On Common Ground
Stefan ran from the room, stumbling as he rushed down the stairs. He could not believe what he had just done. The image of Zander's face was etched in his mind. The pain that glittered in the hazel eyes. Pain and fear that Stefan had put there. He reached the front door and yanked it open, running out into the night. Running fast and hard, but he could not escape what he had done. And Zander, he would need someone to help him. So Stefan returned to the house and he sought out Alexis.
She took one look at Stefan and gasped. "What's wrong? Are you all right?"
"You have to help Zander...he's going to need you, Alexis. Please...go to him." Stefan shrugged off her hands. He felt dirty because of what he had done and he was sweaty from running. He did not want Alexis to touch him.
"What are you talking about, Stefan?" Alexis countered. "Why does Zander need me? What happened?"
Stefan locked eyes with Alexis, then whispered, "I raped him." As Alexis reacted, stunned disbelief registering on her face, Stefan turned on his heel and walked away. He did not know where he was going. He knew only that he had to get away.
* * * * *
Once Stefan was gone, Zander stayed curled up for a long moment. Then he felt the overwhelming urge to be clean. So he slid off the bed and ran into the bathroom. He threw up, clutching the toilet as he emptied his stomach. He could still feel Stefan inside him, still feel his release slicking his skin. When the retching stopped, Zander managed to stand up and brush his teeth, then he showered, standing under the scalding spray of water as he scrubbed away the blood and semen, but he could not scrub away the pain.
Once the water ran cold, Zander got out, dried off and got dressed. He dressed in layers, grabbing a jacket before leaving the room. He went out the back stairs. Out into the night. Wishing the blackness would swallow him up.
* * * * *
After Stefan's proclamation, Alexis stood in the hallway for a long moment. She couldn't have heard him right. Stefan would never hurt Zander. But the thought of Zander needing her, propelled Alexis into motion. She ran up the stairs and down the hallway to his room. She knocked on the door. No reply. It wasn't locked so Alexis entered. But the room was empty. She went to the bed and saw the tattered clothes on the floor, the rumpled sheets, the blood. She felt herself go pale and she backed away, moving into the adjoining bathroom. She saw the wet towel on the floor and knew that Zander must have just left. Alexis ran out. She had to find him.
* * * * *
Stefan went to the south side of the estate. He climbed the rocks there, standing on a ledge. It was a long way down, but he wasn't thinking about jumping. A Cassadine would never end his own life. And Stefan was a Cassadine. He would go back and face the music. He would pay for his sins.
* * * * *
Zander headed for the stables. He didn't plan it, it's just where he ended up. Since Helena had brought him here, she had curtailed his freedom, but she had allowed him to ride, with an escort, and Zander had enjoyed the fact that she had been stunned that he could ride. Zander wanted to ride now. He wanted to feel a freedom he knew he would never have. But as he entered the stables and made his way to the stall in the back, to where Zeus was boxed, Zander heard footsteps. He made to turn around but rough hands grabbed him and a damp cloth was shoved over his mouth and nose. Zander struggled but darkness swirled in his head then claimed him.
* * * * *
Alexis couldn't find Zander. Anywhere. She started to panic and she asked Nikolas and Lucky to help her. They agreed, but both wondered at her panicked desperation. Alexis didn't explain it. How could she? But they searched all parts of the estate and no Zander to be found. Eventually they ran into Stefan. Alexis thought he looked like death warmed over. She didn't want to tell him the news. But she blurted it out. "Stefan...Zander is missing."
He reacted as if he had been struck. "What? What are you talking about? Missing?" Stefan shook his head. "No...he was in no condition to leave...and he couldn't leave. My mother won't let him..."
"What's going on?" Nikolas interjected.
"Good question, my dear!" It was Helena who spoke as she entered the drawing room. She was visibly furious. "Robert Scorpio is gone. He left me a note. He took Zander with him."
Everyone was stunned.
Stefan reacted first. He grabbed his mother by the arm and hauled her out into the foyer. "What did you do to Zander?" he demanded, shaking her like he would a rag doll. "What lies did you tell him? What threats did you use?"
"I don't know what you're talking about, Stefan," Helena replied, but her eyes glinted with a cold satisfaction as she spoke. "Trouble in paradise?"
"Why did you do this, mother? Why? Zander was no threat to you!" Stefan shook her again, for good measure, then released her. His anger was spent.
Helena chuckled as she rubbed her arm. "Stefan...did you really think Zander Smith would love you?"
Stefan glared at his mother. "Zander did love me! You made him do this!"
"Do what? Run off with his father? You did that, Stefan. You're the one who raped him!" Helena watched her son closely as her words sunk in.
"Do you have any idea how much I hate you?" Stefan whispered.
Helena smirked. "Guaranteed...I hate you more." With that she turned and walked away.
* * * * *
Stefan returned to the drawing room. Luke had joined the group and they were all discussing Robert and Zander's disappearance. He went to Alexis who looked shaken. "Are you all right?" Stefan asked.
"I don't know," Alexis replied. "What you told me...I...I can't accept it, Stefan. I know you...you wouldn't do that to anyone. Especially not to Zander."
"I'm a Cassadine, Alexis," Stefan countered. "It's in my nature to hurt the people I love." He would have said more but Luke was standing before him. "Yes?" Stefan drawled. He was not in the mood to deal with Spencer.
Luke grinned. "So...what are you doing still standing here, Count Vlad? Shouldn't you be out looking for Zander?"
Stefan glared at Luke. "Maybe it's best if he stays with his father. Robert can protect him." Stefan spoke his thoughts out loud. Maybe Zander wanted it this way. To keep himself safe from Stefan.
"Are you smoking crack?" Luke shot back. "Zander ain't gonna want to be with his father. Robert Scorpio is a stranger to him. The kid loves you."
"Not anymore," Stefan whispered. His mother might have threatened Zander into declaring his love to be a lie. But after what Stefan did to him, the lie would become a truth.
Nikolas confronted his Uncle. "What are you talking about?"
Stefan looked Nikolas in the eye as he stated, "I raped Zander." He paused for the reaction and the stunned look on everyone's face was not disappointing. Stefan then continued. "Zander told me he didn't love me, that everything between us was a lie."
"I don't believe that," Nikolas shot back. "I saw the two of you together. Zander wears his emotions on his face. He loves you."
"I raped him, Nikolas," Stefan gritted out. "I was so angry and so hurt...I wanted him to tell me the truth. I wanted to force it out of him. So I tied him to the bed and I raped him."
Nikolas was silent for a moment, as if digesting what he heard. Then he said, "Go after him, Uncle."
Stefan shook his head. "How can you even tell me that? I showed Zander my true...Cassadine...colors. Pure black. I destroyed any love he had for me in a matter of minutes."
"Zander will forgive you, Stefan," Alexis interjected. "He has a great capacity to forgive."
"I can't forgive myself," Stefan replied.
Lucky spoke up. "You and Zander have that in common. Zander can't forgive himself either. So maybe the two of you could teach each other how to forgive yourselves."
Nikolas touched Stefan on the shoulder. "I'll come with you. We'll find him."
"Easier said than done," Luke interjected. "Robert Scorpio is a hard man to find under any circumstances. But if he wants to hide...you've got a better chance of finding God."
"You told me to go after Zander," Stefan reminded Luke.
Luke grinned. "That I did. And I think you should. Just letting you know what you're up against. And...by the way...I don't have anything scheduled....so I'll tag along."
Lucky moved to stand next to his father. "I'll come too."
"Why? Why would you help me?" Stefan wondered. None of this made sense.
"I think we all know that my grandmother set everything in motion, Uncle," Nikolas replied. "What you did to Zander...that will be up to the two of you to find peace with. But you can't do that until you find him. And I think he needs you...more now than ever before. Besides which...he's my brother...so I want to help find him."
Stefan hugged Nikolas. "Thank you." He looked at the others and nodded his thanks at them as well. Then he turned to Alexis. "You go home to Kristina. I will find Zander and I'll bring him home." Stefan wasn't sure which home he spoke of. But all that mattered to him now was finding the man he loved.
Alexis smiled at Stefan. "I'll help you pack." The left the room, arm in arm.
The others followed them out. It was time to find Zander.
* * * * *
Zander came awake with a jolt. He opened his eyes and felt disoriented. His vision was fuzzy and his head ached and felt heavy. He tried to rub at his eyes but one hand came up short. Zander blinked then focused on the handcuff that bound one wrist to the seat of his chair. And it was in that moment that he realized he was on an airplane. "What the fuck!" he hissed, yanking on the cuff.
"Take it easy." Robert moved to kneel next to Zander's seat. "You're safe now."
"Safe? Where the hell am I? And why am I here?"
Robert smiled. "Helena wouldn't have let you go, Zander. We both know that. I couldn't allow that, so I'm taking you home with me."
Zander was stunned. "Home with you? I don't think so. I don't want to go with you and you can't force me."
"I'll do what I have to do, Zander," Robert replied. "I'm your father...I want to get to know you, and I want to keep you safe. I can do that."
"You let me go!" Zander hissed, tugging at his wrist. "You sonofabitch!"
Robert sighed and removed a syringe from his jacket pocket. He held down Zander's free arm, ignoring the curses spit at him, and injected his son. It didn't take long for Zander's eyes to close. "I'm doing what's best for you," Robert whispered, then he grabbed a blanket and draped it over Zander. It would be several hours before they reached their destination.
© Shelly 2004