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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Todd Revisited: Brink (Chapter 40)

The scene back at Victor's home wasn't the most welcoming one.  Blair was angry at him, in all her feisty beauty, for getting Starr involved in the escape, and of course, Starr's own decisions were not considered.  It was his fault.  He was almost overtaken at the sight and proximity of her.  But, he was trying to protect her and the children.  The thought of something happening to them, when he was so close to having them back, having her back in his arms, was too frightening to consider.  Drastic times required drastic measures.  So, he broke out, with Starr's adorable help, and ended up facing the music from his wife.  "I'll make everything right," he had told her, and left, but not before remembering the location of the chip, and capturing the ring off Tina's finger.


Tea, who was constantly trying to get his attention to talk legal angles, was also none the happier with his choices.  Tina, who he had not seen in years, was also present (imagine that, a will reading and Tina just appears).  His biggest shock had been two things; Victor's will said he left everything to Irene, and Jack called the police and turned him in.  So, this was what he reviewed in his mind while he made his way to the docks to meet his insane mother.  "This is what I get for making fun of Blair's nutcase side of the family all those years," he said aloud.  He stood, gazing over the ocean, his hair slightly moving in an almost-non-existent breeze, his eyes scanning the ocean for danger.  On his hand, middle finger, the appropriate one even though it did not fit, was his biological father's ring.  He knew he had once worn it, and that he had somehow lost it as well.  Trying to remember the loss of the ring still brought some mild pain to him; he was still not certain how he had gotten into what he had gotten into for the previous eight years.  It seemed his mind wasn't going to allow him to find out, either, at least not yet.


He thought of Jack, how pained he was, and how he knew it was his own fault, for in his own pain, he had given Jack away.  In his own self-loathing, and certainty that Blair could not really love him, or share herself with another man's child and him equally, he had taken the baby away.  Jack's knowledge of this had  to be part of his hatred.  There were few other explanations.  He wished he had that to do over again, so that he could make it up to Jack, somehow, and treat him how he always treated Starr.


Though he was not always perfect with her either, he had loved and bonded with Starr immediately and held her closer to his heart than anything else in his life.  He still could remember the day he left the clinic in Switzerland to board the plane.  He had been tired, from lack of sleep, and edgy with nervous anticipation, but he had sought Tom and Pete relentlessly, and neither appeared.  He had tried every trick he knew, including purchasing a lighter similar to his father's and attempting "the game."  He waited, in the airport that day, with one meager bag of his belongings, and several, shiny, pink and white packages for Blair and the baby.  Everything seemed to be positive ahead.  He would be reunited with his family at last, and was coming back whole.  Certain that Pete and Tom were gone, he had been able to rest on the plane ride.  Well, as certain as he could be without knowing the series of events that followed in 1996.


And, here he stood today, thinking the same kinds of things.  He would be reunited with his family soon, and wanted to be whole.  He wanted to be rid of the past, and rid of the threat of Irene.  He wanted to remember everything, deal with it, and move on from it.  He wanted to make a life with her, more than ever.  He wanted everything back.  Of course, he had nothing to offer them but his love this time, and hoped it would be enough.


Irene came around the corner suddenly, out of the shadows, and proceeded to hold a gun on him while insisting she get the chip, which was embedded in the ring.  At times, during the banter, he could not really wrap his mind around the fact that this was his mother who was holding him at gunpoint; that his mother was the one who was cruel enough to torture him for eight years and slice a scar into his unsuspecting brother's face.  If all of that were true, he still had no proof or memory.  But, this was his mother, who just admitted she had killed poor Louie and thrown him and the gun into the harbor.  In his astonishment, he felt Pete rising up, but cast him down and talked from his soul.


"Give me the ring, Todd, and we can be finished with this, once and for all."


"You sick, disgusting monster."  How many times had that word been hurled at him?  It was perfect for this occasion.


"Is that any way to talk to your mother?"


"You are not my mother.  You ma have given birth to me, but no mother would give her child to the likes of Peter Manning.  You had me locked up, you had me tortured, I was shocked senseless, I was bled white for eight years."


"I really wish you would let this go."


He began to lose composure.  "You kept me from my family.  From all the people that I love.  You took my brother and you just put him in my place..."


"And no one was the wiser."


"And now you've killed Louie?  Louie, who pulled me out of the water.  He saved my life when your goons shot me. Louie was a complete stranger, and he tried to help me, and look at you, you call yourself my mother, you're gonna kill me?"


"Please, Todd, it doesn't have to be this way."


"No, it doesn't!"  He put the ring in front of her.  "You want this so badly, this means so much to you?  Fine!  Go get it!" And he hauled back and chucked the ring into the ocean.


After carrying on for quite some time, screaming various versions of "no" and acting as though she was just murdered herself, Irene became wild-eyed and drew the gun forward toward him.  After a few more words that he shot at her, she boldly shot him, causing him to drop to the pier.  Blood seeped from the wound in his arm, and he struggled to his knees.  


She circled like a lion surveying prey, and held the gun toward the back of his head.  In his attempts to reason with her, he attempted to bargain more, not for himself, but for the fact that after he was dead, she was certain to kill his family, one by one, as promised, and he had to make it right.  Suddenly, just when he expected her to pull the trigger and end his life, he heard a distant ruckuss, reminiscent of the Guy Armitage boat incident.  


Hearing her subsequent words caused him to falter more.  He fought The Dark Mass with every ounce of him.  The pain in his arm was searing, the sound in his ears was deafening, as she explained it was the noise of the death of his family.  The Dark Mass was attempting to take over, put him into a nothingness of escape, while Tom pleaded and cried in the forefront.  Pete plummeted to the front, pushing by Tom and threatening to explode forward, but Todd kept him at bay.  If anything, he would have to do this himself.  Yes, Irene needed to deal with The Real Todd Manning himself.

Todd Revisited: Gone (Chapter 39)

Dr. Asper approached the bed as Todd was slightly dozing.  "Mr. Manning?"


He opened one eye, slyly, lifting an eyebrow. "I hate that name."


Dr. Asper smiled.  He LIKED this guy, regardless of all of the mess.  "All right, Todd.  You requested a session with me?"


"Yep."  Todd sat straight up, and fixed his blankets around him.  He ran his fingers through his hair, and cleared his throat.  "Ok, let her rip."


At this, Dr. Asper threw back his head and laughed.  "Todd, if you requested the session, there must be something you wanted?"


"I want to show you I'm ready to go home."


"Ah, I see."  The doctor paced a bit.  "And how would you do that?  I've already told you what I believe.  Your condition is a miracle and at the same time, it could be a deadly hindrance."


Todd knew his words were truth.  "I just feel the hindrance part is behind me now.  I am ready to go, and I'd rather have your blessing than leave without it."


Dr. Asper squinted a bit.  Somehow, he seemed to see something in Todd that Todd wasn't great at hiding.  "Is this for me, or for you?"


"Both, I am hoping.  So go ahead, take your best shot."


"I don't have a shot to take, we've been here already.  I told you my point of view."


"I want you to ask me things."


"What kind of things?"


"Ask me about . . . well, ask me about . . ."  He paused, seeking Tom and Pete.  Nothing.  "Ask me about my father."


"I've asked you about him before."


"Yeah, but I didn't tell you much."


"No, I suppose you didn't, did you?"


"No."


He sighed.  "All right, Todd, I'll bite.  Tom talked about The Big Truth.  You want to elaborate?"


Todd squirmed slightly in the bed.  Folding his arms over his chest, he spoke, "Sure.  All right.  The Big Truth is what I finally remembered while I was in Ireland."


"And that is?"


"And that is...."  He swallowed, "and that is that my adoptive father, Peter Manning, was a brutal, sadistic asshole."


"In what way?"


"He mistreated me, or us.  I guess me."  Todd stopped, checking.  Nothing.  "He abused me.  Often.  Different ways.  He used me as a punching bag, he humiliated me, emotionally tortured me, never showed me love."  He closed his eyes.  He said in his mind's eye, "Tom?  Tom, are you there?"  Nothing.


"Are you all right?"


"Yes, I am all right.  I need to finish this."   He paused a moment.  "He took everything from me.  He didn't let me sleep, made me fear night and cower from dreams.  He hit me, slapped me, beat me, burned me, tortured me.  He. . ."  Todd stopped, trying to gather his emotion.  No sign of Pete or Tom.  "He did everything someone can do to someone else out of hate."


Dr. Asper found himself lost in Todd's pain for a few moments.  He composed his thoughts as well, and responded.  "Everything?"


Todd knew what he was asking.  It was time he stopped speaking in euphemisms and just admit it.  For the first time, he had to admit it.  It wouldn't be Tom, it would have to be HIM.  His voice, his memories.  "Everything.  Even the worst things."


"You said he burned you?"


"My hands.  He burned my hands.  He made me hold them over flames.  It was one of his favorite games.  At the same time, he was some kind of sick, religious zealot.  He was a member of a cult or something.  He used to read pamphlets from this weird church.  He thought a lot of what he was doing would take the devil out of me.  Boy, was he wrong."


"I see.  You cooperated."


"Sometimes.  Most times.  And when I didn't, it got worse.  I have scars on my back to prove it.  A lot of them have faded but, the idea of them never will, I guess."


"Everything.  That's horrible, really, Todd.  I am sorry that this happened to you."  Todd's face twisted briefly with emotion.  "You must know, it's not your fault.  And you must know why the alters were created then."


Todd nodded.  "I think so.  Tom was born when I was six.  After an incident with my father, I was bleeding from both knees, and dragging myself across the kitchen.  Tom appeared in front of me, he took my hand and he said I would be ok, and then took over for me.  I was standing there watching him drag us to the bathroom, and watching him soak ourselves in a cool bath and put bandaids on our knees.  I noticed that it stopped hurting when Tom took over.  He would cry, but I wouldn't feel it anymore.  We used to take turns."  Todd choked up.  "He was the best friend I had in my whole life.  Without Tom, I am not sure . . ."  


Dr. Asper placed a strong hand on Todd's shoulder.  "A lot of people experience that kind of love for their alters.  It's natural.  They are real to you, and they have helped you survive, which is their purpose, isn't it?"


Todd, composing himself, smiled.  "Yeah, I suppose.  This alters stuff is so hard for me to accept, but I gotta.  Doc, I miss Tom.  I really do.  I call him, and he doesn't come.  This is why I know I am ready."


"Ok."  A long pause.  Both of them were silent.  "What about Pete?"


Todd looked up suddenly.  "What about him?"


"Is he gone?"


Todd searched again, almost wildly.  Calling to Pete, he opened his eyes.  "He won't come."


"When was Pete born?"


Todd ran his fingers through his hair again.  "He was born when my father . . .he was born to protect me from my father."


"You needed protecting a long time.  Why then?  Why wait until you were fourteen?"


Todd was glad that the doctor had gone there.  He waited for Pete to make an appearance, and braced himself to send him right back into the shadows, with Tom's help.  Nothing.  "Pete, come out!"  Nothing.


"He was born then because I was...my father...I was sexually abused for the first time then."


He held his breath.  In light of what he was used to, Pete was coming, and would be storming the place.  Still, nothing.


He opened his eyes again, looking at Dr. Asper.  "Please, let me go.  Please.  I need my wife. She quiets everything in me that's churning and storming."  He let it all go, and tears came.  "I need to be back to her.  I know Pete's gone and I can keep him that way, with her help.  Please.  I have a baby coming."


Dr. Asper sighed, a longer one than ever.  "I can't keep you here, I told you that.  You want me to say you're healed, you're integrated, no more Pete, no more Tom."


"Yeah, I do."


"You're afraid of Pete coming back and what he might do to Blair, and to the baby.  You're afraid that Pete will take over and that he will rape your daughter.  Isn't that what you're scared of?"


Todd closed his eyes.  Expecting a surge of pain and a raging hot flash that moved from his gut to his head, and Pete's growling response, he waited.  Nothing.


"He's gone."


"Who?"

"Pete.  Well, both of them.  They are gone.  There's nothing there, I've tried.  I called them, and I baited them.  Nothing."


"You want me to say you're ok, then?"


"Yes."


Dr. Asper picked up his clipboard.  "Todd, I can't keep you here, you can sign yourself out at any time.  You know that.  But I also can't tell you something that I don't believe to be true.  I do believe you want him gone, and I do believe that for now, he's quiet.  But I don't believe that at the first sign of trouble, he won't be there, again, in full force.  Do you?"


Todd refolded his arms.  "I have to go."


"Then I cannot stop you.  If you have to go, you have to go.  But I won't tell you it's over."  And with that, Dr. Asper placed the discharge papers, requiring Todd's signature, on the side table and left.  Todd didn't know then that he'd never see the doctor again.  


He turned, picked up the white sheet, signed it with determination, and leaped from the bed, grabbing his things and shoving them into the bag Lily had given him.  "You're wrong, doc, you're just plain wrong.  Pete's gone, Tom's gone and I'm gone - back to Llanview."


He sat up quickly when he heard the guard rounding the corner and clanging other doors to other cells.  Lunch was coming.  More baloney.  He rolled his eyes.  Stretching, he reminded himself of how his dreams were complex metaphors or remembrances as usual, but not as upsetting as they could be.  Then his lunch was slid under the bars.  He opened the meal, not excitedly, and found an envelope draped across his food.  It was addressed to "Todd Manning."


When he opened it, his heart leaped into his throat.  A death threat, penned in perfect penmanship by none other than Irene, his mother, was intent with leveling his family to nothingness.  He had to get out.


Just then, as if by fate, Starr came close to the bars.  Within moments, he had told her the threats and also requested her assistance in helping him escape.  She was beautiful, all of 20 years old, and standing there, with the same eyes she had years back when she wanted to please him and help him in some connivance.  She sparkled with anticipation as she organized her plan.


"Are you pre-med?"  He asked.


"I'm going to be a singer."


"A singing doctor?"


Before long, she had the plan in motion, and after dumping water on him to simulate sweating, she put on her act, crying to the guards and pleading with them to save her father from his heart attack.  


When he ever looked up from the floor and saw her holding a gun on the two guards, he was plain puzzled.  This little girl, his little girl, holding  weapon on two trained cops?  It was almost too much, and he stopped to wonder if he still was dreaming by chance.


What flashed in the next two minutes included him tying and gagging them at her insistence, them breaking out and Starr throwing the guns, unfortunately to him, into a vacant cell nearby.


He put his arm around her, and with pride embellishing his swagger, they walked off.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Todd Revisited: Endurance (Chapter 38)

Tea looked at him in that way she always did, that he now recognized as a tinge of disgust, some fear, and a lot of discernment.  He couldn't help but smile, since he'd gotten her to come there, and he knew it was his daughter Dani that made it happen.  He had gotten through to Daniella.  It meant the world to him that his daughter believed in him enough to get Tea there.  So, the smile cracked and brimmed over.  Since he returned, he had never been so happy to see someone standing outside his cell.


After some of his best flattery, cutest smiles and conniving comments about Dani, he had won.  She finally agreed to defend him, and that meant a lot.  He knew that if the widow of the man who was murdered was defending him, no jury would see him as guilty.  His strategy was still perfection, after all these years.  When she left, he sat alone, trying to be patient, for the time he would be set free and be able to pursue making things right with his family at last.  Being alone in the cell was not as bad now, since someone actually believed him, he sat back and rested his head against the industrial pillow and closed his eyes.


He was going to get out of this prison, this hospital bed that reminded him too much of Statesville and the hell he endured there.  A rapist in jail is not given too many breaks or thought of too highly.  He'd been through the worst, and more, but what could they do to him that he had not endured before?  After all, that was Pete.  He was going to get out of the clinic and return home, and it was going to be today.


The morning could not come fast enough for him.  As part of his plan, he intended to remain awake all night, meet with the doctor in the morning, spring himself, and sleep on the plane home.  The last time he had been on a plane was his private one, on the journey to save Marty.  His heroics now sickened him.  He had wasted so much time.  He had left his wife and baby daughter behind to help Marty.  He knew why, but it still made no sense now, after all that had happened.  He didn't even know, as he sat in the pristine whiteness of the Swiss clinic, if Marty even made it back in time to give Paloma the Pooka.  But, he would find out, eventually.  Something about the little girl had tugged at his heart, despite the fact that she was dying.  She was ALONE.  Like he was at her age.  No mother to care for her, and no one else who gave a damn.  


He had a long time to wait.  It was just getting dark, which meant at least 12 more hours of waking.  He was an expert on avoiding sleep, and somehow trained himself to get 1 or 2 hours at a time, as not to get into deep sleep and dreaming.  It started when he was a kid.  he'd try and stay awake so Peter would not come in and scare him awake.  He'd be prepared.  And, when he was older, he stayed awake to make sure Peter didn't hurt him again, The Big Truth way.  Pete had kept a baseball bat next to the bed, and was primed to beat Peter's head in if he so much as approached the bed.  He didn't sleep much and learned to live without it.  No one even knew, not even Todd, that Pete was in charge from the time he was fourteen until the day Suede Pruett died, and later, at his mother's cabin, when he broke down with Rebecca.  That was Todd.  He still slept very little, but after marrying Blair and finally feeling "happy," he learned to sleep a bit more.  He was still always awake after her and up before her.  


For a moment, he lost himself in the thoughts of her, in the sunlit room, waking and bringing him a tray of breakfast in their bed.  Her hair was hanging, shining, and she reached and tucked his behind his ear, stroked his cheek, and told him she was glad that he was the one she found.  And though things were never perfect with them, he loved her just the same, his heart overflowing with the knowledge of it.  He had to get out of this prison and return to her.


It had been a long night, waiting for morning and Dr. Asper.  His thoughts had taken hold and occupied him for most of it.  He did sleep, but carefully only two hours or so.  He had gotten out of bed and walked the halls, no one even noticing.  It occurred to him that he could have easily gotten away, but it wasn't like he was being held against his will.  He had to make certain that Pete was gone, so he could not come out and harm Blair and the baby.  


Deep down, he believed that Pete wouldn't harm them.  Blair had brought him so much, made him see so many things.  She saw things, also, that other people didn't.  She saw him in a way no one else did, too.  He did believe that Pete would spare them, but he knew he had to be certain.  Which brought him to his plan.  


He knew Dr. Asper would try and bring Pete out; he'd done it intentionally before to get Todd to see he was not in control.  Todd had spent hours working it through his mind.  He knew he could contain Pete, and would also have to contain Tom.  Neither could exist without the other, at this point, unless one was in control, then the other was always waiting in the wings.  With both of them pushed back into the shadows, he was in full control and could protect his family. He hadn't seen or heard Tom or Pete since he sent Tom away for the last time.  It still brought a lump into his throat to think of it, but what was done was done.


The sun through the panes was making patterns on his bed.  It warmed him, and felt good, and safe.  He had a good feeling about this day, he was pretty certain it was going to lead to his return to his family and his home.  He missed the penthouse, with the wall of glass overlooking the city.  He missed Blair, and her accepting arms and body.  He missed the baby he did not meet yet - heck, he missed it all.  Determined, he folded his arms and waited for Dr. Asper's appearance.



Sunday, September 25, 2011

Todd Revisited: Scarred (Chapter 37)

He turned and tossed on the bunk, salvaging pieces of dreams, each time he woke; Jack coming and calling him Dad; Blair lying beside him, sometimes on top of him, sometimes under.  He could see it clearly, even though it seemed like years since he held her that way; Starr and Hope in the sunlight, both dressed in gowns like the toys Hope played with; him, as Beast, spinning Hope in the air; and him, years back, in a clinic, away from his wife and daughter a different time and place.


"I don't want either of you back, again.  And I will make it happen.  I'll prove it."  A piece of him felt pangs when he said it; he really didn't want to let go of Tom, ever, but he seemingly had no choice, because whatever he was telling himself about Pete, was making Tom go, too.  He waited the rest of the morning and into the afternoon for a response regarding Dr. Asper.  Around 2:00 p.m. he got one.


"Mr. Manning, the doctor says he will see you tomorrow."


"Tomorrow?  What, he's too busy today?"


"This is what he has told me to report to you.  He will see you tomorrow, first thing in the morning."


"All right,"  he decided to lay low and not cause a scene.  After all, why would he be so enthusiastic about seeing the doctor?  It might cause suspicion.  "Thank you."


The nurse exited, and the sway of her reminded him slight of Alice, the nurse he'd met during his time on parole.  


He jumped from sleep.  Alice.  She was a little thing, but something very sweet about her kept with him, even now.  Then, with more thought, he realized it was that she had tried to believe in him, even when no one could.  She was probably the first one, aside from Blair, who ever really did give him that after the rape.  Rebecca, well she was infatuated with him.  And now, she was dead.  He thought of her soft curls and innocent eyes, and paused to gather himself.


He sat up on the bunk.  He was able to see now, after really being in love with someone, and finding his life's kindred soul, that Rebecca was more in love with the idea of his darkness than anything else, but at the same time, she had shown him he could change.  He was able to keep this in his heart and mind's eye as a reminder of what he had with Blair.  Somehow, the two of them had come full-circle and were made for each other in so many ways.  It had taken him longer than he wanted to admit to learn it, but now it was an indelible lesson that was never to be erased.  And somehow, he had to get OUT of this jail cell and back to her to tell her just that.  First, prove his innocence, or better yet, get Tea to do it.


He remembered all too clearly the time in the clinic in Ireland.  He momentarily looked down and could still "see" the lacerations on his wrists from his own scratching in terror, but blinked to see them gone.  Touching his face, the scar on his cheek was the same as it was in the Swiss clinic.  Throughout everything, the scar was there.  And he knew, right then, that moment, back in 1996, in his deepest place, the scar WOULD HAVE TO BE THERE for the rest of his life.  Regardless of his money, or his resources, he couldn't take it off or get it removed.  He brought his hand to his face and felt it again.  When he was in that clinic all those years ago, there was the perfect chance to have it removed, if he had really wanted to.  Money was no object and there were experts all around.  But he knew, as he did now, the scar HAD TO STAY.  It reminded him of who he was and who he could have been if it were not for the love of people like Rebecca, and Vicki, and Blair.  It was a reminder that would keep him remembering where he had come from and how far apart he was from that man, as well as how close that man was to emerging if he allowed it.


No, the scar stayed.


So much had happened.  And, somehow, he found himself in a cage, again.  With his brother dead, his son wanting HIM dead, and his resources all gone, he could do nothing more than put his head into his hands.  Except, there, for the last few days across from him, was his mother, Irene, sitting casually by, like a lizard waiting to reach with its tongue and grab any passing fly.  At this point, though, he  knew he and his family were the morsels.  Finally, he had found some peace when Bo came to remove her from his sight.  In one way, he was infuriated to think she was free.  In another way, he was calmer and more focused on the future and his way out of the trouble he was in, with her gone.  She seemed to be an open door to the past eight years for him.


Listening to her had been torture in itself, but when near her, he could only think more about his own torture and suffering over the last 8 years.  With the quiet, he could plan how to get out, he could search his own mind for the location of the "it" she wanted.  Knowing he was nothing more than a tool to her, he had wished for silence or a way to block out her voice, and now, he was alone.  


Just then, a distant cage door opened and standing before him was Tea. 


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Todd Revisited: Quest (Chapter 36)

After Natalie let him have it with the description of the truth about his son, Todd was determined to find him.  He knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but bigger even than that.  It was more difficult than an uphill battle while carrying two kids on his back.  For a moment, he flashed on the seconds that he reached the top of the mountain with CJ on his back and Jessica cradled in his arms.  And he had made it, somehow, he had found the strength to get them to the top, and then, go back for Marty, and do the same with her.


Jack had been destroyed by having Victor as his father.  This Todd knew.  Blair was defenseless, in her own way, against the mechanisms of a pseudo-savant who was playing brainwash.  As much as he loved her, she was no Einstein.  As much as he loved her.  He so deeply knew he did, the question was, what could he do about it, and why didn't she seem to feel the same?  Or why wouldn't she let herself be with him?


The conversation with her began with the typical shouting back and forth, who blames who, same old song.  Until he saw the pain in her face, he would have proceeded, but he knew he had changed.  It had taken years,  loss, near death, and eight years of torture and separation, but he had changed.  None of them could even see it yet; it was too early and their wounds were all still open from the havoc of Victor.  Nevertheless, her face showed how hard it had been to raise her children essentially alone, since Todd would never count Victor as a parent to his children, after the things he did to both of them.  He was certain, as he stood there, that there was more than met the eye regarding Jack and his beloved Victor.


She was surprised when he attempted to take the blame for everything Jack was, because in his heart, he knew that he had something to do with it.  Jack's start as an angelic faced baby that smiled at every turn had been thwarted by being separated from his own mother, at Todd's doing.  He'd never forgive himself for that now, especially since it seemed it doomed Jack from the start.  But Blair had other ideas.  She truly believed that there was hope for Jack, and that he was better than both of them.  Though he'd never admit it, Todd was not sure of that.


Reflecting back on the conversation with her, he realized how much he did not want to have it end the way it did, or be as short as it was, or as full of blame.  He wanted to do it over, and at some point he would, he'd find a way.  His heart had never been torn at as much as it did when she began to cry.  Her tears always brought something from within him to the surface.  So, he had reached to touch her in comfort, and the next thing he knew, she was in his arms, and he held her, turning his head toward her to be able to take in the smell of her hair, which hadn't changed much, when Jack stormed in.


He'd been faced with a lot of anger in his life, but to see his own son seething at him was a switch.  He had always been the seething son, and here he was, the father in the mix.  And slowly, he was starting to see what had been created in his absence, and how deeply wounded his child was.  Jack's words cut like knives, but Todd was resilient; he had been through worse and would probably face more along the way.  But the bitterness in his son was palpable and real.  He and Blair had stood there in the wake of it, hearing the echoes of "Scarface" through the room.  


He had promised they'd fix it, and they would.  And in the past, he did fix things, but never the right way.  He promised himself right then that it would be the right way and not in a way to hurt anyone ever again.  If only he had thought this way fifteen years ago, things could have been so much different for all of them.


He wasn't afraid, even though he probably should have been.  Some doctor's warning had never been enough to stop him.  Even a seeping stab wound and an admonition had not curtailed his efforts to leave the hospital to try and save Rebecca from Powell, with Blair's help of course.   And, it occurred to him, even then she was always his partner in crime - in everything.


He missed her enough to know it was time.  How he would do it was the question, but the idea of leaving was the answer.  And he would, whatever it took.


He searched his mind for Tom, who was nowhere in sight, and in truth, he missed him terribly already. Tom was, as simple as he was, a touchstone and a way to smooth things over in his head since The Big Truth had made itself known.  Now the question was, 'Is The Big Truth the reason I left to go to Ireland?'  Did something make him leave and draw him to the occasion of near-death, so all could be revealed?  These were queries he'd been tossing about since the first time he remembered his name.


Within him, he knew that he would never have another child.  There could be no other child brought into this world with a father like him.  He was unstable, had other people running around in his mind, his adoptive father was a rapist and a sadist, his biological father was a pedophile.  He had no model of what or who to be, and he was even terrified of the baby that was coming, a baby girl.  But running away wouldn't solve it because in him was a draw even greater; to have a family and to be loved.  He had so much trouble facing both of those things over the years, but they were larger than life for him.  He wanted a family.  A real one.  He wanted to have this with Blair.  Not the kinds of things he remembered in The Big Truth as family, but the things he had watched in other families and viewed in television sitcoms.  He knew it was out there, he just had to make it his own.  And the time was right for him, because soon, Blair would be having their baby, and wrapping it in white packaging, and carrying it with care from place to place, and setting the little one near her heart, and letting him set them both near his.


He searched his mind again, this time with dread, for Pete.  Nothing was there.  He called to him, "Pete.  I know you're there, show yourself, or are you afraid of ME now?"


Nothing.


"Pete, let's go.  What are you, a girl?  A woman?  Come out here and face me."


Nothing.


He spoke aloud to himself, "Oh great, Todd, as if Pete's going to get enraged by YOU?"  Then it came to him.  A test.  He had to experience one final test to be certain Pete was under control and that he held that control in his grasp.  He returned to his bed, crawled in, and hit the buzzer.  A nurse followed a few minutes later.


"Yes Mr. Manning?"


"I hate that name.  Anyway, I want to see that doctor, the one, you know that Johan guy.  I am requesting to have a session with him."


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Todd Revisited: Denial (Chapter 35)

Sleep had never come easy, and that night was no exception.  No matter how he turned, or moved, or adjusted, he felt as if he were on needles.  He needed to feel safer, and he needed to feel accepted again by the person who mattered most.  It seemed so long off.


His life-battle with sleep was an uphill one at best.  From being six and dragged out of bed by his collar and tormented by his "father," to spending more time working in evenings than days, to denying himself sleep to avoid dreams, to breaking in to Blair's room at Asa's home to just be able to sleep by her and Starr, Sleep seemed to be the elusive dame in his journey.  And, here he was, beckoning her, but Sleep still turning her nose up at him and heading the other way, hips swaying.  He turned on his side, and decided to try a few tricks from the past.  These tricks he not only used to help him beat insomnia, he also used them to distract from the pain of the torture he experienced for the last eight years.  


First, he would review all of the names of all of Starr's reptiles and insect pets.  He would recite each name and a short description, and if there were a story to go with the pet, he would tell it to himself.  


Another was to pretend he did not want Sleep after all and play hard to get.  He'd get up, work, or do something else.  But, of course, at this point, he had no work and he had nothing else.  And the nap in the park for a few hours earlier was certainly making it harder.


Last, he would imagine Blair in every outfit he had ever seen her.  He would start at the first time he saw her, the white blouse with small stripes and ruffles at the collar, with her hair curled about her shoulders, cascading to the center of her back.  He would go from that to the next, and the next, and the next; snowpants and a puff coat with a scarf; her Christmas dress with the glittery bands on the sleeve ends, and so forth, until Ms. Sleep finally crept into his arms.


"Are you awake, Todd?"


He peeled his eyes open and glanced over his shoulder.  It was the doctor, and he was perched on the edge of the bed.  "I am now."  Todd stretched a bit, and turned toward him.


"Todd, do you feel rested?  Are you all right?"


"I guess, yeah.  I feel all right.  How long did I sleep?"


"This time, you slept from yesterday afternoon until 9 am this morning.  I was going to allow you to sleep longer, and I can if you prefer, but I also thought we might have a talk."


"About what?"  Todd pushed himself up a bit.


"About your treatment, your care.  About your progress.  Example, how are your wrists healing up?  May I?"


"Sure,"  he pulled his arms from beneath the covers.  The air was intrusively cold.  He had been deeply snuggled in under the sheets and the soft blanket.


Dr. Asper checked them carefully.  "Uhuh, they seem to be healing fine.  Do you remember how you got those?"


Todd squinted a little.  He felt a pang of knowing as to where the conversation would lead.  "No, I don't.  I don't care to, either.  I really want out of here.  That is why I am actually glad you did wake me.  I want to talk about being discharged."


"Discharged, yes.  I am sure you do want to talk about that.  I've not really introduced myself.  I'm Dr. Asper, Johan Asper.  I am not the typical doctor here at the rehabilitation center."


"Meaning?"


"Meaning, I am a psychiatrist, Todd.  I was called in the moment you collapsed in the waiting room and they determined that there was acute exhaustion and extreme confusion.  Of course, it takes someone that studies different kinds of mental health issues to determine the real cause for all of it.  Why you don't sleep well, why you miss spaces of time, and why you appear confused and prone to extreme mood swings."


"You're getting at what, Dr. Asper?  Because I came here for rehab, not for a shrinking."


Dr. Asper smiled.  "I like your style.  You're quite an interesting person.  You're uniquely to the point.  You're not here for a shrinking."


"No, I'm not."


"But this shrinking is what you need.  And, Todd, I fear that without it, something very terrible could eventually happen.  It would be what they used to call a 'nervous breakdown.'  I fear it could include a full-mental collapse.  In time.  But with treatment, and counseling, we could teach you ways to manage it and live normally."


Todd folded his arms over his chest.  "No.  I have to get out of here.  And you're not going to stop me.  I have a child on the way.  I have to get home.  My wife . . . she needs me and I," he stopped, choking up, "and I need her.  She quiets my head down.  She makes things right."


Dr. Asper listened intently.  "She sounds like someone that loves you very much.  Let me call her, and she can come here and live here while you are in treatment.  We have a full facility, she can give birth here, if she has not already, and she and the child can be part of your recovery."


"I can't.  I have to go home to her.  I don't want anyone poking around in my head and I'm fine.  Are my physical injuries a problem?"


"No.  In fact, Dr. Allen states that all of your physical ailments are gone.  With the exception of the wrist injuries and the stiffness in your back and legs, you're perfectly fine.  You've healed well."


Todd flashed on Aman and Lilly's faces when he told them it was time to go.  "I had great caretakers, the best."


"I'm certain of that.  But Todd, I cannot force you to stay here, this I know.  By law, you have to commit yourself to this process.  I can't detain you; it would be unlawful restraint, and even if I appealed to a higher authority, you would get around it by making certain that your other two alters were quiet when you were interviewed.  This I know from experience.  You would give all of your effort and emotion to controlling them."


Todd was shocked, and certain it showed on his face.  "Alters?  What are you talking about?"


"Todd, please.  I've just told you that I can't force you to stay here against your will.  What difference will it make if you admit the truth to me?"


Todd thought for a moment.  Tom was shaking his head, "Tell him Todd.  He's nice.  He can help us!"  Pete was nowhere to be seen for the moment.  Something had silenced him a bit.


"Ok let's say I DO know what you are talking about.  What does it matter?  It doesn't change anything.  I have to go home, I need her.  I need to be with my wife and my new baby daughter.  I need to get back to my life.  And I don't need your help."


"Again, I can't force you to stay.  I just want to caution you.  You're not as in control as you think you are."


"I am.  I definitely am.  I can control my own life, and if I am with her, I will be fine.  All of the noise and commotion in here fades."  He touched his finger to the side of his head.


Dr. Asper stood up.  "Todd, I fear this is a grand mistake.  Possibly the largest one you've ever made.  Again, it's against my better judgement to encourage you to do anything but let me help you.  I have a great amount of experience with multiple personality disorders of all kinds, including DID.  I can help."


"You're sick.  You just want another patient to examine and get well-known for.  I don't have 'alters' or anything else.  I just needed sleep.  Acute exhaustion, wasn't it?"  He turned his head.  Regrouping, he said, "You're imagining things.  I'm not going to be your pin cushion or your poster boy for wackos.  I want to get out of here."


"I see."  Dr. Asper stood looking at him, planning his next move.  "You're ready to face the world, now that you have remembered that you were raped by your father as a boy?"


Todd jumped from the bed, and grasping the doctor's coat by the collar, he jacked him up.  "You shut your filthy sick mouth before I shut it for you!"  


Tom scrambled inside Todd's mind.  "Pete!  Pete!  Stop!  Todd, stop him now!"


Todd was right on the case, though, before Tom even spoke.  Letting go of the coat, he forced Pete back into the shadows and settled himself.  Changing his facial expression, he said, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that.  I was not really prepared for that, and people won't just be walking up to me saying it at home.  Now that I know it happened, it's over.  I'm fine."


Dr. Asper said, "I accept your apology Todd, but that was Pete's doing, and you know this."


Todd said nothing.  Tom cried out, "Talk to him Todd!  Maybe you should listen."  


Dr. Asper continued. "And, what makes you think Pete will stop himself when he's confronted with things back home?  When he's taking care of a little girl?  When things go wrong, or you go without sleep, or when you are confronted with being intimate with your wife for the first time again after your experiences?  Or what about when you have to explain to your wife all about your life while you were gone?"


Todd sat on the edge of the bed.  "Doctor, I appreciate this concern.  But I promise you, when she's with me, things are so different.  I'd never let Pete near my daughter or near Blair again, I'd die first."


The doctor made no hesitation.  "Possibly, yes."


Todd turned away.  "I'm sorry, I'd like to be alone now.  Please go away."


Dr. Asper did as Todd asked, without looking back.  


Todd looked out the window.  It was a gorgeous day, and he wondered how Blair was doing without him.  He knew he wasn't doing so well without her.  His eyes filled with tears.  "I gotta go home.  Tom?  I gotta go home."


"I know, Todd, I know you wanna.  But, Todd, what about Pete?  What if Johan is right?"


"I can control Pete.  I'll prove I can.  First, we gotta do without sleep.  The less hours the better. I'll keep it to two hours at a time."


"Todd, is that good for us?  I mean, don't we need more?"

"I don't need more," he said, pacing.  "I can do it.  Done it before."


"Ok Todd, I believe you.  But what about Pete?"


"I'm getting to that."  He stopped and paused by the window.  The curtains were white and blowing slightly in the breeze.  His hair, just above his shoulders, moved gracefully in the air.  He hugged himself across the chest.  "I'll just make sure Pete never comes back."


"How?  He was born, like me, Todd.  He was born to protect you.  You know it.  Well, now you do."


"If there's nothing to protect me from, then what?  I don't need protection, Tom.  I'm strong."


"But Todd, you can't just make it all go away . . ."


"Oh yes I can, Tom, shut up!  Quiet!  It's done, it's gone.  No more!  Don't you ever talk to me about it again.  Ever.  Don't ever bring up what happened with Peter Manning or in Ireland again."


Tom  had jumped almost out of his skin.  Todd had never spoken to him that way.  He slowly took steps backward.  "Ok, ok, Todd.  Ok.  I won't."  As Tom moved back toward the shadows, he quietly said, "I'm scared, Todd.  I'm real scared."  And with that, he was gone.


Todd's eyes had been brimming with tears, and just then, watching his life-long friend and protector vanish, he was unsure where life would take him.  Now that he had known about Tom for months, could he really live without him?  He would work at it, day and night, to make certain that Pete never set foot out again.  And if that meant Tom had to go, too, then Tom had to go, too.  He brushed the tear away with his hand, catching sight of the healing gouges on his wrist.  The words of the doctor came back to him; ". . .something very terrible could eventually happen.  It would be what they used to call a 'nervous breakdown.'  I fear it could include a full-mental collapse."  And at the same time, he heard Blair's voice, as she stood in the stables, with her green eyes focused on his, "What are you afraid of, Todd?"  


He was afraid of nothing, and no one, and certainly not a figment of his imagination named Pete. 


Todd woke at the first light of dawn.  Ms. Sleep had met her match, and his dreams were full of light and color and the past.  Remembering his letting go of Tom had made him wake up wistful, even though the boy later made an appearance more than once over the years, and had returned to him, full-time, after whatever had happened in 2003.  If it were not for Tom and Pete during the eight years of captivity, and yes, even The Dark Mass, he knew he would not have been whole and able to return to his life.


He knew what he had to set out to do that day, and wasn't really looking forward to it as much as to seeing her.  Or possibly seeing her.  Even if they fought, or did their "dance," or just saw each other, it was a sight he so needed, for as he had always said, when she was around, all the noise and the craziness in his head was fixed.


Todd Revisited: Assistance (Chapter 34)

The doctor fixed his clothing and rubbed at his neck.  He jotted some more notes on a pad and shrugged off the incident, as the orderlies raced into the room.  Todd was already out, like a light.


"Doctor, we heard the commotion outside..."


"It's over with, gentlemen.  Thank you, though."


"You ok, Dr. Asper?"


"I am fine.  The patient, well that is another case altogether."  Dr. Asper walked from the room, shaking his head.  The orderlies followed.


It was not until the next day, when light poured into the room from the windows, that Dr. Asper came back to see the patient stirring in the bed, rubbing his eyes with his fists like a child, and yawning, carelessly.


"Doc? Are you ok? God Doc, we're sorry!"

The doctor looked at Todd quizzically. "Todd?"

"No, he can't talk right now, he's . . . he's . . . unavailable I guess." Tom yawned. "Did you give us a shot or something?  We felt a pinch.  Well, I mean, I did."

The doctor nodded, scribbling something on his notepad. "And you are?"

"My name's Tom." He extended a hand, and the doctor took it and shook it, smiling again.

"Hi, Tom. Nice to meet you. And I mean that.  I am really concerned about . . . all of you."

Tom smiled. "All of us?  You mean, you know?"

Dr. Asper nodded.  "I just want you to relax, Tom, and not worry.  I'm not going to hurt you, or judge you."

"That's nice, because a lot of people probably would.  Not Aman and Lilly, though, they loved us.  Even Pete."

"Can you tell me about Pete?"

"I'm really not supposed to talk about it, Doc.  Honest, you seem nice and everything, kinda like Coach, but it's really supposed to be private."

"But Tom," he paused, patting the patient's shoulder, "this can't go on.  You know?  Don't you think that . . . that Todd is tired, or needs some kind of support?"

"Pete won't let you.  That's all I'll say.  Something bad could happen."

"Like what?"

"Pete's real mean. But he has a reason. We all do, kind of. I just can't be mean because I know it's wrong.  I help Todd.  He and me, we take care of each other."

"Why do you have to help Todd?" The doctor asked.

"You know, Doc, I am really tired of saying Doc. Do you have a name or something?" He talked through yawning.

The doctor smiled. "Sure. I'm Dr. Asper. But you can call me Johan."

"Ok. Cool!"

The doctor continued to be amazed.  The young man he was speaking to could not have been more than 13 or 14 years old.  "Now, you were saying about helping Todd?"

"Yeah." Tom became agitated, "I help him, but I'm not supposed to tell anyone what I help him with."

"He might not. But he also might need you to tell someone."

"We just told Aman and Lilly.  They were the first people who ever knew.  Well, outside of us, and Peter."

"Peter?"

"Peter Manning.  Our father.  Well, he adopted Todd.  Our real father was Victor."  The face changed.  "He was a really bad guy, too."

"I see.  Well, Tom, don't you want Todd to get well, and be able to leave here?  He's really tired, he's not slept well in what seems to be weeks."  

"He HAS to get better, Johan.  He has a wife and a baby waiting."

Dr. Asper showed concern on his face, and folded his arms, crossing to the window and looking out.

Tom thought about it. Pete was nowhere. Todd was . . . staring off. Tom had seen him that way before, like he was studying nothing.  "I know what you're thinking about, Johan.  You're thinking how can he go home to his baby and his wife if . . . if we're around?  Especially Pete."

The doctor turned quickly and reapproached the bed.  "Yes, Tom, I was thinking that.  Aren't you?  I mean, you would love and care for that baby.  You would help his wife.  What would Pete do?"

"Pete might stay away.  Blair was the only person who ever got us to stay quiet.  Todd didn't need wither of us much when she was there.  He kinda didn't even remember us.  I don't think he even really KNEW about us until . . . well, it's hard to explain.  He kinda knew, but he didn't, you know?"

"Yes, I know.  I'd like to speak to Todd, if you don't mind, Tom?"

Tom checked back and saw Todd still motionless.  "He's not able to talk now."

"I know. But you are. Right?  You are able to talk and you are able to get him the help he needs, right?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"Do you want to tell me anything?  Is there something you think that if I knew, I could help Todd?"

"I dunno.  I mean, can you help us? No one has really been able to help us, mostly 'cause Todd didn't even know that Pete was in charge for a while. Then, Pete did some really bad stuff. Then, Todd pushed Pete back really really far, and he didn't come out for a long time. Plus, Todd was happy. Like I said, Blair makes me and Pete both be quiet. For a long time.  Probably, if we went home, he'd be okay and we could be quiet again."

"Why aren't you quiet now, Tom?"  

Tom thought about it for quite a bit.  "Maybe 'cause Todd got shot, and it was like the day or two after he finally married Blair for real.  He was so happy.  We didn't come out at all, because he was so in love with her and ready for a new life.  It didn't look like he needed us.  But, then he finally remembered it all.  He was separated from her so long, and he almost died.  And, when he was with Lilly and Aman, he was in so much pain.  It took him so long to get better and not hurt so much."  Tom thought more, "I dunno, it was just too much to take, I guess.  We had nightmares every night.  We hadn't had nightmares since . . ."

"Since?  Tell me more, then.  You've already started.  I promise to never hurt Todd."

"Statesville.  Todd was in jail once for bad stuff."

"Did he hurt people?"

"No.  It was Pete.  But, Todd had to pay for it."

"And since the jail, had he done anything else bad?"

"Well, Pete came out once and almost made Todd lose Blair forever, but she forgave us because she loves us."

Dr. Asper stopped and let Tom rest a moment, smiling.  "It's good that you are loved by her.  What did Pete do to make her almost go away?"

Tom thought about it. Pete was not there, Todd was still not moving, not stepping forward, not stopping him. "I'll only say it because . . . I trust you, you seem like you really want to help."

"I do.  Isn't that why Todd is here?"

"Yeah."  He stopped.  He had started tossing an empty cup in the air, watching it.  "I guess so."  He grabbed the cup at last and put it down on the table.  "He almost did to her what our father did to us . . . and what Pete did to the girls."

Dr. Asper stopped short. Wiping his glasses, he returned them to his face. "Really? What was that?"

"Well, one night, Todd though that Blair didn't love him, that she was with some other guy. So he almost raped her."

Dr. Asper stopped for a moment, scribbling on his pad. "Is that what happened to you?"

"Yeah, kinda, I mean, no, not me, Todd. He wouldn't let me take it for him. It was real bad. Pete was born that night, you know. Then there were three of us. Pete tried to kill our Dad."

"And when were you born?"

"When Todd was six."

Dr. Asper found the ability to smile. "Thanks, Tom, I really appreciate talking to you. You were really helpful.  You should be proud of yourself, because, after all, this was hard but it was something that will end up helping all of you.  You know that."

"Sure thing, I like to help. That's what I do. Is Todd going to be ok?" Tom winced.

"Yes, I think he will.  If he gets the proper help.  Now get some rest."

"I don't see Pete. Who will stop the dreams?  The bad ones?  They've been real bad since we got here and Todd started to sleep again."

"Don't worry about the dreams. I will be right outside the door, if you need me, just call. You won't even have any tonight, because you really helped Todd. You're all going to be able to rest.  Watch and see!"

"Gee thanks, Johan. Todd's not been able to sleep good since The Big Truth came out. He kept himself awake on purpose most of the time. He didn't want us to see the dreams anymore." He yawned again, closing his eyes. "Thanks a lot, Johan. Todd will really appreciate it.  Even though you gave us that shot, we're pretty tired."  Tom settled back, pulling the covers to his chin.  "I don't know why we're so tired, but . . ."

"That's okay, Tom.  Just take a little nap.  Rest as long as you like." Dr. Asper said. He turned and walked, surprisingly needing a little support from the bed rails, as he watched the young man fall into sleep, a teenage expression of peace over his angelic, though scarred, face.

Todd woke up on the park bench where he and Blair "met."  He liked to call it that because they really "saw" each other for the first time there, even though they had talked before at Rodi's, the bench was the first time they actually "saw" who the other was.  He remembered he could barely walk away from her that night, and she did the same.  Here it was, all these years later, and he still could not walk away.  The sky was dark now, stars were sparkling here and there, the moon was casting light over him, and he knew what he had to do.  He'd find some place to spend the night, heck, he could even go back to Viki's and get in without talking to her if he needed to; he knew all the ins and outs of Llanfair.  Then, he'd keep trying to prove his innocence, and like Tom back in the clinic, he'd need help, and he'd find it.  He still couldn't really claim his life with this accusation of guilt on his head.  First, clear name, second, clear Victor's bank account and return it to the rightful owner, third, clear the way for The Mannings.