That Awkward Morning After
There's something that feels off this morning, though I can't quite put my finger on what it is, something that's been bothering me ever since we picked up Daniel and the others from their hotel... of course, truth be told, I'm not sure we are not to blame, after all Jim and I are not exactly relaxed ourselves. We can't be, not with as much as we have riding on this little encounter. The simple truth is that this whole thing is one big tangled mess and we know it. There's the future of my relationship with Daniel at stake, that is the obvious part, but then on top of that there's our secret and their secret and the fact that we know their secret and they know our secret. Finally, as if that weren't enough, the icing on the cake is the fact that we know they know our secret but they don't know we know their secret... and that final fact is the one that is actually altering the balance between us. As I said, this is all one big tangled mess and somehow we are going to have to untangle it.
The thing is that while yesterday caught us all off guard, last night gave us a chance to regroup, to come to terms with the day's developments and that was not necessarily a good thing in terms of spontaneity. That is one of the main reasons why things seem so much more strained this morning. Yesterday we were going on instinct, today we are all far more weary, more aware of how much we have at stake. Jim and I are worried about the fact that they apparently know that Jim really is a sentinel... and if what I suspect about their real work is correct then they are probably just as worried by the thought that we could possibly figure out something concerning what they do. They are worried about betraying themselves and that is something I can definitely relate to.
The problem is that if things continue the way they've been going then this is going to be a very long day... and we don't exactly have the time to spare. Daniel is here only for a couple of days and how those days turn out will hold the key to what kind of relationship we will have a chance to develop with each other. That means that we have a pretty narrow window of opportunity here and we can't afford to waste what little time we have... but we can't exactly avoid it either. The problem is that if we can't manage to move past the awkwardness then our chances to establish a good rapport between us will be gone, probably for good.
That is not a pleasant scenario and I know I can't afford to allow this tension to wreck it for us... the problem is that the alternative is terrifying. The alternative is for me to put all of our cards on the table. That is the only way and the worst part is that I know I'm the only one who can make that move. I know they know and they know I know they know... at least about the sentinel. On the other hand the fact that they probably don't know I know what it is that they do means that the ball is on my court, that the next move is up to me.
Can I afford to take that chance? It is not like I would be revealing to them something they don't already know but at the same time a decade of keeping a secret is not something I'm likely to overcome any time soon. I'm torn between seeing them as my brother and his friends and seeing them as representatives of the military, as something we've been trying to steer clear from for years and I know that if I were to make a move there would be no turning back. Is that a mistake I can afford to make? They know and I know they know, but can I afford to acknowledge that I know they know?
In the end that is probably the critical question but at the same time I know I want to get to know my brother better and there's no way I'm going to be able to do that while holding on to my own secrets... or without pushing him to reveal his. One way or another one of us is going to have to make the first move here and only one of us is aware of the full picture so that basically answers the question of who should make that move.
The whole point of spending the day together was for us to have a shot at getting to know one another but we are not going to be able to do that if we insist on keeping the other out. That is the simple truth. The problem is that even though it is a simple truth with a simple solution the fact remains that implementing that solution is a terrifying prospect. I look at Jim, silently asking for his permission to do what has to be done. The nod he gives me is almost imperceptible but after so many years I have no problem catching his meaning.
This is it, I swallow hard, turn to my brother and ask...