Chapter Six:
Personal Space

Lucky's room above Luke's

The room is stark, and surprisingly uncluttered. It looks like it has been barely lived in. The state of the room immediately suggests that the occupant doesn't intend to stay here long. There are a pile of books on a desk, and a pile of clothes on the chair. Apart from that, no signs that anyone lives there. Lucky lies on the bed, reading a book for his philosophy class. He's purposely trying not to look like he's waiting for something, even though he's the only person in the room. There is a knock on the door, and he tosses the book aside, leaping off the bed, which lands him at the door in one step (small place). He opens it, and leans against the door jamb, smiling at Emily slyly.

Lucky: You made it.

Em: Gee, lunch in a noisy cafeteria, or hanging out with my incredible boyfriend. Tough choice.

Lucky: Uh oh. Flattery. What happened?

Em: You're so suspicious.

Lucky: Just cautious. Coming in?

Em: I have an hour. Can't think of anyone I'd rather kill it with. (Lucky opens the door, and steps aside. She lets out a low whistle as she enters) This place seems smaller every time I see it.

Lucky: That would be why Foster lives with my parents. (Emily walks over to the window, and Lucky notices for the first time -- as she's now in much better light -- how pale she looks) Hey. Are you alright?

Em: (a little too cheery) I'm fine! (She moves over the bed, and sits on the edge). This place is kind of cozy.

Lucky: It is not. I strive for it not to be cozy.

Em: It has cozy potential. (She looks over at him, still watching from the door) Are you standing guard, or something? (Lucky closes the door and walks over to her. He studies her face closely, not liking what he sees.)

Lucky: Em, you look tired.

Em: Well, I had a big test today. Biology. Not one of my stronger subjects.

Lucky: Yeah? Are you just pulling a 87 in that one?

Em: (getting a bit tense) Can we talk about something else? (Lucky sits down beside her)

Lucky: Like?

Em: I don't know. Your job? College?

Lucky: How about your parents?

Em: (making a face) Why don't we just forget about talking. (She leans over and kisses Lucky. He is uncharacteristically unresponsive, and she pulls back, a worried look in her eyes). What's wrong?

Lucky: That's what I'm trying to figure out.

Em: Lucky, don't be so cryptic.

Lucky: Have you ever seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

Em: (confused) Yes. We went to that Halloween Movie Fest thing. Body Snatchers and Night of the Living Dead. I didn't sleep for a week.

Lucky: You remember that scene where the guy goes off... for some reason. And he comes back and his girlfriend is lying on the ground, and they're both exhausted because they can't fall asleep, and he kisses her, and in the middle of the kiss he realizes she must have fallen asleep, just for a second, and now she's been taken over by the pod.

Em: Yeah... I never got that. Why did the pods grown independent bodies if they were just going to take over the old ones?

Lucky: (frustrated) That's not the point, Emily.... Something's wrong.

Em: Are you saying I kiss like a pod person?

Lucky: (sighing) I've never had any problems with the way you kiss, Em. I'm saying... (he struggles to find a way to explain this without completely freaking her out) I know you... I know you like I've never known anyone. And... I don't know who you are right now.

Em: What do you mean?

Lucky: Emily, when we first got together, you got good grades, but you never stressed over them. It was never a big deal. Now it's the center of your life.

Em: When we first got together I was barely fifteen. People change, Lucky.

Lucky: I know that. But... It's not that I have a problem with this. I mean, I understand why you're doing it. But I don't... You look exhausted. You're acting like you're happy and I can tell you're not. You can't hide from me, Emily. I see you. And I know something's wrong.

Em: (coldly) You're overreacting. I'm just a little tired.

Lucky: You're not a little anything! You're worn out, you're pale, and Emily... You're getting really thin.

Em: I'm fine.

Lucky: (getting really upset) You're NOT fine. You haven't been fine for a long time.

Em: Then why are you just mentioning it now? Have you been talking to my parents?

Lucky: (very quietly) No, Emily. But if they're worried too...

Em: I can handle this, Lucky. You're the one who is always telling me I can do anything, I can have the world if I want it. Well, that's what I'm trying to do. And if I loose a bit of sleep for a few weeks, it'll be worth it.

Lucky: (frustrated) You keep talking like this is going to end! Like you can keep pushing yourself like this, and then when you get into Berkeley, it will all go away. Do you know what I see happening, Emily? I'm seeing you get out there, with a bigger work load, and pushing yourself even harder until you really have nothing left. I can't watch you do this.

Em: (bitterly) I thought you were going to be there to tell me when to stop.

Lucky: This IS me telling you to stop. Emily (he grabs her shoulders, and looks into her eyes intently) Call your mother. Tell her you're sick. You can sleep here. Just get some rest, eat something, let go for a little while.

Em: (weakly) I can't.

Lucky: (determined) Yes, you can. (Emily sags against him, letting the "I'm fine" pretense fall. Her voice begins to shake)

Em: No, I can't. I have a lab due this afternoon, and a paper to hand in for Writer's Craft.

Lucky: (At the end of his rope) Emily! I'm not telling you to goof off here! If you want, I will TAKE your paper to the school, and hand it in for you. And I'm sure you can make up the lab. (At the words "make up" she stiffens)

Em: No, I can't. I just can't, Lucky. (She gets up) I have to get back.

Lucky: You've got an hour.

Em: I've got forty-five minutes.

Lucky: (almost begging, he grabs her hands and pulls her towards the bed) I'll drive you. I swear. Emily, just please... Just lie down for a while. Lie down with me, I'll make sure you get back to class in time. (Emily stares at his eyes, filled with concern for her. She suddenly crumples against him, crying. He wraps his arms around her and pulls her back onto the bed. She is wracked with sobs as he lies her down beside him, gently stroking her hair. His eyes display his own terror at not being able to do more. For the time being, though, all he can think to do is hold her and wait.

* * * *

Hannah's apartment.

She stares at her blank walls, then picks up a hammer and begins to drive a nail into a wall. While she does this, she is very aware that she is trying to make a home for herself, something she hasn't done for a long time. She's not sure why, today of all days, she's suddenly found the strength and faith to do this. She's sick of running, and Port Charles seems as reasonable a place to stop as any. She is very aware that her encounter with Nikolas Cassadine should have sent her further into the quagmire of uncertainty she's been floundering in for the last eight years of her life. She wishes that she knew exactly who he was, and curses herself for not getting more information before landing here. It all seemed so simple when she'd gotten on the plane. Even though she'd been warned to stay away from Wyndemere, the house on the island, she'd never seriously considered that she'd ever encounter any of the stateside Cassadines. Yet, she's not only encountered one, she'd had dinner with him. There was a silence surrounding the ones on the island in Greece. They were considered to be ... more important. There was a mysticism about them that wasn't there for the rest of the family. Hannah knocks the picture hook into the wall with a final smack of the hammer and tosses the tool onto the couch she's acquired. She looks over at the picture, a photograph she took when she first arrived in Greece, of the Aegean Sea at Sunset. She had it framed and hung it in her quarters at the house. It was the only part of Greece she'd taken with her when she left. It was something that was hers, something that proceeded her involvement with that family. She hangs it on the wall, and looks at it defiantly. No one owns the sea, it's untainted. It's free, and it goes wherever it wants. It's something to strive for, she decides. And when she's done here, she'll be free too.

* * * *

Dining Hall, Wyndemere.

Stefan sits, dressed in black from head to toe, in an ornate chair, looking out the window grimly. Nikolas enters, and takes in his father's demeanor. He walks over to his place and sits down, not saying a word until Stefan chooses to acknowledge him. Stefan finally comes out of his repose and nods at Nikolas.

Stefan: You're off to work soon.

Nik: Yes.

Stefan: And then?

Nik: I have errands to run. Regarding that matter we spoke of before.

Stefan: I still do not see the necessity of that. There is plenty of room here.

Nik: The amount of room isn't the issue, Uncle.

Stefan: It is so empty without her. I can't bear to imagine what it will be like without you.

Nik: I'll still be here. We'll see each other. I just need a place to ... recover. I need some place where she isn't.

Stefan: (quietly) Katherine is everywhere I am. She never leaves my side.

Nik: I know.

Stefan: If you must move out, however temporarily, you do it with my blessing. But this is your home, Nikolas. You will be back.

Nik: (standing up) I always come back. I'll see you at the hospital. (Stefan nods, and returns to gazing out the window. Nikolas turns and leaves him to his thoughts).