The Promise



by Jeanne DeVore



Caine was working on an herbal mixture when he heard his door open and the sound of footsteps coming down the hall. He turned around to find Paul Blaisdell standing in the doorway. He quickly wiped the mixture from his hands.

"Captain, this is--unexpected. Is Peter--"

"No, Peter is fine, I'm sorry if I worried you," Blaisdell smiled. "Do you have a minute?"

"Of course. This way." He led him to his one chair, clearing it off for him. "How may I help you?"

Blaisdell cleared his throat. "I don't know if Peter told you that I was--ill--earlier in the year."

"He did," Caine nodded, perching on the edge of a table. "You are--recovered?"

"Yeah, mostly," Blaisdell replied. "But--" he licked his lips.

"But something--troubles you."

"Not troubles, exactly." He took a deep breath and looked at Caine. "I'm here to ask you a favor."

"You need only to ask--I will do whatever I can," Caine told him.

Blaisdell smiled. "I know--that's what I'm counting on." He sighed. "While I was sick, the doctors ran some tests. They didn't find anything they weren't expecting, but there are a few things I have to be careful of--my blood pressure is running high, for instance. And the pneumonia did a little damage to my lungs. I was a smoker for years--that probably didn't help. Mostly, it means I'll have to take it a little easier than I'm used to--which is annoying, but it's nothing I can't live with."

"Then what is--the problem?"

"It's not a problem, exactly, just--" he put a hand to his collar, a gesture Caine had noticed him use before, and wondered if it were subconsciously related to Blaisdell's health concerns. "I saw my lawyer this morning," Blaisdell went on, "to--go over my affairs. I've always had things taken care of--you need to in my line of work. I've got it all set up so that everything becomes Annie's, no question. I've also requested that Peter be the executor of the estate--if you don't think that would be a problem."

"Why would that be a problem?" Caine asked, not understanding Blaisdell's concern.

"Well, he's not my son, so--"

"But he is your son--just as he has ever been," Caine assured him. Blaisdell was still frowning, so Caine went on. "When you chose Peter for this--you considered him your son?"

Blaisdell nodded. "I set it up this way after he graduated from the academy. He'd been with us about six years."

"Then I do not see any difference now."

"When I arranged it, I didn't know you were alive."

"I do not understand why that makes a difference."

"He's your son. There isn't even any legal connection between Peter and my family anymore."

"Does that matter? Can you not choose--whoever you wish--to do this thing?"

"Yes, but--"

"Captain-- Paul. I cannot speak for Peter--except for what he has said to me about you. But he considers you his father--perhaps even more than myself. He understands you better--he feels--a common bond with you. My son and I love each other, but--we still have to work very hard at our relationship. Too much time has passed, we have changed too much. With you, there is no effort, he is simply--your son."

"Then you don't mind--"

"No. It is--a sacred trust you undertook--the care of another man's child. I am very grateful--that when I was not there for Peter, someone was taking care of him--that he was looked after and loved. Through your family, he has been given what I could never give him. Sisters. And a mother."

Blaisdell smiled. "That's actually the favor I wanted to ask." He sighed. "I'm--quite a few years older than Annie, I'm sure you probably realized that. So there's a pretty good chance--especially in light of my--health problems--that I'm going to die before she will. I think we've always known that, in the back of our minds. Now, Annie's a very strong person, but we've been together more than 20 years--we've gotten to depend on each other. She's grown to depend on me--for things. To be her eyes. Her last seeing dog died shortly after we got married, and she never got a new one because she'd practically stopped using him for that purpose anyway, he'd simply become a pet. She said she didn't need the dog because she was with me. If something happens to me, she's going to be--lost. She's going to have to learn all over again how to cope on her own.

"Now, I know Peter--he's going to want to do it all--handle the estate and the arrangements, look after his sisters, take care of his mother. So the favor I want to ask is if you could--step in, help out. Help Peter. Especially help Annie--I know you and she are close." Blaisdell chuckled softly. "I think she may understand you better than any of us."

Caine smiled. "She is a very special woman. And I can think of few things which would honor me more than your request. I will do everything I can to help her--and our son--during any time of trouble. But--" he amended, "I hope I will not have to do so--for many years."

"So do I," Blaisdell smiled--an expression of gratitude and relief. "Thank you, Caine. It's a load off my mind--knowing that whatever happens, my family will be well looked after." He extended his hand, and Caine took it, covering their clasp with his other hand, a gesture of assurance and a common bond. Then Blaisdell chuckled. "We always promised ourselves we'd get together and swap stories, didn't we? But we've never managed it."

The hand clasp broke as Caine shrugged. "It is--not too late."

Paul looked at his watch and sighed. "Oh, hell, they've done without me all morning--they can do without me 'til I get back." He looked at Caine. "What are you doing for lunch?"

Caine smiled. "I believe, I am having lunch with--the father of my son."

Paul grinned and stood up. "Good." Caine gestured him and they walked out of the room. "Was he as much of a hellion when he lived at the temple?" Paul asked.

"Yes," Caine replied, and their voices faded as they went down the hall and out of the building.

~End~





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