Disclaimer: Not mine; belongs to Sloane and Co. I'm just playing.
Tears and Rain
The world was ending.
At least, it seemed that way. Peter was half asleep when an explosion rocked the temple, throwing him violently from his bed. He cried out in pain as he hit the stone floor, blinded and deafened by the bomb's detonation.
Staggering to his feet, he stumbled out of the cell he shared with Danny and Dennis, the two boys close behind him. In the hallway, he saw the other students, who were just as confused as he was.
"What's going on?" someone cried, as another blast shook the temple on its foundations. For the second time in minutes, Peter found himself being tossed around like a rag doll.
'I have to find Father,' Peter thought, determinedly, as he dragged himself up off the floor again. 'He'll know what's going on.'
But his goal was quickly forgotten, when he saw Danny. The younger boy was curled in a ball on the ground, moaning in pain as he clutched his bleeding leg. A broken piece of the wall lying nearby had a matching smear of blood on it.
"Danny?" Peter said, crouching and shaking his shoulder gently.
"It hurts!" the five-year-old howled, launching himself suddenly at Peter. "I'm scared, Peter!"
Peter wrapped his arms instinctively around the boy, offering what little comfort he could.
"We need to get out of here," Dennis said, quietly, echoing Peter's earlier thoughts. "We need to find Master Caine, or Master Kahn, someone who knows what's happening."
"It's obvious what's happening," Ling Wu snapped, overhearing them. "Those bigots down in the town are trying to kill us."
"We don't know that," Peter retorted instantly. "They've never caused us trouble before."
A sick, twisting feeling in his gut, however, told him that Ling Wu was probably right. Shoving it aside, Peter managed to get his arms around Danny and stood, the boy held protectively in his arms.
"Come on, Danny," he said, forcing a calm demeanor he didn't feel, "let's go find Master Ping Hai, and he'll put something on your leg, to make it feel better."
"He might even have willow bark tea for you to drink," Dennis chimed in, helping keep the younger boy calm.
"Yuck," Danny replied, echoing the manner of every boy who'd been dosed with one of Ping Hai's many teas. Peter was relieved to see nearly all traces of his earlier hysteria gone.
"I'll take him, Pete," Dennis said, reaching for Danny. "If you want to go look for your dad-"
"Wanna stay with Peter," Danny interrupted, petulantly, wrapping his arms snugly around Peter's neck.
"It's okay," Peter told Dennis. "I'll take care of Danny."
Shifting the boy to a more comfortable position in his arms, Peter walked down the hallway in the direction of the infirmary, where Ping Hai ruled. He never made it.
A black-clad figure stepped out of the shadows, and for a moment, Peter thought it was one of the monks. Then, the figure stepped into the light, and Peter recognized one of the teenagers who lived in Braniff, the town below the temple.
The boy smiled, cruelly, mockingly, and a shiver of fear ran down Peter's spine.
"Why are you doing this?" he pleaded, softly. "What have we ever done to you?"
"You existed," the teenager replied. The use of the past tense wasn't lost on Peter.
The mocking smile now gone from his face, the boy swung a rifle up into his arms, and pulled the trigger. The air around them was lit up with the explosion, and Peter jerked, staggering backward as he was struck by an unseen force. Cradled in his arms, Danny cried out, fearfully, dragging Peter out of his shock.
Turning, he sprinted back down the hallway, bullets flying around his ears. Praying desperately to remain unnoticed, he ducked into the first alcove he found, and huddled in the back, holding Danny close to his chest.
"Peter," the younger boy whimpered, and Peter shushed him, fearful that any noise would bring the townsfolk down on them.
Straining, he could hear his pursuer's footsteps growing first stronger, then fainter as he passed by their hiding spot. Peter listened for a few more, anxious moments, and when he heard nothing else, crept cautiously out of the alcove.
"It's okay, Danny," he said, softly. "I think we're safe, now."
There was no reply from his young charge, and Peter shifted Danny in his arms to look at him.
For a moment, he didn't understand what he was looking at. Then, the significance of the bright red stain spreading across Danny's chest hit him, and he let out a strangled gasp.
"No," he moaned, "Danny, please, no!"
But there was no answer from the young boy. His eyes opened, wide and unseeing, as he choked on his own blood. A thin red line trickled out of the corner of his mouth, and there was a terrible rattle from deep within his chest.
Danny gasped once, a sound that would haunt Peter for the rest of his life. Then, he was gone. Peter clutched Danny desperately to his chest, as though to transfer his own life into the small, lifeless body cradled in his arms. The horror of what had just happened consumed him, until he could feel nothing else.
Then, slowly, the logical, pragmatic part of his mind took over. He stood, still holding Danny's body, but he felt no grief when he looked at the younger boy; he felt nothing at all.
He walked slowly down the hallway, barely hearing the explosions going off all around him, the gunshots and screams. Flames consumed the temple, but he didn't feel the heat licking at his skin. He saw nothing of the blood that had been spilled on the floor, splashed on the walls.
There was only one goal in his mind: to find his father, and, in finding him, finally be safe.
Suddenly, a cold blast of wind drove him back to himself, and for a second, he thought he'd left the temple. Then, he realized that the wind was blowing through the holes that had been blown through the temple walls.
All around him, men dressed head to toe in black were fighting the monks, killing them. Guns boomed, firelight flashed off knife blades. Screams echoed through the night, blood flowed freely. And his family died in a manmade Hell.
Frantically, Peter tried to regain the calm detachment that had taken over him before, but it slipped from his grasp. He cried out, helpless to stop it as his own guttural screams were added to the cacophony of voices around him.
He stumbled through the ruins, nearly falling as he tripped over something. Quickly regaining his balance, he saw the bloodstained body of a monk, an obscene smile twisting his too-still features. Peter's stomach lurched, and he fought the urge to be sick.
A sudden, blinding pain resounded through his body and he staggered forward, Danny's weight suddenly too much to bear. He fell, heavily, clutching his stomach in agony. His fingers encountered something wet and sticky, and he lifted his hands to see them covered in his own blood. Blood currently spilling out over the ground.
Groaning in pain, Peter lifted his head, looking around for someone who could help him. Then, through a hole in the wall, he saw his father. Kwai Chang Caine stood, dazed, as he peered through the hole, clearly searching for him.
"Father!" Peter cried, reaching toward him. "Father, I'm over here!"
He was sure his father saw him. Any moment now, he'd be running over to Peter to hold him, to tell him it was all just a dream.
But his father never saw him. He staggered away from the hole in the wall, leaving his son to bleed, to die, on the cold, stone floor.
"Father!" Peter screamed, his voice echoing mockingly off the walls around him.
"Father," he whimpered, as blackness overtook him. "Please don't leave me."
Then, he knew no more.
Hours had passed since the first assault on the temple. The attackers had fled, long before the arrival of the local police. The survivors gathered their dead and mourned their wounded.
The fires raged on, an endless inferno.
And over it all, a soft rain fell.