Once In a Lifetime Love

She was lying on her stomach as he approached her, her long hair half gathered in a knot at her neck, half lying loose across her almost bare back. Against the white blanket she had spread out, her skin was burnished copper in the midday sun. He grinned, knowing that even on her own private property with no one to see her, that choice was deliberate; she didn’t do anything that wasn’t. As he took another step towards her, she rolled over onto her back, and he froze. A moment later, he took a breath and another step as her head remained tucked firmly into the crook of her elbow.

As he drew close enough to see her mouth, his grin widened. Her lips were moving to whatever song was blasting from the headphones resting against her ears, and her foot was tapping to the beat. He took one last step, until he was standing almost directly above her, and lifted his camera.

The moment the shutter clicked, her hand shot out, her eyes still closed. “Okay, you know, the ‘No Trespassing’ signs aren’t posted every twenty freakin’ feet ‘cause I think they’re pretty. You wanna take a picture? Pay your 700 bucks a pop like everyone else. Until then, gimmee the film, or my lawyer’ll be up your ass with an injunction within the hour.”

He threw back his head, laughing lightly. “Damn Gia,” he murmured, making no move to open the back of the camera. “Some things never change.”

Gia’s arm lifted, and her eyes popped open. She lay flat on her back, staring up at him for a long moment. “Lucky Spencer,” she said, quietly. “You’re the last person I expected to see ever again, let alone this week.”

The smile faded as Lucky dropped the camera back around his neck. “Subtle as always, huh, Gia?”

She sat up, sliding the earphones off. “Yeah, well, it’s a talent.” Gia looked at Lucky a long moment; the two years since she’d seen him were written on his face, in his eyes, along the broader line of his shoulders. It made her wonder, for a moment, what her face must look like to him. “Sorry,” she mumbled, studying her hands. She looked back up at him. “This isn’t the easiest week for me either, Lucky.”

Lucky sank down on the blanket beside her. “Yeah, I know,” he said, quietly. “I guess that’s why I’m here. Couldn’t seem to stay away, but when I got back to ol’ Port Chuck, you were the only person it made any kinda sense to see,” he looked into her dark eyes once, then away. “Go figure.”

“I’ve been thinking about you too,” Gia said, slowly. She wrapped her arms around her knees, her eyes trained ahead, carefully not at him. “How are you, Lucky?”

He looked over at her, sharply. “What do you really wanna know, Gia? If you wanna know if I’m gonna go crazy on you, just come out and say it.”

Gia drew in a sharp breath, turning to meet his flashing blue eyes with dark fire of her own. “You know better than that, Lucky,” she snapped. “I haven’t seen you for two years; asking how you’ve BEEN is a perfectly legitimate question, jerk. God. Sensitive much?”

Lucky glared back, then softened slowly, dropping his defenses. Or, at the very least, the ones he knew how to drop. “Sorry,” it was his turn to apologize. He sighed. “It’s just -- one of the reasons I stayed away so long. Everyone’s constantly gonna be looking at me, waiting to see when and how I’m going to crack. Especially with this damn wedding.” He ran his hand through his now almost shoulder length hair. “I shouldn’t have snapped at you, though. Not your fault.”

“No kidding,” Gia shot back. “Tell me something I don’t know, genius.”

Lucky threw back his head and a remarkably free laugh erupted from his throat. “Same old Gia,” he snorted. “You never cut anyone any quarter, do you?”

She shook her head with a small smile, but her eyes were shadowed. “Two years is a long time, Lucky,” Gia said, abruptly, cutting through his laughter. “Not everything stays the same. Not even me.”

~What if I didn't say what's on my mind
And you walk away~

“Gia...” His voice trailed off. “I had to leave,” Lucky said, finally.

“I know,” Gia’s tone was sharp, and her eyes were still focused on the bright green lawn in front of them. “I was the one who told you to go, remember?”

~I might live out my life
And never feel this way~

“I remember.” He touched her for the first time, tentatively, one hand reaching out to lightly twine a single braid through his fingers. “I remember.”

Gia didn’t really expect to find him. After all, she wasn’t like the others; she didn’t have this ‘bond’ with him across time, space and Granny Psycho’s desires. But, thing was, maybe that was a good thing. Her vision wasn’t clouded by ghosts from the past. And, she did know one thing neither of them possibly could -- exactly how it felt to be betrayed by the person you thought loved you.

“Lucky?” She peered into the darkened photography studio, her hand lifting to the light switch. Gia hesitated, then dropped her hand, taking a slow step inside. “Hey, you here? It’s Gia, Lucky. There’s -- no one with me.”

Gia peered into the darkness; she could just make out his figure sitting in the middle of the platform. She moved slowly towards him, proceeding on the theory that if you ran from a wild animal, they were bound to attack. But, if you wanted to tame them, you looked them in the eye and walked slowly. “Lucky? Are you -- okay?” She paused, then lowered herself gracefully to the step below him.

“You know the thing that got me about takin’ pictures?” Gia shivered. His voice was eerily calm. “When you click the shutter, that moment, what you see through the lens, it’s yours. You own it. No one can change it, or tell you it never happened, or take it away. It’s yours forever, no matter what comes.”

She nodded. “Yeah. It’s like that on the other side of the lens, too. You’re up here,” Gia tapped manicured fingernails against the cold tile they were both sitting on, “and it’s this little world that no one can break. And nothing can hurt you. But,” her palm lifted to press against her cheek, tear-stains still damp, “it’s not real, Lucky. It’s all just a pretty picture, back lit by fairy lights.”

“Don’t tell me about reality, Gia,” Lucky’s voice was suddenly sharp and vicious, and the medallion he’d been caressing flew out of his hand, crashing into one of the studio lights. “Walking in on my brother fucking my girlfriend, that’s my reality! I know that none of this,” he stood up, walking over to to the divan set up for the morning’s photo shoot and ripping the silk drape off of it viciously, “is real. Take it from the guy who spent a year in a grey metal box; I know far more about reality better than you ever could!”

Gia stood up, stalking over to him, her eyes flashing even through the darkness. “Bullshit!” Gia grabbed hold of his arm, the lean muscle whipcord under her fingers. “Reality is Nik’s insane bitch of a Gramma playin’ some kind of warped mind tricks with all of us. You left; you didn’t see--” She let go his arm, moving away abruptly, seeing all over again their guilt-stricken faces lifted to hers. Gia spoke slowly. “It was like they were stoned or something. Psycho Granny did something to them, Lucky. Nikolas,” she swallowed hard when she said his name, “I don’t think he even knew where he was. That wasn’t real anymore than this,” she gestured at the studio, “is.”

Lucky spun on his heel sharply, facing her. “You’re tellin’ me about Helena Cassadine? Gia, I’ve been playing this game since I was born! You think I don’t know she set this up?” His fingers flexed into fists at his sides. “But what does that change, huh, Gia? Doesn’t make what happened not’ve happened.” He reached out and grabbed her shoulder, hard. “C’mon, tell me! When you close your eyes, what d’ya see? My brother’s face, his arms around her, their bodies--” Gia shoved against him hard, breaking his grip, to turn away from him, and he stopped. Lucky made a move to grab her again angrily and then suddenly dropped his hand, a dark cloud falling from his eyes. After a long silence, broken only by his harsh breathing, Lucky closed his eyes, sinking slowly back down to his knees. He dropped his head between them, speaking in a near-whisper. “I’m so tired of being a game piece in this stupid war that started before I was even born.”

“Then don’t,” Gia’s voice was muffled, and when she turned around, her face was wet with fresh tears. She lifted a hand to her face, wiping first her mouth then each cheek, very slowly. “You don’t like your life, then change it. Get the hell off of the playing field, Lucky. My mother always says something, and I hate it. But, the longer I stay in this goddamned town, the truer I think it is.” She sank down beside him, looking at him with pain and pity and anger in her eyes. “You’ve got no one to blame for your life but yourself.”

Lucky’s head was still between his knees; for a long moment, Gia wasn’t sure he’d heard her. “I just want to be free,” he whispered, finally, not lifting his head. “From all of them.”

It was the cry for freedom that got to her. Gia knew more than a thing or two about breaking free from the things that bound you. She reached out to the boy beside her, through her own pain and betrayal, her long, graceful arms slipping around his shaking shoulders. “Me too,” Gia whispered, bending her head to his. “Oh, Lucky, me too.”

Gia held his gaze for a moment, the bright sunlight making her squint. She couldn’t see his gaze true, couldn’t tell -- were the memories drifting across his face, through his eyes, the same as hers? She reached up, gathering her hair in one fist, loosening it from his fingers. Gia turned her face away, idly tracing a blade of grass with one forefinger. “Did you, Lucky?” She tilted her head, lifting her eyes back to his, her long hair falling across one shoulder. “Did you find a way to be free?”

Lucky caught his breath sharply. He had forgotten that she could do that. Cut through the crap to what matters, the heart of the thing. Or maybe he hadn’t forgot. Maybe that was why he was here. “From Helena?” Lucky shrugged. “As much as I can be. What she did, who she made me -- it’s always gonna be a part of me. But, I’m learning to live with that.” He was silent, carefully not looking at her. “From Elizabeth? Yeah. I still love her,” he admitted, quietly. “But, not the way I did. This wedding--” Lucky broke off, running his fingers through his hair, looking somewhere Gia couldn’t follow. “I hope she’s happy.”

Gia shrugged, the grass blade ripping apart between her fingers. “Yeah, well, far as I know, she seems to be. I try not to get too close.”

~I don't wanna wake up by myself
Years from now wishin'
That I'd told you what I felt~

Lucky leaned back on his elbows, studying Gia and the tenseness of her shoulders. “What about you? I figured you’d be right behind me when I left town.”

She shook her head once, still not looking at him, her knees close to her chest. “There were reasons I stuck around,” Gia said, her voice deliberately calm. “My family’s here. My work. It’s not like I could just pick up and not look back. It wasn’t that easy, okay?”

A slight frown crossed his face. “Because of my brother? Is Nikolas why you can’t leave Port Charles?” Lucky’s voice was sharper than he’d intended.

Gia let out a small slightly bitter laugh. “Your brother? Unless you’ve got a brother stashed away I don’t know anything about, your brother stopped being an issue in my life a long time ago. He’s getting married, Lucky. Nikolas hasn’t factored into any decisions I’ve made for a long time now.”

~ Your eyes are a window to your soul
If you don't open up
I may never know~

“Then who has?” Lucky watched as her shoulders hunched even tighter, bronzed muscles bunching at her neck. “Gia...?” he questioned, reaching out to lay a hand against the smooth skin of her back bared by the white halter top tied about her neck. She jumped...

....as the door to the small hotel balcony unlatched. Gia unfolded herself from the warm nest in the center of her bed, where she had been vegetating for the past few days, grabbing the closest thing to hand. Her eyes narrowed, as the drapery started to move aside. “Nikolas, I swear to god, I will call security. And, that’ll be a pretty headline for tomorrow’s pap--”

Lucky stepped out into the room, his hair wet from the rain. He met her eyes, and slowly, she dropped the room service fork she had been brandishing at him. “What the hell are you doing here, Gia?” he asked.

An expressive eyebrow lifted, and her arms folded across her chest. “Okay, you’re the guy climbing walls and breaking into my room. Shouldn’t that be my line?”

Lucky shrugged and gestured at the room. “Just figured you’d be back in the cottage, not the PC Hotel.” His voice was neutral, but his eyes -- she couldn’t, quite, see his eyes.

Gia turned around, pushing half-heartedly at the bedcovers, stacking the fashion magazines and mindless novels in a haphazard pile. “Guess you were right,” she said.

“Right?” Lucky questioned. “Right about what, Gia?” She make a little dismissive shake of her head, and he went on. “No, c’mon. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been right about anything or anyone. It’d be a nice change.”

She straightened and turned around, pulling her robe tighter, her hair falling loose about her face. “About the whys of what happened not being as important as what they actually did,” Gia said softly. She saw his eyes for the first time. And, recognized them; they had been staring back at her from the mirror for the past three days. Betrayal, anger, pain, confusion. All mixed up.

Lucky nodded, slowly, but didn’t say anything. He had spoken to Elizabeth once; once was -- enough. She had cried, he had. And, it hadn’t changed anything. She had still slept with his brother. He was gonna see her face, blinded with passion, underneath Nikolas’ until the day he died.

Gia moved past him to the still open door leading to the balcony. She didn’t close it. Just stood, one hand resting on the door frame, her face turned to the darkness and summer rain. Her back was very straight. “So, tell me, Lucky Spencer, what happens next? How do we fix what that sick old bitch broke?”

Lucky shrugged, his hands in his pockets, then realized she couldn’t see him. “I’m leaving,” he said, abruptly, badly. “Tonight. Takin’ myself out of the game.”

Gia didn’t move. The lightning outside flashed, back lighting her body. She looked almost like a statue, carved out of cold marble. Until she spoke. “Good,” she said, her voice intense, passionate. “Don’t let her win, Lucky. Get the hell out, don’t look back.”

“Yeah.” Lucky lifted one hand, then let it drop to his side. He hesitated, then took three steps, until he was directly behind her. “Thank you,” his voice was low. “For comin’ after me the other night. I was heading -- somewhere dark. Somewhere I don’t think I would have been able to figure out a way out of.”

Gia turned around; her face was close enough for him to see the tears in her eyes. “I didn’t do it for you,” she said, her voice harsh with pain. “I did it for Nikolas. Now there’s gotta be some kinda irony in there somewhere.”

He could feel his face tighten at the mention of Nikolas’ name, knew she could see the expression on his face. Saw the same tightness in hers. Gia started to turn away, back to the balcony, and Lucky reached out, catching at her shoulder. “Don’t,” he murmured, touching her cheek with his fingertips, feeling wetness. “Don’t turn away from me. Please.”

Gia sighed, a deep shuddering thing that shook her whole body. She closed her eyes; she knew what was next. They both did. Both had from the moment he’d touched her. Part of it was revenge, part was need, part was desire. And, part was just -- a way to get through the night. To keep breathing. She shuddered again and opened her eyes. They were very, very dark. Deliberately, Gia dropped one hand to her robe, loosening the belt, and letting it bare her shoulders. “I’m not going anywhere,” she murmured, her voice deeper than she’d known it could be. “You’re the one who’s leaving, remember?”

Lucky shook his head, his hand dropping from her cheek, to trace with one finger the line of her collarbone. “Not tonight,” he whispered, his eyes never leaving hers. He dipped his head, his lips following the path his finger had marked. “Tonight I’m here.”

Gia made a small noise, deep in her throat. She let her hands fall to her sides, the peach silk robe puddling loosely at her feet, then drew one hand, trembling slightly to the back of his neck. She tilted her head, arching it up just as he lifted his mouth from her throat. His lips met hers, fiercely, and she took two stumbling steps back towards the bed, his hands at her waist and the back of her neck. And, so it was, and so it goes.

He was gone when she woke in the morning.

Gia turned, looking at him over her left shoulder, her braids falling across her back and over her right shoulder. “I have, Lucky. The decisions I make I make for me. Not for Nikolas, not for anyone.”

Lucky dropped his hand from her back, and gave a small, lopsided half-smile. “Now that sounds like the Gia I know.”

This time she turned around fully, tossing her head so that her hair fell down her back, her eyes flashing angrily. “The Gia you know?” she questioned incredulously. “You don’t know me. A few months, two years ago. One night...” Gia trailed off, clamping her lips together. “Gimmee a break, Lucky, you never knew me,” her mouth twisted harshly.

“Oh, yeah?” Lucky’s own eyes flashed back at her. He reached out, tracing her collarbone very deliberately, calling back a memory that was as real for him as that night. “I’d say I know you pretty damn well, Gia.”

Gia didn’t move, didn’t shiver, didn’t do anything. Just sat, looking at him, frozen, her eyes very cold. Slowly, he dropped his hand. “That’s not the same thing,” she said, finally, not hiding the note of hurt in her voice. “Not even close.”

~What if we don't say what's on our minds
And we walk away~

Lucky closed his eyes. “I know that. I shouldn’t have implied-- I’m sorry.” He opened them, looking at her. This time he didn’t try to touch her. “What I should have said is that I’ve been gone from this town for two years. And, I haven’t spoken to anyone, other than my baby sister. I’ve tried to leave the memories behind; I’ve even packed up and left a place just ‘cause I saw a woman that looked too much like Elizabeth on the street.” He was quiet a moment, then reached out, taking her hand in his. This time, she let him. “But the one memory I don’t run from is you. That night. It’s a kind of -- safe place, that memory.”

Gia let her fingers twine with his. She didn’t mean to; it just happened. Maybe she was just out of practice. It had been a long time since she’d done anything as simple as hold a boy’s hand. “Why?” she asked softly. “It was one night, Lucky. All mixed up with both of us feeling betrayed. Why would you remember that?”

~We might live out our lives
And never feel this way~

“You, Gia. You’re what I can’t forget. You’re not mixed up in all this crap that’s been goin’ on in this town for a million years. You haven’t known me since I was born. You’re separate from all that.” Lucky ran his thumb over their joined fingers, his voice earnest, trying to capture in words the thing that had haunted him for two years. “You’re just -- Gia. Fiery as hell, with this uncompromising attitude. You look at me, and you see who I am, not who I was. And, it’s okay with you for me to be that.” He lifted her fingers to his lips, gently pressing a kiss against them. “There aren’t that many people on this planet who I can say that about.”

She stretched her fingers, tentatively caressing his cheek. Gia took a slow breath and let it out. “The reason I stuck around all this time wasn’t for my mother or my brother,” her voice was quiet, but it was sure. Her eyes were clear. “And it wasn’t just for my job, either. It was that this was the only place I knew to wait for you. I figured you had to come home, someday, and I,” she paused, “I wanted to know who you were without all your ghosts haunting you.”

~What if I am the one
And you are the one

Lucky turned his head so that his lips pressed against her palm once, then slid his fingers into her hair. His heart was beating so fast, so hard. “I’m here now. No ghosts.”

Gia closed her eyes, once, then opened them. He was still there. “But are you staying this time?” she asked, softly.

~What if tonight is the night
What if once in a lifetime love
Don't come twice

Lucky smiled slowly. It was more than he’d hoped for. “I can’t promise anything, Gia. But, if I have to leave, I’ll tell you before I go. And, if I do go, you know, you could come--”

Her hand slid to cover his mouth. “Shut up.” She couldn’t help it; Gia felt herself smile back at him. “That’s enough, Lucky. You’re here. You came back. We’ll go from here.” She lifted her hand from his lips, placing it at the back of his neck.

For a long moment, they stared at each other, then Gia’s grin widened, as his lips found hers. It was a long kiss, a sweet kiss. Playful, gentle. After a moment, she stood up, their fingers still twined and led him in the house.

He was still there when she woke up in the morning.