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Credit: Images: ABC (2)

They’ve waited long enough for a real love story — and so have we.

Back in 2016, we thought that General Hospital was positioning Nikolas and Ava for a romance. Actually, we more than thought it; we’d watched enough soap operas to be 100-percent sure of it. But then Tyler Christopher left the ABC soap, and Nick Stabile’s recast was “killed off.” And that, it seemed, was that.

We were bummed. Nikolas and Ava made for a fascinating potential pair. He, after all, has a mile-wide dark side… but also an aptitude for heroism. (He can probably thank mom Laura for that!) And Ava can be both as cold as the martinis she so adores and so warm and vulnerable, it’s hard to believe that she’s survived as long as she has in the circles she traffics. It felt like a missed opportunity of epic proportions.

Now, at last, it would appear that the show is really going to go there with the twosome. Never mind that “Nava” are locked in a contentious marriage of inconvenience; that’s mere set-up, a place for them to hide from feelings that they aren’t prepared to admit even to themselves that they have. We’re finally headed for a real love story.

It won’t be easy, of course — nor would we want it to be. “Easy” is a one-way ticket to the back burner. But we predict great things from Maura West’s on-screen connection with Nikolas No. 4, Marcus Coloma. (You’ll recall that, between Christopher’s General Hospital stints, Coltin Scott played the part in the late 1990s.) Their push/pull chemistry suggests that at any given moment the sexual tension between Nikolas and Ava might explode. And the underlying yearning and hurt that they bring to their performances suggests a far deeper and more tender relationship.

What do you think, General Hospital fans? Are you hoping that Nikolas and Ava will unpack their emotional baggage and confess that they love another — and actually have for quite some time? While you compose your responses, perhaps you might enjoy the below photo gallery, which lines up 10 former characters we’re eager to get back in Port Charles (and one who’s already on their way!)