Title: taking good care
Author: Lady Charena
Fandom: Kung Fu – the legend continues
Sum: after “sacred trust”. Pop tends Peter’s injuries.
Peter insists to drive me home. He is subdued during the ride and this atypical silence draws my attention to him. I touch his arm and he turns his battered face towards me. Peter’s smile is warm and loving and fills my heart with joy. I try to tell my son how much I love him and how proud I am. But again I find myself at a strangely loss of words. So I settle for a nod and squeeze his arm. Maybe he can read in my eyes whatever my lips can not tell him. I release his arm and he turns his attention back to the traffic.
My emotions are still raw and unsure when it comes to Peter. In my heart, I guarded for fifteen years the picture of my child, a boy full of promises and affection for life. In my arms, I hold now a grown man, capable of strong emotions, but also of great violence. I struggle to understand him, but do not always succeed.
The car stops in front of the kwoon. Again Peter faces me. A shadow of uneasiness crosses his features, quickly averted – it might have been a trick of the light. “Well… you must be tired, Pop. I’ll… I’ll see you tomorrow.”
I do not move, because I sense that he is reluctant to part from me, despite his words. So am I. Reaching out for him I cup his cheek, gently touching the bruises upon his cheekbone, but avoid the expanding swelling beneath his eyes. “Come inside,” I say. “Let me tend to your injuries.”
Peter laughs, a blush of embarrassment colours his face. “It…its nothing, P…Dad. Really. I put some ice on it and tomorrow I’ll be as good as new.”
He winces as I touch the cut in the corner of his mouth. “Please, Peter, allow me to take care of you.” I ache to hold him close as I did when he was a child, haunted by nightmares. Yet I know the man he has grown to be will not easily accept the comfort I try to offer. Peter tries to hide it from me, but I feel him flinch at my touch, his hugs are short and clumsy – and sometimes even embarrassment flashes in his eyes when I show my affection for him in front of others. This must be caused by his different upbringing, because as a child he craved for every little sign of affection.
After a moment of hesitation, Peter nods. I release him and he bolts out of the car as if driven by an invisible spring. I follow somehow slower and lead him upstairs.
* * *
I light some candles and fill a bowl with warm water. Peter is propped up against the table, watching my every movement he chews at his lower lip.
“Where’s Lo Si?” he finally asks.
“Healing his wounds in solitude,” I answer, taking a soft, clean cloth. “He will return when it is time.” I select a vial from a nearby shelve and crumble leaves into the water. Putting the vial and the bowl down on the table next to Peter, I wet the cloth and cup Peter’s face. He closes his eyes as I gently clean his injuries. A soft hiss comes over his lips as I touch the cut at this mouth. Weariness radiates from his body as his shoulders sag a little.
Suddenly I feel a cold shudder running down my spine. I see my son and myself… in a candlelit room, strange yet familiar. Peter is propped against a worn table, blood from a cut over his left eyebrow trickles down his cheek. But he smiles and talks animatedly. I see myself; my hair is much longer than it is now, moving towards him. I wipe the blood from his face and spread salve over it.
Peter takes my hand and presses his lips against my palm. “You take good care of me, Pop,” he says, his voice husky with an emotion I can not identify. Or do not dare to identify… Still watching me he bends forwards until our faces almost touch, our breath mingles. Slowly his mouth gentles on mine. I slide my fingers into his hair as our tongues start to twist and thrust, to make love while our bodies do not touch.
I hear a whisper: “I love you, my Peter.” My breath catches.
Peter’s voice startles me and I snap out of my… dream? vision?.. to face him. “Yes, my son?”
His eyes are wide and puzzled. “Ähh… everything alright with you? You seemed to be a thousand miles away with your thoughts.”
I smile to erase his sorrow. “It is nothing,” I say, putting the cloth down onto the table and reach for the vial. “A… thought… distracted me.” I start to spread the ointment onto his skin, gently rubbing it in. As the momentary tension vanishes from Peter’s face, he closes his eyes again.
After wiping my hands, I cradle his head in my hands and bent forward to lay a tender kiss at his forehead. I do not know what I have seen – a glance of a different world, a blurred vision of the future or maybe only an obscure fantasy, created from my exhausted mind.
Peter sighs and after some hesitation, he hugs me. “Thanks, Pop,” he says, very much sounding like a tired child, ready to be taken to bed. “You take good care of me.”
I hide my smile against his neck. “I love you, my Peter,” I whisper.