The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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Barb A

 

 

FEchoes and Ripples

Maybe Murdoch ought to have cared more than he did about the replacement for the old outbuilding, but Scott was in control and looking at the post holes they'd dug, the foundations already laid out in precision, the mounds of wood waiting nearby, and he was mentally taking notes, nodding his head. For a moment Murdoch felt a strange pride that he had caused this to happen. That his decision—however late—had given Lancer back the its first-born, such a capable man. He swallowed hard and looked away to the far line of cottonwoods. The head bandage was gone, thankfully. It was bad enough Scott bore a visible wound from his grandfather's ill-advised visit, advertising it with lily-white gauze had bordered on the obscene and served as a daily reminder: so much could go wrong in so little a time.

Yet, just as Murdoch thought the storm had passed, here was another in the form of a large envelope from Boston, care of Harlan Garrett. Oddly enough, it was addressed to him and not Scott. He had half a mind to slide it into an unused drawer. Or the fire. But just half, the other side argued bitterly that enough damage had been done by leaving the past alone.

He turned away from the window and poured two fingers of Glen Ord. Then, and only then did he reach for the envelope because nothing from Garrett Enterprises was worth opening entirely sober.

A section of stained yellowed paper, torn on the right edge and creased, tumbled out.

Headquarters
2nd Brigade
2nd Division
Fairfax County, Virginia

March 15th 1864.
Harlan Garrett Esq.

Dear Sir,
It is with most painful feeling that I sit down to impart to you the sad tidings that Scott has fallen. Those at the battlefield reveal he was instantly killed by the explosion of a shell. I can truly say that we have met a loss that every member of this company feels deeply. He was universally esteemed by both officers and men possessing the confidence of all. We have been besieged here in this place for five days but the rebels left last night. The postal clerk is at my door now so I have time to write no more. Yours Truly, C.C. Spencer.

A heaviness roped around his chest like a wide lasso and he tried to find the breath that had fled after the first sentence. The idea of Scott being dead sat like a stump, dull and useless, and Murdoch couldn't think beyond it.

A second letter from the same division was dated almost three weeks later, apologizing for the ‘egregious blunder' and informing Harlan that Scott was found to be a prisoner of the Confederates. The third and fourth letters were from his son's comrades, dated from his supposed death.

Harlan's thready voice came back with the blunt force of a hammer: "I won't offer an apology for what I wanted to do, only for how I tried to do it.”

After his apology-not apology, Harlan had stood there in the great room, a full still look on his face and in his eyes, no words, nothing in him except one thing and Murdoch saw it plainly. Harlan cared. Cared more than Murdoch could have dreamed of, and it didn't make anything better.

It was more than a promised legacy, the old man was hiding behind grand words and gestures and Murdoch was tired of the games. But the truth was so much more than he could bear and this was what Scott had been protecting him from.

Harlan was afraid of losing Scott. Again.

The wooden floor creaked and he realized he'd shut his eyes because it was an effort to open them again with all the grit there. When he did, Scott was leaning against the doorframe. He didn't say anything, not at first, and neither did Scott.

A wry grin etched across the impossibly lean face. “Something wrong?”

With a brisk motion of his hand, Murdoch was up, shoving the letters at his son like they were hot. He took a piece of wood from the old coal scuttle sitting on the tiles beside the hearth and threw it in, adjusting the log with a blackened poker. Stalling for a few moments to collect himself.

Scott's attention was out the window when Murdoch turned, eyes steady on the horizon.  “Quite a beautiful day.” It wasn't the sort of observation his son made often.

Murdoch couldn't look at him, the absurd notion of being declared dead then not playing into it, a blunder that went above and beyond egregious. Would he have reacted any differently than Harlan? “Sort of day that makes you glad to be alive,” he tested and heard the breath Scott took.

“Ayuh. It makes you glad to be alive.”

Murdoch did look then, and watched as Scott placed the letters one by one back into the envelope, closed the seal and slid it across the desk.

.

 

~end~
12/14
A/N: The title is paraphrased from a line in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself

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