An Equal and Opposite Reaction
“So... are you still in one piece?” Nikolas asked as he and Emily arrived at the edge of the Quartermaine Estate driveway. Emily squeezed his hand.
“Yeah. I’m fine.”
Nikolas looked her straight in the eyes, lowering his head
“You’re a very strong person, Emily.” he told her. She bowed her head, embarrassed, and took a step back from him, wrapping her fingers around the iron of the gate.
“Thanks. I’m glad we can still talk, Nikolas.”
Nikolas regarded her severely.
“There’s nothing you could do to make me stop talking to you. I’ll see you around school, alright?”
“Absolutely.” She smiled at him. Then she leaned over and gave him a hug.
* * * *
Lucky came around the corner to Emily’s street at an excessive pace. He spotted them immediately. Nik and Emily were talking at the gate of the house. He stopped dead in his tracks, unsure of what to do next. He watched her hug him. It was just a quick hug, nothing serious or romantic. It was pretty much the way she’d always hugged him. Lucky stepped back amongst some pine trees on the edge of the Quartermaine property. He didn’t feel the way he usually felt when he saw Nikolas. He felt cold.
He watched silently from the trees, until Nikolas turned and walked away. Emily stayed at the gate, and watching after her friend as he moved down the street. Lucky waited only momentarily after Nik had passed him, to make his own way up to the gate. Emily was no longer in sight. He walked swiftly passed the gate house, and turned the corner to see Emily standing halfway up the driveway, examining something at her feet.
“Em,” he called. She jumped, and spun around to face him. Her surprise was unmistakable. She crouched down on the driveway and picked up the item she’d been studying.
“This yours?” she called, holding up a small black button. Lucky walked towards her slowly, not saying a word.
Emily could not identify the look on Lucky’s face. She’d never seen it before, and it made her uneasy.
“You saw Nik,” she stated flatly.
“What was he doing here?”
Emily couldn’t help but feel aggravated. He was acting like she’d done something wrong.
“Not that it’s any of your business, Lucky, but I ran into him in the park. We walked home together.”
Lucky stared at her. Emily felt the hair on the back of her neck stand on end.
“Is it true?”
Emily honestly had no idea what he meant.
“Is what true?”
“What you told Lizzie.”
“What are you talking about?” Emily felt nervous. Lucky was acting like a psychopath.
“Do you have a thing for Nikolas Cassadine.”
Emily stared at Lucky, astounded. What could have possessed Lizzie to tell him that? Besides, it was ancient history. She’d been focusing on more important things lately, like sobriety and family dysfunction. Her crush on Nik seemed a million miles away, even while she’d been walking with him. It was nothing compared to the way she’d been feeling around Lucky. At least, until now.
“I don’t believe this.”
“I just want to know, yes or no.”
“Lucky, all I said was I had a crush on him at one time, past tense. It wasn’t any big deal.”
“You never mentioned it.”
Emily couldn’t help but laugh.
“What, do you think I’m completely out of my mind? I may have had some dark moments, but I was never that crazy.”
Lucky looked like he was struggling to let go of this, but she could tell that it was really burning him up inside.
“If it was no big deal, then why’d you tell Lizzie.”
“To get her off my case about you.”
Lucky looked confused.
Emily rolled her eyes.
“Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed that she’s completely mental over you. And I do mean mental. She’s practically stalking me.”
It was quite clear that Lucky had been completely clueless about Lizzie’s feelings for him. He looked a little blown away.
“She didn’t tell you that, did she?”
“She didn’t have to. She hates me because I’m always hanging around with you. She glares at me in the hallway, she makes all these really obnoxious comments, and she’s only nice to me when she’s pumping me for information, mostly about you. And besides, Sarah told me.
“If, Lizzie did ....” Lucky was finding it difficult to even say the words, “If she ...” He let his voice trail off again.
“Had a crush on you?”
“Right. That. If that was true, there is no way she’d tell Sarah.”
“I don’t think she did tell Sarah. But Sarah’s not blind.”
“That doesn’t make any sense, Emily.”
Emily glared at him, annoyed. Fine, he didn’t have to believe her. She wasn’t about to waste her time trying to convince him of something that was completely obvious to everyone with a pair of eyes.
“Either way, Lizzie hardly knows me, I’ve hardly spoken to her, and she knows nothing about me and Nikolas.”
“You and Nikolas,” Lucky repeated, the words leaving a bad taste in his mouth.
Emily wanted to scream. This was ridiculous. She couldn’t believe she was actually having this conversation.
“It is not a big deal!”
“Why do you keep saying that?”
“Because it’s true. I know you think Nikolas is an evil person --”
“I don’t just think that, Emily. I know exactly what he’s capable of. There are things about that family you don’t know anything about.”
Emily didn’t doubt that was true. But she was also certain she knew things about Nikolas that Lucky wasn’t aware of either.
“He’s a good person, Lucky. I know you don’t want to hear --”
“I am so sick of this,” Lucky exploded. “Every single person I care about thinks Nikolas Cassadine is some sort of Paragon descended from the Heavens. Sarah, Lulu, Grandma, Aunt Bobbie, Lucas,” Lucky’s voice shook with emotion. Emily was overwhelmed. Even if she’d had some sort of warning that this was going to happen, she wouldn’t have been prepared for the wounded look in Lucky’s eyes. “What is it, Emily?” His voice cracked. “What is it he has that I can’t compete with?”
“Lucky,” Emily said, tenderly. She was shaken by this revelation, unsure of what she could do to take the pain away. Instead of coming back with words, she took a step towards him. Lucky moved back from her quickly. Emily looked at the ground, and quietly said “My being friends with Nikolas has nothing to do with you.”
“I don’t like to see my friends get hurt.” Lucky stated darkly. Emily looked up at him, in astonishment.
“The only friend I have who hurts me Lucky is you.” she said, bitterly.
Lucky let the force of that statement hit him, then turned and started to walk away. Infuriated, Emily called after him.
“Oh, so that’s it, huh? What, is one week of attention supposed to make up for the fact that you ignored me for an entire year?”
“Well you had Nikolas, what did you need me for?”
Emily stomped her feet in fury. She couldn’t recall ever being this powerfully angry at some one in her life.
“To tell you the truth, Lucky, why should it have even occurred to me that you’d care who I was friends with? I’m not even sure I understand why you care so much now.”
Lucky turned back to her. He opened his mouth to say something, then stopped. His eyes focused on her intently. Emily was abruptly concerned he was going to do something reckless. There was a long pause. Finally Lucky took a step towards her, quickly slipping his hand around her neck, and kissed her.
* * * *
Lizzie’s spirits where uncharacteristically high as she cleared tables at Kelly’s. Emily wasn’t going to be an issue for much longer. She wasn’t sure why Emily being nuts over Nik was so much worse than Sarah’s obsession with him, but who was she to question why? The important part was, Lucky had looked ferociously angry when he’d left. She was sure he’d gone straight over to Emily’s to give her a little lesson in loyalty. The next time she saw him, he’d finally be ready to see her for what she could offer him: her undying love and devotion, something both Sarah and Emily didn’t seem to have the resources to provide.
* * * *
Of all the possible responses to her question, Emily had not expected this one. Her brain was completely in shock, but somehow it wasn’t communicating this fact to the rest of her. She found herself responding to the kiss, closing her eyes, and momentarily ignoring the fact that she was beyond furious at him. Slowly, Lucky pulled back, and looked at her intently.
“Ummmm....”proved to be the only thing she could immediately come up with to say. She felt the beginning of a serious panic attack forming in the pit of her stomach. “What was that?” she gasped. This couldn’t be happening, she thought. Things like this didn’t happen to her. Plus, Lucky was nuts about Sarah, everybody knew that. She could only come up with one reason for Lucky to do this. The only reason, as far as she could tell, that he did anything. “Was that about Nikolas?”
Lucky looked at her blankly. That wasn’t the response he was expecting.
“Why would that have been about Nikolas?
“Because everything with you is about Nikolas these day!” Emily could feel herself approaching hysteria. Her insides turned themselves into knots. This didn’t make any sense to her. “Was that because I kissed Nikolas?”
Lucky’s face darkened, making it abundantly clear that Lizzie hadn’t shared this part of her theory with him. Emily wanted to crawl into a hole and die. “Oh my God,” she breathed.
“When did you kiss --”
“It doesn’t matter, Lucky. All I’m asking is does Nik have anything to do with what you just did.”
“Why would he?”
“Because he got Sarah.”
Lucky turned away from her. She couldn’t tell what he was thinking. Her legs felt weak. All she wanted to do was go somewhere and lie down and never get up again. She couldn’t stand the thought of this. It all made sense to her, though. Lucky liked Sarah. Lucky couldn’t have Sarah. Lucky could have her. Her throat closed up like a vice.
“That’s it, isn’t it?” she said, her voice tight. “I’m not here just to be another pawn in your feud with Nikolas, Lucky.”
Lucky turned back to her, his face grim.
“Is that the difference? Nikolas would never do anything like that, would he? But I would,” Lucky’s eyes seemed to be looking right through her. “I don’t need this in my life, Emily. Especially not from you.” He turned and started walking down the driveway. Emily wanted to chase after him, but she couldn’t bring herself to move. She tried to call his name but it came out as a whisper. He didn’t look back at her.
She stood in the middle of the driveway for a long time after he’d disappeared from sight. What had just happened here? She’d come home feeling happy and proud of herself, like she was doing well finally, after all that had happened. Now she felt totally confused. It occurred to her for the first time that Lucky may have just kissed her because he’d wanted to. Oh, God.....How could she have said that to him? She felt a wave of nausea hit her hard. She covered her mouth with her hand, and turned back to the house, tears stinging her eyes.
* * * *
Luke observed his son sitting on the porch of the house with Foster, looking like the world had just ended. It had been awhile since he’d seen Lucky enthusiastically happy about anything, but this morose pose was an altogether new state of being.
“Hey, Cowboy.” He said, gently. Lucky looked up.
“Hey,” he said, simply, looking down at his dog again.
“I got Mexican. Thought we’d go a little exotic tonight.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Uh huh. Who died?”
“No one. Yet.”
“Ohhhhh...,” Luke sighed, sitting down on the porch. “And the potential victim is?”
Lucky glared at a spot on the floor. He didn’t even want to say the name, let alone think it. He felt completely drained. He couldn’t hate anymore. He couldn’t feel anything but empty. Just once, he had wanted to come first, for somebody. For some reason, he’d convinced himself that being important to Emily was enough for him. He’d known he could be there for her this time. He’d wanted to be in a way he hadn’t before, because he thought she’d understood him. She always knew the right thing to say. In the end, he’d proven to himself that, as he had with Sarah, that he was not a good judge of what people felt about him. Emily didn’t know him at all.
Luke seemed to have picked up on the fact that Lucky wasn’t talking about this. He scratched a grateful Foster behind the ears, picked up the greasy bag of take-out, and sighed. “Well, if you see my son out here, let me know.”
Lucky, in what was quickly becoming a habit, didn’t respond.
* * * *
Emily heard the door to her room open, followed by a quiet knock. It drove her crazy that Monica always opened the door and knocked as an afterthought.
“Honey?” Monica whispered from the doorway. “Reginald says you’re not feeling well.”
Emily rolled over, her back to the door. She curled up into the fetal position she’d spend most of the evening in, and wiped the stream of tears away from her eyes. She didn’t want to talk about this right now. She heard Monica walk across the room and sit down on the edge of the bed.
“Emily? Did something happen at school?”
“No,” Emily choked. She was getting very frustrated with herself. For the first hour after Lucky had left, she’d felt sick. Then she’d started crying, and a steady stream of tears had been flowing ever since. She didn’t remember the last time she’d felt this rotten, and she couldn’t imagine there was anything Monica could say that would make her feel any better.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Monica asked, reaching out to stroke Emily’s hair. Emily’s eyes filled up again, her mouth quivering. She turned her face into her pillow and let herself cry again. She’d never been so sad and so angry at the same time. The thing was she couldn’t figure out was who she was angrier at: Lucky, or herself.
How had this happened? She’d felt so righteous when he’d started going after her about Nikolas. She was so sure that she was right and he was, as always, blindly focusing on his hatred of the Cassadines. Somehow, the tables had gotten turned, and she’d ended up being the one who was wrong. This never happened to her with anyone else.
Monica sat silently beside her, running her hand up and down Emily’s back, gently. She waited for her daughter to cry herself out. Finally Emily rolled over onto her back, tears still streaming down her face.
“Mom, I am so stupid.”
“Emily, don’t be ridiculous.”
Emily shook her head violently.
“No, you don’t know what I did, Monica. I really really hurt someone’s feelings.”
“I’m sure you didn’t mean to.”
Emily groaned and sat up. She rubbed her eyes. She knew she must look like hell. Her head was pounding.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s done now.” She sighed.
“Emily, it can’t be that bad.”
Emily laughed bitterly.
“Ok. Have you ever said something to someone because you thought it was the truth, but the second you said it, you realized that it wasn’t and you wished you could go back to before you said it, and say something else so that you could know what the other person had been about to say?”
“Oh, many times.” Monica said without missing a beat. “Mostly with your father.”
“Oh, great,” Emily muttered. She didn’t aspire to handle her relationships they way her parents did. It was one of the big advantages of being a Quartermaine, though. No matter how badly she messed up, someone else in the family had probably already been through it. “How did you work it out,” she asked.
“Well, we gave each other some time to cool down, and then one of us swallowed our pride, and went to talk to the other and said what we were really feeling. Now with your father and I that could take a long time. But it doesn’t have to,” Monica smiled at her daughter lovingly. “Is this about anyone in particular?” she asked.
“Lucky,” Emily said blandly.
“I didn’t know you and Lucky were keeping company again.” Monica said, her voice betraying her happiness at the idea. Emily knew Monica and Alan both longed for the days when if Emily wasn’t home, then she was off with Lucky. They’d felt better back then, even though she’d once run away with him across country.
“Don’t get too excited. He’s probably never going to speak to me again.”
“I’m sure that’s not true, Emily. You two have had difficulties before.”
Emily shook her head.
“Not like this.”
Monica looked over at the phone sitting on Emily’s desk.
“Sometimes even the smallest gesture can make a big difference,” she said simply. She kissed Emily on the forehead. “I love you, Emily,” she said softly. Emily sniffed and put her head down on her knees. She nodded.
* * * *
The air outside was getting colder, and despite Lucky’s desire to remain outdoors and suffer, Foster was whining to get back in. He stood up, frustrated, and immediately regretted it, as all the blood in his body rushed to his head. He stumbled to keep his balance.
“What’s the matter? Loose your ability to walk and chew gum at the same time?”
Lucky’s eyes narrowed, trying to see through the darkness.
“How do you know where I live?” He asked Lizzie as she strolled towards the porch.
“Ruby. I told her I had to talk to you about homework.”
“No, but she doesn’t have to know that. I wanted to see how you were doing. You seemed pretty upset when you left before.”
“And why do you think that is, Lizzie?”
“I told you, I thought you knew.”
Lucky regarded her suspiciously. He wondered if what Emily had said held any bearing on why Lizzie was here now.
“I didn’t,” he said, flopping down on the porch steps.
Lizzie sighed, and sat down next to him.
“Nice night. Do you want to take a walk?”
“What is it with you and walking?” Lucky’s voice held a definite edge. Lizzie began to feel nervous. She decided she’d better get to the point.
“So did you talk to Emily?”
Lucky didn’t say anything. He picked up a stick from beside the steps and whipped it off into the darkness. Foster leapt off the porch, and scampered after it, barking loudly. Lizzie winced.
“He sure is loud.”
“Loud is a good thing in a watch dog.” Lucky said, his voice level.
Lizzie felt completely backwards. No matter what she said, Lucky just sounded more annoyed. She chewed on her lip, trying to figure out what to do next. Lizzie had waited months for this moment. Finally, Lucky seemed to be completely over her sister, and now he’d lost all faith in Emily. This was her chance.
“Do you believe in fate, Lucky?” She asked, her voice uncharacteristically quiet. Lucky looked up at the stars.
“I don’t think so,” he said.
“You don’t? You’ve never met anyone and just gone, like, ‘that’s it.’ and known they were the right person for you.”
Lucky thought of Sarah. He shook his head.
“Oh.” Lizzie stared up at the heavens. This was not going the way she’d imagine. She’d would have pictured him sitting out on the porch if she’d known he’d had one, that was perfect. But she’d expected him to be tormented, vulnerable, receptive to feminine company. She’d expected to be able to tell him that he was all she ever thought of, and that no matter what other girls decided, she knew he was the optimum, coolest, most interesting guy she’d ever met. Instead she cleared her throat. The crickets were making a racket. Lizzie rubbed her hands up and down her arms, trying to ward off the cold.
“So why did you really come out here tonight, Liz?”
“I told you. I wanted to see how you were doing.”
“Well, you’ve seen.” Lucky said, bitterly. “I’m in an obnoxiously bad mood.”
“Well, I hoped I could make you feel better.”
Lucky turned to face her full on.
“And how are you going to do that,” he said, his voice dripping with acrimony. Lizzie studied him. She had to face it. This was it, where they separated the girls from the women. She took a deep breath, leaned in and kissed him.
* * * *
Emily couldn’t sleep. She’d gone to bed early, thinking that at least she didn’t have to think of Lucky and that afternoon’s events if she was unconscious. However, her brain was not cooperating, so here she was, still wide awake an hour later. She leaned over to the lamp beside her, and turned it on. Immediately, she saw the phone waiting for her on the edge of her desk. She looked at the clock beside her bed. It was eleven o’clock on the dot. Emily slipped out of the bed and stole across the floor. She sat down in her chair, and cradled the phone in her lap. You’re not going to be able to sleep until you phone him, she told herself. Even if it was just to have another fight, at least she would have made the gesture. She took a deep breath and picked up the receiver. Then exhaling heavily, she put it down again. She had no idea what to say.
“Don’t be an idiot,” she chided herself. Surely something would come to her. She dialed the number from memory, and prayed Lucky would answer the phone.
Luke Spencer picked up on the second ring.
“Hello?” he said, his voice containing that strange musical quality that made Emily nervous. She felt her mouth go dry.
“Someone there?” Luke repeated, sounding a little annoyed. Emily debated just hanging up, but then recalled *69. She hated that brave new world of phone features.
“Mr. Spencer?” she squeaked. Oh, this was not going well.
“It’s ummm... It’s Emily Quartermaine. I’m sorry to call so late, is Lucky there?”
Luke looked at his watch. Huh. It was after eleven. He wondered if Lucky was still out on the porch. He carried the phone over to the window.
“Well, Miss Quartermaine, how lovely to hear from you,” he said, charmingly. Emily never knew what to say to him when he talked to her like that. Luke looked out the window to see his son in a lip lock with Ruby’s new waitress. His jaw dropped. “Whoa!”
Emily wondered if he’d forgotten she was on the phone.
“Uh, Mr. Spencer?”
“Uh, ok.. Emily, I think -- No, you know what, Lucky’s gone out. But I’ll tell him you called if you want.”
Emily’s heart sank. She was positive Lucky was there and refusing to talk to her. She tried to think of a message she could leave that would convince him to take her next call. She thought of Monica’s advice about swallowing her pride. She steeled herself.
“Could you please tell him that I’m sorry?” she finally said. She couldn’t believe she’d just said that to his father. There was a pause on the other end of the phone.
“Yes, Emily. I’ll tell him that.” Luke said, a strange tone in his voice. “Thank you for calling. “
“Good-bye.” Emily said, heavily. She hung up the phone without waiting for his response.
* * * *
For just one perfect moment, Lizzie felt like everything had slipped into place. Lucky’s lips were soft and warm against her’s, just how she’d imagined them. She wanted to frame this moment. It was absolutely ideal.
Then reality, as it always did, came crashing down on her. Lucky pushed back from her violently, and leapt off the porch. Lizzie fell back on the stairs, just managing to catch herself from taking a tumble into the bushes. Lucky cringed.
“Are you alright?”
Lizzie shot him a look that would have turned a lesser person to stone.
“Sorry,” Lucky said, coming forward to give her a hand up.
“What was that?” Lizzie’s words echoed Emily’s from earlier that afternoon. Lucky tried to find the right words to say. He’d panicked, plain and simple.
“I’m sorry,” he repeated. “I shouldn't have done that.”
“What,” Lizzie muttered, dusting herself off “pushed me into the bushes?” She looked up and her eyes met his. “Or kissed me.”
Lucky decided not to pick on the details.
“Both, “ he said, uncomfortably. “Lizzie.... you can be...” Lucky was at a loss. He wanted out of this situation immediately, but he couldn’t bring himself to be as blunt as he usually was with her. “You surprised me, that’s all.”
“You didn’t seem that surprised.”
Lucky didn’t know how to respond to that. He made a mental note not to respond to any kiss ever unless he 1) knew if was coming, and 2) was thinking clearly when it happened. You live and learn.
“I’m not exactly in the best frame of mind tonight.”
“What, because of Emily?”
Lucky cleared his throat, nervously.
“Look, Lizzie... you’re really pretty, and you’re gutsy as hell...” Lizzie felt her heart tighten like a fist. She knew where this was going. “But the thing is....”
“Look, Spencer,” Lizzie cut him off. “I just thought you could use some comfort, that’s all. It’s not a big deal or anything.”
Lucky knew she was trying to save face, but it let him off the hook completely.
“I guess you wouldn’t want me to mention this to Emily, huh?” she said, her voice cracking, as she struggled to keep it sounding light and breezy. Lucky felt really awful.
“Doesn’t matter,” he muttered. Lizzie picked up her purse.
“Well, look. If I’m not home soon Grams will send out the hounds,”
“Or maybe Gatsby with a big stick,” he joked. Lizzie made a feeble attempt at a smile.
“See you Monday,” she said, and walked swiftly down the drive.