Chapter Three: Brothers Thomas Beckett's limp was barely noticeable as he walked across the living room of his small apartment to answer the knock on his door. He was expecting Boomer, a friend of his from when he was in the SEALs, and opened the door without looking through the peephole first. If he'd taken that small precautionary measure he might not have been as startled by what was waiting in the hallway. Any jokes Thomas had been about to make about Boomer being on time for once died on his tongue, for what was on the other side of the door was not his friend. It was a gorilla. A gorilla with a basketball. Thomas blinked, and looked again. No, not a gorilla. A person, most likely a man, wearing a gorilla mask. But that really was a basketball in the stranger's hands. Struggling to get his wits back, Thomas asked, "May I help you?" The man in the mask lifted the basketball and lightly bounced it off Thomas's forehead. He then cocked his head to one side and awaited a reaction. The look of shock on Thomas's face slowly melted into a frown, which in turn became astonishment and finally recognition. "Sam?" he asked uncertainly. Pulling off the mask, the other man responded, "Hello, Big Brother." His sandy brown hair was damp with sweat, and a bit longer, the odd patch of white he'd had since his twenties was more pronounced, but there was no doubt that this was truly Thomas's younger brother Samuel. Thomas stood silent for another moment, then grabbed his brother in a tight hug and began laughing while he cried. "I thought you were dead, Little Brother!" he gasped, pounding Sam on the back. "All these years, I thought you were dead." "I will be if you don't stop banging on me," Sam responded, struggling to get free of his brother's grasp. Much as he wanted the embrace to continue, he was finding it difficult to breathe, and Tom's elation was starting to hurt. Finally, Tom let go of him. "I'm sorry, Sam. It's just so great to see you again." Tom wiped the tears from his eyes and gestured for his brother to go inside. After they were both in the apartment, and Tom had closed the door, he offered, "Do you want anything to drink? Beer? Coffee? Anything?" "If you have a soda, that'd be great," Sam answered, looking around. On one wall hung a gallery of pictures, and he walked over to look at them while Tom went into the tiny kitchen to get their drinks. "Ginger ale?" Tom called. "Sure," Sam replied. One picture was the cover of TIME magazine, from when Sam had won the Nobel Prize, professionally framed. Other than that, and a small picture of the Beckett children, Tom, Katie and Sam, on the farm, Sam was conspicuously absent from the photos. Tom came back into the small living room, and saw what his brother was looking at. "You weren't around," he said. "I know," Sam answered, surprised that his throat suddenly seemed to have shrunk. He turned and took the offered soda, and swallowed it thankfully. Tom watched him silently for a while, then said, "Mom's gone." Sam nodded. "I know. Al told me. I'm so sorry I didn't make it to the funeral." He sighed; this wasn't going the way he'd hoped.