I'm looking at the man and suddenly, after almost two weeks of trying to imagine what I was going to say, of trying to visualize every last detail of how this encounter was going to unfold, I find myself totally at a loss for words. Even as he stands in front of me I have trouble trying to come to terms with the fact that he is actually my brother... my father's son... and if the look on his face is anything to go by than I think it's safe to say that I am not the only one who is feeling more than a little lost here.
"So, your name is Blair?" he asks.
"And you are Daniel?" I reply, even though I know who he is, just like he knows who I am, after all we were formally introduced to each other less than an hour ago but still this feels... different... and my brain is still trying to come to terms with the latest developments.
"Yes," he says, obviously as confused as I am.
"So why are you here?" I ask, trying to focus on the immediate questions... the ones that don't scare me half to death.
"You were looking into my background and Jack and Sam... well let's just say that they are kind of paranoid."
"To put it mildly," he says, shaking his head at my little definition.
"Sorry about that, I was just..."
"What were you looking for?" he asks, suddenly taking the initiative.
"An answer, I guess. It's just that when I first got that letter I didn't really know what to do," I try to explain. "On the one hand I really wanted to get in touch with you but on the other I knew I didn't have the right to disrupt your life by just showing up on your doorstep one day. Anyway, Jim suggested that I check your background to try and see whether or not getting in touch with you was a good idea in the first place..."
"And in doing so you triggered Sam's alarms."
"Major Carter," he explains, seeing the confusion reflected on my face.
"She's the one who caught me snooping?"
"Yes... that and the fact that the system you were trying to break into is pretty secure."
"Believe me, I noticed that. So, what happens now?" I ask, almost holding my breath. Whether I'm ready or not, this is it and I know it.
"I don't know. I have to say that a brother was the last thing I was expecting to find when I got here."
"'A brother', that still sounds so weird... I mean, I've always wondered what it would be like to have an older brother and then when I got Naomi's letter..."
"Naomi?" he asks, just as confused as I was by his reference to Sam only a moment ago.
"My mom," I explain, feeling more than a little awkward. "She doesn't exactly like me calling her mom so..."
"What's she like?" he asks and I really don't know how to answer that question. I love my mom but she is hard enough to explain when dealing with someone who doesn't have a reason to hate her guts... as he does.
"She's great, I mean she is loving and she has good intentions, but sometimes I just wish she'd think things through before acting. That's her main problem, she means well but I have to admit that sometimes her good intentions have a tendency to backfire... of course, if she did think things through I probably wouldn't be here so I guess I don't have much of a right to complain about that. I know she's probably not one of your favorite people but I love her."
"Sounds like my grandfather... sort of. He used to insist I call him Nick rather than grandpa, even when I was a kid."
"What happened to him?" I ask, focusing on his use of the past tense and not daring to voice my real question: whether or not the man he is talking about is also my grandfather... luckily he picks up on it and answers me anyway.
"Nick Ballard, the explorer. He is my maternal grandfather but... well, let's just say that playing grandpa didn't exactly rate very high on his list of priorities. I used to get a postcard from him every now and then as I was growing up but that was about it," Daniel explains, not quite succeeding in keeping the bitterness out of his voice... and I understand.
"Naomi wasn't exactly the mommy type either, though of course she was fairly young when I was born. She loved me but she kept leaving me behind whenever having a kid became too much of a burden for her to bear. I understand now but..." I trail off, not knowing what else to say.
"I have to say that this is not a scenario I considered when Sam told me that she was worried that someone was trying to break into my files," he tells me, obviously sensing my own discomfort.
"And I wasn't expecting to see you walk into the bullpen," I shoot back, seeing how the conversation is back to where it started.
"So what happens now?"
"That's up to you, man. I'd love to get to know you and I admit I'm curious but I'd understand it if you dont want to have anything to do with me."
"Why wouldn't I want to have anything to do with you?" he asks, apparently surprised by my comment.
"I don't know, I guess because I'd understand it if you are not exactly thrilled by the fact that I exist," I explain, trying to conceal how much the idea bothers me. This is my brother and I don't want him to reject me... even though I know he has every reason to do so.
"Blair, you know about how my parents died, don't you?" he asks, pretty much out of the blue.
"Well, after that I spent years playing system ping-pong, right until I was ready to go to college. Believe me, I'm not going to turn my back on a chance to have a brother... regardless of how you came about."
"Fair enough," is the only thing I can think of saying as it finally hits me that this is real, that he is here and he doesn't hate me.
"So, little bro, what have you been up to for, say, the last thirty five years of your life?" he asks, trying to lighten the mood.
As soon as I hear his question I feel my heart drop to my feet. Things had been going great up to this point... okay, so maybe they weren't great, maybe they were a little awkward but they had been going as well as I could possibly have hoped they would go but now I know I'll have to tell him about the diss... about being a fraud. I wish I could tell him the truth but the fact is that I know I can't so I swallow hard and say:
"Well, let's see, I was born in May of 69, my mom and I used to travel a lot so I had been to every continent by the time I was six. School was hard, I was always the nerdy new kid with big glasses and the fact that I was a couple of years younger than most of my classmates didn't exactly help matters any. I got picked on a lot. By the time I was sixteen I was admitted to Rainier, anthropology, and I stayed there for my masters and... well, I would have stayed there for my Ph.D. as well but let's just say that that didn't exactly pan out as I had expected it to. I got caught faking my diss, was kicked out and then I joined the PD as a detective. I've been here for a few years and I've discovered that I actually like it. So what have you been up to for these past thirty nine years or so?" I ask, turning the tables on him.