Zander smirked as he watched Nikolas descend the stairs. "Look who's here. I figured you'd show up sooner or later."
Nikolas grimaced. "You should've run when you had the chance, Zander."
"I have a better idea. I'm going to knock you out, I'm going to take Emily, and I'm going to leave town."
"You don't want to do this, Zander."
Zander glared at Nikolas. "We'll see," he hissed, then took a swing at him with the lead pipe he was holding. Direct hit.
Nikolas groaned and clutched his side. "Give it up, Zander. There isn't anywhere for you to go."
"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" He took another swing and missed, then another and Nikolas was ready for him. Zander felt himself being shoved and then his head connected with the electrical box. He saw stars, then darkness swirled over him, dragging him down.
* * * * *
"Zander? Zander...open your eyes, baby."
He knew he had to be dreaming and he didn't want to wake up. It had been so long since Emily had called him baby. But she sounded so sad that after a while he obeyed her and opened his eyes. A blurred figure loomed over him and Zander had to blink a few times to bring it into focus. It was Emily. His Emily.
She smiled at him and reached out with a shaky hand to touch his face. "I knew you would come back to me, Zander. I knew you would." Emily then pulled back and ran from the room.
Zander wanted to yell at her not to go, not to leave him, but he couldn't seem to make a sound. He tried to follow her but he couldn't move and he looked down and realized he was in a hospital bed. Which made no sense. The last thing he remembered he had been in the basement of the Port Charles hotel, exchanging words with Nikolas. But suddenly he was in a hospital bed with tubes and wires hooked up to him. Zander felt panic wash over him. Something was wrong.
He saw Monica Quartermaine approaching. She had a pen light in her hand and when she reached him she shone it in his eyes. Zander tried to turn his head.
Monica frowned. "Do you know who I am?"
"Do you know where you are?"
Zander tried to form the words, but it was as if they were stuck in his throat. Panic hit him again and he rolled his head against the pillow in frustration.
Monica patted his shoulder. "It's okay, Zander. You'll be okay. You're in General Hospital and you're safe. I want you to rest, okay? I'm going to examine you then you need to sleep and we'll talk about what happened later."
"Can I stay with him, mom?"
Zander was relieved to hear Emily's voice. Her presence still made no sense to him. She was with Nikolas now. But Zander didn't want to question it. She made him feel safe. When he felt her hand close over his, Zander felt at peace and he welcomed the warm darkness that drifted over him.
* * * * *
Zander spent two days in and out of a gray type fog. The only real focus he had was on Emily. He was aware of her his every waking moment. And she was the one who told him about his accident. At first Zander just listened to her talk, but once he was able to speak again, albeit in a hoarse whisper, he started to ask questions. Questions that made Emily look scared.
"Where is Nikolas?"
"I don't know. Did you want to see him?"
Zander shook his head. "Why aren't you with him?"
Emily frowned. "Why would I be?"
"You love him." Zander had to get that out, even though it hurt to say it.
"Of course I love him," Emily replied. "He's my friend."
Zander felt the sting of tears and he blinked them back. Emily was lying to him again. "I'm tired," he whispered.
Emily leaned in to kiss his cheek. "Get some sleep. I'll be here when you wake up."
* * * * *
Emily kept her word but Zander sent her away. He needed to talk to someone who would tell him the truth, so he asked for his father. Who looked surprised when he entered the room.
"What happened to me?" Zander asked, without preamble.
"What do you mean?" Cameron countered, as he pulled a stool next to the bed and sat down.
Zander felt frustration wash over him and he ran his fingers through his hair only to realize something. His bangs were hanging in his eyes. But that didn't make sense. He had cut his hair months ago. It had been cut when he married Emily. "Emily told me I was hit by a car."
Cameron nodded. "You were."
"But I shot myself...in the leg. And where are the cops? Why aren't I in jail?"
"Alexander...what the hell are you talking about?"
Zander shook his head. "You tell me. Why am I here?"
Cameron sighed. "You were hit by a car. I'm sure Emily told you all about it."
"I want you to tell me."
"All right." Cameron scratched at his beard then did as he was asked. "You and Emily were leaving Kelly's. You were walking to your car when a guy swerved and came at you, he was driving drunk. You pushed Emily out of the way and the car hit you. You suffered internal injuries and head trauma and you slipped into a coma. You woke up from it almost a week ago."
Zander wanted to believe his father, but the story didn't fit into his memories. "How long was I out of it?"
Cameron narrowed his eyes. "Two months."
"I don't believe you."
"Why aren't I surprised?" Cameron rose from the stool. "Look, Alexander. I released you from the hospital after your overdose. A few days later Emily came home. Two days later you were hit by that car. That's the truth, whether you want to believe me or not."
Zander rubbed a hand over his eyes. He hated the fact that he always felt tired. Monica Quartermaine had told him that it would take time for him to be back to full strength, because his body had been dormant for so long. But he didn't believe her. "I was shot in the leg and you took out the bullet." Zander shot the words at his father, almost accusingly.
Cameron sighed then he yanked back the covers to reveal his son's legs. "I don't see any bullet wounds. Do you?"
"No...no..." Zander felt panic wash over him again. He rubbed at his legs and not for the first time. He had checked for a wound before and it scared him that there wasn't one. He could almost feel the pain of it in his right thigh. "I want to talk to Elizabeth."
"You're in luck," Cameron drawled. "She happens to be outside with Emily. I'll send her in." That said, Cameron exited the room.
Zander pulled the covers back up. He was shivering and not from the cold. He watched the doorway and smiled when Elizabeth appeared. "Hey," Zander said in greeting.
Elizabeth moved towards the bed. "Hey, Zander. It's good to see you. I would have come sooner but Dr. Quartermaine thought it would be best to limit visitors for a while. But your...dad...said you wanted to see me." Elizabeth shook her head. "I can't believe that Dr. Lewis is your father."
"Yeah...me either." Zander ran his fingers through his hair again, then he tugged on his bangs. "Um...this is going to seem like a weird question but...are you pregnant?"
"No...no I’m not. Why?"
Zander frowned. "We didn't have sex?"
It was Elizabeth's turn to frown. "Well…yeah...we did. A year ago. Zander...what's going on?"
"I don't know." Zander blinked back tears. He was so damn confused. "Nothing makes sense. Nothing. Tell me the truth, Elizabeth."
"The truth about what?"
Zander locked eyes with her. "About Emily and Nikolas. They love each other, right?"
Elizabeth smiled. "Of course they do, Zander. They've been friends forever."
"No…that's not what I mean. I mean…they're IN love. Emily and I got divorced because I caught them together in our house. Halloween night. Then you and I...we talked at Jake’s..."
"Whoa…Zander…wait a minute." Elizabeth held up a hand to stop him. "You and Emily never got married. When would you have had the chance? She just got back a few months ago and you got hurt. And it's not even Halloween yet."
Zander buried his face in his hands. "Emily came home and she was sick. She has cancer...and she was afraid she was going to die so she lied to me about it. She lied...and everything fell apart between us. Because of Nikolas. Because she loves him and not me…" Zander stopped when he sensed a presence and he looked up to see Emily standing in the doorway. She looked stunned. Zander looked away.
Emily moved to his side and took his face in both hands. "I don't have cancer, Zander. And I don't love Nikolas. I love you...only you."
"I don't believe you," Zander whispered. He wanted to believe her but he couldn't risk it. "I saw the pictures of the two of you in our cottage. And then I walked in on you...Halloween night."
"Zander…" Emily stroked the hair off his forehead. "Nikolas and I are just friends. I had a crush on him a couple of years ago, but that was all it was. He doesn't love me that way. In fact...he and Gia are kind of working their way towards getting back together."
Zander shook his head. "Why are you lying to me? Why is everyone lying to me!"
Emily looked at Elizabeth, fear in her eyes. "Zander...what do I have to do to convince you? I love you. I came back home to be with you."
"But what about the cancer? And everything fell apart between us. I went to work for Faith Roscoe. I blew up Nikolas' freighter." Zander had more to say but broke off as he heard a familiar voice out in the hallway. Nikolas.
"Can we come in?"
Another familiar voice. Gia. Zander watched as she and Nikolas entered his room, hand in hand.
Zander glared at them both. They were obviously putting on a show to mess with him.
"Uh...I think I'll go," Nikolas said softly. He turned to Gia. "My Uncle is waiting for me. I'll meet you later at Kelly's."
"Okay." Gia kissed Nikolas back. "Say hi to Stefan for me."
Zander felt like he had been slapped in the face. He felt himself grow pale and he heard Emily calling his name. He blinked then looked at her, seeing concern shining in her eyes.
Emily touched Zander's face. "Are you all right? You look like you've just seen a ghost."
"Sort of," Zander allowed. "This is getting sick. All the lies."
"What are you talking about?" It was Gia who asked the question.
Zander glared at her. "All your talk about Stefan Cassadine."
Gia frowned. "What about it?"
"He's dead!" Zander snapped, then silence filled the room.
* * * * *
"What's wrong with Zander?" Emily asked Dr. Baldwin. They were in her office and Emily was shaking. After Zander had made his announcement about Stefan Cassadine being dead, he had glared at everyone in the room and they had all tried to reassure him that Stefan was very much alive. Zander had freaked and in the end Emily's mother had been forced to sedate him.
Gail smiled at Emily. "Well…I'm only guessing at this point, since I haven't had the chance to talk to him myself. But from what you and his father have told me, Zander is suffering from a type of memory transference."
Emily frowned. "Which means what in layman's terms?"
"It happens sometimes when people slip into a comatose state. They live out a dream reality. Everything that Zander believes happened is very real to him."
"So how do we convince him it's not?" Emily could hear the desperation in her voice. She wanted Zander to be all right. She wanted to finally get the chance to start over with him. But he didn't even believe that she loved him anymore.
Gail sighed. "I can't answer that for you right now, Emily. I have to talk to Zander first. After he tells me his version of reality, then I'll try to help ease him into accepting the truth."
Emily nodded then wiped away a tear. "He's going to be all right, though…isn't he? I mean...he's not going crazy or anything."
"I'll know more after I talk to him."
"What can I do to help Zander?"
Gail stood up and patted Emily's shoulder. "Just love him."
© Shelly 2004