A week passed and Zander didn't wake up. But he did stabilize. Well enough so that the doctor let Sonny hire an ambulance to move him to General Hospital. Before the move the doctor spoke at length with Jason about Zander's condition. Given that Zander had no family, he accepted Jason as the person looking out for Zander.
The doctor discussed the fact that Zander had been raped. It had jolted Jason to hear him say that and he had nodded and said that he would handle it. His tone and his expression had convinced the guy to drop it. Until the time came when Zander was being moved. The doctor had confronted Jason again, telling him that he had done a full write up on Zander's condition and that he firmly believed that once Zander regained consciousness, it would be advisable for him to talk to a psychiatrist. Once again Jason had replied that he would handle it. But he wondered if he could. The memory of Mick raping Zander in front of him, haunted Jason.
He paced in Zander's room. He spent most of his time there. Sonny and the staff had given up on trying to make him leave. Jason knew that Zander would wake up and he needed to be there for him when he did.
He was startled by Carly's voice. He hadn't expected to see her here, even though Sonny had told him that Carly asked about him and Zander daily. "What are you doing here?" Jason asked.
Carly smiled at him as she entered the room. "I wanted to see how you were doing, and I wanted to check on Zander." She looked at his still figure lying in the bed. "Any change?"
"He's tough." Carly reached out and touched Jason on the shoulder. "So are you."
Jason nodded. He didn't feel tough in this moment. He felt helpless and confused and weak. He hated those feelings.
Carly looked at him. "Um...is there anything I can get for you?"
"Nothing." All Jason wanted was for Zander to wake up and be okay.
"I'm ordered some flowers. Is it okay to bring them in?"
Jason almost managed a smile. "Sure."
Carly looked relieved. "Great. Zander mentioned once how much he liked the scent of lilacs, so I got him bunches of them. I thought it might help."
"That's great. Thank you." Jason watched her go then he moved back to the bed and simply watched Zander. He hated how pale and still Zander looked. The kid was always a body in motion and Jason wanted that fire and passion back. He wanted the hazel eyes to snap open and glare at him. And when Zander's eyelids suddenly fluttered open, Jason jumped. He held his breath until the hazel eyes focused on him. "Zander?"
"J…Jason?" Zander coughed.
Jason grabbed his water glass and let him take a sip to ease his dry throat. "You don't have to talk. Rest. You're going to be okay."
Zander looked at Jason and nodded. "Yeah...I know."
Jason felt shaken by what he saw in Zander's eyes. Trust was shining in them.
"I'm glad you're okay." Zander's voice was barely more than a hoarse whisper.
"Thanks to you," Jason replied. "Why did you shield me?"
Zander smiled, but it faltered. "If you...if you had died...who would have saved me?" His eyes fluttered closed.
Jason felt the sting of tears and fought them back. But they defeated him and ran down his face. He realized that Zander believed in him, that he had trusted him to save him. But Jason hadn't done that. He had failed him. Zander had sacrificed his body and his life for Jason, but Jason had failed to save him. It was a bitter pill to swallow and Jason choked on it. Then he choked on his tears as he fell to his knees, fighting against the sobs that shook him. He was vaguely aware of arms wrapping around him and he saw Carly's face through a blur of tears. Jason clung to her, letting her rock him and whisper softly to him as he cried. Every tear burned him and every sob shattered him inside. And Jason feared that he might never stop.
* * * * *
After his breakdown in Carly's arms, Jason stayed away from Zander. He disappeared for two days but found himself drawn back to the hospital. He couldn't walk away from Zander. But he wondered if Zander would want him around, so Jason hunted down Dr. Jones and talked to him first.
"How is Zander doing?"
"He's been asking for you."
Jason nodded. "I'm here."
Tony cocked an eyebrow then went on. "He's doing better than I expected. We ran some tests and there is some nerve damage to his shoulder. Once he's out of the cast he'll have to do physical therapy. It's going to be rough on him."
"I'll help him." Jason owed him that much.
"Good. There's another issue that needs to be dealt with. I've been putting it off until now."
Jason knew what he meant. "The rape."
Tony sighed. "Knowing Zander, he's not going to want to deal with this. I've already spoken with Dr. Baldwin and she plans on talking to him tomorrow. But Zander might be more receptive to the idea of therapy coming from you."
"I doubt that."
"It can't hurt."
Jason didn't argue the point. "Does Zander know about the nerve damage and the physical therapy?"
Tony nodded. "He does. He's not happy about it. He's also not happy about being here. He wants to go home."
"When will he be able to leave?"
"It's going to be at least a week. I just moved him out of ICU an hour ago. He's in room 303."
Jason said nothing, he simply turned away and headed for the elevator. When he got to Zander's room, he was glad to see he looked much better. He had some color and when the hazel eyes locked on him, the fire was back.
Zander watched Jason approach. "Where have you been?"
"Taking care of business. How do you feel?"
"I've been better."
Jason could hear the anger in Zander's voice, anger that was tempered by fear. The reality of what had happened was only just beginning to hit Zander. Jason wished he could spare him what was to come. "I'm glad you're okay." It wasn't what he wanted to say, but it was all he could think of. It was all that really mattered in this moment.
Zander nodded. "Yeah. Me too. Sonny told me what happened."
Jason hesitated then decided that Zander deserved the truth. "For not saving you."
Zander frowned. "What happened isn't your fault, Jason. I jumped in front of the bullet."
"I know." Jason couldn't hold Zander's gaze. "I talked to Dr. Jones. He told me about the therapy and stuff."
Jason did look at him now. "You'll do it."
Zander glared at him. "Not."
"You will." Jason was firm, then he hit Zander with a surprise. "I got a place for us."
Jason almost smiled at the look on Zander's face. "For when you get out of here."
Zander shook his head. "I have a place."
"You're not going back to Jake’s."
Jason reached out and let his fingers tangle in Zander's hair. It felt like silk against his skin and it made him ache in places he didn't want to think about. It made him crazy that Zander had this effect on him. Especially now, given the circumstances. "I got a place on the waterfront. You'll like it."
Zander frowned. "Why would you do that?"
"I owe you."
"No...you don't." Zander pulled his head back.
Jason knew he owed far more than he would ever be able to repay. "I want you to move in with me, Zander. For once in your life, just accept it. We can talk about it later. You need to rest right now." Jason could see that Zander was ready to argue the point, but then he simply nodded and closed his eyes. But they fluttered back open.
"Will you be here?"
"Yeah...I'll be here," Jason promised, and he saw relief warm the hazel eyes. He knew that Zander still needed him and it felt good to know that he could give him this. He pulled the corner chair over to the bed and sat down. "Go to sleep."
Zander smiled then closed his eyes again.
Jason watched him sleep. He would never leave Zander alone again. Fate had given him a second chance and he wasn't going to fuck it up this time. He couldn't risk it. Jason let reality hit him like a two by four. He was in love with Zander Smith.
© Shelly 2004