Author note: I always liked this picture and thought it deserved a story where Johnny and Murdoch have some time together, just father and son.
Murdoch leaned back in his big leather chair, scotch in hand, and waited for Johnny to come in from the bath house. He smiled thinking about how he was going to make good use of this time alone, just the two of them. At first he was concerned that Scott would not be here should the need for a peacekeeper arise, but he was going to make sure that a peacekeeper would not be needed.
This morning after a family breakfast, Teresa left for Stockton to visit Audra Barkley and Scott left for San Francisco. Scott had been invited to visit new friend he had made during a stock buying trip a few months ago. Murdoch took advantage of the trip to have Scott deliver some papers and contracts to his bank in the city.
Murdoch sipped his drink and sighed, he was exited, he still couldn’t believe that he felt excited about spending a evening alone with Johnny. The past few months the two of them had been getting along with only the occasional argument. And what was even more amazing the disagreements had not evolved into a shouting match, well there was one scream fest but they managed to resolve the issue without bloodshed. He chuckled when he remembered that Johnny finally conceded and agreed that maybe Murdoch had been right after all.
Johnny leaned back in the tub relishing how the hot water soothed his aching muscles. Ranching was hard work but he had to admit to himself he was enjoying it. He grinned, that secret he would take to his grave, can’t let the ol’ man get too comfortable. Johnny closed his eyes and thought about how his life had changed, things had even improved between Murdoch and him. It sure was nice not getting into a shouting match every time, hell, they actually talked. Ol’ Boston’s always saying “pick your battles, Johnny”, big brother really comes up with some good advice sometimes. Maybe he better keep that a secret too, didn’t want to give Boston a swelled head.
With Scott in San Francisco and Teresa in Stockton, it was going to be another quiet meal. Johnny sure missed them, something he didn’t expect to happen. Well at least Maria is here and she had cooked a hot Mexican lunch since she didn’t have to worry about Scott’s eastern stomach. Another thing he learned about Murdoch today was he likes it hot too. From the smells coming from the kitchen when he rode in he couldn’t wait for supper. Before he could even sneak into the kitchen and maybe snitch something to hold him over Maria met him at the door with his clean clothes. She stared him down and pointed to the bath house, “nino, go” and she waved her wooden spoon under his nose to reenforce the statement. Dios how he loved that woman.
With the water cooling off Johnny quickly scrubbed off the dirt and grit then washed his hair. Satisfied that Maria would approve his clean condition he headed for the great room.
When he entered through the French doors he saw Murdoch lost in thought sitting in his big chair. What was Scott said, oh yeah, ‘Lord of the Manor’. “Hey Murdoch, ready for supper? Sure smells good and I’m starved.”
Murdoch chuckled and rose from the chair. “When aren’t you starved, son?”
The two men moved to the dinning table and waited for Maria to bring the food. As soon as they were comfortably in their chairs Maria arrived with plates full of Johnny’s favorite foods.
“Ah Maria, te amo.” Johnny rubbed his hands together in anticipation.
Murdoch and Maria smiled at each other when they heard Johnny’s stomach growl.
Johnny’s face turned a little pink, “Told y’all I’m starved.”
“Well Maria I hoped you prepared enough food to keep my younger son from starving to death.” He winked at Maria while he spooned two tamales onto his plate then took the bowl and spooned out some red beans and rice.
“Si Patron, I made plenty of food to fill my nino’s empty stomach.”
Maria smiled as she spooned five tamales onto Johnny’s plate while he took the bowl of red beans and rice from his father.
“Gracias, gracias mamacita you are saving me.” Johnny said as he bit into a tamale, spicy hot the way he like it. He was in heaven.
The two men enjoyed their supper, especially Johnny when Maria arrived with seconds. Murdoch loved watching his son eat, it was like making up for all the years Johnny went hungry. Well, Murdoch swore to himself, his son would never go without again. He was enjoying being a father, something he had been afraid would never happen. Now his boys were home and the three of them were becoming a family. He was a happy man.
Finally his younger son was full, Murdoch wondered how the boy managed to stay so trim. Considering Johnny was in almost constant motion Murdoch figured he burned it off as fast as he ate it. Murdoch smiled at his thoughts.
“What’s so funny Murdoch?” Johnny asked.
“Nothing son, just enjoying our time together.”
“Yeah?” Johnny smiled back, “Me too.”
Murdoch rose from his chair and headed for the drink’s cart. “Tequila, son?”
“Yeah, thanks.” Johnny accepted the glass and sat on the floor in front of the fire. The evening was cooling off and it had started to rain. All he wanted was to feel the warmth seep into his back while the tequila warmed his insides.
Murdoch poured a glass of his favorite scotch and sat in his big leather chair and watched Johnny soak up the heat from the fire. “You remind me of a cat, Johnny. The way you seek out the warm of the fireplace.” Murdoch chuckled, “I expect to hear you start purring.”
At first Johnny was shocked then realized Murdoch was kidding him, also he realized he like his father teasing him. Maybe he should purr just to make the ol’ man happy.
Johnny laughed then started purring.
When Murdoch heard the soft purring he couldn’t hold back the laughter.
It felt so good to be Johnny’s father.