The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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DaleL

 

 

Count His Blessings

His hand dropped to the gun nestled beside him on the sofa; its mere presence reassuring. The metal was smooth and cool to the touch despite the heat thrown out by the fire. Old habits were hard to break. Perhaps one day he would be able to leave it hanging in the hall with the others.

Perhaps.

It was almost too quiet. Only the snap of the fire in the fireplace and the occasional hiss and sizzle when a piece of wood wept a tear of sap broke the silence. Funny how quickly he had gotten used to the hustle and bustle of ranch life. Sure there were times when he needed to get away, be by himself so he could think—or not think—whatever the case might be. Times when the pressure of being part of a family let alone part owner of a spread the size of Lancer got to be too much.

He crossed his ankles, heels resting on the edge of the low table, sock feet soaking up the warmth.

But he didn’t want to go back, not to how it’d been just him. No one to give a damn whether he had food in his belly or a real bed or clean socks without any holes.

Give a damn whether he lived to died.

Back then he had told himself he was better off. No entanglements, no obligations, no responsibilities. He had gotten used to it. Used to never belonging nowhere. Pretending he didn’t care inured to the loneliness.

Firelight reflected off the glass ornaments and bits of tinsel decorating the tree standing in the corner. The scent of pine enveloped him, reminding him of the high country. Woven into the clean tangy fragrance were hints of cinnamon and cloves, citrus and nutmeg, smells familiar from childhood.

Unexpectedly, a memory surfaced. Of his mama humming as she worked the dough on a rough plank table, her thick black hair coiled into a loose knot at the nape of her neck. Punching and folding, rolling and turning the masa, lost in the rhythm. Smiling. Happy.

A rueful smile quickly vanished. It didn’t do to dwell too much on the past. Sure there had been good times as well as bad but he wasn’t sure if those belonged here anymore than he did. The past was the past; at least that’s what the old man preached.

Yeah, it was gonna take time not just for him but for all of them. To break down the walls each had built over the years. Sure there were a few cracks here and there but his were still standing firm.

He stretched, eased his hands into the waistband of his calzoneras.

Maybe it had been too long.

Not trusting.

Not feeling safe without his gun close at hand.

But maybe that was beginning to change just a little. Like with Scott. Scott’s belief there was more to his brother than just a reputation. How he seemed to instinctively sense the defiant, fragile damaged soul that embodied both Johnny Lancer and Johnny Madrid. It had been Scott who came looking for him tonight. Last night. Had found him standing outside the French doors like he had stood outside those windows all those years ago watching other families celebrating the holidays desperately wishing he belonged.

And like Scott, Teresa somehow knew. Woman’s intuition he figured.

His lips pursed.

The biggest surprise had been learning Murdoch cared. Had always cared but like him wouldn’t or couldn’t admit it.

A sound so soft he almost missed it captured his attention; on the staircase to his right. In his former profession such a lapse could have proven fatal.

He ducked his head, a lopsided grin tugging at his lips in acknowledgment of who the footfalls belonged to.

Scott.

Come looking for him. Again. It gave him an oddly warm feeling.

His eyes returned to the tree, traveling the length of it to the tin star perched at its top. It was high time he counted his blessings for what he had rather than for what he had lost. Time for new beginnings.

He dropped his feet to the floor and leaned forward, turning toward the shadowy figure framed by the doorway. Felt the smile widen in welcome.

“Merry Christmas, brother. Join me?”

 

 

 

~end~
Christmas Challenge
21 December 2017

 

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