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This is my first attempt at a larger, ensemble story. The premise came from thoughts of the Cataclysmic Event - the Hotel Fire - that was supposed to change the face of General Hospital forever, except it really didn't. We were promised major characters would die, shaking things up forever, by the time the few characters did die, we knew they were on their way out because of the way they weren't written for. Then it morphed into the events of Summer 2004, how I would have handled certain aspects, but also promised the "people will die, nothing will ever be the same on General Hospital" the CE didn't deliver.

This starts July 2004, after Lila's death but before the reveal that Sonny, not Jason, is the father of Sam's baby. There will be character deaths, there will be shakeups, there will be an inclusion of characters and cast...hopefully. And hopefully you will all enjoy the effort and the attempt.

Chapter 1

~Elm Street Pier~

The sound of water lapping against the pylons usually was calming, but it wasn't working tonight. There was too much noise at home, too much pressure to keep everyone happy, to make sure everyone was taken care of. Sometimes Jason just wanted to hop on his bike and ride until no one could find him, but that wasn't possible. He was trapped in his life, because of this need, this compulsion to take care of everyone, to make sure they were happy; even if he wasn't.

Footsteps slapped against the wooden planks and he turned slightly, stiffening momentarily when he saw his sister coming towards him. "Hey, Jason," she smiled through exhaustion.

"Are you okay?" he asked. "You sounded upset on the phone."

She walked over to the bench and sat down, her purse hanging limp at her feet as she slumped forward. "I'm sorry; I probably shouldn't have called you. I just..."

He sat down beside her, guilt washing over him for feeling annoyed at her phone call. "No, no, it's okay. You should never feel bad for calling."

She flopped against the back of the bench and closed her eyes. "It's just so crazy at that house that I had to get out of there. Everyone is at each other's throat with this whole competition for grandmother's money. just doesn't seem to be working out the way she had hoped."

"She always believed the best in people," Jason said, putting his arm around her shoulder.

"I just miss her," Emily said, sniffling as she turned her head into his shoulder. "It's been so hard...especially with everything that's happening with Nikolas."

"Is he still avoiding you?"

She sat up, pushing her hair off her face. "I'm trying not to push him, but it's so hard. He's so mad at me for talking to him all those weeks and never letting on I knew him."

"I'm sorry," he told her. He knew it might happen, had warned her against not telling him, but he didn't like that she was hurting.

"He just won't listen to anything I try to tell him. He just thinks it's more lies."

Jason didn't know what to say to his sister. She was hurting, and in that pain she just didn't want to listen to him when he said to just give Nikolas some space. The younger man had amnesia; it was very possible he'd get his memory back soon. It could also take years or more, which was why Emily couldn't just let things progress naturally. She was convinced if she gave him just a little push, his memory would come back.

"Maybe you should give him a little more time," he finally said. "He's probably overwhelmed."

"I can't give up on him, Jason," she protested. "I love him and I refuse to just walk away from him."

Jason clenched his jaw as a sour taste filled his mouth. "The Quartermaines loved me and refused to give up on me, too."

She sat back, surprised and sputtering. "No, no, Jason...that's not...Nikolas' case is different. His injuries aren't like yours."

"I know, but that doesn't mean he won't feel the same frustration," he pointed out.

She slumped, dejected and silent, then finally said, "I'm sorry. I...I should go. I told Elizabeth I'd stop by. I picked up a little gift for Cameron."

Leaning forward, Emily hugged him tightly. "Thank you, Jason, for talking with me. I'm sorry about-"

"It's okay," he assured her. "You're just worried. Do you need a ride?"

She shook her head. "I've got my car. I'll be okay. How about you, are you okay?"

"I'm fine," he automatically said and she merely nodded.

"I'll see you later, Jase. I love you." She kissed his cheek and picked up her purse, running back up the stairs.

He sighed, looking out over the water, trying to find the peace it used to bring. He didn't want to go, yet he needed to. If he was gone too long Sam tended to get worried, and then she'd do something crazy, and he really didn't need that right now.

~Hardy House~

It was an odd, messed-up feeling of been there, done that, and Elizabeth sat there listening to Lucky, not knowing what to say. She'd only been back in Port Charles less than two weeks and already she felt like she'd been pulled into another dimension. Lucky was Nikolas, Emily was brother developing feelings for his brother's girlfriend while everyone thought the brother was dead. Nothing good could come of this situation.

"Lucky," she said softly, not wanting to wake Cameron who was falling asleep in her arms, "Nikolas isn't dead."

"But he doesn't remember who he is, and he's pushing Emily away."

She sighed, leaning back into the couch. "It doesn't matter to her. She loves him and as long as she knows he's alive she won't give up hope. Even if we knew for sure he was dead, she wouldn't be ready. You need to respect that, Lucky, or she's going to avoid you even more than she's starting to do now."

"I know," Lucky breathed out, running his hand through his hair and hooking it behind his neck. "I don't want to make her uncomfortable. And I've probably made you uncomfortable by coming over here to talk about it."

She looked down at Cameron, his eyelashes resting against his cheeks as he slept. He looked so peaceful, unaware of everything around him and she found herself wishing she could have that, but it wasn't possible. Looking back up at Lucky she smiled wanly at him. "It's okay. I know you just need a friend. I can understand needing to talk. I just...I don't want you or Emily to get hurt."

"I'll be careful," he assured her, but the words felt flat to her ears.

There was a soft tap at the door and Lucky stood and told her he'd answer it. Emily was standing on the porch and she shifted on her feet. Elizabeth frowned, wondering what brought Emily by at this time of the night, but she didn't think she'd get the answer as long as Lucky was in the room. Lucky invited Emily in and then sighed as he walked back over to the couch.

"I should go," he said, kissing Elizabeth on the top of her head and brushing his fingertips lightly over Cameron's cheek. "Thanks for the coffee...and for listening."

"Sure, Lucky," she smiled at him. "You know you can come by any time."

He just nodded and headed for the front door. "Goodnight, Elizabeth. Goodnight, Emily."

"Night, Lucky," she said.

"Night," Emily parroted, looking up finally from the floor.

When the door was closed, Emily came to life, bubbling her way over the couch and sitting beside her and quietly cooing over Cameron. "He's so precious, Elizabeth. Do you want to put him down?"

Elizabeth regarded her friend, then nodded and stood. Whatever was going on, she'd probably find out easier if Cameron was in his crib. "I'll be right back."

When Elizabeth came back downstairs after tucking her son into his crib, Emily was sitting on the couch, reading through one of the magazines her grandmother had put out. She sat down and peered curiously at her friend. "What's going on, Em?"

Emily picked up a bag from Wyndhams and pulled out a wrapped box. "I brought this over for Cameron."

Accepting the gift, she arched her brow, "You've already brought lots of presents for Cameron. Are you trying to outfit my son?"

She said it teasingly, and yet part of her did feel like she was on the receiving end of charity. All of the presents meant she didn't have to spend as much of her money. Emily just shook her head and smiled, even as tears sprang to her eyes. "I didn't want to lie to Jason."


"I was talking with him earlier and I think I hurt him, and instead of apologizing and making sure he was okay I ran, saying I'd told you I was stopping by with something for Cameron."

Reaching out, she took Emily's hand. "What's wrong, Emily?"

"I was talking to Jason about Nikolas and saying I couldn't give up on him because I love him and Jason reminded me that was the same excuse the rest of the family used on him." She sighed heavily and reached across her face to tuck her hand behind her ear. "I know Jason and Nikolas' injuries aren't the same and that's why I just can't walk away from Nikolas."

"But you're not walking away from him if he's asking you to give him some space," Elizabeth pointed out. "And Jason's just trying to help you not be hurt by causing Nikolas to resent you."

"It's not the same, Elizabeth. I know you didn't know Jason back then, but it was a very difficult time."

"I understand that Jason and Nikolas are different, but that doesn't mean the emotions aren't similar. I do know how it feels when someone doesn't want to be around you. Do you remember when we found out Lucky was alive, and he kept telling me he didn't love me and I belonged with Nikolas? Do you remember how you and everyone else told me not to give up on him, that I just needed to make him remember me? I got so sick of it, and so did Lucky. Maybe if I'd stepped back a little and hadn't pushed so hard it wouldn't have hurt both of us so much."

"But because you didn't give up Lucky remembered his love for you," Emily protested.

"Did he really? We didn't end up getting married and for a long time I resented him."

"It sounds like you also resent us for encouraging you," Emily pointed out.

Elizabeth shook her head. "That's not what I said. I'm just trying to caution you, Emily. Even if Nikolas remembers what he once felt for you, he's also going remember this time now when you pushed him. And he may not be able to get over it."

"He will," her friend declared stubbornly. "Our love has gotten us through so many things; it will get us through too."

She just smiled and nodded her head. "Okay."

Emily still seemed hung up on fairytales and Elizabeth knew that nothing she could say would change her mind. She didn't think her friend was being rational, but maybe she just needed a little more time to deal with her grandmother's death and recover from the shock that Nikolas was alive. Emily gathered her purse and said it was late, that she should be going. Elizabeth stood and hugged her, thanking her for the gift as they walked to the door. She watched as Emily walked down the sidewalk and climbed in her car, and then she locked the door and flipped off the porch light. She had a feeling that whatever happened with Emily, Nikolas and Lucky was going to get a whole lot messier before it was over. She just hoped she could survive it.

~Safe House~

Jason opened the door and slammed it behind him, silencing the two fighting brunettes. "Carly," he growled, "what are you doing here?"

"I came to talk to this little blood-sucking leech."

He could feel his jaw clenching up and tried to take a deep breath to calm down. But it was hard. He was trying to keep Carly's family together by claiming Sam's baby as his own, instead of Sonny being revealed as the father, and Carly was still unhappy. She didn't seem satisfied to know that the baby was Jason's, she wanted Sam gone because she'd had an affair with Sonny. It was the same reason she'd tried to get Alexis out of town; Carly didn't want any reminders around that Sonny had strayed.

"Carly, go home," he ordered.

"No," she shot back, "not until I convince you to get rid of this parasite."

"No such luck, Carly," Sam snapped. "Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not going anywhere."

"You will if you end up in prison," Carly goaded her.

"Sam will not be going to prison," Jason said on a growl. "Don't... Just leave it alone, Carly."

"No, Jason," she shook her head and turned her back on Sam. "Send her lying, murdering butt to jail. Then she'll be out of your life."

"She's pregnant."

"So," she shrugged, "she'll have the baby and it'll be given to you because you're the father. You're a great father, Jason, you don't need her."

"Hello, I'm in the room," Sam said.

Carly looked back over her shoulder. "Then leave."

"Carly," Jason shook his head in frustration. "I am not going to raise the baby by myself. Sam is the mother and she deserves to be with her baby. People thought you didn't belong with Michael."

"That's unfair," she said, glaring at him as if he were in the wrong for bringing it up.

"And so is what you're trying to do to Sam. I'm tired of this, Carly. Stay out of it. You are not helping me, no matter how much you claim you are. As usual, you are only looking out for yourself. You think if Sam's gone I'll let you help with the baby and you'll still be the most important person in my life."

And now came the tears meant to guilt and shame him. "That isn't what I'm trying to do, Jason."

"You need to go home, Carly. How'd you get here anyways?"

"She followed Sonny," Sam supplied.

He could only guess as to why Sonny had come over. Despite going back to Carly to keep their family together, he was unwilling to let go of Sam. Jason had walked in on them several times kissing and having quiet, intimate dinners. He could only imagine how quickly after he'd left that Sam had called Sonny.

"I...I knew that your sister needed to talk to you, so I called Sonny when I...had a question," she said, trying to make a reason for why she'd called Carly's husband. "Is she okay?"

"She's fine," he answered, pulling out his phone. When Sonny answered his frustration bled through. "It's me. We've got a problem at the safe house. Carly's here."

Hanging up he glared at his friend. "He's on his way here. Sam, could you please go lie down?"

"I'm not tired," she said petulantly, sitting down on the couch and crossing her arms over her chest.

"Fine," he said, looking at them both. "I don't want to hear a word from either of you."

"Jase-" Carly began

"I mean it, Carly."

Fifteen tense minutes later, Jason was ready to drag Carly home and have it out with Sonny, when the older man finally walked through the door. If he and Sam were trying to convince others they were over, then they needed to stop giving each other smoldering looks. After gazing at Sam for a moment, he then turned his hard glare on Carly. "Why are you here?"

"I followed you," she said without apology. "I wanted to talk to Sam about Jason. What were you doing here?"

"It was regarding her case," Sonny lied smoothly. "Let's go. You've bothered Jason and Sam enough."

"Bothered them?" she cried. She started in on a tear how she was only looking out for Jason, but Sonny grabbed hold of her arm and pulled her from the room. She did not go quietly.

"Jason, I'm sorry," Sam said, but stopped when he held up his hand.

"Sam, just...just please go to bed."

"Is Emily okay?" she pressed.

"Sam, leave it alone. Leave me alone right now, okay?"

"Alright," she said. "I am feeling kind-of tired."

She headed towards the hallway, but he called after her on a thought. "Sam."


"Maybe you should stop calling Sonny over all the time. Nobody's going to believe your baby is mine if you're constantly calling him and looking at him like you wished you were alone. Remember that we're doing this for a reason."

"Okay," she said quietly, unhappily, and headed into her room.

He sighed and sank down onto the couch in frustration. Was this what he was stuck with for the rest of his life? He loved Michael and would do anything for him; he just wished he didn't have to work so hard to keep this plan from busting apart at the seams.

Chapter 2


"You don't have any ideas, Elizabeth?"

She looked over at Emily, fighting against the headache forming behind her eyes. She'd come to the park for a little break in her day; her grandmother offered to watch Cameron so she could have a few moments to herself. Feeling that it would be unfair to accept the offer, especially since Cameron had been fussy the past couple of nights and Elizabeth knew her grandmother had been awakened, she'd refused. But her gram had insisted, explaining that she remembered what it was like to be home all day with a little baby. Sometimes even half an hour of time alone could make it easier to face the responsibilities of motherhood again.

Her grandmother had smiled so kindly, seeming to know how Elizabeth felt that each day was blurring into the next, and that she hadn't talked to anybody but Cameron and her gram in the five days since Lucky and Emily had stopped by. So finally Elizabeth agreed and headed out, no particular destination in mind, just content to be out of the house and in fresh air. That contentment had turned to agitation when the first person she ran into on her walk through the park was Emily.

She felt guilty for just wanting to run when she saw her friend coming. Her friend's whole world had been thrown into turmoil and Emily was trying to adjust as best she could. She'd thought she'd lost Nikolas twice in only a few months time and Elizabeth understood that pain. Now that they knew Nikolas was alive, the relief they all felt was mixed with bittersweet disappointment because he didn't remember anything. The knowledge had hit Emily hardest of all.

The only problem was Emily was so desperate for Nikolas to remember that she was oblivious to all else. Like Nikolas feeling resentful, or how Elizabeth and Lucky were trying to avoid her pleas for help. She sighed and shook her head. "I'm sorry, Em. Cameron's been a little fussy lately and I've been kinda focused on that."

"Is he okay?" her friend asked.

"I'm sure he'll be fine. Gram says it's not colic, just normal baby fussies."

"That's good," Emily said. "Hopefully he'll feel better soon."

"Thank you," she smiled, inwardly softening towards her friend because of Emily's concern for Cameron. Maybe it was naïve, but she was going to take the concern as genuine, and not look at it as Emily was hoping Elizabeth would be able to focus back on her problems sooner. "I'm sure things will work out with Nikolas, Em. You just have to respect him by giving him some space. I-I know you don't want to hear it, but please consider what I said about Lucky and I. I don't want you two to end up like we did, not talking to each other for months and so full of bitterness that we forgot all about the sweet and good times."

"I'm just afraid, Elizabeth," Emily admitted. "He's still talking to Mary. The woman kidnapped him, kept him from those of us who loved him, befriended me, and lied to him, but he still talks to her. I saw them talking the other day. Yet he avoids me. What if...what if he feels sorry for her and goes back to her?"

"That's a big what-if, Emily. My advice; don't get yourself worked up about something that may not happen. I've learned that you can't get wrapped up living your life in what-if's."

"I know," her friend murmured sadly. "I'm sorry I've gone off again. You've got to be tired of me complaining about the same thing over and over again."

Even though her head pounded, she shook it and smiled. "It's okay, Emily. I know how it feels to have someone to talk to, even if it feels like you're stuck in neutral just spinning your wheels."

Emily laughed and leaned over to give her a hug. "Thanks, Elizabeth. The next time you need a little break call me and we'll go for sodas at Kelly's. Have a little bit of old times."

"Thanks, Em," Elizabeth smiled. "I should be going soon so Gram doesn't think I'm taking advantage of her, but I think I'm just going to sit here a few more minutes."

"Alright, I'll see you later."

"Bye, Em," she smiled, watching her friend go. Tipping her head back, she closed her eyes as she reclined even further on the bench; she brought her fingers up and gingerly massaged her temples. Maybe she should take something so that by the time she got back to Cameron she wasn't still fighting off a headache. She wanted to be there for her son, not frazzled and worn out.

Pulling her purse onto her lap, she sat up and opened it, looking through for the Tylenol packs she knew were in there. Just as her fingers brushed against the slick foil square, she heard someone stop in front of her and clear their throat. She looked up and was surprised to see Nikolas standing in front of her, his arms folded across his chest and his gaze sliding down his nose at her. She opened her mouth, but he beat her to the punch.

"I see you know Emily," he said, pointing with his chin in the direction the brunette had gone. "I presume then that you know me as well? So, how are you supposed to pretend to befriend me, but in reality try to get me to remember my undying love for her?"

~L&B Records~

Georgie sat down on the couch beside Dillon and looked over as Brook Lynn went into another one of her declarations that despite what her mother wanted she was not going to become a sell-out pop star. She liked writing music, and she liked singing - sure - but it was not worth selling her soul and her integrity. As she rambled on, holding Lucas as a captive audience, Georgie reached over and picked up Dillon's hand.

Her uncharacteristically quiet boyfriend looked up, seemingly startled to see her sitting beside him. "Hey," she said softly, not wanting to draw the attention of their friends, "how are you doing?"

He slumped into the corner of the little couch and rubbed his forehead. "It's a mad house over at the mansion. My mother guilted me into staying there last night after she guilted me into coming over for dinner. It was, it was just surreal last night. It was like Martin Sloan walking through Homewood."

Georgie hated when he did this, she had no idea what he was talking about, but of course to him it made perfect sense. She tipped her head to the side questioningly. "What?"

"Walking Distance. Twilight Zone, 1959. Guy's going home, car breaks down, he walks to town and walked back in time to his childhood. That's what it felt last night. Everyone was They were all trying to act polite to each other, even if there was underlying nastiness. They would do that when I was younger, say things with a smile so that I wouldn't understand that Monica was basically calling my mother a selfish witch, or my mother was needling Monica about one of Alan's affairs. Then this morning they were at each other's throats again. All politeness gone, they were just yelling and screaming and trying to stab each other in the back. I had to get out of there...I bolted before Alice had breakfast laid out."

"I'm sorry, Dillon," she said, rubbing his shoulder. She knew how much the fighting got to him, which was why he was living on the Haunted Star. It was crazy and made her problems with her parents seem like nothing in comparison.

"Do you want to come over for dinner tonight? I could ask my mom, I'm sure she'd say yes." If Georgie just explained how crazy it was at the Quartermaines and how Dillon had to suffer through a dysfunctional dinner, maybe they could invite him over. Her mother had liked Lila and maybe she'd feel softer towards Dillon, maybe even feel sorry enough to stop treating him like a disease and trying to keep Georgie away from him.

"I don't know," he shrugged. "Somehow I doubt Mac really wants to have me come over."

"I'm here!"

Georgie looked up and groaned and Sage flounced into the studio like they were all so happy to see her. Brook Lynn and Lucas stopped what they were talking about and watched her as she strutted across the room and perched on the arm of the couch right next to Dillon. Could she be any more of a blatant tramp? Georgie though as she bit the inside of her cheek to keep from saying something, and then tucked her hands under her legs to keep from pushing Sage onto the floor when the little hussy started playing with Dillon's hair and making moon eyes at him.

"So what are we doing today?" she asked with a smile.

"We were just hanging out."

Sage looked down at Georgie and sneered. "I was asking someone who actually knows the music and video business. Since that's clearly not you why don't you go run along and play with your dollies or something?"

Brook Lynn's mother opened the door on Sage's final words and grinned when she saw them all sitting there. "Great, Brookie, Dillon, Sage, you're here. We've got work to do. I was thinking about your first single, Sage, and I had some new thoughts I wanted to run by you."

Lois started holding court, throwing out ideas and trying to placate the little princess whose uncle's money was vital to the rebuilding of her company. George found herself slowly pushed off the couch and out of the conversation until she was leaning against the wall by the door. Lucas was on the opposite side of the room, also leaning against the wall.

Tipping her head towards the door Georgie mouthed 'let's go.' Lucas nodded and crossed the room, completely unnoticed by everybody else. She didn't even bother telling Dillon she was going, he'd figure it out sooner or later. And if he didn't, so what.

When they got outside, she turned to him and smiled, "Do you have to work for your mom today?"


"Then let's call Maxie and go see a movie before we have to volunteer at the hospital," she said, tugging on his sleeve and pulling him along. The three of them had survived Port Charles summers before Dillon, Brooke and Sage arrived, and they'd continue to do so. Part of her understood Dillon's withdrawal because of his grandmother's death, but she was getting tired of being invisible every time Sage and her music and video career were mentioned. Well, she wasn't going to mope about it, she was going to spend time with her sister and her cousin and prove to herself and Dillon that she was more than just the girl who sat around waiting.

~Quartermaine Mansion~

Jason stood on the terrace and looked into the den of the Quartermaine house. There were people inside, but some of them he would rather not deal with. Tracy and Edward's angry voices carried out, even though the doors were closed against the warm summer afternoon. He didn't want to deal with them, not today, and he shook his head and turned to go.

He paused when he saw Monica standing there, surprised to see him and looking uncertain of what to say. "J-Jason."

"Hello, Monica," he said, putting his hands in his pockets uncomfortably.

"Is everything okay?" She was reaching out, yet trying not to push and he found himself wanting to reach out to her as well, to make her feel more comfortable.

"Everything's fine," he assured her. "I just...I just stopped by. I wanted to see you."

The shouts inside grew louder and Jason grimaced, nearly missing the surprise on Monica's face before she rolled her eyes and gestured towards the garden. "Unless you need to leave...maybe we could go for a walk?"

"That would be nice," he said softly.

She turned and started walking on the path through the garden and he followed slowly after her. The roses and flowers were blooming in a riot of color, but it left Jason feeling cold. Lila had loved working on her garden, planning where the new plantings would go, intimately overseeing the care of each plant when she had no longer been able to actively care for them like before. It would be a shame to lose the beauty because she was gone now. Monica must have felt the same way, because she was carrying gloves and had dirt on her knees.

Monica paused near the gazebo and reached out to trail her fingers over the petals of a rose. "I can't imagine this place without her. She already had all the plantings planned out for the summer, but it won't be the same."

She sat down on a bench, her eyes red and overflowing with tears. His own throat was raw as he sat as well, on the same bench as her, but not too close. "I miss her so much," Monica whispered raggedly. "Throughout all the problems I had with your father, Lila was always there and kind to me."

"I know," he nodded. "She didn't care who I worked for or what I did, she was always just happy to see me. I...I should have visited her more."

Reaching over cautiously, Monica placed her hand over his. "She knew you loved her."

He rubbed his eyes with his thumb and finger of his free hand, trying to ease the burning, gritty feeling. He leaned back, taking a deep breath and hoped to ease some of the pain and loss that had gripped him since he heard about Lila's death. Sitting in the garden surrounded by her life's passion did help somewhat. He could let go of the tension, not thinking about the lies or the people who were mad at him now, or would be mad if the secret ever came out.

"Are you alright, Jason?" Monica asked, giving his hand a gentle squeeze. "I-I don't mean to's just unusual to see you here."

"I'm fine," he lied once more as he looked at her, trying to ease her nervous flutters. "I just...I don't know. I was riding on my bike and I just wanted to stop by."

She smiled, her eyes misting over once again. "It really meant a lot to us when you when you came that day, and then when you brought Michael by."

"I just thought maybe I'd stayed away too much, and I didn't want to keep doing it."

"That would be nice, Jason. You know you're welcome anytime, but I understand that it's not always comfortable here. Tracy and Edward appear to be going at it again, that's why I was out here hiding as well."

"Maybe I could see you," he said, then ventured, "and maybe Alan too."

She smiled warmly, surprised by his words. But he didn't feel so much pressure like he used to, even though he knew he'd just made her very happy. "I'm sure Alan would love to see you also."

He didn't know when and he didn't want to say anything that would give false hope or false promise, but he sensed he'd be back. As odd as it was, he actually found a bit of comfort here. A break from the stress surrounding him, even if it was only fleeting.


He didn't know what her game was, but he didn't like it. The woman in front of him was staring back in confusion like she hadn't understood, and that made him angry. "You do know Emily, right?"

"Yes," she nodded. "She's my friend."

"So you know me?"

"Yes," she said again. "Before your accident we knew each other. My name is Elizabeth Webber."

She held out her hand, but when he made no move to take it she dropped it with a shrug. He searched her face, just as he did with everybody, looking for some recognition from inside him. But, as usual, he found none. "So, if you're Emily's friend how come I haven't seen you before?"

"I was gone for a while," she said. "I actually left shortly after your accident. I had a baby and I only got back a couple of weeks ago.

Her voice was calm, and she wasn't pressing him, but he was still angry with her. Or maybe he was just making her a convenient target for his ever-present anger. He really didn't know or want to analyze it too closely. "So, what's the plan?"

"The plan?"

"How were you supposed to run into me and casually get to know me?"

She shook her head in denial. "There's no plan. I have a baby who's barely a month old; I don't have time for plans and accidental run-ins. In fact, I don't really even have time for this conversation. I need to get home."

"I don't believe you," he said, searching for something, anything to keep her from leaving yet.

She paused, tucking her hands into her pockets and shook her head. "Wow, maybe ingrained genetics don't change with memory loss. You'd call someone you don't even know, someone you've talked to for five minutes, a liar simply because someone else lied to you. Your grandmother would be pleased at your Cassadine roots showing."

"You know Helena?"

"Unfortunately. And right now I'm thinking it's rather unfortunate I know you. I'm sorry about your accident, and I'm sorry you can't remember anything about your past or who you are. I know that it must be very frustrating, but quite frankly I have no desire to let you take your bad mood on me."

She turned and started to walk away, leaving him there stunned. She was one of the few people who didn't coddle him or try to patronizingly excuse away his behavior; she called him on what he was doing and refused to tolerate it. His brain kicked his feet into motion and Nikolas quickly followed after her. He found her again at the edge of the park as she was walking down the sidewalk, keys in her hand.

"Wait," he called out. "Elizabeth, please wait."

She turned around, her face pinched with annoyance. "What?"

"I'm sorry," he said, slowly walking towards her. "You're right. I was unfair before. I was frustrated and I took it out on you."

She ducked her head and sighed. "I'm having a bad day, too and I kinda took it out on you as well. Let's just chalk this whole thing up to bad days and let it go."

"Thank you," he said. "I know you need to get going, but would...would you be willing to talk later?"

"Talk later? About what?"

"Well, you're one of the few people who's given it to me like I've dished out. You say that we knew each other so maybe you could tell me a little about myself." He shrugged but looked at her hopefully. "I was kinda hoping maybe you'd give me a more unbiased version of my past."

"I think I should tell you that Emily is my best friend," she pointed out. "Lucky's my ex-boyfriend and they've both talked to me about you."

"Does that mean you'd try and persuade me to give Emily a chance?" he challenged, somehow thinking that wouldn't be the case with her.

"She asked for my help," Elizabeth admitted, not answering his question.

"But would you?" he pressed, "or do you think you could just talk to me?"

She seemed to ponder it for a minute, then nodded. "I could talk to you without trying to get you to change your mind. Let me give you my phone number."

Chapter 3


"You're really going to meet with him?" Lucky asked before taking a sip of his coffee.

"I am," Elizabeth nodded, casting a glance over at Cameron in his stroller. The little boy was asleep for the moment, so Elizabeth had a blanket partially draped over the handles of the carrier and stroller to shield him from the light. "He called yesterday and asked if my offer still stood."

"So he really just saw you in the park a couple of days ago and came up to you and started talking?"

She nodded, her lips pursed around her straw as she drank her lemonade. "Emily had just left so he was kinda itching for a confrontation about her. I get the feeling he's got a lot of anger towards her."

Lucky nodded, thinking of his own encounters with his older brother. Nikolas was angry at all of them; Mary, Alexis, Alcazar, Lucky, but most especially Emily. Because she had interacted with him, never telling him she knew who he was.

Lucky had mixed feelings about the whole situation. He wasn't blind, he could see how torn up Emily was, and he'd seen how filled with pain she was when they thought that Nikolas was dead. She said finding out Nikolas was alive was a miracle and she wasn't giving up on it. Yet there was a part of him hopeful about the fact that Nikolas was rebuffing Emily's attempts to reconcile with him.

He hadn't meant to develop feelings for Emily while his brother was gone. He'd been caught off guard at first; he told himself it was just because he was spending a lot of time with her as they grieved. Lucky told himself it was wrong to feel this way. But soon he couldn't fight it anymore.

Emily had been his best friend for almost longer than he could remember. They'd been inseparable, even running away together once, and they'd helped each other through so much, it was like all that familiarity just came together and became something powerful. He'd tried to keep it from her, he knew she wouldn't be receptive, but it was hard for her to not notice how he felt. And of course, it had led to an uncomfortable shroud hanging over them.

"So what are you going to do?" Lucky asked.

Elizabeth shrugged. "I'm going to meet with him. I'm going to talk to him."

"About what?"

"His life," she said. "He was curious that he we knew each other and he had questions."

"And because you said you wouldn't try to push him towards Emily he's willing to listen to you," he reasoned. "Are you going to tell Emily?"

She grimaced and then frowned. "I wanted to see how the first meeting went, whether he wants to talk again. I'm just...I'm just afraid if I tell her..."

"That she'll pressure you to plead her case to him," he said, "or she'd follow you."

"Something like that," she nodded, shifting uncomfortably on her seat. "I just wanted to see how this first time goes. Then I'll figure out what to say to her. I need a favor from you, Lucky."

"I won't say anything to her before you do," he assured her.

"Thank you, but that wasn't all I needed. Make sure she's not in the park."

"You want me to keep her busy?" he asked.

"Please. I just...maybe this thing will help Nikolas, maybe it won't, but I don't want her to inadvertently stumble on us and have him think I set it up."

"Alright," he nodded. "I'll call her and figure out some way to...I'll find something."

"Thank you," she smiled, gathering up her purse and Cameron's bag. "I gotta go."

Elizabeth kissed his cheek as she slipped the straps over the stroller handles. "Bye, Lucky."

He stood and opened the doors for her, watching her go then returned to the table as he pulled his phone out. It was his day off and maybe he could convince Emily that all he wanted to do was sit in an air-conditioned movie theatre and he'd like her company. That way Elizabeth could have plenty of time to talk to Nikolas, and maybe Lucky could make a little inroads with Emily.

~Corinthos Penthouse~

Carly closed the door to Morgan's room quietly, smiling at the image of her little baby sleeping. He would fight it, but he was always so much happier when he gave into sleep and took a nap. Michael was off at swim lessons with Leticia and she headed towards the stairs, eager to spend some time alone with Sonny. She stopped, though, when she heard his voice drift up the stairs along with Jason's.

She paused out of sight, careful that the mirror wouldn't catch her reflection and sat down. She wanted to know what they were talking about, especially if it was about Sam. That little tramp should be rotting in jail, and when she gave birth the baby would given to Jason and that would be the last they'd have to deal with her. But Jason was too noble for his own good, and he was determined to keep the little slut out of jail. And Sonny probably because of stupid leftover guilt clouding his actions - it better not be because he still had feelings for the stupid heifer - was helping Jason out.

Scooting closer, she listened carefully to what they were saying. If Sonny and Jason got mad at her for listening it was entirely their fault. It was so dumb for them to discuss things downstairs where anyone could hear them, especially knowing her tendency for listening in. They had plenty of rooms in this place, Sonny should turn one of them into a study and then he should hold his super secret talks in there. She was tired of being sent to her bedroom like a little child while Sonny took over the family's space. He should be the one to have to leave to talk business instead of making her.

Pleased with her idea, and already thinking about how she could decorate the room, she nodded resolutely. As soon as Jason left she would bring it up to Sonny. It was time he started accepting he needed to make compromises, instead of always expecting her to make them. Michael was getting bigger and more curious as well; it was selfish of Sonny to force them all to hide out while he walked around like a king.

"Have you found a name yet?" Sonny asked, and she stopped thinking about paint chips and fabric swatches and leaned forward, straining to hear.

"Meyer thinks he's found someone. There's an inmate in Texas who was in the area around the time Sam's mother died. He was arrested there, some attempted robberies and car theft suspect. One of us needs to talk to him, give him the details so he can confess. He's slated for execution in a couple of weeks; it'll be a confession to clear his conscience."

Carly could practically hear the smile in Sonny's voice when he responded. "That's good. I got a copy of the police report from Ric, so we can give this guy all the information he'll need to convince the cops. And then we can get Sam cleared."

Sonny's voice changed, deepening, and Carly frowned. "I won't let her have her baby in jail."

"She won't," Jason vowed. "We'll take care of this, Sonny. As soon as Meyer checks out a few more things, makes sure there's not an arrest record for this guy somewhere else on the actual night Sam's mother died, I'll go out there and talk to him."

"No," Sonny said. "I'll go. Sam needs someone to stay here for her. If you go that person will be me and Carly will get suspicious every time I leave, and then she'll do something stupid again."

Carly scowled on that comment, especially when Jason remained silent in her defense.

"Have you moved Sam so that Carly can't go back there and bother her?"

"Yeah," Jason confirmed.

Crossing her arms in annoyance, Carly wanted to go down there and give them a piece of her mind. They both acted like Sam was this poor, little thing who needed to be protected from the Wicked Witch Carly. Where was their respect for her? Where was their understanding for her and what she was going through having Sam so close by? It made her sick the way they were acting.

"Okay," Sonny said. "I'll check in with Meyer and as soon as he's got the information I'll go. I'll just tell Carly I need to go down the island for a couple of days."

And there was her sweet, noble husband who demanded undying loyalty and honesty from her plotting out his lie to her. She not only was sick, she was angry.

"Alright then, I better go," Jason said.

"Tell Sam this will all be over a couple of days. A week at the most."

Carly glared at the floor. Not if I have anything to say about it.

"Okay. Let me know when you're going to leave."

"I will," Sonny said, and she heard them moving around downstairs. She scooted back and then stood while she heard the door open and then close. Waiting a little bit until she heard Sonny shuffling through some papers on his desk, she started down the stairs.

"Was somebody here?" she asked, looking curiously around. "I thought I heard voices as I was putting Morgan down for his nap."

"Oh," he said, cooking up a lie. She could tell just by looking at him. "Yeah, Max came in to talk about some things."

"Oh, okay," she said, sitting down on the couch. She'd let him think she didn't suspect he was lying. "Everything alright?"

"Yeah," he waved off her question. "I have to go out for a little bit, but I'll be back in time for lunch."

"That's good," she said, "Michael will be happy about that."

He stood and reached for his suit coat, slipping it on. "I'll be back soon."

She stood as well and walked towards him with a smile, like she believed every word that came from his filthy mouth. Giving him a kiss on the cheek she said, "I'll be here. Working on a little surprise for you."

He just quirked his eyebrow and headed out the door. She waited until she heard the elevator doors close and then picked up her purse and pulled her phone book out. This was a number she didn't have memorized. Dialing, she waited for the person to answer and tapped her nails on the desk in frustration and annoyance. "Hi, it's Carly. I've got a proposition for you and wondered if we could meet. I promise, I'll make it worth your while."

~Scorpio House~

Georgie looked up from applying a second coat of Granny Smith Apple on her toes when someone knocked on her bedroom door. She really hoped it wasn't her mother; her music wasn't too loud so if it was her mother it would mean she wanted to talk. With a sigh she capped the nail polish and said, "Come in."

The door opened and Maxie poked her head in, "Hey, you busy?"

"Nah," she shrugged, wriggling her toenails and wishing they'd dry soon. "Come on in."

Maxie sat down on the end of the bed facing her and pulled her feet up in front of her. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Georgie answered automatically, and maybe a little quickly based on the way her sister was regarding her suspiciously.


"I'm fine, Maxie."

"Then how come you've been home every night this week and I haven't seen you with Dillon?" Maxie shot back.

"He's been busy," she shrugged lamely.

"It's more than that, Georgie," her sister pressed. "Okay, I know that I haven't always been the nicest towards Dillon, or supportive of you, but what's going on?"

Defensive and a bit angry that her sister kept pushing, she got up and crossed the room. "He's busy."

"Georgie," Maxie said softly, "did you guys break up?"

Flopping down on top of the clothes on her chair she told herself not to give into the tears threatening. "To break up we would actually have to talk."

"You're not talking?" Maxie questioned as she turned around on the bed to face her.

"Well, I'm talking, but Dillon isn't. I call him, ask him how he's doing, and try to let him know I'm there for him. I ask him if he wants to go to a movie - or maybe just hang out and he blows me off. If he does talk it's about Brook Lynn and her awesome lyrics, or Sage's latest recording sessions or his plans for her video. He's always busy and he's always talking about Brook and Sage."

"I'm sorry, Georgie."

"Me too, but I am not going to flip out on him. He knows how I feel about Sage, he knows I feel insecure about her, but he just keeps on talking about her. So I'm not doing it anymore. I'm not going to hang out with him all day hoping for a brief glance or a couple of words and looking like a pathetic girlfriend who doesn't have anything else to do but spend her every moment with her boyfriend."

"That's probably the best," Maxie nodded, sympathetic yet encouraging. "That's why you and Lucas have been hanging out and you guys asked me to go to a movie."

She nodded before bending down to test her toes and see if they were dry. They almost were so she stood and headed for the closet, stripping off her shirt and reaching for the turquoise colored polo. "I have my own life, and I'm going to live it. Dillon's either going to realize he wants to spend time with me, or he'll decide he'd rather spend all his time with his niece and his ex-lover. I am not doing this anymore."

"So that's why you're going to the hospital," Maxie looked down at her watch, "three hours before your shift?"

"Better that than heading over to the studio. I'm done hanging out in a place I'm only going to get ignored."

"And if Dillon doesn't realize that he's been a dick and ignoring you?"

She took a deep breath and looked at her sister. "Then I'll have my answer about where this relationship is really going."

Grabbing her socks and her tennis shoes she looked up at Maxie, "Could you give me a ride to the hospital?"

~Hardy House~

Elizabeth pulled into the drive and turned off the engine. She wasn't surprised when she didn't see her grandmother's car, she and Cameron had been gone quite a while and her gram had a full shift at the hospital today. She had walked forever it seemed, pushing Cameron in his stroller. Her son's fussiness only seemed to be abated by motion and so she either walked the floors at night with him, pushed him for hours in his stroller, or drove him around when she couldn't walk anymore.

Long after her talk with Nikolas, she'd walked through the park until she knew every crack in the sidewalk and every leaf on the ground. As soon as she stopped walking, and she was trying to put Cameron in the car, he woke up and began fussing. So she ended up driving around for close to an hour before she finally pulled into the drive. Glancing in the mirror she let out a sigh of relief when it appeared Cameron was going to stay asleep. Now, if only he'd do that long enough for her to get them into the house and then maybe they both could nap.

Her talk with Nikolas had been interesting to say the least. He was less abrasive and caustic towards her, and genuinely curious about his past. She told him about why he came to Port Charles, his sister Lulu, a condensed version of the Spencer-Cassadine feud, and a sanitized version of Stavros, Laura and Stefan. He sensed she was holding some parts back and pressed her for them, but Elizabeth explained that she didn't want to overwhelm him when he didn't understand the long-seeded context behind the actions and it was too complicated, too long, and she didn't know enough about it to fully do it justice. She didn't want to overload him with the complicated and twisted history of his family, especially since she wasn't the most unbiased person, and Nikolas seemed to accept it.

She told him a bit how he and Lucky didn't get along at first, and she told him about Sarah and how they dated. She talked briefly about her, Lucky, he and Emily eating dinner and brownies in Kelly's, how they had become friends and helped each other through many things, but she didn't say too much. Even just hearing about being friends with Emily seemed to agitate him and she respected that. Ending with the fire, she said how their world changed when they all thought Lucky was dead and it was a hard time for all of them.

He stopped her at that point and led them to a bench to sit down while she composed herself. Going back into that time had made the memory of the fire and racing to the garage hit her harder than it had in a while. He apologized to her for making her relive obviously painful memories, but she shook her head. Elizabeth assured him she would be fine, but he didn't want to press her for anything more today. He did ask though if she would be willing to meet with him again, and she didn't hesitate to say yes. While she knew that they may reach the point where they didn't want to meet anymore she wasn't averse to getting together once more with him.

Climbing out of the car and opening the back door she couldn't help but grimace. She knew at some point she'd have to tell Emily about meeting with Nikolas, she just hoped her friend would understand the nature of the meeting and not flip out or push her to in turn to pressure Nikolas to get back together with Emily. Releasing the carrier from the base, she maneuvered a sleeping Cameron out of the car and closed the door gently. Shouldering her purse and diaper bag she headed towards the house.

She paused when she saw Ric on the front porch. What in the world was he doing here? He stood when he saw her, but she held up her finger to her lips so he wouldn't wake Cameron. Unlocking the door, she let him in after her and took her son up to his room. She set him, carrier and all, in his crib - she wasn't going to risk waking him by unbuckling him - and then headed out making sure to grab the monitor.

"Why are you here, Ric?" she asked as she reached the bottom of the stairs.

"I wanted to talk about the division of the assets, from the divorce."

"I only want my clothes and the things I had before we got married. I said all that in the papers."

He sighed. "Elizabeth, I wish you'd reconsider child support."

"Cameron is not yours," she shook her head. "If I let you pay child support..."

She trailed off, not wanting to voice that she was afraid he'd try and visit Cameron, claiming since he was paying child support he had a right to. The one thing she swore in California was that she would not let Ric anywhere near her or especially her son. "He's not your son," she said again. "With my Grams helping, we'll be fine. I'm going to figure out a job, I don't need child support."

"Elizabeth," he began, but she shook her head. It was hard enough accepting alimony from him - her grandmother had convinced her to swallow her pride and realize that she could use the money until she got back on her feet - she didn't want him involved in her life anymore than that. She certainly didn't want him near Cameron. It would only turn out badly in the end. He shrugged and nodded. "Alright. But if you change your mind..."

"I'll be fine," she asserted once more. "I'll be by later this week to get the last of my things."

"Fine," Ric said. "Just give me a call."

She inclined her head ever so slightly and opened the door for him. "Goodbye, Ric."

After she got the last of her of her things out of that house she could do her best to avoid him as she'd planned when she returned to Port Charles. She knew he was up to something with Alexis and she wanted to be far, far away from that, and far, far away from Ric for the things he had put her through.

Chapter 4

~Alcazar Penthouse~

Sage Alcazar was annoyed, and so she had concocted a plan. That little baby Georgie Jones hadn't been hanging all over Dillon like a pathetic designer knockoff, and Sage still couldn't get him to notice her. She had thought with his laughable girlfriend not always around, that he might wise up and notice her. That he might look at her like he had before, back when she popped his cherry.

But instead, all Dillon talked about were his ideas for her videos, or how he and Brooke had some new ideas for her recording sessions. Sometimes it seemed the only person Dillon did show an interest in was his niece, Brooke. It was actually kinda creepy how much attention he paid her. At first Sage had laughed at Georgie thinking Dillon was interested in, or even dating, the young newcomer, but now...she wasn't laughing.

It was a bit disturbing how involved in her life he was, and Sage was tired of him ignoring her for his niece. She refused to believe that he'd befriended her, spent time with her, made love to her, simply because her uncle had hired him to do a job. Surely those early days, before he knew she was Lorenzo Alcazar's niece, had been real. She was certain they had been, she just needed to remind him of that.

She would, but tonight she was going to spend time at home. With her uncle. She didn't want Dillon to think she was too desperate, and she really missed spending time with Uncle Lorenzo. He had been very busy lately, off on business trips, or spending time trying to get Carly Corinthos to come back to him. Her eyes narrows at the heartbreak her uncle had suffered because of that selfish mobster's wife. Carly had just used Uncle Lorenzo to make her husband jealous and had nearly let him be killed because of it.

Her uncle needed this time as much as she did. He just didn't know it yet. Sage loved him so much, and she hated that he seemed so tortured in his life. He had always sent her presents, letters and called her when her father hadn't. Sometimes she'd wished that he had been her father. So she wanted to remind him how much she loved him, and that as family they would always be together, and there for each other. Uncle Lorenzo did so much for her; she wanted to do something for him tonight.

She walked down the hall from her bedroom, and looked around the living room. She didn't see her uncle, but she knew he was here. So she pulled out a couple of DVD's and placed them next to the TV, then went into the kitchen. A bag of popcorn went into the microwave, as she gathered up some drinks and chocolate for them to enjoy as well. Had to have the salty and the sweet, otherwise the night wouldn't be complete.

When the microwave beeped, Sage put the popcorn into a bowl, then set it on a tray with the other snacks. She smiled as she carried it out into the living room, already imagining what a great time she and Uncle Lorenzo were going to have. Her smile grew when she saw him in the living room, now she wouldn't have to try to cajole him out of his room.

Uncle Lorenzo," she called out, "perfect timing. I've got the popcorn made and some movies picked out. I'll let you make the final choice for which one we watch first."

He turned and frowned slightly. "Sage? What's all this?"

"This is our movie night," she grinned, settling the tray down and spreading her arms out with a grand flourish.

"Had we planned this?" he questioned.

"No," she shook her head, her smile still in place. "I just thought we could do this. You always tell me sometime and so I decided that time was now."

Her eyes widened and she shook her head as the smile slowly slipped off. She saw the regretful look on her face and refused to believe it. "Oh, no. Come on" she stamped her foot. "You're always working. You never spend any time at home, with me, even though you always promise you will."

"Sage," he tried to soften the blow. "I'm really sorry. I need to go to this meeting. Maybe I'll get back in time and we can still watch at least one movie."

She sat down on the couch and picked up the bowl of M&M's, her pout was clearly evident. "You and I know that you won't get back in time."

"I'll make it up to you," Uncle Lorenzo tried to assuage her. "I promise you, we'll have that movie night. I'll clear my schedule and I'll be yours for an entire evening."

"You promise?" she asked hopefully.

He sat down beside her and kissed her on the top of her head. "I promise."

"Okay," she sighed. "But you can't put it off forever."

"I won't," he promised. Then he stood and straightened the cuffs on his shirt. "I won't be too late."

"Okay," Sage sighed once more.

Her uncle left and closed the door, and she dropped the handful of chocolates into the bowl with a scowl. No point in sticking around eating sweets by herself. She wasn't that pathetic. No way she was pulling a Georgie Jones. She'd get dressed and she'd go find something to do.


Lucas looked up as the bell above the door jingled when it was opened and scowled as he went back to clearing table two. Dillon walked through the diner and sat down at the counter, then spun the seat to look out over the dining area. Lucas ignored him while he finished bussing the table, until finally he had to go back to the counter area.

Dillon swiveled on his stool and grinned easily. "Hey."

"Hey," Lucas replied flatly, not looking up.

"You're mad at me," Dillon sighed.

"Wow, Georgie always said you were a smart one."

Dramatically the other guy dropped his head to the counter. "She's mad at me too, isn't she?"

"Who?" Lucas feigned.


"Hmm, whadya know, you do know her name. She was beginning to wonder. Especially since you don't call her or even return her phone calls."

His cousin's boyfriend sighed and braced his elbows on the counter, his head still down. Lucas snorted when Dillon remained silent and rolled his eyes. "You're such a jerk. You ignore her, but can't be a man about it and own it."

"I know I've hurt her."

"Really? So why do you keep doing it? You know she doesn't like Sage, and yet you constantly talk about her."

"I'm directing Sage's music video," Dillon protested.

"No, you just give Sage plenty of ammunition to get in Georgie's face. She's constantly talking about how the two of you slept together, how she was your first and Georgie wasn't. So every time you ignore her and head off with Sage, what do you think that does to Georgie? And let's not even talk about your obsession with your niece's life."

"Okay, okay," Dillon said, sounding defeated. Lucas decided to back off, because he'd made his point. Anything further would just anger him, and he didn't want the jerk to mad at Georgie, he wanted his cousin to stop being hurt. "I'm a jerk. So what do I do?"

"You could try talking to her," Lucas rolled his eyes. "Spend some time with her. Just a thought."

"Right, right," the blond nodded. He stood and pulled out his phone. "I'll call her and see if she wants to get together."

"Hold up, lover boy," Lucas kept him from rushing out the door. "She's at the hospital right now. She's volunteering until five."

Dillon slumped down onto the stool once more and groaned. "Say it. Come on. I'm slime. I would have known that if only I'd been talking to her."

"Nah," Lucas shook his head. "I won't say it. I think my work is done here; you can finish beating yourself up."

He grabbed the bus tub and headed into the kitchen to put the dishes into the sink for Gavin to wash. He heard the bells chime above the door and headed back out front to help the new arrival. When he saw it was Sage sauntering across the room, his face twisted into a scowl.

"I'm so glad you're here," she said to Dillon as she sat down beside him and leaned forward until she was practically in his lap. "You can save me from dying of boredom."

Lucas rolled his eyes as he began filling salt shakers. He watched out of the corner of his eye, wondering what Dillon would do. Apparently, the other guy's brain was going to leak out of his ear.

"How can I help?" the Quartermaine louse asked, flashing a grin.

"Let's go to a movie," Sage cooed, twirling her fingers on his arm playfully.

"Can't," Dillon shook his head. "Georgie's shift ends at five and I want to be there when she's done."

Sage hmphed and Lucas smirked. Maybe Dillon had learned a few things from their talk.

"Well, can't we do something?" Sage whined. "Maybe we could go to the studio. If Lois is there we could go over your wonderful ideas for my video. You have been thinking of things for it, haven't you?"

"Sure," Dillon said, and Lucas wanted to strangle him. He was going to get sucked into Sage's little trap, and Georgie was going to be hurt again. "Let's go. We'll have plenty of time to do this and I can still meet Georgie."

"Right," Sage agreed, her smile brittle with jealousy and disappointment. But Lucas could also read the scheming in her eyes and he'd bet five bucks Georgie left the hospital by herself tonight. "Let's go."

Dillon nodded and stood, letting himself be dragged along by the girl. They passed Brooke Lynn as she was coming in and she said hi to them as she made her way to the counter.

"Hey, Lucas," she smiled.

"Hey," he grumbled, slamming the shaker he'd filled down on the counter.

She frowned at him. "Something wrong?"

"Your uncle is a fool who's led completely by his...hormones," he groused.

"Sage?" she asked, lifting her eyebrow.

"He's been completely ignoring Georgie and so when I called him on it he said he was going to make it up to her. Instead he headed off with Sage because she batted her eyelashes at him."

Brooke laughed and he continued to scowl. "You're a good friend and cousin to look out for her."

"She's too good for him," he declared, really wishing Dillon Quartermaine had never showed up in town. "He doesn't care about her, just strings her along."

"I probably haven't been helping," she said with a shrug. "Have I?"

"It's not your fault," he told her, not wanting to take out his bad mood on her. "You haven't been playing him like Sage does. You're not asking him to try to manage your career."

"And my life," Brooke grumped with a small frown. "He is a little much sometimes. I'll talk to him. And in the meantime, I think I'll try to include Georgie more. Maybe ask her to the movies or to hang out. Let her know that I'm not trying to ignore her."

He leaned against the counter, impressed, but not wanting to say it. "You know, for a Quartermaine you're not so bad."

~Hardy House~

Emily parked her car and climbed out, smiling up at Elizabeth who was sitting on Audrey's front porch. She walked up the sidewalk, breathing in the soft scent of the flowers planned in the window boxes, and containers lining the sidewalk. Elizabeth stood, and tucked her hands in her pockets. "Hey. Thanks for coming."

"Sure," Emily smiled with a nod. "What's going on? You sounded a little off when you called."

"Can we take a walk?" Elizabeth asked, clearing her throat nervously. "Gram said she'd watch Cameron."

Emily frowned at the tension and unease in her friend and nodded. "Sure."

They walked out to the sidewalk and down the block on the quiet afternoon. Occasionally the silence was broken by children's laughter floating out from a backyard, or the whoosh of someone flying by on their bike. Elizabeth had her hands stuffed deep in her pockets still as she stared straight ahead.

"Elizabeth, what's wrong?"

"I wanted to talk to you, and I hope you can understand what I did, Emily," she said. "About a week ago, after we were in the park one afternoon, Nikolas came up to me."

Emily stopped and turned toward Elizabeth, excitement flowing through her. "He remembered you?"

Her friend sadly shook her head. "No. He'd seen us together and was very angry. He wondered what our plan was."

"And we didn't have one," she sighed dejectedly.

"I told him there wasn't a plan, and in fact I got angry with him," Elizabeth admitted.

"Why'd you get angry with Nikolas?" Emily asked impatiently. "He's confused, Elizabeth. He needs help, not people getting mad at him."

"Because I hadn't done anything to him," her friend huffed and started walking. "And I wasn't going to let him take out his anger towards you on me."

"He's not angry at me, he's just confused," Emily shook her head, catching up with Elizabeth. "So what happened?"

"Well, after he apologized for getting angry with me, he asked if we could talk. And I...I agreed. We got together a few days ago and I'm meeting him again tomorrow."

"What?" Emily exclaimed. "This is wonderful, Elizabeth. You can talk him about me and him, tell him about our relationship. Nikolas is obviously comfortable with you."

Elizabeth shook her head and increased her pace slightly. "No, Emily. He doesn't want me to talk to him about your relationship. He has questions about his past, but he gets agitated when anyone pushes him, or even when your name comes up."

"So what are you saying," she demanded, reaching out to stop her friend. "You won't help me out."

Elizabeth stayed silent and Emily's eyes widened. "That is what you're saying. You have the perfect opportunity to help and you're refusing."

"I am helping," Elizabeth protested. "I'm telling Nikolas about his past, answering his questions. And I do mention you when the moment calls for it, but I'm not going to spout the greatness of your relationship at every turn."

"I think you don't want Nikolas and I to get back together," Emily accused her angrily. "That's why you aren't helping."

"No, that's not it at all," Elizabeth shook her head, yanking her arm out of Emily's grasp. "Emily, I know you love Nikolas and want him to remember you, but you can't force it. Em, please, I'm not... You and Nikolas are both my friends, and I'm trying to help both of you."

"How are you helping me? From where I'm standing, all you're doing is stabbing me in the back."

"Emily," she pleaded. "No, that's not what I'm doing. But I won't push your relationship on him and alienate him, either."

"So my feelings don't matter," Emily demanded, turning and stalking back towards Audrey's house.

"Emily, wait," Elizabeth called after her. "I agreed to meet with Nikolas in the hopes that he'd started to feel comfortable hearing about you and Lucky from his past since he's so angry with you guys right now. The first meeting went well, and I've agreed to meet him again."

"Where?" she demanded, rounding on the shorter woman.

Elizabeth shook her head and looked away. "I won't tell you."

"You won't tell me?" Emily repeated in disbelief.

"Em, this isn't easy for me," her friend said, her eyes large and wounded. "I promised Nikolas that I wouldn't tell you so that you could ambush him, but I didn't want to keep this from you. I didn't want it to seem like I was lying to you."

"But you did lie to me," Emily insisted. "When you met with him and didn't tell me, that was a lie."

"How?" Elizabeth asked, slight anger tingeing her voice. "You didn't ask me if I was meeting him. Look, I told you what was happening. What more do you want from me?"

"I want you to help me. You owe me."

Elizabeth stepped back and raised her hand to her chest. "I owe you?"

"For sleeping with Zander. For getting pregnant with his baby."

"You were divorced," she shook her head in disbelief. "I wasn't having an affair with him. How do I owe you for that?"

"You tell me where you're meeting him," Emily told Elizabeth, "or I will follow you. I will not lose my fiancé because you're too selfish to help me."

Then she turned and stalked away, shaking her head in disbelief that Elizabeth would do this to her. She'd made it sound like Emily was a threat to Nikolas, or that she was an out of control person who didn't respect him or anybody else. Elizabeth was wrong. And she would make her so-called friend see that.


"That was fun!" Georgie laughed as they walked away from the band shell.

"Yeah," Brooke grinned. "My dad told me they were doing a jazz night here. It sounded fun."

"Well, thanks for calling me," Georgie's smile faltered slightly, but when Maxie touched her elbow softly she shook off her bad mood.

When she finished her volunteering at the hospital, she checked her cell phone, and had been disappointed when there were no messages. Dillon hadn't called, again. She'd just wanted to go home and wallow, and maybe curse her boyfriend. But instead Brooke showed up, and told her about Jazz Under the Stars and invited her and Maxie to go. She was glad that she'd agreed.

"Let's get some ice cream," Maxie suggested, pointing to an ice cream cart.

"Sure," Brooke agreed.

"Alright," Georgie said, letting her sister lead them along.

After purchasing their cones, they continued to walk, talking and laughing. They talked about the jazz performance, but they didn't talk about L&B. They talked about boys, but not about Dillon. Maxie was currently trying to get Brooke to admit she liked their cousin Lucas.

"I do not," Brooke protested as she caught a drip of her mocha ice cream.

"Yes, you do," Maxie smiled. "You wouldn't be protesting so hard if you didn't."

"Georgie, come on, help me out," Brooke pleaded. "Georgie?"

"Let's go," she said, tearing her gaze away from where Dillon and Sage were standing shoulder to shoulder buying ice cream.

Her sister and new friend followed her gaze and saw the pair, their faces falling. "Georgie," Maxie began.

"Don't," she shook her head. "Let's just go. I don't want to deal with Dillon or Sage right now. I was having fun tonight. Let's...let's just go."

Chapter 5

~Lansing Apartment~

Elizabeth was tired as she stood in the hallway outside her ex-husband's apartment where she'd once lived. Cameron was still fussy and not sleeping well, and even when he did sleep, she could only sleep fitfully herself. Her fight with Emily plagued her and she wondered if she had been wrong. Had she been too harsh and not understanding enough of her friend?

She knew how much Emily loved Nikolas, and how hard this whole experience had been on her. Emily thought he had died first in the fire, then again in the car crash. To have gotten him back a second time, and not have him remember her, was devastating. Elizabeth understood the desperation in her friend, she'd felt the same feelings when Lucky came back from the dead but kept pushing her towards Nikolas. She didn't want her friends to go through what she and Lucky had; to wind up with all that anger and bitterness.

To add to her sleeplessness, besides her distress over Emily, had been the knowledge that she was coming to Ric's in the morning. She had only a few things left at the apartment they'd shared during their second marriage. He had packed up some things and shipped them to her grandmother's house at her request, but there were a few items left. After she got the last of them, she could close this chapter on her life.

"Are you okay?"

She looked over at Nikolas and smiled tremulously. "Yeah."

"No, you're not. We don't have to do this."

"If I don't do it now, I never will," she shook her head. "And having you here helps. Thank you for coming with me."

"You're welcome," he told her.

His calming presence helped her deal with the incident that was twisting her up into knots inside. Nikolas didn't have any emotional connection or memories about Ric, so this was just another day for him. Looking over at him standing there with his hands in his pockets helped her raise her hand and knock on the door.

It swung open and Ric smiled when he saw her standing there. "Elizabeth."

He looked to her right and saw Nikolas, and his demeanor faltered slightly. "Nikolas? What are you doing here?"

"He's helping me get my things," she explained as they walked inside.

"I would have helped you," Ric told her.

"It's just easier this way," Elizabeth shook her head. She didn't want to be near him any longer than necessary. Looking over at Nikolas she said, "This is my ex-husband Ric Lansing. Let's get the stuff, okay?"

He nodded and followed after her as she grabbed the boxes she'd brought with her. They worked quietly and quickly, because she just wanted to be done. Ric followed them from room to room, standing quietly to the side as she filled her boxes. When she finished, she straightened and closed the box lid.

"Is that it?" Nikolas asked.


"I'll start taking these down to the car," he said and grabbed a box.

"I'll help," she quickly said, and reached for a box. But Ric was there to thwart her planned escape as he stepped in front of her.

"Elizabeth, wait please," he pleaded. "Can we talk?"

"Go ahead," Nikolas said and walked out of the room.

Elizabeth sighed and crossed her arms over her chest. "What?"

"So it's come down to this?" Ric asked softly.

"What do you want from me?" she demanded. "We're divorced, Ric. And you know exactly why."

"My conversation with Sonny in my office that you overheard," he sighed.

"It's that, and more," she said. "I loved you, Ric, but you're no good for me. You can't give up your vendetta against Sonny, and I can't live my life wondering what you'll do next in your quest to best him and how I, and others, will suffer for it."

"Elizabeth, I never meant to hurt you."

"Well, you did," she snapped. "You stepped all over me and made me secondary to everything you did. I won't live like that. That's why we're divorced. So please...just stay away from me and Cameron."

Turning, she grabbed a box and walked into the main room. Nikolas was crossing through to the bedroom and frowned slightly when he saw her. "Are you okay?"

"I'll just wait for you down at the car, alright?"

"Sure," he nodded, frowning as Elizabeth made her way past him.

She didn't wait for anything else, she just walked out. And she'd never come back here again.


Ric Lansing was slime. Nikolas didn't know if that was a memory he was having, or if the disgust and dislike rolling through him was from hearing Elizabeth's pain as she railed against her ex-husband. Whatever it was, all he felt was revulsion for the D.A., much like he felt for Lorenzo Alcazar after finding out the man had been lying to him in hopes of getting the Cassadine money.

He didn't want to tell Elizabeth he'd overheard her talking to her ex. It was a private moment and he could see she was still shaken by it. But he couldn't help asking, "You okay?"

She looked over at him and nodded shakily. "Sure."

"Has anyone ever told you you're a horrible liar?" he asked as he turned the car onto another street.

"Only one person," she said. "Most people think I'm telling the truth." She gave a short derisive bark. "I actually used to lie all the time."

He looked over at her, "Really?"

"Oh yeah. I was quite the opposite of Sarah."

"She's your sister, right? The girl I dated?" he questioned, trying to remember the information she'd told him last time.


"So," Nikolas asked when they fell silent for a few minutes. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"Ric?" She shrugged. "Ric is...complicated. I thought he was one thing, but he turned out to be something else. He...he's obsessed with beating Sonny Corinthos."

That was a name Nikolas had heard from Lorenzo; he knew that Corinthos was a criminal. He could understand why the D.A. would want to put a criminal in jail, but it sounded deeper than that. He was curious if Elizabeth would say anything more, or if he should play dumb in order to coax it out of her. Or if he should even be pushing her at all.

"Thank you, Nikolas," she said, catching him off guard.

He glanced over at her. "For what?"

"For coming with me. Helping me with Ric. And for not asking a lot of questions."

"Well, I'm curious," he admitted. "But it's none of my business, especially if it upsets you."

"I appreciate it. Plus, I'm supposed to be helping you, not the other way around."

Arching a brow as he stopped at a red light, he questioned, "Friends can't help each other?"

"Yes, they can," Elizabeth nodded.

"So if I want to help you, why can't I?"

"Because I don't want to bury you in my problems," she shook her head. "Trust me, you don't need to hear all mine. But, thanks for wanting to help."

After a minute she sighed and then said, "I know you're not really talking to Alexis right now, but maybe you should tell her to be careful around Ric."

"Ric?" Nikolas questioned. "Is she seeing him?"

"I don't know what she's doing," she said. "But when I left to have Cameron, Ric was trying to get me to reconsider the divorce. When I came back, suddenly he was all over Alexis. It just... Ric doesn't do anything without an agenda. I don't know why, but something tells me he's using her in some way."

Nikolas peered out the windshield and wondered if he should warn his aunt. He had rebuffed her attempts to talk because she had helped Emily lie to him. She tried to apologize to him; she had tried to tell him how happy she was that he was alive. But he had turned his back on Alexis, certain he was right and justified. But if Ric Lansing was using her in some way...nobody deserved that.

"I'll think about it," he told Elizabeth as the light turned green and he started driving again.

She smiled over at him, "Today was kinda a bust, wasn't it? Is there anything you wanted to ask me about?"

"How 'bout we save that for another day," he told her. She looked drained and he didn't want to drag her back into memories that had upset her the last time they were talking.

Elizabeth bit her lip and her eyes turned apologetic. "I think I should tell you, I told Emily we were talking. And when she asked for my help I said no. She was a little mad, to say the least. So if she sees us, she might try to force the issue. But I couldn't lie to her and sneak around. So, it's up to you if you want to meet again, otherwise you better ask me your questions now."

"The reason I asked to talk to you was because you were honest with me, Elizabeth. I wouldn't expect you to lie to Emily. I'll just deal with her," he said. Because he knew sooner or later, whether he remembered her or not, he would have to deal with Emily and stop avoiding her.

"I'll deal with her if we run into her," he told Elizabeth. "Because I'd like to get together with you again."

~Quartermaine Rose Garden~


She looked up and smiled at Jason as he came around the curve in the garden path and smiled at her. Sitting down beside her, he frowned slightly when her fleeting smile was already replaced by a scowl. "What's wrong? You sounded worried on the phone."

"I'm sorry I'm worried you," she said. "I just needed to talk to you."

"You know I'm always here if you need me," he told her. He knew she was going through a very rough time and he needed to make sure he was there to help her however he could.

Sonny was in Texas arranging for the convict to confess to setting the fire to Sam's mother's house, and in less than a week it should be all over. Sam would no longer be wanted for murder and she could stop hiding out. He could stop guarding her and fending off Carly all the time, and then maybe things could calm down. And he could focus more on Emily and what she needed from him.

Sam could relax for the rest of her pregnancy and hopefully the only stress she'd have to deal with was the occasional run-in with Carly, but he really hoped those weren't often. Maybe if Carly didn't feel they were working so hard to clear Sam, and Sonny wasn't so preoccupied with the situation, then she would stop going out of her way to harass Sam. Maybe he could even convince her for the sake of the baby to just back off and stop trying to interfere in his life. No, he knew it wouldn't happen, but he'd ask her anyways.

He'd actually welcomed it when Emily called. Sam was whining about missing Sonny, hating Carly and she continually offered to help by turning herself in. He was tired of constantly having to reassure her and keep her from running off and doing something stupid. And when he wasn't dealing with Sam, he was off helping Carly with her problems. She had increased her calls to him since Sonny was gone, as if she was deliberately trying to keep him away from Sam.

So he'd ordered Max to sit with Sam, turned off his phone so Carly couldn't call, and come to help Emily. She had sounded upset and hurt on the phone and he wondered if she'd gotten into a fight with Nikolas.

"Emily," he asked. "What's wrong?"

"Elizabeth," she huffed.

He frowned. "Elizabeth? What?"

"She's talking to Nikolas."

He took a breath, knowing that Emily was upset and rushing through her explanation. Or lack of one. He just needed to get her to slow down and then he could understand what was upsetting her. Because he didn't see how she could be mad at Elizabeth.

"Emily, start at the beginning. What's going on?"

"Nikolas saw her with me one day and he went up to her. And instead of telling him about our relationship, she actually told him she wouldn't talk about me. She's met with him a couple of times, talking to him about his past."

"But that's a good thing, isn't it?" he asked. "He's been angry and hasn't wanted to hear about his past before. Now he's listening."

"But she refuses to tell him about me and him. She said she wouldn't make him upset. But apparently it was okay to upset me."

Jason put his hand on her arm gently. "Emily, I don't think Elizabeth is trying to hurt you. She's your friend."

"If she was my friend she would help me win back Nikolas," she insisted.

"But you can't force him to do something he doesn't want to do. Especially if he doesn't remember anything right now. It sounds like Elizabeth is trying to respect that. Maybe you should too."

She shook her head as she stood. "I can't believe you're taking her side on this."

"That's not what I'm doing," he told her as he stood as well. "Emily, I've told you this before, but you'll only make him resent you if keep pushing him. Let him come to you."

"I can't," she cried desperately. "What if he never does? I can't lose him."

Jason put his arms around and she clung to him as she cried silently. "I wish I could say that you won't, but nobody can promise that, Emily. You have to find a way to deal with this because it's hurting you too much right now."

She sniffled as soft tears continued to roll down her cheeks. "I just love him so much."

"Nobody says you don't," Jason tried to assure her. "But, Emily, we don't know how long it will take for Nikolas to get his memory back. You can't stay like this forever. You have to live your own life."

"Nikolas is my life," she insisted.

"What about your studies?" he asked. "I thought becoming a doctor was important to you."

She sighed and slumped into him. "I do want to be a doctor, but I can't give up on Nikolas."

He rested his chin against the side of her head and sighed as well. He knew she wasn't going to listen to anything he said, and he was worried for her. This was beyond what he could do for her right now. "Is Monica here?"

Emily pulled back and looked up at him. "I'm not sure. She was supposed to be home soon. Did you want to see her?"

"If she's home," he shrugged. He had almost, if not enjoyed, rather liked his talk with her the last time he was here. Plus, he hoped she might be able to help Emily in a way he couldn't.

"I can see," she offered. "You can wait here if you want."

He frowned slightly. "If she's not here, I'll need to go."

"So soon?" she saddened.

"For now," he amended. "But you can always call when you need something, or just want to talk."

Her face brightened with a smile. "Okay. I'll see if Mom's here. You can wait outside."

Silently they walked towards the house, and Jason couldn't help the tension that entered him the closer they got. Visiting Emily or Monica, or maybe even Alan, was alright. But he didn't want to run into Edward or Tracy. They stopped outside the terrace doors and Emily was about to open them when he reached out to stop her. He recognized one of the voices from inside, and she shouldn't be here.

"So, are you going to help me or not?" Carly asked.

Emily looked over at Jason, question in her eyes but he shook his head and concentrated on the conversation.

"Why should I help you?" Edward asked, his voice full of scorn and impatience. "It seems to me that I'll do all the work and you'll get to reap all the rewards."

"Getting Sam McCall behind bars benefits both of us."

"No, Carly, it benefits you. Your husband's ex-mistress disappears out of your life and you get to reclaim your number one spot in my grandson's life. But what about the baby?" Edward wondered.

"Jason's the father," Carly said off-handedly. "When Sam has the baby he'll be given custody. And that's where I," she paused and then said, "help you."


"By convincing Jason he should bring the baby to see your family."

Edward laughed, but Jason only stood there in numb shock.

"How are you going to convince him to do that?" the older man laughed. "Nothing short of you agreeing to let us visit with little Michael would ever convince him you really felt Jason's child should get to know his family.

Jason closed his eyes. Carly would never agree, Edward would refuse to help her and he and Sonny would have a little more time to work on their plan for Sam.

"I'll...I'll consider it," Carly replied, and Jason's eyes popped open.

"You'll let us see Michael?" Edward asked, clearly sounding intrigued.

"Jason brought him over after Lila's death. Maybe we could do that once a month or so. Tell Jason it's to honor Lila. She was always nice to me when none of the rest of this family was. If Jason's already bringing Michael, then convincing him to bring the baby won't be that hard."

"Twice a month," Edward said. "We want to see Michael twice a month, or it's no deal."

"Once a month," Carly snapped. "Any more than that and Sonny and Jason will know something's up. Be grateful with what you've got."

The room fell quiet and Jason leaned forward, shaking with barely controlled fury. Carly was using Michael as a bargaining chip with the Quartermaines to get Sam sent to jail and take her child away from her.

"Alright, my dear," Edward crowed. "You have yourself a deal."

"No, you don't, old man," Jason snarled as he wrenched the door open and stalked into the room. "You are not seeing Michael and there is no way you will ever see Sam's baby."

Carly gasped and backed up a step. "Jason."

He turned and stabbed his finger through the air at her. "Shut up. Right now."

"Jase," her chin wobbled and her eyes filled with crocodile tears. "Jase, let me explain."

He stalked across the room and grabbed her arm, knowing he was probably holding her too tight, but not caring at the moment. He didn't say good-bye to Emily, he didn't bother sparing a glance at Edward; he just dragged Carly out of the front door and slammed it behind him.

Chapter 6

~Corinthos Penthouse~

There were times, when Sonny was forced to look a little too deeply at himself, that he knew he was an angry man. And sometimes, his temper frightened him.

Sometimes, almost always, he considered that temper an asset for his business. When he lashed out - after deliberation with himself and especially with Jason - people knew he meant business. He brought fury on high upon his enemies and, hopefully, gave them pause before coming after him again. He had used his quick temper and fast fists, and even faster guns, to make a name for himself, to rise up through the ranks and be Lord of the Manor. When he unfurled his fury like a deadly lightening bolt from the mountain, people took notice. As he wanted them to.

But the one thing he had always prided himself on was his control around women. After watching his mother be subjected to the wrath, and fists, of Deke Woods it had made him very careful around women. Women were to be treasured and revered. Not used as personal punching bags for a man's bad day, bad job, or low self-esteem. There was no excuse, absolutely no excuse, for hitting a woman.

He was desperately trying to remember that right now.

As he looked at Carly, unrepentant for her actions except for getting caught, he was desperately trying to rein in his temper. Sonny had been surprised to get Jason's phone call as he was finishing up business in Texas, wondering why Jason had a new cell phone number. And then he'd heard. Carly had gone to the Quartermaines, used Michael as a bargaining chip, and tried to get Edward Quartermaine to help her send Sam to prison.

That she had been willing to send the supposed mother of her best friend's child to prison was revolting. Not shocking really because Carly was a jealous woman. If any woman so much as gave Sonny a lingering glance, Carly was ready to claw their eyes out. But Sonny, he realized rather to his dismay, had been blind to the level of jealousy towards the women in Jason's life. He had been blind to the level his wife thought she owned Jason.

He'd always thought Carly's jealous tirades against Elizabeth Webber were because of Carly's guilt. Guilt over betraying Jason and hurting him, emotionally, the night the younger man was shot. That he had allowed Elizabeth to help him, and not Carly, had been a bitter pill for her to swallow. Courtney had been acceptable, or maybe only tolerated, because the younger woman was Sonny's sister. And controllable to make sure that Carly's place was secure in Jason's life. Carly would never be shut out of his affection, caring or rescuing. Courtney was accepted. Sam was not.

Not only was Sam Sonny's ex-mistress, an extreme sin in its own right, but Sam was supposedly giving Jason the one thing that Carly hadn't. Oh sure, she'd given him a son in Michael for a time, but it hadn't lasted. As much as Jason loved Michael in his heart as his own son, the little boy hadn't been really his. And Jason had lost the boy, causing him much pain. Sam, if the normally honest Jason's lie was to believed, was giving was giving him the one thing Sonny's wife had hoped to give Jason, but hadn't. Sam was giving Jason his own biological child, a child that no one could take away.

Never mind that Sam's baby was actually Sonny's and Jason knew that, Carly didn't. All Carly saw was the rival for Jason's affections, the woman who would be placed above her in Jason's life. So Carly had done what she always did, she schemed. And in so doing had wounded her best friend and enraged her husband.

Sonny had a death grip on his glass of scotch as he stared at her from his stance by the fireplace. She stood by his desk, arms crossed defiantly over her chest. Her eyes flashed pure hate and fire, and he was sure his did the same. At this moment he hated her. She had interfered in his business, and especially in his personal life. She had been plotting to send the mother of his child, not Jason's, to jail. Sonny wanted to yell that at her, tell her just how deeply he'd been wounded by her betrayal, but he couldn't. Things weren't completely taken care of yet and they couldn't unveil one lie without possibly revealing the other.

And it was absolutely imperative Sam's name be cleared. The threat of jail had to be removed. And under no circumstances would Sonny's child be born in jail.


He loathed her voice. That haughty, arrogant, completely unrepentant tone that conveyed her absolute certainty that she was right; that she wouldn't back down. She would never concede that she was at fault, that she was wrong in what she'd done. He'd bet anything that she stood over there sure that Jason would forgive her, that he would give her his new cell hone number eventually and let her back in his life.

Sonny knew it would take a long time for Jason to forgive Carly. If he ever did.

"Sonny." The tone wasn't quite as haughty, a little more questioning. Maybe it was because he hadn't said a word during her long-winded defensive diatribe. Maybe she saw that he was at the point of crushing his glass in his grip.

"Shut up," he said. "For once, do me a favor and just shut up. Stop whining, stop making excuses, and stop begging others to clean up your messes. Just shut up."

"Look, I know Jason's mad, but he'll forgive me. He always does."

"You may have pushed too far," he ground out through gritted teeth. "You made a deal with his enemy, using our son, to get the mother of his child sent to jail. What makes you think he'll forgive that? What makes you think that I'll forgive you?"

She glared at him. "You're still in love with Sam, aren't you? You wish it was your baby, not Jason's, don't you?"

"Only you, Carly," he seethed as he shook with anger. "You think this is all about Sam."

"Isn't it?" she arched her brow. She dared him to defy it and he knew he had to. While this was about Sam, he couldn't let her know how close she was to the mark. Shaking her head she glared at him, pushing him. "I'm right, aren't I?"

The glass cracked in his hand as he squeezed it tighter and her eyes widened as she gasped. "Sonny."

"I'm mad you would use our son," he dropped the glass on the floor, proud that he hadn't given into the urge to fling it across the room, and stalked past her. He shook off her hand, "And that's why I can't stand to even look at you right now."

He slammed the door behind him, proud that it had been his hand he'd hurt and not her as the overwhelming desire had been.

~Kelly's Courtyard~


Dillon had been so intent on going into the diner to look for Georgie, he'd nearly missed his girlfriend as she was about to walk out of the courtyard. Thankfully he hadn't. Changing directions, his feet slipped slightly on the bricks and he called out to her again. "Georgie."

She stopped and turned slowly. Her arms were crossed defensively over her chest and though she tried to appear disinterested at his appearance, he could read her emotions clearly. Anger, hope, surprise, betrayal, hurt; all of them clear and cutting.

"What?" she asked, her tone annoyed even as she reached for aloofness.

"I'm glad I found you. I've been looking everywhere for you."

"Well, since I'm not a rich, jetsetting snob I'm not sure where you thought I could have been. I'm a simple girl, just hanging out with my cousin in my aunt's diner."

"I'm sorry, Georgie," he said. Sorry for so many things he wished he could tell her, but somehow couldn't seem to find the words to express it all. "I've hurt you."

"No, no, not at all," she shook her head. "I just love having my boyfriend ignore me. Especially so he could spend so much time with his ex-lover."

He swallowed roughly, painfully, as he realized that he had hurt her deeply. Lucas had been kind to him compared with how he was sure this was going to go.

"Look," Georgie said. "If you would rather be with her, would rather pick up your relationship with her, then at least give me the common courtesy of saying so. Stop jerking me around, and stop lying to me."

"No," he burst out immediately, almost wildly. "No. I don't want to break up with you. I don't want to be with Sage. I don't want to sleep with her. I wish I could change the past, take back those things, but I can't."

"Then why do you keep making all the same decisions?" she demanded of him. "Every time I turn around you're with her. L&B, Kelly's, the park. I call you, you're busy with her, you don't call me back. I may be ignorant, but I am not dumb. You clearly aren't too serious about me."

Georgie turned to go and he reached out for her, gently grasping her arm, yet firmly determined not to let her go. Her eyes snapped at him, but he wasn't going to back down. Not this time. He had made too many mistakes with her, he wasn't going to make another one. It might seem like she wanted him to back down, to go away, but he knew that wasn't what she really wanted. She wanted him to prove to her that he was serious, and that's exactly what Dillon was going to do.

Starting right now.

"I am," he told her. "I am very serious about you. I know I hurt you, and I want to make it up to you."

"Make it up to me?" she arched her brow. She wasn't going to make this easy on him.

"Do you have plans today?" he asked tentatively. "Do you have to work?"

"Brooke and I were talking about getting together tonight, but I'm free right now. Maxie has to work, but I don't have to."

"Would you like to do something?" he asked, now a little more hopeful.

"Sit around L&B and be ignored? I don't think so."

"No," he shook his head. He had a lot to do to fix things. "We could go to a movie, or we could go down by the Riverwalk. The booths are being set up for the festival. Or we could go to the park."

She scowled and said determinedly. "Not the park."

"O-okay. Does this mean you might consider someplace else?" he asked, now a bit more cautious and wondering what her glare behind the park meant.


Georgie's face turned dark and her once lax arms now crossed defensively again. Dillon turned and saw Sage sidle across the courtyard looking as obnoxious as a cat cornering a mouse while completely ignoring Georgie and looking at him like she wanted to eat him alive.

"How wonderful that I found you," she cooed at him. "Let's go do something. Uncle Lorenzo has a speedboat he said we could take out on the river if we wanted."

He felt Georgie start to slide away and he couldn't let her think that he'd go off with Sage. "I'm sorry, Sage."

Her olive complexion paled slightly. "What? Oh, I know, you probably don't want to go out on the boat. We could always do something else."

"No, we can't," he said softly, yet with determination. "I already have plans for the day."

"Surely Lois won't make you work if you just explain that you have a date with me."

"I don't have to work," he told her. "I already asked Georgie out. I'm just waiting on her to tell me where she wants to go."

He turned and looked at Georgie hopefully, tuning out Sage as she began sputtering and whining. Georgie looked at him, then over his shoulder at Sage. He simply looked at his girlfriend, and prayed she would agree, but knew she had every reason not to.

"I've decided," she said, looking back to him. "Let's go."

He smiled, relieved and happy all at the same time. He went with her immediately as Georgie took his hand and began walking. Sage called after him, but he didn't turn around and acknowledge her. He wasn't going to ruin this now. He just hoped Georgie was sincere about going somewhere and that she hadn't just said she would to make Sage mad when she really had no intention of going anywhere.


As Jason left the warehouse the last thing he wanted to do was get on his bike and go to Jake's. It was alright that he slept there, but there were times he really didn't want to hang out there. He couldn't look at Coleman and not wish that Jake was back behind the bar. He couldn't look at the current owner and not remember that he was the slime who had blackmailed Courtney into stripping.

He really didn't want to think of his ex-wife right now. Because while he'd accepted the fact that he and Courtney hadn't worked out and were now divorced, he didn't want to think about her. Because it would too readily turn into thoughts of her brother and best friend. And as much as he didn't want to think about Courtney, he really didn't want to think about Sonny and, especially, Carly.

He'd given up so much of his life for her, and she once again had betrayed him and done the one thing she knew would hurt him most. She had tried to make an alliance with the Quartermaines. Had conspired with them, using Michael, to put Sam in jail simply because Carly couldn't stand the fact that Sonny's ex-mistress was giving Jason a child. If she only knew the real paternity of Sam's baby Carly would have done even more. Which was why Jason was doing all of this in the first place.

He had switched the DNA results for Carly and Michael. He had protected her family, and especially her oldest son who was hurt and confused about his parents' strained and fractious relationship. And after all, all that he had done for Michael, both known and unknown to Carly, she had done this to him. She had set out to deliberately hurt him.

She had cried, begged and pleaded for his understanding and forgiveness. He couldn't give her either. The understanding he probably could if he tried. But he didn't want to. Because understanding would eventually lead to forgiveness. And right now, he wanted to stay mad at Carly. He didn't want to forgive her. However selfish and out of character it may seem; he wanted to be mad right now and he didn't want to give into her demands. He knew he didn't hate her, but right now he was so angry he couldn't look at her. And he certainly couldn't talk to her.

So Jason changed his cell phone number, his home number, and didn't give her the new ones. Everyone in the organization was under strict and explicit orders to not give them to Carly no matter how much she begged or pleaded. The man who did would find himself on the worst detail imaginable. He was certain his glare and tone had convinced the men of his deadly seriousness.

He'd moved out of his penthouse and into Jake's. He didn't know if he'd be able to control himself if he encountered Carly, and he had no doubt she'd be coming over all the time to beg for forgiveness. He wasn't going to stay at the safe house with Sam because she'd want to talk to him about it and try to fix it. Or she'd want to talk about Sonny. He had no patience for either subject. So, he went to Jake's. Carly's guard detail was under orders to not let her go to the bar and his threat about what would happen if she ditched her guards and showed up there was even worse than the one about his phone number.

As he neared Elm Street Pier, still hoping to clear his head, he spied the building that once housed Elizabeth's studio. He didn't even know if she had it anymore after her two marriages, and divorces, from Ric. He wasn't even really even thinking of the studio, or its owner, just another time when he'd been betrayed by Carly and had retreated there for safety. He'd been in a place where she couldn't bother him very much, a place where he could think. That was what he'd hoped to find, and had to some extent, at Jake's.

Nearing the stairs, he paused when he saw his sister stride purposefully down the stairs on the other side of the pier. The look on her face was startling, especially when Jason realized the anger was directed at Elizabeth standing at the edge of the dock. For half a second Jason was a bit fearful Emily would push Elizabeth into the water. Then he shook his head at how silly that thought was.

He took a step and then stopped again when Emily's voice, acidic and sounding very much like a female Edward, said, "Elizabeth."

The shorter woman turned, startled out of her thoughts. "Emily. Hey. What-what are you doing here?"

"I'm just out for a walk," his sister said. Her voice was now deceptively calm and polite and Jason was a bit dismayed by how much she seemed to have perfected that voice, and how often he remembered her using it lately. Then, just like Tracy, Emily's voice changed to nasty and bitter. "The question is, what are you doing here?"

"I was just-" Elizabeth began.

"Waiting for Nikolas? My fiancé?"

"Look, Em," Elizabeth said. "It's not what you think."

"You have no clue what I'm thinking right now," Emily paused, and then leaned forward. "But I'm willing to tell you."

"Emily?" Elizabeth asked, backing up slightly at the pure fury on the other woman's face. Jason was too stunned to do anything but watch, surprised at his sister's behavior.

"You know, I never thought I would say this, but Carly is right about you."

"What?" Elizabeth gasped. "What are you... What has gotten into you, Emily?"

"The determination to not let you steal my boyfriend." Jason could practically see the anger rolling off Emily. "You are such a tramp it's not even funny. You jerked Jason around for years, running between him and Lucky, and then between him and Zander. You got knocked up with my husband's baby and now you're trying to steal my fiancé."

Elizabeth's jaw clenched and her voice was strained when she said, "Ex-husband. And what do you care? You were cheating on him with your perfect, precious Nikolas long before I ran into him that night. In fact, that's why he was at Jake's, because he saw you and Nikolas together; having cheap sex at the house he bought for you."

Jason had forgotten how Elizabeth could fling back the barbs when she was provoked. Both women's voices were raised and bitter and Jason felt like he should step in, but knew that this was a private matter and that his presence would only make things worse. Yet, he couldn't walk away because he was unsure of how far this would go.

"Except your plan didn't work out, did it?" Emily sneered, crossing her arms and leaning forward. "He died and you ended up with a fatherless bastard."

Elizabeth flinched and Jason closed his eyes at the pain he knew his sister had just inflicted.

"Well, I will not let you sink your claws into Nikolas. I won't let you play your poor, helpless victim routine on him. You see him as the perfect solution to your problem. Your friend who just happens to be rich provides for you and your son."

"That's not what I'm doing," Elizabeth shook her head angrily. "He asked me to tell him about his past. He asked me because he can't stand you. I'm trying to help him; I'm not trying to steal him from you."

Emily scoffed. "Right. You figured why not go after him and get on his good side while he can't remember me. Poison him against me so that when he does remember you'll still be on the inside. You probably would have gone after Jason, batted your eyelashes and dangled your baby in front of him if Sam wasn't pregnant." Emily paused and tapped her chin with her finger. "In fact, I'm rather surprised you haven't gone after him anyways. Begged him for help. After all, he's rich enough to support two babies, right?"

Elizabeth turned on her heel and stalked away, towards the stairs across from where Jason was standing. Emily whipped out her hand and grabbed Elizabeth's arm. "Oh, no. You aren't going to walk away from me. You're going to hear everything I have to say."

Elizabeth jerked her arm out of Emily's grasp and spit out, "You know, it's no wonder Nikolas doesn't want anything to do with you. You are nothing more than a spoiled brat who pouts when she doesn't get her way and thinks that because she's a Quartermaine she can step all over people. So, I guess Carly was right about you."

The crack echoed across the dock and Jason was stunned. Emily hand was still poised in the air and Elizabeth was cradling the cheek that had been slapped. As Emily began yelling and advanced on Elizabeth again, Jason's feet finally began moving. It was definitely time to intervene. And as another pair of footsteps pounded across the wooden planks of the pier, it appeared someone else had the same intention.

Chapter 7

~Elm Street Pier~

She was shocked.

Staring at the sluttish image of her supposed best friend Elizabeth, Emily was stunned. And outraged. Elizabeth was quiet; her face pale, except for the brilliant red mark Emily had put on her cheek. Emily knew that the other woman - an interesting choice of words, she reflected - would conjure up tears, play the part of the victim, and make her out to be the villain. And it was already working.

Because Nikolas was holding Elizabeth, brushing her hair off her face to look at her cheek and asking if she was alright. Then he looked back over his shoulder at Emily, and unleashed a scathing glare. The kind he reserved for people he truly disliked, like Helena. Emily's blood boiled that he would giving her such a look. Once again, this was all Elizabeth's fault.

It also explained why Elizabeth had refused to help her case to reconciling with Nikolas. Emily's claims must have been on the mark. Elizabeth was trying to make inroads with an amnesiac Nikolas, while shoving Emily out of the picture. She probably took every opportunity to bad-mouth Emily, or down play her love for Nikolas; all the while making herself look good and trying to gain his affections.

"You slut!" she screamed, and stepped forward. But she was grabbed from behind and pulled back, actually lifted off her feet.

Her heart broke when she realized that Nikolas had twisted, putting himself between her and Elizabeth in a decidedly protective manner. He was actually protecting the no-good tramp from her, his fiancée. Just like he had done with Mary, the lying woman he'd married and slept with.

"Emily, what's wrong with you? What are you doing?"

Stunned even more than she already was, she looked over at Jason. He was holding her tightly, his face a mixture of shock, anger and concern. When he turned to look at Nikolas and Elizabeth, she knew what was going to happen and her hands clenched into fists.

"Elizabeth, are you alright?"

"Yes." Her voice was meek, timid and full of tears. Of course, Elizabeth had perfected that voice, especially around Jason, so it wasn't really a surprise she'd pull it out now. It just served to further cement Emily's belief that if it wasn't for Sam's baby, Elizabeth would be throwing herself at Jason. Thank goodness her brother had found someone else.

"Are you sure?" Jason pressed.

"I-I'm fine. Really," she straightened slightly. "I...I think I should go."

"Yes, I think we should," Nikolas said, shooting Emily another icy glare. "Come on, I'll take you home."

Emily gasped and called after him, "Nikolas, wait."

He didn't stop, didn't even turn around as he walked with Elizabeth up the stairs. His arm was around her shoulders and he never once took his eyes off her or stopped talking to her. Emily instinctively lunged forward after them, determined to rip Elizabeth from his grasp, but was held back by Jason. Emily had almost forgotten her brother was there.

He pulled her back from where they standing and over to the bench. Sitting them down he stared at her. "What was that all about?"

"Elizabeth is trying to steal Nikolas," she declared. "Why else would she be down here? Hoping to run into you?" She shook her head. "No, his launch is here, obviously she was just wandering around, hoping to accidentally run into him."


She scoffed and cut him off. "Carly was so right about her. She would do the same with you. I'm sure she was the same with Zander. She is so pathetic."

"Emily, you know you don't really mean that," he reproached her softly. "I know you're upset about Nikolas, but that's not a reason to take it out on Elizabeth. She hasn't done anything."

Jerking away from him she stood up and crossed her arms over her chest. "What is wrong with you?! You got free from her, and here you are still defending her. You and Sam are having a baby, your own baby that no one can take away from you. You don't have to put up with her any longer just because she might have a baby too."

"That's not what's going on," Jason shook his head, his features slightly dark. "She's my friend. And she's yours."

"No, she's not," Emily declared. "She is anything but my friend. If she was my friend she would have agreed to help me with Nikolas. She wouldn't be giving me high and mighty morality lectures about Nikolas or you."

Jason stood and crossed his arms as he looked at her. "I know you're upset, Emily, but honestly I-"

He stopped and looked away. The set of his jaw suddenly reminded her of how her brother looked with the family would bother him. "Jason?"

"I thought you were better than this, Emily," he said. "I didn't think your grief would turn you into a spoiled Quartermaine, acting like Edward because you don't get your way."

Wounded and hurt she looked up at him, her eyes suddenly filling with tears. "Jason-"

"I think I should go," he said abruptly. "And I think you should too."

She stood there in silence as he left the dock. Jason had walked away from her, had called her spoiled, and treated her with veiled contempt he reserved for most of the family. Once again, this was all Elizabeth's fault.

~Alcazar Penthouse~


He turned her down.

Dillon Quartermaine turned down her, Sage Alcazar, for that little nobody Georgie Jones. What was going on? How could anybody choose to spend time with a nobody from a backwater town like Port Charles, when they could be with her? She simply didn't understand.

She wanted Dillon, and she wasn't used to being told no. Being rejected was not acceptable, and especially not something she took very well. Whenever her father or her uncle told her no, she'd pout, beg and plead until they gave in. She thought that Dillon would be the same way. She'd plead, bat her eyelashes, show just enough skin to remind him of how good they were together and what he was missing and he'd come back to her. After all, Georgie Jones was nothing more than an inexperienced virgin. Who in their right mind would choose that over someone like her?

Sage refused to believe that Dillon was crazy. He'd probably been forced by Georgie to choose her. But how? Dillon's mom didn't like Georgie, so threatening to tell her about Dillon having sex with Sage wouldn't help the little brat. Sage grinned as she thought that Georgie's parents wouldn't be too thrilled find out that bit of news. Maybe Georgie had threatened Dillon with her father, Mac, somehow. After all, threaten a young man with the police and he'd probably cave. Sage herself had threatened some boys with her father's bodyguards in order to get them where she wanted them.

Maybe she should talk to her uncle about this. Certainly he could help Dillon out if the police commissioner was making his life hard. Of course, she'd have to keep the part about her and Dillon sleeping together a secret. Uncle Lorenzo was a bit old fashioned and definitely wouldn't like that piece of news. But, Sage reasoned, he could certainly help her out with this little problem.

Smiling, and definitely pleased with herself, Sage bounced out of her bedroom that she'd stormed into earlier. She hoped her uncle was home by now, because she didn't want to have to wait. She wanted results immediately. Her smile grew even wider when she reached the living room and saw that her uncle was home. She giggled and clapped her hands as she crossed the room.

"Uncle Lorenzo."

He turned and smiled as she grabbed his arm and then hugged him. He chuckled as he said, "Hello, Sage. You certainly seem to be in a good mood."

"I am," she confirmed. "Because you are my uncle, you're wonderful and I love you."

He frowned slightly as he peered down at her. "Who told you?"

"Nobody had to tell me how wonderful you are," Sage laughed. "I already know that."

"Oh," he grinned. "I thought maybe someone had told you and ruined the surprise."

The twinkle in Uncle Lorenzo's eye caused her to pause and look at him. "Surprise? You have a surprise for me?" She squealed in delight. "What is it?!"

"What have you been asking me to do lately?"

She stared at him for a minute, her mind still on Dillon, but racing hard to think. Then she realized what he meant and she squealed again. "Our movie night? Do you mean it? We can really have a dinner and movie night together?"

"Yes," Uncle Lorenzo smiled. "I realized you're right. I haven't been spending that much time with you and I'm sorry. So, I'm making it up to you, I've cleaned an entire evening."

Her eyes widened. "An entire evening? You mean dinner, videos and snacks?"

He nodded. "I'm finishing up a business deal right now, but that should probably only take another couple of days. And then I promise I'm yours completely."

Sage arched her brow at him. "No phone calls?"

"I'll turn my phone off and tell my secretary to take a message."

"No business meetings to have to run off and deal with?"

"My men will be given direct orders to deal with things themselves." He paused and frowned reluctantly. "But if it's an emergency I might have to at least talk to someone."

She thought for a minute, then nodded. "Okay. But no fake emergencies to get out of this. You are mine for a whole night."

"I promise you, Sage, that we will spend an entire evening together doing whatever you want. But if I don't finish up this business deal right now that night will be delayed even longer."

He kissed her forehead and smiled, "I should go."

"Okay," she smiled broadly and watched him as he left.

Giggling, she clapped her hands as she spun around. Her uncle had finally relented, and she was going to have her uninterrupted time with him. She wanted to make this evening fun for him as well, not just for her, so she had to plan this out. The munchies for movie watching would be her choice and preference; he could always have a glass of scotch if he chose to. So she decided that dinner would be his favorite foods to show that she appreciated him. No pizza; she would order from that French restaurant he liked.

As she headed off to make sure she had everything they needed she never even realized that she'd quite forgotten about Dillon and asking her uncle for his help with that matter.

~Spoon Island~

Nikolas sat on the bench along the bluff's edge, looking out over the ocean. He'd ended up here after he left the house, wandering aimlessly because he thought the fresh air might help calm him down. After prowling the interior of Wyndamere and feeling claustrophobic in the enormous house, he was ready to try anything. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to be working.

His mind was a jumble of thoughts, each one more unsettling than the last. He had walked until he was exhausted and was forced to rest, but still his mind troubled him. Women, he shook his head. They were confusing people.

When he had been walking along the docks and overheard arguing, he'd paused, wondering what was happening and whether he should intervene or just walk away and pretend he hadn't heard a thing. He didn't want to invade anyone's privacy, but he had to admit curiosity when he recognized the voices. However, Nikolas was stunned when he heard Emily yelling at Elizabeth, and even more so when he heard what she was saying. He knew that Emily had been hurt by his reluctance - refusal - to get back together with her, but he never realized just how deep it ran.

Despite what she, and others, believed he did understand that she was devoted to him. He even believed in her own way she did love him. But right now he wanted no part of her love. She lied to him, just like Mary did. While a part of him knew that both women had acted out of deep-seated grief, he couldn't reconcile their actions. Especially since they made him feel like a toy two children were fighting over.

He couldn't excuse their behavior simply because they were hurting. They'd schemed and lied for their own selfish reasons, and now he was left to pick up his life and try to piece it all together. He had to figure out what was truth, what was lies, and which of the two were behind the recollections he had. Were they memories, or figments of his imagination based on lies?

The one thing he was grateful for was Mary seemed to have stepped back. He still saw her occasionally, but she wasn't hounding him night and day begging him to understand or press him to fall in love with her. He frowned momentarily when he realized he hadn't seen her in several days. He'd been busy with Elizabeth and fending off Emily; he hoped Mary was doing alright. He knew she was hurting over the loss of her husband.

As much as he hoped she was doing alright, the person he was worried about the most was Elizabeth. Her face when Emily slapped her wasn't something he'd forget right away. He'd heard how she and Emily had been friends since they were teenagers, and he could tell despite what Elizabeth said that she felt hurt and betrayed by Emily lashing out at her. She tried to act like it was okay, that Emily was - if not justified - at least excused for her behavior. That Elizabeth somehow hadn't been fair to her.

"That's ridiculous."

Elizabeth looked down and bit her lip. "She...s-she's normally not like this. She's just...she's just hurting. I should have been honest with her. Or, maybe I shouldn't have agreed to meet with you. I...I should have been more sensitive to how it would make her feel."

"Like she thought about how it would make you feel when she called you a slut?" he challenged sharply.

Her eyes flashed pain and he felt bad, but he refused to let his friend believe that this was her fault. He'd asked her to meet with him, even when she told him she was afraid of Emily being hurt by it. Nikolas wasn't very proud to admit that he'd kept pressing because of a part of him didn't care how Emily felt, that maybe he'd even hoped she would find out and be hurt by it.

"I'm sorry, Elizabeth," he said. "She was wrong to call you that. Nobody has the right to take out their anger on another person."

"Can we just...can we please just drop this?" she pleaded almost desperately.

He didn't want to, but he agreed. "Sure. Let me take you home."

Elizabeth shook her head. "No, that's okay. I...I'm just going to take a cab."

Nikolas scrubbed his palms over his thighs and leaned forward. He'd been tempted to follow after her, but he sensed it would only make things worse right now. He would call her later tonight, or tomorrow, and he wasn't going to be put off if she tried to avoid him. She had helped him and befriended him, and he was determined to do the same for her.

~Vista Point~

Where was she?

Jason stalked the length of the outlook, looking for her among the paths, but she wasn't there. Just how many places could he look until he found her? Elizabeth wasn't at Kelly's, the park, Jake's, the docks or Vista Point. At least when he'd gone back to the docks he'd found Nikolas who told him he'd put her in a cab. Jason had gone to Audrey Hardy's house, but nobody was there. So now he was heading to the more outlying places he could think of where she might be.

He wanted to find her and make sure she was alright. And since he doubted she was or would be he wanted to find her to talk to her, see if he could help. He couldn't believe that Emily had slapped her. While he knew that his sister had been upset that Elizabeth was talking to Nikolas, Jason had been stunned at the ferociousness of Emily's words and anger.

He hadn't seen Elizabeth since the day before she left Port Charles to deal with having found out Ric had only married her to once again prove he was better than Sonny. Jason knew from Emily's revelations while Elizabeth was gone that she had divorced the worthless slime. He knew it had to be hard on her, especially with having to adjust to being a mother, and he felt a little guilty that he hadn't thought very much about her.

He'd let himself be completely overwhelmed and consumed with Sonny and Sam's baby that he hadn't thought about much else. He hadn't helped Emily very much, not as much as he could have or should have. But it was no excuse for not thinking about his sister, or anyone else for that matter. He would help Emily if he could, though she hadn't listened to any of his advice so far. But he wanted to see how Elizabeth was doing, the words his sister had thrown at her had to be stinging.

He stalked up the stairs to the parking lot. He had a few more places he was going to check and he might as well go there since she obviously wasn't around here.


Leaning her elbows on the cement railing, Elizabeth sniffled as she looked down at the gorge below. The sound of the water combined with the gentle caress of the breeze through the trees was helping calm her nerves. Reaching up to wipe away her tears she winced when she hit her tender cheek. Emily sure had some power. She chuckled bitterly when she realized that maybe she'd deserved that slap how many other people she had slapped in the past.

While she understood Emily was upset, that grief made people do funny things, it still hurt what her friend had sad. Elizabeth knew she hadn't always made the best decisions when it came to men; in fact she'd pretty much made a string of horrible mistakes. But Emily wasn't perfect either, her decisions and dealings with Zander had been cruel and certainly not up to Saint Emily's suddenly hypocritical standards. And it made her more than a little angry that Emily had compared her to Carly and accused her of trying to snag a rich man to be a father to Cameron.

If that were really the truth, she would have stayed with Ric. It was childish that she wanted to argue that point with Emily since it wouldn't do any good and would only make her angrier. She and Emily had been friends long enough that they knew how to hurt each other deeply and that had been proven by the intensity of their fight.

She just wanted to calm down before she went home. And hopefully let her cheek return to normal. She didn't want her grandmother to notice and wonder what happened. Elizabeth wasn't feeling up to talking about her fight with Emily with her grandmother or anyone else. That was why she had come out here.

The bridge was quiet and secluded. There were few people who knew about it, so there was little chance of anyone finding her. She'd be able to just have some peace to calm down, and then she'd be able to go back and deal with everyone. Nikolas would surely try to talk to her, eventually she'd have to face Emily, and Lucky would wonder what happened and if this case could help him in his quest to get Emily. Groaning, she dropped her head into her arms. Sometimes it was just too much.

Everyone wanted something from her and all she wanted to do was to figure out her own life. Or maybe just cry for a few minutes. Sniffling, she decided that a few minutes of pity would be okay. That was until she heard the distinct sound of a motorcycle approaching. She didn't believe there were many other motorcycle drivers who knew about this place, and she didn't want Jason to see her crying. If she had to face him, she didn't want his pity. Straightening, she wiped at her eyes and desperately tried to pull herself together.

Chapter 8


Elizabeth closed her eyes and wondered if there was any way she could escape this upcoming event. She was surprised that Jason had shown up here, but she told herself not to read too much into it. It wasn't like he would have come looking for her, he probably just showed up here while he was out on a ride. She hoped he wasn't bothered to see her there, it wasn't like she'd come here hoping to run into him. Although if Emily could see her now, Elizabeth had no doubt as to what the other woman would say. She'd accuse Elizabeth of deliberately being here to get Jason's pity.


She turned, careful to keep her left cheek from his view. After not seeing Jason in months she was surprised she'd now seen him twice in one day. And not on one of her better ones. She didn't want to get into a discussion, or worse, a fight, with Jason about his sister. "Hey, Jason," she replied softly.

"Are you alright?" he asked, approaching her cautiously.

"Oh, I-I'm fine," she stuttered slightly. "How about you? I...I haven't had a chance to talk to you lately. Congratulations about the baby. Emily told me..."

His face tensed and she thought for a minute she'd freeze in July. Then she realized that he'd shown up right after Emily had slapped her. He'd probably heard everything his sister had said and her heart sunk when she feared he might believe Emily's claims that she would try to secure him as a daddy to Cameron if it wasn't for the baby he was expecting with Sam.

"I'm sorry," she said, intending to leave, call a cab to meet her on the road down from the bridge. She didn't plan on sticking around here and having Jason think she was trying to come onto him or something. "I didn't mean... Out on the docks... I wasn't trying to... Never mind. See you later."

"Elizabeth, wait. Please," he said catching her hand and turning her. Unfortunately he now could see her cheek that Emily had slapped. His eyes immediately darkened. "Are you alright?"

Her hand flew up to her face in an attempt to cover the bruise and she winced when she encountered a split lip. Great. Now there was no escaping having her grandmother notice. "Don't worry about it. I should go."

Except he hadn't released her hand and when she went to step away it became obvious they were still connected. "I'm sorry about Emily," he said softly, still not releasing her and taking a small step towards her. "I knew that she's been upset about Nikolas, and the other day she was upset that you were meeting with him. But I never thought she'd do something like that; especially to you."

She blushed, hating the thought that he was in the middle of this. "I'm sorry. She's...she's just hurt, and I understand that. I was afraid this would happen if I met with Nikolas. I think I should just bow out of this and stop meeting him."

"Don't," he shook his head. "Unless that's what you really want to do."

He let go of her arm and walked over to the bridge. She followed slowly; feeling a little more relaxed now. Leaning forward, Jason sighed. "Emily means well, but I think she's a little too eager. She thinks that because Nikolas' injuries are different than mine that she can treat him the same way as before the accident."

"That it will help him remember and once he does, he won't care how she acted," Elizabeth added.

"Yeah," he nodded. "I've tried to caution her-"

"But you can't force her to change or do anything."

"It wasn't fair of her to say those things, though," he said, turning slightly to look at her.

"Forget about it," she shook her head. "I'm sorry you had to hear all that. Especially since you were a large part of it. I just...I just want you to know that I'm not, I'm not trying to... I'm just Nikolas' friend."

"I know," Jason smiled briefly. "I never thought..."

She felt relief wash over her. Because she remembered her behavior with Zander, both before and after her brief quasi-relationship with Jason. She wasn't thinking of a romantic future with Jason; even if Sam wasn't pregnant Elizabeth just wasn't in a place in her life to thinking of romance with anyone. But she was grateful to be friends with Jason and had hoped that he wouldn't overhear something to make think twice about being around her.

"So what are you doing out here?" she asked, wanting to change the subject and talk about something else.

"I was looking for you," he said simply, and in the process stunning her.

"That...that was nice of you to be concerned," Elizabeth told him, looking down at her hands on the cement rail. "But it wasn't necessary. You don't need to get pulled into this mess between Emily and me."

"I can't be concerned and see how you are?" he asked, sounding a bit hurt. They were still tentative in rebuilding their friendship, and they stumbled over stones in the path sometimes.

"Yes, you can," she said slowly. "I just meant that you probably have other things you need to do, for Sam and of course for Sonny. I was in Kelly's the other day and couldn't help overhearing Carly telling Bobbie that Sonny had been out of town. I...I appreciate you being concerned, but I know you're busy. You should focus on the things that are more important."

"Elizabeth," he interrupted her ramble. "You're my friend."

"Thank you," she smiled genuinely. While she wasn't going to burden him with her problems, she was happy to hear him say those words. It had always been the little things with him.

"So tell me what's going on," he smirked.

She shook her head. "Trust me; you're better off not knowing. You've got quite a few things going on; you don't need to hear about Emily whining about Nikolas, Lucky pining after Emily and asking for my help, me having a weird sense of déjà vu, Ric kissing Alexis one day then the next practically begging me to give him another chance, Cameron's colic or the fact that I'm a divorced single mother with no job living with my grandmother."

Her eyes widened in mortification as she snapped her jaw shut. She hadn't meant to say all that. And she certainly hadn't meant to have such bitterness and emotion behind them. Why did it always seem like she was whining about her life to Jason? She certainly didn't expect him to do anything about it and the last thing he needed was another person complaining.

"I'm sorry. I better go." Then she turned and all but fled for the road.


"Well, counselor," Ric smiled at Alexis, "seems like we'll once again be on opposite sides of the aisle."

"Yes," she said dryly. "Amazing. I wasn't aware you had planned to chair this case. I was under the impression ADA Royce would be handling it. Seems a bit of a low brow case for the D.A. himself to be personally involved with."

He chuckled and shook his head. She was really kind of cute when she got all impertinent and condescending. Hugh Royce should have been handling the Lembrowski case, but when Ric heard that Alexis was the defense counselor, he'd done a little rearranging with the assignments. Perks of being the D.A.

He knew that his presence unnerved her, even without mentioning her daughter. But it was such a delightful diversion to watch her become all flustered and stammer. Is that why his brother had ended up in bed with the starchy, buttoned-up attorney? Ric knew from his previous kisses with her that it certainly wouldn't have been that much of a hardship for Sonny. He wondered if one day he would get a chance to find out for himself.

For now, he needed to keep a constant presence in Alexis Davis' life. He had stumbled onto a gold nugget of information when he found that Sonny, not Ned Ashton, was little Kristina's father. His niece was quite a cute child that it was easy enough to spend time with her. And Ric was finding out that her mother wasn't that bad either. He had to admit it really wasn't putting him out to get close to Alexis or kiss her as he formulated his plan against Sonny.

"Admit it, Alexis," he grinned. "You like it when we work together."

"I will admit no such thing," she said, looking over her glasses and down her nose at him. Amazing how a woman shorter than him could still manage to look disdainfully down at him. "I find these blatant attempts to constantly be near me odious. I don't know what is going on-"

"Merely the desire for a worthy adversary," he smiled graciously.

The look she gave him could have frozen the harbor. "Is that what you're calling it these days? You tripped up, D.A. Lansing. You always claim that I somehow find ways to work with you, that I take on clients just to spite you and be near you, but this time I had already met with ADA Royce. I was already on this case; you were not. Now who is finding ways of working together?"

Then she turned on her heel and made her way towards the exit while Ric scowled at her back. Alexis had called him on his lie, had seen right through him, and obviously hadn't been as pleased with the change as he expected her to be. She was in serious need of some cowing. A few well placed remarks, especially in front of his older brother, should do the trick. He was not going to be out-played by a person such as Alexis Davis. He had too much to lose.

~Pier 47~

Holding companies were such lovely subterfuge. Even more so when they remained undiscovered. Pier 47 had a perfect, unobstructed view of Pier 52, allowing Lorenzo to observe Corinthos and Morgan's shipments, deliveries and activities. And they, so far, appeared to be none-the-wiser. Oh, sure, they'd investigated Kilkerry Imports, and traced it back to its home office in Cork County, Ireland. It was a perfectly legitimate business, after bribing the Irish government, and nobody could find the records that indicated it was held by an empty shell company in the Bahamas. After all, what would an Alcazar be doing in Ireland?

So Lorenzo could meet in the warehouse without causing any alarm. Especially since the tail placed on him by Corinthos was incompetent and extremely easy to fool. As far as the idiotic man knew, Lorenzo was in a private room at a Gentleman's Club and would be there for some time. He figured Corinthos would laugh and completely buy the story; that Lorenzo had been reduced to such things after Carly had returned to her husband. The power of Corinthos' ego was going to be a very useful ally.

Closing the file in his hands, he placed it on his desk and looked over at his employee. "Are you sure about this?"

The man nodded. "Yes, sir. Our guy at the Corinthos/Morgan warehouse confirmed it."

"Good," Lorenzo smiled. "That will give us enough time to make the proper...arrangements. Disrupting a shipment like this will cause quite a few problems for Corinthos. Santa Cruz is not a man who deals well with being disappointed or left empty handed."

Rodriguez chuckled. "No, he doesn't. And since he needs this shipment before Corinthos would be able to get a replacement, he'll be forced to look elsewhere."

"Yes," the arms dealer nodded. Santa Cruz would come straight to him. He'd make the Spaniard wait a little bit, just enough to make the man believe it was truly worth the elevated price Lorenzo would charge. Then when he delivered the goods, Santa Cruz would be extremely pleased and come to Lorenzo in the future. And Corinthos would lose at least one customer, but a large one. Most of all, Sonny Corinthos would lose face.

"Everything will be in place?" he asked.

Rodriguez nodded. "Everything is set."

"Good," he smiled. "I won't be available that night, so make sure you have it all ready. I have plans with my niece who thinks I don't spend nearly enough time with her."

And what a wonderful alibi she would be. It was all perfect. He was going to make Corinthos pay. Disrupting the other man's supplies and business would make him focus on that, trying to save his empire and customers. While the Cuban was busy doing that, he would once again neglect Carly who wouldn't like the loss of attention. If there was one thing Lorenzo had learned, it was that Carly required a lot of attention to make her happy. And he would be in the perfect position to provide it for her.


"Elizabeth, wait,"

She would not even look over her shoulder at him and Jason was determined not to let her go. Especially like this. He knew that he probably should head back to town, but he didn't want to. Sonny was back now and could deal with both Carly and Sam for at least a little while. Besides, even if Sonny wasn't back Jason refused to talk to Carly. He was also not in the mood to deal with Sam right now.

Elizabeth had been helping Emily more than he had, had been there for his family when he hadn't. And by the sound of it, she had a lot of other things going on in her own life and nobody even noticed. He was just as guilty as that because until her outburst he hadn't really noticed how her face was pale and her eyes were tired.

He reached her as she was almost to the road and lightly grabbed her elbow. "Elizabeth, wait."

She turned and shook her head. "No, I should go. I didn't mean to say all of that. Don't worry about it and please just forget it."

"Elizabeth," he said softly. "Don't. It's not wrong to admit that you're not happy or that you're having problems. It's better than pretending that everything's fine."

She smiled wryly. "I just didn't mean to seem like I was dumping them on you. I've done that too much in the past, and besides you have other things going on."

He smiled at her slightly nervous rambling. "It's alright. Besides, I'd rather think about something else right now than what's going on with me."

"Jason?" Elizabeth questioned, concern immediately crossing her face.

"It's okay," he quickly shook his head.

Her stance softened and she turned completely to face him. "Now who's pretending?"

Jason stiffened. He knew she meant pretending about being fine, but he couldn't help thinking of the bigger lie about Sam's baby and how Elizabeth hated liars. "I'm alright."

Her face darkened. "Yeah, sure. Alright. I'm sorry I pushed. After all, you don't like confiding in anyone, least of all me."

His brows drew down, "Elizabeth-"

"Forget it," she said, her voice a little harsh even though she seemed to try to hide it. "I know that our friendship has always been one-sided. I just thought that if you could say you were my friend and were concerned about me, then I could say the same thing to you. But just forget it."

Once again she turned to walk away and he wondered how they had suddenly become irritated and angry with each other. The one person Jason thought he could talk to who didn't want something from him and that he could just spend time with, and now she was mad and leaving. Because once again it was never enough. She just had to keep pushing. Demanding more, just like everybody else.

No, not like everybody else. Elizabeth wasn't demanding, she was asking. Out of concern. Offering to help him the same way that he'd tried to help her just moments before. She wasn't trying to shove her way in, insist that he couldn't do it alone or that he wasn't capable of things. And he'd hurt her because he was hurting over what Carly had done and because his life felt out of his control at the moment. Elizabeth didn't deserve that.

"Carly tried to make a deal with Edward," he said. His voice wasn't loud, but he knew she heard him.

Elizabeth stopped, her back stiff. Then slowly she turned. "What?"

"Sam is...being accused of setting a fire that killed her mother years ago. It isn't true," he said, hesitantly and a bit unsure of how Elizabeth would respond to what he told her. She still looked angry and ready to flee, but she was still there.

"Carly doesn't like Sam," he grimaced.

"I've noticed," Elizabeth said. "I don't know how any woman would like having to face her husband's ex-mistress day after day. Faith...never mind. Go on."

Jason paused for a second, and then said. "Carly hates that Sam is," he swallowed, still hating to tell this lie to anyone. Somehow, because of everything from their past, it made him more uncomfortable to tell it to Elizabeth.

"Because she's having your baby," she supplied the words for him. "Yes, I can see where that would make Carly unhappy. She's never liked sharing you, and also she was Courtney's friend and wanted your marriage to work."

"Yes," he agreed. His friend had been trying to get him to go back to Courtney, despite both he and his ex-wife saying that the marriage was over. "So she wants Sam in jail, and she doesn't like that Sonny and I are trying to clear her name."

One of Elizabeth's eyebrows quirked slightly and he wondered if she could read his thoughts, or if she suspected what he hadn't said. That he and Sonny were buying Sam's freedom. But she said nothing, just waited for him to continue.

"Carly went to Edward to get his help in sending Sam to jail. I heard...I heard them talking about it. She said she'd let the Quartermaines see Michael, and that she'd encourage me to let them see the baby in return for Sam going to jail."

"Jason," she said softly, and he opened his eyes to see she'd taken a step towards him. "I'm sorry. I know how much it must have hurt to hear that. After everything you did to help her with Michael, after raising him and then losing him...I know it must have hurt. Especially since it was Carly."

"Yeah," he said, his voice raw with hurt and still some anger.

Elizabeth walked up to him, paused, and then walked past him, back towards the estate. He followed slowly and stood beside her as she leaned forward and braced her arms on the concrete railing. After a few minutes she sighed and reached up to push her hair off her face.

"It seems we're once again at a point in our lives where we're bonding over fights with our friends." She let out a slow breath. "I'm sorry I snapped earlier."

He shook his head. "It's okay."

"No, it's not," she contradicted. "But you're nice to say so. I just...I just want to say that if you need to talk, or just want some peace and quiet..."

She trailed off, but he understood the invitation. And he was grateful that there was at least one person he could talk to right now. He hadn't been back to the Quartermaines since the day he found Carly there. He didn't know what to say to Monica, of if there was anything to say to her. Being here today with Elizabeth, while a little unsteadier than times past, had given him a feeling of some calmness. Much as their times before had.

But he couldn't escape his duties now, any more than he could completely block out the world then. So with a sigh he straightened. "Thank you, Elizabeth."

"You're welcome," she smiled.

"I have to get back for a meeting. Can I give you a ride home?"

"Actually, could you take me back to the docks?" she asked. "That's where I left my car."

Since the meeting was with Sonny at the warehouse it wasn't a bother at all to take her there. Even if it hadn't fit perfectly, he still would have driven her there because he wasn't going to leave her by alone by herself to get back from way out here. "Yeah," Jason nodded. "I can do that."

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