"Isn't our son beautiful Lionel?" Lillian asked her husband, gazing lovingly at the newborn while she nursed him.
"Of course he is. It's in his blood isn't it?" Lionel sounded every bit the proud father but inside he was sick. He marveled that she could use the term "our son" without a hint of irony in her voice. Perhaps it hadn't occurred to her that the child wasn't his but a simple blood test had proven that there was no way that Julian was his son.
From the moment Lillian had entered his life Lionel had been in awe of her kindness, her grace and her almost ethereal beauty. He had been unable to believe that such a perfect creature could love a man like him. That insecurity had given way to the suspicion that that must be some ulterior motive and if not then she would soon see him for what he was and leave him. In the fourteen years they had been married he had checked up on every little inconsistency and unexplained absence only to find a perfectly logical explanation. Secretive behavior had been the planning of a surprise party or Christmas gift. Private phone calls had been her doctor telling her that they were going to have a baby. Still he had misgivings. It became routine and in a way Lionel came to depend on his investigations into his wife's activities to come up empty. That was why it came as such a blow when the same blood test that had proven Lex was undoubtedly his son had shown that Julian was not.
Lillian yawned as the infant finished nursing. "Can you take him? I'm exhausted."
"Of course," he said kissing her forehead lovingly. "Your body needs all the rest it can get." He couldn't hate her. As much as it tore him up inside, he still loved her and couldn't bear to be without her. "Come on Julian. Would you like to go see your big brother?"
"Do you think that's a good idea? You know how he gets around the baby." She was unable to keep the worried edge out of her voice. Lex was already a moody, high-strung child but became more so in the presence of his new brother. He immediately became tense when holding him, causing the baby to cry, which made Lex even more tense and agitated. This would snowball until someone finally had to take the child from him, leaving him even more upset that he was unable to even hold his own brother.
"He just needs to get used to being around an infant Lillian. It's not like he's been around one before."
"I suppose you're right. Just stay close by in case he gets too nervous." She yawned again, barely able to keep her eyes open.
Lionel stared at the child as he carried him down the hall. Though he was innocent of any wrongdoing all he saw when he looked at the baby was a permanent link between Lillian the father, whoever he was. Had his wife been a more detached parent, like so many of his colleagues' spouses, he could have easily kept the information from her. But Lillian knew all of Lex's vital statistics; shoe size, social security number and of course, blood type. It would only be a matter of time before she discovered all of Julian's information, including his lineage. The bond that she had once shared only with Lionel, she now shared with another man. One who she might very well decide she loved more than him. He would be left alone and Lex, who he could barely relate to now, would grow even more distant from him without his mother to act as a bridge between them.
A single desk lamp lighted Lex's room as the boy studied intently. Lionel beamed inwardly. It seemed his many lectures on how important it was to be on top of your game were finally getting through to his son. Lex didn't even notice their presence until Lionel cleared his throat to make himself known. He started and immediately straightened his posture as he turned to face his father.
"Yes dad," he said, doing his best to hold Lionel's piercing gaze. He often stressed the importance of maintaining eye contact at all times. It seemed Lex listened to him more than he thought.
"I need you to do something for me Lex. Your mother is extremely tired and needs her rest, the nanny is off today and I have some extremely important business to attend to. I need you to keep an eye on your brother for a bit."
The boy looked as though his father had just asked him to handle weapons grade uranium. "I don't think he likes me much," he said glancing nervously at the child in Lionel's arms.
"He's a week old, he doesn't like or dislike much of anything," Lionel said testily. "I don't have time for this nonsense Lex I have a lot of work to do." He pushed the infant into Lex's arms. "Just sit with him and keep him quiet Lex, it's really not so difficult." The child was already starting to stir and fuss as he turned around and left the room.
"Dad?" Lex called to him helplessly.
"I'll be back in about an hour Lex I'm sure you can handle things until then."
As the door slammed shut behind him, Lionel shut out the sound of Lex's nervous attempts to calm Julian's steadily growing cries.
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