Disclaimer:- FOX abandoned them. They’ll get no apology from me for keeping them young and alive. Some swearing.
Scott and Johnny are late returning home from town more than a little worse for wear. Johnny is 19 and Scott is 25.
Beta:- Ma Prate did the honors. Go figure. Mistakes are all hers!!!
We are not responsible for nothin’. Either one of us. That’s after two tequilas, one (barf) measure of some shit called Taliskers (Heather agrees), two margaritas, two really good shots of Glenfiddich and …Oh, Hell, she’s just popped another cork on something!
”He’s going to be mad, Johnny. We promised not to be late after that last fiasco, remember?”
Johnny frowned. “D’ ya think he’ll still be up brother?”
“Oh, yes, ” came Scott’s instant reply. “I think he will be waiting.” There was a soft creaking of leather as he shifted in the saddle. “In, fact I’d bet on it.”
Johnny puffed himself up on the saddle as if trying to make himself bigger. “I’m not scared of him,” he murmured; not sounding quite so sure of himself he asked, “are you scared of him, Scott?”
Scott looked at his younger brother and raised his eyebrows “No, Johnny. Wary. But I wouldn’t say I was scared.”
Johnny was on a roll; his bravado working over time.
“Hell, Scott, I’m all grow’d up! He ain’t tellin’ me when ta get home and when ta get ta bed like some fuckin two year old. No one has since I was ten years old, and they sure in hell ain’t startin now.”
“I take it you’re going to tell him that then, little brother? I’ll look forward to hearing you say that to Murdoch.” Scott’s mouth turned up at the edges and he swiped his mouth with his gloved hand. “I’ll tell you this, little brother; I am older and I wouldn’t dare tell him that.” This time he didn’t even bother to hide the fact he was smiling; the humor was in his voice. “But you go ahead. It will leave me free to slip off to my room whilst your hide gets a tanning.”
Johnny snorted. “Yeah! Like that has a chance in hell of happenin.’”
Scott became serious for a moment. “You know we did promise to come home early, little brother. He is going to be sore at us, Johnny, for sure.”
”Trust you to be so understanding Boston; don’t you see it isn’t the point.”
Scott raised his eyebrows. “It isn’t?”
“No. The point is he’s got no right to tell us when ta come home and what ta do on our own time.” He let out a sigh. “I hate bein’ told what ta do and when to do it.” Then, knowing his brother was about to say something, he clarified, “I mean, I know we agreed he’d call the tune, but not when our work on the ranch was finished. He feels he can tell us how to live, Boston. Well, he ain’t tellin’ me. Been on my own, doin’ my own thing for a long time and I ain't bein told now! Not by him; Hell, not by nobody.”
Scott ruffled Johnny’s hair and smiled, a bit of melancholy in his expression. It saddened him whenever Johnny mentioned his past life; the flip side of that coin being it also sometimes amused him. His brother wasn’t beyond using his sad tale of woe to his advantage whenever he thought it would get the Old Man going soft and sentimental, or Maria in the mood for a full day of baking. “And that’s just it, isn’t it? When it comes to Murdoch or anyone telling you what to do, you go out of your way to do the complete opposite every time and you can’t deny it.” Scott stared hard at Johnny. “He is our father and as such has a right to tell us how to behave. We represent Lancer when we are in town and so far we haven’t exactly represented it well; well one of us hasn’t anyway, baby brother!”
Johnny slapped Scott on the back. “Hey what’ya mean? I ain't been that bad. I was just havin’ me some fun.” Annoyed, he shook his head. “Jeez! I ain't a kid.” His lips turned down in a petulant frown. “And don’t be callin’ me ‘baby’ brother, or so help me, I’ll kick your sorry ass!” He was angry now. “Like I’ve told you before, I don’t need nobody!”
Johnny was pouting. He seems to do that a lot, Scott thought. Looking hurt, he considered his brother’s final words; I don’t need nobody! “Thanks, little brother,” he said quietly. “I won’t take that statement personally at all!”
Johnny looked up, suddenly wide eyed as he realized what he had just said; and how it must have sounded. “Fuck, Scott, said I didn’t need nobody; didn’t say I didn’t want nobody.” Hoping to make amends, he laughed and continued on; his tone softening. “Heck, Murdoch’s gettin’ so bad, sometimes I think he’s gonna’ reach over, burp me and check to see if my pants are dry. Then the next thing I know, he’s all pissed off and standin’ there runnin’ his fingers along his belt and I get the feeling he’s gonna’ light a fire on my ass, ya know?” Johnny frowned. “Fuck, you don’t think he’d really do it, do you? I mean whip my ass?”
Scott hid a sudden smile behind his gloved hand; surprised that Johnny’s tone had become so serious. He decided a little tease was in order. “Well, you know, little bother, the last time he saw you, you were only two years old; and I guess he has a hard time seeing you all grown up. Perhaps he still sees his baby boy, and thinks he needs to take you in hand.” He was smirking now as he made a smacking move with his hand; his palm sweeping his brother‘s thigh.
Johnny knocked his brother‘s hand away. Old Boston’s hand could really smart when he meant business. “Shit, brother, when will he accept that I’m all grow’d up; that I don’t need no fuckin babysitter?”
Scott got serious for a moment. “Johnny, to Murdoch we are both just boys -- his boys. And I often have the feeling he is trying to make up for the time that he’s lost being our father. And especially in your case, little brother.” He grinned across at his companion. “You not being legal, and all.”
Johnny‘s eyes narrowed at the dig, his voice laced with sarcasm. “Ya don’t say! Boy, that Harvard education of yours sure wasn’t wasted on you, Scotty! Haw haw!”
Scott had just about had his fill. “What I mean Johnny is we are his children. No matter how old we get, he means it when he says ‘I’ll call the tune’. You’ve heard him when he’s speaking with Cipriano. Until we are grown with sons of our own, we are his boys; and he intends to have our full respect and our obedience.”
Johnnny dipped his head, hiding his eyes, which were darker than normal; fighting the resentment that was building inside his chest. Scott continued to drone on, the lecture taking on Biblical proportions in Johnny’s mind. He had visions of himself as an old man -- fifty or so -- still not married, a beard down to his knees, and still dancing to Murdoch’s damned tune. Pulling Barranca up short, he turned around, facing his brother dead on and raising his right hand. “I get it,” he said. In his mind he was thinking just shut the fuck up, brother. “Murdoch’s right, we’re wrong, and our chances of not getting our asses chewed out tonight for being late are…”
“Slim and none,” Scott finished. He gestured with his hand, recognizing a Johnny stall when he saw one. “Proceed.”
Reluctantly, Johnny turned Barranca around and waited for his brother to come up along side. He didn’t feel much like talking now. Scott was right. Bottom line here was he had promised the Old Man with a straight face he’d be home well before midnight, and here he was dragging his sorry ass home just as the first pink rays of sun were creeping across the eastern horizon.
Scott had moved slightly ahead of Johnny and turned to call back to his brother. “Come on now, brother. No point in delaying the inevitable.”
“Okay, Murdoch,” Johnny muttered, sarcasm dripping like honey from his lips.
Scott frowned. He wasn’t really sure if he liked being held up as a match to Murdoch; and yet he could see the advantages of such a comparison; especially where his younger brother was concerned. “Okay, Murdoch?” he echoed, mimicking his brother‘s tone.
Johnny’s voice raised an octave., “Well ya do kinda sound like him sometimes, big brother. Ya know?”
Johnny rode on in silence, thinking about just what it was that had gotten him in such deep shit. The half dozen shot of tequila had probably been not such a good idea. And then there was that second trip up the stairs with Becca; even with Scott standin’ right there pointing a finger at his watch and scolding him about the time.
But there was something about the way Becca had been nibbling on his ear. That, and the way she had of running her tongue inside the opening like she was trying to spit-wash his brain. He never had figured out how a woman’s tongue in his ear could make the family jewels suddenly stir in such a way that his dick stood straight at attention. And not always at the best of times.
There was, after all, only so much he could hide with one hand. So all he could do was point to his fly, grin up at his brother, and then run like hell for the stairs.
And, Hell, it hadn’t been like he was the only one who had decided the upstairs rooms were a lot more friendly then the tables at the back of the saloon. Nope. Soon as he kicked shut Becca’s door, he heard Scott’s boots in the hallway, and the next thing he knew he and big brother were making Morse code with brass bed frames against the adjoining walls.
Johnny stifled a laugh. He’d waited a bit after him and Becca got done; waiting for a similar quiet in his brother’s room. And then, sure when Scott had gotten up from Rachel’s bed, he began bouncing up and down on Becca’s bed, just like they had started all over again. There was no way in Hell he was going to let Scott tap out that last S.O.S.
And, besides, after all that work, he’d gotten damned thirsty.
Later, to end the perfect night, some rough looking guy threw a bottle of whiskey and punches starting flying. Johnny was right in the middle of it, with Scott only getting involved to drag him away.
Eventually Val and Ty broke it up and sent everyone on their merry way; with a gentle boot in the right direction. As always, Val took particular interest in Johnny -- guiding him towards Barranca and home. The lawman knew Scott would take care of any bills incurred; ignoring Johnny when he promised to do the same.
Now the worse for wear and feeling real sorry for themselves; they were limping home. Scott had to stop several times to wait for Johnny who was now throwing up bile and he was not a happy bunny.
Aware of what was coming, the two brothers walked through the front door. Scott the calmer, older brother was resigned to what was going to occur, but Johnny was getting agitated and more stubborn, puffing himself up for the inevitable confrontation. The Madrid persona kicked in; the same mask of indifference that always disguised his true feelings falling into place and hiding the vulnerability and fear.
Johnny hated being on the receiving end of Murdoch’s wrath. This part of being family confused him. The most puzzling thing was as much as he hated it; he knew deep inside he craved the attention. Still, it took a little getting used to, and when he was at the receiving end of a roasting invariably he opened his mouth and put his foot in; which usually made things worse.
When in a hole he dug it deeper, always. He wanted to be young and fancy free; he figured this finding a family shit was a right royal pain in the ass. But what he hated most was what came with family life; responsibilities and consequences. I mean, what the fuck was that all about? Sometimes, like now… he longed for the freedom of his previous life; where he could be irresponsible and do what ever he damn well pleased. He especially felt that way when he knew he was in trouble.
Johnny was roused from his musings as Scott turned the key in the large door and began to ease it open. He visibly winced as the large iron hinges seemed to groan in protest. “Do ya think he heard it?” he whispered, nodding towards the Great room.
A thin haze of pipe tobacco was wafting into the hallway. Scott inhaled deeply. “Oh, he heard it, brother. That’s not just pipe tobacco, it is…” he nodded towards the mist-like cloud “…probably steam coming out of Murdoch’s ears.”
Johnny cursed, softly. He grimaced. “Thanks, brother. Just what I wanted to hear.”
Murdoch Lancer rose to his full six foot five and strode across the carpeted floor to stand just at the bottom of the stairs; his eyes boring into the hallway. His sons -- his two, late, idiot sons -- were lurking in the darkness. “And just what the Hell time do you think it is?” he growled. Behind him, the Grandfather chimed; one--two--three, as if answering the question.
Johnny stared past his father at the offending piece of furniture; wishing to God he had his pistol. Better yet, the fuckin’ howitzer he had hidden in the barn, the one he planned on takin’ hunting with the Old Man. And Scott, the bastard. Like his so-called big brother -- his RESPONSIBLE -- big brother, couldn’t have hauled his ass out of that saloon.
Scott, ever the respectful son and gentleman, bowed his head as if in shame and immediately apologized to his father. “I am sorry, sir,” he said. Simple, eloquent and straight to the point.
Johnny, on the other hand, was still fuming about how his brother hadn’t kept him out of trouble. He took off his hat and tossed it towards the coat rack, grinning widely when he hit his mark. “Hey, Murdoch,” he grinned, cockily, as if butter wouldn’t melt. “We ain’t late; we’re early.” It had been a great line when Scott used it before; no reason it wouldn’t work now. Right?
“What do you mean you’re early?” Murdoch frowned.
Shit! How come it never worked for him? He dipped his head. What the Hell, maybe an explanation was in order. “Early,” he repeated. “We got home EARLY. Ain’t even full mornin’ yet, so how can we be late?” He hid the smile with the back of his hand.
Scott, seeing the grin, shot his brother a disapproving look. He watched in alarm as Murdoch moved forward towards Johnny.
Not feeling quite so smart, the dark haired boy braced himself for the inevitable pain he thought was coming; but nothing happened. Nope. The Old Man just canted his head and smiled. The kind of smile, Johnny thought, he’d seen on that fuckin’ Rurales captain who had taken the Pink‘s money; right before the bastard had drawn his gun and had started shooting.
“Just go to bed,” Murdoch said, his voice remarkably soft. Turning his head towards Scott he added, “Both of you. All too soon you are going to be well aware of just how long your new day is going to be. This,” he gestured with his hand towards the rising sun, “day.”
Unrepentant, Johnny shrugged. “Whatever.” He caught his brother’s eye and then looked away immediately as both Scott and his father glared at him angrily! Guilty that he had once again spoken out of turn without thinking, he damned himself for his stubborn pride! Pissed with himself he turned to go upstairs.
His foot hovering above the first step, Johnny turned back. His first thought had been to whisper his usual lo siento; and then he saw the look on his father’s face.
Sure and certain the Old Man was plotting their early demise; the two youths beat a hasty retreat, and headed for their own rooms. Morning would be coming soon enough, and neither one of them was very happy knowing the sun had already begun its slow crawl across the heavens. No. The Old Man was going to make them pay; it was just a matter of how much and for how long.
Johnny was awakened by a loud pounding at his bedroom door; the same sound echoing inside his head. Fuck. Prying open one eye with a numb finger and thumb, he turned to face his bedroom window and felt his eyeball struck by white flame. Closing the eye, he immediately pulled the pillow over his head. The pounding only got worse.
He bolted upright, eyes wide as he wondered why the hell his brother had decided to shout into his ear. Only Scott was still standing in the doorway. “Go ‘way,” he muttered. “I’m fuckin’ dead.”
Scott moved closer to the bed. “Not yet,” he observed. “But we will be if you don’t get your posterior out of bed, little brother. Get up!”
Johnny felt himself being dragged bodily out of his bed. If Scott was bothered by the fact he was as naked as a new born it didn’t show. Already the blond was throwing clothes at him. Johnny took the blue shirt and threw it back at his brother, “give me the red one,” he ordered.
Scott took one quick sniff of the garment and tossed it out the bedroom window. “Blue,” he said tossing the other shirt back, “put it on.”
Johnny did as he was told too sick and too tired to argue. “What the Hell time is it anyway?” he groused.
“Five thirty, little brother, as in five thirty in the morning!” They had had less than two hours sleep.
Johnny was buckling his pants. One thing about being a gunfighter was he picked his own hours. “Why don’t we just wait until noon and shoot the old fucker?”
Scott was already shoving him out the door. “Because you don’t have your gun anymore remember?”
“I trust you slept well, boys!” Murdoch bellowed. The big man had a huge grin on his face as he pointed to the table. Before them was a bountiful breakfast. He slapped both young men hard on their backs, which sent them reeling forward; and then said cheerily, “Eat my son’s, eat!”
They both turned a shade of green and Scott looked up sheepishly.
“Sir, I am not really that hungry.”
Murdoch was having none of it. “Nonsense, Scott. Trust me, you’re going to need a hearty breakfast.” The smile disappeared; his tone changing, “For once, just do as you’re told. Both of you.”
Johnny remained quiet, his eyes boring hard into the floor as he remembered Scott’s lecture when they were coming down the stairs: Just keep your mouth shut. Don’t say anything, not one thing. And for Gods sakes don’t smile! Biting his lip he sat down, aware as Teresa approached him from behind. “Owwwch! What the hell are you are doing T’resa? That really stings!”
Teresa’s tone was honey sweet but totally insincere. “Murdoch told me to put some witch hazel on that cut next to your bruised eye, Johnny.”
Johnny slapped her hand away. “Well don’t, ok?”
She kept dabbing at his eye anyway and none too gently. “We don’t want it to fester now do we, John?”
Johnny glared up at Teresa; his face contorted from the pain. Her constant patting hurt more than the fucking cut. It didn’t help when he noticed that the girl and his father were both grinning like a couple of Cheshire cats.
Inspecting the cut on his son’s face, Murdoch admonished. “Stop fussing, Johnny; she’s following my instructions. You don’t have a problem with that, do you son?”
Johnny was still trying to push Teresa’s hand away. He was pouting. “Murdoch, just tell her to leave me alone!” It was almost as if he was whining now.
With a wicked smile, Murdoch addressed his son, “She can’t leave you alone. She’s not finished.”
Johnny couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He tried pulling away but it wasn’t working. “Goddammit T’resa! Now stop it.”
Again she totally ignored him. It was obvious she was enjoying what she was doing. “Oh, stop being such a baby, Johnny,”
Murdoch took a long drink of his coffee, hiding the smile. “Well, if you must fight, Johnny, and get into trouble; then you have to endure the consequences. I would think by now you would understand there are always consequences for your actions.”
Johnny could see his father was enjoying himself and he resented his humor. Deep down in his heart he new he deserved what was happening and there was no way out for him. He gritted his teeth and was madder than hell but decided to say nothing and accept Teresa’s unwelcome attention. Until she swiped at his face again. “T’resa! enough already now!” Johnny was in real pain. Squinting up at her he resorted to begging using that sweet expression he knew would work. “Please!”
One look at that boyish face and big blue eyes, although bruised and puffy; she melted and stopped. “Alright, Johnny, it’s just that I love you, you know that don’t you?” With that she kissed the top of his head. He didn’t believe her; not for one fucking minute.
Murdoch leaned back in his chair. Surveying his sons’ still full plates he went into full bellow. “What’s wrong boys, don’t you feel like eating?”
Scott was holding his head in both hands and when he spoke the words came in a whisper. Inside his head it still felt as if he were shouting. “Murdoch, please let up will you? We get it.”
Ignoring his older son, the tall Scot continued his loud rant. “Teresa went to lot of trouble for you boys. The least you could do is try to eat something.” He reconsidered. “All of it.”
Johnny in particular was not looking so hot and was clearly in discomfort what with his pounding head, sick stomach, and the constant throbbing of the cut just to the side of his left eye. Once more Murdoch smiled. At last, sweet revenge he thought as he looked at his two sons.
Johnny was at the point of rebellion. The old man might think it was all pretty funny, but… he didn’t! He looked at the runny egg on his plate and felt that it was staring right back at him. It was the last straw. Clutching his belly he leapt from the table and disappeared outside.
Unable to help themselves; Murdoch and Teresa laughed out loud. Even Scott smiled at their antics. He knew he wasn’t feeling as ill as his brother. Raising both hands in surrender he addressed his father. “Alright Sir you’ve made your point; I think we’ve learned our lesson.”
Murdoch finished his coffee. “Not yet, my boy. Your lessons are just beginning.”
Scott had determined he had just discovered a whole new definition for the word exhausted. As he and Johnny headed for the main house he decided to enlighten his brother. “Do you know what little brother? I think I am beginning to agree with you’re favorite phrase ‘fucking dead assed tired’.
Johnny eyed his brother suspiciously. He knew that Scott enjoyed fucking but he rarely said the word. “Look Scott we’re already in enough trouble with the old man, without him hearing you cuss, can’t we just go inside eat and go to bed?”
Drink in hand and looking very refreshed, Murdoch met them at the door. Both of his boys looked like something the cat had dragged in; as if they had fenced every inch of the one hundred thousand acres of Lancer land. They were dirty, sweaty and he imagined quite rank. The thought caused him to smile. “Did you have a good day boys?”
Before Johnny could say anything, Scott placed his hand over his little brother’s mouth, clenching tightly to keep him from gnawing down on his fingers. “Alright Murdoch, we get it. No more late nights during the work week.” Then, getting a whiff of his own smelly armpit, “Excuse my rudeness sir, but I hope you don’t mind if I get cleaned up for supper?” The next came a little harder. “I’m exhausted.”
Murdoch took a long swallow of his recently acquired Glen Morangie his gaze shifting to his younger son. “Does that mean you too, son? Are you also exhausted?”
Scott immediately clamped his hand back across his brother’s mouth. He could swear he could actually feel Johnny mouthing ‘fucking dead assed tired’.
Johnny pried Scott’s fingers away from his face. “Yes, sir.” Then the old rebellion resurfacing he whispered, “Hell, no. I’m just fucking fine.”
Murdoch took a step forward. “Would you care to repeat that son?”
Johnny backed off and dropped his shoulders. “No,” and because he knew he was waiting, “Sir.”
Young devil defiant to the end. He can barely stand. Still the boy would think twice about doing it again…. wouldn’t he? He never knew with Johnny; he never gave an inch.
“Until the next time?” Murdoch questioned.
Scott raised both hands into the air. “No sir, I can assure you there will not be a next time, there is a time to play and that is not during the week.”
Murdoch smiled. My oldest son Scott ever ready to make amends. They are so different but in many ways the same too.
“Do you feel the same way too Johnny?” Murdoch asked trying to make sure he had also learned his lesson.
Johnny scowled, lifted his head and then… finally smiled at his father. God the old man doesn’t let up, does he? Stubborn to the end. The boy brought out his trump card, “Yes, Pa.”
“All right boys wash up, eat and then bed, at least I know you want be getting into trouble tonight.”
They barely had the energy to eat, but eat they did, in silence.
Straight after supper they arose from the table and made for the warmth and security of their beds.
Murdoch, not forgetting Johnny’s earlier defiance, called out to his youngest boy. “You too, Johnny? I thought you weren’t tired, my son. I was looking forward to a game of chess with you.”
“Goodnight, Murdoch,” Johnny said, not lifting his head up.
Murdoch laughed. “Goodnight. boys!”
He watched as his boys dragged their tired bodies to bed. Neither Scott nor Johnny… unusually… had anything more to say!!! Both were asleep the minute their heads hit their pillows and once more silence and peace descended on the Lancer family and ranch.
Heather fae Bonnie Scotland.