The quiet moments that passed between Matt and Ellen seemed like an eternity, as their gazes remained fixed, one on the other. With her desire for an explanation urging her on, Ellen once again prodded Matt for some answers.

"Well?" she said, her tone inquisitive but stern.

"Well what?" Matt returned. Hoping upon hope that continuing with this weird game of cat and mouse they were playing, she would give up her inquisition out of sheer frustration. However, it became clear soon after the words passed his lips, she wasn’t falling for it. Determination was written all over her face. "You’re not going to drop this, are you?"

"No," she steadfastly remarked, as she eased into the bedside chair.

Matt sighed heavily in defeat. "I’m sorry Ellen."

"I gathered that from my time at your apartment. The question is, what about?" Her gaze was intense upon him as she waited for his reply.

"I didn’t want you involved," Matt murmured, as he raked his fingers through his hair.

"That’s obvious, but I’m already involved. Tell me what’s going on. What happened to you? More importantly, who shot you and why have you been lying about it?"

"It’s a very long, ugly, and complicated story."

She settles back in the chair. "I’m not going anywhere."

"That’s one of the problems," he groaned. "Ellen, the people who shot me are the same people who caused my current injuries, and they do not fool around. That is why I need you to stay away. It’s for your own safety."

"Let me worry about me and my safety, okay? Who are these people and why do they want to hurt you?"

"They don’t want to hurt me, Ellen, they want to kill me. I’m a marked man. Do you understand?"

She shakes her head. "No, I don’t. Why are these people coming after you? What are you leaving out."

"What do you mean?"

Ellen leans forward in her chair. "I mean I have a hard time believing any of this. If someone were after you, chances are you would have been found by now. The name Matt Harmon has been in the hospital computer since you started your internship. You’re a doctor that uses a wheelchair. How hard can it be for someone to find you?"

"Pretty hard I’d say, especially if Matt Harmon isn’t who they’re looking for."

"What?!" she exclaimed.

"Matt Harmon isn’t my real name."

"What do you mean, Matt Harmon isn’t your real name?"

"Just that. What’s to explain?"

"Then who are you?"

"I think it’s better you not know that."

"But I want to know. Matt…" she emits a humorless laugh, "I don’t know what to call you."

"Call me Matt, that’s who I am."

"I don’t know who you are."

"Ellen you know me better than anyone else. Why do you think I’ve been doing all I can to keep you away from me, away from this?"

"What is this? Matt, tell me. You’ve come this far, you might as well finish."

"Okay," Matt breathed. "I’ll try to make a long story short. Years ago I was not at all like the easygoing young intern you see before you. I ran with a rough crowd, and I did some not so nice things. Then, one day, I saw and heard something I shouldn’t have. I promised I wouldn’t say anything, because where I was from, you didn’t rat on people. Unfortunately, they didn’t believe me, so I had to be eliminated. That’s when I was shot. The feds approached me, and in return for my testimony against these people, I would be given a new identity."

"A new identity, as in the Witness Protection Program?"

Matt nodded his head. "Yes."

"That’s what the government uses when people are being hidden from…the mob," Ellen commented, as Matt’s avoidance about speaking of his past suddenly began to make sense.

"Yeah, it is. When I came to you last week and asked you for the time off, it was to testify in Philadelphia at trial of the last of those arrested. Somehow, my location was found, and a bomb was sent to the hotel room."

Ellen gasped in horror, she couldn’t believe what she was hearing, but she knew it was true.

"The two marshals guarding me were killed. I managed to be spared, because I had left the room to wash my hands. I’ve eluded death twice; I don’t think I’ll be so lucky the third time."

"Matt you have to go to the police," Ellen implored him.

"Police?" he said incredulously. "Are you kidding? If the federal government couldn’t protect me, how the hell will the PCPD? I was handling this myself, but Mike involved you, when I begged him not to."

Standing from the chair, "You were handling it all right," she said in a mocking tone. "Giving a hand to the people who are trying to kill you by killing yourself, yeah, that was indeed a masterstroke. Mike did what he had to do, and I’m glad he did it. Matt, I want to help."

"Ellen, the only way you can help is to stay away from this. If your going into my files wasn’t bad enough, I’m at the hospital, all but a sitting duck, with an even bigger target on my back. Why do you think I was so adamant about not coming here? Mike forced my hand into telling him, and I told you, against my better judgment, but it’s because I trust you. You know the truth, now you’ve got to let this go. Those marshals were killed, and I’ll be damned if I let anyone I care about be a casualty of my regrettable past."

"Am I somebody you care about?" she couldn’t help asking, as flashes of the scene from days before in his apartment played in her head.

Matt sighed. "I know I hurt you Ellen, and I’m sorry, I don’t think I can say that enough, but if hurting you meant keeping you alive, I had to do it. I’m telling you, these people will kill you and anyone else who is remotely close to me, whether emotionally or physically. They are the mob, which means they have absolutely no regard for human life. I refuse to let anything happen to you. I’d never be able to live with myself if something did. So to answer your question, yes Ellen, I care a great deal about you." You have absolutely no idea how much, his heart silently voiced.

Ellen fought the urge to run over and wrap her arms around him. After his apologetic mutterings the day before she knew there was something more to his unseemly behavior than what he proclaimed it to be. She was glad to know her thoughts were correct, that he did indeed care about her. She wanted to tell him how she felt, that she wanted to see where what they were feeling would take them, but now was not the time for that. A part of her was afraid that the right time had come and gone. He had just shared with her the most amazing story. His life was in an uproar, and no matter how much either may have wanted a relationship, a romantic entanglement was the very last thing he needed right now. The most important thing was keeping him safe, and alive. Any and everything else would have to wait.

"What about your family? Where were they when all of this was going on?" Ellen asked.

"Right in the thick of it," Matt answered. "Who do you think I’ve been running from?"

Her voice was low from the shock she felt in what he had just said. "Your family did this to you? They are the mob that’s hunting you down?"

"Yeah," he grinned sardonically, "and you thought your family had problems."

~***~

Bobby Mancusi stared intently at the phone, in what was tantamount to a silent demand that it ring. When it finally did he abruptly answered. "You better be calling to tell me you found him!" he thundered into the receiver.

Bobby listened angrily as the other party spoke, before breaking in. "Look I don’t want to hear that. The man is paralyzed and he has to be badly hurt, how hard can he be to find?!!!" After several seconds more passed, he had heard enough. "You couldn’t have checked all the hospitals, because you haven’t found him yet!!! I don’t care what you have to do, YOU FIND HIM!!!!" he screeched before slamming the phone into its cradle.

"So, Eric has not been found," Salvatore Mancusi deduced as he joined his soon in the office.

"He won’t be able to hide forever," the younger man guaranteed.

"You’ve got to find him Bobby."

"I will find him, Pop," he vowed. "I spent ten years in prison because of him, and he’s damn well gonna pay for it." Bobby punctuated his threat by stabbing a thick pile of papers with a silver-plated letter opener he grabbed from the desk. "He will definitely pay."

~***~

"Finally, I’ve been looking all over for you," Grace explained as she caught up with Chris in the hospital gift shop.

"Well you’ve found me," he returned, unmistakable glee shining in his eyes as he picked out one of the picturesque Port Charles postcards he was browsing. "I’m surprised to see you, I thought you’d be glued to Harmon’s side right now."

"That’s why I need to see you. What did you find out in Matt’s apartment?"

"What did I find? Hmm," Chris said as he pocketed the change from his postcard purchase.

"Don’t beat around the bush with me Chris. I helped you, now you help me."

"How attached are you to Port Charles?"

"What does this have to do with my question to you?" she asked curtly.

"Nothing really. I just have the feeling that Harmon will be leaving our fair hamlet very soon."

"Why would Matt leave Port Charles? He’s all but got the Quartermaine Award in his hands and he’s the star intern. Why would he abandon that now?"

"Things come up."

"What things?"

"Oh, just things," Chris murmured as he slipped the postcard into the breast pocket of his suit coat.

"You have to tell me more than that," Grace demanded. "Not unless you want Matt to find out you were rifling through his things."

His pleased as punch expression suddenly hardened. "Don’t you threaten me Grace," he warned, lowering his voice that was threatening to rise to the point of getting unwanted attention. "I’m sure you don’t want Matt finding out who it was who let me into his apartment, now do you? You want Harmon, you can have him. I just urge you to act fast, because I don’t believe he’ll be in town much longer."

That said, Chris went about his way, leaving Grace confused and fuming in his wake.