Shadow of the Templar: Mi Papi
On timeline: many years ago
A fluff piece about nine-year-old Mike, mostly because I wanted to explore his unusual family situation, explain a little about how he grew up the way he did, and also have Mike talk about kicking people in the nuts. Shame on you, little Mike.
Matthew (nee Masaru) Takemura, first-generation American, was a firm believer in his adopted country. He didn't understand the United States, and sometimes he was horrified by it, but he believed in it anyway, with an unshakable faith that would have exalted most gods. His (otherwise fairly affectionate) wife Carmen, whose family had meandered over the US border four generations ago and never left, thought he was an idiot. A sweet and well-meaning idiot, but an idiot nonetheless.
Nowhere was this more clear than around their children: Carmen did everything in her power to shelter them from their father's idiosyncratic but very firm beliefs on how to be American. With their daughters she mostly succeededin no little part because Matthew was entirely helpless in the face of American femininity and tiptoed around his daughters as if they were hormonal volcanoes waiting to erupt, which really wasn't all that far from the truthand so it was their sons who bore the brunt of their father's erratic attempts at being Ward Cleaver.
Like now, for example. He'd come home from his job at the restaurant to find his eldest son exiled to the kitchen in disgrace, his eye rapidly blackening. Carmen, in an uncharacteristic lapse of judgment, had flailed one hand at the kitchen door and ordered him to talk to his crazy son, ay, Dios mio, a directive that Matthew was more than happy to obey. Matthew liked being a father. Secretly he believed himself to be an excellent patriarch, loved and respected by all; his wife was careful not to disabuse him of this notion, just in case the truth killed him.
Matthew spun a chair around and straddled the back of it, crossing his arms over the top and staring with real (if confused) affection at his son. "Tell me what happened," he prompted.
His son Michael, nine years old, shifted uncomfortably on the kitchen chair and pressed the dripping ice pack to his left eye. Dime-sized droplets of water fell to spot his shirt. "Mingo pushed me down and took my bike," he finally muttered, his right eye staring unwaveringly at the floor.
"Go on." Matthew made an encouraging little gesture, cocking his head to one side.
"So I tried to make him give it back."
"He punched me inna eye and took off on my bike." Michael finished his story with finality (if without flourish) and subsided into a sullen lump.
"I see." Matthew Takemura sat back and rubbed his chin, considering the scrawny knot of his son, all knees and elbows. "Why did you not come get your mother?"
Michael's head shot up. "Because that'd be telling," he said, aghast.
Matthew sighed. "I see. Never mind. So, then, what will you do to get your bicycle back, the next time you see Mingo?"
"Kick him inna nuts," Michael said with absolutely no hesitation.
Matthew's eyes went blank. His formal English was excellent, but his vernacular was embarrassingly lacking; Carmen thought it was ridiculous, how a man could live in Brooklyn for fifteen years and somehow manage not to hear these things. Ay, such an idiot, she would say fondly. "In the..."
Michael squirmed in embarrassment. "In the balls, papi," he finally muttered.
"Don't call me papi, Michael," Matthew automatically corrected, still confused. "What are balls?"
Michael stared at him in one-eyed amazement, waiting. His children had all learned that the best way to handle Matthew's occasional lapses in language was to wait for thirty seconds or so, just in case his neurons started to fire; when half a minute had passed and Matthew still looked bemused, Michael hunched up and stared at the floor, his knees somewhere around his fire-red ears. "His testicles, Papa," he said, in a choked and embarrassed voice just below a whisper, and just in case that wasn't enough, he gingerly touched the tip of one finger to the front of his shorts for half a second before his hand skittered away.
"Ah," Matthew said, filing this information awaythen what he'd actually been told filtered through his brain, and his eyes went wide behind his glasses. "Ah! No! No, you must never do that! Those are... very delicate! Someone could seriously be harmed!"
"I know," Michael said stubbornly, still flaming red with embarrassment but too stubborn to give up just yet. "That's the point."
Matthew stared at his son in confusion and sorrow, then bowed his head, now completely at a loss. "You should not do that," he said weakly, standing up and putting the chair back in its usual place. "It is shameful. A coward's way to fight."
"But it works," Michael said, now looking just as confused as his father. "Why shouldn't I do what works? Kick him inna fork and I bet he won't steal my things any more!"
"...leave the ice on your eye until it is melted," Matthew said, and he hunched his shoulders and strode out of the room before this conversation got any more distressing.