by MJ Mink
Peter hasn't felt this bad since his father came back. It's like the morning after the temple burned when he woke and remembered his father was dead.
It's like those empty fifteen years when his life was sustained by thoughts of vengeance.
Now his father's back and facing death again, and Peter is dying by the minute.
He hears the door close, but remains slumped against the wall. His father is going to his death at the hands of a serial killer, Peter doesn't know where. He feels the imprint of his father's lips on his cheek, can still smell the scent of Kwai Chang Caine...sandalwood, incense, strangely comforting herbs. It's so familiar, it reminds him of things he's forgotten, memories he's buried because they've been too painful and too joyous to remember.
His knees give out and he slides down the wall and huddles on the floor.
And he lets himself remember...
...crying in the night because there are ghosts and monsters and
his mommy doesn't come to cuddle him anymore. But Daddy comes and picks
him up, lifts him waaaay up in the air and rests him on his big shoulder
and pats his back and kisses his cheek and Peter is safe again...
...and Daddy is the only priest in the temple to have a rocking chair
in his little room, and they rock and rock and Daddy sings to him and teaches
Peter the words and Peter sings, too. Daddy kisses the top of his little
bald head and tells him that he loves him, that Peter is his special boy
and he'll always, always take care of him...
...angry at the bigger boys, afraid, too, but anger drives him to
fight them. And he gets pulverized. Dad appears, they run away shouting
curses, ashamed to be scared of a man in a dress. Big hands hold his face,
fierce eyes study his black eye, his cut lip. He's still small enough to
be picked up, and Dad hoists him under his arm and stalks back to the temple
and Peter's afraid he's gonna get it... but Dad puts sticky, smelly stuff
around his wounds and kisses his cheek and sends him to bed without supper.
Except that he comes back in a few minutes with hot soup and fresh, warm
bread, and a guitar to sing him songs while he eats...
...and he does it, beats them all, he's better than anyone, no matter
what the other masters say! Ping Hai tells him not to be proud, but he
is, and Dad understands. Dad cuffs his chin and laughs, calls him 'my young
warrior' while Peter smiles up at him. There's nobody in the entire world
as wonderful as Dad....
...he's anxious, can't sleep, and Dad comes in the middle of the
night, sits on his bed and asks what's wrong. Peter doesn't know, he's
sick, he's scared, but Dad lays a hand on his forehead and says he isn't
ill. Dad is worried, Peter can see it. Dad strokes his cheek, bends over
and kisses his forehead, says 'try to sleep, Peter', and smiles at him.
Somehow Peter feels better and when Dad leaves, he falls asleep...
...and the next evening, the temple turns into hell.
Peter squeezes his hand over his mouth, forcing back the sound of his sobs. He staggers to his feet, finds his gun on the table where his dad laid it. He checks the safety, shoves it back in the holster. He's got to find his dad. Lo Si will help him, Lo Si knows where his dad has gone, he'll make Lo Si tell him.
Peter breaks into a run and heads out of the kwoon.