Their Mother’s Eyes

By Jayed

EMAIL: Jayed

 

Disclaimer: Just borrowed, briefly

Warning/Notes: Standalone. AUish. Kidfic. OFC. Not too angsty…

 

On the morning of April 12, 2002, James Ellison and Blair Sandburg received legal documents inviting them to the reading of  the will of Charlotte Hayes, a woman who had dated each of them, once, casually, and then moved on. As the letters informed them, she had moved to Bellingham almost two years previously and had since died of pancreatic cancer. Charlotte had been the one to ask each of them out, on successive nights, although  neither could now remember which of them she had asked first. She had been sexy and fun, but flighty, a pretty woman with strawberry blonde hair and amazingly bright green eyes, halfway in age between the two men. If they remembered her at all, it might have been with some embarrassment about their mutual one night stands.

Each man was startled by the summons, and they acknowledged to each other that they had not even thought about her in the more than two years since their "dates." It was therefore strange, more than two years later, to know that she had thought enough of them to leave them something. Frankly, neither believed there could be anything the woman could have left behind that he or his friend would want, but they dutifully requested a day off from work. Their case load being mostly caught up, Simon Banks, their Captain, sent them on their way, expressing his sympathies for the death of a woman he imagined must have meant something to them since she had written them into her will. Neither corrected him, feeling vaguely guilty.

The lawyer’s office was all beige and off-white, soothing and serious at the same time. Although they had not been summoned to the funeral, each man had chosen to wear dark clothing. The taller man wore a black suit, set off by a white shirt and a tie in muted colors. The younger man wore black trousers, shirt, and vest, off set by various bits and pieces of silver jewelry. The mood in the office was not grim, but rather melancholy and anxious.

A cousin of the woman was there before them, and they all introduced themselves. The woman clearly recognized their names and was just as clearly startled by their presence, which startled them, a little in turn. Each man wondered what she knew about their involvement with the deceased. Shortly thereafter a co-worker, Alicia Gasparra, and another couple of cousins appeared. The final arrival, an elderly uncle, completed the group.

The lawyer, Conrad Muskie, and his secretary appeared promptly on the heels of the uncle and introduced himself to those who didn’t know him, greeting one of the cousins and the uncle as old friends. He offered the group coffee, tea, and water, but no one took him up on it, and the secretary left, quietly closing the door behind her.

The reading of the will began with the usual disclaimers about a sound mind and a soul-to-God. Then, the three cousins were all left specific family keepsakes and small monetary gifts, and the youngest cousin also got the keys to the dead woman’s SUV. The co-worker also received several momentos, and she was the only one in the room to shed any tears. When this portion of the reading was over, Muskie politely saw the group out of the room and then he turned to the two men who had been waiting, quietly, with a faint air of unease.

"This next part’s a little trickier," Muskie said, "I want you to know that this is not the way that I think this should have been handled, but it was my client’s wishes. Perhaps it’s unprofessional of me to tell you that, but I can’t help it. I hope this works out; I really do." The partners exchanged glances, and their unease grew.

After looking each partner in the eye briefly, Muskie reached into the small drawer on the top left side of his desk and withdrew two sets of photographs. Double-checking them carefully, he handed one stack to each of the two men.

The top photograph in each stack was the same. It showed two newborns, one baby with a faint blonde fuzz wrapped in blue and the other, an infant with an amazing shock of red hair, wrapped in pink. The second photographs were also the same and showed the two children at about eighteen months. The tall boy now had wispy white blonde hair cut close to his head. The tiny girl possessed a riot of reddish-brown curls. They both had their mother’s green eyes and a pair of even more shockingly familiar grins. The rest of the photographs in each stack, four apiece, were of only one child, the blonde boy in the stack being looked at by the taller man and the curly-headed girl being examined by his partner.

Both men were quiet as they looked first at their own stack and then their friend’s. The silence was broken only by the rustling of papers on the lawyer’s desk, and the quickened breathing of the two startled men. Finally, the two looked up at Muskie. The younger man took a breath to let loose a torrent of questions.

Smiling, Muskie held up a hand to stave off the questions for the moment, and filled in some of the details he was sure those questions were about, "The girl is Amie Josephine Sandburg. She’s called Josey. The boy is Blaine Jack Ellison, and he’s usually called Jacky. Despite the different last names their mother gave them, they are fraternal twins, and they were born about a month premature just about twenty months ago. As you can clearly see in the pictures, they have their mother’s eyes, but their hair, their coloring, their features, and more, come from their fathers, something I didn’t quite realize until you two showed up here today. I admit, gentlemen, that I didn’t realize that fraternal twins could have different fathers, but here’s proof. It was their mother’s wish that you take them, even though she never let you know about them before this." He paused, looking at the two silent, shocked men.

"They’ve been staying with Alicia, Charlotte’s co-worker, who was with us earlier. She’s gone to get them. If you don’t want …"

That’s as far as he got. During his speech, the two men had been looking at each other. Their long friendship, the bond between them, made the conversation between them clear and concise, if silent. As one they turned and interrupted, "We want them."

As if that was a cue, the door to the office opened, and the two children appeared, each holding onto one of the hands of the still tear-stained young woman they’d met earlier. In the flesh, the question of fatherhood seemed even more obvious; although a blood test would almost certainly be a legal necessity it seemed a moot point to both men. Despite the influence of their mother, the children clearly favored their fathers in almost everything that made up their appearance.

Moving slowly, instinctively, each man slid from his chair onto the floor, trying not to be intimidating to the two confused toddlers. How did one go about explaining a mother’s death or absence to a child so young? How did one begin the task of fatherhood in such inauspicious circumstances? How where they going to explain the children to their friends, co-workers, family?

Some tears (and not just from the children) and some giggles (and not just from the children) filled the room for the next hour. Then, reluctantly, the two men let Alicia take the children out, and they began the paperwork that would eventually make it possible for them to take their children (their children!)  home. The fact that the birth certificates listed them as the fathers made this much easier. The situation wouldn’t call for adoptions or too much legal intervention. A schedule of visits for the next week was set-up to allow the children to get used to the two men and for the two to get used to them. The week would also allow them to make sure that they had adequate places set up for the children to come home to.

        Thoughtfully, Alicia had taken the time to write up a list of each child’s likes and dislikes as far as food and toys, and the lawyer had the names of the children’s doctor and daycare center so that they could gather additional information. The children had clothes, toddler beds, potty chairs, and toys that would have to be moved, so that they could have some familiar things. Taking the lists and the photographs, then shaking the Muskie’s hand, the two men exited the office and headed toward the blue-and-white truck in which they had driven up from Cascade. It was hard to believe that they had originally thought this was going to be a fool’s errand.

"She named my daughter for you and your son for me," Blair Sandburg noted as they drove out of the parking lot. "Charlotte must have learned a lot about us, and I can hardly remember her at all. Damn, Jim, did I just say that: my daughter and your son?"

"I know, Chief," Jim Ellison replied. "I know."

"We’re gonna need some help. And, oh, damn, Jim, the loft isn’t going to be big enough…I mean…Josey and I could get our own place, but they are siblings and they lost their mother and Josey and Jacky should stay together…unless you think…"

"Chief, Blair, calm down. We can work that out." He thought for a moment, "We need to tell Simon we need the next two weeks off. He’s not going to be happy."

"He’s gonna be stunned." The grin he’d been hiding suddenly blossomed on Blair’s expressive face. "Speaking of stunned, I wonder if Naomi and Bill are ready to be grandparents."

END