Chapter Nine: Everything that Goes Around
General Hospital, Eighth Floor.
The elevator opens, revealing Emily, standing, eyes closed, leaning against the wall. She opens her eyes with a start, and walks out of the elevator. The floor is buzzing with activity. She stares at it all, uncomprehendingly, for a second. Amy flies by.
Amy: Hi Emily! (And she's gone)
Em: Hi... (She has no idea who that was. Not because she doesn't know Amy -- Lucky's aunt, after all, but because she's having trouble focusing on anything. She tries to remember what she's doing there.)
Bobbie: (barely looking up, as she scribbles notes on a clip board) Hello, Emily. Looking for your mom? She's almost out of surgery.
Em: (vaguely) Ok. (Bobbie looks up at Emily's voice, but the girl has already turned away. She needs to sit down. She walks very purposely over to the chairs, and sinks into one of them. She tucks her feet under her, and stares at the wall. Bobbie watches her with concern. Nikolas comes down the far hallway with a folder. He walks over to the nurses station, and hands it to Bobbie. )
Bobbie: Done for today?
Nik: (suspiciously) Why? Do you have some mountain of paperwork you're hiding for me?
Bobbie: Not at all. There's just someone over there who looks like she needs to talk. (she gestures towards Emily. Nikolas smiles lightly and turns back to Bobbie)
Nik: Thanks. (he walks over to her.) Emily? (Emily looks up at him, blinking. She smiles weakly -- the adjective of the day for her.)
Em: Nikolas. (Nikolas attempts to cover his distress with her appearance. Something's not right.)
Nik: Are you Ok?
Em: I'm waiting for my mother. (She sighs heavily, and frowns) We're supposed to have lunch. (Something about that strikes her as funny, and she laughs suddenly.).
Nik: Em. Are you... (Déjà vu, he thinks of the time he took her home when she was stoned.) Are you all right?
Em: (heavily) Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. I've just had a really long day. (She laughs again, more to herself this time) Really long.
Nik: You look...
Em: Pale, thin, haggard, tired, exhausted, sick, stoned... Yeah, I've heard.
Nik: Are you sure you're all right?
Em: I will be. Tomorrow's Friday, and I have almost all of my work done. Just a few proof-readings and stuff. Then I'm off for exams. Two weeks.
Nik: (sitting down on the arm of a chair) That's good. You look like you could use a break.
Em: Well, My last exam is next Friday, so it won't be much of a break... (she looses her train of thought) it... Um, Nik?
Em: Did you find college harder than high school?
Em: Oh, look who I'm asking. Never mind. (she smiles at him again. After a moment Nikolas smiles back.)
Nik: How is school going?
Em: I did a...presentation, and... (she is really struggling to stay present in the conversation.) An exam. I think it went Ok.
Nik: (careful not to offend) Emily, maybe you should go wait in the doctor's lounge for your Mom. You can lie down while she finishes surgery.
Em: (distantly) She won't know I'm there.
Nik: I'll tell Bobbie. Come on. (He stands up and offers her his hand. She takes it, and rises, only to immediately sink back into the chair).
Em: (in shock) I can't.
Em: No (she shakes her head, dizzily) I can't. I can't do this. I have to... I have to get out of here.
Nik: I don't think that's a good idea.
Em: No, I'll just... I'll go home.
Nik: Emily, you can't stand up! How are you going to get home? (Emily gets a determined look on her face, and manages to push herself out of the chair).
Em: (standing up, though unsteadily) I'll be fine. (She walks past him, towards the elevator, her movements very purposeful. Nikolas watches her, then, shaking his head, follows)
Nik: (leaning against the wall as she pushes the down button) At least let me walk you out. I'm going to my car anyway.
Nik: Don't you think you should let your Mother know you're leaving?
Em: The plans were tentative. She'll figure out something came up.
Nik: (uncertainly) All right. In that case, can I give you a ride home?
Em: I'm fine. Thanks, but it's Ok. (The doors open. She and Nik step in, and she pushes G, he hits P1. Emily puts a hand out on the bar at the edge of the elevator in a subtle attempt to steady herself.) So, how's work?
Nik: (studying her carefully) Work is fine... Emily, are you --
Em: I'm fine! (she turns around to face him, partially because this way she can lean against the wall.) I'm just tired. I'm a student. That happens.
Nik: You look like the walking dead.
Em: Thanks. I'll add that to the list. (the elevator stops at the lobby, and Emily smiles at him.) I'll see you around. (she pushes herself off the wall, and is immediately hit by huge wave of dizziness. The little bit of color left in her face drains and her knees buckle. She grabs back onto the bar for support. Nikolas stares at her in shock. The doors close.) Oh, God....
Nik: (authoritatively) I'm driving you home.
Em: No. No, I can't... If I go back there, then I'll just... (she looks up at him, and forces a wry smile) If I could sleep at home, I probably would do it more often.
Nik: (Not really comprehending this) Well, where can you sleep? (Emily leans back against the wall, and closes her eyes)
Hannah sits on a bar stool, legs crossed, reading a book. Lucky comes in the front door, and stops dead, looking around.
Lucky: Where's my Dad?
Hannah: In the back.
Lucky: Who's watching the bar?
Hannah: (looking up) I am. (She makes a show of looking around) Yup. Still here. (She resumes reading. Lucky dumps his bag on a table, and heads behind the bar. )
Lucky: Has anyone called?
Hannah: Not that I know of. Expecting someone?
Lucky: Not really. (He pours himself a glass of water, and downs it almost in one gulp, then slams it down on the bar). I really hate school.
Hannah: (frowning) I've gathered.
Lucky: It's the most useless, boring...
Lucky: That's a paradigm. (Shakes his head) See? I never used to talk like that. I have to get out of that place. (Hannah laughs)
Hannah: And what? Embrace ignorance?
Lucky: (seriously) Embrace life. (Hannah shakes her head. She finds Lucky far too amusing). See? It has a ring to it. I could write T-shirts.
Hannah: There's a fulfilling career. (Lucky leans against the back of the bar and stares off into space, his mind settling once again on Emily. He isn't accustomed to feeling this way. Tied. Waiting around for phone calls, complaining about school, fighting with his girlfriend. This kind of banality really makes him tense. The door opens, the afternoon light streaming into the bar, catching his attention. Both Hannah and Lucky look up at the same moment to see Nikolas. Hannah's face registers shock, then she opens her mouth). What --
Lucky: What are you doing here? (His voice is more confused than accusing. Nikolas's eyes fall on Hannah momentarily, then he walks over to the bar)
Nik: (confidentially) I have to talk to you. (Lucky, as always, has an immediate urge to do the opposite of what Nikolas wants him to do, just on principle. Something in his brother's voice persuades him to turn to Hannah instead.)
Lucky: I'll be right back. (He turns and follows Nikolas out of the bar. Once outside, he turns and grabs Nik's arm.) Ok. What?
Nik: Have you seen Emily lately? (All the color drains from Lucky's face. Nikolas feels immediately vindicated). Exactly. I saw her at the hospital. She's this far from being a patient.
Lucky: (muttering) Great. (Looking up at Nik) So what does this have to do with you?
Nik: (tense) She didn't want to go home. So I brought her here. (Lucky immediately stiffens)
Lucky: Where is she? (Nikolas gestures towards the corner of the club, where the entrance to Lucky's apartment is. Lucky dashes around the corner, and sees Emily, sitting, four steps up on the rickety wooden stairs that lead up to the apartment. She looks up at him, and Lucky catches his breath. She is white as a ghost, with dark circles under her eyes. She is shaking slightly, like she's incredibly cold. As bad as she looked the other day when he insisted she get some sleep over the lunch hour, she looks worse now. Even with her winter coat, she still looks so thin, she may as well be transparent.)
Em: Hi. (Lucky swallows hard.)
Lucky: Hey. Nikolas says you don't want to go home.
Em: I need to get some sleep.
Lucky: Yeah, you do.
Em: Can I...
Lucky: Sure. Yes. Come on. (He looks back at Nikolas, who shrugs and walks back around the corner. Lucky gives Emily both of his hands and pulls her to her feet. She wraps her arms around his neck hugging him as tightly as she can manage. Hesitating a second, Lucky puts his arms around her waist.)
Em: (whispering) I'm sorry.
Lucky: You've got to get upstairs.
Em: (Pulling back) I'll try. (She turns, and grips the bannister tightly. Lucky walks one stair behind her as she slowly mounts the stairs. She stops two from the top and nearly swoons, Lucky quickly grabbing her. He's so terrified now, he can't speak. He practically carries her up the last two stairs, and opens the door to the upstairs of the club. She leans against the doorjamb, and waits a few seconds for everything to stop spinning. When it does, she walks through the door and immediately sinks down onto Lucky's bed. Lucky watches her, at an absolute loss. He's not convinced that it's just sleep that she needs. She looks up at him, again, pulling off her coat.) Don't let me sleep too long. (Lucky nods, although he knows he's not going to wake her up unless there's a tornado or something.)
Lucky: I'll be here when you wake up, Ok?
Em: Are you leaving?
Lucky: Not if you don't want me to. (Emily kicks off her shoes).
Em: Could you just stay a minute? (Emily's voice is incredibly tiny, almost unrecognizable. Lucky nods, and sits down next to her on the bed. Emily sighs heavily, tears appearing in her eyes) I can't do anything right. (Lucky pulls Emily down onto the bed, laying his arm across her waist. She rolls up into a tight ball, and finally lets her eyes close, the tears running slowly down her face, away from Lucky. He lies beside her, listening to her breathing deepen.)
After waiting outside for a good fifteen minutes, Nikolas suspects that Lucky is planning to just leave him out there wondering. He ventures back into the club, and sees Hannah, still seated on the bar stool. She looks over at him when he enters. She can feel that something is wrong, but has no idea what. Nikolas walks over the bar, and sits down. He doesn't care if Luke Spencer shows up, he just wants to know what happened with Emily. Hannah watches him, thoroughly confused.
Hannah: (tentatively) Is Lucky coming back?
Nik: He's upstairs. (They sit in silence for a few moments. Hannah clears her throat again)
Hannah: Is everything all right?
Nik: You're asking the wrong person. (The door opens again, and Lucky walks in. Nikolas looks up at Lucky expectantly. Lucky walks behind the bar again, looking shell-shocked. Hannah tries to make a subtle exit, quietly putting her book into her purse as they begin speaking) How is she?
Lucky: Asleep. (From the moment he saw her on, Lucky has been fighting the onset of an incredible guilt attack. He can barely look at Nikolas, convinced, on some level, that his brother believes this is his fault.)
Nik: How long has this been going on? (Lucky shrugs, unwilling to make eye contact) Is this all about school?
Lucky: Why? What did she tell you?
Nik: Nothing. (Hannah stands up, silently)
Lucky: Don't worry. She'll be fine.
Nik: You don't look too sure of that. (Lucky slams a glass down onto the bar in frustration. He's basically been waiting for Nik to say anything he could leap on.)
Lucky: Look, she's your friend. Ok? You want to know what's going on, ask her. I'm not here to provide you with information. (Hannah jumps, and sits back down. Moving suddenly doesn't seem like a good idea).
Nik: Fine. But she's reaching the end of her rope.
Lucky: (Muttering) I know.
Nik: Something's really pushing her over the edge.
Lucky: (caustically) And I guess that would be me.
Nik: (quietly, watching Lucky's every move) I didn't say that.
Nik: She's not using again, is she?
Lucky: (angrily) No. (He suddenly slumps against the bar.) No, nothing like that. (He can't help but think that if she was, he'd have a better idea how to handle it)
Nik: It just doesn't seem like she needs any extra pressure in her life.
Lucky: And we all know how much stress being around me is. (Nikolas can't really respond to that, as being around Lucky, for him, is almost always exhaustingly stressful)
Nik: I'm not trying to --
Lucky: You know what? I don't care. If you need to lay this at someone's feet, fine. Here I am.
Nik: (an exit line) Just keep an eye on her.
Lucky: Look, don't think I don't appreciate the effort, Nik. But the you can lay off the brotherly advice thing. Emily's going to be fine, and we don't need you telling us what to do, Ok? (He turns and heads towards the back. Nikolas watches after him, his jaw tight. Lucky stops in the doorway, and sighs heavily. He turns his head slightly.) Thanks for bringing her here.
Nik: She didn't want to go home.
Lucky: (Turning almost to face him, while making sure not to actually connect with him) Yeah, well. Thanks. (He allows himself to look at Nik for just a second, but sees nothing he recognizes as emotion in his eyes. Lucky looks away quickly.) See you around. (He leaves. Nikolas and Hannah sit in silence. Finally Nikolas, a bit in shock, stands up)
Hannah: Are you all right?
Nik: (remembering she's here) I'm fine. (He looks over at her. Her expression is unreadable)
Hannah: So explain to me how Lucky Spencer is your brother.
Nik: We have the same mother. (Hannah nods. She is assaulted by a wave of nausea. Why can't anything ever be simple? Lucky Spencer is the brother of a Cassadine. How cute. It makes an eerie sort of sense to her, though).
Hannah: You were right. You are just like my sister and I.
Hannah: You giving advice he doesn't want.
Nik: Lucky and I aren't family.
Hannah: You called him your brother. Or do you have another one?
Nik: We didn't grow up together.
Hannah: My sister is sixteen years older than me. I was a flower girl at her wedding. She was grown when I got here. (she laughs bitterly) She knew everything. I mean, EVERYTHING. It was like having another mother. And she always knew what I should do. I never had to ask, she was always there with advice I didn't want. Talking down to me, acting like I didn't have a mind of my own.
Nik: (defensively) Are you saying that's what I was doing with Lucky?
Hannah: I'm not even saying that's what she was doing with me. But that's what it felt like. I fought her on it, too. She said up, I said down. She dropped out of college, I was going to get my Ph.D.. She got married, I was going to be a career woman. I was going to do everything she couldn't, and I was going to be great at it. (She suddenly puts her head down, like she's feeling incredible, physical pain. When she looks back up she has tears in her eyes) Well, hey. Life doesn't always work out like you want it to.
Nik: Where is she now?
Hannah: (choking on a laugh) Who knows? Who cares? That's what I always told myself. (she looks him in the eye) It's a lie, of course. I guess... She's the big sister. She always wanted to be the adult. I guess deep down, I've always felt like if she wants to find me, she will. (Hannah immediately realizes that she's divulged way more than she ever should have. She's feeling too raw to shut herself down again. Why she always looses her detachment with Nikolas Cassadine is beyond her. She keeps going, though) What I never wanted to admit was that... I needed her. Lucky doesn't want to admit that either.
Nik: Lucky doesn't need anyone. That's probably his mantra.
Hannah: You don't see it, do you?
Hannah: He wants something from you. He'd never admit it, and he certainly doesn't know how to go about getting it, but he wants something.
Nik: What did you want from your sister?
Hannah: (sadly) Respect. Understanding. (she looks him in the eye) Love.
Nik: (shaking his head) Lucky and I are never going to have those things.
Hannah: (standing up) Well, why don't you try finding one. Then maybe the rest will follow. (She goes behind the bar and picks up a tissue, drying her eyes carefully. Nikolas stares at her)
Nik: Why are you telling me this? (And even more confusing, why is he listening?)
Hannah: (shrugging) What can I say? You touched me. (She frowns). It's just something to think about.
Nik: Yeah. (He stares at her, studying every movement she makes. He has no idea who this woman is, but from the first moment he saw her, he's wanted to know more. But the more he knows, the more questions he has. She doesn't look at him, instead examining the floor. She lets the silence hang between them without a moment's embarrassment. Nikolas suddenly feels the need for some air.) Tell Lucky... (he stops short. She looks up at him expectantly) Never mind. Maybe I'll just tell him myself. (He turns and walks out of the club without a backwards glance. As soon as he's gone, Hannah sinks to the floor, tears now streaming down her face.)
Hannah: Is this some kind of sick joke? (She bitterly looks heavenward) How on earth did I get myself into this?