthouse. Then he climbed on his motorcycle and looked back at the house, dark on a festively lit street and didn't like the sadness that had overtaken it. Releasing the brake, he took off, determined that he would bring the light back to Elizabeth that had died.

He didn't think there could be anything worse after watching Sam grieve for Adella the way she had. He was wrong. The quiet despair of Elizabeth sliced through him like broken glass. Her eyes were void and hollow, at times so filled with pain that it had been a struggle not to look away from her just to relieve the ache that had formed inside him simply from watching her. Her tears were ever flowing, her voice shaky and lost, and all he could think was that he'd never seen her in such despair. Even in the days when they thought Lucky was dead she had never been like this.

He couldn't bear to see her this way and when he walked into the nursery and saw her looking like a shadow of her former self, he vowed he was going to do something. It was hard for him to accept that Adella's death couldn't have been prevented by anything he or anybody else could have done. He felt helpless and weak, and helping Elizabeth gave him a chance to do something. He wasn't a person who could sit by and not be out there being active.

Another key driving force in his determination to help was the memory of Michael's abduction. He remembered the fear he and Carly had felt when the little boy was taken, and he hated that Elizabeth was going through it now. No parent should have to feel that despair and desperation. The terror knowing a stranger had taken their child. It made him remember the anger he'd had in those days and the promise he'd made that Michael's abductor would pay. That same desire coursed through him now; Heaven help the person who had taken Elizabeth's baby because she would pay by Jason's own hand.

When he stepped off the elevator and turned for his penthouse he was surprised to see Max standing in front of his own door instead of Sonny's. "Max?"

"Sonny's inside," was all the guard said by way of explanation.

"What about Meyer?"

"He's there too."

Jason nodded and turned the doorknob. "Good."

Both men inside his apartment looked up when he walked in and Sonny stood in haste, a dark look crossing his face. "Where have you been? I've been leaving messages on your phone."

"I turned it off while I was visiting Elizabeth," he said tersely, silently challenging Sonny to say something.

Instead his friend's face softened and he cleared his throat. "How's she doing?"

"Worried, afraid, scared she's never going to see her son again. The police have no leads and they don't have a lot of hope. Worst of all, she knows it."

"I'm sorry," Sonny said looking over at their accountant and researcher. "That's why you called Meyer."

Jason nodded and looked at the other man. "I want you to put feelers out everywhere. Baby smuggling rings, black market adoptions, anything." He reached into his jacket and pulled out the photograph he'd taken from Cameron's nursery. "This is a picture of him. I want to know about anyone that might be him."

"I'll get right on it," Meyer said, reaching for the picture, but Jason didn't release it.

"There's more. I want you to investigate Heather Webber, Faith Roscoe, Ric Lansing and any one of our enemies. Have someone outside the Hardy house and watch the visitors that come. Watch them for anything suspicious. I want guards on these people twenty-four hours a day until they're eliminated as a suspect."

When the other man reached for the picture this time Jason released it. He knew by the look on the older man's face that Meyer understood the gravity of the order and he headed off without comment. Jason stripped off his jacket and threw it on the couch and then scrubbed his hands roughly over his face.

"Are you okay?" Sonny asked.

"I hate this. Nobody knows what happened."

"You're going to look for him," Sonny stated without question or, surprisingly, bitterness.

He nodded curtly and turned. "I'm not going to stand by and do nothing, letting her be trapped in that horror. I know how that feels and nobody deserves that, especially her."

"Okay," Sonny nodded. "I understand. You need to do this because you know what Elizabeth is going through, but also because you felt helpless in what happened to Sam."

As always when Sonny mentioned Sam and the baby she'd lost Jason felt guilty. Because it wasn't Jason's baby that died, it was Sonny's. And Jason felt that he shouldn't be more upset than Sonny. Yet it did hurt Jason that the baby had died. He'd allowed himself to get drawn into the life Sam was offering him, and when it was snatched away it hurt.

"I need to do this, Sonny," he said simply without further explanation. "I'll do what you need, but I'm doing this."

"Don't worry, I...I understand," his friend tried to assure him. "You do what you need to do. It won't hurt me to do more around here. It'll also help me keep my mind off everything going on with Carly and Alexis."

There was nothing Jason found he could say to that. Sonny had his own problems right now, but this was one time Jason couldn't take on all of them. So he merely nodded his thanks and knew that he could focus freely on what he wanted to.

Chapter 3

Monday December 6, 2004

Elizabeth stood downstairs staring absently out the front window. She could hear her grandmother moving around in the kitchen, fixing something light for them to eat. While she appreciated the gesture, she wasn't very hungry and she wasn't sure how she was going to choke down any food. But she knew she'd have to try to eat something, her gram and Steven would worry and fuss over her if she didn't.

She just didn't know how she was supposed to eat. In the two weeks since Cameron had been taken her appetite had disappeared, replaced by an ever-present knot of nausea and worry. She only ate when her grandmother or Steven forced her to, and if she did eat the food tasted like sawdust. Her clothes were beginning to feel looser, but she just couldn't force herself to eat.

"Elizabeth, darling." Her grandmother's soft voice carried from the kitchen doorway. "I've got breakfast ready. You really should try to eat something before Steven comes."

She turned from the window and sighed. "Yeah, okay."

Today she was heading back to the hospital for the first time since the kidnapping. The director of the student nursing program had offered to let her have more time off or withdraw for the semester if she'd wanted. It was a tempting offer, but Elizabeth knew she couldn't. She couldn't continue to hide in her grandmother's house sitting in Cameron's nursery. She had to try to do something, pick herself up and try to work on putting her life back together.

The feeling of despair and hopelessness reminded her of how she felt after her rape. Back then she just wanted to stay in the house, crying and avoiding all people. But she hadn't been able to do that then, just like she couldn't do it now. While it might seem easier to just hide away, she had to deal with what had happened. She had to find some way to try and go on.

In ways, though, this was worse than her rape. That frozen night in the park had been awful, but it was over when Tom Baker climbed off her and zipped his pants. She was frightened it would maybe happen again, that the guy would find her and do it once more, but she was able to start dealing with it. Even though the process was slow, and sometimes she thought she'd never make it, she gradually healed. But this time the wound was different. Cameron was missing; she had no idea if he was alive or dead. How was she supposed to deal with this when she had no information on her baby?

The rape had happened to her. This had happened to her son, someone so small he couldn't even attempt to fight back. It was her job to protect Cameron, and she had failed him. How could she move on with her life when there was so much uncertainty?

She sniffled and turned her head as her eyes filled with tears. Her grandmother gently placed her hand over Elizabeth's and squeezed gently. "Darling, you don't have to do this."

No answer could make its way out of her throat, closed tight with painful, burning tears. She willingly went into her grams' embrace, unable to hold back to the tears any longer.

"Gram, Elizabeth? You here?" Steven's voice carried into the kitchen from the front room and his footsteps stopped in the doorway. "Hey...Elizabeth?"

He knelt down beside her and covered her knee with his strong, warm hand. "Hey, hey, if it's too soon you don't have to do this."

She pulled back and shook her head as she wiped her eyes. "I have to try. I have to see if I can keep going. My life won't ever be the same until I have Cameron back...and I don't know if that will ever happen."

"Hey, look, you can't talk like that," her brother shook his head.

"I won't stick my head in the sand, Steven. If I stay here until Cameron's found I could be waiting here forever. I have to see if I can do something."

"Okay," he said. "Okay. You want to finish eating?"

She shook her head, avoiding her grandmother's disappointed look because of her untouched plate. "I can't...I'm not hungry. Let's...let's just go."

Steven looked over at Elizabeth as she sat in the front seat of his car on their way to the hospital. She didn't look like she was recovered from her crying spell in the kitchen, looking even more pale and drawn than she had recently. When she told him and their grandmother over the weekend about her plan to go back to work, he looked over at their grandmother and saw the same hesitancy he felt mirrored in her eyes. But Elizabeth had been determined and so they resolved to help her however they could.

Their grandmother had offered to take Elizabeth, but his sister had declined the offer. While she loved the woman who helped raise her when their parents headed off for Africa, she wanted Steven to take her in. He understood. Elizabeth didn't want to be fussed over like a grandmother surely would. He would drive his sister to work for however long she needed him to do; he hated not being able to do more for her.

He wished there was some way he could take this all away from her, that he had the power to fix this. He'd actually hoped Jason Morgan with his illegal connections would be able to do something. But he hadn't seen much of the mobster since the day after Thanksgiving. He'd stopped by twice to see Elizabeth, never staying very long, and never speaking to Steven of his vow. Jason would speak to Elizabeth only, or just listen to her if that's what she wanted. Steven watched them sit in silence one night for over twenty minutes before the hardened killer gently gathered Elizabeth into his arms and held her as she cried.

As he parked his car at the hospital he looked over at his sister who was tightly twisting her fingers together in her lap. "We can go back home if you want. People will understand, Elizabeth. Nobody will think less of you for not being able to go back to work only two weeks after your son was taken."

"I know," she whispered, then cleared her throat raggedly. "I have to try, though. It would be so easy to hide forever, but I can't do that."

"Alright," he nodded. "But any time you want to go you just tell me."

She nodded shakily and followed him out of the car. He walked beside her all the way to the elevator, and reached over to take her hand as the car rose.

As they stopped off the elevator he felt his sister tense and he tightened his hold on her hand. Alexis, Ric and Kristina were standing by the nurse's station waiting for him for Kristina's appointment. He'd forgotten the little girl was supposed to come in that morning. The family looked over at the elevator as it dinged to single the car's arrival and Alexis and Ric immediately looked uncomfortable.

"Elizabeth?" Ric stepped forward as they approached. "How are you doing?"

She shrugged, but said nothing, only tightened her hold on Steven's hand. "It's been tough," he answered for her.

"I-I can't imagine," Alexis started and then stopped. "I'm very sorry for everything you're going through, Elizabeth."

"Thank you," his sister replied weakly.

"Is there anything we can do for you?" Ric asked, running his hand nervously over his tie.

She shook her head and then looked up at Steven. "I...I should probably go... I need to check in.

He looked over at Alexis. "I'll be right back. I'm going to walk with her."

"Of course," she said quickly in understanding, reaching for Kristina's hand to head towards the lounge.

"No, Steven, that's okay," Elizabeth protested. "You should examine Kristina. I'll be okay."


They all turned and saw Bobbie Spencer walking towards them. The nurse hugged Elizabeth and then stepped back. "I heard you were coming back today."

Steven watched his sister nod shakily. "Yeah. I was just going to sign in."

"Then I'll walk with you," the older woman smiled. "I was just going that way myself."

Steven watched as Bobbie wrapped her arm around Elizabeth and walked with her around the corner. He hoped his sister was okay, but there wasn't much he could do besides wait for her to say something. Turning back to the family standing awkwardly to the side he forced a smile on his face as he knelt down in front of Kristina. "Hey there, pretty girl. Let's go see how you're feeling, okay?"

As they walked around the corner Elizabeth slowed and Bobbie steered them to the side and allowed the young woman to stop in a bit of a shelter in the wall. She was taking shaky breaths, her head down and her right hand holding the rail so tight her knuckles were turning white.

"It's okay, Elizabeth," Bobbie said softly. "Take your time. Take a couple of deep breaths."

Elizabeth let out a shuddery sigh and looked up, wiping a few stray tears from her cheeks. Her eyes were shimmering wells, endless voids filled with such pain that it reached right into Bobbie and twined around her heart, pricking old wounds. The young woman leaned back against the wall and covered her face. "I don't know if I can do this, Bobbie."

"Oh, honey..."

"I nearly fell apart at the sight of Kristina, how did I think I could do this? I avoid the park if I go outside. Every time," she paused and Bobbie's eyes filled with tears at the pain and the memories the young mother was invoking.

"Every time I see a child it slices me. Pricks me and makes me bleed again. I...I can't do this, Bobbie. How am I supposed to be around little children when every one just makes me want Cameron more?"

"I know, Elizabeth," Bobbie said, taking her into a hug. "When B.J. died I wondered how I was supposed to go on, too. She was this beautiful girl; she should have been outside playing. Not being buried. It comforted me a bit to know her heart helped Maxie live, but it was still so hard."

Bobbie turned and stood beside the young woman, keeping her arm around her. "It's hard, Elizabeth. Sometimes I still miss B.J. so much that I feel like I'm still stuck in that hallway crying. I know everyone has said it will get better with time, but I promise you it does. I know it must be even more difficult because you don't know where Cameron is."

"I just...I just want to know."

Bobbie nodded and leaned her head on top of Elizabeth's. "I know. You just take whatever time you need, do whatever you have to do to make this right for you. And if you ever need to talk, you can call me anytime you want."

"Thank you, Bobbie," Elizabeth sniffled.

She smiled warmly at the young woman she had watched grow from rebellious teen to loving mother. "You're welcome, sweetie. Now, do you think you're up for this, or do you want to do home?"

"I don't know. I don't know, but I'll...I'll give it a try."

Jason walked out of the dive on the outskirts of town and kicked one of the trash cans in the dark alleyway. The metal can flew across the asphalt and ricocheted off the wall. The clang echoed off the close buildings and the dent in the side was so satisfying he kicked another one. This lead had been another dead end in a long string of false hopes.

There was absolutely nothing on Cameron's disappearance. He knew that somewhere, somebody had to know something. Little babies did not just disappear. He just wasn't looking in the right places, or hard enough or… There had to be something he could do. He could not fail Elizabeth by not finding her son. He was going to find Cameron, and then he was going to make his kidnapper pay.

As he was stalking towards his bike someone suddenly turned and ran from him and he was immediately on guard. He grabbed his gun from his waistband and took off after the person. Reaching the individual intent on avoiding him, he grabbed him and spun him around.

"Let go of me! Let go of me!"

He stared, stunned when he realized it was Faith he was holding. "Faith? What are you doing here? I thought you escaped from prison and fled the country?"

"I did," she gasped, wincing as he tightened his grip on her arm. "Hey, Morgan, you wanna lighten up on my arm?"

"Did you really leave?" he growled, leaning closer to her. "Or was it all a lie?"

"I left," she swore, blinking at the deadly intent in his eyes. "I came back because I wanted to see Justus."


"It's called love, you idiot. It may be a concept you're not very familiar with considering every woman leaves you, but I'd rather take my chances and be with Justus than be safely apart from him."

"When did you get back?" he pressed, keeping his gun trained on her.

"What's with the third degree?" she asked. "I got back a couple of days ago."

"Elizabeth's son was kidnapped two weeks ago and you have always hated her. How do I know you're telling the truth?"

"Look," she said, "no, I don't like the milk maid. I didn't like that she was married to Ric. But I stopped my obsession with him. I love Justus. What would I gain from going after her brat?"

He shook his head at her protests. "People like you don't give up your obsessions. You just bide your time. I wouldn't put it past you to hurt her now."

"I don't have her kid," she snapped. "Look, what are you going to do with me? You have only a few commands you know; sit, fetch, tell Sonny."

He closed his eyes and shook his head at her self-perseveration ploy. "I don't have time for this. I'm not turning you into Sonny…yet. But you are going to show me where you're staying."

He pressed the gun into her side. "And if I think you're lying, I won't hesitate to shoot you."

She scoffed and rolled her eyes. "And if I did have the little waif's kid how would killing me help you find him?"

He grinned maliciously and she shrank back just a fraction. "Who said anything about killing you? I can cause you a lot of pain, Faith, but still keep you alive. Now, show me where you're staying. And no tricks."

Chapter 4

Tuesday December 14, 2004

Elizabeth stood in an empty room by the window, looking out over the frozen landscape below her. She had to take just a few minutes to breathe quietly. She had to get away from the noise, the smells and the people. She'd been back at the hospital for just over a week and sometimes she just had to step away from everybody because it all got to be too much for her to bear.

The day before had marked three weeks since Cameron was kidnapped and the day had been hard for her. It had broken through the numbness she had come to welcome to enshroud her life. The only way she could get through the days, and especially her time at the hospital was to shut down and allow freezing cold to flow through her like ice.

The nursing program director had helped her out by assigning her to post-op and general wards. She did not attend to pediatrics, the nursery or the maternity ward. She couldn't be around children and their parents without being crippled by the pain and rendered incapable of functioning. By being around older teens or adults in the hospital she was able to pass her time. It allowed her to push back the pain from Cameron's disappearance for just a little while.

She felt like an robot sometimes, just going along on autopilot. Her job was accomplished with little emotion; just rote actions that she knew needed to be done. It was how her whole life was becoming. She could go to work, go to the store, and help her grandmother fix dinner all without breaking down into tears. She just carried an all-encompassing ache that filled her and dulled every other feeling.

With a sigh she turned from the window and headed back to work. She only had a little bit more time to get through and then she could go home. Steven's shift ran until midnight and her gram's shift went until six. She was done at three and this would be the first time she would be alone at home.

She told her family that she had to see if she could do it. She couldn't live the rest of her life having them baby-sit her every moment of the day. While she appreciated their concern and that of her friends, she couldn't let them get sucked into the black hole she was in. Emily and Nikolas should be planning their wedding, but they'd postponed it. They said they'd get married when Cameron came home. She was afraid they'd be postponing it forever.

It wasn't fair to them or the rest of her friends and family that they rearrange their lives indefinitely. She knew they wanted to help her, support her however they could, but she was afraid they'd be stuck in her limbo forever. She couldn't ask them all to stay there forever with her; they deserved to have their own chance at normalcy.

When her shift was finally over she said goodnight to her colleagues and headed for the staff room to get her belongings. When she stepped back out into the hallway, Steven was waiting there for her. Just like he had been every day since she came back. "Hey, Lizbee."

"Hey, Steven," she smiled tiredly. "What are you doing here?"

"Your shift's over. I can take a break and drive you home if you want."

She shook her head as a grateful smile crossed her face. "That's okay. I...I think I'm going to go for a walk. I need some air before I head home. I've got some homework to do...but I just need a little time."

"Okay," he nodded. He may not understand it, but he would accept it.

"So I'll get a cab home, okay?"

"Alright. But if you change your mind, just call me."

Nodding, Elizabeth tightened her grip on her coat and headed for the elevator. It was a different coat than the one she'd worn the day of the kidnapping. The police had taken it and examined it; testing to see if the kidnapper had worn it. They hadn't found anything on it, but she refused to wear it again after they gave it back to her. She'd put it in a plastic bag, and then put it under her bed. She'd probably never wear it again, but she couldn't get rid of it because she'd last worn it with Cameron.

As she stepped outside, she took a deep breath feeling the cold air invade her lungs. She welcomed the bite, relished the numbness invading her body. Ducking her head, she turned for the park, knowing that the five blocks it would take her to walk there would help spread that feeling thoroughly. Snow was piled up on the edges of the sidewalk and ice and salt crunched under rubber-soled shoes.

Walking through the iron arch into the park, she wrapped her arms around herself and walked down a path. She didn't care where she went; the point was to be numb. Maybe if she was she would be prepared to go home and face an empty nursery.


She stopped and turned, blinking when she saw Jason standing a few feet from her. "J-Jason. Hey."

"Are you alright?" he asked, his face soft with concern. "I wasn't sure it was you at first."

Her gloved hands trembled slightly as she swept a piece of hair behind her ear. "Yeah. I was just taking a walk."

"Do you need a ride somewhere?" he asked. "It's cold out here."

"That's okay," she shook her head slowly. "I'll catch a cab. I just want to walk for a while. I like the cold. I like how it makes me feel."

His eyebrows drew down in confusion and she answered his unspoken question. "I like the cold that settles into my bones; that makes me so numb I can barely feel the pain. Sometimes...sometimes it's the only way I can get through the day."

She looked away and took a breath. "You're probably going to tell me that's really dumb or something."

"No," he said, touching her elbow and getting her to look at him. He led them to a bench and brushed the snow away. "Here. No," he shook his head, "I don't think it's dumb."

He clasped his hands between his knees. "I understand, actually. It''s why I went to the boxcar after...when I was shot."

"I always used to wonder why you went there that night," she said after a moment spent remembering coming into the clearing and seeing him lying there in the snow. "I...I couldn't understand why you didn't go somewhere warm and where you could get help. I understand better now. I crave that numbness now."

"I...I wish there was something I could do for you," he said softly.

"I know," she told him, a fleeting smile pulling at her lips. "I appreciate you just being here. You don't watch me waiting for me to break down or fall apart. I...I can be honest with you."

"You know you can say anything. I won't judge you or think less of you."

Her eyes swam with tears as she weighed his words. " much as I fear I may never see Cameron again...I have to believe that he's alive; that he might come back some day. It's the only thing that keeps me going. If I think that he's dead..." Her voice caught on a choked sob. "If he was dead I couldn't go on. I-I'd probably go to the snow like you and just wait to die."

Her shoulders shook and Jason scooted over to her and wrapped his arms around her. "Hey, hey," he said as she cried into his shoulder. "Don't say that, Elizabeth. You would find a way to keep going. I know you would. might not be easy, but you would do it, Elizabeth. I know you would."

"I just...I want him back, Jason. He's my baby, he's my boy. I miss him so much. What if...what if-"

"Shhhh," he said, stroking his hand over her hair. "I know you miss him, Elizabeth. It's okay to cry and show that. Nobody expects you to be perfect, nobody expects you to act like everything's okay."

She sniffled, wiping her eyes. Jason just held her while she cried silently and tired to compose herself. With a snuffle, she pulled back and smiled weakly up at him. "Thank you."

He smiled warmly at her. "I didn't do anything."

"You listened. Like you always seem to do. Thank you."

His face darkened into a scowl when his cell phone chirped from his pocket. The curse he spat out as he reached for it made her blink. "Sorry."

"It's okay, Jason," she shook her head. "You need to get it."

"Morgan," he bit out. "Yeah...okay. I'll be right there."

He hung up and looked at her apologetically. "I'm sorry. I-"

"You have to go. That's alright. I understand."

"Do you need a ride home?"

She shook her head. "That's alright. I'm going to walk for a bit more."

He didn't look completely satisfied, but he had to leave so he accepted it. "You know you can call me anytime, right?"

"Yeah," she nodded. "Thank you again."

His head bobbed once and then he stood and left. She watched him and couldn't help think that his faith in her...while it helped her, she just didn't think it was warranted this time. If Cameron was found dead...she didn't know that she'd want to keep living.

Jason walked into his penthouse and tossed his keys down roughly on his desk. He hated that his phone picked, of all times, the moment he was sitting with Elizabeth trying to help her to ring. She was hurting, she was numb, and honestly, she was scaring him with her honest, yet fatalistic, talk. How could she talk about giving up? He hadn't seen her this despondent since the time he encountered her in Jake's when she thought Lucky was dead and she wondered why she should keep going. He wanted to tell her she had so much to live for, but he hadn't been able to find the words, and of course, he had to walk off and leave her when she was feeling vulnerable and low.

To make things worse, he felt out of place in his life, in his house in particular. The room was bare and quiet since Sam left, and despite all the touches that Courtney had added, without someone inside to take up the space - even if it annoyed him sometimes - made the place feel too big. Like a hollow cavern where every sound was magnified and distorted. He hated coming home. He hated sitting around, which was another reason why he had thrown himself into finding Cameron. Not just for Elizabeth who didn't deserve that misfortune, but to occupy his days and give him a purpose other than taking care of Sam.

There was a knock on the door and he turned to open it. He was surprised to find Sonny standing there, having been expecting Meyer since the accountant had been the one to call him. Stepping back he let his friend into the room. "Hey."

"Jason," Sonny replied. "Max said you were back and that you were waiting for Meyer."

"He called earlier, said he had some information."

"He called me too," Sonny said neutrally.

Two brisk knocks were followed by Max opening Jason's door. "Meyer is here."

"Mr. Corinthos," their accountant and researcher said, a slight tremor to his voice as he entered the room. "Mr. Morgan. I'm sorry to bother the two of you, but there was an anomaly in this month's bills. After the recent problems with the file I wanted to make you aware of it."

"Okay," Sonny said, his eyes narrowing slightly.

It was a sore spot with all inside the organization. Alexis had somehow ended up with a copy of the master file of their money laundering practices and had used it against Sonny in the custody hearing for Kristina. No one knew how she got a copy since after the brief fear that it had been lost or taken, it was found amongst Michael's comic books at Carly's new house. The only people's prints found on it were Meyer's, Michael's and Carly's. They searched and investigated, but they couldn't figure out how Alexis had ended up with it. And she used it to her full advantage, threatening to expose it to Ric and John Durrant if he didn't sign away his rights to ever have anything to do with Kristina. She said she had multiple copies of the file, and if Sonny tried to fight her, the truth would come out. Sonny had believed the Cassadine relative, and had reluctantly signed away his rights to his daughter, a piece of him dying as he did so.

"What'd you find?" Jason asked, wanting to get away from those thoughts and onto the matter at hand.

"I was doing the monthly utility bills for the safe houses and one of them... The bills were higher than previous months. I've never seen it since I started doing the books, and I wasn't sure what the procedure should be. Especially with...well, everything."

"Okay, okay," Sonny said, trying to calm the man whose nerves were still highly shaken by the recent disaster. "Which house is it?"

"The house out in Overton."

"Could it be squatters?" Jason asked.

"The alarm is active, but it's in standby mode. Which means it wasn't smashed or wires cut."

"A good thief can disarm them with those high tech frequency gadgets they have now days," Sonny said with a growl. "Send a guard out there. Tell him to be careful. I've heard rumblings Faith Roscoe might actually be back in town, if you can believe her stupidity."

Jason swallowed and knew his next admission wasn't going to go over well. "She is. I saw her."

Sonny's explosion was as volatile as predictable. "What?! What do you mean she's in town and you saw her? You never said a word to me!"

"I know," he said, knowing there was really no excuse for not telling Sonny except his desperation about Cameron. "It was when I was tracking down a possible lead on Cameron Webber. It was a seedy area in an outlying town; we ran into each other, she tried to get away. I wondered if she was responsible since she seemed to have slipped into town so quietly."

He sighed with a shake of his head. "She said she came back because she loves Justus and couldn't bear to be away from him. She knew the risk, but came back anyway. I made her show me where she was staying; Cameron wasn't there."

"I'm sorry, Jason," Sonny said, his voice low and belying his fury. "You should have told me, though."

"I know."

"You go with the guard," Sonny instructed him. "I wouldn't put it past Faith or Justus to squat in one of our houses after thinking they got a free pass from you."

Jason didn't think that was really the case, but he accepted the order without argument because he knew he should have told Sonny he'd seen Faith. "Okay, I'll check it out."

"Jason." Sonny's voice stopped him from leaving. "If it's Faith, I want her eliminated this time. No exceptions. Are we clear?"

"Yes," he nodded.

He didn't necessarily agree with killing Faith, but this was an order he would follow to the letter. And if it wasn't Faith out there at the Overton safe house, then he and Adam would deal appropriately with whatever fool thought they could get a free ride in Sonny's property.

Chapter 5

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"Elizabeth Darling, I'm afraid I'm going to have to work a little late tonight," Audrey said into the phone as the answering machine picked up at home. "I'll be home a couple hours later than planned."

She paused, not wanting Elizabeth to think she was hovering. Even from a distance. Then she said, "I'll see you when I get home. Bye."

She had wanted to say that Elizabeth could call if she needed anything, or even if she didn't. But she knew her granddaughter was beginning to feel smothered by her and Steven's concern. Audrey just couldn't help but worry about Elizabeth as she watched her granddaughter struggle to deal with another tragic event in her too young life.

Despite being a single mother and twice divorced, Audrey thought Elizabeth would finally get her break. A chance to finally move ahead and find happiness. Audrey didn't fault Elizabeth for being a divorcee, or a single mother - not with her own past, but she knew how hard it was. She'd watched her granddaughter deal with hurt, betrayal and one devastating blow after another and watched her pick herself back up and find a way to keep going. It was one of the things Audrey loved so much about Elizabeth, her strong and determined spirit.

It had thrilled her when Elizabeth announced she was entering the student nursing program. Audrey knew the younger woman had rebelled against choosing anything medicine related in part because she wanted to forge her own way in life and not just be another Hardy-Webber at the hospital, and in part because she felt abandoned by her parents to medicine. She was glad to see that Elizabeth seemed to have settled into her own identity and was doing something she really wanted to.

Part of that decision had stemmed from maturity, and part from necessity. Her granddaughter was a mother with a child to support on her own and she was accepting that responsibility, realizing that it meant putting aside her dream of art for a little while. It had made Audrey proud, but she never told Elizabeth that. She had held back so as to not patronize her granddaughter, and also so she didn't bring up painful memories. Elizabeth had walked away from Ric because she realized their relationship wasn't strong enough to overcome Ric's obsession with besting Sonny Corinthos and she wanted, demanded, more for her and her son.

Most of all, Audrey was proud of Elizabeth's determination to make it on her own and not take the easy way out by having a man take care of her. She hadn't stayed in a relationship she wasn't truly happy in just for the sake of financial security. She also wasn't like Carly Corinthos who moved from bank account to bank account, or this new woman Sam McCall who was living off Sonny Corinthos and Jason Morgan's generosity. Audrey had been worried as Elizabeth helped the grieving mother and the mob enforcer over the loss of the baby that her tender-hearted granddaughter would get drawn back into Jason's sphere, but that hadn't happened. So far.

It was a bit worrisome to her that Jason had stopped by the house to see Elizabeth several times, but so far she had kept quiet. It was not appropriate, in the face of her great-grandson's disappearance to start lecturing Elizabeth on her relationship with Jason Morgan. She knew from years of experience that her granddaughter was stubbornly defensive of Jason, and after encouraging her to work things out with Ric and seeing that disastrous ending Audrey apparently wasn't any better judge of character. But she still couldn't help but be concerned as this went on that problems would arise from the renewed association between Elizabeth and Jason.

Elizabeth stood in the darkening room, unwinding her scarf as she listened to her grandmother's message. It didn't bother her that her gram would be getting home later than planned. But she could also hear the worry in her grandmother's voice at the thought of her being alone for longer. Normally it would have bugged her more than it did, but Elizabeth just couldn't be upset because she knew her grandmother was only concerned out of love. And right now she didn't feel too smothered, she did like the support and care Steven and her gram gave her.

She was also grateful for Jason's concern. She knew that he had a lot going on in his life, but she appreciated the times he came by to see her. He probably had some spare time because Sam was in Hawaii, or maybe he just needed something to distract him so he came to listen to her problems for a while. Whatever the reason, she appreciated him stopping by to see her. But she had liked just running into him today. It kind-of reminded her of old times, and it was a good feeling to have.

It was nice just to sit for a little while with him, knowing that she could just breathe and most of all, be. She double-checked that the front door was locked and then slowly made her way upstairs. She knew that Jason was concerned, but she liked that he was the one person who could understand her lost and confused feelings and didn't press her on them. He understood her liking the cold and frozen temperatures because it numbed the ache inside her. For just a little while she had someone beside her who she could share what she was feeling with and knew wouldn't try to give her platitudes. And she liked that she didn't feel quite so alone for that time they were together.

She's stayed in the park for a while after Jason left to deal with whatever his phone call had been about. She had just wanted to think, but not too deeply, and she was also avoiding going home. Finally she'd made her to the house so she would be home before her grandmother, and also so she could be warm so her gram wouldn't worry. She remembered the silent and held-back fretting the older woman had done when she'd come into Cameron's nursery to find Elizabeth standing by the open window one night. She didn't want to worry her grandmother that way again.

But she arrived home only to find out that her gram would be delayed. It didn't bother her. Being outside in the cold had numbed her and so far she felt up to being alone in the house with Cameron's belongings. She knew she should be doing her homework, but she wasn't quite feeling up to it. To concentrate on that would bring up too many memories of the hospital and thus Cameron. She wanted to keep the numbness, not chase it away.

So she decided to take a shower. As she changed out of her scrubs she noticed that her legs hadn't been shaved in a while and she could the mindless distraction. She gathered up clean clothes and walked down the hall to the bathroom in her underwear.

A few minutes later she was standing under the cascading water washing her hair. She tried to block out the thoughts that were creeping in on her; thoughts like how just a month ago she would have given anything to take a nice, long shower in the middle of the day. Since Cameron's birth she had become very adept at quick showers, sometimes in the middle of the day when she could finally get him down for a nap.

As she rubbed the body wash over her legs and reached for her razor she tried to fight off the tears threatening to breach her eyes' defenses. She just wanted to get through this task; she didn't want to give into the tears. But as she began shaving her leg she couldn't hold them back any longer. Her eyes blurred and she had to lift the razor from her skin as the first sobs hit her.

She stood there, head bowed as tears coursed down her cheeks. She was unable to stop them, and the only thing Elizabeth could do was hope that after letting off a little of the pressure inside her she'd be able to rein back the emotions. She found that sometimes she had to give into the tears or she wound up in the all-encompassing hysterical sobs that overtook her those first days Cameron was gone. And hopefully by having cried earlier in the day, she'd be able to regain control soon.

Eventually the sobs turned into sniffles and she felt a little better and deemed she could continue shaving. But her hands were still shaky and the razor bit into the tender flesh above the outside of her ankle and she couldn't jerk the blade back quickly enough. A nearly inch-long cut erupted on her leg and blood blossomed from it immediately. Along with pain.

She cursed and grabbed her ankle, while reaching for the washcloth. The tears erupted anew and she shook as she slapped the fabric on her skin. She couldn't even enjoy a shower without thinking about Cameron, she couldn't shave her legs without cutting herself, she apparently couldn't do anything. Still clutching the washcloth to her ankle she slid down, sitting on the bottom of the tub as she sobbed uncontrollably. She couldn't even reach up to turn off the water when it started to cool; all she could do was sit there as her blood and tears swirled down the drain.

Jason wasn't very happy when the car pulled up to the house in Overton. He knew this was Sonny's way of teaching him a lesson for not letting him know Faith was back in town and that Jason had seen her. He was mad at his friend for deciding to crack down on him in front of a subordinate, and he was mad at himself for not having said something before. If he'd just told Sonny he'd run into Faith they could have put a tail on her and Jason wouldn't be out here now wasting time.

The truth was he'd pretty much put Faith out of his mind almost immediately. She didn't have Cameron and he didn't consider her a threat to the organization, so he let her go. Because his focus was on finding Elizabeth's son, not getting sucked into whatever game Sonny and Faith decided to play this go around. His error was costing him now as he had to come all the way out here and deal with a nuisance. This wasn't going to help him find Cameron, and he was upset he was wasting time.

He motioned the guard around to the back and drew his gun as he quietly opened the front door. The first thing that hit him was the smell. As he looked around the deserted room he could see piles of trash, and rotten food was crusted onto plates scattered around the room. He scowled as he realized squatters had definitely found the house and decided to help themselves to free rent while making a mess.

A small fire was going in the fireplace, and he was alert, because if there was a fire, then maybe the people were still around. He could tell the fire was the only heat in the house. While cold didn't affect him, he still could sense it somewhat. And he knew when he walked into a room and was hit with the blast of a heater going; he didn't feel that here. Whoever was hiding here had probably just used the fireplace instead of turning on the heater so as not to arouse their suspicions with a higher bill.

"Mr. Morgan."

He looked up as the guard softly called his name from the kitchen doorway. The younger man's face was twisted in revulsion until he grabbed his handkerchief from his pocket and pressed it to his nose. " have to see this."

Jason picked his way across the littered floor, still keeping one eye on the room in case someone showed up. When he reached the kitchen the smell was stronger and he brought his arm up to tuck his own nose into the elbow of the leather jacket. More trash and more dirty dishes greeted him, but when he saw the crusted and clump-filled bottles on the counters he realized that the smell that filled the air was dirty diapers.

"Someone had a baby here?" the guard asked in disbelief as he looked around.

Jason grimaced, knowing it would take a lot to get rid of the smell, but his first priority was clearing the rest of the house. "They could still be here. There's a fire in the front. They could just be hiding in the back if they heard us come up."

Quietly they moved out of the kitchen and towards the hall, picking their way across the room. His suspicion was confirmed when the plaintive cry of a baby pierced the air and he swallowed at the unnatural pitch. His heart was beating fast, abnormal for situations like this, because of the presence of the baby. Could this be someone with Cameron, or was it just homeless kids with a baby of their own who had sought shelter? Had he been wrong and it was Faith here thumbing her nose at he and Sonny by hiding with Elizabeth's baby in one of their safe houses?

If it was Faith he would gladly carry out Sonny's order to kill her. He knew it would be revenge, not only for all she had done to them since turning up like a bad penny after her husband's death years ago, but also for the anger he could feel coursing through him at the thought that she had bested in him in his search for Cameron. She had duped him with the whole lie that she had come back for true love and Justus. But more than the thought of personal humiliation, he was mad - beyond mad - at the pain she had inflicted on Elizabeth by taking her son.

The baby's cries increased, reaching a high pitch before dropping off and Jason was worried about what was happening behind the door at the end of the hallway and he left the guard to check out the other bedrooms while he headed straight for the room. He flexed his hand around his gun while he opened the door. Once again he was assaulted by the smell of dirty diapers, and the site of more dirty bottles. Soiled clothes and blankets lay on the floor and the bed and he was appalled by the squalled conditions of the house.

But nothing could have prepared him for the sight that greeted him when he found the person holding the baby. The child was definitely Cameron. Even though the baby was currently crying and screaming, Jason knew it was the same little boy he'd been looking for and studying his picture daily hoping to be able to recognize enough features so he'd know Elizabeth's son if he saw him. But there was no doubt it was Cameron when he saw the boy in Sam's arms as she struggled to hold onto him and get him to take a bottle, all the while smiling up at Jason.

"Welcome home, Jason," she said on a breathy whisper. "We've been waiting for you."

Chapter 6

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Jason stood in stunned silence as Sam sat in the chair with Cameron in her arms and smiled up at him. Her eyes were wide with excitement and he found himself seized with anger and pure fury. She had kidnapped Cameron, stolen him from Elizabeth who had only ever been kind to her, and to him, after Adella's death. She had lied to him; he never even suspected she was anywhere else but Hawaii with her brother.

Watching her disheveled state and taking in the condition of the house he knew she wasn't well. But he didn't care, or spend much time thinking about her. He was concerned about the little boy who was in her arms. Cameron was thin, thinner than he probably should be and his eyes seemed sunken into his face.

"Jason?" she asked as he stood there silent.

He flexed his grip on the cold steel of the gun he held, then slid it into his waistband. "Give him to me."

"Of course," she smiled as she stood up and crossed the room. "Go to Daddy, sweetie."

He took Cameron from her, bringing his hand up behind the little boy's head. He was warm in the chill air, and Jason frowned when the baby's plaintive cry turned into a raspy cough.

Sam put one hand on Jason's arm and one on Cameron's back. "I knew you'd come home soon. This is just how I knew it would be."

"Sit down," he said, his voice tight and strained. He wanted to shove her away, but he was holding Cameron and he was still struggling to reconcile the fact that Sam was the kidnapper.

"Jason?" she questioned.

"Sit down." He stepped back from her and called for the guard. The young man walked into the room, uneasy under the tension in Jason's voice and the air. "She doesn't go anywhere."


"She doesn't go anywhere until the police arrive. Sonny does not take her out of here before they get here. I'm taking the car."

"Yes, sir," the guard nodded.

"Keep her here," he said and then stepped out of the room.

Immediately Sam began to yell. "Jason! Jason! Where are you going? Don't take him away! Don't take my baby away!"

She continued to scream, but Jason was focused on Cameron. The boy continued to cough, or try to cough. It was sounding more like a wheeze, and Jason raised him so he was more upright, the boy's head leaning on his shoulder now. As Jason looked for a diaper bag, or at least hoping to find a car carrier, he shifted to get a better grip on Cameron and felt something warm and sticky on his hand. He looked down and saw he'd put his hand into a patch of spit up on Cameron's shirt. Squinting, he looked at the pink-tinged goop, and then wiped it off on his jeans.

He wasn't going to go back and ask Sam if she had a car carrier and he was about to give up and just carry Cameron while driving when he spotted a carrier tucked behind a chair. He grabbed it and a blanket, forgoing trying to find a diaper bag in his hurry to get out of the house, and stepped outside; he couldn't stand listening to Sam's yelling any longer. If he continued to hear her he was liable to forget she was a girl and the mother of one of Sonny's children and he'd give in to the rage that was begging him to put a bullet in her head, or at least hit her like he had done to Tony Jones after finding Michael in the cabin.

Opening the back door of the car he set the carrier on the seat so he could strap Cameron in before buckling the whole thing into the car. As he slid his hand down to cradle the little boy into the seat he encountered wetness around the baby's bottom. "I'm sorry, Cameron," he said. "I want to get you to your mom and the hospital. I'm not going back in to find a diaper. I'll hurry, though, I promise."

Once Cameron was safely strapped in, Jason tucked the blanket over him and tried not to think about how dirty it was. He climbed in the car and started it, immediately turning the heater up. Pulling away from the house he yanked his phone out of his pocket and scrolled through the stored numbers to find the one he'd recently added.


"Lucky, it's Jason. I found Cameron."

"What? You found him? Where is he? Who had him? Where are you? How's Cameron?"

"Lucky," he said sharply. "Shut up and I'll tell you. Sam McCall took Cameron. I have him and I'm driving him to General Hospital because he sounds sick and needs to be examined. Someone needs to get Elizabeth, and someone needs to arrest Sam."

"Arrest Sam? You mean-"

"I'm not helping her," he declared emphatically as he cut Lucky off. "There is a guard watching her and he's under order not to let anyone take her but the police."

"What about Sonny?" Lucky asked.

"What about him? I'm not calling him until you have her in custody and the guard won't either."

There was a brief pause, then the other man said, "Okay. Where is she?"

"She's at a house we own in Overton. Lucky, don't bust our chops on this. I called you and told you where she was at."

"I'll do everything to prevent it from becoming a hunt into yours and Sonny's property. I don't like you, Jason, but I'm not Taggert."

Jason wasn't comfortable with it, but he had to trust Lucky at the moment. He wasn't going to let Sam get away with this, and he honestly didn't trust Sonny to take Sam to turn herself in. His priority was getting Cameron to the hospital. He had to trust the police to arrest Sam which meant he had to give them the address to the safehouse.

"Okay," he finally said. "Call me once she's in custody. I won't speak to Sonny before then. Let me give you the address."

Steven walked into the ER after his dinner break and checked the patient board to orient himself with what had changed while he was gone. Filling in at the ER wasn't his first choice of assignments, but he owed a colleague who had covered for him in the first days of Cameron's disappearance. The night was busy, but not unmanageable and he smiled with a satisfied nod when he saw that Mrs. Lancaster had been admitted for observation and was in a room upstairs and Mr. Billings had been discharged.

He'd spoken with his grandmother shortly before her shift ended, and some of her worry about Elizabeth had seeped into him mingling with his own that he already carried. His sister was getting thinner, hardly eating except when someone practically forced her to. She wasn't sleeping well, only getting a couple hours a night before wandering the rooms of the house. Their grandmother was becoming very worried and asked him if they should maybe call Gail Baldwin.

He too was worried about Elizabeth, but he was afraid of suddenly springing a psychiatrist on her. But as he'd sat in the cafeteria eating his burrito, he began to think that maybe their grandmother was right. Maybe it would be good for Elizabeth to speak to someone besides them or Bobbie Spencer whom he'd heard Elizabeth call a few times.

The door to the emergency room crashed open and he looked up, broken out of his thoughts. He needed to get his head on straight to be able to help the patient coming in. When Jason Morgan came striding into the room carrying a small bundle, Steven's heart leapt up and took lodging in his throat. He headed out to intercept Jason, his stomach twisting as Jason confirmed what he suspected, "It's Cameron."

He took his blanket-wrapped nephew tenderly from the other man and was immediately struck with how much lighter the boy felt. Turning he barked at a nurse, "What's open?"

"Curtain five," she said immediately.

He started walking towards the bed as he called out to her, "Call Pediatrics. Now."

Putting his nephew down he didn't even comment when Jason followed and stood to the side of the examining area and watched. So long as the other man stayed out of the way, Steven wouldn't make him leave. Because he had questions and he'd get them answered more quickly if Jason was close by.

Right now though he was focused on examining and assessing Cameron. He removed the blanket wrapped around him and was immediately struck at the little boy's thin limbs and distended stomach. He personally removed his nephew's clothes and took in the pink-tinged spit-up on the shirt.

"Here's a gown and a diaper, Dr. Webber," the nurse said.

He put the clean gown on Cameron to try to keep him warm, then undid the tabs on his diaper. The dark color that he saw alarmed him. "Get an IV in him and get him started on ampicilian. He's got blood in his stool and sever diaper rash. I want to ward off infection."

While the nurse got to work on that, he began examining Cameron, listening to the boy's heart and lungs first. "He's got crackling in the base," he said. "We need to get a chest x-ray right away. Do you have that IV in yet?"

"His veins are hard to find," the nurse said. "Give me a minute."

He held his nephew, to keep him still while she put in the IV line to get Cameron started on fluids to hydrate him and get nutrients into his obviously malnourished body. Given his condition and the blood in his stool and spit-up he suspected that his nephew had been given regular formula instead of soy like he'd been on since he was two weeks old.

"I got it," Joyce said, already adjusting the flow of the IV.

"Get the ampicilian in and find out where Peds is."

"What's going on?" Jason asked when the nurse left the area.

"He's got pneumonia," Steven said, inspecting Cameron's arms and legs, but glancing up briefly at the man who had brought his nephew in. "I can hear crackling in his lungs which means there's fluid. He's got blood in his stool and in his spit-up and he's probably got an infection. He's malnourished as well. He's a very sick little boy right now. Now you answer a question of mine. Who had him?"

"Sam," Jason said on a labored breath.

"The woman who's living with you?" he asked as his eyes widened and he stood up straight. "The person my sister helped after she lost your boss's baby? Did you know?"

"No," Jason said immediately and forcefully. "I had no idea. I thought she was in Hawaii visiting her brother.

"Okay, okay," Steven said, calming down and taking a step back. After all, Jason had been there from the beginning. Steven had seen how concerned, and angry, he had looked, how he'd visited Elizabeth and had told him he was going to look for Cameron. Despite the other man's obvious flaws, he didn't think Jason would be a part of hurting Elizabeth. While Morgan may kill for a living and break the law daily, he didn't believe that he would deliberately lie to his sister about her missing son.

"I'm sorry. So, where is she?"

"Hopefully in police custody," Jason replied.

"Good," he nodded forcefully, pleased with the answer. "Has someone called Elizabeth?"

"Lucky said someone would bring her in."

Again Steven nodded, glad that things had been taken care of. Now he could concentrate on his nephew and hopefully have the answers his sister would be seeking when she arrived.

Elizabeth didn't look up when the doorbell rang and her grandmother got up. She was attempting to concentrate on the homework swimming before her eyes; besides, her gram was much better at handling the well-wishing and concerned neighbors and friends who stopped by to drop off food or see if there was anything they could do to help. She knew people meant well, but she couldn't deal with the strained conversations with relative strangers. She had a hard enough time talking to her family.

"Hello, Lucky."

She looked up from her textbook, surprised to see her friend standing at the door. "Hello, Mrs. Hardy. Can I come in?"

"Of course," her grandmother smiled, letting him into the house.

"Lucky?" Elizabeth asked as she stood, wondering what brought him by this time at night. Especially since she could see his badge hanging from his belt showing he was on duty.

"Cameron's been found," he said with a smile.

She sagged, leaning against the table as her hand flew to her mouth. Her grandmother gasped and Elizabeth felt a hitch in her throat. "You found him? Is he okay? Oh my... Lucky, is he alive?"

He came up to her and wrapped his arm around her waist. "Hey, take it easy. He's alive. We didn't find him, though. Jason did. And he's taking Cameron to General Hospital. And that's why I'm here. I'm going to take you down there, okay?"

"Jason found him?" she asked, confused by Lucky's statement. "What? I...I didn't even know..."

"I know," he said. "Come on. Don't you want to see Cameron?"

Her eyes filled with tears and she nodded shakily. "I do. Oh, yes, I do."

"Then let's go."

Chapter 7

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Mac Scorpio had seen a lot of different things in his life. Some good, like Georgie's birth; some bad, like Stone's death and Robin's illness; and some downright weird, like his doppelganger who replaced him and intended to kill Jasper Jax and frame him for the crime. He'd seen depravity and horror, but sometimes the things people did still surprised him. Walking into Sonny Corinthos' safe house in Overton and being confronted by the foul sight and smell was one of those moments.

The filth was overwhelming, as was the hysterical woman who had not stopped screaming. Sam had been yelling at the guard physically restraining her from leaving the house, alternating between cursing him and demanding to know when Jason would come back. She yelled at Mac when he showed up, when he arrested her for kidnapping and child endangerment, and she screamed and kicked the back of the seat the entire ride back to the PCPD.

As they escorted her into the station it took two men to hold onto her and take her to the interrogation room. She was too much noise and too much of a spectacle to be placed in the holding cell to the side of the squad room.

"I want my baby! Tell Jason to bring my baby back!" Sam screamed when Mac walked into the interrogation room.

He sat down across from her, a little glad her handcuffs were attached to the holding pin on the table. He had no doubt she'd try and attack him like she had when he first arrived in Overton. "Miss McCall, you are under arrest for kidnapping. Do you understand your charges? You have the right to an attorney and to make one phone call."

"I want to call Jason," she declared.

Mac swallowed as he took off his glasses. He didn't know if this was all an act, or if she really didn't understand what was happening, but he wanted this case handled right. He didn't want any chance for the case to be thrown out because she sat in a cell waiting for someone Mac honestly didn't think was going to be showing up anytime soon. Not based on what Lucky Spencer had conveyed to him. Jason hadn't whisked her away, or called Sonny to do so; he'd called the police, gave them detailed directions on how to get to the safe house and told Lucky to have her arrested.

"Jason is most likely at the hospital," he told her. "He's the one who told us where you were. I honestly don't think he'd come down here. Is there someone else you could call? A lawyer?"

Her eyes widened as she regarded him while he spoke. Then she said, "Call Sonny. He'll fix this."

Sonny sat in his penthouse and stared at the vast expanse of it. He'd lived in this place since before he knew Brenda or Lily, and he rarely cared about its size. He liked the opulence of it because it meant that he'd arrived. But he hadn't adjusted to it since Michael and Morgan had left. He wasn't used to not finding toys scattered about or hearing the sounds of his children playing. And since he was still waiting for Jason to call in, he was confronted by his loneliness and how much he missed sounds, and how much he hated silence.

The phone rang and he got up, glad that Jason was finally calling in. He didn't understand how it could take so long to check out a house and then report in. "Yeah."


"Sam?" he asked, surprised to hear her voice. "How are you?"

"Sonny, I need your help. I've been arrested."

"Do you need me to wire you bail money, or money for a lawyer?"

"I need you to come down here," she said.

"To Hawaii?" He couldn't go to Hawaii just because Sam might have called. He had things going on here. And he knew that with Jason looking for Cameron Webber he wouldn't go either.

"No," she said softly. "I'm at the PCPD."

"You're in town? What's going on?" he demanded, surprised to hear she had returned.

"Please help me, Sonny."

Then the line went dead. Sonny didn't understand, but he grabbed his coat and opened the door telling the guard to take him to the PCPD. Then he dialed Jason's number once again and told him Sam was at the jail and told the younger man to call him right away on his cell phone. He would need Jason's help here, no matter what Jason might rather be doing.

When he strode into the PCPD shortly before midnight he was determined to get to the bottom of all this. It was unbelievable that Sam would be arrested after returning to Port Charles; he wondered what trumped up charge they'd grabbed her on. And he also wondered why she hadn't let Jason or him know she was coming back.


He paused when he heard Mac call his name. Best to get answers straight from the Commissioner. "Mac. What's Sam doing down here?"

"Jason didn't call you?" Mac asked a bit surprised.

"He's been arrested too?" Sonny growled.

Mac shook his head. "No. But he told Lucky he'd call you."

"Lucky?" he questioned. "What's going on, Mac?

"Jason found Cameron Webber and he called Lucky Spencer. Sam had him at your house in Overton."

"Sam had Cameron Webber?" he asked in disbelief. "No, that's not-"

"Your guard over there confirmed it," the police commissioner said with a tip of his head towards the man sitting at a desk. "And I saw the house. There were baby clothes and bottles, as well as Cameron's diaper bag."

It hadn't even registered that Jason had called the police and sent them out to one of their houses; he was still back on the fact that they were accusing Sam of kidnapping Cameron Webber. "Surely it's a mistake."

"You can think whatever you want," Mac said, his voice harsh. "But we've arrested her on kidnapping and child endangerment. Jason called Lucky to tell him he had Cameron and was taking him to GH. He told us where Sam was and to arrest her. Ask your partner about all this if you don't believe us."

"I will," he assured Mac. He most assuredly would. "But right now I want to see Sam."

"Follow me. You've got five minutes."

"I'll take however long I want," he declared to the police officer.

"You have five minutes, less if you keep it up," Mac pushed back in a voice and manner that Sonny had rarely seen from him.

But Sonny just shook his head as he followed the older man to the interrogation room. Mac opened the door and Sonny stepped inside, stopping a few feet from the table where Sam was handcuffed. She looked up and her eyes brightened when she saw him.


He pulled out the chair and sat down. "Sam. They're saying you took Cameron Webber. Tell me what really happened."

"You have to call Jason," she said. "He took the baby. I got him so Jason and I could be a family like we'd planned. Tell Jason to bring the baby back and to get me out of here so we can be together. He listens to you, Sonny."

Sonny sat back in his chair in stunned silence. She'd kidnapped Cameron Webber, she'd just admitted it. She did it all so she could have a baby and a family with Jason. Closing his eyes, Sonny knew he needed to talk to Jason about this before he did anything else.


He took a breath. "Don't worry, Sam, I...I'm going to talk to Jason."

She sat back and smiled brightly at him before he looked down at the table. He was going to talk to Jason, but he doubted it'd turn out like she was hoping for.

"Where is he?"

Elizabeth burst in through the emergency room doors with Lucky beside her and looked around frantically for anyone who could tell her where her son was. Lucky had driven with the lights and siren blaring and even though she knew it was the quickest she'd ever arrived at the hospital from home, she still felt like the car was standing still. Her hands were shaking as she looked around, hoping for some clue, or someone who could take her to Cameron.

"Where is he?" she repeated.


She turned and saw Bobbie come out of one of the rooms and she immediately rushed towards the nurse. "Bobbie, is he in there? Where is he?"

The older woman put her arm around her shoulders and steered her towards the room. "He's in here, Elizabeth. Steven's with him. Come on."

"I'll be out here," Lucky said from behind her and Elizabeth merely nodded, focused entirely on the door in front of her.

Bobbie opened it and stepped inside with her and Elizabeth saw Steven and another nurse standing over her son who was hooked up to numerous monitors. Steven looked up and her heart caught in her throat when she saw the worry in his eyes. But she quickly dismissed it as her gaze fell on Cameron once again after three long weeks. Her son. Her son was there.

She was at his side in an instant, staring down at him. Rubbing her hands together after she'd stripped off her gloves, she smoothed one hand over his head while she reached for his tiny hand with the other. She was mindful of the IV and monitors attached to him, and she was careful of the oxygen mask covering most of his face, but Elizabeth was just so grateful to have the chance to see her son again and touch him. Tears fell unchecked from her face as she bent her head and placed it by his.

"Cameron," she whispered thickly, placing a kiss on his cheek. "My beautiful little boy."

"Elizabeth." Steven's voice was soft and his touch was light as he came up to her side. "Elizabeth?"

She looked up, wiping her eyes and noticed that Bobbie and the other nurse were gone. "What's wrong with him?" she asked. "I need to know, Steven."

"I know," he assured her. "I'll tell you. But why don't you sit down?"

She nodded shakily, her mind already racing to horrible things as her brother brought a chair over by the crib for her. Keeping her hand on Cameron she looked at up Steven. He sat down on the stool in the room and took a deep breath. "Okay. He's got pneumonia, first of all."

Nodding in understanding, she figured that's why the top of Cameron's bed was elevated and he was on oxygen. But it still stung to hear it confirmed. Her brother continued, "We're still waiting for the chest x-rays to confirm it, we just barely got back from radiology, but there was crackling in the base. We've got him on antibiotics and oxygen. The antibiotics will also help with the staph infection he has. He's malnourished...he had blood in his spit-up and his stool. He was most likely given regular formula instead of soy."

"Steven," she stopped him, her voice shaky from the news and the omnipresent tears. "I...I need to know. Just how bad is it?"

"He's very sick," he admitted softly, clearly hurting as well by the news. "We've got to get the infection and pneumonia cleared up. But with the malnourishment..."

"His body may not be able to fight off the infection," she said, knowing what he was trying to tell her. Cameron could simply be too sick to get better, and Steven was trying to prepare her for that.

He nodded. "We're doing everything we can for him, Elizabeth. I promise you. We're going to move him up to PICU as soon as they're ready for him. you want to hold him?"

She nodded through her tears and he smiled as he helped her stand and pulled her into a hug. "Then let's get you a gown and you can hold your son."

Lucky stood up when the door opened and Steven stepped out of the room he had been watching since Elizabeth disappeared inside. He approached the doctor, desperate for any news on Cameron and how Elizabeth was doing. "Steven?"

"Hey, Lucky," the older man sighed.

"How's Cameron? How's Elizabeth?"

Steven bit his lip and sighed again. "He's very sick, Lucky. I...I shouldn't tell you this, but Elizabeth isn't in any condition to inform you right now. He's got pneumonia, a staph infection and he's malnourished. We're doing everything for him that we can and we're going to move him to the Pediatric ICU soon. I'm sorry, but I need to call and see if his bed is ready. Excuse me."

"Yeah," he said and watched Steven head to the nurse's station and pick up a phone.

Lucky walked towards the room, trying to see if he could spot his friend through the blinds, but they were shut tight and he couldn't see inside. Turning, he looked around the waiting room. His aunt wasn't at the nurse's station and he sighed as he rubbed a hand over his face. Then his eyes hardened slightly when Jason Morgan walked back into the waiting room from outside. The older man had been there when he and Elizabeth first arrived, but had been out of the way by a wall, but after she had gone into Cameron's room Lucky hadn't seen Jason.

Immediately he was across the room after the other man. "Jason."


"I told Mac where Sam was. I should call and see if they got her."

"Don't bother," Jason shook his head. "They arrested her and she's at the police station."

"How do you know?"

"I called Sonny after Elizabeth arrived and he was down at the station with her. She called him."

Anger lanced through him and he didn't bother to hide it. "Don't tell me he's going to help her. Isn't he? She kidnapped Elizabeth's son! He's malnourished, he's sick...and Sonny's going to do everything he can to get her off, isn't he?"

"I don't know," Jason said, his voice low. "I don't know what he's going to do. But I'm not helping her. I'm not making excuses for her, but she...she's not well, Lucky."

"So that makes it okay?" Lucky demanded. "I guess I should have known. After all, you helped Carly after she shot Tony Jones in a courtroom full of witnesses, why wouldn't you help the woman who kidnapped Elizabeth's son?"

"That's not what I'm doing," Jason growled low in his throat, taking a step menacingly towards Lucky. "I'm not going to help her. I'll make sure she rots in jail or gets locked up in Ferncliff for the rest of her life, but Sam will pay for kidnapping Cameron."

"And what if Sonny tries to help her?" he pressed, not entirely believing Jason. After all, Sam had been living in Jason's penthouse and Lucky knew that Jason talked a good game when it came to Elizabeth but then turned his back on her to protect those closer to him. Like when Courtney blinded Elizabeth and got off scott free.

"You let me worry about Sonny," Jason told him. "You worry about Elizabeth."

Lucky paused for a moment, and took a breath, then asked the ultimate question. "Speaking of which, what do we tell her about Sam? I'm not lying to her if she asks me."

"Do me a favor, Lucky," Jason said with a sigh as he looked down briefly. "Let me be the one to tell her."

Chapter 8

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

As a nurse, Audrey was used to being at the hospital in the middle of the night and walking through the corridors on 3 AM rounds. However, as she walked back towards Cameron's room from the restroom, she was struck by how different the situation was. The hallways seemed longer, the quiet more oppressive and the smells more stark.

Nearing her great-grandson's room she saw the two men standing sentinel in the hall as they had since Cameron was moved to the pediatric ward. Nobody bothered, or dared, telling Jason and Lucky that visiting hours were long over and they shouldn't be here. She, along with Steven who had okayed their presence, knew they wouldn't leave until they saw Elizabeth and heard from her how she was and what Cameron's condition was.

When she arrived at the hospital they were getting ready to move Cameron up from the ER and Jason and Lucky had watched from the side as Elizabeth emerged with her son. She didn't see the two men who were watching her with concern, her attention and only thought was on her baby and the many machines. Audrey found out from Steven that Jason had found Cameron with Sam McCall, and had called to have the woman arrested. Her grandson also told her that Jason had asked he be the one to tell Elizabeth that news when she asked.

Audrey dipped her head slightly in acknowledgement as she passed the two men, and then opened the door to Cameron's room. Elizabeth looked up, taking her eyes off her son just long enough for Audrey to see the relief, worry, exhaustion and tears they held. Her heart broke for her granddaughter, experiencing that pain parents hated most; watching their child suffering and in pain from injury and illness. She sat down beside Elizabeth and set a comforting hand on the younger woman's arm as her granddaughter rested her head on Audrey's shoulder.

"Elizabeth darling, why don't you get something to drink?"

She shook her head as Audrey expected. "I can't leave him, Gram."

"I'll be right here with him, Darling. You need to get a little air. Just take a walk down the hall."


"Elizabeth," she interrupted. "It's alright to get up and stretch your legs or get something to drink. I'll be here with him until you get back."

She took a breath and then said, "Lucky and Jason are out in the hall. I don't think either of them will leave and get any sleep until you talk to them yourself."

Her granddaughter looked over at the door, then back at Cameron who was asleep, if somewhat fitfully. "You promise you'll stay with him?"

"I'll be here until you get back," she promised.

"Okay," Elizabeth nodded, still a little hesitant. "I guess I should talk to Jason and Lucky. Can...can you sing to him? He's always liked it when someone sang to him."

Audrey smiled as she nodded, "I will, sweetheart. Of course I will."

Elizabeth closed the door and blinked in the bright light of the hallway after emerging from Cameron's darkened room. Her muscles were stiff from barely moving in the four hours since they moved him up from the ER. She stretched briefly and then looked up at Lucky and Jason. They were looking at her anxiously, but trying to not crowd her too soon and let her come to them.

Smiling fleetingly she took a step forward, "Gram said you were still here. I'm sorry...I didn't even think..."

"It's okay," Lucky shook his head. "We're concerned about Cameron and you."

"I have my baby back," she said, her voice turning husky, practically a perpetual state for it since her arrival. She looked over at Jason. "You found him? I didn't even know you were looking for him. Thank you... I just..."

"You're welcome," he said softly. "How's Cameron doing?"

"He's...very sick," her shoulders drooped as she answered. "He's on oxygen because he's got a lot of fluid in his lungs and he's having a hard time breathing."

"I'm sorry," he sighed heavily.

"Jason," she said, her throat now burning with emotion. "I just...I didn't know you were looking for him. Why?"

"I...I remembered when Michael was kidnapped. I didn't want you to hurt that way." He paused and looking down, rubbing his hand over his mouth. "Elizabeth, you should know who had him."

"Who?" she asked, a twisting knot entering her stomach. She'd been so focused on having Cameron back and making sure he was on the medication he needed to get better and just holding him that she hadn't really thought much about who had taken him. But as Jason mentioned the subject, as she took in his obvious discomfort, a sick feeling began to flood her body. "Wh-who had him?"

He swallowed thickly. "Sam. She had him in one of our safe houses."

The knot turned to ice and spread through her instantly along with a wave of nausea. She knew why he was here. Why he wanted to talk to her. She stepped back and her eyes were flat when she looked at him. "You... Sam had him?"

He nodded. "I...I had no idea, Elizabeth. I am so sorry."

"And so want me to forgive her? Not press charges against her?" she asked. "You're unbelievable."


"I give you credit, and I thank you for telling me. Unlike trying to hide it from me when Courtney ran me down and blinded me."

He blanched and shook his head. "That wasn't what-"

"Are you going to cover this up too?" she asked. "Going to find someone to confess to this, like someone confessed to stealing Courtney's car?"

"Elizabeth," Jason shook his head, his eyes wide.

"I forgave Courtney, but I can't forgive Sam," she spat at him, her voice rising slightly as her eyes spilled over with tears. "I forgave Courtney because it happened to me and I knew it would hurt you to send your fiancée to jail. But...but you can't ask me to forgive Sam."

"That's not what I'm doing."

"She kidnapped Cameron. She took my baby," she wailed, her arms wrapping around her middle where she'd carried him for nine months. "He's in there fighting for his life because she got him sick. Don't you dare...don't you dare ask me to forgive her or turn the other cheek."

Lucky touched her arm, but Elizabeth was only focused on Jason who stood there, his face masking over because she wouldn't capitulate to his wants. "Get out of here, Jason. Don't ask me to do this and if that's all you're here for then get out of my sight."

His mouth opened, but he said nothing. Closing his mouth he turned and walked away without a glance at her. She crossed her arms over chest, shaking and breathing harshly through her tears, hurt that he would even consider asking her to forgive Sam or not press charges against her."

"Elizabeth," Lucky began.

"Don't," she snapped as she stalked away from him. "I cannot believe him. I...she took my son. His...whatever she is kidnaps my son and he comes here to protect her just like he did when Courtney blinded me."

"Elizabeth, that's not true."

She turned and pointed a finger at him. "Don't you dare try to defend him to me. I don't want to hear his name right now."

"Okay," he said, his arms held harmlessly out to the side. "Okay. Come here. I won't..."

She took a deep breath and let it out on a sigh as Lucky walked up to her and wrapped his arms around her, giving her comfort and strength. "Thank you, Lucky. Thank you for driving me down here and staying. But you can go home, now. There's no need for you to just stand here. I...I just want to be near Cameron, to touch him, to let him know that I'm there, that his mommy's there."

"I don't mind staying, Elizabeth," he said.

She shook her head and tightened her arms around him. "Get some sleep, Lucky. Someone should at least be able to tonight. We're just going to be watching him to see if the antibiotics start to work."

He gave her a smile and asked, "Is it okay if I come back later to see how he's doing?"

"Yeah," she said with a nod. "That...that'd be okay."

"Alright," he said. "Maybe I'll even bring you something from Kelly's. The food in the cafeteria sucks."

"Thank you, Lucky," she told him. He gave her another hug and then slowly released her before heading towards the elevators.

She stood in the hallway after he was gone, leaning against the wall as she sighed. She headed down to the bathroom where she splashed some cool water on her face and tried to stop shaking with anger and resentment before she went back to Cameron. Determined to put all thoughts of Jason out of her head, she dried off her hands and then headed back to her son's room. He was the only thing that mattered right now and the only person she was going to spend her energy on.

Jason walked towards the door after hearing a knock while he was upstairs, still tucking in his shirt as he stepped off the stairs. He'd slept for a little bit after arriving home from the hospital, and after playing endless games of pool and drinking several beers. He knew that Elizabeth was worried about Cameron, and hurt after finding out Sam was the one who'd taken him, but her accusations still stung. He knew that he'd hurt her in the past, especially with the situation with Courtney hitting her. He really hadn't given too much thought to Elizabeth. While he'd been concerned about her he'd been more concerned making sure Courtney was protected. And then he'd only given Elizabeth a cursory thank you for not pressing charges, even though she was still blind then and they had no idea if she'd ever see again.

He could understand why she'd assume that he'd do the same for Sam. After all, he'd moved her into his house, claimed her baby as his own to protect Sonny's family and was still planning to help raise the baby after the truth came out. And after Adella's death he still let her stay at the penthouse. He could see where Elizabeth would reach her conclusions, but it still hurt that she automatically mistrusted his motives and wouldn't let him explain.

Opening the door he encountered Sonny on the other side and he sighed. "Hey, Sonny."

"You busy?"

He shook his head and let his friend come in, "No. I was just getting out of the shower."

"I figured you'd be at the hospital," Sonny said, walking over near the fireplace.

"Elizabeth asked me to leave," he said, his voice flat. He sat down in his desk chair and ignored Sonny's questioning look at his pronouncement.

"How is she? How's Cameron?"

"There's been no change since I talked to you while you were at the police station, as far as I know. They're hoping the antibiotics start to work."

Sonny put his hands in his pockets and the room fell silent until the other man shifted and spoke again. "Are you going to ask about Sam?"

"No," Jason answered simply. "But I'll listen if you need to talk."

"How can you not be concerned?" his friend asked.

"Because she lied to us. She kidnapped Elizabeth's son, after Elizabeth helped her and was a friend to her after Adella's death," he answered. And then his voice hardened. "And I remember when Michael was kidnapped and how everyone felt sorry for Tony Jones and testified on his behalf. I won't do that to Elizabeth."

"I...I saw the house in Overton," Sonny said, sitting down on the couch and twining his fingers together between his knees. "I talked with Sam...she sounds sick, Jason."

"That's what some people said about Tony. That he was hurt Michael wasn't his and he deserved help, not punishment."

"So you want her punished?" Sonny peered at him.

"Yes," he said plainly. "And so does Elizabeth. She deserves it."

"Who deserves it? Sam? Or Elizabeth?"

"Both. Elizabeth deserves to see the person punished who hurt her and her son. And Sam...Sam deserves-"

"To go to jail?" the other man demanded harshly.

There were times Jason felt that she deserved to disappear but instead said, "Or Ferncliff. She kidnapped a baby, Sonny. She dressed up like Elizabeth, hid in one of our safe houses, told an elaborate lie of going to Hawaii so we wouldn't suspect her. It wasn't like she just randomly stumbled onto Cameron and decided on a whim to grab him. She planned this out, Sonny. If she had done that to Morgan would you still be defending her?"

"Who said I'm defending her?"

"Sam was wrong, Sonny," he said simply and forcefully and felt a vein throb in his temple when the older man shook his head. "And Elizabeth doesn't deserve you protecting her son's kidnapper."

"So I'm betraying Elizabeth if I hire a lawyer for Sam?" Sonny pressed angrily.

"It is betrayal if you try to bribe the judge and get Sam cleared of the charges. Get her sent to Ferncliff if you think she needs help."

Jason stood and reached for his jacket and keys. He was done with the conversation and he wasn't going to argue with Sonny because he knew neither of them was going to change their minds. He'd seen Sam and he'd seen Elizabeth. Sonny hadn't seen the distraught mother, hadn't seen the relief on her face when she rushed into the ER with Lucky knowing her son was finally found after missing for over three weeks. Sonny hadn't seen her pain, all he saw was the woman who had lost his baby and he felt the need to still help her. Well, Jason wasn't going to forget Elizabeth and especially Cameron, and he was going to make sure that they were looked out for.

Sonny stood as well and demanded, "Where are you going?"

"I'm going to the police station," he said, "to give my statement."

"Against Sam?"

He opened the door and turned back to look at Sonny, knowing that this wasn't going to be easy for their relationship. "Yes."

The uncle and brother in Steven winced as Cameron began coughing again. The little boy immediately began to gag and Elizabeth held him up, while Steven began to suction him. His nephew continued to gag, even though he could see he was removing the mucus from Cameron's throat that the coughing was bringing up. It was a painful process to him as someone who loved the little boy, even though the doctor in him knew it was the best chance of helping him get better. Eventually the cough subsided and he and Elizabeth breathed out in relief.

He watched as his sister began to rearrange Cameron in his bed, soothing him with her soft touch and words. She replaced the non-rebreather mask, brushing her fingers lovingly against his cheek. Steven disposed of the mucus, and then moved over to his nephew and carefully pulled the blanket aside. He was distressed when he noticed a pale blue tint now showing in Cameron's toes.


He looked up at Elizabeth and could read the worried question in her eyes. He knew he couldn't keep the truth from her; Elizabeth had enough training that she knew what to look for and what the consequences were. "His toes are starting to turn blue."

Her large blue eyes darkened, and then filled once more with tears. "He's not getting enough oxygen. Can we increase it?"

"He's on pure oxygen now," he shook his head. "We just have to keep doing what we're doing. I know it's tough, Elizabeth."

"What about another antibiotic?" she asked, her voice tinged with desperation, even as she smoothed her hand gently over Cameron's forehead. "His fever's still so high."

Steven sighed heavily as he leaned on the crib and brushed his fingers over Cameron's cheek. "I know, but he hasn't even been on the ampicilian twenty-four hours yet. We have to give it a little more time."

Elizabeth closed her eyes as she rested her cheek on her arms laying on the edge of the crib. "I hate waiting. I hate seeing him like this."

"I know, I hate it too." He reached across the crib and squeezed his sister's arm. "But I promise you, Elizabeth, that we will do everything we can for him."

He just hoped that it turned out to be enough.

Chapter 9

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Audrey rubbed her eyes that burned with fatigue and emotion, then closed them in an attempt to soothe them. She stretched her cramped, aching muscles and turned for the sound that had woken her. Steven stood over Cameron's crib, his stethoscope pressed to the little boy's chest. She stood and he looked over his shoulder, pressing a finger to his lips while tipping his head over to the side.

Elizabeth was asleep in a lumpy chair; her head pitched painfully leaning towards her shoulder. Audrey sighed softly and walked quietly to join Steven, grateful that her granddaughter was finally sleeping. She hadn't slept at all since she'd arrived at the hospital; almost afraid to close her eyes for fear Cameron would be gone once more when she opened them. It was understandable, but Audrey knew she wouldn't be able to keep going like that.

The sleeplessness that had plagued Elizabeth since Cameron's disappearance had taken its toll on the young mother. She was thinner, paler, and utterly exhausted. Steven and Audrey had tried to get her to sleep last night, but she'd refused even though her eyes were red and bloodshot. Stepping up beside her grandson, Audrey spoke softly. "How long has she been asleep?"

"A little over an hour," he said as he draped the stethoscope around his neck.

"Have you slept any?" she then asked.

"I got a couple of hours in the on-call room."

She turned and smoothed her hand over Cameron's soft brown hair, and knew just by touch that his fever was still high. "How's he doing?"

Steven's heavy, weary sigh said it all. "There's been no improvement. I was hoping we'd see some progress by now."

"He's getting worse, isn't he?" he said with trepidation in her voice. All her years of nursing were telling her what her grandmother's heart hoped wasn't true.

"He is," her grandson admitted painfully. "His cough is worse. We've been suctioning him, but there's no improvement. And his fever has actually gone up."

"What are you going to do?"

"We'll go to forty-eight hours on the ampicilian, and then we'll try something different. In the meantime," he shrugged looking briefly like a lost little boy, "we wait, we hope, and we pray."

"I'm already doing that," she said, her voice thick once again with emotion.

She looked down at Cameron, and then over at Elizabeth. Dark smudges stood out sharply on her granddaughter's pale skin and her heart broke further. Audrey hoped that for Elizabeth's sake, and for the sake of all of them, that Cameron began to show signs of improvement soon.

The door opened slowly and she and Steven turned to look at the new arrival. Bobbie Spencer poked her head into the room and raised her brows questioningly. "Audrey?"

She nodded in answer to her friend's unasked question and patted Steven on the arm. Bobbie disappeared through the door and was waiting for her when Audrey stepped out into the hall. "Hello, Bobbie."

Looking over at Lucky standing to the side she smiled, "Hello, Lucky."

"Mrs. Hardy."

"Lucky didn't want to disturb your family, but he was wondering how Cameron and Elizabeth were doing. We both are."

"Elizabeth is finally asleep," Audrey breathed out. "And Cameron...there's been no improvement."

"His cough?" Bobbie asked in concern.

She paused, then said, "It's getting worse. We're hoping the medicine begins working soon."

Lucky stepped forward a bit hesitantly. "I need to head into the station. Can you tell Elizabeth I stopped by?"

"Of course," she nodded with a smile.

He held out a bag from Kelly's. "I brought her a muffin and a fruit bowl. I didn't want to get anything hot in case she wasn't able to eat it right away."

"Thank you," she said, her smile turning watery, touched by the young man's thoughtfulness about Elizabeth.

"I should go," he said. "Thank you, Aunt Bobbie."

"Lucky," Audrey said, causing the officer to stop. "Can I ask...what's happening with Sam McCall?"

His face darkened with a scowl. "She's been arrested for kidnapping and child endangerment. She's being arraigned this morning."

"And Jason Morgan?" she asked. She'd heard Elizabeth's anger towards the other man yesterday morning and wondered what the mobster's plans were and whether he really had come to ask Elizabeth not to press charges. It was possible he had, but if Audrey were honest with herself, it didn't seem to match with him staying at the hospital with a look of devastation on his face until he finally got the chance to see Elizabeth.

"He made a statement against her," Lucky told her. "He refused to see her when he was at the station."

They fell silent as they regarded each other and the implication of his words. Then she finally said, "Thank you again, Lucky. I'll tell Elizabeth you stopped by."

"Thank you," he nodded, then turned and headed towards the elevator.

Audrey looked over at her friend when Bobbie said, "Cameron and Elizabeth are in my prayers. If you guys need anything, you'll call me, right?"

Gratitude filled her as she assured her friend, "We will."

Lucky stepped out of the hospital into the chill morning air and turned for his car. He was surprised as he drew closer to see Jason Morgan waiting beside it. He stopped a few feet away and tucked his hands into the pockets of his jacket. "Jason?"

The other man looked up, his eyes tired and his face unshaven. "Lucky."

"What are you doing here?"

Jason ignored the question and asked one of his own. "Did you see Elizabeth this morning?"

He shook his head. "She was asleep. I spoke with Mrs. Hardy."

Jason just swallowed and looked down. "Did...did she say how Cameron was?"

"He's not getting better...yet," he said reluctantly. He refused to give up hope. "They're hoping, but his cough is worse and my Aunt Bobbie and Mrs. Hardy both looked worried."

Jason sighed and leaned back against the car, swearing low under his breath. Lucky shifted on his feet. "Were you going to go up and see her?"

He shook his head. "She doesn't want to see me."

Lucky remembered Elizabeth's emotional explosion at Jason, lashing out at him so certain he was there to protect Sam and not help her. He understood her rush to think that; Jason sure hadn't turned out to be the great man she had constantly claimed he was back when he was coming between Lucky and Elizabeth. But Lucky knew that his friend's angry outburst was actually not warranted this time. And he inexplicably found himself saying, "She was just angry, Jason. She was frightened and worried. She really didn't mean it."

"I know," he sighed. "But I just don't want to upset her any further. It's's better if I stay away right now."

"I can tell her," Lucky said. "About Sam."

Jason shook his head. "She's got enough to worry about. Don't bother her with this, it's not important."

It was a moment before Lucky said, "She'll realize you were helping her, and she'll apologize. She never seems to remain mad at you."

The other man quirked his brow in question at the slight bitterness that had crept into Lucky's voice. But he shook his head. "Look, can you do me a favor? Just...look out for her. If she needs anything, you can call me."

"I will," he nodded. "And you can call me to find out how she and Cameron are doing."

Jason paused for a moment, then nodded once and turned. He left without a goodbye, leaving Lucky slightly bewildered by the conversation that just took place. Had he really just offered to defend Jason to Elizabeth?

Steven sighed through his frown as he gazed at Cameron's chart. Setting it down, he moved over to the crib where his nephew lay and gently shifted the blanket away. The blue tint in his toes was more pronounced, and it had appeared in his fingers as well. He just wasn't getting enough oxygen.

They were still suctioning mucus every time he coughed, but it didn't seem to be making a difference. And it was worrisome that the little boy was no longer even gagging around the device. That was never a good sign. He knew when Elizabeth got back from the break room where their grandmother had convinced her to take a quick shower, that he was going to have to suggest what he'd hope they could avoid. They were going to have to talk about the possibility of putting Cameron on a respirator. Steven was still hoping his nephew would show signs of improvement, but the realistic, medically trained part of him knew they might have to put him on one within the next day. Or even sooner.

If his extremities continued to turn blue, if he couldn't clear the mucus away, even with their help, they'd have to do something. And Steven knew if they put him on a respirator, there was the chance he'd never go off it. Until he died, that was. That was the part that was killing the doctor the most, watching and knowing his sister's son was slowly dying because his little body was just too weak and sick.

"Come on, Cameron," he said softly in the quiet room. "You have to fight this. You really need to get better. I...I'll tell you a secret. I bought you a ball and glove for Christmas. I was going to start you young. We'd toss the ball around; I'd try to keep you from slobbering all over it. Doesn't that sound fun?"

He looked down, blinking rapidly as his eyes filled with tears. "We want you to get better, Cameron. Your mom...your mom most of all. She loves you so much...I don't know that she could handle losing you again."

He heard the soft click of the door handle before the door slowly swung open. Swiping his hand over his face, he rapidly tried to compose himself before Elizabeth saw him. She was worried enough, she didn't need to see his tears and sense his fears.

"Steven?" Her voice was soft and he could smell her shampoo as she got closer. "How's he doing?"

He looked up, trying to keep the gravity out of his eyes and knowing he was failing. "We...we should probably talk, Elizabeth."

Elizabeth once thought that being sick in the middle of the night in the hospital was a horrible experience. Visiting hours ended before a person was tired enough to fall asleep; nurses came in during the middle of the night never letting one forget where they were. In the long, dark hours, her mind would get stuck on the pain, or the injury, and she'd wish morning would come quickly.

She now knew she had been wrong. The worst thing in the world was being a parent, sitting beside her sick child at night. Cameron was sleeping, even if it was fitfully, and she found herself unable to stop watching him. She watched to make sure he was breathing, that his chest actually was moving, because it was becoming harder to tell.

It was just her in the room with Cameron right now, and the quiet was pressing on her. Steven had gone down to try and grab some dinner before the grill closed, and her gram was asleep in the break room, her hip aching from sleeping in a chair too long she'd needed a bed. Elizabeth carefully gathering Cameron in her arms, mindful of everything attached to him and sat down. She touched her finger to his hand, and smiled when he instinctively wrapped his own fingers around it.

"Hey, Cam. I need you to listen to Mommy, okay? I need you to know that I love you and I...I really need you to get better. Please...please can you do that for me?"

She sat there, sniffling as she held her son as close as she could. She knew that if he didn't improve they'd have to put him on a respirator, and she really hoped that wouldn't become necessary. Because she knew it would the ultimate symbol that he wasn't getting better. As long as he was off it, she could hope.

The door opened softly and Steven stepped inside. He gave her a brief smile and held up a covered plate. "I brought you some dinner."


He set it down on the table on the side of the room and came over to her. "Are you okay?"

"I just wanted to hold him while I could."

"There's always hope, Elizabeth," he said, and she nodded even though she didn't feel hopeful. All she felt was sinking dread.

"Here," her brother said as he reached for Cameron. "Let me put him back in his crib. Why don't you eat?"

She shook her head. "I'm not hungry."

"Go take a walk then, Elizabeth. You need to take care of yourself. You need to just take five minutes for yourself. Consider it a doctor's order."

She bristled, but knew he was only trying to help and so she tried to tease him to show she wasn't really angry. "More like a pushy big brother."

"I'm just trying to look out for you," he said and she nodded because she knew. "So grab the food and just go sit in the hallway for five minutes. But I'd be happier if you took a little walk."

"Okay," she said grudgingly. "Five minutes."

She walked out into the hallway, and leaned against the wall. The lights were bright and she rubbed her eyes tiredly. She knew Steven meant well, but she hated being apart from Cameron. He'd been missing for three weeks and now he was so sick she was afraid she'd only gotten him back just to lose him again.

After a long four-and-a-half minutes, she stood and walked back into Cameron's room. Steven looked up and she arched her brow as if daring him to say something, especially when she held up the plate to show him she'd eaten a little. "Feel better?" he asked.

"Not really," she said honestly. "I don't like being away from him."

"I know, Elizabeth, but you've got to take care of yourself."


She stopped suddenly when the heart monitor's alarm sounded, and then the steady beep of a flat line filed the air. She stared in horror, frozen to the spot as she realized Cameron's heart has stopped. Steven sprang into action, but everything seemed to moving in slow-motion. But there was no mistaking the dire situation when Steven opened the door and yelled, "Code Blue! We need a crash cart!"

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