Chapter Five: In the Company of Men
(Hannah enters Kelly's diner, looking at her surroundings warily. She's spent the whole afternoon traveling around Port Charles, trying to shake this queasy feeling she's been haunted by in her every waking moment. She went shopping but found absolutely nothing that lifted her spirits in the slightest. She has been trying to hard to focus on trying to get installed at Luke's and attempting to become friendly with the crowd there, that she hasn't given much thought to what her situation actually was. Then, sitting in her empty, stark apartment that afternoon, she'd begun to realize what was ahead of her: nothing. Nothing but months, maybe even years, of waiting. She doesn't really know what she's supposed to do here outside of what she's already done. Now she's just supposed to exist. Maybe even make a life for herself. Still, she can't shake the feeling that everything is temporary. She never stays in one place for very long, and she has no reason to believe that she'll be in Port Charles any longer than she was in Boston, or London, or Prague. She suddenly felt claustrophobic, and left in search of some place warm, and inviting. Kelly's seems to be that place. She moves over to a table, and orders a bowl of soup and a sandwich. Settling in, she opens her purse and pulls out a book she purchases during her travels that afternoon -- John Fowles' THE MAGUS. She attempts to bury herself in it, ignoring the rest of the crowded restaurant. After about ten minutes, Nikolas Cassadine arrives, and walks over to the counter.)
Nik: I called in an order for Cassadine. (The counter help nods, and goes into the back to retrieve his food. Nik leans against the counter, and surveys the restaurant, catching his breath when he spots Hannah. He doesn't know what to make of this. Why does this woman keep appearing? The counter girl returns with his order)
Girl: There you are, Mr. Cassadine. I hope everything is in order. (Nikolas nods, and hands her a bill, walking away from her without waiting for his change. He stops by her table, and looks at the book she's reading)
Nik: Fowles. I like him, but I never thought he really captured the atmosphere of Greece.
Hannah: (looks up and immediately recognizes Nikolas. She frowns) Well, it's pretty much reliant on what Nick takes from Greece. And I'm not sure he's the most observant narrator I've ever come across. (She considers whether or not to pursue this, then decides the silence of her life is getting to her. She lets her features relax). I used to live in Greece. I guess I was just feeling a little homesick for it.
Nik: (surprised) You lived there?
Hannah: (immediately worried that she may have said too much) I've lived lots of places. Greece is one of them. I just miss it occasionally. It leaves an impression.
Nik: (sitting down, without even meaning too) It has history you don't see here. This place... Everything feels so new here.
Hannah: (smiling) Well, I grew up in America. Everything felt so OLD to me when I first went to Europe. I couldn't get over it. I never did. I felt like I was a tiny piece of something that existed for years. All the souls that lived in those cities, walked those streets, for hundreds and hundreds of years. You don't get that feeling walking the streets of New York.
Nik: I never thought about that. My family is very... Focused on history and our place in it. We never felt tiny.
Hannah: You're European?
Nik: (realizing she honestly has no clue who he is, he decides not to rush to divulge this information) I was raised there. I've been in America for many years now.
Hannah: (cocking her head to one side) You don't have an accent.
Nik: American tutors. We were taught to... assimilate. (Hannah stares at him. This sounds terrifyingly familiar. She tells herself it's impossible, but then realizes it's not)
Hannah: You're a Cassadine.
Nik: (not expecting her to figure it out that quickly) Nikolas Cassadine, yes.
Hannah: (considers running,) I see. (she takes a deep breath, and tries to figure out how to extricate herself from this conversation as quickly as possible. What is it with this town? Everyone she meets poses a threat to her, without even knowing it. She considers the mobster she encountered that morning, and now this incredible man seated across from her. This town is just one big powder keg. Nikolas is staring at her)
Nik: My reputation proceeds me.
Hannah: Not yours, specifically. I'm a little familiar with .... (she stops... What can she say or do that doesn't look suspicious? She smiles, and leans on the table with her elbows, trying to act like this is merely a source of curiosity) I've heard the name around town. You live out on that island I was looking at on the docks.
Nik: So you did know.
Hannah: (slipping into character) No, not then. But you hear things. Nothing bad, don't worry.
Nik: I can't believe that, with you working at Luke's
Hannah; (sitting up with a start) How did you know that?
Nik: I've seen you sing.
Hannah: When? (realizing her voice has become unnecessarily harsh) I didn't notice you in the crowd.
Nik: Cassadines don't go to Luke's to relax. I overheard a rehearsal. This morning, actually.
Hannah (vexed): I didn't know anyone was listening.
Nik: Except Lucky.
Hannah: You know him? (Nik considers this. She might know his name, but the rest of his story is still a mystery.)
Nik: We've met. (A waitress comes to the table with Hannah's order. Nikolas looks up at her) I've changed my mind. (handing her the bag) Could I get this for here? (The waitress looks from Nik to Hannah, confused. Hannah stares at him, thinking in spite of herself "typical Cassadine".)
Waitress: Alright, Mr. Cassadine.
Hannah: (letting irritation show in her voice) Just make yourself comfortable.
Nik: (really not caring) I already have.
It's long after dark, and Emily is still at her computer, trying to concentrate on her notes. She's been in her room for hours, not even taking a break for dinner, obsessively going over and over the project. By the time the phone rings she is so high strung she nearly flies across the room, knocking over her chair in the process.
Lucky: Going a little stir crazy?
Em: (collapsing onto the bed) Please tell me you're going to be off soon.
Lucky: Better than that. I'm at the front gate. (Emily hangs up on him, and dashes out of the room, leaving the computer on, the cursor blinking away. She runs down the stairs, and opens the closet. Alan, seeing her, gets up and comes into the foyer.)
Alan: I thought you weren't feeling well
Em: (rolling her eyes) I'm over it. I have to go out.
Alan: Emily. (Em pulls her coat on) Emily, I don't like the idea of this.
Em: (pulling her hair out from under the coat collar) I'm just going to see Lucky. He'll make sure I get home safe.
Alan: That's not the point! You're spending every waking moment either in your room studying or out with your boyfriend. There's no ... moderation.
Em: I barely see Lucky. And my marks are fine.
Alan; Your marks are tremendous. But you're eating habits are nonexistent, not to mention your sleep patterns. Emily -- you're running on empty and I can't for the life of me imagine why.
Em: I'll make Lucky take me to get some food, alright? And I'll sleep in tomorrow morning (she looks at Alan pleadingly) I have to see him. Please don't make a big deal of this.
Alan: (shaking his head) Be home at a decent hour.
Em: (hugging him) Thank you. I'll see you at breakfast. (She turns and dashes out of the front door. Alan watches after her, concerned, then turns to see Monica at the top of the stairs, looking equally worried).
Alan: I thought all that work over Christmas was so that she could take it easy over the next semester.
Outside Emily dashes down the drive, spotting Lucky leaning against his '92 Toyota Corolla. She runs towards him at full speed, and throws herself at him. Lucky's a little taken aback by her enthusiasm at seeing him. He holds her tightly, in silence for a moment, then murmurs in her ear.
Lucky: Have another fight?
Em: I just need to get away from that place. I really really need to get -- I tried to have lunch with them and it was like .... Grandfather, complaining, and Alan and Monica not saying a word. I just really had to get out of there.
Lucky: Glad to be of service.
Em: (pulling back) Where do you want to go?
Lucky: I have an idea. Have you eaten? (The idea leaves Emily cold. She feels too anxious to eat).
Em: Yeah. Let's just go.
(Hannah is trying, valiantly, to maintain some sort of inner peace. She has been sitting with Nikolas for almost forty-five minutes now, and she's enjoying his company much more than she thought she would. For some reason she can't make herself do what she knows she has to -- get out. She takes a sip of the coffee she ordered. She looks up at him, and notices him studying her. Her stomach immediately knots itself).
Nik: I'm just trying to figure out why, after living in half the cities in Europe, you moved here.
Hannah: (swallowing hard) I could ask you the same question.
Nik: I have family here. My sister.
Hannah: (this is news) You have a sister?
Nik: A brother too, actually. (He doesn't say anything a moment. Then looks up at her) What about you? Do you have family here?
Hannah: (looking down at the table a moment, and forces herself to adopt a cold demeanor of unshakable calm. She looks back at him, ) Nope. I don't ... I don't have family.
Nik: That explains it, I guess.
Hannah (confused) Explains what?
Nik: The nomadic lifestyle.
Hannah: (laughing) Oh, you think so, do you?
Nik: If you have no ties, you have no reason to stay anywhere.
Hannah: Sometimes people make ties of their own.
Nik: That's true. (staring almost right through her.) Sometimes they do. (Hannah feels herself go cold. She has to put an end to this conversation.)
Hannah: Me, I've never had much use for personal attachments. You?
Nik: I'm careful about them, but I do have them.
Hannah: Anyone in particular?
Nik: (letting his mind settle momentarily on Sarah) No one worth mentioning.
Hannah: Ouch. Who is she?
Nik: (innocently) Who?
Hannah (grabbing onto the topic, as it obviously makes him uncomfortable) The person not worth mentioning. It has the flavor of ex-girlfriend.
Nik: Ok... (seeing she's challenging him, he leans across the table. He's finding her to be endlessly fascinating. She's playing some sort of game, but he can't figure out what. He decides to lay his own cards on the table) There was a girl. She and I... Fundamentally disagreed on some morality issues. She didn't understand my family comes first, always, regardless of character.
Hannah: Hmmm Well, I'll consider myself warned.
Nik: I'm sure half of Port Charles has already done that. (Hannah shakes her head slowly, not sure if she should be amused or annoyed. He seems to have an inflated sense of his own importance.
Hannah: I told you. I don't have many personal attachments.
Nik: Yet. (He stands up.) Nice to meet you..... (He lets his voice trail off, indicating he still doesn't have a name. She hesitates momentarily)
Nik: I'll commit that to memory. (Hannah attempts to look unmoved, but her heart begins to beat a little faster. He nods at her) Until next time, Hannah.
Hannah: Next time. (He flashes her a very attractive smile, and she does not respond in kind. She does however, watch him leave, staring at the door for several moments after he's left. She attempts to shake it off, and opens her book again)
Hannah: (muttering to herself) You want to get yourself killed? (she tries to bury herself in the novel)
Emily and Lucky come along the path to a clearing at the bottom of the ravine in the PC park. It's a place they've been many times before, most memorably when they were first getting together. It's been a while since they've visited this site -- not since their summer breakup. Emily walks just ahead of Lucky, and breaths in the air as she reaches the clearing.)
Em: It looks exactly the same. (she turns to Lucky) Do you think anyone else ever comes here?
Lucky: I hope not. (Emily turns around, and faces the creek that runs through the ravine. Lucky, who is carrying a very old blanket, opens it, and drapes it around Emily's shoulders. She leans back against him, and he wraps his arms around her waist.)
Em: (sighing) You're the only person I ever feel relaxed around.
Lucky: (pressing his head against her hair) This is your version of relaxed?
Em: What do you mean?
Lucky: You just seem a little tense to me. Is something going on?
Em: (pulling away) Everything is fine. Or at least it will be, soon enough. (She takes the blanket off of her shoulders and spreads it on the ground.) I mailed the essays and everything this afternoon. I guess I'll know in (closes her eyes, calculating) five months.
Lucky: And then?
Em: Then it's over. (Lucky watches Emily with concern. He doesn't get this. He's tried and tried, but he can't make sense of it. The idea, getting out of P.C., that he understands. Why being a full-time student at Berkeley is going to be less work, and less stress escapes him)
Lucky: How are your parents?
Em: Silent as stone. (she sits down cross-legged on the blanket) Well, except for telling me get some sleep, or eat something, or to spend less time with you.
Lucky: Spend LESS time with me?
Em: They seem to think I spend my every waking moment studying in my room, or with you.
Lucky: Well. Don't you?
Em: There's also the library. And the school newspaper, yearbook.... (she closes her eyes. Her head is beginning to pound.) I just feel like if I stop for a second I'm going to get run over. Like I'm being chased by that big ball in Indiana Jones. (Lucky stares at her, getting more and more concerned by the second)
Lucky: You're sure nothing happened tonight?
Em: (her voice small) Nothing out of the ordinary. (The tenuous timber of her voice is all the convincing Lucky needs that his girlfriend is on the edge. He walks over to her and drops onto the blanket beside her, putting his arm around her shoulders.)
Lucky: (quietly) Hey. (Emily feels tears coming to her eyes.) Come here. (Emily allows him to pull her against him. She rests her head against his shoulder).
Em: I'm so close to getting what I want. I can't let anything... I can't mess things up now!
Lucky: You're not even close to messing things up.
Em: You don't understand! (She pulls away, turning to face him). Right now, yes. Everything is fine. But I know I have to maintain this pace... And if I don't, then everything will fall apart.
Lucky: The only thing in danger of falling apart right now, Emily, is you.
Em: And how exactly does this work if I fall apart?
Lucky: Hey! Wait a minute. The plan here is that after this year, we go far away and don't look back. We make our own lives for ourselves, you and me, remember?
Em: (heavily) I know that.
Lucky: That's not what I'm hearing from you. What I'm hearing is the YOU have to keep running yourself to extremes so that WE can get out of here. Well, that's not the point, Emily. I know you want to go to Berkeley, I know you want a good education so that you don't have to rely on your parents. But whether you get into Berkeley or not, you still have a future. And you will get out of here, and you will be able to take care of yourself. And when it gets too crazy, or when you push yourself too hard, I will be there to tell you to stop. Which I am doing right now. Emily. (He puts his hand under her chin, and looks her straight in the eye) Stop.
Em: I can't.
Lucky: Yeah, you can. You can do anything. What time is it?
Em: (Looking at her watch) 9:30.
Lucky: Ok... So let's say that for the next three hours, you just stop. When you get up tomorrow, everything will still be where you left it, and you can start again. But right now, Stop.
Em: (looking at him like he's out of his mind) It's not that easy.
Lucky: Then I'm going to have to make sure you do it.
Em: (rolling her eyes) Ok. How do I start?
Lucky: Lie down. (Emily's eyes widen, and she looks pointedly at their surroundings)
Lucky: Trust me. (Emily considers this, and sighs, and falls back onto the ground. Lucky looks down at her, and she narrows her eyes at him self-consciously.)
Lucky: You're beautiful. (Emily groans with embarrassment and covers her face with her arm. Lucky lies down next to her, and takes her free hand in his.) You're going to have to open your eyes.
Em: Says who?
Lucky: Says me. Come on, don't be difficult. (Emily sighs and lets her arm drop back onto the blanket)
Lucky: Makes you realize how little you look up, doesn't it?
Em: Wow. (They both lie on the ground and stare up through the leaf cover at the stars.) Do you know any of the names?
Lucky: Just the basics. (point up) That's Orion.
Em: Hmmm.... Artemis's lover.
Lucky: Uh huh.
Em: He was killed by her brother.
Lucky: Ow. Buzz kill. (Emily laughs).
Em: Actually he sent a scorpion to do battle with him, or something. And he died.
Lucky: Scorpion's probably up there too, but I have no idea where. Just... Look how far up they go. Even the stars that you can really see, there are hundreds and hundreds behind them.
Em: (dreamily) It's full of possibilities.
Lucky: (smiling) Yeah. And so are we.
Em: You are so good at this.
Lucky: I try. (Emily turns her head and kisses him gently. She pulls back and takes a deep breath)
Em: I think I'm actually relaxing.
Lucky: Hmmm... Now you just have to maintain that for three more hours.
Em: I'll see what I can do. (They fall into silence, and continue staring at the sky) Lucky?
Em: I think I just remembered why I love you.