Sadly, Southernfrau is no longer with us. Her stories are archived here for her friends to remember her by. Enjoy her legacy to Lancer.
Word Count 1,240
Disclaimer: As far as I can tell, no one is making money off of the Lancer characters, so I guess that makes them free range.
Author’s Note: I actually dreamed this little scene. And that’s all it was, a scene, a moment in Lancer time. In my dream, I was in the Great room with them, though they were unaware of my presence. No words were spoken by them; I had to come up with that. This is what I came up with. I have endeavored to pull all of you into the scene with me.
The rain lashed against the windows and rolled down the glass surface in sheets of water that distorted the view of the world beyond. The wind howled and pushed mightily against the French doors, causing the latch to rattle as Johnny had not made sure it was completely set in its track on one of his many restless trips for a breath of air. Water flowed over the tiled roof, rushing to the edge of the eaves to dangle as a teardrop shape defying gravity and clinging, suspended momentarily from its fate of rushing to the ground and flattening into a growing puddle with a noisy ping.
Murdoch Lancer sighed in contentment as he sipped his coffee. The sounds of the winter rains soothed his soul as much as the cheery fire warmed his body. It was New Year’s Day, and he had always heard that whatever you were doing on this day, you would be doing the rest of the year. God, how he prayed that was true, for he could think of no better destiny, no better lot in life, than to spend it in quiet companionship with his boys. It would feel like his piece of Heaven to be able to shut the world out, and selfishly keep his sons to himself.
Lost in his ruminations, Murdoch did not realize his youngest had once more sauntered with cat-footed silence past him, and yet again opened the French doors. A cold draft swiftly entered the room, causing the fire to roar in protest at its chilly invasion. The flames of the fire undulated like wagging tongues as they shot forward, spitting heat at the frigid invader.
Scott, comfortably ensconced in the leather chair by the hearth, turned to scowl at his younger brother for once again allowing the warm ambiance to be assaulted by the icy grip of winter. His disgruntled thoughts failed to be voiced aloud, as the stern rebuke in his face morphed to concern when Johnny’s chest rattling cough shattered his irritation.
“Johnny, please close the door, and stay out of that cold air. You know even if it wasn’t raining Sam wanted you to stay in until that congestion cleared up.” Scott softly reminded his brother, knowing that if he insisted or seemed to be demanding his little brother would buck.
“Did you take your medicine, Johnny?” Murdoch inquired, as he shifted on the sofa to turn and face his youngest.
“I took it,” Johnny grimaced, and dramatically gagged before adding, “I just don’t see how something that taste like stagnant ditch water is supposed to make me get well?”
“Come over here and sit with us. It’s not often we have the luxury of spending an idle day together.”
Blowing out an exasperated breath, that only caused another coughing spell, Johnny wearily shuffled across the room and plopped down next to his father. Murdoch winced in worry as he watched his youngest son’s chest heave, as he struggled to draw in sufficient air. A trace of aggravation colored his concern when Johnny lifted his legs onto the couch and he noted the boy wore only his socks on his feet.
“Johnny, why don’t you have your boots on? You’re going to catch a chill walking around on these cold tile floors in just socks.”
“My feet are plenty warm. I have on two pairs of socks, besides it’s hot in here,” Johnny complained. He grabbed a throw pillow, and then pushed it against his father’s leg, plumping and positioning it. When he was satisfied with the placement he scooted far enough down the sofa that he could lower his head comfortably onto the cushion.
The jolt of pleasure that the simple act of familiarity gave Murdoch, thrummed headily in the portion of his heart that was all father. Johnny coughed as he settled, and Murdoch patted his back, frowning when he realized Johnny’s bout with bronchitis had emaciated him to the point he could feel his spine and ribs through his clothing. Johnny was a hyperactive person, constantly in motion, and he had to consume a lot of food to fuel his body. However, if he ever got sick the first thing to go was his appetite, and then the weight would practically fall off of him.
The coughing spell abated, and quiet once more reigned in the room. Scott watched his father and brother with a hint of a secretive smile on his face. Murdoch’s calloused hand, which ruled the ranch with steely determination, was at the moment nothing other than soft and tender as it soothingly rubbed circles of comfort on Johnny’s back. Scott’s smile glowed as warmly as the fire as he observed his brother’s efforts to keep his eyes open, the dark lashes fluttered repeatedly. Just when he thought sleep had finally captured his little brother, Johnny shifted slightly and sighed, a sure sign he was about to start asking questions in a bid to stay awake. Scott relished the sense of family and belonging that his intimate knowledge of his brother’s quirks and habits gave him. He was becoming quite fluent in reading his brother.
“Hey Murdoch, why do you seem so happy we lost a whole day’s work cause of this weather?” Johnny asked, as he forced his eyes open to stare at the flickering fire, oblivious of the lively twinkle the radiant flames lit in them.
Scott and Murdoch glanced at each other in smug delight over their awareness of the delaying tactic. The blond scooted around in his chair, angling himself for a better view of his father and brother.
“I’ve always heard since back when I was a small lad that whatever you were doing on New Year’s Day would occupy the majority of your time the whole year through. I can think of no better way to spend my time than with my boys, for us to be together.” The truth of his statement stung Murdoch’s eyes, and gave a full tight feeling to his throat.
“I have always heard the same thing. I must concur; I would welcome the pleasure of the company of my family.” Scott swallowed convulsively, and sniffed as he felt his emotions well up and threaten to spill.
“This don’t mean I’m gonna spend the year coughing does it? Cause I got to tell you that ain’t my idea of a fun way to be together.”
Murdoch chuckled, as he replied, “No, I don’t think it means you will be sick for the year. What’s your idea of a fun way to be together?” Murdoch’s large hand continued its repetitive motion of rubbing Johnny’s back. He realized he drew as much comfort from the action as Johnny did. He could feel his youngest son’s body grow heavier, as his limbs faded to the weighty limpness of impending sleep.
Johnny sighed and yawned to the point moisture pooled in his blinking eyes as he answered, “I’d like to spend my time riding Barranca…flying across the green fields…the wind kissing my face…and you and Scott on either side of me…that would be Heaven.”
Johnny’s face relaxed, the boyish features glowed in the firelight, and just as he drifted off, he heard his father and brother agree that whatever this new year found them doing, as long as it was together, would be fine with them. With a smile and a sigh he slid happily into sleep.
January 1, 2008
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