"What did you just say?" His voice cold and calm which was a stark contrast to the emotions swirling in his mind.
"I said, Elizabeth Webber is dead." Carly replied almost hesitantly. Silence. Not even the sound of Jason's breathing could be heard through the phone. "Jas? Are you still there?"
"I'm here." He replied after a long pause. "How?" For a man who didn't wish for things he found himself hoping, praying even, that it she would say it was some kind of car accident or sudden illness. Anything other than what he had feared would be the case since he left Port Charles a few months earlier.
"I don't know the details exactly…" Carly hedged.
"Carly, tell me."
"Look, Jason, I said I don't know the details. All I know is that it had something to do with the Cassadines."
"And what about Lucky? Was he involved?"
"I don't know Jason, I'm sorry…I just, I thought you'd want to know as soon as I heard. I know she mattered to you." Carly acknowledged through practically gritted teeth. It had been a huge issue for her that the goody goody little muffin face had meant something to Jason, something Carly could never understand. The two women had gone head to head more than once over Jason.
"I have to go Carly." Jason said quietly.
"Wait, Jason, what are you going to do?"
"I will be in touch." Was his only reply before Jason disconnected the call. He stood there for a moment and stared at the phone in his hand. The words Carly had spoken, 'Elizabeth Webber is dead' played on repeat in his mind and froze him to the spot. It wasn't possible. How could it be?
Once his mind starting working again Jason dialed Sonny's number. He needed confirmation of what Carly had just told him. Sonny would know more about what happened, he and Elizabeth had become friends in Jason's time away from Port Charles the year before. The ringing of the phone taunted him until the line was finally picked up. The only thing that registered was that it was not Sonny's voice on the other end.
"I need to speak to Sonny." Jason stated.
"He's not here Jason." Came Johnny's response.
"Where is he? I need to speak to him now."
"He is in Puerto Rico handling some business issues."
Jason swore under his breath as he paced back and forth across the small room. "When is he supposed to be back? How can I get in touch with him?"
"The boss was cryptic about this trip Jason. He didn't give us much of any information, not even a phone number to reach him. He said he's be in only guard he took with him was Francis."
Jason tried to make sense of what Johnny was explaining to him. Why would Sonny go practically off the grid to handle a business issue in Puerto Rico? It didn't feel right. There was something more going on but it was outside of Jason's laser focus on finding out what happened to Elizabeth.
"I need to speak to Sonny ASAP Johnny. When he checks in I want you to tell him that I need to talk to him and give him this number." Jason rattled off his current cell phone number that he'd picked up while staying in Vancouver.
"Will do." Johnny paused and Jason could hear the hesitation to speak.
"What is it Johnny?" Jason asked, trying to display more patience than he felt at that moment.
"It's about Elizabeth..." Johnny finally said.
Jason stopped pacing mid step. Part of him was surprised that Johnny knew but at the same time he wasn't at all. It was the man's job to be aware of things happening around him and before leaving town Jason had specifically asked Johnny to keep an eye on Elizabeth. "What do you know Johnny?" Jason asked.
"Jason...I'm sorry...she's dead."
"I know, I talked to Carly. What do you know?" Jason asked, the tone in his voice leaving no doubt that it was a demand for information.
"I don't have much..." Johnny hedged.
"Damn it Johnny, tell me."
"From what I know she died on the Cassadine yacht."
Jason swore again. "Was Lucky involved?"
"I talked to one of our guys who was on the pier the night it happened and he saw Spencer board the yacht and then a sometime later saw what was probably Elizabeth's body taken off the ship and loaded onto a small boat. It was late and it was dark so he couldn't say where the small boat went."
"What do you mean probably Elizabeth's body? What did they do with her?" Jason asked. The idea that Elizabeth had not only been killed but the people responsible hadn't even allowed her a proper burial made Jason's hand clench in anger. He would make whoever did this pay with their lives, he didn't care who it was.
"We don't know. I've been trying to find out but not getting anywhere. I'm sorry Jason."
"Keep trying to find out what you can. I'm getting on a plane and I will be back in Port Charles soon."
"Don't Johnny. I have to find out what happened to her. If you talk to Sonny tell him that I am on my way home."
No further words were needed and Jason hung up the phone. Wrapping his mind around this was nearly impossible. Part of him refused to believe that she was dead, that he would never see her smile or hear her laugh or see that sparkle in her eye when she was working on a new painting that had her excited. Shaking his head, trying in vain to rid him mind of those thoughts Jason took a deep breath. He couldn't focus on all of that right now, he had to get back to Port Charles.
Fifteen hours, 2 airports and 2,400 miles later Jason settled into his first class seat on the plane that would finally get him to the Port Charles International airport. There were no direct flights from Vancouver and since he was traveling last minute Jason had been willing to take any flight that would be forward progress which is why he'd first flown to Denver, then Detroit before finally getting on a plane to Port Charles. As he waited for the rest of the passengers to board Jason let his mind drift to the thoughts he'd been fighting to keep at bay. He was not a man who focused on regrets or wished for things to be different but he found himself thinking about the what ifs now. What if Elizabeth had accepted his offer to leave Port Charles six months ago? Where would they be now? Would that spark that existed between them have developed into a fire? Would they still be travelling the world together? Would he have been able to take her to Italy, to find out once and for all if the light there really is different? The fact that he would never get to see her experience Italy, something he'd convinced himself they had all the time in the world to do gnawed at him. The next what if was even worse, what if he'd stayed? If he hadn't left Port Charles then he would have been there to protect Elizabeth. The weight of that regret sat heavily on his shoulders and would never go away.
After what seemed like forever the plane taxied away from the gate and finally down the runaway and into the air. It would be a fairly short flight and Jason was grateful for that. He hadn't slept since getting Carly's call and had a feeling that sleep of any quality would elude him for some time. When Jason had tried to close him eyes on the flight from Denver all he could see was Elizabeth, could hear her voice asking why he hadn't protected her. If that was what it meant to dream Jason was grateful that he didn't experience it often.
As Jason stepped off the plane and into the airport he turned his phone back on and waited to see if he had any messages. Nothing. The fact that Sonny hadn't called him yet was really beginning to piss Jason off. No matter what business situation Sonny was dealing with in Puerto Rico he should have checked in by now and Johnny should have given Sonny his message. Jason shifted the strap of his bag on his shoulder as he made his way through the airport to the taxi stands. It would be faster to get to the Harborview Towers by taxi than to wait for one of Sonny's men to come pick him up. Jason hoped that he would soon have some answers.
Jason glanced up at the numbers as they ticked by, the elevator moving towards the penthouse level. To anyone who could be watching Jason looked like the picture of calm and collected but inside he was anything but calm. Since getting the phone call from Carly he'd barely slept and had hardly eaten. His sole focus was getting answers to the questions that ran on a never ending loop in his mind. The ding of the elevator sounded and the doors opened making Jason move forward and round the corner.
Johnny's eyes widened slightly and he opened his mouth to greet his friend who he hadn't seen in six months. Before Johnny could get a word out Jason spoke.
"Have you heard anything from Sonny?" Jason asked as Johnny opened the door and the two men stepped into Sonny's penthouse.
"Nothing yet." Johnny replied, giving Jason the opposite answer he'd been looking for.
"Son of a bitch." Jason muttered as he reached up, running his fingers through his hair. "Nothing at all? When was the last time anyone spoke to him?"
"I've only talked to him once since he got to Puerto Rico and that was 3 days ago. I haven't heard anything from Francis either."
"We need to find him. Get in touch with our contacts in Puerto Rico and find him. If you don't hear anything in the next 12 hours then I want you on a plane down there personally. I want Sonny found." Jason growled as he slammed his hand down on the desk.
"You got it Jason." Johnny replied as he picked up the phone to set things in motion.
Jason let out a breath and turned to look at the penthouse, for the first time noticing that the decor had changed since he'd been gone. It had been necessary after the explosion a few months earlier that had destroyed nearly the entire floor. Despite the issues between them, Carly's influence was evident as he looked at the new furnishing and particularly the colors of the room. For a fleeting moment Jason wondered what Elizabeth would think of the new decor. As the thought that he'd never be able to show her settled over him Jason felt like the walls were closing in. He turned and looked at Johnny just as the other man hung up the phone.
"I need some air. Do you still have the keys to my bike?" Jason asked.
Johnny opened the desk drawer and pulled out a set of keys, handing them to Jason. "When you said you were on your way home I had it gassed up for you, figured you want it."
"Thanks. I will be back later. You have my number, if Sonny makes contact or you find out anything you call me."
Johnny nodded, not finding a response was needed. Jason nodded in return and left the penthouse.
Jason pulled the bike to a stop and looked up at the building before him. He'd been riding for hours with no destination in mind. It was almost as if his motorcycle had had a mind of its own in steering him there. Jason let out a breath and dismounted the bike, putting one foot in front of the other through the door and up the stairs. The familiar sounds and smells of dust and old paint greeted him. Jason glanced down at the set of keys in his hand and saw the key that would open the door in front of him. The question was, did he want to open it? Did he want to set foot into the one place on earth that felt like home, the place that was hers? Without a conscious decision to do it Jason found himself unlocking the door and stepping into her studio. He closed the door behind him and let his eyes adjust to the dim light inside. It would be easy enough to turn on the light but for some reason he didn't. Glancing around Jason's eyes landed on the easel where a half competed painting sat waiting. Waiting for the artist who would never return to finish it. There was something so incredible wrong about that and it filled Jason with a new wave of anger. The anger raged so strongly that Jason clenched his fists to keep himself for breaking the nearest object. This was her space and he would find a way to control himself.
As his breathing slowed and he released the clench of his fists Jason began looking around again. The familiar streak of yellow on a painting across the room drew him closer. It was The Wind. Jason's hand shook slightly as he reached out and picked up the painting, carrying it across the small space to the thrift store sofa and took a seat. He could remember clearly the day that Elizabeth had shown him the painting, she was so proud of it and eager to get his feedback. "It's nice." He'd said and her face fell. At the time he hadn't understood why his opinion mattered but he knew enough to see that he'd hurt her with those two words. He'd tried to explain that due to his brain injury he couldn't really understand two dimensional things like maps or paintings. Elizabeth had then proceeded to describe the painting to him and what the different colors represented. Her excitement was almost contagious and Jason began to understand and see what she saw, at least some of it. Elizabeth had given him the painting as a gift and he'd made her promise to keep it safe for him so that he would always need to come back to see it. She'd done just that and Jason had come back but it didn't matter anymore. She was gone and there was nothing about that that was ok.
"Jason! Jason!" She was frantic, desperate for his help.
"Elizabeth, I'm here. It's ok." Jason called out as his eyes searched the water. He could hear her, why couldn't he see her. Her voice was strong she couldn't be that far away.
"Please Jason, help me!" She yelled again.
Even though he still couldn't see her Jason stepped over the railing and dove into the water. As he surfaced he looked around again. "Elizabeth, keep talking. I'm here."
"I need you to save me Jason. Please! Help me!"
Jason swam with all his strength, diving over and over, reaching out for her in the darkness that seemed to surround him. Suddenly a flash of light illuminated her face. Her expression was filled with sheer terror as she slipped below the surface. "Elizabeth! Don't give up!" Jason yelled as he swam forward and dove below the surface again. His lungs screamed for air as he kept diving deeper, reaching out to grasp her hand only to miss.
"Elizabeth!" He screamed as Jason sat up. His breathing was rapid and uneven as the world began to clear around him. He ran his hands over his chest and felt no sign of dampness. The dream faded away and Jason looked around. He wasn't in the water, he was sitting on the sofa in Elizabeth's studio. He must have fallen asleep and searching for her had been a dream.
Jason stood up and scrubbed his hands over his face, trying to wash away the last of the panic of searching for her as she sunk below the surface. Part of him wondered if that is what happened, if she was thrown over the side of a boat and sank to the bottom of the harbor. Refusing to let his mind linger on that thought Jason's eyes shifted to the painting he'd fallen asleep looking at. The Wind meant more to him than he could put into words but it felt strange to even consider taking it from that place.
His phone ringing in his pocket made Jason set the painting down and reach for his phone. "Yes."
"Jason, its Johnny."
"Please tell me you've located Sonny."
"No, but he called."
"What did he say?" Jason asked.
"I told him that you're back in Port Charles and have been trying to get in touch with him. He wouldn't tell me much other than he wants you to get on a plane and come down to the island."
"Does he know what happened to Elizabeth? I'm not leaving Port Charles until I know what happened to her."
"He knows, he says to come now, that it will answer all your questions."
Jason considered what Johnny was saying and couldn't figure out how going to the Caribbean would answer anything when all of the people involved in Elizabeth's death were right here in Port Charles. "Has Sonny lost his mind?" Jason said aloud but more to himself.
"I don't know what's going on but something does seem off Jason."
Jason let out a huff of frustration. "Alright, I need to come back there to pick up my bag then I'll go down to the island. I will see you in a little bit. Thanks Johnny."
Jason gave one last look to The Wind as he set it back in its place before leaving the studio. Making sure that the door locked securely behind him made Jason wonder what would happen to the place now. As a young healthy woman he doubted that Elizabeth had a will so he could only assume that her grandmother would be the one to handle Elizabeth's affairs now. The thought of Audrey Hardy made Jason's steps falter for a moment. The older woman had never liked Jason or approved of his friendship with Elizabeth but his heart went out to her. Part of him wanted to stop by and see her but given her dislike of him Jason wasn't sure it would be a welcomed visit. Putting the thought out of his mind for now Jason headed out of the building towards his bike. As he approached is bike movement going towards the pier caught his attention. Instantly Jason recognized the figure moving away from him and changed his course, walking away from his bike and towards the pier.
He stood there gazing out over the water and Jason had to resist the urge to pull out his gun and shoot the son of a bitch in the back. Instead, Jason walked down the stairs to the pier and moved beside the younger man. As Jason's presence was announced Lucky looked over at him. There was a flash of recognition and almost fear in his eyes as he realized it was Jason who now stood beside him. As much as Jason wanted to scream, yell and get his hands on Lucky he forced himself to just stand there and wait.
"I'm assuming you know about Elizabeth." Lucky finally offered to open the conversation.
Jason turned and glared at Lucky. "What happened to her? What did you do?" Lucky didn't turn to look at Jason, just continued to stare out at the gleaming white yacht that sat in the lake. It was almost as if something about it had the younger man mesmerized. When no response came Jason stepped closer. "Damn it Lucky, answer me." Finally Lucky glanced at Jason and Jason could see the anguish in his eyes. All Jason could think was good, he deserved to suffer.
"I don't know." Was Lucky's response.
"What do you mean you don't know? She died on your brother's yacht didn't she?" Jason asked, his voice cold.
"Yes, but I wasn't there until after."
Jason had a hard time believing a single word that came out of the young Spencer's mouth. It wouldn't be the first time he did something violent and then lied about it after the fact. The night that Lucky attacked him with a knife to his throat on the very pier where they stood now came to mind. "Tell me what you know."
"She was with Nikolas...it wasn't safe...I wasn't safe..." Lucky began rambling as he paced away from Jason, violently running his fingers through his hair. "I just wanted her to be safe..."
"Obviously that didn't work." Jason stated as he watched Lucky pace restlessly. It was clear that something more was at play here. None of what Jason knew was making sense. "What happened to Elizabeth on that yacht Lucky?"
"Nikolas...he's changed...he's not the person I knew..." Lucky said as he continued to pace.
"How? How has Nikolas changed?" Jason pressed.
"He's a Cassadine, the true Prince."
"What the hell does that mean?" Jason asked. When Lucky didn't respond Jason stepped into his path and forced Lucky to stop moving. "Damn it Lucky answer me. How has Nikolas changed? Is he the one that hurt Elizabeth?" If he was then Jason would make sure that the Prince suffered.
"It's my fault...I pushed her toward Nikolas...it's not his fault..." Lucky said.
Jason was getting a headache from the cryptic things that Lucky was saying. "Why was she with Nikolas? When I left she was committed to being with you."
"It wasn't safe...not with what Helena had done to me. I thought Nikolas would protect her, keep her safe..."
In the last six months since he'd left Jason had only gotten bits and pieces of information on the situation with Lucky and Helena. All he really knew was that Lucky's bizarre actions were somehow tied to brain washing that Helena had put him through in the year that everyone had believed he was dead. Truth was after Elizabeth had decided to stay Jason hadn't wanted to know much of what was going on with her, something he would regret until the day he died.
"Why wasn't it safe? Lucky you're not making sense."
"What difference does it make? Elizabeth is gone, she'd dead and it's my fault!" Lucky screamed as he moved passed Jason to resume his pacing of the pier.
"I want to know what happened and I won't stop until I find out and make sure whoever is responsible pays for her death." Jason declared, his words making Lucky stop and look at him.
"It is my fault Jason and if you want someone to pay for Elizabeth being dead then take your best shot. I'm right here." He said as he held his arms open wide, offering himself up to Jason's need to avenge Elizabeth.
As tempting as it would be to take out that revenge on Lucky, who Jason still believed on some level was responsible for what happened he couldn't do it, not yet. Until Jason knew for sure everything that happened he wouldn't put Lucky out of his misery. "I'm not going to kill you Lucky."
At those words Lucky looked up to meet Jason's eyes. "Why not? It is what I deserve."
Jason stepped closer, getting inches from Lucky's face. "What you deserve is to live with the fact that Elizabeth is dead and that you are responsible, even if she didn't die at your hand. I want you live with it every day for the rest of your life that that beautiful, vibrant woman lost her life because she loved you so much that she wouldn't see what was right in front of her. That is what you deserve." Jason took a step back and turned on his heel to leave.
The door slammed loudly as Jason stalked into the penthouse. The encounter with Lucky has left Jason on edge, restless with the need to hit something or someone. A conversation with Elizabeth flashed through his mind. It had been just over a year earlier when Jason had come home to visit and had taken Elizabeth for a ride to the bridge. She was venting about Lucky and somehow the idea of the two of them getting into a bar fight at Jake's had come up which led to a boxing lesson. Her laugh had been infectious and it was a moment Jason would never forget.
"Jason?" Johnny's voice broke through the memory and Jason looked up.
"What did you say Johnny?" He asked as he let out a breath and tried to refocus.
"I said that the jet is being fueled up and will be ready to leave in about an hour to take you to the island." Johnny repeated.
"Thank you Johnny. What exactly did Sonny say to you on the phone? Did you tell him that I wanted to speak to him directly?"
"I told him but you know Sonny, he didn't really respond. He just said that he knew you were back in Port Charles and that he needed you on the island."
"Did you tell him that I was looking into what happened to Elizabeth?" It was still difficult to say out loud that she was dead.
"I told him and that's when he said that you needed to come to the island, that everything would make sense."
Jason paced, frustrated by the fact that it seemed everyone wanted to be as cryptic as possible about Elizabeth's death. "I don't see how going to Puerto Rico will help me figure out who killed her when all the people involved are in Port Charles."
"I didn't understand it either but the boss was adamant Jason." Johnny replied.
Jason sighed and scrubbed his hands over his face. The last thing he wanted to do was get on another plane, the exhaustion of the last few days hitting him suddenly. "I know, thank you for making the arrangements. Sonny had better have answers for me when I get there."
"Is there anything else you need me to do?"
"Keep looking into things and let me know if you find anything out. I want someone on Lucky Spencer and Nikolas Cassadine 24/7 until further notice."
"I'll take care of it." Johnny replied with a nod. He was almost as determined as Jason to find out what happened to Elizabeth. Over the last two years he'd gotten to know the young woman and liked her.
Jason nodded his appreciation and picked up his bag from the place he'd left her earlier that day. "I'll check in after I get to the island."
"Safe travels." Johnny replied before Jason headed for the door. Marco waited in the hallway to drive him to the airport.
Jason fidgeted nearly the entire flight to the Caribbean. After trying in vain to sleep Jason had then tried to read but found that nearly impossible as well. His mind was singularly focused on figuring out what happened to Elizabeth and making sure that whoever was responsible for taking her life would pay for it with their own. If he let his attention drift from that focus then the emotions of what was happening surfaced, something Jason wasn't yet ready to face. The sadness threatened to overwhelm him. Jason had lost people before but had never experienced a death of someone that meant as much to him as Elizabeth had. He wasn't even sure how to put into words what he felt for her.
When the plane arrived at the private airstrip Jason was met by one of their business associates, Juan, who took Jason to Sonny's property. Frustration nearly radiated off of Jason as he climbed out of the car and headed inside. He'd been expecting Sonny to meet his plane so that he could learn why his friend had insisted he travel to the island. Jason closed the door behind him and set his bag down before looking around. It had been a little while since Jason had visited the island but not much had changed.
"Sonny? Are you here?" Jason called out as he headed towards the kitchen. It was probably the one room in the house that Sonny spent time in. The older man loved to cook and it was something he spent much of his time doing when he was there to relax. When no answer came Jason called out again, "Sonny! Where are you?"
"I'm right here." Came the reply as Sonny stepped in through the open doors from the terrace.
Jason looked at his friend and mentor. It was the first time they had seen each other in six months and it felt good to see him. "Why am I here Sonny?" Jason asked as the two men met in the middle of the room for a brotherly embrace.
As they pulled away Sonny gripped Jason's shoulder and met his eyes. "I'm sorry I didn't call you about Elizabeth, I should have. I didn't think that the news would reach you so quickly."
Jason nodded slightly as he looked away. "It's ok Sonny, I understand. Carly just happened to catch me."
Sonny huffed out a breath of frustration. Things were strained at best between him and his soon to be ex-wife. After Carly, in a time of panic and fear for Sonny had turned him in to the FBI in hopes that Sonny would accept a deal in exchange for information that would get him out of the business, things hadn't been right between the two of them. "Why does it not surprise me that Carly would run to you the second she heard. She doesn't give a damn about Elizabeth. I'm sure she was just wanting to be your shoulder to cry on." Sonny exclaimed as he paced away from Jason.
"I'm not going to examine Carly's motives, I'm just glad that she told me. Johnny said that you wanted me here because it would reveal what I wanted to know. I don't get it Sonny. How will being 2,000 miles away from the place she died and the people who were involved help me figure out what happened to Elizabeth?"
Sonny turned to look at Jason again, his expression not readable. "Take a walk on the beach then we'll talk."
Jason groaned in frustration. "Sonny, I don't want to go for a walk on the beach. I want to know what the hell I'm doing here."
"Trust me Jason, can you do that?"
"Alright, but when I come back I want a straight answer." Jason said as he stomped across the room and out the terrace doors.
Sonny couldn't help but laugh softly as his young friend disappeared from view. An explanation from him would hardly be the main thing on Jason's mind when he returned.
Jason stomped off of the patio and onto the warm Caribbean sand. His heavy boots sunk further into the sand making Jason have to concentrate on each step at first. When he finally stopped long enough to look around he saw the beginnings of a beautiful sunset, the sky tinged with orange and pink as the sun began its descent towards the water. For a fleeting moment he stood still and appreciated the sight before him for what is was. Then thoughts of how Elizabeth would love to put the rich colors on canvas invaded his mind. In an effort to push them away he started moving again, his feet eating up the sand in a failed effort to escape his thoughts.
As he moved across the sand his eyes scanned the nearly deserted beach. The shadow of the casino in the distance could be seen and most of the guests would be enjoying the sunset further down the beach which is exactly how Sonny had planned it when he selected the location for his property on the island. His gaze moved away from the casino and he saw the figure of a single person walking slowly across the sand near the water's edge. There was something familiar about the woman which pushed Jason to move closer.
It couldn't be, it wasn't possible. As the distance between them closed Jason's heart beat faster. It could have been the lack of sleep or the light playing tricks on him but Jason swore he could make out her brown hair, her petite frame, the curve of her shoulder revealed by the sundress she wore.
"Elizabeth!" He called out, desperate hope in his voice. He expected to get no reaction from the woman, for her to keep walking because it couldn't possibly be her. Instead the woman turned towards him and he saw that it was in fact Elizabeth.
A smile spread across her face as she saw Jason standing across the sand in the fading sunlight. Without hesitation she started moving, running towards him as fast as her feet in the warm sand could carry her.
The sight of her running towards him nearly brought Jason to his knees. It didn't seem possible.
Elizabeth closed the distance between them and from a few feet away launched herself into Jason's arms. He wrapped her tightly in his embrace as they nearly toppled to the sand. Swinging her around Jason held her tight, his face buried in her neck, breathing her in. "Elizabeth." He whispered, his tone almost reverent as he held her.
"Jason, I can't believe you're here." She replied, making no effort to loosen his hold on her.
Finally Jason set her back down on her feet and stepped back enough to look into her eyes. He opened his mouth to speak but words escaped him. All he could do was stare in awe at the fact that Elizabeth was standing in front of him, alive and well.
Elizabeth looked up into Jason's eyes and for a moment she swore she could see unshed tears reflecting the fading sunlight around them. "Jason..."
"You're alive." He finally said. His hand moved up to cradle her cheek and tuck a few stray hairs behind her ear.
"I'm alive." She replied with a soft smile as she leaned into his gentle touch.
"How is this possible? Everyone was telling me that you were dead..."
"I know. I'm sorry. If we'd had any idea that you would have found out I'm sure Sonny would have warned you."
"Someone needs to start explaining all of this to me. Why does everyone in Port Charles think you are dead? Why are you here on Sonny's island?" Jason asked, trying to process everything that was going on around him.
Elizabeth took his hand and led his back towards the chairs that surrounded the beachside fire pit. She had a feeling that they would both need to be seated for this conversation. After a moment she met his questioning eyes.
"I'm not sure where to start...so much has happened since you left."
"I know that Helena messed with Lucky's head so you can skip that part and get to the fact that you faked your death." Jason asked, his voice tense.
Elizabeth took a deep breath, staring at her hands as she began. "Once we realized just how much damage Helena had done to Lucky we had to figure out a way to fix it. Nothing seemed to be working. Nikolas came up with a plan to get close to his grandmother in order to find out how to undo the programming that she put Lucky through. All Helena has ever wanted was for Nikolas to be what she considered a true Cassadine so he thought if he made her believe that is what he was then she would reveal everything to him."
Jason sat back in the chair a little and just let Elizabeth talk, despite the list of questions on the tip of his tongue. He could see that the retelling the events wasn't easy for her.
"Part of making Helena believe that Nikolas had gone over to the dark side was also making her believe that Nikolas and I were together. It wasn't easy but it seemed to be working. Helena put Nikolas through a series of tests to prove his loyalty to her and to the Cassadine family. The final test was that she ordered Nikolas to kill me."
Jason sat up straighter. "She what?" He asked, trying to get all of the details straight.
"Helena ordered Nikolas to kill me." When Elizabeth saw the flash of rage cross Jason's face she felt the need to defend Nikolas. "He didn't want to have anything to do with it. Nikolas insisted that there was another way to save Lucky but we'd tried everything else. I told him that we needed to find a way to make Helena believe that he'd followed her orders and gone through with it."
"You were willing to fake your death to save Lucky." Jason said, the words coming out as a statement rather than a question.
Elizabeth paused before responding. "I feel like I owed it to Lucky to do whatever I could to help him break free of Helena's control, so yes, I was willing."
"How did you do it?" Jason found himself asking even though he wasn't sure he really wanted to hear the answer.
"Nikolas told Laura about Helena's demand and Laura knew of a drug that could be used to make it appear as if someone had been poisoned. It slows the person's heart rate down to an undetectable level so they will look like they are dead."
Jason couldn't believe what he was hearing. He knew without a doubt that any drug that could do that was beyond risky and the slightest bit too much would result in death. "You could have died Elizabeth, there would have been nothing fake about it." He pointed out finally.
"I know, but I trusted Nikolas to give me the right amount. When we decided to go through with it we knew that we needed help in making me disappear. If Helena thought I was dead Nikolas couldn't very well help me get out of Port Charles so I reached out to Sonny. He agreed to help me get out of town and said I could come down here to the island until it was safe to go home. There was no way that Helena could find me here."
All the pieces began to fall in place as he listened to Elizabeth recount the lengths that they all went through to fake her death. He couldn't help but take note of how far she was willing to do to help save Lucky from Helena. "Who else knows that you're alive?"
"Nikolas, Laura and Sonny...and my grandmother. I couldn't put her through thinking I was dead." Elizabeth replied as she looked up to meet Jason's eyes. It was difficult to read his expression which was unnerving. Not that she'd ever been able to exactly read Jason but at that moment she has absolutely no idea what he might be thinking.
Jason let out a breath and scrubbed his hands over his face as he processed what she was telling him. "I guess it is a good thing I didn't go see Audrey when I got back to Port Charles then." He said, trying and failing to smile.
Elizabeth reached out and took Jason's hand in hers. "I am so sorry that you had to think that I was dead." She hesitated for a moment before continuing. "We hadn't talked since you left in April...if I'd known that you would hear about it so quickly I would have told Sonny to warn you."
"You don't have to apologize to me Elizabeth."
"Yes, I do. I never wanted to put you through something like that."
Jason shrugged uncomfortably. "It doesn't matter. All that matters is that you are alive and ok."
Elizabeth took a deep breath and looked up at Jason's, a question that could change everything on the tip of her tongue. Did she dare ask? What would Jason say? Did it matter?
Jason watched Elizabeth's face and could see that there was something she wanted to say but wasn't sure of. When she was debating something in her mind she had this cute way of chewing on the corner of her lip. It was her tell. He smiled softly at seeing it again, something he never thought he's get the chance to do.
"How did you find out?" She asked, holding back the question she really wanted to ask.
"Carly." Jason said, smiling for real this time and making Elizabeth smile too.
"Of course, I should have figured that she would be blowing up your phone with the information."
"It wasn't like that exactly, she just happened to catch me. I think she genuinely felt bad for having to tell me...as genuine as Carly can be that is."
"Where were you when she got a hold of you?"
"I was in Vancouver. I'd been there about a week. She left a message saying she needed to speak to me, it was urgent. I almost didn't call her back but I'm glad I did."
"Are you sure about that?" Elizabeth asked hesitantly.
"Of course I am." Jason sat forward in his chair and gently reached out to touch her face, bringing her eyes to meet his. "The last few days have been torture. Elizabeth, thinking you were dead...it gutted me. All I could think about was finding out what happened to you and making whoever was responsible pay for it. If I stopped long enough to think about it...to think about never seeing you again." Jason paused, a lump of emotion clogging his throat.
"Why?" She asked softly. When Jason opened his mouth to respond she held up her hand to stop him. "Seriously Jason, why? I mean I haven't spoken to you in six months. I had no idea where you were or what you were doing or if you were ok. Why did thinking that I was dead matter so much?"
Jason paused for a moment before looking deeply into her eyes. "Because I love you." The words hung in the air between them for a moment as if neither one of them was quite prepared for them being said.
Tears filled her eyes as Elizabeth said softly, "I love you too."
Without hesitation Jason closed the distance between them and captured her mouth with his. The kiss was soft at first, exploring before Elizabeth leaned or Jason pulled her closer, neither sure which. Jason's hand cupped her cheek, his fingertips tangling in the silky stands of her hair. Hs other arm circled her waist and pulled her closer, needing to feel her body against his, in some ways still trying to convince himself that this was real.
When they finally broke apart Elizabeth looked up and met Jason's eyes. "What now?" She asked with a smile.
Jason couldn't help but laugh. "Honestly? I have no idea. I've gone from believing you were dead and trying to accept that I would never see you again to holding you in my arms in the matter of an hour. I guess we need to figure out what all this means."
"Do we have to do that now?" Elizabeth asked. Part of her didn't want to think about reality, didn't want to think about what waited for them back in Port Charles. All she wanted was to stay in that moment, in Jason's arm and watch the sunset together.
Jason kissed her softly again and shook his head. "Whatever happens next can wait." He gently pulled her into his lap and sat back in the chair. He wrapped his arms around her as she cuddled into his embrace.
The world and all of its complications could wait. All that mattered to either of them was that they finally were getting their moment.