Another week passed. Zander started to get antsy, even though his days were busy with the ELQ work he did from the house, and his therapy sessions. He worked hard at PT and was able to be out of his wheelchair for longer periods of time. But he still felt as if his body had betrayed him. Still, he kept pushing it and he was stronger than he let anyone know. Even Emily. He wanted to surprise them.
His counseling sessions with Gail were another matter. Zander hated every minute of them. The sessions he had been forced into after his overdose had been bad enough, but these felt even worse. Dr. Baldwin wanted Zander to talk about his childhood. To expose all his memories and thoughts of that time, leading right on up to the present. He wasn't one for talking about his feelings to anyone. Not even to Emily. And he had shared very little of his past with her. Zander didn't want to relive it, but Dr. Baldwin wouldn't let it go.
Today she was particularly pushy and Zander felt ready to snap. He was so aggravated that he pushed himself out of the wheelchair and began to pace. His knees buckled once and Zander had to grip the back of a chair to keep his balance, but then he continued pacing. "I don't want to talk about Peter!" Zander snapped. "Stop asking me about him."
"Your brother is the root of your turmoil, Zander," Dr. Baldwin countered. "You're not making any progress in these sessions because you won't face what happened in the past. You just try to bury it inside you and then it festers and becomes like an infection that you can't ever heal from."
"Nice analogy," Zander drawled, his sarcasm in overdrive. "Did you come up with it off the top of your head? Or did you spend all your free time, since last week, working on it?" He knew he was being a jerk, but he couldn't help his attitude. He resented the hell out her trying to get in his head.
Dr. Baldwin sighed. "Zander...the point of these sessions is to help you deal with your past so you can move on in the present. I can't make you deal with things. You have to be willing to help yourself."
Zander ran a hand through his hair and heaved his own sigh. "I'm sorry for being such a jerk to you," he apologize. "I just...I'm not ready for this, okay? I don't know if I ever will be. I'm having a hard enough time dealing with the present, okay? With trying to get my legs back to full use. With trying to keep my dreams separate from reality. I can't handle the past right now." Zander glanced at the clock and this time he sighed in relief. "Time is up." Zander started to head for the door.
"You forgot something," Gail called after him. When he turned she pointed to the wheelchair. "Don't overdo it, Zander."
"I know." Zander returned for the chair but ignored her warning. He pushed it out the door and left it in the hallway. Emily would be there any minute to pick him up. All he wanted to do right now was hold her in his arms. But five minutes ticked by and Zander was getting worried. He was about to call her when his cell rang. "Hello?"
Emily sounded frustrated. "I'm sorry, Zander…I'm running late. I'll be there in about twenty minutes."
Zander chuckled. "That's fine...just so long as you're okay. What happened?"
"Class ran late then I got a flat tire." Emily sighed.
"I'll see you soon," Zander countered. "I love you."
"I love you too, baby," Emily replied. Then she hung up.
Zander clipped his phone back to his belt and resigned himself to wait. He was still feeling tense about his session with Dr. Baldwin, so he decided to take a small lap down one of the hallways. It went well so he went for lap number two. By lap number three his legs were starting to feel a little rubbery, but Zander was determined, but at the half way mark he stopped dead. His father was standing in front of him. "Dad…" Zander drawled.
Cameron studied his son. "What are you doing, Alexander?"
"It's called…walking." Zander couldn't keep the sarcasm out of his voice. He hated confrontations with his father. They always ended badly.
"I meant…how did you manage to con the Quartermaines into taking you into their home? I mean really, Alexander. You kidnapped their daughter. You sold drugs. You're nothing but a low life thug." A smirk twisted Cameron's mouth. "We both know it's only a matter of time before you do something to hurt Emily and her family."
Zander felt his temper snap. "Go to hell!" he snarled. His fingers clenched into fists and Zander had to resist the urge to punch the smirk off of his father's face. When the confrontation started, Zander had let himself sag against the wall, but now he pushed off it and made to walk away. It was better to just leave then to follow through. It would just get uglier and meaner between them.
Cameron moved to block him. "Running away again, Alexander?" he taunted. "It’s what you do best. Heaven forbid you should stick around, just once, and face your problems. Problems that you created. Mistakes and messes that you made but won't fix or clean up."
"Leave me alone," Zander whispered. He didn't have the energy to do this right now. His legs were quivering, the muscles protesting being overworked, and Zander felt dizziness wash over him. He had pushed too far. But he would be damned if he'd let his father see his weakness. Zander pushed past him, took three steps, and promptly crumpled into darkness.
* * * *
Zander felt fingers combing through his hair and he opened his eyes to find Emily smiling at him.
"Hey, baby...how do you feel?"
"Fine." Zander's response was automatic. Actually, he was feeling confused. He looked around and realized he was lying on a hospital bed. And he wasn't in a treatment room. "What happened?" The last thing Zander remembered was walking away from his father. Or trying to.
Emily sighed and shifted closer to him on the bed. "Well...you collapsed in the hallway. What were you doing out of your wheelchair?"
Zander winced and rubbed a hand over his face. "I was walking off some tension," he replied, deciding that honesty was the best policy. "How long was I out?"
"About six hours." Emily brushed a stray lock off hair off of Zander's forehead. "My mom was getting worried. I should go tell her you're awake."
"Yeah...I want to get out of here."
Emily shook her head. "You're stuck here, at least over night. Um...your father said you just passed out. Is that true?"
Zander could guess what Emily was thinking, now that she knew about his turbulent relationship with his dad. "I guess. I really don't remember. We were talking for a minute and I made to leave, then I woke up here…now."
"You didn't fight?"
"There wasn't really time." Zander hedged the truth a bit.
Emily leaned in to kiss him. "Okay. I'll get my mom. Be right back."
Zander nodded. He closed his eyes while he waited for Emily to return. She came back with Monica, who asked a few questions then confirmed that he would be released tomorrow. She then left them alone. Zander opened his arms to Emily. "Come lay with me?"
"You don't have to ask twice." Emily stretched out next to Zander, her head on his chest. "I love you."
"Love you too," Zander whispered, then he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.
* * * * *
Two weeks passed and Zander accomplished several things. He managed to avoid any more confrontations with his father. He made a concentrated effort in his sessions with Dr. Baldwin, and was rewarded by her not pushing him so hard for details, which left them both feeling satisfied that he was making progress. And the big accomplishment was ditching the wheelchair for a cane.
Emily was with Zander when Bobbie handed him the cane and cautioned him to use it.
"I'll make sure he does," Emily promised, then she hugged Zander. "We should celebrate."
"Sounds good to me," he replied, hugging her back happily. "How about Kelly's for a burger?"
Emily agreed. "I'm proud of you," she said as they made their way to the elevator.
Zander grinned. "I'm proud of me too. I'm proud of the fact that I didn't push that damn wheelchair into the harbor. I don't know how you made it through, Emily. I know what you went through was alot harder than my struggle."
"Not really. I just wish you could have been with me."
"Me too." Zander kissed her cheek. "I'm sorry for all the mistakes I made and all the time we lost."
Emily pressed a fingertip to his lips. "No regrets. We're together, we're in love, you're doing great, I'm doing great, we've got our whole lives ahead of us. Life is good, Zander. Let's just concentrate on that."
Zander nodded. "Agreed. Life doesn't get any better than this, Em. Today I feel like nothing can come between us. Nothing can wreck my happiness. Nothing...and no one."
"You said it, baby. Nothing and no one," Emily echoed. Then they kissed until the elevator doors slid open.
* * * * *
When Emily and Zander got to Kelly's, Gia and Nikolas were there, sitting at an outside table.
Gia jumped up and ran to Zander to hug him. "The chair is gone. That's great," she said.
"Thanks. It feels great." Zander hugged her back.
"You two want to join us?" Nikolas offered from the table.
Emily looked at Zander and was ready to refuse.
But Zander smiled at her then looked at Nikolas. "We'd love to," he stated. And he meant it. The jealousy he had harbored towards Nikolas had faded. Zander wasn't sure how or when, but he knew he was secure in Emily's love for him now. And that was all he cared about.
"Have you guys ordered yet?" Emily asked, as they all took their seats.
"Not yet," Gia replied. "You know me...I can't make up my mind."
They laughed and looked at the menus. Zander enjoyed the lighthearted banter they all shared, until he saw a fifth party approaching. He stiffened as his father reached them.
Cameron studied the group then locked his eyes on his son. "Interesting grouping," Cameron drawled. "It must be ‘be kind to your local thug and take him out to lunch’ day in Port Charles."
Anger at the insult flared in Zander's eyes, but he wasn't going to play his father's game.
But Gia was on her feet, her eyes flashing. "Who the hell do you think you are?" she snapped at Cameron.
"Sadly, I'm the guy who sired the worthless thug," Cameron declared.
"I don't believe you were invited," Nikolas interjected, before Gia could give Cameron a piece of her mind.
Zander pushed back his chair. "Let it go," he whispered, then he walked away.
Emily glared at Cameron, then started to follow, but Nikolas caught her arm.
"Give Zander some down time," he cautioned. Then he looked at Cameron. "For the record. Zander and I aren't exactly friends, but I'd have to agree that he's a loser. He's got you for a father." Nikolas stood up and looked at Emily and Gia. "Ready to go?"
"Yeah," Gia replied. "I've lost my appetite."
Emily was already moving away. She wanted to go after Zander, but she knew Nikolas was right. Zander would need some time alone. When Nikolas and Gia joined her near the park, she brushed away her tears. "That man is a real jerk," she stated.
Gia patted her shoulder. "You have no idea. I can't believe he's a psychiatrist."
"It takes all kinds to make the world go round," Nikolas replied. He looked at Emily. "Want us to keep you company for a while?"
"No...it's okay," Emily replied. "You guys take off. I'm just gonna sit here for a few minutes then go find Zander." Emily hugged them both then watched them walk away. Then she headed back to Kelly's. If Cameron was still there she wanted to give him a piece of her mind. But all she found was Zander's cane. Emily held it to her and cried a few more tears.
* * * * *
Zander made it to the docks. He realized he had forgotten his cane. He didn't care. He paced the docks, trying to pace off his anger. He was resisting the urge to punch something when he heard footsteps approaching. He turned and his anger flared. Zander glared, then drawled, "What took you so long…dad?"
© Shelly 2004