After paying for the rental, she got in, and the door closed beside her with a hollow thud. It had been a long time since she had driven a car. She knew it wouldn't take long to remember how, and get into the swing of driving, but it made her feel strange, nonetheless. She started the engine and pulled off.
Adjusting the rear view mirror and the visor over her head, she felt her hands slightly trembling. She didn't really want him to be there, but something inside her knew that's where he would be. And she had to go to him. That was her choice, and it was her mission. She had to be with him, whatever he was facing. She'd promised herself that.
She drove on, through busy city streets, until they faded, like old seams, and blended into the streets of suburbia. "Blair Manning," she said aloud, "you can do this. If you hadn't been so selfish about it, you might not have to."
She had been selfish. She was sure of it. She couldn't let him have one little thing that she didn't know about. Even his thoughts were often hers. Maybe Timothy was right, that he just needed to have something of his own to grapple with. Or maybe what he had said to her was right: he didn't even realize what he wanted to do, until he said it, just then. Either way, it was over, her pigheadedness. She would find him, and she would tell him that she was wrong.
Please let him be all right. Please.
You don't want him to be there, Blair. He wouldn't go there, that's not it. Not that place. He's out, in a pub somewhere, tying one on.
She thought better of it.
He's there. He's in that house. God, please. What have I done?
She stopped short as a horn beeped her aware, and after jolting against the steering wheel a little, she realized she had run a red light. The person in the opposite car had his middle finger up as he went by her. She flushed, and waited. Her heart was beating rapidly, and she wanted to calm down.
She took her cell phone out of her purse and looked at it. No calls, no texts.
God, are you all right, Todd?
His last text message repeated in her mind:
...I have to handle it, and if I go it alone, I do. I love you, always.
I love you, always.
I have to handle it, and if I go it alone, I do.
I love you, always.
It wasn't long before she pulled onto the street that made her stomach tense up. Nausea overcame her for a moment, but she pushed it down, and swallowed. "You're the tough guy, want to be in everything he thinks and feels. Well, here you go. Welcome to his world." She had said it aloud, and it reverberated through the car in a strangely empty way.
She would apologize. She would say she was sorry, and she would hold him and get him back to the hotel, and whatever he wanted, he would have and she would give him.
"Shit," she said, with the sound only her Southern accent could add to it. She was in front of the Manning house, and for a moment, her heart leaped into her throat when she thought she saw Peter Manning's black Chevy in the carport, but instead, it was just a black Honda Civic. She didn't recognize it, but the plate had the same rental name as her car did. "He's here. He has to be," she said to herself, and parked.
Todd was at the back of the house, sitting on the cellar doors, a bottle of Scotch hanging from his hand. The doors were sealed closed with a padlock, with remnants of old police tape and markers. He stared out into the yard, taking in the surroundings: a rusted swing-set that hadn't been used in decades, the tree, where he had buried Patches (though later, he found out that Peter had other ideas,) and the shed, that he was all too familiar with. The air had a crispness to it that usually came with Fall, not late Spring. He looked up to the woodline, and above it, at the deep blue of the early evening sky, and took in a breath. "It's not that bad, here, Manning . . ." he paused, and then, "if you don't look anywhere below the sky."
Blair went to the side door. The house had been boarded up, and she wasn't sure she could even get in. She knew her husband was there, and she wouldn't leave until she found him. She tried to move the boards on the side entrance and couldn't. She made her way to the front door, and found it was boarded up and sealed with police tape. She turned back toward the street, and saw her rental car, and not a neighbor was in sight. "Dammit!" she said aloud.
I shouldn't have left him alone. I knew something was very wrong . . .
She realized, just then, that there was only one way Todd could have gotten into that house, and it was in the back. Her stomach lurched when she thought of Peter, standing at the cellar doors with her baby under his arm like a discarded package. She sucked in air.
You put yourself here, so go and do what you gotta do, Blair Manning!
She shook it off, and started to round the house.
He knew if he returned to the house, and just sat there and thought, in quiet, with nothing else, he would remember.
He drank from the bottle again, and, sure enough, he was right.
It wasn't even hard. In fact, it was simpler than he thought it would be. The little flickers he had, here and there, in the hotel, invading his vision, of himself trying to tell someone something, solidified into a full-blown memory. Smooth and easy. All the research and the secret investigating he had done, couldn't reveal it: only his own mind could.
He had called.
He had called the police. He was only six, and he had called for help. Not once, maybe twice or more.
If he thought about it long enough, he knew the whole thing would fly back at him, probably more clearly than he wanted it to. He could see himself, struggling to his feet, stepping over the puddle he had made in his own fear. With his father hurting his mother in the other room, he had picked up the phone, and he had dialed, the way the teachers told them to at school.
9 - 1 - 1
But he was six. He didn't know his address. Not all the way. He knew there was a number on the house, that was all. The voice kept asking, and he kept repeating the numbers, but he didn't know the street name.
And the voice said, "What's your name? Hold on honey, don't hang up," and he was transferred to another voice, a man, who asked, "What's your name, Son?"
He told him. The man went quiet. Then he asked, "What's wrong, Son?"
He's calling me Son. Why is he calling me Son?
"What's wrong," the voice repeated.
"He's hurting my momma," he said.
The man got quiet again. He said, "All right. You hide somewhere safe. We'll be there soon."
He ran to the shed, and went inside. And he waited. And waited. And no one came. And it got cold, and dark, and no one came.
He woke up in the shed, hours later, having pulled an old tarp over him. The sun came through a crack in its ceiling and shone on his face. He thought to himself, "Did they come? Momma?" and ran to the house.
Peter was gone. He was nowhere in the house and the car was gone.
But his mother was there. She was bloody, torn and beaten on the floor in the kitchen where he had dragged her, and left her.
He looked up, hearing leaves and grass disturbed to the left of him. He took another swig, and Blair was there, looking beautiful, in her tan, short pencil skirt and short leather jacket. She stopped when he saw her, and just looked at him.
Blair was afraid to intrude on whatever he was feeling, and her legs wouldn't carry her on, until she got a signal from him that it was all right. For a moment, she felt like an outsider, until he put a hand out to her, and just held it there, waiting.
His face, oh, his face.
She walked, quietly, to him, and took his hand, sitting next to him on the cellar doors. She didn't say anything, and waited.
He said, "I should have told you, there was something. . ."
"No. I should have given you the space you needed with it, and trusted that you'd never shut me out entirely ever again. I was too scared, and I was being selfish. I was just afraid so I tried to get you to tell me. Just scared."
"I know. I was, too."
She waited, and since he didn't say more, she said, "Of what?"
"Saying it, I don't know. Making it real by telling someone. Not sure. It was only in pieces until I got here."
"I'm not going to push you. I'll just be here, and we can just be quiet."
They sat in silence a minute. Then he said, "I don't want to be this way anymore."
She could only smile weakly, and rub her hand across his shoulders and back.
He continued, "Something I thought . . . I just had little bits and pieces of a memory. What I said to Ribsky was a result of something. . . I just knew. Calls for help were made, from this house."
She looked at him, and saw the strain in his expression. She said, "You don't have to think about it. Or say anything."
"I wanted to, that's why I came here. I wanted to remember. Calls were made, Blair. Someone there covered it up. Someone on the Chicago Police Department covered for my father as he tormented us and . . . and hurt us."
She swallowed, and she didn't want to believe him. She wanted him to be remembering incorrectly, or be confused.
He said, "I'm not imagining things."
She said, "All right. Who called?"
He looked to his feet a moment, and kicked at some dirt. "Me."
She realized that she couldn't bear what he was feeling as it seeped into her. She said, "Okay, we're going home, and . . ."
He spoke over her. "I called them. And it was more than once. I just sat here and remembered the first time. No avoiding, no holding back. I just remembered it, smooth, like silk. After two or maybe three calls, I stopped trying. The Coach was the closest I ever got to telling anyone after that. You never wondered why my trying to kill Peter when I was fourteen got pushed under the rug so easily?"
"I didn't think about it, much, Todd." She lied. She had so wondered that, so many times. Why he was at Llanview U and not in prison. Why he lived in Llanview, on his own . . . how he got the fancy sports car people talked about . . .
"I'm going to find out who the cops were that talked to me as a kid. I can still hear the voice of one of them. I'm going to find out, and I'm going to make them pay," he said, and she saw his hands make fists at his sides.
She covered one of them with her hands and brought it to her face. At first, he didn't open his fingers and let his knuckles graze her skin, until, after a few moments, he looked at her. He slowly opened his hand, running his thumb over her cheek and onto her lips. He went to speak, and couldn't.
She said, "We're going home, Todd."
"I can't make it stop, Blair." His eyes filled. "I want them all dead. Someone has to pay for this. Someone has to . . . someone . . ."
She spoke compassionately, but firmer: "We're going home, Todd. To your children, and your life. We'll tell Bo, we'll tell John, we'll tell Jack Ribsky, we'll tell everyone. The law will handle it, Todd. Your father, he's a lawyer. . . "
He removed his hand from her face, and ran it through his hair. He stared out to the shed. "I don't want to tell them, I don't want the law involved. I want to take care of it myself, my way, and I can't make that stop. I can't stop thinking about it, and it means that I'm just like him. That I'm controlled by my anger, that I'm never going to have the life I want, that I'll ruin it somehow, poison it somehow . . . that there's no happiness out there, not really. Not for me."
She said, "Look at me."
She said, "Look at me, Todd Manning."
He did, but his gaze on her face was like a breaking dam for him. When his eyes rested on hers, she saw him struggle to hold back emotion. She softened her voice, and said, "Don't do that. Don't open yourself to that, Todd. You've worked too long against that."
He fell toward her, and his head went to her lap, and she felt his arm wrap around her bent knees. Her tears fell, but silently, and she stroked his head. "You're not Peter, Todd. You never were Peter. We're going home, and deal with it then. Being here, in Chicago, it just brings up this pain and this past. And you have to get rid of it. Your happiness is home, sleeping in a tent right now, made in our bedroom, or little voices asking for stories into the night." She paused, resting her fingers along his scar. "You know that."
"No, not just that," he said, sniffing. "I think my happiness is right here, in my arms," he said, looking up from her lap.
His eyes, beautifully tinted blue under the sky, were all at once sadly hopeful, looking up at her like a child, and she bent toward him and kissed the tip of his nose, while massaging his ear gently. She said, "Well, she's going to take charge, then, and get you home. Let's go, come on. There's nothing here for us, Todd. You've done all you can do."
She gently pushed him to sitting up, so that she could stand, and offer her hand to him. He was hugging his knees, like a boy, and then, took her hand and stood up. He made sure to pick up the Scotch as well.
He took a long breath, and looked out over the back yard. He said, "You know, you're right. It's like poisonous gas being here."
She smiled very lightly, and in her concern for him, her only goal was to get him to the car and out of the neighborhood for good. She said, "Well, let's go then, before we spontaneously combust."
He hesitated, as she tugged lightly on the crook of his arm. His voice cracked, "I can't let go of it, Blair. They have to pay, somehow. It's raging. In me."
"I know, and they will."
He finally moved his eyes off the shed and turned abruptly toward her. "You're not afraid of me? Of what I might do?"
"No. Since when was I afraid of you?" She smiled, and saw him relax a little. She took the bottle from his hand and swigged from it.
"I don't know, maybe one night, in a bar, years ago."
"No, I'm not afraid of what you might do, Todd. They'll get what's coming to them. You have to trust that."
He said, "Okay," in a raspy, tired voice, and she tugged again at his arm, gently, and this time, he went with her.
His hand were shaking, and he said, "I can't drive."
"I know. We'll go in my car, and I'll send someone to get the other one."
"You can't drive, either."
"I'm all right. It was one swallow."
"No, I mean you can't drive. You never could."
"Those are fighting words, Mr. Manning. Come on, get in," she said, opening the door and supporting him as he got in the car. He was spent, physically and emotionally, and almost seemed groggy.
By the time she got to her side of the car, he had closed his eyes and was sleeping.
He hasn't slept a full night in days. He thinks I don't know that.
She started the car and resisted the urge to torch The Monster's house for good.
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Many thanks to our currently featured authors: KARENA ||| CLOUD ||| SCOUT ||| RLEE ||| MONICA ANN ||| MARIA ||| CIMZ
announcements blog owner messages CIMZ CIMZ: R.E.M. CLOUD CLOUD: Battle the Dark CLOUD: Chasing the Monsters CLOUD: Diamond in the Rough CLOUD: Failings of the Fathers CLOUD: Hope from the Ocean CLOUD: The End of Blame CLOUD: The Fourth Life CLOUD: The Shadows Fall CLOUD: The Way Back CLOUD: Todd Revisited (in progress) Coming Soon Full Books Full Books (in progress) INCOMPLETE Karena Karena: Don't Shoot the Messenger Karena: My Brother's Keeper Karena: Port Charles Chronicles Karena: The Mysterious Samuel Toddman Karena: Thomas Lord Cloaked A.K.A. Todd Manning's Remorse Karena: TM RETURN SCENARIOS Karena: Todd's Saga Karena: Todd Manning - Enigma Karena: To Journey's End Karena: Who's the Real Todd? AKA Samuel Toddman (complete) keep MARIA MARIA: Spidey Sam Monica MONICA_ANN MONICA_ANN: Brothers MONICA_ANN: Dance with the Devil MONICA_ANN: The Devil You Know news Novella readers Reissue RLEE SCOUT Short Stories thanks The Alibi Todd's Christmas Story
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We're fortunate to have some really great fanfic authors here at the hub! If you scroll down on left, you will see the most current fanfic posting. To access SPECIFIC BOOKS, use the AUTHOR/TITLE/GENRE GUIDE or the BLOG ARCHIVE.
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, has just reached it's ending. Cloud usually updates very Thursday and Sunday, so look for Book 9, Chasing the Monsters, to start showing up each week. 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, and her reissue of The Mysterious Samuel Toddman in progress.
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.
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.
AND, 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!
We hope you'll enjoy your reading. Since our site is a blog, the posts are listed NEWEST to OLDEST. You can also use the Blog Archive at the right to help you maneuver through the chapters. Adult material is marked as such.