Zander realized he was shaking and his throat felt raw. He felt like banging his head against the wall to make the images from the dream disappear. But they clung to his mind, the memory of Pete lying on the ground, covered in blood. Zander got out of bed and ran for the bathroom and made it just in time to puke his guts out. He was still shaking when he was done heaving and he stumbled over to the sink to splash cold water on his face and brush his teeth. The images were gone now, but the memory still lingered.
Turning on the shower, Zander shucked his boxer-briefs and stepped in. He cleaned up quickly, dried off then headed back into the bedroom to get dressed. A glance at his watch had shown him that he had only been asleep for half an hour and Zander knew that he wouldn't be able to get back to sleep without dreaming, even with the pills. So he dug in the medicine cabinet for the other packet of pills. White ones. Zander popped one in his mouth and swallowed it dry, then he tucked the last foil square in his pocket, along with his pool winnings, shrugged on his jacket and headed out the door. But when he reached the bottom of the stairs, Zander suddenly remembered what day it was. Emily's birthday. He fished in his pocket for change and headed for the pay phone. Zander had the number memorized and he punched it in and waited. When he heard her voice on the other end, he felt as if he couldn't breathe. "Em....Em it's me. It's Zander."
He should have hung up then and there. But he didn't. He wished her Happy Birthday and reminisced a bit. She could tell he was drunk and he admitted it then he heard it, a man's voice in the background and anger welled up inside Zander. He started shouting at her and when she hung up on him he lost it. Zander trashed the phone and when someone grabbed him, he hauled off and decked them. Then he found himself at the PCPD.
Mac Scorpio shook his head. "I bet we'd hit the trifecta with a blood test."
Zander simply glared at him from underneath the hair that fell in his eyes.
"You've got two options, Zander," Mac stated. "And I doubt you're going to like either one."
"What options?" Zander prompted. He wanted out of there.
Mac locked eyes with him. "Jail or counseling."
Zander was stunned. "Counseling?" he echoed. "As in a shrink?" At Mac's nod he shook his head and held out his wrists. "Go ahead and lock me up."
"You're not in any condition to make that decision on your own, Zander. Call your lawyer." With that Mac walked away.
"Fuck!" Zander hissed, even as a uniformed officer pulled him out of his chair and hauled him over to the phone. Zander rubbed at his forehead as he tried to remember Alexis' number. He called her, told her what had happened and she told him to put Mac on the phone.
Mac took the receiver and listened. Alexis told him she was in a meeting and couldn't leave but asked him what was going on, so he explained it to her, telling her about Zander's options.
Alexis was silent for a moment. "He chooses counseling," she stated. "That is, officially, his choice no matter what he says. Now let me talk to him again."
"Here you go, Zander," Mac said, handing the phone back.
"Hey, Alexis," Zander said. He listened as she told him the deal. "No fucking way!" Zander snapped. "I won't do counseling."
Alexis sighed. "Do you trust me?"
Zander winced. "You know I do."
"Then do as I say."
"Fine, whatever." Zander appreciated what Alexis was trying to do for him so even though he was angry, he said goodbye and quietly hung up the phone.
Mac then ushered Zander into an interrogation room and told him to wait.
So Zander waited by pacing. He felt edgy and he wanted another pill. He realized the officer that had arrested him hadn't found the foil packet in his pocket. The moment he was out of here, Zander would be popping that sucker. He got lost in his thoughts until he heard the door open, then he looked up to see his father standing there.
Cameron recovered first. "I should have asked for your name," he drawled. "But when I got the call all they told me was that some kid got high and beat up a payphone. I should have known it would be you, Alexander."
"What are you doing here?" Zander didn't understand what was going on.
"Iím here to counsel you."
Zander shook his head. "I'm supposed to talk to a shrink."
Cameron smirked. "I'm a psychologist now."
"You're joking?" Zander almost giggled at the thought. Then he saw the look on his father's face and realized he was not joking. Zander shook his head. "Iím not doing this with you!" He headed for the door only to come up short as his father grabbed him by the arm and hauled him around.
"Running away yet again, Alexander," Cameron drawled. "It's what you do best."
Zander yanked his arm free and glared at his father. "Fuck you!"
Cameron sighed. "Your brother never would have done such stupid, wasteful, destructive things."
"Don't stop there, dad," Zander invited. "Finish the thought. Go ahead...say it! I've been waiting five years to hear it!" Zander waited but there was only silence. So he got in his father's face. "Go ahead you sonofabitch! Tell me you wish I was dead! That it was ME who had died instead of Peter!"
"Okay...yes," Cameron shot back, his eyes locked on Zander's. "I wish to God you had died that night, Alexander! It should have been you!"
Zander had known how his father felt since the day Peter had died. Hell, even before then. But to hear him say the words out loud, and to see the way his father was looking at him, it was like being hit with a sledgehammer. It was both an emotional and a physical blow and Zander fought back tears. He couldn't speak.
Cameron turned around and flung open the door. He stalked over to Mac Scorpio. "Lock him up!" he thundered, pointing a finger in Zander's direction.
"What?" Mac was stunned. "That's your professional opinion?"
"I can't help him," Cameron stated. "No one can. He's a menace to society. You can't save him and he's not worth the effort to try."
Mac locked eyes with Cameron. "That's your final say?"
Cameron nodded. "It is. Never call me about him again." With that Cameron turned on his heel and strode out.
Inside the interrogation room, Zander finally reacted. He grabbed a chair and hurled it across the room. He then stood there for a moment, still fighting back tears, still shaking. Then he left the room to face Mac. "Lock me up!" Zander hissed at him.
"I'm going to give you one more chance," Mac replied. "Don't blow it."
"Don't bother," Zander shot back.
Mac waved towards the door. "Get out of here."
Zander shook his head then walked out. He stopped at the first grocery store he saw and bought a six pack of beer. He fished the foil packet out of his pocket and popped the pill in his mouth and washed it down with half a can of beer. It was cold outside but Zander didn't feel it. He was too cold on the inside, too numb to notice. Yet not numb enough. He spotted Eddie and bought another packet of pills. Blue this time. He didn't care what they did, Zander just wanted to forget. He popped it in his mouth and finished off one can of beer. But even as he tossed it in a nearby trash can, images flashed in Zander's head. Images of Pete lying in his coffin and of his father, slapping him and screaming at him that he was a murderer. Tears slid down Zander's face. "I'm sorry, Pete.." he whispered. "I'm so sorry." His hands shaking, Zander tried to pop the other pill but it fell into the snow and Zander fell to his knees, fingers desperately searching for it. He cursed when he couldn't find it and reached for another can of beer. Zander guzzled it down and laughed as he finally started to feel warm inside. He tried to stand up but everything was moving in slow motion and darkness washed over him, dragging him down into its warm embrace.
"EMILY!" Zander came awake with a start and he pulled himself to his feet. She was calling for him. He could hear her voice in his head and she was crying. He had to help her. Blinking hard to bring his eyes into focus, Zander headed for the Quartermaine's. He burst through the double doors, calling her name. He was vaguely aware of Alan Quartermaine grabbing him and shouting at him, and Edward with a poker in his hand. Then Monica was trying to tell him something about Emily but her words didn't make sense. Zander pulled out of Alan's grasp and headed into the hallway. Emily's voice was getting louder. He was so close "I'm coming, baby," Zander whispered, but suddenly the world went dark.
Monica fell to her knees beside Zander and checked for a pulse. She looked up at Alan. "Call 911, tell them it's an overdose."
* * * * *
Alexis rushed into Zander's room in time to see Monica pulling the covers up around him. Her eyes didn't miss the fact that Zander was in restraints. Alexis looked at Monica. "What happened?" She had gotten a call from Gia who had been at the hospital when Zander was brought in.
Monica sighed. "I'm not sure. He showed up at the house, obviously high, looking for Emily. He collapsed and we called 911. They rushed him here and we pumped his stomach."
"So he's going to be okay?"
"He should be," Monica allowed. "But it was close. He mixed uppers with alcohol."
Alexis blinked back tears. "So he was trying to kill himself."
Monica nodded. "It looks that way to me. It's a shame. He really was turning his life around."
"Why the restraints?"
"He's on suicide watch, for one thing. But he also got violent and tried to leave."
Alexis couldn't believe this was happening. "Can I stay with him?"
Monica smiled and moved away from the bed. "Of course. Call me if he wakes up." With that she left the room.
"Hey kiddo," Alexis whispered, as she moved to the side of the bed and smoothed Zander's hair back. There was stool nearby and Alexis snagged it and sat down. Even as she settled herself, she watched Zander's eyes flutter open. She could see that he was disoriented and he tugged at the restraints.
"Shhh..." she said softly, smoothing his hair again. "It's okay, Zander. Rest. I'll be here." She watched him close his eyes again and sleep. And as she promised, Alexis kept vigil.
Three hours passed and Alexis hadn't moved. Until she heard footsteps approaching. She turned to see Cameron entering the room. She could tell by the look on his face that he was disgusted with his son, and that made Alexis angry. "Where have you been?" She snapped at him, being careful to keep her voice low pitched.
Cameron quirked an eyebrow. "I've been here, working. I have patients."
"You have a son who nearly died!" Alexis shot back.
"What's your point?" Cameron drawled.
Before Alexis could reply, Zander spoke up.
He tried to smile at her as he whispered, "It's okay. Dad's just disappointed that I failed to kill myself. Right Dad?" Zander shifted his focus to Cameron. "Sorry. I'll try harder next time."
"Zander.." Alexis was stunned by his words and how matter-of-factly he said them. She watched as Cameron simply shrugged then turned and walked back out. Alexis saw the tears that shimmered in Zander's eyes. He was in a world of hurt and trying so hard to hide it. "Your father didn't mean to be so cold," Alexis stated, as she rubbed Zander's shoulder. "He's just upset."
"He hates me, Alexis," Zander shot back. "Accept it. I have."
Alexis couldn't do that. "What happened, Zander? Why did you do this? Do you really want to die?"
Zander closed his eyes. "I just fucked up, okay? That's all. Seeing my dad again...it just made everything come back and I wasn't ready to deal with it."
"Maybe now you can, and I can help you." Alexis resettled herself on the stool. "Tell me what happened that day, Zander. Tell me your side of the story."
"Why? What difference does it make?"
Alexis felt her heart breaking at the pain in Zander's voice. He looked like such a little boy in this moment and she wanted nothing more than to gather him in her arms and assure him that everything would be all right. But she knew there was no easy fix for this. Zander's suicide attempt was a cry for help, but helping him wasn't going to happen over night. They had to start somewhere. "I want to know the truth," Alexis replied. "Please."
Zander was silent for a long moment, then he began to talk. He told Alexis how his father couldn't look at him from the moment it happened. How he wouldn't even let Zander ride in the family car to the funeral or the grave site. Tears slid down Zander's face as he whispered, "I never meant to hurt Pete. Never. He's the only one who ever loved me. The only one who cared...and I killed him. I killed him."
"It's okayÖit's going to be okay," Alexis promised, as she leaned in to hug Zander as best she could, and she could feel his tears soaking through her blouse as she fought back her own.
* * * * *
Cameron went home after his confrontation with Alexis and his son. He felt shaken by what had happened, in spite of his anger towards Alexander. The boy was his son and he had tried to kill himself. To calm himself, Cameron removed the wooden box that rested in his sock drawer. Some of Peter's things that helped keep him close in Cameron's heart. Some of Peter's medals from sports events. His baseball cap that he just about worn out. A few pictures and his journal. Cameron reached for the leather bound book. He had never found the courage to read it. Until now. He felt as if he needed to reconnect with his son in this moment. It had been too painful to do in the past, but now Cameron craved that connection. So he took the journal and settled himself in the chair by the fireplace. He began to read, choosing passages towards the end.
Today was fun. I got Alex in a whole bunch of trouble with Dad. The brat deserved it. I told him to go into old man Taylor's mini mart and steal some candy bars. I had blown my allowance on Playgirl and some CDs, and since Alex wanted to hang with me and I let him, the least he could do was rip off a few candy bars. Since he wouldn't do it I had to punish him. Dad actually slapped him tonight. Alex was pretty brave though. He just stood there taking dad's abuse. The yelling and the hitting. He always did that. For me. He never told on me. He loves me too much, for one thing. Plus he was scared of me. I like it when he's scared of me. Makes him more pliable to my whims. Like last week when mom and dad were gone overnight. I had some friends over and brought Lisa up to my room. She was always saying it's too bad Alex was so young, he was really cute and she wouldn't mind sleeping with him. So I took her into his room. He's fourteen, it's about time he got laid. He didn't want to do it. He was still feeling Dad's wrath when he discovered my stash of Porn mags which, of course, I had hidden in Alex's room. Hell, it's his fault they got discovered. If the brat had cleaned his room like mom told him, she wouldn't have found the mags and dad wouldn't have hit the roof. They were pretty raunchy, but it was fun to watch Alex take his punishment like a man. He wouldn't talk to me for three days though, after that. And after I held him down so Lisa could give him a blow job, he was really pissed off. He came close to telling dad on me, but changed his mind after I slammed him into the wall and nearly broke his wrist. Not being able to windsurf would have killed Alex. It's cool having him around though, for the most part. Watching dad suck up to me and praise me for being such a great kid is golden. Especially when most of the shit he punishes Alex for is my fault. Dad's a pompous ass so playing him is fun. And I know Alex will never betray me. So life doesn't get any better than this.
Cameron let the journal drop from his shaking hands. He couldn't believe what he had just read. It couldn't be true. Peter wasn't the mean spirited, deceiving, young man he had just read about in Peter's own words. He wasn't. He couldn't be. That would make his entire life, short as it had been, a lie. And it would mean that Cameron had abused Alexander over lies. The memory of what Cameron had said to Zander tonight, at the PCPD, shook him to the core. Cameron ran for the bathroom and puked until his stomach was as empty as his soul.
© Shelly 2004