Chapter Twenty:
Waiting for the Other Shoe

Luke's Club.

It's 8:30 in the evening. Emily walks in, paying little attention to her surroundings and heads straight to Luke, who is talking to someone at the bar. She doesn't even get the question out of her mouth before Luke waves towards the back)

Luke: He's doing inventory. (Emily nods, and ducks behind the bar, walking quickly into the back. She walks over to a heavy door marked "Employees Only" and pushes it open. Lucky is standing in the corner, with a clipboard, counting bottles. He looks up when she walks in)

Lucky: Wow. Am I seeing things? (Emily walks towards him and practically falls against him, hugging him tightly)

Em: (muffled against his chest) I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, I've been trying to find you all day.

Lucky: I had class.

Em: I know, I blanked on it. (She pulls back) We have a problem.

Lucky: AJ?

Em: He's not pleased.

Lucky: Somehow, I suspected he wasn't thrilled to see me.

Em: I tried to talk to him, but he wouldn't listen. He's put me on notice that he'll tell Mom and Dad about the whole Carly thing the minute he decides I'm at risk of getting hurt. So basically, it's completely out of our hands. (She folds her arms across her stomach and sits down on a case of beer) I am so angry at him! I mean, where does he get off? Like he's made so many brilliant choices in his life!

Lucky: What do your parents know?

Em: Nothing! I didn't tell them anything. Even when I was furious and insisting that I never wanted to see you again, I didn't tell them what really happened. (She laughs at herself) I'm no good at breaking up with you. I always leave myself a loop hole.

Lucky: If it's Ok with you, that's a talent I can live without. (He puts his clipboard down and slides down the wall across from her) So, basically, we're in deep.

Em: Basically. (They both sit and contemplate this)

Lucky: Well. What now?

Em: I don't know. I'm not letting them keep us from being together.

Lucky: Good.

Em: I can't believe this is happening now.

Lucky: Why now? (Emily looks up at him, vexed)

Em: Lucky... Remember how I said that I was afraid we'd never get back to where we were before the whole Carly thing?

Lucky: Yeah?

Em: Well, yesterday when I was trying to explain everything to AJ, I realized... We're there. We're back. It felt like a million years ago, like all that stuff didn't matter anymore. I know everything I need to know about you. I probably know you better than I know myself. And I know you don't lie to me, not directly.

Lucky: I'm not keeping any secrets from you, Em.

Em: (somewhat amazed) I know that. I just know it. I can tell from looking at you. It's like all those months when you were keeping the thing about Jason from me -- I knew somehow that you were holding something back. When we're not honest with each other, we can't be together the same way. I don't want anymore secrets.

Lucky: There aren't any.

Em: But there could be again. I mean, if living with the Quartermaines has taught me nothing else, it's taught me that life is unpredictable. And there are always secrets.

Lucky: I guess so.

Em: I don't want to turn into my parents. I don't want to be fifty and still be guessing. Don't you think you knew when I wasn't telling you about how stressed I was?

Lucky: Yeah, I did.

Em: But now that you know... Are we better or worse?

Lucky; (smiling at her) Better. After Saturday? We're better than ever.

Em: That's how I feel too. Like everything's finally in place for us. And I'm not letting my brother mess it up just because of a stupid mistake. (Lucky pushes himself off the wall, and gets back on his feet. He paces over to the wall, and stands, his back to her, for a minute).

Lucky: Emily?

Em: yeah?

Lucky: (turning back to her) If AJ does this, we need a plan of attack.

Em: It'll be Ok, Lucky. (Lucky takes a deep breath).

Lucky: When we broke up, I couldn't see straight. My whole life turned upside down. I felt like I'd been sliced in half. Because I had been. Without you... I'm only half here. I'm at my best with you, I know I can do anything, as long as I have you. So if your parents think I'll just roll over because they decide we're not good for each other... We're talking war. I'm not letting you out of my life again without a fight. (Emily finds herself smiling at this)

Em: It's not going to happen. Even if they find out everything, it can't change what we have. And it's not like they can recruit your parents into this, right?

Lucky: No, that's unlikely. That's not even what I'm really worried about. Emily. You don't need this in your life right now.

Em: I'll handle it.

Lucky: Are you sure? No secrets, remember. Just tell me how you're feeling.

Em: I'm Ok. (Lucky looks at her seriously) Right now.

Lucky: Emily...

Em: It's Ok! I have a math exam in two days, and my English exams are just essays -- I can't study for them.

Lucky: Are you sleeping?

Em: Yes. (She stops, shaking her head) I don't know. A bit. But just last night. Before that everything was fine.

Lucky: So in other words, before AJ came back.

Em: (emphatically) I will handle this. I just have to get through tomorrow afternoon in one piece.

Lucky: Are you eating?

Em: Why? Do you want to feed me another apple? (Lucky takes Emily's hand and pulls her to her feet in front of him, looking into her eyes intently)

Lucky: I just want you to be Ok.

Em: I will be. Somehow, I will be. And... Maybe, after tomorrow, I should go see someone. I mean... I can feel that cycle repeating itself. Something's got to give.

Lucky: But not until tomorrow.

Em: I'm just going to try to keep breathing until them. (She sighs, and strokes his hair with her hand). You know, that's not even the reason I was looking for you.

Lucky: It's not.

Em: No. When you came to the house yesterday... Something was wrong. (Lucky looks away, Emily's number one clue that he's really upset about something). Lucky, what is it?

Lucky: Nothing major. I ... I saw my mother.

Em: Oh... Lucky, I'm so sorry I couldn't be there for you yesterday. (She laughs bitterly) Again. I keep missing your moments, don't I?

Lucky: It doesn't matter.

Em: It matters to me. How did it go?

Lucky: It was... weird. I mean, she said some stuff... I guess it just hit me for the first time. I want my mother back. And she wants me back. And I don't know why that's not enough. (Lucky looks back at Emily, and she is hit by a powerful wave of empathy for his pain. She hugs him tightly. He rests his head against hers, and tries to breath normally despite the lump in his throat.)

Em: Did you tell her that?

Lucky: I told her I loved her. Sort of. (Emily smiles, tears in her own eyes)

Em: She must have been thrilled. (She pulls back to look him in the eyes again). There is so much love in your family, that I just can't believe that this distance will go on forever, Lucky. Somehow, you'll work through it. Who knows, in the end, maybe Nikolas -- (Lucky breaks the embrace and walks away from her) Lucky. Don't tell me that's not part of it. I know you want Nikolas in your life.

Lucky: I don't even know what I want where Nik's concerned. I mean, I gave it a shot, you know? And he wasn't exactly receptive.

Em: He wasn't receptive to anyone back then. Remember how he was to Sarah? At least he'd see you.

Lucky: Kind of proof he didn't care about me either way.

Em: (putting a hand to her head) I don't know which is scarier. Your logic, or the fact that I understand it. (She sighs heavily) Nikolas was vulnerable after the shooting. He didn't want anyone to see him in moments of weakness. That's why he wouldn't talk. But he let you, the brother he "doesn't care about" see him like that. He even spoke to you.

Lucky: (shaking his head) That doesn't mean -- (Lucky's throat closes up, and he stops dead. Emily walks to him, and wraps her arms around his waist, leaning against his back. After a moment, Lucky covers her hands with his)

Em: I honestly believe that if you want to be able to find your way back to your mother, Lucky... You have to find a way to talk to Nikolas. When the two of you make your peace, then you can both make peace with your mother. (Lucky pulls away suddenly, turning on her)

Lucky: I don't need Nikolas for anything, and I sure don't need him involved with my Mother. He is nothing to me! He's just some kid my mother had that she didn't even want!

Em: You know that's not true! He is your brother, whether you like it or not, and he is the only person on the planet who can truly understand what you're going through with Laura.

Lucky: Understand? He'd love it! He wants me to be just as much of an outsider as he is. That's all he ever wanted.

Em: You can keep telling yourself those things, and you can keep repeating them to me, but that doesn't mean either of us really believe them. I know you, Lucky. In the end, you're not going to let pride keep you away from your family -- not even Nikolas. (Lucky shakes his head, violently)

Lucky: I'm not putting myself out there again, Emily. It's his turn. If he wants me in his life, then he can make the first move this time. (Emily nods slowly) I don't want to fight about this, Ok? Let's just... Forget about this.

Em: Ok. (She walks back over to him). How should we do that?

Lucky: Emily... (she winds her arms around his neck and kisses him deeply. Lucky feels himself sink into the kiss, but manages to pull back momentarily)

Lucky: This is probably not healthy. (Emily shakes her head)

Em: How's that? (She kisses him again, running her hands through his hair. This time she pulls back) You were saying?

Lucky: What?

Em: About health.

Lucky: Right... uh... Probably not a good thing to ignore all the ... static. With our families.... (Emily smiles and lifts her face up to his)

Em: Do you really think I'm doing this because of my family? (She pulls him into another kiss. Lucky gives up on psychology, and presses her up against the wall, surrendering to her completely)

* * * *

Kelly's Diner

Hannah is seated at a table by the door, drinking a cup of coffee and attempting to read. She is also attempting to deny that being here has something to do with Nikolas, even though she's been there for almost two hours, and she looks up every time the bell above the door rings. She has been trying to tell herself to go home, but she just can't face it. The door opens, and she looks up again. Surprise, surprise, it's Nikolas. Hannah closes her book as he walks across the room towards her.

Nik: You came back.

Hannah: (overly calm) Well, it's warm, the food's good. (She narrows her eyes at him) What's your reason for frequenting this place?

Nik: It's close to the hospital.

Hannah: Right.

Nik: So what are you doing here?

Hannah: I couldn't stand being in the apartment any more.

Nik: I thought you didn't get sick of being alone.

Hannah: Sometimes a change of scenery is nice.

Nik: Are you feeling any better?

Hannah: Let's say things are dwelling as close to the surface as they were the other night. (Nikolas sits down across from her)

Nik: Good. I'm glad to hear that.

Hannah: Look, Nikolas... About the way I was acting...

Nik: I didn't take it personally.

Hannah: No, you didn't seem to. (Nikolas leans across the table)

Nik: Look, I was hoping I'd run into you again. (Hannah feels immediately nervous, but not the kind of nervous she wants to feel. It's a butterflies-in-the-stomach nervous, not I'm-going-to-die nervous.

Hannah: You were.

Nik: I think we should stop trying to run into each other, and actually meet somewhere on purpose. Sound like an idea?

Hannah: The question is what kind of idea? (Hannah takes a deep breath) Nikolas...

Nik: Oh, here we go again. I know, you don't make attachments, you don't need anybody, and you don't care what I think. But that's not what I'm asking you. I'm asking you to have diner with me.

Hannah: Do you have any idea what it means to my life if I say yes to you?

Nik: It means a nice meal. And a friend.

Hannah: I don't want to be a part of whatever is going on between the Spencers and the Cassadines. At least not any more than I am.

Nik: You won't be.

Hannah: I'm not even sure I should be seen with you in public.

Nik: Because of Luke Spencer?

Hannah: Why else?

Nik: I think you're overestimating his power.

Hannah: He's my boss.

Nik: He won't do anything to upset my mother. He worships her.

Hannah: This is his wife.

Nik: Yeah.

Hannah: (distantly) How sweet.

Nik: Well, I don't know about that. But I do know your job is safe. Look. We'll go some place... Intimate.

Hannah: Oh, I don't know if THAT is a good idea.

Nik: Trust me. One night out of your life. (Hannah looks at Nik, as he leans across the table, speaking softly, and knows she's being invited into quicksand) That's all. If you want me to go away after that, I will. No questions asked.

Hannah: This isn't like the last time you promised to leave me alone, is it?

Nik: No loops holes. One night. That's it.

Hannah: (laughing) I can't believe I'm doing this. All right, Nikolas. You win.

Nik: You won't regret it.

Hannah: Oh... Don't bet on that. (She stands up) Pick me up... Thursday. And I don't want to go somewhere... well lit, if that's all right.

Nik: Consider it taken care of. (Hannah shakes her head)

Hannah: Oh, it's taken care of all right. (She turns and exits the restaurant before Nikolas can question the statement.)