Chapter Sixteen:

The Cassadine Launch, pulling away from Spoon Island.

Alexis and Nikolas sit, both lost in their own thoughts. Nikolas stares out at the water, as the boat plows towards the mainland. Alexis turns her attentions towards him, and studies his expression.

Alexis: He seemed better today. (Nikolas grunts). Are you having second thoughts?

Nik: If I am, they vanish every time I walk through that gate. (He looks over at Alexis) I know you never cared for her.

Alexis: No one deserves what happened to Katherine.

Nik: (emphatically) To be brutally murdered in cold blood? No. I think we can safely say that it's inappropriate behavior. Isn't that what they taught you in law school? (Alexis frowns).

Alexis: One day, I'm going to resign from my position as family punching bag. (They both fall into silence. Nikolas finally clears his throat).

Nik: I'm sorry. I don't know why I said that.

Alexis. It's all right, Nikolas. I know how much pain this has caused you.

Nik: It's unimaginable. I know that-- (he stops dead. Alexis puts a comforting hand on his shoulder. Nikolas swallows painfully) I can't live in the house where ... I don't know how uncle does it. (He looks up at her) He was there, we both found the body. I have to walk up that path every day, and know that she died on the ground under my feet. I can't stay there anymore. I wish uncle would leave, as well.

Alexis: Wyndemere is the home they shared. He will never leave that. Not even to return to Greece.

Nik: (wistfully) Greece.

Alexis: Do you think of going back?

Nik: What? And cozy up to Grandmother? I wouldn't risk giving her any ideas. She's finally out of our lives again. Cassadine Island is her final place of power. And as long as I stand to inherit the fortune, she will keep her silence. (Alexis looks away, clearly unconvinced)

Alexis: Do you really believe that she doesn't watch us anymore?

Nik: What possible resources could she have to do that?

Alexis: I just don't think that it's a good idea to underestimate her.

Nik: We assured that her hold over us was minimal at best. And frankly, worrying about Helena is something I don't have time for. (The engine of the launch slows as they dock at Port Charles. Nikolas stands up, offering his aunt a hand. He assists her off the boat, then disembarks himself. He looks up and sees Hannah, sitting on a bench, looking like death warmed over. She stands up. Nikolas stares at her in surprise, then turns to Alexis) Alexis, I'll meet up with you at the hospital later. (Alexis looks over and catches sight of Hannah. She looks back at Nikolas with concern)

Alexis: All right. I'll see you soon. (She looks over at Hannah, who doesn't make eye contact with her, and walks rapidly up the stairs. Nikolas walks over to her.)

Nik: So who's the stalker now? (Hannah looks up at him, and Nikolas immediately realizes that she's not in a joking mood. He frowns) Are you all right?

Hannah: I'm tired. That's all. (She looks out at the water). Were you coming in from the island?

Nik: Yes. We take the launch back and forth. (Hannah nods)

Hannah: Just you and your uncle?

Nik: And my aunt. Why all the questions all of the sudden? (Hannah forces a smile, and turns to him)

Hannah: What was it you were saying about getting to know each other better? (Nikolas narrows his eyes at her)

Nik: You are incomprehensible.

Hannah: (distantly) Yeah... (She stares out at the water) Do you still have family in Greece?

Nik: (Purposely vague) Some. Why? (Hannah decides this isn't getting her anywhere. She sighs and turns to him)

Hannah: I met your friend last night. Emily Quartermaine?

Nik: Really. Working at Luke's, I would have thought you'd have come across her sooner.

Hannah: I hadn't. She finally came to hear me sing last night.

Nik: How did she look?

Hannah: If I hadn't known she'd just had a collapse, I don't think that I would have ever guessed. She was happy, full of energy... Completely adoring of her boyfriend.

Nik: Yeah. That doesn't surprise me.

Hannah: They're.... An odd match. Lucky doesn't seem to be the type to fall for a rich girl.

Nik: Well, Emily's not your average "rich girl".

Hannah: (digging unapologetically) No. She doesn't seem that way. I mean, I've met some awfully nice people who were raised with money, but they still all have this... Air about them. Emily doesn't have that.

Nik: Well, she was adopted. That probably makes a difference. (Hannah closes her eyes)

Hannah: Probably. (she holds her breath a moment). Being adopted later in life.

Nik: She told you about that?

Hannah: (weakly) It came up. (Nikolas notices her shaking)

Nik: Are you all right?

Hannah: I'm just cold. How old was she? Nine? Ten?

Nik: I think she was Eleven. Yeah, her mom died when she was Eleven, and the Quartermaines adopted her about six months later. Something like that. I didn't know her back then.

Hannah: Her mother.... (She chokes). That's a horrible thing to happen to a little girl. (She fights the tears valiantly) Was it sudden? (Her voice is shrill. Nikolas looks at her with concern).

Nik: Hannah...

Hannah: (angrily wiping away tears) I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I guess I'm just having a bad day. (She bites her lip, which is trembling violently) Did her mother die suddenly?

Nik: (very quietly, staring at her) Breast cancer.

Hannah: Oh. (She turns away, looking back at the water. Nikolas comes up behind her)

Nik: Hannah, what's wrong? (The tenderness in Nikolas's voice sends Hannah right over the edge. She breaks down completely, bending over the railing at the waters edge. Nikolas, without even thinking, pulls her away from the railing and into his arms. Hannah allows him to hold her, as she cries, shaking violently. He holds her head against his chest with one hand, rubbing her back with the other. Hannah looses herself in the comfort of his embrace. As her crying slows, she is suddenly hit by the fact that she is here, in the arms of a Cassadine, in broad daylight. She pulls back quickly. Nikolas looks at her, in shock.)

Hannah. I'm sorry. I'm over tired, I don't feel very well, and I really just need to get home.

Nik: Let me drive you.

Hannah: NO! (she takes a deep breath) I'm fine. I can get home myself. (She turns, then stops and looks back at him) Nikolas?

Nik: Yes?

Hannah: Do you believe in coincidences?

Nik: (slowly shaking his head) No.

Hannah: Neither do I. (She turns again and walks away. Nikolas starts to follow, then thinks better of it. He sinks down onto the bench, in utter confusion.)

* * * *

Luke's Club

Lucky reenters from the front door. Luke is standing behind the bar counting the till. Lucky looks at him oddly.

Lucky: I did that.

Luke: I know. It's pretty convenient, having you open every morning. Gives me a lot more time. But I never get to feel the cold hard cash.

Lucky: Miss it, huh?

Luke: I wouldn't go that far. (He slips the cash drawer back into the register and closes it with a bang. He puts both his hands on the bar and faces his son). You mother was asking about you this morning.

Lucky: (Crossing towards the stage) Uh huh.

Luke: Lucky. (Lucky stops, sighing) You're not walking away from this. (Lucky turns to face his father, turning on his charm on full).

Lucky: Dad. What?

Luke: You haven't been out to the house, that I've seen, for more than fifteen minutes since you moved out.

Lucky: I've been busy.

Luke: Not that busy. You need more time off, I'll give it to you. Go see your mother.

Lucky: Look, Dad... (He walks back over to the bar) I thought the whole idea of me moving out in the first place was so that I could gain some independence. Doesn't make sense for me to running back home every ten minutes, now, does it? (Lucky gives his father his "go with me on this" smile. His Dad returns it, shaking his head)

Luke: Lucky.... (the smile is snapped off his face) Don't give me that. You must think your Dad's got his head buried in the sand if you think I'm going to buy all this stuff you're trying to feed me. I know, things are changing, I know you're not necessarily happy with everything right now. What I don't get is why you are avoiding your Mother!

Lucky: She's not exactly seeking me out, either.

Luke: Maybe not. But if that's the way it is, it's because she's taking your lead. She's respecting your wishes. But she asks about you, she worries about you. You, on the other hand, get that same panicked look on your face every time I bring her up.

Lucky (trying another tactic) Look, Dad. IF I'm having problems with Mom, they are OUR problems, Ok?

Luke: Like hell they are! I don't know if you've noticed this, Lucky, but this is a family. And I think it's high time you started acting like a member of it again. (He lowers his voice a bit) Look. Your mother misses you. Your sister misses you. All I'm saying is take the afternoon off, and go out to the house. You don't have to stay long, just let her know you're alive. Can you handle that?

Lucky: (looking down at the bar) Yeah, sure.

Luke: I wish I understood how you can treat her this way, Lucky. She's always tried to do right by you. I know Nikolas threw you for a loop, but come on. It's almost been four years. Don't you think it's time you cut her some slack?

Lucky: (angrily) I'll go out to the house, Ok? Just -- (Lucky stops, trying to gain some self-control) Just don't tell me how to handle it. I'll take care of it by myself.

Luke: Just make sure you do that, Lucky, and we have no problems.

Lucky: (heading for the door) Right.