Chapter Fourteen: The Way You Look Tonight
Luke's Club, Saturday night.
The place is packed. Lucky enters from the back, doing up the cuffs on his dress shirt. Luke is holding court behind the bar, but dismisses his minions when he spots his son.
Luke: Well, well. Will you look at you.
Lucky: (warningly) Dad, I'd really appreciate it if you'd make this as painless as possible.
Luke: Hot date tonight, huh.
Lucky: Emily's escaping the asylum.
Luke: Great. She hasn't been around much lately.
Lucky: She's been around plenty. You're the absent one.
Luke: Well, a man has to find some way to occupy his time. And with Count Vlad still blubbering over his lady love, I've got time to pursue other interests. Like you, for instance. (Lucky groans) Come on, Cowboy. You've been missing a certain spring to your step the last few weeks. Months...
Luke: (taking an educated guess) How is the beautiful Miss Quartermaine? (Lucky sighs, and submits to his father's inquisition. )
Lucky: Not so good. (Luke looks immediately concerned)
Luke: Anything serious? (Lucky shrugs) Are you too....
Lucky: (emphatically) We're fine.
Luke: Good. 'Cause you know, I'm not going through another one of those break ups.
Lucky: Neither am I. (The door opens, and Hannah comes in, wearing the red dress. She pushes through the crowd and manages to struggle up to the bar looking at Luke apologetically.)
Hannah: (Out of breath) I'm sorry.
Luke: What for?
Hannah: I'm late. (Luke looks up at the clock).
Luke: You've got ten minutes. (Hannah stares at Luke. She turns to Lucky, mouth open)
Lucky: What? He's right. (Hannah looks back at Luke, then back to Lucky).
Hannah: Yeah, until I GO ON!
Lucky: So? (Hannah shakes her head, and takes a deep gulp of air).
Hannah: It's called prep time. (She puts her hands over her stomach). Oh my God. (She turns around and weaves through the crowd, towards the stage. Luke and Lucky watch her go).
Luke: Nice girl. (He gives Lucky a look) High strung, though. (Lucky smiles to himself, watching as Hannah disappears behind the stage curtain)
Lucky: You'd think she'd be over those nerves by now. How long has she been doing this?
Luke: I don't know, few years. (He snorts) Musicians. Who can figure them? (Luke notices Emily walk in, looking rather nervous. She's dressed in a short black dress, with her hair piled up on top of her head. She'd look absolutely exquisite if she wasn't biting her lip nervously as she sweeps the room with her eyes, looking for Lucky. Luke lets out a low whistle.) Well. Emily's looking pretty fine to me. (Lucky looks over and spots Emily. He leaves his father without so much as a nod and crosses the room to her)
Lucky: You... You look incredible.
Em: (flustered) Um.... Thanks.
Lucky: Good answer. (Emily laughs nervously. She covers her face with her hand)
Em: I'm sorry. I'm just feeling... weird tonight.
Lucky: Weird how? Good weird or bad weird?
Em: Good weird, I guess. I'm just... It's been so long since I actually went out some place. I guess I'm feeling a bit nervous. (Lucky slips her arm around her waist and pulls her towards him in a sudden gesture. Emily's surprised, but laughs. Lucky kisses her, very gently, but purposely. He pulls back, leaving Em looking slightly dazed.) What is with you?
Lucky: I'm in a good mood. (He grins at her. Emily can't help be smile back.)
Em: Hey, I came to a decision.
Lucky: Uh oh. (Emily rolls her eyes)
Em: Not one you're going to hate, don't worry. It's about tonight.
Lucky: Ok... I'm open to suggestions.
Em: I decided I'm ordering a 24 hour moratorium on angst.
Em: No worrying, no big discussions, (she raises a warning finger at him) No big confessions. We're just going to have fun tonight.
Lucky: Works for me. (There is the sound of sharp feedback. Lucky and Emily both turn to the stage, where Luke stands, mic in hand)
Luke: Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome, one and all to Luke's. The hippest, happenest, hoppinest place in all of Port Charles. (Lucky puts his arms around Emily's waist and she leans comfortable back against them, in a very familiar posture, watching the stage). I would like to introduce, for her first weekend engagement at this establishment, the vocal stylings of Miss Hannah Hargreaves. (There is an enthusiastic round of applause. Luke leaps off the stage, and moves through the crowd, working the room, as Hannah takes the stage. The piano starts up, and they go into the first song. Emily watches comfortable in Lucky's arms. Hannah flips her hair back just as she starts the first song, and Emily frowns. She looks up at Lucky)
Emily: Has she... Where else has she played?
Lucky: I think mostly on the West Coast, why?
Emily: I don't know. She's... There's just something kind of ... I get the feeling I've seen her somewhere before.
Lucky: You have. When you stopped off with Nikky the other day.
Em: (uncertainly) Yeah... (She shakes her head, and concentrates on the stage. The longer she watches Hannah, the less familiar she seems, however. She pushes the thought from her mind) I guess that's it. (surveying the room) This place sure attracts a crowd.
Lucky: We could go someplace a little more private, if you want.
Em: (turning to face him) Oh, I'm sure we could.
Lucky: Back room. I was talking about pool.
Em: (teasing) You know my position on that.
Lucky: (shaking his head) You beat me once two years ago, and that's it? I have to remain defeated for the rest of my life?
Em: I quit while I'm ahead.
Lucky: But I don't get a chance to do the same.
Em: (turning around to face him) You had HUNDREDS of chances! How many times did you wipe the floor with me at that game?
Lucky: You're right. Savor the victory. For what it's worth.
Em: What does that mean?
Lucky: Well.. What makes you so sure I didn't let you win?
Em: You wouldn't!
Lucky: How do you know? (Emily furrows her brow, in mock annoyance)
Em: This is low, Spencer. Not to mention completely unfair.
Lucky: Hey, one more game. You could find out whether I met my match or not.
Em: No way. I remember the look on your face when I hit that 8-ball like it was yesterday. I beat you, fair and square. You would never have been that much of a gentleman!
Lucky: Don't count me out yet. (Emily smiles at Lucky, and they both stay in the moment of their shared memory, letting go, for one night, of everything that's standing in their way right now. Hannah's piano player starts into the next song. Lucky recognizes it from the dozens of rehearsals he's heard. He grabs Emily's hand and pulls her towards the dance floor)
Em: What --
Lucky: Come on. We have to dance to this.
Em: We have to?
Lucky: (leading her to the center of the floor) Yes. (He pulls her very close to him, and wraps his arms around her waist. She laughs, and puts her hands around his neck, pressing her temple against his cheek.) Listen to these words. I want you to hear this.
Em: Ok... (Hannah starts to sing)
Hannah: Strange and Beautiful are the stars tonight
(Emily giggles, involuntarily at the lyric)
Lucky: Shh. Listen to these words. (She forces a straight face, and they continue to sway to the music)
Hannah: And I want all the world to know
(Emily ceases to find the song funny. She presses closer to Lucky. He closes his eyes, as the keep dancing, really just swaying together to the music.)
As I stand before this faceless crowd
(The last lyric is so frighteningly familiar to Emily that she feels the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. Her heart begins to beat faster)
I've heard it all so many times before.
(The piano almost stops completely, only the base notes being beat out for the next verse. Hannah lowers her voice, and sings in hushed tones. Emily stops moving, still holding Lucky, as she listens to these words. Their sentiment, along with Lucky's insistence that she listen to it, hits her with surprising ferocity. She feels a bit overwhelmed.)
In the silence of this whispered night
(Deeply moved, Emily stops dancing, and pulls back from Lucky slightly. She looks into his eyes, overflowing with love for him. She lifts her face to his and kisses him, long and slow, in the middle of the dance floor. Lucky holds her tightly, not caring about the packed house that is now stealing glances in their direction. They stay there, kissing throughout the end of the song, lost in each other.)
And I want all the world to know
(Luke watches this scene with particular amusement, as the final bars of the song fade. By this time, the dance floor has emptied and everyone is focused on the ebullient couple.)
Luke: (loudly) THAT'S MY BOY! (He begins to clap and the rest of the bar joins in, hooting and whistling. Emily laughs mid-kiss but doesn't pull back. In fact she winds her arms even more tightly around Lucky's neck, and stands up on her toes, while the applause continues.)
Half an hour to forty-five minutes later, Hannah has left the stage, and comes over the table where Lucky, Emily and Luke are sitting. The three are giving off a very relaxed and content air. Luke is leaning back in his chair, smoking a cigar, and Lucky and Emily leaning against each other at the other end. Hannah speaks to Luke).
Hannah: It's amazing how loud these people can be!
Luke: Aw, you love it.
Hannah: (Grinning) I do. (she turns to Lucky) IF they were clapping for me. Way to upstage me there, Spencer.
Lucky: What, afraid of a little competition?
Hannah: Only the X-rated variety. (She raises lowers her head and speaks in a hushed tone) So who's your friend?
Lucky: (leaning back in his chair) Hannah Hargreaves, meet Emily Quartermaine.
Hannah: Ah, finally. (She smiles broadly, and extends her hand. Emily takes it and shakes politely, and is again somewhat unnerved by something regarding this woman. She just can't for the life of her figure out what. She forces herself to smile in return.)
Luke: Well, pull up a chair. You can help me humiliate my son. (Lucky, in fact, is enjoying his father's company. If he doesn't think about anything too long, things seem almost normal.)
Lucky: Sure, pull up a chair. (Hannah looks somewhat hesitant, then steals an abandoned chair from the next table and sits down.)
Hannah: I'm so exhausted. I was running on pure adrenaline when I got here. The second I got off stage, I almost collapsed.
Luke: Good thing you're not doing three sets tonight. (He looks over his shoulder) Speaking of which, I should see how the quartet are doing. (He turns to Lucky) Give me a hand?
Lucky: With what?
Luke: Oh, come on. I want to show you off. (Lucky rolls his eyes, and rises with his father, who has turned his attention to Emily) Princess, you keep an eye on my star talent, here. Be back in a minute. (Lucky and Luke stroll off together towards the back of the stage. Emily and Hannah sit in uncomfortable silence for a moment).
Em: So.... How long have you been singing?
Hannah: Uh... A few years. (Hannah studies the liquor bottles behind the bar, attempting to appear nonchalant).
Em; Hmm. (A long pause)
Hannah: So, you're Lucky's girlfriend. I've heard a lot about you.
Hannah: Yeah. (Long pause. Hannah turns her attention to the top of the table) So... How long have you two been together?
Em: Uh... (she tries to figure out the most honest, least complicated answer) Two years. About.
Hannah: (making eye contact) TWO... Do you mind if I ask how old you are?
Em: (a tinge of defensiveness) Seventeen.
Hannah: Wow. When I was Seventeen my longest relationship was probably two and a half weeks.
Em: (drumming her fingers lightly on the table) I know. We're sort of the freak couple at school. At least we were when we both went there. People still say to me 'You and Lucky are STILL together?', like we should be in the Guinness Book of World Records or something.
Hannah: Yeah... There was this couple at my high school -- they started going out at grade eight graduation, and they were still together when they went away to college.
Em: Ok. That's extreme. (She frowns) Lucky and I have been friends for a long time, though. So in a way, we've been together for that long. (She sits back in her chair. At least this topic is slightly more interesting the "How do you like school?" inquiries most adults make of her.)
Hannah: That's really impressive.
Em: Oh, not really. I've always had a theory that it's out of my hands. We just always end up together.
Hannah: (looking at Emily oddly) That's... romantic. (Emily laughs, and for reasons not really clear to Hannah, she feels a chill up her spine.)
Em: No. No, I don't mean it like I'm stuck with him. I just mean... He's the person who I have to be with. (She smiles to herself) He's.... Consistently inconsistent. And I really like that about him. (Hannah looks at Emily, studying her face, trying to figure out what that sentence means. Emily looks up at her, smiling, and Hannah's blood suddenly runs cold. She turns away quickly)
Em: Are you Ok? (Hannah stares at Emily, mouth open, as if she's been suspended in time).
Hannah: (spooky voice) Emily.... (Emily stares at her, unsure if she's actually talking to her, or just saying her name)
Em: Should I go get Luke?
Hannah: (too quickly) No. No, I'm fine... I just -- I got this .... Um... Contact lens. I'll be right back. (Hannah jumps up, still not looking at Emily, and walks towards the back of the club in a barely concealed panic. Emily watches her leave, confused. She gives it up after a moment, and settles back into her chair, watching the rest of the club with detached interest).
Hannah opens the door to her apartment, and closes it quickly, locking, then testing the locks before she drops everything she's holding and dashes across the room to her closet. She throws open the door then stops, closing her eyes for a moment. She pulls the string to turn on the closet light, and, taking a deep breath, reaches up on her toes to the back of the shelve. She pulls down a shoe box, and sits down on the floor in front of the closet door, dumping it's contents on the carpet in front of her. She pushes various buttons, ribbons and other mementos out of the way, and opens a folded Manila envelope. Taking it by one end, she shakes it, letting the photographs fall to the floor. She begins to sort through pictures of family outings, old boyfriends, graduations and various pets. She finally finds the stack she's looking for, wrapped in white paper from a three ringed notebook, and tied with an elastic. Trembling, she pulls at the elastic, which is brittle with age and snaps. She opens the package hurriedly. She begins to go through the pile, tossing the pictures into the heap on the floor, searching out that one elusive photo. Pictures of her sister. First her sister holding her when she was a baby, then her sister and her in a pool, her sister taking her out for Halloween, her sister dressed for her prom. Then her sister's wedding. She stops at the photo of the wedding party, her in a frilly white flower girl dress, looking at the camera petulantly. She can still remember the way the dress scratched at her skin. And there is her brother in law, looking handsome as ever. She'd loved him like a real brother, at times probably preferring him to her sister. She tosses the picture aside, and soon comes across another one. Her sister in the hospital, looking tired and haggard, but with joy in her eyes, holding her new born daughter. Hannah covers her mouth and stares into her sister's eyes. She feels tears begin to run down her face. She flips through the other pictures, beginning to sob, her body wracked with emotion. Finally, she comes across the one photograph she's been looking for. Her niece, age six, in a school picture. She sits in front of an ugly blue screen, smiling broadly, showing off her missing front teeth. She's young, just a kid, but Hannah stares at the eyes. Her father's eyes. They crinkle up the same way when she smiles. Hannah begins to shake. She drops the photo, and leans back against the wall. This can't be happening, and yet there is no doubt in her mind. Somehow, Emily Bowen, her adorable niece, grew up to become Emily Quartermaine.
Hannah: Oh, God, Paige. Paige, What happened?
(Lost Together was written by the very cool, very Canadian Blue Rodeo, and can be found, predictably, on their Lost Together album. )