Zander was nervous. He had showered and changed into jeans and a pullover and he had wanted to be able to greet Emily on his feet, but no such luck. His workout had done him in and his legs felt like jelly when he tried to stand. So he resigned himself to being in the wheelchair and hoped that Emily wouldn't be disappointed with him. Zander had just wheeled himself out into the living room when Simon announced,
"They must have broken all speed limits," Zander replied.
Simon smiled at him. "I'm sure they did, but you took a while getting ready, kiddo. You don't move so fast right now, remember?"
Zander sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah...how could I forget." He heard footsteps on the porch and moved his chair forward.
"Ready?" Simon asked, as he moved to open the door.
"Ready as I'll ever be," Zander replied. He watched Simon open the door before anyone could knock and then he saw her. His Emily. She was in the door and running towards him. Then she was on his lap and in his arms and Zander held on tight. He closed his eyes against the sting of tears. Everything that had been so wrong, suddenly felt right.
Emily hugged Zander tight, then she pulled back to rain kisses over his face, then she stopped to simply look at him. "I love you," she whispered.
Zander managed a watery smile as he wiped a tear off her cheek with the pad of his thumb. "I love you too," he replied. "I'm sorry, Em."
"Shh...no apologies." She smoothed a lock of hair off his forehead. "I know why you left...I understand. But I was so worried about you, Zander. Are you okay?"
Emily studied him for a moment. "You're back in the chair."
Zander nodded. "Yeah...I overdid it, but I'll work my way back out again."
"I know you will." Emily kissed him again then said, "So...what are you doing here?"
Well...long story short…Simon is my Uncle. My mom's little brother." Zander smiled at his Uncle and gestured for him to come over.
Simon had been chatting with Lucky and Nikolas, but now he smiled at Zander and the beautiful girl who was sitting on his lap. "Nice to meet you, Emily," Simon said, holding out his right hand.
"Nice to meet you too," she replied. "Thank you for taking care of Zander."
"You don't have to thank me for that...he's family. But you're welcome."
Emily looked at Nikolas and Lucky. "You met my friends?"
Simon nodded. "Nice guys."
"Yeah…they are." Emily looked back at Zander. "They stuck with me all the way. They helped me find you."
"I'm glad," Zander said, and he meant it.
Emily nodded. "So…what happens now, Zander?"
Simon raised a hand to interject. "I have a suggestion. Why don't you guys stay here for a while. Zander is just getting back into the swing of things, therapy wise, and I'd hate to mess that up."
"That works for me," Emily stated. "If you're sure it's no trouble."
"No trouble at all." Simon grinned. "I'm assuming you want to room with Zander?" At Emily's blush and Zander's nod he continued. "And Nikolas and Lucky can stay in the attic room."
Nikolas spoke up. "Actually...I think we're going to head back to Port Charles."
Emily was surprised. "Right now?"
"Yeah. We've completed our mission. We found Zander...and now I think you two need some time together." Nikolas grinned at Emily.
"Thank you," she said.
Nikolas nodded. "You're welcome." He looked at Zander. "Take care."
Zander smiled at him. "Thanks. And thank you for watching out for Emily. I owe you. Both of you."
"We'll collect later," Lucky replied, then he and Nikolas said goodbye to Simon before heading out.
"Any luggage?" Simon asked Emily.
She nodded. "In the car."
Simon headed for the door. "I'll get it for you." He hurried after Nikolas and Lucky.
"Alone at last," Emily sighed, shifting her attention back to Zander. "God I missed you."
"I missed you too. So much." Zander kissed her again then tangled his fingers in her soft hair. "Nothing in my life makes sense without you, Emily."
She smiled softly. "I know the feeling. Zander...I'm so sorry about what your father said to you. I can't believe he let you believe that you killed your brother for all these years. He's a horrible man."
Zander shrugged. "I was never much of a son, anyway."
"Don't you do that!" Emily gripped Zander's face in both hands, her eyes locked on his. "Don't put the blame for what your father said and for the way he treats you on yourself. He needs help, Zander. It boggles my mind that he's a psychiatrist, yet he's tortured you on an emotional level for years."
"Doesn't matter now," Zander replied, hugging Emily to him as tightly as he could. He didn't care about his father in this moment. All he cared about was the fact that Emily was in his arms. Nothing else mattered. Nothing else ever would.
Emily hugged him back. "It does matter," she whispered. "Because you matter."
Zander felt her love wrap around him and he blinked back tears.
* * * * *
Simon was sitting at the kitchen table when Emily entered the room. She and Zander had spent some alone time together in his room. Hours had passed. "Can I get you something to eat?" Simon offered.
Emily shook her head as she sat down across from him. "I'm not hungry."
"Yeah...he was exhausted." Emily stifled a yawn.
Simon smiled at her. "You should be sleeping too."
She nodded. "I will. I just wanted to talk to you first. To thank you again, for helping Zander. Not too many people make the effort for him."
"I wish I could have done more," Simon replied. "I wish I hadn't run away when I did." He saw Emily's surprised look and shook his head. "Long, sad story. You don't want to hear me whine."
"Is Zander going to be okay?" Emily asked. "I mean...he'll walk again, right? He didn't do any permanent damage?"
Simon got up and poured himself another cup of coffee. "He's going to have to work at it...but he'll walk again. I ran some tests and from what I can tell there's no permanent damage. He just never really let himself heal." Simon sat back down and locked eyes with Emily. "You can help him. I think he needs you more than you realize."
Emily smiled. "Yeah...I need him too. And I've been where he's at. I was in a wheelchair for a while."
"Zander told me. He blames himself for your being hurt."
"He blames himself for pretty much everything."
Simon chuckled. "Yeah. I get where he's coming from though. It's a tough cycle to break. But I think you can do it. So...you guys going to stick around for a while?"
Emily sighed. "I guess. I don't mind staying, I just don't want to put you out."
"You won't," Simon assured her. "I like the company. I'm tired of being alone. And Zander is family and I think you are too."
"Thanks." Emily rubbed at her eyes.
Simon studied her. "You really love him, don't you?"
Emily smiled and nodded. "I love him so much it almost hurts sometimes. Zander is the best thing that ever happened to me. I'm incomplete without him."
"He feels the same way about you." Simon took a sip of coffee then asked, "What if he wants to stay here? What will you do then?"
"I'll stay," Emily replied, without hesitation.
Simon was pleased. "Somehow I thought you would." He watched her fight back another yawn. "Go to bed," he chided.
Emily rose from her chair. "Good night, Simon."
"Goodnight, Emily." He watched her go then leaned back in his chair and stretched. Simon felt as if today had been a turning point in Zander's life, as well as his own. Maybe now neither one of them would ever have to be alone again.
* * * * *
Zander woke with a start. He realized he was alone and panic washed over him. "Emily!" He called out.
"I’m here." She slipped under the covers. "I'm here, baby." Emily kissed him.
"I thought...I thought I was dreaming. That maybe you weren't really here."
Emily smiled. "I am so here," she whispered.
Zander pulled her into his arms where she belonged. "Me too, baby. Me too." Then he closed his eyes and drifted back to sleep.
© Shelly 2004