They drove for another hour and Zander didn't speak. He just sat there, staring out the front window. Jason doubted he saw anything at all.
After a time they came to a small motel. Jason knew the area. He gave Zander some money and told him to ask for a double room in the back. A few minutes later, Zander returned with the room key. Jason drove around to the back and parked. While Zander grabbed their bag, Jason grabbed the first aid kit from the trunk. He had it well stocked for any emergency. His shoulder had stopped bleeding and he knew it wasn't a serious injury, but it made itself felt.
They entered the room. Jason pulled out the cuffs. "I have to shower." He said nothing more.
Zander got the hint and stretched out on the bed then held out his left wrist.
"I won't be long," Jason stated as he cuffed Zander to the headboard. He grabbed some clothes from the duffle bag then headed into the bathroom. He showered quickly and checked the wound. A deep graze but not too serious. No stitches required, but a few butterfly bandages would help. The bathroom was small so Jason headed back into the other room to take care of his wound. And to check on Zander. The kid never turned on the TV. He was just lying there. Jason freed him. "You okay?"
"Fine." Zander slid off the bed.
Jason sat down at the small table and opened the first aid kit.
Zander joined him. "I could help."
"Okay." Jason could do it himself, but he sensed that Zander needed something to do. The kid was ready to jump out of his skin. He watched as Zander cleaned his wound with peroxide. Jason hissed a bit at the sting. Then Zander spread and ointment over it before applying several butterfly bandages. Then he taped a sterile pad over it. "You know what you're doing," Jason stated.
"I've had a few injuries," Zander replied. He put everything back in the first aid kit.
Jason stood up and flexed his shoulder. It felt a bit tight and there was some pain, but it was doable. He did pop an antibiotic though. To be on the safe side. "How long have you been shooting guns?" he asked, abruptly.
Zander flinched, but answered. "Since I was twelve." He packed the first aid kit in the duffle bag. "Want me to go on a food run?"
"We'll go together." Jason pulled on a tee shirt then shrugged on his jacket. He tucked his gun into the small of his back. He took a good look at Zander. The kid was pale and his eyes looked haunted. Something was eating at him. Jason didn't push him for details. But he realized that there was alot he didn't know about Zander Smith.
"How long are we staying here?" Zander asked as they headed out the door.
Jason closed the door behind them and checked to be sure it was locked. "Just for tonight," he replied, then they walked to the car and drove off.
* * * * *
They ate at a small diner or, rather, Jason ate. Zander stared at his plate and gagged on the couple of bites he made himself eat. Surprisingly, Jason didn't push him to eat. They left the diner and came back to the hotel. Zander took a shower, pulled on sweat pants and a tee shirt and socks, then he got into bed. He took note of the fact that Jason was sitting by the window. He didn't move when Zander got into bed. "Aren't you going to cuff me?" Zander finally asked.
Jason turned to look at him. "No."
"Why not?" Stupid question, Zander realized, but he had to ask.
"I don't think you're going anywhere," Jason replied.
Zander had a comeback for that, but he swallowed it back down. He wasn't in the mood for bantering with Jason tonight. He simply curled up on his side and closed his eyes. Zander didn't expect to fall asleep, yet he managed to drift off. But it wasn't long before his dreams plagued him.
He could smell the coppery stench of blood and hear the echo of the gunshot ringing in his ears as he ran. He reached his brother's body and froze. Peter was lying so still and his chest was soaked red. Zander fell to his knees beside him, begging him to be all right. When suddenly Pete's eyes opened and a bloodied hand gripped Zander's wrist.
"You killed me, little brother....." Pete whispered.
"No...no! I didn't mean to," Zander cried.
Pete smiled and his teeth were pearly white in a face that was already beginning to decay. "You never mean to fuck up, Alex. But you always do. And someone always pays for your mistakes. You sent me to heaven, Alex...but I curse you straight to HELL!"
"NO!" The cry was ripped from Zander's throat and he sat bolt right up in bed, feeling his heart racing in his chest. And when a hand touched his arm, he jumped.
"Zander," Jason said quietly.
Rubbing his face with a shaky hand, Zander tried to make himself relax and failed miserably. Then nausea hit him like a ton of bricks and he was off the bed and running for the bathroom. He made it just in time. When he was done puking his guts out, Zander backpedaled into the corner. He sat there for a long time, tremors shaking his body as he fought off more waves of nausea. After a time he felt the panic level ease and he got to his feet and splashed cold water on his face. Then he brushed his teeth before returning to the other room. He noticed Jason had moved back to the window.
Zander looked at his bed then turned away to sit at the small table. "Got any cards?" he asked.
"Sure." Jason pulled a pack out of his jacket pocket.
"Want to play Rummy?" Zander didn't ask why Jason was carrying a deck of cards in his Jacket pocket. He was just glad to have them.
Jason sat down at the table. "Want to talk about it?" he offered.
Zander shook his head. "No...thanks." He dealt the cards then concentrated on his hand. He was grateful that Jason let it drop.
They played until dawn. Jason said it was time to go. Zander got dressed, packed the duffel bag and followed him out to the car. Once on the road again, Zander asked, "How long before we get where we're going?"
"A few hours."
They continued on in silence.
* * * * *
Two hours later they pulled into a truck stop for breakfast. Jason told Zander to order for them while he went to the bathroom. His wound was itching and he knew it was bleeding again. Jason wanted to take a look at it. When he came back out he froze. Zander wasn't at the counter. Zander cornered the waitress. "The young guy that was sitting at the table. Dark hair, leather jacket, gray tee shirt. Did you see him leave?"
The waitress smiled. "The hottie? Yeah...I saw him leave with Red."
"He's a regular on this route. Drives a red rig. But that's not why he's called Red."
Jason could guess. "He has red hair?"
The waitress snapped her gum then laughed. "Nah. He used to be a professional wrestler. Small circuit. Guy is huge. His wrestling name was Red Dog. Get it?"
"Got it. When did they leave?"
"Just pulled out a few minutes ago. Heading west."
Jason stuffed a twenty down her cleavage and ran for the door. But he cursed when he reached the car and found the front, left, tire flat from a puncture wound. He cursed Zander out, silently, as he grabbed the jack and the spare from the trunk.
* * * * *
Zander watched the highway pass by. He knew that Jason was going to be furious, but he told himself he didn't care. Zander wanted to disappear. He was never going back to Port Charles any more than he would ever go back home to Florida. He was going to go off somewhere and disappear. After a while Zander felt his eyes drift close. And, for once, he didn't dream. But he came awake with a start when a heavy hand squeezed his thigh.
© Shelly 2004