Zander slept. A lot. His Uncle had returned and he had run several tests on Zander, all of which had exhausted him. When he woke up another day had nearly passed. It frustrated Zander to no end. He felt as if he were starting over again from the last time he had woken up in the hospital.
Simon sat on the stool next to Zander's bed and tried to give him a pep talk. "You've suffered a setback, Zander. It's not so surprising. Physical well being isn't totally based on the physical aspect of being. It's connected to your mental and emotional state of mind. And you've been a wreck in those areas for a long time. Long before your accident. Even before your overdose. It was just a matter of time before you shattered, so to speak. So now it's all about picking up the pieces and working your way back into a sort of...unity."
"You were a psychiatrist in another life...right?" Zander shot back, glaring at his uncle.
"I thought about becoming one," Simon allowed. "I heard your father went into the field. Never would have expected that."
Zander sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah…that threw me a bit. All that mind, body and spirit stuff is a bunch of crap if you ask me," Zander continued. "Dr. Baldwin tried laying it on me too. I didn't buy it from her and I ain't buying it from you either."
Simon shrugged then said, "I take it Dr. Baldwin was a shrink?"
"Yeah. After my overdose the court gave me a choice. Six months of rehab or three months of counseling sessions." Zander sighed. "I wanted to keep my life and my job...so I went for the sessions."
"How many did you have?"
Zander had to think about it for a moment. "I dunno…a couple I guess. They were a waste of time."
Simon slid off the chair and moved it aside. "How would you like to go home?" he asked.
"You serious?" Zander studied his Uncle's face, to see if he were just tossing him a line.
"I might be," Simon allowed. "Bottom line is this. You're gonna have to go back into a wheelchair for a while, Zander. You need more physical therapy and you're gonna have to work hard to get your strength back. It's not going to be easy. But I can help you. I can do your therapy at home."
Zander shook his head and smiled. "You're a jack of all medical trades, dude."
Simon chuckled. "Pretty much. It took me a while to figure out what I really wanted to do. So…anyway...I'll sign you out in the morning and we'll get started. I've got some time coming to me. The Chief of Staff has been itching to kick my butt out of here for a few weeks, so I'll give him what he wants and we can work on your recovery."
"I really appreciate you wanting to help me, Simon," Zander replied, and he meant it. "But...I don't want to fuck up your life, man. I have a gift for doing that...mind you. But you were always cool to me...I don't want to become a burden."
"You're family, Zander," Simon countered. "Family is supposed to help each other. I wasn't there for you when you needed me the most. But I'm here now and I look at this as fate. We came full circle in a way, and that means something to me. You need the kind of help I can give and, to be honest, I'm glad you're here. I've been messed up about things for a long time. Messed up in a way I think you understand all too well. We can help each other, Zander. Okay?"
Zander found himself nodding. "Okay." He wanted to believe in what his uncle was saying. Simon had always been straight with him, even when he was just a kid. "I don't know what I can do to help you though."
Simon patted him on the shoulder. "Just listen to me whine," he replied. Then he chuckled and headed for the door. "I have to go on rounds. Get some sleep, you'll need the rest...trust me. And when Nancy brings your dinner...eat. Or I'll bring the feeding tubes and you won't like that much...got it?"
"Yeah...I got it," Zander replied, but his eyes were already drifting close and soon he was back to sleep.
* * * * *
Emily cried herself to sleep. They had spent over twelve hours going from diner to diner and various other places, asking around about Zander Smith. Showing his picture. They had found someone who used to know Zander. A waitress who acted a bit snotty to Emily. But she admitted to knowing Zander and couldn't resist pointing out that they had dated a few times. She remembered where he used to live and they visited there, but no sign of Zander. Finally, Lucky and Nikolas had dragged Emily off to a nearby hotel. They had made her eat and had pretty much forced her into bed.
But she dreamed about Zander.
* * * * *
Zander cursed as he fell. He was so damn tired of his body not obeying his commands.
He had tried to sleep but couldn't. His thoughts were filled with Emily and Zander missed her so much it felt like a physical ache inside him. He had been at Simon's place for less than a week and it already felt like forever. Simon was tough on him, and Zander rather welcomed it. He had a room set up with a weight bench and parallel bars. Zander learned that the bars had been tossed out when the hospital got a new set, so Simon had rescued them and fixed them up. And kept them. He said he was a pack rat because he figured everything had a purpose, a usefulness. He was proven right. Zander needed the bars.
Zander hated the bars. He hated his body. He hated his father. He hated being without Emily. "Fuck!" He cursed, slamming his fists on the floor. He wanted to throw something but nothing was in reach. Zander made himself calm down, raking his hair off his face, then he looked across the room. Where his wheelchair sat. No way he was going to reach it without crawling and in this moment Zander felt too worn out to do even that.
"Need some help?"
Zander jumped then looked to the doorway. Simon was standing there. "No," Zander replied, wincing at the blatant lie.
Simon nodded and came into the room. "I'll help anyway," he said, moving to Zander's side. He crouched down then lifted Zander into his arms, carrying him over to the wheelchair.
"I don't want your help!" Zander snarled. He felt embarrassed and humiliated. It wasn't the first time his Uncle had carried him to his chair, but it was the worst time and Zander hated that he could do it with such ease. It made him feel all the more weak and helpless and Zander hated those feelings.
"How long have you been at this?" Simon countered, ignoring Zander's rudeness.
Zander sighed, rubbing a hand over his face. He looked at his uncle and apologized. "Sorry."
Simon smiled. "It's okay. How long?"
"A couple of hours."
"You're pushing too hard too fast, Zander," Simon countered. "We talked about this. You’re going to do more harm than good."
Zander wheeled himself over to the corner where he had left some bottled water. He took a long drink then said, "I know."
Simon followed him. "Then why do this?"
"Because I'm stupid."
"Don't go there," Simon warned.
Zander winced. He and Simon had talked alot since Zander had come there. Simon had told Zander about his past, about the mistakes and bad choices he had made. About the relationships he had messed up. About his marriage and the way he had pushed the woman he loved out of his life. In alot of ways they were alike, Zander had learned. It made him feel connected to his Uncle again. Zander, in turn, had told Simon about his life after Peter had died. About the drug dealing. Everything involving Sorel. About Sonny Corinthos and, after a while, he had told him everything about Emily. "I am stupid," Zander muttered beneath his breath.
Simon got behind Zander's wheelchair and rolled him out into the kitchen. He left him at the table and set about making breakfast. "Can I be blunt with you, Zander?" Simon asked.
"Sure. Why not?" Zander grabbed a napkin off the table and set about shredding it. "Everyone else is."
"You need Emily."
Zander froze. "She's better off without me."
Simon set grabbed two plates from the cupboard and set them on the table. "Why?"
"You want a list?" Zander shook his head. "I'm a drug dealing, kidnapping, monumental screw up. My own father wishes I were dead. Emily's own brother nearly beat me to death and I know HE wishes I were dead. I think those are all clues, Simon. I'm worthless and a waste of space." Zander crushed the napkin in his hand and closed his eyes against the sudden threat of tears.
"Bullshit!" Simon slammed a hand down on the table next to Zander.
Simon sat down and glared at Zander. "You were a kid when you did those things, Zander. A messed up kid. Hell…that's what you still are. And I blame your father for that. Just like I blame him for Pete's death. Your father has never been able to accept responsibility for his mistakes. He pushes the blame onto everyone else. He's the waste of space, Zander. Not you."
"Doesn't matter," Zander replied, pushing away from the table. He tried to roll off but Simon grabbed his chair and pulled him back. "I don't want to talk about this!" Zander shouted.
"Then lets talk about Emily."
Zander shook his head. "No. Emily is in the past."
Simon gripped Zander's shoulders and, literally, shook him. "Listen to me, kiddo. Emily is your best chance to get out of this damn chair. She's your best hope for the future you deserve. You want to know why you can't get out of that damn chair? I'll tell you why. Your body, mind and heart are at cross purposes." Simon waved a hand in Zander's face to cut him off when he made to speak. "I know you don't believe in that shit, but it's true. What got you out of the chair before?"
"Emily." Her name slipped out before Zander realized it. And it was a truth Zander couldn’t deny. He had wanted to be strong again so they could dance together. So they could be together the way they used to be. So he could be whole again for Emily. Everything was about Emily.
"I can see the way you miss her, Zander," Simon continued. "You cry out for her in your sleep. And if she loves you the way you love her..." Simon paused to lock eyes with Zander. "Then I'm betting she's as miserable as you are. And scared to death. I bet she's looking for you, Zander."
Zander nodded. "Yeah...that's Emily. She won't give up either."
Simon smiled sadly. "You have something precious, Zander. A woman who loves you. Don't throw that away. You ran away the last time because of your father. Because of a lie. He's the reason you ran away again. Don't do that, Zander. Don't give that bastard that kind of power over you."
"It’s not that easy, Simon. I've fucked up everything in my life. I don't want to hurt Emily." A tear did slide down Zander's cheek now and he brushed it away with the back of one hand.
"But you are hurting Emily," Simon said softly. He would have said more but the phone rang and he moved to answer it. "Hello?"
"Hi, Simon, it's Nancy. Sorry to call you at home but there's something going on and I thought you should know about it."
Simon frowned. "A patient?"
"Not exactly. Um…there's a young woman here with a couple of friends. She's asking about Zander. They're looking for him. She has pictures of him and she looks really upset. I don't know what to tell her."
"What’s her name?"
Simon chuckled. "Put her on the phone."
"Put her on the phone." As he spoke, Simon moved to Zander. "There is someone on the phone who wants to talk to you."
Zander stared at the phone then at Simon. "No one knows I'm here."
Simon shoved the phone in Zander's hand. "Consider it fate, Zander."
Zander glared at his uncle then said, "Hello?"
"Zander? Zander…is that you?"
"Emily?" Zander almost dropped the phone. "Oh...god...Emily." Tears burned in his eyes. "Where are you?"
"Where are you?" Emily countered. "God…Zander...I've been so worried. I've missed you so much. Please...tell me where you are?"
Zander's hand was shaking. "I'm okay, Em. I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry, Zander. Just tell me where you are."
"Emily...I'm all messed up..."
"I don't care, Zander!" Emily was almost shouting. "I came all this way to find you. I'm not leaving without you."
Zander looked at his Uncle, then he made a decision. He gave Emily the directions to Simon's house.
Emily laughed in relief. "We'll be there soon, baby. I love you."
"I love you too," Zander whispered. Then the phone went dead. He set it down and looked at his Uncle. "She's on her way."
Simon smiled. "Good. Think you can get yourself in the shower?"
Zander nodded. "Yeah. For Emily I can do anything." He wheeled out of the room, uncaring of the tears that slid down his face. Emily was coming.
© Shelly 2004