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01 December 2005 @ 03:05 am
Numb3rs Fic: Never Tell - Part 3  
Written for numb3rsflashfic Challenge #3 - Secrets


Title: Never Tell - Part 3
Series/Universe: Never Tell Series
Pairing/Characters: Alan
Rating: PG13
Spoilers: Uncertainty Principle
Summary: Alan has a secret he'll never tell
Notes/Warnings: Read the disclaimer on my LJ

Previous comments are housed at numb3rsflashfic.


Alan and Margaret Eppes wanted to give their kids everything.

Their goal had always been to raise honest, selfless, caring children who would do good in the world.

They were willing to do whatever it took.

Even if that meant living a lie.

+

'Dear Boys...'

Alan crossed out the two words he'd just written and tried again.

'To Don and Charlie...'

Alan crumpled the paper in his hands in frustration, then stopped when he remembered the shredder Stan had installed on his office recycle bin. He flattened out the paper and fed it through the shredder, watching the page become fluttering confetti as it was crosscut into bits.

Alan pulled out a fresh sheet, took a deep breath, and started to write again.

'My dear sons...

I do not think you will be surprised to find a personal letter included with the reading of my will, but I do fear that you will be unpleasantly surprised by what I have to tell you.

Your mother and I loved you both very much.

We were just never able to be completely honest with you.'


Alan looked at the picture of Margaret on his desk.

"How can I tell them?" Alan asked softly. "They loved you so much... More than me, even. It's not fair."

They'd wanted children so badly - both of them. Alan had married Margaret even though she'd told him she'd been informed by multiple doctors that she could never have children of her own. Alan, the eternal optimist, had told her that science would find a way for them to conceive.

Only, it hadn't. Tests revealed that the earlier diagnosis was correct, and there was no way Margaret would ever produce a viable egg for reproduction.

'Before we were even married, I knew your mother couldn't have children. I just never believed it was something we couldn't overcome. It was. Even today, science has nothing to offer women with her condition.

We went to as many fertility experts as we could afford in those early days. I was just starting out in my career and your mother's work never paid much. They all told us the same thing: adopt.

We knew we had enough love in our hearts to raise unwanted children, but we were selfish. We wanted our own flesh and blood - a piece of ourselves to live on forever.

One doctor in particular liked us and took us aside after giving us the bad news yet again. There was a program. He felt we would be a good fit, and could get us in if we were interested.

It sounded too good to be true. Your mother would get to carry the baby and keep it, I would be the biological father, and a donor would provide the egg needed. The program would pay for all our expenses, and would even allow us to have more than one child if we wanted.

Your mother and I waited for the catch, and it was something we never imagined. They asked us if we could handle a gifted child. We said yes. Then they asked us if we thought we could handle an exceptional one - a genius. We were both thrilled with the idea, but they urged us to think about it carefully.

We'd been chosen for our commitment to family, values and education. They were looking for families who would put great effort into nurturing brilliant minds.

They sent us home to think about it, but there was never any doubt we would do it. Your mother and I couldn't imagine a greater civic duty than raising a child who one day might cure a deadly disease or invent a pollution free form of energy. Our children wouldn't just be our legacy; they'd be a gift to the world.

We had demands of our own, as you might imagine. Your mother and I both had A positive blood, so the donor had to as well. It would have been too easy for either of you to find out about your parentage if you'd been born with a blood type that didn't match either of your parents. We also asked for a donor who resembled either one of us in coloring. Your mother could live with her children not bearing her genes, but having a blond-haired blue-eyed child would have been disconcerting. She knew she would give birth to you, and wanted to keep the illusion that you were hers - all hers.

They found us a woman with the right blood type and dark brown hair among their genius donors. They asked if it was acceptable that her hair was curly. We didn't think that was too much of a stretch, even though neither of us had curly hair, so we agreed and the arrangements were made.'


Alan looked over at the family portrait they'd taken just after Don moved back home. At Margaret's urging, they'd taken both a formal and a casual portrait. The consensus opinion had been that all of them much preferred the casual one.

They all wore jeans and black sweaters. Don had slung his arm around Charlie's neck and Charlie had laid his hand on his mother's shoulder as they stood behind their parents, who were seated in front of them.

Charlie and Don had been cracking jokes the whole time, and the photographer had managed to catch them all laughing and smiling so perfectly... They looked like the happy family they were.

Of course, that was before they found out Margaret's cancer was terminal.

Alan looked at Don's smile and wondered, as he had for decades, if that smile came from his real mother.

'Don - the day you were born was the happiest of our lives. We'd become parents after waiting and hoping for so many years. You were healthy and strong and perfect and at that moment, we didn't care what your IQ might be. You were our son and we loved you.

There were tests from time to time, just to see if you showed signs of promise. In some areas you were a perfectly normal boy and it seemed over time that you might end up with a higher than average IQ, but not genius level. They had told us that a genius child was not guaranteed of course, and it made no difference to us. You were special in our eyes and that was all that mattered.

They didn't usually tell us what the results of their tests were, but they did share a few things with us, perhaps to hearten us that they considered you a success, despite the fact your IQ only put you in the top 1%. Only... To this day, I have no idea why they didn't believe how thrilled we were as it was.

They explained to us that the type of aptitude you showed was in an area they referred to as situational intelligence. They tried to explain to us, but the only part that I truly understood was that if it came down to book smarts vs. street smarts, you got street smarts. Your talent seemed to lie in rapidly assessing situations and reacting instinctively in the most effective way to achieve the optimal outcome. They showed us a videotape of one test they'd done with you, when you were just a little boy.

They showed you a mouse in a maze. Looking down from above, you could see the mouse, the maze, and the cheese. They let you watch the mouse work its way through the maze to get to the cheese on the other side.

Then they took you to a child-sized maze - about ten feet square and about a foot high. They led you to the opening of the maze, told you there was cake instead of cheese in it for you, and to go get the cake. They had you get down on your hands and knees at the entrance, then left the room.

You - my amazing son - stood up, stepped over the low maze walls, simply walked over to the cake and started eating it.

I was convinced this was cheating, however they reminded me they had never told you you had to go through the maze at all. They just wanted to see what you would do to get the cake. They analyzed each step you took in great detail, and pointed out that had you assumed the cake would be in the same place as it was for the mouse, you would have walked in a straight line towards it. You didn't. You took what was apparently the minimum number of steps needed for someone of your height to look down into the entire maze to locate the cake in the most expedient and thorough fashion possible. All that without any real conscious thought.

I think after that we understood. We had an exceptional child, just not the kind they expected.

They told us that you would love sports and be a bit bored by school. They knew you would excel at whatever you put your mind towards and would probably choose a non-traditional career, likely one with some sort of physical aspect to it. They were eerily right in so many ways, even though the last time they saw you, you were five years old.'


Alan placed the completed sheet on the stack and started a fresh page.

'Charlie... You were the child everyone expected. You ended up with the high book smart IQ and your biological mother's curls. You had us all fooled for a while, but they assured us that genius children often presented fairly normally their first couple of years - sometimes below normal in some benchmarks. At the time, we just assumed they were pacifying us, assuming we'd had another 1% child.

Then you turned three and blew us all away. You were slow to speak, slow to walk, but not slow with numbers in any way imaginable. I think your mother and I were a bit thrown. We'd both assumed genius would present in a more general fashion, but your specialty was math - something we weren't prepared for. We got prepared though, and fast.

We didn't need to be reminded that we'd been chosen because we were willing to focus on a genius child's education. We were more than willing. It didn't matter if it was a hardship financially, or if it took a lot of our time. That was the price we had been willing to pay to be gifted with the two of you in the first place, and we paid it gladly.

As we had agreed in the beginning, the tests all stopped when you turned five.

From that point on, your mother and I put that part of our life behind us and focused on raising our boys.

We agreed never to tell you. Your mother took the secret to her grave and I... I was never as strong as your mother. I've carried this secret as a weight in my chest for decades, a weight that increased once I had to bear it alone.

I knew you both loved your mother very much, but some part of me felt that it was wrong for you not to be told that she wasn't really your biological mother.

I think in some way I was afraid that you would be angry with her for keeping this from you, and I couldn’t bear that. She loved you both so much, and I couldn't bring myself to soil your memory of her.

Yet, if you are reading this and I am gone as well...

I know it's selfish of me, but I can't bear to meet my maker having never told you the truth about your real origins. You are my blood sons and I owe you at least that.

I'm sure in addition to being angry, you'll have a lot of questions, which I will no longer be around to answer. I am sorry for that.

I can tell you this. According to the people at the program, your biological mother died a couple of years after Charlie's birth. When we inquired about the possibility of a third child, we were told the donor was no longer available. We went back to the doctor who'd been so kind to us in the beginning, and he let slip a few details.

Your biological mother had been a top operative in Israeli intelligence. As such, she knew she could never raise children of her own, but wanted to leave a legacy to the world. She was accepted into the program as a donor after testing off the charts in terms of intelligence and abilities. She used her vacation time to come to the U.S. for the donations, and asked only that she never be shown any photographs of her progeny. Perhaps she felt the pull would be too strong or perhaps too distracting in her line of work to know what her children looked like.

The doctor confirmed that she made only two donations, so she has no other offspring besides the two of you. While you might have some distant biological relations in Israel, none of them know you exist, and we have no way of finding them without your real mother's name.'


Alan took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes for a moment. He took a deep breath and tried to compose himself before finishing the letter.

'Don, Charlie... I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me for taking the coward's way out. I should have told you this while I was still alive and taken the heat for a lifetime of lies. I just wish I could have been as strong as your mother and kept it to myself...'

Alan got up abruptly from his desk, pacing anxiously, his expression pained.

"Why did you have to leave me, Margaret? I was so much stronger when you were with me!"

Alan sat down on his office couch and buried his head in his hands.

"I want to be strong for you," he said quietly. "I've tried so hard..."

Tears welled up in his eyes as he struggled with his grief, but he managed to pull himself together before any could fall. He stood and straightened himself up. "You put your faith in me. I made a promise. I can't let you down."

Alan walked back to the desk and stacked all the handwritten sheets in one pile.

"You never wanted them to know. They're your boys and no one else's..."

Alan choked back his emotions and picked up the sheaf of papers.

He watched the shredder turn his words into tiny fluttering white diamonds.

"I can keep my word," Alan whispered. "I know I can."

+

Alan Eppes got to leave a legacy to the world in his two sons.

Margaret Eppes did as well.

Her contribution was just different from what her sons believed it to be.

=
 
 
 
Keylaneverbelonged on January 8th, 2006 05:02 pm (UTC)
I got goosebumbs. /sighs/ great job. loved it.
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on January 8th, 2006 11:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you... I'm glad you liked it...
fredbassettfredbassett on November 2nd, 2007 09:52 pm (UTC)
WOW, just wow.
Emma DeMarais: BlueEyeemmademarais on November 3rd, 2007 12:42 am (UTC)
Thanks. I had a good time coming up with these secrets.