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All readers should know that books by our author Cloud should, for best reading, start with Book 1, The Way Back, followed by The Shadows Fall, Battle the Dark, and the fourth book, The Fourth Life. They do build on each other. The Way Back is the initial book in the series, and begins with The Vickerman Premier from OLTL (of course, written with this author's point of view.) Cloud has also completed her 5th Book, The End of Blame, her 6th novel, Diamond in the Rough and her 7th book in the series, Hope from the Ocean. The 8th in the series, Failings of the Fathers, is currently being shared one chapter at a time, every Thursday and Sunday. There are also more to come after this!

We're also fortunate to have Karena publishing here at the Fanfic Hub. You may recognize her work from Passionate 4 Todd Fanfic., However, she has a novella here, called To Journey's End and various short stories and scenarios in progress. Currently, you can read her NEW book, Port Charles Chronicles here at the hub, and her current work (in progress) Todd's Saga, which follows Todd as he leaves his family behind in Llanview due to the threats from the Triskelian Organization.

In addition to these, Author Monica_Ann currently completed Dance with the Devil that takes place in Port Charles and has also shared her next book, The Devil You Know, also taking place in Port Charles. Enjoying her next project, Brothers, currently in progress!

Maria, one of our newer authors, just completed Spidey Sam, where Todd, Sam, and Jack have adventures that don't necessarily warrant approval from Blair.

We're VERY excited to promote another author by the name of Cimz. This very popular fanfic writer has posted a novella called R.E.M. It's very exciting to see our fanfic offerings grow!

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Failings of the Fathers: 70

Dorian had her hands full.  Jack, who was dealing with guilt, hadn't eaten since he arrived.  Sam was not sleeping, and the small boy had dark circles under his eyes.  Starr was not yet released from the hospital, and Hope, who was still very sick, was still on bed rest and liquids.  Jewel was running out of Blair's breast milk, and Dorian was reading magazines, looking for the best kind of formula in case she needed it.  She was frazzled, her hair out of place, and her face flushed.  

Sam came into the kitchen, behind her.  He said, "Auntie Dorian?"


She turned around, at first exasperated by more neediness, but when she saw his face, she softened.  He was gaunt, gray; his eyes were sunken.  She said, "What is it, Sam?" as tenderly as she could.


"I want to ask you something."


"All right," she said, going toward him.  She picked him up by the waist, and it surprised her how light he actually was.  She sat him on the kitchen chair and sat in one, across from him.  "What's on your mind?"


"I want to know if my Dad is going to die."


Dorian sighed.  "Everyone dies, Sam.  It's part of living."


"No, I want to know if he is going to die now."


"I don't think so, no."


"I . . . think of those pictures that Grandma Bitsy drew.  The man, it was the same man.  He was the same man in the yard.  In the pictures, he hurt Mom.  In the pictures, he did bad things, and he hurt my Dad."


"Those are drawings, Sam.  You know they are not real."


He swallowed, and his eyes were brimming with tears.  "No!  Some of them were real."


She was losing her patience, but kept reminding herself the trauma the child had experienced.  Todd.  Never a dull moment with him around . . . "Explain exactly what you mean, Honey."


"There were some real pictures, that she drew.  She drew a little boy, he was scared, the man had a bat, he was big and mean.  Jack said that some of the pictures were real, and Dad did, too.  It was his father, he said."


"He told you that?"


"Yeah.  I didn't like that he had a mean father.  He's lucky to have Grandpa Timothy, though.  He's a good man."


Coming out of Sam, it seemed so true and so real.  Timothy was a beautiful man.  She got lost in thought a moment, since she hadn't heard from him in the last day or so.  Then, she turned back to Sam.  "He is a very good man.  Your father is all right.  Nothing is going to bring him down.  He's probably got his mind set on getting Ray back."


"Yeah, he probably does.  He would do anything for my mom, or for me, or our family.  Even you.  He'd do anything for us."


She studied the little boy, and couldn't fault him.  His love for Todd was pure, and she knew she had no place disturbing it.  She said, "He would, wouldn't he?"


"Yep.  He told me.  He would give his life for us.  He did, a couple of times already.  He means it."


"I know he does," she said, and swallowed back tears herself.  "He certainly does mean it."


"So, is he going to die, Auntie Dorian?"


She took his hand.  "Sam, I don't want you to worry, please.  Everything will be all right.  You just think of something else."


"Like something happy?"


"Yes, like something happy."  His face changed.  She said, "See, that's much better."


"Yeah.  I was just thinking about my dockshun day.  It was so nice.  Dad paid for everything, and there were balloons and a Spiderman house.  That was the best part.  And that he and Mom did the fake wedding thing."


"That was the best part?"


"No, not really.  The very very very best part was that he was my dad, and he loved me."  She gulped and turned away, going back to her magazine.  He said, "I didn't mean to make you sad, Auntie Dorian."


"I'm . . . I'm not sad, Sam.  I'm . . . just thinking."


***


"Daddy said no stwangers."  Ray looked up at the large, looming man with wide, brown eyes.

"He did, huh?  Well, I'm not a stranger."


"You're bad."


"You're smart, kid."


"You're a bad man.  You hurt Starr."


"So?  Everyone hurts people.  Your father hurts people."


"No.  Daddy's not bad."


"Hmf.  I take back what I said about smart," he mumbled to himself.  Peter was still carrying Ray over his shoulder, when he heard the sound of simultaneous car doors.  He looked back toward the driveway.


Ray said, with an excited tone, "People!"


Peter opened the shed door, by turning a key in the padlock, unchained it, and put the little boy in.  "Stay in here and be quiet."


"No.  Mommy and Daddy," he said, starting to cry.


Peter paid no attention to the tears and slammed the shed door closed, relocking the padlock with his key.  He turned back to the driveway, and said, aloud, "Hmf.  This should be interesting."


In the driveway, Todd, Blair and Bitsy walked toward the house, looking back and forth to see if there were signs of life.  Nothing seemed alive about the house in Chicago.  It all seemed dead in different ways to each of them. 


Blair stopped behind Todd, who had paused at the side door.  He said, "Momma, this is where you sent us, remember?  The letter?  I think it was Christmas."


She nodded.  


Blair said, "Let's go in.  He's got Ray."  Todd pushed the door carefully, and it opened without any resistance.  The three of them stepped into the kitchen, and Bitsy grabbed Blair's hand for support.  Blair said, "Momma, it's all right.  You can wait in the car if this is too much."


The woman looked around her, and surveyed the room.  Memories came flooding back, and she made no effort to stifle the tears that were falling onto her face.  The rooms were all unlit, and it was early evening.  No light was being brought in from outside, and everything was shadowed and had an eerie appearance.  


Todd put an arm around her and said, "Momma, you can go.  In fact, Blair can take you . . ."


She shook her head.


Blair said, "I guess she told you, huh?"


He walked in front of both women, one hand protectively behind him to keep them from following too close.


"No, Todd, now . . ." Blair said, turning to the right and stumbling over something at her feet.  Looking down, she gasped.  She said, "Oh my God, there's a woman, here!  I think she's . . . Todd, I think she's dead."


Bitsy was now shaking so much it was visible to the eye.  Todd went to Blair's side, and his mother, who was vibrating like a rattlesnake's tail, stood wide-eyed in the kitchen a few feet behind them.  He said, "God.  It's Connie Bensonhurst.  Shit."


"The woman who . . ."


"He killed her.  Which means, he's desperate."  Todd said, getting back up from checking for a pulse.  The woman had been cold when he touched her.  It struck him strangely for a moment that in all the years he thought of her as a cold bitch, this kind of cold couldn't be described.


"Where's my baby, Todd?"  Blair began to panic.  "What has he done with our baby?"


All at once three things happened:  the side door swung closed on its hinges; Bitsy gasped so loudly it startled them both; and Peter Manning stood, staring at all of them in the dim light of dusk.  


"That's what we're going to talk about," he said, and Bitsy's head hit the kitchen table on her way down to the floor.


***


Dorian came down the stairs from putting Little Sam to bed.  It was early, but he had been so sleep-deprived he had fallen asleep with a small cup of warm milk and, she admittedly chastised herself for, a small dose of Benadryl.


She came into the living room, and looked at it; this had been Todd and Blair's home for years, before she had come back into it.  It was the place they had made for their growing family, years back before his disappearance.  For a moment, she could almost see Jack, as a small child, in front of the fireplace, looking up at her and asking where his father was.  She shook it from her memory, and went to the couch.  Collapsing onto it, she put her feet up on the ottoman, and saw Addie entering the room.  


"Dorie, Hope's asleep, too."


"How are we going to explain Starr's face to her little daughter?"  Dorian asked.


"I don't know.  But it's up to Starr, not us."  Addie reminded.


"Yes, I suppose it is."


"You look tired, Dorie."


"The baby doesn't have much of Blair's milk left.  Not sure what we're going to do."


"We can find a wet nurse," Addie said.  "Maybe?"


"Do they even have those anymore?"


"I don't know."


"It will likely be formula, then.  Sam's asleep, too."  Dorian bent her leg toward her and rubbed her foot.  "He had a lot of questions."


"Like what?"


"Like if his father was going to die."


"The poor thing," Addie said.  "He's so sensitive.  According to Blair, Todd was like that when he was a boy."


"Hard to imagine he could grow up to be a cold-hearted rapist."  Dorian said.


"Not this, again, Dorie.  Please.  That was years ago.  He's different."


"Some things don't change.  His penchant for getting his loved ones in danger is one of them.  I know this is going to sound really dreadful, but sometimes I wonder what would have happened to my niece and her family if Todd just stayed dead in Ireland all those years ago."


Addie gasped and said, "Dorie!"


Jack walked directly from the foyer into the living room.  He was just staring at Dorian, and barely moved, his hands tucked into his front pockets, as his father would do.  He said, "You know what?  There wouldn't be a me.  Or a Ray or a Jewel.  That's what would have happened.  Mom would have been ruined.  She almost was.  The sad thing is, you just don't see what he's about.  Not really.  You never do.  You don't see how Mom is around him, and the good he's done.  I've seen her with other guys, Eli, Tomas, McPain, even Zeus.  She never looked at any of them the same way.  Never.  So, that's what it would be like.  Mom without the guy she really loves and without us."


"Now, Jack, give me a chance to explain. . ."


"There's nothing to explain, Aunt Dorian.  You've made it clear a lot of times.  I just thought you'd started to get over it.  But I guess he'll always be that criminal to you.  The bad guy.  The problem is, he's not a bad guy to me, or Sam, or Ray.  And he's not to Starr, or Hope, or Mom.  I . . . I just feel sort of sick, I'm going upstairs,"  he turned to go.


She said, "Jack," but he kept going.  


Addie stood up.  "Dorie, sometimes I wonder why you do what you do."  She followed him out and up the stairs.


Dorian closed her eyes and sank back into the sofa.


***

"What's the matter, don't you recognize me?"  Peter said.

"Momma," Blair said, going to her side.  The woman had a gash on the side of her head that was already slightly swollen and bleeding.  She was unconscious.


Todd was fixated on Peter.  Sweat had already sprung to his brow and his shirt was sticking to him.  "You bastard.  I just want my son.  Nothing more."


"Your son.  Hmf.   That's all you want?"


"Yep.  Nothing more."


"You don't want to wring my neck?  You don't want to try and kill me, like you did back then."


Todd swallowed.  He realized, with sudden strong awareness, that he was sweating more profuseland his mouth was so dry he could barely speak.  He said, "Nothing more.  Give me my boy, and I'm out.  No questions asked.  Just over."


"You're not getting your boy.  You're doing what I say."


"Whatever you want.  I just want my son.  Give him to Blair, she can go, and you and I can hash this out whatever way you want."


"So, you're some kind of great father or something?  I heard."


Todd was struggling not to become distracted or engage.  Blair, who was patting Bitsy's head with a piece of paper toweling, now stood.  She said, "I don't know you, and you don't know me.  But you have my baby.  I just want him back.  You'll never have to see us again, just please, give him back."  Her voice was ragged, pained.


He threw his head back and laughed.  "You think your motherly-love plea is going to do it?  How do you know your son's even alive?  How do you know he's breathing, that I didn't take out all my years of anger and hate for this excuse for a man on him?"  He had motioned to Todd while talking.


Blair's eyes were flames; she could barely tolerate the fire in them.  It raged through her face and into her chest.  She sprung at him like a mother cheetah, and scratched at his eyes.  Todd had never heard the kind of yelp she had let out; it was a cross between a growl and a scream. 


He went to grab her around the waist, amid her cries of asking for her son back mixed with screams about what he had done to her husband, when Peter backhanded her and she flew back against the wall.  She slid down to the floor.

He turned toward Todd, who, suddenly became unnaturally stoic.  Todd pulled his gun, and said, "I want my son.  Give me my son, and I'll let you live for treating her that way."  His tone was icy and sullen.


"Let me live?  Hah!"  Peter pulled his gun as well, and said, "Put that gun down, and be a man.  Let's see what kind of fight you got in you, boy, like the old days, huh?"


Todd slightly cocked his head, wanting to look away, but still keeping his eyes fixed on the man.  "You okay?"  he called to Blair.


"Don't listen to him, Todd.  He's a sick, twisted old fucking pervert!"  She stood, "Yes, I'm okay," she said, but her lip was split and bleeding.  She fixed her blouse as if she was ready for another round.   


Todd was thinking about the same thing, but with a twist.  Keep your head.  He's got a gun.  He's got the baby.  You have nothing on your side.  Keep cool and wait him out.  You can pull his fucking head off his body later and let Blair do whatever she wants to him.  He surprised himself and said, "It's simple," he went to the table and sat down, putting the gun where Peter could see it and it was still in his reach.  Wait for it.  As soon as you know where Ray is . . .


To Blair, he seemed to be in a trance; his movements were robotic and his face was slick with sweat.  Suddenly, she felt panic in her gut for him.  Was he all right?  Was he . . . going to go inside himself and never come out?


Peter laughed, and pushed the chair away from the table with his foot.  He sat in it, facing Todd.  Blair was bruised, and sore; Bitsy was silent, passed out on the floor.  Todd said, "So, what do you want?"


"Everything.  The Lord fortune.  It should have been mine, anyway, for raising a sissy like you."


Todd swallowed, "Better than being a sadist, like you."


"Maybe.  Whatever it is, it's simple.  I get the fortune, you get the boy."


Blair was going to her feet, and out of the corner of his eye, Peter spotted her.  "Tell that little bitch of yours to back off, or I'll shoot both of you and kill that kid.  With my hands."


He flashed to Patches, her neck snapped in Peter's bear-paw grip.  He didn't have to tell Blair anything; she froze and slid back to sitting on the ground against the wall.  Her lip was growing with swell, and her face was painful, her head throbbing.  


Todd said, "Done.  No problem.  None of that money means anything to me, anyway.  Not without my family.  Name a time and place, and it's yours."


This seemed to trigger something in Peter that Todd was not expecting.  He got a look in his eye that Todd knew well.  It was one of power.  He had power over them, because he had their baby.  Letting Peter know that they didn't care one iota for the money was a mistake.  


Shit.  He only wants to hurt me.  He . . . damn it, he knows the money's not going to do it.

"Nah, never mind," Peter said.  "Think I'll just hang on to that boy, for a while.  He's still able to be raised right, not like you."  He looked to the floor, at Bitsy, and kicked her shoe with his foot.  "She made a mess of you.  Turned you into a freaking faggot."


He realized his breathing was escalating, and he fought to control it.  From the side of one eye, inky black was seeping into his vision, and he rubbed his eyes to erase it.  It drew back, and he told himself to breathe and stay with it; too much was at stake.  Blair, his mother, his son.  "She wasn't all bad."


"No, she had her uses."  Peter said, looking from her back to Todd.


"What do you want, exactly?  I'm ready to bargain, if that's what you want."


"I don't know," Peter said, leaning back in his chair, and folding his arms.  "I thought I did, but now, seeing you, all soft and sappy, like I knew you'd turn out . . ."


His hands were twitching at his sides.  He wanted to pick the gun up and shoot Peter through the face, but then, what about Ray?  How would they ever find him?  What if he were hidden somewhere?  What if Peter used his gun, too, and took out Blair, and his mother and son before he had a chance to make things right?  


Without warning, Peter put down his gun and reached inside his shirt and pulled out a small, silvery object that made Blair's eyes widen.  Todd, spotting it, looked up at Peter's face, and saw the blackness coming into his vision at high speed.  


The older man said, "Just like I thought."

Todd went silent.


*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

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