by Laura Picken
Summary: William Ellison's deathbed confession threatens to either tear the Ellison family apart, or bring them together in ways they could have never imagined.
Hi all! I first came up with this concept a while ago, when I was sitting in a Science and Theory of Evolution (or something like that, I don't remember the name of the class) class and they were doing a lesson on genetics. If I say any more then I'll give the plot away, so I won't. Initially, I got the idea before Remembrance, but that ep only helped solidify the ideas more. In fact, timeline- wise, consider this story to be exactly one year after all the events in Remembrance (which, in case you're wondering, is a year (in my timeline) before Blair gets his Ph.D. and meets Sharon, so no, she won't be in this story).
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, I just want to mess with their relationship for a while. All hail Pet Fly for coming up with such a great concept and set of characters. Now if only they'd hire a decent writer... *g* Many thanks to my 'gang', Danae, Cindy Combs and DL Witherspoon (a couple of whom took a crack at this even though it wasn't the type of stuff they normally like to read - now -that's- friendship) for beta reading this for me. They made this story a lot better than it would have been otherwise.
SMARM WARNING AHEAD!
Anyway, on with the show...
Jim looked up at the white pillars and let out a breath he didn't realize he was holding. His eyes spoke of pain, anger, hurt, and regret. Blair looked over at the older man and squeezed his shoulder in empathy. He asked his friend, "You gonna be okay, Jim?"
The Sentinel looked over to Blair and was able to manage a small smile. "I'll get through it, Chief. It's just hard to think about."
"I can imagine." In truth, though, he couldn't -begin- to understand the pain Jim was going through, and he knew it. How could you just sit there and hold someone's hand while they died? Especially when that someone was your father. True, many cultures did it, but that didn't make the idea any more palatable to him. Slinging his duffel bag over his shoulder, he made sure to hand Jim his suitcase, then asked, "You ready to go in?"
Steeling his resolve, Jim nodded, and picked up the suitcase. Opening the door to his childhood home, he was reassured by Blair's presence behind him as he was greeted with a hug by Sally, the old housekeeper who still kept the house spotless and was one of the few people still loyal to his father. His heart softened as always by Sally's loving presence, Jim wondered how she could always be so warm in a place that, to him, had always felt so cold. When she broke the embrace, he asked her, "How are you holding up, Sally?"
Sally waved off the comment, "Oh, you know me, Jimmy. As long as the house is clean I'm happy." Her tone turning serious, she then told him, "You know your father will be glad you could come."
Still fighting off the emotions, Jim could only nod. This had come on so fast. He still didn't know if he could reconcile everything with his father before... "How is he, Sally?"
"He's resting right now. He should be awake in a couple of hours or so. The cancer has taken all of his energy," replied Sally, shaking her head. It was clear that this was something she didn't like to dwell on much. "He doesn't have much time left." Finding a convenient means to change the subject standing just behind her 'adopted' son, she turned to Blair and greeted him, "But where are my manners? It's nice to finally meet you, Mr. Sandburg."
Lovingly, he came up to Sally and grabbed her hand, wanting to offer some sort of reassurance to the grieving woman but uncomfortable with just how to respond. "Please, call me Blair. And it's good to meet you, too, Sally. Jim's told me quite a bit about you."
Nodding her head in response, she opened the door wider to allow the two men to get their things through. "Well come in, come in! I have rooms upstairs ready for you. Steven will be coming tomorrow. He's off in Singapore somewhere closing a business deal. It was the first flight he could get back."
Thanking Sally, the two men walked into the entryway and set their bags down. Blair looked around at the living room and dining room, the hairs on the back of his neck involuntarily standing on end. The house always reminded him of one of those exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum - resembling the warmth of an old country home but never quite allowing itself to actually -be- a home. It was discomforting, and made Blair feel like he needed to be on his 'best behavior'. One glance at Jim told Blair that he felt very much the same way- and this had been his home. The whole thing gave him the urge to call his mother...
The two men started to bring their bags upstairs when Sally stopped them. Quietly she urged them, "There's plenty of time for that, you two. Now come into the kitchen and catch up with an old woman. I have some chocolate chip cookies waiting."
Setting the bags down, Jim and Blair followed Sally to the kitchen, relaxing immediately as they sat down to the small table. In complete contrast to the rest of the house, Blair could tell that the kitchen was Sally's domain, for it spoke to him of warmth and light. It was probably the most comfortable room in the house. Setting down a warm plate of cookies and two tall glasses of milk, Sally began, "So how are things at the police station? Last I heard you had an alligator crawling through the building..."
A loud buzzer interrupted the quiet conversation, causing the Sentinel to briefly wince at the uncomfortable noise. Smiling as she remembered a precocious three-year-old with the same problem, Sally squeezed Jim's shoulder sympathetically as she told the two men, "It's your father, Jimmy. He's awake, and just wants to let me know."
Instantly Jim tensed, in anticipation of what was to come. Sensing this, Blair asked, "Are you okay, Jim?"
Drawing in a deep breath, then letting it out slowly, Jim replied, "I'll be fine, Chief. Maybe you should bring the bags up to our rooms?"
Nodding his agreement, both men got up from the table, automatically placing their glasses and the now-empty cookie plate in the sink. Each one drawing strength from the other's presence, Blair grabbed the bags and quickly followed Jim up the stairs.
[He looks so frail,] thought Jim. The doctors had warned him that since the cancer had spread to his digestive system, he would lose weight rapidly toward the end, but that didn't make it any easier to see the man who had once been so strong now look like a strong wind could blow him away. It was only because of his Sentinel hearing that he was able to hear, "Hello, Jimmy. You're looking good."
Shifting uncomfortably, Jim made his way over to his father's side, and the chair that Sally had left for him. "Hello, Dad. How are you feeling?"
Tilting his head with some effort toward the IV that hung next to his bed, William replied, "My doctor prescribed a morphine drip so I could control the medication when I needed it. It helps." Bringing his head back so he could look at his son, he didn't mince words, getting straight to the point. "Jim, there's something I need you to check out for me. There's something I need to know before I..."
Neither man wanting to hear the other one mention death, Jim cut him off, asking, "What is it, Dad?"
With great effort, William replied, "I never told you why your mother left, did I, Jimmy?" As Jim shook his head, his father continued, "When you were six and your brother was four, I had an affair. It wasn't a long-term thing; we only knew each other for a couple of weeks, but your mother found out. She left me soon after that."
Jim sat back in the chair, completely in shock. With the amount of fighting he remembered hearing between his parents, he shouldn't have been surprised at something like that, but it still didn't change the fact that his father had cheated on his mother. And that left another question... "Why are you telling me this now, Dad?"
"The woman I had an affair with. I need you to find her."
Now Jim was not only shocked, he was confused as well. "Why?"
"Eight months after our last night together, I saw her in a department store when I was shopping for something for my anniversary with your mother. She was pregnant. I need to know if that child is mine."
By this point, Jim was close to losing it completely. First finding out his father had had an affair, now finding out he might have an illegitimate half-sibling as well? Trying to contain the conflicting emotions that were, even now, vying for control of his conscience, Jim asked, "What was the woman's name, Dad?"
"Naomi. Naomi Sandburg."
Jim felt the color drain from his face, and found that he was suddenly having trouble breathing. Laying a hand on his father's arm to steady himself, he blurted out, "Excuse me...I think I need some air," and ran out of the room.
Blair couldn't help but notice the front door slam behind his friend even as he was talking to Sally in the kitchen. Quickly excusing himself, he ran after the older man, only to find him sitting on the front bumper of the truck. One look told Blair that Jim wasn't zoned, just...stunned. Like he'd just received the shock of his life. "Jim? What's going on?"
Jim turned to see his friend standing next to him. His half-brother...could it really be possible? Staring briefly at the younger man, he realized for the first time how much the color of Blair's eyes mirrored his own...
Whatever it was that was bothering Jim, -something- had finally caught his attention to the point where he had zoned. Laying a hand on his Sentinel's elbow, Blair coaxed him, "Jim...Jim, man, come back..."
Shaking himself out of the zone-out, Jim realized what he needed to do. "Chief, I need you to do me two favors."
Confused, Blair asked, "Sure. What?"
"First, do you have a number where I can contact your mother?"
Blair shook his head. "She's on a pilgrimage to Mecca. No one will be able to reach her for another month or so. Why?"
Jim sighed. This was going to be the tough part. "I need you to go down to Joe Rockwell's office and ask him to do a blood workup on you."
More confused than ever, Blair's eyes widened when he asked, "Excuse me? What's going on, Jim?"
[I guess I have to tell him,] thought Jim. [He has a right to know, anyway.] "Blair, my father just told me that he and my mother split up because he had had an affair."
Any questions Blair might have had about the blood workup were quickly forgotten, overridden by his concerns for his friend. [So -that's- what has him so upset...] Blair commented, "Man, that's got to be rough."
"It gets worse, Chief. He thinks the woman might have been pregnant when she left him. He wants to find the woman so he can know if the child is his."
Eyes widening again, Blair put two and two together. [An affair that left a woman pregnant and alone...Oh. My. God.]
As Blair sat down next to Jim, the older man finally admitted, "Yeah, Chief. It's seems my father's on that list of candidates to be your father, as well."
Blair was in complete shock. Standing up again, he started to pace back and forth in front of the truck. Automatically reverting back to his role as a guide, Blair started to rattle off..."It can't be possible. A Sentinel's abilities are genetic. That means that -I- would have those abilities, too. Unless the dominant characteristics of the gene produce a Sentinel and the recessive characteristics produce a...oh man, it -is- possible..." Sitting next to Jim, he leaned his head back against the metal grate and cursed himself for not having done a more exhaustive study of guides. He didn't have anything to compare this to. Burton only said that a guide was some sort of Shaman or wise man for the tribe. He never said anything about whether or not the guide and his Sentinel were actually -related-. His mind running on a reserve that -only- came out in times of great crisis, Blair asked, "You have the keys to the truck, Jim?"
Weakly, Jim grabbed onto his guide's hand and carefully placed the keys in it. Both men got up from their seats to allow Blair to leave. As Jim made his way up to the curb, he called over to his partner, "Be careful, Chief."
"I will, Jim. What are you going to do?"
"I'll probably take a walk. I need to clear my head before I go in there again."
Blair agreed, "Sounds like a good idea. What should I tell Joe to compare the blood against?"
"He has a blood sample of mine from a case a couple months back. Tell him to use that and let us know if the two samples are from blood-related individuals."
"He's going to suspect something's up when he's testing our two blood samples against each other."
"Joe learned long ago not to ask questions when it came to the two of us," replied Jim.
In return, Blair laughed, commenting, "You have a point there." Getting into the truck, the younger man called to his Sentinel, "Just don't get into trouble without me, all right?"
Jim found a laugh escaping his lips in return. "Shouldn't I be saying the same to you?"
Blair had used Jim's cell phone to call ahead, so the junior ME would be waiting for him when he arrived, all the testing equipment prepped and ready.
Every time he thought about it, he still found it hard to believe. Jim? His half- brother? The thought was almost surreal. Sure, they had been close friends almost from the beginning, but... The possibilities were staggering to think about. What did this mean for his dissertation? The chances of him being objective in his study were almost impossible now. And what would this mean on the job? Laughing, Blair realized, "Well, at least Jim won't have to lie and use that stupid cousin line again..."
He thought back to the point when they first met. The uptight, angry, in-your- face cop that had thrown him against the wall was definitely -not- someone he would have wanted to be related to at the time. But, his passion for his subject and his desperation at not wanting to let the first living Sentinel he had ever met slip through this fingers kept him from simply dropping the guy completely.
And yet, over time, they had proven themselves to each other. Saving each other's lives time and time again. First working together, then living together, their relationship built from one of tolerance, to respect, to close friendship. They were partners in the best sense of the word. Friends who would, and had on repeated occasions, put their lives on the line for one another. So, whatever the results of these tests, Blair was certain -that- aspect of their relationship would never change.
But could Jim handle it if he found out they -were- brothers? He was sure it wouldn't change -their- relationship, but how would it effect his relationship with his other brother, Steven? And what about their father? Jim already had to forgive his father for so many things, starting with forcing Jim to repress his Sentinel abilities as a child. Could he forgive his father for the affair that split up his parents' marriage? Even if his guide was the result of that affair?
And what about his -own- mother? He tried to picture stodgy, uptight William Ellison in a passionate embrace with free-spirited Naomi. The more he thought about it, the more he laughed. William Ellison must have been going through some -serious- things to have had an affair with a woman so unlike himself. Blair's thoughts darkened for a moment. What would Naomi think about seeing him again?
The screeching of tires and the honking of horns snapped him out of his wayward thoughts and into stone cold reality. He couldn't get out of the way of the car traveling the wrong way in his lane, and the last sounds he remembered were of the metal and glass of the truck collapsing around him. Idly, he wondered if the emergency room techs would remember to take a sample of his blood as he slipped into peaceful, painless oblivion...