title: days and hours
author: Lady Charena
fandom: Kung Fu – the legend continues
codes: Caine/Teresa, het, romance, pg-13
archive: TOSTwins – others just ask
sum: Teresa starts to understand that Caine will have to leave her eventually... one day… maybe soon, perhaps even the other morning.
Disclaimer: This story’s mine, but I do not intend to touch the rights of the owner of the characters from KF-TLC I’ve used. No moneymaking, no offence meant.
More KF stories from me and my friends at the multi-fandom-page http://tostwins.slashcity.net (please reed the age-restriction for the slash section and special warning notes for several other stories)
Beta by T’Len. English is not my native language, remaining errors are mine alone.
* * // * * = change of place or time, memories
Author’s note: Until now I have only written gen fu-fic in my native language. This is my first attempt in translating one of these stories into English. Submitted for your approval. I can take feedback of all kinds (as long as I am getting fb at all!) I’m not new to writing. J LC
Slowly the day bleed away to the evening, the air getting cooler by the minute. Teresa wrapped herself more closely into her shawl, walking onto the veranda of her house to look into the dusk. Nothing... and nobody… except piles of dry leaves, some hurled around in hazard circles between almost naked trees, covered in growing shadows. The lawn in front of the house was turning into an ugly yellow. A few, late roses spent the last of their beauties. The air smelled of wet leaves, smoke and moss. Downhill, at the lake, morning mists stayed for hours, creeping up to the house almost until midday. Soon there would come days entirely covered in the misty white. Nature was preparing for the long sleep during winter.
Teresa closed her fingers around the rail of the veranda. She already missed the sun; the rich colors of autumn; the gentle light in the mornings, leaving her fingers cold and stiff, making it almost impossible to finish her painting. This morning, she decided, was the last to spent down at the lake. Fog curled around her feet when she walked along the shore, abandoning her easel to take a look around, always listening for a familiar voice or the sound of a flute. She waited for Caine to walk out of the fog, as he did the morning they first met.
Meeting the Shaolin priest changed her life. Love. More than the feeling of security he awoke in her, more than the long talks, when he constantly surprised her with his words of understanding and wisdom. Love. Yes. Deep in her soul she knew she loved him. His touch, gentle and powerful, but never demanding. His eyes fascinating her, sometimes showing nothing except a calm acceptance of whatever. Some days a deep sadness filled the obsidian depths of his gaze… until she had to look away, her own eyes filling with tears of compassion. He never spoke much about his past, why he was spending his life wandering, searching for something he could not yet name. She knew about his upbringing in China; the escape to America with his father when he was a child. She knew he had been married once, with his wife long dead. Some night he even told her about his son…
* * // * *
two month earlier…
Since their first meeting, since Caine agreed to stay with her, almost a week had gone by. They stayed up late, both unwilling to end the evening. The candles on the dinner table had burnt down to stumps, two lamps now spending a soft, golden light. Teresa watched Caine from her perch on the sofa, her head supported by the palm of her hand. The priest sat lotus style in front of the fire place, tending to the fire. From her position she could only watch half of his face, shadows falling across his features. She wondered what he could see in the dancing flames he watched in rapt fascination. All the same she didn’t feel to question him about his private thoughts.
There was a subtle change in his face, first she believed it to be the flicker of the flames. Suddenly horror crossed his features, his eyes widened, he bent forward to the fire, his hand reaching out for something only he could see. Teresa went up, got caught in the comforter around her legs, banging into the coffee table in front of the sofa. The tea pot standing on the table took a tumble down the edge, to the floor.
She knelt down next to Caine, who gazed down onto his hands. „Too late...“
“Are you hurt?“ she asked anxiously, reaching for his hand – but Caine withdraw from her touch. "Caine?!"
He went up, moving away from her and into the shadows at the far end of the room, out of the circle of light coming from the lamps. “I am not hurt.”
Teresa stayed on her knees in front of the fire place, turning to watch him. She couldn’t see his face. “What happened, Caine?” she asked hesitantly, almost instantly biting her lips for asking. She didn’t expect him to answer – and he didn’t.
Caine turned towards the window, his gaze traveling into the night, perhaps searching for something.
Slowly Teresa went to her feet, starting to collect the pieces of the broken tea pot. Putting the fragments onto the table, she returned to her seat on the sofa. Feeling cold inside, she put her arms around her up drawn legs, putting her chin onto her knees.
When Caine started to speak, his voice sounded far away and very quiet, almost as in a dream. “I... for a moment I was led to believe I could... see a face in the flames. Peter’s face.“
„Who is this Peter?" Teresa asked after a moment of silence.
Caine lowered his head. „He was... Peter… is my son.“
Surprised Teresa straightened up. “You never told me you’re a father.”
„I have only one child.“ His voice was rough.
“Where is he? Is he living with his mother?”
The priest shook his head. “His mother died when he was a child. My son... Peter... he has been taken from me.“
The pain in his words forced Teresa to get up and over to him. He didn’t look at her. “I’m terribly sorry to hear this. What happened?” she asked, putting her hand to his shoulder. Feeling him tense beneath her fingers, she withdraw her hand.
“Five years ago… he died during a fire. I was... I was unable to safe him.”
Horrified and with a growing sense of helplessness, Teresa listened to his hesitating word as he relayed the events of that fateful night, the attack on the Shaolin Temple, the fire taking away his child. Tears started to fall from her eyes.
When he finally stopped talking, she lifted her head to look at Caine. He turned, reaching out for her, touching the tears on her cheeks with his fingertips. Seeing the question in his eyes, she tried to smile, but failed. “I’m so sorry.”
The priest shook his head, moving closer to her he took Teresa into his embrace. Burying her face into his shirt, she started to weep silently. The pain was not hers, nether the loss... still she felt so strongly as if she had lost a child of her own.
Caine never spoke, simply continued to hold her, gently running his fingers through her hair from time to time.
Feeling empty and tired, Teresa looked at him. Caine didn’t meet her gaze, instead he still stared out into the night… his eyes as impenetrable as mirrors, dark and dry. Her hands moved across his shoulders, down his arms, loosening his grip. His arms fell away from her, his gaze returning to her face. His eyes changed, filling with life again, glowing golden as if they reflected the little light in the room. Hesitating, almost insecure, his hands lifted to frame her face. Teresa held her breath. From the first moment meeting him, she had hopes he would… but Caines respectful, polite distance discouraged her. Until now...
He bent forward, his lips only brushing hers before he moved back again. Disappointment filled her. Turning her head, she dislodged his grip and walked away from him, returning to the sofa. Sitting down she looked at her hands, clutched to each other. She didn’t know what to think… Knowing him as she did – even the little knowledge she had gained – she felt miserable. Caine wasn’t the kind of man looking for a disobliging, meaningless romance.
She could not meet his gaze when he sat down next to her. His hand cupped her chin, moved her head until she looked at him. His eyes captured hers, never letting go, as they made love…
* * // * *
Teresa sighed, her thoughts returning to the present. The cold air caused her to shiver violently, bringing the slightest notion of snow with it. After a last look around she returned into the house.
Taking a cup of coffee and her sketch book, she sat down at the kitchen table. Playing with a piece of drawing coal, she never managed as much as a single line.
Some time later she got up, moving over to the window to look again into the night. The sounds she believed to hear outside turned out to be rain. Heavy drops exploding against the glass, driven by a sudden gush of wind. Crossing her arms in front of her chest, she wondered where Caine was. Not for the first time he had left, staying somewhere else for a few days. Teresa never asked where he went to, why he had to leave, what he did away from her. She kept her tongue not because she didn’t want to know but sensing his reluctance to answer. Perhaps even out of fear he could leave for good... As long as she did not ask, he might come back, she thought in a kind of twisted logic.
Sitting down at the table, she sipped her now cold coffee.
Startled she lifted her head. First thinking she might imagine this, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Caine stood at the back door, dripping water to the floor. Getting up she moved to embrace him. "Caine!" His arms came around her, gathering her close to his body. Rain drenched her dress, but she never felt it.
His eyes met hers with gratefulness when she put the cup with hot tea in front of him. While the water heated she went to her sleeping room to done dry clothes. When she returned, Caine too had changed. Only his hair, slightly longer now than the day they met, clung to his head. Kneeling in front of the fire place in the living room, he tended to the fire. Wiping his hands at his pants, he took the cup, drinking some of the hot tea to warm up at the inside, too. Putting down the cup, he reached for another log.
Teresa sat down next to him. Something in his body language, the rigid set of his shoulders, the slight withdrawal in his features… told her not to touch him now.
"Teresa… we need to talk."
Bravely meeting his eyes, she stifled the voice inside, yelling at her to stop him. Now. Before it would be too late.
"Theresa... I… it is time for me to move on."
She closed her eyes, trying to undo his words by shutting out the sight of him.
* * *
The next morning, Teresa stood at the veranda, her eyes following his retreating figure. Caine vanished into the swirling mists as if he had never existed, never touched her life, her body – her heart. Still feeling the soft pressure of his lips against hers, she didn’t feel any pain, just a terrible numbness…