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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Nikki's eyes fluttered open, and she found herself cloaked in white in an all-white room. She struggled to see through a bright light, and a man's voice greeted her. She asked where she was, and a bearded man sympathized that it could be confusing sometimes. She guessed that she was either dreaming or experiencing delirium tremens, and he asked about the last thing she remembered. She recalled her children taking her home to play peacekeeper at a family dinner to discuss the merger, and she had been surprised to see Neil, Summer, and Noah there, too.

Victor had said everyone was concerned, and Nikki had refused to play loyal matriarch while Victor tried to convince Summer and Noah to join the company. Nikki had asked Nick if the prodigal son had decided to return to the fold, and Nick had informed her that they were all together about the matter at hand. Nikki had declared that she wasn't up for a fight, and she had turned to leave, but Dylan had walked in. She had noted that Dylan had nothing to do with the company, and everyone had stared at her. "What exactly is going on here?" she demanded to know.

The man in the bright room asked if Nikki was remembering something, and she said it was personal, so she didn't want to talk about it. He insisted that the personal nature made it more important to talk about, and Nikki said her memories were like a bad dream she'd been stuck in. She mused that everything had seemed real, but nothing had made any sense -- until it had made too much sense.

Nikki flashed back to realizing what the gathering had really been about, since she had helped plan the same kind of ambush for Katherine. Victoria had explained that they wanted Nikki to see what they saw, and Nikki had blasted her family for treating her like the problem. Victor had said everyone had agreed there was a problem, and Neil had added that they all loved Nikki, but she needed help. Nikki had snapped that she'd wanted nothing to do with the witch-hunt, but she'd run into Jack on her way out. Victor had objected to Jack's presence, but Neil had contended that Jack understood what Nikki was dealing with. Summer and Noah had begged Nikki to stay.

Nikki griped to the bearded man that the intervention had been oppressive, but she pointed out that the man still hadn't told her where she was. He remarked that she was home, and he said she could call him Angel. She laughed uncontrollably, but she caught her breath and apologized, and she explained that all the white and his name being Angel was a bit much. He prompted her to finish telling him how she'd gotten there, and she said she'd had no choice but to stay at the intervention and show everyone that she hadn't needed their so-called help.

During the intervention, Nikki had hoped for the opportunity to rub everyone's noses in their own mistakes one day, but Dylan had said he was there because he loved her. Victor had quietly tried to force the Jack impostor out, but the clone had reasoned that the real Jack would have been there for a friend in need, and it would look suspicious if he left. Meanwhile, Nick had commented that he was glad Neil was leading the intervention, and Neil had explained that he'd discussed it with a trained counselor. Nick had expected Nikki to resent every minute of it, and Neil had advised that they could only tell Nikki how they felt, but what Nikki did with it was out of their control.

Neil had told Nikki that she had people who loved her and were concerned about her, and he had expected everyone to say something to her. Nikki had grumbled that she knew how it worked, and she had admitted that she'd had a drink or two, but she had felt her loved ones were overreacting. Nikki had pointed out that her children were struggling with their relationships and that Summer and Noah had suffered unspeakable losses, and she had glared at Victor as she'd referred to the other tensions in her life. Nikki had huffed that she didn't need to justify having a respite from it all to take the edge off, and she'd asserted that she could stop whenever she wanted, since she didn't have a problem.

The room had fallen silent, and Neil had recalled saying the same things when he'd been lying to himself, but Nikki had seen through the lies and had been determined to help him. Neil had recounted that because he had refused her help and hadn't been able to admit he had a problem, he'd had to look Paul and Christine in the eyes and tell them he'd killed their baby. Neil had said hearing the same denial from Nikki "scared the hell" out of him, and he had mentioned that she'd taken a strange man back to her hotel room the night before. Nikki argued that nothing had happened and that Neil was just trying to justify the intervention.

Neil had countered that Nikki hadn't even remembered what had happened because she'd blacked out, and Nikki had denied it. Neil had warned that if Nikki didn't get treatment, he'd never bail her out again, and he'd walk away the next time she was in trouble. Nikki had resolutely stated that she'd save them all the trouble and walk away herself, but Victor had urged her to stay, since she owed everyone there a chance to be heard. Nikki informed Angel that Victor had always told her that she didn't owe anything to anyone, but Victor had tried to convince her that she'd owed something to the jackals in her living room, so she'd stayed. She shuddered as she pictured them all staring at her.

Summer had recalled that Nikki had protected her from Ian Ward, and she believed Nikki had the courage to get treatment, but it hurt to be around Nikki when Nikki wouldn't get help. Dylan had bemoaned that he and Nikki had already lost more than 30 years together as mother and son, and he'd forgiven her for abandoning him, but he'd never forgive her for leaving him again when she had the choice to stay. Nick had confided that he hadn't thought Nikki had been strong enough to deal with her multiple sclerosis, but she had been. Nick had lectured that a neurological disorder had already compromised Nikki's body, and he had reminded Nikki that alcohol had been a factor in Cassie's death.

Nikki told Angel that her family members had all said they hadn't wanted to lose her, but they'd chosen to judge her and look down on her. Angel asked if she thought that had been her family's intention, and she asked why she should care. He asked why she did.

Victoria had recounted that Nikki had always been there for her, and she had promised to support Nikki if Nikki sought help. Victoria had implored Nikki to do it for her children and her grandchildren if she wouldn't do it for herself, and she had recalled that Nikki had nearly dropped Katie when Nikki had been drunk. Victoria had added that Nikki had lied about her MS symptoms flaring up, but Nikki had sworn that she'd never risk her own grandchild, and she'd testily asked why everyone was judging her. Victoria had firmly stated that no one there was judging her, and they'd faced Nikki's addiction before, but it was more serious that time.

Victoria had cried that she was afraid she wouldn't be able to help if Nikki got into trouble again, since Victoria had to look out for her own children. Nikki had promised not to cause any trouble, but Victoria had stressed that Nikki needed to get help, or she'd never allow Nikki to see her grandkids again. A stunned Nikki had sworn that she loved her grandchildren more than anything on earth, and she had believed that Victoria would realize that would be a mistake. Nikki had coolly asked the group to move it along, and Jack had declared that he wanted to be completely honest.

Nikki ranted to Angel that someone had picked that moment to be honest, and everyone who had supposedly loved her had all been reading out of the same playbook about how alcoholism was a disease that was progressive and fatal. Nikki said she'd felt like they'd been putting her in her grave, but she was very much alive.

Jack had said he knew addiction could lead to death, but it was just as hard to watch a loved one who didn't care about anything but their next fix put the nails in their own coffin. He had contended that he personally understood the monster Nikki was battling, but if she cared about other people, she had to choose life. Neil had reminded Jack that the intervention wasn't about blame or judgment, and he had instructed Jack to tell Nikki how he felt. Jack had said he felt a profound sadness, since it was a waste of a beautiful life when a drug of choice won out over a person he loved.

Nikki told Angel that it had been as if her loved ones had described someone she'd never met, and Angel wondered if she thought everyone had misunderstood who she was. She griped that they'd all taken their shots, but she quickly clarified that not everyone had. She flashed back to Neil saying it was important for Victor to say something, and Nikki had stared accusingly at Victor.

Victor had said he'd been as concerned as anyone else, and Nikki's drinking had affected their entire family. Nikki had berated Victor for always using family as an excuse, when it was really just his way of justifying whatever he wanted. Nikki had called Victor the reason she'd started drinking again, since he'd been off trying to find new ways to control his son's life and to hurt Jack when she'd needed Victor the most, and it had been enough to drive anyone to drink. Victor had ordered Nikki to take responsibility, and he'd barked that she was out of control. She had proclaimed that she'd show him out of control, and she had started to get up, but Victor had held her back.

Neil had suggested that Victor tell Nikki how her drinking had affected him, and Victor had curtly stated that Nikki already knew what it had done. Nikki had asked if the confrontation was over, since she'd had her fill, and none of her nearest and dearest knew her at all. She had decided to turn the "Nikki-bashing" into a real bash with drinks all around, and everyone else had protested as she'd made her way over to the liquor cabinet. Nikki had sarcastically thanked Victor for having her favorite brand of vodka on hand, and Victor had begged her to stop, but she had poured a drink and warned her grandchildren never to follow in her footsteps. Nikki had raised the glass to her lips, but it had shattered on the floor when she'd suddenly collapsed.

Nikki recounted to Angel that she'd been trying to speak, but she hadn't been able to breathe, and it had felt like she'd been dying. Angel asked what she remembered next, and she said everything was hazy after that, but she imagined that she'd ended up at the hospital.

At the hospital, Nikki had dazedly watched as her family had somberly exited an exam room. Dylan had remarked that there was nothing more to do, and it hadn't been anyone's fault. Victoria had argued that Nikki had chosen the bottle of vodka over the chance to get help, and she had lamented that her kids would only remember Nikki as the grandmother who'd drank herself to death and not the beautiful person Nikki had been. Nick had cried that Faith had deserved more time with Nikki, and his unborn child would never know its grandmother. Nikki had recognized that she'd given them a scare, but she had said she was right there. No one had responded.

Nikki had called to Nick and Victoria, and Dylan had said he felt cheated and angry. Nikki had regretted stressing everyone out, and Summer had sobbed that Nikki had been talking one minute and gone the next. Nikki had yelled that she was right there, and she had commanded that they stop acting like she wasn't. Oblivious to Nikki's presence, Victor had suggested that they all go home, but Nikki had continued to insist that she was fine, and she had agreed to do anything they wanted if they stopped ignoring her. Her family had filed out, and Nikki had watched as medical personnel wheeled out a gurney with a sheet-covered body.

Nikki told Angel that she couldn't have possibly remembered that, so it couldn't be a memory, and she wondered why her family hadn't talked to her if they'd taken her to the hospital. She realized that it had been more than them ignoring her, since they'd acted as if she hadn't even been there. She wondered what was happening, and Angel said she had the answer, but she had to search to find it. She suddenly gasped.

At Nikki's funeral, Neil had said he knew Nikki was in a better place, and he'd never forget that she'd saved his life, but he was sorry he hadn't been able to save hers. Jack had contemplated whether there had been anything he could have done or said to change things, but he had concluded that Nikki's death had been out of everyone's hands. Neil had quoted that they had to accept the things they couldn't change, and Jack had said he'd always have the memory of how much better Nikki had made his life.

Victoria had said she didn't want to be mad anymore, but she didn't know what to do with her feelings, and she wasn't ready to move on. Dylan had suggested that they focus on the love Nikki had shown for all of them, and Nick had recounted that Nikki had always said he'd been his father's son, but he and Nikki had been more alike than he'd ever admitted. Nick had continued that he was stubborn and impulsive like Nikki had been, but he wished she'd had the strength to admit she'd needed help. Victor had regretted not saying something during the intervention that might have saved Nikki's life, and he had recognized that it was too late to find the words. Everyone had eventually departed except Victor, and Nikki had gazed at him as tears streamed down his face.

Nikki told Angel that she'd been able to clearly see Victor when they'd been alone together, and Angel asked if Victor had been able to hear her. She said no, but she hadn't let that stop her from trying, since she'd been watching a man who had become part of her heart.

At Nikki's grave, Victor had said his arrogance had allowed him to think he could fix Nikki, but he'd never had the power to do it. Nikki had recalled that he'd taken her in when she'd been a hard-edged girl with no future, and she'd raised children with him and loved him passionately. Unable to hear or see Nikki, Victor had admitted he hadn't listened to her or told her what she'd wanted to hear, and he wished he'd had the courage to tell her what she'd always meant to him. He had knelt beside her grave and sobbed that if he had told her, he wouldn't have lost the love of his life, and he had cried that he was "so damn lonely now." He had recounted that he and Nikki had fought and argued, but they'd loved one another, and he had kissed his fingertips and touched them to the gravestone.

Victor had sat on a nearby bench, and he had told himself that it was too late for tears. He had realized that he'd convinced himself that Nikki's drinking and moving out had just been a passing phase during a rocky time, but he'd expected their love to conquer all. Nikki had said Victor hadn't been wrong to think that, since their love had gotten them through many things, but her hideous disease had turned her into someone she hadn't wanted to be. Victor had murmured that he would miss her, and he didn't know what he would do without her. Nikki had finally acknowledged that she needed to take the responsibility for herself.

Nikki told Angel that she hadn't needed Victor to say the words to know how much he loved her, since they had a connection -- two people with one mind and one heart. She recognized that she hadn't been able to quit drinking on her own, despite knowing what she'd had to lose. The white room disappeared, and Nikki was in an office, speaking to Angel Ochoa, a counselor at a rehab facility named Home. She said it had been her choice in the end, since even though Victor had taken her there, it was where she'd wanted to be.

Nikki guessed that seeing her grave and hearing her family hadn't been dream or the DTs, and Angel explained that she'd had a moment of clarity after the intervention that had allowed her to admit she needed help. "Can you help me?" she tearfully asked, and he replied that he thought he could. Angel welcomed Nikki home.

. . .

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