On Common Ground

Chapter 8


Stefan paced in the waiting area. He paced around the couch, then over to the vending machine, then he cut over to the nurses' station. He would lock eyes with Amy Vying who would simply shake her head at him. No news yet about Zander. But at least that meant he was still alive.

"Mr. Cassadine?"

"Yes?" He whirled around to find Monica Quartermaine standing there. "How is Zander?"

Monica sighed. "Alive. We pumped his stomach and I started an IV to help flush his system. You cut it close getting him here."

Stefan ran a hand over his face. He felt about a hundred years old in this moment. "Is he going to be okay?"

"He's going to live. That's all I can tell you right now."

"Can I see him?" Stefan asked.

Monica shook her head. "He's in and out of it and Dr. Gail Baldwin is with him right now. Go home, Mr. Cassadine. Come back tomorrow."

Stefan didn't want to leave but he knew there was nothing more he could do right now. But a sudden thought occurred to him. "Where is Zander's father?"

"Good question," Monica drawled, then she turned and walked away.

* * * * *

Stefan returned first thing in the morning and as he exited the elevator and made his way to the nurses' station, he saw Cameron Lewis lurking about. Anger welled up in Stefan. "Where were you last night?" he demanded.

Cameron eyed Stefan with disdain. "I don't believe that's any of your business."

"Your son almost died last night!"

"I am aware of that fact. Alexander's second overdose in less than a year. The courts will probably lock him up in rehab."

Stefan was stunned by the other man's callousness. "That's all you have to say about this? You don't care that your son almost died?"

Cameron shrugged. "It's not like Alexander would ever manage to kill himself. Since the day he was born he has never managed to do anything right."

"You bastard!" Without thinking, Stefan hauled back his arm then he slugged Cameron Lewis in the nose.

"Son of a bitch!" Cameron shrieked, holding his nose.

Monica came running. "What is going on here?"

Cameron pointed at Stefan. "He punched me."

"You probably deserved it," Monica shot back. "Let me see." She yanked Cameron's hand from his face then prodded his nose, ignoring his moans of pain. "It's not broken."

"May I see Zander now?" Stefan interjected. He was sorry that he hadn't hit Dr. Lewis harder.

Monica was about to reply when Dr. Gail Baldwin appeared.

She smiled at Stefan, then nodded at Cameron. "I need to talk to the both of you about Zander."

"Why would you need to talk to him?" Cameron protested, glaring at Stefan.

"Because he was the one who found Zander." Gail looked at Stefan. "It's my understanding that Zander works for you and lives at Wyndemere?"

Stefan nodded. "That's right."

Gail pulled out a notepad. "Can you tell me what happened?"

"I'm not sure." Stefan ran a hand through his hair and had to resist the urge to pace. "Zander had a confrontation with his father yesterday afternoon. It was basically Dr. Lewis being a jerk to his son, but it really bothered Zander. He took off and I found him at Jake's, drinking and playing pool. I got him to come home with me and we went back to work. But after supper Zander started drinking again. We talked a little bit about my mother and his father. I could see that Zander was really hurt by what his father had said to him. He couldn't let it go. We made plans to go riding in the morning, then Zander headed off to his room. I decided to check on him before I went to bed and I found him unconscious with a packet of pills lying next to him." Stefan shook his head. "I should have realized this might happen."

"Why do you say that?"

Stefan almost didn't want to tell her, for it seemed a bit of a betrayal. But he wanted to help Zander and that meant being honest. "He mentioned to me that he considered taking an overdose after Emily died."

Gail scribbled in her note pad. "Thank you for telling me that."

"What are you going to do with Alexander?" Cameron interjected. He was still favoring his nose.

"Given that this is his second overdose in less than a year, the courts are pushing for Zander to be placed in rehab for a minimum of six months."

Cameron nodded. "Probably the best thing for him."

Gail gave Cameron a look that could have melted lava. "I disagree. I don't believe Zander's first overdose was an outright suicide attempt, and I feel the same way about what happened last night."

"How can you say that?" Stefan was surprised at being the one to ask the question. But he couldn't rid himself of the image of Zander lying so still on the floor with the empty packet of pills nearby.

"Zander was in pain and he wanted to stop it." Gail replied. "There was no forethought to it. He wasn't actively trying to kill himself, he just wanted to be numb for a while and he wasn't thinking about the consequences of his actions."

Cameron snorted. "When does he ever?"

Gail ignored him to focus on Stefan. "I'm going to recommend to the court that Zander be placed under my care as an out patient with two sessions a week. But if I do that I'm going to need a favor from you, Mr. Cassadine."

"What do you need?" Stefan was more than willing to help in any way he could.

"I want to appoint you as Zander's guardian."

Stefan was stunned. "Wait a minute. I don't understand. His guardian? But Zander is over 18."

Gail nodded. "Yes, but the court sees Zander as a young man who has made two attempts on his life in less than a year. Without a guardian he will be sent away."

"Alexander has a father, that would be me," Cameron stated. "The court would naturally appoint me as his guardian."

"Under normal circumstances, yes," Gail allowed. "But given the fact that you are the reason Zander overdosed, both times, I think I can convince them that you'd be a bad choice as a guardian."

Stefan resisted the urge to smirk. "I couldn't agree with you more," he stated. "And I have no problem with becoming Zander's guardian. For how long would it be?"

Gail shrugged. "That will be up to the judge to decide. I'm guessing for six months to a year. The court will review my reports to them in three months and go from there."

"That's fine." Stefan was more than willing to do this, but he felt a bit anxious. "Does Zander know about this?"

"Not yet. That's the next step."

Stefan nodded. "May I see Zander now?"

Gail smiled at him. "Soon. He does want to talk to you." She turned to Cameron. "You, on the other hand, are to stay away from Zander for the time being. Do you understand me, Dr. Lewis?"

"You can't keep me from seeing my son," Cameron snapped.

"Sure I can. All I have to do is talk to Alan Quartermaine and he'll post someone at Zander's door to keep you out." Gail's tone was almost smug.

Stefan had one more question. "How long will Zander have to stay in the hospital?"

Gail considered her reply. "I want to keep him here for a couple more days. He's still weak and Monica Quartermaine wants to keep an eye on his physical recovery. And I want to spend more time with him as well." Just then her beeper went off. "I need to get that," Gail said. "Mr. Cassadine, I'll let you know when you can see Zander." With that she was gone.

"What is your interest in my son?" Cameron demanded, the moment Dr. Baldwin was gone.

"He works for me," Stefan replied. It wasn't the complete truth, but it was more than Dr. Lewis deserved. "I care about the people in my employ."

Cameron smirked. "My son isn't worth the effort you're making to help him. Trust me on that."

Stefan shook his head and he had to shove his hands in his pants pockets to keep from slugging Dr. Lewis again. And this time he would be certain to break his nose. "If you can say that then you just proved to me that you don't know your son at all. Good day to you." With that Stefan turned on his heel and walked away.

* * * * *

A half hour later, Stefan was allowed to see Zander. He put a smile on his face as he entered the room, all the while taking note of fact that Zander was pale, that he still had an IV and that he looked scared. "How do you feel?"

"Stupid." Zander smiled wanly then shrugged. "I'm sorry for all the trouble I caused you."

"Don't worry about it, Zander." Stefan moved to sit on the stool that was next to the bed. "But don't ever do something that terrifying ever again. Do you hear me?"

Zander dropped his eyes. "I try not to make promises that Iím not sure I can keep," he muttered.

Stefan felt a ripple of fear. "ZanderÖdo you really want to die?"

"I don't know." Zander ran a hand over his face and sighed. "I don't know what I want. That's not true. I want Emily back." A tear slid down his face.

"I know you do," Stefan said softly. "It's going to hurt for a long time, Zander, and you're never going to stop missing her. But you can learn to move on. To live again."

Zander chuckled but choked on a sob. "Truth is, my life has never really been worth living. Except when I had Emily. She made it worth the effort."

Stefan resisted the urge to reach out and pull Zander into a hug. Instead he said firmly, "Find something else to motivate you, Zander. Someone else. Emily would not want to see you giving up like this. I'm sure of it."

"You're right." Zander wiped the tears from his eyes. "Um...I guess Dr. Baldwin told you about therapy and the...guardian...thing. You don't have to do it. I appreciate that you offered, but you've done enough for me."

"It's a done deal, Zander." Stefan stated. "I signed the paper work before coming to see you."

Zander was surprised. "That was fast."

Stefan shrugged. "Why waste time. I don't mind accepting the responsibility, Zander. It's not a big deal, anyway."

"I'll fuck things up somehow. Guaranteed."

"We'll muddle through." Stefan rose from his chair. "Get some rest. I'm going to take care of some business then I'll be back later with some real food and a change of clothes for when you're released. I could bring a book to read if you like."

Zander nodded. "That would be great. Thank you." His eyes drifted closed.

Stefan smiled as he studied the young man for a moment. Even pale and worn out, Zander was beautiful in a way that touched his heart. He had the face of an angel and the heart of a rebel. An attractive combination that Stefan was finding hard to resist. But he would do right by Zander, and that meant keeping his feelings to himself. Allowing himself one last look, Stefan then turned and walked out of the room. He was careful not to turn and look back.


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