Flame Turns Blue
He started at the sound of Emily's voice and looked up to find her staring at him with concern in her beautiful eyes. "Hey, baby," Zander whispered, as he reached for her and drew her down onto his lap. He had been curled up in his chair by the window, lost in thought. Unpleasant thoughts.
Emily shifted so that she could look at Zander. "You okay?"
"It's late. Why aren't you sleeping?"
Zander shrugged then leaned in to kiss her soft lips. "Too much on my mind, I guess. I still can't believe that you're home and we're together. For a while I thought...I thought I had lost you for good. That I had messed things up between us forever."
Emily kissed the tip of Zander's nose. "I don't think there is anything you could do that could make me stop loving you, Zander. You're like breathing...I need you to survive."
"Funny...I feel the same way about you, Em." Zander wrapped his arms around her waist and buried his face in her soft breasts. "Life isn't really worth living without you. At least…my life isn't."
"Zander...I need to ask you something and I need you to be totally honest with me."
He lifted his head and nodded. "I can do that." At least he hoped he could.
Emily sighed, one hand reaching out to caress his face. "If something happened to me...would you be okay?"
"What do you mean if something happened to you? Is there something you're not telling me?"
"No…I'm just wondering, Zander." Emily smoothed his hair back. "You've always told me that I saved your life and that I'm the reason you're alive. I'm the only reason you have for living. It's kinda scary, you know?"
Zander thought about it, and realized how unfair he was being to her. "I'm sorry, Emily. I didn't mean to pressure you or to make you feel like you're responsible for me. I'm pathetic in alot of ways...and I do need you in my life. But I survived when you were gone…when I thought you weren't coming back. It sucked…but I survived. Does that answer your question?"
Emily nodded. "Pretty much." She hugged Zander to her. "Think you can sleep now?"
"Yeah...I think so." Zander rose to his feet with Emily in his arms and carried her to the bed. He laid her down gently, easing down next to her and gathering her back into his embrace. He kissed her then closed his eyes, feeling her relax against him. Feeling her breathing change, signaling that she was asleep. But Zander was still awake, when the light of dawn slipped into the room.
* * * * *
Emily stood in front of the door and debated. But not for long. She raised her hand and knocked.
Emily took that as her cue and opened the door. "Hello, Dr. Baldwin. I'm Emily Quartermaine."
Gail rose from her desk to greet her. "Yes…I know. What can I do for you, Emily?"
"I came here to ask you about Zander."
Emily smiled nervously. "I know you have doctor-patient confidentiality, and I respect that. I don't want specifics from you. I guess what I really want to know is if you think he's okay, and if there is anything I can do to help him."
Gail moved to close the door then gestured Emily to a chair. She resumed her seat behind her desk. "Zander speaks of you often."
"You're the one subject he's willing to talk about." Gail smiled. "Not in depth, but he comes alive when he talks about you."
Emily sighed. "I'm worried about him, Dr. Baldwin. I worry that he's been through so much in his life and that any added stress is going to break him."
Gail was silent for a moment, then said, "Zander isn't fragile, Emily. He's a survivor. He's been through hell and back many times, and he keeps muddling through."
"Is he okay?" Emily decided it was best to be blunt.
"He's getting there...slowly." Gail folded her hands on her desk. "Zander is a very private person, Emily. He's learned to be that way, in part, because he doesn't trust people."
Emily understood that. "He's had no reason to. Every time Zander does trust someone, they end up betraying that trust. And that includes me. I've hurt him in the past, big time."
Gail nodded. "It's scary how easy it is to hurt the people we love. Isn't it?"
"Yeah...it's scares the hell out of me."
"You love Zander very much. I can see that."
Emily smiled. "I do. And I want to help him. I'm just not sure how to do that."
Gail rose to her feet and moved to stand before Emily. "Just support him in every way you can. Encourage him to talk about his past and about his feelings. To be honest, Zander doesn't participate much in his sessions. He pretty much just gives me yes or no answers to my questions, and any time I get too personal...which is pretty much all the time...he closes up on me. That does worry me a little."
"It worries me too." Emily rose to her feet. She felt a little bit guilty being here, without telling Zander what she was doing. "I think he's hiding something from me."
"Don't push him, Emily," Gail warned. "Be concerned, and be supportive. But you can't force Zander to open up to you."
Emily nodded and reached out to shake Dr. Baldwin's hand. "Thank you for talking to me."
Gail walked her to the door and handed her a card. "Call me if you need me."
"Thanks." Emily took the card and walked away. She had alot to think about.
* * * * *
Zander headed for the elevators. He had just ended another session with Dr. Baldwin and he couldn't wait to get out of there. But as luck would have it he ran into his father. Almost literally. His own fault for not paying attention to where he was going. He just felt the need to escape. Zander could feel his chest tightening, could feel his pulse begin to race. He felt a bit as if he were suffocating and he wanted to get outside into wide open spaces and fresh air. Instead he forced himself to breathe slowly and calmly, and to plaster a smile on his face as his father stared at him.
"How are you doing, Alexander?"
Cameron folded his arms over his chest. "Just had another session with Dr. Baldwin?"
Zander bit back a sharp retort. His father knew exactly where he had been, no need for him to phrase it as a question. But Zander forced himself to answer simply. "Yeah."
"How are they going?"
Cameron nodded. "How are things?"
Zander rubbed a hand over his face. "Things are fine, Dad. Are we done here? I have things to do."
"Yes…we're done," Cameron retorted, then he spun on his heel and strode off.
"Perfect," Zander muttered, as he punched the elevator button. He could have gone the rest of his life without another confrontation with his father. But his luck would never be that good. The elevator doors opened and Zander stepped inside. As he punched the down button he realized his anxiety had eased. He didn't question why, he was simply grateful. But he still felt the need to escape.
* * * * *
Gia entered Kelly's needing a cup of coffee. She had been studying for her midterms and she needed a break. She smiled as she spotted Zander at the counter. "Hey there," she said in greeting as she joined him.
Zander turned and smiled at Gia. "Hey there yourself. What are you doing here? Don't you have midterms to study for?"
"Been there, done that. My brain feels fried. I came here for some caffeine and to take a break."
"So how are you doing other than brain fry?"
Gia shrugged. "I'm okay. How are things with you and Emily?" Gia knew how excited Zander was to have Emily back in his life. She just hoped the reality of it lived up to his expectations.
Zander gave Gia a hug. "It's great. And I have you to thank for keeping my hopes up when Emily was gone."
"You're welcome." Gia returned the hug then pulled back to study Zander's face. He looked genuinely happy, yet she could see shadows in his beautiful eyes. That worried her, but she didn't want to spoil the moment, or Zander's happiness, so she let it slide. For now. "Maybe we could all go to a movie or have dinner some time?" Gia suggested.
"That would be cool." Zander hopped off his stool. "I have to go back to work. I'll talk to Emily then I'll call you."
Gia nodded. "You do that. See you later."
Zander waved as he headed for the door. "Bye, Gia. Thanks."
"Anytime," Gia muttered to herself, wondering what he was thanking her for. Then she shrugged off the bad feeling she had and ordered her coffee to go.
* * * * *
Zander was happy. He and Emily were lying on a blanket in the park, gazing up at the stars. After leaving the hospital, things had started to look up. Zander had gone to Emily's to ask if she wanted to have dinner with him. They had grabbed some burgers at Kelly's, had walked on the docks for a while, and now they were star gazing. Simple pleasures, but they meant the world to Zander. "What are you thinking?" Zander asked, tearing his gaze from the stars so he could stare at Emily's beautiful face.
"I'm thinking that life doesn't get any better than this," Emily replied. "Today was perfect, Zander. Of course, whenever I'm with you...everything feels perfect."
"Yeah...it's like that for me too."
Emily sat up to lean over Zander. "I have a confession to make. I don't want to spoil anything, but I don't want to keep secrets from you either."
Zander frowned. "Okay. What's up?"
"I went to see Dr. Baldwin today."
Emily hesitated a moment, then blurted out. "You. I asked her about you."
Zander sat up, confusion and anger surging up inside him. "What do you mean you asked her about me?"
"I asked her if you were doing okay and if there was anything I could do to help you?"
"Why? I told you I'm okay, Emily? Don't you believe me?" Anger was beginning to win out and Zander made to stand up. He stopped when Emily's hand gripped his arm.
Emily locked eyes with Zander. "I want to believe you, Zander. I think you want to believe you too."
Zander shook his head. "That didn't make any sense."
"You've been through so much, Zander. The stuff with your dad goes all the way back to your childhood. Then all the stuff that happened since we hooked up." Emily sighed. "It doesn't just go away because you want it to. You have to deal with it. With the way it makes you feel."
"I am dealing with it, Emily. That's the whole point of the therapy sessions."
Reaching out, Emily cupped Zander's face in both hands. "You're in those sessions because they're court-ordered, Zander. Not because you want to be there. I know you...I know you don't talk about the past. If you won't share your feelings with me, I know you won't share them with Dr. Baldwin. And I wasn't trying to betray you either. I just...I'm worried about you, Zander. I want you to be okay."
Zander pulled Emily's hands from his face, then he tangled his fingers in her hair to hold her gaze. "I am okay, baby. I mean it. I know you can't get past the fact that I overdosed. But I'm telling you it was just a stupid mistake. I freaked about seeing my dad and reliving the past. But I'm okay now. I'm dealing with the guilt and with the fact that my dad let me believe a lie for the past five years. And talking about it won't make dealing with it any easier. At least not for me. Okay?"
"Okay." Emily leaned in for a kiss. "But will you promise me that you'll talk to me…or Gail…or someone if it gets to be too much to handle? I don't want you to hold it all in, or to try and push it down inside you in the hopes that it will just fade away. Because it won't. I know that from experience."
"I promise." Zander leaned in to steal his own kiss, teasing Emily's lips with his own until she was pressed up hard against him and moaning. "I love you," he whispered against her mouth. I love you more than you will ever know."
Emily hugged Zander fiercely. "I love you too."
Zander said nothing more. He simply held her tightly, and wished that this moment could last forever.