EQUAL TO THE TASK
He started to dream. As was usual, as he had trained himself, he awoke. It was the only way he had of combating the nightmares. The instant he started to dream, he would wake up. Once in a while, the nightmares would get through, but not very often, fortunately. Of course, that meant he never got a full night's sleep. He lay there, probing the thought that had started the dream. Surprised that it wasn't a nightmare. He realised that it was a memory, a fond memory. He relaxed, allowing the memories to surface. He stared at the ceiling for a while, then slowly, his eyes drifted closed and the memories drifted in.
It had been, what? More than thirty years ago. He'd just spent three years undercover, pretending to be a wealthy businessman. He'd taken over the man's entire life. Well, most of it, anyway. Even the man's wife; but she'd taken over the business. Proving herself more than equal to the task of running a multimillion dollar corporation. He'd loved her. They even had a couple of kids. Unfortunately, when the business he was in got too scary for her, he graciously opted out. He loved her enough to let her go. It had been easy, really. The man who's place he had usurped had been a thrill seeker. All he had to do was join a road race, crash the car, and Mark Wainright died. For the second, and final, time. He had survived. Barely. He spent six months in the hospital, healing from his injuries. Laura had been to see him once, to allow him to say goodbye to her and their son and daughter. It had been the hardest thing he had ever done, and he had vowed to himself to never allow himself to get that involved again. It was a promise he had kept. Of course, that meant that as he aged he was totally alone. Even his large family kept out of contact with him. He hadn't seen most of his relatives in longer than he cared to think about.
The memory that was struggling to reach his consciousness was being elusive. It was sometime after the crash, while he was in rehab. The last time he'd been home. When was that, twenty-nine, thirty years ago? Something like that. His dad had welcomed him. The rest of his family did not. They didn't approve of his career choice, they adored Laura and the kids. It still hurt after all this time that his family hadn't supported him. Except his dad. He understood duty, honour, commitment. So, instead of being home, he'd been in the rehab centre. Why was that important? The memory just wouldn't come. Sighing, he opened his eyes. Knowing that, eventually, the elusive thoughts would come. Probably in the middle of a meeting, the way his luck ran. He turned his head to see the clock. 0245. Wonderful. Too early to get up. Too late to bother trying to go back to sleep. He turned on his side and closed his eyes, trying to go back to sleep in spite of knowing better. He was too old to try and function on three hours of sleep. Four or five was better, eight was a luxury he seldom indulged. For a change, he quickly fell back asleep, his mind still seeking the memories that had tried to break through.
Friday. Finally. Not that it really meant anything to him. He had been known to work 24/7 on more occasions than seemed humanly possible. He knew his people wondered if he were even human. He smiled, if they only knew just how human he really was, they wouldn't believe it. He was going over the reports from various outposts around the world, making notes to remind him of probabilities and possibilities. Decisions to make. Assignments to hand out. He'd been busy working on the files for several hours when there was a soft knock at the door.
"Come." He called out softly. The door opened and his secretary came in. She stood waiting for him to finish his current actions and acknowledge her. He made a few more notations on the file and set his pen down, looking up at her. "Yes, Sarah?" Welcoming the interruption, although it wasn't noticeable.
"Sorry, sir. Mickey Kostmayer is here. He wants to talk to you about his assignment."
He allowed his puzzlement to show. "It's fairly routine, what's the problem?"
"He said it was personal, sir."
"Send him in." He sat back in his chair, prepared to give his full attention to his man. Kostmayer looked different. It took him a moment to realise why. He was wearing slacks, a turtleneck and a sports jacket. He wasn't aware that the kid owned any clothes other than surplus and flannel. Whatever it was, it must be important.
"What's the problem with your assignment?" No preliminaries.
"It's personal, sir." He made eye contact. Showing no emotion, the hazel eyes blank and empty.
Odd, he didn't have blue eyes. He thought incongruously. "You're going to have to be more specific."
He sighed, a flash of pain crossing his face. "My grandfather died. My mom's dad." He didn't notice his superior's sudden paleness. "The funeral's tomorrow. I want...I need to go. To say goodbye..." He lifted hurt, hopeful eyes, knowing that it wasn't a good enough reason for this man to reassign someone else to a mission. Sometimes, he wondered if he was going to end up like him, cold, inhuman. He could see the tendencies. It frightened him, sometimes, the idea that he could be like this man. He respected him, but he feared him, as well. Probably the only person on earth that did frighten him.
"All right. I'll send someone else. My condolences." He was carefully neutral, not showing anything. As usual.
"Thank you, sir. I'll be back in a couple of days."
"Take a week."
Surprised at the unexpected response, he stammered his thanks. "Th-thank you, s-sir. I'll check back with you when I return."
"Fine." He watched as Kostmayer left, then closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair, fighting back emotion. So, The General was dead. He was surprised by the pain it caused, even after everything that had happened.
He shouldn't have come. There was no point. No one would want him here. He had to come anyway. Just one last time. He tried to stay in the background, just watching. Seeing them all again, he was shocked at the pain it engendered. Of course, she would spot him. Their eyes met across the grave. Her eyes widened in the shock of seeing him after so many years. He could feel her shiver from where he stood, with his hat pulled down to help hide his face. When the funeral ended, he tried to slip away, only to be caught by the one person he really didn't want to see.
"Control? What are you doing here?" Kostmayer was startled, to say the least. He'd spotted his boss almost immediately and had been wondering all through the service why he might have come.
He didn't get a chance to answer. The woman who had spotted him came up. She just stared for a minute, perhaps two. Her eyes devouring. Then, tears running down her cheeks, she threw her arms around him. His own coming up to hold her in return.
"Oh, Jimmy. It is you. It really is." Clinging and sobbing. He closed his eyes and held her tight.
"I know I shouldn't have come, Jenny. I had to. I'm sorry." His voice cracking with emotion, tears on his own face.
Mickey looked on in shock. "Aunt Jennifer? You know him?" Total confusion in his voice as he looked at the two of them.
"Oh, Jimmy. I've missed you so much." She pulled back to look at him. Mickey's mother came up, shock and anger on her face. Mickey just watched in horrified fascination, wondering what was going on, a sneaking suspicion trying to make itself heard.
"You promised to never come back here. Why now? We don't want you here. You don't belong with us. Dad..." She choked on the words. "Dad would kill you."
He looked up at her, pain and sadness in his eyes. "No, he wouldn't." He pulled away from Jennifer. "I'm sorry, Mary. I've kept my word for over forty years. But Dad wouldn't have shot me for coming. At least I don't think so. I wondered what was wrong when he didn't call Wednesday night. You didn't even think that I deserved to know that he died? I had to find out from someone else. I had to read the obituary two days after..." His voice broke, he cleared his throat, "After it had been printed. Do you all hate me that much?"
Dad? "What do you mean, 'Dad'?" The sneaking suspicion growing into a near certainty. And he'd never known.
He looked at his subordinate. The nephew who didn't even know his real name. "The General was my father. I'm the oldest." Not moving. Still in Jennifer's embrace, still holding on. Watching the younger man process the information. The shock, the confusion, the anger. Always the anger. Their eyes locked.
"Why didn't you ever tell me?" Plaintive.
"It wasn't important." Seeing the flash of...Hurt? Definitely anger. "It wasn't safe. It would have been your death warrant." Seeing the realisation dawn in the younger man's eyes.
"It wasn't McCall who kept me alive all those times. It was you." Shock. Comprehension.
He looked away, at the rest of his 'family'. He sighed, releasing Jennifer and stepping back. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to cause a problem. I only wanted to say goodbye." He turned to leave, but Jennifer stopped him.
"NO! Don't you dare run away again." She pulled him back around to face her. Staring into his face, then throwing her arms around him once again, forcing him to stay. Involuntarily, his arms again came up to hold her.
"Oh, God. I've missed you so much, Jenny." He buried his face in her hair. Trembling. They clung together. Mickey looked at the rest of his aunts and uncles. Surprised by the various emotions he saw there. Anger, dismay, shock, pain... He wondered what could have happened to drive him away. Why were they all so angry with him? He knew how close this side of his family was. How they all kept in touch, supported one another. He looked at his angry mother; catching her glare, he took her arm and pulled her aside to ask.
"What's going on? Why didn't anyone ever tell me about him? Just who is he? Why's everybody mad at him? What did he do?"
"He's a spy, Michael."
"So am I, Mom. I work for him." Unusually patient.
She looked at him, "He promised to never come back. Never contact any of us ever again. He shouldn't be here."
"His dad died. You'd even deny him the chance to say goodbye? That's pretty cold, Mom. Colder than he's ever been."
"If Aunt Jennifer hadn't stopped him, he'd have been gone and you would have been none the wiser." He was starting to get annoyed. "Answer me. Why is he persona non grata?"
"He's a spy. He turned his brother in for selling secrets to the Soviets. Sent him to prison. He died there. We don't want anything more to do with him."
He covered his shock well. He had had an uncle who was a traitor? "What kind of secrets did he sell?"
"Some kind of aircraft Daddy was testing. It was forty years ago. He shouldn't be here."
"Who was it? Did I know him?"
"No. You were too little when it happened. It was your uncle Frankie. He was named for Daddy! He had no right to do that. He might as well have killed him himself. The bastard!"
"What do you mean?" Confused. He jumped when the hand touched his shoulder. He looked up into his superior's...his uncle's eyes.
"I'll explain later." He looked at his sister. "I'm sorry, Mary. Dad understood. I'm sorry the rest of you can't." Mickey could read the anguish in the older man's eyes. A sudden realisation hit.
"You didn't do it." He declared. His aunts and uncles looked at him in surprise. "Grandpa turned him in and you took the blame for it. If he stole secrets on something Grandpa was testing, then he would have been the one to blow the whistle. You did the dirty work and took the blame for it. Because of who he was related to, he got prison instead of a firing squad." He glared at his relatives. "For such a smart bunch of people, you can sure be pretty stupid." He was angry with them. He'd been working for nearly twenty years for his uncle, and hadn't known. Of course, now that he knew, he realised just how much the man looked like Grandpa. Wanting to kick himself for not seeing the strong resemblance sooner. He shook his head in wonder. "What an idiot I've been." He drew himself up to attention, not a position he was known for, even when he'd been in the Navy. "I'm sorry." His eyes telling his uncle that he was sorry for what the rest of their family had done to him.
Jennifer still hadn't let him go. She lifted her tear stained face to look up at her brother. "Jimmy? Is that true?" She could feel him slump, the muscles suddenly going slack. "It is, isn't it." She searched his face. "Oh, Jimmy. I'm so, so sorry." She gave back in to the tears. Clinging and sobbing. The others looked on in sudden horror. Realising that Mickey must have been right. Shocked at their treatment of their brother, standing as scapegoat for their father, never complaining, never standing up in his own defence.
There had been a perfectly valid reason for his actions. He was the angry one. The one with the temper like their father's. Dad had pushed him toward his career, gently, to be sure; but still inexorably. His dad had been right. Most of the time, he didn't mind his siblings hating him. At first, he hadn't cared, he had been the family troublemaker. The most difficult child. He could see a lot of his younger self in his nephew. Fortunately, he'd been in the business so long that the higher ups (as few of them as there were) weren't even certain of his real identity. He hadn't used his real name since he joined the agency. He watched the emotions chasing each other across the faces of his family. His siblings. He sought out his remaining brothers. Saw the acceptance there. The faint smile of welcome. Paul had been smart enough to get out of the business before it killed him. He'd also been lucky enough to find the perfect wife, who stood beside him, even now. Understanding on her face. He'd only rarely visited them. Not at all since their children had started school. David, who had maintained contact. Occasionally substituting for him when he needed to be two places at once. No need for anyone to notice the uncanny resemblance between the brothers. Strange, how the two of them looked so much like their father, especially since they had two different mothers and were nearly twenty years apart in age. He closed his eyes, just feeling the warmth emanating from his sister.
Mickey watched them. Saw them accept his analysis. All except his mother. "You don't like that idea, do you. Why?" He watched her, closely.
She looked at him in surprise. "He let Frankie be killed."
"No. He didn't. He wasn't his prison guard. Seems to me that Uncle Frankie pretty much screwed up his own life, and paid the price for it." He paused, looking at his mother. Noticing for the first time the lines of disapproval on her face. Realising that he was a big disappointment to her for his choice of careers. "I'd have turned him in, too." He told her softly. She raised startled eyes to his, her mouth opening to defend her late brother, closing her mouth at the realisation that it would do no good. Her son was a grown man, with his own beliefs and standards.
The memory finally came in clearly. Twenty-nine years ago. When he was in rehab in Columbus. The nurse's aide. What was her name? Oh, dear God. He started to tremble. Shocked. Jennifer looked up at him, "What's wrong, Jimmy?" He stared into her eyes. All the memories coming in strong and clear. He fought the insane desire to laugh. He shook his head instead.
"I need to talk to you. In private." He whispered. She nodded, agreeing. He looked at the rest of his relatives. Waiting. Wondering. Paul broke the impasse.
"Come home, James. Come home with us." His eyes challenging his other relatives to disagree. As the next oldest son, they acquiesced to his authority. Jennifer refused to let go of her brother, insisting on riding with him. His rental car provided him with the chance to talk to her alone.
"Tell me about your ex-husband." Suspecting he knew the answers, but wanting to be sure.
"William? What on earth do you want to know about him after all these years?"
"Not him so much, your son. Sons?"
"Sons. Jimmy and Stevie. What do you want to know?" Curious.
"Why did you divorce?"
"He was too busy with his business to have any time for me. He was demanding, controlling, mentally abusive. I couldn't take it, especially after the third miscarriage, so I left."
"But you left your sons with him."
She sighed. "Yes. They were important to him. His legacy. His immortality. I just hope he treated them better than he treated me."
"When's the last time you saw them?"
"Jimmy was ten. I watched them for a week while William was on a business trip. I didn't want to. I knew how much it hurt them when we fought. Jimmy, I swear, could hear us whispering from the opposite end of the house. I know he blamed himself, but I could never convince him that it wasn't his fault."
"Haven't you ever wondered how they turned out?"
"He went into the Army. Became a Ranger. Then he came back and became a cop. He's living in the same city he grew up in. He wouldn't want to see me. He blames me for how badly William treated all of us. Stevie is a successful businessman, just like his father."
"I've seen him." He said it quietly. She stared at him. An odd, hungry look in her eyes.
"James. I'd forgotten the name of your ex. Of course, by the time you two split up, I'd been disowned, Hell, that happened before you even married the guy. He worked for me a few times, ten, twelve years ago. Good man. I've seen him twice in the past few months. He doesn't know. Hell, I didn't know. I just remembered." That and another small bit of history he was going to have to explore. This was getting altogether too weird. Even for him. He glanced at his sister. "Would you like to see him?"
She stared at him. "Only if he wants to see me. I wouldn't want to intrude."
He nodded. "I'll see what I can do." Just as soon as I can get back to New York and check on a number of things. His mind in a whirl with the possibilities, probabilities. He gave a slight shiver in anticipation.
The old farm house hadn't changed. It was just as he remembered it from when he was a child growing up there. He walked in behind Jennifer, hesitant as to his welcome. Paul grabbed him in a hug and pulled him in to greet his wife. He had apparently read the riot act to Mary, or perhaps Mickey had. She was polite and subdued. Probably still processing the information. If Mickey hadn't figured it out, he would never have revealed the truth. He found himself seated between Mickey and Jennifer. Now that she had him back, she wasn't going to give him up easily. Mickey's face told him that he had a great deal of explaining to do.
"Give." He said it softly. His demand supported by the need in the hazel eyes.
He sighed, his arm around Jennifer's shoulders. Holding her close to his side, her head on his shoulder, his cheek pressed to the top of her head. "What do you know about The General?"
"He was my grandfather. He flew in World War II. He was shot down and held as a POW for three years. He married an English Lady." He shrugged.
"Emily was his second wife."
Mickey blinked. That was news. "Oh?"
"His first wife, Joann, divorced him before the war. I'm their oldest. Jenny is eighteen minutes younger than I am." He waited, letting the information sink in. Mickey suddenly understood his aunt's clinging to her long lost brother. He nodded for his uncle to continue. "James and Jennifer. Our mother wasn't very original, I'm afraid. Paul was born in 1934, your mom in 1936. She divorced The General when he refused to quit the Air Corps. He was a Lieutenant Colonel, by then. I never quite figured out why, although I think it had something to do with his flying." He smiled in remembrance. "He truly loved to fly."
"So do you." Mickey's soft comment reminded him of their last mission together. A most unofficial mission.
"Yes. He gave that to me. I actually prefer gliders, but single and twin props are good, too."
"I'll bet you're a stunt pilot." Smiling back at the blazing grin from his boss.
"Not now, but, yeah. I was. Almost went into the space program. Just ended up getting side tracked by other things."
"Yes. Dad was working on some top secret jet designs. Frankie was still in high school. I was with the agency. He was approached by some Soviet agents, he agreed to sell them Dad's plans for several thousand dollars. Dad called me. Frankie was unrepentant. Dad had made all of us work for what we had. Well, you knew him. He'd give you anything, provided you did some kind of work for it."
"I remember. A couple of summers I spent here. If I wanted to go to a movie, I'd have to chop wood, feed chickens, stuff like that. In addition to whatever chores I was assigned for the summer. It was great. It taught me to do for myself."
"I think so. Frankie wanted to be taken care of. He was lazy, shiftless. He was sixteen and Dad wouldn't buy him a car." Mickey could see the pain his uncle still felt over the incident. "When confronted, he was unrepentant. Surly, demanding. Dad really had no choice. I had already been recruited by the Agency, so I volunteered to take the heat for what we had to do. He was sent to Leavenworth. He hung himself in his cell, six months into his sentence." He glanced around at his siblings. "They blamed me. Dad and I agreed not to tell them the truth. He couldn't have handled any more at that point. Emily had died, he had the rest of them to take care of. It was much too much for him to handle, so I took the blame."
"Even though you didn't do anything wrong."
He grimaced, "Ask your mother about that. As far as they were concerned, I was trying to destroy the family. Funny thing, though, Paul and David didn't seem to be bothered by it."
"Just my mom. Was he her favourite?"
"I guess. She never spoke to me about it. She probably never will."
"I'm sorry. At least you have the rest of us back."
He noticed the word 'us'. He smiled gently and placed his free arm around his nephew and gave him a hug. "You are the only person associated with the agency who knows who I really am. I haven't used my real name since I joined. Even my employment records are under a different name."
Mickey found himself hugging back.
"Yes Twin?" her head still on his shoulder, his cheek still pressed to the top of her head.
"You really know my son?"
"Yes. So does Mickey." Mickey perked up at that.
"You have a son, Aunt Jennifer?" Surprised. He never even knew that she'd ever been married.
"Yes. He's about your age, dear. A little younger, I think."
Mickey looked at his uncle, puzzled. "Did you know that when I met whoever it is?"
"No. I remembered at the cemetery." He grinned, "Actually, he saved your life, the first time you met. You returned the favour the second time."
Mickey stared. The thought processes obvious, as he made the connections. "Which one is my cousin?"
"I'll tell you later." Wondering what he might end up telling him.
He spent his entire visit with his twin plastered to his side. Even after so many years, he felt the connection they had always shared re-establishing itself. It gave him a warm, comfortable feeling. The long missed feeling of belonging, of home. She had always taken care of Dad, now that he was gone, she didn't know what to do with herself. The farm had been leased out to a corporation for years, they just basically still had the farmhouse and barn areas, along with some pasture land for the family horses and other livestock, approximately fifteen acres. No one else really wanted it, so he thought he might retire there, if it met the approval of his family. There was time to see about it. Now that he was more or less welcome.
They spent the afternoon renewing acquaintance. He felt like a stranger with his own family, but between his twin, nephew and brothers, he was in the majority. There were awkward moments, but altogether, it went well. Far better than he had any right to expect. He had to call the airport to change his reservation, as there was no way he would be able to make the evening flight he had originally booked on. For the first time in more than forty years, he slept in the bed he had grown up with. For the first time in almost that long, he slept through the night without dreams and without the benefit of alcohol or drugs to achieve it.
The morning dawned bright and clear. He was the first to awaken, so he went down to the kitchen and started coffee. He couldn't remember the last time he'd had boiled coffee, but he remembered how to make it. He sat at the kitchen table and watched the sun rise out the window. He glanced up at Mickey as the younger man joined him.
"You're up early."
"So are you."
He poured himself a cup of coffee and topped off his uncle's, still in shock a little about finding himself related to his boss. "Is my knowing going to be a problem?"
"Only if you try to use it."
He smirked. "Not me. I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid." He was relaxed.
He couldn't remember ever seeing Mickey so laid back. He smiled. He understood, as well. "No. Never stupid. Foolish, occasionally, but never stupid." They sat in companionable silence as the sun rose over the horizon and shown brightly through the window.
They spent another day reacquainting themselves with their long missing brother. Mary still hadn't come to grips with the facts, but the others seemed to. They would help her cope. It was the way their family worked. The will was read that afternoon. Everyone was surprised when the farm was left to James, no one more surprised than he. They were also surprised to discover how wealthy their father was. He had savings accounts in just about every major bank in the country, as well as several overseas. If they so desired, they could all retire and live leisurely lives. Except for the work ethic that had been trained into them from birth. There were even provisions for grandchildren. Including a list of names that were sealed, only to be opened in James' and Jennifer's presence.
He stared at the name in shock. He had expected the two names of Jennifer's sons. He had even expected the names of his son and daughter in England, now running their mother's business. He had not expected the note from his father, confirming his suspicions about a certain young man. It even contained the proof he had planned to look for. He sat there in shock. Now he knew. He'd have to track her down. He knew where to find the boy.
California. Big Sur. She was staying at a retreat. Almost monastic, totally vegan. Not that he couldn't handle it. He waited for her, nervous. She was as pretty as he remembered her. The big smile of welcome, even after all this time.
"Peter! It's been years. She gushed.
"Twenty-nine." He replied. "I have some papers for you to look at, if you don't mind." They sat on cushions on the floor. She was surprised at how limber he was. He was nearly fifteen years her senior, and had been in rehab for many months, relearning to walk after a terrible accident, when they met. She smiled benignly at him.
"Has it been that long? Oh, my." He held out the papers. She took the file folder they were in and opened it. Her smile turned hard, then disappeared completely.
"When..?" Shock on her face.
"I just found out. My father, it seems, kept track. He had the tests run. I didn't know until a month or so ago, when he died. It's taken me this long to find you."
She stared at him. "I was never sure. I..." She didn't see censure in his eyes, only compassion and...hope? "I...Have you seen him?"
"Yes." He chuckled. "I had no idea. There's more." She looked at his amused expression.
"Oh?" Uncertain, worried.
"The cop?" She made the word a curse.
"He's my nephew." Watching in wry amusement while she attempted to process the information.
"My sister's son. My twin sister." Watching the shock. The desire to deny.
"Have you told them? Do they know?" Worried, now. Wondering how to salvage things.
"Not yet. I wanted to talk to you first. I..." He hesitated, looking out over the gardens visible through the door. "I need to tell them both. They don't know. Jim has no idea what happened to his mother, only that she left them and their father made a mess of their childhood. I've worked with them, twice, now. I will tell them. With or without your blessing. I have no choice. They were both listed in my father's will."
That startled her. "Your father's...Oh. I see. Well, I guess, in that case, we'll have to tell them."
Covering his surprise, "You want to come with me?"
"No. But I suppose I have to, don't I?"
"Only if you want to. I have all the documentation. If he wants DNA testing, we can do that, as well. If it weren't for the will, I wouldn't bother." He was such a consummate liar that she believed him. He had been anxiously wanting to tell his son of his existence from the moment he had seen the proof. He'd met the young man, worked with him. Discovered his secrets. It wasn't hard to accept him as his son, after that.
"If you don't mind? I'd really rather avoid it. You're sure?"
He breathed a gentle sigh of relief, "No. I don't mind. You might want to make yourself available if he needs to talk to you, however."
"Oh, of course. He knows the number here. When were you going to tell him?" Her relief obvious.
"This weekend. My sister is flying out. I need to talk to Jim's dad, and Jim. I'm hoping this works. I wouldn't want to hurt either of them. But there is the inheritance to consider." Not showing his worry.
"Oh, that's nice. I'll be sure to stay nearby, in case Blair needs to talk." She looked into the intense blue eyes, suddenly remembering. Recognising the intense colour, how it co-ordinated so well with her son's and his partner's. Surprised at the colour, lighter than Blair's darker than Jim's. She looked at him, finally recognising him for who he had been to her. She smiled. "You look good."
"I've stayed away from auto racing. It's helped." He had told her how he got injured, but not who he'd been at the time. She reached out a hand and stroked his cheek, smiling.
"Would you like to stay a while?"
"Thank you. No. I have some more things to do before I see them." He stood, just a little stiff from sitting on the floor. She smiled up at him, taking his offered hand and rising. She held on to his hand and moved to him. She gave him a gentle hug, which he returned, with a kiss to the top of her head. "Goodbye, Naomi."
"Goodbye, Peter." She watched him as he left, noticing the graceful manner in which he moved, in spite of his nearly seventy years.
"Mr. Ellison, my name is James Savage." It had been so long since he'd used his real name that he almost blew it.
"Any relation to Jennifer?" The voice cold, hard, uncompromising.
"My sister." Waiting.
"What do you want?" Angry.
"She wants to talk to her sons."
"Why tell me? They're both grown men. It's no concern of mine what she does."
Taking a deep breath to maintain his composure, "True. I just thought you might like to talk to her before she contacts them. She won't lie for you."
"Lie for me?! Look, she left us. She stuck me with those two boys..."
"You slapped her, causing her to fall down a flight of stairs, causing her third miscarriage. She escaped you. She left you the boys because of your possessive, controlling nature. She was afraid of you. She spent years in therapy to learn to deal with it."
He was silent. Remembering his eldest son's claims, wondering why he remembered things so differently from, apparently, everybody else. "Why does she want to see them now?"
"Their grandfather died recently. They were listed in his will."
Surprised, "Oh? How much did he leave them?"
Rankled, "None of your concern, sir."
"I don't want to see or speak to her. Do whatever in the hell you want."
"Thank you. I shall." Hanging up the phone. Shaking his head in annoyance. He looked at the next number on his list and dialled.
"I'd like to speak with Mr. Ellison, please."
"May I ask who is calling?"
"I am the representative of his grandfather, it's in regards to his will."
"Oh. Just a moment, I'll see if he's free."
"This is Steven Ellison. I don't have a grandfather." Puzzlement in the voice.
"Your mother's father."
"I don't think I ever met him. Why would I be in his will?"
"All his grandchildren are in the will. I'd like to set up a meeting with you, Saturday or Sunday, if at all possible. Are you available?"
"Yes. The weekend is fine. When and where?"
He named a hotel and a time. The appointment met with the busy executive's approval. He was ready to terminate the call when...
"You said my maternal grandfather. Do you know my mother?" The faintest wisp of hopefulness in the voice.
"What did she say about this?" The tone of his voice begging all the answers he'd never been able to ask anyone due to the fear of what the answers might be.
"She'd like to see you. If you're willing. She feels she has a lot of explaining to do."
"She does?" Hopeful. "I...I'd like that. When might she be available?"
"I'll have to get back to you. I may have something for you on Sunday, when we meet."
"That would be great. I...I'll see you Sunday, then."
"Yes." He disconnected. Looking at the next number to call, he decided to wait, give the man a chance to call his brother.
"Yeah, what's up?" Surprised to hear from his brother at the station.
"I just got a weird phone call. Mom's still alive."
"Jim? Are you there?"
"Yeah. What'd she want?" Voice colder than dry ice.
"It wasn't her. Something about her dad died and a will. I'm meeting the guy on Sunday. Have you heard anything?"
"No." Curious, now.
"Oh. Uh, well. Do you want to come with me?" Uncertainty obvious in the tone of his voice.
"When and where?" He listened and took note of the information.
"Jim? The guy said...He said she'd like to talk to me. What do you think?"
Jim thought. He knew his father's side, but not his mother's. It would only be fair to hear her version of things. "I'd talk to her, Steven."
"Oh, OK. The guy who called told me he might have something at the meeting. Look, uh, I have a meeting to get to now, I'll call you later, OK?"
"Sure. Later." Hanging up the phone, he was curious about the possibilities.
"Ellison." He answered the phone half an hour later.
"How are things in Cascade?" The familiar gravelly voice asked.
"Sir, fine. How are you?" Surprised at the call.
"I need to talk to you."
His heart skipped a beat. "Oh, why?" He did not want to go on another mission for this man. But knew that he would if asked.
"It's about your partner."
His heart started racing. Blair was supposed to be at the University all day. "What about him?"
Hesitating, unsure, he tentatively asked, "Do you think he might be interested in knowing who his father and family are?"
Jim relaxed, just a bit. "I don't honestly know, why?"
"I need to see you both. Talk to you. Will you be home this Sunday?"
He thought fast. "Not until after six. I have an appointment at noon." Well, his brother had, he was just going along for the ride. Might even drag Blair along with him for input.
"That's fine. How about we make it seven-thirty?"
"That's good for me." He paused. "Do you really know who Blair's father is?"
He had to ask, "Does he know about him?" It would make all the difference in whether he would want the kid to meet his dad.
"He only learned about him about a month ago. He'd like to meet him. He's hoping that Blair wants to meet him." Unconsciously holding his breath, waiting for the verdict.
"He never knew about him? You're sure?"
"Did Naomi know?"
"In that case, I think it would be all right. He doesn't need to think his dad only just got interested in him after twenty-eight years. It's different if he didn't know until recently."
"I assure you, he had no knowledge of his existence."
"Are you certain he's the father? I mean, even Naomi wasn't sure."
"I'm sure. I think I can convince him to have DNA testing done to confirm, if needed."
"That's up to him and Blair. I'll see you Sunday."
"Good. Your place, seven thirty." He confirmed. Disconnecting the phone, he settled back in his chair, relaxing with a smug little smile. He'd have to take Mickey with him.
He was waiting when the Ellison brothers entered the hotel. They checked at the desk and were directed to a meeting room. Jim had dragged Blair along, just in case.
He watched them from the room next to the conference room, waiting for them to sit down, watching their nervous fidgeting. At precisely noon, he walked through the door.
"Gentlemen. Thank you for coming."
Jim and Blair stiffened in worried shock. "What the hell are you doing here?" Jim nearly snarled.
Steven looked askance at them. "You know this guy?"
"Yeah. He's covert Ops." Jim growled in annoyance.
"Settle down. I was hoping you'd drag them along. It makes it easier." He opened a file folder. Your maternal grandfather, and in the case of Mr. Sandburg, paternal grandfather, died recently. You are all listed in his will. I'm here...What?" Looking up at their gasps of shock and frantic murmurings.
He'd never been known for his tact. Diplomacy, yes. Tact, no. When you have bad news, just spread it out in front of them and let them learn to deal with it without any sugar coating. He sat and looked at them, waiting for them to once again grant him their attention.
"You're the one who called Steven and set up this meeting? Why didn't you tell me?" Anger obvious.
"This is difficult. Would you like to see your mother?"
The sudden non sequitur fazed them all.
"Mom's here?" Steven whispered.
Jim glared at him, jaws clenched tight. "Why?" Hurt and betrayal in his eyes.
He sighed. "I'm sorry. This isn't very easy for me, either."
"Why are you involved?" Blair asked, quietly. "And what do you mean my paternal grandfather? I have no idea who my father was, or anything." He looked like a beaten puppy, nearly breaking his father's heart.
"This is very hard for me." He looked into the three pair of blue eyes watching him. For the first time in many, many years, he was totally at a loss for how to handle a situation. The door opened behind him and the other two members of his group entered.
The Ellison brothers rose slowly to their feet, in unison. Absolute shock the only emotion on their faces. Blair continued to sit, totally confused.
"Mom?" Jim whispered, starting to tremble. His brother stared in awe at his mother.
"Hello, Jimmy, Stevie. How are you?" Uncertain of her welcome.
Jim's jaw clenched, whether in anger or some other emotion, was unsure. "Why did you leave us?" Jim whispered, trembling.
"Because I knew your father would have killed me if I had tried to take you."
"What?!" Steven and James cried out in unison.
"You don't remember." She sighed, resignedly. She came up to the table and sat beside her brother. Mickey remained standing by the door. The brothers sat, waiting.
"After Steven was born, things were pretty good, for a while. Then I got pregnant again. I had a miscarriage. It happened a second time. When I got pregnant again, Stevie was about three, by then, your father and I were fighting all the time. I don't know why, only that it kept happening. We were arguing and he slapped me. I lost my balance and fell down the stairs. It caused another miscarriage. I never went back to the house. I called my father and he came out and flew me home. We divorced. It was far from friendly. I was in such bad shape, that I gave up any thought of custody, partly fearful of what your father might do, so I left you both with him." She looked at her oldest son. "I know that he wasn't a very good father. He wasn't a very good husband, at least not for me. I come from a very independent family. We can all stand on our own two feet. We don't need to have people around all the time. He couldn't deal with the fact that I didn't really need him. That's why he and Sally get along so well. She's totally dependent on him. It's probably more of a cultural thing." She looked at her sons. Seeing how they'd grown up.
"I'm sorry. I was hurting so much for myself that I wasn't willing or able to fight for you. I am sorry. I don't expect you to forgive me, but I hope that some day you might." She reached out to touch them, but withdrew, unsure of her welcome.
Blair watched, fascinated. His hand rested on Jim's shoulder, providing comfort and support. He could feel him shiver, as more of his repressed memories returned.
"I remember. You were at the bottom of the stairs, unconscious. Bleeding. I had pushed Stevie into the other room, so he wouldn't see. I was..." He swallowed hard, remembering. "I was seven," He looked at his brother, "You were three. I heard the fight." He looked back at his mother. "I heard you scream as you fell down the stairs. I came running, I saw Dad, standing at the top of the stairs, staring down at you. I...I..." He started to tremble, uncontrollably. "I thought you were dead, but then I heard you breathing, I..." He was having trouble controlling his own respiration. Steven watched him, worried. He reached out to grasp his other shoulder.
"I don't remember, Jim. If I was only three, I'd be surprised if I did." He smiled, a little rueful. "You were protecting me, even then." He leaned forward and hugged his brother.
She couldn't bear to watch her son in such pain. She stood and circled the table, putting her arms around her son, holding him, comforting him.
He was having trouble breathing. The thought of Sandburg and his panic attacks came to mind, reminding him to take deep, slow breaths. It worked. He regained control. As he did so, he felt the arms around him, the faint smell of vanilla he remembered from his childhood, and he relaxed into the embrace.
They remained like that for several minutes. Once Sandburg was sure his Sentinel was going to be all right, he looked at the agents, a question in his eyes.
"You said my paternal grandfather." He whispered, not wanting to disturb the others.
He looked at Mickey, who raised an eyebrow and looked back. Sighing, he handed the file folder to his son. He leaned back and watched the young man read the file.
He didn't understand. Somehow, they'd done a paternity test on him when he was a kid. It showed his father's name to be...Peter Murphy. He looked up.
"Who's Peter Murphy?"
"I was. Then." He watched the realisation dawn on the young man's face.
"How long have you known?" Accusing, hurt.
"About a month." He watched the kid process the information.
"Does my mom know?" Afraid of the answer.
"Not until last week. I went to see her, first. She's in Big Sur."
"Didn't she want to come?"
He didn't answer for a moment. "I think she was afraid."
Blair hadn't thought of that. "Oh." He looked up into the blue eyes just a shade or two lighter than his own. He glanced at his Blessed Protector, who was speaking softly to his mother and brother, too engrossed in his own family realisations to help him. He unconsciously pulled into himself, wrapping his arms around himself, as though he were cold.
Mickey read the signs. He may have been ten or twelve years older than his cousin, but he could see the family resemblance, now that it had been pointed out to him. He slid up next to the kid, crouching down beside him, slipping an arm around the shaking shoulders, drawing the slighter form close. Whispering in his ear. "It's OK, Coz. Wait until you meet the rest of the family."
Blair looked up at him. "Rest of the family..?" Startled. He looked at his father, the question on his much too expressive face.
"I have two full sisters and a brother, and a half-brother and sister left. My other half-brother died a long time ago." He did not want to go there, ever again, if he could possibly avoid it. "They all have children. My twin sister, you've just met." He gestured to the woman talking to her sons. "Jennifer. My sister, Mary, has three sons, Mickey is the middle one." Blair looked up at his new-found cousin.
"This isn't some kind of sick joke, is it?" Jim was his first cousin? What were the odds? It seemed almost too fantastic to be real.
"Nah. Not our style." Mickey grinned at him. "We're more the bucket of water over the door, kind of pranksters."
"Speak for yourself, kid. You only found out last month, yourself."
"Wait a minute. You didn't know you were his nephew?" Confused.
"I've been kind of on the outs with the rest of the family for a while. Except my brothers, that is. I see them once every few years." He admitted.
"Wow. And I thought that Naomi and I had an odd relationship. The way we may go for a year or two without talking to each other." He grinned, shyly, at his father. "Maybe it's not so unusual?" Then the realisation hit him. He started bouncing in excitement. Mickey moved away, watching him closely. "Jim and I are first cousins?" Bouncing excitedly, rising to his feet to pace around the room, "And our related parents are not just brother and sister, but twins?" It was obvious that his brain was in overdrive. "Jim's a...and I'm a..." He stared at his father and aunt. He met his father's eyes, seeing the resemblance to Jim, but not himself. "Do you two have a...a connection?"
He smiled. "Yes. Not quite telepathy. Very common bond for twins." Watching his son. His son. His son. He wanted to reach out and capture him, learn him, find out everything he had missed. Except he already had. Before he knew who the boy was. He wanted to sit and listen to the kid for the next six months, learn from the source.
"Oh, man. That is so cool." He kept pacing and watching his cousins. Shivering with excitement.
Mickey looked at his uncle, a question in his eyes. "Was I ever that...bouncy?" he asked.
"You still are, when something excites you. Like a mission." He grinned. "You're the odd man out, Mickey. The only one who didn't get The General's blue eyes." Voice gentle, relaxed. He'd been away from his family for so long, that he was going into sensory overload about his son and nephews. Having the connection back with Jenny added to his feeling of euphoria.
Mickey returned his grin. "That can be a good thing. Being the only ones who don't match." He smiled, uncomprehending why he was feeling so darned pleased with everything.
"OK. Let me get this straight. You're the reason I have blue eyes, 'cause Naomi has hazel eyes. How come I'm so short?"
"That might explain him, but what about me? I'm not any taller than my mother, and my dad was a little taller."
"You're just the runt of the litter. I've seen both of your brothers. They may be taller, but you're more muscular. Like us. Here." He stood up, facing the two smaller men toward each other. "Look. Same height. Broad shoulders, slightly barrel chested. Narrow hips, Muscular, but slender. Mickey is a little lighter, but his mom is blond. Before my hair turned grey it was a medium brown. As was Jenny's. My brothers and I all look like our dad. My sisters look like combinations of our parents, except for Jenny, who looks like our paternal grandmother." He moved to make a triangle with the two smaller men. "I may be taller, but I'm built like you, as well. Jim, there, definitely got his blue eyes from his mom, as well as the general build, extra wide shoulders, tapering to much narrower hips. He's built like a swimmer. Thin chest, long, lanky muscles from his dad."
The two younger men made the comparisons, recognising the similarities, and the differences.
"We don't share any facial similarities." Mickey pointed out.
"Not real obvious ones." Blair agreed. He was so excited over discovering he had family (and a large one, at that) that he didn't worry about the details. He looked at his father. "Um. Sir?" He didn't even know his name. "Do you have any other kids?" Curious. Afraid.
"You have an older brother and sister. Peter Mark and Penelope Wainright. They live in England and run their mother's corporation."
"Um. Do I get to know your real name?" Just the slightest vibration of excitement.
His father stared at him. "Savage. James."
Blair's eyes flashed to his partner, Sentinel, cousin. Quivering with excitement. "Jim was named for you?"
"I don't know. I didn't ask."
Blair bounced over and gently touched Jim's mom's shoulder. She looked up at him from her position between her sons, involved in a three way hug. She smiled, having learned of this nephew's existence when her brother had.
"Excuse me. I was wondering. Did you name Jim for his uncle? Your twin brother?" Wanting to make sure of his facts. "Yes." She whispered. Not wanting to break the silence as she reconnected with her sons. Soaking in the warmth of the three-way embrace. Blair's smile lit up the room.
"That is so cool."
He took them all out for dinner. His family. All of them related by blood. It had been a shock for all of them. But it seemed to be a good shock. One that opened instead of closed doors. He wondered how his son and nephew were going to explain things to their co-workers. Knowing that they would be able to do so. Wishing he could be the fly on the wall when that particular confrontation occurred. There was still a lot of healing needed before the Ellison contingent would be a hundred percent, but the dialogue had started, and communication was open. They had so much to talk about, that it would be months before they would be able to contain it all, and make their decisions accordingly. He was surprised by how physical they all were with each other, the need to touch as well as speak. Odd, considering they were all pretty much visuals in the working of their minds, classic right-brain visuals, the lot of them. Three of them working in a left-brain audio world, but managing, nonetheless. Over dinner came laughter and tales of exploits. Joy in the company they were in, and the family they had discovered. Blair made them promise to let him test them for Sentinel traits, although he didn't use that particular term. After all, his aunt was still something of an unknown quantity. Although he did observe how often she would start a sentence and his father would finish it, and vice versa. He had so many questions, that he was practically vibrating with excitement.
They parted late that evening, after dinner. Promising to meet again soon, Jim had to get up for work early the next day, and Blair had classes, so they made arrangements to meet again the following weekend, barring any complications.
He spent the morning in court. By the time he returned to his desk, Blair had finished his classes for the day and was there waiting for him. They both had silly grins on their faces. The Captain noticed and called them to his office.
"You want to tell me what's going on?"
"I don't know what you mean, Captain." Jim replied, still grinning.
"The silly-assed grins on your faces. The way you both keep fooling around. What's up?" Not worried, exactly, just puzzled.
"Oh, those." Blair grinned, with a glance at his partner.
"Uh, we found out some, well, rather interesting information this weekend, Sir." Elbowing the grinning Blair, just a little, trying to warn him to wipe the smile from his face. It didn't work.
"Oh? And what might that information be?" Curious, now. Watching as his two men exchanged glances so filled with wonder and amusement that he expected them to start laughing.
"Uh, well, it seems we have a few relatives in common, Sir." Jim wasn't really trying to be cryptic, it just came out that way.
Simon was trying to keep his cool, but he was starting to lose patience with them. "And what relatives might that be?"
"My dad is his mom's twin brother." Blair announced.
Simon looked like a pole axed steer. "What?"
"Mr. Smith is my father. His twin sister is Jim's mother. Mickey is a mutual cousin, the son of another sister." Blair's smile was supernova bright. Fairly vibrating with excitement.
"When did this happen?" Sitting back in shock.
"Well, I'm 28 and Jim's..."
"No. Not that. When did you find out?"
"Yesterday, Sir. It seems our mutual grandfather died, and we were both in his will. Control didn't know about Blair and hadn't been in contact with the rest of the family since before my mother married my father. He only found out about us about a month ago. Then he had to find Naomi and talk to her before he could talk to us." He just couldn't wipe the silly grin off his face.
"Your mother and Blair's father are twins?" Struggling with the concept.
"Yeah. Isn't it cool?" Excitement obvious in every expression, every tiny bounce. "Of course, it may mean that my research has to start over, 'cause the idea of close relatives being Sentinel and Guide hasn't come up before. I've noticed that Control and Aunt Jennifer have a very strong 'twin-bond'. They hadn't seen each other in more than forty years and have only been talking again for the past month, but I noticed how in-tune they are with each other. One will start a sentence and the other will finish it. It's fascinating. In fact..."
"Hold on there, Darwin. Let Simon catch up and assimilate, would you? He's having a little trouble with this, in case you haven't been watching." Jim interrupted, smiling. Blair looked at the Captain, finally noticing the dumbfounded expression on his face.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I just get so excited, you know? This is such a...a I don't know how to describe it." He realised he was rambling and shut up.
"You...the two of you are...cousins?"
"Yeah. Scary, isn't it?" Jim still couldn't wipe the silly grin from his face.
"You have no idea how frightening that concept is." Simon replied, still in shock. "Why don't the two of you go home? I need a little peace and quiet to be able to come to grips with this." Fighting to comprehend the sudden paradigm shift. He looked at Blair. "Maybe this explains why the two of you connected so well. I mean, it's like somehow you both recognised the relationship, without conscious knowledge. For me, it makes things a little easier to understand. Just go away, now. Go on. I'll see you both in the morning."
"Yes, Sir." Jim smiled in reply, standing.
"Sure, OK, Simon. I don't have any classes tomorrow, so I'll be coming in with Jim. I've made arrangements with Control and Aunt Jennifer to run some tests, and Jim's agreed to help me, so we'll be doing that off and on all week. If you'd like to come and observe, that'd be just fine. If not, well that's OK, too. I..."
"Shut up, Chief. He's going into sensory overload." Cuffing the younger man gently.
"Why are you still calling him 'Control'?" Simon asked, curious.
"Well, we're still a little in shock, ourselves. I don't feel comfortable calling him 'Dad', and I wouldn't dare use his real name; so, that leaves 'Control'." Blair replied, with a shrug.
"I think that you shouldn't call him by his code name. It might attract undue attention from the wrong sort. You're enough of a trouble magnet without inviting more trouble."
Blair paled, momentarily. "Oh, wow. I never thought about that. Maybe I should start referring to him as my father." His face brightening once more. "Yeah. I can do that. Cool." He smiled at the Captain. "Thanks, Simon. Good point."
"Come on, Darwin. Let's go before he changes his mind about the time off." Pulling his partner through the door behind him. "We'll see you tomorrow, Sir. Bright and early."
Simon waved them off with a nod. Still trying to process this startling new information.
A quick call from Jim's desk before they left resulted in their newly discovered relatives waiting for them when they got home to the loft. They were still a little shy around each other, not quite sure how to behave, but wanting the familial relationship, none the less.
Blair had borrowed an ESP deck from the University. He set up tests with his father and aunt. Double blind tests. They scored off the scale both singly and together. He got Mickey to run the same tests on himself and Jim, with results of somewhat higher than normal separately, but high on the scale when together. Then he ran the same tests with Mickey and his father, then his aunt. Then with Jim and his mother and Mickey. No matter who he tested, they always came up far above probability when partnered with one of the others.
The results were astounding. He knew of several people who would kill for the test results he was getting. And he couldn't share the information with anyone. It rankled, just a bit. Then he decided to run the tests he had run on Jim when they first met.
He was thrilled with the results. His father had slightly enhanced senses, although his eyesight was fading from age. Jennifer, likewise, but was much nearer normal. Mickey had enhanced sight, touch and hearing. Just enough to help him in his covert Ops work, not enough to cause a zone out. He deeply wanted to test the rest of the family, but was too shy, still, to ask.
"I'll bet Paul and David are, too. It would make sense." Control commented, once Blair explained the results to them.
"What about your father?" Blair asked, wondering.
"Probably." Control replied. "I remember that when we were all still pretty small, how he could hear us whispering from the other end of the house. If we were up to anything, he'd call out and tell us that he had heard that. It was hard to keep anything from him, as I recall." He looked at his twin for confirmation. She nodded.
"Oh, yes. Daddy always seemed to know whenever we'd done something. I'm sure he at least had enhanced hearing." She smiled in fond remembrance. "The number of times he met us at the gate when we tried to sneak in late." She turned to her brother, "Do you remember Prom Night, Twin?"
He chuckled, "Oh, yeah." He saw the questions on his nephews' and son's faces. "We'd taken one of the planes and gone joy riding. The airstrip was what, fifteen miles from the house?" Jennifer nodded. "He knew which plane we'd taken, when we took off, how long we were up, he even guessed correctly as to where we had gone." He looked at his son, "Maybe it wasn't a guess, after all."
Blair was bouncing. "Oh, man. I'm related to an entire family of Sentinels. How many others are guides, though?" Suddenly nonplussed. So far, he seemed to be the only guide.
"My mom." Mickey volunteered. "She doesn't have enhanced senses, but she was always good at helping people."
"I wonder." He looked at his father. "What about your other children?"
"I haven't seen them in thirty years, Blair. I gave my word to never contact them." So many years of hiding his feelings coming to the fore. Blair wasn't fooled, however. The young man reached out and gripped his father's shoulder.
"I'm sorry. OK, we'll have to ignore them, for now, at least." Still not giving up hope. "Mickey, you have two brothers. Any enhanced senses?"
"Just me. Although, from what you've described, Nick might make a guide. He's a priest. It would fit."
"Agreed." Blair was taking notes frantically, trying to formulate some logical connections. He studied the charts he had made, with everyone listed. He noted a possible pattern.
"Huh. It seems that only the males are actively involved, although the females are definite carriers, with much milder forms of the enhancements. Also, the Sentinel abilities tend to be in earlier born sons, while the guides tend to be younger sons. Jim is the eldest, I haven't tested Steven, so I'm not sure if he has any related abilities." He looked up, "I'd like to test him, even if we don't tell him about the research." He looked back at his chart. "Mickey is a second son, does your older brother have any sign of enhanced senses?"
"No. But he's a good businessman."
Blair nodded. "OK, Then there's you, with some enhanced senses, and your younger brother who fits the Guide profile." He looked at his father. "I'd like to test your other two children, but I guess that's out of the question. I'm going to make the supposition that your oldest son has at least some enhanced senses. It fits the pattern." He then checked his notes. "OK, You have two more brothers. What about their kids?"
"Paul only has two daughters." Jennifer informed him. "I don't think they fit either category."
"Right. That fits with the male linked gene. What about your other brother and sister?"
"Davy has two sons and a daughter. They're still preteens." She smiled. "David Franklin is twelve, Emily is ten, and James Paul is eight. Emily's children are John, Peter, Donald, Mary and Jennifer. All in their twenties."
"Cool. I'd love to test them. See if the traits are there yet." He smiled. "Do you have any idea how exciting this is? To discover that both Sentinels and Guides come from the same genes? This is so cool."
"What about the ESP stuff?" Jim asked.
"It seems to correlate with the other bonds. Both my dad and your mom score high on the scale separately, but astronomically off the scale when you put them together. Jim and I both score higher than average separately, but together it's way off the scale. Mickey tested somewhat higher than average, but when partnered with any of the rest of us, the scores go up. I don't quite know how to relate these results to the Sentinel findings. I'd love to test the rest of the family, see how they score. Is there any way we can do that?"
"I think we can probably arrange that." Jennifer replied. "I'm sure the rest of the family would like to meet you. I'll find out and let you know, OK?"
"Thanks, that would be great." He shook his head, awestruck by his findings. "I'm going to have to re-evaluate all my research, try and fit these findings in with the information I already have." He looked at his partner, "This may just take a while." Smiling.
"Fine with me, Chief. I'm not going anywhere." Returning the smile.
"Me either, if it's still all right with you." Softly, uncertainty once again in his voice.
"It's more than all right, Chief. It's expected." Gently reaching out to touch the smaller man's arm.
They both had so many questions that they all got together every night that week, even Steven joined them; all of them wanting to know everything about their family. It was a good time, the Ellison brothers reconciling with their mother and coming to grips with all the multitudinous emotions the renewed contact engendered. Blair getting to know the father he'd always wondered about, thrilled to discover the large number of relatives he had. Talking long into each night with them, sorting out the information on the genetic correlation to his studies and theories. By the time the weekend had rolled back around, they had made plans to meet the rest of their extended family. Blair had spoken to his mother and excitedly told her about his new relationship with Jim, much to her discomfort. She took the news with resigned good grace. Just as long as he was happy, was her frequent comment.
They skipped the weekly poker game in favour of spending more time with their relatives. Then they spent the weekend running more of Blair's tests and talking about their extended family and all the questions they kept coming up with. Learning to care for one another as family. Careful to keep things light. No recriminations, no sorrow or anger over what might have been; simply willing to pick up from where they were and accept the way things had turned out.
By the time they left on Sunday, they had set a firm foundation upon which to build the familial relationships they all craved. It was even better than parting as friends, as Jim, Blair, Control, and Mickey had on their previous meetings. Now they parted as family, with the added bonus of Jim's mother in the mix. There would be a large family gathering on the fourth of July, which, for the first time, Jim and Blair would be attending and Control would be going to for the first time in four decades. They parted with hugs all around, smiling and waving at one another.
Later, finally alone in the loft, Jim and Blair sat, drinking beer, Jim channel surfing.
"So, Cousin Jim. What did you think of this past week?" Using a really bad hillbilly accent.
"Just because my mother and your father are twins, don't go getting any ideas about anything else, Chief. It doesn't really change anything. Does it?" Suddenly unsure.
"Not about us, man. It does explain a few things, but nothing else has changed. You're still my Blessed Protector/ Sentinel/friend/partner. Only now I get to add 'cousin' to the list. It's great, man. I like it. How about you?"
"Yeah. I guess so. I'm glad to get to understand why my mom left. It all makes sense now. The fact that I never knew any of that side of my family makes me wish this had happened years ago. But I'm glad that it happened at all. No regrets, Chief. You're still my Guide/Shaman/friend/partner, and now, cousin. I can live with that. The rules still apply, though, so don't go getting any ideas." More teasing than threat, but meaning the words nonetheless.
"I can live with that. You think Simon's over it yet?" Referring to the Captain's alternating staring at them and ignoring them all week long.
"I sure hope so. This really has him spooked. Not that I blame him."
"Yeah. I'm all over that, man."
They finished their beers and by mutual agreement headed for bed.
"Ellison, Sandburg. My office." He watched closely as his best team approached. Pleased to see that the silliness of the previous week seemed to have worn off.
"Yes, sir?" Jim asked upon closing the door behind them. His usual response.
Simon watched them for a few moments, noting the relaxed, comfortable body language of both men, the polite interest. Satisfied, he began to fill them in on their newest assignment.
"There's been a series of..."
Things were back to normal. They'd also changed forever, but it would never interfere with their work. Only, perhaps, make them stronger, increasing the bond between them, allowing their special abilities to work even better than before. Only time would tell.