Daniel ~ K'un Lun, a Prologue


Previously ~ Dramatis Personae

In her defense, the breakfasts were his idea.

Every morning, they rose like clockwork and sat down to eat, just the two of them.  She was up every morning by five, showered and dressed just before six.  They would "eat" until six-thirty, when Nigel would bring the car and take them to work.

Years of routine had rendered alarm clocks all but obsolete.  Heather Wing-Meachum had been getting up at five for as long as she could remember, even when she was on vacation.  And he...he was always up long before the dawn.

She'd caught him sleeping on the hardwood floors of his bedroom in their penthouse.  Skin literally pressed against the cold floor, arms like pillows, and a mere thin sheet draped across his naked body.  The day after she'd seen that, he came home to find his room had been newly carpeted.  Now when he slept, it was against plush, white softness, and the scent of powdery spring.

He seemed in tune with everything.  His eyes missed nothing; it was as though his ears heard everything.  He always stood or sat with his back perfectly straight, like a monk forever entranced in prayer.  He ate mechanically, spooning his favorite childhood cereal into his mouth.  As he chewed, it was like his mouth was searching for something, possibly recognition.  His eyes looked as though he were chewing sand.

And yet, every morning, they sat down opposite each other, and ate.

They said nothing; there was no point.  If she asked how he slept, he'd say fine.  If she asked how he was, he'd say fine.  If she asked if he needed or wanted anything, he'd say no.  And if she tried to ask about where he'd disappeared to for the last fifteen years, there'd be silence.

So she deduced.  It was all she could do, given the glaring lack of information.  Her son's body was in peak form, literally perfect in terms of weight to height ratio and muscle definition.  So wherever he'd been, they'd kept him fit.  There scars though, cuts, lashes, burns even...they marred his skin like words in sordid story.  Someone had put their hands on her kid, hurt him, beat him, cut him.

Whenever Heather thought of this, and her fingers would tighten around her coffee mug.

In the beginning, he'd only worn pants around the house.  Loose, flowing cotton pants. There was a black dragon branded onto his chest, and he always moved soundlessly...like a fighter.  Underground fighting, sex trafficking - she couldn't tell, she didn't know, and she wasn't sure which she'd rather hear.  Each theory bloomed in her mind and ran away with itself; there were days when her paranoia threatened to send her over the edge.  But then Heather would remind herself that she had to be the voice of reason here; she had to be the rock.

Could it have been slavery then?  He'd fleetingly mentioned a monastery, which would explain the posture and unwavering discipline, but it didn't explain the rest.  He looked like he'd been worked hard on a daily basis, through sickness and cold.  He had minimal body fat, and his eating habits were practically ascetic.  Someone had starved her kid, on top of whipping and cutting him.

The thought of her child trapped, hungry, and alone felt like a knife twisting in her heart.  It was why Heather didn't care how odd or how awkward these breakfasts were.  After all these horrible years, her child whom she'd never thought she see - much less hold - again had returned to her.  And the only thing he'd asked for since his return was to eat breakfast with his mom

She would sit with him every morning, if he wanted, long after she turned old and gray.

"Danny--"

"Daniel."

His voice was never harsh when he corrected her; it was always soft, almost perfunctory, and completely emotionless.

"Daniel," she conceded, "I spoke with your aunt today, and she's open to tutoring you and getting you caught up.  If you're going to take over the company after me, we have to see to your education.  Angela's willing to come to your office three times a week."

He said nothing, which she didn't understand.

"Will that be okay?" she asked, head tilting slightly, trying to gauge him as he stared down into his cereal, as though wondering what he'd ever seen in this brand.

"Yes," he murmured.

"Okay then," she nodded softly.  She took one last sip of her now cold coffee and set down her mug.  "I'll tell Nigel to bring the car around."

***

How do I explain K'un Lun?

I can feel her eyes on me, a question in every glance,
lines in her face furrowing, worrying.
How do I explain the journey,
the mountainous expanse,
the infinity of snows and sunless skies?
I would if I had the words.
But there are none to explain
the stone walls nor heavenly gates.

I mean...
how do you describe Heaven to ones who've never been?
And how would you explain the hellish price of
living among the divine?


Next ~ Killer

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