Zander backed away from his father, crossing the room to the other side. All of the sudden he felt trapped and defensive. "What the hell do you want from me?" he demanded.
Alexis was the one to answer. "We don't want anything from you, Zander. We're here to help you."
"I don't need your help!" Zander shot back. But he couldn't look at Alexis as he spoke. It felt as if she could see into his soul and that terrified Zander. "Please leave me alone," he begged.
"I can't do that, sweetheart," Alexis replied. "I love you too much just to sit back and watch you self destruct."
Zander felt tears sting his eyes and he swiped at them with his shirtsleeve. "I'm not worth it, Alexis," he whispered. "You'll regret it in the end."
Gail felt the need the need to interject at this moment. "Did Peter regret loving you, Zander?"
"He's dead!" Zander shot back, eyes blazing. "What do you think?"
"Tell me what really happened on the day Peter died, Zander," Gail requested, unfazed by his anger. "Tell me the truth."
Zander glared at her. "Go to hell!" He turned away and began pacing.
Cameron moved to confront him. He had the journal in his hand and he held it out. "Do you know what this is?"
"It's Pete's journal." Zander was surprised to see it. "He used to write in that thing all the time."
"Did you ever read it?"
Zander shook his head. "Of course not. It's private."
Cameron nodded. "Yes it is. And that was a part of the reason why I didn't read it for a long time. But now I have read it. Do you want to know what it says?"
"No!" Zander side stepped around his father and started pacing again. But he stopped when his father began reading.
"I got Alex into all kinds of trouble today. He was outside hitting baseballs in the back yard. Facing away from the house, of course, like he had been told to do. But I grabbed the ball and hurled it into the sliding glass doors. You should have seen Alex's face as it hit and cracked the glass. Dad came running out to find Alex standing there with the bat in his hand. He didn't even hesitate. He grabbed Alex and shook him, he even slapped him so hard he knocked the kid onto his ass." Cameron stopped here for a moment, to wipe his eyes. He was shaking. But he cleared his throat and finished the passage. "Dad punished Alex by grounding him for two weeks, then he took away his allowance to use as payment for the new window. It was so cool. And Alex never said a word in his defense and he sure as hell never told Dad that I was the one who broke the window. Alex would never tell on me. Not ever." Cameron finished then lifted his head to look at his son. "You were ten years old at the time. I remember it so clearly. How you just stood there when I yelled at you. It made me so angry that you didn't even try to tell me you were sorry. Now I understand why. You didn't do it. Why didn't you tell me the truth, Alexander?"
Zander choked on a bitter laugh. "Come on, Dad. Would you have believed me? You saw me standing there with the bat and that was all the evidence you needed to convict me. Just like always."
Cameron nodded. "You're right, Alexander. I wouldn't have believed you. But I still don't understand why you didn't tell on Peter. Why you kept letting him use you to take the fall for the things he did."
"I was the bad kid!" Zander shot back. "I deserved everything you did to me, dad. Right?"
"Alexander...I'm sorry." Cameron reached out to his son only to have his hand smacked away.
Gail intervened again. "There's more to it than that, isn't there, Zander?"
He looked at her and nodded. "Yeah…there is. Like the fact that I owed Peter. He stopped a couple of kids on the bus from beating my ass. He would do things like that for me. Watch over me...protect me. Peter took care of me" Zander turned to lock eyes with his father. "You didn't give a shit about what happened to me, dad. But Peter did. He's the one who took care of me."
"What about Lisa?" It was Alexis who asked the question as she shouldered Cameron aside. "Was Peter looking out for you...taking care of you...when he forced you to have sex with her?"
"I wanted to have sex with her!" Zander shot back.
Alexis shook her head. "With your brother watching?"
Zander loved Alexis but he would not let her twist things around. She didn't understand anything . None of them did. None of them would. "I'm not talking about this," Zander replied, as he retreated into the corner.
"Peter broke up with Lisa just before he died," Cameron stated. "When I asked him about it he told me he wanted to date other girls."
"So?" Zander eyed his father with suspicion.
Gail was the one who responded. "So is that what really happened, Zander?"
He nodded. "Yes."
"You're lying." Alexis was in Zander's face now.
"Fuck you!" he spat and he pushed her aside and headed for the door. But his father blocked his way again. "Get the hell out of my way!" Zander snarled.
Cameron shook his head and held his ground. "No, Alexander. You're not leaving."
Alexis moved to Zander and pulled him around to face her. Her eyes were bright with unshed tears as she continued. "I called Lisa's parents and found out that she had moved to Miami. They gave me her number and I called her. I asked her about what happened and she was more than willing to talk about it. She said it had been haunting her ever since Peter died."
"Shut up!" Zander snarled, backing away from Alexis.
"Lisa told me what really happened, Zander," Alexis stated, as she followed him.
Zander shook his head. "I already told you what happened! We had sex! So what?"
Alexis practically stalked Zander, until his back hit the wall and he had nowhere to go. "Lisa told me that when Peter asked her to have sex with you she agreed to it because she thought you were cute...and because she thought you wanted it. Until the last time. Do you remember what happened?"
Zander said nothing, he just glared at her. She didn't understand, he reminded himself. So nothing she said mattered.
Alexis wiped away the stray tear that slid down her face then she locked eyes with Zander. "Lisa told me that the last time she had sex with you...Peter joined the two of you on the bed. He turned it into a threesome."
"Shut up!" Zander shouted, as he slid down into a crouch and covered his ears with his hands. He wouldn't listen to this.
"Zander.." Alexis knelt down in front of him and grabbed his wrists, pulling his arms down. "She told me how Peter forced himself on you."
Zander shook his head. "No…no..." he whispered.
Alexis held her grip on him when he tried to pull away. "She told me how you begged Peter to stop. But that he wouldn't. He just held you down and how she was as trapped as you were and that both of you were crying. She told me how she could feel you shaking and she remembered how pale you were. And when it was over you just laid there, curled up and rocking. She said she was so scared for you and so angry at Peter. But when she threatened to tell your parents, Peter grabbed her in a choke hold and slammed her against the wall. And he told her that if she said anything to anyone, he would beat the shit out of her. And she believed him. So she swore she wouldn't tell anyone. And she didn't. When she went into the bathroom to get dressed, she heard Peter screaming at you and hitting you. When she came back out she saw you sitting on the bed. You were dressed too, but there was a bruise on your cheek. But she kept her word and said nothing. Even though Peter had held her so hard she had bruises for a week and had to wear scarves to hide them. So she broke up with Peter, but she kept her silence because she was afraid of him. Is that why you kept silent too, Zander? Because you were afraid of your brother?"
"No...no.." Zander shook his head. "Peter loved me. He loved me."
"That wasn't love, Zander," Alexis whispered.
Gail moved to Zander, kneeling beside him. "Peter loved being able to control you, Zander. His actions towards you weren't about love...they were about power."
Zander felt anger wash over him. She didn't know Peter. She didn't understand him. "He did love me!" Zander snarled. "You shut up!"
"Alexander." Cameron nudged Alexis aside so he could face his son. "I need to know what happened that day in the woods. I need to understand. Please...please tell me what happened."
"I didn't want to go that day," Zander whispered. He closed his eyes as the memory swept over him. "Peter was so mad at me."
Cameron touched his son's arm and felt him flinch away. "Why was he mad, Alexander? What did you do?"
Zander opened his eyes and glared at his father. "It was my fault. But I was scared."
"Scared about what?"
"Do you remember when mom's diamond ring went missing along with the money in your safe?"
Cameron nodded. "I remember. I found the money and a receipt from a pawn shop, for the ring, in your room."
Zander almost smiled. "Yeah...and a bag of weed. You were so angry I thought you were going to kill me that day. Pete had to stop you from hitting me into next week. You grabbed my arm so hard and twisted it to the point I could feel my bones grinding." Zander broke off to rub his arm. He could almost remember the pain.
"I'm sorry," Cameron whispered.
"No you're not," Zander shot back, then he shook his head. It didn't matter. He continued with his story. "Pete took the money and the ring. And the weed was his. Not that you'll believe me. Pete hid them in my room. I knew about it."
Cameron ran a hand over his face then asked, "Why did he do that?"
Zander ran his fingers through his hair as he blinked back tears. "He was going to leave. He said he wanted to go to LA. I begged him not to leave me. I promised him I would be good." Zander began rocking. "Why did he want to leave me? Why? I did everything he asked me to do."
"Alexander..." Cameron cupped his son's face in his hands. "Tell me what happened next."
"Peter was scared." Zander pulled away from his father and wiped his eyes. "I've never seen him like that before."
"What was he scared of?"
"That I would tell you the truth."
"About the money and stuff?"
Zander shook his head. "About old man Brock's car and the Meyer's kid."
Cameron frowned. "What are you talking about?"
"The night before Peter died, someone stole old man Brock's car and hit the Meyer's kid with it."
"I remember," Cameron stated. "Peter's friend, Mark, was arrested for stealing the car and driving drunk. Luckily the kid survived."
Zander nodded. "Yeah...but it was Pete who took the car. It was Pete who was driving."
Cameron shook his head. "No...no. I don't believe that."
"Of course you don't." Zander almost laughed. "But it's true. Pete told me about it. He stumbled home after it happened. Mark was in the car and he was shook up a bit and Pete put him in the driver's seat and told him to keep his mouth shut. Mark owed Pete so he did it. But when he told me I was scared and I told him I was going to tell mom the truth. Pete got so mad." Zander began rocking again. "It was already morning and he was supposed to go on that hunting trip with you. Just the two of you. But he made you take me because he was afraid I would tell mom while he was gone."
"What happened?" Cameron prompted, when Alexander fell silent.
Zander closed his eyes as the memory of that day washed over him. "When we got into the woods, we split up. Peter made sure I went with him. He knew I was waiting for a chance to tell you what happened. He was so angry I could feel it. I told him I wouldn't tell but he didn't believe me. He told me he would teach me to keep my mouth shut." Zander broke off and shook his head. He didn't want to remember again.
Alexis touched his arm. "Go on, Zander," she whispered. "What did Peter do?"
"He pushed me down on the ground and started tearing at my clothes." Zander shuddered as he remembered. He could feel Peter's hands on him and the tearing of clothes. "I knew what he was going to do and I begged him to stop. I promised him I wouldn't tell, but he wouldn't stop." Zander felt himself begin to shake and he started rocking again. "That's when we heard you call for us, dad. But Peter still wouldn't stop. You called again and I started to cry out for you and Peter clamped a hand over my mouth and told me if I said one word he would kill you. If I made any sound at all...he said...he said..*I'll kill the old bastard*." Tears slid down Zander's cheeks and he looked at his father. "I didn't want him to kill you. So I started feeling on the ground for a rock or a tree limb so I could hit Pete. I felt my gun and I grabbed it and you called out again and it distracted Pete enough that I kicked him back so I could scramble to my feet. I held the gun on him and I told him to leave me alone. I told him I wouldn't let him kill you and he laughed at me and said he'd be doing me a favor if he did. I was so surprised by him saying that...I lowered the gun and Peter grabbed it. My finger was still on the trigger and when he pulled on it...it went off. It went off.." Zander choked on a sob and willed away the memory but it wouldn't fade. "Then you were there and you saw us. You saw Peter fall on the ground and you saw me with the gun and you screamed at me that I killed him. I killed Peter. And there was so much blood...so much blood." Zander broke off and stared at his hands. He could still see the blood on them, how warm and slick it felt and he tried to wipe them off on his shirt. He wiped them on his chest, over and over again. "I'm sorry...I'm sorry…I'm sorry," Zander whispered, over and over again.
"It's okay, son…it's okay," Cameron replied, as he gathered him into his arms. And his own tears fell as he held on tight.
Alexis couldn't stop her tears as she turned to Gail. "What happens now?" she asked. She knew that in this moment, Zander was truly broken. Both father and son were now shattered.
Gail drew Alexis over to her desk. "I'll call and we'll admit Zander to keep an eye on him. I'll have him sedated so he can get some rest. That's the best thing we can do for now."
"What about Cameron?"
"Take him home. Stay with him. He'll need you."
Alexis nodded. "Is Zander going to be all right?"
Gail shrugged. "I don't know. But I'll do everything I can to help him." As she spoke she reached for the phone.
"Thank you," Alexis replied, then she headed for the corner and wrapped her arms around father and son.
© Shelly 2004