Blair sat at his desk staring at the news clipping he held in his right hand. The paper was old and yellow and had obviously been torn at one point and taped back together again. The clipping was a report of a demonstration that occurred in the fall of '66. He'd found it in a box that his Aunt Cecilia had sent him -- along with the letter informing him of his mother's death.
He sighed heavily while rubbing his eyes with his left hand. He had no tears left.
Naomi was gone.
It was so strange. Just a few months ago, William Ellison had passed away, and now, Naomi. The elder Ellison's death had changed Blair's life - and Jim's - and Steven's -- drastically. The change had given Blair something he'd always wanted: A father. And as it happened, two brothers. He couldn't deny that the weeks following the revelation had been incredible, but underneath the joy of discovering that he did, indeed, have a father, there'd been an underlining unease for which he'd been unable to find an explanation.
Until three weeks ago when the feeling escalated to horror.
Jim had been on stake-out with Connor, thanks to Blair's teaching schedule. It was supposed to be a slam-dunk, but the guy they were watching had other ideas. He'd spotted them and, instead of running, he'd walked out of his apartment building, shotgun in hand. Without so much as a "Fuck you!" he'd started blasting everything and anything in sight - including Jim's truck.
Jim had thrown himself over Megan and, as a result, had taken the bullet that would have hit her. By the time the ambulance arrived at the hospital, he'd lost a tremendous amount of blood.
Blair had beaten Steven to ER by minutes and, for the next 24 hours, they'd held vigil over him.
And that's when the reason for his unease at having the same father as Jim hit him - and hard.
He'd been sitting by Jim's bedside, staring at his 'brother's' pale face, willing him to open his eyes, to be all right. Then he'd taken Jim's cool hand into his own and, with that action, experienced a welling up of love so strong, so overpowering, that tears had tracked down his cheek.
That's when he realized the love he was experiencing was far different from what one brother should feel for another.
He'd discovered, in Jim's hospital room, at a moment when Jim's life was held in God's hands, that he was in love with Jim.
Blair was in love with his own brother.
Of course, Jim was home now and recuperating, but Blair found that with the joy of having Jim alive, there existed side-by-side, a pain greater than any he'd known.
Until reading a supposedly innocuous article from a newspaper dated before he'd been born.
Slowly he set the clipping down and picked up the sheets of stationary he'd abandoned for the article. Eyes following every word, he read it again, for the fifth time, barely noticing where his tears were meeting the white paper….
Secrets destroy, but they can also free a person when light is allowed to shine in on the dark, hidden thruths. I'm shining just such a light now, on a secret over 38-years old. But since my culpability in the maintenance of this secret is great, I must shine the light from a distance because I don't have the courage to face you.
It's true that William Ellison and I had an affair and that you were the product of that love. But enclosed, you'll find a clipping from The Seattle Tribune. I think it will prove what I have to say next.
God, Blair, I don't honestly know where to start.
Yes, I do. With you and Jim.
Honey, I've watched you with him all these years and I know love when I see it. You're in love with him and, one of these days, you'll recognize that fact and, if I don't tell you the truth now, a knowledge that should bring you only joy, will hurt you to a point that I can't imagine.
Okay, so the clipping. You know all about the demonstration that day, I've told you about it often enough, but there was more to it - much more. You no doubt recognize me, but the woman standing beside me is Mrs. William Ellison. I don't think she intended to take part in the demonstration, but when the cop grabbed me by the hair, well, she just stepped in and whacked him one. Then she took my arm and off we ran. We ducked into a small cafe and that's where we stayed until the riot abated.
Blair, sweetie, I was just fourteen and three years away from bringing the most wonderful person I know into the world, but you know my history, know about the many times I ran away from home, before that final, forever time. But on that day, this wonderful woman took me under her wing for six magical hours.
Grace (she was Margaret to her parents) was four months pregnant with the child that would be your brother, Steven. She never gave me her last name and later, when I fell in love with Will, I didn't made the connection - not for years.
Grace and I talked, shared dreams, and it was that day that a confused, hurt woman told a teenager about her one true love. A man named James Joseph Masterson.
The real father of her eldest son, Jimmy.
William is your father. Steven is your brother. But Jim -- is not.
J.J. Masterson is dead. He died before Jim was born and that was the reason Grace married William. You know as well as I do that this can easily be proven, but I leave that to you.
I don't know if I'm making matters worse, or better. I don't know what you will do with this information, I only know that I had to tell you, if for no other reason than to ensure that you would know that your feelings for Jim are safe, moral, right. That you're not feeling anything you shouldn't.
I love you, Blair. More than you will ever know.
May God forgive me for all that I've done to hurt you.
A splotch of moisture landed on the word 'mother'.
Blair should have felt just as Naomi had intended: elated and free. After all, now he could love Jim as man and not a brother, but instead, he thought he might die.
How could he tell Jim? How could he tell him that--
Jim's world was settled and, even though he'd lost his father, he'd received comfort in the fact that the two men had worked through their issues and finally, after so many difficult years, become father and son.
Blair couldn't, wouldn't, take that away from him.
His world and dreams might be over, but he'd be damned if he'd end Jim's.
Blair carefully folded the clipping and slipped it back into the envelope. He then swiveled in his chair toward the mini-shredder and, letter and envelope in hand, turned on the shredder. He held both over the whirling teeth…and as his hand shook and the blades whirled - as he stared at the last letter he'd ever receive from his mother - he wondered how long a man could live with a broken heart and shattered soul.
End - for now....