Disclaimer: They don’t belong to me but that didn’t stop me from exploiting them for absolutely no profit!
Author’s note: I couldn’t let Father’s Day go by without at least a tiny ficlet about it.
~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~
Scott, ensconced in a chair with a book on his lap and a drink by his side, watched with amusement as Johnny twisted and turned on the sofa. His younger brother sighed loudly, ran his hands through his hair for about the hundredth time, hopelessly tangling the dark strands to the point Scott doubted even a horse brush could pass through the mess. The nervous energy radiating off of his brother was causing the younger man to fairly twitch in his clothes, in fact his long slender fingers had now begun plucking at the concho buttons along the sides of his pant legs.
Pushing up from the couch, Johnny began another patrol around the room. Stepping around the sofa he gently touched the crow’s nest on Murdoch’s model ship. Strolling towards the desk Johnny fingered a few pages on the ledger book that had been left opened on the desk. From there he wandered to the oldest Lancer’s favorite chair, leaning over the back the youngest Lancer inhaled deeply, most likely getting a nose full of the spicy apple tobacco preferred by Murdoch. Scott’s eyebrows arched in surprise when Johnny’s next stop was the drink cabinet but instead of pouring himself a shot of his beloved Tequila, he poured a portion of Talisker’s into a glass and sipped it slowly, with a curious melancholy look overtaking his face.
“Johnny, you’re making me tired just watching you. If you were so restless and bored why didn’t you go to town tonight?”
“I didn’t want to go to town, besides it’s too late,” Johnny snapped irritably emphasizing the word late as he turned and dispiritedly walked with a foot dragging gait to the large ottoman in front of Murdoch’s chair. Johnny dropped down draping himself across the large footstool, normally one of his favorite places to catch a quick cat nap.
Understanding lit Scott’s eyes as he watched Johnny trace the patterns in the rug with his finger as he lay over the ottoman. This wasn’t excess energy Johnny was displaying; this was apprehension and worry rolled up with exhaustion. A bittersweet smile graced the older brother’s face as he connected all the facts of what he had observed tonight and came to his conclusion. Johnny was out of sorts because his routine had been broken. The boy had grown quite accustomed to spending his evenings, except for Saturday night, in the company of his family. Pure and simple, Johnny was missing their father. For the past few months, the Lancer men had fallen into the habit of retiring to the Great room after supper to unwind with drinks, reading and games as well as to discuss their day and it always ended the same way. At some point Johnny would sprawl across the ottoman in front of their father’s chair and drift to sleep until his father would awaken him with a back rub and instructions to head to bed. This Wednesday night, Johnny couldn’t settle because Murdoch’s absence was denying him his routine.
The rattle of the doorknob turning drew the brothers’ attention to the front door; Johnny’s hand ghosted to his side and loosed the leather strap to his colt. The wary look on his face was replaced with an affectionate smile when their father stepped in the house and nodded at them as he placed his hat and gun belt on the coat rack.
“I thought you were going to stay in town after the Cattleman’s meeting and come home in the morning, sir,” Scott said.
“I was but it wasn’t that late when the meeting ended and I started thinking about how much more comfortable my own bed would be so I came home,” Murdoch explained as he crossed the room and dropped heavily into his chair.
“You look tired,” Johnny stated as he jumped up and went to the drink cabinet and poured some Talisker’s for his father.
“Thank you, son,” Murdoch replied as he accepted the drink.
“Tell us about the meeting,” Johnny encouraged as he resumed his customary place on the ottoman.
“Yes, do tell us all about it,” agreed Scott as he watched the nervous energy leech from his little brother.
The Lancer patriarch’s deep resonant voice filled the room with a secure and warm feeling as he recalled the main points of the meeting; hardly two minutes elapsed before Johnny’s body went completely limp over the footstool as sleep overtook him. Thirty minutes later, Murdoch reached out and gently rubbed his youngest son’s back and bade him to go to bed. Scott yawned as he rose from his chair to join his brother as he was relaxed enough to sleep as well, now that his father was home and things were back to normal. He wondered briefly if his father needed this routine as much as his sons.
Father’s Day 2009