The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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Barb A

 

 

FPintura Fresca

Johnny’s thoughts were full of foolish wishes and futile regrets, like a child forgotten at Christmas. The kitten stirred against his fingers, pushing its head into his palm. Black and white paws skittered over his arm, jostling the knife he held. She slipped into the upturned crown of his hat and settled.   

“Looks like you have a friend.” Scott strode into the barn, taking off his own hat and shaking out his coat. “I know Murdoch says it never really gets cold here, but I think we may see a frost or two before December is over. Right now? Well, I’m happy enough to get out of the fog and wet.” He stopped just short and peered at the kitten.

She wasn’t impressed. Giving a muffled meow, she lifted her head and stared back. Scott smiled--a full toothy grin—and dipped his finger down. Right away she batted and dodged, rolling over to show a wriggling white belly.

His brother’s grin grew larger. “Feisty, eh?” He rubbed her until the kitten purred with contentment. Tiring of the game, she rose to make one turn, then another, before finally curling into the black crown.

Putting his hat down on the bench, Scott turned his attention to the wood in Johnny’s hands. “What have you got there?”

Johnny trailed a finger over the velvet nose of his furry charge. “El nacimiento.”

“A nac…? A what?”

Irritation rose. Gringo. “El nacimiento, a nativity scene.” He held up the figurine. “This is La Guadalupana.”

“Wait, I know this one, Virgin of Guadalupe, right? The Virgin Mary.”

At Johnny’s sharp look, his brother colored a bit. “Maria’s doing. And some from Teresa and Cipriano as well. It’s slow going; I still cross my Latin and French.”

Guilt tried to stare him down. Scott was trying, and with everyone’s help--except his.

Scott reached over to take the figure. The piece looked small in his hand, almost insignificant. “She’s carved in the round.” He traced the brilliant red and deep brown lines in the olive wood. “This mark here, it looks like a flower of some sort.”

Feeling foolish, Johnny took the figure back. “It’s nothing.”

“My mistake.” Scott picked up the second piece. “And Joseph, too.”

“It’s just a few simple things.”

“You’re very good.”

Something pricked his bubble of solitude. “There was time whenever I found myself in camp. Some long nights--they left too much time for thinkin’. So I made things instead.”

And there it was: an inhaled breath and that faraway look on Scott’s face. It was one Johnny had seen a few times before, but doubted if Murdoch ever had. It made him think his brother had a few secrets of his own. He looked away from Scott to the piece of wood in his hands. 

“What else have you got there?” Scott asked.

“Nothing.”

“Blast it, Johnny…” With a quick sidestep Scott darted past and swept up the house made of wood and bark. “You made a manger?”

“It’s rough.” Johnny shrugged. “Could use a little sanding and paint."

“Need some help?”

The hole in Johnny’s bubble closed back up. “No, this is pretty much a one man job here.”

Scott seemed to deflate a little. “All right. Just don’t be too long, Murdoch won’t wait dinner.” He took his hat from the bench and flicked the kitten’s ear. She gave a half-hearted swipe at his finger, blinking with sleep. Then he turned to walk away.

“Scott…that flower…it’s supposed to be a rose. For how beautiful she is…and the birth and all.” He broke off, uncomfortable. “It seemed right, anyway.”

Scott stared then nodded, his fingers making their way around the brim of his hat. Johnny knew he understood. 

Fighting was the easy way out. Staying and sinking roots was a hell of a lot harder. Maybe there was room at the inn after all. With a brother.

Johnny held up the manger. “How about helping me out?” He dipped his head. “It needs some sprucin’ up, maybe some fresh paint.”

 

~end~
Dec ‘09 

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