The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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FThe Wedding
A/N: Scott and Johnny are middle-aged here, so if you can't see them in such a way this might not be for you

A few hours after sunrise, Johnny stopped in the kitchen and hooked his thumb through two heavy mug handles. He slicked his other thumb with a quick lick and tested the hotness of the coffee pot. Found it decent enough and palmed it off the stove. After filling the mugs, he snatched two biscuits out of the bowl on the counter. He figured Scott could use a bite to eat about now, and Johnny was buying.

He pulled up before crossing the threshold to the portico. Didn't seem to matter that it was October; California hadn't got the memo. Even with all the windows open, the air was hotter than a crotch after a day in the saddle.

Scott jostled in his chair, pulling himself out of what Johnny guessed was one of his broody "thinks". He kind of hated that he disturbed him, but his stomach was growling louder than Murdoch used to get when he was on a tear. Besides, Scott really needed to eat something, too. He looked worn and thin as Johnny's jeans. His brother always did go to lean when something was bothering him.

He juggled a mug, topped with one of the biscuits, over to the chair and bounced on his toes a little while Scott smacked his last thought away.

"What time is it?"

"Oh, I'd say about ten or so. If you take this coffee, I could tell you for sure."

Scott shoved his paper and pencil under one thigh and took the mug. Johnny pulled out his old timepiece, the one Murdoch had given him so very many years ago. He knew every dent and pit in that fine gold.

"Ten-fifteen. You got time to get the wedding speech done."

Scott followed Johnny's nod and raked his free hand through his hair. The sun caught it funny all fluffed up like that, made the fine silver amongst the yellow stand right out. "Doesn't matter. The words just aren't there."

"Come on," he said and swatted Scott's shoulder with the back of his hand. "All you need to do is relax a little."

A sigh came, so heavy it stirred up the dust alongside the brick portico. Scott unfolded his lanky frame with a series of audible pops and creaks and took the biscuit off the top of the mug.

"Come on," Johnny repeated, and shifted down in his chair aiming for a semi-comfortable slouch. His back had been acting up ever since he wrestled a calf last Wednesday. "Leave it to the youngsters," Bea had said. His wife wasn't wrong often, and this was no exception.

"I'm really not hungry, Johnny."

"So keep me company. I hate eatin' alone."

Scott didn't reply, just sat back and put his coffee and biscuit on the portico half-wall. Johnny watched him in silence, fingers crabbed around the handle of his hot mug, tips tapping out a Morse code of sorts. Navigation—to use a twenty-five cent word—around his brother right now was fruitless and nothing but bluff.

They really hadn't ever talked about the riding accident that claimed Scott's wife—Johnny had followed his brother's lead and stayed quiet. He was never one to start the talks and negotiations in the family, and Scott hadn't been ready, but Johnny knew something had to give. Not just because Scott's youngest, Catherine, was getting married today without her mother, but he'd watched his brother grieve the better part of a year.

Johnny took a loud tentative sip of his black coffee and blinked through the bitter heat of it on his tongue.

"They're just words, Scott," he began, and his brother shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "You got a lot of them rolling around in your head."

Scott kept his eyes on the horizon. "I don't know if I can do this."

"Well, Cathy'll be expecting something grand from her old man."

Instead of the laugh he was going for, it was like he primed a fuse. Scott slid roughly from his chair, paper and pencil thrown to the ground.


His brother didn't stop. Headed for the barn like a man on a mission.

"Scott!" Johnny scooted out of his chair, sloshing coffee over the paper, dotting it a deep brown. "Hey!"

"Back off!" Scott called without turning. He stomped out dust, making a desperate beeline toward the corral and the horses.

Johnny caught up with his brother's long strides and reached to grab his shoulder. Scott spun on him like a dervish.

"Damn it, Johnny! Let…"

Johnny wasn't prepared for what he saw; Scott's face was wet with tears, a hard grimace etched in his brow and in the clench of his jaw.

Scott shrugged off Johnny's grip and stumbled back, boots kicking up a tiny spry of dirt. "Don't. Please, just don't…"

Johnny's hands rose, palms up, and he backed away. "Scott, listen…"

"Amanda's dead." Scott shook his head violently, hands tight fists at his side. "I should have…I could have…"

Johnny glanced around the empty courtyard, thankful the wedding preparations had already been done and people had scattered to get ready for the ceremony. He took a cautious step forward. "What, Scott? What could you have done?" Johnny knew the answer to his question, but it was like Scott needed to hear it aloud. He knew that sense of responsibility, it came part and parcel along with Bea and the kids. It crushed him to think of it on his brother's shoulders. But then his brother always did carry a lot of weight in that regard.

"It happened. You can't-"

"Don't tell me what I can or cannot do." Scott's voice was deceptively low. A mood, Johnny had learned over time, that was akin to a rattler shaking his tail.

Scott flung his fist into the air. "I was supposed to keep her safe. Safe! She was supposed to be here for our daughter's wedding."

"Scott, I know…"

"No, you don't. You still have a wife who loves you."

Johnny stiffened. His brother was right. There was someone in his life. He knew Murdoch cared, and Scott, but it wasn't the same. He rubbed his hand across his jaw.

"I could have saved her, Johnny," Scott said and plunged one hand into his hair. "I should have realized the roan…"

He shook his head. "Was going to spook? And how were you supposed to stop that?"

The distance between Johnny and his breaking brother was only a few feet, but it might as well have been a million miles. He scuffed his boot through the dirt, like a drawing a line he couldn't cross.

"Amanda…," Scott whispered to the sun. "I'm so sorry…"

He shoved his fists in the pockets of his good Sunday church trousers. He didn't have a clue what to do with the choppy waves of emotion crashing down from his brother. He was never good at that stuff.

Scott scrabbled a hand across his eyes, brushing away the wet. "You know, it took me this long to understand."

Johnny looked up warily. "Understand what?"

"All these years, and I finally understand why Murdoch left me in Boston." Scott's shoulders came up. "It was safe."

It caused a shiver because it seemed like old times; him and Scott's different upbringings that had nothing to do with a real father, or being on Lancer proper. And it was a heart-clench, because for just a second, Johnny thought his brother regretted ever marrying a beautiful woman who gave him three children and a home full of love.

"She didn't deserve to die, Johnny."

He looked into his brother's eyes with the dark circles underneath. "And you don't deserve this."

Scott choked out a bitter laugh and stared at him. "What do I deserve?"

"You deserve that girl of yours, and those two boys. You deserve to be happy again. Amanda, of all people, would've wanted it that way. I think you know it, too. Deep down." He sighed out the last. "Sometimes, I think Murdoch had it right all along. The past is in the past." Scott's face pinched with regret and agreement that woke a long-quiet sadness in Johnny.

His brother squeezed his eyes shut and swallowed hard. To Johnny, he didn't look convinced, but he was getting himself together: composing, moving a few steps toward the portico.

When they got to their chairs, Scott left the coffee mug on the half-wall, his back stiff and straight—but he sat down, next to Johnny, and that was good enough for right now.

Johnny leaned over and blew the dirt off the paper, then hunted up the pencil. "Sorry, about these spots of coffee."

Scott's hands rose in a sign of futility. "Doesn't matter. It was dreck anyway."

Johnny knew something of Scott's grief. Hadn't he and Bea lost their firstborn? If Jamie had lived he'd be about the same age as Johnny was, the second time he came to Lancer. Grief always lingered; neither he nor Scott could erase it. But it helped to share the burden.

"I wish I could make it different for you, brother. But I can't. You can't."

Scott breathed in deep, blew out the breath.

"She's gone, Scott, but you're still here. And so is Cathy, Will and Garrett."

Murdoch was suddenly at the door, his cane tapping lightly on the tile floor. The smell of tobacco and pomade around him like a cloak. He took in both men's tightness with a squint and a heavily lined frown. "Is everything all right?"

Johnny cleared his throat. "Yeah. Maybe. I think so."

Scott wiped a hand down his face, the sun coming through the slats of the portico roof making slash lines across his cheeks.

Murdoch's eyes were bright, a shade of blue hazed with cloudiness now, but still functional. He sighed as though he'd been hoping for a proper answer. "Is it?"

Johnny couldn't break his gaze, his eyes were locked tight with Murdoch's and he was talking to him, not Scott.

"It'll be fine, Murdoch," Johnny said.

That seemed to satisfy him, because he gave a quick nod.

After a loaded minute, he shuffled back inside, the tip-taps of his cane echoing his hesitant steps.

The silence became deep, but Johnny could ride it out.

"What a pretty day."

It wasn't an observation that Scott made often. "Sort of day that makes you glad there's a big fandango to go to," Johnny tested carefully.

He kept his eyes on the barn, noticed the door would need new hinges before too long.

"It caught me unawares, the wedding and Catherine leaving. It seemed to bring everything up again." He heard the breath Scott took. "I never thanked you, Johnny. For being there."

They let that sit for a minute.

The portico smelled of old coffee and cows, the sun coming in so hard now the barn had almost disappeared in the white.

Johnny looked down at the paper in his hand and squinted. "Aus…aus…what's this word?"

Scott's eyes crinkled and he broke into a half smile. "You're not fooling anyone, you know. Just put them on."

He sighed and dragged the wire spectacles from his shirt pocket. "Oh. Auspicious. Now that is a…"

"Twenty-five cent word. Yes, I know. Give me the paper."

Scott crumpled the paper in one hand. "And that's why it's dreck."

Johnny slouched back in his chair. "You could always take a lesson from me, big brother."

"And simply threaten to do bodily injury to the young man trying to take my daughter away?"

A chuckle escaped when Johnny thought about the hapless boy his own daughter had taken for a groom. Smart as a whip, though. He sniffed. Bea had right about that, too. Eric more than made up for his citified name. Love sure was a funny thing.

He hoped Scott would find it again.

Voices came from the back of the house became clearer: Teresa's low pitched murmurings and Cathy's melodic laugh—Amanda's laugh. He saw Scott flinch, but didn't say anything.




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