The Hot Zone
Brad Jennings studied Zander Smith. The kid was beautiful and possessed a raw sexuality that caught Brad off guard. He was also stubborn as hell and he was a player. Something that was instinctive, because in spite of himself, Zander Smith was a survivor. The kid knew enough about the technique to let Brad make the first move. He did so as he pulled the stool over to the bed and sat down. "Shall I tell you a bit about myself?" he queried.
Zander shrugged. "Tell me anything you want but...you know what? I listen much better without these things on." He tugged on his restraints.
"Interesting," Brad stated, even as he leaned over and undid one wrist. He watched Zander hide his surprise. Brad then stood up to free the other wrist.
"That was too easy," Zander said flatly as he rubbed his wrists.
Brad grinned at him. "Don't get too excited, Zander. I'm guessing I'll have to put them back on before I leave. You're notorious for slipping out of the hospital."
Zander's eyes narrowed. "What makes you think I won't leave now?"
"You could try," Brad allowed. "But you're in a weakened physical state at the moment so it wouldn't be as easy as you think. Plus, even if you were in top form, I'm taller than you and alot heavier. I was a line backer in college. So you won't make it past me to get to the door."
"There is that," Zander drawled, as he stretched his arms over his head.
Brad cleared his throat. "Now...let me tell you about myself and why I became a psychologist."
Zander was surprised. "You're not a psychiatrist?"
"Nope. No medical background. Is that a problem?"
"Not for me. I don't give two shits about you either way. You're just another person trying to get inside my head."
Brad nodded. "True. And you don't want me there."
Zander smirked. "You don't want to be there. Trust me."
"Dark and scary place?"
"Whatever." Zander plucked at the bedspread.
Brad knew that the kid was agitated but trying to play it cool. Zander really didn't want anyone too close. He was hiding things he wanted to keep hidden. Brad had talked with Gail, Nikolas and Jason and had read Zander's file. The kid was a mess. He needed help and Brad was determined to give it to him. "I might be the one person who understands what you're going through, Zander," Brad declared.
Zander looked up at him. "Yeah? How do you figure?"
"Because I was raped." Brad made the announcement and carefully watched Zander for a reaction. The hazel eyes opened wide, but then they shuttered. Zander wasn't giving anything away if he could help it. But he knew he had surprised him. "It happened in college and I changed my major because of it."
"I'm happy for you." Sarcasm oozed from Zander.
Brad took a moment to consider his next move. He had learned one thing about Zander Smith from talking to the people who knew him best. Zander was extremely direct. He was all about getting in a person's face and calling them on their shit. He was honest to a fault, not caring if the truth hurt. Even when it hurt himself. But Brad also sensed that people had often kept the truth from Zander. That he had been battered with lies for too long. And that he had learned to lie to himself. It was time to be blunt. "Do you like sex?"
Zander snorted. "Who doesn't?"
"Do you prefer sex with men or with women?"
"What difference does it make?" Zander shot back. "The end result is the same."
Brad shook his head. "Not really. Not for you. When you're with women you fuck, when you're with men YOU get fucked. Big difference."
Zander glared at Brad, then he shook his head. "I get what you're trying to do, okay? Shock value. I'll save you the trouble. Sex with women is amazing. Sex with Nikolas is great. Getting fucked I can live without."
"What about being raped?"
Brad leaned in and spoke slowly and clearly. "Did you enjoy being raped?"
Zander jerked as if slapped then caught himself. He ran his fingers through his hair then shot back, "Did you?"
"No. I didn't like it," Brad replied, without hesitation. "Three guys held me down while another guy shoved his cock in my ass. And they did it on a dare. To get into a fraternity. Omega house to be exact. They were stoned and stupid and I paid the price."
Brad could tell that Zander was surprised at himself for asking the question. "I was the big jock on campus. They scored more points for raping me. They were the geeks."
Zander went back to plucking at the blanket. "Are we done now?"
"When you answer the question."
"I'm an exotic dancer. I'm available for a price. It's all about sex. It's fucking…plain and simple."
Brad reached out and gripped Zander by the chin, forcing him to look at him. He felt Zander pull away, but the hazel eyes locked on his face. "If you wanted it, then it's sex, Zander. If you didn't, it's rape."
Zander laughed, a cold sound without humor. "Men pay me to have sex with them. They pay me for the privilege of shoving their cocks up my ass. Get it?"
"So you like it?"
"I like the money."
Brad stood up and slid the stool off to the side. "You don't strike me as the monetary type, Zander. Or the type to make a living as an exotic dancer."
Zander smiled. "You don't know me. If you did you'd know you can't judge me on appearances."
"I guess you're right." Brad reached out and grabbed the straps for the restraints.
Brad could hear the desperation in Zander's tone and he could guess what it had cost him to beg. "Can I trust you?"
Zander shrugged. "Probably not."
"Tell you what. Take a chance on me and I'll take a chance on you."
"What the fuck does that mean?"
Brad grinned. "You promise to stay put and I won't put the restraints back on and I'll tell the staff not to put you back in them when I'm gone. Deal?"
Zander made a face then nodded. "Fine. I'll stay. For now."
"Good. I'll see you later." That said, Brad left the room. Once outside the door he moved to lean against the wall. It had been an interesting session. Brad liked Zander. But the kid was broken. Lucky for him, Brad liked to fix things. And he had the patience needed to put all the pieces back the way they belonged.
* * * * *
Sonny was more than a little surprised to see Alexis on his doorstep. "Something I can do for you?" he asked.
Alexis pushed him aside and strode into the penthouse. "You bet. You can tell me what the hell you're doing to Zander."
"I don't know what you mean," Sonny replied. Although he knew all too well what she was getting at.
"Don't you lie to me you little bastard!" Alexis was in a full blown rage. "I know that you are the reason Zander works at Hot Zone. He never would have become an exotic dancer on his own. And ever since he started working there for you, his life has fallen apart. He's a mess Sonny. And he's scared. And he's never going to get better and be able to have a life with Nikolas, a life he deserves, unless you let him go."
Sonny smiled at Alexis. He was angry that she was getting in his face, but he would let it slide. To do anything more would arouse more suspicion. "Zander chooses to work for me. It's that simple."
Alexis shook her head. "You made him do this."
"I offered Zander a chance at making alot of money. Way more money than from working at my warehouse. He was surprised by the suggestion at first, but I told him to give it a shot. I knew he had potential."
"Potential for what? To be a whore?" Alexis was disgusted. "I'm sure he makes you alot of money, Sonny. But you do realize that while other people are raping his body...you're raping his soul."
Sonny sighed. "You don't know what you're talking about, Alexis. But this conversation is over. I have work to do."
Alexis headed for the door. "I'll go, but this isn't over, Sonny. Not by a long shot. I will find out everything, believe it. And when I do...I will make you pay." With that warning, Alexis yanked open the door and stormed out.
"Fuck," Sonny whispered, as he watched her go. Alexis was in full Cassadine mode now and Sonny knew that meant trouble.
© Shelly 2004