Disclaimer:-Usual shit…I don’t own the characters…(no actually, rather they own me…) LOL…I make no apologies to FOX for taking them out to play though.
Small references:- To ‘Busted,’ by Kit Prate and the ‘The Gringo,’ also by Kit, in this piece. Thanks Kit.
I was bored so shoot me! John Lancer is nineteen and Scott is twenty five.
“Well that was just plain insanity! Johnny hold still!” Scott ordered as his younger brother squirmed beneath his hold.
“The things I have to do.” He exclaimed; his eyes reflecting both affection and concern as he looked upon his younger sibling; his thoughts going to what Sam had said. He shook his head. Johnny’s recklessness never ceased to amaze him. In fact all three men had been amazed at what he had done and they had hovered over Johnny, something the boy had groused about, receiving a smack to his ear from his old man, for his impudence. Val had glanced over at his new friend Scott, suppressing a grin as they watched Murdoch. He always got tetchy when Johnny did something stupid and running into a burning store was just plain madness!
It had gotten so bad lately Murdoch had taken to worrying over Johnny the minute he rode off of the ranch; to the point he had taken to grounding him for any misdeeds, so that he could keep a general eye on him. That had been Val’s idea after an evening’s drinking, discussing a one John Lancer and how Murdoch was going to try to rein the kid in.
It seemed the boy made a point of risking his life, Val had told both Scott and Murdoch. Caring little about his own life, as if he had a death wish. Murdoch had roared that wasn’t going to wash and Johnny was then pulled aside and told he was being selfish; that he had a family that cared about him now and he wasn’t alone anymore and he had to consider this and how his reckless actions were now affecting them.
Johnny had scoffed earning himself another thick ear! Val, Murdoch and Scott all of them determined to change the way he thought.
Scott grinned as he looked down at his now scantily clad younger sibling. They were in Johnny’s bedroom, where the boy had been sent after they had got home. Sam had told him to go directly to bed and rest because in all reality he was probably in shock. His lower back, buttocks and upper thighs were scorched and in dire need of the salve Sam had given them.
Scott shook his head for the umpteenth time, ”What were you thinking Johnny,” he lectured.
Johnny was in no mood for yet more lectures and it showed. “Wasn’t was I?” he sulked, pouting as he winced.
Scott tried to sooth him, but the anger showed on his face. Johnny, the twins and the town’s people had successfully avoided a serious fire from spreading to the neighboring houses and businesses but the Widow Hargis’s store had all but been destroyed; the fire starting on the boardwalk directly outside her store.
Not that she was grateful that the town had been saved, no she had glared hard at the few cigarette butts, still on the dusty street below, which just happened to be located just outside her store next to the none existing boardwalk that had burned to savagely only moments before.
She glared at the three twitching youths standing before her; her eyes narrowing as she saw Johnny’s foot hovering to try to cover up their transgression with dirt; the three boys looking so guilty it was easy for her to come to several conclusions.
The kerosene lamp that had hung outside her store for several months in fact, had been knocked down, due to some tomfoolery that she had witnessed only moments before the blaze. In fact she had chased all three boys off with her broom, but they had matriculated back, rough housing just outside her store once more, resulting in the lamp being dislodged from its position.
Johnny had just taken a last long draw on his cigarette and had flung it to the boardwalk when the lamp smashed into a million pieces beside him; the kerosene quickly igniting on the dry boardwalk, fueled by his carelessly discarded cigarette.
The twins had stood bug eyed as the flames had licked towards the entrance of the Widows store and up Johnny’s leather clad leg! Thankfully Val had been walking up the boardwalk and had seen everything and he had moved like greased lightning!
After the fire had been put out, the Widow’s eyes had drifted instinctively to the three miscreants covered now in soot, due to the fact that despite Johnny’s injuries, all three had rushed guiltily to help put out with the fire! She had gone on to point a finger, yelling at them, causing Johnny to open his mouth without thinking, as usual. “Well this is just fuckin’ great!” Johnny had cussed, “We risk our lives tryin’ ta save your shithole of a store an ….”
His words had trailed off when Val had held up the discarded cigarette butts!! All three denying they had even been smoking. The Lawman was already shaking his head as he pointed to his jailhouse with a command, “March!” all the while looking at their discarded cigarettes now in his palm. His frown was even more apparent as he realized the cigarette butts were not tobacco, but Marijuana! Once inside his jail he sent Ty to fetch Sam, whispering in Johnny’s ear, “Your in so much trouble you little shit!”
Johnny had recently taken up smoking, much to the annoyance of both Murdoch and Scott, who both enjoyed an occasional cigarette or cigar themselves; something the boy had pointed out. Like always Johnny hadn’t listened to their lectures, mostly because he knew they couldn’t tell, at a distance anyway, whether he was smoking Marijuana or tobacco and he liked Marijuana. It relaxed him and he figured it was alright to, since he didn’t tend to do anything in excess. Johnny liked to be in control and he knew when to stop. It was the same when he drank; he hardly ever got so drunk he didn’t know where or who he was. However recently that had changed somewhat, as he realized his back was now covered by those he loved and now trusted.
Anyway, here they were. Scott sighed. The fire had scorched his baby brother’s lower back, backside and upper right thigh and leg. Not badly, but enough to smart and to need some medical attention in the form of a slave, which Scott was lavishly slapping on now.
“Serves you right little brother.” He grunted as he held his brother down. “Murdoch and I told you, you were not to smoke and what were you doing? “ he didn’t wait for an answer, “smoking and NOT even tobacco according to Val. You do know Murdoch’s going to be a bear about all of this little brother don’t you?”
Johnny groaned. He had already suffered an ear chewing from Val who seemed to think he had the God given right to exercise his parental authority even though he wasn’t his daddy anymore!
“I also seem to remember shouting out a warning, if you remember, but did you listen? No little brother you did not!” Scott lectured.
Again Johnny groaned; not only was his ass smarting but his ears were beginning to ring with all the wise ass lecturing too….It was enough for the youth to try a different tact.
”Hurts, Scott!” he complained, wincing and looking for sympathy, which he didn’t get. “I’d a been ok if that kerosene lamp hadn’t a dropped and smashed into a million pieces, Owch!! Jesus Scott.” He hissed. “Go easy will ya?”
Scott closed his eyes in silent prayer. If it hadn’t been for Val’s quick actions Johnny would’ve been killed for sure! His grabbing Johnny by the lapels and throwing him into the water trough had almost certainly saved the boy from a flaming death! His leather conchos catching fire, as the kerosene ignited had been terrifying thing to see.
Val had landed on top of the boy, both of them in the trough and Johnny had panicked, finally rising up to sock Val squarely on the jaw! Scott and Murdoch were still amazed, Val hadn’t killed him over that one!
However the opposite had been the case. Val had pulled Johnny out of the trough, hugging him closely and had then proceeded to rub his back; whispering something softly into his ear. He was seemingly unfazed by the sock to his jaw! Then their jaws had literally dropped open, at what they had seen next. Val had pulled Johnny into a breathe stealing hug, real tears in his eyes as he thanked a God he rarely even acknowledged, over and over. “Thank God….oh God, Johnny for God’s sake! Oh God.. thank you!”
But before they had time to ask what was going on, all hell broke loose and vla had released Johnny springing into action; organizing a water bucket line.
Then Murdoch had all but fainted when his then soaking wet son had run into the Widows store! Terrified his still spattered in kerosene pants, would alight once more!
“Scott leave it will ya?” he groused.
“I will not.” Scott said, smirking a little now. “You did a stupid thing running into that store little brother, Your pants still had some residue of kerosene you do know that don’t you. I thought for sure Val was going to kill you when you finally emerged from the store!” he slapped on more of the salve, feeling Johnny tense beneath his hands and shook his head. “Now there’s a shocker…you doing something stupid.” Just thinking of Johnny running into the burning building had Scott slapping on even more of the salve, hard!
Johnny scowled. It was bad enough he’d been scorched, but to be lying belly down over Scott’s knee, clad in only his drawers; the flap of said drawers open and his bare ass showing for all to see…… ‘Pain in the ass big brother…. ‘ he thought, snickering softy at the irony at what he had just thought…., was mind bogglingly embarrassing, not to mention damned painful and he was totally pissed off. "
"Fuck off Scott.” He hissed. “Get off my back, I thought the Widow was still in there and I was scared she’d be trapped.” He groused, chuckling slightly at the irony of that too…, ‘Me worried about her, seriously?’
The familiar cuss was more than enough to make the older brother change his mind about the salve. Instead, he raised his right hand high above his head and brought it down with a loud sharp slap; leaving a perfect risen hand print on his baby brother’s already red backside!
Johnny let out a yowl that would’ve made a coyote proud, as he tried to struggle out of his older brother’s tight grasp, “Madre di Dios! Whoa! What the Hell?”
“I’ll give you a burning sensation alright little brother if you don’t stop the obscenities,” Scott declared angrily, “And I’ll hurt you a whole lot more than the singeing you received from that fire, and make no mistake…” he yelled threatening to bring his hand down once more and grinning as he watched his brother tense his buttocks in anticipation.
Finally feeling his brother release his tight hold, Jonny rolled off of Scott’s lap; falling onto the floor and landing hard on his already sore backside. The flap of his drawers, were still open and he rubbed at the residual sting left by Scott’s painful slap!
“Ow!! Jesus Scott. Fuck, that hurt! I’m already sore back there ya know? You had no call to do that!” He groused clearly pissed, frowning a little as he spied Scott’s face flush with anger. He panicked when he saw him rise up from the bed to take a step in his direction, and held up his right hand; his gun hand, palm forwards, “What?” he questioned realizing immediately what he had done….’shit!’ “I..I meant …, eh…, awe hell, I didn’t mean ta cuss alright Scott?!” he corrected, a yelp sounding as he pulled up the flap of his drawers, to cover his ass, just in case!
Scott shook his head, a slight smirk appearing at the corner of his mouth. “No?” he questioned a glint in his eye.
“NO!!” Johnny declared his eyes flashing in defiance, then they softened a tad, “Scott..?” The whine was in his voice and in the question.
“Yes little brother.”
“ I’m hurtin’, you had no right to do that…, God-damn-it Scott, I’m hurtin’ here!”
Scott jerked a thumb at his own chest, “I am your older, wiser, bigger brother Johnny that gives me the right; especially when I think you’re not listening or being an idiot or when Murdoch isn’t here and he’s in his room as far as I know.. So he’s not here…” he grinned. “You want me to go get him? Ask him if what I did was out of order Johnny?”
Johnny’s head snapped up at that. “No!” He knew full well Murdoch in all reality would do a whole lot more!
“How many times has Murdoch or I for that matter,” he paused for a moment starting to count; tapping his fingers on his thigh, “And of course Val, Cip, Jelly, Maria, Elena and not forgetting, “Scott actually grinned, “our fair Teresa…” He shook his head when Johnny made a face, “How many times have you been told by every one of us, at one time or another, to watch your mouth? Then there’s the fact you behaved recklessly. Murdoch’s going to have your hide. You know how he’s been going on about your recklessness little brother and the fact you seem to dance with death; to enjoy dancing with death. You didn’t see him when Val pulled you out of that trough…He was as white as a sheet boy; I thought he was goin’ to pass out when you then ran into the store!”
“We’ve all warned you about the dire consequences if you continue to behave recklessly and this time your actions could’ve cost you, your life!! Neither Murdoch nor I, are willing to let that fly. You need to think before you act. What you did was insane. You don’t play with fire, ever, clear John?” He pinged Johnny on the forehead to make sure he had his attention. “You know what we’ve all been telling you…Think before you act!”
“Hey,” Johnny swiped, “I was worried about the old biddy.., shit…Scott!” He sneered more than a tad pissed now as he rubbed his forehead.
“Are we clear little brother?” Scott prodded, angrily. “You do not take risks with your life John.”
Johnny quickly held up his hand in the universal sign of peace, “Alright, alright I get it…its clear brother, crystal clear.” He relented, well slightly…
He was pissed that everyone in his household felt they had the right to lecture him, even smack him with their hands, belts (as in his father’s case and Val’s for that matter) and their wooden spoons, (as in Maria’s case). All of them thinking it was their God given right to chastise him like a child!
He was past all that wasn’t he? All grown! It simply annoyed the hell out of him and then he thought about Teresa who was younger than him…, ’well admittedly by only eleven months, but still!!’ Even she wasn’t adverse to popping him on the ass when she felt he had stepped out of line and it was all getting to much for the boy!
Scott smiled, “I know what you’re thinking Johnny but it’s all part of being a family.” He said grinning now but then he frowned when he heard his brother’s muttered response; the name Teresa floating in the air, followed by a deluge of abuse that he gut sure knew, to be derogatory. Deciding not to tolerate his younger brother’s increasingly foul mood, he asked him something, he knew he would hate, mimicking their father perfectly.
“Would you care to repeat that John?”
Johnny did a double take. He sounded so much like Murdoch; his voice sounding strict and his demeanor stern, just like Murdoch on a rant! Scott really looked like him at times and this was one of those times. So much so, it unnerved him.
‘Still,’ he sighed, rolling his eyes. “You ain’t Murdoch, Scott, so don’t go even go there! An’ I ain’t scared of you. ” he hissed realizing he was at times, but also realizing he would never let Scott know.
He sighed he could be awfully hard on his sister when he thought about it and he didn’t really understand why, because in all reality, he cared for the girl…Well sometimes he did anyway.
Scott and Murdoch had talked about their ongoing feud and Scott had told Murdoch that as far as he understood it, it was just some kind of healthy sibling rivalry; something he had seen with his friends in Boston; with their own baby sisters. A kind of love hate thing going on, that had Murdoch at his wits end!
The trouble was it had once got physical, at least as far as Teresa was concerned anyway! The girl had never won an argument with her adopted brother. Johnny had always been quick with an answer, when they quarreled and once it had resulted in the girl thumping him in frustration! Then all Johnny had done was restrain her, as she’d tried to hit out at him again.
However Murdoch had walked in on them, and the sight of his ex-gunfighter younger son manhandling his ward had been too much for Murdoch to bear. He had grabbed Johnny by the lapels and shoved him up against the wall and it had gone downhill from there; with Johnny taking a round house swing at his father’s head. Murdoch had then marched with his son in tow, out to the barn; Teresa all the while running alongside them both, surprisingly begging Murdoch not to hurt Johnny!
The memory of that ‘discussion’ made Scott wince. Things had been decidedly better between them since then, but still they fought. A hint of a smile touched his lips which he shook away, as quickly as it had tried to come.
He looked down at his younger sibling now deep in thought, ‘the two of them fought like cat and dog; with Johnny more often than not, getting the upper hand,’ he grinned, ‘the boy drives her crazy at times, Murdoch too…!’
Johnny, Scott believed, had been first in line, when God had been handing out brains and balls! Still he couldn’t help feeling sorry for Teresa. It was obvious the girl loved her slightly older sibling, very much in fact and it was equally obvious Johnny loved her right back, although he would never admit it. No rather the boy preferred to return her love, by teasing her mercilessly.
Scott shook his head, again!
The funny thing was, if anyone outside the family said anything bad about Teresa, Johnny immediately came to her defense and thought nothing of pounding the offender into the ground, even if they were bigger; which they very often were.
Johnny wasn’t tall by any stretch of the imagination and Scott thought he never would be. According to the pictures Scott had seen of his siblings mother, physically Johnny was his mother reborn, possessing the same porcelain like features, the same slight build. Johnny was a bundle of nervous energy, and all muscle. Still despite this he was lean, skinny even, and their housekeeper was always urging him to eat more, even though the boy had a bottomless pit!
Murdoch had indicated more than once, Johnny’s grace and physical attributes were his mother’s. However as Jelly had told him once Lancer’s blood flowed in Johnny’s veins after all; the boy apparently just as pigheaded as him!
Still Scott knew Murdoch worried about Johnny, because he had told him, Johnny’s mother had run away, that indeed she had been running away when he had met her, and he feared Johnny might do the same.
However, the boy had shown loyalty to his family during Pardee’s raids and since then too. Fact was, Johnny was on probation, because he had pounded several of Teresa’s suitors, believing not one of them to be suitable for his little sister. And Scott had wondered if in Johnny’s opinion, any man would be!
The pure and simple fact was, Johnny was a tough, back street fighter, who had learned during his sometimes harsh upbringing, a thing or two about bringing a much bigger man down. More than once, when they had indulged in a saloon fight or two, Scott had noticed Johnny holding his own; often using his feet, concentrating on his opponent’s crotch! The boy didn’t always fight according to Queens Bury rules!! ……
….. “Johnny?” Scott prodded. “What did you just say then?”
Johnny lifted his head and glared up at his brother; his eyes narrowing as he tried to gauge Scott’s mood; realizing at once Scott was deadly serious.
“You were serious about the question before? Ithought you was just funnin’,” he said smirking.
Nuthin’.” was his sullen reply, the pout as pronounced as ever, and then his tone teasing he added, “You hearin’ things again brother?” he smirked shaking his head as if he were truly concerned, “Fuck it must be scary…” he mocked making Scott frown once more at the obscenity. “What must be scary?” he had to ask; his patience wearing thin.
“You know, you getting’ old…, bein’ older an all… huh?” the kid smirked. “Losing yer marbles must be a scary thing….” he laughed. “Hearin’ things that ain’t there….ya know…like now.” He indicated with a prolonged sigh….
Scott took another step forward, his hands on his hips now and Johnny shuffled back keeping his distance; his smirk hidden by the dip of his head. He realized he had just gone a tad too far, but still he wasn’t able to stop himself. He knew better than to push Scott but the temptation to tease Scott was just too overwhelming at times.
Johnny knew the young man, now towering over him, had a mean temper and a mean right hook and having once been on the receiving end, of his right hook; a punch so strong it had sent him flying down an embankment, seeing stars. He’d made up his mind never to test the young man again! He wasn’t exactly afraid of him, no, he just had a healthy respect for him, but he did enjoy baiting the young man never the less.
Scott shook his head. “Johnny I know you were miss calling Teresa…”
“Well if you already knew, then why’d you ask? Jeez brother!” he smirked.
Scott chose to forget the Teresa thing. “Johnny, how many times,” he sighed counting to ten; figuring he really needed to count to a hundred. “Have we, all of us, “He moved on, indicating with a sweeping motion of his right hand, making the boy actually duck and flinch, “told you, not to cuss?” He finished.
Johnny’s eyes widened, “That’s why you slapped me on the ass?!! ….Jesus, brother, ‘cause I cussed!!” he snorted, “Kinda hurts back there ya know.” He pointed, aching something fierce. “You didn’t hav’ta do that to make yer point; coulda just reminded me for fuc….” He sneaked a peek…’shit looks fit to burst!’
Scott growled and quickly Johnny amended what he had intended saying, “Uh I mean’t,…” he paused, “for goodness sake.” He grinned, that boyish grin that simply melted the hearts of the fallen doves in the saloons of Green River and Morro Coyo and often worked with his family too, when they were in the right mood to accept it…
Scott actually laughed. “Of course you did little brother. Get up!” He bent down offering Johnny a hand, “Here, let me help you, c’mon.”
Johnny shook his head, refusing to take his outstretched hand, “Nope thanks all the same. I’ve had enough of your hand to last me a lifetime.” He sighed. “I’ll get up on my own, if it’s all the same to you.” And with that he jumped to his feet with his usual grace, despite the pain he felt; a hiss and a grunt following the move as he rubbed his hands together.
He grinned up at his older sibling once again, “So, what we gonna do now..? kinda bored with all the lectures ya know. C’mon Scott, I get it, don’t cuss, don’t smoke, even when you and Pa do…” he smirked, “An’ don’t run into a burning building…I won’t, cross my heart and hope to…”
“Don’t say it!” Scott warned…
Johnny grinned…”Alright.., I promise. There how’s that?”
Scott rolled his eyes. Johnny could be a regular pain in the ass! “Alright I’ll let it go but I doubt Murdoch will Johnny. I think he intends speaking to you about your reckless behavior tomorrow; he’s far too angry to talk to you right now…says he’ll end up killing you with his bare hands if….” He left the rest unsaid watching as Johnny swallowed; his anxiety clear.
“He really that mad Scott, or are ya just yankin’ ma chain?”
“He really said it; sent me to tend to you because a. you were still injured and b. he wanted to calm down before he talk with you. He’s gone to bed Johnny and he told me to see to you.”
Johnny sighed. “Jesus, then I was right, that’s why you’re talkin’ to me right now….huh?” he complained.
Scott laughed, “That’s what comes of having a family that cares Johnny.”
Johnny made a pffft sound.
“You do, you know? Have a family that cares. You do know that Johnny don’t you?” he repeated.
Scott sighed. “Know that you have a family that cares? Haven’t you been paying attention?”
Johnny nodded, “Yeah, course but you know what? Sometimes I wish you all didn’t care quite so much,” he groused a hint of a smile appearing never the less.
Scott thumped him in the ear. “You don’t mean that!” he teased. “You love it when we fuss around you…Oh you complain, but I know you love it really!” he laughed.
Johnny found himself laughing along with him, because he knew in his heart it was true. He did enjoy most of the attention he got, but every now and then it got to be too much, “I guess I do sometimes enjoy the extra attention, sometimes,” he admitted a little shyly….Then changing the subject he asked, ”Now, what about that poker game?”
Scott pinged him on the ear, again!
It never ceased to amaze Scott how easily Johnny slipped from one mood to the other. In the blink of an eye he could be laughing and then pointing a gun at someone, his mood as icy as a frozen lake in winter, and just as dangerous.
“Let’s play poker Scott or chess? What about it?” Johnny asked, a mischievousness lighting his eyes, making the blue, even more vivid.
‘There it is,’ Scott thought, ‘that smile’.’ It was the same one that lit the room when his little brother chose to gift them with it; the same one that made Murdoch sigh in contentment. As Johnny settled into his role as son and heir that smile was showing itself a whole lot more and it pleased the older brother.
It had been quite some time since Scott had seen Johnny’s alter ego Madrid. Not that it bothered him. No the opposite was the case. In fact he along with Val and his father were relieved that Johnny was becoming more Lancer now
There was no doubting Madrid had saved his life on more occasions than they cared to even think about, and they didn’t doubt Madrid could still, when the need arose, resurface with often deadly results, but on the whole Johnny was becoming more Lancer every day; letting the boy long since suppressed out as he did so, and it was nice to see.
It warmed their very soul’s to see him smile in such a way. Val had even commented on, its childlike qualities as if he were remembering a time gone by.
Murdoch had shared the many Pinkerton reports he had on Johnny with Scott and it had made for some pretty painful reading but it had given the younger man a much deeper insight into the complexities that was Johnny. Scott had always admired his younger brothers survival skills but after reading some of the reports he had wondered at his brothers ability to survive so well. Johnny had survived in a world set to kill him and if the Pinkerton reports were anything to go by, it was a damned miracle he had managed to reach nineteen at all!
He looked at him and his smile lit the room; that same smile also tugged at the heart strings of every woman he encountered. The boy was certainly a charmer.
Attractive, girls noticed him and when he entered a saloon, it was as if he wasn’t there. Despite the fact, he wasn’t a bad looking man himself. All of the younger whores vied for Johnny’s attention, which he lavishly gave! Johnny was cocky but not so much about the way he looked. He was just generally cocky but there was no denying he was a good looking kid……
……“Poker?” Johnny prodded upon seeing his brothers eyes glaze over.
“Mmmm what? Oh yeah poker…” Scott grinned. He could spend hours just thinking about Johnny and often did.
“I’m game,” Johnny said rounding on his brother. “It’ll give me a chance to win back all that money you stole from me the other day.., ‘member, when you cheated?” he said pocking Scott in the ribs and rubbing his head vigorously.
Scott reached out and pulled Johnny into a headlock and the fight was on.
“God-damn-it Scott, c’mon lemme go will ya? Jeez…, can’t hardly breathe!”
“Give it up Johnny. You’ll never win against me.” Scott bragged, laughing now.
“Yeah?” It was as if the devil himself had landed on the youth’s shoulders, as he lifted his now booted foot to ram his heel into his, wiser pain in the ass brother’s shin, hard!
The howl when it came sounded like the wolf they’d heard one lonely night out on the trail. Johnny was instantly let go. He’d quite forgotten he’d put on his spurs; an almost instinctual thing for him, since he liked the sound they made when he walked.
Then it happened. Scott Garret Lancer, usually the epitome of good manners and etiquette, forgot Twenty five years of teaching; the air around him turning blue! “You fucking son of a bitch….I’m knock you on your back for that. You little shit! When I get a hold of you I’m gonna whomp the living daylights out of you….Jesus Christ Johnny that hurt!” he hopped, …”Fuck!” He huffed as he rubbed his chin, clearly in pain. He hobbled towards his little brother now! “You wait, you .., you…, you..! When I get a hold of you, I’m gonna pound you into the ground you.., you..! I’m gonna…I’m gonna…kill you!” he yelled, frustrated that he couldn’t come up with anything else to call him. He reached out missing his younger sibling, by mere inches when he danced past him!
Johnny was prancing now triumphantly, his hands in the air. “Whoooee., big brother! Well, well, well if Papi could hear ya now! Huh? Mr. Etiquette ….Mr I don’t cuss…., Mr. Good Manners!” Yep ‘ol Papi would be fallin’ over right about now, holdin’ onto his chest an’ gaspin’ for air. You make me so proud brother!” He guffawed, winking!
Scott was crow hopping now, across the floor, still rubbing at his abused shin. Johnny on the other hand was concentrating on keeping his distance whilst laughing his ass off!
“When I catch you, you won’t be laughing, believe me.” Snarled Scott.
“…But…,” Johnny winked, “And here’s the …catch….big.. brother,” He giggled. “You gotta… catch… me first, huh.” He smirked. “An’ I’m fast on ma feet.” He did a little gig.., “Hell I’m almost as fast on my feet, as I am at drawing my pistol.” He chuckled.
Despite the pain on his chin, Scott couldn’t help but smile. He knew Johnny hadn’t meant to spur him, no the boy had used pure instinct to dispatch him and hadn’t even thought about the pain he might inflict and although he was crowing out his victory, he had immediately noticed concern in his young face when Scott had yowled! He’d deducted he was fine, and the inevitable teasing had begun!
“Johnny,” he hissed, “ you forgot you were wearing your spurs didn’t you? …I was only playing, you do know that, don’t you?”
“Yeah I..I guess,” he sniffed, “but well…I..I panicked.” He frowned a little. “You alright?”
“Yes,” Scott grimaced. “Bruised, but intact.”
“You’ll be fine huh? You’ll survive; I’ve had worse. ” Johnny said his chin resting on his chest now guiltily.
Scott nodded. “Yes I know.”
Johnny’s head snapped up. “Murdoch been letting you read that shit about me again, me and my …, “ he grinned, “my adventures.” he giggled nervously and looked into his brother’s eyes, his own filling with true remorse now.
Johnny looked truly sorry and walking over to his brother, he embraced him, rubbing his back gently, “I’m sorry Scott, you’re alright though huh? Yeah you’ll be fine…” he answered for him.
Scott wasn’t sure who he was trying to convince and after a moments silence, he took full advantage of their close proximity and in a flash sat down on Johnny bed, pulling him over his lap and holding him easily in place.
“Hey!” Johnny’s legs were held fast by Scotts.
“Got’cha!” Scott yelled, tapping Johnny’s backside with the palm of his right hand. When he felt his sibling clench his buttocks, he laughed out loud. ”I’ll teach you to kick your brother!” he laughed.
“Awe c’mon Scott I was …er…I was only kiddin’.”
Scott smiled, “Of course you were Johnny, as am I!” he grinned immediately letting Johnny get up.
Later silence permeated Johnny’s room as one nursed a sore shin and the other a scorched backside. Both were now on Johnny’s bed, their heads together resting on the headboard.
Johnny was the first to speak. “I’d no call to kick you like that Scott, and I am sorry.” He sighed.
Scott smiled. “Yes I know. I forgive you little brother.”
“You goin’ ta apologize for… punishin’ me?” Johnny asked softly, looking very much the injured party.
Scott smiled, “Nope, as your wiser older brother it’s my job to set you straight. Besides I’d hardly call a love pat punishment!” he snickered.
“Smart Ass!” Johnny pulled his pillow out from behind him and began to beat Scott with it and another fight was on.
Their laughter filled the night air; the sound of his sons playing, precious to Murdoch’s ears as he listened at his younger boys door. He had heard it all and was finally filled with a sense of contentment, he hadn’t felt in a long while. His sons were home and despite their obvious differences or perhaps in spite of them, they got along, and he was thrilled. He closed his eyes and sighed, glad that things had worked out so well because in all reality it could’ve gone either way. As he trudged to his room he reflected on how things had turned out. Johnny had almost died in front of a firing squad and by a fluke of nature he had been saved by a father he had once hated. ‘Sixty seconds from a bullet!’ He gasped his heart skipping a beat and his eyes filling with tears at the very thought. ‘To die before he’d had a chance to really live.’ That had almost been Johnny’s fate. Murdoch lifted his hand and wiped a tear as it ran down his cheek. Johnny once again had a future and he felt elated.
God had gifted him with both of his sons once more and Murdoch was determined to keep the tenuous thread that bound them together intact. Nothing short of the end of the world was going to separate him from his sons again and he determined he would move heaven and earth to keep his family intact. He opened his bedroom door and went inside to the sound of thudding two doors down!
“Boys!” he roared. “It’s getting late. Quiet down and get to bed, the pair of you.”
Johnny and Scott froze. “I might just wanna sneak out and go into town ….You know, meet up with Becka.” Johnny suggested winking.
“Johnnyyyyy!” Scott thumped him on the head.
“Well he can’t tell me what to do.” He sulked.
“And John, you make sure you stay there!” Murdoch added. ”I’ll be checking up on you later, and if I find you’re not in bed, fast asleep…..…” his voice trailed off but the treat of what he might do was very clear.
Johnny frowned. “Jesus, how’d he guess, what I was thinkin’?!”
Scott grinned, “Because he’s getting to know you, well us really now. And I guess his instincts come from being a father to us now, little brother.” He suggested.
“That right. So what you’re sayin’ is, we should look at Murdoch as a daddy now instead of well…just Murdoch?”
“You know what, I guess I am saying just that.” He grinned. “Feels good doesn’t it, having a daddy now.”
Johnny dipped his head. “Yeah I guess it does…So what do we call him now, then? I mean he clearly wants the job huh?”
“Morning comes early at Lancer.” Murdoch interrupted. “Scott you get to your own room and John you get you backside into that bed of yours and get to sleep.”
He climbed into bed to the sound of, “Yes Pa,” coming in unison.
“Pa?” he chuckled. He’d waited a long time to here that one small word.
‘Maybe this being a father…thing… wasn’t so bad after all.’
“Night Pa,” they said again as one.
“Good night my sons.” He answered, smiling as he snuggled down.
“Now get to bed!” He added, lifting his head from his pillow and laughing softly when he heard Scott tell Johnny good night and creep across the hall. He listened as his door closed, and rested his head once more on his pillow. As his eyelids drooped, he quietly said, his now nightly prayer.
“Thank you, Lord, for bringing them both back to me, and for giving me a second chance and….” He laughed as his eyes opened fully, “For giving me the strength to not kill Johnny! ”
Laying his head down, he chuckled quietly and quickly fell asleep.