Flame Turns Blue
Emily watched as Nikolas poured a glass of water for her. She had gone to Wyndemere to talk to him, to catch up on old times. But while they were chatting she had gotten dizzy and had passed out. Nikolas had wanted to call for an ambulance but Emily had insisted that she was okay. But now Nikolas was waiting for an explanation and Emily realized she didn't know what to tell him. She accepted the water, took a sip, then drew in a deep breath, let it out slowly then blurted out, "I forgot to eat today."
"What?" Nikolas stared at her in disbelief. "Are you telling me that you passed out because you forgot to eat breakfast?"
"And lunch." Emily winced because she could tell that Nikolas didn't believe her.
Nikolas sat down beside her. "You're pale and shaky, Emily. It's more than skipping a few meals. What's going on?"
Emily swallowed a sigh and forced a smile. She didn't want to deal with this. Bad enough when her parents were on her case all the time. "Nothing is going on, Nikolas. Okay? I just got dizzy and passed out. It was stupid. I'm having dinner with Zander tonight and I promise to eat like a pig to make up for it."
"I want to believe you, Emily. I do. But there is something you're not telling me. So...maybe you'll tell Zander."
"There's nothing to tell."
Nikolas shook his head. "Don't you trust me, Emily? You know I'm here for you. You know you can tell me anything."
Emily smiled. "I know. But there is nothing to tell. Okay? Why won't you believe me?" She stood up and started to pace only to feel dizziness wash over her again so she sat down in a nearby chair. "If there was anything to tell…I would tell you."
"Answer me this," Nikolas countered. "Are you telling Zander? You too are close again. If you won't be honest with me, at least be honest with Zander. Okay?"
"Zander knows everything he needs to know," Emily stated. And she firmly believed that. He knew she loved him and that was all that mattered.
* * * * *
He jumped and turned to find Alexis staring at him. Alexis holding Kristina. Zander smiled and rose from his chair. He had been sitting at Kelly's, nursing a cup of coffee, waiting for Emily to show up. "Hey, Alexis. Hello, Kristina," Zander waved at the baby. "How are you guys?"
Alexis shrugged. "We're pretty good. Ned let me take her for a few hours."
"She's so beautiful." Zander put his hand out and smiled when Kristina grabbed his fingers.
"You want to hold her?"
Zander shook his head and backed away a step. "No thanks. I don't do babies."
Alexis rolled her eyes. "Sure you do. Hold out your arms. She won't break."
"Alexis…this is a bad idea."
"Do it!" Alexis ordered.
Zander held out his arms. He winced as Kristina was placed in his hands. Instinctively he hugged her to him and couldn't help but smile when she stared at him then pinched his nose. "You're a living doll, you are."
Alexis was smiling. "You're a natural, Zander."
"Right." He made a face then carefully sat back down, shifting Kristina so he could hold her on his knee. "How are you doing, Alexis. Really?"
"I'm doing good, Zander. Thanks for asking. How are you doing?"
Zander grinned. "I'm doing great. Things are really good with Emily."
Alexis nodded. "I'm glad. You sure you're okay though? You look a bit tired."
"How are the therapy sessions going?"
Zander sighed. "They're going." He turned his attention to Kristina and when she smiled at him, Zander felt the tension inside him melting. "I hope everything works out for you and Ned. Kristina deserves stability in her life and a whole lot of love." As he spoke, Zander handed the baby back. He was already falling in love with her.
Alexis snuggled Kristina to her. "Ned and I are trying to find a solution that will give Kristina everything she needs."
"I'm glad." Zander would have said more but his cell phone rang. "Excuse me." He answered it. "Hello." He listened a moment then said, "I'll be there in a few minutes. I love you." He closed the phone and stuck it back on his belt.
"Emily?" Alexis guessed.
Zander chuckled. "Yeah. We were supposed to meet here but she's not feeling good, so I'm gonna head over to the Quartermaine's. Sorry to run off."
Alexis patted his shoulder. "I understand. It was nice seeing you, Zander."
"Great seeing you." Zander stood up and kissed her cheek, then he ran a hand over Kristina's hair. "Take care sweetheart." That said he headed for the door. He needed to see Emily. To make sure she was all right.
* * * * *
Emily paced as she waited for Zander to arrive. Prior to calling him, she had talked to her parents about her visit with Nikolas. They hated the fact that she wouldn't tell anyone her secret. Emily knew that Zander would find out eventually, and that it would be better for him to hear it from her. She also knew that he would support her in every way, but Emily hated to burden him with her illness. He had enough going on in his life. Enough emotional stress to deal with. Besides which, when she was with Zander she could forget that she was sick. Most of the time she didn't feel sick anyway, so why tell anyone? So by the time the doorbell rang, Emily was still firm in her decision not to tell him. Not yet, anyway. No one needed to know. Emily was content to be with Zander. They were in love and they had the present, and that was all she cared about. Putting a smile on her face, Emily opened the door. "Hi, Zander."
"Emily. Are you okay?" Zander stepped inside then cupped her face in his hands.
"I'm fine. Just worn out. It's been a long day." Emily took Zander's hands from her face. She entwined their fingers then led him into the sitting room. "I just didn't have the energy to go out and my stomach is a bit off, so I'm not up to dinner."
Zander's concern shone in his eyes. "Are you coming down with something? The flu maybe?"
Emily shook her head. "I'm fine, really. I just want to snuggle with you on the couch for a while. Is that okay?"
"Of course it's okay." Zander drew her into a hug. "Anything you want is fine with me."
"Thanks." Emily pulled back and studied him. He looked tired and a bit pale. She was worried about him. "You okay?"
Zander sighed. "You keep asking me that."
Emily shrugged. "I can't help it. You look tired. I know you aren't sleeping well." She took his hand and drew him over to the couch. Pushing him down, Emily then climbed onto his lap.
"I'm sleeping fine."
Zander smiled and pressed a kiss into the palm of Emily's hand. "Tell you what. Let's turn the TV on and watch some dumb movie that's boring enough to put us both to sleep."
Emily liked that idea. She wanted Zander to get some sleep and she wanted to be held in his arms. "Deal." She slid off his lap, but only long enough to grab the remote and a blanket. "Lie down." Emily pushed Zander onto his back then she curled up next to him on the inside of the couch so she could see the TV with her head lying on his chest. Once settled, Emily drew the blanket over them both. "Anything in particular you want to watch?" she asked, as she clicked on the TV.
"You." Zander stared at Emily as his fingers combed through her hair.
"I love you, Zander," Emily whispered. She felt the need to tell him that, to make certain that he knew.
Zander kissed her temple. "I love you too, baby. More than you know."
Emily blinked back tears, her finger on the remote, randomly selecting a station. But she didn't watch the program. She was content to lay there, her cheek pressed over Zander's heart, listening to its strong beat until sleep claimed her.
* * * * *
Zander felt Emily jerk in his arms. He opened his eyes and she was already shoving the blanket off and struggling to rise. "Emily?" He followed her off the couch but she was on the run. He realized she was making a beeline for the bathroom and he stayed where he was to give her some privacy. While he was waiting, Monica came down the stairs. Zander told her about Emily and she offered to check on her. They both came back a few minutes later. "You okay?" Zander asked, moving to Emily and letting his eyes study her pale face.
"I'm okay. I actually feel better now. I think maybe it was something I ate."
"I hope that's all it is." Zander pulled her into a gentle hug. "I'm gonna go and let you rest. Okay?" He didn't want to leave her, but he knew she needed to sleep.
Emily nodded. "Okay. But call me first thing in the morning. Before you go to work."
Zander smiled and kissed her cheek. "I will. You rest and feel better."
"Yeah. love you."
"Love you too." Zander headed for the door. He paused on the threshold. "Sweet dreams, Emily."
She smiled. "You too."
Zander waved at Monica, smiled at Emily again, then he was gone.
* * * * *
Zander tried to be quiet as he slipped in through Emily's window. He had gone home as he had said he would, only to be unable to sleep. So after an hour of tossing and turning, Zander had gotten up, gotten dressed, and returned to the Quartermaine’s. He knew he wouldn't be able to sleep until he checked on Emily. Tip toeing across the room, Zander stopped by her bed. She was lying on her side, facing the window, and she looked more beautiful than an angel. Zander smiled and leaned in to kiss her cheek. He fully intended to head back home, but even as he turned to go, a hand touched his arm. Zander turned back to find Emily smiling at him. "Sorry to wake you," he apologized.
"I don't mind." Emily sat. "I'm glad you came back. I missed you." She held out her arms to him.
"I missed you too." Zander sank into her embrace and he could feel her soft curves snuggling into his hardness. It didn't help matters when Emily's hands slid under his shirt, stroking his skin. He moaned. "You know you're killing me here, right? You're making it hard to want to leave."
Emily giggled. "Why would you want to leave?" She let her hand brush over his crotch, scratching lightly at the denim. "You just got here."
Zander pulled her hand away, but the damage was already done. He was hard and aching. "Emily...you need to rest. Remember?"
"I need to feel better. And I do. You feel so good...and you make me feel so good." Emily's hands were busy unbuttoning Zander's shirt. "Make love to me, baby. Please?"
"God…I want to." Zander hissed as his shirt was pushed off his shoulders and Emily's tongue glided over one nipple. "Are you sure you're okay?"
Emily pulled back to tug her crop top off, leaving herself bared to his gaze from the waist up. "Very sure," she whispered, then she buried her fingers in Zander's hair and pulled his head down for a kiss.
It was a hot, wet, sexy kiss and Zander was lost. He crushed Emily to him and didn't hesitate when she twisted around to topple him onto his back. He wanted her and he could feel her own need. And as they moved together in a familiar kind of dance, and eventually became one body, one mind, one heart and one soul, Zander knew that Emily was his salvation. She was his life. She was his everything.
* * * * *
The panic attack hit without warning, pulling Zander out of a dreamless sleep. He shot upright then clapped a hand over his mouth to quiet his breathing. His heart was thudding hard against his rib cage and Zander was almost wheezing in an attempt to draw air into his lungs. He felt as if he were suffocating. He glanced over at Emily and she hadn't stirred. As carefully as he could, Zander slid out of bed and headed for the bathroom. Once there he closed the door and slid down to the floor, his body shuddering with each tortured breath.
Anxiety rolled off him in waves and sheened his skin in a cold sweat. The pounding of his heart in his chest echoed in his ears. It was so loud that it made him want to bang his head against the wall in desperation. He couldn't make it stop. Couldn't draw a deep enough breath. Black spots danced before his eyes and nausea twisted his gut, drawing upward to almost choke him as he tried to gulp in air.
Zander closed his eyes and tried to focus on breathing. Long, slow, breath in. Long, slow, breath out. His lungs burned from the effort but he kept at it until finally the moment passed and he could breathe again naturally. But the after-effects lingered. Zander still felt dizzy and exhausted. He sat where he was for a long time, then forced himself to rise and splash cold water on his face. He used a towel to dry off and avoided looking in the mirror. He didn't want to see the truth. He didn't want to deal with what was happening to him. It scared him.
After a time, Zander made his way back into the bedroom. Thankfully, Emily hadn't stirred. Zander stood at the side of the bed just watching her. Seeing her made him smile. Having Emily in his life made everything all right. Made him all right. Carefully, Zander slid back beneath the covers, easing Emily into his arms. He felt comforted by her nearness and as the light of dawn filled the room, Zander finally drifted off to sleep.
* * * * *
Zander ran into Elizabeth at Kelly's. After waking up to Emily kissing him, they had made love before sharing the shower. Then Zander had headed home to dress for work. He was tired but content, and had stopped into Kelly's for a huge cup of coffee. "Hey, Liz. How ya doing?" Zander asked as he slid onto a stool at the counter.
"I'm good. How are you doing?" Elizabeth countered. "Judging by the smile on your face, things are going well for you and Emily."
"Things are great for us, thanks." Zander paused to give Penny his order. Large, black coffee to go. "How are things with you and...Ric?"
Elizabeth sighed. "They seem good. I'm hopeful, but cautious. I don't have a very good record in the *love* department."
Zander reached out to pat her shoulder. "I hope it's different for you this time. You deserve to be happy and to be loved."
"Thank you for saying that, Zander. It means alot to me that you've always been in my corner. Even when I wasn't exactly nice to you."
"You were always decent to me and you know it." Zander smiled, then stood up to fish out a couple of dollars when Penny delivered his coffee. "I gotta go to work. Catch you later."
Elizabeth nodded. "Nice seeing you, Zander. And tell Emily to call me. If she can tear herself away from you."
Zander laughed. "I'll tell her. Bye." He waved and headed for the door.
* * * * *
Worked dragged by slowly and Zander found himself checking his watch every twenty minutes or so. He couldn't wait to get out of here and hook up with Emily. But he had a fairly long wait since it was two hours to go just until lunch time. Heaving a sigh, Zander ran his fingers through his hair and forced himself to concentrate on the files in front of him. He managed to get through a couple of pages of the report that Ned had asked him to compile, when the numbers started to blur. Zander closed his eyes and rubbed them. He was tired. He needed a jolt. He needed caffeine. Rising from his chair, Zander headed out the door to the break room. He grabbed a Styrofoam cup, having forgotten to bring his coffee mug, and poured the steaming, dark, brew to the brim. But even as he set the pot back down, the images hit him. No warning. Just an intense flash of Peter lying on the ground, pale and still, his chest covered with blood. And he could hear his father's voice as clear as a bell.
*You killed your brother! You killed your brother! You killed your brother!* It echoed in Zander's head only to be interrupted by the crack of a gunshot. Zander jumped and hot coffee spilled over his hand. He didn't feel it. He didn't even realize what had happened until a hand touched his shoulder and he heard a familiar voice call his name.
He blinked and his vision slowly came into focus. Zander was surprised to see Ned staring at him with concern. Then he felt it, the burning sting of his skin. Zander glanced down at his hand and saw that the skin was bright red.
Ned pulled him over to the sink. He turned on the cold water and shoved Zander's hand under it. "What happened?"
"I...I don't know."
"You looked shell shocked when I walked in. Are you okay? Other than the burn?"
Zander nodded, a reflex action. He could still see the image of Pete in his head and he closed his eyes. It didn't help. It didn't fade away. "I'm fine." The water flowing over his skin was so cold it made his hand ache. Zander pulled his hand free and stared at it dumbly.
Ned studied it as well. "It looks pretty bad. I'm taking you to the emergency room."
"No…I'm fine, really. I have to finish that report."
"The report can wait." Ned hustled Zander out the door. "Let's go."