Jason sat down at the interrogation table, across from Sonny. He couldn't believe he was here. Jason had gotten the call that Sonny had been arrested for shooting a police officer. And the officer was dead. Sonny's lawyers were already at work but Jason knew that they wouldn't be able to help. DA Ric Lansing was in his glory. There were witnesses to the shooting and he was ready to take his brother down. Jason knew it was a setup, but proving it was another matter. "What can I do?" Jason asked.
Sonny locked eyes with him. "Find Zander and protect him with your life."
"What?" Jason was stunned. "Zander? What are you talking about?"
"Long story short, I was set up." Sonny's hands were cuffed to his side but he was able to lift his hands to rest on the table and the chains clinked. It was ironic that three years ago Zander had sat here, chained, for killing a cop. Sonny had helped save him, now Zander was the one person who could do the same for him.
Jason rubbed a hand over his face. "I know that. But where does Zander fit in?"
Sonny leaned in. "He saw it. He saw what really happened, how I was set up. I don't know all the players, but at least one is a bad cop. He set up the good cop. He held the gun in my hand and made me pull the trigger. I saw Zander after they left me. He was in the shadows. I saw the look on his face. He saw it all. He's scared though, and I don't blame him. But I need him to testify for me."
"Wait a minute." Jason needed a few details cleared up. "How did you end up in that situation to begin with?”
"Threats on the kids and Carly. Threats they could make good on."
Jason could almost feel Sonny's fear. Whoever they were up against, this was going to be bad. "Okay. I'll get Zander and keep him safe. The lawyers know about this?"
Sonny nodded. "They know. They'll do what they can on their end. I just need you to find Zander and protect him. At all costs, Jason. This is my life and the lives of the people I care about that's at stake."
"I won't fail you," Jason promised, rising from his chair. "Can I get you anything?"
"Zander safe is all I care about."
Jason nodded and headed out the door.
* * * * *
"Yes?" Ric was on lunch break. He was celebrating Sonny's arrest. He had his brother dead to rights now.
"This is Carl Seavers. One of Mr. Corinthos' attorneys. I have some information that might be of interest to you."
Ric was suspicious. "What kind of information?"
"There was a witness to the crime that you don't know about."
"Zander Smith. Apparently he saw it all."
Ric clicked the phone shut without saying another word. Then he flipped it back open and made a call. When the voice on the other end answered, he hissed, "We've got a problem!"
* * * * *
Zander was terrified. He didn't remember being this scared during the whole *Dead Ted* thing. What he had witnessed on the docks was etched into his head. It was ironic that Sonny was now in his shoes and up for charges of murdering a cop. Charges he was innocent of. Zander remembered what that felt like. The frustration and anger. Knowing that he was being set up and feeling helpless. Sonny had helped Zander and a part of Zander wanted to help Sonny. But not here and now. He had to get out of town and then he could make a few phone calls. But right now he had to get away. Far away. Too many memories here in Port Charles anyway.
As he climbed the stairs to his room at Jake’s, Zander realized he was shaking. There had been so much blood. And seeing the cop lying there had reminded Zander of Pete lying on the ground, bleeding from his chest. An image that Zander had never been able to shake out of his head. It was burned into his memory and still haunted his dreams. Maybe he could leave that behind too, Zander thought, as he reached for the doorknob to his room. Only to realize that it was already open. Zander heard footsteps and was about to back away when the door opened and man stood there. Zander turned to run but a hand grabbed him by the jacket and hauled him into the room.
The man holding Zander was twice his size and very strong. Zander knew he would only have one chance to get away before it was lights out. He gazed about frantically for something to use as a weapon and he spotted his free weights. Twenty pounds. Zander stomped on the bad guys foot and when the guy let go, Zander grabbed the weight in both hands and swung for all he was worth. He hit the guy hard and he went down for the count. Zander dropped the weight. He expected to see blood, but he realized he'd whacked the guy in the back rather than in his head. But he was still down and that was all that mattered. And he was groaning so he was still alive. Zander had a few things he would have liked to have taken with him, but he left everything behind as he ran out the door.
* * * * *
Jason went to Jake’s to look for Zander. What he found was a trashed room. Instinct told him that the bad guys already knew about Zander. The clock was ticking now, for both Zander and Sonny.
* * * * *
Zander headed for the Haunted Star. It was closed at the moment and wouldn't be open for business till later. There was money in the cash box and Zander knew where it was kept and the combination. After all, he was the head of security. A strange position for him. But after his marriage to Emily had fallen apart, thanks to her infidelity and lies, Zander had ended up working for Faith. But he wouldn't do the things she wanted him to do, as in hurting people. Zander had even pretty much given up on the idea of getting revenge on Nikolas. But he and Faith had become close in a sense. They were sleeping together and Zander knew she had feelings for him. And a part of him could care about her. Mainly because they both knew it was more about mutual respect and needs than anything deeper. It wasn't an emotional tie, so to speak. And Zander heading security on the Haunted Star had been Luke Spencer's idea. Strangely enough, Luke had become a sort of mentor to Zander. In fact, he was the one who advised Zander to let go of his vendetta against Nikolas. One night, while sharing a bottle of Jack, Luke had told Zander about his vendetta against Stefan Cassadine and how he had killed him in the end. And that doing so hadn't eased the pain or made him feel better. If anything, it had left him feeling more empty.
But all of that meant nothing now, Zander realized. Once again he was back to the beginning. On the run and scared to death. His life would never change. Pushing his thoughts aside, Zander entered the Haunted Star and made his way to the backroom. He was working on the combination when he heard a sound. Instinct made him turn off the flashlight he was holding, plunging him into darkness. Then he backed into a corner, slid down, and waited.
* * * * *
Jason entered the Haunted Star. He had called his people after leaving the PCPD, creating a network keeping an eye out for Zander. Someone called in, having spotted Zander on the docks. Jason had been close by and he had seen a light on inside. Best bet was that it was Zander, probably in search of cash. It was what he would do, under the circumstances. Moving quietly, Jason made his way to the back. He could guess that Zander would be in hiding at this point and he didn't want to call out to him. He didn't have to. Jason took one step into the backroom and someone was on him. Jason ducked a punch then wrapped an arm around Zander's waist, hauling him hard against him, he wrapped his other arm around Zander's neck in a choke hold, knowing it would be the only way to calm him. But still Zander struggled against him until Jason lost patience and hissed his identity. "It's Jason!" He felt Zander go still. "I'm here to help you," Jason continued. He felt Zander claw at his forearm and eased up on the pressure.
"Let me go!" Zander demanded, squirming again.
"Stay still!" Jason ordered. "Look...I know you saw what happened on the docks, Zander. Sonny saw you and he sent me to protect you so that you can testify for him."
Zander tried to pull away from Jason's hold. "I have to get out of here, man!" he hissed. "There was someone at Jake’s...looking for me already."
Jason was about to reply when he heard a sound. He clamped a hand over Zander's mouth and hauled him back into a dark corner. He could feel Zander still squirming against him and Jason held on tight. But it was hard to focus. Zander's jeans clad ass was rubbing against Jason's crotch and Jason's cock had a mind of its own. It hardened and Jason was surprised by his reaction. Or maybe he wasn't. This wasn't the first time that Jason had gotten a hard on in Zander's presence. It had happened two other times. When he kidnapped Zander to protect him from Sorel's men, and the other time had been when he and Zander had hooked up, briefly, in an effort to rescue Elizabeth when she had been kidnapped. But the timing in this instance sucked.
Suddenly Zander went still and almost slumped in Jason's hold.
Jason heard footsteps and guessed that Zander had heard them too and that was why he was quiet now. But he still kept his hand clamped over Zander's mouth. Better to be safe than sorry. His own body was taut now for he was prepared to react to any threat. If someone found them, Jason would push Zander down and shield him as he fired at the enemy. His gun was tucked in the small of his back. But luck was with them. The footsteps never reached the door. But Jason waited an extra minute before releasing Zander. "Let's go," he stated.
"I'm not going anywhere with you!" Zander snapped. He turned his flashlight back on and went back to working on the combination to the cash box.
"I'm the only one who can keep you safe, Zander," Jason said, stating the obvious. Even though the light was dim, Jason could see that Zander was shaking. He couldn't blame the kid.
Zander snorted. "Why should I believe you?"
Jason didn't have time for this, but he gave answered anyway. "I protected you from Sorel's men."
"I don't trust you, Jason. I don't trust anyone." Zander went back to the cash box and cursed in frustration. "Stupid fucking box!"
"You don't need the money, Zander. I'll take care of everything. Now let's go before someone comes back."
Zander turned his light on Jason. "What part of I'm not going with you did you not understand!" he hissed.
Jason didn't waste time with a comeback. Instead he hauled back his fist and decked Zander, catching the boy's body as it crumpled and hauling him over his shoulder. Jason also managed to snag the flashlight before it hit the ground and he tucked it in his pocket. He could find his way in the dark. As quietly as he had come in, Jason left the Haunted Star.
* * * * *
Zander came awake with a grunt of pain. His eyes flew open and he realized he was in a car. A moving car. Sitting up from his slumped position, Zander glared at Jason. "You bastard! Stop the car!"
"No." Jason kept driving, his eyes never leaving the road.
"Fine…don't stop the car," Zander snapped. "I'll jump out anyway. He meant to follow through on his threat only to realize that his right wrist was cuffed to the door. "SONOFABITCH!"
Jason did glance over at Zander now. "I'm taking you to a safe place."
Zander tugged on the cuff and succeeded only in abrading his skin. "I don't want you to take me anywhere. Why can't you get that through your head? Leave me alone!"
"You won't survive ten minutes without me, Zander."
"What do you care?" Zander waved a hand when Jason made to reply. "Yeah...I know. Sonny. That's all you care about. What is it with you two? You jump when he tells you to jump. You give up having a life of your own to help Sonny live his life. Were you two married in another life...or something?" Zander knew he was rambling and he didn't care. He was scared shitless and he just wanted to disappear. A part of him wished he was back home in Florida. But the thought of Florida brought up thoughts of Pete, and Zander jerked as the sound of a gun shot echoed in his head.
Jason studied Zander for a moment. "You okay?"
Zander ran his free hand over his face. "Just ducky."
"We'll be stopping in about three hours. I know a place where we can stay for a day or two. Buy what we need."
"Whatever." Zander closed his eyes. He felt tired to the bone. But when he drifted off to sleep, he was haunted by nightmares of the cop being shot, overlaid by images of Peter.
* * * * *
Jason pulled into the back of the hotel. He had requested a room in the back, one that was actually isolated. Zander was still asleep and that would make things easier. Moving carefully, Jason unlocked the cuff from the door, then relocked it around Zander's other wrist. By the time he was done, Zander's eyes were open. "We're here," Jason said.
Zander pulled on the cuffs. "I hate you." That was all he said.
There was no need to reply so Jason got out and walked around to open Zander's door. He took him by the arm and pulled him towards their room. He didn't trust the kid. But, surprisingly, Zander didn't struggle. Not even when Jason cuffed him to the bed. "I'm going to go get us some things. Clothes and toiletries. Some food."
"Fine." Zander used the remote to turn on the TV, otherwise ignoring Jason.
"Stay put, Zander," Jason warned.
Zander tugged on the cuff. "I'm not going anywhere," he drawled.
Jason watched him for a moment then left. He finished his errands in record time and was back at the hotel in an hour. He was pleased to see that Zander was where he left him, still flipping TV channels. "I got Chinese," Jason stated, putting the food bags on the table. He had other bags filled with several changes of clothes for both of them and other things like razors and deodorant. Tooth brushes, combs and tooth paste.
"I'm not hungry," Zander replied. "Mind if a take a shower?"
"Fine." Jason knew Zander wouldn't be able to get out there way. There were no windows. He set a bag on Zander's bed. "Here's your stuff." Then he unlocked the cuff. He watched Zander take the bag into the bathroom and close the door, then Jason sat down at the small table and began to eat. He was just tossing his container in the trash can when Zander reentered the room. He was wearing black jeans and a teal blue pullover. His feet were bare and his hair was still wet. "Eat," Jason ordered.
Zander glared at him. "I told you I'm not hungry." He ran his fingers through his damp hair and paced over to the window. "How long are we staying here?"
Jason made it a point to take Zander's food out of the bag and set it on the table, along with a fork. Zander was going to eat. "We'll leave in the morning," Jason replied.
"Where are we going?"
"To a safe place."
Zander snorted. "Wow...thanks for sharing."
Jason stood up. "I want you to eat."
"Fuck what you want!" Zander snapped. "I want out of here!"
"That's not going to happen, Zander." Jason forced Zander away from the window. When Zander struggled against him, Jason slammed him hard against the wall and pinned him there with his body. "You will sit down and you will eat. Or I will cuff you to the chair and stuff it down your throat. You follow me?"
Zander held Jason's gaze for a long moment, then he closed his eyes and nodded. "Yeah...I got it. Fine…whatever."
Jason released him and watched as Zander grabbed the container and the fork. But he didn't sit at the table, he moved to sit on the bed. Neither one of them spoke for a while. Jason took note of the fact that while Zander did eat, he struggled with it, as if the food were caught in his throat and gagging him. After Zander forced down half of it, Jason took pity on him and took the rest away and tossed it out. "Go to sleep, we're leaving early." As he spoke, Jason grabbed the cuffs.
"You're cuffing me to the bed?" Zander protested.
"I don't trust you not to leave." Jason was going to be honest.
Zander shook his head. But he didn't struggle as Jason locked one cuff around his left wrist.
Jason watched Zander shift around to get comfortable, then draw the blanket over himself a bit. He then moved to his own bed. He turned out the light then stretched out on his back, his gun resting lightly in one hand. He knew he would doze more than sleep. But what he found himself doing, once his eyes had adjusted to the darkness, was to watch Zander sleep.
© Shelly 2004