Chinatown was just waking up when Peter pulled up behind his father's building and made his way upstairs to the apartment his father inhabited.
Caine was in the empty room he used to work out, going through the tai chi form, but he stopped when he sensed Peter's presence. He turned and looked at his son, and immediately, his face took on a frown.
"What is wrong?" he asked.
Peter opened his mouth, but it took several tries before the words came. "Paul Blaisdell--died last night."
There was a look of shock on his father's face, and then Peter didn't see anything more, because he was in his father's arms, being held tightly, holding on for dear life as the tears flowed once more.
He let himself cry for a short time, then pulled back. "I didn't come for me--Mom--Annie--she's having a hard time--she's lost her bearings. It's like she can't find herself--she keeps losing track of where she is."
Caine nodded. "She cannot concentrate--grief is keeping her lost. I will come."
"Thanks," Peter sniffed and straightened out of the embrace, but his father did not let go.
"How are you--holding up?"
Peter shrugged. "There's a lot to be done--I can't really think about anything else but that."
"You must--accept your grief, my son. Unless you do that, it will never leave you."
"I know--but there's too much to do right now. I'll grieve--later. Just don't push it, Pop."
His father just smiled enigmatically at him. Peter hated it when he did that. "I will need to gather--some things. Come and help me." Together they went into Caine's workroom, and the priest filled his satchel with various herbs and vials.
"What's all that stuff?" Peter asked.
"Is she sleeping?" Caine asked in reply.
"Well, she was when I left--but Kelly said she didn't want to go to sleep."
"Sleep will be the greatest healer for her. These will help, without any--side effects."
Peter just nodded. He really should know better by now than to question his father and his wonder-plants.
Momentarily, Caine had his satchel ready and changed from his black silk work clothes to his street clothes. Then putting his hat on his head, he ushered his son from his apartment.
"When did it--happen?" Caine asked as they got underway.
"Late last night--some time between 1:30 and 2:00. I got the call around 1:30, and by the time I got to the hospital, it was too late."
"How--did he die?"
"Heart attack, we think. We're still waiting for the autopsy report."
"Did his heart--trouble him?"
Peter shrugged. "He'd had high blood pressure for years, but beyond that--I don't know. He never said anything to me. He never totally bounced back after that bout of pneumonia earlier in the year; it seemed to--age him, suddenly. I thought at the time it was just because he was under a lot of stress. Maybe I should have asked."
"You cannot--blame yourself, my son."
"I'm not, it's just that--well, you're always gonna wonder if there's something you could have done. Or something you should have done differently."
"How old was he?"
Peter sighed. "In his sixties someplace, I think. He was starting to grumble about mandatory retirement, and on the force, that's at age 65. So maybe 63, 64. I'm not sure, to be honest. I guess I'd better find out before I talk to the funeral home." He smiled ruefully.
They were silent then until they got back to the Blaisdell house. Peter spotted a new car in the driveway.
"That's the Chief's car--he said he'd be coming by this morning, only when I left, everyone was asleep." He parked behind Todd's car and headed inside, leaving his father to follow.
Inside, Kelly and Strenlich were in the front hall, the large man holding the girl in a hug.
"Chief," Peter said as he came in.
"Pete," Frank acknowledged. Then, seeing Peter's father, "Caine." Caine simply nodded his greeting.
"Where is--Annie?" the priest asked.
"Still sleeping," Kelly told him.
He merely nodded and went on through to the kitchen. Kelly and Frank both looked at Peter.
"He's got something that will help her rest," he explained. "One of his herb things. I don't know what he does, I only know that whatever it is, it works."
Kelly nodded, Frank merely looked skeptical. "Did you find what you needed?" he asked.
"Yeah--he had everything all spelled out. Funeral home's not open yet--I'll call them as soon as they open. You said they're used to cop's funerals?"
"They've handled a lot of them over the years. They did my dad's ten years ago."
"Good. 'Cause I know squat about funerals." He laughed softly and shook his head. "That's a bizarre thought. I've lost more parents than most people ever have, but I've never had to deal with the funeral business."
"But you still have your father," Strenlich said.
Peter looked down the hall towards where his father had gone. "I have my father--resurrected. And for that I'm grateful. But that doesn't mean that for fifteen years I didn't think of him as just as dead as--as Paul is now." He felt his throat constrict, and forced the emotions away.
"I know--I'm sorry," Strenlich said quietly.
Peter accepted the apology with a nod. Then he turned to Kelly. "Hey there--weren't you supposed to be sleeping?"
"I heard Frank's car--and I wasn't asleep yet. Somebody had to answer the door."
"Yeah, well why don't you get some more rest."
"I'm OK, Peter--I'll rest later."
He smiled at her. "Okay--I won't fuss. But don't you start fussing at me."
She smiled in return. "I won't need to--not with your father here."
That made him laugh. "Probably. Come on, Chief--I want to give you those case files." The two of them headed to Paul's den.
"We've got to start calling people," Peter sighed, handing the chief the files in question. "I don't even know where to start."
"Don't worry about the precinct, the department or the city--I'll take care of all those," Frank said.
"Thanks. That'll help. Um--you don't know who his government contacts were, do you?"
Strenlich just shook his head. "I always suspected there were some, but that part of his life he kept completely private."
Peter smiled. "I only knew the bare bones of it--and that was only because he needed to tell me--when he'd go out of town--working for them." Then he thought of something. "Steadman."
"Nothing--just someone I could call--someone who might know more."
Strenlich realized Peter was talking to himself, because he ignored the comments and simply said, "I'd better get to the precinct--start making those calls of my own. You'll let me know as soon as you've made the arrangements?"
"Yeah. Um," Peter looked at his chief sideways. "I won't be in for a few days--"
"I know--take all the time you need, Pete."
"Believe me, I'd much rather be working."
"I'm sure you'd rather be doing anything than what you're going to be going through. But if there's anything any of us can do--"
"I know. Thanks." Peter smiled and Strenlich patted him on the shoulder. Theirs was not a terribly affectionate relationship, but Peter respected Strenlich a great deal, and Strenlich respected Peter's abilities as a cop, even while frequently disagreeing with the younger officer's methods.
After Frank left, Peter checked the clock again. It was just past 8:00. "Why is it that this morning has dragged by--hasn't it been a couple of lifetimes since 2:00 a.m.?" he muttered to himself, heading to the kitchen in search of another cup of coffee and maybe something to eat--suddenly his stomach was aching, and he didn't know whether it was from nerves or hunger.
Caine was brewing a pot of herbal tea--Peter smelled mint and something else--a sweet, kind of relaxing scent. "What's that?" he asked.
"An herbal tea which will relax Annie," he replied. "For when she wakes up."
"You're gonna keep her doped--that's how she's gonna get through this?"
Caine frowned at his son. "No. But she will not be sleeping easily. The tea will enable her to rest. And rest will enable her to heal."
Peter just shrugged, pouring himself the required cup of coffee. He opened the refrigerator, realized food was the last thing he wanted, and closed it again. He picked up the kitchen extension, then hung it back up. The number for the funeral home was in the den. So he went back to the den and dialed the number, speaking with a succession of disembodied voices before he finally settled on someone who would be their "guide" through the macabre world of funerals, and he set up an appointment for 11:00. He explained that the deceased's wife would probably not be accompanying him, would that be a problem. No, the man said, as long as the pertinent information could be passed along. No problem there, Peter told him. They told him to bring with him a copy of the cemetery deed, and also if there was an insurance policy designed to cover funeral expenses, to bring that, too. Then they told him to bring the Captain's dress uniform, explaining that it was customary for officers, especially ranking officers, to be buried in uniform.
Peter hung up the phone and looked up to see his father standing in the door. He smiled at him wearily and rubbed his face with his hands. Caine entered the den and set a cup of tea in front of him. Peter could smell the mint.
"You trying to drug me now?"
"You need to rest."
"And you sound like a broken record. I will rest--later."
"Your fatigue and tension--are almost tangible."
"Yeah, so would yours be if--" he stopped. "Sorry, I didn't mean to snap."
"Your temper is short because you are under strain. Peter--you must rest."
"I've got to go over to the funeral home later--I'll rest when I get back. Meantime, I thought I'd go through some more of these files."
"Do they require--immediate action?"
"No, but it's gotta be done sometime."
"But why can it not wait?"
"Because I need to do something to stay awake! Because I've got to go to the funeral home in less than three hours and if I go to sleep now, I'm likely to sleep all day, now quit hassling me!" He swallowed a gulp of air as a wave of anger, sorrow and fatigue washed over him. He closed his eyes and put his head in his hands.
Caine stepped behind him and gently began massaging his shoulders. "You do not--have to do everything, my son. There are those around you who can ease your burden. Your sisters. Carolyn's husband. Your Chief. Me. Let us help you. Please."
Peter struggled to fight down the grief which threatened to overwhelm him. His father's soft-voiced solicitude wasn't helping any. "I know. But I feel like--if I let go--if I allow myself to relax--I'll lose it. Fall apart. And I can't afford to do that right now. Maybe you're right, maybe I do need to control--myself most of all. But please, Father, let me do this my way--I'm not sure I could cope othewise."
His father's fingers moved up to stroke the long cords in the back of his neck, a soothing gesture. Then he felt a kiss pressed to the top of his head.
"Where is Annie?" Caine asked softly.
Peter straightened. "Upstairs--second door on the right. She's probably still asleep."
"Perhaps," Caine shrugged, picked up the cup of tea and left the room.
Peter sat back with a sigh. Why was it his father always brought out the worst in him? And the best, his inner voice reminded him. Maybe that was the problem--around his father there could be no pretense. Caine could see right through it. Sometimes he allowed Peter his illusions, but that didn't mean he ever bought them.
He sighed again, then pulled the rolodex toward him, beginning to flip through it and making notes of people who would need to be contacted. Family--Annie's mother and sister lived upstate. Paul had an older brother--he was on the east coast--he'd need to be told. John and Phyllis Haberman next door, their neighbors for more than 15 years. The minister at their church. He'd need to talk to him about the funeral. Or did the guys at the funeral home arrange that?
The lawyer. Peter flipped through the file and found the name of Paul's attorney, picking up the phone and dialing. At the end of several minutes of conversation, he had an appointment at 10:00 tomorrow morning to go over the will and other details of the estate. The lawyer assured him that it wasn't nearly as complicated as he'd feared. Paul had kept his affairs in good order.
Around 9:30, Carolyn and Todd came down, and she started fixing breakfast. Peter wasn't hungry, but he forced himself to eat something, more for strength than anything else. Kelly appeared around 10:00, looking sleepy, but having gotten a little rest. And she ate a little bit, too.
"I've got an appointment with the funeral home at 11:00," Peter told his sisters, "you guys coming with me?"
"I'd rather stay here," Kelly said.
"So would I," Peter replied, "but that's not an option. C'mon, Kel, I need you."
"OK," Kelly sighed and Peter smiled at her.
"What about you?" he asked Carolyn.
"Someone should stay here--with Mom."
"My father's here."
"I meant someone who could answer the phone and things. No offense to your father, Peter, but--"
Peter smiled. Yes, his father would be more apt to let the phone ring if it disturbed him. And they were all trying to shelter Annie from as much of the nonsense as possible.
"Okay," he finally agreed and looked at the kitchen clock. "I'm gonna check on Mom, then we should get going." He patted his sister's shoulder and left the kitchen.
Upstairs in Carolyn's room, Annie was awake, sitting up in bed. Caine sat on the bed with her, arm securely around her shoulders as she leaned against him.
"Mom?" he called softly.
"Peter?" she said, and her head turned slightly toward the door, much like normal. He came into the room and sat on the other side of the bed, taking one of her hands in his.
"I'm going over to the funeral home now--is there--is there anything special you want--anything you want done?"
She shuddered on a breath, and he tightened his hold on her hand, noticing his father tightening his grip on her shoulders at the same time. "No, I don't think so. I don't know--just do what you think is best. I trust you. Are the girls going with you?"
"Kelly is--Carolyn and Todd are staying here--fielding phone calls. Frank was by earlier--said he'd take care of notifying the city people. You just rest--take it easy." He stroked her hair. "How're you holding up?"
She sighed. "Well, I'm surviving," she said, trying miserably to sound light. "But--I still feel so lost. I see this great--emptiness in front of me--where Paul should be. I'm not sure I can cope."
"You can," he said gently and leaned in to kiss her cheek. "Just take it easy--moment to moment."
"Yes--that's what your father told me." She smiled and leaned against Caine's strong shoulder, propping her up. "Thank you for bringing him to me."
"When Peter told me--I could not stay away," Caine said simply.
Peter smiled and winked at his father. "He'll look after you, and we'll take care of the rest of it. Don't worry about anything. I've got to go--I'll be back soon as I can." He kissed the top of her head, giving her a quick hug, then patting his father on the shoulder, left the room.
He detoured past his parents' room again, going into Paul's closet in search of his dress uniform. He found it and checked it over, making sure all the badges and medals were pinned in the appropriate places. He found the white gloves in the pocket, then found the shiny black shoes, the shirt, the necktie and the cap. Finally, he went into Paul's dresser and chose underwear and socks. He put all the pieces in a holdall, then picked up the uniform, carrying it downstairs.
Kelly was waiting for him. He handed her the clothing, then went into the den, taking the file with the relevant information in it. "Ready?" he asked.
"Just waiting for you," she answered and together they went out to his car. "Was Mom awake?" she asked.
He nodded. "My father's with her--she seems a little calmer--but still lost."
Kelly shook her head. "You never realize--she's always so strong. You don't realize how much of that she took from him."
"She got used to depending on him. But he told me once how they met--she was that strong before--she's just forgotten."
"What can we do to help her?"
"What we're doing, I guess. She'll remember on her own, eventually. And my Dad's with her--if anyone can help her, he can."
"I don't know. I don't know how he does what he does. I only know it works. I've seen him do things which ought to be impossible, but aren't."
Kelly considered that for a moment. "Is it because he's a priest that he can do those things? I mean, is it just his Shaolin training?"
"Most of it, probably. But I think he's a little psychic. He--knows things he shouldn't know otherwise. Some of it's probably because he's more in tune than most people. But I can't help feeling there's more to it than that. He seems to know things the Ancient doesn't, for example, and Lo See's a more powerful Shaolin than my dad. Well, he knows more, anyway."
"Do you think you have any of your father's--gifts?" she asked.
Peter laughed. "Oh come on, Kel--you probably know me as well as anybody--what do you think?"
Kelly was thoughtful for a moment, then said, "I don't know if you're psychic, but I'd say you were very in tune to your family. Take all this--you just stepped in, took charge, got it done. If it had been me, I don't think I'd've known what to do."
Peter shrugged. "I'm just doing what has to be done--that doesn't call for any special insight."
"And you knew just what to do for Mom--to help her."
"Are you kidding? That's why I called my father--because I was clueless."
"But that's what she needed."
Peter couldn't say anything to that. If Kelly wanted to see it that way, there wasn't anything he could do. In truth, he didn't feel insightful at all. Or even in control. He just felt--scared. What he was doing he was doing on automatic--as if a part of him was detachedly watching the rest of him deal with all these stupid little details. Like it wasn't him who was doing it, but a Shadow Peter who was coping where the real Peter could not.
They pulled up in front of the funeral home and parked the car.
"You ready for this?" he asked.
"Will it make a difference if I say no?" she asked.
"Didn't think so," she sighed. "Then let's get it over with."
He squeezed her hand and together they went into the building.
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