One minute he was kissing her and the next minute he was holding her at arm's length. Nikolas could still remember the hot spark of Nadine's lips on his, the disappointment in her eyes as he tried to stifle a surprised laugh, the stunted explanation he tried to offer, the surprising emptiness he felt when she moved out of his arms. Everything in his mind was telling him to push her away, but his body and heart didn't seem to agree. He had felt the way his body had naturally reacted – the way his hands wandered up her back, the low groan that escaped from his mouth as she gave herself so willingly to him, the gentle tilt of his head to give her better access. For once in his life, he had given into temptation and acted without thinking. He had allowed his heart to entertain, if only for the briefest of moments, the fact that he could stand their in living room he had shared with dead fiancée and kiss her and still have it be alright.
Then, reality reared its ugly head, and images of the great love of his life came barreling into his head. He laughed nervously as he gently pushed her away, wanting not to hurt her but needing her to out of his embrace. The kiss was an act of betrayal to her memory. It didn't matter what anyone else told him about what his fiancée would have wanted for him, he was determined to live the rest of his life with the memory of their love. How could he love someone else after the life they had shared together? It didn't seem possible to love someone as he had her. They were something made of fairytales, the kind of thing little girls dream of when they go to sleep at night.
He had tried to offer up a polite excuse and platitudes of their friendship, but she refused to hear it. She didn't want to be just his friend, and if he was honest with himself, he had known it for some time. He had tried to ignore knowing or the gnawing feeling in the depths of his heart that would remind him that he just might reciprocate the growing emotions between them some day. It was easier to write her off as a silly girl on a mission to prove something to him. That was the only way he could ignore the patient way she had with people or how good she had been with his son or the impossible way she refused to give up on him. That was the only way he could ignore her.
However, two hours after she had sheepishly stormed out of his spacious mansion, he couldn't get his mind off her. It had been such a short time but so much had already happened since then. Elizabeth had stopped by first and made him have this grand realization that he hadn't wanted to have for a very long time. After Liz left, he had tried to call Nadine at the clinic but she wasn't there. Just as he was about to dial General Hospital, Claudia had strode in and delivered the heartbreaking but inevitable news that Lulu was slowly starting to slip away just as his mother had years before. It had crushed him immediately, even if it didn't surprise him. Like many things lately, it was something he had saw coming but refused to really see.
Nikolas had explained every painstaking memory he had of Laura's breakdown, from the initial hallucinations to the prolonged bouts of silence to the moment when she quit really living altogether. He had successfully fought back tears as he went over the symptoms with Johnny's sister, consistently urging her to tell the Zacharra heir to get help. Once she had left, he had spent a long time staring out at the window, wondering if Lulu was somewhere safe under the same pale moon. He could only pray that the mobster loved her enough to get her help. Claudia seemed to trust him, and Nikolas could only really go along with them. It wasn't like he knew where Lulu was. The only thing he could really do was sit back and wait.
His first instinct had been to go into the dark of night in search of the blonde nurse. She had been a good sounding board for him many times, especially when it came to his family. Nadine had even showed up at the police station after Lulu had been kidnapped, quietly showing her support. He should have known then how lucky he was to have her in his life, but like a true man, he had been oblivious and ungrateful. This time he refused to be that selfish and burden her with his problems. He had hurt her enough tonight.
After he had made his decision, Nikolas had climbed the stairs to Spencer's room and sat at the foot of his bed for nearly an hour. Watching the little boy sleep always brought a sense of calm to him. He was becoming the spitting image of Nikolas more and more every day, and they enjoyed their time together as father and son. Since Emily's death, his family was all that Nikolas had. Lucky and Elizabeth had been wonderful to both of them, but Nikolas had put too much distance between himself and Lulu. He had let too much go unsaid. He had wanted to believe that she was different from Laura, even when Lucky had repeatedly told him how much they were alike. Nikolas had hoped she had Luke's strength and tenacity, and in some ways she did. However, she had proven to be her mother's daughter in the end.
When the tears had come, he had gone back downstairs as to not wake up his son. The last thing the little boy needed was to find his father a bawling wreck in the middle of the night. He was already asking questions about his missing aunt after accidentally overhearing her name on the evening news. Nikolas wanted to shield him from the darker side of life for as long as possible. He was a Cassadine after all, and there would come a point where he would lose his innocence in the name of his family. Even thinking about the possibility or Lulu losing touch with this world was enough to make the tears fall even harder. Before long, the tears wracked his body, and Nikolas couldn't see, hear or feel anything but darkness.
After awhile, Nikolas managed to calm himself enough to call upstairs to Alfred. He told his trusty butler that he was going to go out for a drive and asked that he keep an ear out for Spencer. He promised that he would be back in time for breakfast and quickly made leave of the house into the cool night air. Nikolas just wanted to be behind the steering wheel of his sleek silver Mercedes and feel the breeze whipping around him. With Nick Drake pouring from the stereo, he wound through the countryside until the city lights came into view and he could make out the sparkling horizon of the harbors.
As he came into Port Charles, he had no idea where he was headed. His first thought was to head over to Lucky's to fill his brother in on what he had learned. He deserved to know everything, but Nikolas just didn't have the energy to do it. How could he break his brother's heart again? He knew he should also call Lesley, Elizabeth, Bobbie, Tracey and Carly. There were a lot of people who were worried about his baby sister. Maybe he should head over to Jake's for a beer first or he could stop by the hospital to see if any of the family was on duty. There were a lot of options, but he knew that wasn't where he was going to go. Instead, he found his car pointed in the direction of a modest-neighborhood full of high-rise apartments.
He stopped at the curb outside her building and stared up at her window. Nikolas had only been here once to drop her off after a shift at the clinic when her car battery had died. She hadn't invited him up, so he had no idea what her apartment looked like. She had only waved to him from her window to let him know he'd gotten in safely. Now, as he looked up at the dark window, he needed to see what it felt like. He needed to have some place feel like home. He needed to feel safe. He needed to forget. He needed so many things, but mostly he just needed her.
Pocketing his keys, Nikolas grabbed his cell phone and headed inside the building. There was no valet waiting to park his car for him or a doorman to announce his arrival. He was able to slip through the building undetected and make it to her floor. The tears had already come back as he drew closer to her. He felt ridiculous for breaking down like this, but he could barely catch his breath. It was like he was having an anxiety attack as he stumbled out of the elevator and down the short hallway to her door. By the time he actually made it to her apartment, his sobs had become so heavy that he actually collapsed at her door. He wanted to call out to her, but he couldn't find his voice. He could only find the same daunting darkness that had haunted him before.
And then, like a radiant beam of light, he felt a warm pair of arms wrap around him. He almost expected to look up and see Emily, but he knew that she wouldn't be there. He knew who would be standing there. He crawled into a ball onto the floor, but even then Nadine didn't let him go. She simply crawled up to his side, wrapped his arms around him and held him tightly as if their very lives depended on it. He could feel the gentle quiver of her body against his as she started to cry with him. She was unashamed at their shared grief. Nadine didn't even need to know why he was crying. She had always been able to take on his emotions as her own.
They didn't move for the longest moment. They just sat huddled together in the doorway of her tiny apartment in the dark. "Let it out," she murmured in a soft voice as she cradled him against her. Her hands rubbed small circles along his spine, willing him to relax and finally give into everything he had kept buried for weeks. She rocked him gently like a small child and whispered gentle words of comfort in his ear.
Nikolas grabbed onto her tighter, not wanting to lose his lifeline. The grief was overwhelming. Nothing made any sense. He couldn't see past this moment. He couldn't' feel anything but sadness. He felt like a scared little kid again, begging for someone to protect him from the harsh reality of his life. No one had been able to save him then, but there was someone on his side now. "Please don't leave me," he repeated over and over again. His voice sounded so small. Gone was the Cassadine Prince with the perfect manners, cool reverie and complete control. This Nikolas was a walking wound that wouldn't easily heal. "Please don't let go."