It was gray and rainy as they stepped off the plane, but it suited Todd's mood. He had gotten somber and introspective long before the plane had begun its descent. The limousine took them to the bungalow Todd had picked out for their stay. Any other time Blair would have loved it. The bungalow sat on the hillside overlooking Puget Sound. It was quite lovely, but everything was overshadowed by the real reason for the trip to Seattle. After getting settled, Todd and Blair decided to try and enjoy the time they had left before his visit with Dr. McBain.
The night after their meal with Larry, Blair had caught Todd up on the young Doctor McBain. She explained that for a short amount of time Michael and his wife Marcie had been adopted parents of Sam. Eventually, they had to give him up to Walker who was his real father. She had remarried Walker at the time to provide a stable home for Sam, and when Walker had gotten over-obsessive about Starr and her boyfriend it had become necessary to take custody of Sam as well as Starr and Jack for their own safety. The next year Walker had gone a little haywire. It had been during that year that Walker had plotted to take Starr's baby and raise the child with Marty. Blair and Todd surmised that Walker had been unraveling for some time probably beginning around the time he had started objecting to Cole.
That afternoon they made their way to Samuel's appointment. With Todd's X-rays in hand, they were shown into Dr. McBain's office. Todd was too nervous to sit, so he paced, brooding the whole time. He had Larry's assurance the Dr. McBain was one of the best in his field but it was his life on the line.
Michael had been informed that Samuel Toddman was waiting in his office. After his conversations with Larry Wolek, he had been curious to meet this gentleman. The case sounded fascinating. He had been wondering all morning where he had heard Mr. Toddman's name, but as he entered his office he placed the name right away. "Mr. Toddman, how coincidental that you should end up in my office once again. I'm sorry it's under these circumstances." Michael had been looking at Samuel and now he realized someone else was in the office. He stopped for a minute recognizing Blair and wondering why she was with Samuel. " Blair, this is a surprise."
Todd spoke up. "My apologies Dr. McBain, I'm aware you two know each other. Blair is my wife and is here to support me."
Michael looked from Blair to Samuel and realized that Blair was fully caught up with Samuel's dilemma. So they probably should get down to the reason for the visit. After his chat with Larry Wolek, Michael had gotten an unusual call from his brother John. John had indicated he was aware of Samuel's problem and had stressed the need for secrecy. Between Dr.Wolek's call and John's call, Michael knew this was an extremely delicate and dangerous matter. "Samuel, may I ask a question?"
"Certainly Doctor, what do you want to know?" answered Todd.
"The first time we met you were trying to find out about your accident and where you had been before being brought to Philadelphia General. I remembered you being brought to us from the Kipling Neuroscience Research Facility. Tell me something. Do you believe that the implant I'm about to try and remove was placed in you at that research facility?" Michael waited, he feared that Samuel was about to confirm his suspicions.
Todd looked at Michael and spoke grimly. "I'm certain Dr. McBain. They put this thing in me and now it's killing me. Are you going to be able to remove it?"
Michael held out his hand for the films that Todd had brought with him and he put them up to view. He flicked on the light and all three of them looked at the film. Blair gasped when she saw for the first time the thing on Todd's brain. Michael studied it for a long time and then turned back to Todd and Blair. "I'm not going to lie. This is going to be very tricky and dangerous. The implant is attached in a very precarious location that deals with your memory and your vision. Not to mention until we do a navigator scan I won't know how deep those wires go into those areas. Dr. Wolek told me about your heart, so it adds another level of concern. The odds of you coming out of this totally unscathed are slim to none. Do you understand what I'm telling you?"
Todd was holding Blair's hand and he squeezed it. "You're telling me that I might not even make it out of surgery alive." Blair's hand felt so cold at that moment.
"Not exactly, I'm telling you that in order to remove that item I have to go into some very sensitive areas. From what I see here, there will be some damage from this surgery and at this point, I don't know what might be affected by that damage. I have a top notch team here and I don't like people dying on my watch. I also have chatted with the top cardiovascular surgeon here and he'll be assisting to make sure your heart keeps beating." Michael looked at Samuel to make sure he was listening to him. Samuel met his eyes and Michael knew he wasn't saying anything Samuel hadn't already figured out. "So now the question is how soon do we attempt this."
Todd looked over at Blair, she nodded, and he spoke to Michael, "We've discussed this Doctor. I'm tired of living in this shadow of a life. If I'm going to be free to live my life the way I started then I need to have that thing removed as soon as possible."
Michael sat back in his chair. "Very well, I want to take the navigator scans today and we'll do the surgery in two days. Is that agreeable with you?" Todd nodded and Michael made arrangements for the scans to be taken. Todd and Blair returned to the bungalow a couple of hours later. They walk into the sitting room and Todd walked over to the picture window and looked out across the Sound as Blair made a call to Starr. After a few minutes, she hung up the phone and walked to him and rested her head on his shoulder. "Starr and Hope send their love. They hope we're having a wonderful time. Starr was curious why we picked Seattle of all places to come to for a honeymoon. She needs to be told, Todd. I know you want to protect her but she's a big girl now."
Todd looked over his shoulder at Blair and said, "How can I tell her when I'm scared to death about it myself."
Todd wasn't going to let a little surgery ruin his honeymoon. He had Blair dress for the evening and then they headed to the Space Needle. Todd had reserved the whole restaurant for his very private dinner with Blair. After an excellent dinner, they danced as the restaurant turned slowly at the top. It was heavenly moving slowly above the city in the clouds. Blair was held by the love of her life and she never wanted to come down out of those clouds. Suddenly she began to cry and Todd pulled her closer and merely held her. "Shh Blair, it will be alright. I'm not going to let him beat me. If I can survive two bullets and a crash off the coast of Ireland I can survive a little brain surgery. " She looked at him with tears in her eyes. "Really you should know I mean what I say by now. Even though we were separated by years and oceans we still have the kind of connection that comes around once in a lifetime. I feel you, Blair, I feel you clear through to my soul. I know with you here I can't get lost."
The love showing from his eyes overwhelmed her. His words seemed to reach deep inside her and settled in her heart pulling the door shut behind them, locked forever away from anyone who would seek to pull them apart. He was beautiful and he was hers. He reached up and dried her tears and guided her to the window. "Remember, everything down there can't harm us, we're here in the clouds. I need you to keep us up here Blair. Don't let me pull us down. You're the biggest risk taker I know and you've taken your biggest risk yet, marrying me when it could all fall apart. I need the strength you possess to pull me through this. So Blair what do you say. The first roll of the dice brought us here. The chips are on the table do we let them ride. We have no idea what the next roll is going to bring us. This is your call, Blair."
She nestled into his arms and said. "You love me enough to trust yourself to me. Are you sure you want to do that mister? I got some very interesting ideas floating around in my head right now." Todd's hold tightened imperceptibly. "I'm going to hold on tight Todd. You just consider me your Lady Luck. We're going to roll those dice and come up the winners and Hesser and Kipling are going to lose it all." she turned just enough to look into his hazel eyes. "I'll be here as long as you need me."
Todd had the limousine drop them off about a block away from the bungalow. He helped Blair out and they walked slowly through the park that was close to the bungalow. They found a bench and sat down. It had been hot all day but now there was a little chill in the air off the Sound.
Todd took off his jacket and draped it around Blair's shoulders when suddenly fireworks began to fill the sky. "Oh my God, It's the 4th of July.!" Exclaimed Blair looking up at the display over the water.
They looked at each other remembering the last time they had enjoyed such a display. Todd had blacked out all of Llanview just to give Blair the fireworks. This year the day had crept up on both of them. Blair had thought it unusual this morning how quiet the hospital was when they saw Michael. Now she realized it was because of the holiday. Michael had known the hospital would be slow and therefore it would make it easier for a secret meeting.
As if reading her thoughts, an arm went around her shoulder and pulled her close. "Larry and I figured the fewer people around the better for all concerned. Forgive my paranoia but I couldn't take the chance. If Carlo sent someone to follow us, they followed another couple down to the Sound today and watched them take a boat ride. Meanwhile, you and I went to the hospital. I couldn't resist surprising you again. I knew the fireworks were going to start and I thought you might enjoy them from here rather than stuck in the bungalow. Happy Fourth of July Blair." he kissed her once again and she sat back in his arms and watched the sky explode.
They took the stairs slowly up to the bedroom and opened the door to find the room lit simply by candles and on the nightstand near the bed stood some chilled champagne and flutes, fresh strawberries and a bowl fresh whipped cream. Todd raised his eyebrow he hadn't ordered any dessert and then Blair said. "Good it's all here."
"What do you mean?" asked Todd
"You'll find out in a minute if you'll do the honors and pour us each a glass of champagne," Blair said as she kicked her shoes off, she came and waited in front of him and receiving her champagne she made a toast. "To the only man in my life who has ever gone out of his way to really know me." she raised her glass to him and Todd smiled and saluted her back and they drank, then she turned around and said "Would you be so kind as to undo me, Todd"
Todd set the flute down on the night stand and slowly unzipped her dress. She stepped out of it and reposed on the bed looking up at him. A while ago you used flowers to paint me. I've never forgotten the feelings . Todd, I love strawberries and cream, show me how much you love strawberries and cream." Todd couldn't believe what she was asking but suddenly he could picture her covered delectably in whipped cream. He unbuttoned his shirt slowly as she watched , when he was ready he joined her on the bed and taking a strawberry dipped in whipped cream he began to paint his designs. As each design was completed he would take a bite and then offer a bite to her. At first, she was eating but soon she was moaning and arching with every stroke of the whipped cream. Now that he had her painted, it was his turn. He began to slowly lick his way through the designs knowing she was turning desperate, but he wouldn't relieve her tension. He continued to bring her to a fever pitch. Blair was beside herself, she was practically pleading and still he was relentless, finally, she screamed his name and he knew she was ready and he gave her what she craved. The second round of fireworks was being shot off as Blair lay cradled in his arms blissfully satisfied and happy. She looked at her sleeping husband and prayed that God would see him through his next battle. She fell asleep to the beat of his heart.
It had been Todd's turn to roll out of bed first and he had gone and gotten a warm wet cloth to wipe off all the leftover whip cream. Naturally, that had resulted in another round of love making but then they were both awake. After quick showers, they headed downstairs where a pot of coffee and chocolate chip pancakes were waiting for them. Blair didn't know how Todd was doing all of it but he was certainly making it interesting. Only now this day was hers and she had something equally different in mind.
"Yesterday you had our day all planned out, I loved it and I was glad that I surprised you last night. But I want you to put yourself in my hands today. Will you let me do something for you today?" asked Blair as she ate a pancake.
Todd looked at her quizzically, He hadn't planned anything for the day because they hadn't known how many days they would have before surgery. So he shrugged."Hey, I'm all yours."
"Todd, remember when you gave me Araby. The day after our special night in the stables I told you how special riding was. Would you let me teach you to ride today? You once said you would give it a try. How about it? Are you up for it Mr. Toddman?" Blair looked at him daring him to say no.
Todd surprised her and said "Sure why not. It might be fun to try it, you said it was almost like flying. I'd like that."
An hour later Todd and Blair were walking up to a stable where they rented horses to ride. Blair walked around trying to pick out a gentle horse for Todd to ride but he headed for a stallion he liked the look of. "Todd , I think he's a little out of your league, you really should try something like this beautiful mare. That stallion looks like a handful."
Todd looked at her and said "Well he's safe to ride isn't he, They wouldn't have him available if he was dangerous. Right? Look I know I'm new at this but I like him. He strikes me as a loner. I really want to try him."
Blair looked at the stallion and he was beautiful, she saw Todd's face and knew he had his mind made up. Blair turned to the attendant and said, "How headstrong is he."
The attendant looked from the horse to Todd and commented: "If the gentleman keeps a firm hand on him they should be fine. Just don't give him his head or he'll take off on you. You need to go the inland trail, it will lead to some meadows where you can let them run if you want."
Blair was hesitant but she nodded and the attendant gave Todd instruction on how to mount. Todd mounted onto the horse easily, which came as a bit of a shock to Blair. He had always been a little reluctant around Araby. They headed down the trail specified by the attendant at a walk so Todd could get used to the feel of the horse beneath him. Blair watched and noticed that at least Todd seemed comfortable on the horse. "Todd do you want to attempt some different gaits. We could pick up the pace to a trot and then move to a cantor." Todd nodded and she instructed him how to get the horse up to the next two gaits. Todd didn't care much for the trot but settled into the cantor quite easily and seemed to be enjoying himself Blair saw the widening of the trail and knew they were probably close to the meadow. Suddenly a branch fell off a nearby tree and Todd's horse broke into a gallop. Blair reacted instantly and began giving chase. "Todd, just hang on, I'm coming, try and pull him up." She was petrified as she watched the stallion pull away from her horse. Then she saw him nearing a downed tree. Todd would never be able to get him stopped, he was going to crash and hurt them both. Then all of a sudden the stallion jumped the log beautifully and miraculously Todd was still on board. Blair slowed down to watch as Todd maneuvered the horse into a graceful turn and let him have his head again. They were galloping round the meadow as if they were in a race and once more Todd turned the stallion toward the fallen log. They were poetry in motion together. She marveled and wondered when Todd had learned to ride.
Once more the stallion cleared the log and this time Todd brought the horse around and slowed to a cantor coming to a stop beside her. He was ecstatic. "Come on Blair you should let your horse have a go. It's a beautiful meadow." he started to turn his horse to get ready for another run.
"Hold it right there. Todd, when did you learn to ride?" Blair asked bemused.
Todd held his horse in check and looked at Blair. "I learned in Ireland. After I was healed enough, I began helping Aman. Aman only had two horses, but he allowed me the use of one of them. You should have seen my first attempts Aman got some good laughs out of them. When I finally mastered the technique. I took the youngest of Aman's horses for rides along the cliffs of the island. You see, I was going to surprise you." he shook his head to get away from the past and smiling said. "Come on let's ride like the wind and just feel free." He took off at a gallop and Blair raced after him laughing, she didn't have a chance at catching him so she angled her horse to intercept him as he came around and then joined him as they continued around the meadow. They rode for a couple more hours then returned to the stables.
On the drive back to the bungalow Todd dozed off from the morning exercise.
He was going down that corridor again. Damn hadn't they gotten enough, he had nothing left to give. He already felt so empty like they had torn his life away. That wretched door opens. There they were like two spiders waiting for a tasty fly. He was the fly. Once again the Doctor place the wire near the back of his head. Then he just smiled and pushed the lever. There it was that sound like a million bees converging on him, any minute now they would arrive.
Blair almost wrecked as Todd's scream filled the car. She quickly pulled over and found him passed out . She grabbed her phone and dialed Michael's emergency number. "Michael, this is Blair, Samuel was sleeping and he suddenly screamed. We're in the car. I'm headed to the hospital now."
Michael had answered the phone immediately when he had seen the caller. "Blair, do you think it's his heart."
"No, his heart is beating soundly", said Blair," but he's not responding to anything."
"Blair, it could be the implant. Get him in here as fast as you can, I'll have someone waiting when you pull in." Michael hung up and started calling his team. It looked like Samuel was going into surgery a day earlier than planned.
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