The Cycle Continues
Emily sat cross-legged on the dock, twirling the steam of a maple leaf between her fingers. It was much warmer here, in the sun, away from the wind. Lucky was still standing at the end of the dock, his hands deep in his pockets, looking at pretty much everything else besides her. She let the leaf fall from her fingers into the water, and be carried off by the current and looked back at Lucky. This had been his idea, and he seemed like he’d rather be with anyone else in the world. He’d shrugged or grunted at pretty much everything she’d said since they’d left the house. She decided to try again.
“I love it down here in the fall,” she said, leaning back on her hands. “It’s so quiet.”
Lucky looked up at her. She was sitting with her face raised to the sun, eyes closed, hair tumbling down her back. She looked beautiful. It was so hard for him to reconcile the girl in front of him with the person Lizzie was talking about. He’d overheard gossip at school, and Emily had told him enough to let him know that most of it was true. Even though he’d been out of town when she’d started using drugs, he had to admit he probably wouldn’t have noticed even if he had been around. He’d thought she was just angry at him, and he’d made no effort to try to get her to forgive him. At the time, he’d felt he had more important things to do. Emily was now looking at him, shielding her eyes against the sun.
“You don’t like it,” she said flatly. Lucky realized he’d pushed this pensive silence thing too far. He smiled at her, and the doubtful expression on her face vanished. Lucky loved the idea of being able to effect her moods. He reached up and pulled a maple leaf off of the tree at the edge of the lake. He stepped onto the dock, tearing the leaf as he walked. Emily watched him apprehensively as he came towards her. When he reached her, he leaned down and handed it to her. She noticed that he’d torn the separate sections of the leaf and poked the steam through them, making a basket out of the foliage. Emily laughed.
“Where did you learn that?”
“I have no idea,” Lucky said, dropping down onto the dock. “Some place with maple trees.”
Emily held the makeshift housing in her hands carefully.
“There weren’t many maple trees in Arizona,” she reflected. She looked up at him and smiled warmly. “Thanks.”
Lucky always felt incredible when Emily smiled at him. This was even more true in the last few days. Every time he got her to smile, he felt just a little bit closer to redemption.
“No problem.” Lucky told her, shrugging. He lay back on the dock and stared up at the sky, thoughtfully. He wanted to let go of his argument with Lizzie and just enjoy being here with her.
Emily knew she was far too impressed by his leaf gesture. Lately everything that had to do with Lucky felt magnified. She had to stop thinking about him this way! Either that, or do something about it. She recalled the time she’d kissed Nikolas. That had been a disaster, and she didn’t care to repeat it with him. She turned away from Lucky, feeling her face begin to flush. She concentrated on the silver color of the lake where the sun was hitting it.
“Are you alright?” Lucky asked after several minutes. Emily nodded, and pushed her hair behind her ears repeatedly, just to have something to do.
“What about you?” she asked, happily stumbling upon a safe topic of conversation. “Your lip looks better.”
Lucky touched the corner of his mouth with his thumb, absently.
“Yeah, it’s ok.”
“No one will even notice tomorrow,” Emily said, reading his mind. “Plus, no one knows about what happened. Well, besides Nikolas, Sarah and I.” And Lizzie, she thought to herself. But that was his choice. Lucky didn’t look particularity convinced.
“Things have a way of getting out, even if you think no one knows about them.”
Emily thought of her near-jump off the roof. Somehow everyone at school had heard about that.
“Yeah,” she said quietly. “I know what you mean.”
“It doesn’t matter, anyway,” he groaned. “I mean, school’s just something to be tolerated.”
“Well, not entirely.”
Lucky sat up on his elbows.
“No, really, Em. I mean, yes reading, math, whatever. But most of the stuff you need to know, you pick up someplace else.”
Emily rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, if you have your parents.”
“Ok, I give you that,” he lay back on the dock, hands behind his head. “But you know what I mean. What’s the capital of West Virginia? What’s the significance of the lost foils in Catcher in the Rye? Who invented the paint roller? You don’t go to school because you need to know this stuff.”
“I kind of like knowing that stuff,” Emily said defensively. Lucky shook his head.
“Do you need to know it?”
“Well, you need to .....” Em let her voice trail off. She was going to use the college/SAT’s argument, but she figured Lucky wouldn’t be moved. She tried another tactic. “You don’t need to know that stuff exactly, but you need to learn how to learn. Otherwise you’ll never get anywhere.”
“Good point,” he looked over at her. She was still sitting on the dock, holding his leaf in her hands. “I guess I have my parents to thank for that.”
“Quick, what’s rule number 1?” Emily joked.
“Uh... Ok... Always do the unexpected.”
Emily laughed at him.
“That took longer than it used to.”
“I’m out of practice.” Lucky said, defensively. Still, he enjoyed sharing the memory with her. “It’s like riding a bike, I remember when I have to.”
Emily shivered involuntarily.
“Do you think there will ..... do you think you’ll have to do that again?”
Lucky kept staring at the sky. Leaving Port Charles wasn’t something he wanted to think about.
“I don’t know,“ he said finally. Emily entertained that possibility for a moment, and decided she really didn’t like it. She lay down on the dock next to him, and looked up at the startlingly blue sky. It was a clear and bright day, and there were large, cumulus clouds floating by. She tried to find some peace in it, but her mind just kept retracing the same little obsessions it always did.
“I’d really hate it if you left,” she said finally. Lucky turned his head towards her. Every time they started to connect, something like that came up.
“I....” he fumbled for something reassuring to say. “I’ll say goodbye next time.”
Emily bit her lip. This was beginning to get heavy.
“My Mom said you stopped by yesterday,” she told him, trying to sound casual about it. Lucky laughed softly.
“Yeah, I did. It was before we ran into each other.”
“Oh,” Emily’s stomach was suddenly a conservatory for butterflies. “I just... Well, you didn’t mention it, so...”
“You weren’t really in the mood for small talk.”
“No, I guess not.”
They lay in silence. Emily was suddenly aware of how close she was to him. She entertained the idea of reaching out and taking his hand. She wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to do this. She loved being with him, talking to him. That should be enough, she told herself. This was perfect. If she could keep things just like this, then she could be safe and secure and still have him in her life. Anything else.... she’d debated the best and worst case scenarios in her head the entire night before. Best case, he was falling in love with her, had completely forgotten about Sarah, and would never hurt her again. A bit far-fetched. Worst case, she was just a friend, he was only spending all this time with her because he felt guilty, and if she made any sort of move, then he’d be gone the way of the dinosaur. That was too much for her to bear. She was near the point of panic hyperventilation when Lucky spoke up.
“How are you doing about that, anyway?”
Emily frowned a moment before realizing he was talking about Jason.
“Oh, ummm.... I’m taking your advice.”
Lucky looked perplexed.
“I don’t give advice.”
Emily wrapped her arms around her.
“Your ‘chose your reality’ thing,” she tried to make her voice match the fuzzy calm reality she wanted. “I mean, there’s nothing I can do about it, so I’m just going to ignore it.” The cheerfulness of her voice took on a slightly spooky edge. She began to speak quickly. “Until something happens, like, well, a lot of stuff I’m not going to think about right now.” She blinked her eyes rapidly, attempting to distract her tear ducts. Lucky impulsively took her hand, and squeezed it. Emily’s jumped at his touch, and he quickly withdrew from her. She closed her eyes tightly, feeling completely psychotic.
“It’ll.....” Lucky tried to be soothing, while not knowing entirely what to say. “Somehow it will be alright.”
Emily felt that going through another shooting with Jason was about the least alright thing she could think of.
“Life goes on,” she said tightly.
Lucky let her stay with her thoughts. There were times when Emily got a certain distant shell shocked look on her face, and he knew from previous experience that meant she was thinking about her mother. He didn't push her to talk, just lay beside her, watching her face.
“Whatever happens,” he said finally, “You’ll get through it.”
The second the words were out of his mouth, Lucky remembered what Lizzie had said -- “You’re not helping her....” Lucky understood why Emily would want to block everything out for awhile. That wasn’t what bothered him about her drug use. The part that really gnawed at him was the fact that he knew Emily wouldn’t have turned to drugs if she hadn’t been pushed right to the edge. She must have had no one left to turn to. If she was using again, then that meant that their friendship didn’t mean anything to her, and he had trouble believing that. She was so incredibly important to him now, he wanted to think that she felt the same way about him. He suspected that she still didn’t think he’d actually be there for her when she needed him. He really couldn’t figure her out. Sometimes, like when he’d given her the leaf, she’d looked happy and radiant and he felt like everything was fine. Other times, like now, and the day he’d asked her about Matt at his father’s club, she seemed like the last thing in the world she wanted to do was talk to him. He didn’t know where he stood.
“You know when we went to my father’s club last month?”
Emily’s mouth went dry. That felt like ages ago and yet right now she was feeling almost the exact way she had that day. Nervous and happy and sad and raw all at the same time. She could not keep her guard up with Lucky. He had such an incredible effect on her.
“I remember,” she said finally.
“I .... I kind of got the feeling you didn’t want to talk to me about some stuff.”
Emily suppressed a groan. If they got into this again, she’d start to cry. She was barely keeping it together as it was. Then Lucky would have to comfort her, as if he wasn’t already, and she’d end up feeling like some little girl he had to take care of. For some reason, it hadn’t felt that way yesterday. That had been more like him returning the favor from the day before. Besides, Emily hated feeling like she was always falling apart. She took a deep breath.
“I was just in a mood that day,” she told him. Her voice was shaky and she knew he wouldn’t be convinced. She tried again. “I mean, some days you just feel more emotional than others. And I didn’t want you to have to deal with it.”
“I don’t mind,” Lucky told her quietly. She turned her face towards him, and was startled to find how close their lips were to each other. She sat up suddenly, completely freaked out. This was getting ridiculous. Lucky tried not to feel too rejected by her violent reaction to his attempt to let her know he cared about her. Emily decided to lighten the subject.
“You know,” she said, giggling nervously. “I keep trying to see shapes in the clouds, and I’m not coming up with anything.”
Lucky frowned again. She wasn’t cooperating with him. Every time he tried to talk about something serious, she changed the subject.
“Have you noticed that we never talk inside anymore?,” he asked leading her again. Emily spun the maple-leaf basket on the palm of her hand.
“I don’t remember the last time I talked to you indoors,” Emily said thoughtfully. “Well, besides saying hi at the mansion.”
“It was when you told me you didn’t want to be friends anymore. We were at school”
So much for being light, Emily thought. She just wanted to forget about that stuff right now, she had so much on her mind, every time she let it even begin to sink in, her entire body tensed up. Her temples throbbed, her hair began to hurt. She was worried about Jason, Alan was acting weird, her family was hosting the disaster dinner party of the year, and then there was the fact that she was crazy about her best friend, who didn’t seem to feel the same way. Despite this, the only time she’d felt calm lately was with Lucky. She let out a lung full of air.
“Em?” Lucky hoisted himself up onto his elbows. “Do you remember why you called me that night? After that whole thing with Nikolas.”
Emily let out a whimpering sound. She couldn’t remember exactly what she’d been thinking.
“I don’t know.”
“I’m sorry,” Lucky muttered. He sat up, quickly. “You don’t want to talk about this.”
Emily felt her whole body double in weight.
“Lucky.....” she protested. He was scrambling to his feet, as if she’d just confided to him that she had a secret life as a werewolf. She pulled herself up, calling after him. “Lucky! Wait!”
Lucky turned back to her, his face deadly serious.
“Every time I try to talk to you today, you change the subject, or get weird or something.”
“I’m sorry,” Emily said, in shock. She wondered how they’d gotten back to fighting again. She’d thought things were going alright. Lucky took a deep breath.
“I have to ask you this, Ok?”
Something in the way he was looking at her concerned Emily, but she nodded slowly.
“Are you.... are you thinking about doing drugs again?”
Emily nearly dropped to the dock, in astonishment. That was not what she was expecting to hear.
“What?” her voice was barely above a whisper.
“I have to know.”
Emily shook her head.
“Why would you.... What did I ..... “ The words didn’t come. She couldn’t believe he’d asked her that. She’d been doing so well. She’d had dark moments, but she’d gotten through them. No one close to her had brought up the possibility of her using again for months, and the panicky feeling of always being suspect had finally begun to subside. She’d believed that she could redeem herself, that she could convince the people who mattered that she was trustworthy again. Apparently Lucky was far from persuaded.
“I just...” Lucky’s voice had become very shaky. He shook his head. “I know things are rough for you right now.”
Emily looked down at the dock, tears of deep injury coming to her eyes.
“I had a lot of reasons to want to do drugs,” she said slowly. “But I had even more for wanting to stay clean.” And you were one of them, she thought.
“Ok,” Lucky said heavily. He’d known Lizzie had to be wrong, but part of him had needed to hear her saying it. Now that she had, he didn’t feel any better. He actually felt worse. “I’m sorry,” he told her weakly. “I just needed to know.” Something in Lucky’s voice set Emily off inside. She felt a part of her crack and a hot and terrible anger bubbled to the surface. For months she’d taken all the doubt and innuendo from people, like it was some sort of penance. For some reason, she felt differently about this.
“What else do you need to know, Lucky?” she asked him, coldly. “Do you want to know if I ever think about doing drugs anymore? Because I do.”
Lucky backed away from her, wanting to somehow twist himself out of this. He didn’t want to know anything else.
“I’m sorry, Emily.”
Emily refused to be deterred. His embarrassment only spurred her on.
“I do, sometimes I think the best thing in the world would be to just turn everything else off, and not feel just for a little while. But I know i can’t do that. I have to just get through it, and I don’t know how. But I do it anyway.” She began to shake violently. Lucky tried to reach out to hold her but she pulled away from him angrily. “NO!” she screamed at him, her voice betraying how deeply hurt she felt. “You don’t get to do that. You don’t get to comfort me now. I knew you’d do this! I knew you’d hurt me again, but I wanted to believe in you so badly....” She turned her back on him. Lucky felt an incredible panic overtake him. He moved to her and grabbed her arm, turning her back towards him. He looked her straight in the eye.
“I don’t know how to help you, but I want to,” he told her, as steadily as he could manage. “I don’t want you to feel that alone again. I wish I could help you not want to get high anymore, but I don’t know how.”
Emily pulled away from him, her eyes blazing.
“You can start by not thinking that I’m going to leap off the wagon every time anything bad happens.”
Lucky let go of her, and covered his face with his hands, attempting to regroup.
“I don’t think that!” Lucky told her, frustrated. “It’s just, Lizzie told me she saw Todd Patterson give you something on the docks yesterday. Is that true?”
Emily stood, dumbfounded, while this statement sunk in.
“Lizzie?” she asked looking confused. “You listened to LIZZIE?” She brushed past him, and headed up the dock, full speed.
“Where are you going?” Lucky said, following her.
Emily shot him a withering glare over her shoulder.
“To ask Sarah for your brain back.”
Lucky attempted to take that shot in stride. He didn’t have time for anyone else’s hurt feelings besides Emily’s, not even his own. Obviously he’d been pretty stupid to let Lizzie get to him. He didn’t know how to explain to her that it wasn’t some obsession with Sarah that was clouding his judgment, but rather the fact that she’d been keeping at him at arm’s length during their whole conversation. He wasn’t going to let her leave without at least trying to get her to understand.
“Emily,” he yelled after her. He managed to run past her and cut her off. “I’m not going to let you run away from me again.” He stated firmly.
Emily ignored the concept of him ‘letting’ her do something in favor of attacking another part of his statement.
“I’m not the one who keeps walking away from you.”
Lucky put a hand to his head, thrown by the statement.
“You can’t be serious.”
Emily stared at him blankly.
“It feels like I’ve spent the whole last month watching you walk away from me.”
Lucky shook his head incredulously.
“Alright. One -- you told me you didn’t want to be friends anymore. Two -- you took off on me after the dance, and Three -- you’re taking off on me now.”
Emily was surprised by the number of instances he listed. She felt the wind taken out of her sails somewhat.
“Wait. you left after that....” she stopped, realizing the next word was “kiss”. It didn’t seem like a good idea to go there just now. “You’ve walked off on me a few times, too.” she said, finally.
Emily narrowed her eyes at him.
“What do you mean?” she asked, knowing she wouldn’t like the answer.
Lucky looked her straight in the eye.
“Anytime I have walked away from you, it’s because you’ve put up a wall so thick I can’t find the energy to yell over it.”
Emily was stunned. There was more than a little truth to that statement, but she hadn’t thought that he cared that much.
“That was how I felt when I tried to talk to you after...” Emily wasn’t really sure what she was supposed call that now. “Before the funeral,” she said, finally.
Lucky glared down at the ground, in frustration. They kept getting stuck on the same topics.
“Here we go again,” he said, tersely. “It’s either the funeral, or it’s the way I acted with Nikolas, or something else... I can’t do anything right with you.”
Emily’s face flushed.
“That’s not true,” she told him, angrily. “It’s not like I spend every minute criticizing you. But I don’t think it’s so nuts not to want to get burned all over again. I’ve done it before, and it’s too draining.”
“I’ve never tried to hurt you on purpose.”
Emily bowed her head, feeling tears come to her eyes, once again.
“That’s kind of the problem.”
Lucky felt an overwhelming urge to just walk away again. This was impossible. They just kept running in the same circles over and over again.
“We could .... you don’t trust me, Emily,” he said finally. “You won’t open up to me, and I can’t.... I need to know if you’re ok. The last time I gave you space you ended up trying to fly off your roof. It’s hard for me not to worry that might happen again.”
“So, I’m not the only one who isn’t trusting here,” Emily said quietly. She felt incredibly sad, like something was ending for good. She’d tried to deal with this, she’d tried to overcome it, but the wounds were too deep. After all this, she wondered if it was just her way of letting go.
Lucky coughed, trying to disguise the tightness that had landed in his chest, strangling his voice.
“So I guess we either change something, or just forget about it.”
Emily hunched her shoulders. So he was giving up too. She focused her eyes on a spot just past him, hoping that she could halt the feeling that was forming in her gut. Part of her wanted to scream, to call him a coward, to beg him to fight harder. And part of her, just like him, wanted to give up. If she could get to the point where she didn’t care about Lucky Spencer life would be so much easier. And so much emptier.
“It’s up to you,” she said hoarsely. Lucky felt actual tears jump to his eyes, and turned away from her quickly.
“No,” he said tightly. “I think you just made the decision.”
He started to walk away from her, praying that she’d stop him.
* * * *
It took Emily almost an hour to get to the house. She kept taking a few steps and then sinking into the grass and trying to cry. The tears wouldn’t come. She felt all these emotions churning around inside her, but she couldn’t make them come out. She took deep breaths, feeling the oxygen enter her blood stream, hoping that it would help her brain connect with what was happening inside her. It came close to the surface once or twice, but wouldn’t break through. When she finally got back to the house, she’d walked upstairs like an automaton, aware that her parents had spoken to her, but not feeling any pressure or desire to respond. She’d curled up on her bed, and after a few moments, Monica had appeared beside her and asked gentle but probing questions. She hadn’t responded at all, opting to stare at the wall and try to think about anything. Finally her mother had stopped talking altogether and simply sat beside her stroking her hair. After what felt like forever, she had gone downstairs to get her something to drink.
Finding herself alone, Emily got up again, and caught her reflection in the mirror. She looked into her own eyes, and didn’t see anything she recognized. She’d come into this house a heartsick and lonely little girl. She wasn’t little anymore, but what else had changed? Something undefinable seemed to be missing. She could remember the calm way she’d absorbed her mother’s death into who she was. She’d let it happen, and then she’d dealt with it. Now she’d let someone else slip out of her life, and she was behaving in the same shell-shocked manner, as if there was nothing she could do about it. She felt suddenly angry, both at herself and the situation. The situation, which had been endlessly manipulated by someone she had never done anything to. She turned about walked out of her room, closing the door silently behind her.
* * * *
Lizzie’s head was pounding. The very air in her house felt so oppressive, it was like she was breathing pain into her lungs and then exhaling her own poison back into the air. She hated this so much. There was no one in the world she could talk to anymore. Not about how lonely she felt, or how much she despised herself right now. She slid out of the bed and stumbled into the washroom. Opening the medicine cabinet, she surveyed the dozens of bottles of headache medicine. She picked up the bottles one by one, Feeling too dizzy to concentrate on lining up the arrows on the child-proof caps, she simply pulled them out of the cabinet, and twisted the cap, hoping to get lucky. Finally she came across an easy-release bottle of Tylenol, and popped it open. She took two pills out, and threw them in her mouth. She turned on the faucet, and cupped her hands under the stream of water, and drank, then splashed the cold water on her face, hoping to clear out some of the cobwebs. She heard her Grandmother calling her from the floor below. Great, she thought. This is what I need.
Lizzie stumbled down the stairs, as she didn’t have the strength to yell back.
“What,” she said, her voice sounding like doom. Audrey looked at her with shocked concern.
“Elizabeth! How are you feeling?”
More than anything in the world, Lizzie wanted to stumble down the stairs and collapse into her grandmother’s arms. It had been so long since she’d allowed herself to be taken care of, churlishly rejecting anyone who showed any concern towards her. All her life she’d been told that she was second rate to Sarah. It had gotten to a point where she simply built up a wall between her and the rest of her family, refusing to let them hurt her anymore. Instead she became the perpetrator of the hurt and pain. She was good at it, too. She could break her mother’s heart with a well placed glare, but it was always a hollow victory. It wasn’t that she felt guilty -- in her opinion, her parents had brought it on themselves -- but she did miss being someone’s little girl. She just wanted to belong to someone again. She’d hoped, blindly hoped, that Lucky would be that person. Not in this lifetime, she thought ruefully. Emily was the only girl on the planet as far as he was concerned. She knew now that nothing she could do would have any other effect but to eventually bring them closer together.
Her grandmother was still waiting patiently for her reply. Lizzie folded her arms across her chest, and peevishly stomped down the stairs and past Audrey.
“I’m fine,” she growled. “I just need some air.”
Lizzie walked past the couch were her sister was still curled up with her book. She felt her eyes leave the page and follow her to the door, probably reflected on what a brat she was. She slipped her feet into her tennis shoes, and walked outside with out giving her family a second look.
It was cold out, the sun just beginning to set. It got dark so early now. She walked off the porch and sat down on the patio, turning her chair towards the sunset, her back to the house. She tucked her feet under her, and rested her chin on her knees. She decided that she hated this place again. Now that things with Lucky had been blown sky high, there was nothing to look forward to anymore. She wondered if there was anywhere else she could go. Somewhere she wouldn’t hear the words Lizzie, turn down the music, or Lizzie, you’re late, Lizzie did you break another platter, Lizzie did you do something stupid and unforgivable again? She wanted to go back inside and get the saddest, most depressing CD she owned and blast in through the house until her heart simply exploded with all the regret and anger and self loathing.
“What did you expect,” she muttered to herself. “Why should I think Port Charles would be any different from any place else.”
“Having a bad day?”
Lizzie jumped. She twisted around in her chair to see Emily Quartermaine standing in front of the porch. She had a spooky detached look in her eyes. Lizzie swallowed hard.
“Yeah,” she said nervously. And it looks like it’s going to get worse.