Lizzie stood under a street lamp, and looked at her watch. It was after midnight. Gram was going to kill her. She knew she couldn’t count on her sister to back her up, either and this time she even had a decent excuse. For the last hour she had combed the docks of Port Charles looking for Lucky. She’d called his house about eight times, no one was home. At least she’d tried, she thought. She’d attempt to get him first thing in the morning.
She opened her wallet and counted her meager holding. Three bucks and a stick of gum. Great. She was going to have to hoof it back to the domicile. She turned up the street and began walking home. She was already late, another half an hour wasn’t going to make much of a difference.
She heard wheels on the wet pavement behind her, and turned to see a Jag convertible, top up, coming towards her. Oh, this was just great. Nikolas stopped the car at the curb, as her sister opened the window.
“Where have you been! We’ve been looking for you everywhere!”
Lizzie rolled her eyes.
“I’m sure. I was looking for Lucky?” She clicked her tongue at them. “I happen to care that your boyfriend took a piece out of him tonight.”
Sarah gaped at her.
“Nikolas didn’t do anything wrong!” she sputtered at her. “In fact, now he’s offering you a ride home.”
“I’d rather walk, thanks.” She turned away and started up the street. The car’s headlights were still trained at her. She refused to look back, assuming that Sarah was pleading with him not to take her delinquent sister too seriously. Nikolas was probably saying that they should just leave her be. Who would win? Tune in next time.
Sure enough, the car began to follow her down the street. Lizzie kept walking. She was relatively certain that if she entered the house with Sarah, there would be no grounding.... but there was a chance that Sarah had called Gram to say she was out looking for her. That seed of doubt was what kept her walking along the street, defiantly. The vehicle stopped in front of her, and Nikolas got out, leaning against the hood of the car.
“Come on, Liz. Get in.”
Lizzie raised her eyebrows.
“Wow, Ok... Nik? This isn’t Russia. I’m not a peasant, and you can go drive your nice car off a cliff, ok?”
Nikolas looked, just for a moment, impressed at her gall. His expression soon turned to annoyance.
“Your sister would like you to get in the car.”
“My sister stood by like a wide-eyed statue while you ripped apart a friend of mine!”
“Liz, don’t let your imagination run away with you. Lucky’s fine.”
“And you would know this how?”
“What do you think happened?”
Lizzie stared at him stubbornly, trying to make him uncomfortable. This proved to be a mammoth task.
“Did you hit him?”
Nikolas sucked on his bottom lip, then shrugged.
“It was self defense.”
Lizzie shook her head, furious.
“I knew it! I knew you must have done something!”
Nikolas didn’t look moved.
“He would have done much worse to me if I’d given him the chance.”
“You’re such a barbarian,” Lizzie spit at him, angrily. “Is this something your Mother would appreciate?”
Nikolas’s jaw tightened, and he ducked his head back into the car for a minute, obviously saying something to Sarah. He then shut the door, the motor still running, and walked over to her.
“Lizzie,” he said, grabbing her arm, “Your sister is worried about you. She wants to make sure you get home in one piece. We both know if you walk home alone, your Grandmother is going to ground you for the foreseeable future. If you get in my car for fifteen minutes you get off the hook. I don’t care either way, but your sister does.”
“My sister cares. Sure.”
Nikolas dropped her arm, shaking his head.
“Oh.... Alright. Lizzie. I could care less what you think about me. I don’t care if you glare at the back of my head all the way home. I don’t want your sister to worry about you.”
Lizzie debated her options. This guy had hit Lucky, God knows how badly hurt he was. On the other hand, she was wet from the rain, and she wanted to get home so that she could see if Lucky had returned any of her phone calls.
“Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” She asked him, cocking her head to one side.
“Get in the car.”
Lizzie saluted him.
“Aye aye, Captain!” She brushed past him, and opened the drivers side door. “Can I drive?” She called out in a sing-song voice. Nikolas gritted his teeth.
“In!” he barked.
Lizzie pushed back the seat and slide into the backseat. Her sister shot her a nasty look. She grinned back, and settled back against the leather seats. Hmm... this wasn’t too bad, after all.
* * * *
Lucky stood in the middle of the clearing, completely confused. He’d almost ran after Emily, but the thought of going through this again was exhausting. He didn’t get her. To say she was running hot and cold was an understatement from his point of view. He didn’t know what to do this time. Actually he hadn’t known what to do for ages where Emily was concerned. He wished he could make himself not care anymore. That, obviously, wasn’t realistic. Maybe he could just care less.
He picked up a stone and tossed it into the creek. He wanted all of this to just go away. He wished he’d had a somewhat normal life. Wow, he thought, that was a first. He’d always thought normalcy was for suckers. Right now, though he just wanted a time he could recall where he hadn’t had any problems. That was probably more normal than he suspected. He kicked another rock, in frustration. He’d done everything he could to change Emily’s mind. All he wanted was for her to tell him that she’d give him another chance. He’d never thought his actions had that much of an effect on her. Lucky had figured that pretty much everyone had spent the last year ignoring him. After all, now that the well-spoken, outstanding Nikolas was on the scene, who had time for the second son?
Ever since Lucky had found out about his brother, he’d held tight to the fact that nothing could change his being Luke Spencer’s son. Even if some illegitimate child appeared on the scene, it wouldn’t be the same as his mother having carried Nikolas for nine months, gone through labor, cared for the child, and then never mentioning him. He’d still be the kid Luke had dragged across North America, dodging bullets, and escaping tight situations, the only son he’d ever known. He felt a twinge of guilt for giving his Dad such a hard time the last few days. He was just frustrated that his father didn’t see the Cassadine angle on his mother’s continued absence from Port Charles. He didn’t want to think Laura was keeping anything from him, and in Lucky’s opinion, that was his father’s one and only weakness. Lucky had suffered from that once, too. A belief that his mother was perfect, that she never lied or hid things from him. That conviction had been shattered when he’d met his “brother”, and as much as he wanted to believe that was the only secret his mother was keeping, he’d never really be able to accept that. Nevertheless, she was his mother, his family, and he wanted her home.
He sighed deeply, dug his hands into his pockets, and started down the path. Moving out of the sheltered territory he felt the wind pick up. Emily still had his shirt, he remembered ruefully. He’d slowly lost almost all his clothing to various women over the night. He had to reevaluate his lifestyle.
The path headed under the bridge, and Lucky ducked his head as he headed into the dark. He couldn't believe Emily had taken off to navigate this trail by herself. He had a faint glimmer of hope that she was waiting for him in the dark. No such luck. He spotted his shirt hung on a branch on the other side of the bridge. How considerate, he thought dismally. His shoes slipped on the rocks. He didn’t want to think about how Emily had made it barefoot. He held the wall for support, and moved out from under the trestle.
He picked up the shirt and pulled it on. He noticed immediately that it smelled slightly of Emily’s perfume. His throat tightened. This was ridiculous, he told himself. This was Emily. She was his friend, she was someone he could go to, or at least she used to be. He had to admit, though, that lately she was more than that. He let himself recall the kiss they’d shared weeks ago. He still didn’t know why he’d done that, but he had to admit he’d felt something. Something had felt very right about it. God, did he really want that? Did he want to risk messing up everything? Mess up what? he asked himself. Things were going so well. Still, he found himself oddly hopeful in seeing the shirt. He pictured her hanging it there, thinking that he was going to be cold. He hoped that was her motive. He shook his head, and headed up the slope to the road.
* * * *
Emily made it back to the mansion in record time. Things had gotten a little dicey under the bridge, and it had taken her a minute to find the path up to the road, but once she’d gotten out of the park, she’d flown along the sidewalks. Now she stood on the stoop of the mansion, and considered her next move. Someone was in the living room. A single light, she could tell it was the one over by the desk, was lit.
The worst case scenario, of course, was that Edward would be waiting up for her. She’d never get out of that alive. The best choice, she decided, was Alan. Actually, it was Lila, but she would have gone to bed with Edward. She decided waiting out here was only making matters worse. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door.
“Emily?” Monica’s voice called out before she’d even entered the house.
“Yes?” she answered hesitantly. She shut the door and walked cautiously to the archway. She didn’t even want to think about what Monica would think of her appearance.
Apparently, her late return had attracted a crowd, Monica was not alone. Lila was sitting in her wheel chair by the desk, and Alan was seated beside her mother on the divan. Emily smiled weakly.
“I’m home!” she sang. Her parent’s chins dropped. Emily steeled herself for the assault. Monica regained her power of speech first.
“How was the dance?” she asked calmly. Emily looked from her face to Alan’s. It was her turn to be surprised.
“It... It was fine,” she stuttered. Monica stood and walked towards her.
“Well, it’s nice to see you home safe,” she said, kissing her daughter on the cheek. Emily regarded her like she had suddenly grown a second head. Monica turned to her husband. “Alan?”
Alan struggled to his feet. He gave Emily a forced smile and stumbled over to her.
“Good night, sweetheart,” he said, giving her a hug. Emily waited for the Twilight Zone music to start up. Alan picked a maple leaf out of her hair. “See you at breakfast.” He held an arm out to his wife, who took it, and they walked up the stairs together, leaning on each other for support. Emily looked at her Grandmother in shock.
“What was that?” she mouthed. Lila smiled.
“They made a wager, dear,” Lila told her quietly. Emily stepped into the living room, and stole across the floor, dropping to the ground at Lila’s feet.
“A bet?” she whispered.
“They agreed not to give you a hard time when you got home. Whichever one cracked had to inform cook about that impromptu dinner party we are having on Sunday.”
“The Cassadines. Alexis and Ned are keeping company, you know.”
Emily didn’t know why this meant they were going to be dinning with the whole family.
“All the Cassadines?” she asked.
“I believe so, yes.”
Emily rested her head on Lila’s knee.
“Oh.” she said flatly. Dinner with Nikolas. That would sit well with Lucky. “Does Grandfather know?”
“I,” Lila said seriously “will be informing him. I think it would be nice to get to know Alexis in a more social setting.”
Emily sighed. She wondered what Ned thought of all this. If anything was sure to sabotage his burgeoning relationship with Ms. Davis, this was surely it. She felt the beginnings of a headache coming on.
“I don’t mean to pry, dear,” Lila said gently, “but what happened to your shoes?”
Emily smiled to herself.
“I threw them in the creek.”
Lila nodded, as if this was a satisfactory explanation. She’d been living here too long to make a big deal out of footwear.
“Are you alright, Emily?” she asked. Emily nodded her head, then began to shake it.
“I had a really bad night,” she said finally.
“I suspected as much.”
Emily looked up at her Grandmother.
“How do you know whether or not to give someone who’s hurt you a second chance?”
Lila looked down at her lovingly.
“You follow your heart, dear.”
Emily smiled. God, that sounded good. Now she just had to figure out what her heart was feeling. She pulled herself up to her feet.
“I’m going to go have a shower. Do you want me to call Reginald?”
“Heavens no!” Lila exclaimed. “I think I’ll be heading to bed myself.” She hit the switch on her wheel chair, and Emily walked slowly beside her as she motored out of the room. Lila turned her wheel chair towards the back of the house, where her bedroom was located. She looked up at Emily again. “You have a good night’s sleep, dear. It will make all the difference.” Emily leaned down and hugged the woman.
“Thank you” she said, simply. She heard a rumbling from the back of the house.
“Lila!” Edward bellowed from the darkness. “Has Emily come back yet?”
“Go ahead,” Lila encouraged her. “You had better get out of sight!”
Emily nodded and bolted up the stairs, as Lila maneuvered down the hallway to calm her irate husband.
* * * *
Luke was on the porch, puffing on a cigar contentedly when Lucky stumbled into view. His Dad didn’t blink an eye.
“You’re home early.”
Lucky looked at his watch.
“It’s almost one.”
Luke looked surprised.
“Then I’m home late,” he said mused. “How was the shin-dig?”
Lucky flopped down on the porch.
“You’re in a good mood,” he observed. His father raised his eyebrows.
“Someone around here has to be.”
Lucky groaned, and leaned back on the steps.
“The dance sucked.”
“Well, you’ve got about a dozen messages on the machine from that Elizabeth.”
Lucky turned and scowled at his father. Luke’s mirthful expression vanished.
“What the hell happened to your face?”
Lucky winced. He’d forgotten about that.
“Nikolas Cassadine,” he said, his voice icy. Luke let out a low whistle.
“I hope you got him good, too.”
“It was a lucky shot,” he grimaced. “Whatever. He’s fine.”
Luke came and sat down on the porch next to his son, obviously somewhat upset about this.
“What’s going on here, Lucky? Is this about that Sarah Webber girl?”
Lucky tensed up.
“I could care less about Sarah,” he muttered, bitterly. “She’s completely brain-washed.”
Luke shook his head.
“What is it about that kid?”
Lucky looked over at his father, eyes wide.
“I know! Every time I turn around, he’s found another sucker.”
Luke looked thoughtful.
“Who’s the latest victim?”
Lucky stood up.
“I’m beat, Dad.” He pulled open the door and looked back at his father. This was the closest thing they’d had to a civil conversation in a week, and he felt he should make some gesture. “You calling Mom tomorrow?”
Luke did some quick math.
“What about tomorrow morning?”
“I’ll be here,” Lucky stated. Luke turned to his son, and regarded him seriously.
“Good to know. You get some ice from the freezer before you go up.”
* * * *
Lizzie slipped under the covers of the immaculately made bed. She never did more than pulling up the covers and smoothing them quickly. Someone kept making the bed for her, and she had no idea if it was Sarah or Gram. Sarah was staring out the window, brushing her hair. Lizzie lay back and gazed at the ceiling. Lucky had not called her, and she couldn’t help but worry about that. She knew he could take care of himself, but she it drove her crazy wondering how he was doing. She sat up and looked over at Sarah.
“Ok. What exactly happened with Nikolas and Lucky tonight,” she asked seriously. “And you can leave out the editorial comments.”
“It wasn’t a big deal,” Sarah frowned. “We were looking for Emily and when we found her she was with Lucky and they were... they were having an argument.”
Lizzie’s spirits lifted. This was a good thing.
“Did they seem really angry?”
Sarah looked at her sister disapprovingly.
“We didn’t listen in, Lizzie. But they weren’t exactly getting along.” She cleared her throat. “Anyway, Nikolas stepped in, and then he and Lucky started arguing about their mother.” She turned to her sister, eyes wide. “You should have seen him! He was completely out of control, saying all these bizarre things about their mother, and how it was Nikolas’s fault that she wasn’t coming home. It didn’t make any sense.”
“I said save the personal observations, Sarah,” Lizzie told her, darkly. Sarah frowned at her.
“I’m just telling you what happened. Do you want to know or not?”
“Nikolas told me he hit him.”
“He only did that because Lucky went at him. He was just protecting himself.”
Lizzie rolled her eyes.
“He’s, like, twice Lucky’s size. I’m sure he wasn’t in a lot of danger.”
“It was an accident!” Sarah insisted. “He didn’t mean to hit him.”
“How bad was it?” Lizzie asked, her voice cold. Sarah sat down on her bed, tucking her feet under her.
“It wasn’t... good. But, Lizzie. I’d never seen Lucky like that before. I mean, he was out of control.”
“I bet,” Lizzie muttered. “So what did he do after that?”
“He said something nasty to Emily and left,” she murmured. “I thought he was being awful, but Emily went after him.”
Lizzie felt her stomach tie itself up into knots.
“We were looking for her. I guess she went home.”
Lizzie bit her lip, and considered the possibilities. 1) Emily hadn’t found Lucky and had just gone home. 2) Emily had found Lucky, they’d fought, and gone home. 3) Emily had found Lucky, they’d made up, and she was completely screwed. She had to talk to Lucky first thing tomorrow morning, and make her next plan of attack. She rolled over, her back to Sarah.
“Can you turn off the light when you’re done grooming?” she muttered at her sister. Sarah glared at her, then leaned over and snapped off the light.
* * * *
Lucky wrapped a handful of ice in a dishtowel and applied it to the corner of his mouth. He didn’t know if there was any point in doing this, as he’d left it unattended for hours. He sucked in his breath sharply. It hurt more than he’d expected. It figured the one time when he needed a nurse, his Aunt Bobbie had already gone to bed.
He leaned against the counter, and let his thoughts return to Emily. He wondered just how deeply she’d been sucked into that Cassadine web. Not too far, if she still could acknowledge his point of view. His mind floated back to the more positive moments of that evening -- her chasing after him in the parking lot, finding him in the woods, telling him she understood.... Even more impressive was the fact that she didn’t just think she understood how he was feeling -- she actually got it. He thought of her hugging him, saying that she never thought he’d care about what she’d done. He still couldn’t believe she’d thought that he wouldn’t notice if she’d dropped out of his life. Yes, he hadn’t exactly given her the attention she deserved, but he felt he was really paying for that oversight in guilt. He felt horrible about not being there for her during her Mother’s trial, and worse about the period of time after he’d come home, when she was hanging out with Matt. It seemed to him that they had a lot of misunderstandings. He was sick of dealing with the fallout from things he’d never done, and the guilt from things he should have. He needed to see her again.
* * * *
Emily felt mildly better after having showered. She’d been more than a little shocked to see herself in the mirror. She’d known she must have looked bad, but she hadn’t been prepared for the “Audrey Hepburn meets the Creature from the Black Lagoon” look she’d acquired since leaving the school. No wonder her parents had been so thrown when she’d walked in.
“I look like some horror prom queen,” she muttered to herself.
Her mind kept wandering back to Lucky. Despite her appearance, he had looked at her so tenderly... her breath caught in her throat. This feeling was worse than ever now. The minute she let herself think of him, her whole body was seized by debilitating panic. That was why she’d blown up at him about the Barbecue. Anger was her only recourse against these feelings she was having. That, and the fact that she was unbelievable jealous to recall the way Lucky had been looking at Sarah that night. That struck her as particularly insane: it hadn’t bothered her that much at the time.
Emily threw herself down on the bed, and stared up at the ceiling. She felt like she was going to explode, everything was spinning, twisting and turning inside of her. She felt like she was going to be sick. And the cause of all this grief, once again, was Lucky Spencer. She remembered wondering, earlier that night, if not being friends with him was better than being friends with him. Now she felt like it was an even draw. She closed her eyes, and tried to focus on something else. Ugh. The feeling intensified. She rolled over, restlessly, and snuggled up to her pillow. She closed her eyes again, and felt her mind drifting. She was suddenly assaulted by the image of Lucky, holding her arm, his head pressed against her hair. Her eyes flew open.
“I can’t do this,” she moaned, sitting up. It was torture. Her skin felt prickly, her heart was beating, and her mouth was going dry. She hated this! “What is wrong with me!” She slipped out of the bed, and moved to the window. She stared out at the sky, wrapping her arms around her. She wished she could think about Lucky without having all of these feeling stirred up. She was used to most of them, but the panic and fear was new. What was she so afraid of? Lila had told her to follow her heart. It was a cliche, but it was a clear and solid piece of advice. She couldn’t for the life of her hear what her heart was saying -- ridiculous, she thought, when it kept beating so loudly.
“Oh my God,” she murmured to herself. She sank to the floor, in shock. She felt suddenly aware of exactly what was going on with her. When she weighed the evidence it became clear that her brain was interfering far too much. It kept telling her “Keep yourself safe, don’t open yourself up”, but it was clear from her actions that something else inside her felt completely the opposite. She thought about Lucky all the time, she’d found herself following him twice that night, without making any conscious decision to do so, and she had lost complete reason when he had touched her. It was pretty clear what was going on here, things had escalated far beyond a simple crush. She understood the panic, instantly. The question now was what to do about it.
She felt suddenly tired. It had been such a long day. She crawled over to the bed, and fell into it. It was probably best to sleep on this.