Flame Turns Blue
Monica was in the ER when Zander was wheeled in on a gurney. Nikolas, Lucky and Gia were with him and Lucky and Nikolas had blood on them. "What's going on?" Monica asked the EMT's.
But Lucky answered. "Zander slit his wrist. I couldn't get it to stop bleeding."
"We'll take care of it," Monica replied. She looked at the bandage on Zander's wrist then she asked for his vitals. He was hooked up to an IV and wearing an oxygen mask. He was pale and his skin was clammy. Monica could see he was going into shock. "Get him into treatment room one," she ordered. As the EMT's wheeled Zander away, Monica turned to Bobbie. "Page Cameron Lewis and tell him his son his here."
"Is Zander going to be all right?" Gia asked, grabbing for Monica's arm before she could turn away.
Monica sighed. "I hope so. I'll be back." She headed for the treatment room and took a closer look at Zander's injury. It would need stitches. Monica examined Zander then had Bobbie call for a Lab Tech to draw blood. She then took another look at his injury only to find strong fingers gripping her arm. "Zander...take it easy." She could tell by his expression that he was disoriented. "You're at the hospital and you're going to be okay."
Zander pushed Monica away and tried to slide off the gurney. "Emily...I have to see Emily." He noticed the IV and yanked it out.
"You can see her. Later." Monica tried to press him back down but he pushed her away again and made it to his feet. "Bobbie get help," she ordered, then she tried to reason with Zander. "Let me help you then we can visit Emily together."
"I don’t need your help!" Zander shouted. His knees buckled and he caught himself on the gurney. "Leave me alone! Why won't everyone just leave me alone?" He staggered towards the door and ran into the two orderlies that Bobbie had called.
Monica knew this was going to be bad, but she had no choice. "I need restraints," she told Bobbie, even as the orderlies wrestled Zander back onto the gurney. She watched Zander fight them for all he was worth and the orderlies struggled to keep him down. Bobbie arrived with the restraints and she and Monica strapped Zander down. They wrapped a towel around Zander's left wrist first to keep the restraint from hurting his injury further. Monica didn't want to give Zander a sedative since she suspected he was already high on something, but she didn't have much of a choice. She injected him and in a minute he closed his eyes and his body relaxed. Monica felt sad as she smoothed Zander's hair back. "It's going to be okay," she whispered, then she set to work on his wrist.
* * * * *
Cameron looked at Alexander's things. His blood soaked clothing was now tied up in a bag to be disposed of, but Cameron had his son's keys, cell phone and wallet. And the packet of pills that had been in his jeans' pocket.
"How is Zander?" Alexis asked.
"I don't know," Cameron replied. He didn't turn to look at her.
Alexis sighed. "Can he have visitors?"
Cameron nodded. "His room is down the hall."
"Are you going to see him now?"
Alexis rubbed Cameron's shoulder. "It's going to be all right."
Cameron glared at her then strode off down the hall, the packet of pill clutched tightly in his hand.
* * * * *
Alexis entered Zander's room quietly. He looked to be asleep. She took note of the IV taped to the back of one hand, the restraints, and the white bandaged wrapped around Zander's left wrist. She winced at the sight of it, then she sat down on the stool. "Zander?"
His eyes opened. "Hi."
"How do you feel?"
Alexis nodded. Zander looked pale and there were dark smudges under his eyes. He also looked heartbreakingly young and vulnerable. But most of all he looked fragile, and that scared Alexis more than anything else had. "You keep finding new ways to scare me, kiddo."
Zander nodded. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay." Alexis noted how subdued he sounded. This was so not like Zander. "I won't stay, I just wanted to check on you."
Alexis stood up and leaned in to kiss his cheek. "I'll come back later."
Zander nodded then closed his eyes. "Okay."
A tear slid down Alexis' face as she headed out the door.
* * * * *
Zander tugged at his restraints. He hated them. He had asked Bobbie to remove them but she had stated that it was up to Dr. Baldwin to make that call and that she would be in to see him soon. Zander heard footsteps and looked up to find his father standing in the doorway. "Hello, dad." Zander could almost feel the coldness emanating from his father. He didn't want to face him right now, yet there was nothing he could do. He couldn't walk away this time.
"How do you feel, Alexander?" Cameron asked as he moved to the bed. "A bit...jumpy?"
"Dad.." Zander began, only to be cut off.
Cameron threw the packet of pills on the bed. "Why? Why do that to yourself again? And if you wanted to die, why slice your wrist open? Why not just take an overdose like the last time?"
Zander winced at his father's tone. He felt ashamed at what had happened, yet in this moment he was angry as well. His father didn't understand. Never would. "I don't want to die!" he yelled back.
"Could have fooled me."
"It just happened. I didn't realize what I was doing." Zander broke off, shaking his head. He knew his father had made up his mind about him once again. There was no point in trying to explain.
Cameron smirked. "You knew exactly what you were doing, Alexander. The problem is that, like always, you failed. You have never succeeded at anything, have you?"
Zander felt a stab of pain at his father's words and he lashed out. "I can see I disappointed you once again! So sorry I didn't manage to die this time. Take these fucking restraints off and I'll try again! I'm sure you can find a scalpel for me!"
"Why bother, you'll only screw it up again."
Zander and his father both broke off as Dr. Baldwin entered the room. She glared at Cameron.
"I want you to leave," she told him.
"My son and I were having a discussion," Cameron countered.
Gail shook her head. "No. You were lashing out at each other. You were taking your guilt out on Zander. Now get out, we'll talk later." She pointed to the door and didn't waver until Cameron turned and walked out. Gail then shut the door before moving to Zander's bedside. "Are you okay?"
Zander tugged on his restraints then glared at her. "Take these off!"
"Okay." Gail undid the restraints.
"You trust me?" Zander was relieved as he rubbed at his uninjured wrist, but he was also suspicious and his tone betrayed him.
Gail shrugged. "If I don't trust you, Zander, then I know you won't trust me."
Zander didn't respond, but he couldn't deny the truth of what she was saying. He watched her sit on the stool. "Now what?"
"Now you tell me what happened."
"I think that's rather obvious." Zander held up his left arm to show off the bandage.
Gail smiled. "Okay...tell me why it happened. Did you want to die, Zander?"
He closed his eyes and rubbed his face. "No. Not that you'll believe me, but...no. I didn't want to die. I..I wasn't trying to kill myself. I swear."
"Then what happened?"
"If I tell you go to go to hell, what happens? You lock me away?" Zander wasn't ready to bare his soul to her.
Gail locked eyes with Zander. "I need to figure out where your head is at, Zander. If I think you're suicidal then, yes, we'll send you somewhere to get help."
Zander appreciated her honesty so he gave some back. "I know I'm all messed up about everything right now. That's why I was taking the pills. I'd make it through the day and have everyone convinced I was okay...but it was hard to keep up the charade at night. It was just…hard, ya know? And....my dad gave me a gift from my mom. An old birthday present she never got to give me. A pocket knife. And I was on the docks and all these thoughts were in my head. All these memories. I didn't even realize that I was cutting myself. I'd just popped a pill to get numb...and I didn't feel it. I don't really remember much else. But...I wasn't trying to kill myself. I just wanted to stop feeling anything, just for a little while."
"I know." Gail patted his hand. "Thank you for being so honest with me, Zander."
"So are you going to ship me out?"
Gail stood up. "I need to talk to Monica and your father before I make my decision." With that she was gone.
Zander felt tears burn in his eyes. He had messed everything up this time, he was sure of it.
"Can I come in?"
"Gia...sure." Zander wiped at his face. Not that it mattered. Gia had seen him cry before.
Gia sat down on the stool. "You doing okay?"
Zander shrugged. "I don't know. You?"
"I'm better now that you're still with us."
"I'm sorry I scared you. I didn't mean for this to happen." Another tear slid down Zander's face and he swiped it away, but more followed and he realized he was shaking.
Gia moved to the bed and wrapped her arms around Zander. "It's okay, Zander. It's okay."
Zander let Gia hold him. He felt safe with her because he knew that she was his friend no matter what. So he simply held on to her and let himself cry.
* * * * *
"You wanted to see me?" Cameron drawled as he entered Dr. Baldwin's office.
She gave him a look that could have frozen lava then gestured to the chair in front of her desk. "Sit down."
Cameron held her look. "I'll stand. I don't intend to be here long."
"Okay. Mind telling me what the hell you were doing lashing out at your son?"
"I was being honest."
Gail rolled her eyes. "You were being a jack ass. Would you ever confront a patient that way?"
Cameron stiffened. "Alexander is not a patient. He's my son?"
"Who the hell are you to judge me?" Cameron shook with fury held barely in check.
Gail shook her head. "For the record, your son truly believes you wish he were dead. And as much as he wishes that didn't bother him...it does. As does the fact that he believes you never have, and never will love him. It hurts him more than he will ever be able to admit. And it's his need to be accepted, and loved, that drives Zander. It's the reason why when someone shows an interest in him, he'll do anything for them. Give his trust, his loyalty, his respect...even his life. Zander has an incredible capacity to love. He loves unselfishly in a way most people never learn to do. Most of what I'm telling you I have learned through observation and by listening to people talk about Zander, and by asking a few questions here and there. Your son has zero sense of self worth. Thanks to you. Thanks to Emily Quartermaine, he believes in himself, just a little bit. It surprises him to no end, that someone like her could love him. And I find that to be heartbreakingly sad. Don't you?"
Cameron gritted his teeth. "Is there a point to this, doctor?"
"Yes, there is. I want to know how you can successfully treat other people, but you can't figure out how to treat your own child with the simple common courtesy owed to a human being." Gail locked eyes with Cameron. "Can you answer me that, doctor?"
"No...I cannot," Cameron replied, then he turned on his heel and strode off.
* * * * *
Zander shoved aside the table holding his dinner tray. He hadn't touched a bite and he knew he would hear about it from Bobbie later, but he didn't care. He wasn't hungry and the stuff on that tray was not edible.
At the sound of his father's voice, Zander stiffened. "Dad."
Cameron entered the room and closed the door. "We need to talk about your...treatment."
"Dr. Baldwin said you would be coming to talk to me about it. Are you sending me away?"
"I think it would be best."
Zander wasn't surprised. He shook his head. "Figures."
Cameron cleared his throat. "I said I think it would be best. Dr. Baldwin and Monica Quartermaine both disagreed with me. They think you should be treated here so that you can stay close to Emily. They feel you need her as much as she needs you."
"So…what does that mean?" Zander refused to feel hopeful until he heard the bottom line.
"It means we've reached a compromise. You're not going to like it, Alexander. But if you don't agree to it, then you will be sent to a facility upstate for the next three to six months."
Zander didn't want to think about that. "What do I have to do."
Cameron sat down on the stool next to the bed. "You'll move in with me."
"What?" The word was out before Zander could stop it. He shook his head. "No…no way!"
"Then I'll have the nurses come in and prepare you for the trip upstate." Cameron rose from the stool.
Zander waved him back down. "No…don't. I'm sorry. Tell me the rest." He would do whatever it took to stay with Emily.
Cameron sighed. "I know this won't be easy, Alexander. For either of us. But I want to help you, and if you're willing to help yourself I think we can make this work."
"So...I stay with you. Is that it?" Zander prompted.
"Not quite. You'll be able to return to work but you'll have a curfew and you will be monitored. You'll have to call in to me several times a day and I'll need to know where you are at all times." Cameron locked eyes with his son. "Do you think you can do that?"
Zander shrugged. "I don't know. But I'll try. For Emily's sake. So how long do I have to stay with you?"
Cameron shook his head. "I can't give you an exact time frame. For at least a month. You'll also have two sessions a week with Gail, more if you feel you need them. Or she does. She'll give me her report at the end of the month and we'll decide what happens next from there."
"So if I do everything you expect of me, after a month I can go back to my own place?" Zander wanted to make sure he understood the rules.
"Maybe." Cameron rubbed a hand over his face. "You do realize you won't be allowed to drink or do drugs during this time."
Zander smirked. "Yeah…I kinda figured that out."
Cameron stood up. "It won't be easy for you."
"When has anything ever been easy for me?" Zander wasn't bitter, he was being realistic. "So…when do we start? Am I out of here?"
"Maybe tomorrow. You still need to rest and we can ease you through the withdrawal you've been suffering through. It's going to get worse before it gets better."
Zander was surprised. He thought he had hidden that aspect from everyone. "I know you don't believe me, dad. But I wasn't trying to kill myself. I know I've messed myself up...but I will fix it. I have to, for Emily. I have to be okay for when she wakes up."
Cameron started to reply but stopped himself and simply nodded. He walked to the door, opened it, then said, "I hope you can fix it." Then he was gone.
Leaving Zander to ponder his words.
* * * * *
Cameron downed a shot of Jack Daniels. Vile stuff but it seemed appropriate. He slammed the glass back down on the bar and ordered another.
Coleman smirked as he refilled the glass. "Want me to leave the bottle?"
"Yes." Cameron slapped a fifty dollar bill on the bar top.
"So…you slumming?" Coleman queried.
Cameron winced. "Pretty much," he allowed. "I'd like to see Zander Smith's room."
Coleman's eyes narrowed. "Why? How do you know Zander?"
"I'm his father."
"You're shitting me?" Coleman chuckled. "Good thing he didn't inherit your fashion sense. Keep wearing plaid, man, and you ain't ever gonna get laid."
Cameron opened his mouth to reply but his wit had deserted him. "Where is his room?"
Coleman grabbed the spare key and tossed it on the bar. "Top of the stairs, turn left, last door on the right. Don't make a mess."
"Right," Cameron drawled, grabbing the bottle of Jack along with the key, then he headed for the stairs. He found the room and unlocked the door, then he stood there for a moment, just looking about. There was nothing that personalized the room. One thing Cameron knew about his son was Alexander's love of bright colors. He had always worn gem colors. Sapphire, emerald, ruby and amethyst. Of course to Alexander they were simply blue, green, red and purple. But now this room was as neutrally bland as his son's wardrobe. Grays and browns and sometimes black. Almost as if Alexander had lost his identity somehow, or was trying to hide it. No, a better analogy was that he was trying to mute it. To mute himself. There was a technical term that escaped Cameron at the moment. When a person felt like they didn't matter to anyone, it made them feel invisible and therefore neutral in some ways. And often times the person would take to wearing neutral colors and to wear their clothing in layers. Something that Cameron had noticed his son often did. Even when the weather was warmer, Alexander would wear two shirts.
Cameron moved to sit on the end of the bed. He sloshed some Jack on his shirt and absently smoothed it off. "I never knew you were neat, Alexander," he commented, then he took a swig from the bottle. "I do remember that Peter used to be quite the slob. Your mother had to remind him constantly to pick up his room. Of course, most of the time she would pick up for him. He was so busy with school and sports and activities and friends. There weren't enough hours in the day...or so it seemed. That's my fault. All of this is my fault." Cameron broke off to take another swig then he set the bottle down on the end table. Getting drunk wouldn't change the truth. It wouldn't alter reality for him.
"I did this to you, Alexander. I gave you the means to an end and you took it. Of all times for me to give you a knife. I guess you figured it was my way of telling you to finish the job and get it right this time. I'm grateful that you failed." A sob escaped Cameron and he buried his face in his hands. And wept.
* * * * *
Zander was cold one minute and hot the next. He was trembling and couldn't stop. His insides felt like they were twisted into knots and nausea wracked him in waves that would come and go. Monica told him that this would probably be the worst phase of his withdrawal. Zander hoped it couldn't get any worse. And he hoped it wouldn't last much longer. It didn't help that when he did manage to doze off, a panic attack would awaken him.
Footsteps sounded and Zander groaned. He didn't feel up to seeing anyone. To his surprise, Nikolas entered the room.
"Feel like company?" Nikolas asked.
"Not really...but if you don't mind me groaning and whining, I'll deal," Zander replied.
Nikolas nodded. "You look like hell."
Zander snorted. "I feel worse. Thanks."
Nikolas had a paper bag with him which he set down on the night table. "Anything I can do to help?"
Zander wished he could think of something. "Distract me?"
"I guess you're not hungry?" Nikolas pointed to the bag. " Burger and onion rings from Kelly's. Elizabeth said it's your favorite meal. She sent a coke instead of a shake though."
"Actually, the coke sounds good." Zander accepted the cup and nodded. "Thanks." He took a sip and it seemed to help the nausea a bit.
Nikolas sat down on the stool. "I'm glad you're okay, Zander."
Zander was surprised. "Yeah? It's kinda weird hearing you say that. I mean…it's not like we're friends or ever will be."
"Well…stranger things have happened."
"I suppose." Zander's insides twisted again and he had to bite back a moan. He felt Nikolas take the soda from his hands and was grateful, as he curled in on himself as much as he could.
Nikolas was panicked. "Should I call for a nurse?"
Zander managed to shake his head. "No.." he gritted out. "It…it'll pass." He rocked as if trying to sooth himself from the pain. Time seemed suspended as the pain wracked him, then it started to ease and Zander unfurled himself. He could feel the sheen of sweat that coated his skin and he was shivering again. He ran a shaky hand through his damp hair and tried to summon a smile. He could see that Nikolas was shaken. "Sorry about that. I kinda can't control it."
"Do you want me to go?"
"No...stay." Zander was surprised to hear himself say that.
Nikolas sat back down. "You sure?"
Zander nodded. He saw Bobbie enter the room with a towel and a basin. He felt so exhausted that he didn't fuss as she wiped his face and helped him change into a dry gown. "Thanks," Zander whispered.
"I'll check on you in a few." Bobbie collected her things and left.
"I should probably go," Nikolas stated.
Zander had almost forgotten he was there. Nikolas had faded into the background for a moment. "Yeah…sure," he replied. He knew the only reason Nikolas was there at all was because of Emily. That he was being nice for Emily's sake. Zander respected that.
Nikolas sank back down onto the stool. "Or…I could stay. This is just really awkward."
"Yeah. Uh....you could tell me what it was like growing up rich."
"You grew up rich," Nikolas shot back. "Elizabeth told me a little bit about your background."
Zander wasn't upset. "Yeah…well it was a different kind of rich and it was never my thing. What was it like growing up a Prince?"
Nikolas laughed. "It's a long story."
"I'm not going anywhere." Zander smiled. Then he listened to Nikolas talk until he drifted off to sleep.