Author's Note: ABC/Disney owns General Hospital and all related elements, no copyright infringement is intended. Since I am a diehard Liason fan in this version of events Danny is not Jason's son and while he loved Sam, Jason has realized Elizabeth is his true love.
Elizabeth's eyes slowly opened then she sat up with a start. Silence greeted her. Given the fact that it was 7:13am on Christmas morning and she had still been sleeping it was more than a little odd. Was it possible that Cameron and Aiden were actually still asleep as well? For how excited the two of them had been the night before that didn't seem possible. Pushing the covers off her legs Elizabeth stood, stepping into her slippers and grabbing her robe on her way out of her bedroom. A quick glance in each of her boy's rooms confirmed that they were in fact still fast asleep.
Deciding to take advantage of this uncharacteristic calm before the storm Elizabeth padded down the stairs and into the kitchen to start some coffee. Cup in hand she wandered back into the living room and looked out the window to see the flakes of fresh snow falling, adding to the couple of inches that had coated the ground overnight. A white Christmas. That would make the boys happy. A smile spread over her face as she looked to the mantel above the fireplace, thinking back to the night a few weeks earlier.
Elizabeth had finally had a night off from the hospital she and the boys had hauled the boxes of decorations up from the basement and filled their house with Christmas cheer. When it was time to hang the stockings Elizabeth had handed them to Cameron and watched as the older boy hung his then helped his little brother hang the bright red stocking with his name on it. Cameron had then turned to her and looked up questioningly.
"What is it baby?" She'd asked.
"Where's Jake's stocking?" The question had caught Elizabeth off guard and she had to steel herself for a moment before answering.
"It's still in the box. Why are you asking about it Cameron?"
"I think that we should still hang it up. I know that Jake is in heaven with God but I want him to know that we still think about him." Cameron said simply, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
The depth of her son's love for the brother he'd lost made tears sting the back of Elizabeth's eyes. After taking a deep breath she stepped to the box and pulled out the matching red stocking with Jake's name embroidered on it. Elizabeth turned back to Cameron and handed it to him. "I think that's a great idea Cameron." She said softly, her voice thick with emotion as a tear slipped down her cheek and she brushed it away with the back of her hand.
"I'm sorry Mom; I didn't mean to make you cry." Cameron said, his expression clouding with concern.
Elizabeth quickly pulled Cameron in for a hug and leaned down to kiss the top of his head. "They are happy tears baby. I think it is wonderful that you want Jake to know we remember him at Christmastime too."
After another quick squeeze around his mother's waist Cameron slipped away and hung Jake's stocking beside his, Aiden's and Elizabeth's.
A gentle knock at the door brought Elizabeth back to the present and she had to shake the thoughts from her mind. Who could be at her door this early? She was taking the boys to Audrey's later in the afternoon and she wasn't expecting anyone else for the holiday.
Elizabeth set her coffee mug down on the end table and pulled her robe more tightly around herself as she approached the door. The knock sounded again just as Elizabeth reached for the handle and she pulled it open.
Jason walked slowly up the path to Elizabeth's front door. He had debated about calling and trying to give her some kind of warning but he decided it was better to do this in person. What were the odds she would believe a voice over the phone? It wasn't often that someone you have believed to be dead called out of the blue. Maybe showing up on Christmas morning wasn't the greatest idea in the world but at least she wouldn't be able to deny the reality of him being alive once she laid eyes on him. He shifted the precious cargo he carried from one arm to the other as he walked up the steps and reached out, knocking softly.
It wasn't possible, it just wasn't. Elizabeth gasped and had to grip the door to keep from falling over as he eyes locked with Jason's sapphire eyes before traveling to a pair of matching blue eyes.
"Mommy…" Jake whispered as he looked from Elizabeth to Jason and back as his little arms clung to Jason's neck uncertainly.
Jason rubbed Jake's back lightly and smiled at his son. "Yes Jake, it's Mommy."
"How is this possible…Jason…" Elizabeth's voice shook as she looked at two of the loves of her life that she had believed were lost to her forever.
Jason took a step closer and as he did Jake reached out for Elizabeth. Without hesitating Elizabeth pulled Jake into her arms and hugged him in a near crushing grip. Jake's arms wrapped tightly around her neck as he clung just as closely to his mother. He was bigger then when she had last seen him, but two and a half years had passed, of course he'd changed.
Elizabeth's eyes locked on Jason's and she saw the tears that wet his eyes as he fought to blink them back. So many questions flashed through Elizabeth's mind but she had no idea where to start.
A cold breeze and swirl of snow made Elizabeth realize they were standing in the wide open doorway in the middle of December. "Come in…its freezing." She said as she stepped back, not loosening her grip on her son.
Jason followed and closed the door behind him. As he led Elizabeth over to the sofa he looked around and saw all the Christmas decorations and the absence of Cameron and Aiden.
"Where are Cameron and Aiden?" He asked softly.
"They are still sleeping but will be up any minute I'm sure." Elizabeth replied as she settled onto the sofa, shifting Jake in her arms so he was sitting across her lap facing his father.
"What is going on Jason? Am I dreaming? I have to be…this isn't possible."
Jason smiled softly, wondering for a brief moment if he frequented Elizabeth's dreams. "You are not dreaming Elizabeth. You are very much awake and this is really happening."
"It's ok Mommy, I'm real." Jake whispered as his little fingers reached up to wipe the tears from Elizabeth's face. His action just brought on more tears.
Elizabeth reached out and ran her fingers lightly through Jake's blond hair, which was longer since she'd last seen him. She smiled and laughed a little. "I can see that baby. I…I'm so glad you're here. I love you so much Jake."
"I love you too Mommy." Jake replied as he snuggled into his mother's embrace once again.
Elizabeth looked up at Jason and he reached up to gently brush some hair from her face. "How is this possible Jason? I don't understand."
"It is a complicated story that I will explain to you in detail later."
"You have to give me more then it is complicated. You have been gone for over a year…Jake for over two years and now here you are at my front door on Christmas morning like some gift from Santa. I need more than that."
Jason knew Elizabeth was right, she needed and deserved to know what had happened but it wasn't a story he could fully explain in front of their son. "I will answer every question that I can and we will discuss everything. For right now just know that I'm sorry I didn't call and prepare you for this but I was afraid you wouldn't believe me over the phone so I decided it was best to just come here in person."
"Does anyone else know what happened? That you're alive?" Elizabeth asked as she continued to gently hold and touch Jake, still not believing it was real.
Jason shook his head lightly. "No, I came straight here. I know that there are other people who need and deserve to know but I had to come here first. I had to bring Jake back to you."
"Are you leaving?" Jake asked, his voice displaying his nervousness at the thought of Jason leaving him.
"Not right now buddy." Jason said softly, reaching out and ruffling Jake's hair.
Jason's reassurance relaxed Jake instantly. Elizabeth kissed the top of her son's head and looked back at Jason. "I should probably go wake up Cameron and Aiden. I want to tell them upstairs that Jake is alive. They won't understand what is going on. Aiden doesn't remember Jake so he's going to be confused."
Jason nodded, fully understanding that Elizabeth had to protect her other boys from the shock and confusion of this miracle he'd dropped in her lap. "I'm sure this will be confusing for them." Jason looked down at Jake who watched his parents carefully. "Jake, is it ok if Mommy goes upstairs to get your brothers and we'll stay right here?"
Jake looked from Jason to Elizabeth, his eyes filled with concern. "But you'll come back right Mommy?"
"Of course I will baby. Your brothers are going to be so excited to see you but they are going to be surprised because we thought you were in heaven with the angels. You stay here with Jason and I'll be right back ok?"
Jake nodded and scrambled off of Elizabeth's lap and into Jason's, who wrapped his arms around his son.
Elizabeth stood and looked at Jason. "You'll be right here when I come down right?"
Jason smiled and nodded. "We aren't going anywhere."
Elizabeth walked around the back of the sofa and to the bottom of the stairs where she stood and watched Jason with Jake. Wherever they had been and whatever they had been through it was obvious that Jason had developed a close bond with their son. Jake clearly trusted Jason to take care of him and keep him safe, something Elizabeth had regretted not doing from the moment Jake had been born. If she had maybe so many things would have been different. With one last look at the two of them she turned and went up the stairs.
"Why was Mommy crying?" Jake asked Jason after Elizabeth had gone up the stairs.
"Remember how we talked about the fact that everyone who loves you thought you'd gone to heaven?" Jason asked and Jake nodded.
"Well everyone missed you so much, especially your Mommy so seeing you again made her cry, but they are happy tears."
Jake thought about what Jason said for a moment. He was so much like his father in that he always took his time to consider things before speaking.
"Mommy said Aiden won't remember me…" Jake said sadness in his voice.
"Aiden was only a little baby when you were taken away so he wasn't big enough to remember you but Cameron will. I know he missed you."
"What if they don't like me?" Jake asked after a pause, his voice small and uncertain.
Jason turned Jake around so he could look in his son's eyes. "They will like you Jake, it just might take a little time for everyone to get used to you being home. Be patient with your brothers ok? And I'll be here and we can talk about anything you might be confused or upset about."
Jake leaned in and hugged Jason, a feeling Jason would never get tired of.
Elizabeth stood in Aiden's doorway for a moment before stepping inside. The world as her sons knew it was about to shift and she wasn't sure she was equipped to help them deal with it. It didn't help that she was as in the dark as they would be about what happened to Jake. All of that had to wait for the moment; it was time to share the Christmas miracle with her boys.
"Aiden honey, it's Christmas, time to wake up." Elizabeth said softly as she leaned down and kissed Aiden's head. After a moment his sleepy eyes popped open and he sat up, nearly cracking Elizabeth in the nose with the top of his head.
"It's Christmas!" Aiden shouted as he tried to untangle himself from his sheets.
Elizabeth couldn't help but laugh. She plucked him out of the mess of sheets and carried him into Cameron's room across the hall. "Cameron, wake up baby."
"Wake up Cameron! It's Christmas!" Aiden nearly shouted as Cameron blinked his way awake.
Cameron sat up and looked up at his mother and Aiden. "Is it time for presents?"
"In a minute, there is something I want to talk to you about before we go downstairs." Elizabeth replied as she sat down on the edge of Cameron's bed, a squirming Aiden on her lap.
"What's wrong Mom?" Cameron asked, immediately aware of the tension and uncertainty that filled his mother.
Sometimes it was more of a curse than a blessing that Cameron was so intuitive and aware of what was going on around him. Elizabeth took a deep breath and smiled softly at the boys.
"A little while ago there was a knock at the door and…someone very unexpected is downstairs."
"Who's here Mom?" Cameron asked.
"You remember mommy's friend Jason right?" Elizabeth asked, knowing she was really only speaking to Cameron. Aiden was too young to remember the few brief encounters he'd had with Jason.
"Of course I do Mom. I'm nine years old. He went to heaven like Jake."
"This is going to be very confusing but Jason isn't in heaven. He is alive and he is downstairs in the living room." Elizabeth said, carefully choosing her words as best she could.
Cameron's face lit up and he tried to scramble off the bed. "He's alive? I want to see him."
"Wait Cameron, there is something else." Elizabeth said as she held onto Cameron to keep him from running downstairs.
"He brought someone else with him. Honey, Jake is alive too. Your little brother is downstairs with Jason."
This time Cameron didn't move, he just stared as his mother as he tried to process what she was saying. "Jake?" He asked his voice breaking.
"I know it's very confusing and maybe a little scary but yes, baby, your brother is alive."
"But if he is alive, where has he been? Why did you say he was in heaven with God?"
"I don't know where he has been or what happened but I will find out I can promise you that. For right now all that matters is that Jake is alive and he is home. It might be a little scary for him and he might need some time to figure things out now that he's home. You're much bigger then he last saw you and so are you." Elizabeth said, smiling at Aiden, tickling his stomach lightly.
"I don't remember him…" Aiden said hesitantly. He had only seen pictures and Cameron had told him stories but Aiden didn't remember his older brother.
"I know baby and that's ok. It's going to take everyone some time to adjust to this so don't worry. Are you both ready to come downstairs and see them?" Elizabeth asked.
Both boys nodded. Cameron climbed off the bed and headed for the door but Aiden clung to her so Elizabeth carried him.
The sounds of footsteps on the stairs made Jason and Jake both look up to see who was approaching. Elizabeth appeared first with Aiden in her arms and Cameron was right behind her. Jason could see the uncertainty on both of the boys' faces and hated that this was hard on all of them.
Elizabeth took Cameron's hand and led him over to the sofa where Jason sat with Jake still in his lap.
"Boys, you remember Mommy's friend Jason." She decided to start with Jason and give all the boys a moment to just look at each other.
"Hi Cameron." Jason said softly. The boy had grown so much in the last year. He could see so much of Elizabeth in her firstborn's face but his eyes were definitely Zander's.
"Hi Jason." Cameron replied hesitantly as he finally let go of his mother's hand and stepped closer to Jason and Jake. "Jake…" Cameron said his voice small.
"Hi Cam." Jake replied, his voice equally as hesitant.
"I know that you boys thought Jake and I were in heaven and this has to be really hard to understand but we are back home."
"For good?" Cameron asked, glancing from Jason to Elizabeth. "Of will you have to go back to heaven?"
Elizabeth stepped passed Jason and Jake and sat down on the sofa beside them, Aiden in her lap. "No baby, Jake and Jason won't be going back to heaven they get to stay here."
"Cameron, someone played a mean joke on everyone by taking your brother and then me away. I know it doesn't make much sense but we were never in heaven so we don't have to go back. Does that make sense?" Jason said gently.
Cameron nodded then finally smiled. "I'm glad you're home Jakey."
At the smile from his older brother Jake finally relaxed and smiled back. "I am too Cam."
Watching as Cameron pulled Jake in for a hug made new tears fill Elizabeth's eyes. A moment she never in her wildest imagination thought could happen was unfolding right in front of her. When Aiden slid off her lap and joined his brothers as they walked over to look at the tree Elizabeth had to excuse herself.
"Boys, no opening anything until I get back, ok?" Elizabeth said shakily as she slipped from the room, all but fleeing to the kitchen.
Jason gave Elizabeth a moment before following. As he walked into the kitchen he saw her standing at the sink with her back to him, crying quietly. For a moment he was torn as to whether to leave Elizabeth alone or go to. It didn't take long for Jason to move forward. He stopped behind her and gently wrapped his arms around her waist from behind, gathering her against him and letting her cry.
"Shh…Elizabeth it's ok."
"How is any of this ok Jason?" She whispered her tone defeated. "I don't understand any of this…"
Jason gently turned her around to face him. It broke his heart to see the pain and confusion in her eyes. Before he could say anything she continued, "I need you to tell me what happened. It doesn't have to be all the details but I need to know where my baby has been for the last 2 years."
"It is really complicated Elizabeth."
"I don't give a damn if it complicated. I need to know Jason." She replied hotly, managing to keep her voice down as to not alert the boys.
He took a deep breath to steady himself. "Jake was kidnapped by Theo Hoffman. He and Jerry Jacks were working together, even back then, when we all thought Jerry was dead. I guess Theo's plan had been to use Jake as some kind of replacement for his grandson. After we took Hoffman out…Jerry ended up with Jake."
Elizabeth gasped at the thought of that psychopath having had her son for over 2 years.
"He's ok Elizabeth. I swear to you. I have been Jake for most of the last year. Jerry actually had been making sure Jake was taken care of."
"But where have you been?" Elizabeth asked, trying to wrap her brain around what Jason was explaining to her.
"We were moved a few times. Jerry kept me either chained to a wall or drugged so that I couldn't fight back. If it had just been me I would have tried. Dying would have been better then being locked up like an animal but I couldn't risk Jake. Jerry used threats against our son to keep me in line."
"How did you escape?" Elizabeth asked breathlessly.
"There was a woman who was caring for Jake and she had come to love Jake like her own. Jerry had told her that Jake was his nephew, whose parents had been killed. Once I was brought to the same place Jake was and Jake recognized me she got suspicious. It took me until just a few days ago to convince her to help me escape with Jake."
"Thank god for her…"
"It is because of you that she let us go." Jason whispered, making Elizabeth look up at him once again.
"What do you mean?" She asked.
"I told her all about you…about how much you loved Jake and that you missed him and would want him back home with you. Finally she agreed to look into what I had told her and found articles from the Port Charles about Jake's death and she agreed to help me."
"Where is she now? I want to thank her." A sadness settled over Jason as Elizabeth asked the question and she knew instantly it wasn't going to be that simple. "Oh god…what happened?"
"As I got away with Jake I saw Jerry shoot her. I couldn't go back and help her…it would have risked Jake…I sent help once we were safe but she had already died."
Elizabeth wrapped her arms around Jason, holding onto him tightly. She could feel the tension and guilt in the set of his shoulders. "You did what you could for her Jason. It's not your fault Jerry killed her."
Jason leaned into Elizabeth's embrace and took a deep breath. Home. This was home. Elizabeth and the boys were home. Jason knew things wouldn't be simple, that he was married to Sam when he was presumed dead and he had to deal with all of that before he and Elizabeth could make anything work. Whatever it took it would be worth it to be with the woman who had owned his heart and given him his son.
When Elizabeth finally pulled back she met Jason's eyes. "I couldn't help but notice Jake used your first name, he didn't call you Dad…"
"I didn't want to confuse him any more than he already was by telling him the truth. As far as he knows I am your friend and his, nothing more."
"I see the way he trusts you Jason by the way he looked to you for explanations and reassurance. Once things settled down for all of us I want to tell him the truth."
"Are you sure? What about Lucky?" Jason asked softly.
"Lucky has been gone 2 years and has had very little contact with the boys. I don't even know where he is living right now. Last I heard from him he was in Africa but that was months ago."
Jason could hear the bitterness in Elizabeth's voice and he reached out to caress her cheek lightly.
"I love Jake more than my life and you know that I love Cameron as if he was my own. I will feel the same way about Aiden in time."
"What are you saying Jason?" Asked, her heart filling with hope which she tried to tamp down, not wanting to set herself up for another fall where Jason was concerned.
"For the last year I have had nothing but time to think and to be with Jake. I looked back at the last few years and realized a few things. Most importantly I want to be in my son's life, in whatever way you will let me."
"I want that too Jason. Now that you both are home I want you to have a relationship with him."
"I don't want to just have a relationship with Jake. I want one with Cam and Aiden…and you."
His words hung in the air between them for a moment before Elizabeth smiled and threw herself into Jason's arms, almost throwing him off balance.
"I want that too Jason, more than anything." Elizabeth whispered into Jason's neck.
Jason cradled Elizabeth in his arms and just breathed her in. When he finally pulled back enough to look into her eyes he smiled softly. "I know this is complicated and won't be easy but we will figure it all out together, I promise. I love you Elizabeth, I always have and I always will."
Tears filled Elizabeth's eyes as she looked up at the man who had owned her heart in ways no one else could since she was 18 years old. "I love you too Jason."
Jason claimed her mouth with a kiss, gentle at first then deeper as he held her against him.
After what was not nearly long enough Jason broke the kiss, both of them breathless. He smiled down at her.
"We should uh, go back in there…I'm shocked they haven't been yelling about opening presents yet." Elizabeth said hesitantly, not wanting this moment to end but knowing she had three boys in the next room.
Jason nodded and laced his fingers with hers. "Then let's go open presents with our boys."
Together they walked back into the living room and found the boys sitting in front of the tree, packages spread out but they remained unopened.
"About time Mom." Cameron said dramatically as Elizabeth and Jason appeared. "Can we open presents now?"
"Yes we can." Elizabeth said with a laugh as she and Jason joined the boys on the floor.
"Since Jake doesn't have any presents under the tree Aiden and I are going to share half of our presents with him so it's fair." Cameron announced proudly.
Elizabeth leaned over and kissed the top of Cameron's head. "That is very sweet of you Cameron, thank you."
Jake crawled into Jason's lap as Cameron handed him one of the packages to open.
It became a flurry of tearing paper, bows tossed aside and ohhs and ahhs as the contents of the gifts were revealed. Elizabeth was so proud of Cameron and Aiden for sharing with Jake and loved the way the three of them interacted.
Her eyes met Jason's over the boys' heads and he smiled. "Merry Christmas Elizabeth." He whispered.
"Merry Christmas Jason." She replied.
Elizabeth sat straight up in bed, her heart pounding. She looked around and her eyes landed on the clock. 7:13am.
"What day is it?" She whispered to herself as she grabbed her cell phone to check the date, it was Christmas morning.
"Jason." She said out loud to the empty room as she flung the blankets off and rushed from her bedroom, grabbing her robe on the way out of the room. Her feet flew down the stairs and she looked around. The house was quiet and just how she'd left it the night before. No sign of Jason or Jake.
"It was just a dream." She muttered as she sank down onto the sofa, her heart breaking. It wasn't as though she hadn't dreamt often of Jake after he died and of Jason as well but this dream had felt so real, so different from the others. "How could it just be a dream?" Tears filled her eyes and fell down her face.
After allowing herself a few moments to wallow in the reality that she hadn't gotten her miracle she stood and wiped her face with the sleeve of her robe. There wasn't time to sink into the despair of feeling like she lost Jake and Jason all over again. Cameron and Aiden would be awake any minute and she needed a heavy dose of caffeine to get through the day.
Coffee cup in hand Elizabeth returned to the living room and flipped on the Christmas tree lights. As she looked at the mantle to see four stockings hung with care, there was a knock at the door…