Disclaimer: Not mine. Still BVE's. I'm still poor.
This follows on from "Brothers in Arms". If you haven't read that, you'll probably be lost.
Please offer feedback, it tells me how I've done.
In The Name of the Father
I knew something was up when Dad invited Eric to dinner. Don't get me wrong, I know that Dad likes Eric and it wouldn't have been the first time Dad had invited him over for dinner, but there was something odd about it this time. Dad seemed almost hesitant.
I know why, now.
Of all the things Dad could have told me, us, this was the worst. The best. Hell, I don't know how I feel about it.
Except that I'm not surprised. Something in me knew long before Dad said the words.
I have a brother. A real, flesh-and-blood brother. When I was a kid, that was what I wished for -- or I did, until Mom died.
That just brings me back to what Dad did. He had an affair. He betrayed Mom. I want to feel angry about that...except that I can't.
I never knew Dad had been to Viet Nam. I read about it in history, once. It was a messed up place. A messed up time. I can't even figure what it was like to be there. I can't imagine what Dad saw; what he did in the line of duty; what made him go to that bar in the first place.
I can't imagine it, and I can't condemn him for it, because I don't know how I'd react in that time and place.
But if I don't condemn him for it, am I letting Mom down?
There's a footstep behind me. I glance over my shoulder, hoping it's just Phillips. I'm not ready to face Dad yet. But it's not Phillips. And it's not Dad.
I don't know if that makes it better or worse.
"Your dad said you'd be out here," Eric says, the 'your' striking me like a physical blow.
I make a vague gesture to encompass the terrace I'm standing on. "It's peaceful out here. Helps me think."
"Guess it is a whole lot to think about." He sounds even less surprised than I feel, but there's an edge to his words. He's angry.
So what else is new?
I turn to face him properly, but he's framed against the lit windows. In the darkness, I can't make out his expression. "Not just for me."
If I'm confused, how the hell does he feel?
"Are..." He stops and I realise that he's not angry, he's afraid. "Are we still OK?"
It takes me a moment for the meaning of his words to hit me. When it does, I'm the one who's angry, though not at him. "Of course we're 'OK'," I answer. "Why wouldn't we be?"
"Because this changes everything," he says.
I shake my head, longing to get my hands on whoever it was that so destroyed his self-esteem. "You're still you; I'm still me. We're still friends. What Dad's said..." I shrug. "The only thing it changes is that you're not alone any more. I mean, really not alone."
He has no answer to that, though knowing him, he doesn't believe it. Can't believe it. Won't let himself believe it, because believing it might lead to getting hurt.
And then it hits me. What he's actually afraid of. "This isn't your fault." I can see him tense at that and I know I've got to the heart of the matter. "What; you're expecting me to yell and scream at you because of something Dad did twenty-eight years ago? How is that even remotely your fault?"
"I'm here," he says softly. "If..."
"Stop." I'm being brusque now, but, shit, I'm not putting up with him doing this. "You know what, yeah, you are here; maybe that's why Dad's said something. But you know something else? Dad would have probably told me this sooner or later. Hell, I've known for some time that there was 'something' he wasn't telling me about the day Mom died. Now, I'm hurt and confused by what Dad did." I shrug. "I can't help that. But I don't hate him for it and I sure as shit don't hate you for it." I start towards him, intending to go inside. "And there's one other thing too." I stop for a moment, just in front of him, and meet his gaze. "I can't think of someone I'd rather find out is my older brother."
I reach the door, then pause and look back. He hasn't moved. I don't know what else to say to him that'll make him understand. Then I smile as the words come to me.
"So you think we can break the Cyclosabre case tomorrow?"
For a moment, he's rigid; his shoulders and back so tense they make mine hurt in sympathy. Then he tips his head back and laughs.
"Yeah," he finally says. "Yeah, I think we will."