Three days passed and Dr. Baldwin ended up having to keep Zander sedated. Whenever he was awake he was either unresponsive or violent. Alexis kept a bedside vigil and she kept it alone. Cameron had disappeared after Zander's confession and breakdown and Alexis had finally given up trying to reach him. But this morning he had appeared on her doorstep and over coffee he told her how he had gone to visit Peter's grave.
"I know it must be hard for you to accept the truth," Alexis stated. "About both of your sons."
"I feel as if I failed them both, somehow." Cameron sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. "It's obvious that I failed Alexander in every way, but I failed Peter as well. I've lost both my sons and I have no one to blame but myself."
Alexis shook her head. "Zander is still alive, Cameron. You haven't lost him."
A sigh escaped Cameron. "Alexander hates me, and I don't blame him. You know...I thought back to that day. I remember now seeing how his shirt was ripped and I never questioned it. I never once asked him what happened. I just blamed him for killing his brother without once questioning why it had happened. Alexander just kept repeating that it was an accident and I told the police that it was just that."
"In a way you protected him," Alexis countered. "Why?"
"I don't know...I really don't." Cameron sighed again. "Why did Alexander try to protect me? It doesn't make sense."
Alexis reached for Cameron's hand. "Zander loves you...I'm sure of it. And I think you love him too. You just never took the time to get to know him and that's your loss."
Cameron squeezed Alexis's hand then nodded. "I know. And it's a loss I will spend the rest of my life regretting."
* * * * *
Gail asked to speak with Cameron and Alexis in her office, about Zander. He had been awake for a couple of hours and he was finally responsive, but obviously depressed and listless. She was worried about him and about Cameron. "Zander is going to need alot of help to deal with everything," Gail stated, as she moved to sit behind her desk. "Right now he won't talk about anything. He's reactive to things but he won't speak. When I look in his eyes I see a young man desperate to disappear into himself. If we don't find a way to help him, we'll lose him. It's that simple."
Cameron stood up and began to pace. "I doubt that I can be of any help. I'm a mess myself and I don't understand any of this. I don't understand how I could have been so blind and so wrong."
"First thing you have to do is stop feeling sorry for yourself. Right now you need to focus on Zander," Gail said firmly.
"I know." Cameron ran a hand over his face and sighed. "But I'm the last person he'll trust."
Gail nodded. "Agreed." She looked at Alexis. "I think you'll be our best bet for getting through to Zander. I know he cares about you and he trusts you. He believes in you."
Alexis shook her head. "I don't see how I can help him if you can't. I don't understand any of what happened either. I keep asking myself, why would Peter do what he did to Zander? And if I can't understand it, how can I help Zander to deal with it?"
"We're never going to know why Peter did what he did. The best we can do is guess at what motivated his behavior."
"Guess away," Alexis invited. "Anything will help at this point."
Gail understood what she was asking. "Well...for one thing, I think Peter's behavior was enabled, if you will, by Cameron's unwillingness to see him as anything but perfect."
Cameron dropped down into his chair with a thump. "I made excuses for Peter," he allowed. "Even when I knew he wasn't perfect. Even when there were times I had doubts about his guilt…I found a way to let him off the hook."
"By blaming Zander," Alexis interjected.
"Yes," Cameron replied. "At the time it seemed, justifiable."
Gail tapped a fingernail against her blotter. "Sometimes it's hard for a parent to face the truth about a child. We have a preconceived notion about them and it's hard to let it go."
Alexis nodded her understanding. "I'm already telling myself not to make plans for Kristina or create expectations of who she'll be and such."
"It's hard not to," Cameron gritted out. "From the day Alexander was born, I wanted him to fail. I set him up to do so. I needed him to fail me."
"Why?" Alexis asked.
Cameron shrugged. "I don't know why. I've been asking myself that question over and over again. Alexander was a beautiful little boy. Full of love and happiness, and I systematically destroyed him."
Gail was intrigued. "Did you feel that he was a threat to you?"
"I suppose I did," Cameron allowed. "I just don't know why."
"From what you told me, your wife didn't help matters," Alexis interjected.
Cameron rubbed his temples then sighed. "There were times when she would defend Alexander to me but I wouldn't listen. I was so sure I was right about him. And about Peter. But I couldn't have been more wrong."
Gail cleared her throat. She felt Cameron's pain and there would be a time for him to deal with it. But right now they needed to focus on Zander. "Alexis...are you ready to talk to Zander?"
"I don't know," Alexis replied. "I can't stop thinking about what Peter did to him. What I really can't seem to wrap my mind around is the sex thing. Why did Peter make Zander have sex with his girlfriend. And why rape Zander? What did that prove?"
"It gave Peter power over Zander," Gail replied. "Peter knew that Zander was starved for affection and love of any kind, in any form. He knew if he showed affection for Zander in any way, that Zander would do anything for him. It gave him control over Zander and that fed his ego."
Alexis shook her head. "How could raping his own brother, a fifteen year old kid, make Peter feel powerful. That's just sick."
Gail shrugged. "I'm just guessing, but perhaps Peter was struggling with his sexuality at that point. One of the first things I noticed about Zander is his innate sexuality. Perhaps Peter felt he was lacking in that regard and he was jealous so he did what he did to punish Zander, all the while gaining more control over him through fear."
"He was one sick bastard!" Alexis hissed, then she clapped hand over her mouth and looked at Cameron. "I'm sorry. I know he was your son.."
"It's okay," Cameron replied. "You're right. Peter was sick. Sick and twisted and I should have seen it."
Gail knew that Cameron was wrapped up in self pity and guilt right now so she focused attention back to Alexis. "I want you to just sit and talk to Zander. He'll hear you even if he won't talk to you."
It was Alexis's turn to jump up and pace. "But what do I talk to him about?"
"Anything that was positive between you. Funny moments. Bonding moments." Gail smiled at her. "I think you know what I mean."
"Yeah...I think I do."
Gail stood up and headed for the door. "Ready then?"
Alexis nodded. "As ready as I'll ever be." She looked at Cameron. "Are you coming?"
"I'll be by later," Cameron replied. "I just want to be alone for a little while."
"Okay...see you later," Alexis replied.
Gail ushered her out and closed the door behind them. Side by side they walked down the hallway towards Zander's room.
* * * * *
Alexis put a smile on her face as she entered the room. She was glad to see that his eyes were open, but they didn't appear focused on anything but the far wall. Although Alexis noticed he seemed to be pulling on his restraints a bit. She hoped that was a good sign. "Hey you," she said softly, as she sat down on the stool next to his bed. She had been there alot the past few days. "Miss me? I missed you. I miss you alot, actually. I want you back with us, Zander. You hear me?" Alexis thought she saw his eyes flicker towards her. "No one else appreciates my microwave popcorn the way you did, kiddo. We can rent a movie and I can whip up a batch. What do you say?" Alexis leaned in to clasp his hand in her own. "I just want you back, period," she whispered. "And so does your father. He loves you, you know."
"What?" Alexis was stunned. She looked at Zander. "What did you say?"
He closed his eyes and whispered, "My father hates me."
Alexis felt tears sting her eyes and she blinked them back. "Oh sweetie...he doesn't hate you. He's a jerk to be sure and he's made alot of mistakes with you. But for all that he does love you, Zander."
"I didn't mean to kill Pete." Zander's voice wobbled and his eyes blinked open. They were bright with unshed tears.
"I know that," Alexis replied. "It was an accident but I'm not sorry about what you did, Zander. Peter hurt you and he would have killed your father. I think that you were very brave to stand up to your brother. You saved your father's life."
Zander nodded. "I had to. He's my dad. I know...I know he'll never love me, and it's stupid...but I keep hoping that someday he will. That someday I'll finally do something right and he...he'll love me."
Alexis opened her mouth to reply only to realize that Cameron was suddenly there, standing by the bed and gathering his son into his arms as best he could. The restraints were in the way and Alexis fumbled with them. She got one arm free and it made her heart ache to watch Zander clutch at his father's shirt, holding on to him as if his life depended on it. And maybe it did.
"I love you, Alexander," Cameron whispered to his son. "I do love you. I do...I love you."
Moving to the other side of the bed, Alexis freed Zander's other arm then she watched as father and son clung to each other. She didn't have to be a psychiatrist to know that this moment wouldn't fix all the things that were broken between them and inside them. But it was a start. And that was all that mattered. It was a way for the healing to begin. Slipping quietly from the room, Alexis closed the door behind her then let her own tears fall.
© Shelly 2004