"You telling me you don’t know this guy?" Bobby menacingly returned, after receiving the answer he didn’t want.

Feeling the slightest bit unnerved, "I’m new to town," Liam, the new bartender, replied.

"It’s very important that I find this man." Bobby scanned the empty eatery. "I was told he hangs around here."

"We get a lot of regulars, there’s a hospital close by. Ask the customers when they come in, maybe one of them knows him, but I don’t. I’ve got to get back to work."

"Thanks for nothing, pal," he called to Liam’s retreating back. Bobby turned his attention to the photo he carried. "If you’re here, Eric, I’m going to find you, and you’re going to pay."

The sound of footsteps approaching brought him from his dastardly thoughts.

"You know Matt?" Chris said, glancing at the photo as he slid onto the empty barstool next to Bobby. It seemed his postcard had done its intended job.

"Matt?"

"Yes, Matt Harmon," motioning to the picture. "Dr. Matt Harmon, we work together at General Hospital."

So Eric was a doctor, imagine that. "I guess my information is a little off. That wasn’t the name I had. I’m a lawyer, and Dr. Harmon was left a bequest from a family member, and I’m here to…to make sure he gets what’s coming to him. General Hospital, it that the one at the corner?" Bobby asked.

"Yes, that’s it," he confirmed with a nod of his head. Chris wanted Matt out of the way, but after overnighting the postcard, he realized he didn’t want him mortally wounded, so he decided to be magnanimous. "Matt’s been out of town for a while. I’m not sure if he’s back, but he has a room here," pointing to Matt’s apartment entrance, "right over there in fact. He might be home now, it’s worth a shot."

"It definitely is," Bobby agreed. Maybe even a couple of shots, he evilly pondered.

His work done, Chris was ready to take his leave. "The beeper is on vibrate," he lied, "I have to go. Good luck in finding Matt."

"Thanks there uh…"

"Ramsey, Dr. Chris Ramsey," he said, extending his hand.

"Dr. Ramsey," Bobby returned shaking his hand. "You’ve been a lot of help." There was no question in his mind who had sent the postcard. Whatever beef Ramsey had with Eric was of no concern to him, what mattered was making him pay, and this time he would see that the job got done. If he wasn’t in the apartment, then the hospital was the next stop. Either way Eric’s days were numbered.

"Not a problem," Chris cheerfully returned, eager to make his way back to the hospital to ‘alert’ Matt of the shady character that was inquiring about him. The warning that would no doubt, force Matt to leave town, leaving Chris in the driver’s seat that would lead directly to the Quartermaine. Life was so sweet he grinned.

When Chris was gone, Bobby checked to see if Liam was around. Noting he was busy in the kitchen, he proceeded to pick the lock to Matt’s door. His gun aimed and his mind fixed on revenge, he entered the apartment.

~~*~~

The intense and emotionally charged conversation Ellen was having with Matt had taken an unexpected detour. The confusion as to what she was feeling and the curiosity as to what Matt was about to say disappeared instantly with the hypothesis he just shared. "Your brother is in Port Charles?" Ellen repeated.

"It appears so," Matt stated, bleakly.

"This doesn’t make sense," Mike grumbled, more to himself than to the others. "I don’t understand how he can be in Port Charles and at the Recovery Room of all places. I was certain that you were safe now, Matt. I…"

"Wondering about how this happened is pointless," Ellen broke in. "Matt has to leave town and he has to go now."

Mike nodded in agreement. "You’re right, Ellen," he said before turning to Matt. "We have to get you out of here and we have to do it quickly."

Matt shook his head. "No, I can’t leave now."

"What?!" Ellen and Mike exclaimed.

"I can’t leave, Ellen, not until you and I get things straightened out between us."

"Matt, it doesn’t matter," she softly explained.

"That’s where you’re wrong, it matters a great deal. Mike, could you leave us alone."

Mike was attempting to protest but Matt stopped him.

"You’re wasting time Mike," Matt said, not giving him a moment to get a word out. "I know I need to leave, but I’m not going anywhere until I’ve finished talking with Ellen."

Realizing arguing was futile, Mike gave in. "Okay, okay. I’ll be right outside. Allow me to remind you that time is of the essence," he shared with Matt.

"I’ll have to get in touch with the federal marshals," Matt told him. "You think you can find someplace for me to lay low until I make contact and they come for me?"

"I’m way ahead of you. I’ll be right outside when you’re ready." Mike left the two alone.

 

"Matt, you really should be getting out of here," Ellen advised, certain she couldn’t deal with anything he had to say when goodbye would be the very last thing she knew she would have to say.

"Yeah I should, but there’s no way I can leave here with things between us the way they are."

"There’s no point in doing this," Ellen said, unable to look at Matt, as her eyes staying glued on her hands as they fiddled mindlessly with the medical sundries that covered the bed table.

"There’s every point. This is probably the last time I’ll ever see you. I have to make sure everything between us is clear." Reaching forward he covered her hands with his, "Ellen, please look at me," he requested. "If this is the last conversation we have, I want to be looking in your eyes when we have it."

Ellen swallowed the knot in her throat as she wondered why he had to touch her. This was hard enough without having to contend with his touch to make it that much harder. Easing her hands from his grasp, she did as he requested and met his gaze.
The hurt he felt at Ellen removing her hands would have shattered him completely had it not been for what he saw in her eyes. The saying is that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and at that moment those words were never more true. As he looked into her beautiful brown pools, Matt wondered how it was that his heart could be singing and breaking all at once? Clearing his throat, he began to speak. "I have only a few minutes to say what feels like I’ve waited forever to get off my chest. First I have to say once again that I’m sorry. My attempt at being noble didn’t work out quite like I wanted it to."

"Matt, I understand why you did it." The idea of saying goodbye to him had now made her insecurities seem miniscule on the importance scale. "I was just…I was…" she struggled with finding the right words.

"Shhh, I know, Ellen. I know what you’re going to say. I can see it in your eyes. I see everything and that’s what makes this even worse. A week and a half ago, eleven short days, I left your office feeling pretty hopeful. I went home, and as always, visions of your beautiful face filled my dreams. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hospital the next morning to see if you had given any thought to what I had said. As I was leaving my apartment, I got a phone call summoning me to Philadelphia." Matt sighed deeply before he continued. "From that moment my life has been nothing short of a nightmare, and all that’s left is this moment. A moment," he chuckled humorlessly.

"Matt…" she choked as tears pooled her eyes.

"Eight months, Ellen. We had eight months and it’s reduced to a moment. It seems my life is a chapter of moments. Hell, my life story could be entitled ‘The Moment’. Starting with walking in on a situation I should have been smart enough not to get involved with in the first place. That one unfortunate move has dictated the rest of my life. This is my fault. I should have been stronger," he explained, his voice thick with emotion.

Pushing aside the bed table, Ellen sat on the edge of the mattress and took Matt’s hand in hers. "Stronger how? You didn’t know this was going to happen," Ellen managed to say through the tightness in her throat.

"I might not have known when, but I knew this was going to happen." Clutching her hands in his, Matt looked deeply into Ellen’s eyes and spoke directly to her heart. "From the moment I saw you, I knew I was falling in love. I told myself to fight it, that the future I saw so clearly behind that pain in your eyes could never be mine, but damn if I didn’t want it anyway. I knew it was wrong and extremely selfish on my part, but I couldn’t help myself. Even when you fought me tooth and nail, I persisted and kept telling you that you were wrong to resist. I knew what my past was, and I also knew I had no right to lure you into my world with tender kisses and promises of happily ever after, but I did and look at what it’s gotten me. A phantom existence, loss of the career I’ve wanted forever, and infliction of pain on the one person who means more to me than anything in this world. You Ellen, I hurt you," he said hoarsely.

Ellen’s left hand gently combed through his short-cropped hair as her right hand tightened around his. "Don’t do this to yourself. You thought you had to do it, and I understand. Matt, that’s what scares me."
There was no turning back now. She had to say what was in her heart now and not what was on her mind, this was her last chance. "You said it earlier, you know me so well, too well. I’m an open book to you and it’s like you see past the physical and right inside of me, and that makes me vulnerable. I throw up my walls to obscure your view, but you keep knocking them down. You say you should have been stronger? If I were the iron maiden everyone proclaims me to be your words would have never hurt me because you couldn’t have gotten close enough for me to care, but you did, and I do care. I care too much. You have the power to hurt me more than anyone else, you know that, and you also know why. You’ve always known," she whimpered, easing closer to him as tears cascaded down her cheeks. "You don’t have to apologize for loving me. I’m the one who should be apologizing to you, for waiting until the day I say goodbye to admit what I’ve been feeling for longer than I can even remember. Matt, I…"

Blinking back the tears that filled his eyes, "Shhh," he said, silencing her by pressing his forefinger to her lips. "You don’t have to say the words for me to know, and I know if I heard them now, I’d never be able to leave you." Matt scoffed, but he couldn’t turn away. "I’m still being a selfish bastard, pouring my heart out to you when my brother is hot on my heels, but I just…." Cupping her face, his thumb gently caressed her cheek. "I do not want to leave you and I couldn’t go without letting you know how I feel. I wanted to spend the rest of my life making you happy and showing you just how much I love you, but I can’t do that now. I wanted to make sure you knew that even with all the ups and downs we’ve had, unfortunately more downs than ups, you have made me happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I will carry your memory in my heart forever, Ellen Burgess, and I will never forget you or how very much I love you."

Covering his hand as it smoothed away the tears that rolled down her cheek, Ellen leaned forward as Matt eased closer to her. This was their last chance together and they had to make it count. The initial touch of their lips was feathery light, but it was like a crack to the dam that had been holding the emotions they had struggled to keep in check for so many months. The kiss soon turned desperate in its intensity as their arms wrapped lovingly one around the other, bringing their bodies closer together. With all the conflicting emotions the two had fought so desperately to contain out in the open, they were now able to fully express what they were feeling. With every tear that fell from their eyes and every caress one tongue gave another, all that hadn’t been verbalized was now being said. Ellen didn’t want to leave any doubt in Matt’s mind as to how she felt, and her kisses and hands as they caressed his body, said everything he couldn’t bear to hear her words say. With much reluctance, the need for air brought the impassioned kiss to an end. Their eyes glazed over with longing each was desperate to hear the one thing both knew they couldn’t hear. Ellen to hear Matt ask her to go with him, and Matt to hear himself do the asking?

As much as he wanted to ask, to pull her away from her mother when they were beginning to forge a relationship, for a life on the run with him, was wrong, and Matt just couldn’t ask her to do it.

Ellen’s desire to leave with him was very strong. She was struggling with herself to offer, but as much as she wanted to go, she knew that if she did it would only serve to slow him down, and she couldn’t do that.

Not having him in her life was destroying Ellen from the inside out, as did the prospect of not having her with him did to Matt. But knowing the other was safe would give some modicum of relief, or at least they hoped so. It sure didn’t feel like that way right now.

The sound of Ellen’s name being paged to the ER brought an end to their moment.

"You have to go," Matt murmured as he removed his hand from her face.

"You’ll be gone when I get back, won’t you?" she asked, the force of the reality of the situation hitting her like a ton of bricks.

Matt could only nod, as fear of saying anything more would cause the knot that was lodged in his throat to trigger the tears of heartbreak he was desperately trying to keep from resurfacing. He had to be strong for her. He hoped she couldn’t feel how much his hand trembled as she held fast to it.

"I won’t ever forget you either, Matt. You brought something to my life I thought was lost to me forever and I will always…"

Matt shook his head, in a silent plea for her to not say it.

She caught herself before the words passed her lips. "I will always be grateful to you," Ellen said through sobs that she couldn’t hold back. "I pray you find all the peace and happiness you deserve. You are truly an amazing man." Placing his hand on the bed, "Goodbye," she sniffled before rushing out the room.

After seeing Ellen flee, Mike reentered the room. "Is everything okay?" he asked.

"No," Matt answered through his returned tears. "I don’t think things will ever be okay again."



624