Lucky hadn’t been home, except to sleep, all weekend, and Luke was concerned. Not because of the erratic hours -- that wasn’t unusual. It was because his mood when he was home was incredibly dark and brooding. He was even scaring the dog. Luke knew that children eventually stopped confiding in their parents the way they did when they were little. This had been happening gradually with Lucky over the past few years. He’d been prepared for it. This, however was different. Something was really upsetting him. Something outside of his mother, and the Cassadines, and he wasn’t talking about it. In fact, he seemed to be purposely avoiding everyone he knew so that he didn’t have to talk about it with anyone.
All weekend Luke had been fielding calls from Lucky’s friends. It had gotten to the point where Luke couldn’t imagine who the boy was out with. He didn’t care who he was out with. What bothered him was the idea that his son had spent the whole weekend doing exactly what he was doing now -- looking at some spot on the wall, as if he was trying to light it on fire. Luke held the phone out to his son.
“Hey, Cowboy. Your mother wants to talk to you.” And good luck to her with that, he thought.
Lucky lifted his eyes, blinking as if he was having trouble focusing on the receiver.
“Ok.” He reached out and took the phone from his father. “Hi.” Lucky said, obviously trying to make his voice sound casual. There was a brief pause. “I’m fine.” Another pause. “I’m fine.”
Luke knew where this was going. He grabbed the dog by the collar and strolled out to the porch. He pulled a cigar out of his pocket, and bit the end off viciously. This parenting thing was so unpleasant when the children wouldn’t co-operate.
After fifteen minutes Lucky came out onto the porch in an even more agitated state. He looked at his father, like he was about to explode. Luke waited for the flood gates to open.
“Is she ever coming home?” Lucky demanded. Luke didn’t respond. “Do you know why she’s doing this?”
“Lucky,” Luke spoke softly and evenly.
“Don’t, Dad. Just don’t. I don’t want to hear it.” Lucky started down the steps. He walked a few paces then stopped. Luke watched him, getting increasingly upset. The boy was spun like a top.
“Let it out, Lucky. Just let it out.”
Lucky turned back to his father, tears in his eyes.
“I can’t.” He said through gritted teeth. Luke nodded. He waited silently on the porch watching Lucky, trying like hell not to show him how worried he was. Lucky leaned against a tree and stared up at the sky. Slowly, his breathing returned to normal.
“You need to blow off some of that steam, there,” Luke kept his voice very calm. “If you don’t, it’ll blow you up with it.”
Lucky closed his eyes.
“And how do I do that?” his voice was still shaky.
“You could talk to your old man.”
Lucky laughed to himself.
“Your Mom’s going to come home.”
Lucky’s features contorted, unable to decide on a static facial expression. He pushed away from the tree, and paced up and down the drive. His father was right. He had to do something. He knew what he wanted to do. The last time he’d been feeling tense about his mother, he’d gone to see Emily. And it was that afternoon that he’d really realized what he’d been missing by not being around her. Now, Emily was not an option. Finally he collapsed on the porch next to his Dad.
“I’m sick of this.”
“I know, Cowboy, I know. So am I.”
* * * *
Emily felt completely listless. She’d finished her last homework assignment that afternoon, and couldn’t come up with anything better to do, except sit on her bed and stare off into space. She kept seeing the bitter, angry look Lucky had given her on his way off the property. She wasn’t going to be able to do this. The whole idea had been simply to back away from Lucky. To protect herself. It hadn’t occurred to her that Lucky would be upset about it. She’d figured he’d think she was acting strange, and say something... oh, along the lines of “Fine, whatever”, and she’d be home free. Why wasn’t it that easy? After all, it was no worse than the laundry list of things Lucky had done to her over the last year. All she’d done was blown him off. How many times had she been sitting here, feeling hideous because of some thoughtless remark Lucky had made to her?
That was it. She couldn’t stomach this because she’d been through it. She’d recognized the look in his eyes that afternoon. She’d felt that way, and it was awful. And now she’d done it to him, purposely. Emily bit her lip. It’s like a band aid, she told herself. Quick pain now, or slow pain later. Which was going to be worse? She wrapped her arms around her legs, and closed her eyes. This was a mistake. She wished she could just feel numb.....
The second the words floated across her brain, Emily’s eyes opened wide and she sat up on the bed. No, no, no, she told herself. Don’t think like that. She felt herself begin to panic. This was a pattern she recognized. She wasn’t going to let this happen. If Lucky was making her think this way already, she just couldn’t risk him coming back into her life. She wasn’t going to slip off the wagon now.
* * * *
Lucky wasn’t prepared for his reaction to seeing Emily at school. She was standing next to her locker, balancing an open binder and talking to a classmate. She looked fine. She looked happy. He felt like he was walking around with a gaping wound, and she was going on, business as usual. He stopped in his tracks and starred at her.
All weekend he'd tried to figure out what was going on. He couldn’t get around the fact that her phone call and message were in direct contradiction to her behavior when he’d gone to see her. Something had made her back away. She’d never acted that way towards him before. That made sense to him, though, because he’d never kissed her before. And he figured, judging only on the basis of the fact that she had kissed him back, that she was doing this for reasons that had nothing to do with how she was feeling about that. Finally, after hours of insomnia he'd come across a solution that would let him get some sleep. That Emily, where ever she was, was feeling as low as he was.
Now, seeing her in the light of day, he could tell that she wasn't feeling the way he was. Lucky was in agony. Not just about Emily, but about everything. The fact that Emily wouldn't talk to him was just the icing on the cake. He felt, in the last few days, that he'd found something incredible. A support system that wasn't subject to the whims of the the Spencer/Cassadine feud. Something outside of all of it. He could talk to her about anything, and even if she disagreed with him, she’d understood him. She’d understood him better than he understood himself these days. He couldn't loose this.
Lucky leaned against the wall and waited for the crowd to thin out. It didn’t take long for Emily to be standing alone again. He slowly moved across the hall.
Emily seemed to sense he was there. She stopped putting things in her locker, and waited for him to say something.
“Em,” his voice was quiet. Emily felt her stomach tighten again. “Gotta minute?”
She shrugged. Lucky felt his jaw tighten almost involuntarily.
“What was that about on Saturday?”
Emily sighed and shut her locker, steeling herself for what was to follow. Thank God class started in ten minutes. This calm and collected ‘let’s talk this thing out’ thing was very un-Lucky, and it made her nervous.
“Nothing,” she said simply.
“Emily, don’t, ok?” An edge crept into his voice. “Can we just get this out?”
Emily looked at the floor.
“Why not?” Lucky sounded annoyed. Emily found it calming.
“Lucky, let’s just ....”
“What? What is it?” Lucky sighed, exasperated. “You called me, you said you were sorry, then I come to see you, and suddenly you have nothing to say.”
“I am sorry, Lucky,” Emily spoke slowly.
“Yeah, so I heard. Can we talk about that?”
“I have class.”
“So do I. Emily! Come on.” Lucky took a deep breath, and tried to speak calmly again. “You can’t tell me that we don’t have some stuff to talk about.”
“It doesn’t matter, Lucky.”
Emily hated this. There was no getting around it. She couldn’t keep being vague. She looked him in the eyes, and took a deep breath.
“We shouldn’t be friends, Lucky.” She said shakily. A look of shock landed on his face.
“No, wait. Where did this come from?”
Emily felt suddenly angry. How clueless was this boy?
“Where do think?”
Lucky felt cold. This couldn’t be happening. Up until that moment he’d convinced himself that whatever was wrong, it would be fixed. Suddenly, he wasn’t so sure.
“Emily....” he said, a tremor coming into his voice. Emily shook her head.
“It keeps happening, Lucky. I spend time with you, I let my guard down, and you hurt me. I can't do that anymore. I can’t let myself get hurt, anymore.”
“Emily, you're fourteen years old!” Lucky gave her a look of desperation. “How are you going to do that?”
“Like this,” Emily said, picking up her bag. She turned and walked away rapidly. She couldn't believe what she’d just said. She knew it was true. She knew it was honest. She just wished she could have lied about it, if not to Lucky, then at least to herself.
* * * *
Lizzie had endured thirty-five minutes of a Lucky-less English class. She’d spotted him in the hall that morning, so she knew he was there, but for some reason, he hadn’t shown up to class. She tapped her pencil on the desktop, absentmindedly, until Sarah shot her an annoyed look. She glared back at her sister, but let the pencil rest on the desk. She knew she shouldn’t be so anxious to see the boy. After all, their last meeting had been something of a disaster. But for some reason -- curiosity, but also concern -- she really wanted to see him. She couldn't’ figure out what could have occurred between the hallway and the classroom. She picked up her pencil again, and began to doodle his name on the corner of her notebook, carelessly.
Murtry was going on about seminar presentations. Lizzie had been assigned to Miss. Haversham, and had spent the walk to school pouring over the Cliff’s notes of Great Expectations, discovering that she was supposed to give a fifteen minute presentation on some old chick in a wedding dress. The groups had been assigned alphabetically, which meant, of course, that she had to work with her sister and some other girl she didn’t know, Lisa Whitesill.
Murtry was giving them class time to work, oh joy, oh bliss, and the class quickly split up into their denominations. Lizzie refused to budge. Sarah motioned for Lisa to join them, pushing her own desk over to her sister’s. Lizzie scowled at the ground. How stupid was she to sign up for this class? If it wasn’t for Lucky’s interest in English Literature (who knew?) she’d never have gotten stuck in this class.
Sarah immediately suggested they begin making a list of the inner workings of Miss Haversham’s psyche. Lizzie sighed loudly. Sarah shot her a glance. Lisa giggled. Lizzie looked up from her notebook, her eyes meeting the other girls. Hey, what have we here? Someone who didn’t think she was an idiot? This was new.
“Why don’t you get us started, Sarah” she said, in a bored tone. Sarah gave her a disapproving look, and opened her binder.
“Well, I made some notes while I was rereading the sections of the novel that Mr. Murtry gave us....” Sarah’s voice trailed off as she flipped through the loose-leaved paper. Lizzie rolled her eyes, and Lisa gave her an approving look. Sarah bit her lip. “Ummm.... I don’t -- OK, no. I must have left them in my locker. Just a sec.” Sarah leapt up, and skittered over to Murtry’s desk.
“OK, don’t tell me you two are related,” Lisa gave Lizzie a devilish grin from across the table.
“Sisters.” Lizzie yawned. “Why?”
“Well, no offense, but is she for real?”
“She needs a life,” she sighed.
“Who doesn’t, in this town,” Lisa leaned back in her chair. Her eyes fell on Lizzie’s notebook, and she grinned again. “Lucky Spencer, huh?”
Lizzie flushed. She quickly folded down the corner of her paper.
“He’s not bad.”
“He can be fun. I don’t think much of the company he keeps.”
“What do you mean?” This was interesting. Lizzie had been at this school over a month now, and no one had told her anything about the other kids. Lisa rolled her eyes.
“Emily Quartermaine? PUL-eeze.”
“I know. She’s pretty pathetic.”
“Tell me about it,” Lisa laughed. “She is such a loser. I mean, she’s totally loaded, her parents would do anything for her. I mean, am I supposed to feel bad that she went and took too much heroin? Come on.”
Lizzie’s jaw dropped.
Lisa was obviously enjoying this.
“Don’t tell me you haven’t heard that story yet!”
“I think I would have remembered something like that.”
Lisa leaned across the table and spoke in hushed tones.
“Last year, she was, like, all over this scuzzy little guy who was dealing, right? I mean, she denied it and everything, but it was just so obvious that she was getting laced all the time.” Lisa licked her lips, savoring the juicy piece of gossip. “She ended up overdosing and being rushed to the hospital. It was pretty intense.”
Lizzie couldn’t believe this. She had seriously misjudged this girl. She couldn’t believe this.
“Does Lucky know?”
“Unless he’s been living under a rock, yeah! Everyone knows. You’d think with all her parent’s money they’d be able to keep it hushed up. But, like, her brother’s an alcoholic, and her other brother’s brain-damaged. I guess they had their hands full. She’s from a totally crazy family.”
Everything fell into place in Lizzie’s head. All the times she’d heard Emily say “you’ll find out sooner or later,” the girl must figure she was the featured topic of every gabfest in school.
“Wow,” she breathed. “I didn’t know --”
Lizzie stopped short as her sister took her seat again.
“Ok. I found them,” she chirped. “Did you guys get anything done while I was gone?”
Lizzie and Lisa exchanged a look.
“We thought we should wait for you,” Lizzie smiled at her sister. “We didn’t want you to miss anything.”
* * * *
Immediately upon being released for lunch, Lizzie began to comb the halls of Port Charles High for Lucky. Talking to Lisa had put things in a whole new light. Emily was a druggy? She’d never have guessed that. Now the girl who had seemed to be only a more attainable version of her sister looked decidedly less angelic. Which begged the question “Just what were Lucky’s feelings for Emily?”. All Lizzie knew for sure was that Lucky spent a lot of time with her and that he’d been inordinately angry at the idea of her spending time with Nikolas. She decided that for her purposes, she had to view Emily as much of a threat as Sarah had once been. The good news in this whole switching of adversaries was that Lucky’s head could be turned. Emily had proved that. And if it could happen once, Lizzie reasoned, it could happen twice.
Lizzie reached the top of the most remote staircase in the school, to find Lucky leaning against a wall, with his eyes closed. She stopped dead, starring at him. He didn’t move.
“Lucky?” she spoke tentatively.
Lucky looked up.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, flatly.
“I saw you before class, then I didn’t see you in class. I thought you might still be around somewhere.”
Lucky sighed. Why was it Lizzie would search the school for him when the people he cared about wouldn’t cross the street for him? A voice in his head told him to stop feeling so sorry for himself. It was getting hard for him to stand his own company. And yet, here was Lizzie.
“Sorry,” he said, trying to sound calmer than he was feeling. “It’s probably not the best time for me to be around people.”
“I’ve got a knack for that,” Lizzie said, sitting down on the top stair. They looked at each other a minute. Lucky attempted a weak smile. “You want to talk about it?” she asked, her voice gentle. Lucky shook his head.
“How was English.”
“Pretty basic. We talked about the novel, and did some seminar work.”
Lizzie looked at her watch.
“Look, do you want to blow this off? I’m not really into the whole school thing today either.”
“You’ll get burned.”
“I have Mrs. Rewbothem for history, Lucky. She’s so senile she wouldn’t notice if we all came to class naked.”
Lucky laughed in spite of himself.
“That’s pretty scary.” He raised his eyes to the ceiling. “I guess I’m taking my life in my hands hanging out here. Sure, whatever. Let’s take off.”
Lizzie couldn’t believe this. Lucky continually surprised her. She wasn’t going to ask questions, though. Lucky stood up, and slung his backpack over his shoulder, giving her a crooked smile.
* * * *
Emily was, once again, faced with the horrors of the cafeteria. This was just getting worse and worse. It wasn’t that she couldn’t find someone to eat with, this time. It was that she’d almost definitely have to see Lucky, and she didn’t think she was going to be able to get through that.
Lucky. Her face felt hot with shame every time she thought of him. She couldn’t believe she’d done that. She felt dishonest, and yet she had been completely truthful. Well, not completely. She hadn’t told him about some of the things that had been going through her head. On the other hand, what was she supposed to say “Well, I’ve been thinking that I maybe, sort of, might have a bit of a crush on you.” No, there was no point in going there.
She sighed, and pushed open the door. She immediately saw Sarah, sitting alone at a table. She looked around. Lucky was nowhere in sight. Sarah was smiling at her and waving her over. Oh, that was no good. Emily walked reluctantly over to the table.
“Hi, Sarah,” she said, looking over her shoulder.
“I’m so glad to see you. Everyone else has flaked out on me,” Sarah said, still smiling. Emily wondered how she did that.
“Everyone took off after English class. I’m on my own.”
Sarah shook her head.
“He wasn’t in class today. Have a seat!”
Great, Emily though as she slid into the seat across from Sarah. This was just getting worse. She hadn’t considered that possibility. She opened her bag. She suspected, not without reason, that Lucky wasn’t there because of her. It felt like a conceited idea, but at the same time she couldn’t help but think the two were connected. She wished she knew if she was doing the right thing. Certainly Lucky wasn’t fighting her on it. Maybe that was more depressing than she wanted to admit. She set out her lunch, and prepared to make small talk with Sarah.
“Are you alright,” Sarah asked, having correctly read the expression on Emily’s face as one of great distress. Emily struggled to figure out a convincing answer to that question. She was so tired of trying to look like she was alright. Finally she lay her head on the table, and groaned.
“No. I’m having a rotten day,”
Sarah nodded sympathetically.
“I know what you mean,” she sighed. “Sometimes I just get so tired of pretending I’m happy and everything’s fine. It’s exhausting.”
Emily looked up in surprise.
“How did you know I was doing that?”
“I think I recognized that ‘shoot me’ look you had when you came in here.” Sarah leaned across the table. “ I’ve been here for months, and I still don’t feel like I’ve made any real friends. Like, people I can really talk to, you know? But I have to keep acting like everything’s fine, and I’m happy. It’s easier for people that way.”
Emily nodded. She knew that feeling.
“What about Lucky?”
“Lucky.... hates Nikolas. And I.... don’t.” Sarah surveyed her carefully.
This conversation wasn’t going the way Emily had expected it to. Alone, Sarah seemed to be opening up, and Emily felt like she was being taken into confidence.
“Lucky isn’t rational when it comes to Nikolas.”
Sarah looked around carefully.
“Can I tell you something? I mean, you can’t repeat this,” Sarah’s voice was barely above a whisper. Emily leaned forward.
“I won’t,” she said, confused as to why this girl was entrusting her with her secrets.
“It’s just... Nikolas thinks you’re a really good friend, and I could use one. I’m going crazy keeping this to myself.”
Emily felt uncomfortable. She didn’t know if she wanted to be friends with Sarah, particularly. She was nice enough, but on a few occasions, she’d made Emily feel like a little girl. She had enough people in her life to do that. On the other hand, it wasn’t that she disliked the girl. She was being silly, she told herself. Sarah was still looking at her expectantly.
“Ok,” Emily said calmly. “I won’t talk.”
Sarah smiled at her, gently.
“I guess it’s not really a big deal, but when i was seeing Nikolas, things got so complicated, you know?”
Emily had no idea what she was talking about. But she knew complications seemed to follow Nikolas around, so she nodded severely.
“Anyway,” Sarah continued “We sort of tried to keep things quiet. Because Lizzie... she likes to mess things up. Plus Nikolas doesn’t trust Lucky.”
Emily shifted in her chair uncomfortably.
“I think Nikolas thinks that Lucky’s worse than he actually is, and vice versa.”
Sarah cocked her head to one side.
“Neither of their stories make sense when I look at the person they are supposed to be talking about. I keep wondering if I’m crazy or they are.”
“It’s definitely them” Emily said, smiling. “I’ve known both of them for awhile, and they are not the same people when they’re dealing with each other. It’s kind of scary.”
Sarah bit her lip.
“I’m not sure what to do. I mean, Nikolas would prefer it if I wasn’t friends with Lucky. But he really helped me out when I first came here. But.... I just thought after things got so complicated with Nikolas and me, that it would be better if we laid low for a while. Just so that we could get to know each other better, without having to deal with other people. Does that make sense?”
“Sure,” Emily said smiling at her. It was much easier to focus on other people’s problems.
“Anyway, now Nikolas thinks we should stop pretending, and be a couple out in public, but I’m not sure.”
Emily narrowed her eyes.
“Why? What do you think is gong to happen?”
“Probably the same sort of things that were happening before. Rumors, and stuff like that.”
“Are you worried about Lucky?”
Sarah shook her head.
“I don’t think so. He seems to have other things on his mind lately.”
Emily cleared her throat.
Sarah looked uncomfortable. She twirled her hair around her finger tips.
“She likes to make my life difficult.”
Join the club, Emily thought. She drummed her fingers on the table top.
“So, what do you want to do, then?”
“I guess, basically, I just want to be sure people aren’t going to be messing with us. That’s all.” Sarah shook her head. “I just needed to vent. Sorry.”
“That’s ok,” Emily said, feeling a little strange. How had this happened?
Sarah gave her a wide smile.
“It’s just nice to know I can talk to you.”
Emily felt a knot form in her stomach. She’d suddenly been adopted by this girl, for no apparent reason, as far as she could see. She wondered if Sarah felt bad for her. She’d had the chance to see her at moments that she wasn’t overly proud of. She felt again, like she was being babied. Sarah had no reason to put trust in her. At the same time, she couldn’t see herself turning her back on the gesture. Now that she’d exorcised Lucky from her life, she could use a friend. But she didn’t feel the same bond. She surveyed the pleasant girl sitting across from her. Maybe this was a good idea. Maybe it was better to be friendly with people who you can keep at arms length. She returned Sarah’s smile, and began to unwrap her sandwich.
* * * *
The water in Port Charles Harbor looked black. Lizzie wondered what Lucky’s attraction to the docks could be. She was surprised to find herself here again. But if she was in Lucky’s company, she could handle it. Lucky sat down on a bench, exhaling heavily.
“This day has been such a bust.”
Lizzie was unsure of what to do. She walked slowly across the dock, wringing her hands nervously. She had to stop this. No one had ever made her feel more anxious and on edge as Lucky did. She took a deep breath, and joined him on the bench.
“What was so awful about it?”
Lucky stared at the water, distantly.
“Nothing important,” Lucky’s voice was remote. Lizzie frowned, trying to figure out what she could do to make him more present.
“Lucky,” Lizzie said, seriously, “What are you going to do, mope all day?”
“Good point,” He muttered. “I need to find something to do.” Lucky sounded somber. Lizzie decided to go with the trick she’d blown weeks ago on that very spot.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“I don’t want to think about it anymore,” Lucky shook his head. “How are you doing, Lizzie? Everything cool?”
She smiled at him broadly.
For some reason, Lucky felt a little less raw in Lizzie’s company. On the way down here, she’d gone on about Great Expectations, and class, making it pretty clear that she hadn’t read the book. Lucky was glad to have the distraction. Something new was gnawing at him, now. Emily’s assertion that Lizzie was after more than just his company. If that was the case -- and certainly their last meeting did nothing to dissuade him from that opinion, he probably should make things clear. Which meant more unpleasantness. He groaned slightly, and turned to Lizzie.
“Lizzie, there’s something I think I should say.”
Lizzie looked at him, eyes wide.
“Uh huh?” She felt her heart move up into her throat.
Lizzie made a face
“Let’s not go there, ok?”
“Lizzie, I just want to get that clear.”
“It’s crystal, Lucky. It was just an impulse, no big deal.”
Lucky searched her face for any clue as to whether or not she was telling the truth. The fact of the matter was, it was so convenient for him to believe her.
“Cool. Just wanted to make sure we knew where we stood.”
“Oh, who cares?” Lizzie said, leaning back on the bench, and looking heavenward. “I don’t feel like bringing up big dramatic moments, do you?”
Lucky shook his head.
“I’d really rather not.”
Lizzie smiled at him.
“So? What do you want to do?”