"Is this a lecture?"
"No. It's just something I want to say."
"Todd, I'm so very proud of you."
"Thanks, Sis. But I'm just doing what I have to do to be a father."
"That's what I mean. Our father Victor Lord was a terrible man, and a sick person. He didn't know how to love children or raise them right. You've broken the mold. No sign of your upbringing where your children are concerned. You are a giving, loving father, Todd. You are selfless with your children, and I am very proud of you." She leaned toward him and kissed his cheek.
Starr said, "See, we're not the only ones who know the truth, Dad. Even when you screwed up, you were the best father in the world. I love you." She kissed his other cheek. "You saved Sam."
Todd looked at his hands, and then back up to Starr. "I had to. I couldn't live without him."
"I know, " Starr said, tearing up. She touched her father's hair. "But still, thank you. He's doing well, the nurses say he is heavily sedated so he can get better and wake up more healed."
"I want to see him," Todd said, rubbing his hand over his face to shake off the tired. He couldn't remember what the other half of the day was about. He felt as if he were in a stupor, under the influence of some intoxicating fluid that had no taste and took effect as time lapsed. He was spent. "I want to see my son."
"I think you can," Starr said. Todd stood up. He felt unsure on his feet. Hi daughter was helping him to his feet. His oldest son was despairing over guilt. Blair was cramping, crying. Dorian was the one talking sense to her.
What a day.
Dorian came out of Blair's room and walked over to Todd. "She shaped up. The cramps stopped."
"What did you do, threaten them away?" Todd asked.
"Close," Dorian joked.
"I'm . . . so tired." He heard himself say. He wasn't sure who he was talking to.
"You should be," Viki started. "This was a long day. You physically exerted yourself more than you realize."
"She's right, it was a harrowing experience." Dorian added.
"Dad, Addie took Hope home. Just letting you know." Starr offered.
"Thanks," he said. "Dorian, is she okay?"
"Blair's fine. Baby's fine. Both are resting. She had a scare. Mostly caused by her terror. This was a hard day on everyone." Dorian said.
"Todd, ya look drained. Ya need some rest yourself." Timothy added. "You've been through a lot, Lad."
"He's under heavy medication."
"Jack, you can't think this is your fault."
"I don't know."
"Jack . . ."
"I should have been watching him closer."
"It's not your fault. It's not. It happened." He pulled his son's head to his hip, and patted his hair.
"Is he okay Dad? Will he be Sam again?"
"Yes, he'll be Sam again. He has to." Todd walked closer to the bed. His son seemed so tiny in the sheets, almost lost. Under all the wrappings, he seemed hidden, like a beautiful gift. Todd said, "Sam, I love you."
"He was blue, Dad."
"I know. I know he was." He cleared his throat.
"It was so . . . fast. All of it."
"I guess that dog is one of The Mannings for certain now."
"Yea, he is. But Dad . . ."
"Why don't you go take a break for a few minutes?" Todd said to Jack.
"Okay." Jack said, standing. "Dad?"
"You were, like totally badass out there today. I mean that. You just did it. Nothing stopped you. You didn't think of anything else but saving Sam. Like a superhero, seriously."
As Jack left the cubicle, Todd found himself remembering CJ and Sarah, Tina's children, very young, no older than eight and six, giving him a superhero doll when he saved CJ, Jessica and Marty on the mountainside instead of running to his freedom. He'd gotten shot that day, by a cop, who didn't understand that he was giving himself up. It was Bo. Bo Buchanan just stood by him and held his hand when he thought he was dying that day. He'd gotten pardoned, and let free, instead of serving the eight years that he should have for the gang rape of Marty Saybrooke.
And it occurred to him, right then, that he ended up serving them anyway, in torment and torture at the hands of The Men of 21. What could be worse than jail? Torture at the hands of terror-mongers.
Patrick Thornhart had to be saved.
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