Dreams (by Katherine)

Summary:   Dreams beset both father and son.
Category:  Kung Fu–The Legend Continues
Genre:  Drama
Rated:  PG
Word Count:  5131


 

Peter Caine walked through a long corridor, rubbing his arms in the chilly air.  The tunnel ended in a large open area.  Ahead of him, there was a long line of people.  Shrugging, Peter got in line.  He craned his neck, trying to see what was going on at the head of the line, but could see nothing.  He started forward with determined steps, but the rumblings of the others in the line stopped him.  “Hey, Buddy, wait your turn”

“Where are we?”  The person in front of him, a small woman who appeared to wearing a housecoat, turned and looked at him disdainfully, but she didn’t say anything.  She turned her back on him.

Undeterred by her lack of interest, Peter said, “The last thing I remember, I was on a stakeout.  I’m a detective.”  The woman continued to show an intense indifference, but Peter kept talking.  He found it impossible to stand still in line and be silent at the same time.  “My partner, Jody, and I have been tracking some arms dealers.  We had them cornered in a warehouse. Just as we started in, there was a huge explosion. . .”

The woman continued to stare straight ahead.

“You know, it really is weird.  I could have sworn I heard my father calling to me just before the explosion. . .”
He looked around again, taking in the gray walls and the nondescript carpeting.  The whole place seemed a little smoky, as if he were in a fog.  “This place could use a decorator.  Even Pop’s place is more colorful that this,” he mused, taking a step forward as the line moved.

Peter, finally, reached the head of the line.  A sign on a small desk was marked “Check In.”  The man behind the desk was staring at a computer monitor.  Without looking up, he barked, “Name?”

“Where are we?”  Peter asked.  Automatically, he resented the man’s tone.  Another petty bureaucrat, wearing a long sleeved white shirt and a skinny tie.  “At least he’s not wearing suspenders,” the policeman thought to himself.

“Name?”  Still the man didn’t look up.

“Just a minute.  All I want. . .”  Peter protested.

“Name?”  The man’s tone was becoming pained.  He, finally, looked up, daring this stubborn client to refuse to give his name, just once more.

With a sigh of resignation and frustration, Peter replied, “Caine, Peter.”  He started to include his middle initials, then thought better or it.  “It won’t hurt this geek to work for it a little.”

“K-A-N-E?”

“No.  C-A-I-N-E, first name P-E-T-E-R.”

The man clicked the keys several times, and finally looked up.

“Wait here,”  he ordered, standing up nervously.

Peter heard mumbling behind him in the line, and turned with an innocent shrug.  “Not my fault.”

The man who had been at the computer walked over to another man.  Peter hadn’t noticed him before, but now the detective watched as the two men conversed, the first man gesturing urgently toward his computer.

The second man was well dressed.  He had an air of quiet authority that Peter recognized.  It was the same sort of manner that both Kwai Chang Caine and Paul Blaisdell bore so well.  The detective immediately relaxed in recognition of that authority.

The second man stalked over to the desk, bending over the keyboard, his fingers flying.  Peter was reminded of his friend Kermit for a fleeting moment; he had seen Detective Griffin in just that position often enough, searching through information on his computer, trying to find the answer to the question of the moment.

The man checked the screen, and looked at Peter.  “Mr. Caine, I’m afraid there has been some mistake.  It isn’t your time,” he announced, angrily.  He glared over his shoulder at the computer operator, who was cowering in the background.

Peter just stared at him.  “Not my time?  What are you talking about?”

“You were supposed to be injured by the blast, not killed,” the man explained.

The detective’s patience was wearing thin, and the line began to rumble again. “Killed?  I’m dead?”  Peter was incredulous.  “What kind of sick joke is this?”

“Please, Mr. Caine.  My name is Jordan,”  the man told him, soothingly.  “And this is my assistant, Gabe”

“Gabe?  As in Gabriel?”  Peter asked, looking from one to another.

Gabe shrugged.  “No relation.”

“Really,”  Mr. Jordan said under his breath.  Behind Jordan’s back, Gabe glared at his boss. “We have to look into this.  Your soul has been sent back prematurely.  Please, relax in here while we investigate.”

Mr. Jordan gestured toward a doorway that seemed to appear out the swirling fog.  The two men walked away deep in conversation, while a third man smoothly took a seat at the computer and called, “Next.”

The small room was furnished with a big screen TV, a recliner with a remote control lying on an armrest, a sofa and a well-stocked bookshelf.  The TV was on, but Peter was oblivious to it.

“I’m dead, I can’t believe it.”  He started to sit down when he was frozen by a thought.  “Pop?  What about Pop?”  The detective sat down heavily in the recliner, staring with unseeing eyes.  As his vision focused on the screen, he realized that this was not an ordinary TV.

On the screen two people were conferring, their heads close together.  A dark haired  man, and a lovely blond woman.  Peter leaned forward as he recognized Jody Powell and himself.

Mesmerized, he watched himself start toward the large warehouse ignoring his partner’s call.  “No Peter, wait for
backup!”

On the screen Jody turned as an older man stood beside her, appearing out of nowhere.  “Where is Peter?”  Kwai Chang Caine asked, his voice strained.  He was very pale, his features drawn. “I must find him.  He is in danger.”  He looked around, and finding Peter, ran toward him calling his name.

A loud explosion engulfed the scene.  Jody was thrown to the ground, but she got up quickly, and spoke, tensely, into her cellular phone.  Peering through the dust and debris, she walked forward slowly, unable to force any words through the constriction in her throat.

Caine was kneeling next to a prone figure, feeling for a pulse.  “No!”  His denial was wrapped in a deep sob, as he gathered the inert body into his arms.  He sat on the asphalt, cradling his child’s unresisting body , hugging him tightly.  Tears fell, uncontrolled, on the dark hair and pale face in his arms.  He rocked gently.

“Caine?”  Jody whispered, her hand on the Shaolin’s shoulder.

Caine looked up.  “He is dead,” he whispered, his voice breaking.

Jody drew a deep breath, and knelt beside the priest.  She took Peter’s limp hand in hers, unaware of the tears that were flowing down her cheeks.  “He can’t be dead.  He can’t be,” she told  Caine.  “I love him.”

The grieving man nodded.  “He loved you, also, Jody.  You were his friend.”

“I wanted more, much more,” she confessed, leaning over to hold the hand against her wet cheek.

“He cared for you, Jody.  You must remember that.”

She looked up, seeing the implacable grief in his eyes.  “I’ll remember,” she promised, softly, letting go of Peter’s hand to wipe the tears from his father’s cheek.  “He loved you, too.”

“Yes.”  Caine bowed his head.

Sirens sounded in the distance, and soon the scene was animated by police cars, slamming doors, shouted commands and frenzied activity.  In the center of the action, Caine sat holding his son, heedless of those around him.  He pressed the lifeless head against his shoulder, stroking the smooth skin softly.  “I am sorry, my son.  I should have been here.  I should have. . .”

Unable to watch his father’s anguish any longer, Peter touched the channel button on the remote control.  He wiped his tear-filled eyes on his shirt sleeve.

The picture on the screen had changed to show two people, standing in front of the burning warehouse.  One, a husky man with extremely short hair, was talking to a small Oriental figure, standing with his arms folded in the sleeves of his tunic.  “Talk to him, Lo Si. He’s hurt, but he won’t let anyone near him. . .”

Detective Blake came up to them, listening quietly until he was noticed.  “Chief Strenlich, the lab boys found evidence of an explosives lab.  Apparently, somebody wasn’t as careful as they should have been.”

Frank Strenlich frowned thunderously.  He turned back to the patiently waiting priest.  “Try to help him, Lo Si.”  The Chief glanced at the center of the devastation.  He sighed, wishing he didn’t have to keep his own grief in check.  But, he was in charge, and in spite of his love for the slain detective, he had to remain in control.

The old man nodded.., then walked silently to where Caine still sat, holding his son’s body.  A dark bruise was forming on the younger priest’s forehead.  A deep gash in his arm was bleeding; the drops of blood fell on Peter’s shirt. “Kwai Chang Caine,”  the Ancient called, softly.

The younger man looked up.  “My son is dead,” he whispered, his voice exhibiting a depth of pain that was excruciating to hear.

“Yes.  And, you are hurt, my friend.  You must take care of yourself.  Peter would not want this.”  The old man squatted next to his friend, reaching out to brush Peter’s face with loving fingertips.

Caine took a long, shuddering breath.  “If I let him go, I will not find him again.”

“He is not here,”  Lo Si said gently.

The younger Shaolin bowed his head, shoulders slumping.  “I know in my heart that his soul will live again, but, I do not believe that we will find each other, as we did this time.  It is too much to expect.”

“You will find him, Kwai Chang Caine.  A spirit such as your son’s will live again, and he will look for you, too.”  the old priest comforted.

Kwai Chang pressed his son’s body to him, and curled around him, crying into the young man’s neck.  The Ancient rubbed his friend’s shoulder, trying to give comfort to a man who could not be comforted.

Finally, Caine sat up.  “Will you take him, please, Master?”

Lo Si knelt beside his friend, and the other priest reluctantly relinquished his son’s body to the old man.  Bending
over, the younger Shaolin kissed Peter’s cheek, and rose, swaying slightly.  Before anyone could stop him, he disappeared into the shadows.

The scene on the television screen was making Peter angry. While watching his father’s suffering, he couldn’t help but remember Mr. Jordan’s words, “I’m afraid there’s some mistake.”  Someone had messed up, big time, and in the process, Kwai Chang Caine had been devastated.  Someone had a lot of explaining to do.

There was still no sign of Mr. Jordan or Gabe, so Peter turned his attention to the TV, again, unable to keep himself from watching the unfolding scenes.  He changed the channel, hoping to see that his father was all right.  The scene was his father’s apartment.  Caine was seated on the terrace, his body arranged in lotus position.  But he wasn’t meditating.  His eyes were open, staring straight ahead, as tears streamed down his face.

The detective continued to change channels, watching scene after scene.

Click. Caine sitting next to Annie Blaisdell, holding her hand during the memorial service for their son.

Click.  A cemetery, on a hillside, beneath the ruins of a large building, a temple.  In the burial ground, a shining casket sat, waiting to be lowered into the ground.  As most mourners walked away from the gravesite, one lonely figure walked to the casket. Kwai Chang Caine laid the neatly folded American flag that Frank Strenlich, as head of the honor guard, had given him earlier, on the top.  He put his hand on the polished surface, stroking gently,
then rested both hands on the lid for a moment, his head bowed. Straightening slowly, he placed a bouquet of yellow flowers on the casket, the same flowers that lay at the base of a nearby tombstone marked, “Laura Katherine Caine.”

Click. The Shaolin shaking his head,  stubbornly, as he talked to Frank Strenlich.  “I have no need for money.  I do not want it.”

“But you’re his beneficiary,”  Frank argued. “He wanted you to have it.”

Caine shrugged.  “I will give it to the orphanage,” he said suddenly.  “Perhaps it will improve the lives of ones such as he was. . .”

“Good move, Pop,”  the detective whispered.

Click. Annie and Caine cleaning out Peter’s apartment.  Peter’s mother stood by his train set, fingering the locomotive.  Knowing that Caine was behind her, she turned and wrapped her arms around him, crying into his shirt as he held her closely.  “I wish Paul were here,”  she whispered.  “I wish he would come back.  I wanted him to know about Peter, but I don’t know how to reach him.”

“Paul will come back to you,”  Caine spoke reassuringly, but his own tears fell in her hair.

“I’m sorry, Mom,”  the watching man said, softly.

Click. The Ancient and Caine standing on a busy Chinatown street, deep in conversation.  Kwai Chang wore his traveling clothes, his bedroll slung over his shoulder, along with his flute case and the ever-present pouch.

“No, Pop.  Don’t leave.  You need to stay, to be around people who love you,”  Peter protested.

“I cannot stay here.  I cannot bear to see the pain in the eyes of those who loved him.”  The younger priest’s eyes were red-rimmed, his features exhausted.  His body slumped with fatigue.  “I will return, but I cannot stay.  I will be near, if you need me, Master.”

“I know, my friend.  I will hold you in my heart, until you return.”

“As I will you, my Master,”  Caine whispered, pulling the old man into a fervent hug.  Finally, he pulled away, and turning slowly, walked out of Chinatown. . .

Click. Frank Strenlich passing through the detective’s room, stopping when he saw Mary Margaret sobbing, her head on her desk. “Skalany?”  The chief of detectives spoke in an uncharacteristically gentle tone.

Mary Margaret sat up, pulling herself together with an effort. “Kermit just called.  He’s been keeping tabs on Peter’s father since he left town.  Caine was. . . he was working as a janitor in a convenience store up north.  There was a robbery attempt, the robbers got scared and started shooting. . .  Caine threw himself in front of the clerk, saved the kid’s life, but he was badly wounded.  He had listed Lo Si as next of kin, and. . . Kermit took the old guy to up there to the hospital to see him.  Caine lived for about 15 minutes after they got there.  Kermit says he told Lo Si he’d found Peter.”

Her eyes filled with tears again, and she left the room quickly, leaving stunned silence in her wake.

Peter swore, and stood, pacing angrily around the room.

“Mr. Caine.”  Mr. Jordan spoke softly, sensing Peter’s anger and sorrow.

“What’s going on here?  How could you do this?  How could you let me father die?”  Peter stopped inches from Mr. Jordan, his fists balled, his body tense.  “Where is he now?  Isn’t he here, too?”

“It’s all a huge mistake.  You weren’t supposed to die in the explosion.”  Mr. Jordan took a step back, but then stood his ground, looking uncomfortable and not a little embarrassed.  He glared at his assistant.  “One of our newest angels was given responsibility that she obviously was not ready for.  She saw what was happening at the warehouse, and removed you prematurely.  She said she couldn’t bear to think of ‘that gorgeous face’ being
injured.  I’m afraid she hasn’t learned to be objective about her charges.  She’s very ‘smitten’ with you.  Needless to say, she’s no longer on your case.”

Peter just stared, unable to think of anything to say.

“You have many things to do, important things.  And your father. . .I can’t tell you the chaos his untimely death has
caused.”

“Untimely?  You mean he isn’s supposed to die, either?  Can you bring him back?  What happened to his soul after he died in the robbery?”  Peter’s eyes shone with a mixture of anger and hope.

“Your father is nearby, but we thought it best that he not be brought here.  We have learned that your body was buried, and is, therefore, available.  It is possible to take you back to the point in time immediately before the explosion, but we must act quickly. . .”

*****

Peter moved carefully toward the warehouse.  He heard someone call his name, and was knocked off his feet, seconds before the building blew.  He covered his head, protecting it from falling debris.  Sitting up, he looked around, dazedly.  His heart stopped when he saw the crumpled figure at his feet.  The priest was lying where he had fallen after pushing Peter clear of the explosion.  “No!  Pop!”  Peter touched the injured man, gently, trying to find a pulse.  There was one, but it was weak and much too rapid. “Father?”  he cried, turning the Shaolin over as gently as possible.

The priest’s eyes fluttered open.  “Peter,” he whispered, his voice weak.  “Are you all right?”  His face contorted in pain.

“I’m fine, Dad.  You will be, too.”  The detective could hear sirens in the distance.

“No, my son,”  Caine’s reply was almost inaudible.  “I do not wish to leave you, but. . .”  He sighed, and choked, causing a stream of blood to spread down his chin.  He looked into tear-filled hazel eyes.  “Hold me, Peter, please.”

Peter, as gently as possible, gathered the injured man into his arms.  Caine groaned, but he looked in to his son’s eyes, and whispered,  “I love you, my son.”  His eyes closed and he drew a long shuddering breath.  Then, he was still.

“No!  Father!”  Peter’s screams filled the air, nearly drowning out the approaching sirens.  He pulled the limp body to him, crying uncontrollably.  Gentle hands touched his shoulders, but he pulled away, begging Caine to come back.

The assembled policemen watched sadly as Frank Strenlich and Captain Karen Simms were, finally, able to persuade the distraught young man to let the coroner take his father away.

Peter watched the retreating hearse, silently, paying no attention as another patrol car drove up.  His thoughts were filled with his father, his eyes so full of tears that everything was a blur.

A petite blonde woman and a small Oriental man got out of the police car.  The man held the woman’s hand as they walked to where Peter sat, not moving.

“Peter,”  the woman called, gently.

Peter was startled out of his grief laden thoughts.  He jumped, then looked up, and rose, taking her in his arms and holding her, tightly.  “Mom.”  He reached out to the old man, taking his hand as he said, “He’s gone, Lo Si.”

“I know, Peter,”  the Ancient agreed, not trying to hold back his own tears.

Peter lived through the next few week in a daze.  He was remotely polite to the seemingly endless stream of people who came to his father’s apartment to express their condolences.  He stood silently in the cemetery near the temple Tan had destroyed, barely hearing the ceremony because of the flood of memories that seemed ready to drown him, unable to watch as his father was buried next to his mother. He gave all of his father’s possession to Lo Si, asking that the old priest see that they were given away, not sold.  The only things the younger Caine kept were his father’s pouch and jade pendant, his great-grandfather’s ring and the journals written by the three previous generations of the Caine line.

A week after the burial, Peter wandered through his father’s apartment, trying desperately to feel the elder Caine’s presence. The young man shivered, finding no warmth in the unoccupied apartment, which always been a place of warmth and love while his father lived.  Peter felt uncentered and lost.  He fingered the worn rawhide pouch he carried, whispering in the silence, “Where are you, Father?  I need you.”

The next day, the young detective went to the 101st precinct. He went directly to Captain Karen Simms’ office, shutting the door carefully behind him.  Several minutes later, he came out and went to Jody, Mary Margaret Skalany, Blake, Sgt. Broderick and Chief Strenlich, talking quietly to each of them..  Then he went into Detective
Kermit Griffin’s office and closed the door.  He stayed with his friend a long time, then emerged, and left without another word to anyone.

*****

“Excuse me,” a quiet voice said, making both Mr. Jordan and Gabe jump.  They turned away from the television to see a somberly dressed man, standing in the doorway his hands clasped in front of him.

The man bowed.  “Excuse me, could you please tell me where I am?”

“Mr. Caine, you shouldn’t be here.  You should be in the waiting room.”

Caine shrugged.  “I am concerned about my son.  I must find him.  Please, I do not know where I am.”

Carefully, Mr. Jordan went to the Shaolin.  He had seen the man fight, after all, and he wasn’t sure how the priest would react to what he had to say.  He explained about the mistake, relieved that the other man took the news of his own death so calmly.  He seemed much more upset about his son’s fate.

Mr. Jordan consulted the computer monitor and shook his head. “He quits his job, leaves Chinatown and never settles again.  He does none of the important things he would have done if you had lived, Mr. Caine.”  He looked at the man standing nervously beside him, speaking softly so the Shaolin wouldn’t hear.  “Gabe, you are an imbecile.  Didn’t I tell you that Kwai Chang Caine’s untimely death caused utter chaos?  And, you let him die, again.  This cannot continue, Gabe.  You simply must do better.”

“I tried, Mr. Jordan, but he saw that his son was in danger, and there was no stopping him,”  Gabe whined.

“Please, can you help my son?”  Caine asked, patiently.

“Yes, I believe so.  I have consulted Highest Management.  I have been authorized to take an extraordinary measure.”  He gestured for the priest to go ahead of him.  “If you’ll just go back to the waiting room, I’ll be with you in a minute.”

As Caine walked away, Mr. Jordan turned to Gabe, whispering in a menacing tone, “This is your last chance.  If it
doesn’t work this time, we’ll just have to deal with the consequences.”

Gabe swallowed hard, and followed his boss out of the room.
*****
Peter started toward the warehouse, but a hand on his arm stopped him.  “Pop?  What are you doing here?  How did you. . .Never mind.”

“There is danger here, my son.  You must be careful.”  As Caine finished speaking, the warehouse behind Peter erupted in flames.

Both men were thrown by the explosion and lay, silent and unmoving, in the debris-filled parking lot.

Mr. Jordan watched the scene, his jaw clenched in anger. “Gaaabbbe,” he warned, his lips barely moving as, he turned away from the TV set.

“It’ll be okay, Mr. J,” Gabe assured him hastily.  “Everything will be fine.”

“It had better be.  You know what happened to my last assistant.”

Gabe winced.  “I remember, Mr. Jordan.  And believe me, it won’t be necessary this time,” he assured his boss, his face flushing at the thought of his predecessor’s fate.

“I should think not.”

“Just watch, Mr. J.  It’ll be okay,”  Gabe spoke confidently but he added silently, “I HOPE!”

*****

Caine opened his eyes, and sat bolt upright in the hospital bed, crying, “Peter!”

“Sh!  Dad, it’s okay.  I’m here.”  Peter moved from the bedside chair where he had been dozing and sat on the bed, putting one arm around the groggy priest.

“Dad, it’s all right.  I’m safe.  We’re safe.  We’re all right.”  Peter tightened his one armed hold, speaking in a soothing voice.  “Just take it easy, you have a severe concussion.”

A wave of nausea and dizziness washed over the Shaolin.  He rested his head against Peter’s shoulder, trying to steady himself. “You are all right, my son?” he asked, his voice weary and weak.

The younger man stroked his father’s hair and assured him softly, “I’m fine, Dad.”

Caine pulled back from his son and inspected the young man. Peter’s face was bruised and there was a bandage on his forehead. His right arm was in a sling.

The priest raised a trembling hand to touch the bandage, then cupped his son’s jaw, checking to make sure that he wasn’t badly injured.  Shaking his head, slowly, Caine swayed as another wave of dizziness rolled over him.

“Just take it easy, Pop.  I’m really okay.  I have a bump on my head, but there’s no concussion, and my shoulder is just sprained.”  Peter caught the weaving form and pulled his father back into his embrace.

“How long?”  Caine asked, as he lay his head on Peter’s shoulder again, trying to stop the room from spinning.

“You’ve been out for almost 48 hours.  The doctor says you’ll be fine, but you need to rest and not move around for a couple of days.”  Peter explained, quietly.

The priest relaxed as his dizziness slowly dissipated, but there was an edge of concern in his voice.  “You are sure you are all right?”

“I’m sure,”  the young policeman responded.  “What is it, Pop? Why can’t you believe I’m OK?”

“I dreamed that I died in the explosion. . .  It was a mistake, it should not have happened.  You could not recover from my death. . .  You spent the rest of your life wandering, seeking. . . but never finding what you sought.  It seemed very real.”

Peter stiffened in surprise.  “I had a dream, too.  In my dream, I died, and you left town.  You were killed in a convenience store robbery.”  Caine raised his head, watching Peter’s face express the emotions the dream had evoked.  The clarity of his dream made Peter shudder, and his father’s arms came around him, holding him close.

“Sh!  My son, we are safe.  We did not lose each other,” Caine whispered, soothing his son in his turn.  “They were only dreams.”  He closed his eyes, trying to dissipate the grief that his dream had caused.  He held Peter tighter, savoring the knowledge that his son lived.

“It seemed real, Pop.  I remember mine as if it really happened,”  Peter argued.  He shivered again, still caught up in
the memory.

Caine sighed against his child’s neck, and kissed his jaw.  He held on as a wave of dizziness threatened to overwhelm him.  Feeling the other’s tension, Peter stroked his father’ back as he soothed, “It’s all right, Dad.  You need to rest, please.”

“Will you stay with me, Peter?  I do not. . .”  Caine’s voice wavered.

“You don’t want to be alone,”  Peter finished the thought.

“I do not wish you to leave me.”  Caine buried his face against Peter for an instant, then lay his head on the sturdy
shoulder again.

They were silent for a moment, then Peter asked, quietly, “Pop?”

“Yes, my son?”

“Would you leave if I died?”

Caine shrugged, but didn’t raise his head.  “Possibly, my son. It would be very difficult for me to be with the other people who love you, if you were not there.  To see the sadness and loss in their eyes. . .”

Another silent interlude was broken by Caine. “My son, would you leave here if I died?”

“I don’t know for sure, Pop.  I’d probably try to find Paul, so I’d have one of my fathers, anyway. . .  It would be hard to come to Chinatown, knowing you weren’t here. . .”  Peter held his father in a fierce one-armed hug.  “I don’t want to find out, Father. Just stick around, okay?”

“I will try, my son,”  Caine assured him, his whispered words barely audible.  “I love you, Peter.”

“Sh!  The doctor said you need to rest as much as possible.” Peter loosened his hold.  “Lie down, try to get some sleep.”

The Shaolin shook his head against Peter’s shoulder.  “I am fine here, unless you need to rest. . .”

“There’s no place I’d rather be.  Just go to sleep.”  Peter smiled as Caine relaxed against him, the father’s head becoming a dead weight on the son’s shoulder.  The detective squirmed, trying to make himself and his father comfortable on the narrow hospital bed.  “I love you, too, Father,”  he said, moving his uninjured arm
so he could stroke his father’s hair gently.  A bubble of sheer happiness expanded in his chest, causing him to chuckle.  Caine sighed again, smiling at the rumbling that shook his son’s body.

“Go to sleep, Pop,” Peter ordered, gently.

Caine slipped into sleep and Peter felt the last bits of tension leave the beloved form as his father relaxed against him.  It was a long time before Peter could make himself let go of the sleeping man, and settle him back on the bed.  Caine made a small sound of protest, but he didn’t wake up.

The priest’s son pushed the bedside chair closer to the bed and sat down, holding his father’s hand.

“We’ll be okay, Pop,”  he murmured.  “We’ll handle anything, together.”  He drifted into sleep, still holding the Shaolin’s hand.

*****

With a loud click, the scene in the hospital room faded and the TV screen went black.  “See, Mr. J, everything’s all right, Gabe pointed out, smugly.

“Don’t call me Mr. J,”  ordered Mr. Jordan for the ten thousandth time.  “Yes, everything is all right, now.  But we’ll have to monitor these two.  They’re both involved in very dangerous activities, and neither one can be depended upon to put his own safety first in a crisis.  These are two very important souls, Gabe.  They will be a formidable force for good, if they are not removed from this life prematurely.  We will have to watch them carefully.  It is regrettable, but it must be done. Now, Gabe, there are several reports to be filled out.  The H-11 has to be turned in within the hour, and corrections to the database have to be logged before we can correct the historical records. . .”  Mr. Jordan continued to list the required tasks, while Gabe trotted along beside him, writing frantically.  The
assistant had no illusions as to who would be expected to correct the paperwork. “At least I’ll have a good report for the next meeting with Management.  I don’t know what you’d have done if I wasn’t able to clear up this mess.”

“Yeah, right,” Gabe muttered.

“Did you say something, Gabe?”

“Oh no, Mr. J, nothing at all.”

***End***

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