Zander glared at Dr. Baldwin. He was not a happy camper. After his freak out and being sedated, Zander had woken up to find himself in restraints. It felt like déjà vu, especially when his father had come in to see him, smirking all the while. Zander blamed his father for part of the mess his life had become in the end. Zander had been all set to leave town, to leave Emily to be with Nikolas, when his father had convinced him to forgive Emily the way she had forgiven him in the past. So Zander had stayed and his life had fallen apart.
"Tell me what you remember," Gail prompted Zander.
Gail locked eyes with Zander. "You want to understand what's happening, don't you, Zander? I want to help you to understand. But I need to know what you remember to do that. Okay?"
Zander did want to understand. Nothing made sense. All the lies. No bullet wound in his leg. Emily professing her love to him. It was insane. He nodded. "Okay...I remember Emily coming back home. I saw her, outside of Kelly's. It was such a beautiful moment." He broke off, remembering it with sadness. It had been the beginning of the end for him and Emily.
"Go on," Gail prompted.
"In a nutshell...from that moment on, Emily began to push me away. Lie to me. She told me I got her hooked back on drugs, but she was taking some experimental stuff because of her cancer."
Gail held up a hand to stop Zander for a moment. "Emily and her mother told you that Emily does not have cancer, Zander. Do you believe that?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. I want to believe that."
"Okay...continue. What do you remember next?"
"She got engaged to Nikolas. I crashed the engagement party at Wyndemere. That was the night that Summer died."
Gail frowned and made a few notes. "What else happened?"
Zander tugged at his restraints, wishing he could run a hand through his hair. It was falling in his eyes, driving him nuts. He remembered getting it cut so it kind of freaked him out as well. He hadn't cut it for the longest time because Emily had asked him not to. But then Zander had cut it on impulse, in a moment of feeling angry at Emily's lies. And yet it was long, which made no sense. "Um...eventually Gia kind of forced Emily to tell me the truth about her cancer. Gia and Nikolas knew about it. Emily told Nikolas and asked him to pretend to be in love with her."
"Why would she do that?"
"She said it was to protect me from being hurt. To push me away so that it wouldn't hurt me so much when she died." Zander shook his head and blinked against the burn of tears. "As if pushing me away would make me stop loving her. I could never stop loving her. I didn't...even after everything that happened. In fact...I went a little bit insane."
Gail scribbled a few more notes. "Let's go back a bit."
Zander nodded. "Sure…how about going back to when Nikolas and Emily fell in love."
"But they're not in love, Zander. Emily loves you and Nikolas and Gia are together."
"Gia left town." Zander remembered that suddenly. "We slept...I mean...she and Nikolas kinda broke up because of me. Because she had some feelings for me and she was mad at Nikolas and stuff. Eventually she left town."
Gail smiled and said gently. "But Gia is still here. She never left Port Charles."
Zander closed his eyes. "Yeah...I know she's still here. I know that she and Nikolas are acting like they're together. It doesn't make sense."
"I explained to you what happens to some coma patients, Zander," Gail countered. "Do you believe that?"
"I don't know. I asked my dad about it. He told me the same thing."
Gail studied Zander for a moment. "Okay...keep talking. What else happened?"
Zander felt an ache in his temples and wished he could rub it. He tugged on the restraints again. "Would you please take these off? I promise to behave."
"Okay." Gail stood up and undid the restraints.
"Thank you." Zander rubbed his temples then he heaved a sigh and continued. "Emily got really sick, she got meningitis and she almost died. We got married, but she did it only because she thought she was going to die so she wanted me to have the marriage as a kind of...gift."
Gail stopped him again. "Would it help to talk to the town clerk? They would tell you that there is no marriage license on register for you and Emily."
Zander nodded. "Yeah...I know. Alexis already did that for me."
"Do you believe her?"
"I guess I should." Zander didn't want to do this anymore.
Gail made another notation. "Do you?" she prompted.
Zander shrugged again. "I don't know."
"Well...to fill in a few quick details. At one point Nikolas was married to this chick named Lydia. Long story. They got divorced and then I ended up catching Nikolas and Emily making out in the cottage that was supposed to me mine and Emily's home. Halloween night."
Gail stopped him again. "It's not Halloween yet, Zander. Not for months."
He nodded. He knew that. Everyone had told him that. Emily had even shown him a calendar and Zander had tested her word by asking several nurses what month it was. They all gave him the same answer. "Anyway...I slept with Elizabeth, which she insists never happened. Other than the first time. She's not pregnant with my baby. I don't work for Faith Roscoe. I didn't blow up Nikolas's freighter. I wasn't on the run for Shooting Brian Beck -"
"Who is Brian Beck?" Gail interjected.
Gail frowned and made a notation. "Your father told me your story about shooting yourself in the leg when your gun jammed during a confrontation with Jax."
Zander found himself rubbing his right thigh and stopped himself. "Yeah...and I don't have a bullet wound. Doesn't change the fact that it happened. I swear it all happened."
"I know it feels like it did, Zander." Gail closed her notebook. "Do you believe me when I tell you that it happened only in your mind?"
"I want to believe that, I do. Because it means Emily did come back to be with me. But everything I told you about…it's so real." Zander felt the burn of tears again and he rubbed his eyes. He was so tired. He wished he could go to sleep and wake up and *know* that this was all just a dream. But it didn't feel that way in his heart or in his head.
Gail stood up. "Is there anyone you can think of who, if you talked to them and they told you it didn't happen...that you would believe?"
Zander thought about it for a minute and one person came to mind. "Maxie Jones."
"I'll get her," Gail replied, then she exited the room.
* * * * *
Zander studied Maxie. She looked a little nervous as she stood next to his bed, with Dr. Baldwin beside her. Zander didn't blame her. He felt nervous too. Whatever she told him, he knew he would believe. He had to believe her. Whether what he remembered was a reality or not, the one thing Zander knew for certain was that it would be the truth. Somehow, instinctively, he just knew he could trust her to be honest with him.
Gail patted Maxie's shoulder. "You okay with this?" she asked the girl.
Maxie nodded. "Sure. I want to help, if I can."
"Okay then." Gail looked at Zander. "Go ahead, tell her what you remember."
"Right." Zander took a deep breath, expelled it slowly, then began. "I got shot, in the leg. I came here to confront Brian Beck about identifying me as his shooter. Lucky was here and some other cops. You followed me into the elevator and you covered for me. Actually...you did more than that, before that..." Zander broke off to gather his thoughts, then he locked eyes with Maxie. "You hid me in your room.....and...we danced. You had a school dance but no date and because you helped me...I asked you to dance. And I told you how I danced with a girl under a street light and that it was real." Zander fought back tears at the memory of dancing with Emily. "Did that happen?"
Maxie shook her head. "No...no it didn't."
Zander believed her and it shook him. Nothing made sense to him anymore. "We did talk before though…right?"
"Yeah...about a year ago or so. Here at the hospital. There was a power outage and you were kinda beat up." Maxie half smiled. "You stopped a bar fight and Dr. Quartermaine fixed you up. She thought you started the fight and you told me what really happened. And I told you..."
"About your heart." Zander remembered it clearly. "I called you jailbait."
Maxie blushed. "Yeah."
Zander managed a wobbly smile. "Thanks, Maxie."
"Did I help?"
"Yeah…I think you did." Zander brushed a hand over his eyes then looked at Dr. Baldwin.
She got the hint. "Thank you, Maxie. You can go now." Gail escorted her out then closed the door. She pulled the stool up to the bed and sat down. "Are you okay, Zander?"
He heaved a shaky breath and shook his head. "No."
"What are you feeling right now?"
"Scared and confused.." He swiped at his eyes again. "Why would I dream all of that stuff? I hurt Emily. I almost blew her up...I scared her a couple of times. I was so angry and I hurt people...I was worse than before I met her. I was so fucked up about her. I would have done anything to keep her, even though she didn't love me anymore..." A tear slid down Zander's face and he brushed it away. "What the fuck is wrong with me?"
Gail reached out and touched his arm. "I think that everyone has a darkness in them, Zander. And your subconscious mind let that darkness out in response to losing Emily. It's the way you feel about yourself. The way you see yourself. You believe that the only reason you can be a good person is if Emily loves you."
Zander nodded. "It's true. She made me a good person."
"I don't think that's how it works, Zander. When you fell in love with Emily and she loved you back...you wanted to be a good person because of that. Big difference."
"Not really." Zander felt more tears slide down his face and he closed his eyes. "I'm tired. I don't want to talk anymore."
Gail stood up. "Okay...I'll be back later. If you need me, call the nurse."
Zander nodded. "Thanks." He listened to her walk away and when he knew he was alone again, Zander ripped out his IV, pulled back the covers and tried to stand. His muscles quivered at the effort it took to just slide his legs over the side of the bed. He was coated in a cold sweat and breathing hard by the time he pushed off onto his feet. Only his legs wouldn't hold him and Zander hit the floor, hard. He lay there for a moment, then he tried to get up. His body betrayed him and Zander screamed his frustration.
© Shelly 2004