On Common Ground

Chapter 1


Stefan was alone and he felt it in every way possible. Physically, emotionally, even mentally. With Nikolas gone from Wyndemere, Stefan had no one. Nothing. Laura was out of his reach, she had been for a long time. There was no one else in Stefan's life. He wished things had been different. That Nikolas' life was not in danger from the mobster that Stefan had borrowed money from. Which was the reason why Nikolas was in hiding in Switzerland.


After three weeks of being alone, Stefan felt as if he might truly go insane. So he headed for the garage. He would go into town and figure out something from there. Once he reached town, Stefan drove around for a while but he couldn't think of any place he wanted to go, so he ended up parking the car. He walked for a while and ended up on the docks. Stefan stared out at the water, wondering what purpose his life was now meant to have, when he heard footsteps approaching. But even as he turned around he was grabbed from behind and the sharp edge of a knife blade was held against his throat. "What do you want?" Stefan queried as he stared at the second man who was facing him. A big guy and fairly young and obviously high.


"What do you think we want, dickhead?" The guy replied. "All of your money."

"For more drugs?" Stefan was disgusted.


The guy was not amused. Nor was the guy holding Stefan, the knife blade bit into skin, almost breaking it.


Stefan was careful not to swallow. And then he saw a third party approach. A young man with a cocky grin on his face.


"Hey…is this a private party?" Zander called out.


"Get lost, punk," the first guy snarled.

Zander made a face at him. "You guys are pussies...you know that? Two of you, armed, against one, unarmed guy. Pussies."


Stefan did not want to see the young man get hurt, although he looked about as high as the bad guys. "I don't need your help...thug!" he called out, hoping the young man would get the hint.


"Shut up!" Zander shot back. "I wasn't talking to you." He focused on the bad guys. "Where were we? Oh yeah...I was calling you pussies."


The first guy almost spit with fury. "Why you little punk!" he screamed, then he attacked only to find himself hit with a solid right hook. He howled and grabbed his nose, blood pumping through his fingers. Then he screamed as he lost his balance and toppled off the dock into the water.


Zander smiled then turned to the other guy. "Wanna play with me?" he taunted.


"You little fucker!" the guy hissed, released his victim.


Stefan stumbled as he was pushed away hard. He caught himself and turned in time to see the knife holder slash out at the young man. He scored a hit across the young mans shoulder and chest, even though the boy jumped back. He just wasn't quick enough.

Zander hissed in pain but now he was pissed. So when the other guy stood there laughing, daring Zander to attack him, Zander didn't hesitate. But the guy read the signals wrong. He was ready to duck Zander's fist so he wasn't watching for Zander's foot, which nailed him in the crotch. Zander watched in satisfaction as the guy howled and fell to his knees, clutching his family jewels. Zander then kicked him in the head. Not hard, but hard enough to make him hit the deck for a nap.


"That was…somewhat...impressive," Stefan stated, as he moved to confront the young man. "But you don't fight fair."

"Fuck fair!" Zander swayed on his feet and caught himself against the railing. "I won, didn't I?"


Stefan nodded. "What's your name?"



"You're bleeding."


Zander looked down at his shoulder then back at Stefan and laughed. "Ya think? Eh…one more scar to add to my collection." He pushed away from the railing and made his way, unsteadily, towards the bench at the far end of the docks. From underneath he retrieved the bottle of Jack Daniels that he had stashed there before making his presence known. Zander was about to take a swig when strong fingers grabbed his wrist, stopping him. He glared at Stefan Cassadine. "Let go!"


Stefan stared back down the length of his patrician nose. "Are you even old enough to drink?"


"What the..." Zander couldn't believe what he was hearing. Since he couldn't shake Stefan's hand off his wrist, he grabbed for the bottle with his other hand and winced at the movement sent pain shooting through him. But he got the bottle and took a long swig, then replied, "Not that it's any of your business...but I'm twenty-three."

"You don't look it." Stefan released him and took interest in Zander's injury. It was bleeding steadily. "You need medical attention."


Zander laughed. "I need another drink." He took another swig.


Stefan ignored him and took out his cell phone. He called 911 and reported the attack to the police, then he asked for an ambulance. At which point he felt the phone snatched out of his hand. "Give that back," Stefan demanded.

"What are you doing?" Zander shot back.


"I told you. You need medical attention."


Zander shook his head. "I don't do hospitals." He took another swig of Jack to dull the pain of memory. The last time Zander had been at the hospital, Emily had died in his arms.

Stefan pulled out a handkerchief and pressed it to the wound. Firmly. He felt Zander flinch and heard his hiss of pain. He ignored both and was disturbed when the handkerchief quickly turned red. "I'm taking you to the hospital."


"Not happening." Zander shoved Stefan away and in the process stumbled and dropped the bottle of Jack. He cursed then cursed again as he watched Stefan kick it off the dock. "Hey! That stuff ain't cheap ya know!" A wave of dizziness washed over Zander and he stumbled. He would have fallen had a strong hand not caught him.


"I'm taking you to the hospital," Stefan repeated, and then he took charge, hauling Zander's good arm over his shoulder even as he wrapped his other arm around the slender waist. Stefan then proceeded to practically carry Zander off towards his car.



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© Shelly 2004