Zander looked at the man standing before him. "What are you doing here?" he asked.
"I could ask you that same question, Alex."
"Zander. I go by Zander now." Rubbing his face with one hand, Zander closed his eyes, wishing he could just disappear. Seeing his Uncle brought back too many memories. Better than most memories Zander had of his childhood, but bittersweet all the same. Simon Donahue was Zander's mother’s younger brother. Zander had loved him as a kid, until Simon had left to fulfill his dreams of traveling and furthering his career in medicine. Zander hadn't understood why Simon had to leave him. He had been ten at the time and Simon had been a buffer between Zander and his father. His leaving had made Zander feel abandoned and achingly alone.
Simon nodded. "Okay…Zander it is. What are you doing here?"
Zander shrugged. "Passing through. How about you?"
"I live in Canada now. Long story short...along my travels I met someone, I married her, it lasted less than a year. I came out here, liked it. Made it home." Simon grabbed a chair as he spoke, placed it next to Zander's bedside and sat down. "Now...why are you here? Really."
"Just making a pit stop for now," Zander replied.
Simon sighed. "When I saw you, I almost called your mother."
Zander tensed. "But you didn't…right?"
"No…I didn't. But you should, Zander. When you ran away five years ago...it devastated her. All the more so after we found out Peter committed suicide."
"Yeah...that was quite a shocker…wasn't it?"
Simon nodded. "So…you heard about it."
Zander nodded. "Just found out."
"From who?" Simon was surprised.
"From my dad." Zander found himself blinking back tears. He scrubbed at his eyes with one hand. "I don't want to talk about this right now...okay?"
Simon studied Zander for a moment, then nodded. "Okay...lets talk about your medical history, shall we? I examined you and ran tests…you're a mess, Zander. What the hell happened to you?"
Zander didn't want to talk about it, yet it was a better topic of conversation than his father or Peter. "Well…in the space of a little over a year I've been shot twice, beat up a few times, nearly to death one time. Drugged, tossed overboard to drown. I had amnesia and most recently I overdosed and got hit by a car."
"Well…that would explain alot of my findings," Simon allowed. "When did you overdose?"
"A few months back. When I first saw..." Zander broke off. He hadn't meant to say anything.
Simon finished the sentence. "When you first saw your father?"
Zander nodded. "I want out of here. You gonna sign me out?"
"Not today," Simon replied. "Tell me more about your car accident."
"Not much I can tell you. I don't remember it. I woke up from a coma, I had physical therapy to get me walking again, and I just got rid of my wheelchair."
Simon pulled out a note pad and scribbled a few comments. "You may find yourself back in a wheelchair for a while."
Zander shook his head. "No way!" he snapped.
"I have to run some more tests, Zander. It's pretty obvious that you overdid it and now you're going to pay for it."
"Story of my life," Zander whispered.
Simon smiled. "Look...we have alot to talk about, you and I...so I'll make you a deal. You behave and let me take care of you, then you can come stay with me. I have a spare room and you can stay as long as you like. A few days...a few years. It's up to you."
Zander was tempted. Strangely enough, even though thirteen years had passed since he had last seen his Uncle, Zander felt comfortable around him. They way he had when he was a kid. "Promise me you won't call my mom?" Zander prompted.
"I promise," Simon replied. "I owe you that much. And, for the record, whatever you're running away from, Zander. And I'm guessing it has to do with your dad...I understand. I do. Because when I left thirteen years ago…that's what I was doing. Running away. And it's the reason I didn't go to Peter's funeral. Just so you know."
"So I take it you stopped running now?" Zander countered.
Simon stood up, putting the chair away. Then he locked eyes with Zander. "I'm here...alone...instead of back home with my family. What do you think?" He patted Zander on the shoulder. "Get some rest...you need it. Don't even think about trying to leave. You'll just fall on your ass and do yourself more harm than good. I'll be back later to run some tests."
Zander glared at his Uncle, but knew he spoke the truth. If he tried to get up again, he'd be lucky if he could crawl to the door. "I'm a captive patient," Zander replied.
"See you later, kid," Simon stated, then he left the room.
Zander closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep. And dreamed of Emily.
* * * * *
Emily, Lucky and Nikolas stood at the footbridge. "Zander must have come this way," Emily stated. "I just...I don't know where to start looking once we cross over. He had a life here for a while, but he never really talked about it."
Lucky gave her a quick hug. "We'll start asking around," he said. "We've got pictures of Zander...someone has to know him."
"We'll find him, Emily," Nikolas interjected.
"I know we will," she replied. "Because I won't stop looking until we do."
© Shelly 2004