The Hot Zone

Chapter 22


It wasn't easy, but Nikolas got Zander to consent to see Dr. Baldwin. He knew Zander agreed to it only to shut him up, and with the condition that they would talk to her together. Zander then stated that he would allow her to decide if he needed therapy or not. Nikolas knew that was because Zander felt certain she would tell him *no*. He also knew Zander was in for a rude awakening.


Nikolas had called to make an appointment, explaining about the situation, and Dr. Baldwin had been more than gracious and very understanding. She had cleared her calendar to give them two hours to meet with her. So that's where they were right now. In Dr. Baldwin's office. Things were going about as well as Nikolas had expected. Dr. Baldwin was asking all the questions, Nikolas was giving all the answers, and Zander was doing all the glaring and pacing.


Dr. Baldwin finally stood up and blocked Zander's path, making him stop and look at her. "You don't want to be here," she stated.

"What was your first clue?" Zander shot back. "Nikolas wants this…not me."


"So you're here because of Nikolas?"

Zander nodded.


Gail smiled. " did this because you care about him and what he wants matters to you?"

"Something like that." Zander ran a hand through his hair then looked over at Nikolas for a moment. Then he looked back at Gail. "Are we done yet?"

"No." Gail guided Zander over to a nearby chair and practically pushed him down into it. "My understanding of this meeting was that you would let me decide if you need therapy. Correct?"

Zander nodded. "Yeah…that was the deal."

Gail returned to her desk. "Are you going to break the deal?"


"No!" Zander's tone was indignant.


"Good, then I think it's time for you and me to talk alone, Zander." Gail looked at Nikolas and smiled a dismissal.

Nikolas stood up and went to Zander. "I'll be waiting for you," he stated, leaning in to kiss Zander softly. Gail already knew about their relationship. She knew about Zander's work at the club for Sonny. About Tony Castle being Zander's father and about him being dead. She also knew that Zander had been sexually abused since his childhood, and about Arroyo raping him. Nikolas had left nothing out. She had asked, he had told her, and Zander had sullenly listened as Nikolas had revealed the trauma he had suffered through. It bothered Nikolas that Zander acted almost as if the things had happened to someone else. He knew that Zander needed help to deal with all of it, or he would never move past it and they would never have the life they deserved. He also knew that there were secrets Zander was keeping from him. Nikolas hoped that Dr. Baldwin would be able to draw them out. "I love you," Nikolas whispered.


Zander nodded. "I love you too. But I hate this...just so you know."

"I know." Nikolas smiled, then he nodded to Dr. Baldwin before leaving the room.


"Now what?" Zander asked, once he and Dr. Baldwin were alone. His tone was challenging.


She smiled before jotting down some notes. "Let's pick something to talk about. I'll let you choose."

Zander snorted. "How big of you. Okay...let's talk about the weather. It sucks most of the time, don't you think?"

"I guess you don't intend to keep your word to Nikolas," Gail countered. "Fine. Then we're done here."


"Wait." Zander held up a hand. He knew he had to go through with this if only as a means to prove to Nikolas that he was fine and then the nightmare would all be over with. "I'm sorry about my attitude. It's hard to talk to you…to be here. After dealing with Dr. Benson...I don't really trust shrinks."

Gail nodded. "That's understandable, Zander. What Dr. Benson did to you was horrific. To the point that your mind blocked the memory of it until you had to relive the horror. The problem, that you keep being subjected to the very thing that is the core of your troubles."

Zander frowned at her. "In layman's terms please?"


"You've been sexually abused by several people, spanning a good portion of your life, Zander," Gail explained. "Now you're putting yourself in a situation to be continually exploited."

"You mean my dancing at the club," Zander shot back. "It's what I do. It's my choice."


Gail sighed. "And sleeping with the clients? That's illegal, Zander. It's prostitution. We can go through legal channels and shut Sonny down."

Zander felt panic surge through him. Dr. Baldwin didn't get it. There was no shutting Sonny down. His own father had tried and failed. And in the end it was all about keeping Alexis and Kristina safe. Nothing else mattered. Zander locked eyes with Dr. Baldwin. "The bottom line is this. I like my job. I like having sex. Who I choose to do that with is nobody's business but my own."

"What about Nikolas? He loves affects him too."

"He understands."

Gail nodded. "He seems too. But then his main concern is making sure you're all right."

Zander surged out of his chair and paced again. "I'm fine. Okay? Are we done?"


"No. The deal was I decide whether or not you need therapy and I think you do, Zander. I think you need alot of it." Gail scribbled in her notepad again. "I'm going to set you up with weekly appointments. We'll start Wednesday. Is that good for you?"


"Not really." Zander hadn't expected this. He figured Dr. Baldwin would see how well he was handling everything and give him a free pass. "I don't want to do this."

Gail smiled grimly. "I know. But you promised Nikolas you would. So...will you?"


Zander moved to the door then stopped. He looked back over his shoulder and stated, "See you Wednesday." Then he was out the door and moving down the hallway. He needed to find Nikolas.


* * * * *


After leaving the session, Nikolas got on the phone with Jason. He told him about what Leo did to Zander and Jason had assured him that the man would be dealt with. Nikolas shivered at Jason's tone, because he had an idea of what that meant. But if Leo ended up dead, so be it. Nikolas had just hung up the phone when Zander rounded the corner. "Done?" Nikolas asked, a bit surprised. Only twenty minutes had passed.

"Yeah…done. I start sessions Wednesday." Zander glared at him. "Happy?"


"Yeah…I am." Nikolas was determined to be honest. "You need this, Zander."

Zander shrugged. "Whatever. I'm gonna go for a walk or something. I need some time alone."


Nikolas understood. "I'll see you at home?"


"Yeah...eventually," Zander replied, then he headed for the stairs.


"That went well....not," Nikolas muttered to himself. Then he glanced at his watch and decided he might as well stick around and take care of business.


* * * * *

Zander was at a loss for where to go. So he finally decided on Kelly's where he ran into Alexis and Kristina. Zander was happy to see them, but he was not happy at the way Alexis badgered him.


"I hear you're still working at Sonny's club," Alexis stated.


"So?" Zander kept his tone light as he rocked Kristina in his arms. It felt scary, but wonderful, to hold her.


Alexis sighed. "You don't belong there, Zander. I'll find you a better job."

Zander handed Kristina back to her mom. "I don't want a better job. I like what I'm doing. Please let it go, Alexis."


"I can't." Alexis kissed her daughter's cheek then reached out to cup her palm to Zander's face. "I love you too much to let you self destruct, Zander. And that's what you're doing."

"Got it covered," Zander shot back. Alexis's touch made him feel warmed but sad. He knew that she loved him and wanted only the best for him. "Look...I'm with Nikolas and happy. And I'm also starting therapy sessions with Dr. Baldwin. So it's all good. Okay?" Zander stood up then leaned in to kiss Alexis on the cheek. Then he bent his head to kiss Kristina on the forehead. "Bye sweet pea," Zander whispered. He looked back up at Alexis. "See you around," Zander stated, then he was gone.


* * * * *


Once out of Kelly's, Zander's cell phone rang. It was Sonny asking him to come over. So Zander headed straight there to find both Sonny and Carly waiting for him. He was barely inside the door when Carly was on him, kissing him, pulling at his clothes. And Zander understood why he was there, and he let himself melt into Carly's lust.



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