Rumble, Young Man, Rumble

Nikolas Cassadine had long ceased worrying about what Wyndemere’s servants thought about the now-familiar sight of their Prince wandering the quiet hallways alone at all hours of the night.  He strode restlessly along the east hallway on his way to what had become his favorite spot to brood and reflect.  To Nikolas’ dismay, he rounded the corner and spied the vague outline of someone already standing there in the shadows.

“It is only me,” the warm, precise voice of Nikolas’ younger brother reassured.

“It is only I,” Nikolas automatically corrected.

Andresj’ Cassadine stepped out of the shadows.  A wry smile graced his handsome features.  “We have now established that it is just the two of us,” he teased, deliberately misunderstanding his older brother’s correction.  “I hope that you do not mind me joining you tonight.”

Nikolas shook his head.  “Of course not.  I am glad for the company.”  To his surprise, he realized his words were true.  He had made his way there in the hopes of being alone; Andresj’s smiling offer erased any desire for solitude.  “So… does our father know that you are here?”

“Undoubtedly.  I have learned over the years that there is very little that escapes his attention.”  Andresj’ was not insulted by his older brother’s caution.  It wasn't beyond Stefan to maneuver his sons about like pieces on a chessboard – all with the best of intentions, of course.  “If you are asking whether I am here at Papa’s suggestion, then the answer is ‘no’.”

The brothers lapsed into silence.  Together they stared out across Spoon Island into the inky darkness.  “Your restless late-night wanderings have become a matter of some concern,” Andresj’ said after a while.  He felt Nikolas turn his way.  “Beyond the obvious, of course, Papa worries that your divided attention will make you vulnerable to those in the family who would rather not see you lead.  Thea Sabrina worries that you are being crushed beneath the weight of the family’s expectations of you.”

“And Alexis?”

“Thea Alexis and the servants worry that for you the fairy tale has ended,” Andresj’ replied.  “They worry about your marriage to Gia.”

“What about you, little brother?” Nikolas asked.  “Which camp do you fall into?”

Andresj’ continued to stare out into the night.  “Neither Papa's nor Sabrina's.  I know that you will lead our family well.  And I am equally confident that the family’s expectations are a small burden in comparison to those I know that you have set for yourself.”

 “I see you did not list my marriage among things you are certain of.   Do you have concerns about my marriage, then?”  Nikolas tried to affect a casual air.  “In the two months since my return from London, you have spent far more time with my wife than I have.  I am certain you have shared more words with her than I.”

“Gia needs reassurance that your rush to Dawn Jensen’s side was not an unspoken admission that you regret your marriage to her.”

Nikolas did not miss the way his younger brother addressed Gia by her first name.  Andresj’ previously referred to Gia as ‘The Princess’.  The words were always teasingly said, but Nikolas knew that it signaled that his younger brother had not yet allowed Gia into that limited circle of people he trusted fully.  In some ways, despite the warm demeanor he presented, Andresj’ could be even more guarded than Stefan or Nikolas.  “Did she tell you that?”

Andresj’ turned and met his brother’s gaze for the first time since the beginning of their conversation.  “Will knowing,” he asked flatly, “that she said the words aloud finally push you to make this right?”

Stung by the rebuke, Nikolas’ face hardened.  “This, from someone whose most recent relationship lasted less than a year?”

“Exactly,” Andresj’ replied, with a hint of anger in his voice.  “Sascha and I did not belong together.  I showed her the common courtesy of letting her go.”  Andresj’ paused.  “If you do not want a life with Gia, then let her go as well.  But I will tell you now, Kolya,” Andresj stepped forward until he was nose to nose with his older brother, “I hope that you will not be such a fool.” Andresj’ gave a curt nod of his head. “Goodnight. ”

~Also Port Charles, the next morning~