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EJ

 

 

The Protector

 

 

For the Loyalty Challenge on Lancer Writers, September 2013
AN: This is an AR story Scott and Johnny are kids.


 


The great room was finally quiet, an exhausted Murdoch sat in his large leather chair and savored a scotch.  He shook his head and smiled, he loved his boys, they made life interesting, and he was convinced that they were placed on earth solely to drive him totally insane.  

Murdoch heard the back door open and close then his Segundo Paul walked through the arch from the kitchen.  Paul smiled as he headed for the drink cart and poured a glass of scotch, he looked toward Murdoch and picked up the bottle.  He sat on the sofa and placed the bottle on the table, “You look like you need a refill.”

“At least everyone survived.”  Murdoch couldn't stop the laugh.  

Paul looked at him, “Kinda surprised, but your younger one…” Paul and Murdoch broke out laughing.

*****

 

Flashback:

A small boy with shiny black hair slowly made his way to the corral, one more look over his shoulder and then under the lower rail.  He made it, at last, and now he was standing by the big palomino.  Johnny loved this horse and it was his dream to ride him, but Papi had told him to never go near the horse without a grown-up.  Knowing he was going to be in trouble Johnny felt it was worth the risk and reached out to pet the horse's side when he heard the shout.

Johnny jumped and spun around and saw his big brother staring him down. “Oh,” he whispered to himself.

Scott climbed through the rails and slowly made his way to Johnny to not spook the horse.  He took Johnny's hand and with a gentle tug got the boy to follow him out of the corral. 

When they were safely out, Scott fought to calm his tremblings.  Hands on his hips and a scowl on his face he all but yelled, “Just what do you think you were doing?”

Guilt at being caught, Johnny bowed his head and rubbed the toe of his boot in the dirt. “I just wanted to pet him.”  He turned his head slightly to peek at his brother, Scott looked really mad at him.

“Just wanted to pet him,” Scott ground his teeth, “do you realize the danger?”  Scott shoved his hands in his pockets to keep from strangling his little brother. “You scared me when I saw you in the corral.”

Now mad, Johnny growled, “He wouldn't hurt me, we're amigos, he's gonna be my horse.” Johnny pointed to himself and glared at Scott daring his brother to disagree.

After a few seconds of silence while the boys had a stare-down, Scott pulled his hands out of his pockets and reached for his little brother.  “I was only worried about you and didn't want you hurt.  Or in trouble if Papa saw you in the corral.”

Johnny being Johnny felt like he was being treated like a baby slapped his brother's hands away.  

Shocked by Johnny's reaction Scott tried to reach out again.  This time a small body crashed into him and they both ended up in the dust, where they rolled around each trying to get the upper hand.

Johnny was yelling at Scott and Scott was trying to calm his brother and keep Johnny from hitting him in the face.

Suddenly a loud roar stopped both boys.  

Standing over them was a very angry father, hands on his hips and a frown on his face.  Two very dirty boys looked at their father, Scott knew this was not going to end well.

Murdoch reached down and pulled a struggling Johnny off his brother while Paul helped Scott to his feet. 

Still trying to get to Scott, Johnny kicked at his father and his boot hit a very tender spot.  Murdoch groaned and almost dropped his son but tightened his grip on the boy.  

Paul tried not to laugh and instead asked Scott, “You okay? Come on let's get you cleaned up.”  The two hurried away while Murdoch dealt with Johnny.

“Stop it right now Johnny.”  Murdoch gave him a little shake and got his attention, Johnny quieted immediately.  “Now young man a bath and then a talk.”  Murdoch hoped he could walk to the bath house without a limp, for someone so little the boy had quite a kick.

Paul helped Scott in one tub while Murdoch washed Johnny in the other tub.  It was very quiet in the bath house while Paul tried not to laugh and Murdoch tried not to drown his younger son.

After both boys were clean and dressed the father walked his sons to the hacienda for ‘the talk', Paul made an excuse and headed in the opposite direction.  Murdoch was sure he saw the man's shoulders shaking.

In the great room Murdoch pointed to the two chairs, he watched Scott help Johnny into a chair and then sat in the other.  He cleared his throat and sat behind his desk, his fingers tapped the blotter.  Both boys waited, Scott sat upright and still, Johnny slouched and swung his legs, Murdoch just stared.

The quiet seemed to last forever to the boys, Murdoch on the other hand used this time to decide if he could survive fatherhood.

“Well, I want to know just what happened to bring on the fight.” Murdoch moved his gaze to Johnny, the usual suspect.  

Both boys looks at their father then each other, both not sure it was in their best welfare to be the first to answer.

“Well, I am not going to ask again.  Or do we just forget explanations and go straight to the woodshed?”  He wanted to laugh at the expressions but knew a smile would spoil the whole thing.  

Johnny looked scared and lowered his head.  Yep Murdoch thought, he was right about Johnny being the start of the whole mess.

“Sir, if I may I would like to offer an explanation.” Scott's voice was soft.

Murdoch and Johnny both looked toward Scott, one impressed with his son the diplomat and one with dread that his brother was going to tell on him.

“Well sir, you know how beautiful the palomino is, and how much Johnny and I like looking at him.” Scott hesitated, he wouldn't lie but he wouldn't tell on his brother either.  “We were at the corral, without permission, but we really like the horse.”  Scott hesitated again, how could he be loyal to his little brother and his father at the same time?  

Murdoch sensed Scott's dilemma and was proud that his son was not going to outright lie and that he wanted to protect his baby brother. 

Johnny was relieved that so far Scott hand't told that he was in the corral. 

“I see.  So why the fight?”  Murdoch couldn't let them off without some punishment for disobeying.

“Well...I think Johnny was concerned that as the older brother I would have first choice on a horse and that I might pick the palomino...and well...he wants the horse...so…”

“I see.” Murdoch rescued Scott.

Johnny stared at Scott, he hand't told, he protected him like a big brother is supposed too.  “Scott, I'm sorry I hit you.”  Johnny lip quivered and he bowed his head.

Scott reached over and took Johnny's hand, “I know, I'm sorry you didn't understand about the horse.”

Johnny nodded his head then looked at his father.  He took a deep breath and, “Papi, I was in the corral, I just wanted to pet the horse...Scott caught me and pulled me out. I thought he was treating me like a baby so...I started the fight.”

Murdoch sighed, “Thank you Johnny for telling me, I am proud of you for that but you know the rules and there must be punishment.”  Murdoch felt like a judge and his sons were in the block.

“Okay.”  Johnny climbed down from the chair, “I'll wait in the woodshed.”  

Murdoch nodded and Johnny left the room, shoulders drooped resigned to his fate.

“I'm sorry I didn't tell you the whole story.  I just wanted to protect him.”  Scott waited, he felt like he had disappointed his father.

“I know son, I appreciate that, but Johnny needs to learn the rules about the corral are for his safety.  You did right to pull him out, but for omitting that part of the story...I want you clean the chicken coop for Maria.”

“Yes sir...are you going to spank Johnny?” Scott was worried about Johnny's back side.

Murdoch was so proud that Scott wanted to protect his little brother.  He sat back in his chair and rubbed his chin.  “Don't you think he has deserved one?”

Scott looked down at his hands in his lap then shrugged his shoulders, “Yes sir, but...just a few...he did confess.”

Those boys never ceased to amaze him, fighting one moment and protecting each other the next. They were sons he could be proud of, loyal all the way. 

Murdoch placed his hands on his desk and pushed to a standing position, he winced, there was still a little ache from the kick.  He walked around the desk and patted his son's shoulder, “I agree.  Why don't you get some cookies and milk from Maria?  Johnny and I will be back in a few minutes.”

A worried little boy waited inside the woodshed, he fought the tears that wanted to fall, but he was a big boy and big boys don't cry.  He still couldn't believe Scott didn't tell on him and he felt guilty for being mad at his brother.

When the door to the shed opened he jumped to his feet and waited for his father.  Murdoch walked over to the bench and sat down and motioned for Johnny to come to him. Slowly Johnny walked over and stood in front of his father, he also noticed how big his father's hands were and how hard they could spank.

Murdoch placed his hands on Johnny's shoulders, “Do you know why we are here?”

Johnny nodded and lowered his head.  Murdoch reached over and placed his finger under Johnny's chin and raised his head so he could see Johnny's eyes. “Why are we here, son?”  Murdoch watched the emotions play in his son's eyes and waited for the answer.

A soft voice replied, “‘Cause I was in the corral...ain't supposed to be there without a grown-up...and I was fighting with Scott.” 

Murdoch noticed the slight tremble and gave a supportive squeeze to the small shoulders he held.  “That's right son, so let's get it over with.”

“‘Kay.”  Johnny moved to the side of his father's knees.  Murdoch picked him up and placed Johnny over his lap.

A large hand rested on Johnny's back.  He waited for the first smack and jumped when it landed.  It hurt as did the four that followed it.  As hard as he tried Johnny couldn't stop the tears but then the big hand on his back started rubbing circles and made it hurt less.

After a few minutes Murdoch lifted Johnny into his lap and held his son until the tears and trembles stopped.  “It done, all is forgiven, and it's a fresh start.  Now how about some cookies and milk with your brother?  He's worried about you you know.”

Johnny sighed, “I know, are you going to punish him for not telling I was in the corral?”

Murdoch nodded, “He has to clean Maria's chicken coop.”  He lowered Johnny to the floor, stood and took his son's hand.  

They headed for the door when Johnny pulled his father's hand, “I want to help him, he wouldn't be in trouble if he weren't protecting me.”

Murdoch knelt down next to Johnny, “I think Scott would appreciate that, why don't you offer when we get to the kitchen.”

Together father and son headed for the hacienda.  

Murdoch was thinking maybe I can survive this fatherhood thing.

 

~end~
September 2013


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