Zander glared at his father, waiting for a response. "Come on, Dad. Let's put it all out in the open. Say what you want to say to me. Say everything," he invited.
Cameron shook his head. "Why bother, Alexander? You won't listen to me anyway."
"I don't get it, dad...I really don't." Zander moved closer to his father, feeling his body shake at the intensity of his emotions. "What do you want from me? Huh? I know that you hate me...you made that perfectly clear early on. Even then I knew you loved Peter and hated me. And I get that you want me dead. I got the message the first time you told me. At the PCPD. Remember?"
"I remember," Cameron drawled.
Zander remembered as well and just the memory of his father saying those words to him, cut into him like a knife. "So what now? Do you want me to overdose again and get it right this time? Or…wait…got a scalpel handy? I could slice my wrists open and you can watch me bleed to death. And finish me off if I happen to fuck that up too. You can watch me bleed to death the way we watched...we watched...Peter.." Zander's voice broke as tears welled up in his eyes. He swiped them away with the back of one hand and gathered his composure. Then he locked eyes with his father as he spat, "I know that Peter was perfect in every way...and that I was the unholy mistake, dad...but --"
Cameron cut through Zander's words to announce, "You didn't kill your brother."
"What?" Zander was stunned by what he heard. He couldn't have heard it right.
"Peter killed himself," Cameron replied. "He committed suicide."
Zander shook his head. "No...no! I was there...I fired a shot and Peter died. I killed him..." Zander had to believe that. Peter would never take his own life.
Cameron's eyes were glassy as he faced his son. "Your brother left a journal. I found it about a month after we buried him. He planned out everything that happened that day. He wanted us there because he didn't want to die alone. He thought you would understand that."
"No…" Zander felt his knees buckle and he clutched at a nearby post to keep upright. "I don't believe you."
"Believe what you want...but it's the truth."
Zander rubbed at his forehead, trying to make sense of something that couldn't make sense. "But....but you let me believe I killed him. You let me believe that for five years...dad. You didn't try to find me. And when you saw me again....you still wanted me dead. You still treated me like I had killed your precious son. I don't get it..."
Cameron turned away. "It should have been you that died, Alexander," he said over his shoulder. "Peter had everything to live for. You're nothing in comparison."
"YOU SHUT UP!" Emily came out of the shadows, where she had been listening to the exchange between Zander and his father, and she was in a rage. She got in Cameron's face. "What kind of person are you? You're a father and a psychiatrist and you can say these awful things to your own son? You're the one who's nothing!"
"This doesn't concern you," Cameron replied, unfazed by her anger.
Emily shook with fury. There were no words she could say to this man. So she slapped him, with all her might, feeling satisfaction at seeing the handprint that marred his cheek. "You're a pitiful excuse for a human being!" Emily hissed at him, then she turned to seek out Zander. But the dock was empty. "Zander?" she called out. Then she ran for the stairs. She had to find him.
* * * * *
Zander ran off once Emily appeared on the docks. He realized she must have heard everything and he couldn't face her. How could he? If his own father could wish him dead even knowing the truth about Peter's suicide, then what was Zander supposed to believe about himself? What kind of person was he? Emily deserved better.
The need to run drove Zander. He headed for Jake’s. He still had clothes there and a stash of cash. When he had agreed to move in with the Quartermaines it had been with the understanding that he would still keep his room at Jake’s. It had made Zander feel less of a charity case knowing that he still had a place of his own. So he went there, packed a bag, grabbed the cash he had and headed for the bus station. There was nothing left for him here.
* * * * *
"Have you seen Zander?" Emily ran into Kelly's and found Elizabeth behind the counter.
Elizabeth shook her head. "No. I thought he was with you? I saw you guys with Nikolas and Gia earlier."
Emily nodded. "He was with me...but he had a confrontation with his father and it was bad...it was so ugly. The things his father said…" Emily broke off and she realized she was still shaking just thinking about it. "Zander has got to be a mess right now. He's going to need me."
"I'm sorry, Em. He hasn't been in here. But he can't go far, right? He doesn't have his car and he's not back to full strength yet."
"I know...but I'm not sure where to look for him. And Zander is good at hiding when he wants to be." Emily wiped fresh tears off her face. "If you see him, call me?"
Elizabeth smiled and reached out to pat Emily's hand. "You know I will. Good luck."
Emily thanked Elizabeth then ran out. She had a bad feeling about this.
* * * * *
Zander closed his eyes as the bus pulled out of the terminal. He was heading North. "I'm sorry, Emily" he whispered. "Please forgive me." A lone tear slid down his face and Zander let it fall.
* * * * *
Emily called everyone she could think of. No one had seen Zander. Lucky and Nikolas and Gia all helped her look. And then Lucky asked if she had tried Jake’s. She hadn't. They drove her there and Coleman told them that Zander had come and gone, over six hours ago.
"Did he say where he was going?" Emily asked, desperation in her voice.
"He didn't say a word," Coleman replied. "He looked kinda…shell-shocked. I called his name and he didn't even hear me."
Emily turned to her friends. "We have to find him!"
Lucky hugged Emily. "We will," he promised.
Then the foursome left. Time was running out.
* * * * *
Zander managed to doze on the bus. His legs ached a bit and he should have been hungry, but the empty feeling inside him had nothing to do with lack of food. He felt like his heart had been ripped out of his chest. His heart and his soul. He had nothing left.
When they crossed the border into Canada, Zander felt a sense of relief. He could disappear here. No one would miss him. Emily would be sad for a while, but she had family and friends. She would move on. The doors to the bus opened and Zander let everyone go past him. He exited last, on shaky legs. He headed for the men's room first thing to splash cold water on his face and figure out where he wanted to go next. Nothing made sense anymore.
His father's words came back to haunt Zander. All of them painful. All of them a reminder of how much he hated Zander. "I'm sorry…" Zander whispered, as he gripped the sink until his knuckles showed white. He wasn't even sure what he was apologizing for, or who he was apologizing to. Maybe to himself for not having the courage to move past this. To simply not give a shit that his father never loved him. That he had never been good enough to deserve that love. Pushing away from the sink, Zander grabbed his bag and made to leave, but his knees buckled as dizziness washed over him. Silvery lights danced before his eyes, and a moment later the world went black.
* * * * *
Emily was in tears. She told her parents about what had happened, about what she had heard Cameron say to Zander. They were stunned and more than willing to help her find Zander. But so far no luck. Lucky and Nikolas were at the bus terminal, with a picture of Zander, hoping someone remembered him. But Emily was starting to give up hope. Then her phone rang. "Yes?"
"It's Nikolas. We got lucky, Emily. Zander took a bus. North."
"Canada!" Emily should have known that was where he would go. "Thank you, Nikolas."
"I take it you're going after him?"
"I have to find him," Emily replied.
"We'll come with you," Nikolas stated. "You're not going alone."
Emily was glad. "You're the best," she said, then she hung up and turned to her parents. "Zander bought a bus ticket to Canada. I have to pack."
Monica hugged her. "I'll help you."
They climbed the stairs together and Emily's tears faded. She would find Zander and bring him home."
* * * * *
Zander came awake slowly. He felt a hand in his hair and he whispered, "Emily?"
"Nancy." A soft voice replied.
Zander's eyes flew open. A woman was smiling at him. She had blond hair and blue eyes and was wearing a white uniform. An all too familiar uniform. She was nurse, which meant he was in a hospital. Again. Zander tried to sit up but she held him with a hand on his chest. "What happened?"
Nancy smiled warmly. "You passed out in the men's room at the bus terminal. Someone found you and called for help. So here you are, Mr. Smith. Or may I call you Zander?" At his surprised look she added, "We read your license."
"Right." Zander should have guessed that. "How long have I been here?"
"About ten hours. You were exhausted and dehydrated and I'm going to get you something to eat." Nancy fussed with the covers as she spoke.
Zander shook his head. "I'm not staying here. I have to go." To prove his point he nudged her hands away, pushed back the covers and slid out of bed. And would have hit the floor had she not caught him. His legs fell like jelly and a bit numb. "Shit!" Zander cursed.
Nancy helped him back into bed. "Rest and the doctor will be in to see you soon." She smiled as she fixed the covers over him, then she left the room.
Zander closed his eyes, resisting the urge to find something he could throw. He heard footsteps and looked up as the doctor entered the room. As he approached the bed, Zander felt himself go pale.
"Hello, Alex," the man said softly. "Long time no see."
© Shelly 2004