“Why does it always have to be so bright?” Todd asked to no one in particular. He was always one to lurk in the dark, in shadows. This brightness was a little too much for him. He wandered around for a few minutes in the light, trying to shield his eyes. He had a feeling he knew where he was, but he didn’t remember anything too fatal happening to him that would make him wind up here again. All he did remember was staring at Blair as she sang to him.
“That’s just about what happened,” a voice told him.
Todd actually smiled. It was a comforting voice, one he sadly hadn’t heard often enough in his life. “So, what happened to bring me to you again?” he asked his sister Meredith. “Am I dead again?”
Meredith smile, her red hair shining in the light. “No, not dead. Nowhere near it, this time.”
“Then why am I here?” he asked again.
“I really am not sure. This is a different case from the times before,” she replied. “The first time, of course, you were shot by, what was her name? The crazy woman who helped you switch the babies?”
“That was Heather Webber, and if you were watching me that night, it was all her idea. She had to really talk me into it,” Todd said, defensively.
“Right, Heather,” she repeated. Then she let out a sigh and gave him the same look Viki often gave him when she was disappointed in him. “But you still did it, even though you knew it was wrong.”
Todd let out a loud sigh. “Can we not go over my mistakes again? Can we just get to the reason why I’m here again?”
“Fine, fine,” she retorted. “Now, the second time we met, you were under for your back surgery. How are you feeling, by the way?”
“Better, thank you. Still need…” Todd looked down but found no cane in his hand. “Guess I don’t need a cane here, huh?”
Merrie smiled back. “Not here, no, but that bring me to now. Can you remember what happened before you got here?” she asked, but it sounded like she knew the answer already.
Todd thought about it for a minute. “Um, I was playing the piano,” he answered.
“Where?” she asked again
“Well, there’s this thing called the Nurses’ Ball. It’s apparently a big deal in Port Charles, for AIDS and HIV research. I funded the gala and Blair wanted me to perform at it when she learned I knew how to play.”
Merrie began pacing around Todd. “And you did?”
“Yeah,” he answered.
“Were you good?”
Todd thought back, but for some reason, couldn’t remember. “I don’t know, I just remember…” A flash played before his eyes, but he didn’t understand what it was. He just said, “I don’t remember.”
“That’s the problem, I think, baby brother,” Merrie observed. “It’s something you need to remember.
“Well, I don’t okay! God, just tell me WHY I’M HERE!” Todd shouted at his sister. “And stop calling me ‘baby brother’. You sound like Tina when you say that!”
“But Todd, that’s what you are,” she said. “You and Victor are my baby brothers,” she said, before adding under her breath, “and boy, do you two act like it.”
“If you want to get technical, if you believe my bitch of a mother, I’m the older one by ten minutes or so,” Todd answered, perturbed.
Merrie offered him a sour look. “You are avoiding my questions.”
“No I’m not,” he told her, then, with a mock quizzed look on his face, asked her, “What was the question again?”
Merrie answered him with a slap on the shoulder.
“What it is with you and the slapping, huh?” Todd asked as he rubbed his shoulder. Then he finally answered, “Fine, I guess I was pretty good. I got a standing ovation…but it could have also just been for Blair.”
Merrie smiled at him. “It wasn’t just for her. I saw the look on Viki’s face, on your children. They were proud and amazed. And I saw you. You were…brilliant. It was glimpsing at…a different you. A younger, more innocent you.”
Todd closed his eyes and could see, just for a minute, Starr and Jack with the biggest smiles on their faces. “I guess I was good.” In his mind’s eye, he also saw Tina, Cord, Clint and Tea. Then he saw Victor. “Ah, knew he couldn’t be happy for me.”
“Victor?” Merrie asked, but not really. “He wasn’t smiling because he wasn’t proud of you.” A frown formed on her face. “He knew what was going to happen next.”
“And what was going to happen next?” Todd asked. When he got no answer, he looked around. “What, he knew…?”
“Todd, you need to remember…more,” Merrie said.
“What more do I need to remember?” Todd asked, fearful.
She turned her back to him, unsure of how to proceed. “What happened to you tonight is tied to something from your past. You need to remember that in order to leave this place. That’s how this meeting of ours is different than the other ones. You aren’t physically wounded, but you are emotionally.” She turned back to him and laid her hand on his head, then his heart. “You need to heal here and now in order to go back. You need to remember.”
He gave her a funny look. “What do I need to remember?”
“What happened the night of the recital when you were seven?” she asked carefully.
He stepped away from her. “Peter beat the crap out of my mother. It wasn’t anything new, I’ll have you know. But it was…one of the worst.”
“And then what?” Merrie gently prodded.
“Bitsy…Barbara told me to run and I did. Why did I run? Why didn’t I stay and try to protect her?” Todd’s guilt, his constant companion for so long, came rushing back to him, threatening to drown him once again.
Merrie took his hands, trying to soothe the turmoil that was beginning to roil him. “You ran because that was what she wanted you to do. She was trying to protect you from a vicious bully who threatened to harm you.” She took his face in her hands and made him look at her. “Todd, you did nothing wrong that night. You were just a little boy, doing what your mother told you to do.”
The tears were streaming down his face. “But I should have stayed; I should have tried to get help. And like the coward I am, I ran away.”
Merrie took him in her arms and tried to comfort him. “Todd, you couldn’t have stopped Peter that night or any other time he used his fists against you or her. And she wanted to keep you safe and that’s what you did. So you ran out of that house into the summer night. Do you remember what happened next?”
The tears stopped immediately and Todd’s whole demeanor changed. “What do you mean, what happened next?”
“You ran out of the house and then what?”
Todd looked perplexed for a minute, as if trying to remember. “I just remember Harry finding me in the shed at his house. It was daylight, I think.”
“Do you remember anything before that, but after you left your house?” Merrie feared Todd was shutting down, willing himself not to remember.
Todd shook his head. “No, nothing. Sorry sis,” he said in his usual glib tone. Then he looked around for a minute. “Hey, I was hoping to be able to get out of here. When’s that going to happen?”
Merrie’s shoulders seemed to collapse for a minute, as the weight of what was happening was taking a toll on her physically as it was on him emotionally. “Todd, you have to remember. If you don’t…”
“If I don’t, what?” he asked.
“Then you can’t go back,” she said at last, preparing herself for the explosion from her brother she was expecting.
None came. “Fine, then. I don’t go back, I guess.” Todd turned a walked away from here. “Not so bad, when you think about it. I can stay here; we can get to know each other.” He looked down for a minute, and then continued in a low voice. “My past doesn’t have to hurt anyone I love, like my kids or Blair.”
“Your past has never hurt any of them, not even when it was at its worst. But you have so many people to go back to. Viki and Tina and, yes, even Victor.” She laid a hand on his shoulder. “You have a wedding to plan, family parties to attend, even if you don’t want to, and an empire to grow. And there is someone you will need to meet.”
“Really, someone to meet. And who would that be?” Todd asked.
Merrie looked up into his eyes. “You need to go back, Todd. Believe me. This time with you, yes, I treasure it, more so because we never had any other opportunity. But I can’t stay here in this place with you forever. I need to move on, to continue to watch over you and the rest of my family.”
Todd shook his head. “Now, you are the one that’s avoiding the question. Who do I need to go back for?”
Merrie closed her eyes. “Just trust me when I tell you, you need to go back. You need to remember everything that happened that night. It’s the most important night of your life, if you can believe it.”
Now Todd was getting supremely pissed at his sister. “Tell me why I need to go back! Who do I need to meet?!”
The answer erupted from Meredith Lord Wolek’s petite frame. “Your baby daughter,” she answered.
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