After calming down from his nightmare, Zander got up and took a long shower. By the time he got out and got dressed, he took a look at his watch, it was afternoon already. He had slept the day away and he was supposed to meet with Alcazar. Zander remembered that he had unplugged his phone last night but he grabbed his cell phone and winced to see there were half a dozen messages. He punched in Alcazar's number.
"Where have you been?" Lorenzo demanded.
"Sleeping," Zander replied. "Look...I'm sorry."
Lorenzo grunted. "No doubt you needed to sleep off the high," he stated. "You haven't taken anything since your overdose, have you?"
Zander was glad Alcazar was talking about pills and not booze. "I haven't touched a pill," he promised.
"Good. I have an assignment for you. How soon can you be here?"
"Do so." Lorenzo hung up.
Zander sighed as he clipped his phone to his belt. He had dressed in jeans and a pullover and realized he should probably put on a suit, but he didn't really give a shit. So Zander simply grabbed his coat and his keys and headed out the door.
* * * * *
Alexis was frustrated. She and Cameron were having lunch at Kelly's and she had tried to get him to talk about Zander and Peter. But he wouldn't say a word. In fact she could barely get him to even grunt at her. She could see that he was upset and tired, there were dark circles under his eyes. "Are you worried about Zander?" Alexis asked, almost hopefully.
Cameron lifted his head and directed his glare off his coffee cup and on to her. "Why would I worry about Alexander?" he countered, frostily.
"Because he's your son and he's on a destructive path," Alexis replied. She was feeling a bit frosty herself now. "He could have died, Cameron. He came awful close. And that wasn't the first time. Did you know he was shot? Trying to save me, no less."
"Really." Cameron's tone was clipped, but his eyes glimmered with sudden interest.
Alexis nodded. "He's a brave kid, Cameron. A good kid."
Cameron snorted. "You have no clue who Alexander really is!" he drawled.
"Funny...but I was thinking the same thing about you," Alexis replied. She was getting angry now and this conversation was going nowhere. She fished in her purse and tossed a ten dollar bill on the table, then she stood up and shrugged on her coat. "Goodbye," Alexis stated, then she headed out the door. And it bothered her, more than a little bit, that Cameron didn't try to stop her.
* * * * *
Zander was drinking rum. Straight from the bottle. A small, flat bottle that he could easily slip into his jacket pocket. He had met with Alcazar and had been surprised by his assignment. Which, in a nutshell, was to get into Jason's face. To push the guy’s buttons, as it were. Why? Zander had no clue nor did he care. Messing with Jason was something Zander always liked to do. And this time he was going to get paid doing it. "Life doesn't get any better than this," Zander toasted, raising his bottle before taking a long swallow. The rum burned his throat a bit, but once it was down it felt warm and smooth inside him. He was tempted to buy some more pills, but he knew Alcazar would be pissed if he did. So Zander settled for drinking himself into an alcoholic haze.
"Shit." The curse was out before Zander could stop it. He sloshed some rum on his shirt in reaction to being startled by his father's presence. Slowly and carefully, Zander screwed the top back onto the bottle then he tucked it in his pocket before turning around to smirk at his father. "Fancy meeting you here," he drawled.
Disgust was clearly written on Cameron's face. "You're drunk!"
Zander laughed. "Duh. Your point being?"
"First drugs now alcohol," Cameron stated. "You always were weak, Alexander. You always needed a crutch to lean on. Like your brother. You were nothing without him around."
"I was nothing period to you!" Zander shot back. He didn't want his father's words to hurt, but they did. Like red hot knifes stabbing into his flesh. Over and over again.
Cameron shrugged. "You never gave me a reason to care about you, Alexander. You did everything in your power to disappoint me in every way."
Zander shook his head, wishing the ground would open up and swallow him. Or, better yet, yank his father down into hell to burn for all eternity. But since that wasn't going to happen, Zander glared at his father. "Why wouldn't I?" he shot back. "No matter what I did, dad. It was wrong. Even when I did things right, it wasn't good enough, or the right way or...whatever. I wasn't Peter so I couldn't win with you. So after a while I gave up trying."
"That's right, Alexander, blame me for your flaws. Just like always. It's easier to blame someone else instead of taking responsibility for the things you do."
"Fuck off!" Zander had had enough of this. He made to move past his father, to head for the stairs, but a hand caught his arm and spun him around.
Cameron held Zander fast. "Just once...can't you do the right thing?" he demanded.
Zander yanked his arm free and fought back tears as he replied, "No...I guess I can't." Defiantly he pulled the bottle of rum from his pocket, uncapped it and took a long drink. He was relieved when his father shook his head in disgust then strode off. Zander nearly choked as he tried to swallow a mouthful of rum. He coughed for a moment then he made a mad dash to the nearest garbage can and heaved his guts out. When he was done he wiped his mouth with the paper napkin he found in his other pocket, then gave thanks for the piece of gum he found there as well. Zander almost tossed the bottle of rum, but recapped it and put it back in his pocket. The stuff wasn't cheap and he had no doubt that he would need it later. But right now he had a job to do.
But even as Zander made to go in search of Jason, fate brought Jason to him. Zander almost smiled as he watched the other man descend the stairs. Now it was time to have some fun. A full smile now curving his lips, Zander crossed the docks to face his nemesis. "Hello, Jason," he drawled. "Nice night...dontcha think?"
"No shit, Sherlock!" Zander shot back.
Jason blinked at him. "What do you want?"
Zander shrugged. "World peace?" he taunted. "Nah. Too easy." Zander chuckled. "I'm bored." There was a world of meaning behind his words and Zander knew that Jason understood. Oddly enough, Zander realized that he and Jason always understood one another. In fact, Jason probably understood him better than anyone else did. Maybe even better than Zander understood himself. "Want to play with me?" Zander invited.
"You don't want to do this," Jason countered, his arms folded across his chest. His blue eyes were cold.
"Sure I do," Zander drawled. He smirked at Jason then said, "Isn't it interesting how you and me seem to like the same women? And they like both of us. Huh. Like Carly. Man...I could have had her any time I wanted. Stupid me. I should have taken her up on the offers. But...I figured I owed Sonny. Which makes me dumber than a box of rocks, when you think about it. Which...if you were to ask my father, he would whole-heartedly, agree. But.....I don't want to talk about my dad." Zander began to pace a lazy circle around Jason. "Let's talk about Elizabeth. Man....she is beautiful, isn't she. And a wonderful lover. I could always bring out the woman in her, ya know?" Zander smiled when Jason dropped his arms and he could see his hands clenching into fists. Zander knew exactly what to say now, to make Jason lose control. "Then there's Emily." Saying her name made Zander flinch a bit. Thinking about her made his heart and soul ache. He still loved her more than life itself. More than he had loved Peter, even.
Jason glared at Zander. "Shut up now!" he ordered.
Zander shrugged. "What's the matter, Jason? Did I hit a sore spot? I know how you feel about Emily. You love her more than you can let on. Of course she is a bit young for you but…so what? It's not like you're really related. You can fuck her if you want."
Right on cue Jason lashed out and Zander took a hit on the chin. It made him stagger back and he hit the bench. But he righted himself and got right back in Jason's face. "That’s the best you can do?" Zander challenged. The next fist doubled him over. But Zander got in a nice right hook before he was down and staying down, while Jason pummeled him. This was the kind of pain he could deal with. It made sense. When darkness closed over him, Zander was almost sorry.
* * * * *
Alexis watched Zander as he slept. A drugged sleep to keep him still. His injuries were serious and all too familiar. Alexis had gotten the call from Ned, of all people. He had been at the hospital when Zander was brought in. Alexis talked to Tony who had told her the beating Zander received was pretty much exactly the same to the one a year ago. Only a bit more severe. At which point Alexis had taken off in search of Jason. She had seen his bruised knuckles and had lit into him. And his only response was that Zander had asked for it. And that had chilled Alexis because she had realized what Jason had meant. Zander wanted to die. Not so surprising following on the heels of his overdose, but it shook Alexis just the same. So now she sat at his bedside, wondering where the hell his father was.
"Shhh..." Alexis was by his side and smoothing his hair back. She watched Zander wince as he shifted then his eyes fluttered open. "Hey you, Welcome back," Alexis said softly.
Zander closed his eyes for a moment. Then he opened them and asked, "Hospital?"
Alexis nodded. "They're going to give you your own room if you keep this up." She watched him shift again then moan in pain. "Take it easy, okay? You're gonna be hurting for quite a while."
"No big deal," Zander whispered.
"I think it is." Alexis locked eyes with Zander. "Did you want to die?"
Zander closed his eyes. "Leave me alone."
Alexis blinked back tears. His response was all the answer she needed. "Why, Zander? What's going on? Talk to me...let me help you."
"I don't need your help." Zander's eyes remained closed. "Please go away."
"I'll go for now," Alexis allowed. "But I'm coming back. You can't get rid of me, kiddo." Alexis brushed Zander's hair back and kissed his forehead. Although his eyes were shut tight, she could see that his lashes were wet. He was fighting back tears. And so was she. "Love you, Zander," Alexis whispered, then she headed for the door, wiping at her eyes. Her vision was blurred just enough that she ran into a solid body. When she blinked she saw it was Cameron. "It's about time you came to check on him!" Alexis spat.
Cameron didn't reply, he simply drew her over to the corner then said, "You really care about my son, don't you?"
Alexis glared at him. "I couldn't love Zander more if he were my own." With that Alexis turned on her heel and strode off.
Cameron watched her go then he went into his son's room. He stepped lightly, hoping that Alexander would be asleep. And he appeared to be. Cameron studied his son, taking note of how young he looked and how fragile he seemed. Yet he was never one to back down from a fight in any way. Verbal or physical. Cameron remembered all the times he had screamed at Alexander and the kid had taken it like a man. Or how, at times, he had slapped him and Alexander would just press a hand to his cheek and glare at him, as if daring him to do it again. Sometimes Cameron had been tempted to do just that and he shuddered at the memory.
Moving to the chair in the corner, Cameron sat down and rubbed a hand over his face. He had gotten Peter's journal back from Dr. Baldwin and had read it again. It was even more horrific the second time. And certain entries had stood out, taking Cameron back into the moment. Like the time when Alexander was twelve and Pete was fifteen and someone had sprayed painted graffiti on a neighbor's house. Cameron had found a spray can in Alexander's room and had blamed him. He had screamed at him and slapped him and punished him. He had put Alexander to work at home, mowing the lawn and various other chores, and that had been his way of paying back the money that Cameron had had to shell out to have the neighbor's house resided. But in his journal, Pete had delighted in explaining every detail of the incident. How his brother had been sound asleep when Peter and his friends had painted the house and how Peter had set his brother up to take the fall. How it had all played out perfectly. He had delighted in writing about how Cameron had done exactly as he had expected. Blaming Alexander without question. Never once even looking in Peter's direction. And he had gloated how Alexander had taken his punishment and had never even thought about telling Cameron the truth. Peter had written how it was easy for him to manipulate Zander and that he had his father to thank for that. How Cameron showed no affection to Alexander, so the kid would go to Peter and take whatever scraps were offered.
"Dammit!" Cameron hissed under his breath, as he wiped away tears. He still did not want to believe what he had read. How could it be true? How could he have been so wrong about both of his sons. And if it were true, what he had done to Alexander was beyond horrific. It meant that he was the reason his son wanted to die. That he had suffered from the day he was born, leading up to this very moment. And that was something Cameron knew he would never be able to forgive himself for. So a part of him still wanted it to be a lie. He needed it to be a lie. It was easier to blame Alexander for everything. Far more easier to do that than to take responsibility for all he had done wrong.
Rising from the chair, Cameron moved to the bed and stared down at his son. If even a bit of what Peter had written was true, Cameron did feel sorrow. He wanted to say that to his son, but he couldn't. So instead he slowly turned and walked away. He didn't see Alexander open his eyes to watch him go then hug his pillow to muffle his tears.
* * * * *
Zander opened his eyes, knowing that he was not alone. He wasn't surprised to see Dr. Baldwin sitting there. "I figured you'd show up sooner or later," Zander stated.
Gail nodded. "Time for another session. I didn't expect it to be from your hospital bed."
"It wouldn't be if they would let me out of here." Zander had been there for two days and Dr. Jones refused to release him. This morning he had tried to sneak out only to find he had no clothes. Then he had gotten caught trying to grab a pair of scrubs and Dr. Jones had threatened to put him in restraints.
"Dr. Jones and I both feel you need time to heal, Zander," Gail replied. "Physically and emotionally. Think about it. You were out of here for just one day after your overdose, then you show up again, beaten to a pulp. I understand you told the police you didn't see who attacked you."
Zander shrugged then winced. "It happened real fast." He didn't care about the lies. No one needed to know what had really happened. It was bad enough that Alexis had guessed.
Gail nodded. "You don't seem all that upset about the beating."
"It's not so bad." Zander almost smiled. "Hell...I'm used to it. Dad used to hit me when he got really mad. Pete too.." He fell silent, realizing he was saying too much.
"Why did Peter hit you?" Gail queried.
Zander didn't want to get into this, but he didn't want her to get the wrong idea either. "He'd just get mad at me sometimes, you know. I'd do something stupid and he just...he wanted to teach me a lesson."
Gail locked eyes with Zander. "But I thought he loved you?"
"He did love me!" Zander felt anger well up inside him. "Pete loved me. He's the only one who did."
"What about your mother?"
Zander shrugged again. "She wasn't really well. You know? Plus she was busy with stuff. Committees and things like that. She had to do all the right things to make Dad look good. Respectable."
Gail jotted down a few notes. "Did Pete ever get you in trouble?"
"Pete always tried to get me out of trouble," Zander replied, without hesitation. "I know where you're going with this, doc. You're trying to figure out what made me shoot him. It was just an accident. I didn't mean to kill him." Zander felt the memory wash over him and he started shaking. "I saw something move in the bushes, it looked like a deer. I fired and Pete was dead. End of story." Zander shook his head. "I don't want to talk about this anymore." He closed his eyes against the sting of tears and curled up on his good side.
"I'll be back later," Gail said, as she rose from the stool. Then she left his room.
Zander wiped the tears off his face and prayed for sleep to claim him.
* * * * *
Zander was finally getting out. He was dressed and waiting for the paper work when his father entered the room. "What do you want?" Zander demanded.
"The truth," Cameron shot back. "I want to know what really happened when Peter died. Why did you shoot him, Alexander?"
"It was an accident!" Zander screamed at his father. "You know that! You know everything that happened." Zander made to push past him, wanting to get out of there, the paper work be damned, but a hand grabbed his shoulder and spun him around and Zander gasped as pain stabbed his side.
Cameron almost shook his son. "Did you want Peter dead? Tell me!"
Zander tried to free himself from his father's grip, but the fingers on his arm were like iron, digging into his flesh. "Peter was the only good thing in my life!" Zander snapped. "Why would I want him dead?" He tugged at his arm again, uncaring of the pain it caused. "Let me go, you sonofabitch!" He was released so abruptly that he stumbled into the wall and had to lean against it to catch his breath as pain stabbed at him.
"What's going on here?" Gail asked, as she entered the room.
"Nothing," Cameron stated. "I was just leaving." He headed out the door.
Gail looked at Zander. "Are you all right?"
He nodded. "Fine." It was a lie. Zander was anything but. "Can I get out of here now?"
"Dr. Jones is on his way with your paper work. He wants to check you out one last time then you're free to go. But we have another session tomorrow," Gail stated.
Gail studied him. "Are you sure you're okay, Zander?"
He forced himself to smile at her. "Just great. Thanks." He was relieved when she nodded then left. Zander moved to a nearby chair and sank down into it, all the while wishing he had a pill on him.
* * * * *
Gail sought out Dr. Lewis. She found him in his office, thumping books and things around. She could see he was shaking. "What the hell were you doing?" she demanded.
"What do you mean?" Cameron shot back, visibly angry.
"I heard what you said to Zander. I thought we agreed to let me handle this?" Gail moved to face him. "Your son is in denial about what Peter did to him. More so than you are. But if you want to learn the truth, since you seem unable to accept it from Peter's own words, then you have to let me do this my way. You already lost one son. Do you really want to lose Zander too?"
Cameron sat down behind his desk and shook his head. "No. I don't want to lose him. I guess...I'm just afraid of the truth."
Gail nodded. "I'm sure you are. But just imagine how Zander feels." With that she left the room.
* * * * *
Alexis was surprised to find Cameron on her doorstep. "What are you doing here?" She asked, not hiding the fact that she was suspicious of his motives.
"I came to gave you this," Cameron replied, holding out a leather bound book.
"What is it?" Alexis asked as she took it.
Cameron locked eyes with her. "Peter's journal. I had kept it all these years but I didn't read it until Alexander overdosed. I wanted to be close to Peter again, but I got more than I bargained for."
Alexis frowned as she riffled through the pages. "What do you mean?"
"Read it," Cameron stated. "Then we'll talk." He smiled sadly then turned and walked away.
"Okay...that was strange," Alexis commented, as she closed the door and locked it. Then she went to check on Kristina before settling into a comfortable chair. She opened the journal and began to read.
* * * * *
Zander was glad to be home. He took a shower to wash away the hospital smell, then he dressed in jeans and a tee shirt and made his way downstairs. He threw a twenty on the bar and told Coleman to line up the shots. Zander downed two in a row, then took a breather to grab a pool stick. He downed another shot then challenged some redneck to a game. An hour later he was drunk, two hundred dollars richer and kissing a girl named Mandy.
© Shelly 2004