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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Chasing the Monsters: 34

It was early.  The house was silent.  Todd first went to check on Jewel, who was sleeping soundly in her crib, brother Raymond, still snoozing, nearby.

He closed the door softly, and having turned on the intercom in case the kids needed Blair, he headed to the stairs.


As much as he loved his children, there was something quietly inspiring about mornings before they awoke.  It was the time that he could be on his own, solitary, and gather his thoughts for the day.  He usually kept his notes in his head, a short list of items to be done for each day, without much detail.  But he could read and research, without being disturbed, in the pre-child hours of the day.  


At the bottom of the stairs, he noticed the foyer splayed with a small amount of sun from the skylight as he rounded the corner and heard a soft crackling.  As he moved closer to the kitchen, he realized that the little sounds were from a fire in the family room.  He walked in, and Bitsy was on the couch, sleeping in an upright position, with Sam, his head in her lap, and a sketch pad and pencil on the floor near them.  He walked closer, and shook his mother gently.  "Momma," he whispered.


"Yes?  Oh, Todd," she said, softly, "I . . . we fell asleep," her voice was as soft as she could get it.  "It took Sam a while."


Todd just looked at his mother, in her white nightie and light blue cardigan sweater with white fluffy slippers, and her hair tousled a little, and falling out of its clip on the sides.  He smiled at her, unable to resist.  He said, "Sam, come on," softly, and lifted his son carefully in his arms.  He carried him up the stairs and to his room, while his mother waited in the family room for his return.  When he came back, she immediately noticed that his face was different.  He said, "Momma, what's happening to my son?"


***


"Do you have to go, now?  I mean, you just got here," Tina said.


Cord was in the lobby, his bags packed, dressed for the day.  He said, "Girl, it's been a while now, I really gotta head out."


"I don't understand why you have to," she said.  "I mean, there's things here that you can attend to, like, like, Clint."


"Clint?"  Cord said, confused.  "What's with him?"


"He's . . . well, he's sick."


"Sick?  What do you mean, Tina?"


"He . . . has a cold."


"A cold?  Uh, Girl, he can take care of himself.  He has tissues, now, I gotta go."


"But what about Viki?"


"What's wrong with Viki?"


"Nothing, but what about her?"


"Tina, you're making no sense here.  I have to go.  The ranch has to be taken care of, the security company.  You know that."


"The security company.  Todd needs your help, the children are in danger."


"Tina!  What is this about?  Are the kids really in danger?"


"Yes.  I didn't want to say so at first, but yes."


"What do you mean, Tina?"


"It's...well...Mitch.  Mitch Laurence is still around.  He escaped last year, and he invaded their home with the children there.  He almost killed Ray, you know all this already!"


"And what does that have to do with anything?  That was months ago, and Todd's got plenty of security.  Heck, the whole Peter Manning thing happened since then!"


"Well, there's a chance that, well, something could happen," she led him into the library.


"Tina, I have to go, okay?  I really do."


"I . . . well . . ."


"You're trying to get me to stay here, aren't you?  Now do you want to tell me the real reason?"


"I . . ." she let her arms drop.  "I don't know."


He raised an eyebrow at her.  "You don't know?"


"No, I guess I don't.  I mean, I do, but I don't."


"All right, then.  I'll be in touch, Tina."  He turned to go to the door.


She followed.  "Cord, Cord, wait a minute."


He picked up his suitcase.  "What is is now?"


"I just, I . . ." she turned him toward her by his arm.  "I . . . wanted to . . . say goodbye."


"You could have done that without all this mess."


"I know, I'm sorry," she hung her head.


She was surprised when his hand came out and touched under her chin, lifting her face.  "What's the matter, hey?"


"Nothing, Cord."


"Then, let's say goodbye, the way we should," he said, and kissed her lips, first gently, in a caring, light way, and then passionately, as they both gave in to the remnants of Cord and Tina.


***


"Oh Todd, he's so precious, really.  He had a nightmare.  It was very bad.  He was soaked with sweat,"  Bitsy said.


"How didn't we hear him?"  Todd wondered aloud.


"He came to my door.  I heard him shivering.  He didn't even call out."


"Go on."  Todd was sitting on the ottoman, his elbows perched on his knees.


"He couldn't even speak about it."  Bitsy became concerned about her son's face.  His expression showed a familiar tense fear, and she sat up and leaned over, taking his hand.  "He's a child, who has been through something very bad, Todd.  It reminds me of . . ." softer, "well, he reminds me of you, My Angel."


He swallowed, and looked to the floor.  Composing himself, he looked back at her.  "Momma, what else?"


"Well, he couldn't really talk, so I started to talk to him about the gift I got him."  


"The paints."


"Yes, and the painting I started that came from a story he told me at bedtime.  A heroic dragon, very misunderstood.  You know the one."


Todd slipped into slight sarcasm, "Yeah, I'm familiar."


"Anyway, we started to talk about how painting and drawing, well how it works for me.  Helps me take things out of my head, and put them down.  I gave him the sketch pad.  He drew something . . . something horrible."  Her voice caught.


Todd said, "What was it?"


"I believe it was Peter, with an animal in his hands.  Maybe a dog.  The drawing was simple, and some of it was left to the imagination.  There was a little boy in front of him.  The small boy had very big eyes, and his mouth was open.  I looked at the picture, and I asked him what he wanted to do with it.  He said he wanted to make it go away."


Todd was intrigued, albeit disgusted, listening to her.  He said, "So you came down here."


"Yes, he knew how to start the fire, but he showed me, I didn't let him light it."


"That's okay, Momma.  What else?"


"He put the drawing in the fireplace, and we watched it burn together, and I said, 'Now it's gone forever,' and he said, 'good.'  Oh, Todd, he was so sweet.  Then he asked for us to sit together and for me to draw him a picture of a dog, and I did."  She held up the pad.  The dog looked like Mixie.  She said, "I made it like his dog, on purpose.  He loved it, and he looked at it while I sang a song to him, and he fell asleep.  I didn't want to disturb his rest, so I just waited and fell asleep, too." 


Todd looked away for a moment, into the fireplace, and then back.


She said, "One more thing.  I asked him what to do with the picture of the dog, and he said to hang it in his room."  She handed the pad to Todd.


He looked at the picture of the dog, and then he was quiet.  He paused a while, then said, "Momma, what did you sing to him?"  He asked, and his voice was very far away.


She hesitated.  "You must know," she said, her throat unclear.


He ran his finger along the picture of the dog.  He said, "I'm going where the sun keeps shining . . ."


She began to sing, "Through the pouring rain.  Going where the weather suits my clothes.  Banking off of the Northeast wind.  Sailing on summer breeze.  Skipping over the ocean, like a stone," sweetly.  "It came out a little before you were born."


He said, "I remember it."


"I sang it for years," she said.  "When things went wrong, at home, I used to go to you, and . . ."


"Start it at the beginning," he interrupted.


"What?"


"Start it at the beginning, Momma."


She sighed, and started to sing.  "Everybody's talking at me.  I can't hear a word their saying, only in the echoes of my mind."


Blair, who had come down the stairs, was standing outside the room, listening.  Her eyes were filled with water: she felt like an interloper and almost turned to leave.  She couldn't bring herself to interrupt them, or intrude.  She waited and let her tears fall, listening.


"That's it," he said, "that's the part I used to sing in my head, when . . ." he stopped himself.


"It's okay, now.  All that's over," she said, tenderly reaching for his hand.


"Yeah," Blair heard him say, "it's over."  She knew it sounded more like a question than a statement.


"And hopefully, it's over for Sam, at least this part with the dog."


"Maybe," he said, and he turned to the side and spotted his wife.  He said, "Babe, come here."


She walked in, wiping her tears quickly.  "I didn't want to interrupt."


He said, "You're not, you weren't.  I mean, you're fine, hearing all that."


She said, "Good morning, Momma," and sat down next to Todd on the ottoman.


"Good morning, Blair.  I think I'll go and make some coffee for us, is that all right?"  Bitsy offered.


"Yes, that's good," Blair said, "I'd love some."


Bitsy got up and went to the kitchen, and Blair turned to her husband.  She didn't speak, she just looked at him, and he looked at her.  "For what she was going through, she was a good mother, Blair."


"I know she was, My Love," her voice cracked slightly.


"She . . . tried."


Blair nodded, and slipped her arms through his.


*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Who's the Real Todd?: Chapter 9

Blair looked at the two men, so different but loved by all of them. "This is so weird. I love them both, but I'm drawn to Samuel. The minute I saw him the years between stripped away. It was like we had only been separated by months instead of years. Dani, I know you don't know this man, but you do in a way. This is the man who loved and helped me raise your sister and your brother Jack. He's not a perfect man because you know about his past, but he has always had a great deal of love for his children. Although he only found out about you yesterday, his love for you is as strong as if he had known you from the moment you were born. I know the last year was horrendous for you. You've had to come to grips with the type of man your real father was and you thought you did that with the man you're sitting next to. You've come to love him, and he loves you as his own. We don't know who he is, but he has a large part of all of our hearts. He has been Todd for all of us for the last eight years. But this man here had his life stolen by someone. He didn't ask to be gone all this time and he would like a chance to get to know you and regain the love of his other two children as well. I'm asking you to find a space in your heart for him and let him know he will get his chance with you. Please consider what I've said, you have no idea the strength you can give him just by meeting him halfway."


Blair turned back to Starr and said. "Your father went catatonic for a short time after trying to get through to Jack. The disappointment of Jack's refusal to really accept him and his encounter with Dani earlier was too much, he figured he had let all of you down and he wanted to just let go. I was so scared, but Samuel helped bring him back to us. Now someone just tried to kill him. We have to stay strong for him. It is important that both of you girls realize that there is a dangerous man out there who wants both of these men dead. All of us need to stand together now if we're going to defeat this man and the plan he put in place all those years ago. We'll figure out who Todd really is and Samuel will get his life back but that is going to take time. Now, are we all agreed that we love both these men and we'll stand by them no matter what?" Tea, Dani, and Starr all nodded at her. "Great then let's figure out how we're going to make these men work together for their own good."


Todd jerked awake and immediately wished he hadn't. His body felt like a truck had run over it. He lay there for a minute breathing slowly trying to remember what had happened, then it all came back to him. Someone had poisoned him. He opened his eyes and realized he was still in Manning's room. Turning his head, he saw Blair and Tea, Starr, and Dani over at Manning's bed. Had Manning dropped back into a coma or had someone tried a second attempt on him. "Blair," he whispered. She turned as he spoke and came to his side. " What's been going on? Did they catch the person who gave me the poison? What's the matter with Manning?" he looked up at her waiting for a reply.


"Todd, I'm glad you're awake. We were unable to find the nurse who brought you the medicine. John McBain is on the case now and he's been updated by me and Bo. Walker is starting to experience some withdrawal pains from the drug he's been taking for so long, so they've been dosing him with mild painkillers to keep him comfortable. He's semiconscious right now and still reeling from the information you and Tea and I revealed to him. I have a feeling Walker or whoever he is, is in for some therapy sessions of his own, after all, this. How are you feeling?" asked Blair.


"Whatever that poison was, my whole body feels like I was hit by an 18 wheeler. Did it hurt my heart any more than it already is? I'm having a little trouble breathing, but nothing unmanageable." replied Todd.


"Relax Todd, the poison didn't have time to affect your heart. Your realization that you had been poisoned prompted quick action and they were able to counteract any effects immediately. There has still been no word on whether they've managed to recapture Carlo. We now have a police officer in place to guard both of you. Can I get you anything? Are you hungry? The Doctor says you'll be able to go home later if you're up to it but you have to promise me that you won't lie and say you're up to it when you aren't. I can't believe everything that has happened since yesterday morning." Todd put his hand to her lips to quiet her and she grabbed it.


"I'm alright, and yes,I am hungry. You're exhausted. You and Starr should go home and get some sleep. Jack and Addie have to be very worried and Hope needs her mom. I'll be fine here for awhile like you said, we have a guard and I'll admit I'm not up to going home just yet. Before I leave I still want to talk to Manning some more. So why don't you see about getting me something to eat and then you two can go home." Todd smiled at Blair, trying to put on a good show so she would leave for a short time.


Blair saw how gray he was and knew Todd was putting on an act to get her to go home. She had a feeling the effects of the poison were still causing some discomfort. The Doctor said the tox screen had shown a very powerful poison that would have killed Todd if he hadn't been in the hospital when it first started attacking his system. He had once more cheated death but just by the skin of his teeth.


Before she could protest, John walked through the door and came over when he realized Todd was awake. John looked down at Todd and said, "So I've been told you're the real Todd Manning, My name is John McBain. I must say this all came as a surprise to me. I've known Manning for a long time, I was told way back when, he was Todd Manning and never thought there was a chance he wasn't. Why do you think he's been masquerading as you all these years?"


Todd looked up at the man standing over him. He looked and sounded like he was more than just a police officer. If Todd were to take a guess he would have thought McBain was more like FBI or some other government agency. " If you've talked to Bo then you know that I believe Manning was deliberately sent by a third party to take my place. Hesser put a plan in motion that only he can totally clear up but I think he's trying to get rid of both of us because we're the proof that blows his plan out of the water. Hesser is now aware that I'm not in Paris any longer. I believe he's got certain ties to the community. In fact, I wouldn't put it past Carlo to be using one or more companies here in Llanview for laundering his ill-gotten gains. Unbeknownst to him, I already repurchased his stock in The Sun. So if he tries to funnel any money through there, that avenue is closed, I'll be glad to give you the name of the Sun's financial officers so they can be checked for any improprieties. If you talk to Kelly Cramer, she'll give you all the information you need." Todd looked at Blair and felt a fog begin to come over him again.


Blair felt his hand go limp and realized Todd had drifted off again. she leaned over and gave him a kiss and turned to John. "Did you discover any more about the nurse?"


John gave her a good look. Blair was obviously very close to this man. He knew all about her long relationship with Todd Manning. He stilled cared a lot about Blair and didn't want to see her hurt but she appeared to be very committed to the man on the bed in front of him. He had always had an uneasy feeling about Todd Manning from the early days when he had been pretending to be Walker Lawrence. The man had always seemed a little off and now he understood why. The Manning they had all known for the last eight years was a fraud. "Blair I've got a description and we've found the bottle she took the poison from. We've sent it to the lab to see if her fingerprints match anyone in the system. What did the Doctor say about his condition." he nodded at Todd.


Blair breathed deeply and said. "The Doctor tells me he's lucky to be alive. John, we have to keep both of them safe. Todd has been through so much this last month. You know how I feel about him. I can't lose him again. He deserves to get his life back. I've been so happy these last few weeks. All we want is to get our lives back on track. You will help won't you?"


"Blair, I care for you and I want you to be happy, I'll do my best to help find the persons responsible for all this. I'm headed back to the station for now and I've sent out messages to my contacts in the bureau. If there is any hint out there where Hesser might be hiding we'll find it." Blair gave him a hug and thanked him. John went over and had a few words with Tea and then he left.


Dani and Starr walked over to Blair. Dani said." What you said earlier. You're right, I already know everything about him and he is my father. I guess it would be fair to give him a chance to know me, I mean I gave Todd that chance. You tell him we can get to know each other if he wants to, I know my mom still cares for him."


They were all startled when Todd responded: "Thank you, Dani, I would like to get to know you." Dani looked down into his eyes and felt a strange connection to this man. She had always felt like she was fighting through a barrier when she tried to get to know Todd but Samuel actually felt comfortable. Maybe it was because he was her real father. She smiled down at him and he smiled back. He really did seem nice.


Tea looked down at her husband and felt a little sad. It had been a long haul for her "Todd" to get to the stage Dani had just reached with her father. It was apparent that the blood bond did make a difference. She was glad Dani had made the gesture. It was possible they could all end up in a good place after this whole charade came to an end. Her "Todd" hadn't said too much after receiving the pain killers. She had a feeling he could hear everything that was going on around him but chose to play dead, rather then have to face the latest information that just made his past seem even more fragile. Tea sat down in a chair close to his head and leaned forward and whispered. " Todd you need to hang in there, I know this has been a shock for you but I'm here and I'm not going anywhere do you understand. I came looking for Todd but I found you and I fell in love with you. Do you hear me, I fell in love with you, only you." At that, her "Todd" opened his eyes and looked at her. She saw his tears and knew how scared he was that he was losing his family. Tea leaned over and gave him a kiss and took his hand in hers. " We'll get through this," she said.


Manning squeezed her hand and tried to focus. "Samuel, what do you know about this guy Hesser. Is he definitely capable of hiring hits?"


"He's not only capable, he's ruthless. I know because the first time I died, he was the man behind it. He's destroyed my chance at happiness several time and he's not going to win this time." Todd and Blair looked at each other remembering that terrible year after Todd came home from Ireland. "I'll tell you this much, Hesser is ruthless but he isn't infallible. He makes mistakes like everyone else and when he chose me to do his experimenting on, he made an enemy he should have left alone. I'm sure you know what I mean. You might not be me but you've been programmed and have lived your life these past eight years as me and from what I've read about you, your will to live is as strong as mine. So is your stubbornness. Together we might make a pretty hard team to defeat. Don't you agree?" Todd looked at Manning and knew he had hit the nail on the head. Manning wanted payback as much as he did. They both needed to recover but Carlo Hesser just got a target put on his back. He wouldn't just have one Todd Manning to fight, he was going to be facing two of them.


Todd looked at Blair and said. "Alright, it's time you went home. I'm feeling better, come back and get me this afternoon I'm sure I'll be up to going home then. Starr, take your mother and get home to Hope. I don't want to see you back here anymore today. Go find your boyfriend and spend some time together. Dani, I meant it, I do want to get to know you. We'll take it a day at a time, is that ok with you?" Dani nodded, "Great then I think you should probably give yourself a break too, I know you and your mom have been here a lot over the last month. What do you say, Manning? I think Tea and Dani probably need the rest too." Todd looked over at Manning and he nodded agreeing with Todd.


Manning looked at Tea. "He's right you've been here all night. You two should go for now. I'm not going anywhere today. Heck, I just woke up last night and it looks like I've still got some physical issues that need resolving. Go, I'll be okay. Shaun and the police officer both should be sufficient to keep us safe." Tea looked across at Blair, they both knew the men wanted to talk privately, they gave each other a slight nod and then gave kisses to their men.


Dani gave her dad "Todd" a hug and a kiss and then left with her mom. Star also gave Manning a kiss to let him know she was glad he was awake and then a final kiss to her dad and she followed Blair out the door.


Todd struggled to sit up on the bed. it wasn't very smart as the room began to tilt. He gripped the rail and took slow breaths till the room righted itself. He looked squarely at the man who had been him for eight years. "Think back. What's your clearest memory of your past?" he asked. It was all he could do to remain sitting upright. He had to talk to Manning and doing it lying down just wasn't going to work for him. He needed to see Manning's face as he talked to make sure Manning wasn't trying to lie to him.


Manning had to give Samuel credit, the man had just been poisoned and was obviously in a lot of pain but he still sat up to talk. The man was made of some strong stuff. Manning knew he wasn't up to doing what Samuel had just done. His head was pounding still, even with the pain meds. Samuel was waiting for an answer so Manning thought back to his earliest memories. Now that he thought about it, he had no clear memories of his childhood. He remembered his old football coach Sam, who he had named his son after. Then he had his memories of the KAD Spring Fling and the raping of Marty. Memories after that were clearer. " My memories of my childhood are sparse. I remember Sam my football coach. Why do you ask?"


“I wondered what memories you had of Peter your adopted father. Are they fond memories?  I’m just curious what memories they pulled out of me concerning him." said Todd.


"They aren't fond memories, he was pretty strict. I remember he always wanted me to be a man. I remember he got mad at me because I failed a math test and got dropped from the football team. That's why I got so angry with Marty, that's why I got my revenge at Spring Fling." answered Manning.


Todd couldn't believe what he was hearing. Manning really had no idea of the complete bastard that Peter Manning was, nor any idea the real reason behind Marty's rape. "That's what you remember. God, you really have no clue.  Let me tell you about Peter Manning.  Peter Manning was a sadist and a bastard. He got his kicks torturing me when I was little, and as I got older the beatings got more brutal.  Tell me, do you recall your fourteenth birthday? Do you remember what you did that day?"


Manning looked at him. "Not off hand no, what was so important about that day?"


"If you had all my memories you would never forget my fourteenth birthday, for years I tried to forget that day. I wanted to push the day away so bad, that when Sam brought it up, it triggered something in me I had buried a long time. That day I tried to kill Peter Manning and a new alter was born that day. Pete, who from that time on, took on all the moments of revenge in my heart. Marty, unfortunately, fell into the category of someone I wanted to hurt and Pete decided to go all the way. Pete's actions and mine on that day will be with me the rest of my life. To this day, I can't hurt another woman like that. You don't know how much I wanted to hurt you when Starr told me you had been convicted of raping Blair. Pete wanted to kill you but Starr managed to stop me from going after you. Later that night Blair explained what happened. You should thank Starr for stopping me, you would've already been dead if you had raped Blair. I don't really like you Manning, but I need you to start remembering the time before you put in an appearance here in Llanview. It is necessary that we connect you to the Kipling Neuroscience Research Facility. Do you know where you recovered from your wounds? It's time to look into how you really got them." Todd stared hard at Manning and waited for some answer.


Manning had faced many men with that look in their eyes. Samuel hated his guts and Samuel was only working with him because they had a common enemy. He knew that he and Samuel would eventually have it out and when that day happened one of them wouldn't be standing any longer.


Manning had always thought of himself as pretty cold but Samuel's glance was frigid. What did Blair and Starr see that he didn't? For that matter what had Tea seen in him? This was the man whom Tea had fallen in love with and had somehow had a child with. Manning could feel his own anger beginning to rise because this man had just shown up out of nowhere and now he was going to have to share Dani with him. It was also obvious that he had a strong hold over Blair and Starr. Something inside him cringed at the thought of sharing his women with this man. It wasn't fair, they were his and his alone. As those thoughts ranged through his head he vaguely remembered that a question had been asked. Manning tried to clear his head a little bit. He felt so foggy because of the pain medicine.


“Manning are you still with me? Do you remember where you spent your recovery time?" Todd inquired a second time. He could tell Manning was having trouble staying focused, and he knew the medicine was part of the problem. He too was having trouble staying focused, as the pain caused by the poison was still very evident in parts of his body, and he knew he was going to have to lie down soon. "Come on, Manning, think, give me the name of the clinic where you recovered or better yet tell me how you met Dr. Kipling."


Manning focused on the doctor’s name. He knew Kipling. Kipling had been his doctor from the moment he left the Clinic to come to Llanview. "Dr. Kipling was the physician who released me back in 2003 and told me I was well enough to come home. I've seen him a number of times over the years so that I could keep my prescription for the pain I experience because of my injuries. I had to go back to him after my execution because I started having headaches. Why do you ask about Dr. Kipling?"


"Think Manning, the prescription you've been taking lately hasn't been filled with pain pills. You've been taking a pretty nasty hallucinogen for some time. We told you this already. It's obvious that it's affected your personality. Look how you've overreacted concerning Dani's and Starr's boyfriends. You've also seemed to have developed an obsession with Blair, you've been keeping hidden from Tea." Todd paused as a current of pain raced through him and he gritted his teeth till it passed. He was sweating profusely now and knew he might only get a few more questions out. " Where did you see this Doctor Kipling and maybe you could describe him?" asked Todd


Manning looked at Samuel and saw he was nearing the end of his tether as far as how much longer he was going to be able to fight off his own pain. He had to give the guy credit. It had only been a short time ago he had been lying on the floor dying. Here he was trying to make some sense of this predicament they both were in and he was pushing through his pain like a madman. "Samuel, I saw Kipling at his home outside of Philadelphia. He lived closed to the Kipling research facility. He's in his late sixties I would guess and he has an artificial hand. I don't understand why you need to know about my doctor and why do you think he had anything to do with this." he paused as he watched Samuel once again shudder like he was being ripped by some pain. " Sheesh man, lay down before you collapse, you don't have to play the strong silent sufferer, the girls are gone, it's just you and me here.


Todd knew Manning was right, he needed to lay down. But Manning's information was critical to their case. "You don't understand Manning, Kipling has been connected to mind control for many years now. In fact, it has been believed that he was dead but the man you just described sounds like the same Kipling who created a lot of havoc here in the eighties according to Vicki. I'm more certain than ever that he and Hesser have been partners in the government project we were guinea pigs for. Do you get what I'm saying? Someone tampered with your memory, man. You've been used by two men for their own personal profit. I don't know about you, but I think it's time they found out we're not sheep. I, for one, want to hit them both where it hurts." Todd couldn't stand it any longer and eased himself back down on the bed. He lay there just breathing deeply and prayed the waves of pain would finally end.


Suddenly he felt someone give him a shot, in a panic he opened his eyes, afraid the nurse who had given him the poison was back. He realized the doctor was standing above him."Relax Mr. Toddman, Mr. Manning pushed the call button and alerted us that you were still experiencing some pain. The shot I gave you should ease that and you'll feel better shortly."


Todd looked over at Manning. He really hated to be beholden to the guy but it was the second time Manning had stepped up for him. He struggled with the thought that he owed his life to Manning but common courtesy forced him to admit that he did. "Thanks, Manning, for both times," he said.


"You owe me, Samuel, don't worry I'll think of a way you can repay me," replied Manning. He looked over and grinned at Samuel.


Todd wasn't sure he was going to like what Manning had in store for repayment. Manning's grin was just shy of maniacal and a shiver ran down Todd's back. He hoped Manning hadn't been pushed too far over the edge by the hallucinogen. He didn't like the idea that Tea and Dani were still committed to him. He wouldn't let the guy hurt them in any way. Todd still cared deeply for Tea and he had just found Dani. He wanted them to be happy but he also wanted to make sure they would be safe with this man.  "Manning, you'll get repaid. Well, tell me you understand more of the situation we're in now."


Manning stopped smiling as he went over everything he had just been told by Samuel. Slowly what Samuel said started sinking in and he realized that he had been duped for a long time. Once again his anger came up to a slow boil, this time, it was for Hesser and Kipling and he knew he also had a score to settle with both of them. " Okay Samuel, I'm in," he replied and then he settled back down and drifted off.


Todd breathed easier. Earlier he had seen a look in Manning's eyes that told him Manning was definitely up for revenge, now he had confirmation. Tomorrow they could begin planning the rest of Hesser's downfall. Todd once again let sleep have him, at ease with the fact both he and Manning were temporarily safe.



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Sunday, April 24, 2016

On our way . . . to 250 K

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The Real Todd Manning Fanfic Hub Staff and Authors


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Chasing the Monsters: 33 (adult)


Bitsy was making herself comfortable in her pink room, the same one she had stayed in before, and setting up her easel in the dim light of late evening.  After dinner, the Mannings had been persuaded, by her, to retire to the master bedroom and relax together after their long trip.  At dinner, the conversation, when the kids had left the table to go get ready for bed, had gone to the Chicago trip, and Bitsy had been horrified to hear of Todd's visit to Peter's house.  She wanted to make up for it; she wanted to give them time to regroup and be quiet, and had offered to take over as Grandma for the rest of the evening.

She had, first, bathed Jewel in her little bath tub seat, as she laughed and splashed and enjoyed herself.  Bitsy had dressed her in a new pink nightgown that she had bought for her, via Sister Rebecca Katherine, for the occasion of visiting the Mannings again.  In fact, each child had gotten a gift from Bitsy.  Of course, it was coming directly from the money that Todd was sending to her while she was at Mountainview, but she had saved every penny and planned to spend it all on the children anyway.


After putting Jewel into her crib, she turned her attentions to Raymond.  She would never let anyone know, but deep down, she loved him best.  He was so like Todd, and it made her feel as if she could undo the things she had done mistakenly with Todd when he was a child.  She felt as if she could fix things through taking care of him, and somehow, they had a deeper connection that she did with the other children, but she made sure she never let on.  He was her favorite; his need to run, his long hair in waves, his somewhat independent behavior and his dislike of rules reminded her so much of her own son.  


She'd gotten him into pajamas, because it wasn't his bath night, and tucked him into his big boy bed, in the nursery.  Then, she read him a story that he interrupted by jumping on the bed a few times.  She had, as she always did, just looked at him and gently sat him back down.  Without saying anything, she was able to get his attention and hold it more than most people.  And, he was putty in her hands, generally, and did what she asked him without hesitation.


After he fell into slumber, she had turned her attention to Jack, simply by saying she was glad to be able to get to know him and hoped they'd continue to do so.  She remembered how handsome he was, looking at her with a smile on his face, and how he'd removed his earphones to listen to her.  


Then, she had moved to Sam's room.  


He was getting ready for bed, and had his Spiderman doll next to him, his other toys set up, she noticed on the floor, and a makeshift tent, with a light in it, as well.  Immediately, she knew he was having trouble sleeping, and recalled that Todd had done things like that when he was young, just before she had left.  She'd gone in and sat on the edge of the bed.


"So, Sam, are you ready for bed?"


"Yeah, Grandma, I think so."


"Looks like you have everything covered."  She'd looked around.  He'd looked with her.  
She said,"Tent, and everything."

"Yep!"  he seemed happy, and had moved under the covers, making himself comfortable.


"Well, should I read something?"


"No, I tell myself my own stories before bed."


"Really?  Are you a good storyteller?"


"Yeah, I'm pretty good.  Ray likes 'em."


"Oh, he does?"


"Yep."


"Well, what about telling a reverse bedtime story?"  she asked.


"Huh?  What's that?"


"Well, I tuck you in, but you tell the story to me."


"Sure, I can do that," he'd said.


Before she'd realized what she was doing, she had begun painting as she was lost in thought.  Her brush had brought out a very large, green dragon, with a kind but fierce face, and a backdrop of a wooded area.  Nothing else had really taken form.  She went back into her mind;


Sam had said, "Once there was a dragon, but he wasn't really mean.  He'd done some bad stuff sometimes, but just when he was sad or mad or protecting his princesses.  Anyway, the dragon's princesses were in trouble.  They were captured, being attacked by a mean, giant ogre with big hands and a mean face.  He was known all over the town for poisoning kids with needles, and the dragon didn't like it.  He used to ask the kids to come and have milk and cookies, and when they weren't looking, he'd take out his needles and stab them.  


One day, the dragon got one of the needles stuck in his foot, but he was too strong for it to hurt him, so he pulled it out with his teeth, and then went after the ogre.  He found the ogre in the back yard of a big house, and the princesses were hurt and bleeding on the ground.  When he caught the ogre, he bit his head off and buried it separate from his body so he could never ever come back."


Bitsy had just listened to him, and her heart broke.  She'd waited until he was done, and she said, "That dragon is not like other dragons in other stories."


"No, he's the dragon from Mom's stories."


"Is he, now?"


"Yeah.  He's the dragon from Mom's stories she told me when I was little, and she told those stories to Jack and Starr, too.  They said."


"I see.  He's a very different dragon.   I am used to stories where the dragons are mean."


"He's mean, sometimes, when he wants to be.  But mostly when he's threatened.  Or maybe when someone he loves is going to get hurt."


"But the ogre, he was very mean."


"Yeah, the ogre was evil and very bad.  He had a face that smiled, but his eyes didn't."


At that moment, a chill had run up her back, and all she could see was Peter Manning.  She'd tucked the sheet around her grandson.  "Well, that's enough of that story.  The dragon saved everyone.  And that's good."


"Right.  And he pulled off the ogre's head, too.  So he can't come back."


"Right."  She leaned over and kissed his cheek.  Before she left, she said, "Sam, I brought you a gift."


"You didn't have to get me a gift, Grandma.  It's not my birthday."


"I know," she'd said, "but I did.  I got you a gift that's in my room, and tomorrow, I'll show you how to use it."


"Paints?"


She nodded.  "Paints, and a small easel that you set on a desk, and brushes.  And there's a canvas for you to start with."


"Wow!  I wanted to learn how to paint, and you remembered."


"Sure.  I always paint to help me get things out of my head, and I thought you might want to learn to paint, too.  It works, sometimes, Sam, it really does."


"I'll try it!  I always wanted to."


"Good.  We'll try tomorrow."


Her thoughts, and her painting, which was almost involuntary, were interrupted by a noise outside her door.


***


Todd and Blair were in the bathroom, secluded, door closed, with candles set up around them, as they soaked in the hot tub, and leisurely floated in each other's arms.  She was against his chest, floating, and he was holding her around the waist, his head back on the rim of the tub.  He said, "This isn't so bad.  Momma was right."


"Momma told you to make love to me in the tub?"  she teased.  She began to hum.


"No, but she came up with the idea of us hiding away in here.  She was right on that one," he said, kissing the side of her face.  She'd secured her hair up off her shoulders with a spring-close claw clip, and tendrils of it were grazing her shoulders, and one in the back at the nape of her neck.  "If you keep humming that way, I'll be poking your back end again," he joked.  "The sound of you still makes me hard."


"Hmm, and that's a good thing, Mr. Manning," she said turning toward him.  Her breasts were right at the water level, and he looked away from her face for a moment to glance at them.


"You're just like you were back then, Blair," he said.  "Not much is different.  Your body, and your face, I mean.  You're like you always were."


"Well, so are you.  Not much difference, except for the scars," she said, absently tracing one of them.  "In fact, I think you're better."


"Better how," he said, running his hand up her back.  His hand dwarfed her body and covered almost the whole span of her waist.


"Better in all the ways that count," she said, kissing along side his mouth, gently.


"I learned what I lost," he said, "that's about it.  A man can't be that much of an asshole when he's being tormented every day.  Turns your life around, makes you appreciate things more."


She looked into his hazel eyes, and he looked directly into hers.  She said, "I wish it never happened to you, though."


"Me, too, but hey, something good came of it, if you think about it.  Look what it led to?  Me appreciating everything, this house, and us."


"I think you could have learned to appreciate us a better way."


"Hey, don't look at the bad side, look at the bright side.  A new, improved me," he said, playfully sprinkling a little water on her face.


"Hey, don't push me, Manning, I'll get you!"  She brought her hand back, ready to splash into his face.


"I give," he said, putting his hands up on either side of his face.  "I'm innocent."


"You're not, but okay, I'll be nice." She straddled him in the water, and leaned over to whisper in his ear:  What would you like me to start my niceness with?


He wasn't able to control himself, and immediately stiffened at her voice lilting in his ear.  He said, "Whatever you want," and she loved it; he had a gravelly sound to his voice, a slight rasp, that she associated with him being turned on.  


She said, "Really?" and put her hands on either side of his head on the rim of the tub, and moved up his body so that she slid over him and around him, until he was all the way inside her.  She used the tub to move herself up and down on him, and he closed his eyes. "You, My Love, could use some tender loving care, and I aim to please," she said, her voice breathy with excitement.


He was lost in her.  The softness of her breasts right above his face, her nipples poking toward him, almost close enough to take with his mouth.  She moved over him in soft, loving waves that brought him to the height of excitement.  After a few minutes, he looked at her, and swiftly moved her off him, guiding her in the water until he was in back of her, placing her hands back on the tub's rim, with his covering them.  He took her, passionately, from behind, then ran his fingers over her body, and rubbing at her until she came.  The feeling of her coming around him made his pleasure stronger, and he burst inside her, pushing himself to the hilt of her body.  He moaned in a whisper, and held himself there until he was spent, then pulled her back onto him, holding her again against his chest.  She fit perfectly between his knees.  He said, between breaths, "I warned you." 


"I like those kind of warnings," she said, putting her head onto his bicep.  For a moment, everything got very quiet in the bathroom, and he reached to turn on the jets, when she said, "No, wait, I think I heard something?"


"It's just one of the kids," he said, "and Momma is on duty, remember?"


"I almost forgot she was here," she said, and he reached across to turn the hot tub jets on.  Both of them sank a little deeper into the heating water.


***


Bitsy stepped outside her door, and looked both ways.  Seeing nothing, she almost went back in, when she heard what almost sounded like someone shivering to the left of her door, so she stepped out further and there he was.  Sam.  He was against the wall, his knees pulled up to his chest, clutching his Spiderman doll.  His eyes were wide and he was sweating.  She said, "Sam, what is it?" and crouched beside him.


He didn't respond to her, instead he shook violently as if he were cold and wet after a storm.  She put her arms around him, and he started to cry.  She smoothed his hair, and said, "It's okay now, Sam, what is it, you can tell me."


"No," he said, through tears.


"Want to come into my room?" she asked.

"Yeah," he said, and she helped him to his feet and took his hand, leading him in.  The lights were still on, and a pink glow was over everything because of the lampshade.  Her painting of the dragon was on the easel, where she had been working.  He was still breathing heavily, and sat on her bed, and she sat across from him on the chair.  She said, "It's all right, Sam," and she continued to hold his hand.  Since she could feel it still shaking, she beckoned to him to come to her, and he climbed onto her lap, and she held him.  She said, "It's over, it's just a dream."


The little boy continued to shake, until he caught glimpse of her painting, and he studied it.  He seemed distracted by it, and calmer.  She said, "Do you like it?"


"Yeah, it's good.  It looks like how my dragon looks in my head."


"Good, because it is your dragon."


"Really?  It's great, Grandma Bitsy," he said, and wasn't shaking anymore.


"I'm glad you like it, Sam.  It's like I told you, I paint what's in my head.  Helps me get it out.  Would you like your gift now?"


He nodded, and got up of her lap.  He seemed calmer, but he was still wet at the hairline with sweat.  She got up, went to her bag, and took out his items, and carefully placed them on the bed.  Opening the paper sacks, she showed him everything; there was a palette, paint tubes, brushes and a miniature easel, as well as a canvas, already stretched over a frame.  He said, "This is so cool, Grandma."


"I know, isn't it?"


He nodded again, and began to set up the easel on the bed, and then said, "Can we go to my room?"


"Sure," she said, following him.  When they got there, she saw the covers strewn all around the bed, a pillow on the floor, the tent, open, with the light on inside, his toys, comics and laptop all set up.  He set up the easel on his desk, and organized the paints and other items neatly.  She said, "Sam, you could paint what's bothering you.  No one has to see.  You could paint it and then cover it, with this cloth," she handed him a painter's cloth that she grabbed off her easel, "Or you can paint over it to make it go away."


"Paint over it?"


"Yes, that's why canvas is cool.  You can paint over it and start again."


He approached the easel.  "I will like this."


"I think so.  And remember my dragon?"  she asked, "he's waiting for me to create his scene, from my mind."


"Grandma?"


"Yes?"


"Remember when you used to draw those pictures of the little boy and the bad man?"


She swallowed, "Yes."


"Were those things in your head?"


"Yes.  They used to bother me, they were dreams.  I was having bad nightmares, and I used to draw them to get them out of my head and on paper.  Then, I could crumple them up or paint over and forget them."


He fingered the paintbrush.  "I don't know how yet."


"No, but you can draw," she picked up a notepad off his desk, "you know how to do that."


He took it from her and began to draw on the paper.  She watched him, and for a moment, thought to herself about calling Todd, but then, refrained.  


After a few minutes, he turned the pad toward her.  It was very simplistic, but was a shadow of a large man, with a small animal, possibly a dog, in his hands, and the dog was limp.  There was a small stick figure boy, with a circle for a head, with very large eyes and his mouth open in a scream.  She saw what might have been blood drops from the dog, and the man's back was only visible.  She said, "This looks scary.  Is this your dream?"


He nodded, "Yeah, but it's true."


"What do you want to do with this drawing?"


"Make it go away."


"Okay, let's go to the fireplace, then," she said, holding out her hand.


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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Chasing the Monsters: 32

"I love when Grandma Bitsy comes!"  Sam said, setting the table for lunch with Blair. 

Jewel, in her high chair, watched intently.


Blair said, "She's wonderful, isn't she, Sam?"


"Yeah, she's so cool.  Mom, she acts like a kid."


Blair remembered him saying the same thing about Addie, years before.  "She does, sometimes."


"I can't wait until she gets here."


"Well, I think you have your wish," Blair said, wiping her hands and walking to the glass doors that led to the patio.  She could hear the copter approaching.


Sam rushed to her side, and Jewel clapped awkwardly.  "He's coming!"  Sam announced.


"Shh, now, Ray's still napping.  Give me some peace, a few more minutes," Blair said, smiling and looked back to watch her husband's approach.


The copter landed without a hitch, and they waited until they saw all three of them descending the staircase leading to the kitchen patio.  Blair opened the slider before they even got to it.  "Momma!  So good to see you!" she said, reaching her arms out, and Bitsy went to them happily.


She let go of her embrace with Blair to turn to Sam.  "Sam, I am so happy to see you, we're going to have such fun!"  Bitsy said, hugging him.


"Me too, Grandma Bitsy!"


Jewel clapped and cooed, calling Todd from her chair.  "Da da!"


"Hi, Baby Girl," he said, palming her head and kissing it.  


"Todd, she's beautiful and growing," Bitsy said.


"I know, Momma."


"Where's my Road Runner?"  Bitsy said, looking around.


"Believe it or not, he's still napping," Blair said.


"Oh, okay, he'll be up soon, I'm sure,"  Bitsy added.


Todd said, "I'll show you to your room, Momma."


"Can we, Dad?  Please?"  Sam asked.


"Sure, uh, Jack, you'll have to do the honors.  Get the bags off the helipad."


"No problem, come on Squirt.  Grandma, I'll show you my last report card," Jack said.


"Oh, good," she said, following Jack, and Sam who was tugging at her hand to get her upstairs.


***


Timothy sat, still alone in Chicago.  He walked to the large picture windows and looked out over Grant Park.  From where he stood, he could see the compartmentalized green areas, surrounded on all sides by sidewalk beige, and beyond, the boat-cluttered waters of Munroe Harbor.  He sighed.   "What is going on with y'ar brother's past, Eric?  Can ya give me something, Son, to go on?"  The silence continued.  "I want to do right by both of ya, but what can I do next?"


He sat down and leaned his head back.  With his eyes closed, he journeyed back to a street in Dublin, with the cars rushing by, and his wife, Erin and little Eric, spotting him across the way . . . the shots, and the blood coming out of Erin as she pulled their son to her to shield him.  "Ya did it, Erin," he said softly aloud, "Ya saved our boy," and then, his mind drifted to the moment when Eric let go of life.  He'd been there, as he wished, but still, it did not mend things.  It didn't take away the emptiness.  In Chicago, he was alone.  Nothing with a purpose, not really.  He'd lost almost everything.  Almost.  He squeezed his eyes tighter and then relaxed.


When he opened his eyes and jerked his head back to upright, his eyes focused, and he saw it.  


The liquor cabinet.


***


Still in the quiet of the lower level, Blair said, "As for you, Mr. Manning," she slipped her arms around his neck.


"What, Mrs. Manning?"


"I missed you," she whispered, and ran her hand along his chest, and down, until she took his hand.


"Same here, Babe," he said and kissed her.  Jewel was playing patty cake with the high chair tray in the background.


She said, "Uneventful trip?"


"I guess," he said, sitting down, still holding her hand.  She sat next to him.  "Your son was sharing how he sees us.  Interesting."


"I'll bet."


"Blair, I want Momma to live here."


"I know you do, and I have no problem with that.  I hope she can, soon."


"I want her to experience the family."


"I understand that, too.  We have plenty of space for her, and people for her to pay attention to."


"Yes, yes!"  Jewel said, to herself, but it made them laugh, softly.


"Sometimes it's hard for me to . . ." he stopped a minute, and studied her hand, still in his.


"Accept it?"


"Yeah, that's it.  I guess I can't believe sometimes this is really my life."


"It is.  Believe me," she said, reaching out with her other hand and touching his face.


"I need you to stand by me, Blair.  This all seems white picket, but I need you to stand with me when I bring down those men."


She sighed, hoping somehow he'd forgotten it.  Instead, it seemed that seeing his mother had enlivened the need in him.  She said, "I'm with you, Todd, you know that.  I just . . . don't want to lose you or our family."


"You won't.  They're going to pay.  Someone has to."


"Todd, are you . . . did you remember other things?"


He got up from the table and picked up the baby.  Holding her, he said, "Not now, Babe, okay?"


She gulped, and watched him, cuddling the baby, and felt an ache of sadness and worry.  She said, "Whenever you're ready, My Love, you know I'm here."


"Hear that?  Mommy's here.  And Daddy's here.  We're all here, Jewel," he said, looking at his wife.  "Thank you, for her.  She's so beautiful."


"You had a hand in it," she said, refusing to give in to emotions.


"Maybe but, without you, forget it."


"Well, you're welcome, then."  She stood up.  "I'm going to get Ray.  He's slept long enough."


"I'll go," Todd said and handed Jewel off to her mother.  He was gone before Blair could look behind herself to watch him go.


She held the baby to her chest, and the top of her head grazed Blair's lips.  "We love you, Baby Girl," she said.


***

It was dark and she had just heard his car pulling into the driveway, stopping under the carport, the door slamming with force.

His hands covered in fingerpaints, his face and clothing blotched with smears of red, blue and yellow, his little eyes widened.

"You must hide," she said quietly.  "Put your hands in your pockets.  Hide, now."

Without hesitation, the little boy ran to his open closet and inside it.  She followed behind him, her eyes connecting with his as she slowly closed the door.  She managed a very large smile to try and comfort and reassure him.  "Momma," he said softly, and she closed the door.

Gathering herself a moment, she went to the kitchen, rubbing a small smear of blue fingerpaint off her cheek with her apron.

Instead of seeing Peter, looming by the doorway and expecting a beer, she saw Mitch, arms folded, smile wickedly spreading.  "Beautiful," he said, surveying her.

She absently fixed her hair.  "I look . . . I look a mess."

"Not to me," he said and walked toward her slowly.

"The baby.  Todd's awake, he's in his room.  He's . . . hiding in the closet.  We thought you were Peter," Bitsy said.

"No," he said, sliding his arms around her waist,"I'm not Peter."  His mouth took hers.

She pulled away.  "Stop, please?  He's coming."

He smiled again.  "He's not.  I told him to meet me at the church.  He's there, not here."

She felt her shoulders sink, as he ran his hand up her body, landing on her throat.  He turned her head away, and ran his tongue along her neck.

"He's not here," she repeated, closing her eyes.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Who's the Real Todd?: Chapter 8

"Whoa there mister, you can't be serious. Do you want to meet him now? I'm not sure that's a good idea given what just happened. Not to mention, you've just been given some medicine and we have no idea how it will affect you." said Blair looking alarmingly at Todd.

"Blair, I feel fine and I'm sorry I scared you but I do think Manning and I need to meet. I can't keep living this way. Please tell me you understand." replied Todd. He studied her face looking for something that would tell him she was okay with the idea. She wasn't too fond of it, by her expression. "I really need to do this. Manning needs to know I'm here so he can wrap his mind around the idea too. If he's awake then the target is on his back again. The next time the sniper might not miss. He deserves to know why he's in danger. So I'm going to his room. You coming or not?"

Blair knew arguments were not going to work. He had made up his mind and so she said. "I'm coming because we don't want to shock his system, and you need the backup."

Todd stood up off the bed holding on to the bed until it stopped spinning. Then he took Blair's hand and they headed for Manning's room. As they came around the corner they saw Shaun standing outside.

"Mr. Toddman are you alright? You didn't look too good when they brought you in," asked Shaun.

"Shaun, I'm doing much better, but I heard my cousin is awake.   Are the doctors still in with him?" asked Todd.

"They just left, only Tea and Dani are in there right now." said Shaun.

"Then it's alright if we go in." asks Blair.

"Sure Blair, it will be fine." Shaun opened the door and Blair and Todd entered.

Manning was talking to both Tea and Dani and didn't register the new visitors at first. Then he looked up and saw Blair, but before he could say anything to her, a man walked into view from behind her. Manning's eyes widened as he took in the man who stood at the end of his bed. "What the hell." Manning knew those features like the back of his hand. "Who are you?" he asked.

"Do you want the current identity or the real answer to that question? Right now to a number of The Sun's readers, I'm Samuel Toddman, the new owner of The Sun. But the real answer to that question is this. I'm Todd Manning." Todd answered.

"You're lying and you're doing it in front of people who know I'm Todd Manning. What are you trying to prove by claiming to be me?" Manning looked at his wife Tea, but she just looked at him and then back to the imposter." Tea, do you know about this?  You don't seem very surprised at his statement and neither do you, Dani.  Blair, you walked in with this guy. Are all of you trying to tell me you believe this guy? This is all some sort of dream, Tea, talk to me. Do you believe his statement?"

Tea moved to stand by her husband's side. "Todd, you have to calm down. You just came out of a coma. I know this is a shock to you, but you need to hear his whole story. I'm very much afraid to tell you, but what he says is true. I know you believe you're Todd Manning, but you're not. He is. He is the man who disappeared in 2003 and he has proof that he is who he says he is. But I'm here with you and whatever happens from here on out, I'm your wife and Dani is your daughter by marriage even if she isn't biologically. We're not going anywhere.” Dani also moved to stand by the man she'd come to know and they presented a united front to Todd as he stood at the end of the bed.

Manning frowned. He heard what Tea said but it wasn’t making sense. He turned his attention back to the man at the end of his bed. "What's going on? If you are who you say you are, where have you been all these years? Somehow you've managed to convince them that you're the real Todd, but it’s not true, I'm the real Todd. It appears we have a dilemma on our hands. I can prove I'm Todd all you have to do is ask my daughter Starr or my sister Vicki. They'll verify I'm really Todd"

“Yes, well you see, both Starr and Vicki already acknowledge I'm the real Todd. Vicki and I have a DNA test to prove it, not to mention that Bo and Nora are also aware of my presence. Now listen, I'm not here to take Tea away from you and I know about Dani and for now she doesn't want to get to know me. I understand Dani, I'm a stranger to her although she's already come to terms with my past, she still is having trouble with the concept that I'm her father and not you. Blair told me how you and Dani met and how long you worked to get her to love you. I don't want to interfere with the love she has for you, but I'm hoping eventually she'll give us a chance.”  Todd met Dani’s eyes briefly and then looked back at Manning.

“I came in here today to let you know I'm back and I want my life and everything that was mine back. You need to know that someone who didn't want us to ever know each other, tried to stop this meeting by putting a bullet in you and I think they will try again to cover their tracks. You need to be aware of this. So far, the people who did this to us think I'm still in Paris. We're trying to keep them in the dark as to my true whereabouts." Todd looked at Blair, Tea, and Dani. "I need to talk to him alone. Could you all give us some privacy?"

Manning looked skeptical but nodded at Tea and Dani and they, along with Blair, left the room. "Alright, it's just you and me, is this where you try to finish the job? If you want to pose as me then you have to get rid of me" Manning said.

Todd looked at the man in the bed and smiled, "I’ve had plenty of opportunities while you were in a coma. I don't want you dead, Manning, I need you alive so we can bring down the man who did this to both of us. There is a third party who is involved up to his ears in this deception and he's been capitalizing on our lives for years. I also want to know more about this Doctor Kipling you've been seeing and who sent you to him in the first place. Did the doctor tell you that you were steadily being drugged? Because you need to know that someone has been watching you the same way they were watching me. I haven't yet figured out who took the shot at you but if he finds out you've woken up, then he will probably try again. They want to get rid of loose ends and you are one of them."

“You expect me to just lie here and believe what you're telling me. Man, you are nuts.  You must be on something. I don't know where you got you information that someone wants me dead. The only person I know who would want me dead is you. So why bother telling me some cock and bull story about a third party. How the heck did you find out about Doctor Kipling? Who my doctors are is none of your business." replied Manning.

"I'm to take it then that you weren't informed that the pain medicine you thought you were taking was really a hallucinogen and you've been slowly building up a lethal amount in you. It was that drug that has kept you in a coma for over a month. Your Dr. Kipling is associated with a Research facility that had me in their clutches for three months after Mitch Lawrence and his goons almost killed me. You do remember Mitch don't you? Why don't you try and think back to your first memory when you woke up in the hospital and went looking for a different face. Just what prompted you to do that? It is my belief that they somehow transferred my memories to you and gave you some sort of subliminal message to get plastic surgery that way no one would know you were an impostor. I know you don't have all my memories because if you did you would know about my adopted father Peter and things he did to me. Can you tell me any of those things Manning? Well, what do you know about my childhood Manning?"

Todd's eyes narrowed as he watched Manning trying to bring up those memories. It was obvious that Manning was beginning to worry because he couldn't remember Peter Manning. "Perhaps that is a little unfair of me just what do you remember about me as I was growing up. You should be able to remember something." Todd walked over and took a chair, the medicine the doctor had given him was beginning to take effect and Todd didn't like the way it was making him feel. He was having a little trouble focusing and he felt nauseous. He began taking big breaths to try and clear some of the cobwebs and tried to maintain focus by looking at Manning.

Manning was visibly shaken as he realized he wasn't able to remember much about his adopted father. No one had ever brought up Peter before and so he had never had to address the issue. Now his visitor had challenged him to talk about his childhood. As he looked back in his mind the earliest memory he could bring forth was the night he raped Marty and that, as usual, was a little fuzzy. He knew all about it because he had seen what was on the Internet about it but even when he and Tea and Blair and Marty had been captured by Powell, he let Marty do all the remembering and he had just felt like he was standing outside watching the event take place instead of being part of it. Now he wondered why he couldn't remember his childhood. Why would he have forgotten that? Manning looked over at the other man and noticed he was looking a little gray. " Hey what's the matter with you?" he asked.

Todd looked up at Manning's question and realized the nausea wasn't going away. "Manning I'm going to have to shelve this conversation until tomorrow. At the moment, I'm not feeling very good. Perhaps you would be so kind as to ring for a nurse." Suddenly a pain ripped through his gut and he doubled over. " I think I've been poisoned."

Outside in the hall Blair, Tea, Dani and Shaun saw the nurse rushing to Todd's room. They followed her in and saw her working on Todd on the floor. Blair looked at Walker. " What happened?" she asked

Manning looked at her and said. "He wasn't looking too good and asked me to call the nurse. Then he doubled over and said something about being poisoned. Just what the hell is going on around here, why would someone try to poison him?"

Blair could think of only two people who could have hurt Todd and that was the nurse and doctor. The doctor had been in the room with them when he sent the nurse for the medicine. Was it possible the nurse wasn't really a nurse but someone who worked for Carlo? They had been so sure no one knew Todd was in Llanview. They hadn't considered the possibility that Carlo had other operatives keeping an eye out for Samuel and when Samuel had visited earlier they realized the he was no longer in Paris. The nurse had Shaun get a gurney and they put Todd on it and a call was made to pump his stomach. They needed to find that nurse. Todd was stabilized but they had to clean the poison out his system. Blair decided to see if she could spot the nurse from earlier.

"Shaun I need you to watch over both Todd and Samuel. Someone wants them both dead, I'm going to call John and in the meantime, I'm going to see if I can find the doctor and nurse who treated Samuel earlier." Blair went down the hall and around the corner. The Doctor was there but she didn't see the nurse from earlier. " Doctor. Mr. Toddman just collapsed .  What did you give him?"

"Ms. Cramer I assure you the pill I ordered would not have incapacitated Mr. Toddman. Where is he?" the doctor asked and Blair led him to Walker's room. He immediately assessed the situation and began asking questions of what the nurse found when she entered the room. After checking Samuel's vitals he ordered a tox screen be done on the contents of Samuel's stomach and then it was decided to leave him in the same room as Manning until they could get the police there.

Blair and Tea looked at each other, the whole situation had just taken a turn for the worse. Now both men were in danger and they weren't any closer to nailing Carlo for the hits. The nurse had disappeared and no one knew who she was. Blair called John and told him of the situation and then asked to speak with Bo. "Bo, someone just tried to kill Todd and if we had gone home after he took the pill he'd be dead. Luckily we hadn't left the hospital so he's being treated right now. Please tell me Carlo is still in custody?"

  Bo didn't know what to say to Blair, he had just received word that Hesser had managed to escape custody when he arrived at the Philadelphia Airport.  The manhunt was on, but with him loose in Pennsylvania, there were a number of places he could have gone into hiding .  Bo already had a lot on his plate with everything going on  with Matthew and Clint.  Now he had a criminal mastermind loose  and another murder attempt, this time on the real Todd.  " Blair I've got bad news, Hesser is no longer in custody. He escaped from the men who brought him into the country.  I'm sending a police officer to the hospital to guard Todd and Manning.  This game just edged up a notch.  The attempt on Todd means Hesser has been made aware that Samuel is here. How is Todd?"

    "Todd is stable but fortunate he was here at the hospital.  This was too close Bo .  Do the marshals have any idea where Hesser might be?"

    "They are checking out the Research facility to see if he's hiding there,but other than there he could be anywhere now.  We are monitoring the airport, train, and bus stations.  So far we're pretty sure he's still in Philadelphia. When John gets to the hospital, fill him in on the whole story.  I'll keep trying to find out how Hesser eluded his guards.   Someone has been helping him and now we know he has at least two hits out.  He's definitely starting to cover his tracks.   Thanks for the heads up on Todd.   I hear Manning is awake.  Does he have any idea who shot him." asked Bo.

   Blair replies, "I don't think he has the vaguest clue.  He thought Todd might have tried to kill him to take his place but I have a feeling he's rethinking that after what happened to Todd.   Bo, I have to get back to Todd. I'll tell him what's happen when he wakes up." She hung up and went back into the room where the two Todds lay side by side.   Walking over to her Todd. she stood by the head of his bed and looked at the doctor,  "Is he going to be alright?  This didn't affect his heart did it?"

  "He's stabilized and should be coming around soon.   His collapse, while still here, saved his life and also prevented the poison from damaging his vital organs.  His heart appears to be none the worst from the ordeal.  Mr. Toddman can you hear me?"  questioned the doctor.

     Todd felt like he was traveling through syrup,  his stomach was on fire much the way it had been when he had taken the overdose of drugs in prison.  It was hard to think but he heard Blair and the doctor talking.  He needed to get through this syrup so he could talk to Blair, they were all in danger if someone had just made an attempt on his life.  He struggled to open his eyes, it seemed to take most of his strength to do that.  "Blair" he whispered, "What happened?"

   Blair came into view looking down at him. "Todd, you're okay, you were poisoned.  I'm grateful we were still here when the poison attacked you. Your stomach was pumped and they're analyzing the poison now to find out what you were given.  The nurse that brought your medicine seems to have disappeared."

       " Mr. Toddman, you were indeed very lucky.  If you had left the hospital, I'm not sure you would have survived.  Your quick thinking asking for help saved your life." said the doctor, "Now we've been instructed to keep both of you gentlemen together until the police have someone to protect you, Mr. Toddman. and I'm afraid you have to spend yet another night here until we're sure the poison can do no more harm."

    Todd looked over at Manning.  "Thank you for calling the nurse. It looks like I owe my life to you."

    Manning  didn't know what to say.  He had just hit the call button out of instinct when Samuel had asked. Now he realized that if he hadn't, Samuel would be dead and all the confusion would be over. This man lying next to him claimed to be him and he had just saved his life. Now they would still have to face the next day to sort everything out.  Blair had been terrified when she saw Samuel on the floor.  She obviously had some feelings for the guy and if what he said was true then Starr and Vicki also shared the same feelings.  It was galling to know he would have to share them until this was figured out.   One thing was sure, someone had ordered a hit on him and someone  had also just tried to kill Samuel.   There was definitely some truth to Samuel's story .  Then Manning remembered  what Samuel had first said when he arrived something about being the new owner of the Sun.  What the hell had happened while he was in a coma? "Don't mention it.   If you want to repay me, give me back my Paper," he said to Samuel.

     Todd smiled weakly and said.  "Sorry, but it was my paper before it was yours, so I think I'll keep it. "  Todd looked back at Blair. "Someone knows I'm no longer in Paris. Have you heard from Bo as to when they'll arrive with Hesser?"

       "Todd, I've bad news, Hesser escaped custody and he's wandering somewhere around Philadelphia.  I'm positive that word was gotten to him that you were in town.  He probably ordered the hit.   Now more than ever you'll have to be careful.  Until they catch him he can still do plenty of damage.  I just realized I need to warn Kelly.  She's looking into the research facility.  This has become more dangerous for everyone involved. " answered Blair.   

     At that, John walked in and took in the scene,   Blair was next to a man he had never met and Tea and Dani were standing by Todd who was finally awake.  "Okay, anyone want to tell me what just happened.  Bo said I was to put a guard on someone known as Samuel  because someone had just tried to poison him."  he looked at Blair and the man she was next to. "You must be Samuel.  How come someone wants you dead?"

    Blair looks at Todd and says "Bo said to tell John everything .  We're going to need his help now that both of you are in danger. Do you want to tell him or should I?"

      " Blair, you know him, I really don't feel up to a long conversation so you get the honors.   You know the whole story, you can tell everyone here.  Manning, Tea, and Dani deserve to know what has happened too.  I'm  going to rest right now." and saying that Todd drifted into unconsciousness.

      Blair looked inquiringly at the doctor when Todd lost consciousness. After checking Todd, he stated. " He's alright, he's still fighting what is left of the drug in his system.  He'll probably be in and out the rest of the night." he turned to the detective and said. " We should have the tox screen result shortly, you can get it at the nurses station. I'll be around the rest of the night. if you have any questions for me regarding the unknown nurse." that said the doctor left the room.

    Just as the doctor opened the door, Starr arrived and rushed in. "Mom what happened , Jack said that Dad collapsed on the driveway.  What's he doing in here with Todd?"

    John had been watching and listening to every exchange and it became clearer with Starr's words that  there was definitely more going on here.  John turned to Blair and said, "Who is he really?"

"John, If he was awake, I would introduce you properly. Samuel's real name is Todd Manning. This is the man that disappeared in 2003." Blair replied.

John did a double take. Had he just heard Blair right? He looked over at Manning and asked the next question. "Todd what do you think about what Blair just said. Do you believe this man is the Real Todd?"

"John I don't know what to believe anymore. I come out of a coma and suddenly I'm confronted by this Samuel or whatever his name is and he tells me, he's me. How do you think I took it? I called him a liar and then my own wife and ex-wife both tell me he's telling the truth. He wanted to talk to me and asked the ladies to leave. I thought he was going to try and take me out himself but instead he started talking about a third party who has been manipulating us since 2003 and how that same party put the hit on me. Before the conversation got much farther, he collapsed saying he had been poisoned, then he blacked out and the nurse came in when I pushed the call button. I'm as in the dark as you so I think we should hear the whole story. Blair?" Manning said looking at Blair and waiting for the story.

Blair turned to Shaun and asked him to bring some extra chairs in and to keep an eye out for the police officer assigned to protect Samuel. Then she began filling in everyone in the room. "Last year I received a lock box from Eli, when I open it I found a picture of myself painted in 2003. I showed it to you, Tea, and you also Todd, but you said you never commissioned a portrait of me, so I kept looking for the artist. Samuel turned out to be that artist. Samuel had been living in Paris for the last eight years, painting portrait after portrait of me and selling them. But you know all about that, don't you Todd, since you bought five of them, but that's another topic. When I finally found Samuel he didn't know who I was but I knew him and I realized that his amnesia kept him from coming home all these years. Something about seeing me triggered his memories and after I returned home from Paris, he decided to follow. You see one of the memories he had was of being trapped in his father’s crypt. That memory occurred on March 14th, 2003, the night Todd Manning disappeared. The trauma Todd endured in that tomb pushed him over the edge and another alter was born that night. Samuel was the alter and when he finally regained his senses three months later he had no memories, but he still felt the urge to protect himself so he went to Paris to live."

John held up a hand to interrupt.“Wait a minute Blair.  What do you mean Samuel is an alter?  I know Todd’s story and everything I’ve read said that Todd Manning only faked having alters to get out of jail.  Surely you questioned that.”

“Yeah Blair, I know all about my so-called alters.  Hell, you were the very one I told the truth to, to begin with.  How can you believe this impostor?” Manning said belligerently.

"I can believe it, Todd, because I know the truth that brought all of them into being.  This man, the real Todd suffers from the same affliction as his sister and niece. He suffers from DID, but you wouldn't know that Todd, because those memories were so guarded by the real Todd, that the person or persons who implanted Todd's memories into you, were unable to get to them There is also one very important memory you can't find and that is what Peter Manning did to his son. What he did was buried so deep in Todd's subconscious that my Todd almost killed himself trying to remember it recently. Samuel met Todd and the other alters after I left Paris and he chose to come home to find out why someone had taken eight years of his life away and to find out who you really were.   He  managed to figure out that one other man beside you,had a desire for my portraits and his name was Carlo Hesser. John, we've managed to tie Carlo to Samuel that first night and we believe he had something to do with tampering with Samuel's memories and also for tampering with your memories, Todd. We also think that the treatment that was performed on both Todds is now coming undone, and so Carlo is trying to cover his tracks. We're pretty sure Carlo ordered the hit on you Todd and he also just ordered the hit on Samuel. Bo informed me that the law officials who had Hesser in custody lost him in the Philadelphia airport. This means that until Hesser is found both Todds are in danger."

Manning looked at Blair and said, "You seriously believe that I'm not Todd but some impostor. How can you believe that? I told you how I look like this and John, you know I'm Todd Manning. You worked for Walker Flynn when I contacted Flynn and took his face. Surely you can tell I'm me, Blair. What about all those memories we share. Tea, you tell her, I remember what happened between us too. Tea , Blair, why are you doing this? Tea, what about Dani you said our DNA matched? How could that be if I'm not her father?"

Tea and Blair glanced at each other and then Tea replied. "The DNA that I used from Todd, was a locket of hair that I took with me when I left Todd in New York. It was Samuel's DNA, Todd, and then there is the other item that I didn't remember until recently. I was so sure you were who you said you were, that I just overlooked one very important trait and I don't think I was the only one. Starr, Blair, and Vicki also missed it. Todd, you have blue eyes and the real Todd has hazel eyes. You can't be Todd Manning. I love you dearly but you are not Dani's biological father nor are you related to Vicki, Starr or Jack. I'm sorry Dani, as I told you earlier, I intend to stand by this man whoever he is and I hope you'll continue to love him like I do. Todd, I don't know who you are but we'll work on finding that out together if you want to stay with me."

Manning laid there stunned. Tea had just told him he wasn't the man he believed himself to be and had given pretty good evidence to support the other man's claim. Suddenly his head felt like it was going to explode and he didn't have the pain pills that Dr. Kipling prescribed. "Tea, my head, God the pain, I need something fast, I feel like it's going to explode, someone help." his face showed the agony he was in and Tea quickly pushed the call button bringing the nurse in. The doctor had also followed thinking it had something to do with Samuel but saw Manning's face and immediately started examining him.

"I think he's going into withdrawal from the medicine he was taking. I'll prescribe a mild pain medicine. I don't want to put him out, he might drop back into a coma if we do. Mr. Manning, I know you're in a lot of pain right now but we can't give you anything very strong, you still have quite a bit of the hallucinogen in your system. We need to keep you awake now. These next few days are going to be rough." The nurse left for the pain meds and this time, John went along to make sure she brought back the correct medicine the doctor ordered.

John took a moment to call Bo, " Hey Bo, how about filling me in on this Todd Manning problem, I was just in a room with two guys claiming to be Todd Manning. I was under the impression that Todd Manning was the guy who had recently been shot but now I'm hearing that there is a second guy who's been going by the name of Samuel Toddman, who is the Real Todd Manning. Who should I believe?.... The gentleman by the name of Samuel is the real Todd. How do you know? You've talked to him and you have current DNA results that tie him to Vicki. You're kidding, right? You believe this DNA test….I see, you personally sent it off to a completely separate facility for testing. So what Blair says about this guy Hesser is true? Alright, I'll try to get more information on the nurse who poisoned Samuel. The officer you sent just arrived, I'll let him relieve Shaun and get back with you when I have anything."

John reentered the room noticing that both Todds were now out of commission. The Todd he knew was only semi-conscious and Samuel was still out from the poison. "Ok ladies, we still have no idea who shot Todd and it appears that Samuel is also now in jeopardy so you now have a police officer outside. I just got off the phone with Bo and he informed me that your story is true Blair, we'll have to start limiting the people who see either one of these men. Blair, when you get a chance, we need to have a long talk. Now I'm going to see if anyone else saw the nurse who gave Samuel the poison." with that John left the room.



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