Title: "Two Outta Three Ain't Bad" 1/1
Author: Mala
E-mail: malisita@yahoo.com
Distribution: Omnific, A Thousand Suns
Fandom: "General Hospital"
Rating/Keywords: PG-13, Nikolas/Gia, angst, quasi-romance. Gia POV Summary: Takes place *before* the big sting operation at the Rave that the kids have set up for 9/8 and the week of 9/11. Nikolas and Gia in his Jaguar. Who exactly is taking *who* for a ride?

"Do you ever stop the con, Gia?"

Nikolas Cassadine's voice rose above the smooth purr of the Jag's engine, drawing her eyes away from the blur of buildings outside the window.

His tanned face was serious...but a slight smile was pulling at his lips. It was crazy, but she actually liked that little smile. The "I can take the silver spoon outta my mouth long enough to be cool" gig. And his dark eyes were fixed on her with his usual intensity. Like she was on the witness stand. The rest of his little gang always had judgment in their eyes...a jury who'd all ready convicted her. Actually, no...that was just the girls and Juan. Lucky was like some big blond muscle who just wanted to beat her and the entire world down. As different from his dark big brother as he was like him. Ironically, Nikolas was more a hard-ass cop--he knew her game but he didn't want to throw her in the cell just yet. Still figured she could "go straight."

He cared.

And it made her stomach turn over every time she thought about it.

"Is there a reason I should, Nik?" she tossed back, shifting in the plush seat and pulling the seatbelt tight against her throat. Making herself deliberately uncomfortable. She had to keep her head, after all...trying to analyze this cute, rich, white boy would just trip her up. She'd learned that about him weeks ago. His charm was a deadly weapon. He'd had life easy...he could just wave his hand and get what he wanted. She'd had to fight. She'd had to run away just to try. And she could only stay one step up if she didn't let his smile and his chocolate brown eyes drag her down. "Is there a reason that the 'con' isn't a place for a gal like me?"

"Because it's not safe." His large hands were relaxed on the steering wheels...barely touching it as the car took the right turns and curves. His jaw tightened as he checked the rearview mirror and the side mirror before looking back at her. "One day your mouth isn't going to be enough to get you out of the messes you make."

"Why do you care?" Gia demanded, crossing her arms over her chest. "Me and my mouth will either be dead or outta your hair by the time this whole thing with Zander goes down on Friday."

His jaw tightened even more. One hand came off the wheel and lowered again. "Stop saying that! You got yourself into this mess--"

"When I blackmailed Emily...I KNOW," she interrupted, quickly. "Your little group of saints and virgins never lets me forget it, remember?"

"I am not a saint," he assured.

A light on Courtland Street turned red.

She chuckled, knowingly. "Are you a virgin?"

The smile was back, flashing a small dimple in his cheek. "That is none of your business."

It was all right. He didn't need to answer. It was right there in the way he sat so relaxed in the driver's seat. Relaxed...but aware. And it was right there in the way that he sometimes glanced at her when he thought she wasn't looking. He wondered...he wanted...and he didn't ever let it show. In her limited experience, only a man who'd actually been in love and made it serious had that kind of self-assured control. Nikolas Cassadine had loved somebody something fierce once. He'd put those hands on her...those strong hands that didn't wear white gloves and swing Polo clubs like they were probably supposed to.

Gia thanked her lucky stars that it hadn't been that goody-two-shoes, Elizabeth. She didn't really want to add "killer" to her business card. "Blackmailing con artist" was burden enough.

She swallowed, hard.

Jealous? Of little Elizabeth? Of Nikolas' oh-so-perfect best friend and his psycho half-brother's Goddess ?

Not a part of the "keep your head" plan. Not at all.

The Jaguar made an easy right turn after the light turned green. "What are you thinking? It worries me when you're quiet," Nikolas murmured, slowing the car down as they neared the parking and access to the Elm Street Pier.

She shook her head, sighing with mild aggravation. "You don't like it when I talk...you don't like it when I'm quiet...what exactly do you want me to do with my lips, Your Highness? Kiss you?"

Gia winced, biting down on her tongue...but it was too late. The words were out. And definitely not a part of the plan either.

"You have kissed me," he reminded...not rising to the bait. "And I've kissed you. And both times, there were cops around. Taggart and Mac Scorpio aren't hiding in the trunk, are they?"

"Do you want them to be?" she shot back, even as her pulse jumped up. Not even the mention of Taggart could stop it. Two kisses. Two kisses that had been way too short and way too strong. So hot and so fast that her head had spun and she'd forgotten why she was in his arms. Until he'd let her go. "'Cause I can kiss you without the benefit of the law around, you know. You don't always have to be a cover."

"I know," Nikolas said, simply as he killed the engine.

It was really amazing...how his eyes and his lips didn't show what he was thinking. How he kept up the classy mask. But she knew he was remembering. Behind the sophisticated veneer...his pulse was jumping just like hers. His heart was skipping up just a little under the perfectly buttoned Eddie Bauer shirt. There were some things you didn't need to see. You could just feel them.

And the air in the car was crackling with a whole mess of those things.

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath. She twisted one of her long, tightly-knit, braids between her fingers. When she looked up at herself in the rearview mirror, her pupils were hazy. Big and gray and so out of control. Practically screaming, 'Oh, God...I want you!'

And she did. Oh, yeah, she did. She wanted him so badly that didn't care if she got caught at the Rave...she didn't care if Zander tried to kill her. She didn't care as long as Nik Cassadine could swoop down and pull her into his Jag and carry her away.

"Damn," she whispered, softly. She hurriedly undid her seatbelt as she flipped the lock and pulled on the door handle. Suddenly, she knew she had to get out of the car. She had to get out onto that pier and breathe in the fresh, salty air. She had to drown her old plan in the water and find a new one.

"Gia?" His hand on her shoulder stilled her escape.

She made herself turn every agonizing inch to look at him again. "Th-thanks for the ride, Nikolas."

He smiled. Just slightly.

He took the silver spoon out of his mouth long enough to lean over the shift console. Long enough to brush his lips across hers. Barely touching. But every millimeter of skin tingled. "You're welcome," he murmured, pulling back.

His eyes...his grin...his kisses.

Three kisses.

Now it was three.

As she leapt from the Jag and stumbled towards the pier, she heard him laugh. And she knew she'd gotten conned. He was beating her at the game.

Forget about keeping her head...she was losing her heart.

--fin--

September 2000.



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