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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Who's the Real Todd?: Chapter 14

Starr returned to find her mother and father having a serious conversation. "Hey, why so serious. Dad, you're doing okay, right?"


"Relax Starr, I'm doing fine. We were just discussing what all these attempts on my life mean. It's obvious that Hesser is aware that I'm no longer in Paris. I believe he still believes I'm Samuel and now it's more important than ever that he remains in the dark. I think my health is going to have to rely on the fact that he's willing to accept Samuel here but if he finds out I'm myself again, all bets are off. I'm going to try and be Samuel as long as I can, but you gals might find yourselves in his company. The stresses it takes on me to fake being him are tiring on a good day, after all, this, even being me is a chore, so I might just let him come out as a respite. I'm just giving you a heads up." Todd glanced at both Starr and Blair.


"So you're going to be Samuel for a while. What about Walker and Tea, Dani, and Jack? We can keep calling you Samuel but how long will they keep your secret?" asked Starr, "You just told Dani and Jack you were their real dad. Dani's going to want to get to know you, I know she will."


"I know she will and I want to get to know her too, but now is a bad time. I should have stayed away. When that nurse poisoned me it became clear that even as Samuel I have to watch my actions right now. I proved to the assailants yesterday that I was Samuel I've got to keep Hesser off my back for now. Bo and I were talking when I collapsed. Has he stopped by since?" asked Todd.


"He stopped by an hour after he brought you in but that was when your body started to react to the poison, He indicated he would try and come by today to see if you were any better. Why do you need to talk to him?" asked Blair.


"I need to know if they found my assailants. If they've caught them, they'll be a link to Carlo. We need to find out if anyone has seen Carlo too. I thought he might be trying to reach Kipling and I told Bo this." replied Todd. He hating being so helpless. He needed to be out there looking for signs of Carlo and working with Manning but now he was going to have to backpedal. Samuel made it very clear that he and Manning would have to keep their distance for the time being. Something deep down inside him told him that Samuel was right."Enough of my problems, how's Kelly?"


"She's recovering nicely. Dorian and Joey have been with her thru the night. I just peeked in a minute ago. She's awake and talking. Joey was with her when I looked in. I still can't believe that Marty stabbed her. Just the other day she had Hope, I confess it was a little unnerving when Hope was supposedly with the babysitter instead Marty had her. Walker was right when he said Marty was a danger. I think she had one too many losses." Starr looked at her dad, but he seemed lost in thought. she reach over and tapped his hand "Dad, are you with us?"


Todd looked startled, he hadn't realized he had zoned out. His thoughts had gone back to the night he and Marty had discussed their dilemma of not being able to get free of each other and how fate kept throwing them together. Now it seemed, they were forever entwined since they would always share a granddaughter. He felt saddened by the fact that the strong woman he had known had fallen apart so completely. "I'm sorry Starr, my thoughts were in the past. I'm glad Kelly survived the knifing. Blair, do you know who falls third in line at the Sun these days. With the owners and second in command in the hospital, the Sun must be floundering. Perhaps you can get a name from Kelly or better yet, in Manning's and Kelly's absence I need you to step in and hold down the fort."


"Todd, I've been out of the business for a couple of years. Why don't I just light a fire under the third in command," asked Blair?


"Because I need someone I can trust at the Helm and I can't do it. Samuel is an artist, not a newspaperman as Samuel pointed out to me earlier. Owner yes, but I can't be hands on right now. Please Blair?" he waited for her answer.


"Okay, but just until Walker and Kelly are back on their feet.  I'm going to let them know what I'm doing. Samuel, I have to go for a short time, please listen to the nurses and doctors here." she leaned over and kissed him and whispered  "With the nurse just coming in we really need to start calling you Samuel," Todd nodded and watched her leave.


Starr took her lead from her mom when she realized a nurse had entered the room. "Samuel since you're going to be here another day at least, would you like me to bring you some of your sketch supplies. You've got the use of your hands and arms back, it'll give you something to do."


"Bless you, Starr, It would be just the thing I need to take my mind off this unwanted bed rest," Todd replied "But you need to go home and get some real rest. Get your daughter and give her some love from Sir Dragon and tell her he'll be home soon." She gave him a hug and also departed. Todd found himself alone.


****


Manning was feeling restless. Just a couple of days before he had awakened from a coma and been confronted by a man claiming to be him. Then the man had collapsed because he had been poisoned. Manning was still trying to wrap his head around the fact that the other guy said he was him. Tea told him that no matter who he was, she'd stick by him. He wanted to get to the bottom of this whole puzzle, but the stupid headaches would not go away. The doctor was refusing to give him anything to ease the pain because they wanted him to stay alert. He looked up as Tea walked into the room "It's about time, why won't the doctor release me? You all said my wound was almost healed. If that is so, why am I still here? By the way, what happened to the other me?" he glared at his wife.


"Well who got up on the wrong side of the bed. Hey, I'm not that late, so you keep your anger to yourself, Mister. I'm not sure why the doctor is keeping you here? I'll ask him when he comes in. As for Samuel, I hear he's in ICU after a second attempt on his life." said Tea.


"Samuel, who's Samuel? I'm talking about the guy who looked like me before my surgery. Why are you talking about this Samuel guy?" asked Manning.


Tea looked quizzically at her husband. "Yes, Samuel is the guy who looks like you used too. What's the matter with you? You know we decided to make it seem like he's a distant cousin named Samuel and for the time being you're you. We had a long talk about it just a couple of days ago. You and I are going to fight him for control of the Sun, remember?"


"What do you mean fight him for control of the Sun. What does he have to do with the Sun? Tea what are you talking about? The last time I saw that guy he was lying on the floor in here poisoned. Then they took him out." said Manning.


Now Tea was worried, her Todd seemed to have no memory of what occurred after Samuel had collapsed or of their subsequent talks the next morning. Why was he only remembering the initial encounter? The other startling thing was he wasn't even remembering that right. He had no memory of Samuel and he spending the night in the same room and the long chat they had about who Samuel really was. "Todd, tell me what you remember about Samuel and what he said to you when you two met."


"What? He's obviously some nut, he thinks he's me. And I still don't understand why you said you would be with me no matter what. Where else would you be, you're my wife." suddenly Manning winced and put his hand to his head, "Damn, I wish I had my pain pills they were the only thing that used to help this headache."


"Todd, he's not a nut. He is Todd Manning, the real Todd Manning. We explained all this to you that night. Don't you remember?" asked Tea. Now she knew they had a problem. Todd's recollections of that night were all screwed up.


"You know Doll, you're cute when you're concerned. Why don't you hop up on this bed and give me some lovin'. You look like you're starved for love let Daddy show you what you've been missin'." Todd drawled. " You tell Daddy all your problems, I'll take care of the Todd Manning Guy for you." He reached out and was rubbing his hand up and down her arm then he snagged her by the waist and pulled her closer. "Come on Baby, I need you." his other arm came up and pulled her face to his and he took her lips and kissed her properly.


Tea was surprised at first but she couldn't resist his lips and she returned his kiss. She was crawling up on the bed when she came to her senses. What was she doing?  My God, who was she doing it with? Whoever was pulling her onto the bed was not the man she married. Tea paused and pulled back and stood back up looking at her husband. "Todd, what are you doing?"


"Darlin', I think it's obvious what I was doing. I'm hankerin' for some lovin' from my woman. Tea, boy I just love that name, it has a sexy quality to it and babe, you're every bit as sexy as your name. Look I've been stuck in this bed for a while now,surely you don't begrudge your hubby something sweet from the love of his life." he reached for her again.


Tea knew she should be going to get the doctor but she found herself intrigued by the man on the bed. Curiosity got the better of her and she let him draw her to the bed again.


He ran his hands through her hair and down the line of her neck, then they came to rest at the top of her buttons and one by one he undid her blouse. "You're downright beautiful, Sugar." His hands worked around and loosened her bra and worked back around to cup her breasts in his hands.  Suddenly his hands dropped to her waist and she found herself lifted onto his lap. Then he went to work properly.


Tea was thrilled, his touch was exquisite and tender. Always before, her lovemaking with Todd had been on the rough side. But this, this was magic. He was passionate and she was soon very distracted and hot by the things he was doing to her. All this time he's whispering things to her and the drawl is becoming more and more pronounced. In fact she would swear he had a french Cajun thing going. "God, Todd, what are you doing to me?" she exclaimed.


"Darlin', surely you know." he laid her down beside him and took his time with her until she was gasping his name and then he took her. When he was finished he lay there and caressed her beautiful body." Thank you beautiful, but you probably want to get dressed, no telling when a nurse is going to interrupt us." he said with a grin on his face.


Tea blushed and quickly grabbed her clothes and headed to his private bathroom. Her ears were ringing with his quiet laughter and she closed the door. She dressed and splashed cold water on her face. Whoa, this man was nothing like she had imagined. Could he be the man who had been given Todd's memories? When she exited the bathroom she found Todd lying down with his hand on his forehead again. He appeared to be suffering from another headache. "Todd are you Okay?"


"Damn it, Tea, get me that damn doctor. Come on do something useful.." he grimaced and clutched his head.


Tea looked at him and shook her head, he was back to his usual Todd self. These headaches must have something to do with the treatment that made him Todd, and now they were undoing that treatment. Tea wanted to see the guy she made love to not moments before.  "Todd relax, I'll go find the doctor." It didn't take too long to locate Todd's doctor and she asked him what he was doing about Todd's headaches. After chatting a few minutes with him she returned to Todd's room. "Okay Todd, he's sending the nurse in with some more pain medicine. but he told me you're going to have to ride it out for the most part unless you want to end up in another coma." said Tea.


Manning scowled at her, "Fine wife you are, you can't even help your husband when he's in pain. So tell me, what's this Samuel guy have to do with my paper."


"Samuel has bought the controlling interest in the Sun so technically he's in charge , but right now all the heads of the paper are here in the hospital." she answered.


"What the hell does that mean? Where's Kelly?" asked Manning.


"She's down the hall. She was stabbed by Marty Saybrooke.  Marty's on the run right now." replied Tea.


"Well, this is great who's running the show. The Sun should be all over this story, didn't I tell you Marty was dangerous. Why is it all of you think I'm paranoid? Look Marty's gone and stabbed Kelly isn't that dangerous enough for all of you. But no, you all thought I was overreacting when I was trying to protect Hope." said Manning.


"Whoa Todd, just relax . You're right Marty was definitely even more unstable than anyone figured. You haven't heard it all. She pushed Natalie of the roof of the Angel Square Hotel and she's taken Natalie's son Liam with her. There is also word she might have killed her therapist. As far as stories getting printed The Sun put a big story out regarding Kelly's stabbing. I'm sure you'll think it's inferior but at least they're trying to get the paper out."


"Tea, I've got it. Get me Blair." Manning exclaimed.


"Sure but what do you want her for. I think she's here with Samuel." answered Tea


"Damn, what is it with this Samuel?  He's just a distant cousin, what could she see in him?  He's not even her usual type. She always did have the worse taste in men, after me. None of them could compare, my guess is this one will fall short too." he frowned at the thought that his Blair was falling for this new guy. "Anyway, just get her. I'm going to ask her to helm the paper until I or Kelly can get back." he stopped and winced again and growled." What the hell happened to that nurse."


"Todd you just take it easy, the nurse should be in here shortly . I'll go get Blair if she's still here." said Tea but her arm was grabbed as she turned away.


"Hey, darlin', one last kiss to hold me till you get back," Manning smiled.


Tea again stood stunned. Just like that the charmer was back. He rubbed his thumb on the inside of her palm as he asked her for the kiss and it sent little shocks through her system. She could really get to like this guy. She turned back and gave him his kiss and then freed her hand from his grasp. "I'll be right back," she said.


"I'm not going anywhere, sweetheart. but don't keep me waitin' too long," he replied and gave her a  look that spoke volumes.


Tea walked out of the room only to run smack dab into Blair.  "Thank goodness you're here, Todd wants to talk to you about the Sun. But Blair I've got to tell you, I'm concerned.  He's not acting like himself and he's remembering only certain things and the rest seems mixed up in his head. It's like talking to two men at once. One minute I'm talking to Todd and the next he's... well he's some guy from the south I think judging by his accent. His whole personality is different, the new guy is very easy going and exudes sexuality." Tea blushes and Blair looks at her. "Well you know, he's just different from Todd."


"Tea you don't think he's got split personalities like Todd do you?" asks Blair.


"I don't know what to think, he keeps complaining of a headache and every time the headache hits him hard this other guy shows up. You and Todd talked about the possibility that he could have had his brain tampered with. Maybe his real personality is this guy who was born in the south and now his real personality is starting to come back. It's a little disconcerting because although it's a different guy, he's know we're husband and wife." replies Tea. "But come on in and see for yourself." She opens the door to Todd's room and let's Blair enter before her.


"Tea Darlin', I see you found my lovely ex-wife. Blair, you're beautiful as always. Yes sir, the Gods have surely smiled on me today. My two gorgeous women visiting today. Blair, honey, could you see fit to help out yours truly. It seems I'm kind of stuck here for a little longer, and my darlin' wife informs me your delectable cousin has been unfortunately injured. I would sure be grateful if you could take over for us at the Sun. I know I can trust the paper will be well looked after in your incredible hands." Manning remarked. He smiled and said "What do you say Darlin'?"


Blair was stunned. Tea was right, this man was definitely not Walker. The man laying on the bed was a total stranger to them, but they were not strangers to him. By his very words, it was clear he knew both Tea and her very well. Under his gaze, she felt herself blushing. Walker's real identity was still a mystery but it looked like his real personality was emerging and he was quite something else. "Todd, I'll be glad to help out at the Sun until you and Kelly can get back there. In fact, I was just talking to Samuel about that very thing."


"Ahh Blair, I'm wounded to my heart. You've found someone else to replace me. Who is this mysterious Samuel and when are you going to introduce him to me?  I must make sure he's worthy of you. I can't let my lovely ex go to just any Tom, Dick, or Harry." said Manning putting his hand to his heart. As he finished speaking he grimaced again and grabbed his head. "Ahhh Damn it, Tea, I thought you went to get the Nurse! Blair what are you doing here? Oh nevermind, I need you to take over at the Sun." he paused. "God this head!" Just then the nurse arrived and gave him a shot. he leaned back on the bed with his eyes closed and said. "What about it Blair , you going to do it?"


Blair and Tea exchanged glances and then Blair said. "Sure Todd , I'll help out. Is there anything you want me to tell Samuel?"


"Him again, Blair, I thought you had learned your lesson with Eli. Now you've hooked up with this nut job. I don't know how he got the controlling interest in the Sun but he won't keep it for long. You really know how to pick them. First, he thinks he's me and now he's trying to take my paper. He's going to need more than his head examined when I get through with him." replied Manning.


Tea spoke up, "Todd, I need you to listen to me. I think these headaches are affecting your memory. Just a few minutes ago I told you that Samuel really is the 'Real' Todd Manning. We explained all this to you a couple of days ago. You're not really Todd, you were experimented on. Someone wanted you to think you were Todd Manning. Don't you remember any of that?"


"Tea are you crazy! Of course, I'm Todd Manning. Why are you saying this? It's a joke right? Blair, you tell her. You know this Samuel is just a cousin, right?" Manning looked at Tea and then over to Blair. They were both very quiet and then they glanced at each other."Okay, stop that. What was that glance for? What secret are you two keeping?"


Blair looked back at Walker and said. "Todd, what Tea said is true. You're not Todd Manning. Samuel is. You've got to try and remember. We're all walking a fine line trying to keep the people who did this to you in the dark right now. You have been acting very strangely this last hour, and I think Tea is right, I think it has something to do with your headaches."


Manning looked at them and realized they were dead serious. The pain in his head was lessening. Without the distraction of the headache, he started remembering more of the conversation from the morning after Samuel was poisoned. He suddenly remembered that Samuel had spent the night there and they both had talked about something. What was it? Yes, now he remembered. Samuel had talked about Hesser and then had asked questions concerning his doctor. It was coming back to him, then the reality sank in. He wasn't Todd Manning. Suddenly a memory flashed through his mind. He saw himself talking to Tea but the man talking was from the south, then he remembered making love to Tea, but it was different, not the way they usually made love. "Tea, did something happen in here between you and me a few minutes ago?" he watched as she blushed. It was true. "Never mind you don't have to say anything. We'll talk later." he looked back over to Blair, "If I'm not Todd, who am I?"


"That's just it . We have no idea. But something tells me the real you is starting to re-emerge. A few minutes ago you were someone else entirely. It was a little weird, but in a good way, Todd. Just how long have you had these headaches?" asked Blair.


"I've been plagued by them since we got Tea back. I went to the doctor who had treated my initial injuries back in 2003 because I didn't want to alarm Tea. What do my headaches have to do with this?" asks Manning.


Blair looked at Tea and back to him,"We don't know but we do know that the prescription the doctor gave you wasn't meant to help you. It was given to you to make sure you wouldn't get better. I'm not a doctor but I think you're having headaches because you're beginning to come free from the programming. Whoever you are is starting to escape the restrictions that kept you buried. Surprisingly, while your old self is resurfacing, he is very much aware of your current self. It is obvious he retains all of your memories concerning us." and she indicated herself and Tea. "Samuel will want to hear about this new development. By the way, because of the second attempt on Samuel's life yesterday. He won't be coming to see you for a while. Hesser believes that he is still Samuel and doesn't know he has his memory back. To the world for the time being, Todd is Samuel. You also should know that Samuel himself might make an appearance from time to time too."


Manning held up a hand" Wait a minute. I understand that Samuel is Todd and we're going to call him Samuel for the time being to keep Hesser off balance. But you lost me when you said Samuel himself might make an appearance. What the hell did you mean by that?"


Blair sighed and said. "Vicki's brother Todd suffers from DID just like Vicki and Jessica. Samuel is one of Todd's alters. He's the artist of all the paintings."


Manning's eyes widened as the truth hit him. He knew what caused DID in Vicki and Jessica, but he had no memories of anything like that happening to him. "You're kidding right. I know Peter Manning was a bastard but you're telling me he was worse than I remember."


Blair frowned and said. "You have no idea how bad Peter Manning really was. Todd buried that secret so deep "they" were unable to retrieve it. Todd also kept the secret of his alters buried deep. I'm not surprised your recollections of Peter are mild. On the surface, Todd never wanted to discuss his childhood. He built a memory about Peter he could live with and that is the one he tells people."


It was Manning's turn to frown. It sounded like the 'real' Todd's life must have been hell. His own memories of Todd's life were bad but not horrendous. "Blair, I'm sorry about what I said earlier about Samuel. I want you to be happy...I..No, not again....." This time, it felt like his head was going to explode and the medication could have been water for all the effect it was having.


It was obvious to Tea and Blair that something more than a headache was going on as they watched Walker's body arch in pain. Tea grabbed the call button and told the nurse what was happening. In seconds the nurse and doctor arrived and began examining him. He was only semi-conscious, and still in a great deal of pain. The doctor turned to Tea, "I'm not sure what's going on but we might need to do a cat scan to see if there is a cause for this. He shouldn't be in this much pain right after he just had some medication. I can't give him anymore pain medication he could overdose on it. He's still with us and I know you don't want him in another coma. They'll come for him shortly to perform the test. I'm sorry, you'll have to keep reassuring him to get him through this right now. I'll go make that order now." he walked out of the room.


Blair followed shortly after. She watched as the Doctor headed away from the nurses station and instead walked around the corner of the hall. She peeked around the corner and saw the doctor on the phone with someone. He seemed to be arguing with the person on the other end of the call. A few minutes later he nodded and hung up and started walking back towards her.


Blair quickly retraced her steps before he rounded the corner and acted like she was just leaving Walker's room. The doctor had reached the nurses station and appeared to be ordering the test. She quickly reentered the room. "Tea, there's something else going on. The Doctor made a phone call and was arguing with someone just now. Then he went to put the order in at the nurses station. You keep an eye on your husband and make sure Shaun or the police officer goes with him when they take him for that test. I'm going to go talk to Samuel and try and reach Bo. Be careful, I don't like this, first a nurse and now a doctor, how many more people on staff are working with Kipling and Hesser."



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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Who's the Real Todd?: Chapter 13

Ivan walked into his study. He saw his houseguest put down the phone and begin staring into the fire. "Bad news, Carlo," he asked?


Carlo looked over at Ivan and grimaced. "Those idiots almost got caught. But at least they were able to ascertain that his memory still hasn't returned. I wish she hadn't jumped the gun the other day with the attempt, though. Even though he doesn't have his memory, he's not a stupid man. He doesn't know why he was targeted, but he's going to try and find out. I also was given confirmation the other one is getting better." he reached up and took the cognac being offered and said. "Vega is still operating under orders. He informed me that he met Samuel in his club the other day. He says that Samuel is very enamored with Blair, I'm hoping she can keep him distracted in the upcoming days. We need to do something about Manning. He's recovering from the gunshot, the question is, have they found out about the medication he's been taking. My informant at the hospital said they have been running blood tests on him trying to find out if the coma was drug induced. How long before the drug in his system is purged"


"If he has awakened then that means his system is almost clear of the drug, Carlo. He's going to start having major issues with his memory now. I expect they'll start noticing a personality change soon. My biggest concern is the hardware. If it has begun to deteriorate, his headaches are going to be off the charts. I've instructed the doctor in his case to start dosing him with pain meds. We can't have them running an MRI looking for a cause to his headaches. So the doctor has orders to suppress them any way he can. Manning's too heavily guarded at the moment to make another attempt to silence him permanently." Ivan took a sip from his drink and continued. "Now let's talk about your situation. I've been in contact with our partners and they're working to cover your tracks and get you back out of the country. Even now, they're laying down a false trail for the feds to follow. Have you figured out how they found you?"


Carlo shook his head, "It was a complete surprise. I'm just lucky I had the stateside agent in place who helped me escape custody. Inform our partners that I'm staying in the states but I can't remain here. I have a hideaway on Llantano Mountain, we just need to get me there and I'll be able to keep monitoring the progress. I want to keep an eye on our subjects as much as you do Ivan. Samuel is proving to be very intelligent and it's interesting that he made his way here and my watchers in Paris didn't know it. I've underestimated Samuel. I should have realized there was more to Samuel when he woke up in Philadelphia. Then he eluded my men and disappeared in Paris. It was a fluke that we discovered his whereabouts. I have to admire Todd Manning, even with amnesia and a fake persona he lives by his wits and has somehow managed to get back home."


"I must admit, your Mr. Manning was indeed a puzzle from the start. To this day, he is the only subject we never fully cracked. I, too, have to admire Mr. Manning, I never saw anyone recover so quickly from our treatments. When you informed me that he woke up and remembered his name I was amazed. But then you informed me he said he was another person entirely, I admit to being baffled. It is possible that Todd Manning was the alias and Samuel Toddman was the true identity all along. Of course, we should have discovered that when we were extracting his memories. But he had incredible willpower and there were areas he wouldn't let us access. Like you I'm fascinated by our Mr. Toddman." Ivan put down his drink and reached for the phone. "Carlo, you are certain you do not want to leave the country." Carlo nodded. "Very well, I'll inform our partners," he made the call and talked for several minutes then he turned back to Carlo. " The easiest way for you to leave here would be by ambulance. A number of them flow in and out of the facility daily. I'll make the arrangements. We can set up a network when you get settled on the mountain." Ivan downed his drink and left, leaving Carlo alone with his thoughts.


Carlo got up and walked to Kipling's desk. Taking a number of papers from the drawer he began to write. Carlo reached for several envelopes and was sealing them when Ivan reentered the room. "Ivan, if you would see that these get mailed. It is important to get the plan underway. Here is a list of the necessary items I need to take with me to the new location. This has become a new adventure for us old friend. Who'll come out victorious, Mr. Toddman or us."


"Yes, it will definitely be interesting. Something else interesting has been brought to my attention. It appears Mr. Toddman is currently a patient at the hospital. It seems he had delayed shock from the foiled attempt on his life and the previous poisoning attempt wasn't as cleared from his system as the doctors had thought. Traces of the poison affected his body and we almost lost our opponent. Like you said earlier it was foolish of her to make the attempt, now Mr. Toddman is on alert. Has she been dealt with?"


"Yes, both of them have been liquidated. It was necessary. Toddman is an artist I'm sure the Police have their likenesses already. Now all they'll find are corpses. Vega has proven to be a very valuable asset to keep around." Carlo turned to his friend, " Although I'm upset about being dragged from my home. I find myself excited about the game of cat and mouse that is beginning. I'm curious if Mr. Toddman will prove to be a worthy opponent or just a flash in the pan. The first round goes to Mr. Toddman, as he has so ably outmaneuvered me and taken control of the Sun. I believe he'll have to concede the second round to me when they find the bodies of his assailants. Now we need to assess where all the players are. If I understand Mr. Toddman at all, he'll be looking for the one behind the attacks on his person. I don't believe he's figured out that the same person who ordered the attack on Manning is the one behind his attacks, therefore, I trust the advantage is mine. As long as Toddman is in the dark about his true identity he will be unable to connect the dots. Ivan, do you trust your doctor on staff at the hospital." Ivan nodded. "Good, then he needs to find a way to keep the current Manning off balance. Let's not let him become too pain-free, an occasional headache and the personality change should keep him in the hospital longer. He can't be allowed to figure out he's not Manning. Now my friend, let's go see what your excellent cook has made for us today. We must keep ourselves fit for the fight ahead."


****


It had been a rough night, Todd's stats had improved but not fast enough for him. He had never felt anything so debilitating as the effects the poison had left in his system. At one point he had attempted to get out of bed but he hadn't even been able to get his legs to cooperate. All his limbs felt like they were carrying hundred pound weights. Even breathing was difficult and as a result, he kept drifting off because he just couldn't get enough oxygen to stay alert. Blair and Starr had taken turns keeping him company but he had been pretty cranky because he hated feeling helpless. Todd found himself awake again, the breathing seemed easier. He looked over and noticed both Blair and Starr sleeping. Since the breathing was easier, he decided to see if moving his arms would also be less strenuous. He found he could lift them off the bed but it was like they were being sucked down into molasses, "Damn" he said at the result. It was going to take forever at this rate. Todd knew by the noises or lack thereof in the hospital that it was still very early in the morning.


Since he was virtually a prisoner of his body, Todd decided to check on his family. Closing his eyes, he once again dropped into his mind


It was eerily quiet and he began walking to see where Samuel and his brothers and Ms. Perkins were resting. He then found himself in a hallway much like the house he grew up in and the doors all had names on them. He found the door he was looking for and knocked, it just seemed polite to do it. The voice on the other side responded, "Come in" so Todd entered and found himself standing in Samuel's Paris apartment complete with portraits. It was unbelievable how real it seemed. He looked around wondering where the voice had come from, then he noticed Samuel sitting at the kitchen table carving.  

Samuel looked up and said, " Come on take a load off, why don't you join me." Samuel pushed the chair next to him and set a piece of wood on the table and a carving knife.


Todd walked over and sat down. He picked up the knife and began carving remembering back to the year he carved several items for Rebecca."This is unbelievable. Where did all this come from?" asked Todd


"You gave it to us, the morning you decided that you didn't want to live without us. You wanted us to be comfortable and that mind of yours opened and images of what we loved suddenly became a reality for us. My garret and your bedroom before your mom left, your Mom's bedroom and your prison cell, they were just here. There's even Dorian's penthouse bedroom which Rodd adores." Samuel replied, "We still are able to follow what you are doing but now we can be comfortable. Except perhaps for Pete, he wasn't too happy when he found himself in solitary confinement. I must say you and your memories are really quite something, I still marvel that you want to keep us around."


Todd looked down at the figure he had been carving and realized he had carved a small dragon. He looked over at Samuel. "I'm sorry I was such an idiot yesterday. After everything you've done in the past to keep me going, it was wrong to give up. If you've been keeping up, what do you think Carlo's next move might be now that he knows you're here."


"My guess, Todd, is you're going to have to be extra careful to maintain my persona. He's going to be looking for signs that you've gotten your memory back. In public you've got to be me. That means you'll have to keep your distance from Manning. The two of you can't all of a sudden be seen working together. I bought the paper but you need to remember I'm an artist, don't get too involved in the workings at the paper. That's something you would do, not me. You're going to have to rely on Kelly to keep the link open between you and Manning. Another thing, you have to put your desire to know Dani on hold. I'm just a distance cousin. Carlo knows about Dani and he'll be watching her to see if she remains close to Manning. Todd, I know you know all this, and I think one of the reasons you've kept us around is because we organize your thoughts for you, that's the way you've coped. You better get back, I think Blair's trying to wake you." Todd nodded and got up to leave. "Hey Todd, apology accepted."


Todd heard Blair talking to him, then felt her hands on his shoulders. She was getting a bit frantic. He opened his eyes and saw the concern on her face. "Hey Blair, It's okay," he said.


Blair looked him over and took a deep breath. He appeared fine. She had been so worried when he wouldn't rouse. "Todd are you sure you're alright. You're not hurting anywhere are you? You were so still, I could hardly tell if you were breathing. I was getting ready to call the nurse."


Todd reached up to place his fingers on her lips. "Shh, It's alright. I was talking to Samuel." he looked down at his arm realizing he had lifted it without much trouble. "Huh," he began chuckling.


"Why are you laughing? You scared me half to death." Blair said angrily.


"Whoa, I'm not laughing at you. I just realized I could lift my arm again. I was chuckling because I went to see Samuel because I couldn't move anything easily and when I'm there I move around freely. Now I'm back and my movement has improved." In the back of his mind, Samuel said. "You idiot reassure her, tell her what she really wants to hear." Todd looked at Blair and said. "I'm sorry. You were scared. I didn't mean to scare you. I was just getting my thoughts together. Samuel helps. I don't realize how long I'm in there sometimes. Forgive me."


Blair relaxed at his apology. She knew how frustrating the night had been for him. He really hated being incapacitated. She too was relieved to see his arms were responding to his commands. It meant he was finally recovering. "Okay, I forgive you. I just wish there was some way you could let me in on when you're going to go visiting. Leave me a note or something." she said then grinned. His expression was priceless.


Todd looked at her dumbfounded " Oh sure Blair. I'll make a mental note. Leave Blair note when visiting alters." he grinned and she punched him gently on the shoulders. He raised his hand again and stroked her face. "Good morning Blair."


She reached out running her fingers gently over his scars. "Good Morning Todd." then she leaned in and kissed him.


Starr had been listening to their exchange.  She cleared her throat. " Okay you two, this is a hospital and you're not alone. She stood up and joined her mom next to her dad. "You're obviously feeling better than last night. I'm going to go call and check in with Grandma. You two behave yourselves." she turned and headed out.


Todd looked at Blair. "You raised her right. Thank you."


Blair smiled, "It wasn't easy, she's very much her father's daughter." She sat down on the bed next to him. " Not to change the subject or anything, but what did you and Samuel discuss."


Todd looked at her and said, "Carlo Hesser's next move."



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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Who's the Real Todd?: Chapter 12

Blair rushed down to the ER to meet the ambulance as soon as she got off the phone with Bo. God, why is this happening to him? They were just bringing Todd in as she got there and he was so quiet. She watched them wheel him into an examining room and go to work on him again.  Blair was so intent on the goings on in the room that she didn't see Bo come in.

Bo walked up to Blair. "Blair, I think he's going to be alright. He had delayed shock from the events of this morning and that coupled with the debilitating effects of the poisoning was more than his body could handle today."

Blair turned to Bo, "I don't understand. What happened this morning?"

"There was a second attempt on his life this morning, Blair. Todd received a call this morning from someone claiming to be a reporter for the Banner wanting an interview with the new owner of the Sun. Todd was smart enough to get a name and when he called the Banner there was no such reporter, so Todd called me. We made arrangements for me to get a bulletproof vest to him before he headed out to meet this reporter and my men were canvassing the area around the meet to see if they could find a possible shooter. There was a slight problem, though. The shooter showed up at the penthouse. Todd found himself face to face with the barrel of a gun. Todd found out that she, and yes it was the same person who poisoned him, thought he was Todd Manning. She informed him her boss wasn't happy with him. Todd pretended to be Samuel and kept her talking because he knew an officer was on the way over. Long story short an officer arrived and took her away, but we found out the officer was bogus. My officer had been knocked out. Todd and Samuel sketched pictures of the assailants and brought them to my office, but the trauma was more than Todd could take and he collapsed." just then the doctor came out.

"Is he going to be alright?” asked Blair. “How much more can he take?”

"He's going to be fine, but his body really needs to rest. Because he was still recovering from the poison, the added stress emotionally from today's event was more than his system could take and shock set in. He was fortunate he wasn't alone when it occurred. He's coming around and I know he wants to go home but I urge you to talk him into staying here. I'm afraid too many more of these happenings might cause more than his heart to fail." he nodded at Bo and left.

"Bo, you know as well as I, he won't want to stay. My God, I'm totally stressed out over the happenings the last few days and I haven't been poisoned or had my psyche retreat or my heart fail. I'm worried about him, Bo. He's so determined to get Carlo. All these occurrences are getting to him, but he won't admit it. Bo, he was catatonic not two days ago. I'm afraid he's going to slip back there again and this time, we'll lose him permanently." Bo put his arm around Blair's shoulder and she turned to him giving way to the sobs she had been holding in. A few moments later she gathered back her composure and Bo handed her his handkerchief to dry her eyes.

"Blair, I can see why you're worried and I must admit I don't want to see him end up there either but Todd has always done things his own way and he's driven his body to hell and back. There is something very strong deep inside Todd that will help him survive this. You and I both know just what a survivor Todd really is. Now go see him, you've always added to his strength, don't stop now. I need to go check on Kelly and Natalie and find out how my brother is doing. I'll check back down here when I leave. Blair, don't let him leave here before I get back. We need to discuss his safety." Bo turned and headed to look in on his brother.

Blair still had Bo's handkerchief and she put it into her bag and pulled a mirror out to make sure all signs of her tears were gone. Then she went into the room to see Todd.

As she neared the bed his eyes slowly opened and he focused on her.  "God Blair, what happened this time? The last thing I remember I was with Bo. How did I end up here?"

"According to the doctor, and Bo, you had a delayed reaction to this morning's event. Your body went into shock. My god, Todd, you were almost killed again, and you didn't think to mention that earlier when we talked. I'm afraid for you. You need to stop this plan to get Carlo. It's not worth it. You are killing yourself just as surely as the person who almost shot you this morning. Heck, they don't have to kill you. They just need to be patient and you'll push your body one step too far and it will quit. Their work will be done." Blair stood above his head and looked down at him, waiting for a response.

Todd stared at her and felt her anger and heard the fear in her voice. She never had been one to mince words. "Blair, I didn't ask the gunman over for coffee, she just showed up at my door. I am very aware that I'm not one hundred percent right now. But I think you're overreacting about me killing myself. Just because I want to get Carlo shouldn't worry you, I'm working with Bo, I'm not trying to do it all by myself."

"That's just it Todd you shouldn't be working on it at all. The doctor said it's not just your heart anymore. You've pushed your body so hard and now with the poison, your body is on overload. He said you could put yourself into a position where your other vital organs might start shutting down from the stress. Both Ray and I are concerned your psyche is on shaky ground too. What do I need to do to make you understand? I can't lose you again. I can't." Blair's voice trembled and her tears reappeared and started slowly making tracks down her cheeks.

"Blair, don't cry, I'm sorry. What do you want me to say?" Todd stared, helpless to stop her tears. Her words scared him to death. Was she right? Was he foolishly putting everything at risk just to get Hesser? Todd closed his eyes unable to watch Blair cry. He was letting her down, and his body was letting him down. God will it never end. He hated this moment. Ever since he could remember one thing after another had been taken from him. His mother had left him, his psyche had fractured, now after years of torment and abuse his body was failing him, and the end result was that he might lose the one person he had truly found a connection too. He felt himself drifting deeper into his mind, "Samuel, what should I do? Ms. Perkins, guys, I need some advice, I'm floundering here?"

They appeared before him and what alarmed him was that they too looked sickly, like something was affecting them as much as him. Samuel spoke for the group. "Todd, you've got to back off. It's a struggle to stay here with you. Your mind and your body are tired, and it's affecting us all. You've got to give yourself time to fully heal. Listen to her Todd. you know she's right and you know in your heart what you want most and it's not revenge." his alters faded, and Todd felt so alone at that moment. He hated being alone. Being alone sucked. Then he felt a hand stroke his face and his eyes opened to the most beautiful woman in the world to him. He wasn't alone, he had Blair and he wasn't going to lose her. Not now, not ever!

Todd looked up at Blair, her love for him was spilling from her eyes. He felt a tear hit his face and he wiped it off. Reaching for Blair's face, he began brushing her tears away. "Alright Blair, I'll back off until I'm stronger. I can't lose you. I won't." he pulled her down and they kissed, each giving the other the comfort they needed so desperately.”  When they stopped to get their breaths, Todd said, "Now when can we leave. I can't stay here any longer."

Blair pushed away from him angrily, "Did you not hear a word I said! The doctor said your body needs to rest. So whether you like it or not, you're not going anywhere. You are staying here this time until the doctors feel you're strong enough to go home and face a crisis without ending back here."

"But Blair, I feel fine now and I want to go home. Look just go get a nurse and let get me out of here. " Todd started to get up only to find himself being pushed back down on the bed.

"You're so fine huh, well you look like death warmed over and your hands are trembling. You want to tell me that's fine. I don't think so Buster." Blair said decisively.

Todd was flabbergasted, but as he looked down at his hands he realized they were indeed trembling and he was reminded of Bo's office when he couldn't stop them from shaking. She was right, his body was definitely trying to tell him something. He was still bothered by the images of his alters, is that how he looked to Blair or were those images the result of the attack on his body by the poison. It had been an eye-opener, to say the least. He once again clasped his hands trying unsuccessfully to stop the trembling, and they felt like ice. "Alright, you win. I'll spend another night in this godforsaken place, but just one night. I hate this place."

The nurse had entered the room and began checking Todd's vitals. She glanced at Todd's hands and typed in something on his chart. Blair looked at Todd and said. "Samuel Toddman, you are going to stay here until the doctor feels you are stable enough to go home and you're going to behave yourself. Consider yourself on bed rest until further notice. No arguments Mister." She turned and followed the nurse out.

Todd felt so frustrated, he knew she was scared and he didn't blame her but he couldn't just stay in the hospital and hide. The nurse came back in and added something to his IV. "That should help the tremors Mr. Toddman, you should see results shortly. The doctor will be in, he wants to talk to you." Todd nodded and leaned back into his pillow. He should never have come home, everyone would have been better off, even Blair. By setting this whole thing in motion he had put people in the line of fire that shouldn't have been anywhere near it. Manning had been shot and his family was in turmoil. Blair had been doing fine without him and the kids had been surviving. Even Samuel had been better off. He had endangered his life innumerable times since coming home and he wasn't any closer to getting Carlo. The shaking seemed to be stopping and Todd unclasped his hands.

The doctor came in and began examining him. "Mr. Toddman, I'm afraid to give you any more medication tonight. Your vitals are still a matter of concern and your color is still off. I had hoped for more improvement but I think the residual traces of the poison in your system are still trying to attack you. I want to keep you here through tonight and very likely tomorrow as well. We need to make sure all traces of that poison clears your system before I'm going to allow you to go home. Do you understand what I just told you? Your friend Ms. Cramer said you wanted the absolute truth, so here it is. Your body is trying to shut down and we're doing everything in our power to keep that from happening. She told me you said you felt fine. Is that really the truth or were you trying to make her feel better? My guess is you actually feel terrible. You need to rest Mr. Toddman, don't fight to get out of that bed too soon, at this point, you would fall flat on your face. " The Doctor suddenly realized that Todd had zoned out. "Mr. Toddman can you hear me." he checked the monitors and the heart rate was slowing down. Pushing the button brought the nurse running and he ordered a low dose of medicine to raise the rate back up. Fearful of sending Samuel into a heart attack with his weakened heart the doctor ordered constant monitoring for several hours.

Bo had rejoined Blair outside the room just waiting for the Doctor to complete his exam when the nurse had gone running in. He and Blair watched as the they tried to rouse Todd. The heart rate began to rise and Todd showing signs of coming around again. Blair had grabbed on to Bo's arm for support when the nurse had gone inside and had finally released it when Todd began reviving. They watched as the Doctor talked to him quietly and then came toward them. "Doctor what just happened?” asked Blair.

"Mr. Toddman's heart rate plummeted and we had to raise it with medication. I'm not happy about that but we're sending him up to ICU shortly. The next 24 hrs are going to be critical. We're pushing fluids through him trying to clear the last of the poison from his system. We need to keep his heart stable tonight and we'll be watching for any signs of any other organ failure. He's awake again but keep it short." said the Doctor.

Bo and Blair went in but it was clear that Todd's condition had indeed worsened. He was barely conscious. Blair went to him and whispered something in his ear and his eyes opened focusing on her briefly before closing again. She turned to Bo " This is so wrong, Bo. I swear if he dies, I'll do everything in my power to bring down Carlo and I promise you it won't be pretty. Will he be safe tonight?" she asked.

Bo said. "I've sent a man to the Penthouse and LaBoulae as well as Manning's home. The officer in charge of guarding Manning is still in place and another officer will be here shortly to guard you and Todd. It's probably overkill since they didn't kill him when they had a chance. but I won't let Hesser have another chance at him. You stay with him because I think you are going to bring him through this. One thing that became very clear in the past Blair was his love for you. I think that is what will keep him here. I need to check back at the station and see if we managed to get any leads on the assailants and then I have to notify the marshals about a possible location where we can find Hesser. You hang tough Blair. One thing I know about Todd Manning is you can't ever count him out."

Starr was leaving James when her phone rang." Hi, Mom. What's up? It's not Kelly is it?... What?... Why didn't you call sooner?...Where is he?...ICU?...I was on my way to get Hope from grandma and go home... I'll call grandma. I'm coming up." she hung up and rang her grandma. "Addie, I need to leave Hope there longer. I've got to go back to the hospital...Mom just called, it's Dad... Something else happened... I've got to go. Thank you." Starr couldn't believe the last couple of days. Walker had woken up then someone had tried to poison her dad. Kelly had gotten stabbed by Hope's grandmother no less. Now her dad was back in the hospital, critical. What was going on? Someone wanted both her dads dead and they might get half their wish if her dad didn't start getting better. Starr parked and went to find her mom. She found her mom sitting in the waiting room lost in thought. "Mom, I'm here. Now tell me the truth. What happened to Dad?"

Blair looked up at her daughter and drew her down next to her on the chairs. "Earlier this morning, I left your father in pretty good spirits. He had plans to talk to Bo about what he and Walker discussed, but while we were here finding out about Kelly, he was facing a gunman in the penthouse."

"What! Mom was he shot too!" exclaimed Starr.

"No, he wasn't shot, in fact according to Bo he managed to convince the assailants that he was Samuel and they left him alive. He was with Bo when he collapsed. He went into delayed shock because of the experience and was brought here. The doctors thought they had him stabilized and in fact your father wanted to go home but this time, his body refused to cooperate. It appears that the poison has done more damage than first suspected. Trace amounts are still in his system and his body keeps wanting to shut down. I'm so worried Starr, he keeps going in and out of consciousness. The doctors had hoped for more improvement by now and they're a little stumped why he's not recovering faster. I think this goes hand and hand with the catatonic state he was in two days ago. I have this sinking feeling he's giving up because he doesn't want to hurt us anymore."

" Mom, why does he think he's hurting us? Nothing could hurt us more than him not being here".

"Your father's belief about his worth to us has always been tainted by his own feelings of worthlessness and self-hate. I think he believes he brought all this current sorrow on us when he decided to return," said Blair. "Why don't you go and see if he's awake. Try and make him understand we don't want him to leave." Blair hugged Starr and sent her in. As her daughter entered the room, Blair prayed Starr might be able to get through to her father.

Starr looked at her dad. He appeared to be sleeping and she thought about a few weeks before when she had sat by Walkers bed and told him to hang in there and stick around. She had meant those words when she had spoken to Walker because in spite of all he had done she stilled cared about him. But her heart ached for her Dad. She recalled all the wonderful screwy things they had done when she was little. The schemes they had planned when they were trying to keep Max and Skye from hurting her mother. He had always made her feel like she was the most important person in his life. She walked over to him and touched his shoulder. "Dad, are you awake." he opened his eyes and smiled at her.

"Hi Starr, sorry you keep finding me here. How's Hope?"

He sounded so weary, he was missing the fire that had kept him alive during the heart attacks. Mom was right, he sounded like he was giving up. " Dad, Hope is fine but I'm worried about you. What do you think you're doing? You come dropping back into our lives and now you've decided to drop back out. Have you given any thought how we might feel if you leave again? The doctors told Mom you should be improving. What's the matter, is life getting too challenging for you? "

Todd looked at her puzzled by the anger in her voice. "Whoa , Starr, I don't understand. What is it you think I'm doing?" God, he was tired, it would be so easy to just go back to sleep, but Starr seemed really upset. He had never been able to stand it when she was mad at him and for some reason, she was mad at him now. He tried to clear the fuzziness that was threatening to overtake him. He shook his head and tried to sit up more in bed.

"What do I think you're doing? I think you're giving up. Why now, why this time Dad? As long as I've known you, even when you and mom were so far apart that you thought there was no going back, you used to pull out all the stops to bring us back together as a family. Why are you quitting now? Do you seriously think that dying is the way to go? If you leave permanently then the world will right itself and everything will be all better. Dad, I've got news for you. Our lives were a mess long before you came home. In fact, your return has actually brought some joy back into my life and Mom's. Now you want to take that joy away. Well, I won't have it. You snap out of it Dad. You promised we'd be a family and I'm holding you to it." she glared at him. Holding her breath, praying she would see his fire return.

Todd looked at her. Seeing her clearly and realizing she was right. He had done it again, he had let his self-pity take over. He thought back to all the times they had had these conversations and each and every time she had managed to make him see clearly. She said he hadn't hurt them, that he had brought her and her mom joy. Things were still screwed up but he did have something to fight for. He wanted to keep feeling that joy too. "You're right Shorty, I don't have the time for this," he grinned at her.

There it was, there was the fire in his eyes. She grinned back and threw her arms around his neck. "Thank you, Daddy."

"Uh Shorty, air, I need air." but he hugged her as he said it. As she stood back away he said. "Now I'm awake, so tell me what's going on with Kelly and Natalie, and have they found Marty yet?"

She was so tickled, he was back to his old self. She clued him in on Kelly's prognosis and told him they were still looking for Marty. No one had told Natalie that Marty had her baby yet. They were all hoping they could get the baby back before Natalie realized the truth.

Blair came walking in and saw Todd sitting up in bed carrying on a conversation and said a quick prayer of Thanks. Starr had done the trick. She walked over to the bed and gave Todd a kiss and hugged Starr and whispered into her ear "Thank you, Sweetie." Starr gave her mom a quick hug back.

Todd saw the exchange between his girls and knew it had something to do with him, but he sensed they were both happy about "it" whatever "it" was, so he ignored it. They were interrupted by the nurse coming in for vitals. The nurse smiled at them all and Todd took that as a good sign. Blair and Starr also beamed as the nurse left. "Well everybody seems awfully happy at the moment, want to share the good news." he inquired.

Blair laughed, " You idiot, we're happy because it looks like you're going to live."

"Well, of course, I'm going to live was there ever any doubt?" laughed Todd and then realized Blair and Starr had gotten somber. "What, you mean there was some doubt?" he asked.

Blair said soberly, "Yes Todd, a half an hour ago, I thought you were going to die and so did the doctors."

Todd looked at Blair and knew she was serious. Had he really let it get that far. In his head he suddenly heard a voice " You bet you let it go that far, you be grateful for that daughter of yours Todd, she saved us all." Todd looked back at his daughter, one of the few things in his life he had ever done right. Now he understood the look between Blair and Starr. He turned his gaze to Blair and said. "I'm sorry."

Blair looked at Todd and smiled. It had been closer than all the other times combined because this time he hadn't been fighting. She knew now, more than ever, that Todd had to see Ray again. They had to find a way to get past his issues regarding his self-worth. Todd called it his curse and right now she wanted to curse both Peter Manning and Victor Lord for the harm they had caused. She defused the moment, "It's over now, you're recovering and another night or two in here will give your body the rest it needs." she saw his expression and knew he was going to object "Don't go there, Todd, we went over this earlier and after the last few hours it is no longer an option for you to go home. If you were to try to get up you wouldn't get very far."

Todd started to brush his hair out of his eyes and was surprised how heavy his arm felt. He looked with shock at Blair. "Just what happened.  I remember the doctor coming in and talking to me. but then things got a little fuzzy for a while until Starr got here. That wasn't that long ago why do I feel like something the cat dragged in."

Blair reached over and brushed Todd's hair out of his eyes. " Take a look around Todd, you're not in the ER anymore, you're in ICU. The shock weakened you and the traces of the poison in you attacked your body. While the doctor was talking to you, your heart rate dropped and you passed out. It's been over six hours since the first drop. Even though the remaining traces of poison were cleared from your body, you wouldn't remain stable, until now. That kind of stress on a body can take it out of you and you're not going to be doing anything more strenuous than eating, I have a feeling. But don't worry, I'll be here to help." She grinned wickedly.

Todd suddenly got her drift and said " Damn it, Blair ,don't even think about it, I'm not that helpless. I still have a little pride left." he relaxed against the pillow and said. "Okay, so I'm here for a bit. How's Manning?"

"Walker's improving steadily. The doctors think he'll be ready to go home soon. I haven't seen Tea since they brought you in this morning." replied Blair. "Starr as long as you're here, I'll go check on Walker and see if I can get an update on Natalie's baby. You behave, Todd, I'll be back shortly."

Blair left and Starr moved back closer to her Dad. "Anything I can get you, Dad, you're still pretty pale. Are you hungry?"

"Starr you were right to get mad at me. I was giving up. Earlier, I thought that if I hadn't shown up, I wouldn't have brought Hesser and his cohorts back to Llanview. Even Samuel was better off without me coming back. He had a life and I took that away from him for my own selfish reasons. I figured if I just stopped fighting everything might get back to normal for you and your mother and Tea and her family. I've made a mess of my life since I came back from Ireland. And I deserved everything that happened to me as a result. But there was one constant for me throughout all of this and it was you. For you and your mother, I've got to stick around. Quite frankly you both are the reasons I'm still breathing." Todd finished speaking and looked at his lovely grown up daughter and marveled that she still loved him.

Starr wiped the tears from her eyes as her father looked at her and wondered again how she could have ever thought that Walker was her dad. In a way she felt a little sorry for her brother Jack, although he idolized Walker, he never had the opportunity to get to know this awesome man in front of her. Sure he was flawed, and in his past he had done horrendous things but when he loved, he loved wholeheartedly. That was why he and her mom kept finding their way back to each other because through every fight and break up, one thing had been constant. Deep down they were soul mates and would probably love each other till death. "Enough dad, what's important is that you decided to fight again. I'm going to see if we can get you something to eat. You rest, I'll be right back. "

Todd watched her leave and closed his eyes, going deep he found them together. They still looked the worse for wear, but they were there. "Yes I know, I messed up. I wasn't thinking straight. Sue me."

Samuel walked over and said. "The next time you think about giving up will be the last time Todd. Dwell on that thought. We can't help when you do it to yourself. Just like when you retreat into catatonia. We're helpless to stop it. You were weakened by the poison but you poisoned us by your lack of will to live and always before you've fought for yourself and us. Somehow you need to remember this day. Burn it into your thoughts and heart. You almost let everything you cherish go because you let your hatred for yourself take precedence. Now go to sleep we all need the rest." Samuel and the others disappeared and Todd let his thoughts just drift into a fog.

Starr came in and found him sleeping, she sat down and took his hand in hers. "You sleep Dad, it's good for you. Don't you ever think about leaving us again, please? I watched you leave when Mom told you to go all those years ago. My heart was breaking. especially when she wouldn't let you say goodbye. You almost did it again today, I won't let you leave again without saying goodbye." she squeezed his hand and he squeezed back but remained asleep.

Inside the door, Blair watched her daughter and heard her words. She had never realized that Starr had overheard her words to Todd asking him to leave. It was amazing how their daughter could love them as much as she did. They had put her between them so many times and she had just been stronger than the both of them. If they hadn't been so busy one-upping each other and not trusting in their love, their family might have survived intact. Now, years later, all they wanted was to be with each other and live out their lives together and in peace. Blair moved in and pulled her chair close to Todd's bed. He wasn't going to be alone tonight she and Starr wouldn't let him be.



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Your comments are 'payment' for the work of the authors. Our writers like to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment when you read.