The Eldest Son
Summary: The death of Rafe's mother creates a bond between himself and Jim.
Disclaimer: Canon characters do not belong to me. They are the property of Pet Fly and Paramount. I don't make any money etc., etc.
Jim sat at the back of the tiny church, his head bowed in reverence for a woman he did not know. For two days now, he had walked among friends, acquaintances, and strangers doing his best to alleviate some of Rafe's pain.
Closing his eyes briefly, he could hear the gentle whisper of Rafe's voice as he wrapped a protective arm around his younger sister.
"It's okay, Leanna, I'm here, honey. She's in a better place now. She's not in any pain anymore. It's gonna be okay."
Jim stiffened as the words rushed over him, sending a tidal wave of memories flooding into his mind. He remembered the very day his mother had died, not in the physical sense, but in a way that ran even deeper than death. It would have been easier to sit in a church such as this one, and cry because of a love lost, rather than a love that had somehow become lost.
The sound of church kneelers being eased to the floor, gently coaxed him back to reality. Lowering himself to his knees, he folded his hands in front of him and leaned against the pew ahead of him. He could see Rafe's hand, gently gripping that of his sister, as they recited a familiar prayer.
He thought of Stephen, and the night when as young innocent boys they had fallen to their knees begging God to bring back their mother. Even then, he hadn't cried, never allowing himself the indignity of loving her.
Absently, he found himself listening for the sound of Rafe's tears, wishing he could see the man's face from where he now sat. Inhaling slowly, he searched for the salt tinged scent of misery that he hoped he would find there.
There was nothing..
The eldest son, the child from which name and honor were to be born. He and Rafe held the same torch, lighted only by duty, extinguished not by tears.
As the last prayers were said, and the procession filed dutifully into the church lobby, Jim followed in pained silence. Blair had gone ahead, no doubt to be of some assistance to the family in need. Jim hung back, watching as mourners shuffled teary eyed towards their cars. After most of the crowd had dispersed, Blair joined his partner and they too made their way to the truck.
They rode in silence, the only visible gesture of support between them, the light touch of Blair's hand on Jim's shoulder as he drove towards the cemetery.
Flowers and good-byes, tears and prayers. It also seemed so wonderfully beautiful to Jim. His eyes wandered from the casket to Rafe's face, searching the depths of his eyes for the hidden grief that he knew must be there. As if feeling the unspoken messages of support, Rafe tilted his head towards Jim, their eyes meeting in sudden understanding.
"Jim? You ready to go?" Blair smiled tightly, giving Jim's hand a gently squeeze.
"You go ahead. I'll just be a minute."
Jim watched as Blair nodded and moved off towards the waiting vehicles. His step light, Jim carefully walked around the graves and waited on the cobbled path for Rafe to join him. A few moments later, the younger man approached him carrying a single red carnation.
"You don't have to stay, Jim. I'm okay, really." Rafe nodded quickly, hoping to mask the uncertainty that now threatened to tarnish his voice.
"I know. Leanna really took it hard. You were great with her. I guess that's what big brothers are for though, aren't they? Listen, if you, you know, want to talk or anything, I'll be around. "
Swallowing hard, Rafe took a quick look around him, noticing that Jim's truck and his car were the only vehicles left.
Taking a step forward, Jim felt a hand touch his arm.
"Did you cry? I mean, when she left, did you?" Rafe whispered, almost to the wind.
"I should have, but no, I didn't. I wanted to."
Reaching out his hand, Jim gently touched the petals of the flower in Rafe's hand.
"I know you don't have any brothers or anything, and I'm not exactly family, but I am older than you, and we do see each other more than most families."
Unable to find his voice, Rafe nodded.
"So I was thinking, if I kind of pretended to be your big brother, then it would be okay for you to cry, right?"
Looking up from his position in the truck, a stray tear traced a path down Blair's cheek as he watched Jim pull the younger man into his arms.