Warnings/Spoilers: Modern AU.
Disclaimer: Nope, don’t own Lancer.
Summary: Continuation of the Modern Lancer series. Follows Conversations & Old Scotch. Johnny receives a call that he should have expected - only he didn’t.
Expecting a call from Murdoch, Johnny didn’t look at the caller ID on his cell phone. Upon hearing the amused voice on the other end, he was reminded that he hadn’t made a necessary call.
“Hey, Hijo, where are you these days?”
“Papa?” The flash of panic caused a near mishap with the phone, but he recovered with a grimace. How could he not have called?
“Yes, your papa.” The deep, mellow voice of many bedtime stories flowed across the airwaves. “I know it’s been awhile, but I didn’t think you’d forget my voice.”
He couldn’t help the laugh. His stepfather was the kind of person who could make the mundane humorous and exciting with just the inflection of his voice.
And Johnny missed Gabriel. He hadn’t realized how much until now.
Leaning back in his chair and stretching out his legs, he crossed them at the ankles. “Nah, not that. Just surprised. I didn’t realize it had been so long.”
“Busy getting into trouble, no doubt.”
“Something like that.”
“We have some catching up to do. ”
Catching up? Yeah, there was that.
The burn of anger took him by surprise. He let it sweep over him, acknowledged it and did his best to stamp it down. Now wasn’t the time.
“Johnny?” Concern. He heard it. Wanted to answer, but his thoughts were too tangled in memories and what was now. “Hello?”
“Hijo, what’s wrong?”
How could he be so furious? He missed his father. Wanted to tell him everything, but deep down he suspected what he grew up believing to be truth, wasn’t.
And it hurt.
“Did you know Murdoch wanted me?”
The ringing silence went on for a good minute. Johnny’s own fury settled and he felt a niggling guilt at his bluntness. Gabriel had been his anchor since he could remember. He loved his mother, yet it was Gabriel he went to when troubled.
“You’re at Lancer?”
“Have been for about three months.” Johnny forced himself to relax. “It’s hard to find out your Mama and Papa lied to you.”
A heavy sigh. “That one, Juanito, is much more complicated than that and shouldn’t be discussed over the phone.”
“Where are you?”
“You’re in Spain?”
“I’m visiting family. I had hoped you would join me. That’s the reason I called. It has been too long.”
Johnny leaned forward and scraped a hand through his hair. “Don’t think this is a good time.”
“No, I understand that.” A pause. “Johnny, why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to find out it was true.” And wasn’t that a bitch to admit to himself.
“Your mama, she loved you. Don’t forget that.”
“I don’t doubt that.” Johnny realized he believed that and some of the weight left. “But I need to know what happened back then, ‘cause the Murdoch Lancer I’m beginning to know doesn’t match what I grew up with.”
A heavy silence followed, broken with Gabriel’s tentative tone. “Am I welcome to come see you?”
Johnny straightened. “Papa, of course. But don’t cut your visit short on account of this.”
“This is no trifling matter, I don’t like to leave it this way.”
Did he want to face it now? The fam…Lancers had barely recovered from the Cassidys’ visit.
“It’s waited this long, it can wait a while longer.” Johnny gave a soft laugh. “Besides, I need some time to tell everyone about you.”
“You haven’t?” Damn it, Gabriel sounded hurt.
“Nothing like that, Papa. Since we arrived –”
Johnny laughed outright. “My brother and I.”
“Scott is there?”
He shot to his feet. “You knew about him?” Whoa, there was that anger again.
“Vaguely. Your mama, she didn’t say much.”
“Jesus.” Johnny dropped on the couch. “This is hard to take.”
“Ah, Juanito, I know and I’m sorry for it. We’ll talk. I’ll call and I will come. We will get it worked out.”
“All right, but, Papa, no half-truths, no protecting Mama. I loved her, but I know she wasn’t a saint.”
Gabriel laughed. “No, no. She wasn’t that.” He sobered. “Think she loved you too much in some ways.”
“I’ll be here for a few more weeks. A month at the most. Is that too long?”
“No, that’s good. Just call, I’ll come get you.”
“Good enough. Take care, Johnny. You need me, do not hesitate to call, all right?”
“Will do. Nice to hear from you, Papa.”
“Miss you, Johnny. It’ll be good to see you again.”
Johnny stared down at his cell once the good-byes were finished about ready to vibrate out of his skin.
Gabriel wasn’t coming immediately. That more than anything told Johnny that the looming conversation wasn’t going to be a pretty one.
His cell rang again and the caller ID said ‘Murdoch’.
Johnny didn’t tell Murdoch. He just couldn’t. The weight of that omission propelled him out of the hacienda and to the barn. A short time later with hands wrapped and the gloves on, he took out his muddled emotions on the Everlast bag.
He didn’t know how long he kept swinging. The only way Johnny was aware that Scott had arrived was because the bag remained more stationary with his brother bracing it. Stepping back to shake his arms out, he accepted the bottled water that Scott handed over and chugged it down. Scott watched, then returned to his post on the other side of the bag.
Johnny smiled and slammed the bag hard.