Originally Named: Home
by Sprite

Rating: G

May 2002

Disclaimer: I really am infringing on someone elses copyright, but I mean it in the best possible way.

Cat: Thank you for all you do.

Summary: A day in the life of the boys from “Lancer”.


 March 21st.  The first day of spring and I had huddled under my blankets feeling miserable.  I was desperately home sick.  It was the first time I’d thought of Boston as home since I’d been here.

Back there I’d be pampered and coddled.  Someone would heat a brick and set it at my feet.  I’d be able to snuggle beneath a down comforter, under silk sheets and be waited on hand and foot.  I’d be able to sleep for days until I felt like a human being again.  Not be expected to get up and carry on like I had to here.

Johnny would be in any minute and I knew he’d be less than sympathetic of my thick head and watery eyes.  It’s my own fault, I was less than pleasant when he started to get sick last week.  “Beware the ides of March,” I’d joked with him when he came downstairs sniffling.

He’d given me a blank stare and huddled over his coffee cup.  I’d been teasing him for days about ranch life being too much for him.  I expected the same from him this morning.

He still didn’t knock before he entered my room, but this time I heard him before he got there.  His head cold had become a deep, rasping cough and I heard it through the door.  He came in a minute later and leaned against the doorframe, his arms crossed over his chest and one eyebrow raised.

I tried not to moan as I got up, but I didn’t succeed.  He smirked and I growled something like, “Don’t say a word.”

My skills as the intimidating older brother must be improving because he didn’t say anything, just stifled a cough and grinned while I sniffled and got dressed.  I made sure I had more than one handkerchief in my pocket and followed him down the stairs.

We were both rather uncommunicative over breakfast, hunched over our coffee cups.  Murdoch and Teresa kept the conversation going during the meal while he and I grudgingly grunted out the barest minimum of answers past sore throats and nagging coughs.

Teresa instructed the both of us to come into the kitchen before we headed out to the range and we tagged after her like puppies.  She had a kettle on the back burner and poured us each out a cup of tea.

Johnny’s she laced with honey and something else to help ease his cough, mine had red chili and something that despite its dreadful taste cleared my head in a rush.

I thanked her profusely, feeling that I could breath for the first time that morning.  Johnny just took her face in both hands and kissed the top of her head.

I thought that leaning over and tightening my cinch might cause my head to explode. But unfortunately I lived.

It was the first clear day since Monday.  It had rained or been gray all week.  But today was clear and bright and made a mockery of my misery.

We had moved the herd closer together into some fenced pastures the last few weeks in preparation for calving.  Large cows lowed and shifted, uncomfortable with their great weight and seemingly as miserable as I was.

Johnny headed up to a small stand of oak trees on a low hill near the meadow.  If a cow needed our help in the birthing process we’d be close at hand.  Not that I had any idea what would be expected of me, but as with everything else of ranch life, I’d learn as I went along.

I dismounted my horse and tied it to a low hanging branch so he could graze as we waited and watched.  Johnny stretched out in the low grass on his belly.  He cradled his chin in his hands and stared down at the herd.
 I used my handkerchief before sitting down on the grass down next to him.  I could feel the last three days of rain start to seep up from the ground and into my trousers.  Somehow I knew this wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had.  I wanted to go home.  Either home, anybodys’ home, at that moment I didn’t care.  Every muscle in my body ached.
Johnny let out another deep, rumbling cough, and I knew it wasn’t a good idea for him to be lying out here on the damp ground either.  But he looked up at me and gave a mischievous smile.  His voice was raspy and raw from two days of coughing.  “This is the best part.”

I had no idea what he was talking about, but I realized it was the first time all morning he’d said anything more than a two-word sentence.  His throat must have been as sore as mine.

Johnny turned his full attention back to the meadow below.  I shifted on the damp grass and followed his gaze.  Cows were lowing and the birthing process had begun.

Dark, damp, indefinable lumps squirmed and were cleaned and I watched as baby cows wobbled to their feet and struggled to suckle from their mothers. The lump in my chest had nothing at all to do with my cold.  I was in awe of this wondrous act of life being played out before me.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” I confessed to him.

He grinned boyishly at me over his shoulder.  “It gets better.” He extended his finger and I followed it to a spot in the sky.

It started with one, then two, then three.  Black and white magpies, shiny dark ravens and little brown birds I couldn’t identify.  They were coming down out of the trees to eat the afterbirth.  “Watch,” he whispered. There was more.  Rough-legged hawks and red-tails joined the feast.  But my jaw dropped and I forgot my misery as a large bird swooped down from that crystal blue sky.

“A Golden Eagle.” His tone was hushed, but it was almost reverent when an even larger bird with a glossy black body and a white head landed with its wings stretched wide.  “A Baldy.”

I opened my mouth. I know I did.  I’d intended to say something to express the magnitude of the moment.  There weren’t words.  I was dumbfounded.  I sat and watched in amazement.

They floated to the ground in a varied array of sizes, colors and shapes.  Buzzards and turkey vultures circled in the sky, waiting for the predator birds to finish before coming in to clean up the rest.

Johnny got to his feet suddenly and mounted his horse and charged down the hill before I’d even managed to get to my feet.  The birds had gorged themselves until they were so heavy they were unable to fly so they hopped out of the way to bask in the sunshine.

A white-faced Hereford was down on the ground lowing pitifully and kicking with one hind foot.  By the time I’d made it down the hill, he was off his horse and had removed his jacket and unbuttoned his sleeve.

I watched, again speechless, as he used his bare hands and pulled a bloody, squirming mass to the ground.  I sat my horse and watched him.  He pulled the calf up near its mother’s head and pulled apart the birth sack and nudged it closer.

The tired cow took over and Johnny stepped back.  He backed into me, his shoulder leaning against my leg, before looking up and grinning.

It I live to be a hundred I will never forget this day and I know deep in my soul that I never want to be anywhere but where I am now.  Home.

The End
By: Tory (Sprite) Fischer
May 2002

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