Elizabeth was in the middle of packing Lex’s room when her doorbell rang. She abandoned the suitcase and carefully picked Lex up from the playpen, unwilling to leave her alone. Since Nikolas’s attempt to gain control over Lex, Elizabeth hadn’t let her daughter out of her sight.
She shifted Lex to one side and pulled the door open. “Luke, hey.”
Luke entered. “Hey, darlin. How’s my pretty little granddaughter?” he asked, kissing Lex on the forehead.
“You want to hold her?” Elizabeth asked. Luke accepted gratefully, a somber look on his face. Lex giggled in his arms and reached her chubby arms for the unlit cigar sticking out of Luke’s coat.
“Bubba stopped by the bar,” Luke said, taking Lex and sitting on the couch. Steeling herself for what was coming, Elizabeth curled up on the armchair across from him.
“Did he tell you I’m selling him and Felicia back the restaurant?” Elizabeth asked.
“He did.” Luke eyed her. “While I’d love to think it’s so you can come work at the bar, I know that’s not true.”
“It’s not,” Elizabeth agreed. “I’m uh…leaving town. I’ve been meaning to stop by and tell you, but–”
“I know,” Luke cut in. “I think it’s best if you and Laura don’t see one another for a while.”
“I just…there’s not much of a reason to stay around,” Elizabeth said softly, staring at her hands.
“The last time we talked–before the arrest–you seemed a little happy.” Luke leaned forward. “What’s changed?”
“Nothing,” Elizabeth lied. “I just…the arrest was too much–”
“Darlin’ don’t lie to me,” Luke said gently. “It was Morgan wasn’t it?”
“No,” Elizabeth said quickly. “Jason had nothing to do with this decision.”
“You can tell me,” Luke said. “I just hate to see you leave town because of Laura and Nikolas.”
“It’s partly because of that,” Elizabeth admitted. “I figure me and Lex…we need a fresh start. But…” she sighed. “It does concern Jason.”
Luke bit down his normal comment about tearing the man apart, and opted for a different choice. “What happened?”
Elizabeth bit her lip and looked at him, her blue eyes shining with tears. “He doesn’t want me.”
“Aww, honey,” Luke grumbled. He stood up and set Lex in the living room playpen and knelt in front of Elizabeth’s chair. “You know he’s brain damaged right?”
Elizabeth laughed a little through her tears. “Oh, Luke. It’s just…he won’t let me in. After Sonny, he’s got a wall up.”
“Yeah, I noticed,” Luke said. “You didn’t try to change his mind?”
“I did,” Elizabeth said, sucking in deep breath and blinking back the rest of her tears. “But I shouldn’t have to convince someone it’s all right to love me.”
“No, you shouldn’t,” Luke agreed.
“But what if I walk away from him…and I regret it for the rest of my life?” Elizabeth asked, her voice soft and faltering. “What if he’s the one Lucky was talking about?”
Luke frowned. “What?”
Elizabeth swiped at her eyes and took a deep breath. “After we were married, Lucky told me that he understood that I wasn’t in love with him–” she stopped. “Luke, I did love Lucky. It wasn’t the love I know you wanted for him, but I did love him.”
“I know, honey,” Luke said. He patted her knee. “Go on.”
“And he told me that if I ever found someone that I was in love with him, that I shouldn’t let our marriage stand in the way–or anything else.” Elizabeth shook her head. “I couldn’t understand why he’d tell his new wife that, but…he said he loved me and he only wanted me to be happy.”
Luke smiled at the thought of his son telling his new bride he wouldn’t stand in the way of true love. Lucky Spencer had been one hell of a kid. “Cowboy was like that–he only wanted the best for everyone.”
“What if Jason’s the right person and I walk away?” Elizabeth asked, intently. “What if I make the biggest mistake of my life?”
“Well, darlin’, I think you know what you have to do,” Luke said gently.
Lily paced the living room of Jason’s penthouse, his eyes following her every move.
“Is there something wrong?” he asked, curiously.
She stopped and glared at him. If looks could kill… “No, I can’t possibly think of something that’s wrong,” she said sarcastically.
“She’s leaving town,” Lily muttered. “And for the life of me I can’t come up with a single good reason to keep her here.”
“Who’s leaving town?” Jason asked, lunging to his feet. “Lily, who’s leaving?”
“Elizabeth,” Lily snapped. “She’s had enough of this town and I can’t really blame her.” She put her hands on her hips and was feeling satisfied at the pallor of Jason’s face. “Nikolas has left town, but Laura’s still here, so she doesn’t want to stick around for her mother-in-law to keep calling her a murderer.” She stalked forward and poked him in the chest. “And big bad Jason Morgan shoved her out of his life, so she doesn’t need to stay for you and she’s right–she shouldn’t have to convince that it’s all right to love her.”
“Lily, why can’t you just leave this alone?” he pleaded. “It’s better this way.”
“It’s not better this way!” Lily cried. “You’re going to let her walk out of your life and she’s more willing! I swear, I have never met two more stupid people in my life!”
Jason frowned. “Why is this so important to you?”
“I have watched you build a wall around yourself for three years,” Lily said, her voice deceptively calm. “Brick by brick, you shut people out. You shut out Sonny’s father, you shut out Emily, you shut out Robin, you don’t even talk to Lila anymore–and if I didn’t live across the hall and force you to talk to me, you would have done it to me, too. I’ll be damned if I let you spend the rest of your life blaming yourself for someone you couldn’t control!”
Before Jason could answer, Lily’s cell phone rang. “Hello?” she said.
“Lily, it’s me,” Elizabeth said.
“Hey, what’s up?” Lily asked.
“I need…I think you’re right,” Elizabeth replied, hesitantly. “I shouldn’t just walk away.”
Lily closed her eyes in relief. She turned away from Jason. “So what do you want to do?”
“Bring him to the bridge,” Elizabeth said. “In an hour. If it doesn’t work, I’m walking away, though, all right?”
“You got it.” Lily hung up and turned back to Jason. “I need a favor.”
“Anything,” Jason said automatically. His eyes narrowed. “Within reason.”
“I need you to go with me somewhere. You can’t ask questions,” Lily said automatically. “Just do it.”
“If you do this, I won’t ask for another thing, I promise,” Lily said, her voice deadly serious.
“I just know I’m going to regret this,” Jason muttered.
Elizabeth hung up the phone and turned to Luke. “Do you think I made the right decision?” he asked.
“I think you made the only decision you could have,” Luke said. He stood up from the couch and gave her a tight hug. “I’m going to miss you.”
“You take care of Laura,” Elizabeth said. “Take her on a cruise or something.”
“I just think time away from this town will do her good,” Luke said. “Good luck with Morgan. I think you’re going to need it.”
Jason’s eyes narrowed as he recognized the car that was parked next to his and Lily’s in the clearing.
“Get out of the car,” Lily ordered. She pushed her car door open and got out. Against his better judgment, he did what she said.
“Lily, what are we doing here?” he asked.
“You’re going to give her one last chance to talk to you,” Lily stated. “She’s leaving town and she wants to say goodbye.” One little white lie never hurt anyone. “After everything you’ve done to her, the least you can do is give her that courtesy.
“Damn it,” Jason growled. “I don’t–”
“I don’t ask for much,” Lily said. “I know I butt in sometimes, but I rarely ever ask for anything. And all I want is for you to give her a chance to say goodbye.”
Jason slammed the car door shut. “Fine,” he snarled, stalking towards the path to the bridge.
Jason entered the clearing to see Elizabeth with her arms tightly crossed. He closed the distance. “What do you want?” he snapped.
“I’m leaving town,” Elizabeth said. “I thought you should know.”
Jason stared at her. He hadn’t thought Lily was serious–he thought it was a ploy to get him to talk to her. “Leaving? Why?” He shook his head. He wasn’t supposed to care–it’d be better if she left.
“There’s nothing left in Port Charles,” Elizabeth replied simply. “Now that I’ve been investigated for murder, the rumors around town are too much. Lex is getting older–she doesn’t need this.”
“What about the Spencers?”
She sighed. “Luke’s taking Laura on an extended vacation. They won’t be back for a while. And Laura still thinks I’m responsible, so I don’t even take Lex to see them anymore.”
“I’m sorry,” Jason said quietly. She looked at him–her eyes were cold.
“Are you?” she asked. “Are you sorry or are you just saying it?”
“I am sorry,” Jason snapped, defensively. “I don’t say things I don’t mean.”
She looked away. “That’s a lie and we both know it.”
“I’ve never lied to you.”
“What about the day you kicked me out?” she demanded. “You told me that I didn’t belong in your world and that you didn’t belong in mine. That was a lie–you kicked me out of your life because you were scared!”
“You think because you have one conversation with Lily about Sonny you can possibly understand anything?” he asked, angrily. “You got her version–she’s too sympathetic to tell you the truth.”
She turned away and faced the creek. “You know…we have something in common,” she said, her tone changing. “We’ve both felt responsible for people dying that we couldn’t control. I couldn’t control that speeding driver–and you couldn’t control Sonny.”
“It was my job to protect him.” Jason swore under his breath. He didn’t want to have this conversation with her–couldn’t have this conversation. He needed to get away from her.
“It was your job to take orders,” Elizabeth corrected him.
“You don’t know a damn thing about my job.” Jason turned and started walking.
“Pushing me away didn’t help,” she called after him. He stopped and turned to look at her.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked, bewildered.
“I’m saying if you tried to push me away to prove that I didn’t mean anything–it didn’t work,” Elizabeth replied. “We both know why you pushed me away.”
“Oh really?” Jason asked. “Enlighten me.” He crossed his arms and glared at her.
“Because I got too close,” she replied softly. “Because you’re under the impression that because of what happened with Sonny, you don’t deserve someone.”
“That’s not it at all.” Jason drove his fingers through his hair. “Because of the life I lead–”
“It’s not your choice to make,” Elizabeth retorted.
“The hell it’s not!” Jason strode towards her, angry now. “I watched as my best friend blew up–I watched his wife grieve for him. I watched Robin walk away from me three times–if I decide that I don’t want to be with anyone, that is my choice.”
“You can’t shut people out because you’re scared,” she argued. “That’s not fair to the people who care about you.”
“The people who care about me?” Jason repeated. “What, Lily and Mike?”
“I care about you!” Elizabeth cried. “But the second you thought I was getting too close, you kicked me out, you dropped me. That’s not fair! You can’t make me think you care and then shut me out…” She took a step towards him. “Do you have any idea what this last week has been like?” she demanded. “I’ve been accused of murder–my home has been searched–my place of business. The only family I had in this town cut me off. The state threatened to take Lex away from me and I didn’t have anyone to turn to…do you know how that felt?”
He looked away. “You’re better off without me,” Jason said quietly. “You and Lily are still friends.”
Elizabeth stared at him, stunned. “B-b-better off without you?” she echoed, tears in her eyes. “What the hell right do you have to decide that?”
“Don’t you see? I’m hurting you,” Jason said quietly. “I didn’t want to do it like this.”
“Oh, but kissing me senseless and then doing it is so much better,” Elizabeth snapped sarcastically, angrily swiping the tears from her eyes. “You don’t hurt me by being with me–you hurt me when you push me away, don’t you see?”
Jason looked away. “Your daughter’s already lost her father–I don’t want to be the reason she’s an orphan.”
Elizabeth threw her hands up in the air. “Why do you insist on making choices for other people?” she cried. “I’m not better off and guess what? Lucky’s dead. He died because a stupid man was driving too fast. I could die tomorrow the same way. My house could burn down and I’d die of smoke inhalation. No one lives forever–and you’re a fool if you think that by pushing me away, you’re somehow ensuring I won’t die some day.”
Jason shifted his feet and sighed. “I can’t do this, Elizabeth.” He turned around again.
“If you leave Jason, I’m going to leave Port Charles and I’m never coming back!” she called. “Because you’re the only thing keeping me here!”
Jason stopped–but he didn’t turn around. She stared at his back–wishing desperately for him to turn around. His voice drifted back to her–“Goodbye, Elizabeth.”
And he kept on walking.
Lily jumped off the hood of the car when she heard footsteps. When Jason emerged from the path, his head down and hands shoved in his pockets, she swore long and loudly. “What in the hell-”
Jason raised his eyes to meet hers. “Don’t ever do that again, Lily. You’re my friend–don’t make me push you away, too.”
“Why are you doing this?” Lily whispered, desperately. “Why do you shut out the very people who love you?”
Jason snorted. “Love doesn’t exist,” he muttered.
“That’s not true and you know it!” Lily wanted to strangle him. “Why are you so stubborn–you know you’re in love with her, why don’t you give it a chance?”
“She’s leaving town,” Jason said.
“And I know she made it clear that she feels that if you don’t want her, she’s got no reason to stay, and Jase, that’s giving you a lot of power,” Lily said. “She’s basically telling you that she wants you–why won’t you let yourself be happy?”
“Drop it, Lily,” Jason said. He headed to the car and jerked the passenger side open. Before he got in, Elizabeth emerged from the path.
Lily sighed, watching the two freeze. Why wouldn’t Jason just let himself be with her? Elizabeth was making it very clear how she felt–didn’t Jason realize what that cost her?
Elizabeth finally broke the silence. She looked at Lily. “Thanks for everything, Lily. I’m signing the papers tomorrow for The Outback and Lex and I are hitting the road after that.”
“I wish you’d stay,” Lily said, softly. She glanced at Jason who hadn’t moved.
Elizabeth bit her lip. “There’s nothing left to stay for,” she said quietly. “I can’t live the rest of my life–waiting for something that won’t happen.”
Lily looked at Jason again–desperate for him to say something–anything. But Jason’s jaw was clenched and he wasn’t moving. She did a very desperate thing then–something that might cost her both friendships. “Damn it, you’re both idiots!”
“Lily-” Jason started.
“You’re in love with her and she loves you,” Lily declared. “And you’re both throwing it away and that’s the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard of!” She glared at Jason. “Do you know that there’s nothing I wouldn’t give for just one day with Sonny? I will never see him again–I’ll never hear his voice or feel his touch. Do you know how that feels?” She shook her head. “And for the last time, Jason, his death is not your fault. You wanted to check the car–you were halfway across the parking lot and you know it. But Sonny made the choice. He decided to get into the car. He disregarded the safety measures–he got into that car, Jason, he did it because he got too cocky. Don’t you get it–it’s not your fault!”
Jason looked at the ground. “It was my job to protect him.”
Lily was so frustrated that she wanted to scream–so she did. “Damn you, your job was to do what Sonny told you! He told you not to worry–he said don’t check the car. It’s fine. I’ll bring it–so damn it, stop blaming yourself. Do not throw away love because she’s walking away tomorrow, Jason and you won’t get this chance again. And you’re a son of a bitch if you let her leave this town.” Lily strode over and pushed him away from the car. “Don’t come near me, because I am just sick of you right now. You’re so wrapped up in yourself–so worried about protecting yourself from the world that you don’t see straight anymore and I can’t sit by and watch you do this anymore. You can walk.” She slammed the passenger side door shut and stormed to the other side of the car. She passed Elizabeth and paused. “And you’re a damn fool if you give up now.”
She jerked her car door open and got in. She turned the engine on and pealed out of the clearing and back onto the road. Soon all Jason could see was her taillights.
He stared after the car and it began to sink in that he might have pushed away the last person in the world that cared about him. He heard a twig snap and he turned, remembering Elizabeth’s presence.
“She’s right you know,” Elizabeth said softly. She walked over to her car and pulled her keys out of her pocket. “And when you’re all alone, Jason…” she looked up and met his eyes. “You’ll have no one to blame but yourself.”
She inserted the key in the lock and pulled the car door open. “I wish I could have been enough–I wish I could have been the person who made you understand that you can’t shut people out. But I’m not. Because I can’t wait forever–and I shouldn’t have to. I’m not giving up–I’m being realistic. I don’t know how to convince you that I love you and that you mean everything to me–and I don’t think I should have to.”
She pulled her foot out of the car and looked at him. “What?”
“Don’t go,” Jason repeated. Elizabeth stared at him–wanting more. “Because I think I’ve just made a really big mistake here.”
“And that would be?” she asked, her heart in her throat.
Jason looked away. “I never thought I’d lose Lily. I guess I always thought she’d put up with me. But she didn’t.” He stared in the direction Lily’s car had gone. “I don’t know why I do what I do. I don’t know why I push people away–but I…” he met her eyes. “I love you, Elizabeth. Please…don’t go.”
She shut the door and stared at him. “Say that again,” she demanded gently.
“I love you.”
Elizabeth shifted her weight from one foot to another and bit her lip. “I don’t know if that’s enough,” she confessed. “Because that doesn’t tell me that you won’t take it back tomorrow. You don’t get infinite chances to hurt me–it won’t work like that. It can’t–I can’t be worrying about the next time you shut me out or push me away.”
Jason looked at the ground. “And I can’t give you that,” he said quietly. “Because I’ve been shutting people out for a while now–sometimes it just happens before I can help it.” He raised his eyes. “But I can promise you that I won’t tell you that my feelings have changed tomorrow. I won’t take it back.”
Elizabeth sighed. “I must be out of my mind,” she muttered. She rubbed her forehead. “All right. So, when you say don’t go…do you mean tonight…or tomorrow?” Elizabeth asked, needing to know exactly where they stood.
“Either. Both,” Jason answered. He took a step towards her. “Because I think I just pushed Lily away–and if she’s gone and you’re gone…then I’m alone. And as much as I try to push people away…I don’t want to be alone.”
She smiled a little. “Lily’s just pissed,” she said. “She knew she was taking a risk–took off before she either beat you senseless or you killed her. I’m sure everything will be all right tomorrow.”
“So are you going?” Jason asked hesitantly.
Elizabeth paused. She should go–every instinct in her body was telling her that it’d be a difficult and uphill battle making Jason trust her and be with her without shutting himself down or her out. She’d be smart if she took Lex and ran from Port Charles and never looked back.
She bit her lip and turned her eyes back to the path. For some reason, she remembered the second time she and Lucky had come to the bridge–on his birthday just three months before he died.
“I can’t believe we’re married,” Elizabeth said, leaning against the edge and letting her head hang back. She felt the wind rustle through her hair. “It’s just so much…”
Lucky grinned at her. “Well, we’re married.” She brought her head back up to return the smile. “Liz, there’s something we need to discuss.”
“What’s that?” Elizabeth asked. Lucky reached out and took her hand–the one he’d put a wedding ring on two days ago.
“This ring–we’re married, Liz. We’re going to have a child–but I’m not naïve enough to believe that you’re in love with me and wanted to spent the rest of your life with me.”
“Lucky-” Elizabeth stopped. He was right after all. She cared about him–and she thought she could learn to love him.
“No, really, it’s okay. But I want you to promise me something.”
“If you find that person…that you love so desperately that you’ll do anything for them…don’t let them go because you’re married to me or because there’s some other problem. Because if you love him and he loves you…it has to work somehow. So, promise me…that when you find that love…fight for it.”
Elizabeth smiled sadly. “Why would you tell your new wife that?” she asked.
Lucky met her eyes and smiled–his smile was full of sadness and regret. “Because I love you, Liz. Desperately and I’d do anything for you.”
Looking into Jason’s eyes, she realized that she had found the love that Lucky spoken of. She loved him and she’d do anything for him. Including telling his best friend drag him to the middle of nowhere so he’d talk to her. And if it took her a hundred years, she was going to make Jason Morgan realize that just like everyone else in this world–he deserved someone to love him, too.
“Well…” Elizabeth said finally. “I’m going home, tonight.” She met his eyes and smiled. “You want a ride back to town? Maybe you could tell Lily your decision.”
“And tomorrow?” Jason pressed.
“And tomorrow…” Elizabeth hesitated. Before she could say anything, she felt a wind brush past her. Despite the time of year, it was a warm wind that made her smile. She knew Lucky was looking out for her. “Tomorrow,” Elizabeth repeated, “I’m going to tear up that contract to sell The Outback.” She smiled at him. “And the day after that…well, we’ll just see, won’t we?”
Jason looked at her for a few minutes, trying to discern what had happened but when he couldn’t, he decided to believe her. “You want to drop me off at the Towers?”
Elizabeth opened the door and slid in. She reached across the seat to open his door. When he got in, she closed her door and turned the engine. Before she pulled back onto the road, she gave the path to the bridge one last look.
Because this time–she wouldn’t be back.