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I've been bitching that General Hospital has apparently forgotten that Zander existed, but it seems that I have done the same thing! *sigh* I'd totally forgotten about my Zaxie story. So, anyway....a new installment.

"Zander?" Maxie gasped, not moving a muscle. He laughed slightly. "If you’re closed, I could come back another time-"

"No, no," she responded, still flustered. "I....you’re alive?"

Zander nodded, "Yeah, it’s...well, it’s a long story."

Maxie couldn’t help but snort slightly, rolling her eyes. "Obviously." He grinned at her. She found herself grinning back, and suddenly throwing herself into his arms. "Oh my god, you’re alive!" Zander laughed, hugging her tightly.

While Maxie cleaned up the broken glass, she had Zander bring the tables inside. She found herself watching him more than the glass she was cleaning up. After all this time....he was alive? She still could hardly believe it.

When they were finished, Maxie and Zander sat down at a table in the back. Slowly, Zander told her the story of how he’d survived the fire. He’d fought with Nikolas, and been locked in. In the fight, Nikolas had dropped his cell phone and left it behind.

"I was angry," Zander told her. "All of these people who I thought cared about me, they didn’t care what happened to me, as long as it didn’t interfere with their lives. I was pissed. So I called Elizabeth and said I had to see her."

"Why?" Maxie questioned him, confused.

Zander shook his head, obviously hedging. "I’m not sure. I guess I was just sick of being messed with. So I decided to do some messing back. She showed up, we argued. I guess I pushed it too far - I forgot how strong she is. She usually doesn’t take any crap. She’d been so...watered down...since she met Ric, that I expected more of that. But then she clocked me with a pipe," he said with a snort. "That was fairly unexpected. I was knocked out for awhile...when I woke up, the place was on fire. I panicked, but then I realized Liz had left the door unlocked when she left."

"So who was in the room?" Maxie said. "There was a body found in the room - everyone thought it was you."

Zander shook his head. "There was someone coming downstairs when I was trying to get up - said he worked for the hotel. I can’t remember his name - something Pratt, I think. I warned him against going in there, but he said he was trying to stop the fire." He looked a little bit guilty. "I shouldn’t have let him go in there, but I wasn’t thinking straight. I just had to get out."

Maxie nodded. Zander continued on, "There was pure chaos outside. I knew I could get away without being seen. When I passed by a dumpster, I saw something sparkling. It was part of that damn treasure Emily and Nikolas were going to auction off," he said, laughing. "I thought it was a pretty good coincidence. I needed money, and there was their precious treasure. I figured they owed me. I knew it would look noticeable if the whole treasure went missing - obviously someone was hiding it - so I just took a few pieces of jewelry to get me by." He paused. "I saw you."

Maxie looked at him in surprise. "You did?"

He nodded. "You were crying. I could see you standing there, talking to Lucky, and you were really upset..." His voice trailed off. "Maxie, I wanted to go to you. I did. But I couldn’t." He sighed. "I knew that I had to get away right then, or I’d lose that chance. But I hated the fact that you were upset, and I couldn’t even let you know I was alive."

She touched his hand gently. "Zander, it’s all right. I understand."

He glanced at her in confusion. "Maxie, didn’t you get my note?"

She paused. "The one with the daisy?"

He smiled. "Yeah, that’s the one. I couldn’t say much - I didn’t want to give myself away, in case it ever fell into the wrong hands. But I had to let you know that I’d made it."

Maxie smiled softly. "I got it."

Zander furrowed his brow. "But you still thought I was dead?"

"They identified your body, Zander. They convinced me it was you." She shook her head. "The mail was all backed up. It turned out the mail that was delivered, some of it was mail from before the fire had even started. Georgie pointed out that you could have sent me that note before the fire - that you might have been planning on leaving without saying goodbye, and that was your goodbye to me."

Zander sighed. "I didn’t think of that. I just thought you’d get it, and know I was alive. I’m sorry, Maxie."

She smiled again. "When I first got that note...I believed you were alive. I was going to go to Canada and find you."

He gave her an adorable smile. "You were?"

"Yeah...I thought you could use the help. But then they identified the body...," she said, letting her voice drop off. He squeezed her hand. She glanced back at him. "Zander, you know I’m glad to see you here, and alive, but...what are you doing here?"

He took a deep breath. "Actually, I ran into Jax in Canada."

Maxie’s eyes widened. "For real?"

"For real. He was pretty freaked out, I must say," Zander said, laughing. "But we ended up having a long talk. He gave me a chance to explain myself. I guess he could see I was a little less delusional than I had been back during our altercation on the docks." He shrugged. "It was really great of him. He agreed to let bygones be bygones. He even offered me a job."

"He offered you a job?!" Maxie said in disbelief. Zander laughed again. "Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either. He told me if I came back to Port Charles, I could work for him. He’s a good guy."

"I’d say...," Maxie said, grinning. Zander’s face turned serious. "I heard that Beck died during the fire, and they figured out that Capelli shot him. I was off the hook for that one. And now that Emily’s gone...," he paused. "Well, I don’t think Nikolas and I will have the bad blood between us that we used to have. Not as much, anyway."

Maxie nodded, and then asked, "You heard about Emily?"

"Yeah," he said quietly, looking at his hands. "I...it was hard to believe at first, you know? I mean, once I’d gotten away from here....I think I finally let her go. But she was my first love. She was my wife. I think I’ll always feel bad that I never got to talk to her one last time, tell her I was sorry for everything I’d done..."

Maxie paused. "I talked to her before she died. She told me that she’d always loved you. She loved Nikolas," she added hastily, "but she said you weren’t a bad person, and that you didn’t deserve everything that had happened to you. She forgave you."

Zander’s eyes teared up, and he dabbed quickly at them. "That’s good to know," he said quietly. "Thank you, Max."

She smiled, but then felt her smile falter. "Do you know about your dad?"

Taking a deep breath, Zander nodded. "Yeah. God, that was hard. I mean...you know, we never got along. But at the end....I really believe he wanted to help me. He wanted to make up for everything that had happened." He paused. "Do you know...how....?"

She bit her lip. "He went back to the fire. He...I....," she closed her eyes, and continued on. "I told him about you. That you were - dead. He was pretty broken up over it. I think he went back to help," she lied. She didn’t want to tell Zander that she suspected that Cameron had walked into the fire with the intention of dying. "He saved Lucky - a beam was going to fall on him."

Zander grinned, trying valiantly not to cry. "That was Dad," he said shakily. "He liked healing and helping others." Maxie gave his hand a small squeeze. He swallowed hard. "Do you know...was it quick? Was he in any pain?"

Maxie shook her head. "From what Lucky said, it happened kinda fast. Luke was with him." She paused. "I rode with him to the hospital. I...," she shrugged awkwardly, "I mean, maybe it sounds stupid, I don’t know. I just didn’t want him to be alone."

Zander rested his face in his hands. Maxie gave him a minute. When he looked back up, his eyes were red-rimmed. "Thank you, Maxie. I appreciate it." She gave him a tiny smile in return.

"How about you?" he finally asked her, nudging her with his elbow. "How’s life for you? You’re in college now, right? Probably a sophomore?"

She grinned, feeling a slight weight lift off her shoulders. "Yeah - you remembered." He smiled, and she went on. "I’m at PCU, studying psychiatry."

He raised an eyebrow. "Psychiatry, huh? I’m impressed."

She blushed and giggled. "Yeah, well. It’s hard, but I like it. I live in the dorms....Alexis is dating my dad now."

Zander’s eyes got big. "Really? I never would have imagined that."

Maxie smiled. "She was really nice to me...you know....after the fire. We were both upset. When she was ready, I kinda urged her and Dad to get together. They’re pretty cute. Dad worships the ground Kristina walks on."

"Kristina, huh?" Zander said with a grin. "How old is she now?"

"Four," Maxie said, laughing. "She’s got my old room."

"How’s your sister?"

"She’s doing good...still with Dillon. She graduated valedictorian, and is going to NYU eventually, to be a lawyer."

"Man," Zander said, shaking his head. "It sounds like everyone has grown up since I’ve been gone."

She nodded, smiling. Zander gave her a cautious look. "I’m assuming you never got into any trouble...you know. For what you did - helping me."

Maxie shook her head. "No....I think Ric figured it out, but he - well, he protected me. I think he felt bad. He saw me at the fire," she explained. "When I was so upset..."

Zander nodded, and hesitated a moment before asking: "What about Elizabeth? Are they still together? Did they have their baby?"

Maxie paused, glancing at him. "You mean your baby?"

He blinked. "How did you...I mean...did someone say something?"

She shook her head quickly. "No - I finally figured it out. All the talk about you taking something from Liz and Ric...and I was trying to think of why she would feel so threatened that she’d, for all intents and purposes, ‘kill’ you. And the one thing I could think of was her baby."

Zander nodded. Maxie continued, "She had a boy. His name is Steven Alexander....Alex." Zander’s eyebrows shot up. "Well, that’s unexpected."

Maxie laughed. "I think she was feeling guilty. Of course, everyone pats her on the back and assures her that she shouldn’t feel any guilt for anything at all," she retorted, rolling her eyes. Zander gave her a grin. "I’m assuming you’re not a fan?"

"Oh, I can’t stand her. She knows it - she stays away from me." Zander laughed. Maxie went on, "Alex is pretty cute. He sorta reminds me of you."

Zander bit his lip. "Really?"

"Yeah. He’s got your hair."

Zander started laughing. "Well, you know I had to pass on my best qualities."

Maxie smiled. "You’ve got a lot of good qualities."

He smirked at her. "You know, you better not flirt with me. You’re not jailbait anymore. I don’t have to behave myself."

Blushing, Maxie burst out laughing. "I hope he got ‘modesty’ from someone else, because he sure as hell wouldn’t have gotten that from you."

He responded with his own laugh. Maxie shook her head. "Ric and Liz are still together. He’s really good to Alex," she said gingerly, eyeing Zander to see his reaction. He looked a little sad, but nodded. "I had the feeling that he’d be good to him. He’s Liz’s son, after all. If I had to give Ric credit for something, it was that he always loved Elizabeth."

Wanting to change the subject slightly, Maxie mentioned, "He calls me Massie."

"Massie, huh?" Zander said, laughing. "You know, when I was little, I couldn’t say my ‘x’ sounds either. I always referred to myself as ‘Alessander’. Which is pretty much how Zander came about."

Maxie grinned. "That’s cool."

"Yeah."

They were quiet for a few minutes. "My god, I cannot believe we are sitting here having this conversation!" Maxie exclaimed. Zander laughed at her. "Me, neither. I didn’t know if I’d ever see you again."

She smiled. "So what brought you to Kelly’s?"

He shrugged. "I was lurking....kinda just reminiscing, thinking on the good and the bad. I haven’t really seen anybody yet - just Jax. And I saw you through the window...," he said, letting his voice drop. "I don’t know, I just knew I had to let you know I was back."

She elbowed him. "Well, I’m certainly glad you did."

Yeah, it's long, but I wasn't sure where else to cut it off. I saved all the other parts of the story, thus far, to my memories section, so in case you're actually reading this :-p and forgot what happened last.....since I know I did.....that's where they're at.

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chrysalitron

July 2009

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