By Wendy K.
Scott Lancer sat by the fire, sipping his brandy, as Murdoch told yet another story about Johnny as a precocious toddler but the words didn’t really register. Being subjected every evening to a litany of stories that began with the phrase “I remember one time, when Johnny was a baby…” was difficult and the blond had learned to tune them out.
Scott loved his brother very much and would never begrudge the younger man the scant few years he’d had with their father before he’d been whisked away by Maria. Johnny’s life away from Lancer had been a hard and lonely one and Scott was grateful for the loving, caring moments that had come Johnny’s way as a baby. There hadn’t been nearly as many as of them as there should’ve been. His brother deserved so much more than the lousy hand Fate had dealt him.
But for Scott to constantly have it thrown in his face that he had been denied those same loving experiences with their father….well, it was painful. Murdoch didn’t even realize he was doing it and Scott certainly wasn’t about to say anything. He didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and he definitely didn’t want to deprive Johnny of the stories. The younger man soaked them up like a sponge, listening raptly as their father wove amusing tales of Johnny’s toddler adventures.
But hearing your father go on repeatedly about all the wonderful moments he’d had with your brother and never, not once, hearing him express any regret or remorse that he’d never had them with you was a hard thing to sit through night after night.
And while Johnny’s mother, Maria, was occasionally mentioned in conjunction with the Johnny Tales, Murdoch never spoke of Scott’s mother, Catherine, or their life together here at the ranch.
And the few tentative questions Scott had asked? Those had been gruffly rebuffed.
Unfortunately, Murdoch wasn’t the only culprit. Maria, Cipriano, Sam Jenkins, Aggie Conway, heck, even the Widow Hargis had shared a Johnny Tale on occasion.
It all made Scott feel…less, somehow - As though his presence was nothing more than a vague afterthought. He tried very hard not to let it bother him. In most aspects of his life, he was a confident man who knew his worth, liked the individual that he was and was secure with his place in the world. But every now and then….
A loud burst of laughter from the others in the room shook Scott from this depressing train of thought.
“Oh, Scott,” Teresa giggled. “Wasn’t that funny? Johnny must have been the cutest baby ever.”
Not having heard the story, the blond just smiled and nodded his agreement.
“You feelin’ okay, Boston?” Johnny peered intently at his brother. “You seem kinda distracted.”
“I’m fine, Johnny. I guess I’m just a little tired,” Scott replied, faking a yawn as he stood and stretched. The peace and solitude of his room beckoned, a quiet refuge from this sublime and inadvertent torture. “I think I’ll turn in.”
“Sleep well, Son,” Murdoch called after him as he left the room.
As Scott made his way slowly up the stairs, he heard Murdoch begin another story. “It used to be so hard to put you down for bed, Johnny. Why, I remember one time….”
- end -