The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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Winj

 

Flood

 

 

 

Johnny threw down the hammer and stretched his back as he surveyed his handiwork. The fenceline looked good and he smiled to himself. 'Maybe that'll make the old man happy', he thought as he took a long drink from his canteen. He'd been here two months already. The time seemed to fly by, but these past couple of days he had started feeling itchy. That old feeling that it was time to move on had started nagging at him. Sometimes, he'd have to stop himself and realize there was no need to move on. There were no rurales to hide from, no gunfights to get to, no lonely trails to ride. It was turning out to be a real struggle and he wondered if that feeling would ever leave him. Murdoch hadn't yelled at him all week and he had been holding his breath just waiting and wondering if it was all worth the aggravation. Why did he stay? He couldn't answer that question. He'd asked it so many times these two months and could never seem to come up with a reason. But there was a reason, he felt it, even if he couldn't put a name on it. Something that was possible here. Something that, if he just stuck it out long enough, he'd have. Whatever it was. It pissed him off to no end that he didn't know what it was. He sure wasn't used to having these feelings and, if he didn't have a name for them, how could he figure out how to deal with them? He sighed aloud and started packing up his tools and cleaning up the dregs of the work. As he finished, he saw a rider coming toward him. He smiled to himself as he recognized the erect figure moving gracefully toward him. "Hey Boston!" he grinned.

"Johnny. How goes it?" Scott asked.

"It goes nowhere cause it's done!" he exclaimed proudly.

Scott dismounted and looked over the job, nodding his head in approval. "Nice work."

"Thank you. What do ya reckon is next on the old man's list?" Johnny said amiably.

Scott smiled at his brother. He was still uncertain how to talk to Johnny. Sometimes it seemed they could get along very well and other times Johnny would be sullen and withdrawn and Scott couldn't reach him at all. He noticed he had been thinking the same word over and over when trying to figure out his younger

brother...enigma. Scott had felt an almost instant bond with this dark young man, though he couldn't explain the feeling. He wanted to protect Johnny almost from the beginning. Why it was so important to him, he couldn't say except that the thought of having a brother had always been a deep felt wish of his. He remembered going to bed at night when he was a boy and praying for God to send him a little brother. In his heart he had known it was impossible, but still he prayed. It had turned out to be very possible after all and Scott was sure his prayers had finally been answered. He thought this was probably why he felt so protective of Johnny. God had sent him a brother...took him long enough! "Hello?

You in there Boston?" Johnny teased his brother out of the reverie.

"Oh, sorry. I was just thinking."

"Bout what?"

"Nothing. Guess we should head back and see what Murdoch has in store for us next," Scott said.

*******************

Murdoch was eyeing them suspiciously as they rode into the yard. Johnny jumped down from the wagon and handed it off to one of the hands. He waited for his brother and they strolled up to the towering patriarch together. "What are you doing back so soon?" Murdoch asked Johnny.

"I'm done. Figured I come see what you want me to do next," Johnny grinned, waiting for the inevitable questioning.

"You've finished the fenceline already?" he asked still eyeing his youngest suspicously.

"He certainly did and it looks great!" Scott interjected.

"Well, good. I do have something for you to do Johnny. Come in the house, I want to show you something on the map," he said as he turned to head inside.

Johnny wondered if Murdoch would have given in so easily if he had been the one to assure his father the work was done instead of Scott. Murdoch always seemed to take Scott's word as gospel and question his unendingly. It didn't sit well with him, just because Scott was some eastern dandy didn't mean his word was any better. He tried to push these angry thoughts about his brother away. He actually liked the blond, well most of the time. He sure could get on a high horse at times and Johnny had thought more than once about bringing him right back down off there! They walked into the great room and both appreciated the coolness in the house. It was summer now and it was getting hot!

Murdoch was standing next to the map of Lancer, tracing his finger along a certain area to the south. "Here John. See this area? There's a gully here by the south mesa. Now there wasn't much rain this spring but I have a feeling the summer will make up for it. This gully is overgrown and when the rains come, I'm afraid it'll flood over."

Johnny was nodding his head. "I saw that couple of days ago. I was going to mention it soon as I got the fenceline done," he replied. Murdoch was smiling at him. "What?" he said suddenly nervous.

"I'm just glad to hear you're keeping a close watch on the place," he answered.

Johnny smiled a little and nodded, his head hung low. "Well, it's gettin pretty late. Why don't I just ride out there and take a close look? See what I'm gonna need to get the job done and start on it first thing in the morning?"

"Good idea." Johnny was stunned. This was too strange. Another day without getting yelled at? What's goin on here, he thought.

***************

He got back just in time for supper and they discussed the overgrowth in the gully and how best to manage it. "I think a couple of pounds of dynamite would work real well," Johnny said and grinned. Murdoch chuckled softly.

Scott looked perplexed. "What's so funny about that, why not use dynamite?" he asked.

Murdoch stared at him and Johnny laughed. "Well, Boston, we could blow the gully to kingdom come I guess, but then we wouldn't have a gully at all. Course we wouldn't have to worry bout herding the cattle to the south mesa this summer, no water, no cattle," Johnny explained with some humor at his brother's wet ears.

"You know Johnny, I may not know much about ranching, but I am willing to learn. What I don't appreciate is being treated like an imbecile! Only a fool thinks he knows everything and won't ask questions," Scott replied.

Johnny's eyes narrowed and Murdoch clinched his jaw, waiting. "What you need to learn first, Scott, is how to take a joke!" he shot back.

Scott's face was turning a soft shade of red as his anger grew. "I can take a joke very well thank you, if it is funny! Maybe you just don't know how to tell one very well. Or maybe that's the kind of humor you people find amusing!"

Johnny smoldered. Murdoch expected to see smoke coming from his ears at any minute. "You people?! Just exactly what does that mean?!" he yelled and stood up ready to fight.

Scott stood to meet his brother's glare. "It means whatever you think it means Johnny!" Scott made his second mistake, he smiled. Johnny was over the table and on top of him before he knew what had happened. They wrestled on the floor for a few seconds. That's how long it took Murdoch to react. He pulled them apart by their shirt collars.

"Enough!" he yelled. "If you two can't behave yourselves, I'll send you both to your rooms!" Johnny and Scott stared in disbelief at this ridiculous statement. Murdoch wasn't smiling and he wasn't kidding either. Johnny wrenched free of his father's grasp and stormed out the french doors onto the veranda.

"I guess he's going to run off now!" Scott hissed.

"Stop it! And stay away from each other until you've both calmed down!" Murdoch demanded. Scott turned on his heel and stomped upstairs, slamming his bedroom door behind him.

*************

Johnny stood on the veranda leaning against a column, trying to control his anger. He hadn't figured Scott for a bigot but he reckoned you can't get to really know a person in two months. He heard Murdoch come up behind him and stiffened, ready for the onslaught. Murdoch didn't say anything so Johnny helped him along. "Well, go ahead," he drawled softly, his head hung low.

"Go ahead with what?" Murdoch asked almost as softly.

"Go ahead and yell at me for fighting with him."

"Johnny, I'm not going to yell at you. I do want to tell you something though, if you'll listen." Johnny turned to look at his father and nodded his head. Murdoch started, "I don't think Scott realized what he was saying. Or what you took what he was saying to mean. Your brother is not prejudiced, Johnny."

"How do you know that?" Johnny asked increduously. Murdoch just stared at him. "Well, come on Murdoch. How do you know that?"

Murdoch couldn't answer that question truthfully because he didn't actually know. "All I know is what I saw in your brother's face. He really didn't realize what he was saying."

"Is that so? Well, why don't we just go ask him?"

"Johnny, calm down," Murdoch said raising his voice.

"What's the matter? Afraid you'll be wrong? Yeah, what would that mean? If one son hates the other, guess you never thought about that when you sent for us, did you?" Johnny said raising his own voice now. Scott could hear their conversation now from his bedroom window. He leaned out to hear better. "Well? What are you gonna do, Murdoch? Scott hates me. How does that figure into your plans?" Johnny was asking.

"He doesn't hate you son," Murdoch said almost pleading.

"You heard what he said to me, Murdoch. You just don't want to face it. It shouldn't surprise me though, I don't know why it did. He's just like the rest of them fancy easterners. Always think they're better than anybody else. Well, I won't stand for it, do you hear me?! I have never taken that garbage from anyone and I don't intend to start now!" Johnny was almost screaming by this point.

****************

Scott could hear them now through his bedroom window and he didn't appreciate being talked about behind his back. He was still incensed by Johnny's attitude. He didn't understand what had gotten him so riled up. He went downstairs to finish having it out with his brother. He stomped out onto the veranda. "If you have something to say, say it to my face!" he spat.

Johnny looked at him with dead eyes. "I don't have anything to say to you, now or ever. So, why don't you just go mind your own business," Johnny shot back.

"I think it is my business when I'm being talked about!"

"Well, the talk is over, so now it's not your business anymore!" Johnny stomped off to the barn.

Scott glared after him. "Would you mind telling me what the hell is wrong with him?" Scott hissed at his father. Murdoch looked at his oldest son and thought about explaining it but then he had a thought. Scott was a greenhorn out here and Murdoch had learned the best way to teach a lesson was to let experience to the job.

"I think you both need to cool off and try to talk to each other tomorrow. Let Johnny explain what's wrong with what you said to him," he said softly.

"What I said to him? I didn't say anything!"

"I know you don't think you did Scott, but that's not how Johnny took it," Murdoch explained and left his son to figure it out on his own. Scott stood there totally confused. He went over the argument in his mind but for the life of him, he couldn't figure what he had said to get Johnny that mad. He'd never seen his brother so angry but then, he had only known him such a short time. How did he know that wasn't just the way Johnny was. Murdoch had said he had his mother's temper. He pondered this for awhile and decided he'd done nothing wrong. If Johnny wanted to make amends, he'd have to make the first move!

***************

Johnny was turning the air blue in Spanish. He was right about that tree stump. He'd left it for last, hoping that by clearing away the brush around it, it might loosen up some. It didn't. He decided the dynamite wasn't such a bad idea after all. He stopped working and cursing and leaned his head back to catch the breeze on his hot face. He listened to the sounds around him and relaxed. It always worked when he was frustrated. If he just stopped and listened to the quiet, he could relax. It wasn't often he had the opportunity to use this little trick however, as usually whatever was frustrating him was in his face at the time and it wasn't a tree stump!

He climbed up the slope to retrieve his canteen and stroked Barranca's neck. "Well, boy. Guess you're gonna have to help me with this one.", he smiled as he hugged the palomino. He'd had some good horses before but this one was special. He had known it the day he broke him. They had connected from the start. Barranca was more willing to allow Johnny to approach him than any of the vaquero's who had attempted to break him and of whom he had summarily disposed. Johnny appreciated the animal, he understood him. Barranca sensed this newcomer's knowledge immediately and decided he might be the one. From the first day it was obvious they would be friends. Barranca snorted and nudged Johnny's neck as if reading his thoughts. Johnny smiled and spoke softly to him in Spanish as he tried to think of the best way to solve the problem of the ornery tree stump.

*******************

Scott decided he didn't like surveying. It was too much like accounting. Boring! His grandfather had looked so forward to Scott going into business with him. Scott had always known, no matter what he decided to do with his life, it would not be accounting. He counted himself lucky that this opportuniy came along when it did, his grandfather was starting to pressure him more and more. He looked out over the landscape and once again marveled at the pure natural beauty that surrounded him. He couldn't imagine being anywhere else now. In only two short months he had begun to feel at home in this vast space. He frowned as he remembered Johnny's warnings 'got to keep your wits about you all the time out here Boston' and he started scanning his immediate surroundings. He tried to spot potential dangers for man or beast. Finding none, he shrugged and laughed off his brother's warnings. He figured Johnny had been so used to trouble in his other life that it was natural for him to be cautious but Scott could see no danger here, only breathtaking scenery. He thought again of the argument they had the night before and the anger started creeping back. He shook himself and decided he had better finish this job or Murdoch would surely take him to task.

********************

They arrived back at the hacienda within a minute of each other. Johnny ignored Scott and took Barranca into the barn for a good rub down. He had earned it. He had pulled that tree stump out with the rope Johnny had tied to him and the stump. It had taken a lot and Johnny could feel the strain on his palomino as he struggled to do the job. He removed the saddle and rubbed down the animal with liniment to keep his muscles from stiffening up. Then he curried him for almost an hour. His coat shone when Johnny finished and he wrapped his head around Johnny's neck with appreciation.

Johnny smiled and hugged his neck. "You're a good boy, Barranca. You're special, you know that don't you? I know a few things about horses, ya know, and you are one of the rare ones.", he cooed softly. Barranca snorted gently and Johnny could swear he nodded his head. He laughed softly at the horse, knowing he understood.

Scott had waited as long as he could to avoid Johnny but he wanted to get his own horse taken care of and he cursed himself for allowing Johnny's presence to keep him from the task at hand. He walked Charlamagne into the barn and started caring for the animal. Unfortunately, the two horses were stabled next to each other. Johnny tensed unconsciously when Scott walked in and Barranca balked a little as he felt his master's unease. Johnny soothed the animal and spoke to him in spanish, telling him he was going inside and he'd visit with him later. He walked out of the barn without so much as an acknowledgement of his brother's presence.

**************************

Supper was unusually quiet and Murdoch could tell his son's had not made amends yet. He decided he would stick to his guns and let them work it out on their own. "Johnny, how did it go at the gully?" he asked.

"Fine except for one ornery tree stump, but Barranca got it out," he reported, smiling with pride for his palomino.

Murdoch nodded. "Good! I have to tell you son, I've seen few men who were as good with horses as you are. How'd you learn so much about them?"

"I don't know, guess I just understand them," Johnny shrugged, a little embarrassed at the compliment.

He knew Murdoch was trying. "I remember you took to them right away. You weren't a bit afraid of them. From the time you could walk, whenever we couldn't find you in the house I'd know exactly where to look. The barn," Murdoch smiled at the memory of his little spit fire son, tearing around the hacienda. Johnny felt uncomfortable hearing about a part of his childhood he couldn't remember and desperately wished he could. Murdoch turned his attention to Scott, feeling this was one area his son's could agree on. "Scott, how about you. Where did you learn about horses?"

"In the calvary," Scott clipped.

"I would have thought you had a horse growing up, son," Murdoch said.

"I guess I might have, if I'd grown up on a ranch!" he said and walked away from the table. Murdoch sighed and Johnny just shook his head.

"What's eating him?" Murdoch said, mostly to himself.

"Gee, maybe he's feeling sorry for himself. He had it so rough!" Johnny said sarcastically. He stood and left the table as well. Murdoch sat there alone. He was suddenly missing Teresa and wished she had waited to take her trip to Sacramento.

*****************

Johnny went to his room and paced the floor. He couldn't remember being so angry with anyone before, except his father. But that was before he knew the truth about Murdoch and his mother. Why did he let Scott get to him? He had certainly faced prejudice before. His entire life, from as far back as he could remember the other kids and adults looked at him like he was a piece of dirt. He remembered the first time someone had called him a half-breed. He didn't know what it meant so he'd asked his mother. She had gotten so upset, but she tried to explain it to him. He understood better than she thought. He had resigned himself to it, to being different and being hated for something he had no control over. But to hear it implied by his own brother! Even though they were practically strangers, Johnny thought Scott was better than that. He realized why he was so angry, he hadn't allowed it to hurt him in a very long time but this hurt. Having his brother hate him hurt more than any pain he had ever felt! He suddenly felt like that little boy again, being hurt by the ignorance of others. He had the urge to run away but he fought it. He didn't want to leave here but if Scott hated him, he wasn't sure he could stay. He finally sat down in front of the window and tried to make his mind stop working.

***************

Scott paced the floor in his bedroom. He felt like an outsider here. Murdoch had fond memories of Johnny. What memories did he have of him? None! He knew he was jealous of the two short years Johnny had lived here before. Murdoch always referred to Johnny as coming home. Scott was merely a new arrival. Johnny had said he didn't remember that time, who could remember being a two year old? He certainly didn't. Still, even if Johnny didn't remember it, he had bonded with his father from birth. Scott never had that luxury. He didn't want to feel this way about his brother. He tried to remember that Johnny's life had been much harder than his own. He even tried to imagine what that life had been like, but he couldn't. He had no frame of reference to compare it to. His grandfather made no qualms about his dislike for Johnny, even though he had never met him. This perplexed Scott, how could Harlan Garrett hate someone he didn't even know? He was so tired, his mind had been working overtime trying to figure out what had happened between them the night before but he couldn't, he didn't have a clue.

****************

The next morning, the brothers came out of their rooms simultaneously. They locked eyes for a brief moment until Johnny broke the stare and headed downstairs. Scott sighed and followed him. Murdoch watched them both intently as they sat down for breakfast. He had hoped they would talk last night but it was obvious to him they hadn't. He decided they were both just too blame stubborn and he would have to intercede. He decided he would do so after supper that night, giving them one more day to work it out themselves. Then he had an inspiration. "Johnny, how much more is there left to do at the gully?"

"Probably take me a few more days to get the rest of it cleared out," Johnny replied.

Murdoch nodded his head slowly. "I thought I saw some storm clouds forming over the mountains last night. If it rained up there, we'll have to move faster than that. I think you better help your brother today Scott. The surveying can wait," he announced.

They both stared at him stunned. "I don't need his help," Johnny said through clenched teeth. Scott's face turned to stone.

"I say you do and remember, I call the tune," Murdoch said firmly.

"Fine!" Johnny said and stood up. He looked at Scott, "Well, come on."

"Do you mind if I finish my breakfast first?" Scott asked.

"Do whatever you want," Johnny shot at him and walked out.

"I will!" Scott shot back over his shoulder. Scott took his time finishing his breakfast and then slowly saddled his horse and cantered toward the south mesa.

******************

He heard Johnny before he saw him. He didn't understand what Johnny was saying. He was talking to himself in spanish. Scott dismounted and looked down into the gully at his brother. Johnny had already taken off his shirt and was covered in sweat. Scott whinced when he saw his brother's back. There were several scars from what Scott assumed were bullet holes. He looked away quickly. Johnny had heard him ride up and starting cursing in spanish. He saw Scott's shadow above and stopped. He looked up and saw Scott looking away toward the mountains. "If it rained up there last night, I'll give Murdoch a week's wages!" Johnny said. Scott looked down at him but said nothing, he knew Johnny was right. "Well, are you gonna stand there all day or are ya gonna help me? Unless, of course, you're afraid of gettin a little dirty," Johnny spewed.

Scott leered at him with open contempt. "It's your job, what do you want me to do?" he hissed.

"Start at the other end, just before it curves and we'll meet up in the middle. That is, if you think you can keep up with me," Johnny grinned but it wasn't very pleasant. Scott huffed off to the other end of the gully and jumped down. They starting working and said nothing to each other the rest of the morning. Johnny stopped and looked up at the sky, he figured it was about noon and he needed a break. He climbed up and grabbed his canteen and his shirt, walked over to a nearby tree and sat down in the shade. When Scott looked up, he didn't see his brother so he climbed out and saw him relaxing. 'he could have told me!', Scott thought. He grabbed his own canteen and sat down under a different tree. He glanced over at Johnny a few times but he seemed to be sleeping. The next time he looked, Johnny's eyes were wide open and he was staring at something in front of him. Scott didn't like the look on his brother's face.

"Johnny?"

"Quiet!" Johnny whispered as he slowly moved his right hand to his side and drew his gun. Scott looked but couldn't see whatever the problem was. Suddenly he heard the report from the pistol and nearly jumped out of his skin. Johnny stood up and walked a few feet. He picked up what was left of the rattler and examined it then tossed it away. "Guess breaktime's over," he said simply and went back to the gully. Scott sat there unable to move for a few minutes. The warning Johnny had given him several weeks before was haunting him again. From the spot Johnny had picked the snake up from, Scott judged it must have been inches from his brother's feet and he shuddered. If Johnny hadn't woke up... He'd had enough! The realization that his brother could have been killed just moments before jolted Scott to his soul. He walked over to the edge of the gully and jumped down.

"Johnny stop for a minute."

"What is it Scott? We got a lot of work to do yet."

"It can wait. Murdoch seems to think that something I said the other night when we were arguing has you upset. Now, I've tried to think of what it could have been and I can't. So why don't you just tell me," Scott said.

Johnny stared at him increduously. "Forget it, lets just get back to work," he said.

"No! We are going to resolve this Johnny. This has gone on long enough. My God! Your were nearly killed a minute ago, now tell me what I said wrong!"

Johnny couldn't believe what he was hearing. "You mean you really don't know."

"No, I don't."

Johnny narrowed his eyes and studied Scott's face. "You people?" he said.

Scott thought about this and shrugged. Suddenly, looking at his brother's face, it dawned on him. "Oh, no Johnny. You don't think I meant..."

He didn't get a chance to finish. They both heard the roar. For a second, Johnny thought it was a stampede but that couldn't be. The cattle hadn't been moved up here yet. Realization struck him and he looked at his brother. "Move!" he yelled and pushed Scott toward the gully wall. He kept pushing his brother until he was out of the gully, then he started climbing out himself. Scott still didn't know what was happening but he knew from Johnny's voice it wasn't good. Then he saw the rush of water coming toward his brother. Johnny was a third of the way up when he lost his grip and slid back down to the floor of the gully.

"Johnny!" Scott yelled out. He reached his hand down and almost had him when the water hit Johnny and knocked him back down. He disappeared under the flow and Scott froze. He couldn't see Johnny at all.

"Johnny!" he felt like he'd been yelling forever. He ran along the gully, following the torrent's path, desperately looking for any sign of his brother. Then he spotted him. Johnny was hung on a tree branch hanging low over the gully. His shirt was caught up in it but he wasn't moving, he wasn't holding on. "Johnny, I'm coming!" Scott yelled.

He laid flat on his stomach and stretched out as far as he could, but he was inches short. He started to feel the panic consuming him and fought with everything he had to keep it at bay. He couldn't lose it now, his brother needed him. He tried to think of what to do when he heard Barranca whinny behind him. He whirled around and ran to the horse, grabbing Johnny's rope and the horses reins. "Barranca, Johnny's in trouble and you have to help me boy," Scott said to the horse. He tied the rope around the saddle horn and made a lasso loop with the other end. He tossed it out over his brother but missed. He tried again and again but he couldn't hit his mark. He cursed himself for being so inept.

He heard a horse galloping toward him and looked up to see Murdoch. Relief washed over him as he yelled out. "Help me, Johnny's in trouble," he called. Murdoch ran over and stared at the sight of his son. "I can't get the rope over him," Scott said miserbly. Murdoch quickly surveyed the scene before him and realized what Scott was trying to do. It was a good idea. He took the rope form his son and, in one swift motion, lassoed his son. He tightened the loop and grabbed Barranca's reins.

"Scott, be ready to grab him as soon as he's in reach," he called back. Barranca snorted and pulled with everything he had. He knew his master needed him, but Johnny's shirt wasn't giving in so easily. Still, the horse didn't need Murdoch Lancer to tell him what to do. Murdoch realized he wasn't contolling Barranca anymore. "Alright boy, you know what to do. I'm going to help Scott," he said and released the reins.

Barranca pulled, Murdoch and Scott pulled until finally Johnny's shirt gave in and tore away. They kept pulling, now against the torrent of water threatening to wash Johnny away until they had a good hold on him. They pulled him out and Murdoch held his son in his arms. "Johnny?" he said, almost pleading. Johnny sputtered and coughed and rolled over on his side. Scott and Murdoch both let out audible sighs. It took awhile, but Johnny finally stopped coughing and took a deep breath. He looked up and his brother then his father and smiled.

"Guess I owe you a week's wages," he whispered and fell unconscious. Murdoch was perplexed but he shook it off and together, they got Johnny home.

***********

Johnny awoke feeling completely exhausted and wrung out, literally. Murdoch was sitting by his side and Scott was standing at his window. "How do you feel, son?"

"Washed out," Johnny said with a grin. Scott stepped to the side of the bed and smiled at his brother. Johnny returned the smile and Murdoch stood up.

"I'm going to get you some broth," he said and quietly left the two brothers alone.

Scott took the spot his father had just vacated. "Johnny, how could you think I would ever even..." he hung his head miserbly.

"What did you mean, Scott?" Johnny asked.

"Nothing really. Look, when I said 'you people', I meant westerners. You're always calling me 'Boston' and it reminds me how out of place I am here. I don't know this life yet and it just gets to me when I'm reminded of that. I would never call you a...that," Scott explained.

Johnny was ashamed of himself. He was so conditioned to being hated for what he was, he was ready to hear it at any time. "Scott, I'm sorry I took it the wrong way. I guess I'm just so used to it, but when I thought you were calling me a.. and the word is half-breed by the way...when I thought you were calling me that, well it hurt. I won't call you Boston anymore if you don't want me to."

Scott smiled. "It's ok, you can call me that. But only you, ok?"

Johnny laughed softly. "Ok, Boston. If anyone else calls you that I'll peg em right between the eyes," he grinned. Johnny finally realized what it was that made him stay here...his brother and his family.

"Well, no sense in taking it that far."

Murdoch walked back in the room to the sound of his sons laughing and thought it was the most beautiful sound he had ever heard.

 

 

~end~
2003

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