September 2009 I hosted the SpoilerFree thread at Road to Nowhere. Due to the abysmal state of the show, I came up with a daily prompt to hopefully create a fun diversion, and spark talk of Jason and Elizabeth beyond displeasure at what was happening on screen. Since travel books and talk of traveling have been important to the couple since Jason stayed at her studio in 1999, I chose to make the month a travelogue. Based on the letter posted each day, the hope was to have Jason and Elizabeth travel to countries, cities, places that began with that letter. Alternate Universe, Alternate Reality, historical, future, with children, without...there were no limitations.

I wanted to post my stories that I wrote that month, simply because I had fun doing them. They're rough, even more free-flowing and unedited than FlashFics. I tried to clean up the spelling, but didn't really change much in the stories. I'm posting the stories in the order I posted the letters - not in alphabetical order.

I hope you'll enjoy these in the spirit they were meant, and enjoy the wonderful banner that Pam created to let people know about the happenings in the thread. She graciously said I could use it here.

M: Madagascar   P: Paraguay   H: Hungary  K: Kiev  S: Switzerland   L: Limon, Costa Rica   R: Rotterdam, Netherlands   V: Venice  
B: Baltimore   T: Trinidad and Tobago   C: Catalina Mountains, Arizona   U: Uzbekistan   G: Gretna Green, Scotland   A: Adriatic Sea  
J: Jamestown, North Dakota   O: Oak Creek Canyon, AZ   X: X Marks the Spot   I: Iceland   F: Fiji   N: Nashville, Arkasans
New - Y: Yipsilanti, Michigan   E: England   W: Walla Walla, Washington   Q and D: Dairy Queen   Z: Zion National Park


I wrote this as I was easing back into writing for Liason after some issues of the summer, I was slightly bitter, although I tried to not be over-the-top.

Sadly, Jason got back together with Sam after Mexico and they were together for a while until the inevitable happened. She got clingy and demanding, he had to work and wasn't always there, she got upset that she wasn't number one in his life, she lashed out, slept with his enemy and this time gave him inside information. Jason dumped her and left Port Charles. Sonny and Carly knew it would come, it's his M.O. to disappear when he gets hurt, but they honestly expected it to happen years before when Elizabeth Webber packed up her two boys and left. Nobody knows where she went and they half-expected Jason to go search for his son, but he never did. But that's when he started pulling away from Sam even though he was still with her, and that's why Sam grew increasingly desperate.'s some time after he left and Jason's traveled here, there and everywhere. He's not kept in contact with anybody. When Elizabeth left, he did a cursory check and discovered she accessed the account he set up for her and the boys, but kept telling himself that it was better that she was gone. She would be safe, the boys would have a good life, and so he stayed with Sam because he really convinced himself it was for the best. He never looked for Elizabeth and the boys.

He traveled around Africa, taking a safari, going to Egypt and climbing the pyramids again, thinking about Michael and all they tried to do for the boy only to have him do something stupid and get himself killed because he wanted to be just like his father and throw his weight around. He thinks about Cameron and Jake and wonders what they're doing and wonders if Elizabeth moved to Italy like was always her dream. After spending time in Africa he decides to go to Madagascar because he's never been there before.

As he's making his way through the towns and wildlife preserves, he one day sees a woman he swears looks like Elizabeth. But when he tries to get a closer look, she's gone. She's swallowed up in the crowd, everyone's speaking French, and he decides that it can't be Elizabeth. Days pass, he's in an area and he sees a group of people that look to be scientists, or researchers, studying some of the animals. There's a fairly young boy in the group in his early teens with curly hair who really reminds him of someone but he can't figure it out. The boy's speaking fluent French, talking with the researchers, and Jason decides he must be a child of one of the group members. As he starts to leave, he hears one of the group call the boy Cameron and he whips around. Now he realizes that it's Elizabeth's son and Jason stares.

He follows the boy, discovers the house they're living in and hangs around trying to catch a glimpse of the family. He sees Jake who's grown like a weed, his blonde hair almost shock-white and Jason's heart just clenches. He would have walked right by the boys and never known who they were. He sees Elizabeth coming and going from the house, but can't make himself move from his spot. He stays until after it's dark, the lights are out and just as he tells himself he has to leave, she bleeds out of the shadows and asks him what he's doing there. He wonders how she knew he was there and she replies that all this time later and he still thinks she's stupid; she's the mother of Jason Morgan's son...she's learned to be observant and cautious because someone, some day might figure out the truth and even though Jason's walked out of their lives, someone still might come after them. She's known he was there since he followed Cameron home from the reserve, she just wasn't going to disrupt the boys' evening because they don't remember him and she didn't want to upset them.

His heart hurts at her almost dismissive tone of him, a hardened edge that's enveloped her and wonders what's happened to them. He asks her how they ended up there and she says that Cameron is doing his college studies. Turns out her boys definitely did not get her brains...they've exceeded her. Cameron is studying a lot of sciences; biology, paleontology, archeology and they've done a lot of traveling for his research. Jake has apparently decided to follow in the family business, but he's not concentrating on just traditional medicine, he's in accelerated home study courses and will be graduating high school soon and every time they go some place for Cameron's studies, Jake spends time with the local indigenous groups and learns about their treatments and plants and non-traditional practices. She used the money he gave her to further her sons' educations so they could be whoever they wanted to be.

Jason is floored by how grown up the boys are and she says that all they had was each other and she read to them lots and one day she discovered them reading reference books in the library and realized they understood them. She's dedicated her life to helping them reach their full potential. When he asks about her, what is she doing, she says that she gave up on love and her interests long ago because she realized they were nothing more than stupid fairytales and broken dreams and her reality is watching her children. That hardness has become cynicism and bitterness, even though she lights up whenever she talks about Cameron and Jake.

Even though he's afraid to, he asks if he did this to her. With stinging bluntness she says that normally she'd tell him to get over himself and realize that not everything is about him and he's not responsible for the whole world, but in this instance, yes, he did this to her. Then she tells him to go home and leave them alone. He can find out about Cameron and Jake the way the rest of the world will, through their accomplishments that will be written up in newspapers and magazines and scientific journals. He's not wanted, he's not welcome and they'll keep on doing what they've done ever since he walked away from everything they were offering him. They'll survive, and they'll succeed.

Then she walks back to her house and Jason stands there on the street watching her. He decides that he's not going to leave Madagascar. He's going to learn about his family and all they've accomplished and he's going to work on getting to know them...all of them; he will not give up just because Elizabeth told him to go away. The only way he's leaving is when they do.


Jason has never liked having to travel to South America on business, but some matters are sensitive and have to be handled in person so he goes. Mob bosses do not go themselves unless they want to, and Sonny never does, so he sends Jason. The nice thing is that Sonny always allows Jason some time off afterwards to travel around.

This time Jason spent some time in Argentina and then traveled north to Paraguay. While going off the beaten path with a local guide, he comes across a Doctors Without Borders settlement and is surprised when he recognizes one of the people there. He'd always wondered where she'd gone after she left Port Charles. She'd been so sad and lost when he met her that night in Jakes and they talked about why they were there. He knew she was Emily's friend, and remembered her from the night the garage burned down and Lucky was killed, but he'd never really talked to her until that night. He understood her hurt and emptiness, and he found someone to talk to who didn't judge him or demand things from him and he could explain how it hurt to give up Michael. They went for a few motorcycle rides, but her grandmother Audrey Hardy had never approved of their interaction. After Elizabeth moved out and into the studio near the docks to take care of Jason after he'd been shot, Audrey must have called Elizabeth's parents, because one day Elizabeth was in town, the next she was gone.

He doesn't know if she'd remember him, and he didn't want to disrupt her work, but he didn't have to worry about any of that when she looked up, saw him and promptly walked out of the tent she was folding laundry in and smiled at him. They talked, awkwardly at first, but soon were at ease again. She talked about hating things at first, but discovered that for as much as she'd badmouthed medicine, she did like helping people. Maybe it was the nursing she'd done that December. She got a degree and spends her time helping. Away from her parents. That relationship will probably never fully repair itself since they forced her to leave against her will and then hid her passport to keep her from coming back home. She would have come back to Port Charles, she tells him, because she missed him.

They spend hours talking, reconnecting and Jason finds it hard to believe she'd been gone for years. They'd only been friends for a couple of months, but maybe it was true...when someone finds you, drags you out of the snow, forces you to live and drink gallons of soup, friends just doesn't explain what they are.


"I don't want to be free; I want Lucky."

Every time Elizabeth heard her voice echo through her head, all she could do was cringe at her stupidity. She was offered a chance to escape from the pressures and trappings of Port Charles by a man she genuinely liked, could possibly even come to love, and she'd blindly turned him down. She went on with her life doing everything that was expected of her and if it hadn't been for Gia - her former blackmailer - finally having the guts to stand up and tell her that Lucky didn't love her and was only marrying her out of pity, she would have been Mrs. Lucky Spencer. The thought still made her shudder.

Thankfully, she didn't get married, and with Gia's courage bolstering her own, she decided that she no longer was going to stick around Port Charles. She spun a globe, picked a spot, applied to foreign colleges and programs and she was pretty sure someone pulled some strings for her - perhaps Nikolas out of guilt for not speaking up sooner, perhaps Sonny in one last discharge of looking out for her for Jason - she found herself in Hungary at the start of term to study art and art history.

At first she was daunted and intimidated; it's hard not to feel insignificant living in a country that traces its modern day origins back to the 900s. Never had she felt like such the backward American, but in time she came to truly love and embrace the country. Budapest was beautiful and she spent many hours walking through the town, admiring the architecture and the history. She came to fully embrace the spa culture fed by the thermal waters and went to a public bath near her apartment several times a week. The language was difficult to learn since it held little in common with the more well-known European languages, but with total immersion and shock culture, she's made great headway. She still stumbled even after living there for over a year-and-a-half, but she loves to delight Emily by speaking to her from the back of her throat and sounding like she's got a bit of phlegm.

Emily and her Grams are really her own links to her life before. She gets updates on people she knew, but she knows that even when her studies are over she's not going to return home. She likes it here, she likes being independent and not known as Lucky Spencer's ex-girlfriend, or dealing with Carly who still thinks that somehow Elizabeth is the reason Jason left town. She doesn't stop Emily from talking about her brother, but she doesn't really ask about him, either. Even though she tells herself that her leaving had nothing to do with Jason, she also knows that it was his belief in her that gave her the final courage to leave everyone behind and pursue her dreams. Emily doesn't say if he asks about her, and Elizabeth doesn't ask; she's just happy when she knows he's alive and safe. Wherever he is.

As she walks back to her apartment one evening after a long day of studies and a relaxing time at the bath, she tenses when she sees a man lurking in the doorway to her building. She slows, looks in the windows of the shops along the street and watches the man out of the corner of her eye. She's not going to approach the entryway when he's standing there; who knows if he's a thief, an ex-boyfriend of one of the tenants or why he's standing there instead of actually going into the building. She's debating asking one of the delivery boys from one of the shops to accompany her to the door when the man turns and she gasps. Her feet engage before her head does and she's soon mere feet away from him as she asks, "Jason? What are you doing here?"

"I was talking to Emily yesterday and asking her where I should go now that I'd explored the Black Sea area and she said I should head to Hungary and visit you." As she gapes at him in shock and wonders at the audacity of her friend, he looks at her quizzically and says, "I think there's a lot we need to catch up because until Emily told me yesterday, I thought you were still back in Port Charles."


One of the side effects of the accident that killed Jason Quartermaine and birthed Jason Morgan was the fact that he didn't feel cold. He wore a jacket simply to protect his skin from the effects of the weather, but he didn't need it to keep him warm. That, however, was not the case as he walked the streets of Kiev in the middle of February. Today, he was cold.

The city was beautifuly dusted with snow, and the Dnieper River was crusted with ice, choking the port, but Jason was not interested in sightseeing. He wanted to complete the business meeting, expanding their holdings into the former Soviet territory, and get back to Port Charles. It might be winter there as well, but somehow he doubted it would be as cold as it was here. The average high was rarely above freezing in February, but the five days he'd been here had seen near record lows of temperatures in the negative teens. All he needed to do was meet one last time with their new partner, sign the contracts and then he could head to Boryspil Airport and head home.

However, his plans were blown out of the water when he crossed the street from his hotel to head to the office building where the contracts were waiting. With his collar turned up and his head down, he was hurrying towards his destination when he heard a woman scream. It was not a shriek of delight or a woman arguing with her boyfriend; it was a desperate plea for help. Instantly his head whipped up and he scanned the area, trying to determine where the sound came from. His question was answered when a petite brunette dressed in a fur coat that was too large for her and wasn't buttoned up against the cold shot out from a passageway between two buildings. Her movements were desperate and he was the nearest person to her.

Spotting him, she ran towards him and just as he was about to ask her what was wrong, she stumbled and fell against him, clutching his jacket to keep herself standing. Looking up at him with deep, frightened blue eyes she gasped out, "You have to help me. Helena Cassadine is trying to kill me."


Her ex-husband was a bastard. Actually...he wasn't her ex-husband and that made him doubly a bastard. She wanted him to be her ex-husband, she'd hired a lawyer and had the papers sent to him, and he sent them back unsigned. And along with the papers was a note saying that he refused to sign them, but to facilitate her separation from him he set up a nice account for her in Zurich. She sent him back a note stating it would be a cold day in Hell before she ever took a dime from him.

So, really, it was appropriate that it was the middle of the winter and she was flying into Switzerland to access the funds. The fact that he had set it up so that she had to come to the Zurich branch in person was another reason why she was cursing her miserable excuse for a husband. Could she access it from somewhere else and have the funds wired into her personal account? Oh, no. No...she had to travel all the way to the branch in Zurich, speak to the branch manager himself - setting up an appointment ahead of time - if she ever wanted the money. She had tried to get by without the money; after all, she had stock before she got married. She had a trust fund that she'd invested wisely; no sounds-to-good-to-be-true-and-are-really-Ponzi-schemes investments, no wild speculation in the hopes of tripling her money in two months' time. The majority of her stocks were Blue Chip; solid, long term investments that might fluctuate with the market but would ultimately pay off high dividends.

Unfortunately, the recent financial unrest had really put a dent in her portfolio. She was still okay, had savings and CDs and could live mostly off the interest without dipping into the principal...especially if she cut back on the truly frivolous things and accepted that everybody had to tighten their belts a bit and weather the financial storm. She would have been fine...had the cough not become worse, had the x-rays not shown a spot, had the tests not come back as cancer. Then tightening her belt no longer applied. There were treatments to pursue and doctors to see and there was no amount of money she wouldn't spend, no place she wouldn't go, no doctor she wouldn't fall down on her knees and beg for an appointment. That took money, and she had sold what she could, given up what she deemed wasn't essential, and when it still wasn't enough, she decided that she had to go to Zurich.

She wore her finest suit for her meeting with the manager, and since she'd been living in nothing but sweats and lounge wear for months, she hadn't realized just how much weight she'd lost. Her finely tailored clothes hung off her already lithe frame that would soon look emaciated. All it took was a few tucks, a well-placed belt and hopefully the effects wouldn't be too noticeable. The manager probably would have never even known...had she not walked into his office and seen her husband there. Her eyebrow lifted as she realized that the reason for the personal appearance and advanced notification were so that he could be alerted and meet her there.

The bastard.

She glared at him across the room, and her fury briefly flitted towards the manager when the elderly gentleman excused himself from the room and left the estranged couple alone. She crossed her arms over her chest and refused to speak. He set up this little meeting...he would have to say something. He couldn't just stare at her in horror with his artic blue eyes.

"E-Elizabeth?" his voice whispered through the room. "What...what's happened? What's wrong with you?"

"Nothing is wrong with me," she denied.

He took a step towards her, his jaw firming and retorted, "It doesn't look like nothing. You look like a stiff breeze would knock you down. I remember how you used to fill out that suit and despite your obvious attempts to make it better it practically hangs off you because of all the weight you've lost. What's wrong?"

"And why would you even care?" she flung at him.

Her husband's eyes narrowed and he said, "Because despite what you may think of me, Elizabeth, I do love you. I didn't want you to leave, I didn't want a divorce, I refused to sign the divorce papers. I haven't given you any abandonment - that'd be you. No alienation of affection - again, that'd be you."

"How about 'irreconcilable differences', Jason?" she hissed at him. "How about the fact that you think my son's a bastard and I heard you arguing with your best friend telling him that you were sick of this whole situation and you weren't going to get stuck raising another bastard? Cameron is just a little boy and you can' can't blame him for his parents' actions...he's-"

Her breath caught in her throat and she tried to choke back a sob but it escaped, "He's innocent and he's pure and he...and he doesn't deserve..."

"I know he is," Jason said, his voice strained and thick. "He wasn't who I was talking about and I tried to explain to you...I was arguing with Sonny because he got another woman pregnant and he wanted me to divorce you and ditch Cameron so I could marry the woman who was carrying his child. He was demanding that I abandon my family and clean up one of his messes once again and I told him I wasn't going to do it."

She stared at him, wanting so much to believe him but not knowing if she could. He stepped closer to her and wrapped his arms around him, not letting go even when she stiffened and fought against him. "Where is he, Elizabeth? What's wrong with him? What have the doctors said?"

"It's cancer," she whispered against his chest, tears streaming down his face. "That's why I came for the money...I was never going to touch it but it's for Cameron."

"It's okay," he soothed her, his hand brushing over her hair. "It's okay. He's going to be okay. He's going to be okay because you're his mother and you will never stop fighting for him. You will never stop fighting for the doctors to find the treatment that will help him, the cure that will make him will never give up on him. And I won't either. I will never give up on Cameron...and I will never give up on you and he's going to make it, Elizabeth. We're all going to make it."

Limon, Costa Rica

Elizabeth always knew that her college roommate of four years came from a wealthy family. While Elizabeth wasn't poor trash from the trailer park, she certainly didn't compare to the adopted Quartermaine daughter. But because Emily had started out in humble beginnings the two girls got along famously and knew how to live well on college student rations. Granted, their furniture was a step up above salvaged from the curb, but they didn't live in fully furnished houses in the foothills like some of the snobs who came to college mostly because Mummy and Daddy forced them to and only got good enough grades to keep the gravy boat coming.

No, Emily and Elizabeth had worked hard, quizzed each other for midterms and finals and generously stayed awake to keep the other one going when papers needed to be finished at three A.M. When they finally graduated after four years of hard work, Elizabeth had been practically adopted into the Quartermaine family herself and so when Alan and Monica lovingly presented Emily with an all-expenses paid trip, a corresponding ticket and itinerary had been presented to Elizabeth as well. Emily would hear nothing of the two of them not getting jobs at the same company, and couldn't figure out how she got them interviews at Morgan Enterprises until after they were hired. That's when Elizabeth realized that Jason Morgan, CEO, was also Jase, Emily's brother. She felt disappointed at first, feeling like the only reason she'd gotten the job was because Emily's brother arranged it. But after working in her department for several months and being worked hard by an exacting boss who doled out praise sparingly but was genuine when it came, Elizabeth began to feel like maybe she had earned her job after all.

Still, there was no denying the perks of being connected to the CEO of the company when it finally came time to cash in their graduation gifts. Emily had decided that she wanted to travel to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, and wanted to go in October. That's when the region was a bit dryer so hopefully they wouldn't get rained on every day, and the green turtles would be nesting at Tortuguero National Park. They could explore the jungles, lagoons and canals, and see the endangered turtles perform their age old ritual. They would return to Puerto Limon for Carnival, a colorful, pulsating week of celebration to mark when Christopher Columbus landed and explored the coast. The area's Afro-Caribbean population, descendants of slaves brought over from Jamaica to build the railroad to San Jose and work the banana plantations, lent a colorful atmosphere to the region in an otherwise laid back country. Once Carnival was over they would travel south to Cahuita National Park where they would spend their time on fine, sandy beaches among coconut trees and could snorkel out on the coral reef or take a glass bottom boat tour. After spending nearly a month exploring the area and working on their tans, they'd head into the central valley, see a volcano or two and head home after Elizabeth's birthday.

It would be perfect, or so Emily declared. And for the most part it had been. The Ticos were friendly, the Limonese spoke a mixture of Creole and Spanish that was delightful to listen to, and the sights...were spectacular. Elizabeth had filled sketchbook after sketchbook and had found a reawakening of her art that she thought had long been buried after her parents told her to grow up, be serious and get a degree that she could actually support herself with because they weren't going to enable her freeloading butt forever. Emily certainly hadn't begrudged her rediscovered passion, and even suggested that they could turn a section of their house into a studio if she wanted to paint once they got back.

The only thing that bothered Elizabeth were the men that followed them everywhere. Emily didn't seem bothered by them, but Elizabeth didn't like the feeling of men going everywhere they went, more intent on watching them than on the amazing animal and nature displays. Her feelings didn't change once Emily explained to her that the men worked for her brother and their job wasn't to take in the sights, it was to keep them safe. Her brother was a powerful man who occasionally made some people mad with his business dealings and while he didn't mind giving them time off to enjoy themselves, he was not going to leave them unprotected for someone to come after them as a way to hurt him. Elizabeth began to wonder just who exactly it was that she worked for. She'd heard so many different stories about Jason Morgan that she wasn't quite sure which ones to believed and who he really was.

So when Emily got off the phone one day and said she had a surprise for her friend, her brother was going to meet up with them when they headed to Arenal Volcano National Park, Elizabeth was disgruntled for more than one reason. First of all, this was their vacation; why did big brother suddenly have to crash it? And she wasn't sure she really wanted to meet the owner of the company. She was content to work in her division, report to her boss and leave it at that. She didn't want to start hobnobbing with the boss. Besides, how could she work for the company or not hurt her friend's feelings if she found out that she didn't like the man, and not just the image?

All those thoughts flew out the window when Emily answered the knock on their hotel room and let him into their room. Instead of a stuffy, out-of-place business suit like A.J., Jason Morgan wore jeans and a t-shirt and motorcycle boots that were scuffed and worn - definitely not for show. His hair was spiky and short, not at all like the corporate haircut she'd imagined, and his eyes... Elizabeth could have a month's worth of fantasies just based on the look in his eyes, and she'd never repeat the same one twice. But when he shook her hand and smiled at her after Emily introduced them, Elizabeth decided she had a very big problem. She wasn't sure how she could continue to work for the man, or even be roommates with his sister, if he made her knees weak and her heart race with one simple brush of the palm. She'd be reduced to a quivering mass of embarrassed goo by the end of their week together, and she wasn't entirely sure she minded the thought.

Rotterdam, Netherlands (July 2010)

When she left Port Charles ten months ago, Elizabeth had no idea what she was doing at the time. What she'd do with her life, or what she'd even really do with her children. All she knew was she reached the decision that Port Charles was toxic for herself and her family and she was tired of the person who she was when she was there. There was no future for her with Lucky, she was in a destructive, downward spiral with Nikolas, and seeing Sam and Jason cuddling at the carnival in open, plain sight when she'd been shunted aside for the danger made Elizabeth decide that it was time for a do-over in her life. She could keep her friends, but she needed some distance. She needed some space, time, distance...whatever to put her life back on track and get her head on straight. She had two little boys that she needed to focus on, and it would be easier to do it without all the baggage of the past.

So she sold her house, combined that money with the five million Jason gave her, and set off to find herself and find a new place for her family. They traveled for a little while, but Cameron worried that unless they had an actual house, Santa wouldn't be able to find them for Christmas, so Elizabeth flipped a coin and ended up in a place in the English countryside. She got her accreditation to work as a part time nurse, concentrated on her family, and still took them traveling to give them experiences before they were tied down to a school schedule. Cameron still loved all things connected to transportation, so Elizabeth decided that they would head to Rotterdam which would be the starting point of the Tour de France that year.

They arrived early, mostly to avoid Lucky and Nikolas who had both talked about flying out to England to see them during the summer, and spent some time exploring the rich history of the city. While her sons didn't care that it had one time been a large, bustling port city home to one of the seats of the Dutch East India Company and was still the largest port in Europe or that in 1898 Europe's largest building at the time was completed in the city, they did like having their pictures taken by a dam knowing that they were below the level of the sea. They pretended to be little Dutch boys sticking their finger in a crack to hold back the water. She took her boys to museums to build a love of history and art in them, yet they also had fun. They went to the Euromast Tower and saw the panoramic view of the city, they shopped in open markets and Jake became fascinated with the Erasmusbrug Bridge that had earned the nickname of The Swan because of the distinctive bend to its main pylon.

They cheered the riders as the race started and the men made their way down the ramp and around the city in the first individual time trial of the three week long race. Cameron liked the colorful jerseys, the excited crowds, but Jake was very much his father's son and was more sober and watching in the midst of the hustle and bustle. As the race and fans moved on, Elizabeth took a couple more days with her boys before they'd leave to leapfrog ahead of the race and catch a couple of finishes before heading to Paris and the final day when the peloton would travel down the cobblestone streets of the Champs Elysees. They were returning to their hotel to check out when Jake went really still in her arms and Cameron tugged on her hand. Wondering what her boys had seen, she froze herself when she heard her name called.

As she turned, she wondered what he was doing there, and her eyes immediately scanned the area for a traveling companion she was sure would accompany him. Seeing nobody, she wondered if he was there on business, which made her clutch her children to her all the more. She had worked hard to put her old life behind her, the last thing she needed was a resurgence of danger speeches and worries that someone might actually think he cared about her. She waited for him to approach her, although she was determined that their conversation would be brief.

He smiled as he approached her hesitantly, and gazed in adoration at their son. He greeted Cameron when the little boy called his name excitedly. She didn't say anything until he finally looked up at her and said, "Hi, E-Elizabeth."

"What are you doing here?" she demanded of him.

"I...I saw you on the TV," he told her. When she frowned at him in confusion he explained, "The race. Morgan and Jax were watching it and Jax saw you and the boys at the start of the race and they taped it when it aired again and showed it to me. They let me know where you were."

"And so you flew all the way to the Netherlands because of that?" she said, uncertain of what his purpose in being here was all about.

"I wasn't going to give up my chance that you might still be here. I had Spinelli do a search and he found your itinerary and when it showed you were going to be here for a few days after the start, I got the jet and flew over here."

"So you're saying you had no idea where I was until Jax and Morgan saw us on TV?" When he looked down sheepishly she firmed her jaw and clutched her children to her tighter. "I never used an alias, Jason. I bought a house, I got certified to work as a nurse...I would have been easy to find before now. If someone had only bothered to look. Since you didn't, then I think we both know you didn't care where we'd gone to."

"That's not true, Elizabeth," he said softly, and she told herself not to give in to his gravelly voice. "I always cared."

"Unfortunately," she said, keeping her own voice soft. She didn't want to be hurtful to him simply out of spite and she didn't want to fight in front of her children. "I'm just not sure that I believe you. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say just because you showed up in Europe of all places."

"I just want the chance to talk," he said. "To see the boys and you and clear the air."

When she hesitated he said, "I know you're not sure, but give me a chance to talk."

"The boys and I have plans," she said, almost regretfully. "I...I can't cancel things on them."

"No, no," he shook his head. "You shouldn't. I'll come with," he offered. "We can talk."

"We're going to Tour finishes," she said. "Everything's going to be booked. And...and this is our vacation, Jason. I...I'm not sure it would be good for you to come along."

"Then we'll talk when you get back to England," he said, stubbornly not backing down. "That will give me a couple of weeks to find a place near your house. And then we can talk. There are some things we really need to discuss."

"Why are you pushing this?" she wondered.

"Because I've finally realized what's worth fighting for," he told her.

Read what happens next in England


When Jason offered to send Elizabeth and Cameron out of town after their night together in August, he'd actually been surprised when his long time friend, and first time lover, had actually accepted. She was always independent and never really asked for help. When he'd paid her rent and Cameron's daycare for six months along with Lucky's hospital bills, he hadn't told her about it beforehand, because he knew that she would say no. Yet, he couldn't stand back and watch her work herself to death by pulling double shifts, caring for her husband and son and never sitting down and relaxing. She was devoted to Lucky, even though Jason didn't always understand how the man ranked with her considering all he had done, but he knew she did love him, and Jason respected her enough to accept it. She shouldn't have to take on double shifts, extra jobs all to cover Lucky's bills when the man was too resentful of his family to ask for help.

It appeared that August night had been the breaking point for Elizabeth. She couldn't do it any longer. Her husband was cheating on her with his boss's still teenage daughter, was accusing Elizabeth of having an affair with her coworker in order to cover up his own infidelity, and was addicted to pain medication and showing no interest in getting clean. When Jason offered her a little time to get away and clear her head, she'd initially refused. She said she couldn't run away and hide from her problems, but after leaving his penthouse that morning, she was back barely a couple of hours later, tears in her eyes as Cameron clung to her side and she asked if his offer still stood. She refused to talk about what had happened after she left, but Jason caught enough of the gossip around town to suspect.

Lucky Spencer was admitted to the hospital on a drug overdose that morning. Someone called 911 and directed them to the Spencers' apartment where Lucky was found passed out on the bed and Maxie Jones was in the shower. Mac was furious, and his ire grew when Patrick Drake reported to the police that there were drugs missing from the hospital. The investigation led directly to Maxie who admitted she was supplying Lucky with pills because Elizabeth was too pious and didn't understand that Lucky was in pain. She clearly didn't love him since she was missing and had taken their son with her and never even checked in on him. The teen was prosecuted for drug theft, Lucky was dismissed from the police force and tried for illegal possession of narcotics and was forced to dry out while in police custody. It apparently hadn't been pretty.

Jason knew exactly where Elizabeth had gone and he'd contacted her, telling her about Lucky and was surprised when she refused to come home. She told him that she was the person who called 911 and it was her last attempt to help her soon-to-be-ex-husband. She realized, after going to her grandmother's house and Audrey chided her for not doing more to help Lucky, that she just couldn't do any more for him. Lucky didn't want to help himself and she couldn't force him to get clean. She needed to concentrate on Cameron who had been sent away from his home and his mother. She refused to put her son second anymore and if nobody could forgive her for that or understand her, then that was just too bad. Lucky had plenty of other people who could help him; she was looking after her family.

Jason understood and supported her decision, and it was her strength in dealing with her situation that helped give him strength, even though she was an ocean away. When Sam tried to blame him for her decision to sleep with Ric, he hadn't given in to her emotional blackmail. When she declared that she should just leave town since she was disgraced, he told her that was her decision. He told her that Alexis was sick and if she loved her family as much as she claimed, then she might want to see how her sisters were doing, but again, it was her decision. When Sonny pressured him and encouraged Jason to take Sam back because it would twist Ric into knots and somehow that was supposed to keep Ric away from Sonny's daughter, Jason told him that while he would always protect Sonny's children, he was not going to take Sam back. She had slept with Ric to deliberately hurt him and her mother and he wasn't going to let her near him again.

Nobody knew that he and Elizabeth had slept together, and he wasn't going to go around advertising it. It wasn't about revenge on Sam or Lucky. That night had solely been about them, and nobody was going to use it as a reason to trash her when she was already getting enough flack for having taken off. While he checked in with Elizabeth occasionally, he didn't call her every day, or even every week. He'd offered to help a friend, not make her feel like he was hounding her or bothering her. She called him sometimes, and sometimes he checked in with her, but there was a lot going on with both of them and she seemed to need time and distance to process it all.

He hoped that she liked Venice. He'd found a house for her and her son with plenty of space for them. He wondered what the little boy thought of living in a city built on the water and hoped Elizabeth wasn't worrying too much over his safety. He wondered if she was painting and if she'd discovered that the light was different there. Had she been to the museums and see the Bridge of Sighs? Had they gone out in a gondola? Had Cameron chased the pigeons at Piazza San Marco?

Sometimes he thought about leaving Port Charles and joining her for a week. Just to get away from the noise and the demands and the accusations of everyone here and just relax and breathe. But he'd never been able to bring himself to suggest that to Elizabeth. She sounded tired and exhausted and while they had said they had no regrets about their night together, he didn't really know what their future held. She'd told Jason he was her safe place, and that if she didn't have Cameron there would be nothing holding her back from pursuing something more with him, but she did have Cameron and she'd sounded reluctant to get further involved with him because of the little boy. He didn't want her to feel like he was pressuring her for anything just because he'd paid for their escape from the city and Diane was handling her divorce because he'd asked the attorney to. So he stayed in Port Charles and he dealt with Sam's repeated attempts to get back together with him, Sonny's anger that Jason wasn't sacrificing his life just to make the other man's easier and wasn't supporting him in his attempts to ruin Carly and Jax, and he listened as people badmouthed Elizabeth for abandoning Lucky and filing for divorce even though everyone knew he had cheated on her and gotten Mac Scorpio's daughter pregnant and had been addicted to drugs.

That all changed the day Elizabeth called him and asked if there was any way he might be able to come to Venice. He'd been shocked that she asked, but certainly wasn't going to turn her down. He called Sonny and told him he needed to go out of town, and no, he didn't know when he'd be back. When his boss spluttered and blustered, Jason said that Sonny could call him for business, but Jason wasn't cleaning up his personal mess this time. Then he chartered a plane and flew to Marco Polo International Airport and caught a water taxi that took him to Elizabeth's villa.

She answered the door immediately when he knocked and he noticed that she looked worried. After setting his bags down, he immediately asked, "What's wrong? Is Lucky causing problems with the divorce, did Nikolas track you down like he'd threatened to? What can I do to help you?"

"Nothing's wrong," she told him. "At least not with Lucky or Nikolas. I...I probably should have told you sooner, Jason, but I was trying to come to terms with all that was going on and I wanted to get my divorce to Lucky finalized first so that word couldn't get back to him and he'd try to fight it even more than he did."

He frowned at her, not understanding, and then was absolutely floored when she said, "I wanted to tell you that...that I'm pregnant. Due in May, which means the baby was conceived in August."

"August," he repeated faintly.

"Because of Lucky's erratic behavior and accusing me of cheating on him...I..." She looked down as her cheeks stained crimson. "He and I hadn't slept together since June."

"June," he said blankly. Then he repeated, "August. The...the night of the blackout. This...this baby is..."

"The baby is yours, Jason," she told him, looking up at him fearfully as if she expected him to be mad with her that it was nearly November and she hadn't told him yet. "I...I just wanted to be free from Lucky so he couldn't try to claim this baby. This is your baby, Jason, and I wasn't going to hide it from you."


Everything Elizabeth Webber Spinelli knew about Baltimore she learned from watching Homicide: Life on the Streets. It became a love affair for her, maybe of the sick and morbid kind. She bought David Simon's book that started the whole series, followed every magazine article that came out about it, purchased the seven series box set that was packaged as a filing cabinet, and stayed active - even though the show was long over - in an online community dedicated to the show. She had always wanted to travel to Baltimore when the show was on the air and try to become an extra, but it had never happened. She'd vowed, though, that one day she would travel to Baltimore and she'd walk the streets where the stars had.

And it had finally happened.

When she first became acquainted with Damien, she hadn't known what to make of the quirky man with the odd syntax. As she came to know him through his posts online, he hadn't seemed like the kind of person who would be interested in the show. She'd pegged him for a gamer, more prone to playing Doom, or perhaps Tomb Raider since he seemed like the kind of man who would get off on watching Laura Croft run around in her skin tight tank top and out of proportion breasts that made up most game females. Yet, as she got to know the man underneath the nervous chatter and the persona he projected to the world, she found him to be an interesting person. A bit of a lost soul who was looking for something, something neither of them expected him to find in a Homicide chat room.

"Look," he breathed out, hopping on his feet. "City Recreation Pier. Isn't it amazing?"

"It is," she nodded, her voice taking on the same slight awe, almost reverence, that his had. "That was where the squad room was. It's just a pity we can't look around."

"We'll get our pictures," he promised her. "Just like we did at the other places they used in the show. And then we'll walk across the street to the bar, have a drink, get some lunch and then we'll drive out to the bay. See the town where Kay grew up."

She smiled at him and nodded her head eagerly. "Yes. You know...I still can't believe they got rid of her. I mean, come on...Melissa Leo was real. When you saw Kay Howard walk onto a crime scene, you knew she knew what she was doing. She wasn't some secretary with a gun like those bimbos they foisted on us in the later seasons. I mean...former Miss Ann Arundel County turned homicide detective...endangered Meldrick and got him beat down because she didn't know which end of her gun was the business end."

"Ah, Elizabeth," he laughed at her. "It's not as easy as it seems."

She gave Damien a searching look, but he shook his head, determined not to spoil their trip. She watched him for just a minute longer and then nodded her head. They continued their moment in this sacred Fells Point neighborhood and then decided to get something to eat. As they crossed the street, suddenly Damien froze in the middle and Elizabeth turned to look at him in shock which morphed into desperation as he didn't seem to notice that cars were slowing down and honking at them. "Come on," she tugged frantically on his sleeve until he finally moved and made it to the opposite sidewalk.

"What happened?" she demanded as her eyes scanned the area.

"You of Baltimore's nicknames, aside from Charm City, is that it's known as Mobtown. Not like the Sopranos mob, but rioting mobs." He suddenly stopped and straightened, taking hold of her hand and leading her away from the bar that had been used in the series as the watering hole for the cops owned by three of the detectives. "We need to get out of here. I...I saw someone from my past."

She had a million questions on her tongue, but she kept them silent as they hurried back towards the car parked down the street and around the corner. Her heart was in her throat and she felt her palms growing clammy and she could only hope that she didn't throw up once they were safely away. She knew what Damien had been involved in before he left Port Charles and if he said they needed to leave, then they needed to leave. As they turned the corner, they ran into a brick wall.

Tall, muscular and dressed in black, Elizabeth knew without a doubt that this was the person Damien had seen. This was someone from his past, and that meant he was definitely not someone she wanted to meet. Without thinking about it, she shoved Damien behind her and stared down the man with the ice blue eyes as he stared at the two of them with laser-like intensity. "St-stone Cold."

It was Damien's whimper that spurred her into action and she widened her stance and said, "I don't know who you are, but I want you to know this. Damien is out of that life and I don't care who you are, I don't care what you've done or who you've killed...if you're here to take down my brother, you'll have to go through me first and I promise you that I will fight back. I grew up in foster care and if I didn't let that break me, then there's no way I'm letting some mobster take down my brother."

"No, no, Fair Elizabeth," Damien quickly sought to correct her. "This is Stone Cold. This was my mentor until he disappeared."

Trinidad and Tobago

Jason Morgan had never really thought of himself as someone who cared about music. He didn't really listen to the radio, but there were few songs that he heard in the background over the course of his life that he didn't like. Mostly because he could just tune the noise out and concentrate on other things. Not so with calypso music. For some reason, the rhythms and sounds played on the steelpan, or steeldrum, just grated on him. And it felt like everywhere he went, every corner he turned, someone was playing since this was the birthplace of the music and where the drum was invented. If he wasn't supposed to be keeping a low profile, he would be very tempted to shoot the next player he came across.

It really didn't help that his partner on this trip was absolutely infatuated with the percussion instrument and the music. He was tempted to shoot the other man, but he really needed Spinelli along on this journey. There was too much technical jargon for him to memorize on his own, he needed the man's research skills to convincingly pass off himself in the LNG business. The only good thing was that the country spoke English, even if it was a Creole version, and he didn't need to worry about trying to speak a foreign language while learning enough about the liquid natural gas industry to fool the officials in Venezuela.

Because of the political relationship between the United States and Venezuela, Jason couldn't just waltz into the country on an American passport. He needed to pass himself off as a citizen of another country while he slipped in and eliminated Luis Alcazar and protected Sonny's family from the ruthless mobster who had fled to the protection of his mother country. Trinidad and Tobago had quite a few citizens of European descent, and once his natural affinity for languages and accents kicked in and he mimicked the Creole dialect he was supposed to have, he would be able to enter Venezuela on the pretense of meeting a business contact in the neighboring country, he could carry out his real mission.

At its closest point, Trinidad, the bigger island with the majority of the population, was just 11 kilometers from Venezuela and it was frustrating to be so close, but still so far away. He needed to meet with an American ex-pat who worked in the nation's booming LNG field who would teach Jason what he needed to know. Now, he just had to meet J. Webber and his assistant E. Webber, get a crash course session on the industry, go to Venezuela and kill Alcazar and then he could go back to Port Charles. No fuss, no muss, and no complications. Sonny had sent him down here for a job, and that's all he was planning to do. That, and make sure Spinelli didn't try to buy a steeldrum and have it shipped back home.

Catalina Mountains, Arizona

Five years ago, Jason Morgan died. When he did, nobody was entirely surprised when Elizabeth Webber decided to no longer hang around Port Charles, even though Lucky Spencer and Nikolas Cassadine both asked her to stay. Those men knew the truth about the parentage of her youngest son, and they eventually accepted her statements that she needed to leave. She needed to get away from his ghost, from the memories of the place, and start her life anew. Especially when his will was read and instead of leaving everything to his partner Sonny Corinthos, or Carly Corinthos Jacks' children as people had expected, or even his latest repeat bed warmer Sam McCall, Jason Morgan left the majority of his estate to Elizabeth Webber and set up generous trusts for her two children. People speculated, people gossiped, and some people - those who thought they should have received more - became downright unpleasant to be around. Sam showed that her silence in regards to the biggest paternity secret of the town since little Michael was only because she knew that she had a chance with Jason as long as he was staying away from his family. Once he was dead and Elizabeth got the money that Sam thought she should have received, nothing held back her scorn and so she announced on the day Elizabeth and her children were planning to leave that the nurse had only gotten Jason's money because Jake was his son and it was clear the con-artist didn't believe even that was sufficient grounds for Jason to have recognized them in his will.

Elizabeth Webber and her children left town that day, and traveled the globe. Bodyguards were hired, private tutors were engaged, and so far as everyone knew - like Damien Spinelli and his ever-present attempts to track her down - she was living a nomadic life. Stay in a place for a couple of months, leave and head to the next. No roots, no friends, no connections, except for the target on her back that Sam painted as one last moment of spite.

In reality, Elizabeth Webber never left the country. She left Elizabeth Webber behind. New names, new identities, brand new existences were created and four people settled into a cabin on the highest peak of the Catalina Mountains outside of Tucson, Arizona. Summerhaven was vastly rebuilt following the fire of 2003 that destroyed many of the cabins in the unincorpated town on top of Mount Lemon that boomed in the summer when tourists rented cabins and locals escaped the heat of Tucson to come dwell in the pines over 9000 feet in elevation. But there were a few hardy folk who stayed year round, enough to have a school on top of the mountain. When a young woman applied to be the nurse there, and to help out at a small clinic, the community didn't wonder how she and her and young family had enough money to build a new home for themselves in the middle of an economic downturn, they were happy to have someone with superior medical training choose their community. Her two small boys were adorable and it was clear she and her husband were looking to put down roots in the area and raise their family.

Nobody knew that the family, which doubled in size over the course of five years, was not who they said they were. People liked them. The boys were polite, and exceptionally bright. The mother was kind and people knew that even if it was in the middle of the night, she was always willing to come help out if someone got sick or injured. The father was a quiet man, but the people knew that he was always willing to help out. He was a wonder with a wrench, and quite handy with a hammer, and if someone needed something fixed, he would gladly show up and pitch in. The two young girls had their father wrapped around their little fingers, and it was clear to all that the family loved the area.

They were often found setting out for weekend hikes along the numerous trails across the mountains, and the boys and their father often went to Rose Canyon Lake to fish. The whole family often went to Peppersauce Cave and would come back muddy and laughing from their explorations in the limestone cavern. In the winter, snowmen dotted the front yard, and the mother would bundle herself and her children up and take them to Ski Valley, the southern most ski area in the United States where she'd teach them to ski. The father could often be seen pulling the younger ones on a sled behind him. Rosy cheeks and much laughter always abounded and people smiled to see happy, if someone reclusive, family around town.

The one thing that struck the other residents as odd was that the family never ventured very far down the Catalina Highway towards Tucson. They seemed quite content to stay on the sky island, living up in the pines and seeking solitude along the trails. Often as not, the family would pile into the four-by-four high clearance SUV and travel down the steep, unpaved Control Road on the north side of the mountain and head into the smaller town of Oracle to pick up their supplies instead of going to Tucson. And every summer, when tourism exploded on the mountains, the family would ask their neighbors to keep on eye on their cabin and head off on long vacations. Some people wondered if the family didn't like crowds, and some laughingly joked that they were hiding out, but all agreed that the family was polite, helpful and so if they kept a little more to themselves then that was alright. Because the Mason family were decent folk always willing to help out their neighbors, and so their neighbors were willing to put up with a little eccentricity from the young family.


He was losing his mind. Somehow, in his grief and anger, he was losing his mind and hallucinating. After the accident that created Jason Morgan, he'd never dreamed or been able to imagine things. Except for that one time when he envisioned Elizabeth coming to his room above Jake's to retrieve her gloves and he'd shaken his head to find himself alone. So it wasn't so much of a shock to him that when he began to hallucinate and see dead people everywhere, that he saw Elizabeth.

The first time he'd seen her was down on Sonny's island. He'd only caught a glimpse of her from the distance as she stepped onto a boat and sailed out of the bay. He'd waited all day for her to return, wondering what had brought her there, but then he'd received Emily's phone call and he knew that it had just been a figment of his imagination. He'd been missing her since the day he left her at the park and he wondered how she was, and somehow, he'd conjured her up. After his sister's phone call, he left his solitary section of the beach and went to his private room. There he'd grieved over Emily's crushing phone call, and then he'd called Sonny.

The older man had at first sounded so relieved that Jason had called, claiming he'd been trying to reach him for days about something very important, but Jason cut him off. He told him that he knew, that Emily had reached him first and broken the news to him. His sister had told him about Elizabeth's death...something his brother hadn't done anything to prevent. Emily was in rehab in Arizona, wondering if she'd ever walk again and Elizabeth was dead. At that moment, something inside Jason snapped and he unleashed his fury on Sonny, even though it was only through the phone and the other man was hundreds of miles away. He railed against his friend, wondering how Sonny could have done this to him. Jason forgave him for sleeping with Carly and stealing the boy he thought of as a son, he went after A.J. and did everything in his power to make it possible for Carly to divorce A.J. and marry Sonny, he protected the little boy he once raised and now forced himself to think of as nothing more than a nephew, protected Sonny's business, gave him money to bail him out of trouble when they first became partners and all Jason asked in return was for two things. For Sonny to protect Emily and Elizabeth. His so-called friend had failed him spectacularly and Jason told him they were done. There was no going back from this; Jason would never forgive Sonny for not protecting the two most important women in his life, and Jason would never come back to Port Charles.

He left the island within the hour, contacted a lawyer and had their business partnership dissolved. He forced Sonny to pay him back every penny, with interest, that he'd given him over the years and rescinded Sonny's right to vote his ELQ stock on his behalf. Then he disappeared into the world and didn't care at all about what happened to his former associate back home. He wrote letters to Lila, but never gave her a return address so she could write him. When he spoke to Emily, his sister passed on their grandmother's well wishes and love, but the one thing Emily never did was talk to Jason about the people left behind in Port Charles. They talked about her rehab and his travels and occasionally about the Quartermaines, but that was as far as Jason allowed her to go. Anytime she tried to say anything beyond that, he'd hang up the phone and when he called the following week, she didn't make another attempt.

Jason tried to lose his grief in his travels, but it seemed that everywhere he went, Elizabeth was there. She walked with him through South American forests as they explored ancient ruins. She rode beside him on safari in Africa and climbed the pyramids at night, admonishing him that they couldn't get caught. She was around every corner in Venice and he tried so hard to hold onto her that she nearly slipped away from him. They walked fog-filled streets of London and got stuck behind a herd of sheep on a small road in Ireland.

But now, as he stood in front of the Navoi Opera in Tashkent, he realized his imaginings were once again moving into the dangerous realm of hallucination. She was standing across the street, staring up at the edifice, before raising a camera to capture the image on film. He couldn't look away, and when she slowly lowered the camera, her gaze traveled down from the top of the building, until with a start they locked on him. She staggered, and then disregarded safety as she darted out into the street.

He began to wonder if it really all was a dream when she shouted, "Jason!" and rushed towards him.

And then she was standing before him, her eyes wide as she huffed to catch her breath and said, "It's you!"


"Yes," she breathed out. "I...I had no idea you were here. Do you have any idea how hard you are to find?"

He frowned at her, too confused and shocked to speak and she didn't wait for him to try to regain his ability before she was continuing on. "Sonny told me that he couldn't get a hold of you and that you thought I was dead. That Emily had told you. Lucky called her and because I'd faked my death to fool Helena, Nikolas, Sonny and I had to be careful about contacting her. She was upset at first that we hadn't told her beforehand, but then she understood. Then she was worried about you because she'd told you I was dead. Combined with what Sonny told us about your call, we've been trying to find you so we could tell you. Emily's been trying to tell you but you hang up every time she even tries to bring it up. We keep telling her to stop trying to break it to you gently and just blurt it out to you but..."

She trailed off and shrugged and Jason could only gape at her. She was alive. His sister knew she was alive; Sonny had still been trying to find him despite all that Jason had said to him, and Elizabeth was standing in front of him in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He had so many things he wanted to ask her, what about Lucky and why had she taken poison to fool Helena, but when he opened his mouth the only thing that came out was, "Why are you here?"

She lowered her lashes and he chided himself. She probably thought he was mad. Then she looked back up at him, a coy smile on her face as she laughing said, "I wanted to see if it would rain if I forgot my umbrella."

Gretna Green, Scotland

She was already so thoroughly compromised that she knew that even if they were successful in rescuing her sister from the clutches of his brother, that the family was already going to be ruined. At least Sarah could claim that she loved Alan Junior and that was why she ran off with him to Gretna Green, but there would be no such excuse for Elizabeth. For while she knew the truth about the Viscount Quartermaine, and the Honorable Jason Quartermaine did as well, she knew that the vicious tongues of the ton would wag harder against her than her sister. Even if they could prove that the only reason the viscount had absconded with Lady Sarah was because he was in debt up to this eyebrows and since Lord Quartermaine was still alive and healthy and he did not have control of his inheritance so he needed the dowry of a wealthy bride, it would not matter. The viscount had played the game of the ton, and there was no questioning his parentage as he looked like both the earl and his wife.

Jason Quartermaine was the younger son, and there were rumors that he may or may not be Lord Quartermaine's son. Although there were more rumors that he was indeed Lord Quartermaine's son, but he was not birthed by the countess. While the family firmly stood behind him in public, there would those amongst the finest families who would always view him with suspicion and therefore had never allowed him to dance with their daughters, let alone court them. The viscount would be chided for eloping to Scotland, but people would stand behind him and not his brother who would say that the viscount had eloped with Sir Jeffrey Webber's eldest daughter only because the second one proved too shrewd for his tricks and he realized that it was Sarah who was easily duped into believing he was in love with her while all he wanted was her dowry of twenty thousand pounds.

It wouldn't matter that Elizabeth had traveled with a maid inside the carriage at all times and that the only reason she had agreed to travel with Jason was because he was worried about her sister. She would be seen as a tainted woman now. For while the youngest daughter of Sir Jeffrey had made her curtsey to the Queen and was in the middle of her debut season, there was enough gossip about her to make matchmaking mamas and proprietary fathers steer their sons away from her. The rumors of her parentage were quieter than Jason's, but they were there. Combined with her forthright manner and refusal to play the games of the ton, she was secretly labeled a hoyden and many a wager had been made in the betting books of Whites and other gentlemen's clubs that she would end her first season without a match and the only way she ever would receive an offer of marriage was when a financially strapped family deigned to accept the wild daughter of a baronet with an enticing estate that allowed him to settle generously on his daughters.

Sometimes Elizabeth wondered why she was even bothering to risk her reputation on this crusade. She and her sister had never been close, and when the viscount had transferred his attention from Elizabeth onto Sarah, her older sister hadn't believed her when she said that the man was not to be trusted. There was something unsettling about him, something proprietary in his behavior, and decidedly improper in his manner of address. Sarah had only scoffed and said that Lizzie was jealous that Viscount Quartermaine had seen Sarah and withdrew his affection from her. It was not Sarah's fault that Elizabeth had not been able to hold onto a man, but Sarah had no intention of letting him go.

Which was why that even if they did manage to overtake the viscount's carriage, or arrive in Gretna Green in time to stop the wedding; there was little chance that Sarah would not agree to go forward with the wedding. And Elizabeth knew that there was little hope of her father being too angry to acknowledge the elopement and not release Sarah's dowry. While the couple had traveled to Scotland and married without the baronet's consent, he would not bring further shame to the family by now acknowledging the wedding once it had taken place. A.J. would get enough money to pay off his immediate debts and then be in full control of the remainder of Sarah's dowry. She had heard enough in the past two days of constant travel about the other man's evil propensities to shudder for the life her sister would be subjected to.

And that did not even begin to take into account what would further happen to her family's name based on her actions. Her mother and father would no doubt forgive Sarah, but she would be scolded and have untold vitriol unleashed on her for running off with a man she was not connected to. She'd probably be exiled. Perhaps she should just stay in Scotland. Surely she could find work as a governess or a companion and stay in the cold wilds of Scotland; it wasn't like her family would ever welcome her home again.

"You should try to rest."

She jerked her head and ceased staring unseeingly out of the window and gazed at the man across from her. Her maid was asleep on the seat beside her and so they could converse without censoring themselves for fear of what the servant might further spread about this trip.

"You have not slept much," Jason stated. "You should try to sleep."

"I cannot," she admitted on a soft whisper. "I fear we have little chance of success. Your brother and my sister had too great of a start on us and each time we stop and change horses we hear how they were hours ahead of us. They are not stopping for the night either, and by the time we reach Gretna Green, I fear they will already be wed. Then what will happen to me?"

It was the first time she allowed herself to be pitiable, and as she turned back to the darkened view outside the window to hide her tears, she felt a soft square of cotton pressed into her hand as he gave her his handkerchief.

By the time they reached Scotland, A.J. and Sarah could have already been wed...but the wedding had not taken place. The intended bridegroom was nowhere to be found, and all they found was a pitiful Lady Sarah sitting in an inn with her luggage at her feet and her eyes red from crying. Apparently, the viscount had attempted certain liberties with her sister before they had reached Scotland and she had resisted. With each passing hour, he continued to try to convince her, and she admitted she became disgusted by his behavior. But by that time she had already allowed enough to transpire between them that she knew her reputation was in tatters. When they finally arrived in Gretna and A.J. had first wanted to spend time in a room above stairs instead of heading straight for a reverend, Sarah had finally had enough.

A.J. swore he would not wed such a frigid woman even with her twenty thousand. He did not like her enough to tie himself to her, no matter how great the inducement of her dowry. Surely there had to be another way to escape his debts, and he left. Sarah clung to Elizabeth and wailed, wondering what she would do now. She tried to be comforting and calm her older sister, but when Sarah began to insinuate that this was somehow all Elizabeth's fault, any empathy she had fled. She pulled away and looked at her sister in disgust.

"I do not know what we are going to do, Sarah," she stated coldly. "For I will be in the same situation you are in, but you don't see me carrying on like a fishmonger's wife."

"Perhaps I can help," Jason said, stepping into the private parlor he had arranged for the sisters once they arrived at the inn. "My father will be forced to deal with A.J. after this. I have spoken to my brother's carriage driver that he left behind and the man was able to provide me with a sketch of my brother's activities and just who my brother is in debt to. The person will not rest until he is paid, and my father will be forced to cover his debts in order not to lose the family estate. There is no way the Dowager Countess will allow this indiscretion to be covered up. I do not believe my brother will be disinherited, but there is, unfortunately, a likely chance that Sonny Corinthos will order my brother killed as a lesson to those who borrow and do not pay him back. I..."

He looked down in embarrassment and Sarah quickly surmised what he was not saying. "You would be Viscount."

"Yes," he nodded, then cautioned, "But perhaps not. However, perhaps if you return from Scotland married to the son of an earl, it might help take the sting out of the censure your family will feel."

He approached the pair and Sarah straightened in her chair, throwing her shoulders back and Elizabeth half expected her to pinch her cheeks as she simpered a smile at Jason. However, her sister's features fell into bitter jealously and anger when the Honorable Jason Quartermaine stopped, turned and bowed to Elizabeth.

"Miss Elizabeth," he stated. "Will you marry me?"

Adriatic Sea

"You want a yacht like that?"

She had laughed him off and told him no, just as a part of him suspected she would. She wasn't impressed or tempted by his wealth, that wasn't why she was his friend. She rarely took his money, and when she did it was with great reluctance and with promises to pay him back. And she very nearly always did. If he bought lunch for them one day, she'd surprise him the next and wouldn't take his money when he offered. She didn't demand that he buy her gifts. She was simple, she was pure and hard working, and even when she struggled with something financially, she never complained about it in a way that she was hoping he'd pay for it. And if he did do something, she always protested and said that wasn't why she talked to him about it. She talked to him because he was her friend and he would always listen. And he would reply and say he knew, but that he wanted to help her out because she was his friend and he liked doing things for her.

So when they'd stood at the balcony doors in his penthouse and looked at Alcazar's yacht moored out in the harbor and she sighed wistfully about the ability to travel and see the world, pulling into ports to explore the culture and history of an area before setting off again for the next stop, he could hear the longing in her voice. He hadn't been able to stop himself from caressing her creamy shoulders and his breath caught in his throat when she leaned back against his chest and closed her eyes in pure bliss while he continued his ministrations. Before he knew it, they were no longer looking outside, but he had one arm wrapped around her waist as his head lowered so that his lips could trace every inch of the beautiful skin she displayed. She stretched her neck, allowing him greater access and he thought he'd explode when she actually purred her approval. As he spun her around and loved her on his pool table, he was very glad he'd sent Zander off with a guard to a safe house.

Weeks later, when Alcazar was dead, Sonny had returned from the dead and Carly was mad enough to kill someone because she found out Brenda wasn't dead and had been hiding at the same safe house as Sonny, Jason had come home to find Elizabeth's suitcases packed and sitting by the door. Her tears of betrayal had sliced at him and even though he didn't stop her from returning to her studio that night, he told her that he wasn't going to give up on her. When Sonny insisted that Jason needed to guard Courtney, he told his partner to get one of the guards to do it; he had other things he needed to take care of. Like going to Elizabeth's and talking to her and explaining to her that he'd never meant to hurt her by not telling her Sonny wasn't dead. When she explained that it wasn't the lie, but his behavior that had hurt her - loving her for days on end and then disappearing and never coming home and not even bothering to write a note or pass a message along through a guard - he swore that he would do everything to ease her pain.

That meant putting limits on his life to people who thought it was his duty to be there for every little thing. He didn't marry Brenda when Carly threatened to leave Sonny, he assigned more guards when Courtney claimed she didn't feel safe, and he told his partner that there were nights when he would be unavailable because he was spending them with Elizabeth. She returned to his penthouse on her birthday when he told her he had a surprise for her, and she wept when she saw he'd turned one of the spare bedrooms into a studio for her. She was completely moved in by the end of the week.

For Christmas, he told her they had to go to the harbor to see her present, and her jaw had dropped when she saw the Freedom berthed at the end of the pier. It wasn't the biggest yacht there was, but it was comfortable and had state of the art navigation and only needed a minimal crew to run her. That meant they'd have less people around when he took her sailing.

They made their arrangements, said good-bye to their friends and family, and when midnight struck on New Year's Eve, they were sailing out of the harbor. They made their way down the New England Seaboard, crossed the Atlantic, stopped at the Straights of Gibraltar, and lazily meandered their way through the Mediterranean. They stopped when they wanted to, tied up and explored a town or a country for however long they desired. Sometimes they would simply anchor and spend weeks out in the sea, not wanting to be around anybody but the crew who knew enough to stay out of their way and disappear into their quarters. Months had passed, and they had no desire yet to return to Port Charles. There was still so much they wanted to see.

Right now, they were passing through the Straight of Otranto, leaving the Ionian Sea and heading into the Adriatic. They would explore the low lying Italian coast to their west, stop in Venice for however long they wanted, and then continue along the eastern side, where Croatia dominated the coast. They'd explore Slovenia, Montenegro and Albania, possibly even going further inland to see Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was a part of the world that Jason had never explored before and he looked forward to discovering something new with Elizabeth. Of course, he'd already discovered plenty of new territory with her, but he wanted to see even more.

As if she knew he was thinking about her, she walked up the stairs from the cabins below and straight towards him. He abandoned all pretense of reading his book and merely stared, drinking in her beauty. She smiled when she reached him and made to step past him to the other chair, but he took her hand and stopped her. She looked at him with questions in her eyes and he twined their fingers together. "You are so beautiful."

She rolled her eyes, even as she still blushed at his compliment. He didn't release her, just brought up his free hand to rest at her hip, and then caress it slightly higher and inward. As it brushed over the firmness that was beginning to round her stomach, he felt his throat tighten with all the love he had for her. He'd nearly turned them around to go home when she became ill, but she refused. She wouldn't give up her dream just because of a little morning sickness, and he didn't realize just how much he had wanted this dream. Her by his side, a child on the way made from their love, possibilities still open before them.

Leaning forward, he kissed her stomach, liking the fact that she still wore bikinis and more aroused than ever when he saw her in one and the evidence of their child showing on her body. She laughed and her stomach jumped, his hair tickling her skin, but she brought her free hand up to run her fingers through his hair and keep him close. She didn't know it yet, but he had a lawyer working on a surprise for them in Venice. He was going to propose to her there, and he intended to marry her there. Not because she was pregnant and it was the right thing to do, but because he loved her and he wanted her to be his wife.

Jamestown, North Dakota

"What in the world are we doing here of all places?"

When Spinelli glanced at him he shook his head and said, "I know why we're here...but here? This is the middle of nowhere."

The younger man continued to look at him uncertainly and Jason sighed and looked away. The younger man was...eccentric, and could sometimes be annoying, but he wasn't entirely bad to be around. Jason had stopped him from being mugged one night in an alley near a waterfront diner, and the kid had been so eternally grateful that he followed Jason around the rest of the night. At first, he'd been annoyed, but some time during the night as he listened to the younger man ramble on about anything and everything, Jason found himself coming to soften towards the guy. He was smart, if a bit socially inept, but considering Jason had woken up from a coma a year ago and didn't know who he was and had to relearn everything, he was considered a bit inept himself.

People looked at him and saw brain-damaged ex-doctor who threw his life away to become a Private Investigator. Jason decided that being a private investigator wasn't such a bad way to make a living because it meant a lot of time spent in solitude while following people around. Sometimes he felt like a Peeping Tom since a lot of his work consisted of following a cheating spouse and getting documentation of it, but he wasn't entirely bothered by it. He wasn't a prude, he had a healthy sexual appetite and he didn't see why people should be monogamous and tie themselves down to just one person. Sometimes he wondered if he thought that way just because it was the complete opposite of everything he was told about Jason Quartermaine.

Jason Quartermaine was a successful doctor, volunteered at local clinics, dated good and respectable girls, and while apparently he wasn't a virgin, he was probably a boring Missionary Position man who never dreamed of doing half the things Jason Morgan had done. The Quartermaines didn't understand why Jason would want to throw away such a promising career to hang out with a cyber geek, but they were at least happy he hadn't fallen in with a degenerate like Sonny Corinthos.

Jason Morgan didn't know and didn't really care that the mobster was raising his brother's only child, and the Latino had offered him a job back when Jason was sleeping in an abandoned railroad car and parking cars at the local blues club while his cousin Ned fought the family to get Jason's money released back to his power, but Jason had turned the mobster down. The man's estranged wife, some shrieking harpy named Carly, had come into his room at the hospital before he was released and tried to seduce him in his bed. While Jason had been confused about his body's reaction and near-constant state of arousal, he had sent her away. Her claims that she knew his former self had left him turned off, and he certainly didn't believe her claims that Jason Quartermaine had carried on an affair with her while she'd been briefly married to A.J. From everything he heard about the other man, that was definitely not something the guy would have done.

How he'd ended up falling into the private investigating business with Spinelli he wasn't entirely sure, but he felt he had to look out for the kid and save the geek from his own ineptitude. Him going into business with some tramped up con-artist would not have been good a thing. And when Sam McCall was arrested for prostitution her entire business was such down, even though she claimed she was working on a case. Taxes hadn't been filed, paperwork was in disarray and permits hadn't been properly attained. She was facing jail time on more than just the prostitution charges, and Spinelli would have been tainted by his association with her.

But the younger man was sometimes scared of Jason, or at least didn't know how to handle some comments he made that referenced back to his injuries or inability to read a social situation. Or that possibly sounded as if Jason was forgetting things again and had wound up with amnesia all over again. Asking why they were in Jamestown, North Dakota when they had come here on a case was apparently one of those moments.

"Alright," he said gruffly. "Let's find Elizabeth Webber and her son and get out of here."

"Right," Spinelli said, no doubt grateful that they were talking about the case again. "Detective Spencer will be happy to have his wife back."

"She's not his wife," Jason corrected. "Didn't you read any of the paperwork? They got divorced. He just wants to know where his kid is since he's afraid she won't give him his two weeks in the summer. You got her address?"

"Yes," his partner nodded.

"Then let's go," he said.

"We...we can't just drive up to her house, Stone Cold," the younger man protested. "We need to come at this with finesse."

He smiled proudly and Jason knew that he was going to not like the other man's suggestion. "We need to be tourists."

"Tourists?" he asked, lifting a dubious brow. "What exactly is there to be a tourist about around here?"

"Many things," Spinelli exclaimed. "Jamestown is the birthplace of Louis L'Amour, famed western writer. You can see his house, the Franklin School where he attended and which is the oldest surviving school in town. There is the St. James Basilica, one of only fifty-six basilicas in the United States and designated as such by the Holy See. There is Frontier Village where you can take a stagecoach ride, see the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot that was built in 1880 and was the very first railroad depot in Jamestown, and see the world's largest buffalo and see a buffalo herd with three rare white buffalo."

Jason looked at the younger man and it was clear that he'd done his research. He just had one question. "The world's largest what?"

"It's a giant concrete buffalo statue," his partner grinned in unadulterated bliss. "Largest in the world. Looks awesome in the pictures online. I want to stand under it and have my picture taken. And I want to see the herd. The local Indian tribes consider the first white one, a pure albino, to be sacred and the other ones are sacred and lucky as well. We can't pass up this opportunity to see this, Stone Cold."

"Look, Spinelli," Jason shook his head. "We need to go to the address, see if we can get pictures of Elizabeth Webber and her kid before we let Detective Spencer she's here. So let's go."

"Why would he ask us to look for her if he's a cop?" Spinelli wondered as the car drove down the hill and turned left onto Main Street. "He should know about her family, since she's living in the same town as her mother's parents, and as a cop he has access to a wider network of search engines than we do. At least legally he does."

The older man frowned as he pondered the question. It was odd that the cop had come to them instead of looking for his ex-wife himself. Something had always bugged Jason about the cop, but he could never put his finger on it. And he hadn't wanted to get on the bad side of law enforcement since sometimes they needed their assistance. But his partner was right...why hadn't the cop looked for her himself?

"Were there any court records about the divorce that we didn't look at?" he asked as the GPS told him where to turn. This whole dividing addresses into grids was confusing. He would have ended up going to 3rd St. SE instead of 3rd St. SW if it hadn't been for the device. "Any custody records that indicate the guy doesn't have visitation rights, or there's a restraining order or something?"

He parked on the street, several houses away from the one Elizabeth Webber supposedly lived at and threw the car into park. Turning to look at his partner who was speedily typing away on his ever-present laptop, he glanced at the house briefly before turning back to focus on Spinelli. The younger man began mumbling to himself as he read through files and then he paled.

"What?" Jason demanded.

"There's a restraining order on Detective Spencer," he gulped out. "He is to stay five hundred feet away from Elizabeth Imogene Webber, Cameron Steven Webber and Jacob Quinton Spencer at all times. She has full physical and legal custody of both children and Detective Spencer has no visitation rights at all."

"Two kids?" Jason wondered. "He only mentioned the one."

"Stone Cold," Spinelli suddenly hissed as he slid down on the street. "They're walking out of the house."

Jason automatically turned to look and saw a petite brunette with two little boys turn onto the sidewalk and walk towards them. He vaguely registered there was a park behind them and she was carrying a large canvas tote bag which probably held toys. She was beautiful with her creamy skin and her chocolate locks; her oldest son had dark curls and scampered ahead of her, but she walked slower as she held the hand of a blond haired little boy. As they neared the car he couldn't look away from them.

"Stone Cold," Spinelli hissed, torn between fearing they would blow their cover, but also awe over the sight before them. "Stone Cold...why does Jacob Quinton Spencer look nothing like Detective Lucky Spencer...and everything like you?"

Oak Creek Canyon, AZ

Elizabeth wasn't entirely sure how she'd gotten involved in this, but it was enough to make her stomach knot up, her palms sweat and she wasn't sleeping very well at night. It was a good thing her parents weren't here because somehow they always seemed to know when she wasn't being truthful with them, and right now, she was half expecting her nose to grow to Pinocchio-sized proportions over this whopping lie of omission and her complicit part in downright deception. But there was no way she could say no to her pretty brunette neighbor when she asked for help.

Emily Quartermaine was a walking miracle. Well, not-so-much a walking miracle, but a shuffling miracle. Emily had arrived at the rehabilitation center a broken and battered young woman who many feared would never be able to walk again after the accident that left her with a broken back. She was sent for therapy and exercises and she had been so despondent over leaving her family back in New York that Elizabeth just couldn't ignore the no-longer-a-teen-but-not-really-a-woman despite the staff saying that she wasn't to be bothered. Elizabeth had been sent to the center to recover from her own accident and while her family lived closer than Emily's did, Colorado was geographically closer even if the Webbers hardly ever visited, she knew how hard it was to be sent to a place away from everyone comfortable and familiar at a time when you were feeling scared, weak and vulnerable.

The two became instant friends, and as Elizabeth progressed through her recovery and rehabilitation, she always encouraged Emily and swore that the other woman would get better as well. It might just take a little bit longer. When Elizabeth was considered healed and was discharged from permanent residence at the center, she moved into an apartment close by and returned several times a week visit Emily. When the other woman finally began to make progress and began to feel sensations in her legs and bear some weight on them, Elizabeth had wept along with her friend and then baked a double batch of triple fudge brownies that the two of them split between them in celebration.

So when Emily asked for her help, Elizabeth instantly agreed. Because she was making good progress, Emily was granted a week's "vacation" from the center. Her friend's parents weren't thrilled about her leaving and delaying her treatments for a week, but when Emily said that she missed autumn and fall colors and being outdoors and feeling fresh air, her parents relented. It had been two years since the accident and Emily needed something to boost her spirits and keep her going through the hard work she still needed to regain full use of her legs.

What Emily's parents didn't know was that Elizabeth would not be the only person accompanying Emily on this trip. Emily's older brother was planning to join them for several days, which was why the two women had reserved a two bedroom Casita Suite with a private pool at a luxury resort in beautiful Red Rock country to the north. They had found a jeep tour to take them through the famed territory, but the trip that Emily was most looking forward to was the drive through Oak Creek Canyon. They wouldn't be able to hike the west fork, or go down Slide Rock, but they would be able to see oak, aspen and a few maple trees scattered through as they turned color. While not the lush fall foliage that Emily had been able to see in upstate New York or the New England countryside, it was different from the desert landscape that surrounded the rehab center.

Oak Creek actually ran year round and wasn't just a dry river bed, and her friend was looking forward to the cool air, the sound of the babbling water and time away from everything.

If only Elizabeth was looking forward to it. A week at the resort, time at the full-service spa, mornings spent on their private porch and beautiful had sounded heavenly. She just wasn't looking forward to three days with A.J. Quartermaine, drunk lout and disgusting lecher, even if he would have the room with the king size bed on the other side of the casita and she planned to lock the door once she and Emily settled into their room with two queen beds. But Emily was excited to see her older brother, and while Elizabeth didn't understand why this had to be kept secret from the Quartermaine family, she was getting a week's free stay at a five star resort that she never would have been able to otherwise. Perhaps she'd just graciously bow out on family moments and find her own thing to do during the day so as to avoid Emily's brother.

As she heard a knock on the front door, she took a deep breath and stood, knowing that she at least had to be polite and welcoming until Emily came out of the bathroom. When she opened the door, she was surprised not to see dark-haired, short and smarmy A.J., but a tall, blond, sinfully gorgeous man standing on the porch holding a duffle bag in his hand. His leather jacket looked worn and soft, and his windswept spikes were probably courtesy of the motorcycle parked next to her car.

"Hi," he said while Elizabeth still stood there mute. "You must be Elizabeth. I'm Emily's brother Jason."

X Marks the Spot

Indiana Jones said it best - or maybe George Lucas and Jeffery Boam said it best, since Indiana Jones is just a fictitious character and a major pain in actual archeologists' butts...X never, ever marks the spot. Yet so many people believed that they could find wealth untold by simply finding a map, wander through the jungle, or the forest, or on a deserted island, and then at the big, black X on the ground, they'd dig down a little, find a buried chest and that'd be it.

Dr. Elizabeth Webber wished she could tell every would-be treasure hunter what to do with their great visions of instantaneous wealth, but unfortunately she was too beholden on those with money to be able to tell them to step off the curb and play in traffic. Archeology was back-breaking, dusty, tiring, tedious work that more often than not turned up nothing, or merely broken shards of pottery. It also required a lot of money. Travel, workers, permits, greasing foreign governments' palms...all to find something that was placed into a museum and not sold on the black market to line her lint-lined pockets. It was wealthy patrons who made her work possible, and she had to put on a pretty smile, parade around at cocktail parties, listen to their fables and beliefs all so that she could get the money she needed to continue her research and her digs.

She hated every moment of those false and phony parties, as people talked about searching the Superstition Mountains for the Lost Dutchman's Mine or the Fountain of Youth. But what she hated most of all were these moments. The private meetings arranged by people who offered to fund her research and expeditions if only she would help them on a personal project. Perhaps it was some family story passed down through time, or a map that they claimed they only needed to figure out what the markings were and then they'd be able to get great-great grandpa's treasure that he buried to keep them damn Yankees from stealing it when they marched through the South. Or they believed that they would be the one to discover a lost city of gold and be rich and famous beyond measure. They wasted her time, they wasted their time, and it rarely ended without someone becoming belligerent and not believing that archeology didn't work that way because it was like that in the movies. It should take a couple of weeks at the most, and then they'd give her a cut of the find and make off like a bandit with the lion's share of the wealth.

She had a headache already, and she hadn't even met with Sonny Corinthos yet.

As she rolled her neck to the side, she heard someone clear their throat behind her and turned around to see two men standing in the doorway. The shorter one stepped forward, a smile on his face that displayed prominent dimples. Elizabeth immediately disliked him. She never trusted anyone who smiled too much and she especially never trusted anyone with dimples. The taller man clad in a black leather jacket despite the late May heat didn't say a word, but the look on his face displayed his clear annoyance at being here. At least they could agree on one thing.

"Miss Webber," Mr. Corinthos stated, holding out his hand.

"Doctor Webber," she corrected gently but pointedly. She had worked hard to get her degree and she wasn't going to allow anyone to strip her of it just because she was a woman.

"Of course," he said in such an off-handed manner that Elizabeth knew he'd forget immediately. "I'm glad you could meet me and my friend."

He gestured behind him and the silent sentinel merely scowled. But he was instantly forgotten as Mr. Corinthos launched into his tale of treasure and intrigue. He had a map - they nearly always had maps - and money and he wanted Elizabeth to find the hidden object. She listened politely, only half-way impressed by the uniqueness of the story she hadn't heard before, until he finished his sales pitch. Then she licked her lips, kept her folded hands on her lap and began the process of turning him down.

"As I tried to tell you on the phone, Mr. Corinthos, I don't take on personal expeditions. I'm still interested in my own research and I have a relationship with the Port Charles Museum and the sponsors of my digs get to have the exhibition named in honor of them. But I don't go searching for fabled cities, or rumored artifacts. I don't believe treasure maps where X marks the spot, and I'm not interested in wasting my time or your money on things we aren't going to find. If you're interested in funding a legitimate dig, we can talk. Otherwise, I'm sorry to tell you that you wasted your time. I apologize for that, but if you had listened to me when we spoke on the phone this could have been avoided."

Instantly the smile fell off the other man's face and his silent partner who had remained standing the entire time stepped closer. Sonny Corinthos frowned slightly and then said, "No, I'm sorry, it's you who doesn't understand, Dr. Webber. You will be making this trip. You are smart and canny and exactly what I'm looking for, and I'm not a man who takes no for an answer."

She looked at him, arched her brow and said, "No."

With a laugh, he stood and walked towards the door. "I look forward to working with you, Dr. Webber. Mr. Morgan will help you gather what supplies you will need and arrange the necessary transportation."

Then he left, leaving her alone with the man she now knew was named Mr. Morgan. He cleared his throat and said, "I suggest you get packing, Dr. Webber. I plan to leave in three hours, and you will be on that plane."


When Elizabeth regained her eyesight, regained her sanity and decided she wanted nothing more to do with Ric Lansing, or anybody else in Port Charles, she decided to be just a little petty and get revenge on her miserable excuse for an ex-husband. She was tired of him sniffing around her, trying to get her to take him back - as if she'd forgive him drugging her, kidnapping another woman and chaining her up in a secret room, and lying to her repeatedly while never giving up his desire for revenge on Sonny Corinthos. She was tired of all things connected to Sonny and how she came behind him every time. Jason covered up Courtney hitting her and leaving her blind because she was his fiancée and Sonny's sister. Carly walked all over her and got away with it because she was Sonny's wife and Jason's best friend. Jason lied to her and left her behind because Sonny decreed it. And Ric only got involved with her because she was connected to Sonny.

So she emptied the bank account filling up with alimony from Ric and invested a chunk of it, and then decided to travel. Every few months she emptied the account that Ric's accountant set up to receive her automatic payments, invested them in different accounts and did her best to make sure he never found her. Or that nobody else ever found her. She decided to go through the alphabet, and if she still had the desire to travel when she reached the end, she'd start all over again. There was certainly no reason for her to rush back to Port Charles after her grandmother decided to retire to Arizona to be near Lee and Gail Baldwin and get out of the snow.

When she reached the letter I, Elizabeth had staunchly refused to even consider Italy. That was where she'd talked about going some day and really wanted Jason to be beside her. Sure, she'd turned down his offer that day in the park, but she always hoped that one day, if she ever got the chance to go, he would be with her. Since right now she didn't want to think about Jason or the Corinthos family, she was not going to go to Italy. Instead, she'd chosen something about as different from Italy as she could think of.

She'd decided to go to Iceland. The geological diversity fascinated her. Volcanoes and glaciers; the oldest known geyser in the world - The Great Geysir in the Haukadalur valley that brought the word geyser into the English language - and one of the youngest islands in the world, Surtsey. She liked the temperate winter, warmed by the gulf stream that caused the temperatures to be warmer than other lands in similar latitudes. She toured the larger, more established art museums like the National Gallery of Iceland and the Living Art Museum, but she was also taken in by the independent spirit where artists set up their own exhibitions.

It had been an idyllic trip until he showed up. She'd stepped out of the shower, wonderfully and deliciously warm from the nearby geothermal plant, and found Jason Morgan sitting in her hotel room. She screamed, clutched her robe to her and demanded to know what he was doing there.

"We need your help."

Her brow went up, "We?"

"Sonny and I need your help. Carly's missing and we think Ric took her again," he said.

"Are you sure she's not just hiding out to punish Sonny because he can't keep it in his pants and has cheated on her again?" she shot back and was just a little pleased to see him rock back on his heels as his eyes widened. "I'm not exactly sure what you need me for. I don't live there anymore."

"But you were married to Ric...he still cares for you," Jason told her.

"Says who?" she scoffed. "Ric only cared about me because I was once friends with you and Sonny. Since I don't live there and we hardly talk, I'm not sure how I can help."

"When you left, he came and accused Sonny and me of getting rid of you, of helping you disappear and hide from him."

"Boy, I bet he was surprised to find out that wasn't true," she shook her head scornfully.

"What's wrong with you, Elizabeth?" he demanded of her. "Carly is missing and you could help find her."

"By doing what?" she demanded. "Going back and pretending that I want to get back together with Ric, that I care about him? I'm supposed to cozy up to the guy who locked a woman in a room and drugged me and would have let me die all to protect his little secret? Are you serious?"

She stared at him in disbelief when she realized what it was that he wanted of her. He'd tracked her down to a foreign country all because the almighty Carly Corinthos was missing. While a part of her wondered if Ric could have had something to do with her disappearance, she really couldn't believe that Jason was asking for her help this way. He was always warning her against Ric, telling her he was dangerous, and now he wanted her to go back and pretend to want him back all so she could get information?

"We need your help," he repeated, his voice softening. "We've searched everywhere for her."

She sadly shook her head and said, "I can't go back and pretend to care for Ric again, Jason. I'm sorry Carly is missing, but you have no right to come here and ask that of me. And I honestly can't believe you would ask that. I guess I really did make you up in my head, because the Jason Morgan I knew would never ask something like this. But then...I guess you've been so far warped by the Corinthos family that you don't care who you hurt as long as it gets you what you want."

He stared at her, his jaw clenching and said, "I'm not leaving without you, Elizabeth. You're the only one who can help us if it's Ric."

"You will leave without me, Jason," she told him. "I guess you'll just have to go back and report to Sonny that you failed. But I'm not going back to Port Charles."

He let out a deep breath and stood, withdrawing his hand from his pocket. Her eyes widened at the hypodermic needle in his hand. "I really hoped it wasn't going to come to this, Elizabeth, but you've left me no choice."

As he laid Elizabeth's unconscious form down on the bed, Jason sighed heavily and scrubbed his hand over his face. He knew Sonny had people watching him, and so he had to make this look realistic. There was no way she would ever return to Port Charles to help him or Sonny, not as long as she was supposed to be cozying up to Ric to find Carly. Breaking into her room, making her mad at him, even stabbing her flawless skin with a needle was the easy part. Now the hard part would be ditching the men Ric had gotten Sonny to assign to watch him. Ric had somehow gotten Sonny to forgive him of all his past misdeeds and was now edging Jason out as the second in the organization. Jason didn't care about the power, but Ric was dangerous and Sonny was erratic and everyone was at risk. For as much as it hurt when Courtney told him she couldn't handle his lifestyle anymore and fled town, he knew it was probably for the best. She had called the cops on the men working for Sonny, and it was only because Jason had covered for her that she was able to escape with her life. He wished her well, but knew that she was off Sonny's radar and wasn't really in any real danger.

It was the other people he had to worry about. Johnny and Francis were working in Port Charles to get Carly and the children to safety. They were supposed to go to Bobbie's and spend the night while Sonny and Ric went to a meeting. Instead, they'd gone before Sonny began to wonder why they weren't home. Jason had been ordered to find Elizabeth and bring her home to Ric. She was his payment for all the work he was doing for Sonny. It was Ric who had come up with the story to tell her, he thought her natural instinct to help others would kick in and she'd sacrifice herself for Carly. Apparently he'd underestimated just how much she loathed him.

A flick of his wrist twitched the drapes enough for him to spot his shadows across the street. If he was lucky, the kid he'd paid to call in an anonymous tip to the police would work and the two men would be arrested before they could follow Jason and Elizabeth in the car. By the time they got bailed out of jail, the flight that he'd chartered back to the States would be listed as lost, presumably crashed into the ocean off the Newfoundland coast. Then Jason just had to get them to the meeting point where Francis and Johnny would bring Carly and the boys. And then, they just had to make sure that Sonny and Ric never found them.


Island archipelago? Check. Volcanic islands? Check. Near Australia? Check again. In the Indian Ocean? Bzzt. Wrong.

Elizabeth wasn't entirely sure how she'd ended up in Fiji when she'd been intending to go to Indonesia. Sure, leave Los Angeles, fly southwest towards Australia, but she should have gone beyond the island continent to the Indian Ocean. She'd planned to land on Java and visit the Sunda Straight that separated Java from Sumatra. Anak Krakatoa, or Child of Krakatoa, was active and growing and she wanted to see the volcano rising up and forming after Krakatoa had almost been completely destroyed in 1883. The loudest sound in recorded human history had come from the erupting volcano, heard three thousand miles away as the shockwave circled the globe seven times in the following five days. The sunsets in London were affected months later as ash and dust floated in the atmosphere. It had fascinated her ever since she read it in an Uncle Scrooge comic book to her son, and when her life had been blown apart much like the volcano, she'd left medicine behind and began to study volcanoes. If she should happen to lose her life because she was too close to an exploding volcano, what did it matter?

But she hadn't ended up in Indonesia; she'd ended up in Fiji. An island archipelago nation in the Southern Pacific, east of Australia and north of New Zealand. She'd gotten on the plane, finished her dinner, settled in to sleep away a portion of the journey and woke up a guest of some unknown benefactor on one of the smaller island groups away from the main population center.

In her time here, thanks to the books her captor was considerate enough to leave her, she discovered that part of Blue Lagoon and Cast Away had been filmed in the island nation. She didn't know where exactly she was, but she doubted it was anywhere near the Yasawa Islands or the Mamanuca Islands that were popular tourist destinations with their luxury resorts.

She wondered if anyone would miss her, if anyone would report her disappearance and come looking for her, and she told herself that the answers were a resounding no. Even if someone did notice she was missing, there would be no rescue attempt mounted. Where ever she was and whoever had her...she was here to stay for a while.

The door opened and a man she had never seen before walked in, giving her a dimpled smile that could have passed for charming had it not been accompanied by a delighted smirk. He spoke and she was so busy trying to figure out the origins of his accent that she nearly missed what he was saying, but when her brain finally caught up she looked at him and knew she was going to die here. Her captor was insane.

"Now, my dear," he said silkily, "smile for the camera. We wouldn't want your ex-husband to think you'd been mistreated in any way. We can conduct the necessary business like civilized gentlemen."

"You truly have a screw loose," she told him. "First of all, Jason Morgan isn't civilized, and second, he wouldn't care if you took a picture of me bound and gagged and trussed up like a pig. The man divorced me, sued for - and won - full custody of our son, I was stripped of my parental rights to my child, denied visitation, and it was made perfectly clear to me that I was no longer welcome in Port Charles and should...go elsewhere. So, whatever it was you were hoping to accomplish by kidnapping me, Mr. Craig, you aren't going to succeed. Jason Morgan doesn't care if I live or die, and he has our son so securely guarded you will never get to him by going after his real weakness."

And for that, Elizabeth was eternally grateful. No matter what Jason had done to her, no matter how he hurt her, spit on their years together and proved himself to be a cold-hearted, ungrateful bastard, he did guard their son completely. This madman would never get near enough to Jake to grab him. Elizabeth didn't care what happened to her, in fact she would gladly sacrifice her life to keep her son safe, but she never wanted her son hurt.

James Craig walked up to her, smiled at her with a look that made her skin crawl as he trailed the backs of his fingers across her cheek and leaned in close as he said, "Oh, I think you underestimate the power you have on men, Baby's Breath. I've heard tales that despite your ex-husband trying to obliterate all traces of you, your son is quite curious about his mother. When he hears that you're here, he will make sure his father comes to rescue you."

He leaned back and Elizabeth stared at the face of the man who had terrorized a hotel lobby full of people all those years ago. They'd never seen his face, and his accent had slipped at times, indicating he'd been trying to disguise his voice, but if James Craig was in fact Number One, then Jason probably would come to Fiji. Not to rescue her, but to kill the man responsible for his father's heart attack, his sister's shooting and Sonny Corinthos blowing up in a building to rain down like confetti on the street around them.

Chuckling at her recognition of him, Mr. Craig smiled and said, "Yes, I have big plans for you, Baby's Breath. You are going to help me finish what I started all those years ago...and starting with your ex-husband, I intend to kill every remaining survivor one by one. I do so detest loose ends."

Nashville, Arkansas

If anyone had ever asked Jason Morgan what he thought of family vacations, he would have said he didn't think about them. And it would have been true. He didn't have kids, he didn't have a wife, when he decided to go somewhere it was just him. No family in that vacation. When Sonny gained a family, family vacation meant fueling up the private jet and going down to the private island. Occasionally they did something plebian, like buying V.I.P. passes to Disney World which meant they didn't have to stand in line, their guards could come along, and they stayed at Cinderella's castle in the middle of the park and got access after hours to the rides.

But then Jason met Elizabeth Webber. A single mother struggling to make ends meet and provide a good life for her and her son after they left her abusive ex-husband. He saw her occasionally at Kelly's when he stopped in for a bowl of chili and she was there with her young son Cameron getting dinner on the way home from a double shift at the hospital. His sister worked with the petite brunette and had complimentary things to say about her, but Jason had never really given her much thought until she tripped over his prone body as he lay bleeding in an alley and she dragged him back to her tiny house, patched him up, hid him and lied to the town. In that moment, he became her friend for life. He was more than her friend, because he wasn't sure how to put into words exactly what he'd come to admire and respect about the young woman who did all she had and didn't ask for anything in return and in fact had seemed embarrassed when he took care of some past due bills, her son's daycare and had an associate rough up her ex-husband and tell him to leave the young family alone.

It was also then that he fell in love with Elizabeth Webber, but didn't think he belonged in her life. She was good and pure and he could bring nothing but violence and darkness. He just hadn't counted on her tenacity. She refused to let him walk away from her, she was constantly there in his life and one night he found her at Jake's where she was blitzed out of her mind and oblivious to the lecherous looks from the dockworkers who liked the skin tight jeans she wore and were plying her with alcohol. Cameron was at a friend's house and she was planning to drink her way into numbness after losing a family in the operating room after the family lost the battle of mini van versus semi. Although he tried to resist her temptations, he found himself drinking along with her, trying to teach her pool, and then waking up beside her the next morning, her bare bottom nestled snugly against his groin and that time when he took her, they both knew exactly what he was saying to her when he made declarations of how much he'd loved her for years.

A month later when she told him she was pregnant, Jason whisked her and her son off to Sonny's island where he convinced her to marry him, and began the process of convincing Sonny to make their business legitimate and turn most of their holdings over to Johnny Zacharra who was nothing like his dead father, but actually had a head for business and would guarantee their safety. Jason was able to watch his family grow, feeling proud to be their father and grateful that Elizabeth had looked beyond the things he did to fall in love with the man she saw.

Currently, though, he wasn't so sure about this whole bucolic family vacation ritual. Nashville, Arkansas wasn't exactly the first place that came to mind when he thought of "where do we want to go for vacation?". The town of less than five thousand liked their hometown atmosphere and boasted such quaint activities as the Peach Blossom Festival. Peaches had once been the major business of the town, sustaining it through the Great Depression and in peak production years there were over 400 orchards and 175 boxcars transported nearly 70,000 bushel baskets each day. When production fell, many of the orchards were replaced with cattle and chicken farms...a fact most offensive in hot, humid summer days.

But his sons had heard about Crater of Diamonds State Park where they could dig for diamonds in a plowed field and keep anything they found. They were sure they'd find a big one that could be made into something for their mother. More than likely, she'd end up with a rough diamond too small to be cut, but that could be put into a pendant for her to wear. And when they heard that the world's largest find of dinosaur trackways was found in a quarry north of town, well that sealed the deal for them. They packed the family up and drove, because Elizabeth said that half the fun was in getting there, and she'd been right. Scenic byways, historic markers, they'd taken their time driving there because school was out and it wasn't like they needed to rush back for fear of losing their jobs.

So now he stood on Main Street outside the building that William Dillard bought that began the whole chain of department stores, because Elizabeth said it was a slice of Americana. They were then going to Historic Washington State Park a little ways from town, again because his wife wanted to see the place. It was there the man who created the Bowie knife once lived, and the town served as the Confederate Capital of Arkansas and had over thirty restored buildings that showed life from the 1820s to the 1900s. Elizabeth and their sons were truly enjoying the moment and helped him discover and appreciate the simple pleasure of the family vacation. A fact he would always be grateful for.

Yipsilanti, Michigan

When Elizabeth Webber graduated from high school in Colorado, she only had one criteria for where she wanted to go to college, it had to be out of state. Her addendum to that criteria became, it would not be in Port Charles. Her parents ditched her with the neighbors when she was 15 years old after they decided to go off and save the underprivileged world. Sarah got sent to live with their grandmother in Port Charles, and Elizabeth was left to the care of their next door neighbors who treated Elizabeth like the live-in babysitter. When she ran away and tried to join her sister and grandmother in New York, she was shipped right back to Colorado. After that, Elizabeth decided the only way she was getting out of this nightmare her parents left her in was to get a scholarship to somewhere else. She worked hard to keep her grades up, volunteered at clubs to look good on her applications (and also keep her away from the Terrible Traweek Triplets) and saved what money she could from her monthly allowance that wasn't spent on her clothes or school supplies.

When it came time to decide where to go, she hung a United States map, tossed a couple of darts and didn't care about them sticking in the drywall. When the fat envelope came from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan, she wrote back her immediate acceptance in spite of never visiting the college and not even knowing what she would study. She just knew it was her ticket out of Colorado. She wouldn't turn 18 until she was already at school, but knew that her parents and the neighbors would never stop her from leaving. Especially when she presented all the scholarships she'd won through writing essays her senior year, discovering that she was a descendent of Mayflower passengers and a Daughter of the American Revolution. Her parents bemoaned that there wasn't a medical school there, but told her to just major in a science and then apply to a medical school when she completed her undergraduate work. She had no intention of doing so, but lied and nodded her head because she knew it would allow her to go. Once she was 18, her parents couldn't stop her.

Her first day in town she gave herself away as a transplant by pronouncing the Y, but over the years, she came to call it Ipsi like everyone else. Majoring in Education with an emphasis in art, she was well on her way to being independent and free of her family when she graduated next semester. She could happily stay in the area, or neighboring Ann Arbor, and teach elementary students the basic fundamentals of art. Her advisor told her quite truthfully that she might want to start there considering that she looked like she could still be in high school herself instead of being in her senior year of college. She was so fresh-faced and squeaky clean that even though today was her 21st birthday and she could finally legally buy a drink in her favorite hangout near campus, the bartender was reluctant to sell her one.

He wasn't the normal guy; Elizabeth had actually never seen him here before, and she wasn't sure that she'd be coming back here if he became a permanent fixture in the bar. It wasn't his loud shirts that were offensive, it wasn't even his lip sweater, it was the lecherous comments he made - even if they were half in jest. She didn't need some middle-aged guy hitting on was creepy and reminded her too much of her scuzzy neighbor she'd been happy to escape. Plus, it just served to remind her that she was in her fourth year of college and hadn't yet lost her virginity.

She wasn't interested in the frat boys, and she wanted it to mean a little more than just doing it to have it over with, but she hadn't yet met anyone she wanted to take that step with. Actually she had; it was just that he probably had no idea of how much she wanted him. At least she hoped he hadn't, because it would be beyond embarrassing and meant she could never come back to this bar again. Besides, what would the young bar owner want with someone like her? He could have his pick of women, and often did. The bar bunnies he chose were big-breasted - which she wasn't; vapid - she was in the honors college; and looked like they'd been rode hard and put away wet. She hadn't even been ridden once.

And now she was sitting in his bar on her birthday, having declined going out with her friends that night claiming she would wait for the weekend for a wild bash, all because she'd had some laughable dream of spending her 21st birthday with Jason Morgan. Maybe tonight would be the night that he'd take one look at her and ditch the bar bunnies that flocked around him. Instead, she was stuck getting a hard time from the new guy and definitely not enjoying her first day of legal drinking.

Deciding to cut a miserable evening short, Elizabeth left the bar where she'd always loved spending hours playing pool and glimpsing the bartender behind the bar, and decided to head out. She'd deliberately walked to the bar so that she wouldn't be irresponsible and drive home drunk - or maybe she was hoping that tonight she would join Jason in the room above the bar - but instead of turning for her shared apartment near the campus, she struck out and began walking. She hadn't realized how far she'd walked and how much her mind had wandered until she found herself in front of the Brick Dick, the Ypislanti Water Tower. Erected in 1890, it was ranked by Cabinet magazine as the world's most phallic building and had appropriately earned its nickname. It was a 174 foot tall brick dick.

"I promise you," she whispered to the building drunkenly, "that I will not be responsible for you falling down. I will not graduate a virgin."

"You know that's just a legend, don't you?"

She should have been scared of the voice that replied, and for a moment in her buzzed state she thought the building had answered her. But then she saw the man standing in the shadows of the building.

"I know," she stated defiantly. "But since I haven't found a steady boyfriend since moving here, and I end up as friends with most of the guys I meet, having a goal seems like a good reason for the changes I'm about to make in my life."

"And what changes are those?" he wondered.

"No more hanging out at some little bar near campus like a pathetic loser hoping the Adonis behind the bar will notice me. For too long I've compared every man to him in looks when I should have been comparing their personalities. He's a man-whore and I've seen the quality of tramps he associates with. Even if he had noticed me, I'd probably end up with a raging STD." She shivered and shook her head. "No, thank you. If I'm gonna give it up to a man-whore it'll be someone that actually has some standards. And so my goal is to get Patrick Drake to notice me."

"And how are you gonna do that?"

"Just pretend to be interested in cars," she said with a loopy shrug. "I'll just say that I've decided it's time to finally go to Automotive Heritage Museum and see the Fabulous Hudson Hornet. Patrick likes to race, I'll let him tell me stories all about Marshall Teague and the races he won, giggle in just the right places, tell him I want to see him race his car and go fast. I'm sure with having the rest of this semester and all of the next one...I'll accomplish my goal."

She dusted her hands together. "No big deal."

Even as she said the words she felt a little queasy, but she didn't focus on it. She was sure it would be fine. Patrick wasn't that bad. She could probably even tell him why she was doing this and he'd be somewhat gentle with her. Anything had to be better than the pathetic years she'd wasted hoping Jason Morgan would notice her. Except the queasy feeling wasn't going away.

"Oh, no," she whispered, just as she realized the true cause for her rolling stomach. She'd had a few too many fruity drinks Coleman had plied her with and her nerves over implementing her plan with Patrick Drake were now creating a very unpleasant feeling. "I...excuse me..."

Amazingly, the stranger wasn't completely repulsed when she turned and emptied the contents of her stomach into the bushes. He pushed himself off the building and walked up behind her, holding her hair back. When she swayed and nearly fell down, he wrapped his arm around her waist and kept her upright. And when she began to softly cry at how pathetic she was, he helped her onto the back of his motorcycle and said he was going to take her home.

The next morning when Elizabeth woke up, she turned and puked in a conveniently placed bowl and then collapsed back onto the bed and stared in pure horror at the unfamiliar room she was in. She tried to remember the events of last night and then closed her eyes in sheer terror as she remembered the stranger she talked to at the brick dick. He'd taken her home and then taken advantage of her and probably thought it was fine since she'd been talking about losing her virginity.

Just as she was starting to process the fact that she wasn't naked under the sheets, the door opened and she was half-tempted to pretend to be asleep. Until she saw Jason Morgan step into the room. He carried a cup of coffee in each hand and all she could do was stare at him. And it wasn't just because he was wearing a pair of sweatpants and nothing else; it was because Jason Morgan had just stepped into the room. He was the stranger from last night?

Please, she sent up a silent, desperate plea as she looked Heavenward, I will never drink again and I promise I won't sleep with anyone until I'm married, if you would just transport me out of here right now.

"Here," he said, handing her a black mug.

Immediately she complied, even though it made sitting up rather difficult. He sat down on the edge of the bed and faced her, taking a sip of the bitter liquid.

"How did I end up here?" she asked in a small voice.

"I wasn't going to let you fall down drunk on the sidewalk in front of the dick," he said. "And I brought you here instead of fishing through your pockets looking for your address and your keys. I know you think I'm a man-whore, but I do have some standards."

She groaned into her coffee mug. She was going to have to move after she graduated.

"Now," he cleared his throat. "About last night."

"We don't have to talk about last night," she said on a near plea. "Ever."

Switching his coffee cup to his right hand, he planted his left one on the bed, over her legs and leaned towards her. He had a look in his eye that she couldn't quite place, but she did know that it made her stomach clench. At least she hoped it was the look, she'd hate to suddenly puke on the man.

"Oh, I think we do," he countered. "Because there are a few flaws in your plan, but we'll forgive them because you were drunk. The first is, you are going to see the Fabulous Hudson Hornet, because it's a shame to be in Ypsi and not ever see it. Second, you are going to go fast, but it won't be in some race car. You, Elizabeth, are a motorcycle lover, and if you're gonna go fast, you're gonna do it on a motorcycle. And third, and perhaps most important, you are not going to flirt with Patrick Drake. Because you are absolutely crazy if you think I'm going to allow you to lose your virginity to him. I've been waiting for you to turn twenty-one since the moment you first stepped into my bar with that ridiculously bad fake ID."

England Continuation of Rotterdam

There was something so right about Elizabeth's house. Much like her house in Port Charles, it was small, but still had plenty of room for the young family. There were beautiful gardens surrounding the house with beautiful bursts of colors. There were lots of a flower he'd come to know was called a Dizzy Lizzy and wondered who had chosen that for their garden. There were vegetables that were going to need picking when they returned from France and Jason envisioned the three of them out in the dirt on their knees, laughing and talking and enjoying their life as a family. A life he wasn't part of.

Elizabeth was right when she got mad at him in Rotterdam. She hadn't used an alias, if he'd wanted to find her, he could have. But he told himself that he should let her and the boys go and he shouldn't try to stop her or find her. It wasn't that he hadn't missed them; he remembered the pain in his chest when he saw Jake on the merry-go-round at the Carnival and saw how big his son had grown and how much he looked like him every day. And he'd seen the pain in Elizabeth's eyes as Sam had plastered herself against his side and he wrapped his arm around her. He was glad that Elizabeth had taken Jake off the ride, called to Cameron, ignored Lucky when he tried to get them to stay longer and then left the hospital event, because his grandfather plowed into the area where they would have been only moments later. He wouldn't have been able to stand by and do nothing if any of them had gotten hurt.

As the months passed after she left, he told himself that things were the way they should be. Sam accepted the risks of his life, and while Elizabeth always said she stood beside him, he simply couldn't bear the thought of any harm coming to her or the boys. He wanted them safe, and if that meant not being with them, then that was the way it was. Except that the ache that had grown ever since he walked away from them at the courthouse hadn't eased. The pain that had pierced him when Elizabeth and the boys left never faded. He tried to be content in his life; he tried to believe that it was the life he deserved and that they were better off without him. But despite taking care of business for Sonny, helping Carly with Michael's erratic behavior, dealing with Spinelli and being with Sam, nothing felt right. And eventually his going through the motions and acting like everything was fine no longer convinced people. The most selfish people in the world finally saw that he wasn't really happy.

It was how they responded to him that surprised him. Sam got angry that he was moping around, probably missing his stupid brat and Elizabeth and she told him that if wanted a child so much, then they should just have one. Carly told him that he should pull his head out of his butt and be with his family. And for once she didn't mean hers. It seemed with the birth of her third child she had finally found the maturity she'd been claiming to have but hadn't fully attained with motherhood. She told him that he was a coward and he was a hypocrite and she wondered how it was that he'd changed so much and how she hadn't noticed it. She acknowledged how much he loved Jake, and that Jason had actually seemed happy when he'd been with Elizabeth - and yes, she'd known he was dating her, she'd just chosen not to believe it or comment on it because it fit her agenda - and now he was a shell of a person and she didn't like him anymore.

She encouraged him to get rid of Sam, get checked out, and then find his family. He deserved to have his son in his life, and he deserved to have Elizabeth, and if he had to work hard to get her back, then maybe he should do that. And if he ran out of ideas, she would offer some, but she was going to concentrate on her family right now. Before he even had a chance to look for Elizabeth, Morgan showed him the DVD he'd made of the opening of the Tour de France and there, in the middle of the screen was his family. It was all that Jason needed as a sign and he was gone within a day, ready to get them back.

But instead he'd been forced to cool his heels for three weeks waiting for them to come back to England. She hadn't wanted him on their family vacation and he knew she was going to be tough to convince to give him another chance, but Jason wasn't going to give up. He'd told Sonny that he wasn't available; Spinelli was given his severance pay and told that as long as he supported Sam and wouldn't listen to Jason, then the older man had no use for an employee like that. He'd rented a house near Elizabeth's in the village, and he had no intention of walking away just because things got tough.

As he looked out the window, he smiled as he saw the taxi pull up to the house and the three of them pile out. He stepped outside and walked down the lane, reaching into the back of the car and telling the taxi driver he had the last of the luggage when the man looked at him questioningly. When Cameron saw him and yelled at him in his childlike exuberance and rushed to greet him, the driver finally let go of the bag, closed the trunk and headed off.

Jake looked at Jason warily, not knowing Jason like his brother did, and Elizabeth looked like she was on a slow burn and definitely wasn't happy to see him. She reached for the last of the bags and ushered the boys back into the house.

"I need to get them ready for bed," she told him, stopping him from following her into the house. "It may stay light here late, but it's the boys' bedtime and I don't want them to get all wound up."

"Can I come by later?" he asked. "Or would tomorrow work?"

He suspected she wanted to tell him never, but she finally agreed to him stopping by in the morning. He set the bag inside the door and stepped back, seeing her framed in the doorway of her house, with ivy creeping on the sides and smiled at the way she fit with her surroundings.

"Why Derbyshire?" he asked her. "Was it the Peaks? Did you want mountains?"

"I was looking for romance after I left Port Charles," she said. "And since my personal life was a mess and I didn't trust myself with any man since I proved to be a horrible judge of character and awful decision maker, I looked for romance in books. I was in the middle of reading Pride and Prejudice and decided to settle down in England. After that it was just a choice of Hertfordshire or Derbyshire; I flipped a coin and here we are. We have a quiet, nice life here, Jason, and I'm not looking to have that messed up."

She was challenging him, it was clear in her words, in her tone and her posture. Jason firmed his shoulders, stuffed his hands into his pockets and said, "Well I'm not planning to go anywhere, Elizabeth, so you better just get used to seeing me around."

Walla Walla, Washington

When Elizabeth was younger, she fell in love with the concept of this place. The name was funny to her young ears, but it was a place that she always associated with happy memories. Even if she'd never actually been there. Walla Walla brought forth memories of sitting on her grandfather's lap, snuggled into his side while the smell of dinner drifted out of the kitchen. Like most children, Elizabeth had not liked the smell, taste or even the mere thought of onions. But her grandfather told her that Walla Walla Sweets were different. The onions had a low sulfur content, were mostly water and combined with the mild climate of the area and the rich soil, it created an onion that was sweet instead of strong. Her grandfather loved them, and on special occasions he could convince Grams to make homemade onion rings for him. When Elizabeth tried them, liberally dosed with ketchup, she had declared that they actually weren't that bad. Though she still preferred french fries.

Her grandfather told her that one day they'd go to the Onion Festival and she'd discover the beautiful things that people could create with onions. They never did go, and looking back as she got older, Elizabeth could realize that her grandpa probably never seriously planned for them to go. It was a cute make believe story for them to talk about, what they'd see, what they'd do and most of all, it kept her on his lap sitting quietly while Grams cooked and her parents were busy with her brother and sister and she was always underfoot and in the way. But those talks had influenced her and Elizabeth determined that one day she would make it to the festival one day. After all, since she named her restaurant The Sweet Onion, she felt she should check it out.

It was just that she'd never thought she'd be here with him. The man was rude, obnoxious and she couldn't believe the audacity that he had to check them into the same room at a cozy little bed and breakfast called the Fat Duck Inn. He'd promised her they'd have separate rooms. He promised her this was more of a business trip than anything else; after all, he was taking over his family's greasy spoon down on the docks. She should have known better than to trust a guy who sounded like he was named after the family's dog. If Lucky Spencer thought he was going to get lucky with her just because he'd booked the only suite at the inn that didn't have a sofa bed and therefore they'd have to share, he had another thing coming.

Elizabeth had done her best to avoid him throughout the day. She'd deliberately lose him in the crowd, she'd hide if she saw him coming and she caught a ride out to a nearby winery with a couple she only introduced herself to as they sat eating lunch, simply so that she could get away from the guy who was quickly becoming the bane of her existence and talking about mergers - both inside and outside the dining industry. However, there was simply no denying the fact that she'd eventually have to return to her room and state the cold hard facts to Lucky. Especially since she'd checked the other hotels in town and discovered they were booked full because of the festival. Curse that stupid biker boy who got the last room at the Travelodge.

Well, she wasn't going to eat dinner at the Fat Duck, no matter how good the menu sounded. Lucky would think it was some romantic dinner and she'd really hate to have to cause a scene by pouring water over his head or something. When she walked into the Sweet Basil Pizzeria she groaned when she saw the crowd. Every table was packed, except for a few lonely single diners like herself. The hostess told her she could wait at the bar, but then the last thing she ever expected occurred. Mister Biker Boy from the Travelodge told her that she could join him at his table if she wanted. He hadn't ordered yet, and they could split a pie. She would have declined, except for the fact that she was starving and this meant she'd be able to eat sooner rather than later.

As they waited for their order, she discovered that by small coincidence her dining companion was from Port Charles as well, but had been gone for several years traveling. As she filled him in on the changes to the town and why she was in Walla Walla, complete with the nightmare that was Lucky Spencer, he laughed and nearly choked on his beer.

"Everyone always talks about the Spencers as if they're amazing," he said, "but I've always thought they had a few screws loose. Lucky's one of the worst. Is that why you were at the Travelodge?"

When she nodded, he said, "I got the last room and it has two beds. You're welcome to ditch Spencer if you want, as long as you don't mind sharing a room."

She appraised him for a moment and then said, "My Grams would be appalled at me sharing a room with a complete stranger, and maybe you really are an axe murderer, but one thing I know is that you, Jason, are not Lucky Spencer. And right now, that's all I need to know."

Dairy Queen

This was not a dry heat. There was heat, alright, but due to the presence of the Colorado River, Yuma had just enough humidity to combine with temperatures in the 110s to be downright miserable. Today had even pushed the mercury upwards towards 120. This was why the territorial prison in Arizona had been given to this city; inmates were supposed to be punished and being in an adobe jail with no air conditioning in the summer would definitely be Hell on Earth.

But while Jason was used to working in environments where he soaked through his t-shirt, and his jeans, and had sweat running in small rivulets down his torso, Michael was not accustomed to such conditions. And even with the car's AC cranked on full, the piteous whimpers from the backseat told Jason that they needed to stop somewhere soon. While instinct told him that he needed to keep going, to not be seen with the little boy that the Quartermaine family was trying to take away from him after Sonny and Carly's jet blew up and left him with custody, once again, of the little boy that he'd raised for a year, he knew he needed to stop.

As if to tell him that his decision was correct, he saw the red and white sign of the Dairy Queen up ahead and knew that was the perfect place to stop. Michael would be engrossed with eating his ice cream that he wouldn't chatter and say anything that someone might remember. They'd be able to cool down, purchase drinks to take with them, and continue on their journey until they reached California in the middle of the night and crossed the border into Mexico along a quiet stretch where the Border Patrol was thin and the locals would turn a blind eye to someone going into Mexico as opposed to someone going out.

As they pulled into the busy parking lot, Jason was further pleased with his decision. While he didn't like crowds, he also knew that they'd work to his advantage today. The teenagers working behind the counter would be busy and harried, the customers inside would be anxious for their orders and everyone would be annoyed at the delay and the extra work and would be plastering false smiles on their faces and not really paying attention to anyone else. He and Michael would be just another pair of weary travelers searching for a cool treat in the middle of the day and when they left, chances were good that nobody would remember them.

Except that when he neared the door, he caught sight of the old car with the hood raised and steam billowing out. His instincts warred with themselves as he weighed his duty to Michael with his natural inclination to help someone in need. He told himself that this was one time he'd have to be just another selfish person and hurry inside while pretending he didn't see the person in distress. Sonny and Carly had named him Michael's guardian and he knew that if the Quartermaines played dirty and got the custody case assigned to one of the judges in Edward's pocket that he might lose Michael. The little boy would become a pawn in the power struggle between A.J. and the old man, and with Tracy back in town and making her own play for control of ELQ things would get ugly and Michael's already shattered world would be upset even further. That was why Jason had turned the territory over to Sorrel and fled, even though he was fairly certain that the other man was the one responsible for the accident that left his nephew without his parents.

His well-laid plans went out the window, though, when he was hurrying Michael towards the door and he saw a little boy about the same age sitting on the hot cement with a tear-stained face. His brown curls were sweat-soaked and laying on his head while his harried mother looked like she was fighting off tears as well. A quick scan showed no ring on her finger and no one else in the vicinity and Jason found that he just didn't have the heart to walk right past them. Placing his hand on Michael's shoulder to slow their approach to the door, he stopped a few feet away from the mother and son and asked, "Do you need some help?"

With a weary sigh, the woman looked up, pushing long chestnut tresses back to reveal the most amazing deep blue eyes Jason had ever seen. She seemed startled, and shocked, at his question and he wondered just how long they'd been sitting there and how many people had passed them by without offering to help. Placing a comforting hand on her son's curls as he wrapped himself around her leg and eyed the strangers warily, she nodded. "Yeah. I know something's broken, but I have no idea what."

"Let's go in and get something to eat," he suggested, gesturing towards the door. "Then while you guys are cooling down and finishing up, I'll take a look at it and see what I can do."

Zion National Park

"They are so going to kill us."

As Elizabeth rested her arm against the side of the car door and leaned her head against the window, she silently agreed. Even if she wasn't going to give in to her friend's overdramatic statements.

"I mean...I totally blew off the ball, Elizabeth," Emily continued on, her voice reaching a frantic pitch. "I love Nikolas, I do."

Turning to face her friend, the intern insisted, "I do. And I want to marry him. But I was all too much. And that's the ironic thing, isn't it. I have always wanted to be the princess to Nikolas' prince. The bacchanalia, the dress, the announcement of our engagement...Halloween was supposed to be wonderful. But then..."

"Then my life had to mess up yours," Elizabeth sighed, looking out the window.

"No," Emily said firmly; sharp enough to force her to look back. "No, that is not it at all. It is not your fault. You didn't make people do what they did."

"I started it all by lying," she said, taking the blame for that mistake. "And then asking Jason to give up Jake the day of your dad's funeral, and then marrying Lucky and letting him believe a lie. I was such a fool."

"Jason could have spoken up at any time," her friend shook her head. "I love my brother, but he could have said no."

"I asked him at a horrible moment," Elizabeth said in disgust. "Sometimes I am so ashamed of myself for the way I ambushed him like that. I wasn't fair to him at all."

"Elizabeth," the other woman said as she reached over and covered Elizabeth's hand as it rested on the steering wheel. "I don't think Jason blames you for it. Besides, there are bigger things to worry about."

"Like how we're gonna get out of here?" she wondered.

"No, what we're going to do about everyone else," Emily shook her head. "I mean, everyone knows the truth now."

Elizabeth closed her eyes and sighed wearily. Yes, everyone knew the truth now that Jake was Jason's son. Sam had made sure of that. Getting into a fight with Lucky in the middle of Kelly's, announcing to everyone, including Cameron, that she was sleeping with Lucky simply to get Elizabeth back for having Jason's baby. Mike stood behind the counter, shocked at the confrontation. Nikolas and Emily walked in, frozen in the doorway as they listened to Lucky yell at Elizabeth for being a cheating whore - never mind the fact that he was sleeping with Sam and had deliberately done it to hurt her and then kept doing it because Sam was cheap and easy - and telling her that he was done taking care of her stupid brats. Lulu and her entourage walking in and joining the fray which only made her brother angrier to discover that she knew even before Jake was born that he wasn't the father. Maxie and Cooper walking downstairs and witnessing the entire scene and the blonde quipping that Elizabeth sure wasn't an angel now, but a sanctimonious hypocrite.

Nikolas had walked away from Emily's side to stand by his brother and that was when her friend had grabbed Elizabeth's hand and led her and her children out of Kelly's. It wasn't until they were halfway to the airport that Elizabeth wondered what was going on. Emily claimed she was too mad at everyone, especially Nikolas who had whispered something unflattering about Elizabeth under his breath that she heard but absolutely refused to divulge, to stay in Port Charles any longer. They were on the Quartermaine jet heading west before Elizabeth even could begin to process or protest. And then they drove to the southwest corner of Utah to visit a national park because Emily decided that it would be nice to see it in the fall and when it wasn't so hot.

But now, though, they were stuck. Cameron and Jake were thankfully asleep in the back, while they sat stuck in an early winter storm. They didn't have snow tires or chains and so they were going to be here until things cleared up, or they were found. Based on the spotty cell reception, it was doubtful they'd be able to call for help. The only good thing about this was that because they'd left without packing anything, they'd had to stop in a store and buy supplies for them all. Emily had insisted that every traveler needed a first aid kit, emergency blankets and lots of water. They'd have food, water, clothing and blankets, but that wasn't a very comforting thought to Elizabeth. She knew that soon enough her boys would get cooped up and restless being stuck inside, and that's when things would not be pretty.

And they certainly wouldn't be pleasant when they returned to Port Charles. If the number of calls both women had received on their cell phones was any indication, there were a lot of people upset over the whole turn of events. Returning home, whenever that might be, was not going to be fun.

But that wasn't what Elizabeth was thinking about as she caught sight of something in her rearview mirror. She realized that she and Emily and the boys were alone, in the middle of a snowstorm in a remote national park. Jason's enemies had to have heard the news by now that he had a son. And they were out here with no guards, she'd ignored Jason's phone calls because she'd been ignoring everyone's phone calls and suddenly she realized just how stupid and foolish this whole venture had been. Why had she believed this would be some great adventure as Emily claimed? Elizabeth flicked her eyes to the rearview mirror and felt her hands tense around the steering wheel as she realized that the flashes of light she'd seen were headlights, and an SUV was approaching them. Then her gaze fell on Cameron who was asleep with his head resting on the side of the car seat. His tears, his confusion, his hurt were what had led her to allow Emily to whisk them out of town and 'take care of everything'. She could only hope she hadn't just sealed their fate.

The vehicle stopped behind them and the two women exchanged glances that conveyed identical thoughts. Who was in the car behind them? Friend? Or Foe? Could they protect the boys? What should they do? Elizabeth only knew that she would go down swinging if it came to it.

A muted click echoed through the car as she futilely pressed the button to confirm that the doors were locked. Then her breath caught in her throat as the doors to the SUV opened and several men climbed out. All she needed to see was the leather jacket and then she was scrambling frantically to undo the lock and she practically fell on the ground in her haste to exit the car. Strong arms swept her up and crushed her to him moments before Jason claimed her mouth in a searing kiss.

"Are you alright?" he demanded as he set her back on the ground but didn't let go of her. "Are you and the boys alright?"

"The boys are asleep," she told him. "And we're okay now that you've found us. I don't know how you did it, but I am so happy to see you."

"Don't ever leave again," he told her, his arms tightening around her. "Do you hear me, Elizabeth? Don't ever leave again. Not without me by your side."

"I promise," she told him as she rose on her toes. Whispering against his mouth she swore once more, "I promise."

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