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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Fourth Life: Chapter 40


She was walking, in a dark hallway, dressed in a white nightgown, with multiple doors surrounding her, not knowing which one to enter.  She kept her hand on her belly, protectively, and used the other to knock.  None of the knocks elicited an answer, so she continued.  The walls were blood red, the doors were black, and there was little light as she moved forward.  She continued knocking on door after door, and feeling distress in her body for the baby, she pushed on.  


Finally, one door opened and to her horror, Michael Leona was inside, with Todd, lying on a table, catatonic.  Leona held his skinner, bloody and raised.  She looked down and saw blood all over her hand and gown.  Carlo appeared behind her and shoved her into the room, and followed, locking the door.  He sneered and laughed, loud, bellowing laughter...


She woke up screaming.


In the waiting room, Todd was dozing against the window, his head resting against the glass.    


He was in the courtroom, and Blair had just been shot.  He was over her, asking her to talk to him, and Hesser passed by.  This time, Hesser wore Leona's grin, and looked deliberately into Todd's eyes.  He jumped the barrier, ran up to Hesser, and pulled the skinner from his pocket.  The knife, he hadn't given it back, fuck, he never would.  He pulled it back and sliced across Hesser's throat, and watching him gurgle on his own blood, he turned back to see the crowd gone, and Blair, dead, her eyes rolled back in her head.  A scream lodged in his throat. . .


He jumped to alertness, and was breathing heavily.  Looking around, he saw there was no one, and he made some noises, similar to choking, as he got his breath back and his eyes focused above him on a young woman's face.  It was the nurse.  "Mr. Manning, come quickly, please."


He followed her, listening to her words, none of which were sticking with him, since he had just awakened himself.  He heard, 'came through the surgery fine,' and 'suddenly woke up screaming' and not knowing what to expect, he kept following the nurse's steps with his own, until he got it.  Blair was awake, thrashing in the bed, like he'd never seen her.  She was screaming "No!  No!  Don't let them cut out my baby!" and though he wasn't sure what had happened, he lunged onto the bed and pulled her into his arms, saying loudly, "Blair.  It's all right. Shhhh.  Stop, babe."


She broke down, clawing at his jacket and sinking into his arms.  "You're here?  You're alive?  You were bleeding.  I was bleeding..."


"Yes, Babe, I'm here.  I'm right here," he turned her face to his.  "Shhhh.  Stop now," he said soothingly. 


It was as if she just registered the pain she was in and moaned and winced.  "It hurts.  Don't let them cut out my baby, Todd.  Don't let them.  Please don't!"  She fought against him, squirming to break free.


"No, babe, stop, you have to rest," he said, trying to lower her to the bed.  "You can't..."


"Don't let them, Todd," she cried, "Tell them about Sommer.  Don't let them take her, Todd."  Her panic, voice and terror was escalating.


He attempted to quiet her, "Shh, no, Babe, time for you to rest."


She began to fight him more, becoming more physical than he could manage without risk of hurting her, and saw blood seeping from her onto the sheets and the johnny coat.  "Help us!  Please?"  He called out, and a team ran in.  Blair's fingers were white from grasping onto him, and the nurses could not pry her hands off.  An orderly, about five inches taller than Todd and with at least one hundred pounds more, finally got him free of her grasp, so the team could attend to her.  


Todd, breathing heavy, could only hear her howling shriek "Noooooooo!" as they ripped her hands off his arms.  He stepped back and could do nothing but watch her, reaching for him wildly, saying "Don't let them cut the baby out, Todd! Todd!  Don't leave me!"  She screamed and then reacted to a needle in her other arm, and fell quiet within minutes.  He shook, backing against a machine, and stopping before toppling it.  


He said, "What happened to her, damnit?  What kind of hospital is this?"


"Mr. Manning, please.  She was dreaming.  The next minute, she was screaming and we didn't know how to calm her, so we sent for you,"  the nurse explained.  


"It's already happened," he said, and moved back to her bedside.  "The baby's gone."


The doctor explained that she had reopened her wound and her incision, and would require attention, and asked Todd to step out.  He did, standing alone, facing the green curtains, with his hands in his front pants pockets.  He closed his eyes, and said aloud, "Bring her back to me."


A voice behind him said, "She's there, Todd.  Give her time, brother." 


He turned to see Patrick Thornhart.

"She's...I don't know what to do to help her."  Todd said, looking at Patrick.


"What happened in there?"


"She was screaming, about me not letting them take the baby.  It's already been done, I can't even tell her I won't."


"The child was dead, Todd.  You did nothing wrong."


"She was hysterical.  I can only remember her like that one other time.  When she..."  he flashed back in his mind to lifting her blouse off her, and washing her hands over a silver basin.


"You're remembering something painful.  I feel I am intruding."


Todd paused, "You're not.  In fact, I could use the company right now.  I'm not sure what to do," his voice cracked.


"She's confused," Patrick said, "Probably had a nightmare, or the medication could jumble her thoughts."


"Did I make a mistake?  Should I have let her try and deliver that baby, dead, in two or three weeks?"


"Again, I don't think you did anything wrong.  It will be too much for her.  Her reaction just now is proof enough.  Can you imagine her living through the trial and all of that, with her child dead inside her?"


Todd shook his head.  Horrified, he wiped his eyes on his sleeve.  "She was so....desperate."


"Losing a child takes a lot from a woman.  You must remember that, since ya lost your own."


"I do.  And when she lost yours, I mean, Brendan."


"It was a very dark day in my life."


"Mine too, when we lost our first baby.  And now..." He turned his face, and blinked back tears.


"I'm sorry for your loss.  It's never easy, no matter what."


"So what brings you here?"  Todd asked, leading the way toward the emergency room waiting area.


"I wanted to come back and lend my support.  I said I would."


"Oh, yeah, I remember.  Thanks."


"Todd, you know you have to testify when court returns to session.  It will be vital to the trial.  You must be prepared for that.  And there is no way Blair can be there, not with all of this."


"I know.  I can do it.  I lived to tell about it, and that is what I intend to do."


"Good.  It must have been so difficult to see her go down, eh?"


"I didn't even know she was hit," he choked up, "she never said a word, didn't cry out, just slumped over.  At first, I thought she was dead."


"She wasn't, she is alive.  And she needs you.  Can you handle it?"


"I'm not who I was before.  I won't say it didn't cross my mind earlier today to go home, pack a bag and leave it all behind.  That was my m.o. for years.  But, I can't.  I promised her that this time, no leaving."


"It's hard to face the pain of others, especially those you love."


"Like you.  Aren't you facing a lot with Marty?"  He asked.  Marty.  It was odd saying her name.


"Yes.  We are going through it  head first, though.  She's coming along.  Look how she sprung to action with Blair's shooting.  She was so proud to have helped."


"I appreciate her doing that.  She and Blair have never had much love lost."


"It's all right, things change.  Neither have we.  And look at us, discussing the women who mean most to us."


"Yeah.  She's the love of my life.  I can't do it without her."


"Ya won't have to.  And hopefully, neither will I.  Would ya consider going for breakfast with me at this little diner down the street?"  Patrick said.


At the mention of the diner, Todd realized both how hungry he was and how much Patrick was trying to distract him.  "Sure, why not."


***


Zeus, lying in the hospital bed with his chest encased in bandages and an oxygen tube up his nose, felt the hand of Tea touch his.  He opened his eyes, and slowly made eye contact with her.  He said, "Am I alive?"


She smiled through tears.  "Yes, you're alive."


He closed his eyes again, and swallowed.  Then he opened them, and two tears moved along his face, one from each.  "You're here?"


"Where else would I be?"  


"Somewhere away from me," he said, tearing up, as more drops of water seeped from his eyes onto his face.


She was also crying, and brushed them off his face.  "Why would I do that?"


"Lots of reasons.  All the ones you've told me, for the last year."


"I don't remember them."


"I do.  Do you want me to remind you?"


She shook her head.  "No.  I don't."


"What do you want me to do?"


"Get well.  Get released from here.  Finish the trial, if that is what you want.  Make love to me, hold me, be with our children."


He broke into sobs.  "You...I must not be awake.  The pain meds, they make you see things..."


She leaned over and kissed his parched lips.  "Is that real?"  She asked.


"I hope it is," he sniffed, his tears still flowing.


"What would make you believe?"


"A couple of words, certain ones, I think."


"I love you, Zeus.  I love you with all my heart, and I can't lose you, ever again."


***


Hours had passed.  After breakfast, Patrick had made Todd go with him to the gym, and work out.  Todd admitted on the way back to his penthouse that he felt much better with some food and energy in his tired body.  They sat in the penthouse living room, and the first thing Patrick said was, "This looks eerily like the original."


"It is.  Blair did it.  It was a gift to me, when I got back.  The first time."


"She did a beautiful job.  It's amazing when a woman loves you that much, isn't it?"


"It is, especially in my case."


"Margaret can still play that song she wrote for my poems.  She just played it for me the other day.  Men don't keep things, not that way."


"Some don't, some do," he said, thinking of how she had always said he remembered the little things.


"True.  Have ya got some beer?"


"Beer?  What's the sense of working out?"  He laughed, checking the kitchen.  "No, no one lives here right now, so there's very little.  Since Blair was shot . . ."


Patrick waited.  Todd didn't continue, causing him to head into the other room to see what was going on.  "Todd?"  He saw Todd sitting, leaning over the table, his head in his hands.  "Todd, what's wrong?  What can I do?"  he asked, standing in the kitchen doorway.


"Nothing, I have to go back.  I just...I can't be away from her.  I'm no good without her, Patrick.  The smallest thing, just makes me know it, down to my soul.  I have to go back."


"Then let's.  I'll go with ya."


"Why?  Look at the things I've done to you."


"Did  to me, past tense, and who's counting anymore.  Unless ya'd rather not?"


"I'd be grateful for the company."  he said, and picked himself up off the kitchen chair, reluctance in his movements.


"Todd?"  Patrick said.  Todd didn't answer, he just looked up.  He was holding back from what he really wanted to do, which was cry, or get sick, or both.  He dreaded seeing her that way again, but he needed to be with her at the same time, desperately.  Patrick said, definitively. "She will be all right."


The ride over to the hospital was uneventful.  Patrick drove, and Todd readied himself for what he might find.  Her screams were still in his ears, and he wanted so much to comfort her and wasn't sure he could.  


They parked the car and walked into the emergency room, and found out within moments that she had been moved to a private room.  They boarded the elevator, and went to the 5th floor.  Walking through the hallways, they passed by other sick people in various states of illness, until they came to her room.  She was small, in the bed, and pale.  Her belly was no longer rounded, and he noticed that fact with despair.  Swallowing, he approached her, and Patrick hung back, as Todd pulled a chair next to her bed.  "Hey, are you awake?"


She opened her eyes and looked at him.  "Yeah.  Hi."


"Hi," he said, and his heart was in his throat.  "Are you all right?"


"I'm tired, and it hurts everywhere."


"I'm sorry about that."


"I just want to know if she's okay, Todd."  He touched her hair, unable to speak for a moment.  She looked down at herself, and said, "Where is she, Todd?  She's not here.  She's not here!"  She felt along her stomach.


"No she's not.  She's.....she died, Blair."


"What?"  she was surprised, as if it never occurred to her and looked at him with terror on her face.


"You were shot."


"No I wasn't.  I wasn't shot.  They cut her out of me.  Carlo and Michael Leona, they took her, Todd, I remember."


"No, babe, that's not true.  That's not how it happened.  We were at the courthouse, remember?  You were shot..."


"No!  They took her!  And you let them!  Get away from me," she sobbed, "I hate you for that, I hate you.  Get away!"


A nurse and a physician's assistant both ran in, and Todd, trying to comfort her, was asked to leave.  The PA put his hand on Todd's arm, and Todd pulled away, and turned on him.  "You want a piece of me?  Because I have had one fucking lousy day!"


"Mr. Manning, she doesn't want you here right now."  


Meanwhile, Blair was screaming. "I hate you!  Get away from me!


"Mr. Manning, I suggest you leave," the PA said.


"The hell I will, she's my wife!  Get your hands off me!"


Patrick, who could hear what was taking place, went into the room, and taking Todd's arm as moved toward the medical staff member, fists clenched, lead him out.   "I'll take Mr. Manning for a walk, he needs to calm down."


"Get out of my life, you freak!" she screamed, and Patrick noticed that Todd jumped, almost as if he were punched in the gut.  A nurse came running, and he could hear Blair start crying as she tried to calm her.  


He walked him down the hallway, and they stopped, sitting in the family area.  Todd rubbed his face with both hands, and said, "She's...she's not well."


"She's not, no.  She doesn't mean what she is saying."


"I know that.  It doesn't make it easier to hear, though."


"It's all so stinking unfair, eh?"


"Yep.  Unfair.  But there's someone responsible."  His eyes shot to the side.  "You know that as well as I do."


"Have ya thought about what ya can do?"


"Yeah, I've thought about it, long and hard.  I've thought about it every day, and every night.  I promised her I wouldn't."


"Kill the bastard?"


"Right."


Patrick said, "I never promised.  I never promised anyone."


Todd looked at him, hopeful for a moment, when they were interrupted by the physician's assistant.  "Excuse me, Mr. Manning?"


"Leave me alone."  Todd said.


"Mr. Manning is having a difficult time with all that's happened.  Ya surely understand." Patrick said.


"Yes, I do, I wanted to make it clear that we didn't ask you to leave for any reason aside from her delusional state.  We're concerned about her mental well-being."


Patrick said, "I'm sure he knows that."


"Well, if there is anything else we can do, Mr. Manning..."


"You've done enough for one day."  Then, "Thank you."


The PA left, and Todd looked at Patrick, saying, "She doesn't want me.  Do you know how hard that is?  We've lost our baby and we can't even be together.  She's afraid of me."


"She's not.  Ya know the truth.  She's not well, ya said so yourself.  She's confused and in grief.  She needs time, to accept it all."


"I think I know how to help her," he said, and took out his cell phone and dialed.  "Hello, Sister?"


*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
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Dance with the Devil: Chapter 49


Midday that Sunday and Damian Spinelli was returning to Port Charles after a stay in Llanview.  He was rather upset as he was unable to uncover any new leads in his investigation into the disappearance of Victor Lord, Jr.  As he was driving along the highway, approximately ten miles away from Port Charles, a van that had been on the side of the road pulled back on rather quickly.  Spinelli had to swerve to avoid hitting it, and unfortunately, wound up stuck in a ditch on the side of the road.  The other vehicle sped down the highway, ignoring the crash that had nearly happened as the PI got out to examine the damage.  “Oh, my poor car!” he cried as he saw that the car was stuck in mud.  He tried several times to move the car, but was unsuccessful.  He was about to call for assistance when he noticed a blue tarp back a ways from his present location.  He crept over to investigate and, moving the plastic, found the body of the man at the center of his investigation.  In shock, the young man felt for a pulse and miraculously, found one.  He immediately dialed the authorities.

Todd had no idea what had possessed him to invite Tina and Cord over to a family dinner that night, but here they were and neither of them had provoked any outbursts from him.  Cord’s Texas twang hadn’t gotten on his nerves and Tina was actually being sweet to him and Blair.  There had to be some ulterior motive at work, but Todd had no idea what it was.  Sarah was also over and he basked in the company of his niece.  Since she had been a little girl, he had always loved her and had missed her when he had returned to Llanview in 2000.  She had grown into a remarkable woman who had become a wonderful friend to Starr.

Also over were Natalie and Liam, with the promise of John McBain soon to come.  While he had been able lately to tolerate Natalie, Todd still held a grudge against her significant other, especially after busting in on he and Blair in their afterglow months ago.  But, as much as he was sketchy about those two, he had been able to charm their little boy.  Sarah had laughed at Todd’s interaction with Liam, it reminding her so much of her and her brother when they were children. 

Blair had been a gracious hostess and only did a little digging at the expense of her once and future sister-in-law.  Though they were never going to be close, they had decided to put aside any differences for Todd’s sake, at least until after he was fully recovered.  That was the only thought that comforted Todd, as their thaw reminded him, uncomfortably, of Blair and Tea’s friendship when he had returned last year. 

As Todd sat there eating, his doorbell rang.  Natalie looked at her watch.  “That’s probably John.  He said as he was leaving they needed him for something,” she said as she got up to answer the door.  When she returned with the cop, he was all flushed. 

Todd noticed his expression.  “What’s up? You look like you have news,” he said.

“A few hours ago, a driver on the outskirts of town nearly got into an accident with a van pulling back onto the highway.  He drove into a ditch on the side of the road and when he got out to check the damage he noticed a tarp on nearby.  When he went to have a look, he found Victor Lord, alive, wrapped in it,” John explained.  “They’re rushing him to General Hospital now.”

“What?” Blair breathed out.  “Who found him?  Where was he?  How did he get there?”

“As to the who, it was a private investigator, Damian Spinelli, who was ironically coming back from Llanview,” John said in a mock surprise tone as he threw a glare towards Todd.  “And the where was about ten miles out.  We have not idea how or why, but it appears he was just dumped.”

Todd was unexpectedly holding his breath.  Then he maneuvered himself towards the door.  “I need to get to the hospital,” he stated.  After a few minutes, it was agreed that Sarah, Starr and Natalie would stay behind to keep an eye on Jack and the little ones, while Cord and Tina would also make their way to the hospital.  Once they had a handle on the situation, Natalie would call her mother to let her know what had happened.

They had actually gotten to the hospital before the ambulance that was transporting Victor had arrived.  When it did got there, Todd tried to get to the gurney but was kept back by the staff.  He had been overcome with a strange feeling since John had made his announcement at the house.  He just felt like he needed to be near his twin. 

Blair was watching him watch the emergency team bring Victor in and flashed back to the night they had brought Todd in after the shooting.  She was shocked to see the same fear in his eyes that she remembered in her.  “Hey, he’ll be alright, Todd.  He’s a Lord, and if you haven’t noticed, you all are rather hard to kill,” she tried to joke.

Todd appreciated her words and reached for her hand.  Grasping it, he kissed her fingers as Elizabeth Webber approach the family.  Todd smiled grimly at the nurse when she asked what there doing there.  “A, ah, family member was brought in,” Todd answered vaguely.  “Could you see if you can get any information from the doctors?” he went on to ask, flashing her a charming smile.

Elizabeth smiled back and went to check.  Returning a few minutes later, she reported, “He seems to be undernourished, but also there are a lot of drugs in his system.  They aren’t sure what any of them are, but they’ll be running a toxicology panel soon.  We should know shortly.”

“Do they know if he’ll be alright?” Tina asked, a worried tone in her voice. 

“It’s too soon to tell,” the nurse replied.  “We will keep you updated when we learn anything else.”

They family waited for answers for the next few hours.  Finally, Dr. Steve Webber came out of the trauma room and over to them.  “Mr. Manning, the man that room, is he a relative of yours?  My sister said you wanted to know his condition.”

Todd’s mouth suddenly went dry as he said the words, “He’s my brother.  My twin brother.”  When Steve gave him a look, Todd merely answered it with, “It’s complicated.”

Steve shook his head, but made his report.  “Mr. Lord,” he read the name off his chart, “has been suffering from dehydration and malnourishment.  I’d estimate he’s been without for a day or so.  He has a number of unidentified drugs in his system that seem to be acting on his neurological  system.  Right now, he is unresponsive to verbal communication but we are working to identify the drugs and expel them from his body.  If we can do that, he may recover.  As to long term damage, we can’t even begin to speculate at this time.  He’s going to be moved to ICU once we get him stabilized.”  Steve looked at the family.  “Do any of you know where he’s been?”

Blair looked at Todd and Tina as she spoke.  “For the past year, we thought he was dead, killed by a gunshot wound to the chest.  We only recently learned that he was alive and we think he was being held captive, but as to the where, we have no idea.”

Steve nodded.  “As I said, he should be able to be moved shortly.  When that occurs, we’ll come let you know and you can see him.”

As he walked away, Todd closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind.  He thought, for a crazy moment, that he may be able to communicate with Victor.  But there was nothing there.  When Blair saw him, he smiled sheepishly.  “Just thought I try the psychic twin thing.”

Blair bent down to look him square in the eye.  “What are you really thinking?”

“The twin brother that I hated from the minute I laid eye on him and tried to kill is lying in a room ten feet away from me, drugged up with iffy chances of recovery, and I actually want him to stick around,” Todd replied.  “His ‘death’ was the start of this mess, more so that my return.  He may hold some of the answers, and he damn well better make it so I can get them.”

As they were sitting there in a seamlessly never-ending wait, the phone rang at Llanfair and Jessica picked it up.  “Natalie, hey, how’s everything in Port Charles?” she asked her twin sister.

“Listen, is mom there?” came Natalie’s response.  After a minute, her mother came on the line.  “Mom, I have news for you and I think you should sit down.”

Viki looked at Jess, Clint and Danie.  “Alright, but I’m putting the phone on speaker.”  As she did, she sat down and Clint took her hand.  Fearing the worst, she said, “What do you need to tell me?” taking a deep breath and closing her eyes.

“They found Victor alive today.  He’s at General Hospital now,” her daughter announced. 

Viki opened her eyes, unable to believe what she had been told.  “Are you sure?” she called out.

Natalie nodded.  “This all just happened in the last few hours.  Todd, Tina, Blair and Cord are down there now waiting for more answers but from the way John described it to me, it didn’t sound that bad.”

Viki squeezed her eyes shut, saying a short prayer of thanks.  She opened her eyes and Clint nodded.  “We’ll be down as soon as possible.  Let Todd or Tina know.”  With that, she ended the call.  Clint embraced her and got up to call the pilot. 

Viki turned to Danie, who had a stunned expression on her face.  “Wait, but he…How is he alive?” she asked.  Looking at Viki and Jess, she could see something was up.  “You knew about it?”

Viki let out a sigh.  “Darling, it’s been an unbelievable situation.  I promise you, we will explain it on the way there.”

Back at the hospital, the usual hub of activity was buzzing around as Dr. Ewen Keenan walked over to the nurse’s station.  Elizabeth was there and he leaned over the counter at her.  “Hey, what’s going on?” he asked.

“Oh, the usual.  We have a little boy who fell out of tree, a severe migraine, but the unusual case is Victor Lord Jr.,” she said, pointing to Todd, Tina and their spouses.  “He was found alive today and they brought him here.”

Ewen raised an eyebrow.  “He really is alive?  What’s his condition?”

Elizabeth smiled, a bit confused.  “You know I can’t tell anyone but family about his condition,” she answered. 

“Yes, of course,” he agreed.  “What are you doing later?”

“I’ve been on a double shift all day so all I want to do is go home and sleep.  Why don’t we try for lunch tomorrow?” she suggested.

He smiled at her.  “Soundly lovely.  I’ll meet you here, say, eleven thirty?”  When she nodded to the affirmative, he walked away, but paused to look back at the Manning/Lord family. 

Steve Webber approached them.  “They’re just getting him settled so you can go see him in a few minutes.  Just two at a time, though.”

Todd and Tina nodded.  “Has there been any change?”

“He does seem to be responding to treatment,  so that make me hopeful for a full recovery,” he said before he walked away.

When they were signaled, the brother and sister entered the ICU room.  Victor lay there, tubes and wires connected to him.  For a minute, Todd felt sorry for the guy, but when he spoke, he chose to cover it up with a joke.  “Look, he’s got more brain activity than you,” he said to his sister.

Tina rolled her eyes.  “Don’t you ever stop?  No, don’t answer that,” she decided.  As she looked at him, she said, “This is the first time since you two where born that we’ve been in the same room together.”  She shook her head.  “He looks so helpless.”

Tina sat down on a chair as Todd reach for Victor’s hand.  Since his brilliant twin psychic thing didn’t work, he thought he’d give the old verbal one a try.  “Listen to me, you jackass.  You’d better make it, because there’s a lot to settle between us.” 

As if to answer, Todd felt his hand squeezed.   



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Monday, July 30, 2012

Port Charles Chronicles: Chapter 4

Todd awoke to find Blair still lying next to him. He ran a gentle hand down through her hair. She was real. It hadn’t been a dream. He looked over at the clock and realized Starr’s hearing was only a couple of days away, and he needed to have a conversation with his lawyer, Hallie Mitchell. Tea was not going to defend Starr. He lay there remembering the conversation.

“Starr, your father has to go. I won’t be in the same room with the man who murdered my husband.”

“I was found not guilty, Tea.” Todd understood she was upset, but he hadn’t realized what he was doing.

Starr pulled him aside. “It won’t do any good to try and make Tea see reason. Uncle Victor was the love of her life. Let me talk to her.” She then looked at both of them and replied. “Tea, since you’re here, could you go with me to the arraignment and get me out on bail. Then Dad’s lawyer can take over. You won’t have to stay in town any longer.”

“But Starr, your mother wanted me to help you? How can you stand there next to your father knowing what he did?” Tea scowled.

It wasn’t a pleasant look and Todd found himself thanking his lucky stars he was no longer married to her.

Starr wrapped an arm about her father’s waist and said. “He’s my dad. He loves me and I don’t think he hurt Uncle Victor on purpose. His lawyer said he has PTSD and I believe it. I loved Uncle Victor, but he wasn’t the innocent pawn or saint everyone has made him out to be since he died. At times, he was cruel and thoughtless, and he didn’t do right by Jack, getting him out of the mess the way he did. Dad is here to support me, and I’m grateful. I’ll understand if you want to leave right now, but Dad stays.”

Starr’s support meant everything. Todd put his arm around her shoulder and gave her a quick hug and they waited on Tea’s decision.

“Very well, I came all this way. I’ll see what I can do about getting the charges dropped and if that doesn’t work, I’ll go with you for the arraignment.”

“Thank you, Tea. I appreciate it,” said Starr.

“Yes Tea, thank you.” Todd reiterated. He was totally unprepared for the slew of Spanish expletives that she screamed at him as she exited the room. “I guess she really hates my guts now.”

“Dad, she loved Victor and she’s pregnant. Most of it is the hormones talking.”

“I don’t remember your mom being that bitchy. Did you mean what you said to her? You believe me about Victor?”

“I meant it, Dad. I love you and I’m glad you’re here.”

Tea had been unable to get the charges dropped during the arraignment. She even failed to procure bail for Starr. He recalled how ticked off at her he had become, as Starr had been led back to her cell.

“What the hell happened to all those mad skills you used to have? You couldn’t even get her bail.”

“Don’t blame me, your latest actions and your money kept her from getting bail and you know it. I’m out of here, I wish Starr luck, with you to help her.”

Even though he was mad at her, he had also been a little concerned for Tea. Something had been bothering her during court, but he knew she wouldn’t tell him if anything was wrong. That seemed like ages ago, had it just been yesterday? He looked a Blair curled up beside him. Only yesterday, yet here he was lying in bed with the love of his life. He rolled over and moved a strand of hair from Blair’s delicate ear. “Hey, are you going to sleep all day?” He kissed the tip of it and waited for her response.

“Mmmm” she rolled over onto her back and looked up at him with her green eyes sparkling. “Good Morning. What do you mean all day?”

“It’s already 10:00 a.m. I...well I have to go out. I’m supposed to meet with my lawyer to discuss Starr’s case and figure our options. I...” he couldn’t say anymore. He didn’t want to leave her.

“Todd, what’s the matter?” Blair knew something was bothering him. He always stuttered when he was nervous or unsure of things. It was one of his more endearing qualities.

“I don’t know how to say this. Are you still going to be here when I come back?”

She reached for his face. “I told you. I’m here to be with you. I’m not going anywhere. Well, let me amend that. I do want to go see Starr, but I fully intend to be here when you get back.” She searched his face, trying to read his thoughts. After what had occurred the night before, she began to wonder just how fragile his state of mind was.

Todd took a deep breath and let it out. “Okay good. I’ll go meet with Hallie and you can go see Starr. Then we’ll see you at the station.” He leaned over and gave her a quick kiss and hopped out of bed, heading for a shower. As he stood under the fixture, his tears mingled with the water flowing in his face. He was a mess. His hard-fought control to appear normal was shot to hell.

Blair took her time climbing out of bed. Her thoughts went back to the night before and what had occurred with Todd. When Todd had made the comment to Irene, Blair had felt like someone had dropped an ice cube down her back. Why was he thinking about her? What had he meant when he said she had won? It was just something else that made no sense. Todd was taking a longer shower than usual “Hey, I hoped you saved me some hot water?” When he didn’t respond, she went and picked up her suitcases. It was just like him to ignore her over something like that.

She walked to his closet and opened it to see where she might be able to hang some of her clothes. He hadn’t changed much. HIs clothes were hung up haphazardly. Everything was mixed up. The only thing he had ever cared about was if they were cleaned. She grabbed up his shirt from off the bed, put it back on and began straightening up the closet.

Todd had stepped from the shower, his thoughts all over the place. He had finally reined in his emotions. Hearing her yell about the water made him smile. She had forgotten they were in a hotel. He was about to yell back at her when he saw Irene grinning at him

You’re a fool to trust her. She let you down before, she’ll just do it again. Do you really think she wants you over that CIA agent? Hell, he’s a good guy. You, you’re the man who murdered his own brother, or don’t you remember?

Like a bad movie, the scene played over in his head again. “You took my life, I take yours.” At the sound of the gunshot, Todd reacted, throwing his fist into Irene’s face in the mirror.

Get out of my head!

Blair jumped at the sound of the broken glass coming from the bathroom. Rushing in, she found Todd, cradling his hand under the water, and the mirror in front of him, shattered. “Oh God, what happened?

Todd stared bleakly at his hand and back up to the mirror. Irene faded as Blair came to his side. “Stupid me, I slipped stepping out of the shower and my hand slammed into the mirror.”

“Todd, that’s looks really bad. You’re going to need stitches.” Blair grabbed a small towel and wrapped his hand.

“Yeah, well I need to see Hallie first. I want Starr out of that jail. Tell me, why the hell did you let Starr come back here after the burial?”

“You know as well as I do, that when Starr makes up her mind to do something she does it. She takes after her father.”

“Alright, don’t rub it in. I know I didn’t help matters the last time I was in town.”

“No, you didn’t, but you just wanted to make things right for your daughter. We’ll get her out of this. Do you know all the details? Did she really try and kill Sonny Corinthos?”

“She had a gun on him, but his son stopped her from doing anything. What I can’t believe is the kid then turned around and had her arrested. I tried talking to him.”

“I can imagine how that went. Let me guess. You were your usual charming self.”

“Ha, okay I’m not diplomatic, but she’s my little girl and she was grieving. I thought I could make him understand.” Todd carefully unwrapped his hand. Blair was right, he was going to need stitches. “Carly’s going to charge me more for this room. I’m breaking mirrors and getting her towels all bloody.”

“You can afford it. It’s not as if you did it on purpose.” Blair was busy checking out his hand and didn’t see Todd look in the mirror.

“Right.” He couldn’t bring himself to tell her the truth. He had just gotten her back, he didn’t want to scare her away. Keep your mind on the task in front of you. Irene will leave you alone if you just occupy your mind with Starr. Just stay focused.

“Can you get dressed okay with that hand?”

“I’ll manage, Blair.”

“Good, then I’ll take my shower and we’ll go see about getting your hand taken care of. After that, you can meet Hallie and I’ll go see Starr.”

Todd walked out of the bathroom taking a look around to make sure Irene was well and truly gone for the time being. He picked up his phone and called Hallie. He set a different time for their meeting, then he got dressed. It was a little awkward, but he managed. He was putting on his socks when Blair strolled out of the bathroom clad in just a towel.

“I can’t believe you’re still wearing those white socks,” she smiled at him.

“Hey, they’re comfortable.” He got up off the bed and walked to her. “Someone’s been in my closet.” He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her to him. “You meant it didn’t you? You’re here for me.”

“I meant it.” She gave him a kiss and pulled free of his arms. “We can expand on that later. Let me get dressed and we’ll go."

A short time later, they walked into the General Hospital ER. Blair waited for Todd as the nurse took him into a cubicle.

“Those are nasty cuts, how did this happen?” Nurse Liz Webber inquired as she cleaned the tiny pieces of glass out of his knuckles.

“I slipped stepping out of the shower and fell toward the mirror. The hand hit it.”

Liz didn’t say anything. Most people would have had the cuts on their palms if events had happened the way he was saying, but she wasn’t going to point that out. It wasn’t her business. She finished wrapping the hand. “It’s probably going to swell a little bit and be sore for a couple of days, but you’ll live. You’re Starr Manning’s father aren’t you? I was on duty the night she was brought in. I’m sorry for your daughter’s loss.”

Todd felt uncomfortable. Talking about Hope hit him in the gut. He had just gotten to know his granddaughter, and her death was still raw. “That’s what they all say, it doesn’t really stop the pain. Thanks for this.” He raised his hand and stood back up off the gurney. He just wanted to get out of there.

Liz knew she had overstepped and got impersonal again. “You can take off the bandage in a day. You’re all set to go.” She left and he followed her out into the hall, looking for Blair.

Blair came up to him, clearly upset about something. “Todd, you’ll never guess what happened?”

“Stock Market crashed.”

“No, don’t be that way. Tea had her baby last night.”

The look on Blair’s face wasn’t good. “What happened. It’s alright, isn’t it?”

Tears welled up in her eyes. “She lost him. He only lived a short time. Todd, it’s terrible. She lost Victor and now his baby.”

Todd gathered Blair close, letting her cry on his shoulder. “I never wanted Tea to hurt. Blair, please tell me you believe me on that? I had hoped the baby would help her get over Victor’s death. Now, this happened. I can’t seem to stop hurting her. If I had let her handle Starr’s case and stayed out of things, she would have been here. I knew something was wrong when she left.”

Blair looked up. “Todd, the drive home didn’t cause this. The baby had a genetic problem. Tea had been warned about it. None of this is your fault.”

“How do you do that? How come you’re not yelling at me right now for taking Victor’s life and driving Tea back home to Llanview where she lost the baby?” He looked deep into her eyes. He still found it so hard to believe she was standing in his arms.

“I can do it because I believe that you didn’t take Victor’s life on purpose. And Tea chose to leave here because she can’t face that fact. I know you would have helped her no matter what if she would have let you. Besides, like I said, the baby dying had nothing to do with you.”
to prove she meant what she said, she reached and touched his face. “You would never hurt another mother or child.”

             Todd gulped. He hated what he did to Blair all those years ago. He was still paying for that sin. His son Jack wanted nothing to do with him. The fact that Blair understood, touched him. “I guess this means you’ll be headed home. She’s going to need a friend.”

             “She’s got Dani and Tomas. I’m sure they’ll give her plenty of support. You and my daughter need me here. You’d better go meet your lawyer. I’ll go see Starr.” She kissed his cheek and headed for the door. “Bye. I’ll see you later.”

              He stood, stunned. She was staying. “Bye,” he whispered softly.





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