Kara's excited, by the chinks in the armor, and settles in for explanations. "Yeah, it's one of the many, many, many reasons that him and Dad aren't on speaking terms anymore," Zak says, as Lee's face falls. Kara was never so young -- and she is young here, unspeakably, wonderfully young in voice and action -- that she didn't see a door and want to walk through. "Oh, come on. Family angst syndrome, I love it! Come on, boys, let's open up some old wounds!" Over and over again, until we get it right.
Lee's not interested, of course. Zak offers a take: "Dad believes in the system. Believes in the uniform. Believes in something greater than himself." Lee goes hard, and soft. "Correction. Dad believes in himself: his uniform, his system, his way of life." Getting angrier; drawing a line between his optimism and his father's selfish honor: "And if you're not with him in that tiny little bubble, then you might as well not exist."
"If you hate him so much, why'd you follow in his footsteps?" Why not ask why Bill hates lawyers so much? This is the story of parents and their children, speaking across unimaginable gaps; repudiating viciously, running headlong into their arms. Zak's the younger brother; he's not intimate with fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, the way Lee is. It was Lee that Joseph called, across the room; it was Lee who stood between Joseph and William, that painful ricochet, and it will be Lee who stands between Commander and President, until they learn to love each other. Kara understands, though. She knows what it is, to bear that responsibility, and smiles more tentatively. "Touché," she says, and waits for him reply.
Lee is quiet. When he speaks it's with Joseph's voice. The hardness under the optimism, fingers tented, looking across the table at a defendant, double-dog-daring you to see him changing shape. "Service gave me four years of college," says the idealist dreamer. "I gave the service four years in return. Simple as that." Zak nods, point scored. "A cynic. Right through to that big, empty space that used to hold his heart."
It's the truth. It is a lie. Kara sees them both at once, and a world opens up. A bird flutters against glass, against the sun. "Honey? I think I'm starting to like your brother." Lee fidgets, grown young in a moment. She can feel the currents in the room, like a fresh wind: soft electric light, faces revolving, a dreamer going jaded, a cynic burning with hope. Kara is an orphan who left her mother far behind, she flew so fast. She is an only child.
Until tonight, she was an only child.