Chapter Thirteen:
My Hero

Luke's Club

It's Saturday morning -- barely, and Lucky's once again counting the till to begin the day. The door opens, but he doesn't look up.

Lucky: Yeah, yeah, I know. But I had a rough night, Ok? I'll be done in a minute.

Monica: Don't rush on my account. (Lucky drops the quarters he was counting, and looks up with surprise. He covers quickly, and begins to pick up the fallen change)

Lucky: Mrs. Q. What can I do for you?

Monica (approaching the bar): I think you've probably already got a pretty good idea, Lucky. (Lucky tosses the quarters back into the till, and puts it into the register. This is going to have to wait.)

Lucky: Yeah, and what's that?

Monica: Have you seen Emily lately? (Lucky looks up at her, and quickly ascertains that she's worried, but not panicked.)

Lucky: (slowly) Yeah...

Monica: Well, then you've probably noticed that she hasn't been herself lately.

Lucky: (shaking his head) Mrs. Quartermaine, this is really between you and --

Monica; I'm not so sure about that, Lucky. (Lucky raises his eyebrows, then leans back against the back of the bar).

Lucky: How's that?

Monica: The change in her behavior coincided with your breakup. (Lucky stares at Monica blankly. She puts a hand to her head) Look, I'm not asking you to betray her confidence...

Lucky: Then why don't you ask her what's wrong?

Monica: Because she won't tell me Lucky. She'll never say anything bad about you. (Lucky smiles slowly)

Lucky: Oh... I see.

Monica: Emily is feeling very vulnerable right now.

Lucky: You'll excuse me if I don't take your word on how Emily's feeling.

Monica: I don't want her to do anything she's going to regret.

Lucky: Emily makes her own decisions, Monica. She always has. And don't feel like you have to protect her from me.

Monica: I'm out of options, Lucky. She never told me why the two of you broke up --

Lucky: That's because it's really just between the two of us.

Monica: I respect that. I do. Until the stuff between the two of you starts inferring with her health.

Lucky: Monica, I spend about eight hours a week with Emily. How many does she spend at your house? I think you might be looking for your answer in the wrong place.

Monica: Lucky, I can understand you -- (The door to the club opens, and both the Monica and Lucky look up to see Emily. She stares at her mother, the walks calmly over to the bar.)

Em: (to Lucky) Hi. (She leans across the bar to kiss him hello. Lucky's confused by this, as they are technically still fighting, but plays along. She steps back onto the floor, and turns to her mother) Hello.

Monica (not covering her nervousness very well at all): Emily! What are you doing here?

Em: (calmly) Grandfather released the armed guard from my bedroom door.

Monica: You didn't walk here!

Em: Reginald drove me. (She looks at Monica coolly. Monica realizes that the best thing for her to do is leave.)

Monica: Well, I'll leave you kids alone. Will I see you at home later, Emily?

Em: Oh, yes you will. (Monica looks at her daughter with concern)

Monica: Take care of yourself. (She turns and leaves. Lucky waits for Emily to blow up. She turns back to him)

Em: Was she here for the ambiance or an early lunch?

Lucky: She's just worried about you.

Em: Yeah, well... (she shakes her head. Lucky feels like he can practically hear the ticking of a time bomb about to go off. After a moment she looks back at him) I'm not here to talk about my mother.

Lucky: I kind of figured that.

Em: Can we sit down? (Lucky looks at the still-uncounted till, and gives a sigh of resignation).

Lucky: Sure. (He comes around the side of the bar and joins here at a nearby table. Emily looks at him gravely, then takes a deep breath)

Em: I figured something out.

Lucky: (uncomfortably) Uh huh...

Em: The laptop. The other day? That wasn't about Lulu, was it? You didn't want ME to see what was on it.

Lucky: Yeah.

Em: How many of these favors have you done?

Lucky: (vaguely) A few.

Em: Lucky.

Lucky: I don't count.

Em: But enough that the number isn't readily available.

Lucky: Ok, look. Since you and I got back together, I've only worked for him twice. Over the summer though...

Em: What is this? The warmer months are prime mob hunting season?

Lucky: It's not seasonal, Em. Believe me.

Em: See, this is kind of my point. You're helping Jason hunt down people on the run from him.... Do you see irony here?

Lucky: First of all, Jason Morgan does not operate like Frank Smith. And if he ever decides to force me to marry anyone, it's probably going to be you. (Emily does not see the humor in this. Lucky clears his throat and continues) Ok. It's not like I'm helping him find the big bad guys, or even.. People like my Dad. It's just gambling debts, mostly. Small time guys who take off with money, something like that.

Em: I don't even want to think about what he does when he finds them.

Lucky: Mostly? Gets his money back and persuades them to keep running. That's it. If Frank Smith had decided to let us off the hook that easily...

Em: I can't believe this doesn't bother you.

Lucky: I don't understand why it should. These aren't "nice guys", they're weasels.

Em: (Emily shakes her head) I've always had this sneaking suspicion that you actually regret the fact that your family stopped running.

Lucky: (shrugging) If we hadn't stopped running, I never would have met you.

Em: Lucky, come on. If I wasn't in the picture... If you had the choice to work for Jason, and you didn't have anyone else to consider, you'd take it, wouldn't you? (Lucky doesn't answer) Your father would absolutely kill you. He'd have a fit.

Lucky: Probably.

Em: I don't get this! I mean, I'm really trying to understand here, but this has got to be the most incomprehensible thing you've done since you stayed home from Switzerland because of Sarah Webber! (Lucky cringes at the memory of that). You would never do anything if you thought your father would disapprove as monstrously as he's going to disapprove of this!

Lucky: I have no intention of my Dad finding out about this.

Em: You really want to do that? You really want to keep another secret from him? (Lucky's face darkens. Emily takes a deep breath, regrouping) I'm sorry. I just don't want... (she gives a slight laugh) The thing is, I do get why you're doing this. I just wish I didn't.

Lucky: (quietly) What is it?

Em: Lucky... You're an excitement junkie. Just like your father. I'm not even sure you can help it! (Lucky looks at this like it's a challenge rather than an observation)

Lucky: It's over. I'm done with Jason, as of now.

Em: That doesn't matter! I mean, it does, yes, but... I have to face the fact that you're always going to be making choices that put you in danger. This one is probably going to be minor in the long run. And I love you too much to insist you stop it. Sometimes I think I could get you to do almost anything if I asked and you thought it was important to me. But I can't ask you not to be who you are. And if you want to know why I feel like I have to make it to Berkeley on my own, it's not because I don't trust you to help me. It's because I don't trust that you'll have a choice in the long run. I know your father, by some miracle, has made it this far. And I know you probably will too. But -- what if... What if this place gets bombed by someone out to hurt Jason? What if the Cassadines suddenly start causing trouble again? What happens if you can't be there in the end? I don't trust the world not to take you away from me. They took everyone else. I'm seventeen years old, and I'm the only proof that my family ever existed. It's just me and the grave stones. (Lucky sits back in his chair, digesting this.)

Lucky: (slowly) Look. For the next ... Five months. Until you graduate, I'll lay off the hero stuff, Ok? I'll be normal.

Em: You'll suffocate! And you'll hate me!

Lucky: I won't. This isn't forever, Emily. I can't promise anyone that I'm not going to do something dangerous ever again. But I can promise you, that until graduation, I won't do anything to put either of us in more danger than we have to be. Which means, once I give your brother what he asked me for the other day, we're done.

Em: (shaking her head) The stupid part, is... I still trust you. I... Ok, it's not that I don't care that you kept this from me. But you keep these secrets, and then you tell me. And you could just keep me in the dark forever. Especially since the last time we went down this road, I cut you out of my life completely.

Lucky: (clarifying) So this isn't a break up?

Em: (Emily shakes her head) Been there, done that. You never promised not to keep things from me. But I was thinking last night, I broke a promise to you. I promised you once, that I would tell when I was close to the edge.

Lucky: (not liking the sound of this at all) That was about drugs.

Em: (shakily) I promised to let you know when to worry. Well... Worry, Lucky. Because I don't think I can promise not to lose control again.

Lucky: (a whisper) God, Em.

Em: I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, I want to just be able to say "It's over! I'm going to be fine." But I'm not sure that's true.

Lucky: (grasping at straws) Do you think you should see someone?

Em: (laughing) What, like a shrink? No. I've done that too many times. Grief counselors, drug counselor, school advisors, and a really creepy doctor Alan brought to the house once. It doesn't help me. I can't expect other people to help me do this. I've got to do it alone. Do you understand what I mean?

Lucky: (quietly) Independently. Yeah, Emily. I get that.

Em: Which doesn't mean I don't want you around. And it doesn't mean I'm not going to need you to listen to me, or get me out of that house. But you can't blame yourself for what's going on. That just makes it worse for both of us. (Lucky reaches out and takes her hands in his. They look at each other across the table. Emily bows her head) How did things get this complicated?

Lucky (laughing) Where have you been? When were things ever simple for us?

Em: Good point. (She groans) I think I used to be better at not thinking about it, though.

Lucky: What are you doing tonight?

Em: Me? Dying of boredom. Why?

Lucky: You still owe me for standing me up on Hannah's opening night.

Em: Ohhhh... Right.

Lucky: What do you say? It's her first Saturday, my Dad's not going to check your I.D.

Em: I'll be there. Or here, as the case may be.

Lucky: No backing out this time, right?

Em: Never.

* * * *

Hannah is nervously pacing her apartment. She has several dresses spread out on her sofa, trying to pick which one she should wear. She's having trouble concentrating on the task at hand. There's a knock at the door, and she looks up in surprise. She walks over to the door and opens it quickly, hoping to surprise the person on the other side. Instead it's her jaw that drops at the sight of Nikolas Cassadine.

Hannah: What... How did... Why...? (She rests her head against the door jamb.) Should I even bother to ask?

Nik: I was looking at an apartment in this building. (She jerks her head up in shock) Don't worry, I won't be taking it. But I thought I'd stop by while I was in the neighborhood.

Hannah: And how did you know this was my neighborhood?

Nik: I'm a Cassadine. We find things out. (Hannah stares at him. He gives her an incredibly sweet smile, that she tells herself sternly not to fall victim to.)

Hannah: Ok. What can I do for you?

Nik: Can I come in?

Hannah: No way.

Nik: Why not, exactly?

Hannah; I don't have to have a reason. It's my place.

Nik: I'm not going to attack you.

Hannah: Not the point.

Nik: Exactly what are you do afraid of?

Hannah: I'm not afraid of anything.

Nik: You are. You're afraid of me. I want to know why.

Hannah: I'm not afraid of you.

Nik: Then let me in. (Hannah sighs, and walks away from the door, leaving it standing open. She returns to the couch, and throws herself into a serious examination of the dresses. Nikolas walks in and closes the door behind him.)

Hannah: (causally) I'm sorry, I still don't know anything about Lucky's girlfriend.

Nik: Oh, I do. I saw her father at the hospital, he said she's fine.

Hannah: (looking up) Hospital?

Nik: No, no. He's Dad's the Chief of Staff at General Hospital. She's doing fine. I just tried to call her, actually, but she must be out with Lucky.

Hannah: I'm not sure if I understand how you managed to have a better relationship with your brother's girlfriend than you do with your brother.

Nik: Emily makes up her own mind. As much as Lucky might complain about that, it's sort of a prerequisite for him. I mean, Emily presents a challenge. He'd get bored with someone who let him tell her what to do.

Hannah: For someone who you don't have anything in common with, you certainly know a lot about what makes Lucky tick.

Nik: I've had lots of time to figure out how his mind works. Partly, at least. Some things about him I'll never get. (Pause) You know, I'm not here to talk about Lucky.

Hannah: Then what, pray tell, are you here to do?

Nik: I'm here to figure out exactly what it is about me you find so offensive.

Hannah: Hmmm... Well, let's start with the fact that I'm not independently wealthy, and I need my job.

Nik: Luke Spencer might hate my family, but he doesn't fire people for talking to me. His wife would have a problem with that.

Hannah: (absently) His wife?

Nik: My mother. (Hannah turns to look at him, then turns back to the dresses).

Hannah: Right. (She picks up a black short dress, and examines it critically, as if it's the most fascinating thing in the world. Nikolas sits down in a chair across from the couch).

Nik: Formal occasion?

Hannah: Nope. Work.

Nik: (eying the dresses) Hmmm. It might just be worth risking the wrath of Luke Spencer for that red one. (Hannah stops, and turns back to him slowly)

Hannah: Exactly why does he hate you so much.

Nik: I'm a Cassadine. End of story.

Hannah: I think I'm missing some chapters.

Nik: It's not a very interesting story. At least, it's not a story I'm interested in telling.

Hannah: (shrugging) Fair enough. Don't let me keep you. (Nikolas leans forward in the chair)

Nik: I'll leave, when you sit down for a moment and talk to me.

Hannah (sighing heavily) Promise?

Nik: On my good name.

Hannah: (frowning) I have no idea what that means. (She sits down on the arm of the couch) Ok. I'm talking to you.

Nik: (taking a deep breath) I don't understand you. Sometimes... And I know, we haven't talked often, but sometimes, I feel like we have a connection. A connection I'd like to explore. Then, usually the next time I see you, you're... Like this. Standing behind a brick wall.

Hannah: Your point?

Nik: Don't you ever get sick of being alone?

Hannah: No. Do you?

Nik: Not really. Unless I come across someone I'd rather be with. That doesn't happen very often.

Hannah: Well. I'm touched.

Nik: You don't want me to believe that, but I do.

Hannah: You're impossible.

Nik: I'm persistent.

Hannah: You're leaving. (Nikolas smirks at her, realizing he must have hit a nerve.)

Nik: If you insist.

Hannah: I do. (She walks over to the door, and opens it, leaning against the edge of the door.) It was nice of you to stop by, but ....

Nik: I know. Find another distraction. (He gets up and walks over to her.) I won't come looking for you again.

Hannah: (tightly) Good. (Nikolas stops in front of her, and very slowly lowers his head to kiss her.) Nikolas.... (She doesn't exactly move away, though. He touches her lips with his, and kisses her very lightly. Hannah grips the door for dear life, but responds, to her own surprise. Nikolas pulls back, catching her off guard. She stares at him, eyes wide, speechless.)

Nik: I really recommend the red. (He turns and walks out the door. Hannah stands in stunned silence a moment, then slams the door after him, covering her mouth with her hand. After a moment she walks over to the couch and picks up the black dress, leaving the red on the couch, and heads off to the bedroom).