Chapter Nineteen:
Home Truths

Luke's Club, the next day.

Emily comes in, eyes wide, looking thoroughly spun. Lucky is not in sight. However, Jason is sitting at a table with Luke. Not caring if she's interrupting something, she goes over to the table.

Em: Hi. Luke, is Lucky here?

Luke: No, Princess. He's at PCU.

Em: Right. (She puts a hand to her head) I knew that. (She shakes her head, then focuses on Jason) Hi.

Jason: Hi. (Luke looks back and forth between the two of them)

Luke: Well. Exit stage right. (He stands up and offers Emily his chair, which she sinks into. She says nothing until Luke is out of earshot)

Em: AJ's back.

Jason: Already?

Em: It's been four months.

Jason: I thought you said he was going off to straighten his head out.

Em: He did.

Jason: In four months?

Em: If he wasn't threatening to ruin my life, I'd actually find that funny.

Jason: How can he ruin your life?

Em: He hates Lucky. And if he decides to, he can get Monica and Alan to forbid me to see him.

Jason: Why? That wouldn't make you stop loving him.

Em: You'd think that would matter to them, don't you? (She sighs deeply) AJ thinks Lucky is bad for me. And he's got some pretty convincing information to argue his side to Mom and Dad.

Jason: (sighing) What's he up to this time?

Em: (Leaning across the table) I know you don't understand why we do these things, but bear with me, Ok? You know how AJ was suing Carly for custody?

Jason: Again. Yeah.

Em: God, we must seem like we keep going around in the same circles to you. (Jason doesn't answer. She smiles wryly) Ok. Here's the deal. Carly didn't have the greatest lawyer in the world, so of course, she figured that she had to find some way to distract AJ from the suit. So she came up with this crazy plan--

Jason: Yeah, that sounds like Carly.

Em: Well, she didn't have you to help her this time, so she got Lucky instead. (Emily frowns bitterly as the memory of the boathouse scene comes back to her). She taped all these phone conversations that AJ had, and Lucky helped her splice the tapes together so that they sounded really... incriminating. You know that bombing at Pier four?

Jason: Yes. (Emily sighs)

Em: Yeah, I guess you do. Anyway, it looked like AJ was behind it. The police were already snooping around since ELQ was having problems with the zoning. I mean, it was all ridiculous, but... it had the desired effect. AJ was distracted, to put it mildly. The thing was, Lucky's got something Carly didn't count on. A conscience. He told me the truth.

Jason: Uh huh.

Em: See, Lucky's like that. He can't keep things from me. He tries, and I'm not saying it doesn't drive me crazy, but in the end he always tells me the truth.

Jason: Yeah.

Em: Anyway, that's the only reason I could forgive him. I understand why he helped Carly out, and I understand why he didn't tell me right away. The thing is... everyone is always lying to us. So we don't lie to each other. It's the one thing in my life that's honest. And I can't make AJ see that.

Jason: So AJ knows about this?

Em: (heavily) I told him when I found out. I mean, I couldn't let him go on worrying he was going to go to jail for something he didn't do. And Lucky told me there was no way the evidence was going to stick -- it wasn't strong enough, and the tape could be identified as a fake. A good fake, I guess, but a fake still.

Jason: So this is why AJ's so mad?

Em: Not entirely. See, when that plan fell apart, Carly tried something else. (Emily takes a deep breath) She got AJ to sleep with her again -- this would be a detail he keeps ignoring -- it WAS his choice. Then she .. I don't know how she did this, but she got someone to beat her up. Or probably she just did it herself. And she went to the hospital, and she told the doctors that AJ had raped her. That's why he lost custody. Because if he didn't drop the suit, then Carly would press charges. And this time.. Well, he'd probably go to jail, for battery at least. And he would never get custody of his son. (She shakes her head) Carly didn't have an accomplice that time, but AJ thinks she did.

Jason: Lucky.

Em: Exactly. And it doesn't matter what I say. No one is going to believe Lucky didn't help her set up that charge.

Jason: You believe that.

Em: Well, they're going to say I'm biased, and that I don't know what's good for me... I can't stand it, Jason! I don't know what to do.

Jason: They can't change the way you feel about him.

Em: I know. But... I just can't believe the timing here! We'd finally worked things out! It was finally going to be all right, and BANG! Back comes big brother to make sure I'm not too happy or anything. (Jason furrows his brow. Emily puts her head down on the table) I'm sorry. I don't mean to be this... (She looks up at him again). I'm just sick of my family coming between me and Lucky.

Jason: The Quartermaines like to keep everyone on a tight leash.

Em: Tell me about it. (She sits back in her chair and smiles at him sadly) I guess I should known you'd understand better than anyone. Thanks.

Jason: I didn't do anything.

Em: Yes, you did. I know you always have my best interests at heart, but you never try to force them on me. Which is why I'm not too angry at you for hiring Lucky.

Jason: (smiling) I was wondering when you were going to bring that up.

Em: I'm not going to say that I was happy to find that out, but I don't blame.

Jason: Well, when he first worked for me, you'd told me that the two of you were finished for good.

Em: That's been coming back to haunt me a lot lately. Lucky told me that it wasn't a constant thing. Just when you needed him.

Jason: He did good work.

Em: Is it going to be a problem for you? Now that he quit?

Jason: (shrugging) He made his choice. He chose you.

Em: (shaking her head) I didn't want it to be -- I didn't ask him to quit. Not directly. But I guess that's because he didn't make me ask. He knew I'd hate the idea of him being in any danger.

Jason: He was never in deep.

Em: Or he wouldn't have been able to leave. (she looks him in the eye) Like you.

Jason: He wanted it that way.

Em: Yeah, well... He understands how these things work. He's helped me understand why you have to do the things you do. (She exhales heavily) I have a math exam to study for. If you see Lucky, tell him I stopped by.

Jason: All right. (Emily stands up. Jason reaches out and grabs her hand) Hey. Take care of yourself.

Em: (laughing) Wow. Look who's talking. (She smiles at him) I'm doing my best.

Jason: I know. But if you ever need anything, Emily... you know you can come to me. (Emily's eyes soften)

Em: I know. Thank you. (She turns around and leaves the bar. She walks out of the door, feeling just as panicky and disturbed as she did when she walked in. She winces in the sun, and wraps her coat around her, fiddling with the zipper. Hannah, approaching from the corner of the parking lot, freezes when she sees her. Emily finishes doing up her coat, and looks up, seeing the shadow of Hannah against the sun. She shields her eyes) Hi.

Hannah: (coming towards her hesitantly) Hi.

Em: How are your contact?

Hannah: What? (She stops, then clears her throat) Oh, they're fine. (She looks at Emily, studying her face in the daylight. Emily feels this, and looks away)

Em: Oh. Well, that's good. I... I have to get home. I guess I'll see you around.

Hannah: Yeah. (Emily turns and starts to walk away. ) Emily! (Hannah nearly claps a hand over her mouth, not believe she just called after her. Emily stops and turns back)

Em: Yeah?

Hannah: Uh... I hope you'll come back to see the show sometime. (She forces a smile) Some time when I'm not as nervous as I was on the weekend.

Em: I'm sure I will. I'm usually around a bit more than I have been. Ummm... are going to be in the club for long?

Hannah: About an hour. I have to talk to Luke about some set changes, stuff like that.

Em: Ok. This is dumb, I already left a message... I just -- if you see Lucky, could you tell him to call me? I really need to talk to him.

Hannah: All right. Is everything Ok? (Hannah cringes inwardly. She doesn't want to know about this girl).

Em: (shrugging) Nothing I can't handle. (She smiles) You'll notice that this town is full of surprises. Nothing's ever peaceful for long.

Hannah: Would you believe I already noticed? (Emily nods)

Em: Yeah, I would. (They stand across the parking lot from each other, each smiling at the other for a moment. Hannah breaks the gaze.)

Hannah: I'll give Lucky your message if I see him.

Em: Thanks. Actually, tell him I'll be back. This evening.

Hannah: Ok.

Em: Thanks. (She smiles at Hannah again, and turns. Hannah watches the girl walk away, feeling a wave of fondness for her. She shakes it off violently)

Hannah: (under her breath) Don't fall into that trap. Just don't do it.

* * * *

The Quartermaine Dining Hall

The family is settling in for Lunch -- AJ, Monica, Alan, Edward and Lila. Emily's chair is conspicuously empty. AJ looks at it as the family begins eating.

AJ: Where's Em?

Monica: Oh, she's gone out again.

Ed: Humph. To see that Spencer kid, no doubt.

AJ: She and Lucky spend a lot of time together?

Monica: Oh, probably the same amount they did before you left. Less, actually. Emily's been pretty focused on school.

AJ: Really?

Alan: She's editing the school newspaper this year. Didn't she tell you this?

AJ: No, Emily was pretty vague in her letters. I'm only beginning to realize how little she managed to say.

Monica: Well, you're not alone. She's been playing her cards pretty close to the vest lately.

AJ: Are you worried about her? (Monica and Alan both sneak peeks at Lila, giving AJ all the answers he needs)

Monica: (smiling) Emily's doing fine.

Ed: Oh, she is not!

Alan: (warningly) Father...

Ed: Did they tell you she was home sick on the last day of school? And no wonder, she was pushing herself too hard! No reason for the girl to work like that when she knows we'll all take care of her.

AJ: (muttering) Well, maybe that's why she's working so hard.

Ed: (not noticing AJ's remark) I don't understand how she can worry so much about school when the Quartermaine name guarantees her a place at PCU.

Monica: Well, perhaps she doesn't want to go to PCU. (The whole table looks up at her.) I'm just saying, it's not going to hurt for her to keep her options open.

Ed: Don't be crazy! (He turns to AJ) You didn't see that girl last week. She was pale, worn out, and, I don't mind telling you, she's getting increasingly insolent by the day. I don't think that boyfriend of hers is a very good influence.

Lila: Oh, Edward. Lucky's a perfectly nice boy.

AJ: I wouldn't go that far, Grandmother. (Emily appears in the door of the dining hall. She stands there, unnoticed)

Lila: He's polite to me, and he cares about Emily. That's all that matters as far as I'm concerned.

AJ: Are you sure?

Alan: AJ, I know you have a bit of a grudge against the Spencers, but you have to admit, Lucky isn't anything like Carly

AJ: How do you know that?

Em: For starters he's never drugged me. (The family looks up to see her. She glares at AJ, who resumes eating.) Hi.

Monica: Emily! Sit down.

Em: I have a math exam to study for.

Alan: Oh, for goodness sakes Emily, you know that stuff like the back of your hand. Sit down and join the family. How often are your mother and I here for lunch on a weekday anyway?

Em: (sighing heavily) All right. (She goes and takes her seat across from AJ, letting him know with her eyes that she's not impressed. Reginald appears with a plate that he places in front of her) So now that I'm here, who are we going to talk about behind their backs?

Ed: SEE! That's exactly what I'm talking about. You never used to speak to us like that!

Em: (innocently) I'm sorry. What WERE we talking about then? (An uncomfortable silence falls across the table. Emily picks up her fork and pushes her food around her plate, clearly not interested in it) I see.

Monica: We were telling AJ how well you're doing at school this semester.

Em: Oh. (She looks across at him. AJ smiles at her and, after a moment she returns the smile, feeling a little guilty for her behavior) I still haven't heard about AJ's trip. I'm sure it's more interesting than the details of my Biology class. (AJ smiles even wider at her).

AJ: (teasing) Sure. I'll take the hot seat for you. What are brothers for?