Dana Bell

Wind playfully tugged at the grass surrounding Peter's and his mother Laura's graves. Paul Blaisdell released his wife's arm and sank to his knees beside his son's final resting-place. Pain and loss tore at his heart. His shoulders shook with sobs he couldn't voice. He felt Annie's arms around him and was grateful for her presence.

He'd returned a few days earlier, his ghosts finally laid to rest. He didn't learn about Peter's death until almost twenty-four hours later. Annie had simply chosen not to mar his homecoming with bad news. He'd noticed one less place at the table before the planned family reunion, though, and when pressed, his wife had finally broken down and told him.

"Peter's dead," she said quietly. "He died six months ago."

A mere three months after he'd left. "How?" he demanded though a throat tight with pain.

"There was an accident at his father's. He was already dead when the paramedics arrived." She came to him wanting to comfort. "It was quick. He didn't suffer."

He turned away. He couldn't accept it. Peter had been always so full of life. It just didn't seem possible. The next day, he'd gone to the precinct and questioned Strenlich. All the chief had done was pull up the computer file and the ex-captain to read it.

The details were sketchy. Peter had somehow fallen on a stake, which had shattered both his heart and spinal column. Death was instantaneous. The M.E., someone Paul hadn't known, had ruled it an accidental death and no further investigation had been done.

But wasn't content to let it rest. His sixth sense told him something else had happened. Something that had been very carefully covered up. He'd gone to Chinatown, only to learn the elder Caine had left after burying his son at the ruined temple. No one, including the Ancient, had any idea where he'd gone.

Paul reached down, taking a handful of dirt from Peter's grave. "I promise son, I am going to find out what really happened."

"Paul?" Annie questioned, concern for him mirrored in her voice and face.

"I have to find Caine," he stated, rising, and drawing his wife with him.

"But no one knows where he went," she needlessly reminded him.

Paul's face-hardened with determination. "I'll find him. I have to."

Nicholas Knight glanced up at the sound of his name. Captain Cohen was beckoning him into her office. The detective nodded and rose.

"What did you do now, Nick?" his partner, Schanke teased.

"Nothing I can think of," he retorted with a grin as he pushed by the stockier man.

He entered the office, and the captain closed the door. She motioned to the other occupant. "This is Paul Blaisdell." She seated herself behind her desk. "You remember the Peter Caine case?"

Nick stiffened. DAMN. "That was several months ago, Captain," he reminded her.

"But you assisted on the investigation while on the loan to the 101st?" she pressed,

He shrugged. "I believe his death was ruled an accident. That's what Nat's findings confirmed."

"That's what the official report states," Blaisdell put in. His eyes met and held Nick's. "I want to know what isn't in the report."

"I don't know what you mean," Nick stalled.

"I think you do." Paul Blaisdell scowled at him and Nick knew the older man could tell he was holding back.

Nick glanced at the floor. "Leave it alone," he said softly. He knew who Paul Blaisdell was. Chief Strenlich had mentioned Peter Caine's foster father.

"I want to know what happened to my son."

Nick made a decision. "Go to Chinatown.ask for Caine."

"Caine's gone."

Nick signed. He felt in a way he was betraying a trust. "Chinatown. Here, in Toronto." He looked at Blaisdell. "Caine opened a small Shaolin temple three months ago. He's become a valued member of the community." Knight had helped Peter's mourning father find a new home and set up his new home.

"You have the address?" Blaisdell pushed.

"Yeah." He took a sheet from Cohen's precious note pad and wrote it down, plus directions. He doubted the man knew his way around Toronto. He paused, wondering if he should warn Caine. He then handed the paper to the other man.

"Thank you." Blaisdell's gaze included both the detective and Cohen, then he placed a hand on Nick's arm. "What can you tell me, son?" His voice didn't demand, but asked as a father.

"Talk to Caine," Nick replied. "Captain, Schanke and I need to get moving on the Ericson homicide."

She nodded. "You can go."

Nick practically fled the room. He'd have to find a way to get word to Caine.

Flute music filtered down the old stairs. Blaisdell continued to climb. He rapped lightly on the apartment door and entered as a voice bade him do so. He did a quick survey of the studio, noting the conspicuous lack of furniture. A Buddha sat surrounded by candles along one wall and a mat, which served as Caine's bed along another. There was a kitchenette and a slightly ajar door he surmised led to the bathroom

"Hello, Caine," he greeted the seated figure in loose tan clothing.

With fluid grace Caine rose. "Blaisdell."

Paul studied the other man. Caine seemed to have aged years in only a few months. There was a deep sadness in his eyes, and his whole demeanor seemed to speak of a great defeat.

"Why are you here?" Kwai Chang asked.

"I want to know the truth about what happened to Peter."

The Shaolin expelled a quiet breath. "You will not like what you find."

"I want the truth," he repeated.

Sorrow-filled brown eyes met his hazel ones. Caine gestured toward the mat. "Then I will tell you." The priest reseated himself on the wooden floor.

Blaisdell sat. Waiting.

Caine took a deep breath. "It began at a club called the Raven."

The exchange program was a big success, and Peter Caine was glad he was part of it. He waved at detective Nicholas Knight as the man drove off. The guy was all right, just a bit strange. Peter still wondered where Knight had found his classic car. With a shrug he tried to settle into his hotel room only to find he was too restless to spend the night cooped up. Although it was past midnight, he hailed a cab, and went looking for some nightlife.

"Where to, sir?" the driver asked.

He really had no idea. "You know a good club?"

The driver grinned. "Sure do."

The Raven was located in a questionable part of town in an old, brick building. Peter paid the driver and got out. He entered the dark club, taking stock of both his surroundings and the patrons. There were a number of hookers, business men looking to score, and a very young crowd he supposed was Toronto's version of yuppies. He took a seat at the bar.

"And what can I get for you this evening?" a sultry French-accented voice inquired. He turned to see a woman in her twenties with pale skin and dark hair.

"Just a beer."

"Hmmm," she mused. She gestured to the bartender. "A beer for our American guest."

"How do you know I'm an American?"

She smiled. Peter decided it was a beautiful smile. It matched this exquisite mysterious lady.

"Mon cher," she chided. "It is obvious."

His beer arrived. He took a sip.

"Enjoy your evening," she suggested, openly devouring his body with her sable eyes.

"Thanks," he murmured. For some reason, he felt almost tongue-tied around her. He never had problems dealing with women, but she was.different.

She ran a light finger along his shoulder. "I'm Janette," she told him.


Her smile turned more seductive. Her cold fingers touched his face. Peter felt a shiver go up his spine. It wasn't from her body temperature. She leaned toward him. The motion caused her dress to shift, exposing more of her firm breasts. Lightly, her lips caressed his.

"Come," she whispered. She took his hand and led him through gyrating dancers to a very private back room. She pushed him back on the couch. Her kisses were deep and passionate. Peter's senses whirled and he asked for and got more. Vaguely, he felt a sharp pain at his throat. Then nothing but growing weakness and darkness.

Awareness returned slowly. He was cold. Hungry. Peter pushed himself up on the dirt floor and rubbed his aching heard. What the hell had been in that beer?

"So," a voice drifted to him. "You're awake."

His eyes focused on a seated figure. It rose and squatted beside him. The man's smile was amused. His face was alabaster, and his light hair cropped short. "He's crossed over," he informed his companion.

"Good." Janette kneeled also. "How do you feel?"

Peter shivered. "Cold. Hungry."

"We'll soon take care of that." She rose and opened a green bottle. She poured the contents into a wine goblet. The fluid was dark red. "Here." She offered the glass to him.

The detective rose stiffly to his feet. He took the offered beverage, frowning suspiciously.

"Drink it," the man commanded. "Or do you like being hungry?"

He took a cautious swallow. It had a brackish taste. His body craved more, and he drained the goblet.

"Well done," the man commended. He smiled at Peter. "I am La Croix." His eyes glowed a dark red. "I will be your.mentor."

"My what?" Everything abruptly seemed heightened. He could hear a dog barking down the street. Colors shifted.

"Ah, your senses are awakening," La Croix observed.

"What.has happened tome?" Peter was suddenly terrified.

"Do not worry, mon cher," Janette comforted. She put an arm around him. "You are fine."

The taste in his mouth unexpectedly identified itself. He had just drunk blood.

"It is always confusing at first to the newly awakened," La Croix remarked. "You will adjust."

"Adjust to what?"

"You are a vampire," Janette informed him.

"That's impossible," he protested. "Vampires are a legend."

La Croix laughed. "Ohhhh, you have much to learn."

Peter scowled at his burned hand. He'd tried to go outside, only to discover his changed body couldn't tolerate sunlight. He shifted uneasily on the couch where he'd decided to sleep through the day. Earlier, Janette had tried to coax him into drinking more blood, claiming it would help him heal faster, but he'd refused. Now, he wished he had. His entire body howled, and he knew he'd have to feed soon.

"Finding it difficult to sleep?" La Croix asked from the doorway.

The detective sighed and sat up. La Croix filled a wineglass and, crossing the dimly lit room handed it to Peter. "You need to heal."

Reluctantly, the Peter took the glass and drained its contents.

"It will be night soon," the older vampire commented.

The detective tried to ignore him and settled back on the dingy couch. He tossed for a few minutes and then fell into a disturbed sleep. "Where is he?" "Where is he?"

Peter roused to the sound of a familiar, albeit angry voice and saw Nick Knight stride into the room.

"Nicholas," La Croix chided. He set another goblet on the antique table. "Join us." With great care he poured the contents of the green wine bottle into the waiting glasses.

Nick glared at his former mentor and faced Peter. His eyes narrowed. "Who did this?" he demanded.

"I did," Janette answered. She pushed aside the brown beads, which separated the two rooms.

"Why?" Nick's eyes glowed a faint red.

Idly, Janette fingered the goblet nearest to her. "I wanted him." Her eyes held Nick's. "Just as I once wanted you."

The fight went out of the Toronto detective. "Peter chose?" Nick's voice as so soft Peter almost didn't hear him.

"Obviously," La Croix said, taking a glass and downing the rich contents.

Janette held out a glass to Nick. Peter saw conflict on Knight's face.

"No!" Nick grabbed Caine's are and propelled him out of the room.

"Hey," Peter protested.

"We're leaving." Knight guided him through the crowded club. Outside, Peter paused. The air held a rich scent.

"Different," Nick said.


Knight sighed. "I'll teach you what I can to help you survive.

Peter stayed with Nick for the rest of his tenure in Toronto. The American detective tried to learn as much as he could, but there were times he felt he couldn't handle it. Oh, the simple things were okay, like staying out of daylight, and how to pull off the charade of being human.

But learning to drink cow's blood? It wasn't nearly as satisfying as human, which is what La Croix had feed to him. Peter also came to discover, he had a deep need for human contact. Nick cautioned him about getting too close to mortals. Caused too many problems, he had explained. Peter wasn't exactly certain what that meant. Yet, he figured he MIGHT figure it out eventually.

His biggest problem was he couldn't control the hunger. His need became so overwhelming, he killed.

Knight had been furious with him. No vampire was stupid enough to kill in these modern times. The risk of detection was too great.

"Keep killing," Nick warned him, "and your local community will be forced to destroy you for their own protection."

The fledgling vampire took the warning to heart, but his dark nature kept taking over. Peter despaired of ever learning to master his new abilities.

He did learn, in a way, to constrain himself when needed. Enough to do his job and pretend to be human.

In spite of Knight's lessons, Peter began to wonder if he wanted to survive like this. He missed the sunlight. He missed being able to kiss a woman without wanting her blood. He missed sex.

Finally, knowing he couldn't delay the inevitable, the young detective decided to return home. He knew enough to fool most of his friends. His mystical father on the other hand..

Peter stayed in Toronto for three weeks after the exchange program ended, then returned home and asked Captain Simms for the night shift. She'd been surprised, most of her detectives did whatever they could to get off it, but she granted his request, secretly glad to have one of her best detectives, although impulsive, on graveyard.

Caine sensed something. The change in Peter's aura was obvious. Peter had explained his choice of changing shifts as a personal decision. Caine had accepted that, patiently waiting for his son to confide in him. He learned what was amiss when he chanced to observe his son with a young woman. Peter had an evening off and decided to spend it with his father. He was restless, wired all evening. Toward midnight, he began pacing and then left quietly, as if trying not to disturb his already sleeping father.

The Shaolin had heard him leave though, and curious about Peter's nervousness, followed. Peter went to a local club, a dark, strange place. After about an hour, he left with a very pretty Chinese girl on his arm. A few blocks away, he pulled her into an alley, kissing and caressing her. Caine decided to leave, troubled by his son's lack of discretion. This was not the Peter he knew.

He had just shifted back into shadows when the girl's half-stifled scream reached him. He rushed to the alley. He saw Peter's figure bent over her, his head down.

"Peter!" he called.

Slowly, his son raised his head and two red, glowing eyes stared at him from the darkness. His son dropped the girl's limp body. "Pop!" he gasped.

Caine knelt beside the girl. She was still alive. "What have you done, my son?" Kwai Chang was horrified. He pulled a cloth from his bag and pressed it against her neck to stop the bleeding.

"What I have to," Peter answered.

There was pain in his only child's voice. Caine looked up to see very sad brown eyes. The red was gone.

"I should have told you," Peter began.

"I must tend to this young woman first." Caine switched to parent mode. "Go to my home, Peter. We will discuss this when I return."

Peter nodded and disappeared into the night. Caine spent the rest of the night at the hospital with the young girl and her parents. When had returned home, he found Peter asleep in the darkest corner of his apartment.

"I spent the morning meditating. In the afternoon, I went to the Ancient. We went through the old legends. I desperately wanted to find a way to help my son."

Blaisdell shook his graying head. "You honestly expect me to believe Peter had become a vampire?"

"They exist," Caine stated.

The former police captain decided he needed to stretch his legs. He paced across the small studio for several minutes. Caine also rose. He went to the stove and poured tea for them both. Blaisdell's experience told him what he was being told was ridiculous. "How did Peter die?" he finally demanded.

Caine's brown eyes grew even more sad. "I shall tell you." He handed Paul a cup of tea. He accepted it and returned to the mat. The Shaolin sipped his tea before he began. "It was several weeks later."

Rain splattered against the windowpanes. Peter had been strangely quiet all evening and Caine was becoming concerned. A quiet Peter was not good. Yet, Kwai Chang had seen a slow change overcome his normally exuberant child. Peter was becoming reclusive, brooding. The Shaolin looked down at the mixture he was preparing. Nothing he and the Ancient had tried in the past month had stemmed Peter's hunger for human blood. Peter had told him of Nicholas Knight, the detective in Toronto who was a vampire and how he was trying to cope; trying to become human again. The detective, he said, had told him he was only having limited success. Peter had tried drinking cow's blood as Knight did, but it had not satisfied his craving need.

Caine had even contacted Knight, who had sent him to speak to a doctor who was trying to help him. But the woman, Natalie, couldn't help him either.

Peter continued to have to feed. Each night he stalked the city, finding someone, drinking.

Caine heard Peter take a shuddering breath. "Pop," he breathed. "Release me."

Caine felt his heart constrict and deep pain fill him. He was not certain he could bear his sons loss again.

"I can't live this way," Peter continued. He pressed his face into his hands. He was crying. "I can't."

"My.son." Caine went to him and pulled him into his embrace. Peter held tightly to him.

"Release me," he pleaded.

The Shaolin felt tears sting his eyes. His heart ached for his son. "Peter," he began.

"Pop.Dad.please. I.can't stand the.killing.innocent lives.just so I can live. You can't help me. I can't keep doing this." His body shook.

Caine caressed Peter's brown hair. His son so reminded him of his wife Laura. What would she say to what had happened to their child. He continued to hold Peter. For once, he had no comforting words.

"Pop.please." Kwai Chang had dreaded this request. Yet, knowing his son as he did, he was not really surprised. Peter's protective nature couldn't handle having to kill to survive. The woman, Janette, who had brought him over hadn't understood that. She'd confused normal human desire, for consent.

"I will do as you ask," he finally consented.

Peter's body relaxed. "Thanks, Pop." He snuggled closer. Caine simply held his son.

Dawn was only minutes away. Caine turned from the brightening sky. He went into his herbal cabinet and removed the hawthorn stake the Ancient had helped him find. He tucked it into his belt and went to stand by his son.

Peter stood before the Buddha. He started to reach a hand out but flinched. He stared at his hand. His skin was reddened as if burned. "Damn."

Caine squeezed his son's shoulder.

"Will I see Mother?" Peter asked.

"You will, my son. She will be there to guide you."

A shudder ran through the younger Caine. "I wonder what true death is like?"

"It is.only the beginning."

"A part of my soul's journey." Peter peaked a glance at his father.

For a moment, Caine caught a glimpse of the son he remembered. Humor danced in his dark eyes.

"May it be a peaceful journey, my son."

Kwai Chang gathered his son to him. Peter held on tightly. The priest pulled the stake from his belt, pressing the point against Peter's heart. A tremor escaped the young vampire.

"I will be quick," he promised.

"I love you, Pop," his son whispered. His grip tightened.

"And I love you, Peter." He kissed his son's temple. He closed his mind and emotions on what he was about to do. He saw only his suffering child and knew he had to be released. Caine held firmly to the stake. Taking a deep breath, he pierced his son's heart with a hard, rapid thrust.

Peter gasped.

Caine looked at his son's now peaceful face and sunk slowly to the floor. Tears fell unchecked as he gathered Peter's limp body to his chest. He rocked slowly back and forth, finding no comfort for the pain.

Vaguely, he was aware of the rising sun and bright promising light bathing them both.

"The Ancient found me hours later and helped make all the necessary calls and arrangement. Peter's death was ruled accidental. Detective Knight was.there, on the exchange program. He helped.did the investigation. He understood what had happened and knew no one would believe the truth."

Blaisdell knew only cold fury. All he saw was the needless murder of his son. He bit out the words. "You.killed.Peter."

Caine did not look up. "Our son was already dead."

"You son of a.." Paul was on his feet. He staggered across the room. All he wanted to do was wrap his hands around Caine's throat.

"Leave him alone, Blaisdell," a voice commanded.

He ignored it and reached for Caine. Abruptly, he was hauled back. "Let go of me!" he yelled. A very strong hand grasped the front of his shirt.

"I said leave him alone," Nick snarled. He shoved Paul away. Blaisdell saw two glowing eyes and Knight took a step toward him

"No, Detective Knight," Kwai Chang broke in. "There has been enough killing."

The vampire hissed, but honored the priest's wishes. Paul took an unwilling shaky step backward.

"You would have your son condemned to this!?" Nick demanded.

Blaisdell rubbed his throat. He swore he could feel the vampire's breath.

"They you're a fool!" Nick spat, not waiting for a response. "This is what it means to be a vampire. Anger, craving, the need for blood that overwhelms you!"

Paul still didn't believe the truth despite the evidence of his eyes. All he cared about was that his son was dead and Caine admitted to having murdered him. "I'm leaving," he announced. "You," he pointed at Caine, "had better be here when I bring the authorities." He adjusted his suit coat. "You murdered Peter." He glared at Knight. "And you helped cover it up." With that, he left.

Knight started after him.

"No." Caine placed a restraining hand on the vampire's arm.

"You didn't murder Peter," Knight protested.

"No," Caine breathed. "But in his pain and anger, he must strike out at someone."

"I have a friend," Nick offered, "who can help you disappear."

The Shaolin nodded. Detective Knight had been a staunch defender and friend. "Let us go." There was no way he could prove what he had told Paul. He must leave the past behind and continue his life's journey. Alone.

When Paul Blaisdell returned later with the police, Caine was gone. So was Knight. They had disappeared like two wraiths into the darkening night. The former captain stood on the apartment building steps and stared up at the crescent moon. He would avenge his son's murder. No matter how long it took. He knew, at least, who to start asking questions about Knight.

"Excuse me," Schanke handed him an envelope. "We found this."

"Thanks." It was addressed to him. He ripped it open. One a pure white piece of paper were written two words. Forgive me.

"Not a bloody chance in hell."

Across the street stood two figures.

"Pity," Janette said. "I did like Peter Caine."

La Croix chuckled. "We have only to wait, my dear. When Caine is gone, and the Blaisdell, we have only to go to his grave and remove the stake."

"Then he will ours again." She smiled up at La Croix.

"Yes." He kissed her lush mouth. "He will."

Originally published in Splinters of Light #4. Posted here by the author with editorial changes.